edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Pardun Me, Where Did Chivalry Go? August 24, 2012

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Finding the Right Inner Tube

Finding the Right Inner Tube

This was a summer of milestones. On the date of this particular milestone, my 9-year-old, Ava, learned about chivalry and my 7-year-old, Calvin, learned that it’s close to non-existent. These lessons can be attributed to their inaugural all day trip down the Namekagen River in Wisconsin, when 2012 marked the first year that this typically grown-ups only outing was voted kid-friendly, if not mom-friendly.

 

On our chosen Saturday, we head out with the kids to Danbury, WI to Pardun’s Canoe Rental. Our very own Julie McCoy (aka Sarah) calls them up each year — they know her by name — and she rents everything for the group, which amounted to 20 some people with 8 canoes and 10 inner tubes.  Breakfast is optional at the restaurant in Danbury, but we bypass it this year in favor of getting a later start.

 

The Calm at the Onset

The Calm at the Onset

At the canoe place, everyone corrals all of the gear near our two van buses and the kids select their inner tubes of choice – bottom or bottomless, chair back or not, and orange, green, blue or purple. All come equipped with a built-in drink holder. The kids cannot resist snaking through the center of the lined-up bottomless inner tubes. This whole loading process takes about 45 minutes. Then we climb into the dusty vans and head up river, canoes trailing.

 

Luckily the incoming dust is kept to a minimum with the new paving of a good portion of the trip’s route. The drive takes about 20 minutes. It’s now 10:00a.m. We pile out and move our stuff to the river entry point. Coolers, chairs, towels, sunscreen — the works. It’s a beautiful day.

 

We shove off and get our entourage connected with bungy cords and ropes.  And soon after, some choose to  disconnect. I watch my husband opt out of the canoe for the inner tube and completely detach from us. I was sure I could handle it and navigate with one kid in the canoe and one kid in the tube connected by rope. After all, it’s a peaceful river, really… One that is clean, clear, meandering and virtually free of any development. And free of rapids.

 

Inner Tube vs Canoe: Inner Wins

Inner Tube vs Canoe: Inner Wins

Save for the huge crisscrossed trees we came upon when we took the wrong fork in river. I fought the current for a while, trying to turn us around to glide through the narrow entry.  No such luck. When help arrived on his solo floatation device it was in the nick of time to untangle Ava’s leg from the rope that kept trying to drag her under. Okay, I might be exaggerating here, but it was really hard to assess what was going on.

 

I was ready for an adult beverage. Our canoe plus still needed a bit of maneuvering. By this time, Ava opted back into the canoe and Calvin took to the tube. Ava turned out to be a quick learner and diligent paddler. We rested easy for a while, then we came to the concrete bridge. The current pace picked up and by some magnetic force, we were pulled in the exact direction I aimed to avoid – right into a fallen tree that hovered over the river about three feet. With a shove of my paddle, Calvin sailed out of harm’s way. Ava ducked and I got totally horizontal to grab the lowest threatening branch with both hands. After that limbo, the canoe rocked from side to side and onlookers said later that they were sure we’d tip.

 

I was too off-guard to do much of anything to avoid the concrete pylon that supported the bridge above. Luckily we sailed through, but it was too late to pull over at the stop immediately to the right. We ended up downstream on the left a bit, too taxed to paddle upstream. That’s when Ava, Calvin and I had the talk about chivalry. Five minutes later, my relaxed husband floated over to us singing the praises of the detached inner tube ride. I suggested Calvin try it out with him. I was down one kid. Things were looking up.

 

Mid-journey we pulled over to a sandbar so the adult boys could toss and catch the football one-handed and a few of us girls could do the same with the 10-13 year-old boys. We ate lunch, snapped some photos, hunted down fish and shells of sorts. At the upstart again – I took to the tube and made use of the drinkholder. That did work slick. I could see where he was going with this.

 

Be Your Own Warrior

Be Your Own Warrior

Then, all to soon (5:00p.m.), it was over. Our crew, tied together via Luck, WI, highschool graduates, all made it through unscathed. The kids (ages 4-14) got to know each other a bit more, we didn’t have the challenges of finding daycare and it was reassuring to know we could pull off an all-day friend and family outing. We’ll be smarter about the equipment next time – solo tubes for this family, perhaps? 

