Cool Guy Alert

Last Friday Mazie had a random act of kindness performed for her.  We were at the Uptown Art Fair and had stopped into a tent to look at some cool rocket paintings that we were all digging.  We started chatting with the artist and before you know it he asked Mazie to pick out a small giclee painting from the wall to take home as a gift.  He could tell she was an artist by the way she looked at his work and as one artist to another he thought she could use a little artistic inspiration.


Needless to say she spent the rest of the day beaming and looked into her bag several times to check on her work of art.

Thanks again Mr. William CJ; you really made Mazie’s day.  I hope you had a great Uptown Art Fair showing and I think a rocket painting may be in our future! :)

Cake Store Is Open

We have a Cake Store in our house.  I know, how lucky could I be.  And the best part is, so far all of the cakes are free.  I was told that The Cake Store proprietor was previously rich and didn’t give any money away and that’s why she likes to give away her cakes.  Plus, she still makes money now, so it all works out.

I also made my very first pie, fresh Colorado peach pie.  It wasn’t a disaster, so I’m counting it a success.  Colorado peaches are delicious and it’s finally peach season, so I felt the need to celebrate.

A Cake Store and Pie; we are one lucky household.

Large Enough To Drive From The Back Seat

I’ve been a back seat driver for as long as I can remember.  I think as young as sixteen I had opinions on routes, speed and general driving prowess.  I’m sure I drove my mom and dad crazy; I know I drive Jamie crazy when I get all back-seat-driver in his face.

Well people, karma has come a calling.  My sweet six-year-old daughter Mazie already has the signs of a mean back seat driver.  It began with a general curiosity about the rules and regulations of the road.  Why this and why that and how come this and how come that.  This curiosity has been looking to transition to instruction for awhile now.  She’s been on the verge for several months.

I’ve been getting questions like “Why did you go through that yellow light” or “Why didn’t you use your turn signal” instead of “When do you go through a yellow light” or “When do you use your turn signal”.  The switch from gaining knowledge to questioning my skills is underway.  She’s also begun noticing the roads taken to get certain places and I can only imagine before long we will be debating the finer points of this or that way to get somewhere.

Mazie had a significant back seat driving breakthrough this morning.  For the first time ever she truly instructed my driving.  At least twice if not three times, she reminded me to use my turn signal.  The imaginary Jamie sitting on my shoulder was laughing out loud, but I did not utter a single sound.  I merely turned on my turn signal as I’d been told.  We can all use a little back seat driving from time to time.

Larger Than A Pee-Infested Bit Of Potty Talk

Mazie delights in potty talk.  We have never had a strict rule forbidding its use.  I’ve always figured it’s reasonably harmless and we have bigger fish to fry.  And maybe since it’s not forbidden it will wear itself out.

Turns out, potty talk, at least in our house, doesn’t seem likely to wear itself out.  In fact it seems to be gathering steam.  I keep hoping that allowing this outlet is in some way beneficial, like potty talk is a necessary part of growing up for most kids and disallowing the activity turns it underground where you can no longer hear what’s being said.

I hear plenty of potty talk.  I try to give Mazie the impression that I’m ignoring her as I’m not interested in spurring on the behavior, but momma can’t help but hear most of what she says…

Mazie and a friend have invented a teacher by the name of Ms. Twiggles.  Ms. Twiggles spends her days with a terrible urge to use the restroom and nary a restroom in sight.  She ends up with lots of clothes in need of a wash.  They absolutely love these stories and derive great joy in spinning tales of a bladder-challenged teacher.

The other day in the car Mazie informed me that Tyler’s poop puked because it ate too much pee.  I didn’t laugh or even smile, but her creativity in the potty talk world is impressive and sometimes I can’t help but to chuckle, at least on the inside.

Here’s what I’m wondering:  Is my lenience with the potty talk doing anything detrimental to my kid?   I haven’t read a parenting book or article that has ever addressed this topic.  Yes it’s rude.  Yes it’s gross.  But, is it harmful?  Will she end up in the long run somehow wronged?  For those parents or grandparents who have a rule against potty talk, why do you have the rule?  What I’m wondering is is the rule just for the adults and polite society, so that our ears don’t bleed from all the grossness, or is there something deeper going on, something that I haven’t identified.  If you completely disagree with me, let me know what you think and why.  If you agree with me, give me a warm fuzzy.  If you are in the middle, I’m anxious to hear.  I am really curious to hear people’s honest take on this issue.

