The Peach Kings take a “Detour” with Cyndi Lauper

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When my sister was about five, my brother and I would toss her down the laundry shoot. She was up for the adventure and thought it was wildly funny. That’s my sister Paige, always up for an adventure and looking for fun…she’s a “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” kind of sister.

When Paige and I played Barbies together, she liked to cut Barbies hair short…always experimenting with different hair styles. Paige and Cyndi shared a love for changing hair styles. I read that Cyndi Lauper did the same thing. “I was always cutting my Barbie and Pollyanna dolls’ hair. I lined them all up and put a cloth around their necks, like they were at the beauty parlor. Barbie was a real heartbreaker, but then all of a sudden, Barbie was freakin’ bald. That was a shocker.”

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This month, Paige, sang with the oh so unusual Cyndi Lauper on her “Detour” tour. When Paige walked out on stage in Raleigh, North Carolina wearing her “Kinky boots” she grabbed the mic that’s reserved for Boy George and yelled, “Are there any Goonies in the house?” The loudest scream came from me, “YESSSSS!” My family knew we were in for BIG fun!

The highlight of the evening was when Paige sang “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” with Cyndi!! Holy merde, my sister sang with Cyndi Lauper! My emotions were so high that I felt like I was going to explode with happiness! My sister-in-law hinted to me that she thought it might happen but I thought she’d lost her mind.

When Cyndi asked Paige and Steven to come back out on stage she said in her Brooklin accent, “Aww, look at them…so cute and purty.” Cyndi said, “Alright, Let’s do this. Steven, you start.” Steven started playing the guitar without the band, then just Cyndi and Paige were singing together. My brother’s favorite part was when Steven made an air pump to cheer on Paige when she started singing, “I come home in the morning light“…the same way you would if you just scored a soccer goal!

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Paige and her fiance Steven, make up the band, The Peach Kings. They were the opening act for Cyndi Lauper. Paige and Steven have an electric energy…it’s easy to see how much they love each other by the way that they perform and get lost in their music together. They have this cool indie-alternative vibe that you might hear in a soundtrack to a film noir movie. You might not imagine The Peach Kings and Cyndi Lauper together, but that’s what made the show unique. Cyndi wanted an opening act with a love duo that was organic and vulnerable. They didn’t need bells and whistles to set the mood.

Sixty-three-year-old Cyndi reaches every generation. Her music is still just as relevant today as it was when she began more than thirty years ago. You can tell that she is nostalgic about old country music. Her country heroes are Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash…it really comes through on her new album.

Cyndi has been a dedicated advocate for the gay community with her work for the True Colors Foundation and Kinky Boots musical (a true story about the power of acceptance). She spoke about the controversial House Bill 2 before her performance and donated proceeds from the concert to Equality NC. Numerous bands and musicians have cancelled shows in North Carolina due to HB2 but Cyndi Lauper took the high road by shining a positive light on young children. Cyndi says, “You can’t make kids be what you want them to be. They are who they are. It’s our responsibilities as adults to nurture them as they are.”

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The 80’s music is nostalgic to me…I am truly a byproduct of growing up in Cyndi’s Goonie era. My parents are close to Cyndi’s age and they love to listen to her throw back music to the 60’s…especially when she puts her spin on Pasty Cline’s, Walkin’ After Midnight” and Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love.”

Her new album, “Detour,” is built on country music. She sounds right at home singing country. Before her hits in the 80’s, Cyndi fronted the rockabilly band, Blue Angel. Country music is her first love. This was my third time seeing Cyndi play in concert. She’s one of the only artists who truly paints a picture for you before she begins. She talked about what it was like growing up in Brooklyn and how she’d watch Saturday morning cartoons that inspired her to make the “Detour” album. By the time she started singing “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” the audience made a connection with her and we were transported to her childhood.

Catch The Peach Kings on their Night Sweat Tour and see Cyndi Lauper as she continues her “Detour” around the world.

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Five things you might not know about the Goonies

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HEY YOU GUYS!!!!! Summer is the best time to watch the Goonies. I think most kids fantasize about finding a map that leads them to hidden pirate treasure. The Goonies is an action-comedy…like a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” for children. Our family watches the Goonies several times during the summer…just like my brother and sister and I did when we were growing up in the eighties. We are of the Goonie generation. We are Goonies! My children are Goonies now too and summer is “our time!“. Whenever they hear me play Cyndi Lauper and Good Enough comes on they shout, “GOONIES!”

