Each of us went to the Exploratorium last year on a date with Norm/Daddy.  Here’s the story of our mini-adventure in San Francisco!

Captions by: Melody, Emily, Joyce 
Photos by: Dad Norm + Mom Joyce
More info here –> exploratorium.edu


Emily’s Visit

I liked the first part of my visit. I liked the spinny thingy at the front.

Vibration! So much science!

Love the sand art! Sand that spins while you do art!

Me gathering up the mist!

Get a marker and choose a spin! (Like a HUGE Spirograph!)

Smoke tornado next to the marker art!

Bubble solution thingy! Make it as tall as you can!

Mirrors all around!

Different colored lights!

Joyce’s Visit

For our anniversary, we took BART out to San Francisco for a day date. We had lunch at eatsa, which we may blog about another time. Yummy! And then we headed to the Exploratorium. I have only been to the old location as a kid for a field trip and one other time when Melody was little. I’ve also been in the lobby and store of this “new” one but it was my first time visiting. It is a lot bigger and newer (of course), so if you go, make sure to allow time, especially if you go through the school year during school field trip hours. There are so many fun and educational exhibits to explore. Afterwards, we headed for an early dinner at Roy’s Restaurant to avoid the crowds coming from work and/or tourists. We’ll blog about this too. Yummy again! 🙂

Melody’s Visit

We traveled there by BART for a field trip with our homeschool group, and then we waited awhile for everyone. But it turned out they were on the other side of the building! So we went inside to go into the building.

This first picture is me with a tornado.

I liked this next one below. First, you drag the material up with your magnet, then you release and it makes a HUGE cloud (only if you hold for a few seconds).

So this next one below is me with a soap film painting. First, you drop the bar down, gather soap, then bring it up as far as possible without it popping. You have to get a lot of soap to make a bubble. Then I blew on it to make it like a bubble ripple.

This is me and my dad with a circle of electrical lights.

This is me with a tree stump – I actually counted the rings. The tree was about 160 years old, but I might have counted wrong.

This is me with a water tornado. This is one of my favorites because you can control the amount of water you put in.

This is a mist-area thingy. So you basically wave your hands around to gather a lot of mist. I couldn’t do it that well because there was a lot of people, but my dad could do it really well.

This is a tracker to show where different transportation methods have been in the last couple of months, days, hours, etc. You can move it back and forth to find out!

This is my favorite picture when we were sitting in the quiet bay observatory.

Thanks for a great time, Exploratorium!

Emily’s fave: The sand art!

Melody’s fave: The quiet bay observatory. I liked it there, it was much more peaceful.

Joyce’s fave: Hard to choose but I liked the area with the parts of the typewriter

Norm’s fave: Shadow Box

Some Notes + Tips from Mom Joyce:

  • Definitely check if your library has a pass for the Exploratorium to save a bit of money as you will probably spend some getting there and for a meal as well. Our library has Discover and Go.
  • Avoid the school field trip crowds by going a bit later.

Have you been on a local mini-adventure lately? Where did you go?



Christmas in the Park

Christmas in the Park is beautiful and a lot of people contribute to putting together all of the trees Santa comes sometimes too.

Captions by: Emily, age 8
Photos by: Dad Norm + Mom Joyce
More info here –> christmasinthepark.com (open through 1/7/18)

A Note from Emily’s Mom: We have been to Christmas in the Park at night before and it was fun to see the tree lighting and all of the lights, rides, and people. Since we were in San Jose for a field trip at The Tech Museum across the street, we decided to swing by for a quick look at the trees during the day (when it is less crowded).


There is a story on it.

Tons of trees each one is special.

Our favorites

Looking and lots of Girl Scout trees

So many troop numbers

Country Bears 

Santa’s reindeer

Lots of companies participated too!

Have you been on a local mini-adventure lately? Where did you go?

