Things to Do - Grateful List (February 2012)


1. The Electric Company
2. The Great Oasis article in The December 19 & 26, 201l New Yorker
4. SciGirls
5. Listening to Velocity Girl again (flashback)
6. Cosmic Collisions planetarium show at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum (National mall location)
7. Big Band radio on Pandora
8. My Trying to Figure It Out mixtape on Spotify
9. A Separation (movie)

10. Slow cooker chicken with tomatillos, potatoes, jalapenos, and fresh herbs from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday
11. Chili (with chocolate) on baked potatoes
12. Flatbread with salami, pesto, and ricotta
13. Family dinnertime and talking about everybody's day
14. Veedma Douro red wine, 2008 (only $15 at Twisted Vines wine bar and so so yummy)
15. Bees N' Blossoms spiced cream honey

16. A morning at Gulf Branch nature center with T (frog class, canoe time, and exploring outside)
17. A family morning at the Air & Space Museum (National mall location)
18. Attending a geocaching workshop at Longbranch Nature Center with F
19. The playground after school
20. Date night at Twisted Vines (I finally got some time with my husband!!!)
21. Amazing seats at a Capitals game, with a great win in overtime


22. Seven great movies on VHS from our neighbors (including Toy Story 2, Muppets in Space, Babe, and Madeline) - I love our VCR.


23. A 65 degree day on the first of the month
24. P and her friend, C, walking home from school swinging P's American Girl Doll, Jewel, between them
26. "Mommy, you look pretty today" - T while we walked F to school
27. P's preschool conference (my daughter talks about gay marriage and happy chickens at school)
27. The girls' dancing to Madonna's half-time show during the superbowl (she really is timeless)
28. F's fear of swimming and the fact that she tries so hard every week at lessons
29. P and L's friendship (so nice to have a best friend down the block)
30. T always wearing his "life jacket" (aka vest)
31. F's first art show (her artwork was picked to represent her grade school at the county art show)
32. P and Julian making a "turtle bed" after school in the field
33. P and P's PJ playdate (when I told them they were too young to have a sleepover, they decided to put on PJs and have a pajama playdate)
34. 3 MNOs in a row - I LOVE my preschool friends, my playgroup friends, and my blog friends (Not-So-SAHM, KidFriendly DC, Constance Reader's Guide to Throwing Books With Great Force, and But I Have A Law Degree) - feel so lucky to have so many wonderful moms in my life
35. F's excitement about the solar system
36. Dan and his dad installing our bookshelves in the living room and letting T help "I'm so happy, are you happy daddy?"
37. Jill Kahn from Smith and Noble's free in-home window consultation - so so helpful, no hard sell
38. T rocking his first dentist appointment, especially after he arranged all the chairs in the waiting room and invited everyone there to a "partypooloza" which involved dancing to no music

39. Auntie Laurie visiting and P trying on her jeans
40. T playing with all the older boys at Molly's Mardi Gras Party
41. F - "mommy, i love you as much as numbers because the numbers never end"
42. P - "F, you are not the boss of me, i can do what i want, i can play messy" (little sister is no longer a pushover, watch out world!)
43. 7000 pageviews in month (I'm growing, I'm growing, thanks to all of you for reading).


F - my family, P, art, Valentine's Day, flowers, the 100th day of school, princess isabella stories, maths, science, packages from grandma T, grandma M visiting, my new pink flower light, my astronaut Barbie, my glow-in-the-dark planet stickers

P - my family, dollies, "everything in our house", art projects at school, American Girl dolls, flowers, Valentine's Day, the playseum, playdates with my friend P, books, crafts, headbands, swings

T - good guys, bad guys, daddy home, grandpa, auntie laurie, the airplane museum, my family, mamas



Things to Do - 11 Questions (and some spring photos)


11 questions. Someone tagged Erika Ray Photography and rather then tag individual bloggers she opened it up to whoever wants to play. And since I love stuff like this, I jumped right in. So here goes:

a. What's your middle name and why is it your middle name?

Ann. Just because it sounded good next to Darcy. It has no real significance. Other than my initials come together to make an almost-word - DAT. How cool is DAT?
If I ever change my name I'll be DAM, which is probably more appropriate for me.

b. What's your actual favorite tv show? Not the one you think is good, but the tv show you watch when you're sick/alone/happy/private.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I always watch by myself because Dan can't stand to even be in the same room when it's on. I also really like Mad Men (though I still haven't watched the season opener, so no spoilers please).

c. Greatest worry for the future.

