Every year, we go to St. Charles, MO, to take part in their Christmas Traditions festival. There are storybook characters (we got to see Clara and the Nutcracker prince), Santas from around the world (Father Christmas is always a favorite, even though we don’t “do” Santa), as well as other Christmas characters (including my favorite, the Master of Revels, who specializes in giving everyone a hard time).
The children loved meeting the different characters, and collecting their cards. Out of the 29 available, I think we only missed six characters, which is the best we’ve ever done! One of these years, we’ll find them all.
We also got to hear several groups of carolers, who stay true to character and only sing carols written prior to about 1890. The fife and drum corps was also quite a hit with the children, and you can hear them coming all the way down the street!
This is definitely one of our favorite Christmas traditions, and something we look forward to all year long!
On Saturday, we went to the St. Louis Art Museum (or S.L.A.M., if you will) for the first time ever to check out the reproduction of Degas’ Little Dancer of Fourteen Years that was the basis for the story Degas and the Little Dancer that we read in school last week.
I thought this was a particularly interesting outing because of Turkey’s and Bunny’s reactions to seeing the sculpture in person. They were both surprised at how small it was. I guess they were expecting it to be life-sized, instead of Ladybug-sized. Frankly, I was expecting it to be larger as well, although I don’t know why. I guess that’s just the difference between reading about art and actually seeing it!
While we were there, we also got to look around the Impressionist gallery, which included, as a bonus for us, a painting by Degas. After talking about Impressionism last week, as well as some of the artists, it was nice to compare a few of the paintings, and see what makes them different from the paintings in the other galleries nearby.
I had originally planned this week to be ballet-themed. I wasn’t going to make Turkey and Bunny dance, but I thought it would be good for them to learn about the history of dance, hear the stories behind some of the most famous ballets, listen to some of the music, etc. I found it to be especially timely approaching Christmas–we could spend at least a full day on just the Nutcracker, maybe even stretch it into a day and a half.
As I was planning, however, it quickly morphed into more of a study of fine arts than just ballet. Yes, that was still the primary focus, but we also be studied art and artists (specifically Degas, who did many paintings of ballerinas), music and composers (especially Tchaikovsy, without whom the modern shape of ballet would be very different!), and even a little cooking (not really a “fine” art I suppose, but how can you learn about ballet without taking the opportunity to make a Pavlova?).
I found lots of great resources, so I thought I’d share, in case you’re looking for some good reading, watching, or listening related to fine arts!
Full of information on the history of ballet, basic steps, stories of the ballet, everything. The accompanying CD has excerpts of some of the more memorable parts of many ballets, along with explanations of the music, and hints for what to listen for (the sound of cats meowing in The Sleeping Beauty, for example).
This book had wonderful summaries of some of the most famous ballet stories–we read both The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, and, if we hadn’t already had a storybook of it, would have read the Nutcracker, too. Like A Child’s Introduction to Ballet, it also comes with a CD.
This is part of a great series called “Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists.” While these books are very factual, and full of pictures of paintings, they also have humorous illustrations, and are written in a very conversational style. There seems to be a book for every major artist, too!
I found this book, especially the ending, to be quite moving. In fact, the first time I read through it, I teared up a little.
Similar to the above Degas book, this is part of the companion “Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers” series. I unintentionally chose only ballets by Tchaikovsky to read and listen to, so I thought we should learn about the composer himself. Turkey and Bunny especially liked learning about Tchaikovsky’s fear that his head would fall off while conducting in front of an audience, thereby forcing him to hold onto his beard the entire time. We’re looking forward to reading the Bach installment next year!
My favorite version of the Nutcracker ballet, ever. Helgi Tomasson did an awesome job of choreographing the ballet in a fresh new way, while holding true to the original story. There are also educator materials available on the San Francisco Ballet Company’s website, which are great resources for teaching about this ballet.
The children had their Christmas portrait taken today, so from all of them, “Merry Christmas!”
As I was annoyed with the studio, and the whole portrait process, I took a picture of them at home, too, and I think it’s pretty cute as well!
After almost seven years, and at least six different models, I am diaper bag free!
This is not to say that our house is diaper free–not by a long shot. But, as I no longer need bibs and burp cloths, bottles, jars of baby food, or small toys, I came to the realization that the bulky, ugly diaper bag was really no longer necessary.
Of course, this meant I needed to buy a new purse. I have a few small purses, but I do still need something that can accommodate a few diapers and a wipes case. I settled on a bag from Target, actually marketed as a “work tote,” that’s large enough to hold a laptop. I found that the laptop pouch is the perfect size for a few diapers and wipes, and the rest of the bag is well-organized for all *my* stuff.
I haven’t really downgraded size-wise–it’s still a pretty big bag. But it’s more streamlined, and definitely looks much more fashionable!
Ryan surprised me with the most beautiful early Christmas present today–he said he didn’t want me to have to wait to wear it on my new jacket (otherwise known as my one and only Black Friday steal, at $50, for a nice, knee-length wool coat!)!
I saw this beautiful brooch in the window of our downtown jewelry store last weekend when we went for the tree lighting. I admired it in the window, but frankly, I didn’t think Ryan had really even noticed. So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found it inside. It’s so pretty and sparkly, and I just love it!