Childhood Stories

Mazie loves stories; I guess most people do.  She usually requests stories from when I was a kid.  It’s always interesting to try and remember way back when and it’s fun too, so Mazie frequently gets her wish.

She has a few favorites, like when I got knocked unconscious after sledding off a jump and landed on a parked car on Christmas Eve, or the time my friend and I were playing in the attic without my mom’s knowledge and my friend tripped coming out of the attic into my closet ceiling and broke her nose.  I thought she should just brush it off, clean up, and no one would ever know.  After all, we were supposed to have a sleep-over that night and I knew all of the blood would probably result in a cancellation.

There was the time I pooped in the swimming pool, because I was having so much fun and didn’t want to get out and ruin my good time.  Of course what I didn’t know then that I quickly found out was that poop doesn’t magically disappear like pee in a pool.  Instead the poop starts “swimming” all on its own, the pool is evacuated and has to be drained and cleaned.  Oops.  Another Mazie favorite is the time I pooped out the window of my upstairs bedroom because my parents were busying showing the house to potential buyers and they were all camped out in the bathroom and I really had to go.  Seriously, I don’t know what was wrong with me; I was a gross kid.

There are lots and lots of stories and they generally break down into two categories, painful things or embarrassing things.  Mazie doesn’t seem to have a preference for either type of story, she’s happy to revel in either my past embarrassment or pain.

The Michael Vorlicek story is one of the exceptions to this rule.  Michael Vorlicek was the first boy I ever “went” with.  We were both fourth graders at Forest Hills Elementary School.  A friend of mine approached me at recess one day and asked if I wanted to “go” with Michael.  Not knowing who he was, I wasn’t sure.  I asked some of my friends and they were all of the opinion that accepting Michael’s invitation was a good idea.  So I told my friend yes, she told Michael’s friend yes, Michael’s friend told Michael yes, and viola a romance was born.

I’m not sure how long we stayed together, but I’m guessing it was a brief affair.  Michael was nothing if not a gentleman.  He showered me with gifts.  His friends bestowed a massive heap of gum packs on me one day at lunch and I quickly became very popular.  His friends also brought me a large Valentine’s heart filled with chocolates on Valentine’s Day and a gold-colored necklace with three stars.  Michael was a generous guy, even if we never talked or looked at one another.  Such is the guise of fourth grade love.

I’m not sure what went wrong with our love tryst, but one day it fell apart.  In what I remember as our only face-to-face exchange, I said something rude, ripped the necklace off my neck, and handed it stiffly back to Michael.  Who knows, maybe he dumped me and started showering some other girl with goodies.  I just don’t remember.

What I do remember is that name, Michael Vorlicek.  It’s seared into my brain.  It’s on instant recall.  Sometimes I forget the name of a neighbor or an acquaintance, but I’m always on the ready with Michael Vorlicek.



U2 At TCF Bank Stadium

I wish I could go again.  It was that great…

I saw my first U2 show in 1987.  I was sixteen.  It was magic.  To date it was the best show I’ve ever seen.  The whole place was filled with energy, crazy love energy.  It was weird and wonderful and beyond description.  I think it was spiritual.  I’m not kidding.

I saw my second U2 show in 1992.  I was twenty-one.  It was a bitter disappointment.  I was disillusioned.  This band that I had devoted myself to was different and I wasn’t digging it.  The 1987 show was stripped down, bare bones, serious, heart-felt and genuine.  The 1992 show was a re-making of the band.  I knew the music had changed, but I thought the show would be the same.  It was the polar opposite of the first show.  Commercial, loud, in-your-face, staged, and loaded with irony.  I missed the irony; I missed the U2 I’d grown up with and I decided to turn my back on this new U2.

Of course U2 didn’t know any of this and they went on making great music, touring and quickly becoming the biggest band of my generation.  I still bought their albums, but I didn’t really listen to the music the way I had before.  The Zoo TV tour had broken my heart.  They came back to the Twin Cities three times and played to sold out audiences.  I was not among the crowd.

They say time heals all wounds and last Saturday my U2 wound was finally healed.  A mere 24 years after that awesome Joshua Tree tour, I returned to U2 land and fell in love all over again.  They are still awesome.

