27 Apr
2017
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For the Love of Humanities

It was evident early in our parenting journey that our children had an affinity toward sports. They enjoyed playing anything we exposed them to and watching sports was a family activity we rallied around. As a former sports reporter, having children who enjoyed something I loved was an easy way to connect.

Early on we decided, as parents, that our children would be exposed to a wide array of experiences. We didn’t want their childhood to solely revolve around fields and courts. There would be concerts, museums, plays, art supplies and books. They can be athletes, but they can also be artists, dancers, musicians and actors. We strive for them to be difficult to place in a defined box. Humanities play an important role in our daily lives.

boy playing flute in a concert band

Music is ever-present in our home. We’ve morphed from the days of The Wiggles to an array of  musical styles from Christian to Disney to Jazz and Top 40. Playing an instrument is something I regret my parents didn’t push me to do. I had a short run as a violinist in elementary school and wish that was a skill set I had as an adult. We encourage our children to pick an instrument to learn. As much as I want someone to play the guitar or piano, no one has picked either of those. One of our sons chose the pan flute first before taking recorder lessons and moving to the flute. I’m open-minded to where their curiosity leads them.

ballerina dancing in a recital

Dance, which is a mix of art and sport, is a large part of our daughter’s life. The girl has always been a dancer. One of our sons also helps out at the studio as a partner when needed. We’ve learned over the years that once one child opens the door to a new activity or love, inevitably, someone else will join. I even took ballet last summer and competed in a Spring dance competition.

Most people who walk into our house comment on the number of books in our home. There are bookshelves and book boxes in almost every room. Stacks of books are integrated in the way I decorate. The written word has a powerful, life-changing quality. Our kids know the magic that lies in the pages of a book, whether teaching you something or providing a gateway from reality.

There have been language camps and classes for painting and pottery. We’ve toured countless historical sites and museums. We’ve watched various people and groups perform in an array of ways. It’s all been done under the catchphrase of “well-rounded.” That term means something slightly different for every family. For us, it’s exposing our children to things we, retrospectively, missed from our childhoods along with things we would never have tried or knew was out there. It’s mixing those things in with what we know.

boy acting in The Little Mermaid

Our daughter has mentioned the desire to act. I see that on the horizon as something she’ll choose, but I didn’t see the acting bug coming last year with our oldest son. His middle school performed a musical which he acted and sang in. Admittedly, the director sought him out after hearing him sing in class and desired more boys to participate. Our son had never acted nor had any voice training, but he does read music, has a charming personality, is brave and has a memory like a trap. My role as parent is to guide and support. I helped run lines with him and offered suggestions based on my limited acting career in high school. We supported this new passion, but weren’t sure how enjoyable acting would be for him. He enjoyed it so much that he’s currently preparing for opening night of a second school play this weekend.

Our children our blessed to live in a community with strong support for arts and humanities and an assortment of entities and businesses geared toward those pursuits. However, we also live in a state hit with recent budget cuts and surely more cutting in the future. We can feel belts tightening, and I fear the humanities will shoulder more cuts than other areas.

I recently finished reading the book, Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. The book is about post-apocalyptic life after a pandemic. There’s emphasis on the role humanities play in our world with a graphic novel and traveling group of musicians/actors playing predominant roles in the storyline. It’s difficult to imagine a world without humanities. Characters in the book rely on the arts to give a dark world levity and hope. The arts are a uniting force that bridges language, culture and socioeconomic status. People meet on the common ground of their passions whether that’s books, music, theatre, dance or art which enriches our community and lives.


 
Read Between the Lines
By     |    Apr 17, 2017
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Read Between the Lines

I sat at my aunt’s kitchen table surrounded by various members of my extended family attempting to write my grandpa’s obituary. I started with the bookend dates of his 88 years of life and filled in the years he served in the U.S. Navy and the decades he worked. There’s his wedding and number of children. There are the countless organizations he belonged to giving a glimpse at what he believed was important. I’m rarely at a loss for words... [Read More]

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That Time I Danced in a Competition
By     |    Apr 11, 2017
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That Time I Danced in a Competition

I collapsed under friendly peer pressure and danced in a Spotlight Dance Cup Regional competition last weekend…on a stage…with an audience and judges. Gulp. It all started last summer when I took an adult ballet class to better understand my daughter and her passion for dance. I heard rumors that our studio director wanted to do a moms and dads dance for this season. Not happening. I enjoyed class but was not going on stage. I repeat, I was not... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Badlands National Park
By     |    Apr 3, 2017
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Take a Trip: Badlands National Park

