Sunday, July 27, 2008

one five year old, three parties, and one Artoga camp week; part II: Artoga

Artoga. Doesn't that just say it all? I discovered Artoga last year when a mama on a list I'm on sent a link and I remember thinking I had discovered Nirvana for children. Bridget is the brains, the beauty and brilliance behind Artoga, it is her baby, and they are thriving! The children are treated with love and respect, they are given the opportunity to create, they are held accountable (a skit or story or book or dance must have a beginning, a middle and an end) to the creative muse, they are given the space to be children and be free while also being guided to explore Calder's wire circus figures and mobiles and learn what it means to make art. The theme for the week that Magdalena and Allie went was Asanas, Artists and Authors. The overarching event was the creating of a circus to be performed for family and friends at the end of the week.

Magdalena, post make-up, getting ready for the performance

When I first arrived on Thursday for the afternoon performance, Magdalena was sitting on the floor, waiting to have her face painted. She hadn't seen me yet and I just wanted to watch her, I just wanted to be a fly on the wall. What is she like when she's not with me? How does she interact? It was so interesting to watch her and Allie, the differences are striking. While Magdalena was sitting there waiting, she was playing a game, watching the activities, and a big girl whom she adores walked by and I heard Magdalena say "Do you want to play with me?" and I saw her face light up and her friend sat down and they did their thing for a bit. Watching Allie was like watching a hired party hand. She was everywhere and with everyone, at once.

Magdalena as Stunt Girl and Allie as The Clown

Some people are born entertainers, and others, well, maybe they'll blossom into it, or maybe not, but they're not there yet, let's just say. Allie was such a perfect clown, laughing, running around, playing pretend pie-in-the-face with a pie tin full of cotton, clowning with the crowd, hamming it up.
Magdalena as Cinderella Stunt Girl

Magdalena, however, had a preternatural stillness to her, she walked and performed as if she were walking on a cloud, oblivious to the audience, doing her forward somersaults/trying-to-be-front-handsprings as if she were the only person in the room. It was, for me, a rather bizarre experience and I tried to find out what it was like for her, but didn't get very far with my inquiries. She was certainly beautiful, and graceful in her awkwardness and other-worldiness.

And just to say, I thought the fact that she wore the Disney princess dress every day all day was telling. I guess it wasn't a novelty to the other children there, but to Magdalena, that dress was pure spun gold. We don't really "do" Disney or movie or TV show tie-ins. As a matter of fact, the first exchange of words between Magdalena and Allie went something like this, as Magdalena spied a Disney princess on Allie's Crocs, "You have a Dis-e-ney Princess! My mama doesn't like Dis-e-ney, so we don't do Dis-e-ney, only Pixar." To which Allie responded, my mama doesn't like Disney either. At that moment, I knew, oh this girl has a mama after my own heart. *

the post-performance treat at 31 Flavors

After the show Eleanor, Allie, Abuela, Magdalena, Augustus and I went out for a celebratory ice cream treat at the Duncan Doughnuts/31 Flavors spot, a totally random restaurant combo that had me craving ice cream on a glazed doughnut, and hung out and got messy with it. It was Augustus and Magdalena's first double dip cone experience and judging from the outcome, the last for a long time also. I'm still trying to get the chocolate out of Augustus' favorite gecko shirt.

On Friday, when I picked Magdalena up from her last day of Artoga camp, which was oh-so-hard to leave, there were some children staying for after camp care, and Magdalena wanted to stay and play one last game. We left after about an hour and went straight to Abuela's house for some downtime on the beach, that late afternoon sun and breeze that is the best I mean the best the best the best time to be on the beach. It was glorious and the children were in heaven, again.

Augustus in Pure Joy mode

The days like this one, this random Friday when Jeanna and Dave were off celebrating 16 years of marriage and Frida was with us and Anthony and Suzanne happen to be at Abuela's house for some hang out time with mom and Abuela is there and we all end up on the beach, in chairs, watching our children frolic, sitting just beyond the tide mark, totally relaxing, Anthony in fine fishing form, I All this and a bag of chips. Augustus was perfecting his jumping that day, jumping jumping jumping. And Frida is almost there, she's still got that 1-2 jump, not quite both feet in tandem, but she's so close, just a jump away.

Frida, excruciatingly cute

Magdalena decompressing from a week of 8 hour a day stimulus, running playing jumping swimming, with Frida and the jumping boy.

Anthony, aka, Tito Chuchi, with a catch of a sea trout, a lovely fish that makes a fisherman like Anthony oh. so. happy.

*uh, yeah, I should probably put a disclaimer here that while I don't really "do" Disney, that doesn't mean we won't be going there this fall. For three days I believe. With an open mind and an expectation of fun. One does not say no to an Abuela who offers, nor does one deny, on some personal principle, one's daughter an event that she is so excited to share with said Abuela. One would have to be a heartless ogre to do that.

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