Friday, August 28, 2015

#artsplash our Grand Adventures: Philadelphia Museum of Art

i'm starting in the middle/end of our summer Grand Adventures, because this program actually ends on September 7, so you can still make it if you rush!

you know how sometimes places advertise a Kid's Program! then when you get there it's lame, understaffed, out of paper, broken crayons, empty stands where demonstrations should be...that kind of thing. you feel me, right?

well, rest assured--Art Splash at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is NONE of those things. it is absolutely awesome.

let's break it down.

please excuse the crookedness of this photo. i'm blogging, you can't expect photo editing, too...#babysteps
TRANSPORTATION: two moms, one grandmom, 10 kids ranging from 15 to 3. we caught the train (septa regional rail), which is a 5 minute drive from our house, and a 45 minute ride to the city. you can get a Family Independence Pass for $29. it covers 2 adults and up to 5 children on rail, bus and subway for one whole day. plus you don't have to fight the traffic and construction on 95. #ugh

it's about a mile to a mile and a half from Suburban Station to the Art Museum. (you're much closer to the Drexel University Academy of Natural Science, the Franklin Institute, the Free Library, etc.) not really a terrible walk, so long as it's not 200% humidity. but what it lacks in physical coolness is made up for in the idiomatic coolness of culture and experiences (like the homeless town just past the Rodin Museum)

checking out the GIGANTIC screens in the comcast building
real talk: regional rail is relatively clean and safe. mostly commuters headed into or home from work, or college students. if you miss rush hours there's a good chance you'll have plenty of room. and once you get past the hairy parts of making sure your kiddos don't fall onto the tracks (not gonna lie, that gives me all sorts of heart palpitations. even standing 10 feet away and holding on to them for dear life) and making sure you don't miss your train, it's basically stress-free. you can drink your DD and laugh at all the fools stuck on 95.

THE MUSEUM: admission is $20/adult, kids under 12 are free. your ticket is valid for 2 consecutive days, and also gets you admission to the Rodin Museum and the Perelman Building. (plus you get that sweet little metal button with a foldover tab to clip on your shirt, and i'm instantly in 3rd grade again)

there are a lot of discounts if you keep your eyes open. we actually grabbed Groupons for this trip, so we paid a little less. you can check the museum website for more info.

real talk: the museum is obviously an experience in and of itself, but honestly the thought of taking children under the age of 10 into echo-y marble halls filled with priceless works gives me the cold sweats. they. don't. whisper. they don't understand that yes it's a chair but NO DON'T SIT IN THAT CHAIR IT'S NOT ACTUALLY FOR SITTING and no, this ISN'T the museum where you can touch things. but this program helps with that. i'd go so far as to say that Art Splash made us feel welcome, and made the museum feel more accessible.

Art Splash starts in their studio. there's a new "theme" every 2 weeks, and we hit S is for Shadow. the staff (who are super nice) demonstrate an art project, hand out supplies, and let you have at it. no time limits, no pressure.

the studio also has a little reading area with comfy chairs and some toys for smaller siblings who quickly lose interest.

once you're done there, hand over your license and get an Ipad mini. it's all set up with their scavenger hunt type program, based on the book "A is for Art Museum". letter by letter the Ipad leads you around the museum, tracking your progress and congratulating you when you find the next work. At each stop the program gives you a little more: arrange your adult in the same position as the statue, watch a video about how this was made, listen to the  sounds the birds in this tapestry make, use the flashlights to find more details, etc.

it gives them a PURPOSE. there's something for them to DO now, besides walk and walk and NOT TOUCH, and something to look for besides boobies and pee-pees. (you know it's true and don't lie)

you also have access to the closest bathroom location, on demand. thumbs up.

along the way we ran into another art stop, where the kids made and played with shadow puppets. we have big plans of recreating this activity at home.

it took us about 3 hours to do the whole alphabet, with a break for lunch.

the museum seems to be trying hard to involve you in the experience. there's touch screens to explain smaller exhibits, we translated our names into Korean and printed them out, and we only had one run in with security...when the 3 and 4 year olds decided to climb on an ancient column capital. oops.

after we finished and returned our Ipad, we spent some time in the Art Splash Gallery, which is right outside the studio. more artwork on display, including some hands on exhibits. like this magnetic leaf tree, which we rainbowtized for them. you're welcome.

