Art that's educational and fun: Art In Island 3D Museum

Art in Island 3D museum

Art can do many things for many different people. It can inspire. It can educate. It can spur people to action. It can calm them down. It can do all of those things, but art doesn't have to do any of them to justify its existence. Sometimes all art has to do is entertain!

Entertainment, not education, was foremost on our minds when we visited Art in Island, a 3D art museum in Quezon City. Unlike most art museums, visitors are encouraged to touch and explore -- in fact, that's where all the fun comes from! But we also managed to learn a thing or two about optical illusions and how your brain works.

Art in Island is located near Araneta Coliseum in Cubao. Like almost any destination in Metro Manila, it's tiresome to get to (lots of traffic), but it's definitely worth the trip.  Even before you enter the museum, you are treated to a series of amazing 3D images painted onto the outside walls.
Art in Island 3D museum

Just after you enter the museum, you'll find yourself walking through a gallery of optical illusions, including the young/old woman Illusion, the Zollner Illusion, and the Blivet Illusion (shown below).
Art in Island 3D museum

One of my favorites was a rotating illusion that made me feel like I was spinning round and round in a closed room. Just looking at the photo makes me nauseous!
Art in Island 3D museum

The rest of the museum was devoted to 3D paintings (over 200 of them!). I've never seen anything like it. We wandered through a series of rooms with walls and floors painted to resemble a variety of scenes: underwater, jungle animals, ancient monuments, fantasy lands, popular tourist attractions, and more.

Visitors can wander around and marvel at how the paintings look like they're popping out of the wall, but from this point on, each painting or mural doubles as a cool photo opp. Thanks to the wonders of optical illusion and 3D art, visitors can take photos that make their subjects look like they're part of the painting.  When you (the subject) and the photographer are positioned in just the right way, you'll end up looking like you're sprouting wings, climbing out of a Renaissance painting, fighting a sea monster, or riding a lion.  Keep scrolling down for just a small sample of the fun photos we ended up with!

Check out this giant version of the previous rotating illusion. I much prefer this one because the room isn't spinning!
Art in Island 3D museum

Many areas were filled with murals  designed to look like actual paintings. A lot of them were inspired by famous works of art like Da Vinci's Creation of Adam, Fragonard's The Swing, and Van Gogh's Starry Night.
Art in Island 3D museum

Some were cheeky twists on the originals......
Art in Island 3D museum

... and others were just plain cheeky.
Art in Island 3D museum

Sometimes the photos look better when you have actual props. For this photo, I lent the kids some peso bills to throw in the air, so it becomes more challenging to figure out which bills are real and which are painted on the wall.
Art in Island 3D museum

Sometimes props are provided by museum... but as with everything in this place, don't be fooled by appearances. How much of the gondola below is made of wood and how much is painted into the painting?
Art in Island 3D museum

Here's another great example of how positioning a "prop" in front of a painting makes it easier to incorporate yourself into the scene.
Art in Island 3D museum

Props are all well and good, but sometimes all it takes is a bit of clever artwork and proper positioning to fool the eye.
Art in Island 3D museum

We were thrilled to see the Yellow Chair Illusion featured on NatGeo's Brain Games (except this chair was red). This photo takes a bit of practice to set up so that it looks convincing. I purposely chose a photo that wasn't quite perfect so that if you look closely, you can see how your depth perception fools you into thinking that Tiny Pea is sitting on a giant chair.
Art in Island 3D museum

Another awesome illusion is the Ames Room, which makes it look like one twin is 5 years older than the other.
Art in Island 3D museum

When you have identical twins, it doesn't take a lot of smoke and mirrors to set up this fun illusion!
Art in Island 3D museum

Filipinos are crazy about taking photos and posing for selfies, so this is the perfect kind of museum to have in the Philippines. We are so glad we "dropped in" to take a look!
Art in Island 3D museum

Things to know

Art in Island is open 9:30AM-9:30PM. It is closed on Mondays (check their Facebook page for the latest schedules and entrance fees).
Art in Island 3D museum

How long you stay in the museum depends on how much you love posing for photos. There are a LOT of paintings and murals, and if you want to pose for a photo at each and every stop, it will probably take you 4-5 hours.  Plan on staying at least 1 hour, probably 2.  I think we stayed 2.5 hours and I don't think we came close to posing with even half of the available spots. There just came a point when we were all posed out.

