I have a little love affair with a town named Lanesboro, Minnesota.  It’s located about an hour’s drive past Rochester in South Eastern Minnesota’s beautiful bluff country.  I’ve been to Lanesboro many times, but I hadn’t been back in about 5 years until just a few weeks ago.  A friend and I ventured down for a childless Mother’s Day weekend (great thing!) and the trip reminded me about everything that I love about Lanesboro.

  1. Bed and Breakfasts -  As a teenager and young adult I hated the B&B experience.  There are rarely TVs and you have to have breakfast with a bunch of strangers and stay in someone's house:  creepy.  As an adult, B&B's are places that I'm learning to enjoy.  A lovingly provided home cooked meal that I don't have to cook, clean up or feel guilty about not cooking and cleaning up, and getting the chance to meet and learn about both the others at the breakfast table and the owners of the B&B are things that I now really appreciate.  Lanesboro has a ton of B&B's.  My favorite is the Habberstad House.  This is where we stayed over Mother's Day weekend and I continue to call it my favorite.
  2. The Countryside - The Root River rolls through Lanesboro and the surrounding communities.  It's a sweet, meandering river, not too big and not too small.  It provides recreation as well as beauty.  The bluffs are also scenic and lovely.  I could stare at their pretty looks all day long while sipping a glass of something tangy and cold or licking an ice cream cone.
  3. The Relaxed Way of Life - Lanesboro and the surrounding communities offer plenty to do, but I never feel in a hurry to do anything while I'm there.  I like to have a schedule so that I know what I would like to do, but if I miss out on something or many somethings, that's okay.  The town wants you to relax.
  4. Outdoor Adventure - The Root River Bike Trail and the Harmony-Preston Bike Trail offer plenty of paved multi-use trail.  You can spend your weekend biking your booty off, covering the 150 miles if you bike all of the trail or meandering the 4 miles to the pie shop and back.  I've done both variety of trip and enjoyed them equally as well.  As long as the water is high enough, you can kayak, canoe or tube down the river.  Lanesboro has a few different outfitters that will rent equipment and ferry you between your start and finish point.  There is also a nature center with a high ropes course and hiking everywhere you look.
  5. Variety - Considering the size of Lanesboro and the surrounding communities, there are buckets of things to do.  Harmony has a renovated movie theater, Lanesboro a professional theater company and a community theater company .  The area boasts two cool caves that both offer tours, a myriad of Amish tours & Amish shopping,  first rate bird watching, a winery, massage, a farmer's market on Saturdays during growing season, plenty of history lessons, and a very nice not-for-profit art gallery.
If you've never been, give the place a try, and if you are like me and haven't been back in a couple of years, get your butt on down the line.


The name conjures up all type of images, but probably not a hip new eatery in South Minneapolis.  Two women who met in the kitchen of Birchwood a decade ago and have since been involved in the local, sustainable food scene decided to open a place where you can get bar food and not feel bad about where it came from.  I love the idea of farm-to-table food moving past the fine dining experience and settling in to the regular restaurant scene.

I’ve eaten at the restaurant twice.  I enjoyed my first meal a lot and while I had the same exact thing the second time around, it wasn’t as good.  I had a grass-fed burger and fries both times, yes I know I am a vision of healthy eating.  My first burger was juicy and flavorful, and cooked just right.  The bun and cheese were both a nice accompaniment to the burger, and the fries were the skinny kind and quite good.  The burger is a nice size at a 1/3 pound.  The second time everything was about the same, but the burger was overcooked which took away the juiciness and zapped some of the flavor.

My first meal was consumed with two hard ciders and there were no children in attendance.  My second visit I had no adult beverage and my two kids at the table keeping me company.  I’m sure that has something to do with my impressions of the two meals, but I do believe my first cheeseburger and french fries were far superior to the second.

Keeping with my nutritious dinner choices, I also opted in for dessert on both occasions.  Lowbrow does dessert to a T.  They have an excellent dessert lady named Nancy and she makes some killer delights.  I’ve tried the Chocolate Oatmeal Stout cake and the Peanut Butter Pie and both were delicious.

