Places to Go - Out and About (Iphone Pics, June 2012)


Bon Jovi cover band at Pentagon City.
Because all generations NEED to hear glam rock (I'm serious).


Mornings at the National Zoo.
The animals at the zoo are pretty wonderful, but not as wonderful as the statues. I highly suggest bringing friends and fighting over who gets the front of the gorilla. Good times.


The pool with friends. T still won't go in the water, but give him a squirt gun and he becomes quite content.


After school on the National Mall.
The Natural History Museum is open until 7:30 pm most nights throughout the summer. We checked out the butterflies, but then one landed on P and she sort of freaked out. Luckily, old school toys at the National History Museum brightened her spirits - everyone loves a slinky.


Afternoons at Bluemont Park (Arlington, VA). We just discovered this place and all the kids seem to love it - from the sandbox, to the huge train play-sculpture, to exploring the streams.
Where have explored lately? I'd love to hear!


*Plan of Work for a Small Servantless House, Good Housekeeping 1950.

*Some Chinese art.

*I want to stay at the boatel. I really do.

*If I was planning a fancy party, I'd want it to have bowls of onions.

*5 Quirky Coloring Books for the Eternal Kid.


Things to Make - Watercolor Nature Prints


The inspiration for this project came from this post on the Artful Parent. And though we made a big mess, we had a ton of fun working on it.

First we went for a nature walk, looking for things that would "print well" - so we picked up everything from leaves to sticks to stones. T loved this part (as you can tell from the HUGE pile of stuff pictured below).

After we dumped our wares on the table, we poured liquid watercolors into blank stamp pads from Discount School Supplies. If you don't have the stamp pads you could try pouring the watercolors onto felt or even a sponge or you could also just use regular stamp pads. Then the kids started printing. Some objects worked better than others (sticks and rocks didn't do much), but all three kids liked trying out different objects and combinations, especially three-year old T, who could have stamped for hours.


The walk was a blast. So much fun to notice the details of leaves and all of the different plants around our neighborhood.



Places to Go - Fishing at Hains Pt (Washington D.C.)


We spent Father's Day morning fishing at Hains Point, which ended up being the perfect location for spending a few hours together. Tons of parking and lots of shaded picnic tables made it easy for us to "set of camp." The park was FULL of joggers and bikers, which gave the day an athletic-feel, even though I really wasn't doing much of anything. And watching airplanes fly in and out of Regan National kept everyone from becoming bored while waiting for the fish to bite (they never did). When the kids tired of fishing a huge playground (with two structures, one for older kids and one for toddlers) entertained them for the rest of the morning. We need to come here more often.


Monkeybars = happiness.


P didn't last very long fishing. Instead she decided to "adopt" two new "worm pets" - Skirmy Wormy and Lazy Bazy now live in the backyard. We don't see them often, but I like to think they're happy there.


Things to Do - Grateful List (May 2012)


I bought the girls some washi tape, not quite sure what they'd find to do with it. P decided to "decorate" her bed - why didn't I think of that?

Happy Friday everyone! Have a good weekend! (School is FINALLY out for the year).

*Reading Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
*Reading Just Kids
*Reading Blue Nights
*Reading The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother's Hidden Life
*Reading the May 14, 2012 New Yorker on Innovators - esp. the article on Clayton Christensen
*Watching Mad Men Season 5 (it's really good lately)
*Listening to Sydney Wayser's Bell Choir Coast album
*Watching Can't Buy Me Love at Jenny's house


*Brunch at William Jeffrey's Tavern
*Dinner at Oyamel with fellow bloggers (Not-So-SAHM, KidFriendly DC, and But I Have a Law Degree)
*Homemade crepes for Mother's Day breakfast
*Farmer's market strawberries
*Dee's Pizza (NYC)

*An uncrowded day at the Baltimore Aquarium (esp. the jellyfish)
*The National Arboretum's Bonsai Festival with T
*Sunday mornings on Columbia Pike - brunch at William Jeffrey's, shopping at the farmer's market, and buying wine for dinner at Twisted Vines - all within walking distance
*The US Botanical Gardens with Auntie Jenny and Hannah Banana
*Circo Para Todos and Midnight Circus for free at the Kennedy Center's Millenium Stage (part of DC's Street Art Festival) and watching the kids run circles around the Kennedy Center's balconies
*Nepalase Dancing during Columbia Pike Library's story hour
*The Street Art Festival at Yards Park (esp. The Red Trousers Show and watching the girls' jumprope)
*A Friday night concert and waterplay at Yards Park
*Brooklyn Bridge carousel
*Queens Zoo (NYC)
*BBQing in Jenny's backyard (NYC)
*Voting on brand logos at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum on Governors' Island (NYC)

