Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This is just going to make Brooke jealous...

...but that's not the reason I'm posting it. Well, not the only reason. (Come visit! Come visit!)

My friend Christina is in a graduate museum studies program (woo hoo!) and since she has this week off work we piled the kids in the car and drove out to Amherst, home of (drum roll, please) The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. It's a long drive — two hours without potty stops, and believe me, we made potty stops. But so, so worth it.

  • Trina Schart Hyman drawings. I adored her art as a kid reading Cricket magazine: all the delicate long-limbed fairies and arching trees and picture-window borders around everything.

  • A Leo Lionni illustration of his adorable mice. The Greentail Mouse was my favorite book as a kid. And it's back in print!

  • An illustration by an artist whose name I don't remember of King Midas descending his staircase. It's obviously meant to be a two-page spread inside the book. The staircase is curved, and everything behind Midas is gold; everything in front of him is vibrant blues and reds and brilliant flowers. If you look at it out of the corner of your eye you can practically see him moving.

  • An Arnold Lobel drawing of Frog playing the violin.

  • A Kinuko Y. Craft illustration from Cinderella, hung at Beth's level, absolutely mesmerizing to a princess-obsessed three-year-old.

  • Two lovely little Beatrix Potter illustrations of alternate scenes in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. My mom embroidered some pictures from the Beatrix Potter books for me when I was a baby, and they're hanging in the girls' bedroom now; Sarah recognized these as similar to the pictures in her room. Wow.
And then there's the gallery devoted to Eric Carle's work, celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Ducklings from 10 Little Rubber Ducks! Side-by-side comparisons of the art from the original (1969) version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the redone illustrations in the 1987 version! A video of Carle showing how he produces his gorgeous painted-tissue-cutout pieces!

I also have to add how impressed I am with the staff's understanding of their audience. The pictures are hung lower than you'd expect — they're still inside an adult's viewing range, but they're also at a good level for, say, a six-year-old (I still had to pick up my kids to show them most things). Each gallery has wide benches to sit on, and a basket on each bench containing the books corresponding to the artwork on the wall (we read book after book after book to the kids this way). In the Carle gallery, the basket also holds several little stuffed hungry caterpillars that kids can carry with them — there's a note attached asking them to see how many caterpillars they can see on the walls. Given kids' need to touch things to really experience them (every time we go to a museum I find myself repeating the mommy mantra: "Look with your eyes, not with your hands") this is genius: the girls walked around looking at the art on the walls and stroking the caterpillars instead of reaching up to touch things. And there's a library in the building, with story time twice a day. We spent four hours in the museum and didn't even get to the art studio, didn't sit in the auditorium for one of the performances by students from a local performing arts high school. (We did visit the shop, though, and I can only justify the amount of money I spent there by telling myself that I did get in free with Christina's NEMA membership, the DVD of Carle explaining his art is a Mothers Day present for my mom, and Beth and Sarah really shouldn't leave a museum like that without new books. I didn't buy any Carle-designed fabric, but I suppose that's only a matter of time.)

Oh, and the cafe has caterpillar cookies. Not what you think: they're round, and chocolate-chip. But each one has a little hole eaten through the center.

Add it up: it's an eight-hour day. I don't think we'll be going again for a good long, May, when two new exhibits will be up....

Recently heard around here

Beth, after throwing the bouncy ball that showed up at our house for Valentine's Day: "Sarah, go get it!"

"Bethie, are you treating Sarah like a puppy?"

You-caught-me voice: "Yeah."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beth the budding cook

Made her own breakfast the other morning — scrambled eggs. She cracked the eggs into the bowl all by herself (sure, I scooped out a few pieces of shell) and then whisked the eggs with some milk and salt. Wouldn't cook it, since she's still not a fan of the gas stove. But oh my was she proud of herself!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A few things...

...from the last few weeks, because it's been too crazy around here to even think about sitting down to blog:

  • Sarah is now talking in complete sentences. They're still largely unintelligible, but if you can understand her you realize she's actually completing thoughts.

