Get Out of the House


Summer of Change

Rebecca Meekma

 We have recently learned that Maggie’s four closest friends will be moving away from Laguna sometime this summer. Three are moving to Newport and one is going all the way to Arizona. This is a lot of change for one little girl to handle and we’ve had some very teary moments over the past few weeks. Those moments have been intensifying now that school is almost out (it will be by the time you read this.) All the hoopla and joy of end-of-the-year parties and picnics and beach days seems overshadowed by Maggie’s sense of, “This is the last time I’m going to (fill in the blank) with my friends.”

Add to this melancholy the news of my and the girls’ favorite local store shuttering, too.  By now you’ve all heard that Latitude 33 is closing up by the end of the summer.

I’ve been shopping at Latitude since the late ‘90s, but my appreciation for the store really intensified when the girls came along. The staff there is engaging, helpful and, plain ol’ friendly. There is always a nice selection of children’s books and toys that I feel is lovingly hand-selected. (Same for the adult selections, of course.)

The girls love Latitude’s cozy feeling, the soul-stirring aroma of the books and the manageability of the small shop.

The women of Latitude have suggested titles and series for my girls. They obviously share the same passion for books that I do. And they indulge me in all my special-ordering. Sure, I could do all of this on the internet, but then I’d miss something necessary to my shopping experience: the human connection.

Same thing for music. I still go to Sound Spectrum and buy or order CDs. I know I’m old school on this, but ordering a digital copy of a song off the Internet will never compare with the thrill of going to an honest-to-goodness record store. The vibe, the incense, the loud music, discovering a band you don’t know, getting a recommendation from the resident music expert, the exchange of ideas, all part of the experience. Again, the personal relations make the experience.

Both stores are selling art in traditional form and as we progress to putting our art in the cloud we are missing out on the interactions that make art interesting, make it real, make it come alive.

We live in a town that is home to myriad visual artists and three summer art festivals. Don’t miss the chance this summer to visit the artists, engage in a Q & A with them about their creations, and expose your kids to real live artists. You never know when they’ll be replaced with websites, too.

The Festival of Arts has expanded its Youth Arts Education classes to five days a week. I was involved with this program’s inception and am pleased to see its continued growth and popularity. These art classes offer elementary-school aged children the opportunity to try their hand at various art media at each class. You don’t have to sign up for a 10-class session, so you can pretty much make these classes fit in your schedule. Best part? While the kids are in class, you get to roam the Festival grounds for an hour and soak up some creativity for your soul.

The Sawdust Festival offers kids (and adults) various art activities throughout their season as well. Creating a bowl/dish/vase at the ceramics wheel at the Sawdust is a rite of passage for everyone growing up in this town. As is scrubbing your hands clean(ish) after they’ve been covered in clay.

So while change is inevitable, take advantage of the resources we have before they go away.  Maggie will find new playmates next year and I’ll find a new bookstore. Friendships and experiences will stay with us, but a click of the buy button won’t.

Festival of Arts’ Youth Arts Education classes run Monday through Friday, July 5 – August 26, 11:00 a.m. to 12 noon, Ages 7 to 12. $10 per class. Preregister: 464-4268.

Sawdust Festival opens today and runs through Sunday, August 28. for info.

Rebecca Meekma is that friend who always knows something fun to do and the Calendar Editor for Parenting OC. Follow her blog at


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