Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Junior High Fashion Week - Day 3

Junior High Fashion Week continues at Planet Parenting. The school week is getting long already for our 13 year-old model. Here's her pick for the day.

Wednesday's Fashion: "The week's only half over?! Time for the sweats."

Sweatshirt - American Eagle
T-shirt - Target
Cami - Aeropostale
Sweatpants - From school
Addidas sandals - Sports Authority
Different colored socks - Target

It's surprising how much time and effort it takes to create that "Just Rolled Out of Bed" look.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Junior High Fashion Week - Day 2

Tuesday's Fashion:
"Still early in the week. Time for Jeggings."

If you are unfamiliar with "Jeggings," they are a cross between Jeans and Leggings.

The back of the t-shirt has a cool, wing design.

T-shirt - Target
Cami - Aeropostale
Jeggings - Cabi
DC shoes - Journeys

My daughter refuses to wear long-sleeve shirts in the winter. I'm not sure if this is a fashion thing or a personal dislike for things on her arms. None-the-less, I believe she is often cold.

This morning it was 21 degrees outside. Juliana asked me to pick her up from school because she would be too cold to walk home. The school is three blocks from our house. I said, "No." Then I said, "Yes." Am I a sucker?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Junior High Fashion Week - Day 1

Welcome to Junior High Fashion Week here at Planet Parenting. I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the current fashions worn by my 8th grade daughter.

JUNIOR HIGH FASHION RULES: (According to Juliana, 8th grade)

1. Khakis are NOT for school. Only jeans and sweatpants are acceptable.
2. A skirt is OK, but can't be too dressy.
3. Shorts are good but only short-shorts. (Unfortunately this goes against the school's dress code.) Long shorts are an affront to mankind.
4. Flip-flops are always appropriate footwear.
5. T-shirts must be fitted (not loose) and always worn with a cami underneath.

Monday's Fashion - "Always start the week out right. Wear jeans."

T-shirt & Cami - Wet Seal
Belt - Hot Topic
Jeans - Macy's
Boots - DSW

What I find most interesting about Junior High fashion is that it's a complete dichotomy, just like kids' personalities. One day Juliana will dress up in a skirt and cute shoes. The next day she looks like she just rolled out of bed in pajama pants and a baggy sweatshirt.

In Junior High, whatever the mood, there's a matching fashion to wear.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Top 5: Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving I asked my husband and daughter what 5 things they were most thankful for. Here are the results:

Husband - Paul
1. Me and Juliana, our daughter
2. Having a job
3. Having job skills that are in demand
4. Our neighborhood
5. SmartWool Socks

Daughter - Juliana (age 13)
1. That the Twilight series is almost over
2. That the "Three Musketeers" (she and two friends) have every class together next trimester
3. Her i-pod
4. That she and her friend are both Harry Potter fanatics
5. "Squishy Kitty," our cat

1. My husband and daughter
2. That we have a house (and reliable heat)
3. Our health
4. Family and friends
5. The Sun

What are the Top 5 things you are most thankful for?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Junior High Fashion

This is my first time linking up with The Pleated Poppy's "What I Wore Wednesday." It's a place to show each other what fun, interesting outfits we're wearing and get inspired from one another.

This week I'm featuring my 13 year-old daughter, Juliana, and her 8th Grade Fashion. So today is really "What She Wore Wednesday." Next week will be both of us.

This is one of the dressier outfits that Juliana wears to school. But it's still cool with the motorcycle jacket.

Here's the same outfit without the jacket.

jacket - Macy's
cami - Aeropostale
sweater and tights - Target
skirt - Hollister
boots - DSW
headband - made by local artist

pleated poppy

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Pilgrim Girl's Life

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of one of my favorite historical books for kids - Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters.

We see 9 year-old Sarah Morton as she works and plays in an English settlement in Massachusetts during the year 1627.

She must build the fire, cook breakfast, and feed the animals. But she also has time to play with her best friend. We also get to see all the layers of clothes she has to wear.

The coolest part about this book is that there are PHOTOS!

No, there weren't cameras in 1627. The photos were taken at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. At Plimoth Plantation, museum workers dress up in period costumes and go about their day just like the real pilgrims.

Here's some seventeenth-century New England words and their translations:

Bedding - Mattress stuffed with straw
Cockerel - Rooster
Good day - Hello
Hasty pudding - Oatmeal or cornmeal cereal
Oh, marry! - Oh, no! or Oh, gosh!
Overgarments - Clothes
Poppet - Doll
Thee - You
Waistcoat - Vest or jacket

Friday, November 18, 2011

Take your Vitamins!

