Wednesday, March 29, 2017

SOL #29: The Art of the Brick

This March writing challenge is organized by Two Writing Teachers

For a variety of reasons, it's somewhat rare for all four of us in my family to leave the house and do something together.  There was a period of about 16 months when the only place we went as a family was to extended-family events, and even then, we were likely to take two cars.  But some of the issues have calmed down, and some compromises have been made, new habits formed, and today we all piled into the car to drive across town to OMSI.

OMSI is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and if you don't have something similar near you, then I am deeply sorry.  It is full of hand-on building and experimenting and playing and learning.  It is also a SUPER popular rainy-spring-break activity, and the line was humungous, but it moved quickly and we got inside before anyone completely melted down (though I was pretty close, to be honest).  We were meeting friends there, because we got a membership last summer when a bunch of the Winemaker's relatives were in town, and we wanted to take full advantage of our membership, which lets you bring guests.  They have five kids, so we definitely felt like we got our money's worth!

OMSI is currently hosting a "Brick Art" exhibit.  This is what you and I call Legos, but apparently legally if you are not Lego Company, you have to call them bricks.  Remember when my son sold a bunch of his Legos?  He did so at a Brick store.

I went in expecting something like Legoland, which I've only seen pictures of.  Structures built out of Legos. What I didn't realize is that the creator, Nathan Sawaya, actually makes art, with bricks as his medium.

 The first few rooms featured reproductions of famous works of art.

I liked how even the reproductions of paintings had a 3D aspect to them.  There were "paintings" hung on the wall that had a textured surface, there were sculptures, and then my favorites were the ones like the American Gothic and Whistler's Mother pictures above--where a sculpture and a flatter surface worked together to recreate the painting with depth.

Then we got into his own art.

I didn't take a lot of pictures here, not because it wasn't good, but because it's hard to get the nuance of brick and shadow in dramatic museum lighting on a phone camera.  This piece represents his worst nightmare--losing his hands, his tools of creativity.

Some pieces were whimsical, some thoughtful, and some both, such as this one:

I neglected to get ANY pictures of a section that had these hyper-realistic photos of people posed in weirdly flat American Southwest landscapes with one item in the picture made out of Legos--a cloud, a dress, an umbrella.  It's hard to explain, but they were sure fascinating to look at.  

The exhibit ended with a huge dinosaur-fossil sculpture and a take on the classic PDX carpet, something that has become a pop culture icon locally.  

The rest of the visit to OMSI was as usual--loud and overstimulating, but stuffed to the gills with interesting things to look at and try.  I get overwhelmed pretty quickly, but luckily it's not a place that needs a ton of adult intervention unless you're all about making sure the kids get the EDUCATIONAL side of what's going on.  I just let them play with stuff.  Even the 12 year old, who was huffily blasé about our plan for the day, had a great time--and even said so!  So we're calling this a successful spring break outing.

Now we all need a nap.  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

SOL #28: Cleaning out the Storage Barn

This March writing challenge is organized by Two Writing Teachers

I can't believe this month of writing and reading is nearly over.  The next big blog-related event I'm looking forward to is Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon in late April  Join the fun!

So, there's a lot of background that I don't want to get into right now, but yesterday we spent several hours going through boxes and bins that have been in storage for about eight years.  Some of the boxes had severe water damage, others had severe varmint damage, and one particularly exciting box featured two mice scurrying away in panic as we leapt back in panic after lifting the lid on their home.

But it also included some very satisfying finds, such as my Christmas mugs, a poster I had literally been trying to find online the day before, my two Madame Alexander dolls (which my daughter was THRILLED to receive), and The Winemaker's extensive shell-and-rock collection, which both kids were super excited about.

It was obvious that when we boxed all this up, we anticipated un-boxing it a few months later.  There were stored items that we brought back home during that first year, but at this point, it seems that we could probably throw away every single thing, since we've lived this long without it.  I wish I'd sold all the books, 98% of which are now ruined. Still, we found a good amount of things we want to hang onto or that are in good enough shape to donate.

It's a bit of a problem that we are sentimental about different things, but it also helps us to be patient with each other.  I have a tendency to just want to jettison everything (besides those items I'm sentimental about, of course), while my husband wants to check all the way to the bottom of each box, and wonders if we could use or sell all sorts of things.  His caution kept me from a few rash decisions, and my "it's a chance to lighten our load!" philosophy convinced him that nobody really is going to want textbooks from the early 1990s.  But I kept those mugs, the un-ruined journals, the charm bracelet, and he kept the shells, the Russian dictionaries, and the parts from his friend's motorcycle.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

SOL #27: Kids, Expectations and Boundaries

This March writing challenge is organized by Two Writing Teachers

Truly a slice of life here:

The Boy has been grounded for three weeks, meaning no playing with friends, and very little screen time.  This is due to several back-to-back incidents that kept resetting his time owed.

Today his buddy came by hoping to play.  It's spring break, and refusing to let a kid play during spring break just seems wrong.  Still, it is the same buddy he's gotten into trouble with before, so I said yes, but you need to stay within view of the driveway.

They did that for awhile, then they came in and baked cake without a recipe, then they wanted to head back out, and asked if they could go further afield, to a nature path one street over.  I went over some ground rules, then said yes.  Then the buddy asked if my daughter could come too.

"Great idea!" I enthused.  "That way she can tattle if you guys do anything dumb!"  The friend looked embarrassed, but shrugged and nodded.  My daughter eagerly started to put her shoes on.

"Wait," said my son.  "She doesn't have to tell on us for swearing, right?"

Such are the compromises of parenting.

Later, everyone was home again.  The friend came in to the living room where The Winemaker and I were sitting and said, "Can I borrow your phone to call my mom and ask if I can spend the night over here?"  I'm sure the looks on our faces were comical.

"Let's talk about that for a minute," I said diplomatically.  We offered to have him over tomorrow night instead, but it seems he's busy.  "Maybe some other time, then," I concluded.

After they scampered off again, my husband and I looked at each other.  "Seriously?  Can I borrow YOUR PHONE to INVITE MYSELF over?" I said.  "How does that seem like an okay question?"

"You know, I think I expected kids to show up already thinking like adults," my husband confessed.  "I am always surprised at the things they don't get."

"Your expectations were..." I started.

"Misguided?"  he finished with a grin.

Edited: I just heard my son call his friend, "You raw turkey breast!"  Is this what the kids are saying these days, or is my kid really good at off-the-cuff invective?