 

And, in closing the debate around chivalry, I’m curious – what do women think? With the rise of the independent woman, might it be considered a thing of the past?  What sort of gestures are chivalrous? Ava was taking this all in… I informed her, it’s okay to accept it when the time is right. Like today for instance…. furthermore, if it does not come your way, step up and be your own warrior.  She thought about that for a moment, grabbed the paddle, and did just that.

 

Picnic in the Regional Park August 5, 2012

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 12:04 pm
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It's Time to Climb: FRP Play Area

It’s Time to Climb: FRP Play Area

On a recent steamy Sunday, we pulled out our authentic picnic basket complete with casual dishes and silverware all strapped into their appropriate place. My 7 and 9-year-olds put together a menu, I ran to the store and then we took an hour to craft everything that went into our little basket. It certainly could have been easier, but I chose to make it a little exercise in sustainability and creativity.

 

The kids formed a sandwich assembly line with ham, cheese, arugula, mayo and mustard options. We also invited one of my son’s friends. The friend’s sandwich creation was left to the discretion of my son, Calvin. We wrapped them in Wrap-N-Mat’s and initialed them so there would be no confusion – my daughter, Ava, did not want to find arugula in hers after all! The chips were counted out and packaged, also initialed. I peeled and sliced cucumbers and packed them with sea salt and humus. Then came the angel food cake – – an immediate first suggestion in the picnic planning process. We cut four precisely equal slices and packaged them together in one clear container. Cut strawberries and glaze were thrown into the little basket too.  

 

The kids rounded out the basket after a quick check – adding cloth placemats, ice packs, another set of plates (for dessert of course) and glasses. Now, the basket didn’t have any insulation mind you, so we did need to cheat with a mini cooler for drinks.

 

Angelfood with Strawberries and Glaze

Angelfood with Strawberries and Glaze

We picked up my son’s friend around noon and headed west to our destination: French Regional Park. We have made it an annual outing for the past three years and have found it to be a clean, family friendly park with boat access, rentals and a sandy beach on the north side of Medicine Lake in Plymouth, MN. As we pulled in, my kids chimed in, Hey, we were just here on Thursday. So much for originality. Apparently, they had just been to FRP with the kids from their summer camp.

 

The two main parking lots were packed by 12:45, but we managed to nab a slot near the climbing area. We left the basket and beach stuff in the car while the kids climbed, swung and slid. They found some bizarre tunnel route around the play area which was an adventure. After about 20 minutes and a quick stop at the car for our stuff, we caught the trolley that would bring us to the beach area.

 

Push Pop Purchase

Push Pop Purchase

We set up shop at a table with an umbrella overlooking the beach area. The kids went for a swim and immediately worked up an appetite. Out came the basket. We set the table, poured the drinks and enjoyed our lunch. Other families were grilling out (one brought their very own large grill and wheeled it right onto the trolley) and having their elaborate picnics too.

 

Clean up went smoothly without the paper products to dispose. We recycled two bottles and stowed the rest back in the basket.  More swimming and best hand-stand contests. Then it was time for sand castles, moats and all. The three of them spent about 30 minutes tunneling, shaping and building. Suddenly, Calvin remembered there was angelfood cake yet to be consumed, so we headed back to our table, took out the next set of plates, glazed the cake, added the strawberries and indulged.

 

Clean up for the dessert portion was more tricky due to the glaze, but I was able to rinse them off in the sink at the rental station. So, was the dishware, silverware and fare all worth it? For me, yes. I think the kids didn’t notice too terribly much. They were focused on sneaking away to check out rental items and rates. They came back, to my surprise, with a round of orange push-pops all thanks to my son who brings his wallet everywhere and has a habit of buying rounds for him and his friends.

 

We packed up, trolleyed back to the lot and dropped off Calvin’s friend around 3:30. We had a discussion about the basket and how we could make more sustainable choices in our everyday activities. We try to make it fun and interesting with reusable products from our gingham Wrap-N-Mats for sandwiches to funky water bottles. Sustainability on the run requires a bit more planning, but if that becomes second nature to my kids, I’ll consider it a good thing.

