Yorktown Owens Heart Philbrook Museum

We would like to thank all the little elves that brought us sweet little pressies, both old and new.
We are especially grateful that Santa brought our family a membership to the Philbrook art museum, so now we won't have to look at the calendar to determine if it's free day when we want to go.

For my non-Tulsan readers, Philbrook is a pretty rad museum that's quite close to our little Yorktown hobbit hole, with gardens possessing magical properties of teleportation right into Lewis Carroll's merry luncheon with Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, the Cheshire cat and the Dalai Lama. Matter of fact, it would be a magical spot for the Arthur's Adventures in Wonderland party we are planning for his birthday.

Arthur loves the place. And J and I love it too; most of my friends probably don't know that I have a degree in Humanities as well as language arts...and the boy's Grammy and Papi are artists...and we love free places to hang out as a family...oh, and our walls are literally overrun with art...anyway. it's a sweet, rocking gift. Remember this, people: memberships and gift certs. Eco-friendly, family friendly.

Here are some pics from a summer visit to Philbrook with the Abot and big J. The museum is housed in what was once the Phillips' (of Phillips Petroleum: read: big-time Tulsa oil tycoon/philanthropist family) mansion. As a little girl, I used to fantasize about living there; we would walk through from room to room and I imagined myself playing piano in one of the sitting rooms, surrounded by frescos and lush vistas and 17th century French tchotchkes, one of which I recently learned bears a depiction of one of my great-grandsisters.

17th century French tchotchkes

Yorktown Owens are unanimously nuts about this Tony Oursler installation:

And the museum recently hosted the most incredible modern appliance-as-art-exhibit. I forget what it was called. Alls I know is I should have brought my big purse that day.

So now you know. Museum memberships are great gifts. And if you are in Tulsa, check out the Philbrook at 21st and Peoria-ish. There's a pretty sweet park over right next to it, and there's lots of other free coolness there for the economically challenged, including the Tulsa Historical Society and Garden Center, which includes the Linnaeus Garden and these amazing greenhouses.


Delicious Materialism

I must begin this blog by stating that although Yorktown Owens are dedicated to simple living, we aren't Mennonites (although we greatly respect the Mennonite community). Truth be told, we really love stuff, like all good Americans do; ain't much more patriotic than throwing around greenbacks. We simply try to temper our spending with second-hand purchases, heavy use of the 3 r-s, buying handmade and locally when we can. Toned-down consumerism, if you will. So of course, I almost always go to Ebay and etsy first, but I won't pretend I am no Target addict. I know it's wrong and evil, but I manage to convince myself it's not as wrong and evil as Wal-mart, and we all know ignorance is bliss.

To the point. As I mentioned briefly in this blog, the A-bot and I recently flew down to Disney World (another blog, a later blog), where we met my parents and had great fun, and of course this yielded some super lovely shopping opportunities. And then I came home and found more super lovely Christmas gifts for my favorite super lovely people, and also some for myself. Some of these things are so terrific, they are blogworthy.

First, I must mention my trip to Little Miss Matched. I've been drooling over the online store for ages (much like my Cath Kidston obsession) and as we were walking through Downtown Disney, I nearly tripped over my adorable dumpling child to get inside the place. I picked up a handful of the little sock doll above (Kooky mini sock doll, $5) for some of the little smunchkins we know, including the A-bot (who rather cleverly unwrapped his cousin Noah's Kooky and tried to stash it away). The mini sock dolls are a super rad gift and inexpensive, thus consistent with the tempered-consumerism lifestyle we have going. I'm a big fan of giving journals, especially ones with prompts, because they are gifts that last and are interactive, and because they make use of those all-important brain waves. I've kind of gone nuts over Keri Smith's creativity journals and thinking about starting my own art/creativity journal (check out all the cool printables on her page for a taste of her awesomeness). So of course, when I saw this little yummy scrapadoodlournal thingy sort of in the same vein, I snapped it up to put away for a special young lady's Christmas gift.