From the website: Christmas in the Park is an annual holiday tradition that takes place in the heart of Downtown San José at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez. For over 30 years, this whimsical event has brought people from all over the Bay Area together during the holidays. Each year, the two-acre park is transformed into a holiday fantasy with over 60 musical and animated exhibits, glittering lights and the 60-foot Community Giving Tree. Some of the original displays housed in one of the largest exhibits, the Lima Train, include a melting snowman, caroling mice, and elf woodcrafters. Guests enter a winter wonderland of lights, songs, and local entertainment while strolling through an enchanted forest of trees decorated by San José schools, community groups, and businesses.

The Tech Museum of Innovation

The last time our school had a field trip to the Tech Museum, we were really little, about 3 and 5, so we decided not to go. This time, since we’re older now, we got to go to the Tech Museum!

Captions by: Melody (10)
Photos by: Dad Norm + Mom Joyce
More info here –> thetech.org

Getting to The Tech Museum

We took the freeway and there was traffic because we kept on stopping and going. Side Note: If you have motion sickness, eat something before you leave the house. So we got there and we parked in the parking garage except when we got out of the car, we couldn’t figure out how to get out of the convention center parking garage! So we were saved when we saw our friends who coincidentally happened to be looking for a way out of the garage, too, and then we walked out together. (You have to go to the ground level through the convention center lobby.

Upper Level (Exhibits)

1) Innovations in Health Care

This was our first stop. Scientists have to think about what they’re doing before they make it.

You can also do things to help you understand the concept, too.

This is what our skin would look like if our cells changed even slightly. Ewww! (But the colors look nice!)

So if you held out your arms, you could make cells multiply. My sister and I made so many cells, they looked like we were the same person!

2) BioDesign Studio

A man, who looked like he either a volunteer or staff member, came up to us and told us, “You should go to the microscope activity before there’s a line.” So we went there and there was a scientist from Stanford University there who told us about cells and DNA.

We put swabs on the inside of our mouths and rubbed it on the slide. Then we had to put the dye on the slide. After that, we put water on the slide.

So the last part of our tour of our cells was that we got to see them, too. We also got to see other cells on slides – blood cells, animal cells, and more!

3) Reboot Reality

We drew on this blank canvas-looking like iPad thing. I drew a heart. There was also a look into the “future of San Jose.”

4) The Tech for Global Good

There are little stations where you can sit and watch some videos of inspiring stories of people trying to solve some of the world’s problems. There’s about 6 videos at each of the 3 stations.

5) Body Worlds Decoded

This is the current main exhibit that is being featured. Since we’re studying human anatomy this year, we also decided to go to visit Body Worlds Decoded.

We also checked out a device with augmented reality that let us see different parts of the body that wasn’t actually in front of us as we were walking around.

Below is a picture of a standing woman.

That’s the singer (our family). Their tracheas are bigger because they exercise them a lot.

Looking at intestines on the tablet!

The body. We couldn’t touch this. He was demonstrating how the body would look if we were to dissect it.

You got to stand in front of a screen and do something, and the screen would show your insides!

Ground Level

6) Hackworth IMAX Dome Theater

Since we are studying American History this year, we paid a little extra to watch the movie that was showing in the IMAX Theater – Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West. It was a little scary at some points, and also you felt like you were really moving/tilting with them.

7) New Venture Hall – Event space

8) The Tech Store – Find special gifts, books, and unique Silicon Valley items, plus educational materials.

9) The Tech Cafe presented by Tony Caters

We ate lunch here. Emily had the Classic Mac and Cheese, I had Basil Pesto pasta which you could tell was fresh, my mom had a Grilled Cheese Panini, and my dad had The Cheesesteak.

Lower Level (Exhibits)

10) Exploration Gallery

It has sort of a space theme.

My mom and I walked in as my dad got in this chair, and I was wondering what would happen to him. So all you have to do is follow the light and turn the chair. I would get really dizzy!

11) Social Robots – Design, build and program a real robot using sensors, controllers and activators. We didn’t get to this area but our friends loved it!

12) The Tech Studio

We got to build the Internet with routers and servers, and firewalls kept the Internet safe.