so in case it's not obvious, we had a blast. i highly recommend this activity, and fully plan on doing it again next summer if they have it.

mom: ☻☻☻☻☺
"ha! made you learn in summer!"

guinevere (age 15) ☻☻☻☻☻
"the art museum is amazing"

harrison (age 13): ☻☻☻☻☺
"it was fun."

ava (age 11) ☻☻☻☻☻/☺ (that's 4.5 happy faces)
"there was a lot of beautiful art"

gigi (age 6) ☻☻☻☻☻
"i number it 10 happy faces"

elliot (age 4) ☻☻☻☻☻
"i liked it super super super much"

BONUSES: obviously, there's letting your kids do the Rocky run up the front steps, even if they have absolutely no idea who or what he is.
Rocky himself is no longer on the top of the steps, he's relocated to an area at the bottom right in the trees.

also, i highly recommend sister cities park, especially if it's hot. it's about a 10 minute walk back towards city hall. they've created an oasis in the heart of the city. kids can explore and splash and burn off the energy built up by all that NOT TOUCHING.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015


this summer came with a bit of a mission. nothing crazy, it's just that last summer...well, last summer straight up stank.

when you start the summer with losing your dog, it can only go up from there, right? wrong.  this time last year i was just recently released from the hospital after some fun with asthma, and even before that the weeks of vacation had slipped through my fingers like a melting popsicle. nothing exciting, nothing to write about on that first day back to school: This summer I: _____________ ...watched a lot of tv?

so i was determined to make this one better.

beginning with our Grand Adventure Day. once a week (ish) we set off to do/explore/have fun/get dirty/learn something. we live in a good spot here in SE PA, within an hour or so we can get to anything from mountains to beach to city.

and the fall back is always beach. summer = beach, right? eh, i'm no beach girl. sunburn + sharks, nevermind. there's so much OTHER fun to be had...

just like Rocky
peach picking, only fun for about 15 minutes. then it's just sweaty manual labor.

pretty much our favorite park in the whole wide world. ish.

cows. girls.

you can keep your plastic water slides, thankyouverymuch.

nothing says fun like....

and that about sums them up.

the big two kiddos started school yesterday, the other two start tuesday, so our Grand Adventures have ended for this summer.
but i have to say they were an all around success.
we found new places we love (some we've already revisited), most we'd never even heard of.
which got me to about a little review of some of our spots?  i spent hours searching for places to go.
i have some pretty specific qualifications: Fun.

actually, there was a little more than that. but i'll save the details for the later posts. wouldn't want to overwhelm anyone, seeing as how it's been months between my ramblings here. ;)
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

adventures in once a month meals, part deux

Well, I'm four months in. Let's make this quick:

- yes, i still love it. super duper a lot.

-yes, i've had some mess ups with amounts, and a couple recipes that didn't go over well with everyone. including this "Black Bean Ranch Tortilla Casserole", which SOUNDS like it's awesome but really is quite nasty. nasty enough that personally i'm of the opinion that the original recipe blogger was playing some sort of joke on everyone dumb enough to layer smashed tortilla chips, ranch dressing, yellow squash and a bunch of other stuff...but moving on.... but honestly these issues are far and few between.

- i discussed my food budget in the last post, and I'm happy to report that in the last 4 months of doing this I've saved a total of $700. SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS. not that I have that money stashed under my bed (or even on my bed so i can roll around in it). it went to important things like underwear and socks and...i don't even know what. but seriously, SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS. hard to beat that.

- i have talked at least 5 friends into giving it a whirl. i should sell this trash.

- i just used up the last of my sam's club giant box of gallon freezer bags and foil pans last month. they lasted me through 4 EPIC COOKING DAYS. not bad.

- jeremy helped me cook a few times, and we actually had a nice system going. having a partner wasn't as confusing as i feared. but schedule-wise it works better if i cook on mondays, so i'm flying solo once again. :(

- aaaand, that's about all i can think of right now.

my July menu has a large percentage of grill meals, because it's summer after all. and i bulked up the lunches a bit since all the kiddos are home. it's nice to know they're not eating boxed mac and cheese every. single. day.
and that's what i love about this whole process, in a nutshell.

googiemomma out.
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