Music for Children: Symphony and Pop Punk

There are so many great quotes about music and what it adds to life, but there are a couple I think of when I think of my responsibility to teach my children about music.

  1. Teaching music to children is the most important thing in life, next to parenting, that a person can do. -Jean Asworth Bartle


2. If children are not introduced to music at an early age, I believe something fundamental is actually being taken away from them. -Luciano Pavarotti

I take this to heart! That being said, it was our privilege and pleasure to take our kids to the symphony in Forest Park a couple weeks ago. They always do a free concert in Forest Park to kick off their season. It usually has tastes of what they will offer that year. I highly recommend! We take a picnic and make a night of it. I have done it with my kids for several years. They didn’t have it last year due to COVID, so we were even more grateful to be there the other night.

They ended the very fun and exciting show with a fireworks display over the Grand Basin, which my children loved! If you’re worried about it being a weeknight, the show only lasted a little over an hour. If you park strategically, this is not a late evening at all.

We also had the opportunity to introduce our children to LIVE pop punk music at the New Found Glory show at the Factory in Chesterfield.

I was really excited about this. We have listened to this music as a family, but the kids have never actually been to a rock show like this. Experiencing it live like this is a totally different deal.

New Found Glory toured with Less Than Jake, who I haven’t seen live since like 2003. I have seen New Found Glory live well over 20 times. I have traveled to see them. They are very fun live. Less Than Jake was REALLY lively and fun as well!

The kids loved this even more than I thought they would. They both caught guitar picks and just had a blast. Nick told me it was the first day of the rest of his life. I felt that same way after my first punk show too. 🙂

I hope to keep exposing them to lots of different things the world has to offer, and I do consider it my duty to help them learn how to make, listen to, and love music.

Tie Dye Tuesday: Boo Edition

We went camping a few weeks ago, and in preparation for spooky season, we did some spooky reverse dye shirts!

They were super easy and really fun to make. I got black t-shirts from Walmart for a buck each on clearance- woo hoo. Then we hit the dollar tree and picked up some wood outlines in Halloween shapes. You can find these with their craft supplies. I guess they are meant to paint. Then we took a spray bottle and filled it with some bleach and water. The ratio was about 2/3 bleach, one third water.

We had the kids design their shirts with the wood pieces and spray with the bleach mixture. The kids experimented with a fine mist and a more splash-like spray. I find the fine mist around the border of the shape gives you a more defined outline, and then we added splashes. Some of us more than others. I think it looks cool! But others in my family prefered the more uniform fine spray look. In the end, it all works and it’s your preference!

Typically, if you’re reverse dying, you’d want to then soak in a hydrogen peroxide/water solution. But we were not adding more color to it, so we rinsed in water and moved on with our lives.

Above is what it looked like at first. We then hung them to dry and voila- beautiful spooky shirts!

If your shirt is not 100% cotton, you may have some variety in the color of your bleach. It may lift more gray than orange. STILL REALLY COOL THOUGH.

Even my parents got in on the fun!

All in all, really easy and really fun dye project that anybody can do.


Washington State Park

A couple weeks ago, we visited the delightful Washington State Park. We have visited there to hike before, but I haven’t camped there maybe ever or at least since I was like ten.

We went with my parents, which means we bring our tent and they bring their camper. Which means my oldest son and my girl child sleep in the AC while my youngest and my stepson sleep in the tent with us- by choice!

Washington State Park is not in Washington state and it’s not in Washington, MO. It’s in Washington COUNTY, Missouri between De Soto and Potosi off 21. It’s a very easy and close drive to St. Louis, but you feel like you’re a world away. Typically we go much further away to camp, so this was kind of nice.

The big draw to Washington State Park was the pool. Well guess what. They closed the pool the week before. Okay, but there are lots of other cool things to do here! There are some really cool hiking trails such as the 1000 Steps Trail, there are swimming and fishing and floating opportunities on the Big River, there are petroglyphs to view, and beautiful stone structures built by the African American Civil Conservation Corps nearly a hundred years ago.

