Places to Go - The National Arboretum's Nature Playspace in the Washington Youth Garden (Washington DC)


A few weekends ago, when temperatures climbed into the high 60s/low 70s, we headed over to the National Arboretum for some family bonding time in the great outdoors (not sure if an arboretum really classifies as the "great outdoors" but I'm going with it). Usually, even on weekends, the Arb is not very crowded, but this time people were everywhere. Luckily, the Arb can really handle crowds (it contains over 400 acres). Plus, I enjoyed watching bike riding families circle the road, while picnicking couples took over the meadows and open spaces.

Anyways, after we strolled through Fern Valley, we decided to cross the street and check out the Washington Youth Garden, which we haven't visited in years (click here to see pictures from our last visit). The garden now houses a Nature Playspace, which is nothing short of "AWESOME!!". The playspace includes: two nature "pianos", a stage (T had a blast), "memory blocks", a dirt area (all three kids avoided this), and a wonderful walking course - full of wiggly planks and tree stumps (even I couldn't stop playing on it). Plus, the area also has tons of spaces for digging and exploring. We ended up staying over an hour. Such a great little "hidden treasure" for kids of all ages, I highly suggest a visit. Click here for more information.


Even I loved walking the planks. Round and round.


T loved carrying these around. He incorporated them in odd ways into his "performance".



Places to Go - Dumbarton Oaks (Washington DC)


Two weeks ago, on an incredibly beautiful Wednesday afternoon, the girls' school released early, so I decided we needed to visit Dumbarton Oaks (just outside Georgetown). The girls were not thrilled about my plan, rather, they wanted to Wii and ride bikes. I probably would have given in, but throughout the winter Dumbarton Oaks is FREE, whereas after March 15 it costs $8 for adults and $5 for children (aged 2-12) to tour the gardens. So my cheapness prevailed and I insisted we needed to go before the fees kicked in - luckily the girls LOVED it (I can never predict how well "forced" adventures will go over).

As soon as we arrived, P yelled, "mom, you made this sound like some boring old garden, you didn't tell me there was a CASTLE." The kids' enchantment continued as we explored the grounds - F spent the whole walk asking how much it would cost to live there, whereas P and her friend L, just pretended they did live there (I think the abundance of imagination might be the biggest distinction between kindergarteners and 1st graders). The kids all ran and ran, trying to read the map, yet anxious to see the newest spot of interest.

Now that spring has arrived, the gardens are no longer free, but they should be BEAUTIFUL right now, especially with the cherry trees in bloom. The estate also contains a museum of Pre-Columbian art, which we did not have a chance to visit. Metered street parking is located outside the entrance (we did not have a problem finding a spot). The gardens are only open in the afternoon from 2-6 pm (excluding Mondays and holidays). Click here for more information.


Andy Cao's Cloud Terrace art installation covered one of the patios with a net full of fake diamonds, which looked wonderful as the afternoon light bounced everywhere.



Things to Make - Natural Easter Egg Dye

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We rarely dye Easter eggs (mom guilt). Often we vacation around this time, so I can use that as an excuse. But truthfully I hate hard boiled eggs and the obligation to eat several of them usually weighs me down, so I avoid the whole scenario. Luckily lately both Dan and T cannot stop eating any sort of egg, so without any excuses holding me back, we had a job to do.

I've wanted to make natural egg dye ever since reading this post. We borrowed the recipes used by Sweet Fine Day and the colors turned out beautiful and vibrant. And the kids' all loved following the recipes - now I'm trying to decide what to do with the leftover dye - any suggestions?

Here's the scoop:

Ingredients: red cabbage, red beets, turmeric, eggs (preferably white)

1. Follow the recipes below to make the dye:

Blue: Simmer 4 cups of water with 1 small red cabbage (roughly chopped) for 15 minutes.

Red: Simmer 4 cups of water with 2 medium red beets (grated) for 15 minutes.

Yellow: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and stir in 1/4 cup turmeric. Boil for 1 more minute.

2. After each of the mixtures have cooled down, mix in 1/4 cup white vinegar and strain each of the colors into bowls for dyeing.

