I love living in New York City! Still, sometimes it is very important to get away from all the hustle and bustle. I spent last weekend in Ulster County with family friends. We went to Lake Minnewaska State Park Preserve to swim and hike around the lake. It was so much fun!
I loved hiking in the Shawangunk mountains. It's so green, especially compared to the city.
We hiked along the carriage road around Lake Minnewaska, but I loved climbing on the rocks that surround the trail. We hiked along the trail until we reached a little turn off to go to the beach!
The lake was so cold and refreshing! I sat on a big rock and tried very hard to skip pebbles on the surface of the water. I was not very good at it and just made lots of splashes! It was so nice to sit by the water. We ate peaches, cherries, and almonds. We also had cold water in our bottles. Hurrah!
Lake Minnewaska had a lot of little salamanders- or maybe newts? They swam around looking adorable, but every time I tried to take a picture, they'd swim away! I saw some minnows too. Lake Minnewaska is a sky lake- it's up in the mountains. Apparently it is very deep.
After lots of swimming, we got dressed again and decided to hike the loop around the lake. I was surprised at how high the little cliffs above the lake feel! From the lake, they look high up, but when you're actually up there, looking down to the water is a little bit intimidating. I took out my binoculars so I could look at the people swimming below in the cold blue lake.
There was an SCA volunteer who had an information table about Emerald Ash Borers, a type of beetle that is destroying the ash trees in the area. SCA is the Student Conservation Association. Students can join and do cool jobs in different parks. Maybe I'll do it someday! After I had thoroughly scared myself with information on ash borers, we continued along the path until I found these ferns. Don't I look like I'm in Jurassic Park?
Mama's friend, our host, told me lots of cool stories about scuba diving and caves. I decided to play in the rocks and pretend to be caving for a little bit. Maybe I'll try that someday too!
The last thing I did, after completing the hike around the lake, was climb a tree! It was really nice to stretch my limbs and smell the sticky sap. Someday, it would be really fun to spend the night in a treehouse, don't you think?
I'm glad that Mama and I got to visit our friends in Ulster County! Apparently, our family has roots in Ulster County going back a very, very long time. Isn't that cool? I love having connections to people all over the world.
Have you every gone on a weekend trip? Where did you go? What did you do?
Last year, my friend Reine and I celebrated Pride together. We had so much fun that we decided to do it again this year! We met up for ice cream at the Stonewall National Monument. Stonewall is one of the newer national monuments, designated by President Barack Obama. It commemorates the Stonewall uprising that began on June 28, 1969. It's a great place to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community! I have two moms, so the monument is particularly special to me.
The Stonewall Inn is decorated for Pride with lots of rainbow flags and lights. Rainbow flags are a symbol of the LGBTQ+ community that I love! Rainbows are so cheerful, don't you think?
I had fun climbing around on the inn's facade. Because of the amazing people who have fought for LGBTQ+ equality over many, many years, I am able to grow up with married moms and attend celebrations like Pride. Of course, the struggle is not over. Someday, I hope all people will be treated equally. Still, I think it's important to celebrate successes and also keep working to improve our society.
I'm very excited, as efforts have been underway to introduce a Junior Ranger Program to the Stonewall National Monument! I would love to be a junior ranger at Stonewall! Who knows- someday, when I grow up, I may even be a ranger at Stonewall for my job!
I'm so glad Reine and I got to visit Stonewall and celebrate Pride together. Have you ever fought for something you believe in? What was it?
Happy New Year! In my family, New Year is our main winter holiday; I receive presents from Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) and my family and friends to celebrate! Once the clock strikes 12 on New Year's Eve, I am allowed to open my presents! First though, I posed with a sign to welcome 2018.
I looked under the tree and there was a wonderful array of gifts waiting for me to open them! I was so excited to see what they held inside.
The first gift, from Ded Moroz, was wrapped in wonderful, wintry paper! It looked like drawings on a chalkboard, actually! What could be inside?
It was a Moana doll! Moana is one of my all-time favorite movies. The doll is dressed in Moana's chief outfit, including her special necklace. Thank you Ded Moroz!
There was also a gift from my friend Brooke. Hurrah! Brooke gives the best gifts. She and I have a lot in common, so I knew whatever she had sent would be perfect.
Cool! Brooke sent Octonauts-themed gifts! The Octonauts is one of my favorite shows; I love to watch it with Brooke. In fact, one year we dressed up as Shellington Otter and Tweak Bunny from the Octonauts for Halloween! Inside the New Year gift were a red crab, a hilarious Bob the Blobfish, and a gooey splatter of sea snot! Wow, thanks Brooke!
