Category Archives: families

What did you read this summer?

So Sorry…really I am!

I really hate those blog posts that start with, “So sorry I haven’t posted readers….” But, that’s me. I haven’t had time to post with the ending of summer vacation, launching of my college son’s sophomore year, and beginning of high school and sports try-outs for my other two. I really haven’t had time to post – but I did read Stephen King’s Under the Dome this summer – just a quick read at 1,074 pages. But what’s up with those priorities? My nails don’t have polish and my desk is a mess – but I managed to redecorate my bedroom and get a bit of a tan. Well, I guess that’s what the summer months are good for – shaking things up and doing a little relaxing. So sorry readers, I promise to post something meaningful soon. Right now, I have some laundry to do and I’d really like a cup of tea!

What did you read this summer?

Back Camera

Things Teenagers Say: Random or not?

Recently, I was inspired by a fellow blogger who wrote a post about “randoms” – miscellaneous things her little ones said. It was so adorable and reminded me of the days when my kids used to say such cute things.

Two standouts from those days:

  1. “Danny, do you want your hat?”  “No, I’ve got my head.”
  2. “Danny, do you want your shoes?   “No, I’ve got my feet!”

There were other moments, many other moments, of course – but time tends to compact all of those memories. So, I was inspired to keep a log of some of the things my teenagers say – these comments are meaningful in different ways. They show how my teenagers are maturing, and, best of all, that they are still my little ones after all.

Teenage Randoms: (and maybe not so random?)

  1. “Word.” If you are the mother of a teenager – you’ve probably heard this succinct term that sums up so much in four letters. “Word” means “got it, thanks!”  And it is so precise and to the point that I plan on using it if I ever remember to.
  2. “Mom, tuck me in.”  Bed time rituals are such an important part of  childhood. Sometimes we assume our teenagers have outgrown the nighttime prayers, stories, and hugs. I know there have been many nights when my tired teens just brushed their teeth and jumped into bed without saying good night. But my 15-year old daughter (who is six inches taller than me!) often reminds me to tuck her in. She wants me to keep her company while she brushes her teeth, and then fix the covers and turn out the light. Priceless.
  3. “God bless and keep you.” When I was little, I remember my Dad tucking me inand making the sign of the cross on my forehead and saying the words: “God bless and keep you.” I don’t remember when he stopped doing it – but it was such a comforting way to go to sleep.  When my children were born, I started the same ritual with them, making the sign of the cross on their foreheads. I don’t remember when I stopped doing it, but the other night, as I was turning out the light in my daughter’s room, she said to me, “God bless and keep you.”
  4. “Mom, don’t make that face.” Apparently, I sometimes purse my lips together and make an ugly frown when I’m deep in thought. When my middle son sees me doing this, he tells me: “don’t make that face ever again!” I can never recreate the look to his satisfaction, so I have never seen this for myself, but it must be pretty bad. I am actually flattered, though, that he is noticing how I look – I think. Word.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Support The Arts, Rock, and More In Your Neighborhood

The Center for the Arts in Natick (Massachusetts) — Second in a series about non-traditional music programs

Many towns have something like this – a local arts organization that is run and supported by neighbors. Some are more successful than others, but they survive, just. A few towns over from mine is a great organization and space in an old fire station. It’s known as The Center for Arts in Natick – TCAN for short. I came to know of TCAN when my son’s rock band played at their once a month rock concert – known as Rock Off Main St. Rock Off Main is the longest running all-ages rock venue in the area. For 13 years, rocker mom, Diane Young has organized and hosted the Rock Off Main series of rock shows. The arts center has state of the art sound and lighting along with a cool stage.

Diane, who recently became a grandma, has a vested personal interest in providing music venues to young bands. Both her son and daughter got their start in music on the TCAN stage, and along with her son-in-law, are all now working professionally in the band War Tapes. Diane is the first person to tell you that there just aren’t enough places for talented young musicians to play. She explains that the dedication, work ethic, and talent these kids have is something to encourage – whether they play rock, alternative, metal, or other types of non-traditional music.

Rock Off Main and Diane Young are only two of the reasons I’m glad there’s a vibrant arts center in my neighborhood. I recently received the “Play your part…renew your TCAN membership today!” letter and I plan to renew my $50 Rising Star membership. I’m renewing because organizations like this need me to. I’m renewing because I choose to keep this little haven for the arts going strong in my community.

If you’re inspired and want to check out our local TCAN for yourself, you can view their site here and donate at http://www.natickarts.org. But, even better, I encourage you to search in your area to find your nearest local arts organization – and support them – they need you.

And, you might not know it yet, but you need them too!

The Center for the Arts in Natick – What I’m getting for my $50 membership :

  • Advance presale for all feature shows
  • Member discount on feature events, children’s classes and workshops
  • New! Ticket exchange
  • Discounts from participating merchants
  • Free admission to annual Member Mixer
  • Free admission to Open Mic
  • Full-color TCAN Program Guide
  • Danforth Museum of Art benefits, including free admission

If you know of a program you would like to see here – please comment below and share a link to the program.

Merry Christmas

And so this is Christmas…

I have a confession to make. I’ve never been this late getting to my Christmas to-do list.  “It’s the Monday before Christmas and all through the house, not an inkling of Christmas can be found by a mouse…” Ok, I’m not much of a poet, but it’s true. No wreath, no garland, no lights, no stockings hung by the chimney with care.

