Operation Earthworm Rescue

My favorite rainy day activity:

First thing in the morning, I run up to the kids and exclaim, “The worms! They need our help!” Then run to the front door and throw my shoes on.

The kids invariably stampede with me out to the road, which, after any amount of spring rain, is invariably strewn with long lines of earthworms, many of them still slowly sliming their way across the pavement.

Willow and Landon immediately set to work transferring the wriggling (or sometimes, completely limp) earthworms from the road and sidewalk to the grassy field. I stand watch for traffic.

“We have to save them!”

“Before the cars come!”

“Before the birds see them!”

“They could drown! Worms are not good swimmers!”

It takes about 20 minutes to free the earthworms on our block from their rainy fates. Although, once you start it’s hard not to keep going. I once experienced a major warp in the time-space continuum as we were biking to school, stopping every few feet to move more worms out of the road. We must have saved a thousand worms that day. Yet somehow, we were not late to school.

I love it. I love that my kids want to help as many worms as possible, even knowing that they can’t possibly save them all. And knowing that they won’t get any kind of a reward for it. Not even a thank-you.

It’s important to know that no matter how small you are, there is always someone smaller you could help.

And besides, picking up big, slithery, slimy worms is fun.




Ice Cream for Breakfast. Why not?

Here’s a short list of desserts I’ve served my kids for breakfast:

Cake. Pie. Milkshakes.

What’s the difference between those and a donut? Nothing that I can see. Just this morning in the Missoulian newsroom we were talking about wanting chocolate for breakfast. Not even on anything. Just … chocolate.

One thing I’ve never served for the morning meal is straight-up ice cream. I guess you could count the milkshake, but that had a banana in it, just so you know.

There’s an opportunity to cross ice cream off the list of non-breakfast foods coming up on Sunday, Feb. 2. That’s the day the Children’s Museum Missoula and Families First is hosting its fourth annual Ice Cream for Breakfast event, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Billed as a “community-wide family fun event for a celebration of all things Ice Cream,” those who turn out will get to enjoy not only an ice cream buffet stocked with sundae toppings, but pancakes and bacon besides.

The thoughtful folks at Families First understand that all that sugar intake has to be burned off somehow, so they’re bringing in Mismo to offer some gymnastics and the Whizpops to offer some live music to dance to.

Or, practice keeping quiet and still while watching a family friendly movie in the little theater.

Thanks to the generosity of a host of sponsors, the even is free and open to all families.

Those sponsors are: The Wilma Theatre, Rocky Mountain Development Group, ZillaState, Mismo Gymnastics, The Whizpops, Black Coffee Roasting Company, Scotty’s Table, and Big Dipper Ice Cream.


It’s snowing!

At last, the snow is back! And not a moment too soon, either. School doesn’t start up again until Monday and the kids are going stir-crazy.

This is despite the fact that, over the last two weeks, we’ve gone swimming (a couple of times, actually), ice skating (also a couple of times), hiking, built an ice fort (which hasn’t melted to the ground yet, amazingly enough), enjoyed a day of First Night events and so on. We STILL are itching to get out of the house and go play in the snow.

Bring on the sledding and skiing and snowman-making!


This photo was taken this winter but LAST YEAR. Landon built this snow friend all by himself!

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Missoula kids can learn African Drum and dance

Over the weekend I got a note from Tracy Topp of the Drum Brothers and Djebe Bara letting me know she’s offering African drum and dance classes starting this Wednesday, Oct. 10.

The classes are for kids in grades 3-6, and will be held in two separate five-week series at the Barn Movement Studio across from Hawthorne School in Missoula, at 2926 S. 3rd St. W. One series will focus on hand drumming and the other series will be dedicated to dance.

The hand-drumming class will be Wednesdays from 5:30-6:15 p.m. Tracy says that “Students will learn the tones and techniques of West African hand drumming, beginning rhythms, and the fundamentals of rhythm awareness.” Extra drums will be available.

The West African dance classes will be Wednesdays from 6:30-7:15. Tracy explains that “African dance is an earthy, fun, and energetic dancing style that welcomes diverse body types and ability levels. This class will focus on rhythm awareness, balance, and body coordination. Students will learn a repertoire of basic dance steps, and begin to explore traditional West African dances.”

