Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The busy life

The past couple weeks has been filled with work, play, school and family. My daughter Alex has been busy volunteering at the Minnesota zoo. While there, I spent a lot of time with my boys at the zoo, Archiver's scrapbooking, the library and the playground. After the playground, we sadly had to include a side trip to the emergency room for stitches. Collin somehow managed to gash his head in a way only he can manage.

We have been out to Rideability volunteering for the parades and riders. I am looking forward to a break. We also have been busy with an equine massage clinic, riding at my friend Mary's house and trying to help out when I can. I had to break down and get some cleaning and yardwork done this week--I had neglected both and the laundry was piling up as the grass grew.

My husband's work has been crazy busy, but they will be having a customer appreciate night. It will be nice to not have to cook tonight, though I need to juggle vacation Bible school tonight with it. I had really wanted to go camping Thursday, but there is an event I really should cover this so I would have to leave late to do it. I would go the following week, however my husband needs to work and the boys will start their swimming lessons the week after that.

Sadly, I also spent time this weekend with my mother trying to help her decide to find another assisted living home. I am glad that I looked at the one she was looking at. It was truly horrible and would have been three times the price as what she is paying now. It would have been truly awful for her to make that decision based on a badly thought out "plan."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Small towns, Father's Day and the Minnesota zoo

This past weekend has been very nice. The lack of rain was good to help the flooding and also the community festivals that have begun. Miss Goodhue was just crowned on Friday. I also spent a very long time at the Goodhue Volksfest yesterday and burned badly because I forgot the sunscreen. It was a good time. We got to see a "burnout" contest where people try to burn the tires on their cars. It was an experience--not necessarily something I would have done on my own--but people seemed to enjoy it.

I spent most of the day with my daughter running from event to event and saw a bunch of people having a good time and some very cute kids. There was one girl dressed up as Little Bo Peep, leading her lamb for the children's parade. I eventually went home to get my boys and husband to enjoy some watermelon, watch families compete in some games and listen to a band call Generation that was playing. It was fun, but we went home long before the crowds gathered and before it would have been an inappropriate environment for them.

Today is Father's day. We spent a good part of today sitting around and running the kids around. While I was working, John brought the kids over to Rideability so that they could ride in the wagon to the lineup, where they were to walk over to a friend's house to meet up with us. John picked me up when I was finished with my work and while they were riding to town. We came home after a bit of trouble, but it smoothed out and we cooked out.

Right now, everyone is outside talking and playing tag with the neighbors. I can hear the boys outside my bedroom window laughing at my dog. Alex has a new friend in the little girl next door and John is talking with the guy next door. As Alex is volunteering at the Minnesota Zoo this week, I really need to get them in and ready for bed so we can be ready in the morning.

Alex started volunteering there last year after an extensive interview. She was one of a lucky few that was given the opportunity and has really taken her work seriously. She wants to become a vet in the futures so she actively seeks out opportunities to build skills. She loves to work with the horses at Rideability, the people and animals at the zoo and the sheep at her work. She has been very, very blessed to work with a couple on their small farm.

As it is Father's Day, I want to keep this short, but it has been an incredible weekend and wanted to remember the kids' excitement at riding in the wagon and the beautiful weekend that we have been able to enjoy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Building, art and the electoral process

Last Saturday we had a big day. I brought my kids to Home Depot so they could build their monthly kids' project with wood. They made a sailboat; it was cute and was pretty easy. I remember when I first started bringing my daughter; she was so little. Even the boys have gotten so big. They are getting better at doing the projects--I think I have finally gotten them to stop pounding when the nails bend. They have even gotten better at reading the directions. It has been awhile since I brought them down there--seems like there is always something to divert us that particular day.

Afterwards, I remembered that the Rochester Art Center was also having a kids' project. This month they made volcanoes with paper cups and tin foil. Then they "erupted" it with diluted tempera paint, vinegar and baking soda. It was fun and we were able to discuss basic chemistry. Since we had to wait between Home Depot and the Art Center, we had walked over to the Mayo Civic Center, which is attached to the Art Center.

