Freedom to Art

Freedom to Art - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Always at this time of year, I start to freak out about summer. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love summers with my monkeys and the freedom of not having a schedule. But school vacation weeks are a good reminder that you need to plan ahead to keep kids busy so everyone stays sane. Am I right?

We usually line up a few camps to break up the summer months. I find it difficult to plan too far in advance…especially for camps that require early sign ups. I’ve set my alarm for midnight to sign up for camp one November a few years back, and then there was the time we waited in line at 6 am on a Saturday morning in February. No more of that insanity!

For me, springtime is the perfect time to plan for summer. Sometimes kids don’t even know what they want to do this early, and I’m not about to make that decision for them — especially now that they’re older.

Bean recently declared that she’ll die without art lessons. She’s getting so dramatic! Obviously art camp is a no-brainer. The monkeys went to Sally Lannan’s Freedom to Art camp last summer, and have continued weekly after school lessons since September. In fact, it’s their favorite activity!

It’s been incredible to see Bean and Sweet Pea's art skills progress and blossom this year.

It’s been incredible to see Bean and Sweet Pea’s art skills progress and blossom this year.

We love the nurturing home environment that Sally provides. It’s the perfect space for young artists to thrive and get messy. And it’s not my house getting messy (you know how I hate glitter). It’s so important to me that the monkeys have a place where it’s okay to be messy and really get into a creative project.

Art is such a pure way to express yourself. I truly believe that self expression through art helps kids discover themselves. I’ve been impressed with the variety of mediums the monkeys have access to during their art lessons at Freedom to Art: natural molding clay, watercolor, artist chalk, oil pastel, acrylic, colored pencil, collage, charcoal, and pencil sketch. There’s usually enough time for kids to work on a project plus free time to explore what they’re most into. It provides the opportunity for them to become more confident and grow as artists.

I love how art camp gives kids a break from the summer heat while letting their creativity flow. If you’re local, check out Freedom to Art. Sally has space in the after school lessons as well as summer art camps. On the South Shore of MA, check out Art Around the World Camp with my friend Kelly Burke. In Stowe, the Helen Day Art Center has an impressive listing of camps for the summer as well — including a Fashion Design camp where Bean will redesign old clothes into new outfits.

When you find gems like these, you have to spread the word!

What are your summer plans? What kinds of camps have your kids loved?

School Is Out!

School's Out - Under the Monkey Bars

Original artwork by Sweet Pea :)

Today is the last day of school for Bean and Sweet Pea. The weeks leading up to today have been busy with so much excitement and a touch of anxiety painted in between. My monkeys tend to fight more in June. Always have. It’s such an action-packed, transitional month. But today, school’s out!

Today our summer begins. This is the very first summer since my monkeys were babies that I have not booked a single solitary camp before school ended. I did not stay up until midnight on a Tuesday in November or wait in a line at 6am on a Saturday in February. I did nothing. And it felt both fantastic and scary as hell.

I absolutely love having my girls home with me. I love the lazy days. I love the extra cuddles. I love slowing down and just being together.

But there’s always that, “Will they drive me crazy?” And that, “Will they ever stop bickering?” And that, “Will I ever exercise again?!?” Never mind trying to get something done on my To Do List. Gone!

I might sign them up for an art class or a few yoga classes. But what I really want to sign up for is day after day of empty calendar boxes. Days of staying in our pjs all day. Days of walking to the playground or to get ice lollies. Days that we can take a day trip or go to a museum. Beach days! Days to be together. Because these days and years are flying by, and I’m going to slow them down.

So today, school is out. But me and the monkeys, we’re in.

Who’s with me?