Prices are very reasonable.  My burger/fry combo was under 10 bucks.  The room can get loud quick as there are no soft surfaces to absorb noise and the space is all one, big room. Despite being disappointed by cheeseburger #2, I am eager to go back and dine again. I’ve heard that the chili and pulled pork sandwich are both very good and they have other options that I’d like to try.  I say, welcome to the neighborhood Lowbrow!

You Say Your Boulders Need A Holder?

If you find yourself with a well-endowed chest, a desire to perform vigorous exercise and no bra that sufficiently quells the bounce, I have a solution for you.  For many years I used Champion sports bras and found them adequate.  The one problem I could never avoid was the chafing that occurred from the band of my bra moving up and down while I was running.

After I had Tyler, I was big and breast-feeding, which means my chest was chestier and my chest was tender.  My regular sports bras didn’t fit and I felt it was time to head back to the proverbial drawing board, otherwise known as the internet.  I did a few searches and viola, the Enell bra appeared.  This thing is not sexy and it’s expensive.  It looks like a shorter version of a less-bulky life jacket.  It has a million little hook and eye closures up the front and is a pain to put on and remove, but my chest parts have never been happier running with me on a treadmill than they are in my Enell bra.

While searching for my new bra, I read about plenty of people who had tried an Enell and for one reason or another didn’t like it.  So I’m not here to say this is going to solve your problems, but if you aren’t pleased with your sports bra and you are looking to cut out the bounce, give the Enell a try.

I think the best thing about it other than the fact that it works as a sports bra, is my chafing issues have been eradicated.  The vest-like nature of the garment fits so securely and covers so much area that the thing stays put once it’s on.

If you own an Enell, if you decide to get one, or if you own some other sports bra that you think is great, tell me about it.  Thanks!

A Barn On A Bluff

One of my favorite past-times is searching for places to visit.  I like to find an area and then a place to stay, but sometimes I find a place to stay first and then the area is already decided for me.

A few years ago, I ran across Barn on the Bluff and I’ve kept it in the back of my mind as a place I’d like to visit.  It’s located just outside of Elkader, IA, about 4 hours from the Twin Cities.  It’s a large barn that was renovated a few years ago to be a group B & B.  Your group gets the whole barn and the nice people who own the place bring breakfast each morning at whatever time you choose.


I finally had an occasion to visit Bar on the Bluff last weekend.  Our family does an “Olson Family Weekend” once a year and this was my year to plan.  This was our 8th year and each year a different couple plans where we go and what we do.  This year included a game night, ping-pong tournament, capture the flag, photo shoot, line-dancing lessons, the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, a nature walk, and lots of other fun stuff.  This was my second time to plan and I’m already excited about planning my next go-around in 2016.

Most of the time when I find a place I really want to stay, I’m a bit let down by the place. It usually seems better in pictures and in my mind, than in reality.  Such was not the case with Barn of the Bluff.  It was exactly as I hoped it would be.  The decor was cool, kitschy, eclectic and just right.  The space was large and gave our group of 14 plenty of room to spread out and be together, while still being apart.  Having breakfast brought to you each morning is a lovely treat that I can’t get enough of.  I hate cooking, but I love eating and pj’s, so this arrangement is one I could definitely live with long term.

The only downside to the barn is the somewhat open nature of many of the sleeping arrangements.  We worked it out and all found a place to hang our head, but having more enclosed, private bedrooms would be nice.  For a gaggle of older kids, the sleeping arrangements would be ideal and the adults could hide away in the private bedrooms, but for a group with just young kids and tired adults, it wasn’t the best.

The town of Elkader was a pleasant surprise.  It’s a small town and at first glimpse there wasn’t much offered, but the longer we hung out the more our perceptions changed.  The first run movie theater was very nice, with digital sound and picture.  There is also a bar/restaurant named Schera’s serving Alergian food that has a beer-on-tap list that would impress even the most snobbish beer fan.  Jamie and the brother-in-laws each had a superb time trying the different offerings.  The bakery run by a young, cute couple with two kids was charming, and the coffee house, while not having the best coffee, did offer it cheaply along with pretty good ice cream.  We ordered a double-shot of espresso and three ice creams and our total bill was under $7.00.

