ooooooo! My first App review for iGameMom! Fun. This is a great App for little ones. We visit it often (I sometimes visit it without G…so embarrassing)!
In other exciting news, I’ve been offered the opportunity to become a contributing blogger on a few new(ish) websites. So while I don’t have oodles of time on my hands I just cannot resist the opportunity to sharpen my writing teeth on topics I’m really passionate about.
The first is iGameMom.com, a site run by an amazing Mom. She tests and reviews all the educational Apps out there.
I love this site. I’ve followed it from its inception when there were really only a few educational kid’s Apps out there to choose from. In just a year’s worth of time there are now about 80 bajillion. iGameMom does a terrific job of sorting through them all, plus she keeps you in the know when certain Apps become free for a limited time.
I am really excited to review Apps for this Mom brewed site and will re-blog them here whenever I do.
More to come…
But several things just happened that make me feel compelled to revisit this topic.
1. What would have been my Grandmother’s 91st birthday passed a few weeks ago and as she was the Resident Childhood Librarian in our family, I want her to feel I am passing the torch she passed to my mother and my mother so generously passed me.
2. G’s birthday just passed over the weekend, his 3rd birthday. Not sure how that happened, but it happened nonetheless. It made me realize, among other things, I have not posted about any glorious books we’ve read for an entire year.
3. Lastly, I have a little bit of a girl crush on Pamela Druckerman. If you have not read her book, Bringing Up Bebe and her follow up title, Bebe Day by Day, you should. It doesn’t matter if you have children or not. I think her books are more important than just parental how-tos, they are social commentary on the potential pitfalls current parenting techniques may have on the next generation of Americans. Anyhooo…when I tweeted her about how excited I was about her new book, she not only came to visit my blog (eeeeeeee!!), she tweeted links to her followers about my Fab Kid Lit pages (EEEEEEEEEEEeeeeee!). So naturally I feel I have to post more and not slack off anymore…
There were so many books this year, I had to divide this post into 3 separate posts. and after I publish them all I’ll chuck them up into the Fab Kid Lit Pages you see up above. We still read all the books from those lists as well…and will until he can read them to me himself.
Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever! has a very special place in my heart. While I really try to go for books that have a real story to them, a message about life, Richard Scarry‘s books are more about learning by memorization. The illustrations are just so adorable they essentially taught G the words for different foods from A to Z. He would bring the book to me every night and recite the words that matched the illustrations. When he’d forget one, he’d look up at me with his great big eyes and wait for the answer…ack…delish.
The Carrot Seed by Crockett Johnson was a gift from our nephew. He says the book taught him about self confidence. I could see how it would since it’s a story about how everyone doubted the growth of his carrot, but he stuck with it and persevered.
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown just has great illustrations of farm animals. G was a late talker so to have these adorable pictures to look at over and over helped him to cement the words into his brain. Plus, it is a lot of fun for him to find the butterfly on each page.
The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell (the author of Wag) is essentially a Christmas book, but imparts a lovely message any time of the year. When the little kitty in the story has a hard time finding a gift for his best friend he hunts down the gift of nothing…which turns out to be everything.
Mr Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss is the best. It just really doesn’t get any better, but you have to be game. If you really let yourself get into this book you might find yourself exhausted and your little one really revved up. It’s never a great idea for us to read it just before bed. In fact, I really hope no one else has ever heard us reading it out loud…we get a little weird.
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper is a classic for a reason. A train and its passengers in need come across some snooty trains who won’t help them (aw), but they hang in there until a very affable and good mannered train uses all her strength to help out. She thinks she can and then she does, like the Carrot Seed, it’s a nice introduction to what can be accomplished if you believe in yourself.
We love Harold & the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson because it takes so much imagination. Everything is so easy for kids these days, so many electronic options with all the bells and whistles. It’s lovely to watch your little one’s mind light up at the idea of a purple crayon that can make so much happen.
