Summer Sounds at the Hollywood Bowl

O: I want to go to the Huntington Bowl and hear the music. 

This is late in coming, but if you have littles and are in the LA area you have six more chances to go. These world music concerts are fun, engaging for kids as young as two, and a great way to spend a summer day. They take place in a smaller space adjacent to the Bowl and are very thoughtfully done. This year we have heard Indian music and West African music.

You can usually get tickets at the box office the day of, so you can skip the online processing fee, and parking is free. Your ticket includes a craft related to the music and the performers, ushers, and art staff are all really friendly and happy to be there. We usually bring a picnic and eat on the grass by the box office when we are done. 

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We have so much fun, I always forget to take pictures. 

We have so much fun, I always forget to take pictures. 

The Hollywood Bowl is a magical place. Its history sings and I just like being there. Summer is wrapping up. Let's soak in the city as much as we can. Let's stay up late and watch the stars. Let's eat fro-yo for dinner. Let's go to the Hollywood Bowl. Maybe I'll see you there next week for Latin Jazz. 

A Museum, a Park, a Beach, Repeat

O: Momma, are we starting the day, or ending the day, or in the middle of the day?

I love summer, or at least I used to, when I was a kid. As I trudged into adulthood it has started to mean less and less. Sure, it is warmer and it is light later into the evening, but gone is that free feeling of having nothing to do, nowhere to be. I no longer live in my swimsuit, my hair in an eternal matted pony tail. 

But here we are, at the beginning of O's second summer off from pre-school, and somehow, that tingly summer feeling is returning. This week I rolled down a hill, swam in the ocean, and ate ice cream for dinner. Our bathing suits are living on the line outside and haven't been fully dry all week. In a few days, we are going camping. We will return home, exhausted and that first post-camping bath will leave a dirt ring around the tub as satisfying as the trip itself. Summer is a time to be dirty, to roll in the sand, to eat cherries until your fingertips are stained red, to lay in the dirt on your belly and look for bugs, to lay in the grass on your back and watch the clouds. I'm ready. I suppose, if O and P want to join in, they are invited too. 

This summer, my recipe is this: a museum, a park, a beach, repeat. Every week, we are going to attempt those three things. That should leave plenty of time for cloud gazing, getting dirty, and cherry eating too. 

Grand Plans

O: Mooooom, slow down. You walk too fast. Why do we always have somewhere to be?

Summer is nearly upon us and I was making grand plans.

I have a tendency to make grand plans, aspirational, over-reaching plans. I love schedules, lists and graphs, but I don't alway love following them. Sitting with a lined legal pad, a sharpened pencil, a cup of coffee and a world of possibilities is one of my favorite things. Everything feels possible from that place. I like possible.  

A friend shared her goals for the summer with me, and it got me thinking about how I set goals and measure my own success at reaching them. I will usually set a detailed (no joke: like by the hour) schedule and attempt to follow it and as soon as I miss one bench mark or time stamp, I will chuck the entire thing out the window, because my perfect plan has been sullied and is no longer viable.  We will then proceed to spend the entire day in our pajamas, watching Frozen on a loop and counting the minutes until bedtime.  

Photo Credit: O Felton

Photo Credit: O Felton

My friend's goals didn't need a time stamp or bench marks.  They were big-picture goals about what she wanted for herself and her children. They were attainable, reasonable, and exciting. My list-making mind instantly saw the smaller steps that they needed to be dissected into, but the goals themselves were beautiful in their simplicity and focus: one for her alone-a commitment to her own physical health, one for her family-embarking on a creative project on behalf of her daughter that she would share with her husband, and one for her kids-to spend as much time as possible exploring our beautiful city.  These clean, lovely goals instantly made me realize my own lack of focus, in spite of my color-coded graphs and charts.

So, following the rubric of my dear, and very wise friend, here are my summer goals:  (I am not sure I will be able to resist the compulsion to schedule, graph and color code, but if I am at least working from a big-picture place, perhaps that will help.)

1. A goal for me: I want to begin making relationships with theaters closer to home. There is a lot of theatre in Los Angeles and I need to start putting in the time and energy to make relationships there, so that I can do more than one show a year and not kill myself with the Long Beach commute. 

2. A goal for my family: A move away from our beloved screens. Frozen and Curious George have become a huge presence in our house over the past few months, and I am not apologizing for it, but I am excited to see a lot less TV time. As for Jim and me, we have both made a commitment to be more present and less plugged in this summer. We've been looking here for that inspiration and support: The Hands Free Mama.

3. A goal for O and P: Spend as much time outside as possible, recognizing that our adventures don't have to be grand in order to be exhilarating.

It is a place to start.  I will still use my giant blackboard wall calendar in my kitchen. I will still draw out schedules on those legal pads. I'm not sure I know how to stop myself, but I will also try to forgive when I fall short, to pick-up and carry on where we left off, instead of chucking my well-meaning plans out the window. 

I can't wait for summer. I am replacing my grand plans with trips to the beach, playdates, and days with no schedules, where I will say yes as much as possible, slow down, and try to quiet my own mind when P wants to spend twenty minutes talking to a leaf or O wants to take pictures of some flowers. I can't wait.