It's hard to see how truly adorable this book is from the pictures, but it includes all kinds of prompts for journaling and art, places to stick in scraps and photos, collages, secrets, all the good stuff young girls adore and pass notes about in 7th grade geography class. Priced at $12.95, it's a great deal if you are looking for a birthday or Valentine's gift (or belated winter holiday gift?).

My mom also picked up a super cute bag for herself (half off, $20 from 40--sweet deal!):

And I grabbed the matching little vinyl keychain/ID holder to use when I need my card but not a whole purse. I like that it's vinyl...I am so done for the time being with my pretty leather and brocade accessories getting tie-dyed with coffee and kid leakage. Vinyl and oilcloth are a toddler mom's BFF. And I mustn't forget the little white wallet with stars on the outside and rainbow stripes on the inside...and lots of pockets for IDs and my DoubleShot discount card. I am such a little kid, I know, but I adore it!

And you absolutely MUST know that LMM has an online outlet store.

*update 12.30.09* I just found out that many Toys "R" Us stores carry Little Miss Matched items...we spied several items at the east Tulsa store including almost everything I mentioned above, and also:

Lots of socks, although none were available in toddler sizes.

Another rad shop at Downtown Disney (that's also available online) is Basin, which basically sucks a hole right out of your wallet the moment you step in its door. Last year, Santa Claus brought me these super amazing fresh cut soaps and I fell instantly in love:

Marine Life This one has kind of a fresh, herby scent. It's actually in my bathroom right now.

This one, "Enchanted Castle," Enchanted Castlewas my favorite. I loved it so much I wanted to buy another one this year. Besides the fact that it's freaking adorable, it has kind of an oceany scent which reminds me of this Avon stuff I used to go batty over back in high school (early 90s). Does anyone remember it? I thought it was the bee's knees.

Santa also brought me this blue whale soap, which smelled light and clean and made me very happy. Blue Whale

And finally, there was "Dolphin Duo" (Santa was good to me!). Dolphin Duo These guys had a similar oceanic aroma, but it was lighter. The bar was super sweet in our bathroom.

SO this year, I stopped into Basin and picked up these:

Lilac "Holy guacamole salad!" I squealed when I saw this lovely lilac soap. Lilac is my favorite fragrance ever. Forever ever. It's in my kitchen right now, loving me right back when I wash my hands. Yes, I said my soap loves me. Don't judge me, please.

And then this pretty little Christmas soap, which smells a little like a mojito, was just screaming "Winter Solstice Party!" as I walked by.

And one of these little lovelies to display them in, of course. If you'd been to our house in the past year(s), you'd know there's been a soap dish deficit. We've used any manner of household items to fill the void, causing people to panic while chasing the large,wet, squiggly bars of soap around the sink because they slide right out of the tiny soy sauce dish or oddly-shaped candle holder.

And then I snagged this pretty soap for one of the sweetest ladies I know, to slip into her Christmas stocking. This soap is called "Lily of the Valley" and is fragranced accordingly. Lily of The Valley

With all those wonderful little soaps, it was so hard to choose! They make a good gift because they are a nice small, not terribly expensive gift, they are something that to be used rather than to become landfill waste, and they are just crazy cute. They are spendy as soaps go, however. They charge by weight so each package varies, kinda like steak.

On my list of super duper faves (if anyone [read: any HUSBAND]) wants to get me a special treat), I adore ALL of these: TherapyDragon FlyPirateStrawberry

I also love this little soap, and I found a tutorial online for making them myself and plan to do so if I ever get free time again. They seem pretty easy to make. Here is the tutorial over on Craftster.

I also picked up some papel picado in Fake Mexico at EPCOT, very similar to this below, but I think mine is so much prettier. I bought two banners, since I've been looking all over the place for them and no one in Tulsa seems to carry them.

One of the shopping highlights of our trip, however, was making Arthur's very own mouse ears. There is a little shop in the Magic Kingdom where the little beanies, ears and patches are sold separately, and little mouseketeers choose all the parts and then Cast Members put all the pieces together using Disney magic and fairy dust and some giant freaking embroidery machine for the little (or big) dudes' names. You can't tell in the pic but the right ear (our left) is holographic, which was great fun for Arthur, and the fireworks on the left one sparkle. Tie dye was the clear beanie choice, and the "Peace, Love, Mickey" patch was perfect for the A-bot (which is, by the way, the name on the back of the hat).

