Boats and bubbles on the fourth

A low key 4th of July this year for us.

Flag

The day started out wet and gray. The June gloom was particularly thick that morning as I waited for the bus.

Gray LA.jpg

And since I spent the morning at work, we decided to skip our annual 4th of July BBQ. We’ve also had 5 parties in June alone, which has depleted my bank account and tired me out. We’re not social butterflies, and parties are hard work! So we spent the day doing absolutely nothing spectacular at all, which was fun!

We spent the early afternoon at the Venice Canals, watching the local regatta of wind-powered boats.

Venice Canal Regatta
The starting line.

Fin decided that he had to walk everywhere. We decided that he had to hold our hands. He often disagreed.

Out for a walk

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And tired out from walking all afternoon, Fin enjoyed his stroller nap, waking up just in time to get in the car.

Awake

Playing with water
Playing with water on the patio.

We blew bubbles.

And this is how we blow bubbles

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Bubbles!

Dog perplexed

To stay home with the scardey-cat dog, we skipped the fireworkds, and had some non-traditional tofu hotpot and the Totoro movie to end the day.

Tofu Jjigae

Cell signalling

Random Photo Tuesday1

Guess what nerds sketch when they’re playing in the backyard with their kid’s chalk? Cell signalling pathways, that’s what… Can you tell I have neurotransmission on my mind?2


1 Should read: Random post Tuesday. How long will this spate of blogging last? Until I submit a few manuscripts and finish writing a few grants, naturally… There’s nothing like work avoidance to push me to post nonsense.

2 Pun totally intended.

Fin in May 2011

Oof, where did May and June go?

Every couple of years in May, I head off to Florida for a scientific conference, which means I’m pretty much offline for the weeks preceding and after. So, that’s my excuse for missing the regular irregular recaps of Fin’s first year in a gabazillion photos. To make up for it, let me get you all up to speed on Finlaggan’s fourth month last year in a one-er.

May 1, 2011 15:48
Little guy won’t stop moving.

May 4, 2011 10:33
Unless he’s sleeping.

May 5, 2011 08:58
Makes funny faces…

May 6, 2011 19:38
whether he means to or not.

May 8, 2011 13:07
Smiles for Mama and Popo on Mother’s Day.

May 11, 2011 13:46
Loves his fruit mobile.

May 12, 2011 08:43
Loves his dad.

Groovy sunglasses
Isn’t so keen on sunglasses.

Meltdown
Nor is he keen on long car rides.

Cayucos
Out for the count after a walk on the beach.

Morro Rock and chimneys
And probably looking at the dog in this photo.

State capitals and springer spaniels

This weekend, the world neighbourhood tour organised by jojoebi takes us to a mystery city in the Midwest of the USA and to South Korea, where two midwesterners now live with their springer spaniel. Do visit!

Links to the worldwide neighbourhood tour (click on the place name for a direct link to the tours):
June 25th – jojoebi-designsSaitama, Japan
June 26th – akatsuki ra-ra-raCalifornia, USA
June 27th – little red farmSweden
June 28th – “Je veux une ‘tite soeur-fille”Canary islands
June 29th – Knitty LornEast Devon, UK
June 30th – We Don’t Need No EducationMichigan, U.S.A.
July 1st – Jeollanam-do SaladSouth Korea
July 2nd – Merita’s Playground – Slovenia
July 3rd – kids, craft and chaos – Scotland, UK
July 4th – Zonnah’s Addictions – Washington State, USA
July 6th – Se7en – South Africa
July 7th – Talia’s Travel Web Log – New York, USA
July 8th – Monkey Magic – Japan
July 9th – The Pukeko Patch – Wellington, New Zealand
July 10th – Cami Daily – Berlin, Germany
July 11th – Crazy Cambridge mum – Cambridge, UK
July 12th – Schaeresteipapier – Switzerland

Mama’s and Dada’s Days

Although Fin isn’t old enough to understand what either day means, we had some fun celebrating both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day this year1.

My present from P was a nice big pile of pancakes:

Pancakes

And my present from Fin was a nice long lie-in. Until 10am! And some flowers, freshly beheaded from my little strawberry planter:

From Fin
Flowers in his hair

From the dog, I got the usual generous gift of her hair, and a pose on our doorstep:

Dog and baby

And as a bonus, I won at curling against P, the Scotsman! No, there’s no ice in LA, nor the appropriate stones for that matter. But as long as we have chalk, cardboard, and access to a patio, curling can commence!