*Two huge bags of hand me downs from Allegra
*A plethora of mother's day cards and gifts
*Burt's Bees eucalyptus bath crystals
*Smile Bright teeth whitening

*P and T creating "the circle of life" with all P's toys and stuffed animals
*Auntie Jenny and Paras visiting
*"Mom, when I grow up can I be superman?" - T
*T using his Ironman toy to "save" Rainbow Dash
*T "helping" Dan mow the lawn
*How well all the kids in P's preschool class have bonded (esp. their fabulous teacher)
*Finding a toad at Claude Moore Colonial Farm
*Sunrise on the way to Crossfit
*The kids always throwing circuses
*P's end of the year preschool party at M's house (alcoholic lemonade)
*Over 8000 page views in one month (which is high for me)


F - learning more about space, Cybil Lily, dolphins, studying, Hannah Banana, school, the Boxcar Children, learning, books, science, reading, writing, the circus, studying, math, the party [P's last day of school party], ice cream [at Brooklyn Bridge Park], carousels, that bald eagles aren't endangered anymore

P - my family, dollies, going to the aquarium, watching My Little Pony, reading Fancy Nancy, drawing, coloring, Auntie Jenny visiting, Daddy's strawberry shortcake, the circus, dinner and fountains [at the Kennedy Center during the Street Art festival], playdates, reading, books, planning sleepovers, my crayon rock, my new pencils, M's party, the secret girls' club, dessert, carousels, ice cream [at Brooklyn Bridge Park]

T - my family, dollies, Cybil Lily, walking F to school, driving the airplane [at Clemyjointri Park], Hannah Banana, guns, art projects, the circus, the party [P's last day of school party], my airplane toy



Things to Read - Six Interesting Articles From Around the Web (on The Bachelor(ette), Child Literacy, Daydreaming, Ordinariness, Facebook, and Mentally Ill Animals)

1. The Paris Review has a great article on real life vs. the Bachelor(ette) - " Every friend I’ve spoken to about The Bachelor and Bachelorette has arrived independently at the same idea: They should make a Bachelor(ette) with people like us. . . . When we fall in love, we know it’s for real. We may use the same words as the Bachelors and Bachelorettes, but our words have different meanings. We fall for the ones we fall for not because of things that have happened to them, but because of the things they make happen for themselves. They bake sweet breads and write books. They have a way with animals. They’re awkward. They discriminate. They’re kind and enthusiastic and read out loud to us on road trips. They write us long letters about what they’ve noticed and thought and felt. We go on walks. We share meals. And then something in our minds has clicked and everything in the world that touches us carries some trace of them. I guess you could try to film all this but it would make for terrible television."

2. NPR explains the importance of pointing to words while reading to children -

In a recent study, "The teachers were told to read their books four times a week, and to point out the print in this way between four and eight times, so that together the small phrases hardly added extra time to their reading sessions — maybe 90 seconds per book. It is hard to imagine that such a small adjustment would make any difference. It was a series of moments, questions and gestures. How much could that do?

So far, the kids have been followed for two years. They are now in first grade, and according to the most recent findings, which were published in the journal Child Development, even these small changes make a measurable difference. "Children who focused their attention on print ... had better literacy outcomes than those who did not," says Piasta. "It was very clear."

3. The New Yorker summarizes new studies indicating that daydreaming helps stimulate creative insight - “We always assume that you get more done when you’re consciously paying attention to a problem,” Schooler told me. “That’s what it means, after all, to be ‘working on something.’ But this is often a mistake. If you’re trying to solve a complex problem, then you need to give yourself a real break, to let the mind incubate the problem all by itself. We shouldn’t be so afraid to actually take some time off.”

4. Kid, You Are Not Special on CNN - There is a middle ground where "how things are" and "how things can be" meets. It is at this middle point where growth happens. But if parents, teachers and the other adults in a child's life never acknowledge "how things are" -- no matter how good the intention may be -- then they are denying that child an opportunity to mature, to develop a strong sense of self-confidence that can only be earned by recognizing shortcomings and dealing with disappointments and failures.
. . . .

