Jingle Bells are here!

It’s time to celebrate the Holidays!

Come join us for some holiday fun

with

MS. BITS N’ BOBS @

MANHATTAN VILLAGE MALL, THIS THURSDAY,

DECEMBER 10TH @ 10:00 AM

AND

PAGES BOOKSTORE, MANHATTAN BEACH

THIS MONDAY,

DECEMBER 14TH @ 10:30 AM

Let’s jingle with jingle bracelets and jingle ornaments.

Here are our ingredients:

Pipe cleaners
Jingle Bells

2015-12-08 03.37.19Thread the jingle bells through the pipe cleaners.


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Create jingling candy cane ornaments.

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Or make a jingle bells wreath.

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Or a jingling bracelet.

May your Holiday Season be filled with joy and happiness

Love,

Ms. Bits N’ Bobs

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Hollydale Library Kids

I swore to myself when I began writing this blog that I would only write when I had something worthwhile to say.  I am sure that I have had some valuable insights in the last eight months.  However, it is the kids of Hollydale Library in South Gate, Los Angeles who have inspired me to put pen to paper.

My story begins last summer 2011 when I was invited to perform a show called India Jane Adventurer Supreme at Hollydale library, by Jenny Wrenn – a very kind, unpretentious, red-haired librarian.  The theme was “One World”.  My shows generally skew toward younger kids where we explore lots of fantasy and fairytales.  When I got to Hollydale library on a sweltering July afternoon – there were a bunch of teens hanging around the library with a few of their younger brothers and sisters scattered amongst them.  Needless to say, South Gate is not the fanciest part of Los Angeles and I was a tad concerned with how fantastical, galloping unicorns and the three blind mice playing on the Eiffel tower in Paris were going to play to these rambunctious teens.

However, the theme being “One World” – I figured when we visited the different continents on our adventure to discover where the five Olympic rings were hidden, surely I had something in my ammunition of these many years of performing to engage this age-group.  Okay, I was nervous.

What I didn’t bargain for – and isn’t this always the most humbling of old adages – was how much these kids taught me about rising to the challenge and performing.

They sang, they danced and they came up with the “One World Rap”.  The self consciousness that one usually associates with teens was noticeably absent.  These kids were way to cool for that!

I told the lovely Jenny Wrenn that I had a show specifically for teens – The Shakespeare Show – Lady Elizabeth Shakespeare Tells Tales.  Lady Lizzie as she is affectionately known to her friends or Lazy Lizzie as she had been aptly nicknamed by her dastardly Uncle William Shakespeare – mostly ‘cos she’s lazy … has time- traveled from the Globe Theatre in 1599 to the present day seeking the most brilliant and imaginative kids to help her comprehend the incomprehensible – her uncle’s plays.  We return to Shakespeare’s’ Globe and the kids audition for various Shakespearean plays.

Several months later and in real time just last week, I returned to South Gate as Lazy… I mean Lady Lizzie.  Generally, just the word Shakespeare  has a teen running for the hills.  These courageous teens, they were waiting outside for me to arrive.  Either that or the ice-cream truck had just come ’round.  Filled with quip and jest, these bubbly, vivacious kids helped me to carry the costumes and props inside the library.  They patiently waited for me to get done with the educational part of the program.  They answered some insightful questions such as What is something significant that has happened in the 21st Century?Justin Bieber.  More seriously, they knew the plot of Romeo and Juliet.  They made the connection between Julius Caesar and present day rulers.  They dove into sword fighting as though we still lived in the time of The Three Musketeers.  If any of you Hollydale kids are reading this – I still want the answer as to whom you think will run against Obama in the next election!    Then they acted out the scenes with such joy and humor and curiosity that their personalities and inventiveness burst forth like brilliant rays of sunshine.    So I issue a challenge to anyone who has ever thought that teens are a difficult group to work with, that if you just respect them and give them an opportunity to shine, they will awe you with their radiance… or maybe the Hollydale kids as just unique.