We also enjoyed browsing through the impressive selection of second-hand wares the town has for sale.  Several of the town’s stores were part rummage sale, part antique store and all strangely-awesome.  I spent a good hour in one room of one store and I’m sure I could have spent the rest of the day in just that one place.  It’s called the Turkey River Mall and it was amazing.  My general nature and self doesn’t like used things, but this place had many somethings for everyone and I was taken in by the weird-wonderfulness of the place.  I also loved how all of the second hand/antique places in town mixed new merchandise in with the used.  It was a nice change of pace from the usual.

The area around Elkader is beautiful, including the scenery at the Barn itself.  Rolling hills, quiet streams, exposed limestone and lots of green.  Bluff country is my landscape of choice, so I’m a bit biased, but I think anyone would call it picturesque.  The area had a peaceful, easy feeling that sunk into my bones and made me feel good.

The Barn books up well in advance, so if you are interested in visiting, make your plans early.

P.S. - A shout out to my sister Angie for all of the great photos!

Sun Street Breads

My new favorite spot for breakfast or lunch is Sun Street Breads.  It’s owned and run by Solveig Tofte who baked for Turtle Bread for many years and was a sensation at the Kingfield Farmer’s Market last summer.

The menu is simple, made up of biscuit sandwiches, a few pastries, these awesome fried potato balls called Gordas (not sure of spelling), a couple of breakfast staples and a smattering of sandwiches.  The food is simple as well, nothing fancy or highfalutin, but everything made with high-quality ingredients and with the hand of a talented baker.  The result is delicious, every-day food.  My three favorites so far are the gordas, the biscuit sandwich with scrambled eggs, cheese and sausage, and the raspberry cream scone.

The space is light, bright and airy.  They serve dogwood coffee and I guess they have a full liquor license and intend to open for dinner some time in the future.  For now they are open from 6:30an-2:30pm daily.  They are on the corner of 46th and Nicollet in South Minneapolis.  Check them out if you have a chance.

The Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side

I walk Mazie to and from school most days.  It’s a short walk, not more than five blocks, and we both really enjoy it.  When we moved to Minneapolis a little over a year ago from the suburbs, I thought of Minneapolis as a more eco-conscious city than any of the suburbs.  My experience is that that’s not necessarily the case.

My latest complaint is the number of houses we pass on our walk to school that have those small signs in the yard to keep kids and pets off the lawn until the chemicals dry.  I had always thought that only people in the suburbs used these types of lawn services.  My experience walking to and from school has shown me otherwise.

Why do people put nasty chemicals on their yard?  I have a hard time understanding the thought process.  It costs money and smells bad.  A sign is placed in your yard warning pets and kids to stay away.  This nasty crap runs off of our lawns and into our waterways and sinks into the soil and is one of the millions of chemicals that are making our world not safe.  We all know that there are chemicals everywhere and that can’t be a good thing. But so much of it seems like things out of our control, done to us.  But the lawn thing is a conscious choice and it’s a choice that requires money.

If you want your lawn to be all pretty and you can’t see not having a lawn service, please consider a natural lawn service.  We used NaturaLawn when we lived in the suburbs, but since we’ve moved I’ve convinced Jamie that our small city lot requires no weed control that we can’t handle with a couple of gardening tools.  There are lots of companies out there that offer more natural types of lawn care and they don’t cost much more than the traditional pesticide route.  It’s such a small and easy thing to change, why not do it!



That’s right, I’m forty now.  Here’s how I think and feel at forty.  First off, I feel forty.  In my twenties and my early thirties, I felt like I was in college.  My mental state was very much that of someone who was young and not in charge.  I don’t know, don’t ask me, I’m just a kid.  Sure I had opinions and I thought things, but I saw the world as being run by other, older people.  At some point in the past few years, I caught up to myself and here I am.