Accolades and lists may tell us about accomplishments, but life is meant to be experienced, not just accomplished. It's like the difference between reading books for the sake of reading and reading books just to get a good grade. Tell me, once you're done with school, are you then supposed to be done with reading books? I sure hope not.

5. I really loved this short piece in the Atlantic on how facebook has impacted society

"Facebook fixates the present as always a future past. By this I mean that social media users have become always aware of the present as something we can post online that will be consumed by others. Are we becoming so concerned about posting our lives on Facebook that we forget to live our lives in the here-and-now? Think of a time when you took a trip holding a camera in your hand and then think of when you did the same without the camera. The experience is slightly different. We have a different attachment to our present when we are not concerned with documenting.

Today, social media means we are always traveling with the camera in our hands (metaphorically and often literally); we always can document. When going to see live music I notice more and more people distracted from the performance in order to take photos and videos to post to Facebook and YouTube. When the breakfast I made the other week looked especially delicious, I posted a photo of it before even taking a bite. The Facebook Eye in action."

6. The New York Times published an interesting article asking "why don’t . . . human doctors routinely cooperate with animal experts?" and articulating some of the reasons why they should.

"Melanoma has been diagnosed in the bodies of animals from penguins to buffalo. Koalas in Australia are in the middle of a rampant epidemic of chlamydia. Yes, that kind — sexually transmitted. I wondered about obesity and diabetes — two of the most pressing health concerns of our time. Do wild animals get medically obese? Do they overeat or binge eat? I learned that yes, they do.

I also discovered that geese, gorillas and sea lions grieve and may become depressed. Shelties, Weimaraners and other dog breeds are prone to anxiety disorders.

Suddenly, I began to reconsider my approach to mental illness, a field I had studied during the psychiatric residency I completed before turning to cardiology. Perhaps a human patient compulsively burning himself with cigarettes could improve if his therapist consulted a bird specialist experienced in the treatment of parrots with feather-picking disorder. Significantly for substance abusers and addicts, species from birds to elephants are known to seek out psychotropic berries and plants that change their sensory states — that is, get them high. The more I learned, the more a tantalizing question started creeping into my thoughts: Why don’t we human doctors routinely cooperate with animal experts?"


Things to Do - Put Yourself Out There (ie. This Post is a Coupon)


I don't often post or talk about my "professional" photography on this blog. In part because this is a personal blog, thus such topics rarely come up. But further, because I'm still adjusting to calling myself a "photographer" and/or deciding if I want an actual business. But I'm reaching that point in life where I need to decide what I want to be when I grow up, to this end I met with a legal contractor and I photographed my fifth wedding, which made me realize how much I love photography work and documenting a couple's special day - from the bride getting ready to people on the dance floor, I really enjoy the experience of photographing the night as it unfolds - trying to catch moments that nobody else notices.

So I'm putting myself out there and admitting that I would love to photograph more weddings. Hundreds of weddings. I'm still learning, which means my rates are low and I'll give each and every wedding my all. So please spread the word. Anyone who mentions this post or this blog will receive $200 off weddings. Not sure if this is the best marketing strategy, but everyone has to start somewhere. (and, yes, i also photograph engagements and families and real estate, so keep me in mind). If you're interested email me at nomonstersinmybed@gmail.com for rate information and availability.



*Matisse and me.

*Monet in pipe cleaners. Wow.

*Playing with the Eames.

*Paper birds.


The bride's 99 year old great grandmother attended the ceremony. Unfortunately, she hates to have her picture taken. So I tried to be sneaky.


The ceremony and reception took place at the Thomas Birkby House, in Leesburg, which was lovely. And yes, the bride really is that beautiful.


Things to Make - Bleach Pen T-Shirts for Father's Day


Dan's weekend wardrobe needs a bit of a shake up. It's time for Phi Gam shirts circa 1995 to go in the trash. So we decided to make him some new t-shirts for Father's Day. The easy way. Who doesn't love a bleach pen?