13) Body Metrics

I wanted to go to this one because you can find, well…what your body looks like and your “inner” you.

That’s me trying desperately to get all of them 🙂 I never did, but, hey! I got 14!

14) Cyber Detectives

We got to chose whether we wanted to go on an espionage mission or a sabotage mission, and we picked espionage. There was a video where we received our assignment.

Emily is trying to change the password into a more secured one.

Thanks for a great time, Tech Museum!

At the end, we got a medallion and two pressed pennies.

At the group entrance of the museum is this Science on a Roll ball machine. You can watch the balls go up and then roll back down.

Emily’s fave: Cyber Detectives

Melody’s fave: Body Metrics

Joyce’s fave: BioDesign Studio

Norm’s fave: Jet Pack Simulator

Some Notes + Tips from Melody’s Mom:

  • This was our first time at The Tech Museum. We would definitely go again for a field trip to see new exhibits. Very education, hands-on, and fun! Staff was super friendly and helpful with the whole (field trip) process. They were accommodating and flexible.
  • Tip #1: The library’s Discover and Go program gives you a discount, but not a huge discount. We calculated that our fam of 4 would have been $80+ plus parking, gas, and food.
  • Tip #2: If you plan to go on your own, add these types of things to your budget because these little extras in life that can add up over time. Okay, moving on from my detailed-orientated personality and finance-degree self…
  • Tip #3: Look at what the museum has to offer BEFORE you go so everyone is able to pick one thing they don’t want to miss. That way, it doesn’t get to the end of the day and everyone’s tired but you’ve only seen the exhibits that you were passing by instead of the ones you really wanted to see.
  • They also have Sensory Friendly Hours, which are the hours I probably should go, because all the things can be a bit overwhelming. They host hundreds of kids each day, but do a pretty good job of keeping everyone in check and with their chaperones.
  • The Tech Museum is across the street from Plaza de César Chávez where Christmas in the Park is during Christmastime, so we made our way over after 5 hours at the museum. There are also a lot of fun locations to visit in San Jose. If you aren’t in San Jose often and don’t have time limitations, look to see what activities your family would like to do and make a day of it. I saw that we were also close to Happy Hollow Park & Zoo but it was closed on this day that we were in the area.
  • After your visit, don’t forget to put in your Tech Tag info on their site. You can see all your scores from the games you play or see the things and pictures you created and more!

Have you been on a local mini-adventure lately? Where did you go?



How I Spent $1 on a Halloween Costume


Since I’ve been reading More Than Just Making It and we had been chatting about finances over at my other page, I thought I would share a money-saving tip with you here.

It’s no surprise to you all that I’m not a shopper. I’m also not huge on a certain dress-up holiday. It was a challenge for me every year, BUT I have found my saving grace in this area – the Facebook buy/sell group that I run!

Last year I had a forest fairy and a Greek goddess or something like that – for just $10…TOTAL!

This year I sold that forest fairy costume. It was only worn 2 times for less than a few hours total. So if I do my math correctly, I spent $1 for the costume.

AND since I’m trying to think ahead for these types of things, I already have one costume for this year…a little spendier at $7, but definitely less than a new costume for more $$$.

What money-saving tips do you have when it comes to holidays and special occasions?

SF MoMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)

Captions by: Melody (10) and Norm (Dad)
Photos by: Dad Norm
More info here –> sfmoma.org

Before the SF MoMA

We got to ride on the BART train. I wasn’t so happy since I get motion-sickness. Once we got there, we walked, since we had to go to the Embarcadero station. We got special permission from the agent to go to Embarcadero since our tickets were damaged. I had to go through the emergency gate.

Lunch in San Francisco

Once we got there, we went to California Pizza Kitchen. Apparently, it’s also known as CPK. We sat at the bar and got great service. I got strawberry lemonade and my dad got Vitamin Water. Then, we ordered a half-pineapple, half-Margherita pizza, for us to share. I really liked it. Also, I got an extra napkin. I needed it since I was getting messy with my pizza.