3. Leave the eggs overnight - refrigerated- in the color bath.

4. Eat (or, if you're like me, don't eat)


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Things to Do - Random Links

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(images above from our room at the Clifton Inn, Charlottesville, VA)

Around here, the arrival of spring is occurring quite slowly, as evidenced by the snow falling outside my window this morning. In honor of today's snow day, I thought I'd post some random links to start off the week.

As you've probably noticed, I changed the look of the blog somewhat - as much as I love toddler feet, we're past those days now. I went through several iterations before I came up with a header photo that felt right to me, right now I love the messiness of the above photo - the unclean counter, cookbooks left out, the wine bottle and kitchen towel in the background, crazy fridge magnets - because that's our life (for better or worse). And the spiderman mask just sort of completes it all.

Happy Monday everyone!! (And happy spring break!)

* Trippy.

* Documerica - "For the Documerica Project (1971-1977), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired freelance photographers to capture images relating to environmental problems, EPA activities, and everyday life in the 1970s." Many of the photos are currently on view at the National Archives, but if you can't make it to the exhibit the online collection is really impressive in itself.

* Leaning houses. For some reason, I really like these, even though the idea seems obvious enough (not that it ever occurred to me).

* Custom family portraits. Has anyone ever bought one of these? I'm somewhat tempted.

* My new favorite song. Seriously. Favorite. I. love. one. word. sentences.

* Snapshots from a surreal North Korean vacation.

* An around the world toy story.

* Spring. I really love this one.

* Perfection.

* Perhaps the most addictive blog ever (thank you Not Quite Grown Up for the suggestion!)


Places to Go - Clemyjontri Park (McLean, VA)


Almost every parent of a toddler throughout the DC metro-area has heard of or visited Clemyjontri Park, as it's sort of a 2 year old's version of paradise (minus the fact that the playground contains almost no shade or trees - making it scalding hot in the summer and extra cold in the winter). And I must admit the park is impressive in its HUGE colorfulness and variety, full of fake "roads" (made of that bouncy playground material, so nobody gets hurt), airplanes, motorcycles, cars, a firetruck, a bus, tons of swings, a plastic instrument section, a MAZE, and a carousel in the summer. It seems limitless, which is both Clemyjontri's blessing and its curse.

When the girls were little, we constantly received invitations for playdates and get togethers here. But as a mother of two small children, I found the whole place a logistic nightmare - F wanted me to push her on the swings, but where was P? Oh, crying because she fell off the firetruck, half a football field away from me. As I rushed to retrieve her, moms of only children glowered at me, their eyes clearly saying "how could you be so negligent? Where were you?" I felt like crying. No matter how hard I tried, the girls (aged only 13 months apart) always went in different directions, especially at Clemyjontri which offers so so many directions to choose from. And then there's the maze, a wonderful idea in some regards - but if you turn your head as one of your three children wanders in unexpectedly, a gripping fear engulfs every organ as you run through the giant playground screaming at everyone you see "have you seen my son?"

I started calling it the "only child" playground, because everyone there always seems to have an adult child ratio of at least 1:1 (more often 3:1 (apparently grandparents love to come too)). And I avoided it like the plague. Well, until now.

Last week, T and I went with some friends. And we stayed forever. I stood by as T and his best friend, J, put out imaginary fires, raced motorcycles, started a band, sailed on a "boat", and flew airplanes. He ran from place to place, overwhelmed and intrigued. A joy to watch. Which made me realize how in some ways I'm doing this whole thing backwards - most families start out with two adults and one little bundle of joy - bonding like crazy. Then (for some) more kids slowly add to the pack. But F was only 3 months old when I became pregnant with P. By the time F started walking, I could no longer see my feet. And I remember it being hard, in lots of ways. But I had no comparison metric, I didn't know anything else (other than the glowering moms mentioned above, who seemed so constantly disappointed by me). And we had fun together (sometimes frazzled fun, but still fun).

But, now, with my third child, I'm finally able to take him to the playground without any siblings. And as much as I loved the community and joy and love that comes with two, I must say hanging out with one is pretty fun as well. Especially at places like Clemyjontri Park.

