Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Call Me Bat Girl

This past weekend, I took a class at Como Zoo about BATS!

Why bats? Because I had to take a class to renew my teaching license and I didn't want to take another Classroom Management type class.

Plus, I love Steph (the teacher) and all the classes at Como Zoo.

Here are 5 Bat Class Take-Aways.

1. Something I thought I'd never hear myself say:

"That bat is soooo cute!"

- Most bats = not so cute. Some bats (Flying Foxes/Fruit Bats, think Stellaluna) like this one are very cute!

2. Something I thought I'd never do (or enjoy):


- Steph had us go geocaching with a GPS and a "Bat Capture Data Form." We probably walked about a mile. I had to take off my three inch platform sandals and walk barefoot. Thank goodness for nice weather!

3. Something I didn't know:

Minnesota has 7 species of bats

- None are the cute kind. But they are FABULOUS because they eat lots of bugs and help pollinate plants. Be nice to our bats. They rock!

4. Something I'm glad is a myth:

Bats do NOT want to fly into my hair

- People usually stand under a light at night. Bugs like light. Bats like bugs. Thus, bats sometimes fly toward our heads. Not because they want to get stuck in our hair. Because they want to eat the bugs!

5. Something that is hard to believe, but true:

Bats are not flying mice. They are most closely related to LEMURS! (huh?)

- Yes, bats are closer to lemurs (as in cute Madagascar primates) than anything else. But really, bats are their own unique kind of mammal.


Cliff, the Fruit Bat, visited us during class. Cliff (at 20 years-old) is a senior citizen and retired from his Como Zoo duties. We're glad he was up for a visit.

See his little furry fox face? And his cute little ears?

Thus, my comment, "He is sooo cute!"

But despite his cuteness, bats do not make good pets. Really, no wild animal does. Pythons, Lions, Wolves, Bears. Not such a good idea. Although some dummies try it. I say, stick to cats, dogs, and hamsters. They're even cuter than bats!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My First Facial

My daughter and I both have March birthdays. My daughter is now 14 years old, so I decided we needed a Mother/Daughter Spa Day.

Since we've never had a spa day (and we didn't get that trip to Florida for our birthdays!), I decided we could splurge a little.

This was our Spa Day itinerary:

1. Pedicures

2. Manicures

3. Facials

4. Hair Wash and Style

My Daughter's Favorite Parts of the Day:

The Manicure (she got shiny gold polish),

and the Hair Style.

Her hair looked awesome when the stylist was done! I think good hair is half about the hair cut and half about the styling. It's hard (for me) to re-create the styling at home. But we're trying!

(I forgot my camera. Bad me! So I can't share a cool picture of her with you.)

My Favorite Part of the Day:

The Facial.

I'd like to note that I'm 44 years old and had never had a facial.

I'm obviously not a spa/salon pro.

I mean, I didn't start getting my eyebrows done till I was 30. (And believe me, they could have used some help before then.)

But, now that I've had a facial, I'm going back. Tomorrow! (Well, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.)


Because a facial is like an awesome face massage!

The lights were low, the blanket covering me was warm, soothing music was playing, and the woman doing the facial seemed liked she knew what she was doing. (And wouldn't steal my purse while my eyes were closed.)

She didn't point out my "flaws."

Instead she asked me, "What concerns do you have?"

I could have said any number of face-related concerns. Like where did all those lines come from? Or there's a vein down the middle of my forehead. Or is chin hair inevitable?

Instead, I said, "Some of my skin is a slightly different color."

She was so kind.

She didn't say, "Those are age spots, Honey. You can get all the facials you want and they still won't go away."

Instead she talked about sun damage, wearing more sunscreen, and how we'd focus on evening out my skin tone.

Then she started the facial.

I almost fell asleep.

I almost asked if I could stay all afternoon.

I did ask, "Do people ever fall asleep in here?"

She said, "All the time."

I believe it.

When my facial was done, I actually had to leave that warm, comfy little room.

But, I'll be back.

And so will Juliana.

No, we can't have Mother/Daughter Spa Day every week. Or even every birthday. But, we can go back for a manicure or facial now and then.

It's fun to be pampered. Especially together.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Road Trip - Day 3: Drury Lane and Blue Water

On the last full day of our Mother/Daughter Road Trip, we went into the town of Grand Marais, Minnesota.

We had breakfast at The Blue Water Cafe. My parents eat at the Blue Water every week. They know the people who work there and get the local's discount.

I had the Mexican Scrambler and coffee. Like any old-fashioned diner, the Blue Water coffee kept coming and coming until I said I was all filled up.

Next we went to one of my favorite bookstores in the world, Drury Lane!

Drury Lane is a small, cute, well-stocked bookstore, a stone's throw away from Lake Superior. Joan Drury is the owner and also an author. Her son does reading time for kids at the bookstore. He's called the Muffin Man.

Children's Rhyme:
Do you know the Muffin Man,
The Muffin Man, the Muffin Man,
Do you know the Muffin Man,
Who lives at Drury Lane.

Well, he doesn't actually live there, but he does read to kids at the store.

Next, we went into the Ben Franklin, better known as Joynes Department Store.