 

Thrivin at the Drive-In July 17, 2012

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 10:37 pm
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It was a hot summer night that called for something cool and mellow. Drive-in movie theaters had intrigued us for a few summers now. It was time to see what the historic hype was about at the Vali-Hi theatre in Lake Elmo, MN.

 

What? A Drive-In, not Thru?

What? A Drive-In, not Thru?

We packed a cooler of beverages and some licorice and headed out around 6:45. As a prequel to the theater and along a drive-in theme, we stopped off 94 and White Bear Ave to order up some shakes from the Dari-ette Drive-In off Minnehaha Avenue in the St. Paul Dayton’s Bluff area. We backed into our spot and the kids immediately hopped out of the back seat to check out menu stand on the driver’s side of the car. The closest experience they could recall was ordering a smoothie at McDonald’s and having to park in a designated space to wait for an employee to hand deliver it to us. For two very large shakes that the four of us planned to split, the total was just under $8.

 

We corralled them back into the car for the full drive-in experience. The Dari-ette, 58 years and going strong, had some pretty messy items on their menu – italian everything (meatball sandwiches), finger lickin’ chicken and saucy ice cream concoctions. Miraculously, we spilled nothing.

 

Drive-In Set Up w Economy Car; View of Flatbed Truck

Drive-In Set Up w Economy Car; View of Flatbed Truck

The night was still young. We arrived around 8:00 to Vali-Hi and breezed through – $8 per adult and $1 per kid ages 6-12 (5 and under: free). We drove around a little perplexed about the protocol at first. We checked out our neighbors and settled in. Then we discovered they were downing Coors Light sitting atop a blow-up mattress in their flatbed. Things were going to get weird.

 

The doors had opened earlier, so we were about three-fourths of the way back from the screen. Large groups of people congregated in mass tailgating style, all of the mini-van hoods locked in up position. Anything went – grills, coolers stocked with alcohol – – the works. People played football, frisbee and any mobile game possible. Some people had tiki torches staking out their space. Trucks with overstuffed sofas were strapped in their truck beds. I think the kids’ jaws dropped open at that one. We tried to fit into the scene with our Subaru and two portable chairs.

 

Prior to the movie, we played frisbee and checked out the arcade games, classic pin-ball machines and a fortune teller (like in the movie Big) at the center snack building. My 7 year-old son insisted on popcorn so we joined the growing line of people getting their last snacks before movie 1. I marveled at the young kids here (including our own 7 and 9 year olds) for a series of PG-13 movies. Apparently no matter for them.

 

Museum of Drive-In/ '50's Memorabilia

Museum of Drive-In/ ’50’s Memorabilia

First in the series of three was Spiderman. Dusk settled in and the movie began. In our car the audio was great, outside the car in our seats, we relied on the sound from neighbor’s speakers which was less clear. I had my doubts that this crowd’s socializing could be silenced, but then I realized, they were totally into the movie and this whole scene.

 

Another miraculous happening – – not one mosquito bite. Granted we had our Burt’s Bee’s on… but still. As my husband and son began packing up before the credits  rolled, my daughter and I calmed them, We are watching the movie in its entirety. With our two items packed, we zipped out right after the credits. But not before my husband shined our brights on the people behind us who ran their car engine with car windows closed through most of the movie and probably couldn’t have told you what movie was even playing. What do you expect? It’s free reign at the drive-in.

 

Posing as Drive-In Frequenters

Posing as Drive-In Frequenters

It was far from the mad rush out we anticipated. Then it dawned on me, most of these people were in it for the long haul. They were staying for Men in Black and the next flick featuring Adam Sandler: the Triple Feature. It would be after 4:00a.m. when some of them rolled out. As I passed a couple in their front row papazan, I wondered Did they bring their skillets for and egg and hash breakfast?

 

The kids were too jazzed to fall asleep on the ride home. There was already talk about hitting the Cottage Grove Drive-In for IceAge: Continental Drift soon. I loved the nostalgia of the night, but the glimpse into the summer drive-in subculture was a bit of an eye-opener for me. The lot was packed which told me that the drive-in movie theatre concept is alive and well. If and when we go back, we’ll bring along our entourage and the right stuff (coolers, couches and kids) to make the most of all the modern day drive-in has to offer.