Global warming (on the macro level) and cancer (on the micro level)

d. Greatest anger about your sex. What pisses you off the most about being a woman/man?

The mommy wars. I hate them. I worked until F was 2.5 so I've seen that side of the coin. Being a mom is hard, whether you work outside the home or not. Really. I hate that we all can't get along. I also hate the mommy obsession with "stuff." That people care what stroller you own, or whether you bjorn vs. ergo. I hate that we let our possessions define us.

e. Most irritating thing people commonly say? ("At least it's a job" after you complain about being overworked)

How busy they always are. Saying you're not busy is like saying you're a loser. So everyone also competes to see who is really the busiest. It makes me sad.

f. What's one trend in photography you wish would go away for good?

Babies in baskets.

g. What makes you cringe about humanity? For example: you're in a grocery store and you just saw another human do XYZ and it pissed you off. What is it?

This is sort of a small thing, but I hate that we always say need when we really mean want. As in "I NEED a bigger house." "I NEED a night off." "I NEED wine." (okay, so the last one I say all the time). These aren't needs, these are wants. There's a difference.

h.You get one night alone in a hotel. What would you do with those hours?

Honestly, probably flip through the channels and watch a bunch of tv. Order room service. Maybe watch a whole movie. Read a book, but I can do that anywhere. Trash tv is hard to watch when you have kids during the day and a husband who hates trash tv during the night, so eating room service and watching MTV is very tempting. If I had a laptop I'd photoshop. Or just surf the web.

i. What's the one thing life hasn't lived up to? You thought as a fourth grader life would be completely different. Tell me those difference.

I thought I'd have a career. An established career. I didn't think being a parent would be so hard. I thought I'd look better/dress better/be skinnier.

j. You get to make your funeral play list. Tell me your top 3 songs.

(1) This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody), Talking Heads
(2) Long Time Ago, Concrete Blond
(3) To the Dogs or Whoever, Josh Ritter

k. Who do you stalk on Facebook? Old loves? Your pediatrician? Co-workers? Scratch that... Tell me who your "friend" stalks on FB.

Pretty much everybody. I love seeing how different people live their lives.

Okay, now my turn, here are my 11 questions for all of you. To play along either post answers in the comments (or link to your blog) or on my facebook page. Feel free to answer all the questions or just a few. Please play!! It would be great to get to know some/all/most of you.

1. What is your favorite children's book?
2. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
3. What is the best advice you've ever been given?
4. Name your top 3 favorite POP songs ever. Yes, I said POP.
5. Who was your celebrity childhood crush?
6. What is your least favorite part of your daily routine? Favorite part?
7. What did you always promise yourself you'd never do as a parent?
8. Biggest risk you've taken.
9. Most irritating thing people commonly say.
10. What are you reading?
11. Best movie you've seen lately (as I'm nervous everyone will reply with the Hunger Games, maybe list two of the best movies you've seen lately).

And I'm also tagging the following 11 bloggers, hoping they'll join in.

*KidFriendly DC
*Constance Reader's Guide to Throwing Books with Great Force
*Happy Little Messes
*But I Do Have a Law Degree
*Bad Hasfrau
*Under the Pecan Tree
*A Day That Is Dessert
*The Artful Parent
*Jessica Stanley



Things to Make - Magazine Bead Necklaces


This project is from Mary Ann Kohl's book, Good Earth Art: Environmental Art for Kids . I loved it because it was so so easy and the girls got really into it, spending almost an hour rolling beads.

Here's the scoop:

1. On a magazine page or newspaper, at the top of the page, mark off 1 inch intervals with a ruler.

2. On the other side of the page, mark off 1 inch intervals beginning at 1/2 inch.

3. Connect the lines to make triangles (see my picture above for illustration). Long skinny triangles will form.

4. Cut out the triangles.

5. Wind the wide end of the triangle around something skinny - we used kabob skewers but you could also use toothpicks or maybe even a twig.

6. Place glue on the rest of the triangle and roll tightly.

7. Let dry then lace on cord or string.

8. Wear as a beautiful necklace or bracelet.

Easy peasy.



The kids actually wear these. Even 6.5 year old F, who scorns most of my ideas regarding fashion.


T couldn't master the rolling of the paper, so I let him use scissors (his favorite new "toy") to cut up the rest of the magazine.


