edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Happy Trails for Cross-Country Skiers March 6, 2013

A: Activities

Selecting Skis

Selecting Skis

An excerpt from the list of questions we pondered as we toyed with the idea of cross-country skiing with the family:

 

1. Hey, we’re Norwegian, shouldn’t cross-country skiing come natural to us?

2. Don’t we live in a climate ideal for outdoor activities, especially in February/ March?

3. Is it not safer than downhill skiing?

4. Are we not going stir crazy inside with no hope of winter vacation release?

5. Don’t we have some great trails nearby?  … Yeah, that place where Grandma Susie gifted us our membership last year that we only used in the summer: Wood Lake Nature Center

 

A few Sunday’s ago we answered yes to all of our questions. We considered heading to more serious trails – either Hyland Park Reserve in Bloomington or Highland Park in St. Paul – but landed on Wood Lake due to its simplicity, our novice skills and its proximity to our home.

 

CC Racers

CC Racers

The sun is brightly shining, the snow cover is decent and the temp is hovering around 30 with no wind.  We dress in our downhill skiing gear and set out for Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield, just a short 5 minutes away. The parking lot is packed at our 12:15 arrival time, only 15 minutes after opening. Everyone has the same idea as we do today. We hop in line to pay and discover it’d be much cheaper to get a full membership than pay for one time rental for a family of four. IF we go at least two times.  (an annual membership including rental for boots, skis and poles is $50.)

 

We measure for boots, select our sizes and head out to the skis and ski pole racks. We have some loose guidelines – skis should come to mid-palm when you’ve got your arm reaching for the sky. It’s lucky we don’t take someone out getting from equipment rentals to the trail’s start. Next time, I’ll give a lesson in transporting your gear.

 

We Break For Fruit Snacks

We Break For Fruit Snacks

We spend some time hooking our boots into the skis. A group of three girls from my 9-year-old daughter’s school plus one mom are there for the first time too. Good, we can all look like newborn calves together. At least we’re a one parent to one kid ratio.  We start off with two of the girls from Ava’s school intermingled with our skis.

 

Quickly we come to a fork in the road. We need to choose the long route (2.6km or 1.6 miles) or the short route (.6km). I can’t imagine how it would be worth it to get all geared up just to do the short route. We veer left. My 7 year-old son, Calvin, scrappy as ever, insists on being in the lead. Ava on the other hand, has a nice stride going and actually looks up once in a while to feel the sunshine and take in some nature.

 

Wishbone from an Extra Large Turkey

Wishbone from an Extra Large Turkey

The paths are easy to navigate and well-groomed. It’s no problem to pass. At this point, just under a mile in, I notice the Mom and other child in the foursome are not to be seen.  Loosely, it’s the six of us now, making our way around the marshy frozen lake. There are plenty of rosy cheeks, complaints for water (which we did not think to bring) and tired little legs.

 

We stop for a break at the half-way mark. Then it’s time to complete the circle. We all fall a few times. Sometimes when we’re just standing in place. The finale is the steepest hill of the course where you have to point your skis outward and inch up the hill. The downward coast after is well worth it. We reach the end, unhook our boots and carry in our gear. From start to finish = 1 hour and 25 minutes. We agree we’ll have to trek around again very soon and try to improve our time. Then we decide it would be fitting to head to Pizza Luce for slices and a brownie sundae. All that hard work deserves reward!

 

A few notes: I learned a few days later that the mom as part of the foursome overseeing the three girls, was a bit concerned. The two girls intermixed with us were supposed to take the .6km short route and instead took the long route. Having taken the short route, she was a bit panicked until she met up with the two older girls.
I’m also happy to say that within 1.5 weeks of the first outing, we made it out for a second spin. This time with water and snacks. We discovered more in the woods (due to comfort with our strides and a finer attention to nature’s detail). For example, we came across a tree sculpture that we adequately named Wishbone.