If you're interested, Clemyjontri is open every day from 7 am to dusk. The playground has a larg(ish) parking lot, which often fills on weekends (overflow parking is located across the street and around the corner, somewhat of a hike). The playground's unique design (ramps, wheelchair accessibility, wide openings) assures that children of all abilities can play next to each other. In the spring, a paid carousel operates on weekends. And in summer, the carousel operates daily. Bathrooms are on site. Click here for more information.


Years ago, all of the kids received dog hats as birthday party favors and for some reason they always wear them when I bring the camera, which drives me a little crazy.


Nothing like a porch swing to get the party going.


The bottom photo is of the dreaded/loved maze. So much fun, well, until it's not.


Things to Do - A Kinder, Gentler Rant

First of all, I need to stop. Just one more cranky post and I will return this blog to the "happy space" that I need it to be (hence the grateful lists). Not that anything is wrong with venting or honesty (and I believe in both those things), but this is my place for optimism. And I want to keep it that way.

Regarding the rant -it really was just a rant and while I feel that I had some interesting/worthwhile things to say, I wrote it from an angry place, without well researched arguments. And I'm fine with that. Since the rant posted, I've received quite a few emails and notes regarding Vivia Chen, who apparently quit lawyering and began blogging when "she realized that her favorite part of working on a transaction was planning the post-closing dinner." So it's not okay for a Princeton grad to dream of raising children, but it's fine for Chen to dream of planning a dinner? Um, I'm sure there's a message here. But can someone explain to me what it is? Those who live in glass houses . . . Whatever. I get it, Chen sees herself as different because she WORKS.

Perhaps as women we make too much of this work vs. non-work distinction. When money isn't the issue (and, obviously, this whole discussion changes radically when it is) then why does working in itself become so important? If you have a job you love, then do it. Of course. Or even if you just like the release, the change of pace, the thoughtfulness that working outside the home can bring, then please keep working. But if you believe that one must work just for the sake of working, I don't understand. Do you really think life ends when you leave the corporate world (or for that matter, that you can never return)? Find a hobby. Start a blog. Or even better, I know quite a few moms who couldn't decide between work and home, so instead of trying to find employment outside the home they founded their own businesses. And I think that's pretty awesome. Hence, why I LOVED this quote from Mary Louise Kelly's article - "So many of the women I know are blending work and family in ways our mothers and grandmothers never dreamed possible. This seems to me worth celebrating, not sniffing at. Dare I confess that I feel I’m accomplishing something just as meaningful now as when I spent my time scurrying between Pentagon press briefings? Or, to use an example from Sandberg’s world, should we automatically assume that the woman running the company is doing more with her life than the woman who has negotiated a three-day week?"

One of my best friends from law school works as a corporate lawyer at a major firm. She travels quite a bit for work (depositions don't come to you) and has two incredible children. She's amazing. Due to her schedule, most of the child-raising responsibilities fall on her husband, a fantastic dad. He can spend hours on the floor dressed as a prince or a king or a monkey, creating imaginary worlds with 3 year olds. Yet the other day, my friend said something that has stuck with me, "I just didn't realize it would be this hard - the maternal pull. I always planned on working full time and my husband is great with the kids. But I just can't believe how hard it is for me, to not be with them. I wasn't prepared for that." And I think that's the problem with this whole "have-it-all" philosophy. You can have it all. Really. But it's hard, not just logistically. But emotionally. And good parenting does not have anything to do with whether or not you work outside the home. Some of the best parents I know have full time jobs (three hours with a young child can be heaven, whereas eight can be hell). But I think we just want these wonder-women, these female pinnacles of success to acknowledge this.

And by "we", I don't necessarily mean the 37-year-old me, writing this now. I've made my own choices. I don't need Marissa Mayer or Sheryl Sandberg to explain their lives to me. But I mean the 27 year old law school student me, who assumed she'd just drop the kids with the nanny and dash off to an awesome job. Who assumed parenting would be easy. Emotionally easy. So while I haven't read Lean-In, and while at first the buzz and press annoyed me, the other day I finally watched Sandberg's TED talk and ending up a fan (who would have guessed it?). Along with some really good advice for corporate women (advice I desperately needed ten years ago), Sandberg does say, clearly, THIS IS HARD regarding her life as a working mom. I'm not sure why the press portrays her as a anti-women workaholic (and again, I have not read the book). She flat out states "I feel guilty some times. I know no women, whether they're at home or whether they're in the workforce, who don't feel [this is hard] sometimes. So I'm not saying that staying in the workforce is right for everyone." Further, "I know men that stay at home and work in the home to support wives with careers, and it's hard. When I go to the Mommy-and-Me stuff and I see the father there, I notice that the other mommies don't play with him. And that's a problem, because we have to make it as important a job, because it's the hardest job in the world to stay at home, for people of both genders, if we're going to even things out and let women stay in the workforce."