Don’t you realize? The next time you see sky, it’ll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it’ll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it’s our time. It’s our time down here. That’s all over the second we ride up Troy’s bucket. ~Mickey

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1. JUNE 7TH IS “GOONIES DAY.”

The mayor of Astoria, Oregon named June 7th “Goonies Day” in honor of the movie, and the town hosts an annual celebration. It’s a weekend of treasure hunting, group truffle shuffles and trivia scavenger hunts. If you’re planning a trip to Astoria, here’s a Goonies guide. Not only will you see where the Goonies was filmed but Astoria is also the oldest settlement west of the Rockies…rich with history and Victorian architecture.

2. THE FILM WAS MOSTLY SHOT ON LOCATION IN ASTORIA.

Other than the cave with One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship that was shot in Burbank, California, The Goonies was shot almost entirely in sequence in Astoria, Oregon on a five-month shooting schedule.

3. DATA MENTIONS A SCENE THAT WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

If you listen carefully, you’ll here Data mention that “the octopus was very scary” to the reporters at the end of the movie. There wasn’t an octopus scene in the movie…because it was cut.

4. CYNDI LAUPER’S “GOONIES R GOOD ENOUGH” IS A GOONIES ANTHEM. 

I remember watching Lauper’s seven-minute music video on MTV. It features appearances by executive producer Steven Spielberg, the Bangles and André the Giant and of course…The Goonies. Cyndi was upset about Steven Spielberg jamming “The Goonies” into her title. For a long time, she never played it in concert. It’s a great song (one of my favorites)…an anthem for a group of misfit heroes, The Goonies.

5. COREY HAIM AUDITIONED FOR THE ROLE OF MOUTH AND LOST IT TO COREY FELDMAN.

Corey Haim and Corey Feldman ended up becoming best friends after The Goonies. They were both cast in The Lost Boys (1987) then went on to make six more movies together. In License to Drive (1988), Feldman auditioned for the lead role, but lost it to Haim.

Enjoy The Goonies this summer and revel in the nostalgia of Mikey and the gang’s epic voyage, and you’ll soon find yourself “setting booty traps and doing the truffle shuffle.”

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Gustav Klimt and Georges Seurat…for children

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Children are the best observers. It was such a joy to come to school while the traveling art exhibit was on display and hear the conversations that children were having about Klimt and Seurat. I heard one of my students say…”Klimt was one of the greatest artists because he used gold swirly whirlies in his paintings.” It was fun to see my first graders be inspired by Seurat and create a painting using dots (pointillism) just like Seurat.  For one week, the school was covered in the happy wallpaper of Klimt and Seurat. Children could not walk by the banners without staring in awe at these incredible masterpieces.
 
Having these beautiful pieces of art at Hilltop made for a powerful learning environment…it gave children the chance to explore, observe and experience art that we can’t just fly off to Paris to see. When you go to a museum, you have the power to choose what to look at…the children now have the pictures stored in your head. The memories created are filed for future reference. It was a pleasure to be a docent for our school and to watch the children gain an appreciation for Klimt and Seurat.
Here are some questions, quotes and information about Gustav Klimt and Georges Seurat to inspire you and your children…
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Gustav Klimt:
Gustav Klimt was one of seven children. Klimt’s father was a gold engraver…around all that gold Klimt was very poor for most of his childhood. It was a difficult time to get work and he was very lucky to be awarded a scholarship to the Vienna School of the Arts. He loved art, life and his cat. Klimt’s style of swirling flowing lines and patterns was called “Art Nouveau” or “New Art.” Klimt lived a simple life. He wore a robe and sandals while he painted all day, every day…it paid off because some of his paintings sold for more than $135 million dollars. Gustav painted highly ornamental figures that appear to float in a dream like space. Exploring Klimt, gives us the opportunity to look at shapes with fresh eyes.

Questions to ask children: When would you have guessed these were painted? What shapes can you see? Why does Klimt like gold so much? Why does he like cats? Think about how Seurat and Klimt grew up…one was poor, one rich. Was money important? Did they both work hard and keep trying?

Quotes to inspire children:
Art is a line around your thoughts.
Look carefully at my pictures and try and see in them what I am and what I want to do.

Craving more? Here’s a little video that I showed my class…Who is Gustav Klimt?

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George Seurat:

Seurat developed a technique called “pointillism” using tiny dots of colors, which become blended in the viewer’s eye. If you have the chance to see it, look at it close up, then take a few steps back and see Seurat’s vision. Seurat never gave up…even when his art was rejected in Paris. He decided to form an independent art society as he developed his pointillism technique that later took off. This new method of painting used dots instead of brush strokes to create the picture was all the rage in Paris. Georges Seurat spent two years working on the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” (French for big river)…it was as bigger than a mini van and was only twenty-six when he completed it. This same painting was on loan in 1958 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City when a fire broke out. The fire damaged some paintings, but Seurat’s beloved work was whisked away to safety through an elevator evacuation plan.