 

Candy Salsa January 20, 2013

E: Eats

Candy Salsa Ingredients

Candy Salsa Ingredients

Usually the school subjects my seven year-old son, Calvin, tends to be jazzed about are recess and lunch. Every day I get reports about how little time he actually gets to eat his lunch and play outside. One day last week, he came home thrilled about extra time devoted to one of his favorite subjects: food.  The school had someone come in from Midwest Food Connection to make a recipe right there in their classroom for two days last week.

 

I’m pretty sure Calvin was in the front row, taking in all the techniques and mixology that went into the recipes. Upon picking him up at school last Tuesday, he waved the recipe card in my face: Mom, we have to make this stuff. It’s SO good!

 

It was a recipe for salsa. Not rocket science and quite basic. His enthusiasm ensured the ingredients made it to my grocery list for Wednesday. With portions of a whole as the quantity in the original recipe, I increased everything accordingly so I could use the full ingredient. What do you do with half of an avocado, three-fourths of a bell pepper and 18 sprigs of cilantro?

 

For the Love of the Roma

For the Love of the Roma

As he hopped out of the car at school drop-off on Thursday morning, he eyed me: We are going to make that salsa today, right? Me: Sure. True to form, after school, he reminded me once more. He stuck his head in the fridge, seeking our ingredients. After everything was assembled and awaiting chop, dice or squeeze techniques, we re-read the recipe and figured out what each of us would do. I am still not comfortable with him using a sharp knife – especially to dice items into small pieces, so I did all of the knife work. I also had him watch as I dismantled the seedy pepper, chopped the tomatoes and popped the pit out of the avocado. He washed veggies, de-leafed the cilantro, scooped out the avocado, squeezed the lime juice, added the salt and mixed everything together.  Oh, and sampled to taste: Needs more salt.

 

Cheater's Lime Juice

Cheater’s Lime Juice

I heated up the corn tortillas on a pan on the stove and we spooned the salsa onto the tortillas. We sat at the table for a little lesson in wrapping. Typically, this would be a side dish to a main course, but at 3:00 in the afternoon, it was a perfect snack. I’ve made salsa many times in the past with similar ingredients including garlic, but never with bell pepper. I could have eaten this salsa like candy. Calvin agreed and we attribute the sweetness to the pepper, thus renaming it Candy Salsa.

 

Remarkably, Calvin was totally onboard with the tomato, which for whatever reason (his Dad’s not favoring them?) he had vehemently disliked since summer. It must have had something to do with the chef’s preparation, other classmates agreeing the salsa was delicious, or just plain acceptance of the common tomato. Whatever. I love his passion in the kitchen.  He brought home another recipe from school for potatoes which we’ll be making next week. For starters, we’ll share the salsa one with you:

 

Candy Salsa on Corn Tortilla

Candy Salsa on Corn Tortilla

Candy Salsa (our name)/ Salsa Recipe (official name)

one-fourth red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced

2-3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

5 sprigs of cilantro leaves

one-half avocado, diced

1 fresh lime wedge, squeezed juice only

salt to taste

Mix together in bowl and serve on warm corn tortillas or with corn tortilla chips.

 

Recipe from The Gift of Grain Lesson and presented by Midwest Food Connection at Hale school in Minneapolis the week of January 14 2013.

 

A Castle, a Courtyard and a Cafe November 18, 2012

O: Outings

Who doesn’t have an obsession with castles? The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis does and with the new addition by HGA Architects, you can go from historic to modern with a courtyard in between.

 

Trolling for Swedish Fish

Trolling for Swedish Fish

I hadn’t visited ASI for years and since the opening of the new addition, it’s been on my list. With relatives in town, not of Swedish but Scandinavian heritage (close enough!), and the holidays approaching, we opt for a Friday afternoon visit. Our group includes my mom, aunt, my two kids and me.

 

ASI lies just south of downtown Minneapolis on Park Avenue, the first asphalt road in the Twin Cities which is also known as the Golden Mile. The institute’s new signage, parking lot and landscaping greatly enhance its presence and ease of access. They also designate close parking spots for fuel-efficient vehicles only, our first hint at the sustainable features for the site’s new design.

