Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Viva Botanica!

It's Fiesta time in San Antonio and this year I was on the hunt for a safe, family-friendly event we could all enjoy.  The majority of Fiesta events are either too crowded, too expensive, or not explicitly family-friendly.  Last year we attended Fiesta de los Ninos, but even that event left a lot to be desired (it was way too crowded and although it was free to get in, almost every activity was overpriced-especially when you have an abundance of kids to entertain).  We have a current membership to the Botanical Gardens so we had nothing to lose by checking out its official Fiesta event, Viva Botanica.  To our delight - ding ding ding - it was a winner!!
Our first activity was: "Making Flower Crowns"!  Or should I say, "Watching the Volunteer Make the Crowns for Us". To be fair, some of the steps were a bit tricky for little hands to complete, but I had to chuckle when the volunteer blurted out "No no no!" and tried to snatch the tissue paper out of our hands when she saw Billy and me trying to help the kids make their crowns.  I guess she was worried about quality control, but we were only trying to spare her from having to make 5 crowns all by herself.
The crowns turned out beautiful and even the boys enjoyed theirs.  Daniel assured us that he made his using only "boy colors" and Adrian informed us that his crown was actually moose antlers.  He emphasized his point by spontaneously dropping to the sidewalk and loping around like a moose from time to time.
Our next activity:  Ladybug Release!  Nature girl Mikea was thrilled by her tickly little friend.
Here she is attempting to coax him onto a plant:
Sadly for Mikea and Joe, however, their ladybugs were uncooperative and elected to fly away instead of crawling onto a plant like they were supposed to.  Oh, the disappointment...
However, all was soon forgotten by the next event, the Children's Parade. The whole gang received ribbons and leis for participating.  Next year we'll be more prepared and actually make some floats for the parade.
After the Children's Parade the kiddos played in a couple of bouncy houses and then we headed over to the Conservatory for some more activities.  On the way, we passed one of several art installations placed throughout the grounds.  I had been reading aloud the names of them along the way, but as soon as Daniel saw this one he decided it looked like a giant noodle ball.  So, "Noodle Ball" it was. 
After marveling in the delights of the Noodle Ball, we continued our journey to the Conservatory where each child potted an herb.  We left with Spearmint, Cilantro, Chives, Stevia, and two varieties of Basil.  I've been wanting to start an herb garden for quite a while, so now I simply have no excuse not to!
Again, my Nature Girl was in heaven. 
After the herbs, the final activity was making a Papel Picado.  Papel Picado is a Mexican folk craft that means "perforated paper" and are used in the festive banners you see displayed throughout our city for Fiesta. 
On our way out of the Botanical Gardens we stopped at the pond and instantly became engaged in the drama of a bee who buzzed itself right into the water.  The kids were fascinated by its plight and we were all relieved when after a valiant struggle, the bee extracted itself from the water to join the hundreds of other bees swarming in the flowers nearby. 
All in all, Viva Botanica was a smashing success.  We will most certainly be back next year and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a not-too-crowded, fun, family-friendly Fiesta Event!