Oh, boy, it’s that time of year again. Many of us parents and guardians have been working through our checklists, buying new shoes for our kids (who’ve been barefoot or in sandals all summer), and picking out fall clothes for kids who’ve sprouted since June. We’re smoothing the path as much as we’re able, sometimes stopping by the school beforehand for trial runs, figuring out the bus schedule and aftercare, or maybe counting down the days until school starts again.
If you’re from Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti, babywearing is delightfully ubiquitous, and so I’ll assume you’re on board with the idea of combining backpacks and babies. Come along on a fantastic hike around our babywearing culture in this mecca for babywearing folks and activities. Babywearing, or carrying babies in slings on your body instead of in strollers, has had a resurgence in popularity in the last decade, as attachment parenting has gone mainstream. According to Allison Valerio of Ann Arbor Babywearers, which meets in Ypsilanti, the last four years in particular has seen an explosion of new babywearing gear on the market, aimed at parents looking for more choices for baby gear even up into toddler-sized baby slings.
Last spring I heard Aaron Dworkin, violinist and former Dean of the U-M School of Music, Theater & Dance, speak at a leadership workshop at Zingerman’s Roadhouse. He expressed the best part of playing in a group/ensemble as a child was that he felt like he was ‘included’ for the first time in his life. Prior to this, he didn’t know anyone else like him and he lacked a sense of ‘belonging.’ He inspired me to investigate further. I wanted to hear from Ann Arbor students and teachers about their experience playing music in collaboration with others and what it means to them.
We have all read articles touting the positive effects of music on brain development, and seen the studies that show music can improve test scores and academic performance in children. What isn’t written about so much are the social and emotional benefits of music.
It was clear to me that our family was “different” when it was the Ohio Michigan game, and instead of tailgating, we were all home watching a documentary of the history of jazz in America. At intermission, our dog ran figure eights around the multiple music stands and instruments that were scattered about the living room floor. Why the living room, you ask? There is no basement in our house. We like to think that by allowing kids to play in wide open spaces, it makes the whole house vibrate to some higher frequency.
When was the last time you pushed your edge in public? Or really connected with your kids learning a new activity together? How often does your tween or teen get excited to turn off the video game and go somewhere and be active? Have you ever wished your son or daughter felt a sense of belonging in a community of peers outside of home or school?
On a bitter cold and rainy day in late April, my husband and I were inspired to do our annual trek to HillTop Greenhouse and Farms to plot this year’s garden and bask in the warmth and stunning visuals contained within the expansive space.
Ten years ago, I lucked into a career in the arts. I say “lucked into” because there are loads of other qualified, experienced, arts-loving, ambitious people trying do exactly what I’m doing. The field is competitive; hundreds of people submit their candidacy for a single part-time opening at some of the organizations I've worked with.
CWJ Kids — Music and Movement for the Very Young: Gari Stein Adds “Baby and You” Class to Her Offerings By Nieka Apell
Many Ann Arborites are familiar with the name Gari Stein and her acclaimed music classes and curricula for children. What families with young children may not be aware of, however, are her group classes for babies as young as three months old with their caregivers.
CWJ Kids — Nuzzle! Cuddle! Cram! Best Comics for Kids from the Nerdiest Family Alive by Truly Render
I’m raising a nerd. Academic nerdom is totally supported but ultimately my daughter’s prerogative, but in terms of familial and cultural indoctrination, Lila has been knee deep in comics since birth.
By Catherine Fischer
Our children are good! They are inherently generous, sharing, and cooperative. You’ve probably enjoyed seeing your children share and take turns easily when they are feeling relaxed and connected. You have seen how very sweet and tender they can be.