So instead of a rant, I'll end it on this note - this is the conversation we need to have, not the insults, not denying an education to people who disagree with your future plans, but rather, honesty over antagonism. Because as a SAHM I need people like Sandberg to show my daughters (and my son) that women can make it in the corporate world. Yet, I also feel that our children need people like me, to show that one can "opt out" if one chooses, that personal satisfaction and happiness exist in many different forms, that a job does not define who you are. And that whether it be a nanny, a father, a mother, a relative, or a daycare worker - someone needs to watch the kids (we can't just leave them in a dark room with food on the floor and a bowl of water in the corner). Like it or not, we're all in this together, even Vivia Chen and me (though hopefully we won't ever have to ever actually meet).

In pursuit of openness, sharing, and meeting new people, one of my favorite bloggers and friends* is creating a get together for lawyer moms with the goal of meeting regularly to discuss "a variety of issues facing lawyers with children, including career choices, work-life balance and raising children." Every mom with a law degree is included, regardless of whether you currently utilize it or not. So please come (time and place to be determined)!! I'd love to meet more of you and hear your stories as well. Click here to RSVP.

**Oh, and just in case you think this sounds fun/interesting/different but fear that it will be awkward, I want to assure you that Shannon is outgoing and friendly and easy to talk to. She can make anyone feel totally at ease. Plus she's super fun.


Things to Make - Saran Wrap Watercolor Paintings

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I've wanted to try saran wrap painting ever since Not-So-SAHM posted about it. Luckily (or perhaps, unluckily) we've had enough cold rainy days lately that the opportunities for indoor entertainment keep presenting themselves to us. So on one such day, we gave it a try.

Here's the scoop:

Materials: HEAVY watercolor paper (the heavier the better), watercolor paints, saran wrap, and sponge roller (optional)

1. For this to work the paper has to be wet. Since T's obsessed with sponge rollers lately, I let them use these. Though in retrospect they made the paper a little too wet.

2. After wetting the paper, paint designs using the watercolors. All three kids loved this part, as the color really swirls and moves on the paper.

3. Place saran wrap over the wet painted paper and move the saran wrap with your fingers to make patterns on the paper.

4. Once you're satisfied with your pattern, LEAVE THE SARAN WRAP ON, while the paper dries.

5. Once everything dries, peel off the saran wrap and Voila! Beautiful designs.

On the upside, the kids LOVED this project, especially working with all the water. On the downside, the water caused the paint to loose its vividness, so everything came out really pale looking. I'm not sure how to correct this, any suggestions?

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Places to Go (Vacation) - Monticello (Charlottesville, VA)


A few weekends ago, Dan's parents watched the kids so the two of us could enjoy a romantic weekend at the picturesque Clifton Inn in Charlottesville, VA. I love winter in Charlottesville, with its overpriced (though scenic) wineries and gorgeous vistas. The areas offers just enough activities to ensure that you won't become bored, but not enough to convince me to wake up before 10 am (especially when the Clifton will bring breakfast to your room at no extra cost (love it there)).

On Saturday afternoon, we visited, Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's famous estate, which he dynamited a mountain to build. Jefferson utilized some quirky gadgets - like a double-pen writing machine, so he could keep copies of all his correspondence, and fancy mechanical doors which close in unison. Despite enjoying the tour, the older I become the less I know what to make of the slaveholding founders of our country. Where in my mind to place these famous dead white men? Especially after reading articles like this. I still haven't visited, by I appreciate the Smithsonian's American History Museum's attempt to change our focus - less about Jefferson and more about the 607 enslaved men, women, and children that made such a life possible.

