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Local Treks

Monday, 28 January 2008

The National Museum of the American Indian

It's often hard to separate how worthwhile a destination is from how difficult it is with a toddler in tow, and that is certainly the case for me with the newest addition to the Smithsonian Museum family, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).

We wanted to go, not only because it's new, but because during the construction I contributed money in the name of my late father, so there was supposed to be a brick in the courtyard with his name on it.  Things change during building, of course, and the list of donors is now on plaques that surround the atrium.  I couldn't even get a rubbing, but the computer kiosk to locate my father's name was very cool, and should be adopted by the Vietnam Memorial.

The trip got off to a rough start - we took the Metro in to DC, and the kid was so jonesed about being on a train that he completely burned himself out by the time we reached our station.  He spent the short walk along The Mall howling and screaming and kicking in the [...]More

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Sunday Mornings: Philadelphia Art Museum

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"As we go upstairs, we're going to look for the color red.  Who can already find something that is the color red?"

A few toddlers in our group point to things on the Family Activities Cart next to us; several more point to museum teacher Liza's red sweater.  No matter what, she's got their attention, even before we arrive in the European art gallery on the second floor.  There, carpet-squares are set out before a 15th century Flemish tapestry fragment showing "an allegory of Hope".  We're about to hear Liza read Caps for Sale and then do an art project. The toddlers find their squares, and the parents (and all of our gear) carefully line the periphery. It's Sunday morning at the Philadelphia Museum of Art - "pay what you wish" day, and family programs are free.

The reading has them all entranced - "Monkeys!" one boy shouts.  My daughter and [...]More

Saturday, 26 January 2008

The Wheels on the Car Go 'Round and 'Round

Like most every other person in the Northern Hemisphere, come January and February, I dream of travel. Preferably to some place with some warm weather, a little bit of sand, and endless hours of sun.  Unfortunately, with a 10-month-old in tow, I can guarantee that the trip won't be happening soon enough.

(Why is it that pre-baby when I could take afford to take a vacation, I needed it much less? Now that I have an actual urge and good reason to get away, I don't have the cash.  File that one under ironic.)

The kind of trips that do happen these days tend to be my partner and me and baby-makes-three in a car. It's not exactly a Kerouacian On the Road experience; our trips are less a care-free alcohol and drug-infused romp and more an over-packed possible militaristic-style slow trudge.  Yet, still worthwhile.

Most recently, we drove from Los Angeles to San Jose for a weekend trip.  Five hours in the car is not quite long enough to make all of us batty, but it is long enough to be inconvenient. How did [...]More

Wednesday, 09 January 2008

How We Roll

A 3-hour in-car time limit is, for us, only part of the driving ritual on long trips. (After 3 hours, we have to stop and run around like madmen in order to keep from exploding.) The other is singing. 

We sing to avoid boredom-related screaming.  We sing to keep ourselves from torturing the dog, who is trying to sleep with its head out the window.  Mostly, we sing variations on Old MacDonald, Itsy-Bitsy-Spider, and so on.  Variations where parts of her life get woven into the song, or MacDonald's farm becomes a duel to make the other person do impressions of improbable barnyard animals like a lemur, a giraffe, or a box of socks. 

As backup, we have some kids' music, and some really strange "traditional children's stories" that I downloaded to our iPod. These are good in a pinch.  But what really keeps us rolling was a total surprise.  One particularly drawn-out trip, complete with traffic-jam, I was tired of the dog getting poked and picking cheerios out of my hair.  So I flipped to a song she'd never heard before, but that, as she had kept us [...]More
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