Some days I sit back and smell the roses.  I take in the sights, smells and sounds of our world and how immensely enjoyable they are…the pleasure derived from a good book, the joy of bringing about a smile, the aroma of a tasty meal, a sweaty run, chocolate, a comfy bed, a spring breeze, there are so many things to relish. I think how fortunate I am to have a really great husband and two healthy kids.  We enjoy a very priviledged life; we live in the developed world and Jamie makes a good living.  I get along well with my family and I feel loved by both them and my friends.  Life is good.

Other days life doesn’t seem so lemonadey, it’s more lemon.  The world is falling apart at the seams and it’s partly my job to try and fix it.  Sitting back and merely observing the chaos isn’t really good enough anymore.  That seems like a lot of responsibility.

My days can be mundane; my kids can drive me nuts.  I can be petty and mean.  I spend time each day wishing it was a different part of the day or a different day.  I often find myself struggling to connect and communicate with others, especially acquaintances that I’d like to turn into friends.  My butt is large, my fat rolls have grown.  My skin doesn’t look fresh and new.  The scar on my arm isn’t going away.  My teeth aren’t white.  I have a hard time living in the moment.  I could keep going, but that’s probably good enough.

But I think forty has left me more accepting of myself and my flaws, while being more inspired to work on those things that I can change.  I feel like forty is a good time to sit back at the top of the hill and take in the view.  I have been assessing and I think I’m ready for action.  Watch out world, here comes the FORTY year old Tammy!



Rustica And The Best Eclair

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a fan of sweet things that aren’t too sweet, have chocolate, but not too much chocolate, and have some sort of custard or cream.

Enter the eclair.  It fits the bill perfectly.  Back in the olden days when I was a kid, I loved eclairs. I’m not sure if eclairs have changed or if I have changed, but the older I’ve gotten, the less I’ve liked eclairs.  The chocolate is more frosting than chocolate, the filling can be a let down and the body of the eclair can be dry and uninspiring.

A few months ago, Jamie came home with eclairs from Rustica Bakery and an old flame was rekindled.  If you like eclairs, get one and give it a try.  I think I’ve eaten more eclairs in the last few months than I’ve eaten in my entire life.  I was showing up to the bakery more than once a week and feeling embarrassed as I recognized the people behind the counter and wondered if they were beginning to ponder how a single person could consume so many eclairs. It was like I had an eclair monster on my shoulder reminding me of their goodness all day, every day. I had to quiet the beast every few days or his incessant eclair chatter would overwhelm more pertinent thoughts like “It’s time to make dinner” or “I should shower now”.

I give you the Rustica Eclair…The chocolate is rich, dark and melted to the top.  The body of the eclair is delicious:  tender, chewy, moist, hard to sum up.  And the ooey-gooey center.  Yum.  It’s the best part.  It seems halfway between custard and whipped cream and it’s finger-licking good.

When I like a game or a food excessively, I tend to overdo it, satiate, and then rarely eat the food or play the game again.  Chess, Cribbage, sourdough bread, various iphone games, Luna Bars, Genisoy Bars, all of these food/games have met a similar fate. They were once prominent in my day-to-day life, sometimes obsessively so, and then at some point I filled up on them and they are no more for me. That’s where I am now with the Rustica Eclair.  I still love their eclairs and think they are the best, but I don’t think I’ll be eating another one anytime soon.  But to the rest of you, go have yourself an eclair. They are delicious!

Larger Than An Uh-Oh

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Tyler is now 14 months old. He walks, points, grunts and says three words: uh-oh, hi and yay. At this point in her life Mazie spoke at least 40 different words. I remember listing them out on a piece of paper, because I was eager to see just how many different things she could say. I can count Tyler’s words on one hand. But, I digress. I’m here today to talk about what makes Tyler, Tyler. What differentiates him from all of the other 14 month old babies out there in the big, wide world.

