Seven Quick Takes: may the force be with you

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One. Yesterday I took the children to the Denver Art Museum. When they were younger, the Art Museum was one of their favorite places to hang out, but now that they’re big, they don’t think they have time. So sad to be sixteen and have seen it all…
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Two. I dragged them anyway (Come with me, young padawan…) And as soon as we stepped in the members’ line—before we’d even seen the door to the exhibit—they all started bouncing around, getting excited about it.

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Three. The exhibit itself was fantastic. Everything was there: the Jedi robes, all the different light sabers, draughtsman renderings, the clippings that inspired Princess Amidala’s robes, all sorts of Greeblies, Han and Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and yes, the metal bikini. (Sorry, no photo.)
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Four. I skipped a few of the prequel movies (true confessions), so Amidala’s gazillions of costumes were all new to me. But they were so exquisite in the fabric and the detail.
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Five. Yoda and I had a chat. Love Yoda, I do.
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Six. The DAM has a room dedicated to hands-on art. It rotates with whatever the special exhibit is at the time, so right now it’s a costume-designing room. The girls loved it; the boys walked over to the bookstore instead.
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Seven. We don’t do field trips as frequently as we did when they were younger, but they’re worth it when we do—this one especially so. Even just for the “Mom, thanks for making me come,” a certain teenager whispered in my ear.

Go check out Kelly for more quick takes!

And for more on how to make your local art museum accessible to your kids, you can read here or here.

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Daybook: Just before Christmas

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Outside my window: I woke up and put running clothes on, but it’s cold.  Really cold, and the snow on the ground doesn’t make for good footing.  Maybe my run will be inside today.

In the kitchen: not much.  We’re meeting friends for dinner tonight.  But we might be able to make the peppermint bark today.

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In the schoolroom: It’s vacation! Hooray!  Of course, there are still four children to corral and keep entertained.  We have been missing our late-afternoon play times with friends coming home from school– there are none of those around here.  It makes the 4-6 p.m. crazies even worse.  One more thing to look forward to in our move…

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We hit Mythbusters exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Art Museum (including Passport to Paris) and the Gates Planetarium during the past two weeks, before they would be crowded with vacationing children. For the record, the Mythbusters mechanical shark is on display.
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Yes, that’s me behind all that Plexiglas.  No, I was not fast enough to dodge the paintball. And yes, I needed all that PPE.

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Building a house of straw, sticks and bricks with Papa.  Will it hold when the big bag wolf blows?

About that move: thanks for asking.  Yes, we finally have a closing date: February 6.  That’s right.  Sandwiched between two overnight hospital calls, the Super Bowl (Go Broncos!) and the Winter Olympics, we have date for our move.  Someone forgot to order cabinets for the entire block, so when the contractor called to ask when the cupboards would be delivered, the cabinet company asked, “What cabinets?”  Today is 45 days, so we’re hoping to lock in a loan before the vagaries of the US economy play any more havoc with our hypothetical mortgage payment.

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Handmade: There’s no sewing or knitting happening, but I have been busy.  Six-and-a half years ago (when I was pregnant with SweetP) my friends Eva and Dean were married, and I traveled to Seattle to celebrate with them.  Apparently I gabbled so much about my children (as I am wont to do) that Eva decided to give my daughters her doll house, which is a gorgeous handmade gingerbread affair with antique furniture like my great-grandmother’s crank phone and a pedal-foot sewing machine table and a piano.  I have been waiting for the right time to give it to her, and this is it, so I have been repairing it.  I can’t wait to see SweetP’s face.  Thanks, Eva!!

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In my shoes: As soon as I announced my proposed running streak, I fell off the wagon.  I have nine days to run the ten miles left to go (to get to 1000 lifetime miles), so hopefully today will be include three… although that feels much longer on the inside track than on the road.  I did ski Thursday, with all four children, which is a post in itself if I ever recover enough to write about it.

What I’m reading: Isaiah.  Song in the Night by Bob Massie.  Harold and the Purple Crayon.

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Grateful for: Mandy’s arrival home from the hospital.  My health insurance and my new doctor.  Advent, even if waiting is harder this year than before (you’d think all this practice would have made me good at it).  Fifteen children at children’s church yesterday (and all the adults who came to help me).

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Friday night’s church worship concert.

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Praying for: Mandy.  My back.  Lisa.  Anne.  Jerusha.  Refugees and those who minister among them. For patience in our home…

Taking Children to the Museum

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After the  Musee D’Orsay and the Art Institute of Chicago, the Denver Art Museum is one of my favorite places. It has really thoughtful spaces and projects put together to help kids enjoy art. This was my first trip to the museum with the kids since my friend Amy moved away. She was my Art Museum buddy for years. Even though no one wore formal attire this trip, we had a great experience.
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I took them to a special exhibit, “Becoming Van Gogh.”  Normally I wouldn’t have thought to buy the audio guide headphones, but they came with our museum membership, and it enabled my “big kids” to wander the exhibit on their own, listening to the guide when they wanted (or not, depending) while I focused on making sure my littlest remembered the museum rules.  She did.

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It’s been 4 years since we studied Van Gogh, and before we went, the kids enjoyed going through their old “copies” of the pictures (and their self-portraits in blue and green).  Then in the exhibit, they were fascinated with Van Gogh’s notebooks and with his drawing/paintings that were copies of other artists.  It was a great exhibit.

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After working our way through (it took us about an hour), we hit the painting area, where we painted sculptures and did our own still life paintings.

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We didn’t end up hitting our other favorite spots, but we will go back. After a picnic lunch on a beautiful Colorado day, we went to the (central) Children’s Library. They were like kids in a candy store. On the whole, it made for a successful day.

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Have you been intimidated by taking your kids to museums?  Here are my (in-process) tips for making it a good experience:

1) Start small.  A big museum can be overwhelming.  Spending twenty minutes in a small museum is much better than 2 hours and a meltdown in a big one.

2) If you’re ready to tackle a bigger museum, plan to hit only one area.  This is where joining a museum is a blessing– perhaps grandparents would be willing to give your child a museum membership instead of toys for Christmas?  When we lived in Chicago, we were able to use free family museum passes that circulated through the libraries like books.  (What a great idea!)  Denver has SCFD Free Days at each museum through the year.

3) Something familiar in the museum can make it feel like a friend.  If your children have been introduced to one of the paintings before you go, you can plan your trip through the museum to arrive at the familiar painting like scavenger hunt.  Many museums have online sites where you can access either the gift shop or the collections, and each child can pick a picture which is “theirs.”  In the past I gave each child a postcard to carry with them to help them identify their “goal” in the museum.

4) A little Charlotte Mason here: Don’t get “between” your child and the art.  I find the more I talk to the kids about the art, the less they experience it for themselves.  When I let them interact with the art themselves, the more that art becomes their own.

5) I have given each child a dedicated Art Notebook, which we usually take with us to the art museum.  Check with your museum about whether they allow pens, colored pencils, or only regular pencils.  Looking back over this notebook before our next trip reminds them of their “favorites.”

What are your suggestions for making a museum trip a success?