This morning my daughter refused to take her gummy vitamins. "Those taste so nasty!"

So I handed her a bottle of regular vitamins.

She looked at the bottle of CENTRUM SILVER and cried, "But this is for people over 50!"

She acted like I was trying to POISON her!

Note to self: Even though I'm not over 50 yet, I need to take my vitamins too!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Proposal and a Breakup

My husband, Paul, and I dated almost 6 years before we got married. We knew each other pretty well by then and we had talked about getting married. In fact, I picked out my own engagement ring.

But I didn't know when he would propose.

It was my first year teaching and things had gotten off to a rocky start. By December, I was ready for a break. We decided to take a weekend get-away to Stillwater, Minnesota.

Stillwater is a beautiful, old town on the St. Croix River. We stayed at a Victorian bed and breakfast and went to dinner at their little, historic restaurant.

We were at the restaurant with perhaps five other couples seated around us. Suddenly, Paul got down on his knee, right there in front of everyone. (This was very surprising because Paul is a private, shy person.)

He offered me the ring and asked me to marry him. Of course, I said yes.

The restaurant staff was super excited. They brought us glasses of mead. Apparently, in medieval times, it was customary to drink mead on one's honeymoon. We were so happy, the staff was happy, even the other couples clapped and congratulated us.

Except for one couple.

Shortly after the proposal, we heard raised voices from the far table. Then the woman got up and stormed out of the restaurant, leaving the man sitting alone at the table.


Paul's romantic, candle-lit proposal had triggered something in the couple's relationship and they had clearly broken-up.

This situation put a tiny damper on things, but not for long. The next morning, our B&B host said we had made her restaurant staff cry. They were so moved by the proposal that they were crying in the kitchen!

Now that's some proposal.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nephews are Nice

Today is Wordless Wednesday where a picture speaks for itself. Except, I'm actually doing "Wordfull Wednesday" because I can't not talk about my nephews.

I adore my three nephews! I don't have any sons, so it's especially fun having nephews.

I love buying things for them, especially clothes. My sister-in-law calls me "Gap Auntie" because I like shopping at Gap Kids for them.

This year, I bought them all matching, blue button-down shirts. I can't wait to see them all dressed alike!

These photos were taken at my middle nephew's birthday party. He's smart and very crafty. I bought him a jean jacket. I mean, what cute, independent, slightly wild, 4-year-old boy doesn't need a cool jean jacket?

My daughter said, "Now he can look like a Greaser from The Outsiders." Excellent!

Angry Julie Monday parenting BY dummies

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Appreciating the Sun

Today I am completely appreciating the sun. It's 47 degrees outside, which is a little chilly. But the sun is shining bright and there's no snow on the ground!

I tend to talk about the weather. But so does everyone in Minnesota. It's a state-wide past-time.

Here's a fairly typical conversation:

"It's cold today."

"Ya sure, it's cold."

"But remember last year?"

"There was snow up over my car."

"I had to shovel for 3 hours."

"Ya, I had to shovel for 5."

"I don't have one of those snow blowing machines."

"I think I'll get one of those this year."

"If it ever snows."

"You can count on it. The snow's a-coming."

I just hope not TOO soon!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Let's Talk about "The Talk"

At some point as parents, we have to have "The Talk" with our kids. You know what I'm referring to - the talk about SEX.

Yes, I know, our babies are way too young. We don't want to think about "The Talk" for years and years (and even more years, hopefully!) And yet, we know time moves so quickly and all of a sudden our babies are growing up!

When Juliana was in 5th grade, I took her out to lunch at the mall. I wanted to have Phase 1 of "The Talk" in a public place so she couldn't:

a.) Scream at me for embarrassing her,
b.) Shriek at the horror of what I was about to tell her, or
c.) Run away.

I was all set to launch into a lecture on STDs and birth control, when suddenly it dawned on me that I should probably do a check-in with her first. I was pretty sure she knew about eggs and sperm as a scientific concept. But I wasn't sure how much other information she might have gotten from her friends. So this is how our conversation went:

"It takes an egg and sperm to make a baby."


"So, do you know how the sperm and egg get together in humans?"



Yes, folks, that's what she said - kissing. I was SOOO glad I did a check-in first before launching into far more advanced information. I tried not to laugh. That would have been mean.

"No. Kissing is fine. People can't make babies from just kissing."

Then I explained about the boy parts and girl parts coming together. She said:

"EWWWWW! That's gross!"

I did laugh this time. I couldn't help myself, I just couldn't.

I said, "That's a completely appropriate response." Then I added, "But, you won't always feel that way!"

Phase 1 of "The Talk" was complete. Basic information was conveyed. Check.

