These are a few of my favorite things...

This is my Dad. He's my favorite.

Last week it was his birthday. That's why he's blowing out a candle in a cocktail glass full of ice cream.

When Mom asked Dad what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said to her "Do you remember those paintings? With that man? The ones we saw 15 years ago?

She said "yes, I think so."

And he said, "I want to go see those again."

And she agreed.

It turns out that 15 years ago, Dad saw Thomas Cole's  "The Voyage of Life" paintings and he thought a great way to spend his birthday would be to gaze on them once again and try to figure out where in the series he now falls.

I was thrilled. Because Thomas Cole's paintings now reside in the National Gallery. And the National Gallery is my favorite.

FACT: About a year ago, Madison and I visited the National Gallery and stumbled on Cole's paintings.

"Wow!" I said, "These are really neat landscapes!"

"Mom... these are allegorical paintings. See? They represent the four stages of a man's life: childhood, youth, adulthood and old age," she replied.

"Huh. Look at that. I guess you're right. But the flowers are pretty too."

That's me! Art Teacher Extraordinaire.

So last week the whole fambly met up in DC. We ran from room to room while I pointed out all of my favorite paintings, until we stumbled on the four Dad wanted to see most.

Then we paused.

We took pictures.

We pondered the symbolism.

Then we left and had ice cream.

{To see zoomable and high quality photos of Cole's Voyage series, check out this site dedicated to Thomas Cole. To view the images, just click on the thumbnails at the top of the page and then zoom in to see every brush stroke.}