Quills&Queues: Vickie Aldous

My New Year's resolution for 2009 is to try and spend less time with my family.

Now, don't get me wrong. My kids are cute, funny, smart and relatively well behaved.

But when I'm trying to read a book while my husband is watching TV, one kids is playing computer games and the other is playing an electronic guitar, it doesn't take long for me to feel like the Grinch.

As Dr. Seuss — who may also have been exposed to one too many Christmas toys — put it so eloquently, "Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!"

If it's any consolation to parents and grandparents who feel the same way, recent studies have shown that as we age, we're less able to screen out extraneous noise.

So rather than fight a losing battle, I'm vowing to try and get out to enjoy more cultural activities — without kids in tow.

Luckily, Ashland High School soccer players are making it easier for parents to find a fun, safe place for their kids so they can enjoy a night on the town.

The teenage girls will supervise kids at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum during the first Friday evening of each month so that parents can walk around to different galleries during Ashland's First Friday Art Walk.

Because of the school break for the holidays, the girls won't be tending to kids on Friday, Jan. 2, but they'll be back to work for the First Friday Art Walks in February and March, said Susan Hearn, the mom of one of the soccer players.

"The Parents Night Out" events will help the girls earn money to attend three international soccer tournaments in the summer, she said.

"They wanted to raise money by doing things that would benefit the city. We chose First Friday to really encourage local parents to enjoy the art galleries," Hearn said.

The cost for the first child in a family is $20 and it's $15 for each child after that. Kids not only get to explore the fun and educational exhibits at ScienceWorks, they get to enjoy Giseppi's pizza.

The hours are from 5:30 to 9 p.m. — plenty of time for parents to eat at a restaurant and tour Ashland's galleries. Imagine the bliss of eating a dinner that doesn't involve hamburger and looking at art without worrying that you'll have to sell your car to pay for the glass Dale Chihuly sculpture your child knocked over...

Of course, even though my resolution is to try and have more time away from the kids, I'm not going to be a nut about it. Everything in moderation, as Aristotle advised.

I already have my eye on one cultural activity my six-year-old son, a space fanatic, would enjoy.

Southern Oregon University's Schneider Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit with photographs of galaxies forced into bizarre formations by black holes, the violent births of stars and collisions with other galaxies, The exhibit also has works of art by 15 artists who look to space for inspiration.

There is a suggested $3 donation to see exhibits at the art museum. For more information, call 552-6245 or visit www.sou.edu/sma.

For more information about ScienceWorks, located at 1500 E. Main St., call 482-6767 or visit www.scienceworksmuseum.org.