Unlike Klimt, Georges Seurat was from a very wealthy family in Paris during a time when money was hard to come by. Seurat worked with mostly crayons on paper…just like an everyday kid!! His work has been described as the most beautiful painter’s drawings in existence. Do you agree?

Other questions to ask children: Can art and science combine? Did you know that Seurat’s most famous painting has had more screen time than any other piece of art? Here are a few places you might have seen La Grande Jatte: Ferris Bueller’s Day OffSesame StreetThe Simpsons, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action

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Quotes to inspire children:
Some say they see poetry in my paintings; I see only science.
Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
Under a blazing mid-afternoon summer sky, we see the Seine (that’s the river you see in the painting) flooded with sunshine…people are strolling, others are sitting or stretched out lazily on the bluish grass.

Here’s a video about Seurat that children will enjoy and this video is “artrageous” too!

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Gustave Caillebotte…with children

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It’s a guarantee that when we are on a holiday, we will visit the museum. There are always a few paintings that make you want to step into the picture. When you go to the museum with children, it’s nice for them to be the leaders and see what paintings they would like to step inside of.

We seemed to agree that The Floor Scrapers, Traffic Island, Boulevard Haussmann and Paris Street: Rainy Day were three that pulled us in…making us wonder and feel like our holiday was in Paris (if only for the afternoon). Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth was a treat to see. Caillebotte’s paintings make the viewer wonder what it is we’re looking at, what we’ve decided we see, and why…

Do you know how to say Caillebotte? The Kimbell created this fun video…see if you’re right!

Here are three Gustave Caillebotte paintings that will make you wonder…

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The Floor-Scrapers
1875

The Floor Scrapers demand the viewer’s attention…showing a dramatic perspective. Look at the splayed stripes of the wooden floor being so laboriously scraped. Caillebotte visually drops the bare-chested workers right in the viewer’s lap. It’s a painting of three laborers at work preparing his first studio. It was in what was then the relatively new neighborhood of the 8th arrondissement, where Caillebotte’s father had bought. It’s an odd subject matter…very different from his Impressionist friends, Monet and Renoir. His colleagues invited him to participate in their 1876 exhibition. He chose to submit The Floor Scrapers, and it was very popular…viewers either adored it or hated it, but everyone was talking about it!

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A Traffic Island, Boulevard Haussmann
1880

Caillebotte’s Traffic Island is an aerial painting that captures a sensible and controlled environment. This is a true impression of a Paris street with people in isolation going about their everyday routines and repetitions. It might remind the viewer of Degas’s Place de la Concorde (1875) the way that you see these people going about their day as if the viewer were “people watching”…they both have a serene quality. Views like this one could only be afforded by buildings that were ten stories or higher…Caillebotte was one of few painters who could afford the view.

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Paris Street; Rainy Day
1877

This is a painting about intersections…working class and upper class mixing together in modern Paris. The Parisian bourgeoisie cross in and out of the picture on this Right Bank drizzle-slicked street. Caillebotte steals the limelight from Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir during this time because he created this glowing light that the great Impressionists were trying to capture. Sadly, Caillebotte was never considered a true member of the inner circle of the Impressionists…lacking the easy brushstrokes and sunshine scenes with people interacting. Instead, Caillebotte tells us two things we know about Paris (then and now)…the sky is usually grey and fashion is black.

Gustave Caillebotte had a short career: born in 1848, he didn’t start painting until his late twenties, and he was dead from a stroke by the age of forty-five. Upon the death of his father (who had much success on the Paris real estate market) Gustave inherited a hearty fortune. The cash meant that Caillebotte could work at his own pace, selling almost nothing; the large majority of his art still belongs to his successors. He never needed to work for a living, and never married or had a family. He painted current, in the moment surroundings…gardens, river boating, and his father’s country house. This is why he is one of the most modern of the Impressionists.

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All three paintings are remarkable for plunging perspectives for children and a sense of contiguity. Step inside Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye…it’s an air of modernité.

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Frank Sinatra: Five things you might not know

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This year marks the centennial of the birth of Frank Sinatra, who came into this world on December 12, 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey and died on May 14, 1998. Sinatra had many nicknames…The Voice, Ol’ Blue Eyes and The Chairman of the Board were a few. Each name represented different sides of his talent, good looks, charm and presence. Sinatra won nine Grammy Awards, performed on more than 1,400 records during his six-decade plus career. It was his honest voice that made the audience feel that he understood them.