I’ve never felt so strangely detached from all of the preparations and decorations in the world outside of my home. And for the first time, I’m not sweating the Christmas cards. I’ve decided they will be New Year’s cards this year (and I still need to order them.)

So, if this is Christmas, why don’t I feel all Christmassy? Why do feel numb – like I’m waiting for the feelings to arrive?

I’ve done some soul-searching in the last few days – I’ve taken stock of all I have to be thankful for (a lot); of all the love in my life (ditto); and of all the good fortune I have been shown (again, ditto) – so what’s up?

“Maybe I need to put Christ in the forefront of my Christmas experience,” I thought. I don’t go to church every Sunday, so I decided going to church might make me feel better. I thought hearing some hymns and a nice sermon would help awaken those dormant Christmas feelings.

Well, church was very nice and I enjoyed singing some familiar hymns. It did boost my spirits a little. And then, I rushed off to a Christmas tea with a friend and spent the afternoon munching on finger sandwiches, scones and chocolates.

And surprisingly enough, it was at this tea with 25 assorted women, most of whom I didn’t know at all, that I was able to pinpoint my problem. As we all chatted and compared notes about our lives and our children, I was able to communicate my feelings of the last few months while my eldest son was away starting his freshman year at college. I recounted how at first I was so happy for him – and that he was so happy to be on his own – and then I shared the feelings I had a week after dropping him off: I was sad – so sad – and so lonely for him.

After sharing this story several times, it hit me. My college boy won’t be coming home until Thursday, December 22 – his exams are late. And while I still have lots to do – I realized that, for me, it wouldn’t really be Christmas until he’s home.

Somehow that realization makes me feel better. I know that the season of Christmas is happening all around me. But that the feeling inside – that feeling of joy and celebration and giving – has nothing to do with shopping, decorating or sending Christmas cards. It has more to do with feeling whole – with feeling that sense of togetherness that doesn’t happen at any other time of year.

After a brief phone call from college last night – I realize that he’s feeling it too.

We’ll wait for him to decorate the tree – but maybe I’ll go up to the attic, get the lights on the tree and put out the other decorations – so he’ll feel all Christmassy when he gets home.

speedometer

Will Your Artist Go To College?

Now available: Guide to Performing & Visual Arts Colleges

If you have a creative teen, you may be thinking about whether an Arts college is the right choice. To help start the conversation, you can now order the Guide to Performing & Visual Arts Colleges prepared by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and TeenLife.com. Available in print or online, this guide lists colleges with performing and visual arts programs, as well as insight into the application process.

From TeenLife.com: Hurry…the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Summer Program Application deadline is approaching! (Feb. 2012)

I recommend bookmarking the TeenLIfe.com website and signing up for their newsletter as well. It is an excellent resource for parents and teens and covers everything from internships to community service and more. For instance, it’s not too early to start thinking about special summer programs or camps and TeenLife.com has listings for arts programs in many cities.

My Experience: Find the right time!  I’ve found that the best time to bring up topics that are emotionally potent (like: Have you thought about applying to an Arts College?) is during a car ride. Experts agree that sitting side by side makes the conversation more comfortable for teens. It’s always worked for me – I’ve often discussed plans for music lessons, college, or weekend plans in the car with my teens. My eldest son came to expect our time to cover “to-dos” in the car and started to bring up topics for discussion himself. When we were finished, he would turn up the radio and we would enjoy the music together. The amount of focused time you have doesn’t last long, but you can cover a topic and be sure that you’ve been heard and that the discussion will be processed. The next time you’re in the car, side by side, you can ask: “Have you thought about…?”

Now it’s your turn: What programs or websites have you found to support your teens’ talents and interests?

Photo credit:

bigjom/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

contemporary-art

ICA Boston – For Teens?

The ICA Boston (The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston) is a surprising mix of creativity and art for teens. They have brought the museum alive by blending art with new tools and resources. Located in a landmark building right on the Boston Harbor, the ICA really seems to be connecting with this demographic and boasts a vibrant website with courses and programs for teens including: teen nights, teen arts council, teen media programs and more.

From the ICA Website: “New Media Programs for Teens: Explore the world of new media in our state-of-the-art digital media studio…Learn from professional media artists as you develop your own digital media art portfolio.” Register:www.icateens.org/workshops.

In their next program, on Saturday, December 3, from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., the ICA will offer Video Game Design for Middle School Students (check website for availability and to register): “using Game Maker software, learn to create a basic 2D design, including graphics, sound effects, and basic design theory. By the end of this session take home a working game that can be e-mailed, put on the Web, or installed on either a Mac or PC!”

This year is also the 75th anniversary of the ICA and they have planned a free party for families on December 10, which is also the ICA’s fifth anniversary in their harbor-front building. The celebration will include musical performances by the AS220 Criss Cross Orchestra, the kids from Music Clubhouse at Sociedad Latina, animated films, a tap dance performance, art-making activities, tours, and more.

ICA 75th Anniversary Party Program Schedule:

Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater. Additional gallery activities and performances will also take place throughout the day.  

10:30 am:  Animated film screening

Noon:  Music Clubhouse at Sociedad Latina

2 pm:  AS220 Criss Cross Orchestra

4 pm: Boston Tap Company

Finish your visit to the ICA with a meal or warm beverage (it is winter, after all!) Click here for the ICA’s Top 5 Picks for Waterfront Restaurants in the area. Add your museum picks here – what’s going on for teens in your city?