1. Purchase plain t-shirts, preferably from a craft store (like AC Moore) where they are super cheap

2. Purchase a bleach pen, located by the bleach at target

3. Put a paper bag or piece of cardboard on the inside of the tshirt (so the pen won't leak through)

4. Tell your kids to draw with the pen

5. Let t-shirt sit with bleach on it, when the color looks "done" wash off the bleach in the sink (we let our tshirts sit for about 10 minutes)

6. Wash t-shirt in laundry machine

7. Gift t-shirt

Also, click here to see someone else's really snazzy bleach pen t-shirts. There's an art to this, we just haven't mastered it yet.



Places to Go - Potomac Overlook Park (Arlington, VA)


I haven't posted lately on any local places to go, mainly because we've been frequenting old haunts more than new places. I need to change this. Last Friday, I took P, T, and a friend to Potomac Overlook Park; we hadn't visited in quite awhile and I almost forgot how much we love it here. A small playground sits right off the parking lot (with bathrooms and picnic tables and lots of trees). We had the whole place to ourselves and the kids insisted on eating their picnic lunches in the "treehouse."

After lunch, we meandered over to the nature center (which is about a 5 or 10 minute walk from the parking lot) and again we were the only visitors there. The upstairs of the nature center contains several displays and exhibits on energy, for my kids the highlights of which were a microscope and bees. The downstairs contains animals (snakes and turtles) and a small but nice kids' room called the "cave" where we spent over 45 minutes exploring and pretending.

After the nature center, we walked over to the birds of prey (a hawk and two owls) and the garden. Outside the garden a small pond contained dozens of frogs. So we sat for a long time, trying to find every one, which was oddly fun. The kids all proclaimed themselves "official frog finders" and ribetted as we walked/ran to the car. A great day.

If you're interested the nature center is open 10-5 Tuesday-Saturday and 12-5 on Sundays (closed Mondays). Every Sundays from 1:30 to 5:30 the park hosts special games, activities, and refreshments, no reservations required. And on certain Saturdays throughout the summer free concerts play on the park's outdoor stage. Click here for more information.

The main trail is stroller-friendly, but offshoot trails are not (by the way, there's no actual overlook, just so you know).


My camera battery died, so I had to iphone it. How many frogs can you find in the bottom picture?



Things to Do - Four Generations, Three Years, and Ducks


Dan's grandmother came to Richmond for a visit, which is sort of a big deal as she lives off the beaten path in Tennessee so we don't see her very often (the kids have only met her one other time, when we drove to TN for her and grandpa's 60th wedding celebration). Crazy to see four generations together, sort of remarkable really. I tried to ply great grandma with questions regarding her past and our family, but she's a quiet woman, sort of an enigma, though incredibly kind. For those who read my Wednesday post, no 50 year old journals made the trip (sadness), instead she brought gifts for the kids - elmo books, angel pins, and a set of keys for T - all of which they loved.

We also celebrated T's third birthday, he seemed amazed that all the presents really were just for him.

After dinner we walked to the lake to feed the ducks. My mother-in-law brought paint kits for all the kids, so they created as the sun sunk lower and lower on the horizon. A good day.



*Of Biblical Proportions.

*This exhibit at Longwood Gardens (outside Philly) looks awesome.

*Eat like the Obamas - a list of DC destinations where at least one Obama has dined. Yumm!!

*How to make several different hand shadow puppets.

*The Minister's Treehouse - this landmark actually resides within a few miles of Dan's grandmother's house in TN. We took the kids there. Unfortunately when we visited the place was rather run down with a lot of homeless people and drug addicts "hanging" around.


We tried to take a pic of all four generations together, but the kids squirmed. The bright sun in their eyes didn't help matters.



Things to Read - North Korea

I'm not sure why I decided to start reading about North Korea. Perhaps my stay at home life had me longing for "real world" subjects, like a self-taught history class. Or perhaps this Atlantic article on life in a North Korean gulag piqued my interest, especially the following sentences "[o]utsiders have a wrong understanding of the camp. It is not just the soldiers who beat us. It is the prisoners themselves who are not kind to each other. There is no sense of community." Wow. Heavy stuff.