The little green pin in the picture below was given to him by a boy we met at the bus stop...I believe he was from Colorado. Kids at Disney World carry around lanyards full of these pins and trade with each other and Cast Members...it's a whole subculture they have going on there, or more cynically, it's yet one more freaking genius way they take our cash. But it was very sweet of that kid to give Arthur his first pin, thus initiating him into the cult.

We also picked up that little Rasta necklace in Florida.

I'm not through with this post yet, but it's 1:45 AM and I need to get some rest. Don't worry, readers, I will have plenty more shopping goodies for you as soon as I get a chance. Cheers, friends.

I will leave you with a sweet Keri Smith goodie. Click on the link to download the goods.


Bonnaroo with Baby (or Toddler)

I have been meaning to write this post for the last six months but I have been living at my desk (which IT guru Mark told me was dripping with girliness as he scratched out notes underneath a row of hearts and skulls after a failed attempt to find a gender-neutral sticky pad).

Bonnaroo = the best time we've ever had (excepting, perhaps, Amsterdam and our 7-hour road trip across the Autobahn).

Bonnaroo is five days of amazing music and art, the best people you will ever meet, hippie-made garlic grilled cheese sandwiches that will rock your world, all while camping in an open field in the sun crammed next to thousands upon thousands of other concertgoers, after enduring (in our case) a ten-hour-and-change drive followed by a marathon wait to get in (in our 7 visits, we've run the gamut between two and twelve hours and are luckier than some). Add in the complete inability to leave for supplies, often distressing bathroom scenarios, inescapable heat, occasional torrential downpours resulting in mud that smells like a portolet, no logical place to shower, the long days and nights, the loud, almost continuous thumping of music from Centeroo (the heart of the party, where the stages are), and I can reasonable say it's no small feat to survive this festie; add in a little one, and you have attained supernatural levels of coolness.

This guide is going to be a post-in-progress, so if you are considering going to Bonnaroo (with or without a little one) and want to know how the Yorktown Owens roll, you have to keep checking the post as there is a LOT to know and I will be adding more as I get the opportunity (hard to do with a full-time job and the A-bot underfoot). We were very nervous about taking Arthur at 15 months old and had read lots of negativity in forums about doing to Roo with littles, and I am here to tell you it can be done and can be the freaking apex of awesomeness. But you must, must, must be prepared (our first Bonnaroo, we brought no shelter for the oppressive sun and our food spoiled within two days, resulting in warm beer cans tainted with raw chicken juice, among numerous other problems...other years taught us to prepare for knee-deep mud and many other little surprises). This year we are planning on camping with my brother (a five-roo vet) and his wife (this will be her second year) and both of our two-year-old sons, and possibly a 12-year-old (she hasn't decided yet).

I hope to eventually add in some sweet downloads, including a packing list for families, a packing list for non-families, Bonnaroo tips, your Bonnaroo set list, journal pages and more, so please keep checking in. If you comment and ask me to, I will e-mail you when I make updates.

For now, I have begun putting in some brief pointers and lots of pics. I plan to organize them soon, but for now they are a chaotic mess. Enjoy, and we hope to see you at the big show!

Before the Arthuroo came along, infusing our lives with a mega-dose of supernatural baby love, we looked forward to each year as a time to regroup mentally and spiritually, to lose ourselves in a self-governing utopia where art and music reign, a world of freedom and whimsy, where rules and tradition would be left by the roadside behind us, and in their place would reside only gleeful celebration. For just a few days, there was nothing but the music, the joy around us, and ourselves. Bills, baggage, all the weight of the world was hundreds of miles away.

Reasons Bonnaroo is Awesome

The sunsets are amazing. As are the sunrises, should you see the sky from the other side of the night.