 

Upon entering we’re drawn to the right, right into their gift shop featuring Scandinavian designed goods and to my kids’ delight – a candy store. Might they have Swedish Fish? Bulk candy is $12 a pound so after a quick study, the kids chose a few items that occupy them while the grown-ups check out the shop a bit more. The kids discover the Norwegian (our ancestry) version of Ticket to Ride. I file that idea away for later.

 

Just (Scandinavian) Desserts

Just (Scandinavian) Desserts

The cafe, Fika, runs the length of the courtyard’s southside. There is plenty of daylight streaming in at 3:00 in the afternoon and many larger groups  of people dining in the cafe. We peruse the chalkboard menu for some time and place an order for various coffees and desserts from lattes to hot chocolates (both of which are served with fancy swirls) and flourless chocolate torte to bread pudding. Our order is served to us at the table along with real linens and silverware. The minute I insist I have to try my 7-year-old son’s dessert, he picks up the last large section of it to shove in his mouth. I manage to talk him down from that to share a bite with me. The rest of us are sharing politely.

 

Third Floor Children's  Playhouse

Third Floor Children’s Playhouse

After dessert, we pay our admission fees for the castle portion of the institute (the cafe, gift shop and access to the courtyard are all free). Fees run $7 for adults and $4 for kids (ages 6-18; under 6 are free). Upon arriving at the paid portion of the museum, the kids immediately assume we are in some sort of Harry Potter-like adventure (we are in the process of reading the books together). The castle-like vibe is heightened here because we are inside at the old to new transition point, yet can touch the exposed exterior stone of the castle.

 

In the Castle's Shadow

In the Castle’s Shadow

We explore all three levels of the castle including the solarium in about an hour. It was the right amount of time considering we had a nine and seven-year old with us. Many of the rooms were set with holiday decor including some very elaborate table settings and Christmas tree decor. I would like to get the kids in for napkin folding instruction, please!

 

We spend more time on the third floor at the kids’ playhouse and Turret area, where Tomte, the elf, is now accepting written holiday wishes. The kids each scribe a letter to drop into the post. From our perch, we also discover the new addition’s green roof and miscellaneous hidden goats, gargoyles and gnomes. Before leaving, we take one last walk around the courtyard. I envision that us adults could easily come back and explore the museum more, and that for free, the kids and I could come back to shop, dine and just be in the shadow of Minnesota’s only castle.

 

It’s an Uphill Battle July 12, 2012

U: The Unknown

Biking Bridge Along Minnehaha Parkway

Biking Bridge Along Minnehaha Parkway

Exploring around Minneapolis has been an adventure. Recently my 9-year-old, Ava, and I set out on the newly paved Chicago Avenue that added designated bike lines last summer. We chose a Sunday morning 9:30a.m. time slot to begin the trek.

 

From our neighborhood, it was a 10 block commute in the Chicago Avenue lane to Minnehaha Parkway (around 51st Street in Minneapolis). Despite having a bike rack —  it is not the most hassle-free bike route option — I really prefer setting out from our house when possible. After losing the Saturday battle for a bike ride together, I took a rain check from Ava. Now she owed me a sunny disposition for our Sunday morning ride.

 

Smiles, sunscreen and moments later, we set out. It was a hot several-city block ride to the parkway with one moderately steep hill. There were a lot of whiny complaints, which I tuned out. Her main focus was the hills – – what a drag to have to endure the uphill battle.  But what about the downhill coast that most often followed closely after?, I asked. She glared. There’s a lesson here – No Pain, No Gain; Just Do It, etc. And believe me, I pulled out all the major athletic ad campaign slogans throughout the journey, hoping something would stick.