Whatever the reason, I'm so glad I decided to pick up a copy of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, as this was probably the best book I've read this year. Five stars. Like the Hunger Games meets 1984, though real. Nothing to Envy is so gripping and the stories so well told that I found it almost impossible to remember that this was not a work of fiction. Each person profiled vibrates with life - the aging mother who truly believed in communism, until she watched her husband and son starve to death; the illicit couple who secretly meet at night (the absence of electricity makes such liaisons possible) and defect separately from each other (will they still love each other when they reunite in South Korea?), the doctor with no medicine, the schoolteacher trying to teach starving children, etc. And the continual quest of everyone to ward off hunger. Depressing, fascinating, surreal. I don't even know what to say. Fortunately everyone who manages to tell their stories obviously both survives and makes it to South Korea, which keeps the book full of somewhat "happy endings."

After Nothing to Envy, my curiosity about North Korea continued to grow. So I bought Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West. This biography of a North Korean defector named Shin Dong-hyuk made for some terribly depressing reading. Don-hyuk was born in a gulag and throughout his childhood he had no access to concepts like love, charity, or family. The guards constantly reminded gulag children that the sins of their parents caused their imprisonment and that the only way to improve their own lot in life was to work hard and inform on their parents (both Dong-hyuk's mother and brother were publicly executed after Dong-hyuk notified a guard of their intention to flee the camp). Dong-hyuk watched a teacher beat a 6 year old to girl to death for stealing a few kernels of corn. Sadly, Dong-hyuk's situation was "normal" for the gulag - "twelve to fifteen hours workdays are mandatory until prisoners die, usually of malnutrition-related illnesses, before they turn fifty." The prisoners' continual need to ward of starvation leaves them little room for kindness or friendship of any kind.

Dong-hyuk managed to escape the camp by climbing over the body of a dead prisoner who had charged the electric fence. From there he made his way to South Korea and eventually the United States. Though "free" Dong-hyuk can't seem to find happiness in any situation. According to him, "because I am surrounded by good people, I try to do what good people do. But it is very difficult. It does not flow from me naturally."

After Camp 14 I decided to take a break from North Korea for awhile (I needed something uplifting), but eventually I'd also like to check out The Orphan Master's Son - a fictional account of life behind the country's communist walls.


*If you're interested in North Korea and you live in the DC Area, Blaine Harden, the author of Escape from Camp 14, is in town next Wednesday (June 20th) to discuss the book. Click here for the details. The writer of The Orphan Master's Son is also in town tonight (June 14th). Click here for the info.

*Government approved pictures from behind North Korea's "iron curtain."


*This reading list looks fantastic (link courtesy of A Day That Is Dessert).


Things to Do - This is How They Suck the Cool Out of You

(We decided to skip the gondola and just take a picture with the gondolier).

A few weeks ago we checked out Olivia Goes to Venice from the library. As the kids and I read about Olivia's adventures with canals, gondolas, and pigeons P asked "mom, Olivia's being silly, right? Venice isn't real?" Before I could answer F replied "OF COURSE, it's fake, how could all those buildings be in that water? They'd float away." This is when I had my worst idea ever.

"Venice is real", I replied, "in fact, I've actually been there." F started laughing. P said "you're so funny mommy." "No really! I've been there! I have pictures!" So I dove through the unpacked boxes in the garage until I found the old photo album of my post-college ramble with friends through Europe. I flipped to Venice. I felt proud. I felt cool. I felt like talking about me. The old me. The fun me. The twenty-something-wrinkleless-size 4 me. You get the idea.

I opened the photo album. This is where it all went wrong. Almost immediately a chill went through the room. I kid you not.

F started with the questions, "Why are you dressed like that? I've never seen that dress. Why are you wearing it? You look weird." At this point I hadn't quite grasped that the boat was sinking. So I replied, "well, that was the style back then, I thought it was cute. It's not THAT different than my clothes today."

P responded "you're not wearing sweatpants in any of these pictures. WHERE are your sweatpants?"

Then F jumped in, "and who are these people? Why don't I KNOW THESE PEOPLE!!" So I explained, "well those were my roommates, you know Auntie Allison - we see her when we go to Denver. The other girl is my friend, Dana, I haven't seen her in years. She now has dreads and goes to burning man. She's fun."

"What? She burns men? and WHY DO YOU HAVE FRIENDS WE NEVER MET? and who are the other people in the pictures? I don't know them either."

I tried to explain, "well, when you backpack through Europe you meet a lot of random people - instant friends you travel with for a few days."

P again, "but Mom there are boys in these pictures. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? You didn't have a boyfriend did you?"