I have to confess Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman always scared me. It STILL scares me, but I guess life can be scary sometimes, so why not get used to it at an early age? I always enjoyed the book when the little bird asked the cow or cat or dog if he was his mama. But then he got to the scary rusted out car and noisy construction equipment and the whole thing got so dystopian. But in the end G thinks it’s hilarious that a bird would think an airplane was his Mama, so there you go.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter has finally happened in G’s mind. This is one of my all time favorite books on the planet. It’s also a little scary, what with Mr. MacGregor making Peter’s father into a pie, but I guess that’s the lesson. G understands and gets a little kick out of Peter when he’s naughty, but it is not lost on him that Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail get the berries and cream for supper becuase they were good little bunnies.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf is a classic introduction to the idea that it’s ok to be different. Maybe you’re a bull, maybe you’re supposed to want to fight and be tough and strong, but what if you don’t? What if you want to quietly eat grass and read your book? Ferdinand will help your little one begin to understand that it’s ok…we can all play to our own strengths.
G’s Godmother passed down this Olivia book to us by Ian Falconer. I wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise. She’s a little girl pig after all, but just like Madeleine, Olivia has some very important, universal attributes. She’s a kid, sometimes stubborn, sometimes dramatic, but always an individual. To me there is nothing more important than to teach your child how to be an individual. Plus it cracks me up that she tried to make a Jackson Pollock painting in her bedroom, so she had to have a time out.
More to come…
There is something to be said for the sheltered upbringing offered by a quiet, American suburb during the late 1980s/early 1990s. It was a life of safety and comfort, where anything and everything seemed possible if you just put your mind to it. Bad things always happened to someone else, somewhere else and there was no internet or 24 hour news cycle to remind me otherwise. I just tossed my parent’s weekly TIME magazine along with life’s other questionable areas unexamined and unexplained into the junk drawer of my childhood.
I want to raise my son the same way. Of course, the difficult aspect of this kind of upbringing is the shock you can experience when you begin to understand the more brutal reality of the world. It can unmoor your foundation, the very way you organized your understanding of things. Some might say this is simply the process of growing up. And that is true, to a certain degree. Lost idealism is a byproduct of aging of course.
This would be the moment when my almost 3 year old son would say, “Ecuse me MaMa. Why you talking about?”
“Well sweetie, when we were in Charleston I took you to visit the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, and while its trees and flowers are very beautiful to look at, I can’t stop thinking about how to explain to you what happened at these old plantation houses that makes them important.”
There is a story in my family about my great (or great great?) grandparents on my mother’s side I just can’t seem to shake out of my head lately. At some point in his life, my great grandfather made an untold amount of money in the slave trade. I’m not sure if he was in a sort of Jean Valjean position where he NEEDED that money to survive, or if he just saw it as a way to make some extra money.
When my great grandmother found out what he did (because let’s face it ladies, we always do) she was beside herself. They (or their parents?) had come to this country to make a better life. How could he then make money off the backs of people who almost certainly did not come here for a better life, but were instead forced to come here for a life of servitude and subordination?
Well, we all tell ourselves whatever we need to tell ourselves in order to sleep at night. It’s part of human nature. Every time I turn on my iPad I think for a second about how and where it was made, what the lives of people are like in places where forced labor is the only way of life. But I turn it on anyway, in fact, I just lied, I don’t think about it every time I turn on my iPad, that’s just how much I’ve convinced myself I do.
Maybe my great grandfather thought, ‘Well, if I don’t do it, someone else will. It might as well be me who makes that money and uses it for my family.’ And that is not an illogical argument, it is not an untruth. It is a skill we as humans have to ensure our survival. In order to survive in the wilderness, any type of wilderness, we might have to step on one of our own. We can if we have the innate ability to rationalize our behavior. It’s an uncomfortable reality of life, of nature. But I wonder, if this tool humans have, this innate ability, is supposed to be utilized for survival or once you have enough to survive is it supposed to be used to enable the individual and those closest to him the ability to thrive?