When I think of Frank Sinatra, I think of my grandmother. I remember when I graduated from college in May, 1998 (the very month that Sinatra died)…my grandmother kept disappearing to the bar so she could talk to the bartender about Frank. It was as if she was in mourning for the loss of that time in her life.

I imagine that my grandmother would have loved to have been in the audience at The Copa Room in Las Vegas when Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were on stage…sipping cocktails and smoking cigarettes. This beautiful generation seemed to know how to enjoy life to the fullest.

My grandmother would have loved to have read this book to her great-grandchildren and elaborate on his life and his songs.

My children like to listen to Seriously Sinatra in my car on the way to school. I knew they would enjoy the John Seven book, Frankie Liked to Sing. This is a spunky biography that follows Sinatra as he moves from his humble childhood across the river to New York City, begins a recording career and makes it in Hollywood.

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Reading the book, Frankie Liked to Sing, is a beautiful way for grandparents and parents alike to pass on their love for Ol’ Blue Eyes to a younger generation. “Frankie’s voice made people feel like they could get through hard days and have fun on better ones.”
Perfectly timed to celebrate Sinatra’s one hundredth birthday…here are five things you might not know about Frank.
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1. Frank’s signature cocktail originated in Philadelphia. This drink can be considered a martini, but make sure to hold the olive. It is a rather refreshing, sweet cocktail that is popular in the summer time.
3 oz dry gin
3/4 oz Blue Curacao liqueur
1 oz sweet and sour mix
 
Get a martini shaker. Add a few ice cubes, then add all ingredients. Shake for ten seconds and serve in a martini glass or cocktail glass with a lemon twist.
  

 2. The song My Way is thought of as Sinatra’s signature song but he didn’t want to record it…thinking it was self-indulgent. Remember that scene with Peggy and Don in Mad Men? It’s a perfect moment when Sinatra’s “My Way” comes on the radio, and the two share a dance; it’s a magic moment for Don and Peggy.

3. Frank’s favorite color was orange. He used to say, “Orange is the happiest color.”

4. Frank inadvertently helped name Scooby-Doo. CBS exec, Fred Silverman, found inspiration in Frank’s signature, “Scoo-Be-Do-Be-Do!”

5. Born in a New Jersey, apartment, Francis Albert Sinatra was not breathing when he was born. Baby Frank was thought to be dead and was laid on the kitchen counter while the doctor attended to his mother. His grandma picked up the newborn, stuck him under some cold water, and little Frank sang his first song. Thank goodness for grandma!

His music crossed the decades from World War II to the 1990s. He defined the classic American songbook for decades with verve and panache.

Any song that Sinatra sang was most likely the very best rendition of that song. These are just a few that are linked to this amazing entertainer over his career.

Fly Me to the Moon Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” was the first song ever played on the moon.

I’ve Got the World on a String There have been many artists who have recorded their own versions but Sinatra’s is the most memorable.

Swinging on a Star “Swinging on a Star” was composed by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke and originally sung by Bing Crosby in the 1944 film Going My WayIt has been covered by artists including Burl Ives, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.

New York, New York This love song to New York makes you want to be in a Broadway show.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas This is the gold star of Christmas songs.

Let it Snow This song helps set the mood for holiday festivities. It’s romantic, happy and everyone likes to sing along.

Luck be a Lady Hearing this song reminds me of when I was in the musical “Guys and Dolls.” It’s full of energy and spunk.

Strangers in the Night Frank Sinatra’s version of Strangers in the Night, can’t be beat…it’s smooth and I imagine my grandparents slow dancing to it.

My Way This song was not Sinatra’s favorite but it sure is a favoirte of fans…one of his most popular hits.

Mack the Knife This song is pure New York!

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May you live to be one hundred, and may the last voice you hear be mine. 

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Nutella Sunday Breakfast…with my little Heidi!

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Cozy fall weekends are for hibernating in your pajamas and watching old movies. This weekend, my daughter and I finished reading the book Heidi together. To celebrate, we made a chocolaty breakfast in bed and watched the movie Heidi (the one with Shirley Temple).

The windows were open and we imagined that we could smell the wild flowers high in mountain meadow where Heidi’s grandfather lived.  Aww, fresh fall air…you can almost smell the Swiss Alps! Weekends are made for hitting the reset button, snuggling with your little reading buddy while watching an old movie and indulging in something chocolatey.

