Monday, April 14, 2014

Fowl Play

Why yes, those are ducklings. 
Swimming in Pyrex.
On our dining room table. 
Ducks & Chicks
Look, it wasn't our fault we got ducks today. That is, it's not our fault that this shipment of very desirable black and buff Indian Runner ducks that arrived at Elizabeth's country store this week would be their last of the season. It's not our fault ducks sell out fast. We basically didn't have a choice.
Ducks & Chicks
We've wanted ducks since we recently learned that: 1) Denver allows them. 2) They can cohabitate with chickens. 3) Their eggs are amazing. We can't wait to try them in creme brulee and ice cream. They are also great for baking, making cakes richer and fluffier.

We couldn't take them ALL home with us, just two. And we complete our flock with two more chicks. {I apologize for the poop streak in this photo. Livestock can be rude like that.}
Ducks & Chicks
The ride home was interesting. The chicks are flighty and much less timid than our others were, so this one kept flying out of the box. The yellow duck just wanted to chat.
Ducks & Chicks
Most of the hour ride home, the duck visited with us. I couldn't stop laughing at the curious little thing, it was so friendly and interested in us.
Ducks & Chicks
When we finally got home, it climbed up to my shoulder and plopped down. The black duck quickly followed. These ducks are a hoot! They love snuggling! They nibbled at my hair and ear. Not skittish AT ALL. We read that ducks could be really friendly and good pets, but I had no idea even ducklings would just attach themselves to you so quickly.
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Friends, I'm in heaven here. I've long desired chickens, I never knew how much I'd enjoy a duck!
Ducks & Chicks
The Sisters {here's to hoping neither are of that 10% that turn out to be roosters} are Sicilian Buttercups. This is a very old, somewhat rare breed. As they are Buttercups, we named them aptly: Princess and Peanut.
Ducks & Chicks
I had my sights set on an Aracauna and a Buff Orpington, but when we learned the country store had Buttercups in stock and we looked up how uniquely gorgeous they are, we opened our minds to this breed instead. Supposedly, they aren't the best layers but are known for being great pet/lap chickens. They will look like this when they are full grown. Gorgeous much?
Ducks & Chicks
They make pretty gorgeous chicks too.
Ducks & Chicks
They're getting along with their larger, awkward duckling friends just swimmingly.
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I can't resist photographing these adorable things. I was shocked when I uploaded all the photos I took of them today and saw how many times I'd snapped my shutter. {200+} See a few more here, if this isn't enough cuteness for you.
Ducks & Chicks
Ducklings, we're quickly learning, are very clumsy. They will fall from heights easily and have no awareness of their size, they knock things over and stumble. It's adorable.
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They are delightfully friendly. Even with the kids. Eisley has named them Leif and Percy. Those are cute names. Since we don't know their genders yet, Justin and I were throwing around gender neutral names or adaptable names. Henry/Henrietta {"Etta" for short} and Harry/Harriet. What do you think? Which names should we pick?
Ducks & Chicks
The thing about ducklings: they are harder to sex. We just have to hope we didn't get two drakes. We won't know for a few weeks what they are. A male and female would be fine. Ideally, they'd both be females. If they both turn out to be males, and get aggressive with each other, we'll have some tough decisions to make. We have a 50/50 chance with both, right?

Justin worked out a way to keep them all in the stock tank his parents have loaned us. This way the Big Sisters can get used to the littles, but they're kept safe from the pecking order for now {as long as no one dares to try and fly over the screen partition...we'll be keeping a close eye on them.}
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The Big Sisters were quite interested in their new neighbors. It was fun to watch.

Our flock is complete! We were supposed to start on the coop building today, but the snow ruined everything. Soon, soon...
Ducks & Chicks
As for me, well...I wrote a good portion of this blog post looking just like this:
Ducks & Chicks
We're a little quacky 'round here, it's true.

Cheers,
Heather

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Taking kids to the Denver Art Museum

Denver Art Museum
My sister was in town with her girls last week, so we did what my family usually does when any travel and family time comes round: we headed for the art museum.

My father being an artist, with an art degree and a penchant for teaching his family as much as he can about the world of art, we were attracted to the current exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. The Modern Masters exhibit is in town and worth a see.
Denver Art Museum
It was a nice exhibit! I saw a real Picasso, a Van Gogh, a Frida Kahlo, a Georgia O'Keeffe, a Pollock, an Andy Warhol, and then some and then some and then some. It runs through June 8th, and if you have a chance to go see it, then GO.

When most people think about art museums, they typically don't think family. My parents did their best to take us to as many art museums as often as possible--though I wish I could see them all. I've enjoyed the Norton Simon Museum, one of Santa Fe's museums, the Omaha museum is surprisingly lovely, and we were at the Denver Art Museum regularly when I was growing up. Interestingly, the Seattle Art Museum was my least favorite. You'd think a city like that would rock their art museum, but I found it to be very mediocre.