Places to Go - Boat Rides from Georgetown Harbor and the Waterfront Park (Washington DC)


For the last few weeks, T kept insisting that he wanted to go on a boat ride. Peak cherry blossom season seemed like the perfect time to hit the water. So we headed over to Georgetown Harbor, where Potomac Riverboat Company offers lunchtime cherry blossom cruises from 9:30 - 1:30 every hour on the half-hour (click here for schedule). Unfortunately, last week Potomac Riverboat only ran weekend cruises (they now run daily). Luckily, right as we arrived another tour boat was departing, so we managed to find some seats and settle in for a 45 minute cruise of the Potomac.

As soon as we "set sail" (do you still say that when there isn't a sail?) T became really scared about the proximity of water and refused to leave my lap. P and her good friend, C, however, fell in love with the boat. They found seats in the front and pointed at everything they could find. I love hearing conversations along the lines of:

"see that! I've been there! that's where lincoln lives."
"lincoln doesn't live there, he died."
"I know he's dead. But big lincoln is there. He freed the slaves."
"Slavery was really bad. I know. My mom told me."
"i would never want slaves. only bad people have slaves. I want servants."
"People who have servants are rich and good. i want to be rich and good. like a princess."
Then T intervenes:
"I sleeves. Look!"
"No, T not sleeves, slaves!"
"Sleeves keep arms warm. Warm arms."
"My little brother is such a baby, he doesn't know what slaves are."
"I BIG BOY! I Not BABY!! I wear undies. I big boy."
T then tries to take off his pants and show the boat his undies.

Eventually, probably due to conversations like the one above, T loosened up a little. During the final 10 minutes he said boat rides were the "best thing ever." And almost cried when we had to get off. So now he wants to go on another boat and I'm sure this process will repeat itself. Like groundhog day.

As for me, there's something so relaxing about 45 minutes on the water. Like a mini-vacation with kids. Plus, I love seeing all the random bridges of DC. Our cruise cost $14 for me and $7 for the girls (T was free). Nobody else on the boat had children with them, which surprised me somewhat as I like to spend time with my kids in beautiful contained environments. The boat had a bathroom and snacks for sale.


I was a little nervous that my kids would annoy everyone on the boat. But a woman walked by to tell me I had "a wonderful family and such well-behaved children." Moments like this are always random, as my kids act unpredictably in public. Still such compliments always make me feel really good (even though one of the children wasn't mine). Especially when I'm wearing old sweatpants and feeling discombobulated in general.



Lately, construction goggles and T's "pink sheet" come with us everywhere. It's important to be prepared (for what? I have no idea).


After the boat ride, we went for a run/walk/dance along Georgetown's new waterfront park. Have you been yet? This place is gorgeous. And they have these huge steps you can climb that lead right to the water. Also a great place for meeting a friendly duck or two. By the way, T's taken to wearing pj shorts everywhere lately. I've lost the battle.


Lots of dancing. No music needed. The boat in the background is the one we took for the cherry blossom cruise.




Things to Do - Happiness, Blogging, and Dinner with Neighbors


A few weeks ago I had dinner with a new neighbor and her children, who I best describe as "quirky." She's an academic, an anthropologist, who managed to ask me many personal questions within a short period of time, seemingly without realizing that these are things people don't usually talk about ("so you don't work, but you're moving into a bigger house - your husband must make a lot of money?"). i have to admit that i like this about her - her cut to the core approach to small talk - and I hope we become friends in the future.

Anyways, she seemed rather confused (and not necessarily in a good way) by the fact that rather than work I "blog about my children a lot" (her words). Which on one hand annoyed me ("yes", I thought to myself "this is my hobby, it's how i choose to spend my spare time. at the end of the days it's just what makes you happy isn't it?"). But on the other hand, it seemed a perfectly legit question. I can tell it's a question people frequently want to ask but choose not to, probably for fear of seeming rude. and i don't really have a good answer. before this blog i made photo albums (using blurb), i documented our adventures, i photoshopped. things haven't really changed much, i just share with a wider audience now. why? i don't really know, why do people post photos on facebook? why go to cocktail parties?

Okay so maybe a better answer is needed. In face-to-face conversation i tend to just agree with people, even if I really don't agree with people. I hate confrontation. I hate arguments. I guess this blog lets me be me. And I like that. Maybe it it an odd thing to do. But i take a lot of pictures and it seems sad to just have them sit on a hard drive. And to me, there's something wonderful about this idea of connection, that all of a sudden I care about the daily life of a family in Israel or wonder what inspiring words and photos A Day That Is Dessert will post today. Or marvel at how Kelly Hampton manages to get the perfect shot, day after day.