Off to the SF MoMA!!!

We walked to the SF MoMA. It was quite a walk, but worth it because we got a lot of pictures with all the pieces I liked. (I’ll tell you more about that later.) So when we got there, the lady at the front desk recommended we start at the 7th floor (the museum has 7 floors) and work our way down to the bottom.


We followed her advice and went to the 7th floor, which turned out to be a music floor! My dad and I both love music, so this floor was perfect for us. This floor also had a wheel that powered all of the other machines around it. Each one powered the other.

The next room had a big “lake” with ceramic bowls floating around in it.  Once one bowl hit another bowl, a bell-like sound was emitted.  The area was very peaceful and tranquil.

We went to a room with a bunch of red cords next. Everyone was putting on headphones and walking alongside the cords. At first, I was thinking to myself, “Why are they doing that?” But when I put the headphones on, I understood. There’s an energy coming from the headphones and it sort of buzzes in your ear, getting louder, and LOUDER, and LOUDER as you get closer to the cords. I wasn’t too crazy about it since the buzzing was really loud, but my dad stayed longer. We ended up going back to the tranquil bowl place – which, luckily, did not have buzzing.

The next room had a big box with a bunch of cans and strings all across the place. Think of the game Telephone times 100. I know it’s kind of crazy, but you can actually hear the person if you find the right can! It’s sort of like a maze. Sort of like life.


One of the art pieces I liked was this water reflection painting.

This art sculpture was so amazing. I couldn’t even figure out which side was the front of it! It was really complicated, and my dad and I both agreed it looked like a stack of dominoes. All stacked up, just in a complicated – very, very, very, complicated way.


There were a lot of sculptures on this floor. If I was a namer for this museum, I would name this floor “the sculpture floor” because it’s full of sculptures. We also went to the Oculus Bridge, which isn’t a sculpture. We had to look way down to the first floor. I’m scared of heights! So I just stood back.


This is another painting that I liked. It was rainbow and hilly. There was also a distortion mirror you can look really funny in.


There’s also a sculpture garden outside where there is a “one-way” sign and people who come from way back when.  My dad wanted to take a picture with them. I refused. No matter how much he told me. Note: I am never going to blend in with historical figures. The wall behind the figures is a “living wall” that consists of 21 California native species of living plants.


On floor 2 is the Norman Zammitt (Canadian-born American) painting. We both really liked it because it was colorful and looked like a sunset so we tried to take a picture but it didn’t work. Somebody took a picture for us.

We also thought Emily would like this flower piece.


Floor 1 was the Figure 8 brown statue. We went inside it (we were allowed to go in) but it took us FOREVER, it seemed, to get out!

That was the end of our wonderful and exciting day.  Of course, our feet were tired and we were tired. But it was worth it. Because we love each other and had a good time together.

How far we walked: 4.88 miles

Have you been on a local mini-adventure lately? Where did you go?


A Mini-Adventure in San Francisco

A Note from Joyce: It wasn’t until a few years ago after our trip to Seattle when we decided we should have the girls explore our original hometown of San Francisco (where there is ALWAYS something new to discover!). We have done two almost-all-day trips with visiting relatives and we have also been on a few shorter mini-adventures. (You can find a few posts on our old blog.) For this mini-adventure, we decided to drive a few minutes out from Chinatown to see a site made even more popular (again?) by the Fuller House series.

We recently went to San Fransisco. It was a special occasion, of course, because we don’t go as frequently as we could. It’s funny because we live 25 miles away from San Fransisco. So to get to San Fransisco, you have to pass through the tolls. There are always a lot of people going through there, which makes me wonder if there is traffic, but every time there isn’t much as I thought there would be (at the time we go).

This is us on the Bay Bridge. They knocked the old one down on the other side. There’s the new Salesforce Tower!

This is the Financial District, which is where my dad works. The buildings are super tall. I wonder what happens when there’s an earthquake.

