Brookings Children’s Museum

I had the pleasant opportunity to experience the Brookings Children’s Museum as an adult and through the eyes of a child. What an incredible facility with hands on activities for children through all developmental stages of childhood.

First stop, the mechanic’s garage…   Fill ‘er up!

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Get that tire fixed.

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Next stop, the grocery market…

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The garden…

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The ice cream shop…

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Water play with a physics lesson.

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Just for the “divas.”

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Time to build a shelter.

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I can understand how real piglets can be smothered by the sow.  One false move and it’s curtains.

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The fake hen clucks, but she doesn’t peck at the person gathering eggs like in real life.  Real hens seem much more annoyed.

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Time to paint and wash windows.

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Watercolor pencils, paint water on with a brush, and you have a masterpiece.

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Turn the wheel and move the foam cement blocks up the ramp.  Rachel did not have much time for this, but the boys seem intent on their task.

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A giant Lite Brite game for all sizes.

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This may just be music for a 2 year old, but it’s also a cultural experience for older children.ChMus_Bl-0040

 

What a unique climbing activity.

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O.K., so this dinosaur is a little creepy when it roars and moves his head.  I’m sure the older kids go for this. Not so much for a two-year-old.

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I could tell that years of planning, utilizing brain and child development research, were put into effect at the Brookings Children’s Museum.  Kudos to the community and any other organizations that may have been involved to convert this historic building into an experience for generations to come.

Also impressive was the fact that each area had a staff member straightening displays and disinfecting after groups completed an activity.

With an admission fee of only $6 per person, it is a tremendous value for a family as it will provide you with hours of entertainment and memories for a lifetime.

Even the lunchroom staff put extra effort into our meal:

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You might say we had a hoot at the Brookings Children’s Museum in Brookings, South Dakota!!

A small town bride on the ride of her life.

Thank God if you’re smart enough to live in a small town.

~unknown

I saw the above quote the other day and it started the wheels turning in my mind as to the charm of living in a small, rural community.  Into the photo archives I go to dig up some images that show a piece of life in a small town.  We do know how to entertain ourselves and have some good ol’ fun!

Haas-3973hp20dmvThis carnival ride at the Yellow Medicine County Fair, in Canby, Minnesota, seems to lend itself as a metaphor to the wild ride this young couple have chosen in life. Since their wedding in July of 2010, this small town couple have added two young children (1 1/2 years and 6 months) to their family, hold down full-time jobs, the bride completed a master’s degree, and both serve our country in the United States National Guard. In fact, the wedding was planned while the engaged couple were both deployed overseas in the Middle East.

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Yes, you are on the ride of your small town life.  The twists and turns of a carnival ride can become predictable after you get use to patterns of movement.  Life is not like that.  Bumps and turns can appear out of nowhere and you may even careen completely off of the path.

A small town has a secret weapon that helps us bounce back when the road of life gets rough ~  the people.   When the chips are down and we face a struggle, the community members are there to help pull us through.  During a crisis the small town rallies its troops to bring out the safety nets to help in whatever way is appropriate to the situation. We may not always agree on our politics, religion or philosophies of life, ( some may not even like each other) but we are there for each other.

Haas-3966HawpunchhpcrJust because we don’t rank at the top of the population charts doesn’t mean we aren’t resilient and destined to make a mark in the world.  In spite of the twists and turns…

Just sayin’.

Photo info:  Canon 5D Mark 2, Canon 70-200 L lens, Kubota Actions

Christmas is for children… learning the art of giving.

The pretty lights and excitement of opening brightly wrapped gifts are not the only things that provide joy and delight for children. It’s also about the giving. How many of us remember toiling over a project at school meant to be given as a Christmas gift for our parents?  The pride attached to the process, completion of the task, as well as satisfaction when the recipient expressed sincere appreciation:

Oooooh…. an angel made from the Readers’ Digest. It’s perfect and I LOVE it!      


6a00e5509b40db88340120a76e856c970b-320wiThird grade was the year of the Readers’ Digest Angel.

DSCN8340Let’s see… second grade found me tying plastic strips (school received a supply closet full of plastic products donated by 3M that year) onto a coat hangar bent into a circle shape in Mrs. Butzer’s class.  We started well before Thanksgiving since we were tying strips the day the announcement came over the loudspeaker that President Kennedy had been shot – November 22, 1963.

imagesEveryone can use a decorative pencil can. This project worked for multiple Christmas seasons.

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My mouse traps never looked this cute. I recall spray painting them gold, probably before they banned lead in paint. Maybe that explains a few things, huh!

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Weaving  pot holders kept me busy and was  yet another practical item. My mom liked practical items.

bookmark1Felt, glue and hair clips were the essential materials needed to make handy bookmarks and were given to the piano and Sunday School teachers.  Those were the days we all read books that we held in our hands rather than electronic tablets, Kindles, Ipads and the like.  Again, mine weren’t this perfect but did include sequins so they sparkled.

These memories from childhood that pop into my head seem trivial, at best, but must have made an impact since they are still there. The feeling of pride from making a gift with my own hands and satisfaction with the process of giving apparently made a lasting impression on me.

Maybe it IS better to give than receive…?