I give you ten Tyler truisms (at least for now):

  1. He always has an opinion.
  2. He's usually trying to break himself or something else.
  3. He loves to cuddle with soft objects.
  4. He also loves putting soft objects in his mouth and walking around with them for long periods of time.
  5. He's a jokester, giggler, a comedian at heart.
  6. He likes it loud.
  7. He's delighted by cats and dogs.
  8. He can't get enough of Goldfish crackers, toast and Amy's Mac-n-Cheese.
  9. He doesn't take no for an answer.
  10. Tyler lives life full-speed-ahead!

Larger Than Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Mo

Mazie’s new way to decide everything is eeny-meeny-miny-mo.  What shirt to wear, who should put her to bed, which food should she eat first, the list goes on and on, and each item is put to the test with eeny-meeny. She reports at the end of each round of eeny-meeny, that “it” picked “x”. As if eeny-meeny were a sentient being that had an opinion and that opinion needed to be observed and followed. She rarely likes the conclusion that “it” comes to and this leads to another round of eeny-meeny. She has yet to figure out that if she starts eeny-meeny with the same hand each time, she will get the same result. So, this leads to another round of eeny-meeny, which leads to another round, and so on, until at some point she accidentally starts with the other hand and gets the answer she desires. If she already knows what option she wants, why does she insist on spending many precious minutes each day doing eeny-meeny? I am befuddled…

Small Is An Empire, But Not An Empire Builder - The Final Small In A Short Lineage Of Small

Etsy is small gone big. A crap-load of small businesses use Etsy’s platform to sell their wares. I love Etsy. I first went there several years ago when my extremely tech savvy husband told me about the site. I wasn’t impressed. It seemed like a giant craft sale, where all of the crafts were of the variety that my grandma used to make. No disrespect to grandma, she made nice stuff, but it wasn’t the type of thing I would shop for online. There wasn’t much in the way of edgy, cool or up-and-coming. As the site matured and more people added stores, the cool factor elevated significantly. Now if I’m looking for a purse, t-shirt, jewelry, furniture, art or most anything else, my first stop is Etsy. I can get lost on Etsy the way other people get lost on Facebook. I love me some serious Etsy. If you’ve never checked it out, go now and peruse. Even if you are a dude, there is something for you.

I love the stuff on Etsy and the feeling of Etsy. When you buy something from Etsy, you make a connection with a real person somewhere in the real world. You feel special because you get this special thing and the crafter feels special because someone chose their thing out of the millions of things available for sale. It’s a beautiful relationship. It adds something positive back into the world. So much of our society today isolates and alienates people, but Etsy brings people together. It makes a connection where none existed before and bridges a gap that had no reason to be bridged before. That might sound all high and mighty for a commerce website, but I find it to be true.

Okay, so here’s where the story gets a little less warm and fuzzy and a little more brown and muddy. It seems the business model that Etsy is built on doesn’t work so great for the individuals selling the stuff. It’s great for Etsy itself, they make money on each listing and a percent of sales, but for the small business it’s hard to eek out a living making everything by hand, charging basement-bottom prices (considering the time put into each item), and crossing your fingers hoping that someone will buy your stuff. People are used to paying for things that have been mass-produced and the cost of making things by hand is much greater. The industrial revolution didn’t happen without reason; we all want more stuff for fewer bucks.

The CEO of Etsy is a dreamer and artist at heart. He wants the small businesses on his site to bloom and grow and he’s even started a non-profit to try to help some of the Etsy sellers develop their businesses, but ultimately the thing that makes Etsy so great is the very thing that keeps its sellers from making a living. Handmade = more time = higher price to make a livable wage. The other thing that makes Etsy great is the mass volume of things to choose from. A great thing for Etsy itself and for the consumer, but a tough thing for each individual seller. That’s not to say that there aren’t people on Etsy making enough money to live on, and even some making a pretty penny, but the vast majority find themselves not able to get by on Etsy money alone. As a supplement to income or a hobby it’s a great vehicle to get your stuff out there and have your creative voice heard. But, as a small business generator, it seems the generator is broken. People are willing to pay more for hand-crafted things, but not that much more. So, you end up selling for less or you end up not selling much.