Anyways, I must admit that while walking around the grounds of Monticello, I let my mind wander away from such topics - choosing instead to concentrate on gorgeous mountain views and gnarled old trees, which, I'm sure have their own tales to tell.



Things to Do - Grateful List (February 2013)

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* Watching House of Cards, Season 1 on Netflix (so so good)
* Listening to Josh Ritter's new album, The Beast in Its Tracks (possibly his best ever)
* Listening to War on Drug's Slave Ambient
* Reading The Newlyweds
* The kids all loving Fireman Sam
* Reading Emergent by Jill Talbot (Paris Review online)

* P Brennan's Sunday Brunch with live Irish music
* Buttermilk honey pie from A Beautiful Mess
* Surprise tatin (with potatoes and tomatoes) from Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London's Ottolenghi
* Zucchini pizza bites
* A romantic homemade Valentine's day dinner (lamb chops, surprise tatin, bread salad (from Plenty)) while the kids partied at JW Tumbles


* A warm Sunday at the dogpark and the "airplane" playground
* The Kennedy Center's balconies


* Dan's love of his new ping pong table
* T's toothbrush timer

* T dressing himself in the morning (sometimes he does better than other times, but he's trying)
* T - "mommy, I made a new song - mommy loves me and I love mommy" (sorry for the cheese, but I'm crazy in love right now)
* P - "why do you buy fashion magazines? it sort of seems like a waste of money" (and that's when you know you're old)
* Great weekend dinners at friends' houses (thank you Beth, Rachel, and Shannon)
* Friends who help you rant
* T - "mom, look - here's my smile" (yes, total T cheesefest this month)
* An overheard conversation between P and her friend - P's Friend says "your mom is really weird"; daughter P replies "yeah, but she's unique. like she lets us write all over my bed and stuff. see, unique." (I would have rather had her defend my cool, but I'll take unique)
* T - "can we make a fort downstairs so we can play George Washingtons?" (he had me with the "s")
* T singing (at the top of his lungs) "this girls in on fire" and "hey ho"
* T - "wow, guys, this is an awesome cuddle"
* Doctors who (hopefully) know what they're doing


F - my family, Valentines, going to the art museum, art, the library, martial arts, our cousins, books, everything in our house, that we have a nice house to live in and food to eat

P - Lost Dog Cafe for dinner, getting Valentines, my family, mommy, the art museum, cartwheels, a [nice] sub at school, 100 days of school, our cousins, dinner at friends' houses, going to the dogpark, Brain Pops at school

T - That we go out to dinner with daddy, my family, going to school, my new builder belt, our cousins, the dogpark, the airplane playground, when Coco comes places with us


Things to Read - What I've Been Reading (End of Winter 2013 Edition)

Travels in Siberia
- I feel as if I can hear Dan sigh every time I start reading a travel book, as he knows that it will cause me to spend hours online researching expensive vacations to distant destinations (hey, in my defense, everyone needs a hobby). So I'm sure he's breathing a little easier knowing that Ian Frazier's memoir/travelog/history lesson/love letter to a country convinced me that I have NO DESIRE to travel to Siberia (at least not Russian Siberia). The book reads well and contains tons of fascinating stories, tidbits, and facts. But despite Ian Frazier's fascination with the place, Russia sounds pretty awful - roads full of trash (as in trash EVERYWHERE), end-of-the-line towns where everyone must wait for a train (the road ends) that contain no schedules and no public bathrooms (how does this even work? do I even want to know?), bribes as part of daily life (Frazier literally has to BRIBE his way onto his return flight to America), people that use airport bathrooms to wash their dishes, poverty, cities coated in pollution so thick that it "desertifies" everything near, etc. No thanks, when it comes to Russia, I'll stick with Chekov and Dostoyevsky, no need to see the real thing (though it would be fun to drive across a lake that becomes a highway in winter). Postscript - Frazier always travels by car, maybe the train would make it better? (this video makes me hope so).

