Speaking of tulips, we also visited the Biltmore Estate during spring break last week.

Mmm, color!

I love how they planted tulips that would perfectly match Harper’s dress! They’re so thoughtful.

Our best secret is to arrive EARLY! We had the gardens to ourselves for about 6 whole minutes, and then 2 other women came by. It’s definitely nice to beat the crowds if you can.
The kids (and I) love the azalea gardens not only for the beautiful color but also for the space to wander and explore.

Plus the fact that the paths lead to the bass pond, with its many friendly (hungry) geese.

Here are a few shots taken during our hike back up to the Biltmore House.

The weather in NC has certainly been turbulent this past week…it just can’t seem to make up its mind.

Overlooking the gardens…

The pink & white dogwoods are my favorite trees in bloom right now.

And finally, what better way to end our visit then a stop at the Farm at Antler Hill Village to hold some fluffy baby chicks? A great day, indeed.

We stopped by the Carl Sandburg Home today as part of our Spring Break festivities (after all, it is national poetry month!)

While visiting with Mr. and Mrs. Mallard (so named because we just read Make Way for Ducklings) a friendly park ranger stopped by to tell us that we needed to go see the baby goats. Baby goats – you know we love goats!

…especially cute, rambunctious, dress-chewing, 2-week-old triplets named Trish, Trip, and Trent. (I think this is Trent.)

We made sure to give the big goats lots of love, too.

After passing through the apple trees we had a picnic near the duck pond, where we once again found our friends.

They were so close to us!

All in all, it was a beautiful morning!

A couple weekends ago I took Cole & Harper to the Asheville Art Museum for the opening reception of their new children’s book exhibit: Nouns: Children’s Book Artists Look at People, Places and Things! I don’t think they’re necessarily used to seeing children at the Museum very often, or maybe we just hit them on an off day (when we arrived to purchase our tickets they asked if we were looking for The Health Adventure. Although I love The Health Adventure, I’m smart enough to know when I walk through two doors labeled “The Asheville Art Museum” that chances are I’m going to end up in the Museum.)

So anyway, although you might get a bit of a frosty reception when you bring your kids to visit, rest assured that the exhibit itself is kid-friendly and fun. As you can tell from that really crappy photo from my phone (taken with permission, I might add) they have a little desk & chairs set up for kids and hands-on copies of almost all of the books on display. (Harper enjoyed matching the books to the images on display. Cole enjoyed the fruit & crackers that came with the opening reception. To be fair, he also liked the book about George Washington.) The docent who helped us was very patient & kind to the children, and she definitely made our visit worthwhile. Besides seeing the artwork in person, which was great! I had a hard time keeping my hands off the framed images, too.

This is the second time I’ve been able to view a collection of children’s book art up close & personal. The first time was waaay back in 2000 at the Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibit was: Once upon a Picture: Caldecott Medal and Honor Books. Simms Taback, David Wiesner…mmm, that was such a memorable experience! If you live by the Art Institute of Chicago, I envy you.

Another place I would love to visit is The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

All this to say, if you have the opportunity to see the artwork of some of your favorite children’s books, or just artwork in general, go do it! Introduce your kids early on to art museums and art galleries. (M’s Art School, taught by M, in Hendersonville, incorporates visits to the local art galleries into her classes. Not only does she strive to introduce her students to different kinds of art but she also wants them to know the proper etiquette for visiting a museum or gallery. Be sure to check out her summer camps for kids!)

Seeing & studying artwork is a great way to illustrate for your children the whole process of creation and design that takes place before a book can even be published. And it’s just fun to do something new once in a while, too.

Have you been to Just Ducky lately? I keep hearing their ads on my favorite radio station, so I thought that I’d stop by and check out their new location in Biltmore Village today. (I wasn’t a big fan of their old location on Charlotte Street.) Oh my goodness – their “new” store is super cute! (Really, they’ve been open in Biltmore Village since September…this is just the first time I’ve gotten around to visiting it.) Harper would LOVE it – there are so many beautiful dresses & accessories in there for little girls! They have lots of cute things for babies, too, and some things for boys, but really, this is a little girl’s haven. (Especially a little girl like mine who refuses to wear pants.)

They’ve got a great sale going on right now to make way for the new Spring line that arrives next week – perhaps you need a new thing or two for a portrait session? The two things I love most about their new store: 1. All their clothing is still made right here in Asheville. 2. They’re located next door to a children’s book store: Once Upon a Time

Anyway, I just thought I’d share my exuberance. You’ll have to forgive me… I tend to get this way about visually pretty places or things or landscapes or craft shows or art galleries. If you haven’t been there lately, go check ‘em out!

ratsnakeThis past weekend we went to an event for the Nature Center that was held at the Folk Art Center. (While driving on the Parkway to get there we spotted a black bear cub running into the woods!) The kids did such a good job holding this black rat snake. Don’t they look proud? Harper offered to let me hold it, too, but I quickly declined. Aunt Kris, who accompanied us to the Folk Art Center, mysteriously disappeared right as the snake appeared…

snakedrawing…here’s a little visual depiction of that occurrence by Cole.

howard street handmade Oh, the joy that lurks behind those golden doors! I finally made it to the Howard Street Handmade indie craft fair this past Saturday. They have the fair about once a month, I think, but obviously, Saturdays don’t always work for us. But I finally made it to one, and despite the tiny storefront there was loads of crafty goodness inside:

I have a sundress on order for harper from Hazel Anne Design

I also loved Courtney’s pottery, which you can see here: Courtney Murphy Ceramics

As if you’d need another reason to attend, next door to the indie craft fair is a delicious little shop called Short Street Cakes. Adorable advertising and scrumptious mini strawberry cupcakes that make you feel like you’re eating something healthy, even though there’s frosting on top.

It was a good morning! : )