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The Fall

“Fall, Leaves, Fall”by Emily Jane Bronte

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

Lengthen night and shorten day;

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow

Blossom where the rose should grow;

I shall sing when night’s decay

Ushers in a drearier day.

 

For Baby…

With a little revision this poem can be perfect for baby. For example, where Bronte tends to be overly morbid (“die, flowers”) you may want to revise to more baby friendly language (“bye bye flowers”). You may even want to stick with just the first four lines of the poem.

My son loves the word “day” for some reason. Well, actually, I do know the reason. On one of his baby sign language DVDs, he’s obsessed with this song, “A New Day.” To sign “day,” use one hand to grab your opposite elbow and point your index finger of your other hand up to the sky. While your saying the word, move your pointed finger across to your other elbow, to simulate the sun setting over the sky.

For Mommy…

My first thoughts – does she just like being miserable? After a few readings, however, I thought that maybe Bronte has a point. Even those of us who despise the end of summer have to admit that there is something very beautiful about the fall. Yes, it does ultimately lead us to a point when everything seems to “die” as Bronte so bluntly puts it. But, is there beauty in death? Our culture doesn’t seem to like confronting it (although, sometimes the cover of the NYTimes makes me think differently). Is it safe to say that we are a “youth” culture? It almost seems like every cosmetic product is designed to diminish the signs of aging. Why don’t we consider wrinkles beautiful?! My good friend once said she hopes to one day have deep smile wrinkles as marks of a life spent laughing. Anyway, back to Bronte… I thought it was interesting to note that this famous author of Wuthering Heights died after refusing to take medicine when she was sick with the flu. I would love to know when this poem was written. Could it be symbolic of her own personal experience with death?

The Leaves on the Trees

Monthly Theme: Nature

Weekly Content: Photography

Photo courtesy of Roisin Byrne. http://www.redbubble.com/people/roisinbyrne

For Baby…

We can all appreciate the beauty of the fall, but watching the leaves change colors is especially magical for children.  Maybe it’s just nostalgia for my own childhood, but running through a pile of crisp leaves just seems to be as good as it gets!  I love this photo because of its unique perspective – it reminds me of how big the tree must seem to a little one standing underneath. You may want to teach baby the signs for tree and leaves. My little guy loves to use them because they just make sense. To sign tree, hold one of your elbows with your opposite hand and point your free hand up so that your arm looks like the trunk of a tree and your hand looks like the branches. Twist your hand back and forth so that it seems like the branches are blowing in the wind. To sign leaf, use one hand as the actual leaf and use your pointer finger on your opposite hand as the stem, pointing to the heel of your hand. Wiggle your fingers like the leaf is falling to the ground. (Side note: I am not a ASL expert so these signs may be slightly incorrect. However, they still work really well to communicate with baby!)

For Mommy…

Need to get the baby tunes out of your head? Here’s a verse from my favorite song for the season:

“Moondance” by Van Morrison

Well it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
‘Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I’m trying to please to the calling
Of your heart-strings that play soft and low
You know the night’s magic
Seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight
Seems to shine in your blush…

The Hills are Alive

Monthly Theme: Nature

Weekly Content: Photography

Photo by Ami Vitale.

Copyright photo courtesy of Ami Vitale. http://www.amivitale.com

For Baby…

This was the first photo my son and I approached on a recent visit to Cooper-Hewitt’s exhibit, “Design for a Living World.” (By the way, this will definitely be the culminating event for this week as the museum is also hosting a Fall event for families this weekend.) “Flowers?” my son asked. “Idaho?” I replied. I guess I was just struck by the natural beauty of this state that, frankly, I know nothing about. After I got over my initial shock, my little one and I talked about the tall mountains in the background as well as the pretty blue sky, white clouds, and purple flowers. After staring at this photo with baby, you may feel like jumping in and running through the tall grass!

For Mommy…

Ami Vitale’s work has taught me a lot about the power of photojournalism. It may sound obvious, but what I’ve discovered is that the work of the photojournalist is to literally take the viewer on a journey. What an incredibly difficult task this must be using only one still image! The above photo captures the fresh, open feeling of what it must be like to stand in the middle of Lava Lake Ranch in Hailey, Idaho. Just like Monet’s water lilies, I can almost feel the breeze running through the tall grass. I can tell the clouds are quickly moving over the mountains and can almost feel the alternating warmth of the sun and chill of the shade as they make their way across the sky.  To learn more about this ranch as well as to view some more breathtaking photos, take a peek at the Nature Conservancy website.