 

A Whimsical Tour of Art-A-Whirl May 28, 2012

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Sampling of Silly Milly Art

Sampling of Silly Milly Art

Northeast Minneapolis’ Art-A-Whirl was buzzing with activity and attitude last weekend. It was their 17th annual event featuring the community’s artists and their work, hosted by NEMAA (Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association). I can imagine how much work prepping for this entails, but I’m also guessing most artists are happy not to have to pack up their wares and set up at the weekend’s hottest local art show, as they do most summer weekends. The format – viewing the artists and their work in studio – allows people to ask questions about process and get a glimpse into their creative environment.

 

My 8-yr-old daughter Ava and I arrived around 1:00. It was sunny and steamy. We started on the Westside of Northeast and picked up our art show passport at the Keg House Arts Building. Nicky Torkzadeh Works’ bright, fluid paintings caught my daughter’s eye immediately. I talked with an artist from Trade Winds, a jeweler with an edge for hobo chic. Then we wandered into Clay Squared to Infinity.

 

Clay Squared Artist McDill works on "Oz"

Clay Squared Artist McDill works on “Oz”

Clay Squared’s logo with a exponential “2” and rocket ship blasting off implied they were in the business of having fun with clay. The shop showcases so many unique patterns and potential combinations from address numbering to switchplates, it was hard not to imagine design possibilities. As we discovered the workspace areas in the store, we came upon artist and co-owner, Layl McDill. She had appeared on CBS local TV earlier that morning – see the video that shows the millefiore technique where the clay design formation goes from large to small when stretched.

 

Ava and I saw it first-hand and asked a lot of questions. It was truly impressive to see the tiny pieces that comprised the completed piece, some of which measured three feet squared with wires, puzzle pieces and creative expression attached. While we watched, she worked on the cowardly lion and tin man from the Wizard of Oz. The results were whimsical with fine detail based on familiar children’s stories, often with a twist. We observed for a while and bought three magnets (3 for $15) to give as birthday gifts to Ava’s friends. We took Layl’s card. She does birthday parties and age 10 is the perfect age for clay exploration.

 

McDill Magnets + Erte Lemonade

McDill Magnets + Erte Lemonade

We left the Keg House and headed a few blocks east on 13th Street where we discovered Who Made Who, a design studio and screen print emporium. Any studio with an AC/DC reference and an owl logo was certain to draw me in. We flipped through some prints and moved on when the little shop became crowded. Just to the next store though — Fried Bologna Vintage. Again, the name got us. Ava found board games and other trinkets of intrigue. I told her to save her money. It also got me thinking I could dig up something similar stowed away in storage boxes at home.

 

We checked our NEMAA directory and hit up a furniture store on the corner next to Chow Girls Killer Catering and kept on in search of food and music. A series of houses with golden yellow-painted porches and indie rock singers later, we strolled into Erte for a lemonade and a quick check on time. It was already 3:00 and we were due home by 4:00. We split a pulled pork sandwich for $8 as we people-watched, voting on most artistic expression. The woman with the black shag knee-high boots and hot pink shorts pulling a pink plastic wagon with a 2-yr-old on her hip got our vote.

 

It was time to call it a Whirl. There was no time for my typical stops to the California Building or Northrup King. I’m sure we missed a lot of art and demos. Some young sidewalk artists – like age 7 or so – were selling goods of interest to Ava. She bought a $1 shiny silver and blue pen designed by them. We then came upon a salon and toyed with getting hair extensions because my husband and son were getting buzzcuts we did not yet approve of. Not happening today, however, now we know where to go if we change our minds.

 

On the short walk to our car, we noticed Nice Ride bikes being hauled in by the trailer-full. A group of a dozen bikers asked me to take their photo. I obliged. It was an easy-going, family-friendly day in the neighborhood. As we left the event, we saw the Pedal Pub in action – a pub powered by its patrons’ pedaling. It made our Northeast outing complete. We’ll be back next year for easy access to artists and we’ll be sure to plan more time for less of a whirlwind tour.