Now, years later, she is almost 14 years old and thinking about which High School to attend.

We are now onto Phase 3 or 4 of "The Talk." This time around, I have a little help from my public school teacher friends in Health Class 101. Juliana tells me that tomorrow someone is coming in to talk about Birth Control. Excellent!

So far, I'm pleased with how Health Class has handled important topics such as physical health, drugs, and sex ed.

My only disappointment with Health Class is that they no longer show the LIVE BIRTH VIDEO! Apparently in the past, some students had to leave the room for fear of vomiting. If that's not a lesson in Birth Control, I don't know what is.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Writer's Workshop - The Roaring Twenties

In the mid-1970's, I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My brother and I were in elementary school. And one of our favorite restaurants was The Roaring Twenties Pizza Parlor!

The Roaring Twenties Pizza Parlor was not just a restaurant, it was a musical experience. You walked down a long hall with 1920's photos hanging on the wall. You ordered your pizza at the counter and chose your seats in a booth surrounding the big, open room or at one of the long tables down the middle.

Then you waited.

The lights would dim. A hush would spread through the large crowd.

And up from below, would rise The Mighty Wurlitzer organ playing the theme from Rocky!

It was so exciting! That organ would rise up and the organist would be going to town, banging out those notes loud and strong. Deep pipes vibrating the room and high pipes reaching piercing notes.

People clapped and cheered, the pizza would arrive, and we'd all settle in for an evening of sing-a-long.

My favorite song to sing was:

Daisy, Daisy,
Give me your answer do!
I'm half crazy,
All for the love of you!
It won't be a stylish marriage.
I can't afford a carriage.
But you'll look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.

The Roaring Twenties Pizza Parlor is long gone now. The 1928 Wurlitzer organ, after many moves and renovations, has found its home at the Grand Rapids Public Museum where patrons can still hear its mighty music.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Round Barn

My mom's side of the family comes from Wisconsin. My cousin still lives on one of the original farms. This is a photo of their unique, round barn.

People come from all over to take pictures of their barn and several other round barns that dot this part of Wisconsin.

I used to play with my brother and cousin in this barn. Then it housed dairy cows on the lower level and mounds of hay in the upper part.

This is inside the upper, domed part of the barn.

On the farm, my uncle installed a parking meter for fun. If you look closely, you can see 2 nickels will buy two hours of parking. What a deal!

These pictures remind me of my childhood and farms and barn cats and cows. For a city kid, visiting the farm was a magical treat! Even though things are very different now, I try to go back when I can. And bring my daughter. She needs some farm magic too.

Today is Wordless Wednesday, where pictures speak for themselves. I'm linking up with these great blogs, plus NapTimeMomTog.

Angry Julie Monday parenting BY dummies

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Turkeys are Back

The turkeys are back! They came visiting our yard again and are looking much PLUMPER than last time.

This flock (or rafter) of turkeys, lives somewhere nearby. I've heard that a neighbor raises them when they're young and then lets them roam around the neighborhood.

This is unusual - and humorous - since I live in the middle of a large city. But everyone knows the turkeys and looks forward to their visits.

These turkeys had better watch out the closer we get to Thanksgiving! But, they'll always be safe in my yard. My daughter and I don't like turkey.

On Thanksgiving, I'll stick with the mash potatoes and pumpkin pie!

Monday, November 7, 2011

So Mature, yet So Young

Junior High kids think they are so mature. And in many ways they are.

They take on a lot more responsibility, like crossing busy streets and remembering to wear lip gloss.

They have more sophisticated tastes, like listening to the Black Eyed Peas and wearing jeans that show butt cleavage when they bend over.

And they sure as heck want to be treated like junior adults.

"You don't understand anything!" they say. Because, of course, they understand everything.

"Why can't my friends and I go to the mall/midnight movie/boy's house by ourselves?" they ask. Because, of course, they are so mature now that they can handle anything.

And yet.

Junior High kids are young. Very young. They still love their stuffed animals. They want to be tucked in at night. They cry when friendships go awry. They love puppies.

And they still want to go see Puss and Boots at the movies. With their mom.

Well at least, my daughter wanted to. She asked me to go see Puss and Boots with her yesterday. We did and it was fun.

And it reminded me about the incredible dichotomy that is the Junior High age child.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Home Improvement from Hell

Six years ago in October, we started a major home improvement project. We loved our neighborhood, but were convinced we needed more space. So, we decided to put an addition on our nearly 100 year-old house.

Oct 2005: The back entry comes down.

Nov 2005: The addition starts to take shape. My daughter wants to leave the big floor area open so she can have her own personal stage!