  • Beth, in a fit of insatiable curiosity, burned her finger on the iron last night.

  • We were all sick with a killer stomach bug two weeks ago. Sarah got it first, then me, then Scott, and finally Beth. That was one entire week when we didn't leave the house. Did wonders for our attitudes in the middle of winter, let me tell you.

  • Sarah still walks around singing, "Happy birthday, dear Sarah" (usually while wearing a mixing bowl on her head). She loved loved loved her birthday party. Tells people she is two all the time.

  • Beth has begun a true obsession with the vintage Fisher-Price little people she got for Christmas. There are elaborate stories going on (she calls them "plays"), many of which involve the people sitting in the barber's chair.

  • This last perhaps because I cut Beth's hair a few weeks ago. She's had it done by my mom, and professionally (if you can call a visit to Snip-Its professional), but she insisted that I cut it this time. I'd never taken a pair of scissors to anyone's hair before trimming Sarah's baby mullet a few months ago, and attacking Bethie's thick curls was nerve-wracking. It took an hour. If I do say so myself, it looks amazing. All hail the forgiving curly hair!

  • Beth has learned to use scissors, which fortunately has nothing to do with her haircut.

  • Scott has a paper coming out in a top-tier journal this year. Woo hoo!

  • In a fit of frustration (too many people telling me, "You should sell these!" upon opening baby shower gifts) I opened an Etsy shop. Am now up to my eyeballs in fabric and other random sewing supplies, and wondering why I ever bother to listen to other people. It's been frustrating. Nice to sell a few things, but frustrating. And certainly not profitable.

  • In the midst of this, I had a complete I'm-a-stay-at-home-mom-woe-is-me breakdown, which Scott countered with, "You're feeling like a trapped housewife and you're going to sew to make yourself feel better?" Guy has a point. I almost decked him, but he has a point.

  • I went to parent-teacher conferences with Beth's preschool teacher. They adore her over there. She's a child who was born to thrive in preschool.

  • Rose and I took the kiddos to IKEA last week, and Josh and Beth were big enough (and potty-trained enough) to go in the playspace while we did our shopping. Sarah and Lilah, free of the older siblings' influence (and bossiness) had a grand time running through the store and striking disarmingly cute poses on Scandinavian furniture. My friend Stephanie calls the parenting-preschoolers years "the tunnel." I got a wee little glimpse of the light at the end.

  • My friend Lisa got us hooked up to play in the pit orchestra for a local high school musical. I'm way, way more excited about this than I have any right to be.

  • Beth has taken to commenting on farts, her own and other people's. One night at dinner she did something particularly loud and juicy, grinned a HUGE grin, and said, "That was just disgusting of my gas!" I had to leave the room, I was laughing so hard. I'm waiting for her to do this at church, or at the grocery store, where I'll have to pretend to be embarrassed by it.

  • I found jalapeƱo ranch dressing at the grocery store. Makes an excellent dip for chicken nuggets, which we've been eating with alarming frequency.

  • Sarah, apparently in an effort to make up for Beth's refusal to latch permanently onto a particular stuffed animal or doll, has two buddies whom she simply must have with her: Pink Teddy and her new doll Eloise.

  • Beth has become a huge fan of "Shaun the Sheep" — to such an extent that she has renamed her stuffed lamb Shauna. (This is a departure for Beth; for a long time all of her stuffed animals had to be named Beth.)

  • Sarah's fascination with the potty continues, though it is unfortunately not synched with her need to go.

  • Beth has happily worked with stickers and glue and markers and construction paper to make valentines for her preschool friends, her neighborhood friends, her immediate family, and her grandparents. Sarah colored half-heartedly (ha!) on two paper hearts and declared herself done.

  • As usual, we celebrated Groundhog Day somewhat obsessively, complete with decorations and thematic food: sausage. (Think about it. It'll come to you.) No gingerbread Phil cookies this year, though.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Okay, this was too funny.

Know what bugs me most? I've started to write the darned note twice, and even though I click on "Save Draft," Facebook doesn't save it. Grr.