This concert was a blend of the other two shows I’ve seen.  It was a big production and there was lots of glitz and glam, but it had a heartfelt sincerity and energy that I had missed during the Zoo TV tour.  And honestly, it was just good to see the boys again.

They played a lovely mix of songs.  Lots of old and new, a couple of cover tunes, and even a song off Boy.  My favorites included “I Will Follow”, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, “Stand By Me”, and “Hallelujah”.  It poured rain and we got soaking wet as did everyone else, band included.  The crazy stage screen contraption did all kinds of cool stuff, the boys rocked out, the fans sang, and all 60,000 people spent the whole show standing.  It was beautiful.

The journey home was an epic, complete with two dead cell phones, a two mile walk, and lots of bus waiting and futile cab hailing.  Finally at 12:45pm, one and one-half hours after the show ended, a small man originally from another country, took notice of my flailing arms, stopped his cab, and delivered us home.  What a nice man.  I’m not sure we would be home yet if it wasn’t for that man and his cab.

I won’t be missing another show, ever.  If they come here and I’m alive and kicking, I’ll be there!

Fifteen Minutes

Give two kids fifteen minutes, a vacuum, a couch, and some bubble wrap and this is what you get.

[gallery columns=“2”]

My Tribute To First Love

As I was driving down the road today, I had a flash of my first love Bessie.  She was a white 1986 Mercury Grand Marquis with blue cloth interior.  Grand she was, in size and stature, and grand she lives on in my memory.  Bessie was a hand-me-down from my mom.  She bought the car new and promptly hated it.  I did too.  It was huge, ugly, and really un-cool.  It was an old person car and neither my mom nor I were old.  However once the car was mine, it was no longer what it wasn’t, but what it was.  And what it was:  my very first car.  Her name quickly became Bessie and while I’ve had many cars since, she’s my only car to ever get a name.

I was a sophomore in college and the once un-cool beast quickly became cool.  She was a sofa on wheels.  Her hugeness meant you could pile a ton of people or stuff inside her vast interior.  She was the perfect road trip car; my constant companion during my most transient years.

Bessie and I spent many hours touring the highways and byways of this United States.  Many people joined us and all were left with a sense of wonder.  She was special and proved it at every turn.  Even though she was old, she never broke down and left her passengers stranded.  She even pushed another car up a large hill in northern Arizona near the end of her life.  She ran out of gas once, but had the decency to glide into the gas station on fumes and die just as we pulled up to the pump.  She tackled mountain, crazy terrain, cold and snow and never let it get the best of her.

On the way home from our last road trip together in 1997, on the border between Arkansas and Missouri, a man from Iowa named Elmer had the audacity to rear-end my darling with a full-ton pick-up truck and large trailer on the back.  It was a sad, heart-wrenching moment.  I was fuming with rage as my sweet Bessie sat mangled at the side of the road and this loser from Iowa didn’t seem to care.  Bessie was like that dog who jumps in front of danger to save his/her master.  She took the bullet and I walked away.  Sure, Elmer’s insurance had to pay some money for ruining her, but no amount of money or wishing could bring Bessie back.  Elmer killed her and I’ve never been able to forgive him.

Bessie, wherever you are, you were the greatest car a travel loving college girl could ever have hoped for.  As my friend Liane used to say back in high school, thanks for the ride, see you at school.

Larger Than Mom's Running Shoes

When the cat is away, the mouse will play or so the saying goes.  Mazie was at a friend’s house for the afternoon and Tyler used his free time to play with shoes.  It was a good time putting on, tromping around, and taking off until he couldn’t figure out how to get them on again…


[gallery orderby=“title”]

(If you are interested in seeing the full-size images, just click on the picture you would like to see!)

Mill Valley Kitchen

The latest in a long line of new restaurants to hit the Minneapolis dining scene is Mill Valley Kitchen on the corner of Excelsior and France Avenue in St. Louis Park.  They’ve been open just over a month and I’ve tried the place out twice.  It’s a very nice restaurant and there are three things that I really appreciate about the place:  they list the calories and nutritional breakdown of their menu items including designations for vegan and gluten-free, they use local/sustainable ingredients in most of their food, and contrary to most restaurants, when you look around the room everyone seems to have nutritious, “real” food on their plates.

This is not a place for people who like large portions and the feeling of getting good value for their money.  I think you do get very good value for your buck here, but it’s more in the way of eating nutrient dense food that tastes good in the right sized portion than in the traditional there is a crap-load of food on my plate and it only cost me $9.95.

