The Getty Center: Artful Fun for the Whole Family

My wife and I first visited the Getty Center shortly after its grand opening in 1997, when we were dating.  Back then, you needed a timed ticket just to get in.  The Getty Center is still in demand, but happily you don’t need to get tickets in advance anymore.  Still, if you are going on the weekend you will want to anticipate large crowds and busy parking areas when you visit what has become a Los Angeles icon.

We took our four-year-old twins to the popular destination for the first time since they were babies in a stroller, this past Sunday.  Until now, I had not realized what a wonderful spot the museum complex is for families.  Check out the center’s website and you will see that they have some exciting ways for children to engage with the art.  More on that in a bit, but first, let’s get you there.

Parking for The Getty is located on Sepulveda Blvd, just off the 405 freeway.  The center is on the west side of the freeway.  So, the instinct is to want to enter the main parking lot by crossing under the freeway.  You can save yourself having to sit in a long line of cars if you ignore that instinct and instead park in the lot opposite the main entrance, on the east side of Sepulveda.  There was plenty of parking, no line to get into the lot, and you can still use the automated pay station in the main parking lot to pay the $15 parking fee (the price is the same for either lot).

You can either take a short tram ride up the hill or a 15 to 20 minute walk along a foot path.  Our kids were so excited about riding the tram that they didn’t seem to mind the 20 minute wait in line.  Once aboard, I recommend trying to grab seats on the west side of the tram so you and your kids can take in the majestic view of the Sepulveda pass as the tram winds its way along the hillside.

I suggest reading the Getty’s “Tips for Families” section of their website prior to your visit.  It’s packed with ideas about how the whole family can get the most enjoyment out of your time there and how your kids can get the most out of the art.  One thing they recommend and that worked well for us is to mix up activities and be flexible.  We switched back and forth between indoor art exhibits and outdoor activities like taking an invigorating walk through the gardens.

One not-to-be-missed attraction with kids is The Family Room.  Located by the East Pavilion in the museum courtyard, The Family Room brings the art to life for children in a tactile, exciting, and accessible way that is sure to engage active minds.  You might even consider making this your first stop, because it brings the art to life in a way that might help younger children gain a greater interest in the rest of the day’s agenda.

When you are at The Family Room I highly encourage you to pick up an Art Detective Card or two.  Our kids absolutely thrilled at solving the mysteries on the card.  It got them studying the details of each of the works while looking for the clues, and got them talking about the art and asking questions.  If you are sensitive to this kind of thing you might like to know that one of the clues references a nude painting.  So, there’s that.

When it was all said and done, my wife and I left feeling like we had just scratched the surface of all there is to do and see, and our kids left wanting more.  That seemed like the right way to leave things though, because I’m sure it’s someplace we will be returning to again and again.

A Message to Kids from a Father: If Your Parents Hurt You, They are Wrong

I usually keep this blog pretty light.  This week, I’m going taking an unusual turn to talk about a serious subject that has been on my mind a lot lately – child abuse.  Here’s the thing… I am the dad of four-year-old twins.  I love being a dad.  Right there next to picking the right life partner, it’s at the top of my list of best things that have ever happened to me.  I see stories on the news of child abuse and neglect, and it tears at my heart.  I could not imagine ever hurting my children.  To the contrary, I see my role as father as being their protector.  A big part of my job is to create a safe haven for them away from the cruelties of the world.  So, when I see, hear, and read about stories of child abuse on a weekly basis in the media, I can’t help but get angry, upset, and frustrated.  It is a parent’s job to protect their children.  Sometimes, the kids I hear about in these stories are old enough that they could have reported their parents’ abuse or reported it sooner, but didn’t.  The reasons for this are complicated, including the fact that they still love their parents, might be convinced that they did something to deserve how they are being treated, fear retaliation, or fear separation.

I have a message for any young person who might be reading this.  There is something that I want you to have crystal clear in your mind.  It is this:  If your parents are hurting you, they are wrong.  It doesn’t matter what you did.  It doesn’t even matter if you think you are a bad kid.  There is nothing you could do that should result in your parents causing you physical harm.  Do you understand?  It doesn’t matter if they call it discipline.  It doesn’t matter if they tell you that you “made them” do it.  They are wrong.  You don’t deserve to be hurt.  A parent should never slap, hit, kick, punch or otherwise harm a child.  Period.  End of story.

