Monday, March 31, 2008

Mommy, I want to see a da Vinci!

Our final day in Washington was cold, rainy, and windy, the perfect day to spend inside a museum looking at paintings of warm, sunny Italy and France. Luckily I had packed sweatshirts for everyone and with umbrella in hand, we headed back down toward the Capitol and the Mall. As I made sure none of my charges were lagging behind I noticed swarms of teens walking briskly or waiting in line to go into the Supreme Court. Many of the girls were wearing summer attire such as short sleeved thin tops and short skirts with heels. They didn't quite sport the diva look since their skin was slightly blue and their arms were wrapped around their bodies. "Teaching moment guys," I announced when we were out of hearing, "Always pack appropriately for the season and wear comfortable shoes when going to a city where you walk everywhere."

Once inside the National Gallery of Art we wandered around the second floor looking at beautiful religious art and often stumbling across paintings the kids recognized from Sister Wendy's Story of Painting video series. The evening before we had read about several of the more famous paintings in a library book on the Smithsonian. The painting I had starred on my list was the only Leonardo da Vinci painting currently in the Western Hemisphere. Ginevra de' Benci, a gentle and intelligent girl sat for this portrait when she was 16 and about to be married. The painting is displayed in the center of the gallery so both the front and the back can be seen. The image on the reverse was painted several years later and uses symbols to describe the personality of Ginevra.

After a few hours which seemed to fly by the younger children were clamoring for a snack and drink so we had to wave farewell to Monet's Woman with a Parasol, Renoir's Girl with a Watering Can, Degas' dancers, and many other new friends. I am sure there will be many more trips back to the West Wing of the National Gallery and perhaps a swing through the more modern paintings in the East Wing.

Back up the hill to the Capitol for one last time, I made Maggie and Charlie jump out of the double stroller so I could push it those last few yards. We arrived back at the house to make the beds, finish packing the van, and have a quick lunch. Since I made a wrong turn trying to get back to 395 we accidentally swung around the Mall one last time and finally pulled onto the interstate, leaving the hustle and bustle of DC behind us. Only after stopping at the rest stop in North Carolina did I notice that Maggie has swiped several house keys while I was packing the van. Not the worst thing in the world and easily remedied with a mailer from the post office and a few stamps. We swung into the driveway at 6pm weary, hungry, and grubby, but grateful for the opportunity to see a few of our nation's treasures and monuments.

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