Joynes might seem rather small for a "department store," but they sure pack a lot into their store. Several aisles are the clothes department, several more are for shoes. Then there's a book department, candy and food, and don't forget the home necessities department.

Once my father wanted to darn his socks. Why? I'm not sure. But he found what he needed at Joynes.

Today, we went into Joynes to buy a gift for my husband who was stuck at home with all the pets. I got him a Grand Marais t-shirt at %50 off.

Last, Juliana had to throw some rocks into the harbor.

No trip up north is complete without some good, old rock-throwing.

Tomorrow, it's back home. Back to school and work.

I'm sure glad we had this time together. It's not every day mom gets to road trip with her 14 year-old daughter. And both of them have a great time!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Road Trip - Day 2: Handwriting Analysis & a Grammar Quiz

After a yummy breakfast at the B&B, Juliana and I were back on the road for our Mother/Daughter Road Trip.

Destination: Grand Marais, MN

My parents live in the woods, above Lake Superior. Originally, we had planned to cross country ski during this vacation, but since the snow was very slushy, we decided to make our own fun.

My mom pulled out a Hand Writing Analysis Book from 1958.

Here are some things we found out:

1. "Negative people write small. Positive people write large."
- John Hancock must have been a VERY positive person.

2. "How is Your Self Respect?"
a. Small capital "I" = Low Self Respect
b. Capital "I" same size as all capital letters = "Reasonable Self Respect"
b. Very large capital "I" = "Exaggerated Self Respect." "You will be conceited" and if you are also an out-going person, "you will annoy other people."

- Apparently, I vacillate between having "reasonable self respect" and being conceited and annoying.

3. Crossing Your "T's"
- There are 29 different ways to cross your "t's." And they all mean something different, from strong willed and flirtatious nature, to sarcastic and "brutal course nature."
- Which am I? I'm not telling.

Then, Mom found a Grammar Book from 1941.

OK. I admit it. I'm a grammar snob.

I credit this entirely to my mother who corrected me ALL the time! (Also, I'm an English teacher and good grammar comes in handy.)

Here's a little grammar test. Which sentence is correct?

1. He reads good.
2. He reads well.

ANSWER: Number "2."

1. Can you borrow me some milk?
2. Can you lend me some milk?

ANSWER: Number "2." I really hate this one.

1. This is a secret between you and I.
2. This is a secret between you and me.

ANSWER: Tricky one. The answer is number "2"- "you and me."

Whew! After all that brain strain, we called it a day.

Tomorrow: Eating at the Blue Water Cafe and buying books at Drury Lane.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Road Trip - Day 1

Juliana and I set out for Duluth, Minnesota with the car packed full of clothes, 7 pairs of shoes, chocolate-covered pretzels, music, books on cd, and a dog bowl. (I had forgotten to take the dog bowl out of the car before we left.)

We arrived in Duluth too early to check in to our Bed and Breakfast, so we visited Glensheen, a historic mansion owned by the University of Minnesota.

We have been on the Glensheen "extended" tour many times. Juliana says she could give the tour herself, which I believe. If you're ever in Duluth, and you like history and big, historic homes, I definitely recommend you check out Glensheen.

After our tour, it was time to check into our own 1904 Georgian mansion B&B - The Olcott House.

David, one of the owners, welcomed us and showed us to our rooms. We had an entire suite with bedroom, living room and bath. It was very beautiful and elegant. It felt like we were transported back to 1904, living in luxury.

(Here are some photos I took. For professional photos of The Olcott House, visit their website. It has lots of wonderful photos and information.)

The sitting room:

The staircase:

The corner of our living room:

Originally, the home was owned by William and Fanny Olcott. William Olcott was president of the Oliver Mining Company (which is now U.S. Steel). Olcott was also president of the Duluth Missabe Northern Railroad for many years.

Around this time, Duluth had more millionaires than any other city in the United States! Duluth was in its hay day, and the Olcotts were at the center of it, along with the Congdons who owned Glensheen.

We got to be a part of it all too, in our small way, by staying at The Olcott House.

At the end of the day, we snuggled into our giant, king-size bed, in our beautiful, historic room, and watched . . . Finding Nemo. We probably should have watched Pride and Prejudice or Downton Abbey, but instead we watched a clown fish search for his son and we laughed at Ellen DeGeneres' character.

Our bed:

Some Highlights of Today:

1. Seeing 4 Bald Eagles as we drove north.

2. Accidentally using Body Wash as shampoo and Conditioning Shampoo as conditioner. Oops.

3. Talking for two hours with my daughter in the car.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Road Trip with a Teen or Tween

It's spring break next week, so my daughter Juliana (age 14) and I are going on a mother/daughter road trip.

We will be documenting our road trip all next week.

But first we must pack. And preparing for a Road Trip with a Teen/Tween needs some careful consideration.

If you are planning on a road trip with a tween or teen, here's a list of items I recommend you take with you.


1. ipod and headphones (for teen). I guarantee there will be times when you don't want to listen to the same music as your teen or tween.