The next gift to open was from Mom and Mama, my parents. I could tell right away because of the narwhal wrapping paper! Hmmm, what could be inside the package?
Whoa! I laughed and laughed! My parents had given me a plush avocado! It was huge and green. I like to eat avocado toast for breakfast with my Mom- and my Mama says that I'm such a New York kid for doing that. Now I can cuddle with my avocado, hurrah!
My next gift was decorated with octopus wrapping paper! It's so funny that there is ocean-themed holiday paper now.
It was an Elsa doll! Elsa wore her pretty holiday dress from the new Olaf's Frozen Adventure short film. She was also holding a tiny reindeer cookie! How cute!
My penultimate gift was also from my parents. What could it be? It had a label that said "do not shake!" Hmmm, very curious!
Holy hotdogs! Wow! It was a GoPro camera and a camera mount for my bicycle! So cool! I was so excited that I jumped up from beneath the tree and cheered. Yay!
Then it was time for my final New Year gift. Under the tree, wrapped in peppermint-striped paper, was a gift from my Chi'i, my Mama's mama. She also sends amazing gifts! I wondered what was in the little box.
Wow! It was a beautiful heishi necklace made with coral and turquoise beads. It is so beautiful and I was so excited to put it on.
What a wonderful selection of gifts! Thank you Ded Moroz, Brooke, Mom, Mama, and Chi'i!! I jumped up and down in the crumpled wrapping paper before putting it all in the recycling bin. Hurrah! What a wonderful New Year!
Can you believe it's 2018? Wow! I'm sending all of my blog readers wishes for a wonderful, safe, happy, and healthy 2018.
How were your holidays? Did you receive any gifts from your friends and family? Happy Happy New Year!
The holidays are such a fun time of year! Everyone seems to be more cheerful and the decorations around the city are beautiful. My building's courtyard is extra festive as we have a holly bush in our yard! On Saturday morning, things got even more beautiful when I woke up to snow falling!
I have a new parka this year. It was custom-made in Manitoba, Canada, especially for me! At first my mom and mama told me I couldn't have it until New Year, when we traditionally give gifts- but I managed to convince them that I should get it on the occasion of the first snow. Whee! I put on my parka, snow pants, and boots so that I could play in the snow.
I love the snow. It reminds me so much of New Year, of hot chocolate, and of the Nutcracker! I stopped taking ballet lessons a few years ago and I'm so relieved to have more time to play, particularly during Nutcracker season. I do miss the excitement of performing, but performances are a reward for hard work and I just didn't have the energy or passion to do that anymore. I'm glad. Sometimes you might think that you should never quit something, but if it's making you unhappy you might need to rethink things. I know I made the right decision.
Hurrah for the holiday season! May your days be merry and bright as the solstice approaches. I can't wait for New Year. Only a few more weeks!
One of my favorite holiday traditions is decorating our New Year Tree! Usually a holiday tree is decorated for Christmas, but it's also a Russian tradition to decorate a tree for the New Year holiday. Since my family celebrates New Year instead of Christmas, we call it a New Year tree! My friend Brooke came over for her third year helping me decorate. Brooke and her family celebrate Christmas, but in a secular way. Secular means non-religious, just in case you weren't familiar with the word.
This year is special because my parents let me and Brooke put the fairy lights on the tree by ourselves! It was a lot harder than we thought it would be! The branches kept poking us. Ouch!
Brooke is really great with putting the lights on. I kept putting the lights all clumped up together, but Brooke helped me make sure they looked even. That's why we're good friends- we help each other!
Spending time with friends and family is my favorite part of the holiday season. I was really missing my friend Violet, who lives in Utah. Luckily I was able to call her and hear that she's doing really well and enjoying the holidays! It's a good thing that Brooke is here to cheer me up!
Once the fairy lights were ready, Brooke and I started putting ornaments on the tree. This little snowflake is always my favorite- he's been on my tree since New Year 2008! Wow! We had so much fun putting all the little characters on the tree.
This year Brooke and I tried something a little different. We put little Miffy character toys in the tree to show my Mom how much I love her! Mom spent time living in the Netherlands, where the artist Dick Bruna invented Miffy! Miffy makes her think of that time in her life; she's a special character to her.
