Sunday, April 15, 2012

Diesel, the Great!

One year ago, after I pleaded with my mom and dad a million times (exaggerating to make a point) we rescued a retired greyhound racer. His name is Diesel and I think it is funny that he is named after a fuel for big, slow cars. That's not really a great name for a fast dog!
My mom chose a greyhound because they are known for their mild and gentle temperament. Greyhounds also have no undercoat and shed very little and that is good for my dad, who is a little allergic to dog hair.

Diesel in his cold weather coat. He does not have enough hair to stay warm!

Diesel raced for 3 years in Tucson, Arizona. A greyhound can reach a speed up to 43 mph and the only other land animal who can accelerate faster is the cheetah! Greyhounds love to run, but they have a very hard life during their racing careers. In Tucson, the dogs have to race all week with just 2 days of rest, which puts them at risk for lots of injuries. They are kept in small crates most of their free time and don't even have time or room to play.

Greyhound race

Racing dogs have to be pure bred and both of their ears are tattooed after they are born. With that tattooed number everyone can look up their family and race history.

Diesel's ear tattoo

Diesel's racing record

When Diesel came to us, he did not even know how to walk up stairs and it took us quite some time and lots of love to teach him. He also is one big, lazy and sweet couch potato. That is normal for retired racers; they need only one or two good walks a day. Diesel can still run fast, but only if we trick him into it with a treat. He LOVES his treats, but he also goes crazy for any squeaky toy!
It's so much fun playing with him, because he is never rough or even growls.

Practicing stairs!

Playtime with  squeaky toy
My mom bought Disel a big, orthopedic bed to help his hurting joints and says he deserves it after years of hard work. My dad says that Diesel sleeps more comfortable than all of us now!
Best bed in the house!

The Greyhound breed started 8,000 years ago on the open plains of the Middle East and was seen as almost god-like  in ancient Egypt. They are also known as sighthounds because they rely on their excellent eyes (not their sense of smell) for hunting. For centuries, only royalty was allowed to own Greyhounds and in the late 18th century the first Greyhound breeding club was founded in England.

Tudor royal code of arms- a greyhound!
England: "You can recognize a gentleman by his greyhound and his horse :0)

What I love most about Diesel is that he became a member of my family right way. I also adore that he is quiet. He is not a watchdog and does not bark at people, but he might quietly sneak up and give you a gentle poke with his wet nose. I don't know what we would do without him! His cutest features are his adorable eyes and his funny face.

In modern times most greyhounds are used for racing and need loving homes when they retire. They are the best pets ever and I am so happy that we adopted Diesel. Maybe I can convince mom and dad to rescue a friend for him!

Do you like dogs?
Do you know a fun fact about greyhounds?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring in Germany

Tomorrow is beginning of spring. My mom is from Germany and I love German spring.
German winters are cold and frosty, but spring is always a joy and lets all snow melt.


The trees and bushes in spring explode with blossoms in beautiful colors.

Flowers emerge from ground that had just been covered with snow.

My aunt's outdoor is trampoline is ready for use again and my favorite thing to do is jump into spring with my brother! 

Dogs can nap outside in the warm spring sun and gnomes come out to make front yards pretty.

Many people on my grandma's and aunt's street are decorating their bushes to get ready for the holidays. 
I am really looking forward to celebrate spring and Easter with my family but wished I could see my German family and friends this year too!

What is your favorite part about spring?
What is your favorite season?

                             HAPPY SPRING!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A visit to the La Brea Tar Pits

Two days ago my girl scout troop took an overnight trip to the La Brea Tar Pits. We
camped inside of the George C. Page Museum right next to a Wooly Mammoth!

Setting up our sleeping space next to the Wooly Mammoth

The La Brea Tar Pits are located right in the middle of Los Angeles, surrounded by big buildings
and busy streets. It is a very smelly, but fun place. The smell comes from a gas called methane gas. We saw it bubble up in the tar and it's actually passed by living, oil  eating bacteria.

'La Brea" means 'The Tar' in Spanish, so the name really means: the The tar Tar Pits. :0)

Tar (or Aspalt) is made of oil and has been seeping up from the ground for ten thousands of years. It has trapped thousand of animals. The pits were camouflaged with dust, leaves or water.
Imagine a plant eater looking for food getting trapped in the sticky tar. Calling for help it would attract
hungry predators like saber toothed cats or a pack of dire wolves, who ended up stuck too. Even birds, trying to feed on caucuses could not fly out and died along with the other animals.

All the bones from trapped animals were preserved by the tar and covered up by more dirt and tar. This happened again and again over the years. Over 5 million bones have been found up so far!

Tar pit with bones stuck in rock, surrounded by water and tar

We saw the skeletons of many species in the museum, like dire wolves, mammoths, saber toothed cat, ground sloths and even ancient horses.

Saber toothed cat (above) and
dire wolf skulls (below)

The bone fossils are stuck in a hard, rocky material called 'matrix'.  
Our troop examined and sorted out matrix dust to find micro (small) fossils. We found bone fragments (little splinters), wood and if you were lucky, you found little shell piecees!