Some say yes, especially in this day and age, again…if you don’t, somebody else will. But my great grandmother didn’t seem think so. When she found out what her husband did she instead put her own security at risk. She made her husband make their home in Ohio part of the underground railroad. And he did. It was a crime punishable by a government who had not yet amended its Constitution. The barn of their house was one of many stops along the complex, word of mouth path to freedom for escaped slaves…it was also a path for dangerous bounty hunters and Federal Marshals.
I love this story. I want to teach my son to be brave like his great great (or great great great) grandmother, to move forward in life with unquestionable dignity and unwavering integrity. The paradox of parenting, however, is I also want him to survive…and thrive. I don’t want bounty hunters to ever come along his path. So while I grapple with this, I suppose I’ll find a place to start G’s junk drawer.
Our next stop was Florida.
We spent our time in Charlotte, North Carolina in constant deliberation as to whether or not we should take G to Urgent Care for a persistent, week long fever of 104 (!!!). BUT—we were able to visit a playground to see this ladybug…
the Discovery Place to see this octopus…
Sorry Charlotte. That’s all we had time for. We hear you have a lovely NASCAR museum. Maybe next time.
But then we were off to Charleston, South Carolina (where of course I got sick—but are Moms really allowed to be sick? No…not really).
Charleston. Oh Charleston. Of all the towns we’ve visited in the United States, Charleston has thrilled me the most. This is not just because I am sort of an old fogey who signs her name like she just signed the Declaration of Independence, but because it took me by surprise. I paid attention to boys in high school when I should have paid attention to my history teacher, so I was shocked to learn that Charleston is steeped not only in Civil War history, but in Revolutionary War history as well. It rivals Boston, New Orleans and even New York City for its beautifully preserved, historic architecture.
I wish I had the time to write a fully detailed post about the many incredible sights, but alas…not only do I not, we also didn’t have the opportunity to explore nearly as much as we would have liked. It is definitely a spot Michael and I decided we would visit for a long weekend again one day when we can take the proper tourist horse and buggy ride.
Of course, not only is Charleston full to the brim with history, it is also full of incredible food…most of it sweet. In fact, one hot afternoon I ordered mint iced tea from a man who asked if I wanted sweetened or unsweetened.
‘How sweet is sweet?’ I asked.
‘This is the south,’ he said.
- Oooooops…I published this post yesterday by accident…unfinished! Gulp. Let me try again—
- So what do you do in Pittsburgh for 2 weeks in the middle of January? Honestly I thought we were doomed. It would be cold and gray and industrial and dreary. I knew the whole Heinz ketchup situation started in Pittsburgh, but I wasn’t in the mood for any more John Kerry factoids in my life. When I bemoaned this fact over dinner one night in Philadelphia, my very brilliant and optimistic Uncle said to me, “Don’t be fooled. All the culture of Pennsylvania is not contained in Philadelphia.”
He said it in a way that sounded like a challenge. It made me feel sort of competitive, sort of sporting, I swiftly became determined to seek out all the culture I could find in Pittsburgh that did not involve ketchup. The results did more than just keep our seasonal affects disorder at bay, it actually moved Pittsburgh up to the top of the list of places I think we should visit again.
While I didn’t get a shot of him…I did get a recording of his fantastic call— cuckamp3
Our next stop was Kalamazoo…
The fantastic blogger Azita over at Fig & Quince, reminded me about the documentary film on the Barnes titled, The Art of the Steal. My hairdresser that day in Philly told me I should watch it as well and it completely slipped my mind. We watched it last night (it streams on Netflix) and according to this film, what actually went down over there at the Barnes makes me feel like my post about his art was a bit glib. Well, I mean, obviously it was glib, but the seriousness and seediness of the saga is fascinating and paints an oily film over Philly and politics and organized philanthropy in general.
But…it’s also difficult to take sides or make any sort of judgement since the story is really a tale as old as time. It’s about greed, money, resentment, envy and ultimately power; a Greek and Shakespearean Tragedy steeped in irony. Just ultimately…human. Watch the film when you can. In the meantime, the story from my hairdresser is reprinted below—with corrections in bold.