The other night we had friends over and a huge debate erupted over the benefit of fiction. My husband insists that books no longer need to be held on such a high pedestal, that really good media of any sort (the Wire was a frequent example) can add so much to our experience/knowledge/empathy of the human condition in a more efficient matter (it takes awhile to read War and Peace). Whereas our friend, Val, argued that the necessarily collaboration in the act of reading (between writer and reader), the fact that it forces us to use our imagination and engage makes books inherently better than other forms of media. A somewhat interesting discussion. But also somewhat silly after awhile. At the end of the day, we just die. it's all just a matter of passing our days, isn't it? finding ways to make ourselves happy.

And blogging makes me happy. So I will continue. Just like Dan's mom will continue to plant flowers and his dad will golf. And my mom will scour thrift stores for more stuff. And Dan will fish (if he ever has time). Because these things make us happy. It's as simple as that.



*"In 1967, Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston marathon. After realizing that a woman was running, race organizer Jock Semple went after Switzer shouting, "Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers.' However, Switzer’s boyfriend and other male runners provided a protective shield during the entire marathon. The photographs taken of the incident made world headlines, and Kathrine later won the NYC marathon with a time of 3:07:29." Check out the photo here.

*Wayfare Online Magazine - beautiful photographs and lovely stories all about TRAVEL. I LOVE IT!!!

*TODAY IS THE DAY. And I don't care how dorky it makes me, i can't wait. i really can't wait.



Places to Go - The National Arboretum - The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum (Washington DC)


As I mentioned yesterday, a few weeks ago the kids and I spent the day at the National Arboretum, where we visited the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum. In the past, I've avoided this part of the arboretum, as I equate bonsai with sculpture and T often wants to touch (ruin, destroy) sculptures. But I was feeling brave, so we gave the museum a try and none of us were disappointed. P ran in and immediately started yelling "mom, come quick, it's beautiful in here. everything is so so beautiful." T seemed enthralled as he walked back and forth over a tiny stone bridge (also the ropes succeeded in keeping him away from the bonsai, though he did want to pull/jump/attack the ropes themselves). And F just kept staring at everything, asking "how did they make the trees look like that?" It's all a little breathtaking.

The gardens are divided into three sections - (1) the Chinese Pavilion, (2) the Japanese Stroll Garden, and (3) the Yamaguchi Garden (featuring a variety of plants native to North America). Since two of our good friends just moved to China the kids really enjoyed seeing the Chinese gardens and talking about how we'd have to send Jim and Val pictures so they'd now know they didn't have to "travel so far to see pretty things."

The National Arboretum is open every day from 8 am to 5 pm. The bonsai collection is stroller accessible and right next to the koi garden (which kids love). For more information click here to enter the Arboretum's website.



Places to Go - The National Arboretum - Fern Valley (Washington DC)


About a month ago, Not-So-SAHM posted on taking her kids to National Arboretum's Fern Valley and I immediately NEEDED to go there. We've been to Fern Valley before (click here for our previous post) but not for quite some time and spring seemed the perfect time to return. So when F had a day off school, we headed into the city.

Outdoor adventures with my kids are always unpredictable, some days they run and explore, taking in every detail; whereas other days everything beautiful seems to bore them. Luckily, this day all of us were on the same page. The kids immediately picked up sticks and headed for the small creek - "fishing" in its waters and searching for treasures (T can spend hours drawing in mud with a stick). From there on out they ran and ran, stopping every once in awhile to play ring around the rosie with T. Now that F can read all the signs, she couldn't wait to inform us about the different plants. There weren't even any fights or squabbles. Like magic.

Then F had to go to the bathroom . . . so from here we headed to the Bonsai Gardens (more on the Bonsai tomorrow).

If you're interested, the National Arboretum is free and open from 8 am to 5pm every day of the week. The total acreage is large (bigger than NYC's Central Park) so I suggest budgeting a few days if you want to see the whole thing. Some parts are more stroller friendly than others. Fern Valley's dirt paths are bumpy and there are stairs, but alternate paths around the stairs are available. Click here for more information.


The knobby knees are pretty fascinating. They almost make me want to start looking for warlocks and fairies, as if everything is not quite real.

hands copy

The kids are addicted to the song Dynamite, thus we keep throwing our hands in the air.


Things to Make - Spring Ornaments with Baking Soda Clay


A few weeks ago, P's preschool class made "fossils" out of baking soda clay. The teacher brought in plastic dinosaurs and seashells so the kids could mark tracks in the clay. After I grilled P's teacher about making the clay, she gave me a bag of the leftovers and our family had the best time making spring ornaments.

