edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Flower Box Burnout Alternative July 20, 2011

A: Activities

Task #1: Watering

Task #1: Watering

After flower-box burnout several summers running, I opted not to plant any type of living thing this summer in a garden, flower box or other. For some, this is unfathomable. For me, it’s being realistic. And ironically  since I’ve let go of abundant garden dreams, two other opportunities have come my way.
 

The first is the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) I just joined. Our family now gets a weekly delivery from Hay River Farms in Wisconsin. Second is the community garden  – Bethany Gardens – my son’s school started this past winter (indoors) and spring (planting outdoors). Our family can sign up for times to help with gardening tasks per the direction of a master gardener. For now, I like to think I’m working backwards a bit and maybe someday I will have the tools and experience to have my own successful garden.

Towering Tomatoes

Towering Tomatoes


 

Through the CSA we get about 20 different items a week, about half of them are known. Most are a variation of a well-known veggie. Take for example the yellow cucumbers, golden beets and red garlic. With each delivery, an email lists the items, some simple ways to prep them and links to a video Farmer Jim creates each week. Jim is living the dream from Farm to Table as they say. Recently we received some good tips on how to best store the veggies (the highly scientific spritz of water, insert into fridge) and dismantle the veggie box for reuse.  In the first three weeks, I’ve used about 75% of the box. I plan to improve on this.
 

The school-based community supported garden is in Richfield. Child garden labor is cheap, textural (water and dirt make mud after all) and couldn’t be more rewarding for the students at Augsburg Park Montessori School (AMPS).  The kids agree on what to plant and all pitch in daily during the school year in gardening activities, in the early phases, just observing and talking the plants into growing in their indoor greenhouse stand. At age 6, my son has totally surpassed my gardening abilities.
 

On a high heat-index July eve, we took our list of four to-dos from Megan, the master gardener, fetched our gardening gloves (mine looked to be in very good condition) and headed to the garden. We arrived later than we planned on purpose, due to the heat. Quite honestly, we only got the watering done. Then I had a meeting at the school. So I guess technically I only rolled out the garden hose and turned on the water. Calvin, my son, took care of the rest. He also told me all about composting and was eager to check out what was in the bin.

Churning the Compost

Churning the Compost


 

He hadn’t been back to his school since May, so he was pretty elated to see the tomato plants towering over him. He recalled planting melon and pumpkins. There were peas, the beginnings of corn and basil that I could safely id. I know the other families had worked hard to get it to this point. At any rate, Calvin’s anticipation of gardening and excitement upon seeing the fruits of his labor was inspiration enough for me. We need to return in cooler temps to finish items #2-4. Calvin did comment, disappointment in his voice, “Wow, Mom, we really didn’t do much gardening.”
 

Possibly the convergence of the CSA and CSG will max out my gardening and culinary capabilities, which I’d be okay with. At least my kids will have some knowledge and experience in both areas. And going forward, I’d have them to share in the work and enjoy rewards. Or take the blame for a bad crop. I hope they’re taking good notes.

 

A FAIR Assessment July 13, 2011

A: Activities

FAIR Grounds

FAIR Grounds

Summer camps of all sorts are in full swing. We’ve done them all from YMCA to FAIR from Spanish to Stages. Recently my 8-yr-old daughter took a week-long break from the Classic TaeKwonDo day camp both of my kids have been attending to explore her theatrical side.  This theater camp, offered through Hopkins Stages Theater, does camps all summer long for kids in three age groups (4-6, 7-13 and 13-17) with varying themes.  I missed their 2010 season, so was quick to sign up in February for one of their 2011 camps. We also enlisted a friend.
 

We chose a week themed The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes described as: “What might happen if the super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes was joined by a whole host of daring detectives like Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, Harriet the Spy, or the Hardy Boys? As students work together to create, rehearse, and perform their own original tales of mystery and suspense, they’ll also build fundamental acting skills such as cooperation, character creation, and playwriting through improvisation. Stages Theatre Company professional teaching artists will also lead master classes on a wide range of acting techniques.”

FAIR View

FAIR View


 

The Holmes class and other classes for 7-13 year-olds were not located at Hopkins Stages, rather at FAIR School in Crystal, MN. The extent of the research I did on FAIR involved a quick check to discover the week-long workshop was held from 9:00 – 3:30 daily and it was 15 minutes from my work. We booked the camp as well as the 3:30-4:30 daily childcare. I was still curious about the location, but put that on the back-burner for another four months, until the Monday morning of camp.
 

We approached the school, set in a suburban neighborhood with a site that brushed up to a wooded nature area. Since we arrived at 8:15, we had plenty of time to explore.  The colorful purple, yellow and orange structures screamed creativity and boldness, while the prairie and serene landscape invited you to enter with an open mind. Inside, the shared common areas of the school and classrooms were light-filled with visual connections to other spaces. Many of these in playful ways like the box windows of varying heights that allowed people to peer into a performance area or circle windows popping out, connecting to exterior spaces.

An Exploration of FAIR

An Exploration of FAIR


 

The girls marveled, “This is the coolest school ever,” as they zig-zagged between rows of lockers, checked out restrooms just for fun, ran to capture views out of windows and climbed the school’s staircases. I learned that FAIR School, a magnet school for grades 4-8 that opened in 2000 as part of the West Metro Education Program (WMEP), focuses on an arts education that gives students the opportunity to actively engage in culturally relevant and student-centered curricula. They state that they follow an interdisciplinary approach that allows students make cognitive connections across several disciplines.  I could see how that could happen. Everything felt interconnected. I had a good vibe from this learning environment and I’ve toured lots of them.
 

All of this prior to theater camp even starting. It’s 9:00 so I bid the girls a dramatic day and head off to work. Since Ava’s friend’s parents and I are sharing in dropoffs and pickups, it makes the timing and arrangements more manageable – its a strategy I employ often. Each evening there are re-enactments. Ava even writes a story about her character, Licorice, a white chocolate lab by her definition. By Wednesday morning the early-arrivers are engaging in impromtu charades.

FAIR Friends

FAIR Friends


 

At week’s end, the group of 7-13 year olds have developed their characters and the plot that they will perform for an audience at the finale on Friday afternoon. When we recap the week, she recalls learning about actor-neutral (which means looking at-ease while you have a non-speaking part on stage) and creating the story. A story that involves a girl falling through a magic mirror and the quest to solve the mystery of the missing jewels between the two opposing groups: The Rockers and the Candylanders.  On Friday, her Dad, Nana and Papa all witness her acting skills as a puppy. I hear she barked well.
 

We’ll be doing acting camp again next year through Stages – its a good confidence builder. It was also a great way for her to spend some quality time with a friend she hasn’t seen all summer. They color coordinated outfits for the week after they discovered they were both in pink on day 1. As for the school, we’ll be checking out FAIR as an option. It remains a mystery if the acting coaches tried to push her past the panting puppy role. It would have been nice to witness a little Ms. Nancy Drew super-sleuthing action.

 

 
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