- So when all the bigshots published their "best of" lists for 2012 (and I LOVE a "best of" list), almost everyone put Lauren Groff's Arcadia at the top of the list (if only due to alphabetical order). I had read that the book centers around a fictional hippie commune in the 1960s, which is true. But the book is so much more than this (and only half of the story takes place in the commune), it's really a book about love and family and how our younger years shape us. Or more simply, as one character at the end puts it (don't worry, no plot spoilers here) - "freedom or community, community or freedom. One must decide the way one wants to live." I really really loved it, in a raw way that I'm still trying to digest and process. Arcadia is narrated in the first-person through the character of Bit, told by looking at his life through 4 main periods - on the commune at age 5, on the commune as a young teenager, in NYC as a young professor and father, and, finally, in various places as Bit reaches middle age. Throughout each section, Groff gives enough detail that you truly feel you know this person, all of which makes it hard as a reader to face each section's end - when you're whisked away again, through long stretches of years, to glimpse Bit at a new portion of his life. By the end, I kept hoping for a final chapter, not because the book necessitated one, but because I wasn't quite ready to say goodbye.

The Newlyweds - Nine years ago, Nell Freudenberger wrote a short story collection, Lucky Girls, that remains one of my favorite books ever. Spot on. So I've followed her career for awhile now. Her 2007 novel, the Dissident, was sort of non-stellar, despite interesting ideas (about art and cultural identity) nothing really came together and after awhile reading it became a chore. Luckily, Freudenberger has bounced back with her newest novel, The Newlyweds, about the marriage of a woman from Bangladesh and a man from Rochester, NY who met through the internet. And the surprises and disillusions that come with getting to know someone intimately. The characters seem real and interesting, and the plot contains enough mystery to make it both an easy-read and a page turner. A good read (though still not as good as Lucky Girls).

Steve Jobs - One of my friends told me that while reading this book her hatred for Jobs pinnacled to the point where she almost threw multiple Apple products (including a computer) out the window. I thought she was being dramatic (even though she's one of the least dramatic people I know), then I read it. Jobs' disregard for anyone's feelings, his complete abandonment of his first daughter, and his overwhelming narcissism make him just seem like a Disney villian. But that's just the first half of the book. Eventually, I grew to (somewhat grudgingly) respect some of Jobs' accomplishments, esp. when he returned to Apple (after being ousted as their CEO). He did have amazing drive and ambition. And as I sit here on my IMac with my Ipad and Iphone beside me, I'll willingly admit that he made good products with easy interfaces. But I still don't like him. Regarding the book, Isaacson does a great job moving the story forward while portraying a complex, driven man.


Things to Make - The Best (Odd) Sandwich Ever

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I wish I could remember where I learned about this sandwich - somewhere in the internet void. As I read the recipe for the first time I thought "either this person is totally f***ing with me or this just might work." And now I'm addicted, forcing me to keep a stash of avocados handy at all times. I know how odd it sounds, but the sweetness of the bread combined with the saltiness of the feta makes for a win win combo.

INGREDIENTS: raisin bread, avocado, coconut oil, and feta

1. Toast the bread

2. Spread some coconut oil on the bread.

3. Add avocado and feta to taste.

4. Eat!!


Things to Do - Boys and Barbies

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T can spend hours playing police, firefighter, and builder. He loves guns (a hobby which I indulge because he asks for so much less than my other two kids, not that this is a good excuse). And swords. And trains. And (gasp) his sisters' Barbies.

The girls hate when he plays dolls with them. In the past year, T has accidentally broken off four Barbie heads (Barbie can become pretty violent when attacking "bad guys"). He also never cares what Barbie wears (the horror) and often puts her in perilous situations. But still, ALL T WANTS is to be in the (often locked) girls' room, included. And, if you ask me, this seems like a perfectly reasonable request.

One of the things that disturbs me lately is I keep hearing and seeing all these parents brag about their tomboys, as in "oh, my daughter just hates dolls" (imaginary applause) or "she would never ever care about princesses." Of course, there is NOTHING WRONG with the fact that some girls like soccer balls while others prefer ball gowns. This never really ends, even as adults some women love clothes, hair, and makeup more than other women. But I think it's time someone showed the opposite situation - so I'm posting pictures of T and Barbie. Because there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS (I can feel my father-in-law cringing from a hundred miles away).