Baking soda clay is awesome in that it feels like playdough, so you can bend and mold it as you please. But it dries hard, allowing you to create long lasting heirlooms. It's really the perfect project for kids of different ages because T could just play with it while the girls created ornaments.

To make the ornaments we rolled the clay into balls and then flattened the balls with our palms. I gave the kids a bunch of stamps to create with, then I used a pen to make sure each "ornament" had a hole for hanging.

After the ornaments dried, I used string to attach them to tree branches. I thought the whole thing came out pretty classy looking for a kids' art project (living room worthy), but the kids came home from school horrified that I planned on leaving their ornaments "plain and white." So we spent the afternoon painting and now the whole thing looks much "louder" than anticipated. Oh well, color is good.

Here's the scoop:


1. Mix 1 cup corn starch, 2 cups baking soda, and 1.25 cups cold water in a non-stick pot, stir until smooth.

2. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture becomes somewhat "gunky" and thick.

3. Remove from the heat and let cool while covered. Once dry, the clay stores well for a few days in sealed ziplock bags.

4. After you finish creating your ornaments, you can let them air dry to hardness at room temperature over 2-3 days OR speed up the process in a 350 degree oven with the heat turned off.





Things to Do - Grow


Every spring I plant a container garden full of herbs and tomatoes, sometimes peppers. In the past I never bought seeds because our old house didn't have enough light for plants to grow. But now we have quite a bit. I asked Dan to go to the store for seeds and he came home with cantaloupe, squash, sunflowers, beans, etc. So I guess our garden will be a little more ambitious this year. Ideally, we'd love raised beds in the yard, but we never find the time to put some together (I know the time exists, we just need to figure out where it goes and reroute it a little).

Every year, I try to interest the kids in our small garden, some years more successfully than others. This year, I bought garden pot craft kits from Oriental Trading Company hoping that "crafting" would pique their interest in gardening. Unfortunately, when I purchased the kit I didn't notice that the foam shapes weren't stickers, so we had to glue everything on, which became a messy failed task. Oh well, at least I succeeded in involving the kids in planting. Now they can't get enough. Right after waking up, F runs to the window and waters everything, then we discuss what has grown and how fast. And how many plants we'll soon have. Too many maybe.

Happy last day of winter everyone.


*Love this house. especially the reds everywhere.

*Canstruction - what a cool charity idea (plus the pictures are so fun to look at).

*These underwater sculptures are breathtaking. Especially the man watching tv.

*10 photos of Singapore.

*Collect moments, not things.



Things to Do - Snapshots of March (so far)


I just can't get it together this week, between the time change and 80 degree days (in March, WTF??) we're all a little discombobulated. So just some instagram shots to finish out the week . . .


Riding the metro to the National Mall, the yellow line acts as a destination in itself, with those wonderful views of the Potomac. Sometimes the journey really is the best part.


Spring classes - Stories in Art at the National Gallery for the girls (free!!) and owl class at the National Zoo with T (read more about zoo classes in this post). He loves a hat.

mt vernon

I think Mt Vernon may be one of the best places in the DC area for kids to run. Not sure child exercise is what George envisioned when building his estate, but we're pretty happy that it worked out this way.


A new bakery/cafe, Senor Pan, opened down the block from us (around the corner from the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse - on Walter Reed and Columbia Pike). The food is amazing, we can't get enough.



*I added an FAQ section to the top of the blog. Check it out if you have any questions and email me if there is anything else you'd like answered.

*What inspires you? (link via Something Changed).

*Zuma series - almost surreal.

*I love this photo.

*If you live in the DC area this art exhibit at the Hirshhorn sounds incredible (and kid-friendly). I want to go. I really want to go.


Things to Read - Three Articles on Parenting and One on the Titanic (because we need a little variety)

1. What's So Bad About American Parents, Anyway? in the Washington Post.

"Of course we love our children and want what’s best for them. Our problem is that we’re not sure what, exactly — in our driven, achievement-oriented country — is best. Perhaps instead of snapping up the latest foreign fad or obsessing over every international test score ranking, American parents would do well to look no further than a very American ideal: the pursuit of happiness."

“American parenting is child-centered, expert-guided, emotionally absorbing, labor-intensive, financially expensive and is expected to be done by mothers alone. And it is impossible to do alone,” said Sharon Hays, a sociologist at the University of Southern California. “The mothering you see today in America is culturally and historically unprecedented. We expect selfless devotion to what we interpret as the child’s needs, wants and interests at every moment of the day. And with the vast majority of mothers working, that puts them in an impossible paradox.”