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If you know of a group of teens that would enjoy a Lady Lizzie show, a group of kids who are as curious and vivacious as those Hollydale kids, please put them or their librarian, their teacher, a parent in touch with me.  I would love to perform a show for them and they deserve a chance to shine in a great Shakespeare play!

Ms. Bits N’ Bobs Show – Take #2

Hallo there friends and fan’s of Ms. Bits N’ Bobs.  I got such positive feedback from the first two shows, that we are going to do two more.  Much Thanks to  Manhattan Beach Karate and Yoga for letting me turn their studio into a black box theatre.  In this space, the kids get to come up on into the stage space and help act out the show.
Do your kids enjoy acting?
Do your kids enjoy adventure?
Do your kids enjoy fairytales?
Where do the stories go when they get lost?
Help us solve the mystery!

Bring your cameras!  Bring your imaginations!

Watch your children dress up, act, sing and dance whilst they go on a grand adventure with Ms. Bits N’ Bobs to the Land of Imagination

The Ms. Bits & Bobs Show

A Family Performance Brought to you by

the Land of Imagination.

Interactive Children’s theater

www.landofimagination.com

Saturday May 14th & Saturday May 28th

11:00am to Noon

Tickets are $10 per person – cash at the door.

We would love you to join us with your younger kids.  However, should brunch beckon, drop offs welcomed for children 5 and up with contact info.

Reservations  are necessary as the space holds 30 people

RESERVE! RESERVE! RESERVE! BEFORE WE SELL OUT!!!

310 594 2774 or email nicole@landofimagination.com

OR


Manhattan Beach Karate and Yoga Studio

3207 Manhattan Avenue @Longfellow

Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

The Journey has Begun…

The Journey has begun…

The premiere Ms. Bits N’ Bobs theatre show has come and gone.

Without a hitch?  Mmmm?  Without any angst?  Nmm?  Fun to perform?  YES! YES! YES!

Blessed art thou, the Karate Sensei who told me that I should just go ahead and do my shows in his Karate Studio.  www.mbkarateandyoga.com He is also the guy who told me many years ago, “you do the best that you can do, with what you’ve got.”  This was when I was attempting to do karate kicks whilst holding two year old Olivia on one arm.  A crawling 9 month old Tallulah was trying to cling to my leg as I attempted to complete a Karate kick whilst avoiding kicking my son, Dash, with whom I was trying to bond and the only reason I had taken up Karate in the first place.

Ah those halcyon days… why did I ever think that those were the difficult times?  I must have sent out over 300-400 emails advertising these shows.  I approached all the very kind pre-school and elementary school principles and librarians, teachers and friends, who have provided so much encouragement and support over the last few years.  I handed out a few hundred flyers to people around my local school, including the all important local nanny network who hang out on the greenbelt close to my house.  All of this work and anxiety to merely sell 30 tickets per show.

Show #1… I sold 10 tickets!  Now on my behalf, it was the first weekend of baseball season and the St. Patrick’s Day parade.  Still… only ten tickets!

I had known going into that Saturday morning, that perhaps I had some learning to do in the marketing department.  I was  still bummed that so few people were showing up to the premiere show.

Holy Flying Guacamole!  They were the greatest ten people to ever participate in a show.  We took on the challenge of going to the Land of Imagination with verve and vigor.  When we galloped into an alternative universe on our magical horses, we flew there through a splash of color and camaraderie with fairies, dragons, Cinderella and even a cannon that shot out kids.  We met Charlotte, the spider from Charlotte’s Web.  She joined the audience – we needed her, she made 11.  One of our kids could describe Hansel and Gretel’s house so clearly, that we were all salivating to try some of the sparkling gingerbread.  But we knew the witch was really inside waiting for her chance to jump us.  The kids could talk all kinds of animal languages, my favorite being the Human Language where the mom spoke Blah, Blah, Blah all day.

I feel invigorated and joyful that I had the chance to entertain and be entertained by those magical children.  The journey has begun with small but magical steps.  I look forward to Ms. Bits N’ Bobs – Take #2 this weekend.  Naturally, I would love to share the adventure with you.

Ms. Bits N’ Bobs Live Performances Coming to a Theatre Near You!!