The reason we were there was because we had a family member’s anniversary celebration, so we went to our old church in Chinatown. Before that Emily and I went to Sunday School, where we did a Bible study. We definitely met a lot of people who knew us from when we were little. This is the prayer before the anniversary lunch at the church.

They gave a lot of speeches and there was even singing!

This is a mural which, evidently, used to be new and vibrant-colored way back when. (When my parents were little, probably.)

This is us in front of the church. The church is 4 stories tall. We used to go there before we moved, which is when I was 1. That was 9 years ago. But once every year we go back and visit. I have to admit, I do remember some people!

The church is near the border of Chinatown and Nob Hill(?), so afterwards we went into Chinatown more. This is what you think of when you think of Chinatown. We went and got some bread. There was a lot of people there, so we just got jostled around. The buns were really good. Compliments to the baker!

If you live in San Fransisco, another thing you have to endure is…the hills. We had to walk UP 4 entire blocks of hills back to our car.

We always find something touristy and fun to do when we are in San Francisco! This time, we visited the Painted Ladies. These colorful Victorian-era houses were certainly vibrant. My favorite house was the lilac-colored one, which you can’t see in the photos because it was farther down.

There were a lot of houses – blocks and blocks of them! People just publicly sat and took selfies. I couldn’t believe they did that because people actually lived in those houses!

That’s me standing in front of all of the houses. I wonder if they’ll ever fall apart. Aren’t they old?

Here’s all of us as a family on the hill across the street from the Painted Ladies. I think one of them, in the background, was getting redone.

Selfie time! We took a lot of selfies. I guess we are one of those people. But I did see someone with a selfie stick…

That’s Emily jumping. She likes to do that, and dance. I don’t do that, so when they asked me if I wanted to do that, I said no.

The pastel colors are pretty!

Such detailed designs!

And one more random church we saw on our way back home.

Epilogue: Not included in the photos…which is the rest of the day…we went to my grandparent’s house (dad’s side) which is also in San Francisco while my dad went to Costco. After that, we went to my other grandparent’s house (mom’s side), which isn’t in San Francisco, for dinner. It was a busy day, for sure, but one to remember. I had a good time.

Have you been on a local mini-adventure lately? Where did you go?

If you want to know a few facts about the Painted Ladies, read more at UpOutSF.

San Leandro Public Library [Library Tour]

The next stop on our Library Tour Summer Series is the San Leandro Public Library. (This post is by Melody with italicized comments from Mom.)

I’ve had a lot of great memories at this library. When I was little, even though my parents worked a lot, my mom rarely missed bringing the four of us kiddos to the library on Saturdays to check out our books before going grocery shopping.

When you enter the library, there’s a sign that says, “Public Library” and a gift shop/cafe (aka Bookmark Cafe) on the right side. (Shown above. It’s the little area sticking out behind the bike racks.) On the left corner, there is a Friends of the Library bookstore. On the left side, there is a hallway that leads to a theater and some meeting rooms(?). On the left near the entrance, there is a police department office.

One of our favorite things at this library is the chair with the mom and her two kids. The mom is reading a book. I wonder what book it is? (I’m not sure the stories behind these statues, but we see them at all the libraries, and hopefully, I can do some “then and now” photos of the girls with them through the years.)

There are tables at the library as well as chairs. It’s a great place to study!

We saw this electronic sign flashing different events.

After we saw the sign, we walked up to the second floor.

At the library is a map of San Leandro. One time we saw one of Castro Valley and we tried to see where we lived.

These are some clocks showing the time in all different parts of the world.

I’m not sure if I ever saw this part before because we don’t usually go to the second floor, but there’s a lot of chairs and tables. Perfect for reading! Or studying!

Here is another view from the second floor.

We saw another sculpture that we hadn’t seen before, which is a girl reading to a boy.

Another view from the second floor of the library.

One of the library’s rooms is the History Room.

Be sure to follow these rules if you’re there! I think they’re good rules for a library.