Finally it was time to put the star on the tree! Brooke held me hand to keep me steady as I climbed onto the nightstand to reach the treetop. Hurrah! The tree looks so beautiful with all the fairy lights, ornaments, and the star.
Brooke loves to share her family's holiday traditions with me. This year, we decided to hang stockings as her family does. We left our stockings hanging from our beds. (Brooke says you're supposed to hang them from the fireplace, but we don't have one.) When we wake up on Christmas morning, they will be filled with treats like small toys or candy.
The holidays are such a wonderful time of year! I'm so glad I have good friends with whom I can celebrate!
P.S. I recently celebrated my birthday! Keep an eye on my blog for a post about my party!
Hi everyone! It's me, Inky! I'm reporting from Los Alamos, New Mexico. Los Alamos is the home of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park because it's the birthplace of the atomic bomb. Atomic bombs are nuclear weapons, which get their power from nuclear reactions.
Nuclear weapons are terrible, terrible things. The United States exploded two of these during World War II in Japan. "Little Boy" was detonated over Hiroshima, while "Fat Man" was in Nagasaki. Many, many people died and suffered from serious injuries and illnesses as a result. In fact, I want to be very clear that my trip to Manhattan Project NHP was not to celebrate nuclear weaponry, but to learn from it.
The Manhattan Project park is actually made of three different sites. The one I visited is in New Mexico, but there are two others- in Hanford, Washington and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The part of the park in Los Alamos is called Project Y. I went with my Mama and my grandma, Chi'i. I learned a lot about how the scientists and their support teams lived. The lodge in this picture is Fuller Lodge, which was used as a community center during Project Y.
Near the lodge is an old cabin, the Romero Cabin, which represents the settlers in the area of European descent. It's one of three homestead cabins still standing. However, the first inhabitants of the Los Alamos area were the Ancestral Puebloan people. Mama, Chi'i, and that side of my family are modern Pueblo people! If you want to learn more about the Ancestral Puebloans from the Los Alamos area, click on this link to read about my visit to nearby Bandelier National Monument. There are remains of an Ancestral Puebloan site right next to the Romero cabin, but I didn't pose next to it out of respect.
This is me in front of the Hans Bethe House. Hans Bethe and Edwin McMillan, who each won a Nobel Prize, lived in this house! It's going to be a museum soon. We didn't go in, but I posed in front of the flowers in the yard!
Here I am posing with statues of J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves. Dr. Oppenheimer was in charge of the scientific part of the Manhattan Project, while General Groves was the commanding general. Their work was very important scientifically, but again, we have to remember that tragedy that atomic weapons brought.
Across the street from the statues, there is a little Visitor Center for the park. Whenever I visit a new park, I try to participate in the Junior Ranger Program. I got straight to work on my booklet! It was really fun to learn about the Manhattan Project.
When I finished my booklet, Ranger Kirk and Volunteer Jackie posed with me for this photo and gave me a badge. They were interested in learning more about my family's Pueblo culture, so we were able to share knowledge between rangers and visitors! Cool! I recommended that they go down to Albuquerque and visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Meeting rangers and Parks volunteers is one of my favorite parts of visiting NPS sites!
Junior Rangers at Manhattan Project NHP have the choice of a badge or a patch. I chose a badge, but the patch is awesome too! It features an atom and the names of all three sites in the Manhattan Project.
Thanks for learning about the Manhattan Project with me! Remember- while atomic weapons are powerful, peace on Earth is the way to go!
Hi everyone! Summer is coming to an end, but my family decided to go to the beach one last time. We drove out to Robert Moses State Park on Fire Island. To get there, you take a causeway, which is a series of bridges over the bay! It was really cool.
I have a really cute sand mold that makes sea turtles! I had so much fun visiting the sea turtles in Costa Rica in 2014, so I made a whole crew of them. You can see them very well in this photo, but you they are the little ball-shaped shapes in front of me.
As the sun got lower in the sky, I took off my sunglasses and took my bucket to collect shells. There are so many beautiful shells on the beach! I think the scallop shells have a pretty shape, but I love the purple color of clamshells.
Just before my family left to drive back to New York City, I made a sandcastle using my shell bucket. It's fun figuring out just the right mix of sand and water to make the perfect castle.
Before long, it was time to head back home. I put on my sunglasses and looked around, memorizing how the beach looked. Sometimes we go to a more local beach in the fall and winter to take walks, but this would be the last summery visit until next year. Goodbye beach!
Do you have any activities that you only do in the summer?