This man named Dr. Barnes had a tough life, grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Philly, etcetera. He made his fortune by inventing
acetaminophen? Maybe? Something like thata drug to treat gonorrhea. In the era of Gertrude Stein, at the height of French ImpressionismImpressionism, Post Impressionism & Modern, he had a lot of money from selling his company and decided to collect art…a lot of art…30 billion dollars worth of art… maybe less. I can’t remember. He sequestered it away in a museum he built specifically around the collection, just outside of Philadelphia. In fact, the building was SO specific it was actually built around a painting, I believe by ManetMatisse. However, Barnes decided he would only make this collection accessible to childrenstudents who attended a specific schoolthe art school he made out of the collection, it was not to be viewed by the public. And MOST importantly he did not want the art to fall into the hands of the Philadelphia art world…he didn’t want a commercial value placed on it.
“Why?” Michael interrupted.
I guess he thought they were all a lot of uppity so and so’s. Oh…and there was also something about Annenberg.
They got into an argument one night. I thinkBarnes continually told Annenberg he shouldn’t be so snooty because everyone knew his grandfatherfather made all of his money in the mafia. ApparentlyThis was common knowledge, Annenberg Sr. had been in jail for tax evasion, but Annenberg, I guess, had the same sense of humor as maybe someone like…Tom Cruise. Right? You know what I mean, right? No sense of humor…especially about anything related to his own shortcomings. So Annenberg & Barnes never spoke again, and tried to take each other down in various ways whenever they had the opportunity.
Oo Oo Oo! Wait! So when Barnes died at age 78 in a car crash…he had no heirs and a will that stated 2 things:
The first was that this art
is for this nice schoolwas to be continued to be used for the school. And it was for about 40 years after Dr. Barnes died. A teacher ran the institution exactly as Barnes wished until she died. Then it went to Lincoln University, a very small university with a primarily African American student body. The Philly Art Museum and Penn were dissed, purposefully. You just have the watch the film to see what happened next. It’s a great big hubris filled messfest, mostly involving this guy…
But of course, over time, the school couldn’t afford to take care of the art, soEventually the state of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia said, ‘Hey! Lincoln University, how would you like 50 million dollars (a fortune to a school that size)? We’ll give you the money if you give us the art.’ Uh-huh. This is how the will was broken so the public was able to view the art.
The second stipulation of the will was that the art must NEVER, EVER, EVER be moved into the city of Philadelphia.
“But wait, I thought the Barnes Museum was in Philladelphia?”
It is! Dr. Messite attended the opening of the new space in Philly just last year. And guess who’s primarily responsible for breaking the will and funding the move? The Annenberg Foundation, even! (…along with the Pew Charitable Trust and the Mayor of Philly.)
So, my hairdresser is boycotting the museum.
I promise you I will not continually post 3 times a week. I just need to get caught up. Philly was AGES ago!!
“I just got some serious scoop from the hairdresser I saw,” I said to Michael as I came back into the hotel room.
“Well, I just mentioned to him, I wanted to visit a few museums while we were here in Philly and he raised one eyebrow at me…and then sort of asked me out of the side of his mouth (I tried to recreate the effect as I explained)…if I planned to go to the Barnes Museum. He made me so nervous I just said no.”
“Why? Isn’t that the one Dr. Messite told us we had to visit?”
Dr. Messite is our hilarious and elegantly old school dentist. We love him so much, he attended our wedding. He also has a voice similar to Snagglepuss from the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but don’t tell him I said so.
Elizabeth you must go to the Barnes Museum when you’re in Philadelphia. Marilyn and I drove down for the opening and it’s just magnificent, splendiferous even.
“So what’s the story?” Michael asked, bringing me back into the room.
“Well, bear in mind I have obviously not fact checked or google searched any of this, plus I don’t think I can recall all of it accurately so, this is strictly salon gossip,” I paused, “you know I just heard your eyes roll even though I didn’t see them.”