I think to make Etsy a full-time gig you need a few things going for you. First, what you make has to be interesting and cool or different, and second, it needs to be something that a person can’t get at Target, Macy’s or the local mall. It has to be the kind of thing that would garner a comment from a passerby. You need to find a niche market and rock it hard. I think then a person can charge more, collect a following, and make a living.

I’m rooting for Etsy and for all of the people schlepping things on the site. I guess maybe the focus needs to shift from “hey, you can make a living here”, to “hey, you can have a portal to sell your creative wares, but you aren’t going to make much doing it”.

My husband, the same tech savvy husband from the beginning of this post, sent me this article about Etsy a few days ago. The article was what got me thinking about Etsy and the whole idea of small. If you are interested, read it and then let me know what you think. Or, just let me know what you think!

Small Can Build An Empire - The Third Installment Of Small

In my continuing homage to small, we take a look next at Scot Pampuch. The man is a small force to be reckoned with. He owns a small restaurant, The Corner Table, and has for several years.

He’s a local food guru who’s always shouting it out to whomever will listen. I’ve usually got my ears tuned to the local food scene and my head on a swivel and I’ve never seen or heard another foodie shout so often and from so many vantage points. Wherever you turn, there he is. It would be creepy if he was creepy, but he’s not, so it’s cool.

This will be his third summer heading up Tour De Farm, a fully sanctioned copy-cat version of Outstanding in the Field, where dinners are held at local farms, out in the field with local chefs and local food.

I just discovered his latest project, the Corner Table Community Supported Kitchen and it’s sheer genius. It’s like a CSA, but from a restaurant. If you don’t know what a CSA is, it’s short for Community Supported Agriculture and it’s basically a box of veggies, fruits, herbs and other random things that you get from a farm. Shares are available to purchase from many local farms and you pick a farm, buy a share, and pick up your box from a pre-determined location each week. The shares can last all year if you are located somewhere South of here, but in our frozen tundra most shares run 18 weeks or so. The CSK or Community Supported Kitchen that The Corner Table has started is a box that you pick up from their restaurant full of local meats, cheeses and the like, all prepped and ready to cook. He is also offering cooking classes bi-weekly at the restaurant in conjunction with the boxes and interesting, but gross classes where you can break down a whole hog with him. Ick, but probably a good thing to do if you eat meat. According to his website there is also talk of a CSK box for vegetarians. The dude is awesome and is living large the small way.

Three cheers for Scot Pampuch!

The Special Of Small - The Second In A Small Series Of Small

New Glarus makes great beer. At least that’s what people who like beer tell me. If you are in Wisconsin, check it out. New Glarus Brewing Company is following the Small Is Cute mantra and keeping things small and manageable, so the only place you can buy their beer is the state where it’s brewed and bottled.

I think it’s nice that certain things are only available in certain places. It used to be that when a person took a trip they could bring things back from their destination and they would be special things, only available from where they had been. More and more that’s not the case anymore. I’m divided about this, because I love that you can find anything from anywhere on the internet, but I also like the specialness of unique places and things.

Jamie and I were in Switzerland several years ago and we came across Sigg water bottles. They were super lightweight, made of aluminum and looked cool. We brought a few back for family members and within a year they were everywhere. It’s great that the bottles are everywhere, the bottles are a much better product than plastic water bottles and Sigg Bottles ended up inspiring a whole industry, but I was sad as well. Our special find wasn’t special anymore.

What’s your take?

Small Is The New Cute

I’ve always liked small. Small is cute. Baby animals, babies, small bottles of shampoo, miniature whatever, it’s all good. Small business is cute too.

My dad and his brother owned a honey packing plant during my childhood and early adulthood and at the time I didn’t see it as all that great, but looking back now at how the company was run, I respect and admire how they did things. They never expanded product sales beyond the five state region, they bought all of their product from the region, they paid their workers well and my dad and his brother worked like dogs. They had a passion for what they did and weren’t willing to compromise that vision for growth.