Rather, the Art Center is attached to the Civic Center. I had been unaware that they were holding the Minnesota state DFL convention. At first, I was reluctant to go in. I had become disillusioned with our politicians when they failed to help my family when we asked for it during my husband's enlistment. I am a firm believer that things happened for a reason; I wasn't happy about it, but my daughter's excitement made me realize that there was a learning opportunity there. We stayed. I am happy I did. We got to listen to Al Franken speak--I was really energized. I realized how much my daughter's excitement reminded me of how I used to feel. I doubt I will ever lose the touch of cynicism, but at least I have lost the hopelessness and remember that we can fire our leaders when they fail us. It is a great feeling to know that.

My daughter would really like to volunteer at some campaigns. I think I would like to do that just to help my kids realize that we all have a responsibility to ourselves and each other to be aware and vote. There are times that doing so much with my kids can wear me out, but there are other times that I am grateful to have such a motivating force in my life.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fear and Gratitude

This past week when my daughter was volunteering at the therapeutic riding place that we work at, I had come home. I had debated on staying and waiting for her to finish, but I was really behind on some stuff at home so I didn't.

Turns out that I missed the phone call letting me know that there was a horrible accident at the stables. My daughter was supposed to be the back rider, a person that lends stability for the riders who have the hardest time, but didn't. The horse ran forward as they were mounting and both the volunteer and the student fell off. The student is fine, thank God. Unfortunately, the volunteer was hurt badly. She has a very good prognosis, but is in a lot of pain right now. The helmet and her small stature probably saved her. I am truly upset for her.

My daughter thought she was fine, but the next day was a bit sore. I know that I cannot stop my children from becoming their own adults, but I worry for her. This is the second accident in the past month--though in fairness, I don't know of a lot in the past three years. The other happened at the barn dance last month.

There is always a spring barn dance that serves as a community function and a fund raiser for Rideability--a great time for the entire family with horse riding, food and dancing. I was side-walking with someone who was very nervous and holding the reins tightly. The reins were so tight the horse thought he was supposed to back up and tripped over himself. It was scary, but the person was okay. I was really nervous after that, but now I am doubly concerned. I worry, but the people are so helped by the horses.

I can say that even as a volunteer, my family has been truly blessed. I have found a very supportive network of people. I think everyone in my family has benefited from our contact with the group--way more than any work that we have done for them. I think we will try to visit the other volunteer in the hospital. I know she needs some prayers and visits while she recovers in the hospital. I hope I am helped in learning to deal with the nervousness I feel around the horses so I can be less worried about my kids. Time will tell--my daughter has been riding more this summer and my boys will be riding later this summer. Maybe time will help all of us.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bison and Pipestone

We are so happy to be at home. This past weekend my children and I went with a couple friends to Blue Mounds State Park near the South Dakota border. We did an pretty fair amount of hiking, but also viewed the bison heard that the park maintains. We also visited the Pipestone National Monument and the Jeffers Petroglyphs.

Pipestone has been the site where Native Americans quarried Catlinite, a soft stone named for a European explorer who "found" the site. The stone was and is often made into ceremonial pipes and sacred figures. My children each got a piece as well as I. The items made of this soft stone will have to be placed up in a "safe" spot in our home and left alone--a true challenge for my small boys.

We also returned to the petroglyphs. While the we had been there last summer and were very impressed. Mary and Kathryn seemed to enjoy them as well. Kathryn went ahead of us to look at them; it seemed to fascinate her, but she really likes Native American culture and history.

The petroglyphs, estimated to be about nine to be about nine to twelve thousand years old, are beautiful. Blue mounds also had some wonderful sites. There is an alignment of rocks that are in line with the sun on the first day of spring and fall. The outcroppings of Sioux quartzite are pinkish red, however, when the lichen grows on them and the sun hits them, they appear blue in color. From one, a person is able to view Iowa on the left and South Dakota on the right.

I had always thought that southern Minnesota was a bland flatland devoid of many features. It is, in fact, a vast prairie that has wonderful sites from the small cacti and unique flowers to the magnificent rolling hills. I am glad my kids don't have to wait for years to discover that all of our state should be appreciated.

I was happy that Mary was able to stop to see her brother and parents. It was a pleasant surprise for them and I think she enjoyed the impromptu visit. It reminded me of my father and then again of the bittersweet nature of life. It was an exhausting weekend for all of us, but I definitely want to do it again sometime. Perhaps in the fall.