“What’s the story?”
“Ok, this is pretty much what the hair dresser told me…
This man named Barnes had a tough life, grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, etcetera. He made his fortune by inventing acetaminophen? Maybe? Something like that. In the era of Gertrude Stein, at the height of French Impressionism he had a lot of money and decided to collect art…a lot of art…30 billion dollars worth of art…maybe less. I can’t remember. He sequestered it away in a museum he built specifically around the collection, just outside of Philadelphia. In fact, the building was SO specific it was actually built around a painting, I believe by Manet. However, Barnes decided he would only make this collection accessible to children who attended a specific school, it was not to be viewed by the public. And MOST importantly he did not want the art to fall into the hands of the Philadelphia art world…
“Why?” Michael interrupted.
I guess he thought they were all a lot of uppity so and so’s. Oh…and there was also something about Annenberg. They got into an argument one night. I think Barnes told Annenberg he shouldn’t be so snooty because everyone knew his grandfather made all of his money in the mafia. Apparently this was common knowledge, but Annenberg, I guess, had the same sense of humor as maybe someone like…Tom Cruise. Right? You know what I mean, right? No sense of humor…especially about anything related to his own shortcomings. So Annenberg & Barnes never spoke again.
Oo Oo Oo! Wait! So when Barnes died…he had no heirs and a will that stated 2 things:
The first was that this art is for this nice school. But of course, over time, the school couldn’t afford to take care of the art, so the state of Pennsylvania said, ‘Hey! We’ll give you the money if you give us the art.’ Uh-huh. This is how the will was broken so the public was able to view the art.
The second stipulation of the will was that the art must NEVER, EVER, EVER be moved into the city of Philadelphia.
“But wait, I thought the Barnes Museum was in Philladelphia?”
It is! Dr. Messite attended the opening of the new space in Philly just last year. And guess who’s primarily responsible for breaking the will and funding the move? The Annenberg Foundation, even! So, my hairdresser is boycotting the museum.
No WAY! I booked tickets on my walk back to the hotel.
For more in-depth (correct) information on the Barnes click here.
While I’m very sorry Mr. Barnes’ final wishes were not honored, I am very glad I was able to view so many fabulous paintings displayed so meaningfully. It was an unforgettable experience however it came to be.
Photographs were strictly prohibited inside the museum. For a lovely slide show from the NYTimes click here.
Our next stop was Pittsburgh.
Traveling back in time again…this time to December 2012…we flew from Kansas City to Washington DC via an airplane with a fox on the wing, which we all really dug.
But I will not lie, our time in DC was not as well spent as it could have been. Things were busy and pressured and then of course, the awful news out of Connecticut…
But there is so much to ingest in DC, historically & culturally, I thought I’d take you even further back in time to our 2011 visit…where Michael officially began to Dream the Dream.
(Mind you, what you see below is FAR from a comprehensive list)
They are all free (with the exception of a few like the Spy Museum and the Newseum). This makes it easy to walk in, spend an hour, walk out, go back the next day.
The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History-Dinosaurs and diamonds make a perfect combination.
National Museum of American History-Our Nation’s preserved history runs the gamut from the Civil War to Dorothy’s slippers.
The National Gallery of Art-Just beautiful. We went in 2011 when G was just 18 months. We wandered back again one somber afternoon in 2012 to find it filled with flowers for the holidays.
MONUMENTS & MEMORIALS:
Let’s see—we have the Lincoln Memorial…
…The Jefferson Memorial…
…The World War II Memorial…
…the Washington Monument.
…and Watergate, as seen here in the background. We like to call these 2 shots—The Bourne Identity-Escape From Watergate—where G plays a young Matt Damon.
And then, of course, we have the White House. You can view it from the front…you can view it from the back…and if you look closely you can find this little button on a gate that does not work any longer, but says Welcome.
For the full 2011 DC posts, click the links below.
Next stop was NYC.
and then please sign, donate, write a letter to Congress by clicking below…
My crush on Bloomberg endures.