Shoes are not allowed inside the museum. Visitors must leave their shoes in a locker and go around the museum barefoot or in socks -- so don't forget to wear socks (or purchase some from the museum) when you visit! Note that we ended up removing our socks for some of our photos because we looked just plain silly wearing socks, or because we needed the traction of bare feet in order to stay in our pose.
Art in Island 3D museum

There are markers on the floor to help you figure out the best place to stand in order to take the perfect photo.
Art in Island 3D museum

Now and then you'll find photo posing suggestions for many of the murals and paintings. Take note of body and hand placement... but don't be afraid to experiment and try your own poses!
Art in Island 3D museum

Share the art!  Unless you're on a special private tour, there will be many other visitors posing for photos and waiting for another group to be done so they can take their turn. Be aware of where you're standing and don't block other people's shots.
Art in Island 3D museum

 There is a cafe just outside the final gallery where you can buy snacks and drinks.
Art in Island 3D museum

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Levi's Stadium: The good, the bad, the ugly.

Levi's Stadium

This weekend Alfie is watching Manchester United play FC Barcelona in the International Champions Cup. I'm green with envy! These are two of the biggest football clubs in the world, and even if only a portion of their first team plays, it's going to be an amazing match. Hopefully he'll get to see the (un)holy trinity of strikers -- Messi, Suarez, and Neymar -- match skills against Van Persie, Rooney, Mata, and more. What's more, they'll be playing in one of the best new stadiums around: Levi's Stadium.

Levi's Stadium is the home of the San Francisco (um, not quite accurate any more!) Forty-Niners football team. The new stadium is located right across the parking lot from the Great America theme park in Santa Clara. I visited Levi's Stadium for the first time early this year for a Monster Truck event, and immediately understood why so many people love this place.  Here are the top 3 reasons I think Levi's Stadium is great:

The stadium is HUGE.  It holds 68,500 people and it's really impressive.

The stadium takes advantage of all the latest technology. Levi's stadium is the first United States professional football stadium to have achieved LEED Gold certification, with many sustainable features like a green roof, solar panels, and reclaimed water irrigation system. People with tickets to a Levi's Stadium event can use their Stadium app to purchase parking passes and order food at the stadium -- you can either pick it up at an express lane or have it delivered to your seat!  Other hi-tech conveniences for fans include charging stations (yes!!) and giant screens that show all the action.

Yes, they serve the usual hot dogs and fries and burgers pretzels, and pizza, but I love that they serve so many other things to eat! You can get fish and chips, curry, German sausages, and more.

Now, on to the dark side. There are two things I dislike about this stadium and the team that runs it: Traffic management and Community Relations. I understand that with 68,000 people descending on a single location, there is bound to be traffic, and I do commend management for attempting to plan ahead. However, traffic is still a mess around the stadium. Despite their best efforts, traffic flow can be really confusing, especially if you're not the kind of person who does online research before the event, or checks Twitter for traffic updates. Parking is expensive, and if you don't buy parking passes well in advance (online), you'll end up parking in a satellite lot miles and miles away.

What's worse, if you aren't attending an event at the stadium but are headed somewhere near it, you'll be redirected to parts unknown without any warning. That happened to me when I picked The Pea up at a dance convention located right across the stadium. I was forced to turn right when I wanted to go straight, and it took me a good twenty minutes (our van doesn't have GPS) and a few panicked touches of my phone (to get GPS) to find my way back.

That brings me to the second problem: being seen as a money-hungry asshole by everyone around you. The 49ers have not exactly endeared themselves to the local community. For example, they've struck a deal with Great America to have the park close down on game night, which is great for Levi's Stadium (more parking) and Great America (more money), but not great for families who want to visit Great America. The team was also involved in a controversy over soccer fields that they promised to build for the local community. Not only did they renege on their promise, they put in a bid to the city to purchase the soccer fields beside the stadium so they could turn it into parking lots, leaving hundreds of youth stranded with no soccer fields to play on.  Fortunately, the local soccer moms got up in arms and convinced the city council not only to vote to reevaluate the proposal, but also to return a donation made by the 49ers to the city, citing "conflict of interest". It's good to see kids and families win against corporate greed for once.  Hopefully the 49ers will get their act together and show everyone that they're as pretty on the inside as they are on the outside.