Hallo there friends and fan’s of Ms. Bits N’ Bobs.  I am so excited to be able to perform some shows in my own theatre space, thanks to Manhattan Beach Karate and Yoga.  I would love you to come and see the first couple of shows….

The Ms. Bits & Bobs Show

A Family Performance Brought to you by

the Land of Imagination.

Interactive Children’s theater

www.landofimagination.com

Saturday March 12th & Saturday March 19th

11:00am to Noon

Tickets are $10 per person – cash at the door.

We would love you to join us with your younger kids.  However, should brunch beckon, drop offs welcomed for children 5 and up with contact info.

Reservations  are necessary as the space holds 30 people

RESERVE! RESERVE! RESERVE! BEFORE WE SELL OUT!!!

310 594 2774 or email nicole@landofimagination.com

OR


Manhattan Beach Karate and Yoga Studio

3207 Manhattan Avenue @Longfellow

Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

The Definition of a Winner!

If you have been following my blog, I hope that you have figured out that I believe in a positive attitude when it comes to raising children.  It’s so uplifting  when you see your daughters following a similar philosophy.

I don’t know what bedtime conversation is in your household… The following took place in our home last night.

Olivia:  Do you ever feel like a loser, Tallulah?

Tallulah:  No?

Olivia:  ‘Cos if you do, you’re not you know.

Tallulah:  Really?

Olivia:  Yeah, ‘cos your sperm swam faster than all the other sperms and got to mom’s egg first.  See, no matter how much of a loser you sometimes feel, you’re always a winner!

Tallulah:  Mom?!!!

Now I have to define sperm for my six year old.


The Mighty Fashionisto

Once upon a time I wore fashionable, quirky London/New York city finery.  These have been replaced by wanna-work-out-but-can’t-quite-get-my-butt-in-gear clothing.  One early morning, the tables were turned upside down in our household.

I am still rushing to finish the breakfast dishes and prepare the school lunches when I hear the following remark from the living room…

“Mmm…I don’t know about wearing those boots with cut off jeans.”  A fashion opinion in my household at 7:30 am in the morning from a male?  And Dash had already left for school.   That left…

The Mighty Buza (aka my husband and father of our children) has dared to confront Olivia (8 years going on 18 years – fashion icon to our family) on her brand new black boots – admired by the entire third grade.

Worried for his safety, I drop the clutter of mugs and dishes in the sink and rush to his rescue, dripping suds in my wake.  There…on the couch sits the Mighty Buza and his daughters – Tallulah has joined the fray – discussing the merits of boots versus kicks.  Kicks, by our definition, are Converse All Star/Skechers sneakers that come in a variety of colors from simple black to sparkling bejeweled rainbows. The discussion has not come to blows and tears, just bright, articulate, bubbly conversation.  As I am picking my jaw up from the sudsy floor, the Mighty Buza politely explains that kicks are a more appropriate shoe to wear with jeans – whilst boots look great with skirts and leggings.  The girls are listening intently.  Did you read that!  “Listening intently!!”  Not dismissing him like an abhorrent vegetable on their dinner plate.

Then…the Mighty Buza suggests “Let’s see a fashion show!”  Off dances Olivia on the improvised catwalk performing a Parisian perfect runway show complete with twirl and contemptuous stare pose.

Tallulah:  Well…I’m not going to do THAT!

Before my astounded, still sleepy eyes… up rises the Mighty Buza and demonstrates the model saunter – one step directly in front of the other, shoulders back, hips a swaying – to his youngest child.

My jaw has dropped so far down that its threatening to roll out of the door by this time.  Tallulah – who is model tall and therefore naturally slouches – jumps off the couch – stands up to her full height, shoulders back and produces her own magnificent model on the catwalk swagger.

“And that’s how it’s done.” pronounces my husband “The Mighty Buza” as they each peck me on the cheek and head out the front door to school and work respectively.

Mama Points

 

My dad had this point system that he used with my younger half-brother and sister.  They lived in the USA.  I lived in London, England with my mom.  I would hear about it every summer when I visited.  You got “goods” for doing well in school, doing chores when asked, generally doin’ good.  Points got taken away for disobedience, naughtiness, whatever-annoyed-dad etc…  These were called “bads“.  You get the idea.  When you got enough points there was a trip to Baskin Robbins, 31 flavors.

