Exploratorium Field Trip

Yesterday, Tuesday, Feb. 17 (day after 4-day President's holiday weekend), I had the pleasure of chaperoning 7 of Isabella's classmates to their 5th grade field trip to the Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

Exploratorium: the museum of science, art and human perception

Sweet Retreat: Mini Vacation Spots at Home

Inspired by The Inspired Room's Winter Home Tip: Create Mini-Destinations in your Home

The mini-destinations in our home is my sweet retreat and own place of comfort where I retire to for my precious quiet time.

Mini-Destinations in our Home by the Bay

Vacation Spot in our own Backyard

Vacation Spot in our Masters Bedroom

Mini-Destinations in our Home by the Beach

Vacation Spot: Sitting area in Masters Bedroom

Vacation Spot: Backyard

SFBallet 2010 Season Program 1: Swan Lake

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Swan Lake. © Erik Tomasson

Here's another overdue post....Swan Lake at the War Memorial on Jan. 26th.

After Isabella's Tuesday class, we met up with great friends...Cecile, Pinky, Tim, and Krystn.

The ever so thoughtful and generous Ms. Pinky treated us to a wonderful Japanese dinner at Shima Sushi at the Opera Plaza...a great treat, indeed, not to mention a precious pasalubong...a beautiful pair of chocolate colored pearl earrings. Thanks a bunch ate Pinky!

Then we were off to a fabulous evening at the ballet. SFBallet's Swan Lake is a masterpiece...everyone and everything in it is incredible...the dancers, the scenery, the music, down to the costumes.

click here for The Story of Swan Lake

It is a story ballet in four acts. Isabella was so inspired, so much so that though she was tired from her class and it was close to midnight by the time we got home, she still had the energy to dance in efforts of imitating the inspiring ballet. She especially love the grand pas de deux and the infamous breathtaking 30-some fouettes.

Swan Lake is truly an inspiring masterpiece. And it surely was a lovely evening shared with great friends.

Nutcracker 2009: Madame Du Cirque Buffoons

Nutcracker 2009

This post is over a month delayed...but it's better late than never. And at least I was able to blog about the opening night on December 8th.

We survived all of Isabella's 16 performances with flying colors. It is an experience we will forever treasure. I attended all performances in different capacities: as an audience, as backstage volunteer, ballet shop volunteer, and as Club Nut volunteer.

As an Audience

As an audience I had the privilege watch the show several times with people closest to my heart.
  • The first one of course was opening night when I watched with my mom and dad Dennis. My friend, Owen, and her family came to watch as well.
  • The second one was on the 17th with my BFF, Cecile, and her DD and Isabella's BFF, Krystn.
We watched the matinee show after a delightful lunch at Shima Sushi courtesy of Cecile. We ended this memorable day over coffee at Arlequin Cafe. It was hard parting ways after such a special time but Isabella had to go to her class and the evening show after that.
Thanks to my pro photog BFF, our lovely time was captured in beautiful professional photographs. And as if all that was not enough, she designed wonderful layouts perfect for the scrapbook album she made for Isabella. Thanks oodles BFF!
  • The third one was with hubby and the boys on the 19th.
This is yet another special day. I always feel so elated when I have all my babies with me (sorry boys...you know you will always and forever be mommy's babies...even though you are all much taller than mom now). The boys and Russ met us at the ballet school and we picked up Isabella from Club Nut to have dinner at Shima Sushi.
The boys were all so proud of their baby sister. Our boys are not the type to watch a ballet:) It's all for their beloved baby sister. As far as these brothers are concerned, the clowns had the best part in the show.
  • I also got a chance to watch a couple more shows from the box seats as a perk of working as ballet shop volunteer.

As a Backstage Chaperon

Supervising the wonderful young clowns backstage was an enjoyable and worthwhile opportunity. I volunteered so much they all started calling me mom...I was so touched. It was so fun watching these "little professionals" at work in their element.

This is their usual day:
  • They come in to the War Memorial and check in with their Nutcracker badges. Then they sign-in in their appropriate sign up sheet.
  • We then take the elevator to the 6th floor to their assigned dressing room. We wait for a call from make-up.

  • As soon as make-up is ready for them, we make our way down to the basement. They go in to this room that looks like a beauty/hair salon complete with salon chairs and professional make-up artists. The girls apply their own foundation and then they take a seat in any available salon chair, and their respective make-up artist applies the rest of their make-up.
  • Then they move to hair to an available hair artist for their clown hat.
  • We then wait for their wardrobe call. While waiting, the girls pass the time by playing card games. They also get to see Drosselmeyer being lifted up to the stage using heavy duty hydraulics and fog machine.
  • Then they all proceed excitedly to wardrobe as soon as they get the call. They then put on their respective costumes all prepared in a rack with their names on them with the help of the costume mistress as needed.
  • Then their moment comes when they get to show their passion for this art on the big stage. The moment they get off the stage they get "hi-fives" from the other dancers and their teacher.
  • Then they make their way back in reverse order: hair, to take off their hats; wardrobe to take off their costumes; make-up, to clean their beautiful baby faces; then back to their dressing rooms to gather their belongings.
As a Ballet Shop Volunteer

As a ballet shop volunteer, I got the opportunity to watch the show from the box seats. I was even able to get Isabella in time to watch the grand pas de deux with me from the box seat.

As a Club Nut Volunteer
Club Nut is a service provided to the families of the student dancers, organized and staffed by ballet school parents and BRAVO volunteers. It is a safe and fun place for the children to rest, eat and play between their appearances in the matinee and evening performances of Nutcracker.

Isabella had a great time doing arts and crafts and playing twister with her friends at Club Nut.

Other Meaningful Nutcracker Memories

  • Isabella will also remember the day when her 5th grade teacher came to watch a matinee show and brought her flowers at Club Nut.