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. - Pablo Picasso

Denver, in my opinion, has a fantastic art museum. Not just due to their collections, but because this museum is SO children & family friendly.
Denver Art Museum
On the first floor is an area to explore and create. I can't tell you what joy it gives me to see my child rush to an easel and pick up a pencil. She might have sat there all day, creating, if we hadn't have urged her on.
Denver Art Museum
People of all ages are invited to sit as long as they like and create.

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures - Henry Ward Beecher

Their current creative devices include tables where you can study art and movement. Like these machines and tops that create art when in movement. The cousins loved it.
Denver Art Museum
Or you can contribute to a collective display of art, where every page on the wall is created to mesh with the pieces next to it. {I didn't get the memo, can you spot my drawing?}
Denver Art Museum
As much as I dislike spiders, it was fun to watch Violet and her Papa create using a remote controlled tarantula with a marker attached. Getting children interested in movement and art....I love it.
Denver Art Museum
So if you thought that art museums were places that only adults can go to, to be observant, pensive, and quiet, think again! The Denver Art Museum embraces little ones with their many hands-on art exhibits.
Denver Art Museum
This exhibit was a room full of felt pieces to attach to the walls and figures, as well as a screen featuring dancing art...I think my mom enjoyed the dancing more than any of the kids.
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Even Paxton was a happy camper {most of the time}.
Denver Art Museum
No food or drink allowed in the museum, but there are areas--like the bridge between the old and new building--where you can have lunch or snacks.
Denver Art Museum Denver Art Museum

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. - Pablo Picasso 

Sadly, I could not take any photos of the Modern Masters exhibit. The Denver Art Museum's own collections, however, you usually can take photos of. In the collection on the second floor of the new building, kids can grab a Bingo game to play while they look at art.
Denver Art Museum
I love this fairy-tale-like painting of the bears. Next to it is a painting of a spot in New Mexico, one of my favorite places to take a road trip to. I recognized it right away.
Denver Art Museum
On our visit to the DAM last week, we barely scratched the surface. We didn't even make it into the old building, which has several floors of art to see. The sixth floor in the old building will always be my favorite. The painting Dream of Arcadia by Thomas Cole is one of my favorite pieces in the entire world.

Every good painter paints what he is. - Jackson Pollock

Denver Art Museum
New since I've been there last, they are showing a collection of Polish movie posters. This was such a fun collection to see. American movies, Polish posters.
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And a favorite, because it is hypnotizing to look at. This painting on the second floor, you'd swear would be a photograph. I never get tired of seeing it. This camera-phone photo does it little justice. It's a trippy painting to behold.
Denver Art Museum

The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it's dead for you. - Oscar Wilde

Off to the side from this exhibit is an area where you can create postcards, inspired by the Old West.
Denver Art Museum
The cousins spent a good 30 minutes there, stamping and coloring postcards.
Denver Art Museum
They have a stamp machine off to the side, so you can send your creation to friends and family from the DAM.
Denver Art Museum
I get a kick out of this painting every time I visit the Denver Art Museum. It's titled Fatherhood by Wes Hempel. Note the soccer ball beneath his foot. I love the bewildered expression.
Denver Art Museum
It's meant to be amusing, a take off on a famous Bouguereau {one of my favorite artists}.
Denver Art Museum
This painting is another one I could stare at. It looks so much like a photograph. Darn my camera phone and darn me for forgetting where we packed my Nikon's charger when we moved. This is a bad photo, but that's--you guessed it--baby Hitler. The painting, if I remember correctly, is referencing the Madonna. This painting was by Gottfried Helnwein and is thought provoking. Read more here.
Denver Art Museum

I dream of painting and then I paint my dream. - Vincent Van Gogh

Fox Games is a much beloved, and well known exhibit, to Denver residents.
Denver Art Museum
This is a piece you can walk through, as long as you stay on the path.
Denver Art Museum
It was created in the 1980s, but has not always been a part of the DAM's collection. It's one of the funnest parts of the museum. The kids loved seeing it. {And yes, there were a few times when I heard someone start to sing, What does the fox say?}
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So if you live in Colorado, or will visit any time soon, but think that art museums are just for adults, I say: think again. Denver's art museum is so family friendly and inviting. It's composed of three buildings, and there is a ton of beautiful art to see. As a Denver native and self-proclaimed art snob, I'm quite proud of our museum.

This work is HUGE...all drawing. There is a room full of sketched works by this artist. It's awe inspiring.
Denver Art Museum
So visit the DAM. Bring the kids.
Denver Art Museum
If we can do it, you can do it.
Denver Art Museum
And then there's this:
Denver Art Museum
Boom.

Cheers,
Heather

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