Just as teens are leaving the blogosphere for Twitter, I’m showing my age by becoming involved in another blog, over at St. Louis Kids Magazine. (Go check it out — and leave some comments, because it’ll be featured on Great Day St. Louis next week and I want it to look fabulous!)  I post there occasionally but edit daily, which is why this blog’s been getting short shrift lately. Plus we’ve been out and about to all the usual sports practices and school meetings and such. But we did find time for some springtime fun last week, planting seeds for the new community garden on Cherokee at Ohio. One of the garden’s sponsors, The Community Arts and Media Project, kindly allowed about a dozen of us to track potting soil all over the floor, and no one batted an eye when the bomb-making started off toward the back.

Seed bombs, that is — I’ve written about them before, the globs of dry clay and dirt and wildflower seeds with a little water to hold them all together. You make them, let them dry out a little, then toss them anywhere that needs a dose of color.  This time of year in St. Louis, it’s hard to remember a corner of the city that hasn’t always been gray and dreary!

Our guerilla gardening endeavor was such a hit with the boys that they’re all excited for the next event at CAMP. Poor M. would be disappointed to know that his choir concert will preclude the possibility of his attending CAMP’s bookmaking event on Sunday (Mar. 7) from 2 to 4 p.m.   So please, if you see him, don’t spill the beans. Ages 5 to 15 are welcome, and you can either bring a monetary donation or supplies of your own — anything that can be bound together. RSVPs are appreciated but not required, at lalarky@gmail.com or 314.773.1391.


The next Stages St. Louis storytelling session happens Wednesday (Feb. 3) with an appropriate book: 1*2*3 Valentine’s Day. If you’d like to bring your preschooler or early elementary student to see the 45-minute interactive Stories @ Stages performance and drama opportunity, you need to sign up in advance by calling 636.530.5959 or e-mailing your name, phone number (in case of inclement weather), the number of people attending and the date and time (either 10:15 a.m. or 1:15 p.m.)

The first Wednesday of each month through May brings a new story at the Stages Performing Arts Academy in Chesterfield. Remaining dates are listed on the homepage.

If you can’t make it to the Stages story time, here are a couple of other good options for somewhat out-of-the-ordinary readings:

  • Stories in the Greenhouse at The Green Center, for nature stories illuminated by sunset and, later on, candlelight in the Geodome. The next one is Sunday (Feb. 7) from 6:30-7:30 p.m.; others are Feb. 21 and 28. All ages are welcome, and there’s a nominal $2 per-person fee. To sign up in advance (required), call 314-725-8314 x105.
  • The Teachers’ Lounge in South County has themed half-hour sessions, Mondays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m., with activities focused on early literacy skills for ages 2 to 6. To sign up (recommended), click the link on the calendar for the date you’ll be attending or call 314-894-7000.

This week’s theme at The Teachers’ Lounge is Groundhog Day, and I’m truly hoping those little critters across the country give us the “spring is near” omen.  I’m ready for it!

The Saint Louis Art Museum is celebrating its expansion with a special offering for families tomorrow (Jan. 24). From 1 to 4 p.m., kids can come up with their own models, inspired by the one that’s actually going to be built. There are also two interactive tours — at 2 and 3 p.m. — taking families on an exploration of the current museum’s architecture and talking about what the new museum will look like when it’s complete in two years.

I could tell you about the eagle-watching events going on for the next few weeks, but I’ve been out there when it’s cold and windy, and trust me, it’s no place to enjoy nature with your kids! Experience nature, yes. Enjoy nature, not so much. Instead I’m going to pop culture route, suggesting you warm up at Wehrenberg Theatres’ HIT entertainment every Saturday at 11 a.m. This month’s feature is a little-kid-friendly showing of Thomas and Friends: Thomas and the Runaway Kite.

Check the homepage to find out which eight cinemas are participating. Adult tickets are $5; kids 1 and under are free.

This is a nice weekend alternative to the cry-baby matinees during the week — and it’s early enough so as not to interfere with naptime!

A couple of weeks ago we went to the Saint Louis Symphony’s Family Concert Series. A major portion of the hour-long program was dedicated to The Nutcracker Suite, as befits the season. Dancers performed short interpretations of the various pieces, which caught S.’s attention, but M. was more about the music. Ever since, we’ve had the CD on heavy rotation in the living room. It was a reminder to me that music I take somewhat for granted might be new to the kids, and there’s something special about seeing my old favorites through their young eyes (or ears, in this case).

Thus one of the many event e-mails bombarding me this week caught my attention. It was from the Town and Country Symphony Orchestra, which performs a free Sunday afternoon (Dec. 13) concert at 2:30 p.m. in the Ridgway Auditorium on the Principia campus. Specifically, I saw that Sleigh Ride was on the program. There’s plenty of other classic holiday music too, if slower songs are more your style, but I do like the pep of Sleigh Ride.

If the holiday season’s too busy, check out the Town and Country Symphony’s other free shows, in January, February, March and May.