The fire garden. It's amazing. We enjoyed walking around it during the day, but it's fantastic at night as well. Arthur especially loves fire dancers. Definitely worth a visit before the baby passes out. It's also pretty cool to check out when you're wandering around during the day.

**Kidz Jam. These pictures are from their site:

Kidz Jam is an organization that focuses on making festivals a fun experience for the whole family, and they do a great job. They also promote safety and common sense, passing out earplugs (your child must have hearing protection), sunblock, safety tips, and water for little ones. They also have loads of fun activities for kids from little to big and even tend to the pregos. We love Kidz Jam.

**Funny, creative people. Even the graffiti cracks us up every year.

Going to the Show

**Packing for five days can be a real nightmare, especially because unless you win the campsite lottery, you probably won't be leaving anytime during those days. With a small child, you can't leave anything behind, and the water alone takes up a lot of space. You just kind of have to live with the fact that you're not going to have the most comfortable ride to the show, especially if you live ten hours away as we do.

**One of the most important concerns with traveling with (or without for that matter!) a child or infant to Bonnaroo is keeping everyone safe and healthy. Key to this goal is keeping everyone cool. In the seven Roos we've attended, we found that temperatures stayed in the mid to high 80s much of the time, which can be a nightmare with a kid, even if you're accustomed to the misery that summertime Tulsa can be (think highs near 100 for weeks at a time). Necessity is the mother of invention, and people find creative ways to keep cool:

But you needn't carry your kid around in a bucket of ice. There are other, better ways. And ice is like 8 bucks a bag at Bonnaroo. We have always found a wet bandana under the hat a pretty good cooling technique. I picked up a couple of little tie-dyed ones for the Roo and since he was too little to explain to why needed to keep it on his head, I would just soak it with frozen water every now and then and put it on his head and neck. He didn't have to tell me that it felt great.

Notice the green bandana on my brother's head.

**FREEZE your water bottles. We freeze a bunch ahead of time in our freezer at home and fill one of the coolers with them. When we leave for Centeroo in the heat of the day, we just stick a couple in our backpack, and we have ice cold water for a few hours.

**Take the opportunity to ride the ferris wheel. It's been $5 every year we've been, and it's an incredible experience. I honestly don't know how late it runs, but I think we once rode it around 2 or 3 AM while My Morning Jacket was playing below.

Safety note: I would not even think about riding it with an infant or small toddler, however, unless that kid is securely strapped or in some way harnessed to your body. This youtube video shows the inside of the ferris wheel...the ride lasts a few minutes and I think you can tell from the video it would be a super uncool/possibly terrifying experience with a little Roo. We skipped it altogether last year when Abot was 15 months old, and this year I'm pretty certain we'll be taking turns baby swapping with the other adults.

The ferris wheel provides an incredible view of the insanity of Centeroo and the main stages to one side and on the other, the vastness of tent city.

**Whether you have little ones or not, bring bubbles...tons of bubbles. Bubble necklaces, bubble wands, trippy light-up bubble guns. They keep kids happy and add to the festive vibe.

**Bring a ton of glowsticks, and don't buy the cheap ones. For some reason, they seem to have gotten cheaper over the past couple of years. We used to pick up a bunch of the dollar store sticks and they were fine, but now they fade quickly and many of them turn out to be duds.

Investing in some quality glowsticks with a little one is important for a few reasons.
First of all, glowsticks are fun, and goodness knows, hippies love them. They will be everywhere at Bonnaroo.

