Tuesday, September 16, 2014

little museums

When Zach was 3 or 4 years old, we used to head to the museums all the time. He has the sort of temperament where he would just hold my hand, walk along anywhere, and soak it all in. I would always invite friends to come along and bring their little ones and I was often met with long stares and heavy sighs. Friends would say they dreaded bringing their little ones to museums because all they wanted to do was run and climb and yell and it was lost on them. I didn't get it back then.  Now I totally do.

Now I have that child. The one who I dread bringing to museums because she just wants to run and climb. But I still also have the child who loves going to museums and always bemoans, "Mom we never get to go anymore!"

We've ventured into DC to go to the Smithsonians a handful of times since Naia arrived. And truthfully, it's orchestrated chaos. Usually the excitement of the metro ride wears her down before we even get there.

It's crowded even mid-week. Everything is behind glass. And it's so spread out that little feet quickly tire out. It's an amazing resource, but not the idea place to spend the day with a 3 year old.

It's so easy just to gravitate to the big (free) Smithsonian museums so close by.  But lately I have been seeking out smaller museums. Smaller museums don't have the draw of being free, but they are almost always more little kid friendly. Finding places where the kids are allowed to touch, and feel, and interact makes all the difference.

The Anne Marie Sculpture Garden was the perfect little place for a kid friendly museum experience. This month there was a really fabulous exhibit on wool embroidery needle work made by common British sailors that made my big kid happy.

And there was plenty of hands on, colorful, not behind glass things for my little one to explore. Books to look through, recognizable things with a new life, bits to glue and paint, and outdoor space too. Even art you can climb on!

And suddenly it's not so terrible bringing them to the museum anymore.

Friday, September 05, 2014

slow summer no more

Our summer shifted from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye. We went from long lazy days of fort building, pool time, kayaking, sailing, bubbles, dinghy rides, and sleeping in to a crazy but fabulous month of travel and camping and family. And now... well back to the grind. Regular homeschool classes start up again, outings, museums, festivals, all the happy buzz of busy kids.

But before giving in to the downhill slide into fall, I wanted to share just a few more slow summer moments. Berry picking, tea making, SUP'ing, flower picking, beach walking, wandering, and just hanging outside.

Thank you summer.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Hoot 2014

As we drove the winding roads through Woodstock, NY making our way to Ashokan, I was a little nervous. Last year's Summer Hoot music festival was so perfect, so blissful, I was sure that this year might be a little of a let down. I was oh so wrong.

Zach loves the place. Upstate NY, Ashokan, the whole setting is just so him. There is forest and water and critters. What else does a boy need? Oh yes, of course friends and freedom. He and his friends took some walkie talkies and wandered the festival, taking in the people watching and the fabulous vendors. Zach loved a woodworker who was creating and selling instruments made from old cigar boxes and the like. He kept hanging out by the saw, just watching and asking questions and admiring the instruments.

And of course there were frogs to catch and play with just like last year. And the kids did a little canoeing and turtle catching too.

Naia calls it "music camp", and she loved just wandering around with the perpetual melodies floating around her so she could do what she loves most, dance and sing and dance and sing.

Her favorite is of course the lovely and talented Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower. Her family band is so full of heart and joy, it really shines when they perform live. There were two adorable and equally talented young children on stage with her, which really won over Naia. Elizabeth Mitchell really is the soundtrack of Naia's short 3 1/2 year life. We were so grateful to see her perform once again.

I kept waiting for something to be off, or less than fabulous from last year, but it never happened. The whole Summer Hoot is set up with such heartfelt intention and homegrown attention to detail. The music is why we all come, but the gathering is all about family and community and preserving and appreciating the natural world. For the hundreds and hundreds of people coming and going and eating and drinking, there wasn't one piece of trash on the ground. It seemed like everyone there was full of gratitude for the whole scene, nobody seemed to take it for granted.

The music was outstanding again. One thing that really stood out to me was the way the performers took the time to explain and share the origins of songs that were passed on to them. In the telling of the place the song came from, and the people or story behind it, the song becomes not just a performance, but a gift. They're something that these talented musicians collect, and treasure, and generously and beautifully give to others so that the music lives on. The interpretations vary, but the roots remain.

And the musical gifts didn't just flow from the stages. Once again we camped out in the "noisy" campground, which was wisely renamed this year...

This year Doug volunteered to be the tent parent while friends and I made our way under an impossibly starry sky to hang out with the music makers of the campsite after bedtime. The Milky Way sparkled overhead while banjo, guitar, bass, and perfect harmony drifted into the cool night.  And it kept going during the day too.

Around every corner there was something wonderful. A woman doing yoga by the water generously welcomed Naia to interrupt her moment of peace and join her on the mat for some stretching.

A swing hung from a tree right by the homemade ice cream stand.

Jay and Molly Unger perform with their kids Mike + Ruthy. Mike and Ruthy's daughter toddles on stage and starts nursing, the music never stopped and mama never missed a beat. So fabulous!

So once again, we're left smiling and grateful and blissed out from our long weekend at the Summer Hoot and we can't wait for next year!

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