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Palo Alto's Magical Bridge Playground: a place for everyone

One of the reasons I love living in Palo Alto is that we're living in a place that values innovation and change. Traffic lights and potholes and internet access (hello, city council, when are we getting city-wide free wifi?) notwithstanding, Palo Alto and Silicon Valley is always on the cutting edge. And we're not just talking hi-tech: check out Palo Alto's newest playground, the Magical Bridge Playground. It's the only playground in the Bay Area designed to accommodate kids of all abilities, and one of the few playgrounds in the country that is 100% wheelchair accessible.

I've already published write-ups on the playground on Silicon Valley Mamas, Red Tricycle (the article even got picked up by SF Gate!), and Mommynearest, but I had a few more photos of this wonderful playground that I wanted to share.

What to do in Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay is one of those places that people know because of the movies -- it was the setting for Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds. Don't worry, unlike the movie, Bodega Bay isn't a creepy place at all! It's a great place for Bay Area families to spend the day.

Practice makes Perfect: Introducing the Skills Bros Jr

Ball control is one of the most basic soccer skills, and my boys have been practicing keepy-ups (kicking the ball up with one or both feet without letting the ball touch the ground) since they were in first grade.  I remember when doing 5 keepy-ups was a challenge. They were so frustrated and impatient to do more, but Alfie and I reminded them of their experiences with the Shred Sled -- that they would only improve with practice.

So they practiced.

Where to find Dole Pineapple Whip in the Bay Area

If you read my blog or follow my Instagram/Twitter/Facebook feed, you'll know that I'm obsessed with the Dole Pineapple Whip Float. It's my favorite Disneyland treat, and I have one every time I visit the park. I love it so much I even searched high and low to find the perfect recipe for homemade Dole Pineapple Whip Float so I can make it myself when I'm craving the taste.

One of the things that makes the Dole Pineapple Whip Float (and the ice-cream-only version, the Dole Pineapple Whip) so special is that it's only available at Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Sure, I've heard of places outside the parks that claim to sell it. Apparently there's even one in San Francisco called Pineapples. But does it really taste like the real thing?

Totoro Claymation Movie

The Pea loves creating stop-motion animation videos, but I think this is one of her best yet.  She filmed during our recent visit to the Children's Creativity Museum. Their Animation Studio lets kids create figures out of clay, and provides sets, backdrops, cameras, and software so they can create a stop-motion video.

This was the longest we've ever spent inside the Animation Studio -- three whole hours! Even though Totoro is a relatively simple character, The Pea took her time and spared no attention to detail, so the results are truly adorable. I'm so proud of her!

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Muir Woods: Best place in the Bay Area for a beginner's hike

Redwood groves are all around Northern California, and they're great places to take family and friends. One of the easiest to get to, is Muir Woods. It's just 12 miles north of San Francisco, but when you get there, it's like entering another world. We spent a couple of hours at Muir Woods over spring break, and it reminded me of how lucky I am to live in this area. The redwoods are truly majestic, amazing, awesome, and every other superlative adjective you can think of.

5 Things Tweens and Teens Will Love about the Children's Creativity Museum

Children's Creativity Museum

Today I took the kids to the Children's Creativity Museum for a blog event. It has been a couple of years since we last visited, so I wasn't sure whether they would be bored. They did want to go to the Animation Studio exhibit, so I figured we could stay for a couple of hours, have lunch, then leave.

We ended up staying at the museum for SIX HOURS.  I guess playing with cool technology never gets old!  It's true that a large portion of the museum appeals to younger kids (the puppet theatre, the soft play area, the art center, the reading nook), but there's still so much that kids of all ages will enjoy. Here are our top 5 choices for exhibits at the Children's Creativity Center for older kids:

Good bye, grade school

Yesterday we said goodbye to the end of an era.  The Pea has graduated from middle school; next year she'll be starting high school.  3Po and Jammy have graduated from grade school; next year they'll be starting middle school.  We've closed the chapter on the elementary school years.