I was exempt from this system, being a summer visitor, but still experienced the joy of 31 flavors.  Yay! for Summer visitors.  My younger sister hated the points system and my little brother was ambivalent.  When it came time for me to begin figuring out discipline for my own children, like many of us, I was trying to figure out a system.  I’m a deep believer in positive enforcement.  A kindergarten catch-phrase at my kids school comes to mind…”Catch your children being good“.  Going on my siblings mixed experiences I thought I would try the points system, but you only got points for being good.  When my children were disobedient or “not good” there was not a “punishment”, but I would let them know that if they could change the behavior to a positive one then they would get a Mama Point.  For instance, if there was an issue sharing toys and Dash ripped a toy out of Olivia’s hands…I would normally be brought in as Olivia screamed a five-alarm fire alert just to let me and the neighborhood know that injustice was going on in our household.  First, I never assume that there is just one side to the story.  Then I sit down, hug them both and ask each side to tell me the problem.

Dash:  It’s my toy, I got it for my 4th birthday from Josh.  (note to self…Dash is now 8.)

Olivia:  I was playing with it before Dash.  He only wants it because he doesn’t want me to have it.  (Most insightful)

Tallulah:  They can both have all of my toys.  (Tallulah is my kindest, most altruistic child, who is also the most materialistic.  Her favorite line being…let’s go buy something at Target, Mama.  When I’m done playing with it we can give it to charity.)

Me:  Tallulah, you and I are going to go and play in the other room.  Dash and Olivia…I am going to leave you alone for five minutes on this clock.  If you can figure out this issue by yourselves in the next five minutes, you will both get a Mama Point.  If you cannot, I will take the toy away from both of you until you work it out.

Most of the time, they figure the issue out most effectively between themselves.  Then they each get a Mama Point and they have great pride in their achievement.

Mama Points have now been a staple in our household for years.  They subsequently evolved into “Brother” and “Sister” points.  These were completely initiated by the kids.  As Dash is quite a bit older than the girls, it is the ultimate accolade to receive a Brother Point.

No doubt you are wondering what my children’s favorite Baskin Robbins, 31 flavors treat is?  There is no reward for achieving a certain number of Mama Points.  This was not by any great design on my part.  I loved 31 flavors and when I first thought up the system, I planned on some kind of reward system.  But with three kids, somehow…getting the chart on the wall…counting the Mama Points…getting everyone in the car and to Baskin Robbins…whilst still getting healthy food in them before the trip.  Well, it was too overwhelming.  Besides, I was and still am really, really into giving out many Mama Points.  It would have been ice-cream every day, six times a day.

So what is the reward, you are asking yourselves?  What is the incentive to try to earn a Mama Point?  The reward is the Mama Point.  There is no incentive, because the idea is to catch your child out doing “GOOD” many, many times during the day.  If they wash their hands without you asking, they get a Mama Point…and let them know its because you didn’t have to ask.  If they wash their hands after you asked them, they get a Mama Point…and let them know you appreciate them listening to you.  I get as much out of Mama Points as my kids, because it reminds me how many times a day my children try to do good.

I believe that people, kids and grown-ups like to be appreciated.  More than anything, we like our parents appreciation.  We want our parent’s approval.  Mama Points, for me, are an effective way of letting my children know that I appreciate the effort that they are making.

Mr. Rogers had a song that he used in his shows Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

You are Special

by Fred. M. Rogers

You are my friend
You are special
You are my friend
You’re special to me.
You are the only one like you.
Like you, my friend, I like you.

In the daytime
In the nighttime
Any time that you feel’s the right time
For a friendship with me, you see
F-R-I-E-N-D special
You are my friend
You’re special to me.
There’s only one in this wonderful world
You are special.

My Mama Points are a way of letting my children know, multiple times a day that they are special to me.

All of you who are supporting me by reading this blog are special to me.  Thank you and you all get a Mama Point.