2. Apologies to the Parents I Judged Four Hears Ago in the Huffington Post

"My day-to-day routine isn't what I envisioned it would be four years ago. Some of the things I imagine I'm judged on now are minor, others, a little more major. But mostly they are simple faults and I now know that they don't make me a bad parent. Sometimes I leave dirty diapers on the changing table. My children's socks don't always match. I forget to brush my daughter's hair. I use TV as a way to take a breather. I utilize the fast-food drive-thru. I bribe. I'm sometimes too easy. I'm sometimes too hard. I sometimes make the wrong decision, give the wrong punishment, ask too much, ask too little. But within all these minor and major faults is a singular truth: Most days, I'm doing the best I can. And I honestly believe that's a truth that can be applied to most parents: Most days, we're all doing the best we can.

Because here's another realization I've made as a parent: Everyone's situation is different. There is a story behind every action and inaction. Every parent has his or her own style. Every child has his or her own temperament. What might be a stellar day for my family has been a downright awful day for another -- perhaps the parent's job is in danger, their parent is sick or they just had an argument with their spouse. Perhaps the child is failing math or being bullied at school, or the toddler hasn't slept for two weeks. This can explain the short-temper in the grocery store or the harsher-than-necessary punishment, or the lack of care when it comes to sweets or TV or a late bedtime. We don't know, can't know, someone's entire story.

That said, I believe there are absolutes in parenting so yes, sometimes, I still judge. (And I realize that the irony of this piece is that in writing about not judging others, I'm now judging those who judge.) I know that, for some, it's impossible to provide their children with life's basic necessities: food, clothing and shelter. But I believe we, as parents, must try. I believe we must do what we can to protect our children from harm. I believe we should always love our children, even when, especially when, we don't like their actions, we disagree with their decisions or we're just having a difficult day with them.

But everything else is minor. Everything else doesn't matter. There are children who are abused, who go to bed hungry, who have never known love, and four years ago I was judging the toddler who watched an hour of "Sesame Street"?"


3. The Good Enough Mother on PBS's website.

"The message mothers take from [society] is that there is a right way to do things, and if you do it the wrong way you will damage your child. Any problem must mean you are doing something wrong, and so it is your fault. To be a good mother, it seems as though you have to be perfect and never make any mistakes.

The trouble with this idea is that even if you were a perfect mother (if there ever were such a person), that's not what would be best for your child. Your child has to grow up to live in the real world, and the real world isn't perfect. A child can't expect always to have people around her who understand her or cater to her every wish. Children have to learn to share, take turns, wait for what they want and realize that other people have needs and moods, too. Having to learn this can be frustrating, so children act up in various ways to show their displeasure. They show their feelings by behaving in ways that adults don't always like, and sometimes lead mothers to believe that they have done something wrong to cause that behavior."

4. Maybe Captain Smith wasn't so incompetent after all, according to this story, the moon may have helped cause the sinking of the titanic.

According to the article, "Greenland icebergs of the type that the Titanic struck generally become stuck in the shallow waters off Labrador and Newfoundland, and cannot resume moving southward until they have melted enough to re-float or a high tide frees them . . . So how was it that such a large number of icebergs had floated so far south that they were in the shipping lanes well south of Newfoundland that night?

An unusually close approach by the moon in January 1912 may have produced such high tides that far more icebergs than usual managed to separate from Greenland, and floated, still fully grown, into shipping lanes that had been moved south that spring because of reports of icebergs. Further, on January 4 1912, the moon and sun lined up in such a way that their gravitational pulls enhanced each other. And, the moon's closest approach to earth that January was the closest in 1400 years, and the point of closest approach occurred within six minutes of the full moon. On top of that, the Earth's closest approach to the sun in a year had happened just the previous day.
This configuration maximised the moon's tide-raising forces on the Earth's oceans."

"To reach the shipping lanes by mid-April, the iceberg that the Titanic struck must have broken off from Greenland in January 1912. The high tide caused by the bizarre combination of astronomical events would have been enough to dislodge icebergs and give them enough buoyancy to reach the shipping lanes by April. . . . The team's Titanic research may have vindicated Captain Smith - albeit a century too late - by showing that he had a good excuse to react so casually to a report of ice in the ship's path. He had no reason at the time to believe that the bergs he was facing were as numerous or as large as they turned out to be." Now we know.