"Well, yes, I had a boyfriend, but he was back home. The people in the photos weren't boyfriends they were just random people."

F finally looks a little relieved, "oh, so daddy was back home. Why didn't he come with you?"

"Daddy wasn't my boyfriend back then. I was only 22. It would be years until I met daddy. I had another boyfriend, a long time ago." Treason.


"Um, well, it was a long long time ago. I didn't even know daddy existed. Then I met daddy and I fell in love with him. And we got married. But I had a life before daddy."

Finally, T breaks in. My youngest. My baby. Surely, he'll help me out. "Mama, where me in these pictures? Where me?"

And F practically screams, "YOU'RE NOT THERE!! MOMMY WENT TO EUROPE WITHOUT US!!" Then they all stared at me. Betrayed. Forcing me to admit what I've deep down always known - my children have no interest in my younger, cooler self. We may never flip through old photo albums as I tell stories of twenty-something me. My children do not want to hear how I skinnydipped in the ocean outside Barcelona, how I spent the night on the floor of a train station and verbally attacked the random guard who happened to wake me, how I slept on a beach in costa rica, how I . . . what's the point of going even going on.

Basically, they have no interest in learning about how much fun I used to be. Just like I have no desire - even at the age of 36 - to hear about my mom's life before me. Exceptions exist, of course, but for the most part kids - even adult kids - want to see their mom as just their mom - laundry folding, dinner making, craft project creating, list making, sweatpants wearing mom.

When my dad died I discovered my grandma's old scrapbook from the 1920s, from the time in her life when she worked as a teacher - so many photos of beautiful women dressed as flappers. Driving cars. Posing. My grandmother looked pretty and confident. She looked like someone who could take on the world.

Grandma died when I was in junior high, an old lady with grey puffy hair, full (as I now realize) of untold stories. Instead of stories I am left with unrecognizable names and aging photos. A glimmer of her life before my family unintentionally sucked out the cool.

So I've done the math. I turned 30 right after giving birth to F. Assuming that she too spends her young twenties "discovering" herself then maybe around 30 she'll have kids (a big maybe). And maybe around 22, after college, those kids will travel through Europe. And then at the age of 82 I can open my albums, I can tell them my stories. And finally - hearing aid, walking cane and all else excluded - I can be cool again. I just have to wait 53 years, not an easy task.



Things to Make - Kid Made Modern Diary Kits


Have you seen Todd Oldham's new Kid Made Modern line at Target? We're all a little obsessed with it lately (this post is entirely unsponsored, though I'd be thrilled if Todd Oldham decided to sponsor me). P loves her giant "jewel" crayon and crazy colored pencils. F loves the on-the-go drawing kit. And T likes to paint the birds.

Since we stayed with friends over Memorial Day I bought the girls diary Kits, hoping that they'd "art" peacefully at the table rather than destroy my best friend's house. Luckily, they really enjoyed the kits - the cool stamps, the bright colored markers, and especially the "special" pen (where you can change the ink color). They spent hours writing and drawing. I wish I could tell you more about what they created, but the girls banned me from looking at anything other than the front cover and the first page. Oh well, I guess all diaries need their secrets.



Places to Go (Vacation) - Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governors Island (NYC)


For the last day of our mini-vacation we headed to Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governors Island. First task - find parking in Brooklyn, somewhat of a challenge, especially with a minivan. After we found a SMALL space (and spent about ten minutes trying to fit into it), we walked by all the lovely brownstones as we made our way towards the water. Wow, Brooklyn really is quite beautiful, worth the hype.


Currently, Brooklyn Bridge Park has two main areas (Pier 1 and Pier 6) with lots of construction between them (eventually the whole area will connect). So we walked, checking out stunning vistas along the way.


Once we arrived at Pier 1, the kids couldn't wait to ride on Jane's Carousel, which is somewhat breathtaking with its beautiful glass enclosure and city views. Even T decided to give it a whirl and ended up loving the experience. Then we ate some ice cream from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (shockingly good) and waited for the ferry to take us to Governors Island.


We started out the ferry trip riding below deck, but we quickly realized that's not the best way to travel. So we headed to the top for wonderful 360 views of the city.