Sunday Morning Moment

 

We are sitting around on Sunday morning, watching the end of Toy Story 2

Me:  Oh no, is Woody going to die?

Tallulah:  Oh please mom, don’t you know that all stories have a happy ending.

Olivia:  No they don’t.  What about Romeo and Juliet?

Dash:  Pu..lease…Romeo and Juliet was written before Jesus was born.

Just Sign ‘Em Up!

 

Olivia and Tallulah may disown me for writing this particular story. Though sometimes it’s tempting to want to sign your children up for the military at a young age, this isn’t about that.  However, sign-ups are here again for AYSO soccer season.  For those of you in other countries, AYSO is American Youth Soccer Organization.  Soccer is a huge sport for kids in America.  I don’t know what happens when we reach adulthood, ‘cos unlike in England, Spain, Mexico, Italy, South Africa and the rest of the world no-one here really gives soccer the time of day as a grown-up.

Needless to say, I have signed up all three of my children to run around a field and hopefully score a couple goals this coming season.  Dash, now 12, has always scored goals in soccer, before specializing as a goalie and I naively assumed that all children did.  Olivia (8) has gone two seasons without scoring and does not like the game (I wonder why?)  Tallulah (6) who looks tall and athletic, is scared of the soccer ball (mostly ‘cos her sister prepared her with menacing stories of mean running girls at bedtime.)  Both of them have told me in no uncertain terms that they do not want to play soccer.

So why has this crazy mother signed them all up?  Not to mention the fact that my husband or I have to get the kids to three practices and three soccer games every week. Come to think of it…I’m rapidly talking myself out of the entire proposition, which is not the goal of the story.

There are the obvious positives…running around and getting sweaty, working as a group, learning that you are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.  It gives my kids a social outlet that is apart from school. They will meet kids from other elementary schools, so that when they make that transition into middle and high school they’ll already know a whole bunch of kids from the other feeder schools.

But here is the kicker (yes, pun intended) for me…  Dash, even though he sometimes scores, is not the star of his team.  Whilst driving him to a friend’s house recently, I asked him whether I had made the right decision to just “sign him up” each year, when he was 8, 9, 10 years old.  These were the famous “NO” years for Dash.  Vegetables for dinner? NO!  Sports?  NO!  Ice cream?  NO!  I mean YES.  I was more than a little surprised when I received an unflinching, unreserved, in-my-face YES! Absolutely. Mom, you did the right thing.   Just Sign ‘Em Up!

Currently, Dash is a great, well-respected soccer goalie.  He understands and knows that he could never have gotten to this place or figured out his position without the years of practice and of winning and losing games.  He understands that you need to earn the respect of your coaches and your team mates over time.  He understands and values respect – others and his own.   And whilst many American adults may not have a passion for soccer, we do like our self-respect.

So, although I am sure that the concept of dogged determination and constant practice can be learned in other areas of life, group sports infuse this idea at a young age.   AYSO soccer is so well organized that all you have to really do is… just sign ’em up.

Dash is glad I did.

The Bits N’ Bobs of the Week Side Bar:

(AKA compulsory read for desperate parents trying to get their kids of the TV, computer, Wii, XBox, DS screen)

You may have heard through the grapevine about a certain World Cup in a certain country of my birth, South Africa, coming up.  Tallulah is all about the Spectator Sport.  She is the inspiration for this week’s “bit n’ bob of the week”.  For those of you with kids there is an entire section of my website devoted to arts n’ crafts or activities that are linked to the shows and now I guess the blog.  (See top of the menu on the right).  So voila… here goes.

FIFA World Cup Art’s n’ Crafts activity

Choose your country and some countries that your team is playing in the FIFA world cup.  Have your child make flags for each country using regular 81/2″ x11″ paper.  Attach popsicle sticks, garden sticks or kebab sticks on the back and wave to your hearts content.

Tallulah and I are rooting for England, (adopted country #1) vs. USA (adopted country #2) this coming Saturday.  The rest of the family are pulling for the USA.  I know, I know, the TV screen still involved, but I’m weaning slowly.