On Cloud 9

Monthly Theme: Nature

Weekly Content: Photography

Photo courtesy of Roisin Byrne. http://www.redbubble.com/people/roisinbyrne

For Baby…

For the first time today, my son pointed to the sky and correctly identified a plane (I think he’d been confusing planes and birds a bit up until this point). It seems he’s really into any mode of transportation these days! Can you imagine, though, how incredible it must be to see and hear a plane go through the sky for the first time.  This beautiful photo was taken from a plane above Boston. How incredible to see the clouds from the other side. Who knows, maybe baby will be able to understand that this photo is taken from a plane flying in the sky. Hey, even if he/she doesn’t, it gives you something to talk about! Take a peak at the recent NY Times article, “From Birth, Engage Your Child With Talk.”

For Mommy…

Why do we take photos? Is it to remember? Is it to appreciate? Is it to communicate? Although I am certainly no expert on the art of photography, one thing I do know for sure is the power of a photo to transport the viewer to another time or place.  Whether it’s a personal photo or an image from national geographic, there’s something really powerful about being able to observe a split moment in time through the eyes of the photographer.



A Walk in the Park

I’ve lived in NYC for almost 10 years and I still can get lost in Central Park! I guess my sense of direction fails me once I’m in the “wilderness,” beyond the grid system of streets and avenues. NYC has a lot to offer families but, unfortunately (or fortunately for those who don’t like to mow the lawn), most of us don’t have the luxury of a backyard. I really believe that it is important for  kids to have a daily interaction with nature. Getting to know Central Park is a perfect opportunity for you and your baby to experience the calming beauty of nature. If you are not already familiar with the park, Central Park offers a couple of different walking tours posted on their website. Set up a route that’s convenient and manageable for you and baby and take a peek at all this beautiful park has to offer.

Art You Can Walk Over

Monthly Theme: Nature

Weekly Content: Art in Central Park

Daily Subject: Architecture

For Baby…

Developing an understanding of opposites is an essential pre-school skill. You can use this beautiful bridge to introduce or reinforce the concept of near and far. If you have a chance to take a walk to Bow Bridge in Central Park (it’s located in the middle of the park at 74th St) with your baby, try to take a look at it from a distance at first, pointing out how far the bridge is, and then take a walk up close. I included a “near” pic below for those of you who won’t make it to the bridge anytime soon.

For Mommy…

Last week, we began and ended the week looking at Monet’s painting of the bridge on his property in Giverny, France. Whether you actually have a chance to see Bow Bridge in person or you appreciate the bridge through these photos, this is your chance to see the world through the eyes of an artist. Which is more interesting to you, looking at the bridge from afar or observing the details of the bridge up close? Walking across the bridge, you may  find yourself even more interested in the Fifth Avenue skyline than with the bridge itself. Whichever your perspective, the artistic beauty of Bow Bridge is one sight you do not want to miss!


Monthly Theme: Nature
Weekly Content: Art in Central Park
Daily Subject: Sculpture

For Baby…

So, this was a hard choice. There are a lot of statues to choose from in Central Park. The Alice in Wonderland statue would seem to be an obvious choice, but I think it would be more interesting to an older child who knows the characters. There’s also Balto, a statue of a famous Alaskan dog, but NYC babies see a lot of “woof woofs” around the city on a daily basis. Most NYC babies (well, at least the NYC babies I know) don’t get to see horses on a daily basis. My little guy tries to “neigh” but the only horse he really knows is that blue one in Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? If you take baby to see this statue of Simon Bolivar (which is located on Central Park South) you will also probably run into some real horses lining up for the carriage rides through the park.

For Mommy…

The placement of this monument at the start of 6th Avenue is no coincidence. In 1945, Mayor LaGuardia renamed 6th Avenue, Avenue of the Americas, in an attempt to recognize the unity of North, South and Central America. Bolivar, an important figure in Latin America’s independence from Spain, is also a symbol of unity among the countries of the Americas. The streets of NYC are bursting with history. Speaking from personal experience, I feel that many people must walk past this monument without realizing its historical significance. It’s almost like the old tree falling in the woods. If you’re not listening for it, does it make a sound?

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