 

A Mother of a Day May 12, 2012

O: Outings

On the Legitimate Mill Ruins Park Path

On the Legitimate Mill Ruins Park Path

Mother’s Day is over-rated. Sorry Hallmark, that’s just the way I feel. Too many Mother’s Day’s with expectations set too high. A few years ago I started making my own favorite spinach quiche the Saturday prior so my loved ones had nothing to do but throw it in the oven. As good as that tasted, it still felt empty. My kids this year, now 6 and 8, have  been busy working on homemade cards and gifts this week at school. I am more rested and more realistic about the day. So much so that I get a jump on it – I’m taking this Saturday as the day. Anything splendid that happens on Sunday is a complete bonus.

 

Summit: Mill Ruins Park

Summit: Mill Ruins Park

As it turns out, this Mother’s Day Eve is one to replicate – minus the four loads of  laundry I did from 7-10a.m. It began at 10:05, when I enlisted my kids to join me in a stress-free, relaxing day.  We arrived at Mill City Farmer’s Market around 10:45a.m. I actually did not mind milling about for a parking spot for 15 minutes – a lesson in patience for the kids. Once parked, they circumvented the Mill Ruins Park circular hill walk-way with a straight-up route and rolled down a few times before I made my way up to the top on the legitimate path.

 

Hunger was beginning to set in. We were in search of abelskievers, but landed on Italian coffee (for me) and Gluten-free pound cake for the kids. A live band played in the background. A bride had her photo taken against a dramatic red backdrop near SeaChange, a restaurant at the Guthrie. People found sunshine and a place to take in their Chef Shack snack on the steps leading down to the river.

Pied Piper Incapable of Entrancing Followers

Pied Piper Incapable of Entrancing Followers

 

Kudos to the Guthrie. There is no stuffiness or pretense. Any joe public can meander in and move about the building. We entered and started with the gift shop. Both kids decided how to spend all or a portion of the $20 they brought that day. Calvin bought a $5 recorder/flute. Ava opted to spend  nothing, although I purchased a birthday gift for her friend whose party she’d attend later that day. We took the elevator to the fifth floor and walked out on the Endless Bridge. Calvin happily played his new toy. Others agreed when I suggested to him that he tone it down. Ava sought out places beyond the Stone Arch that she wanted to explore. Not today, I told her.

This Could Really "Rock the Garden" at Our House

This Could Really “Rock the Garden” at Our House

 

We  took the four-floor escalator down then hopped in our car to our next destination: Wise Acre Eatery. I had a hunch it might be a bit of a wait. I set the kids’ expectations accordingly. Sure enough, it was 30 minutes. Tangletown Gardens, just next door, was the perfect distraction. I had done drive-bys, but had never stopped in. The shop, bursting with creativity and pushing the full garden ambiance, featured plants and flowers among decorative and practical garden display vignettes. We wound through walkways and stumbled into the greenhouse, which Calvin thought to be fascinating. Cactuses and arid climate arrangements in rock gardens caught his eye. Ava was more fixated on the birds and other garden sculpture displays.

 

Absolute Black Cherry Soda Craze

Absolute Black Cherry Soda Craze

It effectively staved off the hunger and got me thinking about gardening, which, since the summer of 2010, had been hard to do. Beep beep. Almost 12:30 and time to grab our patio table at Wise Acre. The vibe at the acres is so mellow. I could stay here for hours. We nearly do. There is no kids’ menu. They split the Back to Bed Baked French Toast which comes with yogurt, granola and berries and I go for the fried egg, cheddar and ham on a brioche with ground mustard over a side of greens. The kids are full of carbonation after their $3 black cherry sodas. Calvin has a $2 bill and a one weighted down under his glass for another in anticipation. That never comes to fruition, but Ava brings her empty bottle home as a souvenier.

 

The service is good, but nonchalant. Harley riders come and go. Fire Station #27 across the street sees some action. Avid gardeners wheel their plantings for the season away from Tangletown. It’s time to call it. We’re pushing a 3-hour outing, which doubles our optimal outing time from just two years ago when they were 4 and 6.

 

I have always sought out from others and thought about recommending comprehensive, realistic suggestions for an outing with kids. This route – from Mill Ruins Park to Mill City Farmer’s Market to The Guthrie to Wise Acre Eatery and Tangletown Gardens – kept the kids questioning and me exploring. I would highly recommend the venture to all Mom’s out there – Mother’s Weekend, or not.