 

Historic Highs, but Uphappiness with Hills

Historic Highs, but Unhappiness with Hills

We reach the parkway and jump on, heading east towards the Mississippi River, which literally feels like you’re entering a stream of swimming fish or hopping on the light rail. We wind around and discover tons of tennis courts, parks and bridges on the path as well as very seasoned bike riders. I am a bit concerned for her safety on her new bike so we alternate: her first, me following, and vice versa. I like to be in front when we’re approaching a major intersection and in back when we’re coasting intersection-free.

 

We stop just north of Lake Nokomis on the pathway for a photo and a water break (along the parkway, there is no shortage of bridges to see, as seen in our photo).  We cross up the way from this bridge over the vehicle traffic in the pedestrian/bike cross walk. I witness a near accident between veteran bikers – one riding in the car lane and one crossing over in the ped/bike lane. Glances are exchanged. Ava and I are glad we played it safe and held back for that one.

 

We have an open, towering view of downtown over Lake Hiawatha before we cross a bridge and continue east. Curiosity pushes us further. We come to the light rail path along Hwy 55 (Hiawatha) and we turn right (south) and after a short while (.5 miles max), we arrive at the Historic Longfellow House and Gardens (photo opp here) where no biking is allowed. The various options along the bike path have us a little confused, but we cruise by the Princess Depot and head east to cross the River Road. We arrive at Minnehaha Falls, where we have driven to and hiked numerous times. Biking there is a new experience.

 

Pulling Over at Mile Six for a Water Break

Pulling Over at Mile Six for a Water Break

We pause for a moment on the bridge that overlooks Minnehaha Falls. We make note of the Dairy Queen for future trips, then turn and head back home. We have helmets, but not other official biking gear. I’m overly cautious – – it’s difficult with the winding trails to make sure Ava and I pass slower riders safely. Lot’s of “On your left“‘s are spoken.  We arrive home and I make a mention of our 5 mile exploration and begin to detail it out to my husband, “that’s more like 8 miles,” he says. Okay, I guess so – -“we” were having too much fun that I may not have calculated it correctly. It’s about 11:oo so we rode for 1.5 hours.  I consider the journey and agree with him.

 

I’m sure the paths will be more crowded later in the day with cyclists that plan full-day routes. Next time, after Freewheel Bike installs her carrier rack, we’ll pack a lunch for the midway point. Hopefully, there will be less complaints about the uphills, seeing how she screamed with delight on the long downhills. I can hardly resist dousing her spirit with a words of wisdom moment, “Life is an Uphill Battle,” but I leave it be.  She is already wondering about our next outing… and that’s a good thing.

 

Which Came First, the Tortoise or the Hare? February 15, 2012

Filed under: Activities — edamomie @ 10:46 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

A: Activities

Whether you represent the tortoise or the hare, it’s no matter at a young age. Running is fun. It’s when you turn six that it really matters. A few weekends ago my kids  – ages 6 and 8 – ran in the Twin Cities Medtronic run – The Fieldhouse Fun Run – on Saturday, February 4.

 

Tortoise + Hare: Friends or Foes?

Tortoise + Hare: Friends or Foes?

Our friends and their kids (Ethan and Andrew) were planning on going. My daughter, Ava (8), had run in two annual TC Medtronic races on the first weekend in October – first a half mile, then a mile. She knew the uphill terrain of the course and outdoor environment. What I liked about this race was that it took place indoors on a track, giving them exposure to a more consistently flat elevation, and it introduced the concept of staggered starts and pace.

 

I pre-registered both kids ($12 each) – Ava for the mile (8 laps) and Calvin (6) for the half-mile. I swear we discussed this weeks ago. We also talked about it the night prior to the race. Yet, race day morning, Ava was NOT going to participate. She hadn’t trained for it. That pushback caught me off-guard, but I had to admire it. She was serious about running. After conveying a lot of blame and anger my direction, it finally sank in that she had the option to run or not to run. I was not going to force her. I packed her running gear on the sly and we headed out 8:30a.m.-ish.