  • On the same day her teacher came to watch, my bible study group also came to watch during the evening show.

  • There was also one time when I volunteered during a Family Performance Night.

    Isabella and I will always remember helping prepare toys to be handed out to the first 500 children. Then during intermission, I helped serve cookies and drinks in the lobby for the audience. One fellow volunteer gave me a ticket to watch the show. You would think I would be all "Nutcrackered out":)...nah...I could never get tired of those adorable and talented clowns.

Guardian Angel

He has a guardian angel for sure!
This is part of a message I received from Ms. Tara (one of Isabella's beloved dance teachers at CDMA). It reminded me of a piece of story I failed to mention on my blog regarding Russ' car accident. Russ said that while he was being checked after the accident, there was a white bunny sitting by his car. When the paramedics asked him if it was his, and he said no, they attempted to get the bunny but it ran away. We can't help but think the white bunny might have been a sign of his guardian angel. Thank you dear heavenly Father for your supernatural protection.

Amazing Grace

God's amazing grace...it's the only explanation how my husband walked out of this car accident of this magnitude with just very few minor scratches. The paramedics and policemen on the scene couldn't believe it either.

It happened on highway 101 in Salinas on his usual weekly trip to Pismo Beach every Sunday (this time it was very early Monday morning). My DH, Russ, passed out and woke up being pulled out from his wrecked car.


He has a guardian angel for sure!
This is part of a message I received from Ms. Tara (one of Isabella's beloved dance teachers at CDMA). It reminded me of a piece of "angelic" story I failed to mention about this incident. Russ said that while he was being checked after the accident, there was a white bunny sitting by his car. When the paramedics asked him if it was his, and he said no, they attempted to get the bunny but it ran away. We can't help but think that the white bunny might have been a sign of his guardian angel. Thank you dear heavenly Father for your supernatural protection.

Impromptu L.A. Trip and The Chain of Poncho-Giving Kindness

Part of my New Year's list of plans/goals is a ballet summer intensive program for Isabella. She is very dedicated and passionate in this art form and I promised her I will give her all the support I can give. Around mid January, I started searching (googleing) for schools offering dance summer programs (San Francisco Ballet does not have one for her age level). The two other premiere ballet schools in the U.S. offering summer intensives for Isabella's age group are the American Ballet Theater (ABT) in New York and the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. We missed the audition date for ABT (and I thought I was starting early with my planning); luckily, Joffrey Ballet has a schedule for an audition in L.A. on January 30th.

We did not decide to go until Thursday, the 28th, when I went ahead and booked a hotel room for the following day (my Worldpoints from Amex came in handy:). I asked the boys if they will accompany us for the trip. Even Immanuel who is almost always busy with his own schedule was willing to come with us.

On the day of the trip, I had to miss bible study...Isabella stayed home from school with a tummy ache. I took Ian to school for his Finals. Then it was on to housework and preparations for the trip. I drafted an itinerary complete with driving times and fun times for after the auditions.

We pretty much followed the schedule I drafted but we also remained flexible for a stress-free mini vacation.

We picked up Ian from school at around 2:30pm and left straight from there to San Luis Obispo where we met up with Phil for dinner at Firestone Grill around 6:00pm. Phil helped maximize our time by ordering dinner for us before we got there. The boys rode with Phil back to Pismo while Belle and I went to get gas at Costco. We left Pismo around 7:30. Phil drove and we arrived in our hotel in downtown L.A. at around 11pm. We had no trouble going to sleep.

The next day we rushed to the auditions after continental breakfast and power prep fighting for one bathroom. We made it to the audition site at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the L.A. Music Center just in the nick of time for the 9am audition time for her age group.

Isabella said she had fun at the auditions and learned new combinations. The teacher was "very nice and very good." She said he called out her number and said: "great job number 29!"

here she is posing outside the venue after the audition

We debated where to spend the rest of our mini weekend vacation...it was a toss up between Universal Studios and Disney. We decided to go Disney because it is open until late while Universal closes at 6pm.

here the kids obliged to pose for a photo before our first stop in Frontierland

They even got me to ride Splash Mountain.

The rest is blissful history of fun family time at Disneyland until 9:30pm (we did not make it until 11pm as planned:).

And from 11am to 2:30pm the following day, Sunday, at California Adventures.

There is one particular story I want to share that happened during our last ride before leaving California Adventures. In my schedule, I had planned for us to leave the park by 2pm. And by 2pm, though we started an hour late, we accomplished all that we planned and we're right on schedule. But after our last supposed ride, "Soaring", Isabella begged us if we could go for one more last ride and go on the "Rapids" ride again. She won, of course, but Ian and Immanuel did not want to go...they didn't want to get wet (can you imagine they're scared of cold water lol) As we were handing them our bags and sweaters, a lady asked us if we want their ponchos. So Ian and Immanuel got to join us at the fun ride complete with ponchos to protect them from getting soaked (bless that lady's heart).

Coming out from the ride, Phil asks: "hey mom! are you going to pass on the ponchos to others who may want them?" What a great idea! I started offering the ponchos to incoming "rafters" but no one wanted them. As we were walking to go out of the park, a man in a wheelchair asked us if we still needed our ponchos. We were very happy to give it to him and he was delighted saying "yay! now we won't get soaked!". Phil called it the "Chain of Poncho-Giving Kindness".

We had lunch at a buffet outside the park and finally bid goodbye to L.A. around 3:30pm. We dropped off Phil and left Pismo around 7:30pm, arriving Union city at 10:30pm. Again, we didn't have any trouble going to sleep.

It was a indeed a blessed impromptu audition and mini weekend vacation!

(More funny photos of this trip if you click on the photo tab)