Thursday, April 12, 2007

Our Trip to Palindromia and The Huntington

Spring Break Vacation time again and we were privileged to take care of our two oldest grandchildren, Layla and Stone. "Camp Gramma/pa", as it has become known, has grown, developed and gotten more and more elaborate. This time it started on Easter Sunday so we had to have an Easter Egg Hunt. We had to make it challenging because we knew they were "veterans" of many a "hunt". So we came up with the "Amazing Palindromic Hunt"...a spin-off of the "Amazing Race" on TV. We had to have a "Pit Stop, Detours, Road Blocks, Fast Forward" just like the show. So besides finding the 48 plastic eggs (they found 47) they had to complete 4 out of 5 tasks around the house to their liking. i.e. "Play it or Say it" (play a piano piece from memory or read a tongue twister) "Decorate it or shake it" (decorate eggs or shake and spray readywhip in your mouth) "Curl it or Crop it" (pretend to curl your hair or cut it) "D.S. or B.S. or G.S. or A.S." (play Nintendo D.S., a Barbershop CD, lead dad in singing a Gilbert and Sullivan Patter Song or Find an Art Selection) "Fast-Forward" Torture Chamber (listen to Gramps sing Barbershop oldies with an hourglass timer) They chose this tortuous task rather than the D.S. task. (unpredicted)
They then had to open all the found eggs at the Pit Stop and spread out the palindromes and other key words in them. They had help from parents puttting together key sentences of palindromes and the secret coded location(s) of the "Fabulous Prizes" hidden around the house. "Kool pu" "X or O Marks the Spot" (X meaning kiss, O meaning hug) They then had to go hunting for those wrapped prizes, jump ropes, pencil boxes, special candies etc. Lots of fun...especially for us grandparents who, through them, are growing younger...a choice you can have living, as we do, in Palindromia.
On Tuesday, we had reservations for tea at The Huntington Tea Room. We had been looking forward to this ever since we took "Flat Stanley" there last year. (See previous post on this Blog) We had a long car trip but the kids were excellent. We played car-games alphabetically. I also brought the D.S. (Big Brain Academy, Brain Boost and Brain Age) Being members, we got in early, before the general public. We enjoyed seeing the Japanese and Zen Gardens first without the throngs. We fed the koi with the resident gardener. We each chose our favorite bonsai tree. We went to the Visual Garden and touched all the "Stones" (Stone liked that) We then hiked through the sub-tropical gardens and the desert gardens and took pix. We were already tired and hungry when we hit the crowded tea room. We had a special table next to the fireplace, the lion gargoyles and golden hyppogryphs. Our grandchildren have been well trained and have "impeccable manners" we had one rule..."Take and eat only what you like" They could try new finger sandwiches, scones, salads, pettifors, mini desserts, fruits, cheese, even caviar. They let them use their tea cups for their milk...they each tried a "spot of tea" in their milk and quickly rejected that option. They could go back to the buffet table as many times as they wanted and take anything if they would actually try it. We have been practicing "teas" at home, with each other and with "American Girl Dolls Molly and Kirsten". We were well practiced and so...polite.
We then went to the conservatory and looked at all the exotic plants and hands-on experiments in the Rain Forest, the Cloud Forest where the humidity was intense. It was hard to get them to leave this magnificent, teaching structure. Of special fascination were the carnivorous plants i.e. venus fly traps and pitcher plants. Stones fascination with bugs reigned supreme. We checked out bogs and pond scum. We looked through microscopes, magnifying glasses and performed tests with galvinometers and litmus-ometers. They are such smart and inquisitive kids.
We then collapsed in the childrens' garden while they ran around and explored all the wonders there. Their favorites were the cloud and rain forest circles, the rainbow tunnel and volcano and gigantic magnet. The weather was perfect, not too hot or too cold or windy. We took some nature trail back through the camelia forests and elected not to see the indoor galleries this trip...just too tired. We had to stop at the gift shop and get them each a remembrance gift. Stone, of course, picked a Fly-Trap Garden in miniature and Layla picked a miniature Tea Set.
On the way back we stopped and had a brief visit with their cousins Soren and Xavier in Claremont. They also enjoyed the dogs Sancho and Bongo. They saw Amy's kitchen garden and her roaming chickens. What a Day! Perfect for us. Memories are made of this. Bob!


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