Examining and sorting micro fossils
We also put together a sabertooth cat bone puzzle. We looked at a real skeleton to find out where the bones belonged. I had a rib bone to match.

Saber toothed cat rib bone
Matching bones

Our museum sleepover was a blast and I hope that I can come back soon!

Have you ever  been to the La Brea Tar Pits?
If so, what is your favorite thing to look at?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Visiting my big brother!

My brother Leon is almost 21 years old and lives on the campus of his school, USC (University of Southern California). He is very sweet and lovable.

Leon always tells me to work hard, so I can attend a great university just like him!
His grades were so good that he received a full scholarship after high school. That means that my parents do not have to pay for his classes. I sure hope that I will get a scholarship too!
I was very sad when Leon moved away from home, but I love when he picks me up and takes me on a tour of his university.

His school, USC, was founded in 1880 and is the oldest private research university in California.
It has many traditions.
For example, on their way to a football game and back, the students will kick a flagpole for good luck.
Another important tradition are the school colors, cardinal red and gold.

My daddy and brother in cardinal and gold!

I really liked the statue of George Tirebiter, the dog who was USC's unofficial mascot for a while. He wandered onto the campus in the 1940's and always chased cars to bite their tires! He was brought to football games in a limousine and led the marching band to the field. The students loved him even more when he bit the nose of a rival mascot!

George Tirebiter and I

The most important statue on campus is a life size Trojan warrior called Tommy Trojan. All  USC teams are called Trojans. My brother told me that a newspaper wrote that USC athletes fought and took losses bravely like Trojans ( warriors from ancient Greece) . The name stuck like glue.
During football games against USC's biggest rival UCLA, Tommy gets wrapped up in duct tape to protect him from vandalism.

Tommy and I

Tommy before a game :0)
Photo by Wikipedia

My favorite building was the library. It is a reader's dream! There is even a basement with lots of

Part of the library

Lastly, we visited my brother's fraternity house, where he shares a room with another student. Only boys can be members of a student fraternity. There is a sorority house across the street. Only female students can join a sorority.  I hope, I can be part of a sorority at USC one time!

Spending time with my brother was fun and exciting. I wished I could see him more!

Having fun with my big brother

Do you have siblings?
Have you been to a University?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aerial Silk!

Last year, my family and I watched a Cirque du Soleil show  and I was in awe of the aerial acrobats  swinging high above us. It looked like a mixture of gymnastics and ballet in the air. 

Cirque du soleil arial performer

Aerial silk is aerial (in the air) acrobatics performed on a special fabric
that is suspended from the ceiling. It is very long and not made out of silk, but of polyester lycra. It is also extremely strong and a little stretchy.

Aerial silk

The performers use the silk to wrap, climb, swing, suspend, twirl and drop into lots of different positions without a net under them for safety.

Lexi, my aerial teacher. She is amazing!

As soon as my dance studio offered a class, I talked my mom into signing me up. It's lots of fun!

Before we work with the silk, we bring out mats and do lots of warm up exercises to avoid injury. 

Warm up!
Firstly, Lexi ties two strands of silk into a knot. We learn positions like the
straddle and froggy.



The first techniques we learned are called wraps. We wrap the silk around our arms and legs, so we don't fall when we go into different positions.

Single foot lock (wrap)
One pose held by the single foot lock is called 'candy cane'.   :0)

Practicing a candy cane

We also learn to climb the fabric, which is mostly done by pushing up 
from a wrapped foot over and over again. I can't climb up very high yet, and 
I think my mom is happy about that!

Trying to climb high!

Aerial is FANTASTIC fun. It makes me feel calm and confident.

Have you seen an arial show?
Would you like to learn?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter fun in Big Bear

Living in Southern California is great fun.
We live only 30 minutes away from the ocean and our summers are very long.
Unfortunately, during winter time, it is too warm for snow in my area.
My mom and I love the snow and this winter break my family drove up to Big Bear
for some snowtastic fun!

We stayed in one of these mansions! Not...but our log
cabin was very cosy and comfortable :0)

The car ride was 3 hours, which is not too bad at all.
We made it up some seriously steep and twisty roads and finally the elevation 
was high enough to see the first snow! We stopped, got out of the car and had a little snow ball fight.
 Have I mentioned, that I adore snow? :0)

Arriving on the mountain

This was our second time in Big Bear, but last time, we just went sledding. Now it was time to learn how
 to ski. We rented skies, shoes and helmet and got up early next day for my first ski school lesson.
It was such amazing, tremendous, ultimate fun! The weather was sunny and not cold at all. 
My instructor told me, that she had graduated from high school 2 years early! She was very smart
and sweet and I missed her a lot when we had to leave.

My ski teacher and I

Sometimes there is not enough snow even in the mountains and snow has to be made from water 
and blown onto the slopes with big cannons.

After skiing we cooked dinner in our cabin kitchen and I had a big mug of hot chocolate every
night. Hot chocolate on a cold night is sensational.
I hope we drive into the snow again soon!

Half frozen Big Bear lake at sunset

Have you been skiing? 
Do you like the snow? 
Have you been to Big Bear?