 

Shelly and Hairy, the tortoise and the hare respectively, started the day out with their own comedic half-a-lap race. As the story goes the tortoise remained focus and steady, while the hare goofed off and ran circles around him. Of course, they tied at the finish and kids cheered. It was kind of a cluster (see video) at the start. Instead of one kid per each one of eight lanes, about 50 of them started together. Ava had coached Calvin earlier to pace himself and he nodded, taking in her advice (he was a novice runner). That immediately went by the wayside as he sprinted right out of the gates into the pole position.

Kids + Their Seriously Heavy Medals

Kids + Their Seriously Heavy Medals

 

The older kids in the group of 4-6-yr-olds passed up the young ones. It got confusing. I had to flag Calvin in after his 4 laps and none of the field crew seemed to understand what was happening. I think he was 4th. We don’t know.  Then several more races took place. Finally Ava warmed up to the idea of running and got her gear on. An instructor of some sort warmed them up prior to the race.

 

The third graders were finally off and running. Ava also disregarded her own advice and began with a bit of a sprint right off the bat. Later she said that hanging back with the crowd really doesn’t get you anywhere. She should know. She held her own and I think finished second for girls in her race.

 

The whole event was a social hour for parents too – we met our friends there with their two boys who were each in the same races as our kids. I wanted to do some sprints – now THAT could be a fun event. The only things missing were donuts and coffee. Some parents were dragging. It was 10:45a.m. The kids were starved from their races and parents were decaffeinated. We debated, considered and settled on brunch at Hell’s Kitchen. Reward for a job well done.

 

As a runner – long distance and the 800meter – I had visions of track stars in my head. Us parents always have to go there, don’t we? I try to stay in the moment and accept that I do not know where their passions will take them. I can guide them, but cannot predict nor dictate. Tortoise or hare, it’s all about the journey.

 

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
Tags: , , , ,

O: Outings

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.

 

Horse Walks in to Cavalia… September 22, 2011

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 11:32 pm
Tags: , , , ,

O: Outings

Of Horse, Men and Women

Of Horse, Men and Women

…Why the long face? If horses could do more than whinny, might they say they love the applause of the audience? Might they actually be smiling, but us humans just can’t tell? Might they confess they get a deep satisfaction of what I suspect would be grueling hours of training and traveling? It was too late to stay up and ask these questions of the knowledgeable trainer who stuck around after the Cavalia show last night. After all, 11:00 was getting late for an eight year-old.
 

Even though my date for the night, Ava, enjoyed the show from the edge of her seat, she was left wondering why the horses looked so sad. I shot back: how do you know when a horse is happy? Do they have a lot of expression? These are things I just don’t know. I think they might be sort of neutral on the whole thing, really. They seemed to like their trainers and they’d nicker (sound a horse makes when they see a human who gives them food) quite a bit when the athletic, bedazzled performers came around. If they were feeding them for reward, I didn’t notice.

Scary Backdrops in the Big Tent

Scary Backdrops in the Big Tent


 

Normand Latourelle, the founder and artistic director of Cavalia, says he’s not a horse guy, but talked with trainers who persuaded him to use a gentle approach to training the horses called ethology. Meaning: they ask the horse to do what they would do in nature. “We don’t abuse or punish them. We don’t force them to do anything they don’t want to do. We don’t ride them like they are only machines.” I call this out because I know there are differing views, but want to offer that the horses, like humans, are challenged to the limit. And until I can talk to a horse, or see something that proves they’re miserable or being treated unjustly, I’ll take the stance that the horse show is on the up and up.
 

The show in review: The opening had a series of questions and answers displayed in text on the screen. They listed three possible answers to each and asked the audience to give a show of hands for the right answer. I won’t give them away, but say that learning the information about the Cavalia team of horses in this way was inventive and much more inviting than reading it in a show program. Clever. Most insightful – – now if you go you’ll be sure to get these right – – there are 42 horses, 11 breeds and no mares on team Cavalia. They’ve performed in over 20 cities and work on a one night on one night off schedule.