They have a kid menu and I was impressed with the food they serve the kiddies.  The mac and cheese was homemade and yummy.  The chicken fingers were real, moist pieces of chicken breast, panko-breaded and baked.  The real test is the kids and they both chowed down.  Kid’s meals are served with edamame and fruit; what’s not to love.

Prices are reasonable with most menu items around $10 and most entrees between $15-$20.  This is a place where you can enjoy your meal and feel good about enjoying your meal.  Both times I left pleasantly full, enjoyed my food, and didn’t feel guilty about indulging with either portion size or food selection.

Speaking of indulging, dessert is another nice twist, with desserts served in a shot glass.  Perfect for an individual and at $2.50, not a big ding on the pocket book.  I found service both times to be warm, knowledgeable, attentive, and not over-bearing.

My only complaint about this place isn’t really fair, but it’s my complaint so I’m going to lodge it.  The place is just too perfect.  Everything is pretty and safe and nice and all of the people are the same way; it’s missing an edge.  It feels very suburban, which isn’t inherently bad, but it’s not a place I could fall in love with.  So, I’m very much in like with the Mill Valley Kitchen and I’ll be back, but until things aren’t so pretty and perfect I won’t be able to give it my heart.

Why A yBike?

It’s now been a full week living with the yBike Pewi and a great week it has been.  If you live with or know a one or two-year-old, read this and then head to the nearest yBike retailer.  This thing is that good…

Tyler Holding Bike
  1. The bike is cute.  It looks like a smiley face on wheels.
  2. It’s small.  We have a smaller house and it’s the first large toy we’ve owned that doesn’t take up much space.
  3. It’s light.  When it needs to be moved, it’s easy for anyone to move it.
  4. Your kid will look cute riding the thing.  Sure, your kid’s cute now, but wait till you see him/her on a yBike.
  5. Your kid will spend at least an hour a day riding the thing.  That’s an hour a day not spent trying to kill him/herself.
  6. Your kid will spend another hour a day pushing or carrying the bike.  Your child will beam with pride at the accomplishment and you will marvel at your excellent purchasing skills.
  7. Your kid can multi-task while yBiking.  Who says you can’t talk on a pretend remote control phone while riding a big red smiley face?
  8. Your older child/children will delight in riding it when the younger one is asleep.  You will smartly make a rule that the yBike is reserved for the little one while he/she is awake and remind the older one/ones of the many hours of toddler-free Y bike fun he/she/they will have when the little one is sleeping.
  9. The yBike works well on rugs and hardwood and it’s easy to get from one to the other.  He/she will again smile at the accomplishment.
  10. The yBike has 4 casters that swivel 360 degrees for easy movement.  Your kid doesn’t get frustrated and can easily move around obstacles.

I know what the cousin is getting for his one-year-old birthday.  Go Pewi!

Smaller Than A Large Vegetarian

Welcome to installment 2 of my Let’s-Eat-Better-Plan. Installment 1 was the first step, admitting the problem.  With step 2 I want to start work on the solution.  I’ve been thinking about how I want to eat and how I want to feed my family, and I feel a general philosophy beginning to form.  I’ve read a few books on vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and about the respective nutrition of both.  I’ve read many books about general nutrition, animal welfare, farming, and the well-being of this planet we all share.  My reading has left me to conclude that in a perfect world I would be vegan.  Alas, this is not a perfect world and it’s not a choice I’m willing to make.

Vegetarianism would be a much easier switch to make and maintain, but if I’m honest with myself, it’s not a change that I’m willing to make either, at least not at this point.  For me the main focus of this new eating philosophy will be limiting dairy and eggs, and severely limiting meat.  My secondary focus will be to rid our house of over-processed food, reduce the amount of refined grain and sugar that we consume, and increase the variety of whole grains, veggies, fruit and beans.  No one food or food group will be off limits, but I want most of what enters our house to be whole food with its nutrients intact.

Finally, I don’t want anyone of us becoming so consumed with eating “right” that we lose sight of the big picture.  We can still have cake, candy, cheeseburgers, pizza and stuff like that now and then.  It’s more about reforming the everyday than limiting the once in a while.  Judging by the lot of us, I don’t foresee this being a problem, but sometimes funny things happen.