It might be scary to think about taking steps to remove yourself from an abusive parent or parents, but for the sake of your own safety, you need to take them.  Find a safe adult that you can report the abuse to.  Maybe it’s a teacher or school counselor, a neighbor or a friend’s parent.  You need to be brave and take the necessary steps to protect yourself from the abuse.  You don’t deserve to be treated the way you are being treated.  You deserve to be safe.

If you aren’t ready to tell someone you know about the abuse, but you would like to talk to someone, then you can contact the Childhelp hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). Their counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Good luck, and remember: No parent should hurt a child.

32 Awesome Quotes about Writing to Motivate and Inspire

I love the craft of writing.  It can be bliss and it can be hell, but it’s always enlivening.  I also love reading what other writers – both famous and less so – have to say about writing, because it reminds me that I am not in this alone and I’m certainly not the first one to experience any particular feeling about it.  Their thoughts can be particularly helpful refocusing me when I feel like I’m slogging through hell.  So, I sat down to make a list of some of my favorite quotes about writing.  Twenty-five seemed like about the right number of quotes to be impactful without trying to be an exhaustive list of perspectives offered on the subject.  I wanted this to be something I could come back to later when I was looking for motivation and inspiration, and hoped that others might dig it, too.  So, why are there 32?  Because I winnowed it down that far and couldn’t bear to part with any more of them.  So, here they are, 32 awesome quotes about writing to motivate and inspire.  Enjoy! 

“A word after a word after a word is power.” 
-Margaret Atwood

“Ideas are like rabbits.  You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” 
-John Steinbeck

“Understand that there is a difference between wanting to write and wanting to be a writer, and if you don’t do the first, you aren’t the second.” 
-Alexi Zentner

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” 
-Isaac Asimov

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
-Ernest Hemingway

“Nothing matters but the writing.  There has been nothing else worthwhile… a stain upon the silence.”
-Samuel Beckett

“You fail only if you stop writing.”
-Ray Bradbury

“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing.  What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” 
-Natalie Goldberg

“Write what should not be forgotten.”
-Isabel Allende

“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing, but in the midst of living.” 
-Anais Nin

“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:  1. What am I trying to say?  2. What words will express it?  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”
-George Orwell

“For me, writing a novel is like having a dream.  Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I’m still awake.  I can continue yesterday’s dream today, something you can’t normally do in everyday life.” 
-Haruki Murakami

“Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.” 
-Hermann Hesse

“I learn as much by writing as by reading.” 
-Lord Acton

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.” 
-Truman Capote

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” 
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”
-Gustave Flaubert

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” 
-Gloria Steinem

“For me, life is writing and I can do it anywhere.  It doesn’t matter where I am.  I listen.  I write.  I live.” 
-Maynard James Keenan

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” 
-E.L. Doctorow

“Don’t worry about trying to please or impress; focus that energy instead on trying to be clear.”
-Ted Thompson

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” 
-Graham Greene

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are.  The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences.  In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.” 
-Meg Rosoff

“He asked, ‘What makes a man a writer?’  ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it’s simple.  You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.’” 
-Charles Bukowski

“Keep writing.  Try to do a little bit every day, even if the result looks like crap.  Getting from page four to page five is more important than spending three weeks getting page four perfect.” 
-Alan Dean Foster

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story.  You never quite know where they’ll take you.” 
-Beatrix Potter

“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” 
-Albert Camus

“I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” 
-J. K. Rowling

“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.”
-Neil Gaiman

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” 
-Ray Bradbury

“I do not wish to comment on the work; if it does not speak for itself, it is a failure.” 
-George Orwell

“Writers write.” 
-Jill McDonough

Do you have a favorite quote about writing that I didn’t include?  Add it in the comments.  Heck, if you’re feeling inspired, add your own unique perspective on the subject!  I’d love to know your thoughts.