Ready for the Late Show!

Ready for the Late Show!


 

Everyone is so concerned about the horses – maybe we should be worrying about the performers too. Some of the stunts are performed on the horses at top-speed without much room for inaccuracies. Good thing they were perfectionists –  even in the dirt and sand stage (actually very curious about the actual materials in that mix – we got up close, but I did not want to touch).
 

One of my favorite acts was Le Miroir, where the horses and riders mimic each other in perfect synchronization, as if looking in a mirror. Truth be told, I was relived not to be on the edge of my seat worried about a performer being stomped by a horse. Similarly dreamy and relaxing was La Vida where two horses and their riders circled, catching and releasing the fair maidens who swirled above them via wires. In contrast Poste Hongroise transported me to Medieval times. Fairland Ferguson exuded such a confidence in reigning six horses at top speed, in pairs of two, a foot on either of the last pair. Then just add a small three foot jump. Wow, what a ride! A gasp from Ava.
 

There was spring, fall and winter; desert, leaves, rain and snow; all before it ended and power and grace throughout. We compared it to Ovo, which we saw in June. Ava preferred Ovo, mostly due to the fact that she just couldn’t get a read on the horses’ happiness in Cavalia. Ovo was more silly with outrageous costumes as well. And me, ever the indecisive, diplomatic one, said that I liked them both equally for different reasons.  I will say that Cavalia is definitely worth a visit! And if you do make a trip to see the equestrian ballet, let us know if you’re able to discern the contentedness of horse with the long face.

 

Character on the Course June 18, 2011

Filed under: Activities — edamomie @ 4:35 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

A: Activities

Prior to kids, it was easy for my husband to get in 18 holes of golf and for me, I actually had a weekly gig at Theodore Wirth Golf Course in Minneapolis for 9 with the girls on Wednesday nights. After kids, the time commitment and expense of golf, tapered our ability to play quite a bit. Golf just did not happen due to many other priorities. I accepted this for years.
 

There milestones in a parent’s life when the kids are maturing that allow you to get some of your former life and self back. And it’s even better if it’s an activity you can do as a family, as we recently discovered on a golf outing with kids 8 and nearly 6. And my perspective, I can focus my energy on improving their game and not fretting so much over mine.

Fancy Clubs at Troon, Scottsdale

Fancy Clubs at Troon, Scottsdale


 

Ava, my now 8-yr-old, got her first set of clubs at age 4. We started with some practice at the range during the first summer – it was probably a five time occurrence. We also played some mini-golf, a confidence builder. By age 5, we took her out on the course to ride with us a few times. After teeing off and putting on the first 3 holes, it became less fun (I assured her I could sympathize). We always rented a cart, even though the past me preferred to walk. We gave her jobs like ball washing and keeping score. This continued over the next few summers to present. Often, we’d gauge the mood of the kids and if weather looked good and spirits were positive, we’d call up Hiawatha Golf Course and see how quickly we could jump on there. We also checked out Braemar’s Executive Nine in Edina.  We never had an issue doing this.
 

We hadn’t considered golf lessons for either quite yet and have not wanted to force their play – just expose them to it, make it fun and hope they join in. On a March trip to Scottsdale, AZ, on our family vacation, I wondered how they would withstand a group golf outing in the desert with snakes and the like. My husband, Chad, had not a worry about this and scouted out Troon North Golf Course in Scottsdale. Just for signing up for their free membership, our entire family received a free round of golf (twilight hour play required), complete with fancy clubs for the kids and carts. (I am still on their email newsletter list and wish we could go again).

Journaling About Golf

Journaling About Golf


 

I was optimistic. I hadn’t picked up clubs in quite a while. The kids were a bit restless, possibly over-tiredness from vacationing. Whatever it was, talking in the back swing, sauntering up into your swing-range, all made it difficult for me to concentrate this round. The scenery and togetherness made up for it.
 