Cans Film Festival (Dec. 5)

November 30, 2009

This coming weekend is jam-packed with holiday activities, but if you can squeeze in one more tradition to your busy calendar, it should be the 2009 Cans Film Festival at Wehrenberg Theatres. On Saturday (Dec. 5) the chain is helping stock the Salvation Army food pantries by accepting a donation of five or more cans in exchange for a free movie ticket to a matinee show (before 5 p.m.). Those who bring an additional 10 cans (15 total) will get a voucher that can be redeemed for a movie on a future visit to one of Wehrenberg’s cinemas.

It’s not a bad idea to arrive plenty early for whatever show you choose. And it’s also not a bad idea to choose 2012 instead of the sure-to-be-sold-out New Moon.  Actually, I paid to see 2012 on one of my rare movie nights, and it was pretty entertaining. instead of



I’m home on this rainy Monday with a sick kid — it seems like a perfect time to recommend the resource Lit2Go: Audio Files for K-12 in iTunes. It’s broken out by ages, with mostly children’s poetry (from the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson) and nursery rhymes in the kindergarten section, and more scholarly stuff — lectures like spherical trigonometry or the text of Silas Marner — for older kids. Everything’s in MP3 format and is free to download.

If you have a St. Louis Public Library card, you can also download free audiobooks, songs and videos via GetItNow. First-time users are guided painlessly through the process, and the site is detailed as to what devices are compatible with each title. The lending period is typically seven days, after which time the download is no longer accessible — so no late fee, virtual or otherwise.

‘Tis the season when I start avoiding malls. Except this coming Saturday (Nov. 14), when I have to bring M. to Plaza Frontenac so he and the rest of his Music Makers from the St. Louis Children’s Choirs can serenade shoppers from 11 to 11:30 a.m. I’m curious if they’ll do their holiday songs — but probably they will, as Santa will already have made his official entrance over at St. Louis Mills Mall the day before (Nov. 13). Yes, you read that right — Santa comes on NOVEMBER 13!!!! You can hardly bash the event, a fundraiser/tree lighting for the Salvation Army, but it’s two weeks before Thanksgiving, for crying out loud.

So if you’re already in the mood for Santa (and S. is — he asked yesterday, as we were taking down the Halloween decoration, why we couldn’t put up the Christmas tree), you can see him Friday at 4:30 p.m. near the play area. There’ll be door prizes, cookies and hot chocolate, and a holiday show by The Muny Kids.

But naturally Saturday’s show will be better, because M. is in it! It’s also tied to a nonprofit — the Arts and Education Council’s St. Louis on Sale event — and the organization’s card-carrying members receive 20 percent discounts at certain shops over the course of nine days.  Membership is $50, and depending on how much shopping you plan to do (and not all the shops are in malls, incidentally) joining could be worth your while.  And it’s for a good cause: The council supports dozens and dozens of arts groups (St. Louis Children’s Choirs among them) with grants of various amounts.

Is anyone else out there avoiding kiddie attractions lately? Much as we love them, we are. I just can’t bring myself to risk the contagions. There’s only been one confirmed case of H1N1 affecting a child we know, but she got really sick … so we’re staying home more than usual. Jupming in leavesIt’s a good excuse to bake Christmas cookies. And to jump in leaves.

And when we do go out, it’s to places where there aren’t a lot of interactions or shared toys. So today’s recommendation is for the Family Movie Day at the Missouri History Museum. At 2:30 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 7), you’ll be able to see Aladin for free in Lee Auditorium. Beforehand, from noon on, there’s a craft-and-storytelling workshop (the story is at 1 p.m.), and of course you can break out the hand sanitizer and venture into the special exhibit, Treasure!, which the museum’s hosting until Jan. 3, 2010. For details about the day’s events, visit this link.

And stay healthy, everyone!Throwing leaves

Tailgating at yesterday’s Rams-Vikings game was an absolute blast — I had fond memories of such Sunday mornings in the pre-kids days, but this was the first time we accepted the challenging of bringing them along, and they did us proud. M. wanted his photo taken with the craziest Vikings fans he could find — good thing for him the place was crawling with ’em! — and S. held off his nap until the start of the fourth quarter, when the game was all but over for the Rams anyway.

Football and jack-o-lantern eggs for tailgating

M. and I made up the menu together, and I have to give him credit for the best dyed egg idea I’ve seen in a long time: footballs and pumpkins. They were so cute that both boys actu ally ATE the eggs at the tailgate party. That would have never happened at home — in fact, when I tried to replicate the feat again this morning with the leftover eggs, they were like, “Don’t think so, Mom!”

It felt like a perfect way to kick off fall and officially start focusing more on indoor events, starting with a Paint-By-Numbers event I’ve written about in the past but that’s still among my favorites. The fundraiser for SCOSAG, the arts center for kids in Tower Grove Park, is Friday (Oct. 16) at Mad Art Gallery in Soulard. This year they’re shooting to make the biggest paint-by-numbers mural in Missouri. I can’t tell you what the picture will be, but you can see past murals here.

Tickets ($5 for adults, $3 for kids 12 and under) can be purchased in advance at SCOSAG or Mad Art Gallery, but we’ve had good luck simply purchasing them at the door. We typically go when it opens at 6 p.m. and pack up around bedtime, when things are starting to get a little rowdier anyway.  There’s a cash bar, but snacks and live music are free with the price of admission.