2. Books on tape - These make the looong miles go quicker. Choose something you both would enjoy.

3. Snacks - Teens and Tweens get hungry. Provide snacks or you will be stopping at McDonald's a lot.

4. Beverages - Water bottles are great. Caffeine is good for Mom. Save the wine for after you arrive at your destination.

5. Nintendo DS and games - If you're child likes hand-held games, bring them along. This is no time for monitoring screen time.

6. Deck of Cards - Fun for the hotel room, not the car.

7. Books - About your destination and for fun.

8. Cell Phones - Do you know a teen who can live without his/her cell phone?

9. Camera - Encourage your teen/tween to document the trip in his/her own way.

10. Journal - Like a camera, a journal is a great way to document the trip. Also, if your teen gets bored or mad at you, here's a place to let it out.

11. Pillow - Your teen/tween will fall asleep in the car.

12. Trash Bag - For some reason, teens generate a lot of trash.

13. Handwipes or sanitizer - Teens also don't wash their hands often enough. Plus, what nastiness are you touching at rest stops? Better not to know. Just clean your hands well!

14. At least one Dressy Outfit - You may want to go out for a nice meal. You're teen won't pack a dressy outfit unless you specifically tell them to. Or just slip one in at the last moment.

15. A Positive Attitude - If you're excited about the trip, your teen/tween will most likely be excited to. Just don't be too excited.

Next week, I'll document how our tip goes. It should be fun.

As long as we're both prepared.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's My Birthday - Here's What You Can Get Me

Today I'm turning 44 years old.

Since, 44 seems to be about right smack in the middle of my life (if I'm fortunate), I decided to make a list of things I would really love and appreciate in the 2nd half of my life.

So, if you get me (or guarantee me) any of these items, I will be your BFF forever!

1. More Sun.
- This can be delivered in the form of multiple sunny vacations, a second home in Florida, Hawaii or the Caribbean, or possibly a sun lamp.

2. A Cleaning Servie
- I love having a clean, tidy house. But I want someone else to do the work.

3. A Great Literary Agent
- I think it's about time in my writing career to have a professional partner.

4. A New Pair of Dansko Clogs
- I wear clogs a lot and my old pair is wearing out.

5. More Flair Pens
- I love colored pens. You can never have enough.

6. A Professional Gardener/Landscaper
- I love beautiful gardens and yards. But since I don't know what I'm doing, I'd love someone else to take care of this for me.

7. Blank Notebooks
- Lined, graphed or unlined. Like colored pens, you can never have enough.

8. SpanishLessons
- I'd like to brush up on (re-learn) my high school Spanish and eventually be fluent (or close to fluent.)

9. A Convertible
- I like convertibles.

10. A Long, Happy, Healthy Life (for me, my family, friends, and well . . . everyone.)
- This would be a great gift for anyone!

Thanks in advance. I will be accepting any, or all, of these gifts today and really any time is fine.

Have a great day!

I'm off to tutor Junior High kids. And have homemade pizza for dinner with my family.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Scream, You Scream

This is Juliana, Dara's 14 year-old daughter. Today, I will be guest blogging.

This story is not about ice cream. It's about when I went up north to the cabin with my mom and friend last summer.

One day, my friend and I decided to go on a hike. It wasn't really much of a hike; we were filming a movie on my friend's ipod and we got bored. So we just started walking up the path and called it a hike.

After a little while of walking we got bored again and turned around to come back.

The path we were on had one big hill and the hill was towards the end of the path.

As we started down the hill, my friend suddenly grabs my arm and shrieks. I, of course, think she's seen a bear or wolf or something really scary like that. You know, the kind of thing that would eat us!

So of course, I scream and then we're both screaming. She has a hold of my arm and I literally turn to run up the hill and away from whatever she saw.

According to my friend, I pushed her in front of me. According to me, I simply pulled her in front of me. You know how the saying goes: "You don't have to be faster than the bear, you just have to be faster than the other guy."

As we're standing there screaming, a freaking BIRD walks out of a bush and I realize that it was a grouse that had made us scream.

A grouse had been rustling a bush, and we didn't know what it was. Afterword, we thought it was pretty funny, but at the time that was probably the scariest four seconds of my life!!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This guest post by my daughter tells me a few things about her:

1. She gets bored easily.
2. She's afraid of birds.
3. She would sacrifice her friend at a moment's notice.

I'm very proud.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Writer's Workshop - Summer Lovin'

For Writer's Workshop today, I'm sharing some photos from last summer that "bring me back" to a time when it was warm, sunny, and green.

In Minnesota, going "up north" is a grand tradition. It's an institution. Many people go to cabins that have been in their families for generations. Others, like us, rent.

We've been going to the same place for about 9 years. It's way up north, away from practically everyone. There are loons on the lake and eagles in the sky. We've seen moose a few times.

We usually hang out at the little beach.

See that white chair. That's where I sit while my daughter and the other kids swim. My husband is usually behind me, on the swing, reading in the shade.

Here's what I see from my chair.

When we don't want to cook, we drive into town for a meal and shopping.

When the day is done, we head back to the cabin to light a fire and relax.

Ahhh, summer.

Mama’s Losin’ It