…for the love of the game

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. ~Helen Keller

Looking for some action? Try attending a sporting event at your local high school. Here you will see the sport in its purest form; no huge salaries (in fact, no player salaries), endorsement contracts or plush player buses transporting them to games. A good old school bus will do just fine, thank you.

You cannot be a fair weather fan at the high school level These fans, which include parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors (pretty much anyone that knows a player on a first name basis) are the most loyal fans a team could ask for and hang with the players through the ups and downs of a season.  The fan base remains constant no matter what the win/loss record shows and the teams provide plenty of subject matter for conversations at local coffee shops and businesses.

(Double click on image for a larger view)
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A community has such an influential role on local school activities, whether that be athletics, music, theater, arts, or other organizations. Providing support through attendance, following  the school news in the local media and supporting fund-raising projects, helps these programs exist to provide opportunities for our youth.

Overemphasis on the performance results of any high school activity, including sports, can have a negative effect, but learning discipline, hard work, teamwork, and social skills WILL have a positive impact on your life as an adult.

Click on the link below for an interesting article in the Huffington Post regarding the value of sports in the schools:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kai-sato/high-school-sports_b_3997391.html

Photo info:  Canon 5d Mark 2, Canon 70-200 L lens, 6400 ISO, 1/500 shutter, 2.8 aperture, custom white balance

Collage info:  10 x 20, Photoshop 5.0, Albums DS base template with mask edges, flames from Shutterstock. Lancer text layer utilizes a photo I took of a basketball to give the textured look.

The art of being a sibling

sib·ling
[sib-ling]
noun
1. a brother or sister.
2. Anthropology . a co-member of a sib, a unilateral descent group thought to share kinship through a common ancestor.
adjective
3. of or pertaining to a brother or sister: sibling rivalry.
Origin:
before 1000; late Middle English: relative, Old English;
Verhelst-5187
Such an efficient way to learn life lessons such as give and take, tolerance, and benevolence when growing up with siblings.

On the edge of adulthood…

…excitement, anticipation, anxiety, questioning, wondering…

This Bible passage seems to speak to young people as they look forward to graduation.
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Thoughts race through young minds on the cusp of a new world. Which direction should I go? Which school or vocation should I pursue? …and the age old question – What if I fail?
So many opportunities before them in high school and beyond. If one tries, there is an activity or pursuit that will fit their talents, personalities and interests.

I am usually in envy of young people with their whole adult lives ahead of them, but should I be? I am in a transition phase, as well, but I have many years of experiences and efforts behind me.  I already know what I can and cannot do so that narrows the field. (Lots of things I use to be able to do that are not options now)  I also know what I want to do which is also a plus.

The big question, though, is what SHOULD I do?

O.K., so maybe I’m not so different from these young guys and gals after all!  Maybe the Bible passage is a good one for all of us in any of our stages in life.  Hmmm…

You don’t choose your life… you live it.

~The Way

Another phase of my life goes by… taking a career break from traditional portraiture.

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This has been in the planning stages for the past 4 months and I was going to wait until mid October to announce my future plans, but I guess now is as good a time as any.

It’s been 16 years of growth and transformation, starting with 35mm and medium format film, darkroom processing and now the digital age with Lightroom and Photoshop. It is time to move on, so I will be closing the traditional portrait studio as of October 15, 2013.  All sessions scheduled up to that point will go on as planned and the current website will be up until May 1, 2014 to facilitate senior orders.  After that, I’ll start working on a new website reflecting the art of both Randy and myself.  The studio will then be transformed into Randy’s painting studio and workshop.  It’s his turn now.

I still love photography and hope to continue learning and exploring new, unusual techniques and push for a more and more creative style. Maybe even try an impressionistic painting style of photography.  I also plan to continue showing art work in galleries, promote the arts,  and hope to find time to put together other products using images.  (Greeting card line?)  I may ask to borrow some of your kids if I get an idea for some prairie photography because, after all, southwest Minnesota/Eastern South Dakota is a great place to raise children and that is a theme near and dear to my heart.

I will not be twiddling my thumbs and eating bonbons by the truck load, as I move into this phase of my life.  I’ll need to complete this year’s photo orders, try to be Randy’s farm hand/gopher, occasionally Granny Nanny (Grandkid #2 is expected in March 2014), clean/organize/paint inside the house and sheds (long overdue), continue involvement with community and art organizations, garden and go back to the classroom environment as a substitute teacher – look out, G-D!

Then, in my spare time, I’ll learn Spanish, how to knit/crochet, bike/hike or maybe even jog, work on songs with Randy (maybe my sister will dust off her accordion and we can hit the nursing home circuit!), read the books I haven’t had time to read and travel / hike anywhere I can, as well as visit friends and relatives.  Yep, lots to do.

Don’t worry, I’ll still blog about whatever trail I’m on or something that wanders through my mind and conjure up some “thought for the day” to amuse myself and the world from time to time.  Hey, I may even bring back “Photo Friday” with educational topics.

Thank you to all who have been on this journey with me…  It’s been a good ride.

Takin’ Care of Business

Segovia, Spain…a day in the life.

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Spain-1050288dmvcrWash day break to catch up on the news.

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Spain-1040993dmvpopLast drag on the cig before 10th grade math class…

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Spain-1050279dmvEven this little bird has found its own little spot in this world ~ a special perch on the aqueduct.  I guess we all have a special place and purpose and that makes the world go around.