Things to Do - Easy Store-Bought After School Activities


I planned on a longer post for today, but I started reading The Hunger Games and I couldn't put it down (now I get what all the hype is about). Then T came home early from school with a high fever, poor little guy. So just a quick post on some of our newest easy after school activities.

* T likes to paint, but sometimes I can't deal with the mess (especially when cooking dinner), so I picked up this set of hassle free watercolors and though it's not perfect (the kids think of it more as a "cool marker set" than paint, so it doesn't really meet the need in the way I wanted) it comes in handy in a pinch.

* P loves these sticker Dover Little Activity Books Paper Dolls that sell for only $1.50 on Amazon. There's lots of different options to choose from - click here to check them out.

* Both the girls enjoy finding hidden pictures, so I purchased a few coloring books for them, P in particular likes the Fairy Tale Hidden Picture Coloring Book.

* I also bought the kids Color Your Own Modern Art Masterpieces , but they didn't really like it much. So I've been using it to work on my own "masterpieces", experimenting with different hues and shades.

* And, finally, we all can't get enough of Crayola Color Wonder Metallic Paper & Markers (thank you, Marina, for the suggestion).

I also think the following items look really fun. I may need to buy them soon. "Need" being loosely defined.

*MoMA Color Coloring Book

*I can't remember where I heard about Kaleidograph Flora but they look really fun.

*And I love these DIY fabric scrap paper dolls (templates included in link).

What are your newest art supplies and toys? I'd love to hear about them.


Things to Make - Paintings with Watercolor Crayons and Watercolor Pencils


A few weeks ago, while attending a Stories in Art class at the National Gallery, F had the opportunity to work with watercolor crayons. I had never seen these before, so I bought some from Amazon for approximately $15 (Staedtler Karat Aquarell Premium Watercolor Crayons, 223M12) and now we can't stop painting with them. The kids like to combine the watercolor crayons with watercolor pencils, using the pencils for details and the crayons for wide areas. They're really fun to work with - less messy than paint, more creative and colorful than crayons. And I really enjoy that all the kids can work with them, from T at 2.5 years old to F at 6.5 years old. I think I'll bring a set, along with some brushes, on our next vacation, as they seem like an easy art material to travel with.


We made another banner to surprise Dan when he came back from a long worktrip. The banner also helps conceal that I still haven't purchased counter stools. Ugh, major purchases stress me out (am i crazy for thinking of counter stools at a major purchase? I want them to match the table and chairs that I still don't own. Decorating is hard.).


Places to Go - Two New Children's Plays (One for Younger Kids and One for Older Kids)

For Children 18 Months to 5 Years


Last Thursday, P (age 5), T (age 2.5), and I attended Arts on the Horizon's newest production, Out of the Box (for children 18 months to 5 years old). We really enjoyed Art on the Horizon's first production, Drumming for Dishes (click here to read our review, accompanied by info about the theater company) so we had high expectations. Luckily, Out of the Box exceeded them all.

First of all, the new space is fabulous - toys (including a soft toolbelt), chalkboard tables, books, hats of all different sorts - the theater has successfully made their "waiting room" a destination in itself. Regarding the play, Out of the Box doesn't stray far from its predecessor, in that the plot is simple and silent - just a girl playing with boxes, accompanied by a bass player and three stuffed animals who operate as "friends" and costars. Despite the sparsity of the set, Out of the Box manages to make the simple enchanting - the audience waved our hands while the girl's box/boat sailed through our imaginary waters. Later in the play a large white sheet swooped through the room, which somehow seemed magical. And P's whole face lit up when given the simple task of shaking a cardboard box. Although slow at times, Out of the Box's interactive nature kept everyone involved; a huge crowd of 4 year olds COULD NOT stop laughing; and T seat-danced to the tunes from the bass. A lot of the play's magic has to do with the casting of Tia Shearer, who plays the "girl." We've attended a few plays where an adult portrays a child, some more successful than others (and some more expensive than others) but no actor is as convincing and enchanting as Shearer.

Although Arts on the Horizon's plays are obviously written and directed for children, one should not discount their message to adults. In a gentle, nonjudgmental tone, you can almost hear the theater company whispering "look how much fun this is. and look how easy. you don't need fancy toys or a lot of time. just play with them. they're little and precious and they can teach you so much. just find a box and play. enter their world for a little while." After watching an Arts on the Horizon production I find it almost impossible to not want to jump in right away, to leave the production and just "be" with my kids for awhile.

