Monday, August 28, 2006

Circus Pictures of the Day

As you can see from the photos below, the Ringling Brothers circus is no longer uses the 3-ring format that I saw as a kid. I think the one ring format works because children generally get confused when there is too much going on. Russell certainly enjoyed watching it, again and again on the souvenir DVD that I bought at the circus. He's trying to emulate the Chinese acrobats by leaping from the rocking chair to the sofa. I'll try to take a picture of him jumping across the living room.

Our view of the circus at HP Pavillion Posted by Picasa

Russell munches on a hot dog while watching the circus Posted by Picasa

The circus finale begins Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Punky!

Today is Punky's 2nd birthday. To mark the occasion, we spent the day at his Grandmother's and Cousin Andrew's house, where we had lunch, ate birthday cake and opened presents. Then we headed over to the HP Pavillion in San Jose to watch the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus performance.

I was pleased (and even shocked!) that both Russell and Punky sat in their chairs for the entire 2-hour performance. They were both mesmorized by the circus acts, and at times laughed out loud and danced to the loud music accompanying the performances. Perhaps this is a good sign of things to come.

The circus has changed a lot since my parents took me to see it at Madison Square Garden nearly 40 years ago. There are a lot fewer animal acts and more with human performers similar to Cirque du Soleil. And now, most of the performers are now from China and Russia. However, they still have the trademark elephant show and the scary motorcyclists in the 18-foot diameter "Globe of Death". It was a good day that we wrapped up with dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant with the family.

Happy birthday, Punky!

Punky: "Is that liitle thing my birthday cake? Posted by Picasa

Punky: "Now that's a birthday cake!" Posted by Picasa

Punky to Russell: "Is there enough for both of us?" Posted by Picasa

Punky eagerly awaits the first slice Posted by Picasa

Punky: "Now that's some cake! Give me a glass of milk to wash it down, please!" Posted by Picasa

The Birthday Posse Posted by Picasa

Punky's mom unwraps his birthday presents Posted by Picasa

Cousin Andrew hands Punky his present Posted by Picasa

Punky's present: "It's a bouncing Tigger!" Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Meet Us at the California State Fair

Jenny is taking care of both kids at home by herself--Russell's school has two weeks off--so we decided to take a road trip to break the cycle of boredom. We settled on an overnight trip to Sacramento for our first visit ever to the annual California State Fair, and did we make an excellent choice. The State Fair has something for everyone. I highly recommend it especially for parents with children of all ages.

We spent two days at the State Fair, around 3 hours each day. Jenny and I could have stayed longer, but Punky would poop out after sometime eating lunch. The fairgrounds at the Cal Expo in Sacramento were spotless, and the attendees were extremely polite. I did not see a single piece of litter on the ground, or any unruly persons during our time at the fair. Our hats are off to the organizers of this outstanding event. We plan on going again, perhaps next year.

Below are some of the highlights along with photos.

At the 2006 California State Fair in Sacramento, a good time was had by all Posted by Picasa

All state fairs have their roots in agriculture, and California's was an impressive display of animals, crops and food products. Much of the agricultural staff at the fair was supplied by the nearby University of California at Davis. There was also a large group of volunteers from the Future Farmers of America and the 4H Club.

Russell and Punky really enjoyed viewing the livestock pavillon and nursery. At the pavillion, we saw hundreds of pigs, cows, sheep and goats competing for Best in Show awards. As a special treat, the Davis students set up a livestock nursery where animals were giving birth throughout the fair. We didn't actually witness any births, but saw many newborn animals.

Punky moos at the Livestock Nursery Posted by Picasa

Newborn piglets feed at momma pig's side at the Livestock Nursery Posted by Picasa

A sheep cleans off a newborn lamb at the Livestock Nursery Posted by Picasa

At the Livestock Pavillion, a Future Farmer of America keeps a pig under control with a stick Posted by Picasa

Punky points at the pigs as Russell sits in awe of the porkers Posted by Picasa

Cows at the Livestock Pavillion Posted by Picasa

Russell and Punky pose at the Livestock Pavillion's Winner's Circle Posted by Picasa

Russell and Punky's favorite display was the duck and chicken hatchery. It was located in the same building as the rabbit and guinea pig displays, so my allergies were going haywire with the hundreds of furry animals in one room. The kids didn't want to leave, so we bribed them with Dippin' Dots ice cream after about half-an-hour of watching ducklings and chicks hatch.

Russell and Punky at the duck hatchery sponsored by UC Davis' agricultural school Posted by Picasa

Ducklings inside the hatchery Posted by Picasa

Russell at the chicken hatchery with the quail hatchery in the foreground Posted by Picasa

State Fair officials invited all counties in California to create and display a booth at the event to showcase their county. Many counties, especially the rural ones, did a great job with their displays, some of which resembled floats at a parade. Along with the arts and crafts show, this was one of Jenny's favorite displays at the State Fair. I'm sad and somewhat embarassed to say that none of the counties near our home (Alameda, San Francisco and Contra Costa) even bothered to show up.

Russell and Punky at Placer County's Award-Winning display at California Hall Posted by Picasa

Mechanical squirrels at the Placer County booth Posted by Picasa

Jenny and Punky observe the Sutter County display of fresh fruits and vegetables Posted by Picasa

Singing cows at the Tulare County booth at California Hall Posted by Picasa

Late on Friday, we stopped by Sacramento's Old Town for a horse-driven wagon ride around the town. The kids loved it. Unfortunately, we did not get to visit the California Train Museum or take a train and river boat ride. That will have to wait until our next visit.

We took a ride on the horse-driven wagon at Sacramento's Old Town Posted by Picasa

We knew our trip was a success when Russell and Punky began to sing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" in the car during the ride back home. It looks like I will be getting Russell and Punky a barnyard playset to go with their farm animals.