That’s the gist of what I’m thinking, now it’s time to put the plan into action.  Stay tuned for the next installment…



Larger Than A Banana-Shaped Candy

I distinctly remember my grade school lunches.  Mom would give me money to buy hot lunch, I would pocket the money, and choose cash over food.  In middle school I switched to a private school and along with the regular hot lunch, they also served an àla carte style lunch.  What started as a pretzel and string cheese a day, quickly morphed into a 2 or 3 pretzel a day lunch, where I brought my own money to supplement the money my mom gave me.

Turns out it wasn’t the cash I wanted so much as the ability to eat what I wanted.  Once the opportunity to eat something I really liked arrived and I didn’t have a mom around to monitor my actions, I jumped on it and quickly did so to excess.

Mazie is a child much like I was.  She will forgo a meal without a second thought if she deems it not to her liking, and she will eat like a large adult male if there is something that she loves up for grabs.

I’d really like to keep her from trekking down my same food path as I don’t think it’s a very good one, but figuring out how to transform her into a person that likes lots of stuff and knows how to stop eating when she’s full, seems a daunting task.

My latest plan involves candy.  I know, I know, it doesn’t sound good, but so far it’s working and the trade-off seems worth it.  I have high hopes that in a year or two she might genuinely like more foods and if not, well at least she’ll have better nutrition in the meantime.

I think a lot of the battle with kids like Mazie who are really picky, but don’t have a true food aversion, is getting them to eat stuff that they don’t like more than once.  It’s been shown that if a person eats a food they don’t like, many times after eating that food 10-15 times they will either develop a taste for it or at least find it okay.  Since I can’t open Mazie’s mouth and shove the food in, and simple tactics that might work with less picky children don’t work with her, I’m sticking with the candy.

She got a bottle of assorted fruit-shaped candy for her birthday.  Each piece of candy is small and the candy is reserved only for ’earning for eating’.  When a meal is served I tell her how many bites of something (usually 3 or 4) she doesn’t like she needs to eat to earn a piece of candy.  Once she earns a piece of candy she gets it right then and there.  There is no candy offered for foods that I know she doesn’t have a problem eating.

A couple of nights ago she had a child-sized portion of salad and ate it all.  The salad wasn’t just some lettuce thrown into a bowl; it was chock-full of nutritious stuff.  This type of thing has never happened before.  The best we’ve done up to this point is getting her to eat a bite or two of something she doesn’t like.  Now she is eating 10-20 decent sized bites of stuff she wouldn’t have touched before.

It’s made dinner fun instead of something she dreads, and watching her eat things willingly, without complaint, is a magical thing for me.  You can call me a bad mother and I won’t even mind.  I’ll be watching my six-year-old eat salad.

Music To My Ears

My husband is a pretty cool guy.  Turns out he has some pretty cool ideas in his head as well.  He told me several years ago that the best way to change something you don’t like or push for something you do like is to vote with your dollars.  Good advice.  He also encouraged me to branch out musically and stop listening to “old” music as a mainstay and instead investigate what’s out there now.  More good advice.

For me the music of my youth is more powerful than the music of maturity.  I don’t think music today is any less awesome than it was in my teens and twenties, it could easily be better, but my ability to connect to it isn’t as strong.  Angst is worth a certain something and most of my angst has left the building.

I can still sit back and belt my heart out to the Indigo Girls, Pink Floyd, The Cure or Trip Shakespeare, and all of the old feelings come flooding back.  It’s reassuring, powerful and easy to get stuck there instead of foraging ahead.  We have some friends in NYC who are a few years older than us and they are constantly on the look out for new music.  They see live music 4 or 5 times a week.  Their love of music blows me away.  I’m inspired by them to keep appreciating the new instead of holing away with my past.  The past is a nice place to visit, but it’s not the place I want to live.

I prefer concerts in places where you get a comfy chair and maybe a nice meal.  A venue where you sit back and take in the music in a relaxed sort of way.  Maybe at the very end you stand up for one song and do a little light dancing.  It’s all very civil and nice and proper.  The band performs for you and you listen and appreciate.  But, every once in awhile I head out to First Avenue or a similar venue to remind myself of what music is like when it’s one of the most important things in your life.  It’s not comfortable, quiet, or relaxed, but for me it’s a bigger, brighter and more participatory experience.  It’s still not something I’m up for very often, but getting in touch with that sort of feeling is the best way for me to remember the past and live in the present.