I’m not saying that growth is bad, and in certain businesses large-scale, fast-paced growth is fundamental and necessary. But, I think there are lots of circumstances when a business grows faster than it should and the business and those associated with it suffer.

So, all of you small business people out there, listen up. Slow down, grow naturally and enjoy the process. If you are doing what you love, keep doing it. I’ll keep spending my dollars with you and your kind as often as I can. Other people might love the Walmart, but I’m loving you. Thanks for keeping it small and personal; you are all so cute : ).

Of course, I’m in no position to say anything about business large or small, but I’m saying it anyway. I don’t think the six people that read my blog will mind.

Larger Than An American Idol Dream

I’ve never been a Jennifer Lopez person. I know who she is, I don’t live under a rock, but I couldn’t tell you the name of any of her songs, if she’s married, single, dating or really anything about her. She’s pretty and she’s a singer/actress, that’s all I know. However, I am a fan of American Idol even though it shames me to admit it.

Ever since I saw the first show, I was hooked. I many times hate the performances, but watching each week gives me satisfaction. The ritual of every January starting with all of the hopefuls, culling them down to a group of 24, then 12 and then a winner is fun for me. I like a lot of the singers that they have on the show, but I’ve never liked a single song that any one of them have released. They talk on the show about being unique and having your own take and spin on a song, but when the music comes out after the show is over, it’s always the same. Over produced ick, or at least to my tender ears it sounds like over produced ick.

But, none of this is the point. The point of all of this is an introduction into why my daughter knows who Jennifer Lopez is. This is Mazie’s first year watching American Idol. She doesn’t really care about the show and spends most of her time playing while the show is on, but this is the first show we have watched as a “family” and I’m grooving on the idea.

The one thing Mazie does love about American Idol is Jennifer Lopez. From the first moment she saw the show, she has been captivated by her. She refers to her as Ms. Jennifer Lopez. It’s freaking cute and I can’t help but to like Jennifer Lopez myself. I’m never going to be a fan of her music, but as she is my daughter’s first celebrity “crush”, I heart Jennifer Lopez.

Mazie is also in the process of learning to read and write. She’s not had much interest in either activity, but in the last month or two, she’s started to see the light. She now writes phonetically and that’s another freaking cute thing. I’m sure everybody’s kid does it, but it’s my first exposure and I’m digging the experience.

All of this back story is finally going to pay off: Here is the picture that she drew of Jennifer Lopez with included name at the top. I don’t often say these words, but you can quote me…it’s precious!

Larger Than A One-Year-Old

I had a baby, then I had a blog, then I had another baby and now that another baby is ONE plus four days! The newest arrival is a never-stand-still, always moving sort of guy. He prefers crawling to walking which is to say that he hasn’t walked yet, but doesn’t have any desire to try. He’s mastered the stairs and makes several trips up and down each day. He commands his environment and expects things to conform to his will. Open the dishwasher and he’ll have a plate on the floor in seconds. Show him the dog food bucket and he’ll be there in a New York minute ready to throw food at the dog. Give him an inch and he’ll take a mile.

He seems stronger than would be natural for a one-year-old and has broken many things that I didn’t think a one-year-old would be able to break. This guy doesn’t take no for an answer. Diaper changes are never dull as Tyler believes lying still to be an insult to my physical prowess. He contorts his body, screams and many times achieves a stand up position mid-diaper change.

For all of his tough guy routine, Tyler is a softie at heart. He laughs his head off multiple times a day and loves an odd head snuggle with anything soft. He delivers open mouthed kisses to arms, legs, faces, whatever he can reach. And he’s got a smile that can’t be beat. That’s Tyler and he’s ONE plus four days…that’s why he’s larger than a one-year-old.