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My daughter let me know that she loves me more than Nutella!  I imagine Nutella is not far behind. Bananas and Nutella go together like Heidi and her grandfather…they compliment each other beautifully! This is one of the most perfect coffee cakes ever. It’s moist and chocolaty sweet…perfect for a Sunday morning.

Nutella Banana Coffee Cake

  • Cake:
  • 1 C of unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 C flour
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 4 eggs at room temp
  • 3/4 C sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • Filling:
  • 2 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1 C Nutella spread
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • Topping:
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 C hazelnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13×9 inch pan.
  2. Melt the 1 C of butter and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and add the melted butter.
  5. Using a spatula, mix the dry into the wet until combined.
  6. Layer half the batter into the pan, lay the smashed bananas on top and drizzle the Nutella spread…I microwave my Nutella for 30 seconds to make it pourable.
  7. Layer the remaining batter over the Nutella and banana filling using a spatula, smooth out the top of the batter making sure it’s even and reaches the edges of the pan.
  8. Sprinkle the top with the streusel…smash 4 softened butter, flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg with a fork.
  9. Bake for 50-55 minutes until set when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Your Nutella weekend won’t be complete without Nutella hot chocolate. You HAVE to make this! My daughter said, “Mom, you are the BEST mom in the world” when I served the Nutella banana coffee cake with Nutella hot chocolate. She also asked, “Do you think Heidi had chocolate breakfasts too?” Hmm…with all the goats milk, I’m sure she probably whisked a little Swiss chocolate in there.

Fall Sunday mornings are made for Nutella and Heidi! Wishing you many more fall weekends…may they be full of Nutella, your favorite pajamas and snuggle buddy to enjoy a frothy, creamy, chocolaty Nutella breakfast!

Nutella Hot Chocolate
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons Nutella
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Optional Toppings:
  • Marshmallows
  • Crushed hazelnuts
  • Chocolate chips
  • Extra Nutella
  1. Heat milk in a medium sized saucepan on medium – high heat until beginning to warm and steam. Add the spread, cocoa powder and sugar, and whisk until dissolved and combined. Bring to a gentle simmer while stirring, and take off heat.
  2. Serve with your desired toppings.

Guten Appetit from my little Heidi!

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Botticelli to Braque…with children

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When you go to a museum, there are usually at least a few paintings that take you in and cause your mind to linger amongst the images on canvas that haunt your mind…I love going to the museum and being led by my children. It’s nice to see what artwork they gravitate toward. We seemed to agree that the Lady Agnew, The Ladies Waldegrave and The Reverend Robert Walker were three subjects that we were naturally and happily pulled into. Their portraits were captivating and tremendously enjoyed at the Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. When I take my children to the museum, I go with the flow… the plan is not to have a plan and see what you can see as long as they can go.

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, John Singer Sargent, 1892. Scottish National Gallery.

Lady Agnew’s direct gaze takes the viewer in with her seductive eyes and alabaster skin. The cool blue Chinese fabric and shimmering satin dress have a free and fluid feel that add an air of mystery. Sargent captured Lady Agnew in an informal pose that is striking and hypnotizing. Lady Agnew was about twenty-six-years-old when Sargent captured her. She lived a very extravagant life style and spent most of the Agnew fortune. It was saddening to learn that she had to sell her painting so that she could make some money for herself.

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The Ladies Waldegrave, Reynolds, 1780.  Scottish National Gallery.

Three sisters quietly work together on a piece of embroidery. The sisters were all married shortly after this painting which was commissioned by their great-uncle, Horace Walpole, for his house Strawberry Hill. The Ladies Anna Horatia, Elizabeth Laura, Charlotte Maria Waldegrave, daughters of the second Earl Waldegrave and his wife Maria Walpole, were sure to get some eligible suitors. Their beauty and gentleness were noticed when the painting went on public display at the Royal Academy. This is probably why the sisters were married so soon after the portrait was created.

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The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, Sir Henry Raeburn, 1795.  Scottish National Gallery.

The Skating Minister is one of Scotland’s most beloved paintings. Walker was the minister of Canongate church in Edinburgh and participated in founding the first figure skating club of the world…the Edinburgh Skating Club. There’s an amusing and sub plot style humor to this painting by Raeburn. The Reverend Walker is like Santa…he has a twinkle in his eye, rosy red cheeks and a merry stride.  The Reverend’s pose looks effortless as he glides across the slippery ice…showing perfect control. He is poised and keeps his balance without the use of his arms. The mountains in the background look bleak but the Reverend seems to skate with joy.