As wonderful as I found the play, Arts on the Horizon really scored a home run with its "after the play" activities - an easy take home art project and a few "surprises" in the lobby created a place so fun that my children literally WOULD NOT leave. "Three more minutes, PLEASE. just three more minutes." Shearer came out out to meet the audience and P could not stop smiling. When asked on the way home what she loved most about the play, P replied "everything. absolutely everything." While I'm not positive that her statement is entirely correct (during a slow part P asked me, "when is this going to end?"), P's excitement serves as a great indicator of exactly what Art on the Horizon has managed to accomplish, - they've created a space and a play so interactive and engaging that everything flows together - from the toys in the lobby to the actress on the stage. And my kids refused to dissect it, they don't know exactly what they liked, but they know they wanted to stay. On Friday morning, T asked "another play today, mommy? please!" So, who knows, we may attend another performance of Out of the Box. And another.

The play runs through March 18th at Landmark Mall in Alexandria. The production moves to the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington DC from March 20-25. Tickets are $8 for children and adults (children under 12 months are free). Click here for showtimes and additional info.


For Children 4.5 Years and Up

On Saturday afternoon, P (age 5), F (age 6), and I checked out Encore Stage and Studio's production of The Magical Lamp of Aladdin. Prior to the performance, the Arlington Youth Orchestral Program mesmerized us with Aladdin-themed tunes. I'm by no means an expert on orchestra, but to my ears these kids sounded amazing. So much talent. A great way to lead in to the play.

Regarding the production itself, all of the characters are played by children, aged fourth grade through high school. The girls seemed amazed that kids could accomplish such a big task and we spent much of the car ride home discussing how hard it would be to memorize lines and convince an audience that you were really someone else. The play dragged in parts and some actors were definitely better than others. Meghan Mack, who played the royal executioner, Chop Chop, wowed us all and the girls have spent a little too much time mimicking her role (their stuffed animals live in fear). "She's just so funny, mom, so so funny." I particularly loved the monkey, played by Eva Gary, who never broke character and kept us kept us all continually engaged and amused.

All in all, my kids enjoyed the production, especially the funny bit parts (like the ex-fiance who carries the umbrella and the jewel-hungry queen). And if they ever did run into Andrew Ruhnke, the actor who plays Aladdin, I'm pretty sure my kids would assume he really owns a magic lamp.

The theater recommends the play for children 4 and up and I would take the age limit seriously. It's a full play (about 1.5 hours) with a 15 minute intermission and the sets, while well done, are simple. Toddlers probably won't "get" it.

The Magical Lamp of Aladdin runs on weekends through March 18th at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington. Tickets are $10 for kids and $12 for adults. During intermission, snacks are available for purchase. For showtimes and additional information, click here.


After the play, I asked the girls to draw some pictures of the performance as "art" for this post. Then T spilled water all over everything. So, unfortunately, all I'm left with is instagram.


Things to Do - F, Age 6.5


I saw something on Pinterest recommending that you interview your children every six months. Seemed like a good idea to me. So here she is, changing every day, in remarkable and unforeseen ways.

FAVORITE BOOK - Do Stars Have Points?
FAVORITE SONG - Hey Soul Sister
FAVORITE MOVIE - Belle's Magical World
FAVORITE TV SHOW - The Electric Company
FAVORITE MUSEUM - Baltimore Science Museum
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? - Astronaut/scientist/artist
FAVORITE PLACE TO GO AS A FAMILY - Mackinac Island and Grandma's house ("which grandma?" "both of them")
FAVORITE THING TO DO AFTER SCHOOL - Draw pictures and have a snack
FAVORITE GAME TO PLAY WITH P - Play dolls and read books



*I attended the Lunafest short film festival earlier this week, with some amazing friends, where I enjoyed a film about a 75 year old nude model, especially the line "there is one thing in life you can give yourself - permission." This film on how to be alone also made me smile, definitely worth a watch.

*We saw a really great kids' play on Thursday, Out of the Box, through the Arts on the Horizon Theater Company. I'll post a full review next week, but we liked it so much I wanted to give it a shout out before the weekend. Tickets are only $8, showtimes are on 10 and 11:30 on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30.

*Japan then and now.

*Mayim Bialik on attachment parenting. I think a lot of the struggles of parenting stem from trying to find what works best for you and your family, so even though I could never parent this way, it's interesting to see how well it works for some people.

*Amazing instagrams.

*Maya Hayuk.


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