Perhaps the most valuable use of the glowstick at Bonnaroo is as a friend-finder at the shows, particularly the big main stage shows. Imagine, if you will: you've found the perfect spot. You are all settled in. You've got a happy baby and a happy husband. The crowd thickens around you, but that doesn't matter because you enjoyed two Captain and cokes at the camp site and maybe a beer...no more, because you're a mom and you are keeping a straight head tonight...and the music is rocking. Phish is onstage...you're really feeling terrific...you try to ignore your bladder...and suddenly the crowd becomes really noticeable...thank goodness you formed that glowstick perimeter to help everyone see where your blanket ends so they don't step on your precious little one...but wow...your bladder is really full now. Just one more song...okay, screw it. You know those portajohn lines are going to be long. You gather up your potty pack (t.p.--cause you know there won't be any--, an incense stick and a lighter, headlamp or flashlight, the toilet seat covers you swiped from the grocery store toilet [hey...you were buying 3 cases of water and a ton of lunchmeat!] and some antibacterial hand wipes) and head to the most depressing queue you'll ever stand in. You wait behind a dozen other people, slowly realizing as you wait that the person in the toilet may have passed out drunk with the door locked. No...he came to, finally. You become certain you are going to pee on yourself. But then, who would notice?, you think sardonically, glancing at the unbathed masses. Then you are next, finally. You wonder how your husband and infant are faring back at the blanket as you watch the red latch on the portapotty door disdainfully waiting for it to change back to green. Open now...you think...no, now! 1, 2, 3, open now! And then finally the miraculous happens...the door opens...you brave the carnage that awaits you behind Door number 1 because your family needs you...how long have you been gone? You missed dancing with your family to "Velvet Sea," your special family song. You must get back now!

You shudder as you look pitifully at the next person in line, thinking, "May the gods be with you. You'll need it...where you're going." And then you look up, toward the stage...it's so far away...so very far away...so tiny...and you look toward the crowd...and suddenly it's so dense...it almost reaches all the way back to the portolets...which way is your family? Weren't you somewhere near the arepa kiosk? You can't even see it now! Panic sets in. Your husband can't handle the baby by himself...you just know it...at least not in this crowd. Someone could step on the baby! You wouldn't even know it! Oh my goodness! How will they make it back the campsite? He's not answering his phone...not that he could hear it.

And then, just as your heart is in your throat, you see it.

It's so tiny from here, you can just make it out...but there it is...

It's the magical glowstick scepter your husband fashioned earlier in the evening using a spare tent pole, some zip ties and his own ingenuity. What a man, what a mighty good man!

You wouldn't be able to see it if he'd left it stuck in the ground, but this ain't his first rodeo, so he waited until you'd been gone about twenty minutes and then raised the mast, bobbing your beacon up and down in the air for you to see.


**You will need rubber boots for everyone. You can pick these up at any discount store (The Store That Shall Not Be Named, for example), army supply stores, or check online for extra cute ones. Target usually has some pretty adorable rain boots.

I actually bought this pink pair off their web site a couple of years ago when I realized my blue pair (above) had disappeared into the Bonnaroo vortex. When you are super dirty, it's important to at least try to feel cute.

**Invest in some TEVAs or similar sandals. You will be walking a lot and you'll be glad you did. It's too hot for sneakers, and these kind of shoes (if you wear a quality brand) will survive the mud when flip flops are eaten by it.

**Bring low-seated chairs. At Bonnaroo, if you are lucky, you will get to see many, many shows. One of the keys to seeing a lot of shows is stamina, which you can only have if you are well-prepared. I like to sit on blankets, but hubster's back gets uncomfy, and if there's any of that icky Bonnamud, you really don't want to be sitting on your head shop tapestry for the duration of an afternoon show in the already sweltering sun (add in sweaty breastfeeding and you get a trifecta that starts to detract from the show).

Only low chairs are allowed into Centeroo (although year after year I am astonished at the things people manage to smuggle in. I know one way they do it, but it doesn't seem worth the risk of losing your good chairs/beer/etc.), and it takes up precious showgoing time, which you don't have to spare if you are there with a little Roo. Plus, who wants to be the jerk that blocks someone else's view at a show? You don't want to carry around chairs all day with all the other baby gear you'll be hauling. Craig's chair is a backpack:

And we used rope to make ours back-friendly. Look up, up, up at the picture of me in my rain boots for a closer look at this. It's not super comfortable, but better than handling an infant, a ton of gear, and an awkward chair.

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Dave Matthews Band 2005

A fire dancer at the Dave Matthews show

NIN 2009

The Mars Volta 2005

Eat at the Cracker Barrel on the way home.