Curling

And on Father’s Day, which thankfully was only a few weekends ago, and thus makes it totally appropriate to post my awesome landslide win against P in curling2, I took father and son out for breakfast at Cafe Literati. They enjoyed some French toast and apple torte between them, and in keeping with the spirit of the day, Fin would not let go of his father3.

Chomp

And for a special treat, a LARGE cappuccino for Mr P to erase the memory of a sub-par excuse of a capp from the Annenberg Beach House back in Spring. Yes, it’s probably been that long since we went out for brunch…

Large cappuccino

And Kirin’s Father’s Day present to P was to behave herself despite the vocal challenge by two little pooches at the other table:

Kirin too

And we spent the rest of the day just daundering about, just the way P likes his Sundays!


1 Such fun that I haven’t posted anything since then, but you already expected that from me…

2 Rubbing it in. Because it will never happen again. But I will ALWAYS beat him in a scrum. And I can bowl him out any day!

3 He probably just didn’t want to sit in the high chair, but let’s rewrite the story to be more romantic…

Eating in Chi-Town

Most people associate Chicago with deep-dish pizza, as did we when we first visited, but there is a rich gastronomic scene beyond pizza in Chi-Town. Sadly, we didn’t get to explore the upper echelons of food culture this time, but were reasonably impressed by the offerings of the kid-friendly restaurants and cafes.

Some highlights (i.e. ones we actually remembered to take photos of):

Chicago Hot Dog
Chicago Hot Dog at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Sausagefest
Sausage at the sausagefest.

First milkshake!
Fin’s first milkshake at RJ Grunt’s1.

Chips and buns
A RJ Grunt’s burger.

Nookie's toffee banana pancake stack
Stack of toffee and banana pancakes at Nookies.

Slab of super tender ribs
Very tender and tasty ribs from Twin Anchors, round the corner from our B and B.

Lito's
Empanada from Lito’s.

Thai takeout
Thai takeout with yummy roast duck that passed the Fin test.

Pizza
And pizza from Five Boroughs, although not of the deep dish variety.

Two handed pizza sticks
Garlic sticks so good that they were eaten double handed, also from Five Boroughs.


1 Red eyes probably due to hay fever. He was cranky all day…

Open Show in Arles

Mon ami, Mathieu Grandjean, who was director of Open Show Los Angeles, has taken the concept to Europe and the latest instalment will be on the 4th of July at Les Recontres d’Arles in the city of Arles.

So, if you are in the area, I highly recommend you check it out. These Open Shows are real eye openers, which heighten political and cultural awareness with an artistic slant.

And if you see Mathieu, say hi to him from LA!

Winding streets and cliffside stairs

Sweet winding streets in a town called Beer1, classic stripey deck chairs and huts on a pebble beach. Where are we today on the global walk around the world?

A: We’re in East Devon, on Kitty Lorn’s maker, baker blog. Catch the front page now for some bonus bunting!

Links to the worldwide neighbourhood tour (click on the place name for a direct link to the tours):
June 25th – jojoebi-designsSaitama, Japan
June 26th – akatsuki ra-ra-raCalifornia, USA
June 27th – little red farmSweden
June 28th – “Je veux une ‘tite soeur-fille”Canary islands
June 29th – Knitty LornEast Devon, UK
June 30th – We Don’t Need No Education – Michigan, U.S.A
July 1st – Jeollanam-do Salad – South Korea
July 2nd – Merita’s Playground – Slovenia
July 3rd – kids, craft and chaos – Scotland, UK
July 4th – Zonnah’s Addictions – Washington State, USA
July 6th – Se7en – South Africa
July 7th – Talia’s Travel Web Log – New York, USA
July 8th – Monkey Magic – Japan
July 9th – The Pukeko Patch – Wellington, New Zealand
July 10th – Cami Daily – Berlin, Germany
July 11th – Crazy Cambridge mum – Cambridge, UK
July 12th – Schaeresteipapier – Switzerland


1 Great town name! Makes me want to move there 😉

A stroll around Lincoln Park

After showing you our West LA / Santa Monica neighbourhood earlier this week, I thought I’d better get a move on and write up a few words about our brief stay in Chicago before the photos become meaningless to us. I know that somewhere, on our back-up HDD and DVDs lie a slew of photos, not even uploaded to Flickr, of our last trip to Chicago in 2009. So maybe this is the time to pull those out of the archives and retrospectively revisit the Windy City, sans baby.