 

Art Abound at an Early Age January 10, 2012

A: Activities and O: Outings

Winter, even if unseasonably warm (January 10th and it’s 50 degrees), is the perfect time to get crafty. The inspiration to create also coincided with the non-frequent occurence of kid-centric programming at The Walker Art Center’s First Saturday and The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Second Sunday on the same weekend. We went for it with visits to both totalling five hours of art and inspiration.

 

Turn a Tale of Xmas & Artoo

Turn a Tale of Xmas & Artoo

I sometimes feel like my 6 and 8 year-olds have evolved beyond the programming both museums offer, but then I’m reminded how much, even as an adult, I enjoy it. I love that we can experience these things – performance and art – together and take away very different interpretations and find meaning for our lives in specific ways.

 

Let’s start with the Walker. Admission is free on the first Saturday of the month (as well as every Thursday night) with content especially for kids. It was 10:30a.m. on Saturday and I’m in the mode to get the kids psyched to venture out. My 8-yr-old daughter, Ava, says she’s on board. My 6 yr-old son, Calvin, hems and haws and doesn’t want to give up his chance to view Star Wars on DVD for the second time in his short life. He is so outraged about having to go, that our Walker appearance looks to be in jeopardy.  Then Ava and I start a discussion about what we’ve seen there on our numerous past visits. Calvin begins to come around, citing mostly the fabulous performance art we’ve seen there over the past year or so – the Raven, the acrobats and the beat box/hip hop for starters. He is pumped.

 

Cafe & Art Contemplation

Cafe & Art Contemplation

We arrive at 10:55 and easily park and slip into the first scheduled 11:00 performance of the day focused on Hmong Tiger Tales. We hear a series of four stories from a creative group from Mu Performing Arts who use four actors in and out of masks. It holds even the little ones attention at 35 minutes and you can meet the actors and try on their masks after. We bypass that even though I am always encouraging. My kids’ ages are starting to equate with such self-conscientious and non-Mom coolness that I have to let it slide.

 

We head to the lab for an activity which involves a wheel of fortune to dictate your art form direction (this is consistent at the Walker and I am thankful for a theme and some sort of direction to focus our efforts). The wheel determines form (cone-shaped, foam, etc) and feeling to evoke with design. Ava got the cone-shape for direction and Calvin the foam. Both ended up with “tiny,” although other more sought-after adjectives were in the mix. There are a wealth of supplies and a certified hot-glue-gun artist volunteer to aid creativity. I sometimes feel overwhelmed trying to create something out of nothingness, but the kids push on with their vision. It is a better process when everyone contributes – see exhibit A: Ms. Claus and Batman/Artoo-Detoo (note: due to recent StarWars credit viewing of the accurate spelling of this robot’s name, the R2-D2 I envisioned his name to be for a significant portion of my life was challenged).

 

Edo Pop Inspiration

Edo Pop Inspiration

We spent about 1 hour and 45 minutes at Walker. Plenty for the day. Weekend day #2 starts with brunch at the Grand Cafe on 38th and Grand in Minneapolis. As Van Gogh-like artwork hovers over our table, I’m reminded I have yet to purchase The Van Gogh Cafe book for mommie/daughter book club tonight. First up, a visit to MIA. Just my daughter and I venture out. We arrive at noon with intentions to move through fairly quickly. Impossible given our agenda. I’m seeking to do a refresh of Art Adventure art I’m presenting at my kids’ school January – February and Ava is set on the seek and find related to the day’s theme of Earth, Wind, Water and Fire.

 

We start with a performance in the Pillsbury Theater from dancers that evoke the theme of fire. We then get in on the exhibit: Edo Pop: The Graphic Impact of Japanese Prints. It reminds Ava of Ponyo the movie. She spends some time sketching in the exhibit and we take in the captivating multi-media exhibit of what Ava terms Worms in Japan. Deep. The 4-yr-old next to us keeps repeating, I’m not scared, I’m not scared.

 

After three hours, I’ve located six of my eight pieces of art, Ava has found all of her themed pieces in the Family Gallery Hunt for the day titled Elements Exploration and we even had the opportunity to touch the art via the Art Cart in the Pacific Islands area of the museum. We turn in our completed worksheet and answer questions about our favorites: Deer by Stormy Sea (element: wind) and Cottage on Fire (element: fire). Then due to our schedule we bypass the crafts for the day and head home.

