Thursday, April 23, 2009

Therapuetic horseback riding begins its season

The season for therapeutic horseback riding has begun already. This is the fourth year my family has volunteered at the center. The first year, my daughter is really the only person to do anything, but the year after we all began helping whenever we can. The boys are getting big enough that they can actually help now. They raise the flags, help carry water and work with the horses when they get a chance.

My boys even got the chance to work with the horses. They help get them from the pasture, brush them and warm them up some before the students get on them. It is great to see them grow and want to help both with the horses and the students. It is amazing for them to really comprehend that despite everything life can throw at you, there are always things that could make is so much harder.
My daughter started working a couple years ago as an actual employee helping make sure the barn is ready for when the students and volunteers get there. She is paid a minimal amount to do the preparation work, but still volunteers her time side walking with the students or leading the horses. Many people really don't understand how hard it is to walk in sand next to a horse and hold a rider up at the same time. Each class walks about two miles during class. My daughter and I have walked multiple classes each night--my daughter has done it up to three times a night for three nights a week in the past. I have tried to limit it to only one class held early one of the nights for a group out of Rochester because I am usually pretty sore afterward.

It can be messy work too. The kids have all picked up poop to remove it from the riding area. Not pleasant, but someone needs to do it. Brushing the horses in the spring is like brushing a shedding dog. Hair everywhere. My son was covered all over after doing it one day. We have been getting tired and burning out. We decided this year to only work on Tuesdays. It is very draining to work six to eight hours at the end of a day for so many days a week. Even just driving back and forth gets old--and expensive. We like doing it, but when you do that much, other things get sacrificed. I want to finish my book by the end of the year and do some camping. It should be a pleasant summer--I am enjoying planning it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Opera at the Ordway

Last Friday we went to the Minnesota Opera at the Ordway. We saw the Barber of Seville. My mother was still with us and got to see the production as well. I was really, really impressed with my boys. It can be hard for them to sit through an hour--and this was two and a half hours long when the twenty minute intermission is included.

The Ordway is a beautiful building that is located downtown St. Paul. It border the same small park that the James J. Hill Library and the Landmark Center do on different edges of the area. We sat in the upper balcony. I actually prefer the balcony because the lower floor has so many people and I feel overwhelmed by big crowds. It was also easier for my mom who is starting to have issues walking. This week really made me think about Dad and that Mom probably won't be with me for a really long time. It was hard to have that moment of realization.

It was a good time, a great experience and I truly enjoyed the production. I would like to do another next year, but not sure the kids will buy it. They did it once and I will probably let them pass for a couple years if they really don't want to. I hope that the experience opens their hearts to things that may not be what they always first think of. The Barber of Seville is an incredibly funny and a wise choice for a first production.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Latvia at the Landmark

The Sunday prior to Easter, my boys, mom and I went to the Landmark Center for one of their "trips" around the world. Sunday happened to be Latvia. We enjoyed learning about the culture, geography and government. There were Latvian dancers and singers. We learned that the oldest examples of mittens were found at an archaeological site in Latvia. My kids located the country on a map, viewed lots of pictures and really enjoyed the afternoon.

We also got to see traditionally dyed Easter eggs. It is inspiring us to attempt to do some like it. I think that would be incredible. We also toured the public exhibit owned by the Ramsey County Historical Society of the cyanotypes of the Mississippi River by Henry Bosse.

I was sad that my daughter didn't come with us, but she made the very grown up decision to stay and work on a paper she has been trying to finish. Standing outside the Landmark, we also got to see statues of Linus and Lucy from Schultz's cartoon Snoopy. Shultz was a Minnesota native and there are Linus, Lucy and Snoopy statues all over the city. Sadly, most of the Snoopy's were auctioned a while back and are no longer on public display.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The show goes on at last

Last weekend started with my driving three and a half hours to pick up my mother in northern Minnesota on Thursday. I don't mind the drive, but it was tight because I needed to make sure I was back in time to get my kids to their final dress rehearsal. It all went very well and I was happy to have the task over. While my mom will be staying with us until Easter, it is nice that she also got to see the kids. Prior to the play Friday night, many of us had dinner with the rest of the cast and their families. It was nice to have my mom and very good friend Mary and her hubby John join mine to share the meal. They also had a chance to look at the artwork that was displayed for the guests in an art show setting. The boys enjoyed tapping--I think they will be taking it next year. They only did a partial tap routine this year. Because of the way the play was written, even those not enrolled in tap got to dance a little bit. It was an extra nice bonus to their theater class.

I was proud of the kids...Alex had been terrified of forgetting her lines or losing her place, was extra worried because she fell of the stage in the final dress rehearsal. It may not have been the hardest part or the most important, but she was terrified just the same--she pulled it off marvelously. I think for her, the greatest triumph may have been facing the fear. She is thinking about ways she can slowly get used to speaking because as a college student next year, she is already dreading the required speech class.
We also made sure we did something nice for their Director, Natalie Thomas. We didn't do anything spectacular, but we did make a framed scrapbook page of her students this year since she puts so many of them up in her studio from previous years--we just wanted her to know we appreciated her. She is a wonderful person. I really, really like her. I seriously doubt that she makes any money from what she does--I know she reinvests much of our small fees back into her studio and the kids. She includes all of them and really does well with them. I think anyone that can keep that many kids happy and organized should be nominated for sainthood--I struggle with just three!