It used to be Chad and I driving the idea – let’s go golfing! C’Mon, it’ll be fun!  As of this last Thursday, our family now had a new member championing for golf: Calvin, my soon-to-be 6-yr-old.  He anticipated our two day trip to Luck to visit Grandma and made sure his clubs made it into the trunk, even if they were the ones inherited from his sister. After his dad played 36 on Thursday, Calvin had his work cut out for him, convincing us that we should go.

Father & Son, In Luck

Father & Son, In Luck


 

Calvin won out. We got a 12:45 tee time set at the Luck Golf Course in Luck, WI, finished up lunch and off we went. Ava, was a bit unsure if she really wanted to go. Grandma kindly offered to come pick her up if it got intolerable. Green fees are weekly rates until 5:00p.m. on Fridays and with a grown-up, kids golf for free. We got carts. We were all set. Ava took out her journal and began writing, her head not quite in the game. Prior to teeing off on hole #1, she wanted to speed-dial Grandma.
 

Calvin was ready to take on the course with a no whining attitude I was convinced would end mid-round. He insisted on hitting every shot, not just off the tee and close to the green. I admired the speed with which he ran from one short distance shot to the next. A few times, looking a little annoyed to have to remind us not to talk during his back swing.
 

At the conclusion of hole #3, Grandma conveniently pulled up and whisked Ava away. I’m not sure what was going on, but I know you can’t always force a good attitude on the golf course. The three of us happily continued on. It was a beautiful day with a nice breeze, no pesky bugs either. Calvin’s determination carried him through the next six and seeing some of my shortfalls might have been a boost for him.  The video I shot was one of two only. He asked me to take it, so he could work on improving his swing. And for the record, we challenged him to make it in on the #9 par 3 in 10. He did.
 

To top it off, uncle Jay solved the shared club issue with a set of hand-me down clubs in great shape for kids 6-9 versus the other clubs for kids 3-6. I’m hoping for more positive family golf outings this summer – for both kids and adults -because we know that golf is a game of patience that definitely builds character. See you on the city (and Luck) courses!
 


 

To watch: rotate your head 90 degrees counterclockwise.

 

Flour Tower: Minneapolis To-do List June 15, 2011

O: Outings

Sometimes I wake up on a Saturday morning feeling overwhelmed with a to-do list a mile long and a wish list that’s even longer. On this particular Saturday, I reminded myself to balance. I did a few quick chores around the house, got in some me-time then enlisted the family to come with me on an errand. This errand to downtown Minneapolis’ Depot to pick up my race packet for the race the next day ended five hours later.

BD Girl at the Guthrie

BD Girl at the Guthrie


 

To set the scene, it was a bright sunshiny day. It was my daughter’s birthday. Spirits were high. With some patience, we found a parking spot and plugged the meter for two hours, assuming we might linger a bit after the errand was done. We had parked mid-way between the Depot and the Guthrie, about a four-block distance. I went solo to stand in line for the packet at the Depot, and sent my parents and their grandchildren (g age 8 and b age 5) to Caribou Coffee. The streets were filled with runners picking up their packets – many of them were staying overnight pre-race at the Depot (Residence Inn) in hopes of being well-rested at the starting line.
 

A short walk from Caribou past MacPhail Music Center and the Mill City Museum, we came upon the Mill City Farmer’s Market in the breezeway between Mill City Museum and the Guthrie. We frequent this market about four – six times a summer, I would guess. I get the specifics for each Saturday via their Mill City Beet e-newsletter. Today there was live music and as always, aebelskivers – 3 for $5. We pass the honey stand (this time!) and beeline for the skivers: an order of apple (hold the messy blueberry sauce) and cheesy bacon (ladel on the ginger jam).
 

People lounge and eat their farmer’s market purchases on the steps leading up to the Guthrie from the market area. A group just leaving motions our party of five over to their table (one of about 15 in the area). One older, grandfatherly-like gentlemen has to tease my daughter a bit, but she is not sharing her aebelskivers. It’s her birthday after all. Turns out, it’s a great people-watching location in the shade, especially to check out the runners and bikers working hard to make it up the hill. This will be part of my race route tomorrow – it does not look promising.