Children may come to classes alone or parents can stay. The cost for single child with or without parent observing is $50 for one five-week series. The cost for a child and parent taking a class together is $80 for the five-week series.

For more information or to sign up, call Tracy at 531-1609 or send an email to tracy@drumbrothers.com. You can also find more information on the Drum Brothers website at www.drumbrothers.com.

And for more information about Tracy Topp, a mom of two super cool boys, read this:

Tracy Topp started her dance training at an early age and has a background in ballet, tap, and jazz. She’s also a student of African, Middle Eastern, and modern dance. Tracy ‘s studied African dance with a number of teachers including Djeneba Sako, Mabiba Baenge, Manimou Camara, and Youssouf Koumbassa, and she’s been teaching African dance for over a decade. When she isn’t moving to the music, Tracy is often playing it. Her interest in African dance emerged from a love of African drumming. She’s been studying hand drumming for the last 14 years with her teacher and life partner, Matthew Marsolek. Tracy regularly performs with Missoula ’s Djebe Bara drum and dance ensemble and occasionally shares the stage with Drum Brothers. Since 2002, she’s been contributing her artistic talents to Drum Brothers with the manufacture of custom frame drums, jewelry, painted drums, and henna art.

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Free carousel rides in Missoula all day Saturday

Here’s the press release from A Carousel for Missoula:

Happy Birthday to the Carousel, Dragon Hollow AND YOU!

A Carousel for Missoula is celebrating its 17th birthday, and the 11th birthday of Dragon Hollow Playarea, by giving free rides to all this Saturday, May 26, from 11am to 7pm.

Each year, the Carousel gives free rides on Kids’ Day, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, to memorialize the wonderful gifts this community gave to itself by creating the Carousel and Dragon Hollow. The free rides are a thank you for the support and generosity enjoyed by these two community-built treasures.

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A Halloween party for mermaids, pirates and other water-lovers

My daughter likes to reach for the impossible. For her birthday recently, she asked for a swimming suit “with a real mermaid tail.” Uh huh. I’m still working on that one. Maybe I’ll have something figured out in time for Christmas.

In the meantime, Halloween is coming up and that means it’s time for costumes and parties. Wanna-be mermaids in particular won’t want to miss the upcoming “Splash-O-Ween” party at Currents – which will include a costume contest and other fun activities in addition to open swim.

It’s this Friday (!), Oct. 28, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The admission cost is $3 for all ages, with a dollar from each admission going to Share The Fun Youth Recreation Grants.

So support a good cause while also enjoying the company of Currents mascot Oscar the Otter (who will pull double duty as the costume contest judge), as well as a “Mad Scientist’s Lab” display, a greased pumpkin contest, musical inner tubes and a pumpkin relay.

Word is that the Crazy Creek Cafe from Splash Montana will also offer concessions for purchase.

For more information about the city’s aquatics programs or the “Splash-o-Ween” party, call 721-PARK.

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MT Natural History Center offers Halloween fun

OK, this may just be the coolest thing ever. Anna Rummel Tennenbaum, a toy maker, is offering a Woodland Fairy and Elf Costume Workshop through the Montana Natural History Center.

Get this: The workshop will teach kids and adults how to make their own “crowns, tiaras and accessories using natural materials found in the garden.” Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds awesome.

The cost is $5 to cover supplies, and child participants should probably be at least 8 years old. For more information call the history center at 327-0405.

You’ll want to sign up soon – Registration for the Thursday, Oct. 20 workshop closes at 5 p.m. this Monday, Oct. 17. The two-hour workshop will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Fort Missoula Native Plant Garden.

If you miss that one, though, there’s another fun activity coming up courtesy of the history center. On Oct. 29, from 2-3 p.m., the center will host a “Spiders” Saturday kids activity with the help of Animal Wonders.

Be forewarned: the activity includes live spiders. Kids ages 5 and older are welcome, and welcome to come in costume. The cost for this one is $5 too.

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Halloween bashes abound in Missoula

I’ve taken several running starts at trying to list all the Halloween events for children in Missoula this year, and so far haven’t been able to clear the hurdle.