The skating Minister. Reverend Robert Walker (1755 - 1808) skating on Duddingston Loch *oil on canvas *76.2 x 63.5 cm *circa 1795

I have always believed museums to be powerful learning environments that give children opportunities to explore, observe and experience art. Children get to choose what to look at, and they leave with the pictures stored in their heads. The memories they create are filed away for future reference. Museum experiences help provide children with knowledge and understanding of the world all while gaining an appreciation for art.

The museum shop in the Kimbell is a must see also. Among the array of gifts and remembrances on sale are decks of playing cards that name and reproduce the paintings on display. Much like learning from the use of flash cards, the children playing card games can see the painting, read the title and remember it. What a great souvenir.

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The soul selects her society

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A few days ago we watched our wedding video… it’s been fifteen years! For several years we celebrated without even thinking to watch it but in the last three years it has become a tradition to enjoy it on our anniversary with our children. Our two kids always have so many questions and comments…”Why is Grandpa’s hair brown on this DVD?” “Why does Aunt Paige have short hair?” “Who are those flower girls?” “I wish I could go to this party!

Derek and I were married in July of 2000. When we were watching the video, it really doesn’t feel like it’s been fifteen WHOLE years. Didn’t I just put the ring on Derek’s wrong hand just a little while ago?

There were so many beautiful toasts and poems recited for our engagement party, rehearsal dinner and our wedding night. It makes the heart happy to hear and read poetry at celebratory events of our lives…weddings and anniversaries are perfect for love poems.  Everyone should have a few poems memorized. Poetry is a good investment…it’s like buying a beautiful piece of jewelry to wear inside your heart forever and ever. Here are a few of my favorite love poems and one that I wrote for my love…

And you’ll always love me won’t you?
Yes
And the rain won’t make any difference?
No

~Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

I’ve known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.

~Emily Dickinson, 1862

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly today,
Were to change by tomorrow and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy wings fading away.
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will;
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.
It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervor and faith of a soul can be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear.
No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close:
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look which she turned when he rose.

~Thomas Moore, Believe Me, if all those Endearing Young Charms

When I first met my husband, I told him that he was my missing Pac Man piece. I’ve been an elementary teacher now for seventeen years. Every year that I read Shel Silverstein’s “The Missing Piece Meets the Big O” I think of my husband…he’s my missing piece.

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For Derek

We float together in the sea
Our heads to the clouds as the storms swiftly pass
Mermaids gently protect us
Sway with us

Bathed by the current that cannot break us
Our love for the sea together beautifully binds us
The waves carry our souls
Sway with us

Sanddollars anchor us dreamily
While schools of silver fish kiss our toes
We drift for so long that the fish seem to grow.
Sway with us

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I love you Derek, my missing piece! xx

Related posts:

Love letters

Poetry the greatest of all arts

And then he kissed me 

Edgar Degas and Jackson Pollock…for children

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Children are always the best audience. I couldn’t wait to come to school every day that the Traveling Art Exhibit was on display. Our PTA was once again, kind enough to purchase the exhibit for arts and education in order to acquaint children with Edgar Degas and Jackson Pollock.

Most people know how much the arts can impact creative thinking. Arts and education have a tremendously positive influence on children and their academic and social development.

The morning the kids saw the giant reproductions, they were in awe and realized that they can use their body to express themselves effectively just like Degas and Pollock did. My first grade class pretended to drip and splash paint like Pollock. Some of them wanted to see how long they could stand like Marie (Degas’ fourteen-year-old dancer) in fourth position. Every day that my third grade daughter would pass the Degas reproduction she would run and do a grand jeté as if she were going to jump into the scene.

Exposing children to the arts during a regular school week was a little like a vacation day from the every day norm.

Arts education is an essential component of a child’s curriculum…art inspires and children are most creative when inspired. Teachers and parents want their children to be exposed to art…especially when it has such a positive effect on their creativity and questioning.

Here are some questions, quotes and information about Edgar Degas and Jackson Pollock to inspire you and your children…

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EDGAR DEGAS: 

Degas was known as one of the founders of the Impressionist movement. He was gifted in sculpture, drawing, and printmaking. This series of paintings of ballet dancers remain the iconic images of Impressionism and French painting. Like many artists, Degas did not stop working as he grew older and his eyesight began to fail…he simply switched mediums and began working with pastels and sculpture. 

Questions to ask children: Were these REAL dancers? How can you tell which ballerinas are dancing and which are not. Was Marie dancing or posing? What do you think Marie was thinking about when she was standing there?