Nov 2005: I'm convinced our ancient kitchen is covered in lead paint! Did I go overboard with my clean-up outfit?

Dec 2005: I'm now convinced no amount of cleaning will make our old kitchen nice. It all comes down. Our kitchen now looks like a Crack House!

We find interesting things in the wall. A newspaper prior to WWII with Hitler in the headlines, a beauty salon appointment card, and a Betty Crocker recipe pamphlet.

Jan 2006: Things start to look up. Dry wall makes me happy! More performance area for my daughter.

Feb 2006: Ahhhh. The new kitchen cabinets arrive.

April 2006: My amazing father-in-law comes to build all the woodwork for our addition for FREE! My daughter helps paint and supervise.

Oct 2006: We are finally, really, almost done! The IKEA shelves are up and the books are moving in.

Nov 2011: Thank God, Thank God we don't have to do that ever again!
How did I forget that it took an entire YEAR to finish? My neighbors are adding onto their house right now. I feel their pain!

Have you ever done a major home improvement project? How did it go?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Writers Workshop - Author FAQs

I'm the author of three books for children. People always ask me questions about being a writer and my books. Adults and kids tend to ask very different questions!

Here's some of my most frequent FAQs.

Adults Ask:

1. How did you become a children's author?
I took a class on writing for children when my daughter was about 1 years old. I thought, "Hey, my life has changed so much already, why not try something I've always wanted to do?" Then it was a lot of work and perseverance.

2. How do you think up your ideas?
I get ideas everywhere! When you have kids (or have been a kid, which is all of us) there are tons of ideas floating around. The idea for Muriel's Red Sweater came to me in the middle of the night. I recommend keeping paper and a pen on your bedside table.

3. How did you find your illustrator?
I didn't. In fact, I've never met her. The publisher typically buys the story (manuscript) first and then matches the story with an illustrator.

4. What do you recommend if I want to write a book for children?
Take a class and join a writer's group. Later, join SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) and go to conferences. If you live in St.Paul/Mpls, or like to take online classes, check out The Loft Literary Center. That's where I got my start. Plus, I teach there now!

Kids Ask:

1. Are you famous?
Well, you know who I am, so I must be!

2. Are you rich?
No. But I sure have fun writing books.

3. What's your favorite beverage?
Water. Oh, and coffee.

4. How old is Muriel?
She's 8 years old. (The answer changes depending on the age of the kid asking.)

5. Why does Muriel live on the water?
Because it's cool! Plus, she's a duck.

6. Can I pet Muriel?
You bet! Come on over. (I bring my Muriel puppet to my school visits. She's a hit!)

Today I'm linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writers Workshop. Go check it out!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Garden Gnome Blues

I took some pictures in the garden this week. Oh, my poor, poor garden. Tended so well in the spring, neglected by mid-summer, and totally abandoned by fall.

Here's a little garden gnome that's seen it all.

He seems to be saying to me, "Come closer, My Dear. I have something to tell you."

Then as soon as I lean in to hear his whisper, he'll hit me on the head with his stick and say, "That's for neglecting my garden!"

At least one flower is still hanging on.

The very last geranium!

Maybe I should stick to pumpkins.

Our Halloween pumpkin never got carved, but at least it looks good on the porch!

Angry Julie Monday parenting BY dummies
NapTime MomTog

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kick Butt Mom

I like to think of myself as a Kick Butt Mom. What I mean is that I feel very passionate about kids and their wellbeing, and could seriously Kick Butt if needed to keep kids safe.

For anyone who's read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, you know the character Lisbeth Salander is a serious butt-kicker. While I am definitely more well-adjusted, and less punk, than Lisbeth, I can channel my Inner-Lisbeth when necessary.

(Lisbeth Salander from movie, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.)

A few years ago there was a guy driving around our neighborhood flashing young girls. He would stop and ask for directions. Then, when the girl would come closer to help him out, he would flash her. Not nice.

This happened to two girls I know. They both did the right thing - they ran as fast as they could to safety and told an adult.

After the second incident, I was at a cross-walk with a group of older elementary kids. I said, "I wish that guy would try something while I was around."

A boy asked in astonishment, "Why would you want that?"

"Because I would kick his butt." (I might have said ass, but I'm not admitting to swearing in front of a 5th grader.)

"In fact," I continued. "The best punishment for a guy like that would be to lock him in a room full of angry moms!"

I'm not sure the kids fully understood what I was saying, but they got the message. Moms can kick butt, especially when their kids (and other people's kids) are threatened.

Luckily for the flasher guy, he was caught by police before the Mom Squad took over. I imagine he'll be safer in prison this way.