Snippets From A Friday

8:30am - Tyler finds a magnetic paper doll in his closet.  He calls it baby (uttering his first two-syllable word ever!), gives it a kiss, and plays the first cute card of the day.

9:00am - We load into the van to find cheese!  We take cheese very seriously in this family.  Jamie says our grocery bill is usually half the Organic Valley mexican cheese blend that I and the kids adore, and half some other stuff.  He’s not far off.  Something to be worked on in the new eating program for sure.  When we grocery shopped yesterday, Whole Foods was out of most of their cheese due to a refrigerator malfunction, so today we hit the Linden Hills Food Co-op.  Mazie and I had stopped by the co-op last night at 9:30pm because we take cheese so seriously, but they were already closed.  Today we were not to be denied.  I’m happy to report that four bags of lovely Organic Valley mexican cheese blend are now chilling in our refrigerator.  We sang songs of cheese, really bad songs, and generally cheesed it up for awhile in honor of our favorite cheese finally being back where it belongs.

10:00am - A stop at Creative Kidstuff  to pick up a “y” pewi bike for Tyler (sent from another store in the color of choice) that we bought last week when we were there to return something else, almost results in the purchase of another Tyler item.  Tyler + Creative Kidstuff can get expensive quick.  He plays his second cute card in hopes of securing another toy for the home front.  You’ll notice he was blazing his own trail riding the middle of the toddler see-saw instead of resting on the more conventional see-saw seat.

10:30am - Mazie has a play-date at a friend’s house.  I hang around for an hour until she feels comfortable, then take my super-sleepy toddler to Target for a quick shopping run.  He falls asleep on the way back to pick her up, but she’s in a great mood so I feel better about the Tyler neglect…and I just got him a “y” bike, so what’s he complaining about.

1:00pm - Tyler finally gets lunch.  He’s very nice about his lunch being delayed an hour and a half.  Do I smell another cute card or is it a poopy diaper?

1:30pm - Tyler gets a fresh diaper.  It was smelling pretty stinky down there.  Tyler sneezes, I say, “Bless You”.  Tyler says, “Ah-goo”, as in “Achoo”.  This is his second, two-syllable word of the day.  He’s played his third cute card , but it’s not going to save him from his much needed nap.

2:00pm - My mom picks up Mazie for a sleep-over and Tyler is asleep.

2:30pm - The “y” bike has been assembled, Tyler’s still asleep and lots of cheese is in the refrigerator.  Gotta love it here in Tammy land.

Smaller Than A Grass-Fed Cow

I’ve thought a lot about what I put in my mouth over the last 20 years, but all of that thinking hasn’t resulted in much change.  I’ve read a few books over the years that have altered certain aspects of my eating, but I still eat the same basic diet that I’ve been eating since I was a kid.

I’m picky, don’t care much for fruit and veggies, and have a general love of dairy and white flour.  Add to that my near sugar addiction that started when I was pregnant with Mazie, and the result is an unhealthy diet.

I’m also overweight.  Not scary, life threatening overweight, more the annoying 10-20 pounds overweight that is a constant monkey on my back.  Part of my I’m forty now and I’m ready to take charge of my life plan is to get a handle on what I put in my mouth both for the sake of my health and waist line, and also for the sake of everyone else.  The better I eat, the better off the planet is.  Be the change you want to see in the world and all of that.

I have certain things going for me.  I like water and exercise.  I’ve read a crap-load of books on nutrition and food, and I know what I should be doing.  I am fortunate to have access to local farms and farmer’s markets, co-ops and neighborhood grocery stores, and the means to pay for the true cost of food when it is sold without subsidy and grown in a responsible manner.

I’m starting a journey and making it public so that I have more incentive to stick it out.  I want to change how and what I eat and why I eat and I don’t want my primary motivation to be those 10-20 pounds.  Instead I want to focus on how I should be eating and hope that the excess weight leaves in it’s own good time.  So, here goes…


Peas And Thank You

I’ve been scared away from blogging lately.  I came across Peas and Thank You, a brilliant blog that is very popular and I think, really funny.  Mama Pea, as she is known, is a mom of two girls who has transitioned from lawyer to mom and from meat-eater to vegan.  She writes about both with wit, humor and way more pizzaz than I could ever hope to muster.  At first reading her blog inspired me, but that inspiration quickly turned to defeat.