Quotes to inspire children: “Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.” “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”  

Edgar Degas loved to be backstage capturing the dancers at the Paris Opera Ballet. The sculpture was of fourteen-year-old Marie van Goethem. She is the MOST famous ballerina in the world. Marie will forever be remembered in Degas’ iconic sculpture of the little dancer. The other dancers and horse riders were also real people. Degas preferred to capture the moments before the big moment…in rehearsals and backstage. A recent musical at the Kennedy Center will give the feeling of what it might have been like to be Marie and be Degas’ muse in Paris.

It probably took a really long time to make the little dancer sculpture. After a while she was probably just standing there waiting for Degas to finish. Probably she was just hoping not to move or mess up. She’s in fourth position, but it’s a relaxed fourth position. Her feet aren’t crossed over. And her weight is on her left foot. Your weight is supposed to be evenly distributed on both feet, so you don’t fall over. Judging from her outfit and her hairstyle, I don’t think she’s about to perform onstage; her hair is down, and she’s wearing a casual ballet outfit. Maybe she’s practicing or in the dressing room preparing herself. 

My first graders enjoyed traveling to the Paris Opera House with Degas courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

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JACKSON POLLOCK: 

The son of a farmer born in Wyoming who had a love of Native American culture, his early works showed the inspiration of Cubism, Symbolism and Surrealism. His style evolved to something so new and exciting that he was the only American Abstract Expressionist to be taken seriously in Europe.

Questions to ask children: Is this art? How can you communicate a feeling through art? How would you show: relaxed, happy, scared, angry, sleepy…What feeling do you think Jackson Pollock was having when he painted Lavender Mist?  

Quotes to inspire children: “My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to take the un-stretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease, I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around in it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.” “Every good painter paints what he is.”

Yes, of course this is art! As Jackson Pollock was becoming famous, many people argued whether his paintings were really art or just paint drips on canvas. Art makes you feel and Pollock’s paintings evoke strong feelings. 

Watch this video from the MOMA about Pollock’s Lavender Mist and your children will also enjoy this cartoon “Art with Mati and Dada” about Pollock. 

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Related posts:

Mary Cassatt: 5 things you might not know

Caravaggio and his followers…with children

 

The Best Books for Francophiles (pour vous et les enfants)

It’s no secret that I’m a total Francophile. Most of my favorite books are about France. I fell in love with France on my first trip to Paris at seventeen and I’ve been reading about it ever since. Everything sounds better in French. I love the style, butter, language and joie de vivre of the French.

You know those books that grab hold of you from the moment you start reading the first few pages? Who doesn’t love when that happens? If the book is French-inspired, I’m hooked! I’ve compiled a list of my favorite French reads…one for adults and also a list for les enfants. 

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Mastering the Art of French Eating: Ann Mah’s book will make you hungry for a crusty baguette and thirsty for a good rosé. Her book is about love, food and France. The life-lessons she learns in France truly give her food for thought and make memories you can taste.

My Life in France: See France through the eyes of the charming queen of cuisine, Julia Child. Her joie de vivre, charm, personality, voice, quick wit come through in this beautiful book.

Widow Clicquot: The story of the visionary young widow who built a champagne empire, showed the world how to live with style, and became one of the world’s first great businesswomen and one of the richest women of her time.

All you need to be Impossibly French: The Frenchwoman is sexy, sophisticated, flirtatious, and glamorous. This book is full of the secrets that make them that way…face creams, silk lingerie, and shopping-as-exercise. Powell reveals how French women stay impossibly thin and irresistibly sexy.

A Year in the Merde: This book made me laugh out loud several times. It’s the perfect entertainment for Francophiles.

Lunch in Paris: It was a pleasure reading Elizabeth’s adventures in Paris and I love her recipes.

Dinner at Mr. Jefferson’s: I have yet to read this book but it’s next on my list. Jefferson was one of my favorite Presidents…probably because he was a Francophile too. This book celebrates Thomas Jefferson and his two guests, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, and the meal that saved the republic. I can’t wait to read about a single great evening that achieved compromises that led to America’s great expansion.

Colette’s France: Colette was a true vagabond who came of age during the Belle Époque. She had all kinds of affairs and wrote about love in France.

How to be Parisian Wherever You Are? Love, Style, and Bad Habits: French women “don’t get fat,” are always elegant and effortlessly chic… How do they do it? We non-Parisian woman can learn something from Caroline de Maigret and her co-authors Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas.  I imagine these four women to be the French equivalent to the American Sex and the City girls…”without her girls gang, the Parisian is incomplete.”