We visited Badlands National Park for the fourth time this weekend. After several friends mentioned not knowing about the park, which is four hours from our home, I thought it needed some love. Our first three visits to the park were in the summer months when it’s crowded and hot. A spring visit was much more to our liking. There were no crowds. We didn’t have to circle around for a parking spot at the visitor center or any trailhead.... [Read More]

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Joy in a Staycation
By     |    Mar 27, 2017
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Joy in a Staycation

My preference is to leave town whenever possible. I like to explore and discover new places. We’re on a staycation this spring break, and I was dreading it. I longed to spend our five school-free weekdays somewhere other than here. We’re stockpiling vacation days for an upcoming summer road trip, so home is where we are for the week. Technically we have small getaways planned for the weekends buffering spring break week and a small excursion mid-week. We’re only partially on... [Read More]

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The Thing About Grief
By     |    Mar 24, 2017
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The Thing About Grief

I picked up our 8th grader from school on Wednesday expecting our normal post-school conversation. The script goes something like this: I ask him to tell me something about his day. He tells me about some meme someone showed him at lunch. I either laugh, or don’t get it and he laughs. He’ll run through his homework list and pick a few small things to discuss. Thus concludes the recap with further items thrown in at random times throughout the... [Read More]

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If Only There Was a Parenting Guidebook
By     |    Mar 22, 2017
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If Only There Was a Parenting Guidebook

This morning my youngest son asked what the hardest part is of parenting. It took me a few minutes to decide. Not being able to fix heartbreak. Not being able to fix injuries. Watching time slip through my fingers. Making sure everyone feels listened to and treated fairly. All possible answers. The one I gave him: there’s no guidebook. Sure there are plenty of books on parenting. I remember with our oldest flipping through “What to Expect the First Year”... [Read More]

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That Time Elton John Saved My Sanity
By     |    Mar 16, 2017
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That Time Elton John Saved My Sanity

I know I sound melodramatic, but Elton John may have saved my sanity. We’re awful at setting time aside for just the two of us. We have dinner dates at home after kids are in bed with takeout and a movie but are pros at having a litany of excuses for not leaving the house on dates. There’s not enough time. There are other ways to spend money. Quite frankly, we’re tired. Craig enters contests regularly and has won some... [Read More]

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Genius Hour and Growing Lifelong Learners
By     |    Mar 6, 2017
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Genius Hour and Growing Lifelong Learners

I want my kids to love learning for the sake of learning and to hunger for knowledge. School projects that actively enforce those principles  are my favorite. Genius Hour is a prime example. The idea behind Genius Hour has been utilized in corporations to increase productivity. Employees are given a set amount of time each week to work on pet projects in their field. Google has seen success with this route. Gmail anyone? I’m more motivated to apply myself to... [Read More]

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40
By     |    Feb 20, 2017
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40

Forty years…that seems like a lot of life and yet not much at all. I won’t shed tears over this milestone. I’ve been celebrating this birthday since last month when we visited California. We spent my birthday weekend snowshoeing in Grand Teton National Park. I said goodbye to my 30s and hello to this new decade with multiple adventures. Growing older has taught me to make experiences happen, and I’m abundantly grateful to have another year of living written in... [Read More]

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Different Side of Las Vegas: Valley of Fire State Park
By     |    Feb 12, 2017
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Different Side of Las Vegas: Valley of Fire State Park

Quite a few people in our circle of friends will be spending Spring Break in Las Vegas. I’ve replied to a few inquiries about family-friendly ideas in Vegas on the cheap and outdoor activities that don’t include sitting poolside. We’ve been through Las Vegas numerous times one our way to and from other adventures like Disneyland, Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park. My go-to suggestion for people staying in Vegas who want an outdoor adventure is Valley... [Read More]

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Sometimes Life is That Cliché
By     |    Feb 3, 2017
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Sometimes Life is That Cliché

If there’s one thing I know about parenting, it’s that children grow up too fast. I know. I know. It’s the epitome of cliché, but also heartrendingly true. Our oldest will be a freshman next year and will register for high school classes this month. I’m sentimental, sometimes to a fault. The email confirming his placement in high school seemed surreal. It surely belonged in someone’s else inbox. I can’t possibly have a teenager in high school. I’m too young,... [Read More]

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