There is just too much going on. Where do I even start?

One of my favorites is the annual Halloween Bash at the Families First Children’s Museum. It doubles as a fundraiser for the museum, and it’s now heading into its ninth year.

For only 5 bucks a person, kids and their families can enjoy five hours of Halloween-themed activities. This year’s bash will take place on Sunday, Oct. 30, from noon to 5 p.m.

Here’s an idea of what to expect: A ghouly ghost craft project, spooky story time with musicial guests “The Unknowns,” a creepy crawly show provided by Animal Wonders, a dissection demonstration by SpectrUM, freaky fishing, mummy mountain slide, a treasure dig, and of course games and a glow-in-the-dark dance room. And more.

Kids are encouraged to come in costume.

For more information about the bash or the Families First Children’s Museum, call 541-PLAY, email info@FamiliesFirstMontana.org, or come on down to the museum at 225 W. Front Street.

And for more information about local Halloween events, well, I’ll do my best to post them as I find out about them. But don’t wait on me! If you know about a particularly cool and kid-friendly Halloween party, go ahead and drop me a note or tell readers about it yourself in the comments.

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Superheroes added to annual Fairy Tale Festival

Another summer is flying by, and once again it’s jam-packed to the max. Last month, my sister married the love of her life in Hot Springs in a wedding ceremony that called for all the attendants to dress up in steampunk fashion.

Oh yeah.

My lucky little girl, being the flower girl, got to transform into a steampunk flower fairy.

So she’s all set, costume-wise, for this Sunday’s Fairy Tale and Super Hero Festival at A Carousel for Missoula, which invites kiddos to dress up and turn out for fun, games and ice cream. The festival will start at 1 p.m. and end at 3 p.m., so all the little fairies won’t have to be too careful about those delicate wings for too long.

And this year, for the first time in the festival’s three-year history, Missoula’s superheroes are specifically being called on to join in.

Here’s an idea of what these fairies and heroes can expect on Sunday, excerpted from the Missoulian today:

Children are encouraged to dress up as their favorite fairy yale or super hero character and join us for wand and crown decorating, storytelling, a tea party, photo opportunities with a throne and a unicorn, face painting by Wonderbrush, a meet-and-greet with Griz mascot Monte, the opportunity to meet a dragon, introductions on stage, a parade through the Sunday Market, and a dance party, all followed by ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery, tooth fairy bags from Missoula Pediatric Dentistry, balloons and coupons for free carousel rides.

Here’s the thing: While day-of registration begins at noon, it’s a good idea to register early. To do that, or for more info, visit www.carrousel.com or call 549-8382.

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Start your Mother’s Day early at the annual Mother’s Day Eve Bash in Missoula!

Sick of Mother’s Day stuff yet? Nah, neither am I.

I continue to dip my attention into the constant stream of Mother’s Day retail trends, and come back dripping with information like this:

How do consumers show their love and appreciation for mom? Typically it’s a nice brunch, some flowers or maybe a homemade meal shared with the family. This year, mom is getting an iPad. Maybe even a diamond necklace.  NRF’s latest Mother’s Day survey found that the average person will spend $140 on mom, with the biggest chunk of that going to luxurious items such as jewelry and consumer electronics. Those looking for more creative ways to spoil mom will seek out gardening tools, kitchenware and even spa treatments.

Well. What to say to that.

Missoula gives something even better than diamonds and electronics to its moms each year on the night before Mother’s Day: The Mother’s Day Eve Bash. The brainchild of Missoula mom Elke Govertsen, the bash has undeniably grown over the years.

Moms who show up at Peak Heath & Wellness this Saturday between the hours of 7 and 11 p.m. can expect to be greeted at the door with a goody bag before moving on to enjoy “Yoga, pampering, wine, and celebrating another year of mothering,” according to the Mamalode website.

Mamalode? Oh, that’s just Elke Govertsen’s OTHER hugely successful brainchild. It’s this magazine and website “for the whole mother.” And it, of course, has a ton more information about the Mother’s Day Eve Bash. Check out that info here.

And I’ll see you there!

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