And, yes, chances are that 5 years from now T will hate me for this post (if not sooner), though hopefully by then it will be lost in the internet void. But, oh well, 5 years from now he's bound to hate me for something. So for now, I'll stand by and watch, proudly, as Barbie attacks another dinosaur because at least my son realizes that girls can be tough, strong, and powerful. Even in heels.

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Things to Do - Random Links

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* I cannot wait to watch this.

* By the seaside.

* A new way to look at recycled goods.

* Ross Sawyers.

* Some old things just have to go. Food for thought. Literally.

* GW as an artist. I hate the condescending tone of this article, but I agree that the painting itself is somewhat interesting.

* Rich block, poor block - google maps colored to show median neighborhood income. This is FASCINATING!!

* Evidence that I'm old.

* "Henry Busby makes me nostalgic for people I don’t know & places I’ve never been. Portraits & objects that look abandoned, have a stillness that seems ready to break. There is an underlying tension that everything is about to change."

* Global warming vs. tourism

* I'm not sure what to make of this - "the Reborn subculture, a growing group, almost exclusively women, who collect shockingly lifelike handmade dolls of newborn babies. Many of them treat the dolls as if they were real members of their families — taking them shopping and out to restaurants."

* Emergent. "If we are told stories about the past enough times, we begin to believe we were there, and my mother has put enough pieces of her childhood together for me that I can see the glow of the porch light from the front steps of that white house in East Texas. Looking back to that afternoon in Lubbock, I see my mother’s frame in the mirror, the blur of the kitchen as I ran by, the black skid marks I found in the street the next morning on my way to school. What I don’t see is what I wrote on my card to Stacy or the day she returned to school, if she did.

Memory forms, piece by piece. Some of them go missing, others interlock, firm. We fill in the missing pieces with what we imagine or just leave the gap, admit the blank. And sometimes, we imagine what might have been, would have been. I do this. I still wake in the middle of the night, imagine the outcome if we had stayed sleeping. It’s a jolt, like that moment when my mother pushed me into the house. Such near escape."

* Downton Abbey paper dolls.


Places to Go - The Kennedy Center's Nordic Cool (Washington DC)


I love the balconies of the Kennedy Center, esp. with kids. Something about those long uninterrupted vistas makes children run and run. Back and forth for (literally) hours. Best way ever to wear out a toddler. And I just meander behind them, checking out the wonderful views of the city. Almost like the kid version of a dog park (sorry, I feel like I just offended a ton of parents with that analogy). They also have a good (though expensive) cafe on the premises, so you can make an afternoon out of it.

On the downside, the Kennedy Center is rather fancy. And fancy people often don't mix well with children. Plus parking is $10 at a minimum (up to $22 for events). So, unless something kid-friendly is playing on Millennium Stage (always free), we don't frequent the Kennedy Center very often.

Thus, I was quite happy when I read about the Kennedy's Nordic Cool Festival on Kidfriendly DC. The festival includes a giant boat sculpture made out of shirts (really cool), other random art and design exhibits, including a maze-house that my son couldn't stop running through, and LEGOS!! All for free (plus the cost of parking).

The best part about the lego exhibit (all duplo blocks) is that I interpreted it as an open invitation to disregard the fancy and let my child play. Awesomeness. Plus, once blocks started to bore him, a large array of ipads allowed T to check out videogames for awhile (who doesn't love Angry Birds?).

The festival runs through Sunday, March 17 and also includes dozens of reasonably priced ticketed events - plays, music, etc. Most of which are for older kids and adults. Click here for more info.


Seriously, they can do this all day long.


The wooden "maze" house was a HUGE hit with the kids. Despite the maze's lack of complexity or length (the house simply had multiple entrances and exits), both boys were fascinated by all of the possibilities. Well, until T started watching film footage of nordic landscapes. "Can we go there mom? Please!" "Maybe someday", I eagerly replied.


With my 50mm fixed lens, I could not get a good shot of the shirt ship. So you just have to trust me about it's coolness. Or go see it yourself.


Things to Make - Nature Art, Faces

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A few weeks ago, Under the Pecan Tree posted about using household items and art supplies to make portraits and I loved what they came up with. I planned on trying something similar, but then the temps actually rose above 45 degrees. So we scavenged outside for portrait-making materials. And then we arted.

What have you been making lately? We'd love to hear!

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