Unplug and Play Week starts today!

Let’s Move Missoula kicked off the 2014 Unplug and Play week today with a free kick-off event this afternoon at McCormick Park. If you were there then you already know all about it. If you weren’t, check out the Missoulian tomorrow for coverage.

AND, go ahead and make those plans to limit screen time for both yourself and the kiddos for the next week (May 4-11). Here’s a lineup of events to keep the family occupied. And here’s more information about the week itself.

And now, I’m stepping away from the laptop.

UPDATE: Here’s that coverage, as promised – and a little bit early!

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Free admission to Children’s Museum this Friday

The weather in Missoula looks … iffy … today. It’s supposed to be sunnier, but colder, by the weekend. But who knows for sure?

If you’re looking for a bad-weather contingency plan, take note that the Children’s Museum is offering free admission this Friday.

As usual, the water table, dinosaur dig, treehouse, dentist/doctor room and tons of other great exhibits will be available for kiddos to explore. Also, for those who don’t have work or school in the late morning, there’s a taekwondo class taught by Master Corbin starting at 11 a.m.


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Enjoy the Children’s Museum for free on first Saturday of 2014

The Children’s Museum in Missoula offers a ton of free admission days throughout the year. They have a whole “free admission series” they’re doing. And good thing, too. I’ve noticed that whenever they offer free admission, the place is packed.

My kids prefer to have the place to themselves, and I’m happy to pay the $4.25-per-person price of admission during off hours, especially during inclement weather. For less than the price of a matinee, we get hours and hours of indoor fun.

Here’s the scoop on the next free day:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Bouncing back just in time for Unplug and Play Week!

I got the flu or something like it last week and was an unhappy camper for a few days. Of course my first thought, after that first barf, was, “But I can’t get sick NOW!” You know, because I have all these Things To Do. But when it is really ever a good time to be sick?

Turns out, a few days just before Unplug and Play Week is not such a bad time. After hours upon hours holed up on the couch watching TV, we are ready to turn the boob tube OFF for a good long while, and this week offers plenty of opportunities to do something fun as a family.

Starting tomorrow, for instance, the Families First Children’s Museum in downtown Missoula is offering free admission between the hours of 4 and 5 p.m. The offer runs from Tuesday, April 19 to Saturday, April 23.

Here’s what Families First has to say about Unplug and Play Week:

Screen time cuts into family time and is a leading cause of obesity in both adults and children. Excessive use of screens for recreational purposes leads to a more sedentary and solitary lifestyle and that is unhealthy for all of us, both mentally and physically. Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher said “We are raising the most overweight generation of youngsters in American history… This week is about saving lives.”

The Missoulian included a special section last Thursday that has a pretty comprehensive run-down of all the various events and offers, ranging from teen-focused time at the public library to the annual Easter Egg and Treasure Hunt at the Missoula County Fairgrounds on Saturday.

And of course, the website is also a great resource – it has a detailed calendar of events as well as a parent toolkit and tips: www.unplugmissoula.org.

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Missoula parent writes of being ‘haunted by recorders’

Oh, letters to the editor, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

And let me count the following letter by Timothy Hickey of Corvallis among my all-time favorites. Alas, it exceeded the Missoulian’s 300-word limit for letters by a sentence or two, and I was forced to edit it. Fortunately, the unlimited Internet allows me to post it here in its entirety.

I think it will appeal to any parent of a budding young musician practicing her first squeaks and squeals on the musical device of her choice.

A Tribute to Recorders

Spring is arriving: calving is in full swing, red-winged blackbirds are chirping, baseball season approaches, dead skunks litter the highway, and third-graders with recorders delight their parents with lilting melodies.

I was so excited the other day when my daughter brought home the little case, unzipped it, pulled out the recorder, and began to play it like a virtuoso. My younger children stopped in their tracks as if tasered, from the kitchen, there was the sound of silverware crashing on linoleum, a soaring hawk dropped out of the sky, and our nearest neighbors (who live a quarter mile away) craned their heads toward their windows with quizzical looks. All of us instantly forgot all else and listened attentively to the … music. And that is the magic of the recorder. It has the power to make you forget about all else, to escape your thoughts, to focus on it and it alone.

One can’t help but to stop and listen to the shrilly beautiful notes as they take surprising twists and turns, shooting off in unpredictable directions in their quasi-formation of age-old songs and nursery rhymes. And although one may not be able to at first decipher what song is being played, it doesn’t matter because one can appreciate great art in and of itself – pure, awesome, and arresting.

And then, when a song is over, your child will put down the recorder, look at you with proud, hopeful eyes and ask you, “Do you know what song that was?”

Your brain will feverishly churn, frantically trying to piece the notes together to complete the melodic jigsaw puzzle. Then, when your time is up and you think you may have configured the dulcet tones, you look back at your child, equally proud and hopeful, and venture, “Hot Cross Buns?”

Then there is a pause … and you wait … and …

The music of the recorder leaves a lasting impression. In fact, sometimes after my daughter is through rehearsing and I close my eyes in the peace and quiet of night as I try to fall asleep, I can still hear the kamikaze-like notes dive-bombing my ears – and they linger. I am haunted by recorders.

Timothy Hickey,

My daughter, by the way, recently acquired a ukulele – which is both fun to say and fun to play, but darn near impossible to remember how to spell.

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New grocery store exhibit coming to Children’s Museum

Families First!, the organization that runs the Children’s Museum in Missoula, has been hard at work planning a new exhibit for the museum: a kids’ grocery store! The new grocery play area will be located toward the front of the museum on West Front Street in downtown Missoula. It’s being sponsored by the Good Food Store, St. Patrick Hospital and the Gallagher Foundation.

To mark the opening of the new exhibit, the Children’s Museum will host a celebration on Sept. 16. More details about the upcoming event will be posted on Missoula Mom as they become available.

– MM

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Pull the plug on granny next week. In fact, unplug the whole family

April 19-25 marks the official “Unplug and Play” week, a week of international encouragement for families to put the computers, TVs, iPhones and video games away for a few days, head outside and play together.

A chance to give your kids a week of your undivided attention? Sounds like a good thing to attempt, even if it’s easier said than done (at least, it is in my family, where my husband and I are both required to stay glued to our cell phones 24-seven). Not to mention that our outdoor activities are entirely weather-dependent, and the weather has been a bit, shall we say, unpredictable these past few weeks.

Nevertheless, playing outside is one of those few free pleasures in life, and I intend to make a go of it with my family. If the weather refuses to help me out, we’ll wrestle in the living room and play Candyland another 100 times.

In Missoula, the Parks and Rec Department and the City-County Health Department are teaming up to offer some local community events for the week. The site also has more information about Unplug and Play week.

– MM

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“Annie” a swell post-Valentine’s Day date for the whole family

Mamalode reminded me that “Annie” is coming to Missoula! The production, the play, the EXPERIENCE – “Annie.”

You know the story, right? Little red-headed orphan girl adopts shaggy dog, wins over curmudgeonly rich guy, becomes a pawn for no-good crooks intent on getting rich guy’s money – shenanigans ensue!

The tour arrives in Missoula on Tuesday night. Tickets are reportedly still available starting at $22 each.

My favorite “Annie” number? “Little girls.” Cracks me up.

UPDATE: Mamalode is giving away a “family pack” of tickets (that means four of ’em) to Annie.
– MM

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