Governors Island is one of NYC's newer attractions, as prior to 2003 the island served as a military base. In 2003 the federal government sold 150 acres of Island to the people of New York and opened up the property to the public. Now the island exists as a wonderful place to ride bikes, chill under a tree, play in the grass, and check out some cool/old buildings - like the "Castle", built between 1807 and 1811 the Castle served as a fort and a prison prior to becoming a tourist attraction.


Governors Island also hosts a free branch of Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. I could have spent the whole day here, but eventually Dan had had enough.


The museum hosted a very cool exhibit which invited people to vote on whether they preferred current product logos or former logos. P and F seemed excited to vote in their first "election." Hopefully Nickelodeon will take their views into account.


Yawning children = a successful day. Unfortunately the line for the ferry back took 45 minutes (ugh), but still a wonderful time was had by all - from 6 months to 41 years. Pretty amazing.


Places to Go - Encore Stage & Studio's Production of Charlotte's Web (Arlington, VA)


Last Friday the girls and I headed to TJ Middle School to check out Encore Stage & Studio's newest production, Charlotte's Web. And if you haven't already planned your entire weekend, I highly suggest making time to catch a show (the play runs through Sunday).

Prior to the play, I hadn't read or seen Charlotte's Web in a long, long time. And I couldn't really remember much about it, other than the barnyard setting. The girls had never seen it. Immediately Encore's production enthralled us all. No complaining, no shuffling in seats - the girls couldn't take their eyes from the stage. Encore's productions are performed entirely by children, aged fourth grade through high school, which gave an innocence and beauty to the play itself.

The entire cast did a convincing job of bringing the characters to life, though I have to give a special shout out to a few minor characters who really wowed - Laura Wade did a great job as Avery, a lovable, over-enthusiastic younger brother. Brandi Moore was so convincing as Mrs. Arable that I kept forgetting her real life status as a teenager. And the two sheep, played by Malena Davis and Amanda Heckler, managed to talk in unison throughout the whole play without ever losing sync (pretty impressive).

I really watching my girls see Charlotte's Web for the first time. Though disturbingly when Charlotte started to die, F giggled. Somewhat appalled I whispered, "how is this funny?" To which she replied, "don't worry mommy, nobody actually ever dies in plays and movies. i'm laughing because i'm trying to guess how she'll come back alive." (thanks, Disney). Obviously the play's end soured their spirits. F sat in shock through the whole encore. But the next morning, P woke up saying "thank you for taking us to that play last night, I really liked it a lot, well except for the dead part. but still it was really good. so thank you mommy."

The play runs through Sunday June 10th at TJ Middle School's Theater (in Arlington, VA). Adult tickets cost $12 and children cost $10. The production is recommended for ages 4 and up. Click here for tickets and additional information.

Performance Schedule:

Friday, June 8 at 7:30
Saturday June 9 at 11 am and 3 pm
Sunday, June 10 at 3 pm.


Things to Read - Favorite Kids' Books VI

Preschool is out for the year, so lots of library trips and reading on the couch. Here are some recent favorites. And click here to view past posts on more of our favorite kids' books.

George and Martha (The Complete Stories) - We can't stop reading these simple, short short stories about two best friends and their love for each other. The anthology is huge so you can read for as long as you choose. And, I must admit, even after the kids fell asleep, I read ahead for awhile because the stories make me happy.

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi - We discovered this book while visiting my friend Jenny (it is one of her favorite childhood books). The story of a dog lost in a magician's gardens had P wondering for days - did the magician really turn the bad dog into a duck for the afternoon? Or was it all a coincidence? P has many theories. Great illustrations too.

Very Far Away
- In honor of Maurice Sendak's death we decided to check out a few of his lesser known books. This might be the new favorite, as P makes me read it constantly. The boy in the story travels "very far away" (defined as "many times around the block and two cellar windows down from the corner") to discover the things he loves about home.

The Watcher - Who doesn't love Jane Goodall? Once they read this biography, your kids will love her too.

The Three Questions - "What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?" The book's answers - adopted from a Leo Tolstoy story - serve as a great reminder for kids and adults about the truly important things in life.

The Pea Blossom - Apparently this tale of a pea sprouting outside a sick child's window has been around for hundreds of years, but I just learned of it now. Our whole family fell in love with the tiny pea who knew that he would go "wherever it is that I am meant to."


What have you been reading lately? We could use some new suggestions.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...