Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Visiting the Memorial Art Gallery

Last year, our eldest daughter went on a school field trip to the Memorial Art Gallery. At the end of the trip, each child was given a voucher for a free visit for themselves and 3 guests – and, the voucher was good until this coming July! Our daughter loved the art gallery and has been very anxious to go again, but we decided to save it for a special or a rainy day. My husband and I went to the art gallery a few times when we were dating, but had not been back in years. Recently he had a Sunday off and we had no plans so we decided to grab the kids and head to the art gallery.

When we arrived, the gentleman that greeted us asked how old the girls were and he handed each of them a little pencil and piece of paper with pictures of some of the pieces of art on one side and a description of it on the other – it was a little scavenger hunt for them! Our 4-year-old had animals and our 10-year-old had people to search for. I thought this was a great idea – particularly for our 4-year-old who was excited when we first walked in the door, and then faded about 15 minutes later…

My eldest has always been interested in art. When she was younger, we read her some books about one of my favorite artists, Claude Monet. Before she was born, my husband and I went to an art gallery in Buffalo, NY with good friends of ours to see an exhibition of Monet’s work. In the gift shop I grabbed two children’s books (we were talking about starting a family!). One was “Linnea in Monet’s Garden” which was one of our girl’s favorites! And the other was “Phillipe in Monet’s Garden” which is particularly cute for younger kids. So, my girl has always been a Monet fan and was very excited during her field trip when she found original Monet paintings at the art gallery. She made sure we all got to see them on our visit!

I was excited to see a few Georgia O’Keeffe paintings – she’s another favorite of mine!

We were fortunate to have the free admission to the art gallery, but we would definitely take the girls back again in the future. It’s a wonderful change of pace from going to the movies or playing Barbies at home! I think it is so important to expose our children to all different types of art and music – it will help them to become well rounded, cultured individuals. And sadly, with the increasing budget cuts in schools, there may come a day when our children will not have the opportunity to study art and music in school. If you have an art gallery in your area, grab the kids and go for a visit – who knows, maybe it will inspire your budding artists!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Flowers

While we are waiting for Spring to really show up, my littlest one and I have decided to bring Spring inside the house! Last week when we were grocery shopping, we saw daffodils for sale, two bunches for $4. We bought two bunches and enjoyed them on the kitchen counter all week! This week at the store, the daffodils were not opened, so my girlie looked all around and finally picked out a bunch of pink tulips to bring home. While she was playing with her toys in the other room, I filled two mason jars (my favorites for holding flowers!) with water and squirted a little red food coloring into the water to turn it pink. Then I trimmed the ends off the tulips and divided the bunch and placed them into the jars. Finally, from my stash of ribbon, I grabbed a roll of wire-edged ribbon that is decorated with pastel-colored eggs for Easter. I tied bows around each of the jars and put one on the kitchen counter and the other on our family table.

When my girlie came in to see the flowers she gasped (literally) in excitement and shouted, "THE WATER IS PINK!! MY FAVORITE COLOR!!" She is so easy to please and I love to surprise her in little ways whenever I can. (Wouldn't you?) The flowers brighten up the house for the whole family and remind us that Spring is indeed on its way!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Our First Spring Picnic!

The weather was just beautiful here today and my little one and I took full advantage of it! After a doctor's appointment and a trip to the grocery store, we played out in the front yard and took turns blowing bubbles. She had a great time chasing after the bubbles that I blew. Then she asked if she could eat her lunch outside, so I put together an impromptu picnic lunch and we sat at the little picnic table on the back deck and enjoyed the sunshine! I think the simple little things that we do with our kids often result in the best memories. I'm thrilled that Spring is in the air and I'm looking forward to many more picnics this year!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Eyes Are Smiling!

Happy St. Patrick's Day from our family to yours!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Spread the Word to End the Word"

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and coinciding with this is a national campaign to end the "R" word. The word "retard" or "retarded", originally derived from "mental retardation" a common diagnosis for many individuals with a developmental disability, is finally being recognized for the hurtful, degrading slur that it has become. For the past 15 years, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with some truly amazing individuals as a part of my job for a not-for-profit agency that provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities. In the past year, the culture of our field has been changing and addressing this outdated, disrespectful terminology. The state's governing agency has changed their name from "NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities" to "NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilties" -- removing the "R" word, and putting the emphasis where it should be -- on the people that we serve. Now, instead of "mental retardation", we more correctly use the term "intellectual disabilities."

I went to the "R-Word: Spread the Word to End the Word" website and in a matter of moments, I made my pledge:

"I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. I work at a human service agency that provides services and support to individuals with developmental disabilities. The people that we serve are kind, compassionate, bright individuals with the same hopes and dreams that anyone else has. Long before I started in this field, I recognized this word to be hurtful and degrading and I eliminated it from my vocabulary. My husband and I have always expected that our children show others respect. We look forward to the day where all citizens are shown respect, regardless of their abilities, race, religion, etc."

I hope that you will join me and make your own pledge -- it is easy to make the pledge on the R-word campaign's website, and it is easy to remind yourself and others that this word is hurtful to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, and their families and friends who care for them. If we can educate our children from a young age, we can replace the old "R" word with a new one - Respect.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Waiting for Spring

I need a nap. I am feeling quite tired these days – not just physically tired, but mentally too. Something is zapping my energy – work, home, the weather… Just when we start seeing the ground, the snow pops up again. I have had a lot of different things on my plate at work lately, and while I love my job, I can’t get too excited about any of my projects right now. We were blessed to have visits from my mother-in-law and her sister, followed by a visit from my brother-in-law the following weekend – all of whom we love dearly. But in spite of how much you love having visitors (and I really do!), and as often as they tell you that you don’t need to entertain them, I still like to be a good hostess, and that can be tiring sometimes. I’m wrapping up the year of preschool events but I still have the school carnival to plan. My husband and I also volunteered to host his mother’s family reunion that takes place every four years in a different location. We will be hosting it during the Summer of 2012 but we’ve already begun deciding on locations, planning logistics, thinking about projects around our house that need to be done… Between all of this, regular life, and some things going on with my girls (which I will fill you in on soon), I am feeling quite tired and I’ve been neglecting my blog, which I love! I’ll try to do better! Hopefully, Spring will come soon and bring me a breath of much needed fresh air!