But for the purpose of this post, we had a wonderful time in Chicago, baby and all, at the end of May, staying in a lovely bed and breakfast apartment at the intersection of Old Town and Lincoln Park, where the fridge was well-stocked with fresh fruit and breakfast supplies, and the accommodations were comfy and cozy. Fin certainly gave it his seal of approval upon arrival, as the following video shows.

We had a leisurely time in Chicago, with the aim of meeting up with P’s aunt and uncle, also visiting Chicago from England, about once a day. And otherwise, just enjoying our time together1, hanging out on the patio for loooong breakfasts and stomping around the Old Town and Lincoln Park neighbourhoods of Chicago. We were treated to one day of torrential rain, but that didn’t deter us, having brought along our usual waterproof jackets 2 and a cover for the stroller.

Ready for the next torrential downpour
We were lucky on the next day, with slight drizzles amusing Fin who preferred to kick off the rain cover.

Fungi?
Fin’s not very impressed by the fungi-like statues.

In the large expanse of Lincoln Park, you can find all manner of baby, toddler, child and child-at-heart amusements. For example, there was a petting zoo by the side of the real zoo, where you could touch well-groomed goats or ponies. I have never seen farm animal poop being scraped up quite so quickly as at the Farm in the Zoo, except maybe at the Royal Highland Show3, if you suspect your freshly washed and groomed cow is about to sit in her own poo!

Cows go Moo...
C is for Cow. Cows go Moo…

And in the zoo itself, there was plenty of room for a baby to toddle about unimpeded on a wet weekday morning (more on that in future posts).

Cracks and manhole covers
Cracks in the pavement are fascinating.

Also within Lincoln Park, at the north end, is the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which is kid-centric, but still fun and informative for us older kids. On the recommendation of a friend, we checked out the butterfly haven. P and I were completely enthralled by the array of beautiful wings, but Fin had other things to do, like chase shadows and play hide and seek with the curator.

Chasing shadows
Chasing shadows

Green butterfly
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Butterflies

There’s even a beach between the park and Lake Michigan for relaxing on.

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Sorting sand

Lincoln Park is also home to a large conservatory, which has a wide selection of tropical plants and a room dedicated to ferns. Fin was not all that impressed, having already ascertained that he’d not be let out of his stroller for fear that all the flowers would get picked.

Dino ferns
Some of these ferns were even around in the Jurassic age!

Grouchy in the Glasshouse
Grumpasaurus!

But he perked up later by the lilly pond, where he dedicated his attention to his senbei (rice cracker) over the well-manicured waterfall and pond.

Senbei beats waterfall
Senbei and waterfall

And at the northern end of the park, the north pond held many sources of fascination, including ducks, geese, herons, turtles, benches, flower pots and slopes.

Duck
Duck

North Pond
Bench

Fin and the flowerpot
Flowerpot

grumper
Downhill we go…

The nicest thing about staying in Lincoln Park was that we could walk out everyday for a new adventure without worrying about where we could let Fin out of his stroller and roam free. But another bonus was its closeness and ease of access to downtown.

Untitled

Ah, Lincoln Park, we miss you already!


1 Or in the case of tantrum times, surviving as best we could.

2 Until we moved to California, we travelled everywhere with rain jackets and rain trousers, because, you know, Western Europe is wet, as is Singapore. Soaking wet. Especially during the off-peak times at which we travel. Now, we actually have to remind ourselves to pack a rain jacket. That’s how soft LA has made us.

3 The RHS was on just last weekend, and we’ve yet to Skype Granddad to find out how the judging went. After years of attendance, I feel like I have a vested interest in his fellow breeders of Salers and Herefords, and keep my fingers crossed for ribbons for their beasts. And of course, we always wait to hear how the offspring of Granddad’s prize bulls and heifers have done!