The Good Woman

Me and the Mister were in Bayfield, Wisconsin for a little R&R in July of 2009. Since then, there has been a new baby and a move, but otherwise much is the same. I started to write this blog post all those many moons ago and never finished. A mere year and a half later I am here to continue what was started…

The evening of our arrival, we stopped in to the local candy/ice cream shop and noticed that it was also a bakery in disguise. A woman stood behind plexiglass with a daughter and husband in tow, making a pie. She was extremely unassuming. We also noticed a couple of carmel rolls hanging out behind the plexiglass. After inquiring we were told that each morning at open there were fresh caramel and cinnamon rolls available for purchase.

The next morning like good little monkeys we arrived. What met our eyes was the loveliest of sights. Big, beautiful rolls fresh from the oven. The “Good Woman” that makes these delicacies was bathing each in a bounty of divine frosting. After acquiring the massive goodness and uttering a few more times about what a good woman this lady was, we headed outside to partake.

This creature was the finest cinnamon roll I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. The Good Woman has a gift and should be honored. Oh Good Woman you are such a good woman. You sit in your little shop all day and night and bake, bake, bake. You are very good at baking and very good at being a good woman. Me and the mister honor you, your gift, and your dedication to your craft.

The Good Woman bakes all day every day at the little candy/ice cream shop in Bayfield, Wisconsin. If you are in Bayfield, Wisconsin you are advised to seek out the Good Woman and her baked goods. You will thank yourself, myself and most emphatically the Good Woman’s self all while licking the ooey-gooey goodness off of your dirty, sticky, frosting-laden hands.

The New Resolution

Almost every hotel you visit now-a-days features a little sign in the bathroom about saving the environment. If you want to use your towels again and forgo new towels thereby helping out the planet, leave your towels on the rack. If you want your towels replaced, throw them on the floor. So, what do I do every time I’m in a hotel, I put my towels on the rack. And what does the hotel do every time my towels are on the rack, they take them away and leave me fresh towels! Drives me nuts, but my apathetic and scared of conflict self has yet to mention this to any of the hotels in which I’ve stayed.

Well, no more. I’m a little late getting to the party, but better late than never. My New Year’s Resolution for 2009 is to take a little control of the situation and try and end this maddening practice. I’ll be back with updates throughout the year. Stay tuned, I’m sure the updates will be riveting.

Three Cups of Tea

I just finished reading Three Cups of Tea, a book detailing the work of Greg Mortenson to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. The book itself is well written and engrossing, and the story of Greg Mortenson is amazing. His determination and personal sacrifice has helped kids in the poorest, most out of the way places get an education that they are hungry to receive. He has internalized the idea that these kids are no different from his own except with respect to their opportunities and put that idea into action building schools. I’ve always thought that trying to combat terrorism with guns and ammunition seemed counter-productive or at least lacking. Mr. Mortenson is pointing the way to a brighter future for all of us, one school at a time. Read this book and then help out with his cause!

Larger Than A Compliment

I’m not big on doling out compliments. If I give someone a compliment, it’s usually because they have done, said, worn, or whatever something so big and beauteous that I can’t keep my pleasant feelings to myself. I’m also not a person that talks about her kid in an overly positive way. In fact, many times it’s quite the opposite. I talk more about Mazie’s failings than her successes; it’s a Midwestern thing or at least that’s what I tell myself. Honking Mazie’s horn is like honking my horn and therefore it shouldn’t be done regularly. There is a fine line between proud and pompous and I am careful not to overstep.

All of the aforementioned is just the background for what I’m about to report…

My child, Mazie Kaye Thingelstad, has been the cutest, funniest, sweetest, most well-behaved kid for the last while. She has been a sheer pleasure to be around. Not all the time, all the place, after all she’s three. But, for the most part my child is in a stage of contentment that I find bewildering and lovely. She says funny kid stuff, she does funny kid stuff. She listens and does as she’s asked. She pees and poops in the toliet, she gets her own water out of the sink and climbs into the car by herself. Other than the endless three year old question of “why”(which I know is her just being inquisitive, but I still find annoying), she doesn’t do much that isn’t grand. I’m counting my lucky stars and I know my number will be up soon, but for now my Mazie is the rockin’est preschooler I know.