Shot of a Shoot

Shot of a Shoot


 

We wander through the rest of the market, picking up some ricotta-filled croissants, leafy greens and radishes. At the end of this line is the entrance to Mill City whose first level is open and accessible to the public. There are restrooms, a D’Amico cafe, the museum gift shop and access to exterior balconies overlooking the preserved ruins of the flour mill that once fully stood on the site. We’ve visited this area several times before. Today we notice there’s a photography shoot going on – its a couple who looks to be celebrating a Persian wedding (I’m thinking METRO magazine shoot, for example, and the only reason I’m guessing Persian is due to the shoe booties with the curled up toe – Aladdin style).
 

We arrived downtown about 11:00a.m. and it’s now just before 1:00. I look at the group – they collectively need some direction. I run out to plug the meter for another two hours and Mom checks the next Flour Tower Tour which is conveniently at 1:00. I’ve had this on my Minneapolis to-do list for a few years. Today we decide to get our tickets.

Flour Funnel

Flour Funnel


 

We check out a bit of Mill City Museum prior to 1:00, then head into the elevator, complete with a built-in set of risers/steps for people to sit on while the guide takes us on a journey from floor five to eight, back down to three, up to four, then up to eight again. At each stop, you see a room set for theater as they creatively overlay historical video, details, music and voices of mill workers who talk about what it was like to work long shifts, breath the air full of flour dust (which btw is very explosive) and what it sounded like when the machine belt slipped off-track.

 

Golden View

Golden View

We exit on the eighth floor where we can actually see the bins that funnel the grains to the lower levels. We also learn about enhancements the mills made to include giant vacuums to suck up the flour dust.  Then we walk up a flight of stairs to a glassed-in walkway with a great view of the river. Ava, my 8-yr-old, spends a bit of time feeling woosy then we all head out to the open-air balcony where the vista improves and you can feel the wind in your hair and see the little people below.
 

After we’ve had our fill of fresh air, we step into the glass elevator to go down eight flights. I’m surprised at the speed and it makes me a little lightheaded. The kids are uneasy too, but they are sure they want a do-over.
 

When the tower tours ends around 1:30, we’re notified that the chef demo and tasting will be in the Mill City Kitchen at 2:00. No, Dad, really we’ll be heading out before then. Lets just take a quick look around… We discover the many iterations of Betty Crocker, check out Pillsbury’s ad campaign history and learn about the history of the mills and how they operate. My kids are mostly checking out the interactive town that moves flour from the river to the mills. They also like the water room that has a model of the river at the Stone Arch that kids can assemble and move parts to change water flow to push water through the wheels or funnels.

 

Chef Lucia Watson

Chef Lucia Watson

Oh look at the time. People are starting to gather for the 2:00 chef demo. Once I find out this is to be Lucia Watson of Lucia’s in Minneapolis, I convince the group we must stay. (I think they have cooking demos every Saturday, so keep an eye on the Mill City Beet for information). She keeps it simple and explains everything she’s doing – making the most foreign veggies seem common. One in particular my Mom keeps asking about is green garlic.
 

Lucia makes an olive oil, herb and feta mixture that tops a veggie pasta and lamb meatballs with greek yogurt and mint. The kids are attentive. Lucia points out that committing to buying staple items like milk and butter locally on a consistent basis is more helpful than the occasional purchase of local goods at the market. Must get into a CSA soon… But first, Dad, can you plug the meter again? It’s 2:45 and we’re cutting it close.

 

Lucia’s demo wraps up and soon after we locate Dad near the museum entrance. Is everyone starving? Yes. We head it out of downtown and just miss SunStreet Breads on 46th and Nicollet before their 3:00 close. Ava is fine going cakeless anyway because now we can go home and add a check next to Flour Tower.

 

 
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