Despite all that Washington State Park has to offer, Nick was disappointed to find out on the way there that we were not visiting his beloved Current River. He ended up having a good time, but not before some initial heartache.

The campground was very nice, but was not near anything cool. There was a playground there for the kids, and we did a lot of scootering around at the campground.

I was really excited to get my dad out to do the short walk to the petroglyphs with all of us. It was very HOT, but my kids enjoyed seeing the petroglyphs. I swear, I have taken them here about twenty times, and every time they forget we were ever there and it’s like a whole new experience. They enjoyed the petroglyphs and exploring the rocky glade. These rocky glades are very typical in the Ozark landscape, especially in the St. Francois mountains. I love them. They are dramatic and beautiful.

Speaking of dramatic and beautiful, the hiking in Washington State Park offers amazing views of the surrounding hills and the Big River below. We also got to explore and see those stone structures.

The 1000 Steps Trail is a trail that was built by that same African American CCC Company. They built the trail and its many stone steps up the ridge, as well as stone shelters only accessible via the trail.

The trail is pretty rugged. It is about a mile and a half long, but it shares a trailhead and part of its trail with the Rockywood Trail, so you can easily spur off, which we did.

If you are going to bring small children- our smallest on this hike was four years old- I would recommend keeping a close eye on them. It is very uneven and steep both up and down, and you are going down alongside of a steep ridge.

We began at the trailhead by Thunderbird Lodge. We went along and then straight up the hill via some of those stone steps. We went early in the morning, but it was going to be a hot August day, so lots of water breaks. The stone shelter along the way was perfect for a magical little break. The kids loved the idea that these steps and shelter were built so long ago.

Now when I say steps, it’s not like stairs. It’s large flat stones that were laid in the 1930s. So many of them are broken, and much of the trail is not steps at all. So don’t expect a staircase, because it is not.

The stone shelter is not the top, but it’s close. We continued to the very top where we hung out at a very pretty shelter with a fireplace that looks great for a family gathering. Then we continued on along the top of the ridge. Then it was time to descend.

Going down is always harder than going up. It takes more concentration and can be more physically demanding, even though going up might feel more difficult. This is the part I supervised Jimmy on the most.

We made it! The older three kept talking about how much they LOVED this trail, especially Lucy. I think they enjoyed the challenge of it and the beauty. It does feel like a magical forest.

We then walked all the way along the bottom of the ridge not far from the river back to our car. I was proud of these buddies!

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw the terrible faces of Jimmy throughout the hike. I take pictures pretty quickly on these hikes and don’t necessarily pay attention- I just kind of hope for the best. Anyway, hilariously, I got about eight pictures of Jimmy looking decidedly unhappy this particular day. He had moments of joy as well, but it was funny looking back at those pics.

Later that afternoon, we took them swimming in the river. There were plenty of people there, but it wasn’t crowded. We had lots of space. Closer to dinnertime, several groups were taking out a bit upstream from their floats.

This beach area is mostly rocks and sand. The river is very shallow here- the kids could walk across easily and not even be waist deep. There is rock and then the other side is a tall bank of dirt, which Nick enjoyed making into mud and getting exceptionally dirty. You can count on him for that! 🙂

The kids really enjoyed the beach time. And so did we! I love sitting my camp chair in the water and hanging out- don’t you??

We then returned to camp for dinner, fire, and s’mores. Early bedtime because everyone was beat!

We had a great weekend at Washington State Park and will definitely visit again.

Watercolor Wednesday: Rainbow Parrot

Last week for watercolor Wednesday, I let Rami choose a project.  He chose the Rainbow Parrot project by Let’s Make Art.  Let’s Make Art is an ah-mazing company that offers subscription boxes of art supplies and projects.  They have a YouTube channel with tons of FREE tutorials for watercolor, art journaling, lettering, and kids’ art!  They have all different levels of ability, and I highly recommend them.