 

We go to our book club despite not having read or found the book via library or to purchase, nevertheless enriched from the weekend’s art experiences. I applaud these museums and the tools they give us busy parents to give us the ease and confidence to help our children explore and define their feelings about art at an early age. With the repetitive museum visits we’ve done over the past three years or so, I am now seeing an emergence (especially from my 8-yr-old) in how she assertively connects with a theme, establishes her own point of view yet maintains an openness about art.

 

Next up, Ava wants her artwork on in the Children’s section of MIA. Look for her work in a gallery near you….

 

Fielding a Trip to Mill City Museum November 20, 2011

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 9:37 am
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Tour Buses Arrive

Tour Buses Arrive

It’s quite a production to plan a field trip for students. So it’s fitting, during this week of giving thanks, to thank teachers at our schools for planning these outings that enrich and expose students to the world beyond the classroom.
 

My daughter’s third grade class arrived by bus at the Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis on a crisp Fall day. The parents who agreed to chaperone showed up in significant numbers too in order to meet the highly suggested one parent to four students tour ratio.
 

We met at 9:45 and the kids and parents filed into the museum and gathered to assemble our groups and review the rules. We go over the acronym WARN: Walk (no running!), Adult (stay with your assigned Adult), Respect (for the museum and its artifacts) and No (no food, drink, pens).

Drop Biscuits

Drop Biscuits


 

The kids and adults alike get green and orange neon colored stickers to wear as nametags. I have a squirrely group of four girls including my daughter, Ava. We are one of nearly 50 small groups at the museum today. We move through five activity areas throughout the tour.
 

We start out in the kitchen. After thoroughly washing hands, kids head in their small groups based on the role they’ll have in the education of flour. There are farmers, millers, elevator operators, bakers and grocers. If kids need a reminder, their white hats indicate their assigned role.  Each table makes drop biscuits and learns how to operate a spoonula and pastry blender. There is flour, baking soda, salt, butter and buttermilk in the recipe that yield eight very uneven biscuits. The baker whisks them away once they’re oven ready.

Baking: From Farmer to Grocer

Baking: From Farmer to Grocer


 

While they bake, the kids gather in their groups and the museum baker takes them through the process according to sets of props. The kids line up and take each prop around the circle so the group can view them.  This holds their attention. At the completion of the interactive lesson, they happily eat their biscuits.
 

We then move on to the water area that shows the power of water through pressurized tubes and mini Mill City models that allow small wooden pieces to move through the Mighty Mississippi. It gets crazy loud in here. We last 12 minutes.

Scavenging for Artifacts

Scavenging for Artifacts


 

We now have our student and chaperone versions of scavenger hunts for the main museum. The girls have time to find seven items based on the picture clues and answer three questions per item. They went for the Pillsbury Doughboy first, of course.
 

The tower is our next activity. The elevator all 40 of us fit into is stadium seating. Some kids worry about getting sick. The tower tour operator explains that we’ll feel some vibrations and move through eight floors – up, down, up, down and finally back up to the observation area. The lights dim and gates close while the story of flour complete with mill workers voiceovers and holograms that show us the history of the mill. The kids are captivated.
 

Flour Tower Tour

Flour Tower Tour


 

We exit and spend time discussing the massive amount of flour dust the process creates. We learn that the dust is more explosive than dynamite and upon a rebuild in 1880, new sifter-type funnels helped contain the dust and made the mill safer.
 

Next, we head up to the observation deck with an indoor and outdoor area offering great views of the Mississippi. Ten minutes later, we go back to the main floor via a glass elevator. It’s time for lunch. I wiggle my way into a seat at the table and take the opportunity to relate to the world of a third-grader. Fascinating stuff.
 

Lastly, it’s time for the 19 minute movie on Minneapolis. Even though we’d been to the museum before in June, Ava and I hadn’t seen this feature. It was informative, historical and insightful. Again, it held the kids’ attention.  By now it’s 12:55 and time for the kids to catch the 1:00 bus back to school. I was so thankful I made the time to spend the morning with them. A bonus: my daughter enjoyed hanging out with me and didn’t give me the cold, embarrassing shoulder.

 

 
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