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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.

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

For Baby…

Your little one will enjoy looking up at this obelisk. It’s more than 70 feet tall! Of course, NYC babies are used to looking up at tall buildings, but for some reason, tucked away between the trees, the Obelisk has special appeal. Whether you have a chance to take baby to see the Obelisk (it’s located behind The Met at 81st Street) or if you just take a peek at this picture, you both can talk about how it goes up into the sky. My little one has been using the word “up” for a while now but has just started clearly articulating the ending /p/ sound. It’s interesting because he’s been using words with the beginning /p/ sound for a while, but he now also articulates it for the ending and middle sound (ex. apple) of words.

For Mommy…

Not only is it amazing to see a piece of artwork more than 3000 years old standing in Central Park, it’s amazing to think of how this huge structure got all the way to NYC from Egypt in the late 1800s. According to the Central Park website, it took 19 days just to cross it over the 86th Street transverse! Click on the above link for a quick history of the Obelisk.

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Mama Goes to the MoMA

At some point over the next few months, it’s really worth stopping by the MoMA to see the current exhibition, “Monet’s Water Lilies.” The exhibit includes a group of Monet’s paintings completed later in his life. Monet’s paintings are very interesting to study because much of his work focuses on the same content, specifically, the pond life on his property in Giverny, France. For example, the two paintings below seem to focus on the same bridge but were completed 20 years apart. To the average observer (which I consider myself), the second painting obviously doesn’t capture the form of the bridge in the same way as the first. However, after visiting the MoMA’s exhibit, I feel that I have a better understanding of the significance of Monet’s later paintings. To me, these later paintings almost seem like they were submerged in water, the paint bleeding together. Maybe Monet is teaching us that things in this world are not as formed as our senses lead us to believe, that everything in nature is connected in such a way that you can’t really tell where one thing ends and another begins. The math teacher in me is thinking in terms of numbers, how we know 4 comes after 3 but how actually there are an infinite number of possibilities between the two numbers (think of pi). Ok, I know, I’m getting a little too philosophical here. Well, maybe Monet just wants to show, in one still image, how things can change before our very eyes. Every parent watching a child grow can relate to that!!

“I want to paint the air in which the bridge, the house and the boat lie. The beauty of the air in which they are, and that is nothing other than impossible.”

Claude Monet

Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926). Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies. 1899. Oil on canvas. 36 1/2 x 29 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.H.O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer. http://www.metmuseum.org

Claude Monet. <i>The Japanese Footbridge [Le Pont japonais].</i> c. 1920-22. Oil on canvas. 35 1/4 x 45 7/8" (89.5 x 116.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Grace Rainey Rogers Fund

Claude Monet. The Japanese Footbridge. c. 1920-22. Oil on canvas. 35 1/4 x 45 7/8" (89.5 x 116.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Grace Rainey Rogers Fund. http://www.moma.org

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Sky Blue

Monthly Theme: Nature
Weekly Content: French Art of the 19th and early 20th Centuries
Daily Subject: Art History

"Cypresses," 1889, Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890), oil on canvas, 36 3/4 x 29 1/8 in., Rogers Fund, http://www.metmuseum.org

For Baby…
Van Gogh’s paintings are full of bright colors. What an interesting way to introduce baby to the names of colors. Associating certain colors with parts of nature will help your baby remember their names. For example, you and baby can point out the green trees, the blue sky, and the white clouds.

For Mommy…
Even though Van Gogh is Dutch, I decided to include his work in this week’s study because his art was influenced by the French Impressionists. It wasn’t until Van Gogh moved to Paris in 1886 that his style as an artist really started to develop. It’s interesting to see, in a time before the internet, how artists were able to appreciate and assimilate the styles and techniques of different cultures. Many of the Impressionists were influenced by Japanese artwork.

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Hello world!

Sitting with my family at dinner one night, my husband came up with an interesting comment.  “I just can’t believe we’re going to be singing Barney tunes to him in a few months.” Our little man seemed so content sitting between us listening to our conversation. Sure we would do anything silly to make him laugh, but we really hadn’t yet succumbed to the zany world of baby tunes and characters.  Believe me, I’m not about to knock the magical world of Disney (who would win that argument) but I think my husband had a valid point.  Up until that time, our family engaged in activities that we ALL enjoyed.  Our little guy had been to countless museums and exhibits, beaches and parks, outdoor concerts and weekend road trips.  We shared with him the things we loved and he seemed to be thriving! Could Barney possibly compare?

Of course, there is a place for Barney and his kind.  As I write, my son, now 14 months old, is walking over to me with these tiny Sesame Street books he loves. AND I love reading them to him! It’s been so fun re-acquainting myself with these characters I once knew so well. But what I’m getting at here is the need for something more, something inspiring to both babies and parents. Our babies watch everything we do. Their play imitates our everyday adult experiences. Doesn’t it make sense to give them an insider’s glance at how we learn?  This is one NYC mom’s attempt to compile a year’s worth of enriching activities for the WHOLE family!!

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