Anyway.  More about them next week though.  

So the best thing about these rainbow parrots is that we get to use the straw blowing technique- I’m pretty sure that’s the technical name, ha ha.  I have used this on a few projects with the kids, and it is something they always really enjoy.  I mean, who doesn’t?  Word of warning- if you have a very concrete thinking child, they might not enjoy the unpredictability of the paint blowing.  Just frontload for them, telling them about the process and that it is very loose and it is fun to see where the colors may blow and how they may mix!  Keep it positive, and they will really enjoy it.

We were unable to trace the outline, so we free handed it.  I actually think the kids really enjoyed this aspect of it.  You will notice that Nick doesn’t always participate.  He was really excited about this project for some reason and got super into it.  That was fun!  Lucy, who is usually very amped about Watercolor Wednesday chose not to participate in this project, but she did hang out with us.  She wanted to learn how to draw a ferret.  She had a very, very hard time with it and got really frustrated.  I was so proud of her because she was able to say her feelings, and even though she said she was going to quit multiple times, she never actually did.  She ended up with a ferret she was very proud of!  

Jimmy painted along with us too, though he didn’t quite grasp the straw part despite many attempts at helping him.  🙂

Fun project!  Thanks, Let’s Make Art!

Find the Rainbow Parrot Tutorial on Let’s Make Art’s YouTube channel!

Grand Ole Opry

We were supposed to go to a music festival on our recent Carolinas trip.  It ended up not happening (dang it, COVID), so I found a different musical experience for the kids.  On the way home, we spent a night in Nashville.  In the morning, we toured the Grand Ole Opry!  

You are familiar with hearing this from me at this point, but I wasn’t sure if the kids would be interested in this or like it.  I wasn’t sure how engaging a tour of a theater would be, especially to young people who don’t have a historical context for it.  However, Nick is the self-proclaimed biggest Dolly Parton fan ever and Lucy dreams of being a singer, and I know a guy who could help us out, so on a wish and a prayer, we went to the Grand Ole Opry for our early tour.

It was incredible. I cried multiple times.  All the kids freaking loved it.  My girl realized her dream of being on stage at the Grand Ole Opry!  

We stood outside the theater for a little while because we were early and on the first tour of the day.  The tour guide greeted us.  She was very enthusiastic and friendly, very knowledgeable, and I was very impressed with her.  Our children were the only children on the tour lol.  

The tour began with a video which Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood “host.”  It was an immersive experience, and the set up of the room made it feel very intimate.  This is when the tears began for the day- hah!  This was a great orientation video and helped the kids understand more about the history and significance of the Grand Ole Opry.  

We got to tour the stage where they filmed Hee Haw, all the beautiful dressing rooms and the “living room,” and backstage… everywhere we went, the tour guide shared really great stories.  At one point she asked if anybody had any questions, and Nick raised his hand.  She goes, you have a question?  He said, no I have a statement.  I was thinking, oh man… Then he says, I just want to say that Dolly Parton is the most magnificent singer of all time.  And of course, everybody in the place started clapping and cheering in agreement!  Hah!  So after that, everybody loved Nick of course.  

The last place we went was backstage which ultimately led to the stage.  They really set this up nicely, so you felt deep reverence for the stage itself.  Each person had a chance to stand on stage and visit the “circle.”  They have a circle of wood from the original stage of the original theater where the Grand Ole Opry was live on air that is laid into the floor of the current theater where they have performed since 1974.  This was the best part of the tour for sure.

Lucy was very excited to visit- she had been talking about it for a while.  She went first, all by herself.  She held the microphone, but she did not sing.  🙂  They took a wonderful photo of her.  Then we all went out.  Nick took a chance and did it by himself as well.  It was a beautiful moment!

We then walked up to the back of the theater for another lovely view of the stage, then exited through the gift shop of course where I snuck a couple of gift purchases for the kids.  

All in all, once again, another experience I wasn’t sure about, but that the kids (and we) loved!!