Claude & Camille: Monet was prepared to make any sacrifice and have his family undergo discomfort for the sake of his art. For Monet, art came first and family second. Monet truly loved Camille but he had a difficult time balancing his two loves (art and family). Painting was how Monet dealt with reality and relationships.

Le Divorce: Two Californian sisters in Paris take on men, art and sex. Isabel helps her pregnant sister through a divorce as an American in Paris.

Marie Antoinette: The Journey: One of my very favorite books! The Journey is a beautiful portrait of Marie Antoinette’s life from early marriage to her reign as queen.

A Year in Provence: Peter Mayle’s dream come true…making a move into an old fashioned farmhouse in a small French town with his family.

The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Coco’s life and personal philosophies of charming theories about love, style and career.

Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris: Australian, Sarah Turnbull writes a travel  memoir as a romantic with her husband as she tries to fit into French culture and learns to adapt to the country’s customs.

Eight Days in Provence: A love story set in the countryside of Provence, Eight Days in Provence will make you dream in color…like your swimming in a Van Gogh painting.

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Pour les enfants

Chasing Degas: After a rehearsal, a young Parisian ballerina realizes that her satchel, supposedly containing her tutu for that evening’s recital, now holds tubes of paints. She deduces that Monsieur Degas must have mistaken her bag for his, and she rushes off to find him. Along the way, she meets a series of artists, including Monet, Caillebotte, Renoir, and Cassatt.

Bon Appetit! The delicious life of Julia Child: you will see the illustrations and little scribble notes are child-like and joyful. I’m so excited to be able to introduce Julia to my children through a bedtime story. It’s sure to inspire children to try new foods and find their own talent.

Le Petit Prince: This is the Beatles of children’s books…changing the world of readers forever. It’s about how a child sees the important things in life much more clearly than many adults do.

This is Paris: This book is so visually pleasing. It’s a wonderful book to introduce your children to the magic of Paris.

Eloise in Paris: Eloise’s mother wants them to come to Paris to get roses in their cheeks. I rawther love that Eloise is never bored…especially in Paris! Think about all the good things that come with being the age of six…Paris is her playground. My little girl LOVES Eloise!

Madeline: In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines…there’s not a more recognizable beginning to a book!! Madeline is my favorite children’s book. I used to dress as Madeline for Halloween. I love everything about Madeline from Miss Clavel to Pepito and the dog Genevieve, bien sur!

The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette: I wish I had a series like this when I was a young girl…what a fun fantasy! Louise Lambert’s best friend’s thirteenth birthday party is fast approaching, so of course the most important question on her mind is, “What am I going to wear?!” Slipping on an exquisite robin’s egg blue gown during another visit to the mysterious Traveling Fashionista Vintage Sale, Louise finds herself back in time once again, swept up in the glory of palace life, fancy parties, and enormous hair as a member of the court of France’s most infamous queen, Marie Antoinette.

Degas and the Little Dancer: I’ve been reading this book to my classroom for years and years! It’s the true story of a young dancer, Marie, who worked as a model for the artist Degas in order to pay for her dance classes.

Linnea in Monet’s Garden: I brought this book home from Giverny. The joy that Linnea discovers in Monet’s garden is touching. She has such enthusiasm for Monet’s Garden that will make your heart melt.

Charlotte in Paris: It’s 1892 and Charlotte lives next to Claude Monet in Giverny when an exciting invitation arrives. The celebrated impressionist Mary Cassatt is having an exhibition in Paris. Charlotte enjoys Paris to the fullest and even celebrates her birthday at the Eiffel Tower.

Van Gogh and the Sunflowers:  A young child brings Van Gogh a gift of beautiful sunflowers that become the subject of a magnificent painting.

Adele & Simon: My daughter loved this book when she was younger. She could relate to it since, like Adele, she has a little brother. Adele and Simon takes you to Paris…around the park, through the market, and all the way home.

Everybody Bonjours! Shop a fancy France-y store. Eat a pretty petit four. Discover! Sightsee! Explore! On this fun and friendly tour, everybody says “Bonjour!” Whether at a soccer stadium (“players scoring”), a crêpe stand (“batter pouring”), or strolling the Champs d’ Elysee (where folks “bonjour” in every store).

Julia, Child: This is a charming book! Some friends are like sisters. Julia and Simca are two young friends who agree that you can never use too much butter — and that it is best to be a child forever. The friends share a love of cooking and create recipes for growing young.

Happy reading fellow Francophiles! xx