I’ve been having a hard time writing.  I start to write and then after a few less-than-excellent sentences, I give up and think Mama Pea is so much better at this than I am.  I’ve never had a problem with people being better at something than I am before.  It’s pretty much guaranteed in a world with a gazillion people that lots of people are going to be better at doing ‘whatever’ than you are.  For some reason her ability to write has left me feeling like there’s no point to my writing.  I think her voice is the voice that I wish I had.  That’s the difference.  She’s doing “me” better than I could ever hope to do “me”.

But I’m forty now and all grown-up, so I will not give up.  I’ll keep writing and hopefully along the way I’ll find the real “me”, not the Mama Pea “me”.  So go on over and check out Mama Pea, she really is worth an RSS feed or e-mail subscription, and then come back here and see what I have to say.  Peas and Thank You.

The Curious Garden

Last year I bought Mazie a book called The Curious Garden.  It’s about a boy who starts a garden on an old abandoned railroad that is elevated above the city.  We’ve read the story many times and I’ve always thought it was a cool idea to turn an old railway into a linear garden.

I subscribe to a blog/website, I’m not sure which it really is, called Web Urbanist and every day in my e-mail box I get their daily post.  It’s a hodge-podge of cutting edge, modern design.  One day it might have twenty pictures of crazy, whacked-out cars and the next day it’s innovative iphone covers or mind-blowing hotels.  I usually glance at the e-mail, but every once in a while the e-mail really grabs my attention, just like it did today.

Today the post is all about The High Line.  The High Line is an elevated city park in NYC built on an old abandoned railway.  Sound familiar?  The visual images of the park instantly reminded me of The Curious Garden book.  I grabbed the book off of the shelf and read the author’s note.  Turns out his book is inspired by the High Line and the wild garden that sprouted there when the railway was left unused.


If you live in NYC have you checked this park out?  What do you think?  Is it as cool as it looks and reads?  I spent some time on The High Line’s website learning more about the project and park and I think it’s really inspiring.  I’m planning to visit the next time I’m in NYC.

"B" Is For Barn

After having such a great experience staying at a barn last month, it makes me want to try these two barn environments even more. I came across Lake Superior Barn a year or two ago, but so far haven't been there.  The price seems to go up $100/night every year, so if a group of us don't get there soon, it will be out of my price range for good.  I love the contrast of this place.  It's über modern and cool, but barn.  It's 320 acres of private lakefront living just 30 miles outside of Duluth.  I can imagine hanging here for a week in the winter when it's a bit cheaper would be magical.  Winter break anyone?

The Barn House a few miles from Dubuque, IA is another place that I would like to check out.  This place looks pretty awesome and it's much more affordable than the place on Lake Superior.  I tried to book a mid-week stay in August, but the dates were already taken by another lucky party.  As a group of 5 or less this place can be rented during the week for only $250/night.  Considering the size and fabulous-factor of the place, I think that is a steal.  On the weekend the rates go up significantly, but for a group the place would still be pretty doable if you added a Thursday or Sunday night to balance out the higher weekend cost.

Has anyone stayed somewhere recently that they would highly recommend?  Fill me in!


Larger Than A Cat Wearing Swim Goggles

Mazie might not be older, but she’s definitely bigger than our 20+ year old cat Gypsie.  Gypsie is in liver failure and will need to be put to sleep soon.  Mazie has been in on the discussion the whole time and is aware of Gypsie’s fate.

It is with this in mind that she decided to make a card for Gypsie.  I told her a card wouldn’t make much sense to give a cat, but after confirming that she could indeed give the cat a card, she proceeded on.  She next asked me what Gypsie’s favorite color is.  “Gypsie doesn’t have a favorite color,” I replied, “She’s a cat.”  She thought for a second and then said almost to herself, “Oh yah, Gigi (Mazie’s friend) said Gypsie’s favorite color was orange,” and then made a card for the cat with orange as the feature color.

The logic of a five year old is awesome!

Second story…Mazie is sitting on the steps and we are pretending.  She is a doctor and wearing swim goggles.  I ask her what the goggles are for and she doesn’t answer.  After a few minutes more of doctor play I ask again, “So, you never did tell me why you are wearing goggles?” and she replies, “Cause I’m a doctor”.  I say, “Doctors wear goggles?” and she says, “Pretend ones do.”  Brilliant!

Tomorrow Mazie turns 6…