Monday, April 30, 2012

Let's Get Coffee . . . at the Bank

My favorite place to get coffee and a cookie is at . . .

the BANK!

Yes, our awesome neighborhood bank - Park Midway Bank - has a little coffee counter called Park Perks.

Lisa, the beautiful barista (and bank go-to gal) knows exactly what I want.

A small, skim latte and a chocolate chip cookie.

Lisa also makes the cookies.  And they are yummy.  Usually they're still hot.

And guess what?  It only costs $2.00 for a latte and a cookie!

Even better - all the money goes to a non-profit group or charity (like the school band or local food shelf.)

Sadly, I've been having some stomach problems lately and I suspect it's due to an over-abundance of caffeine.  So, I'm trying to cut way down.

When I went into the bank the other day, Lisa helped me out.

She put only one shot of espresso (instead of two) into my latte.

The way I reason it, that's less caffeine and no sugar in the latte.  So there's room for a cookie!

Did I mention the cookies?

So, if you're in the neighborhood, and want a pick-me-up, stop by the bank.

You can get some coffee, a cookie, and they always have the right change.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

High School Registration Night


Breathe deep.

Tonight is the 2012 Freshman Registration Night for my daughter.

I'm really excited!

- It will be fun to see which classes she'll be in and meet the teachers.

- I can begin imaging her walking those halls.

- Where will her locker be?  Who will be her homeroom teacher?

- How many kids will she know tonight?  I bet a lot.


I'm sad.

- My daughter - My One and Only - is starting high school in the fall.  Registration Night confirms that this is indeed a fact.  It's actually going to happen.

- Last night while watching GLEE, I cried when Kurt's dad said how much he'll miss Kurt after graduation.

Then I said:

"Next year is the beginning of THE END!"

Juliana looked at me mortified and confused.  And maybe a little sad.  Oops.

I tried to backpedal.  "No, no.  I shouldn't have said that.  There are four more years.  Think about four years ago, you were in 4th grade.  That was a long time ago."

Juliana answered, "It doesn't feel long ago to me."

Oh boy.

So, now I'm trying to keep my sad dramatic moments to myself.

Instead, I'm focusing on the "I'm excited" part of this whole thing.

And I am excited.

I want to jump right in there tonight and say, "Hi" to everyone and chat and smile and make new friends!

But, I'll try to keep my happy dramatic moments to myself too (at least a little bit.)

It's Juliana's Freshman Registration Night.  Not mine.  It's her time to take the lead and shine.

And I'll be right there with her.  Following along.

Trying not to skip.  Or cry.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

No More Track Snacks

As some of you may know, my daughter joined the junior high track team again this year.  And I volunteered to be Track Snack Mom.

Then after one week, my daughter told me she wanted to quit.  I wrote a blog post called Should We Let Our Children Quit.

At the time, I told her to stick with it.  She had made a commitment, I thought she'd like it better once they were having meets, and because I had committed to coordinating snacks.

Then, last week, my daughter told me she really wanted to quit the team.

This time, I asked her why.
And I really listened.

She said to me, "After a long day at school, I just want to go home."

Juliana is an introvert.  
I am not.

She NEEDS quiet time at home to rejuvenate before she can do anything else with people.

I didn't get that.

Luckily, she did.

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, originated by Howard Garner, includes 8 types of intelligence.

1. Spatial
2. Linguistic
3. Logical - mathematical
4. Bodily -kinesthetic
5. Musical
6. Naturalistic
7. Interpersonal
8. Intrapersonal

My intelligence is Interpersonal.

Interpersonal - understanding, interacting with others. These students learn through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts.

Juliana's intelligence is Intrapersonal.

Intrapersonal - understanding one's own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They're in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions.

I've never really understood the significance of Intrapersonal, until I had a daughter with this intelligence.

Juliana knows herself.

She has so much more self-knowledge and wisdom than I had at 14 years old.

I need to trust that when she says she needs quiet time after school, she really means it.

So, Juliana is no longer on the track team and I'm no longer the Track Snack Mom.

And that's just fine.  Better than fine.

It's the right thing to do.

When we really listen, we can learn a lot from our children.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Who Doesn't Love Baby Goats?

Lately I've been having lots of fun on Pinterest.

Although I know its primary purpose in life is to be a Giant Time Suck, I still think it's awesome. My daughter has her own section on my Pinterest. So does my husband. It's a Pinteresting Family Affair.

I love to see which items people re-pin the most.

I'm a little surprised that this picture (found under Cute Animals) is by far and away, my most re-pinned item.

People LOVE baby goats!

I mean, look at that face. Ahhhh.

Oddly enough, this is my second most re-pinned item (found under Weird Stuff My Husband Found.)

People also love Batman.

Go figure.

Angry Julie Monday parenting BY dummies

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We're All Born in March

March is a big birthday month in my family.

My brother, mother, daughter, and I all have March birthdays.

(Outside Panda Garden)

This year, instead of celebrating 4 separate times, we decided to have one Big Birthday Bash! Well, maybe not a bash, but we did all go out to dinner.

At Panda Garden.

"Panda," as I like to call it, is a decent Chinese buffet restaurant. It's not a high class affair. Nor will you get a meal you'll never forget. So why do we go?

It's close, relatively cheap, and has food my father can eat.

My father is allergic to: Wheat, Diary, Seafood, Nuts, and a few other things.

So, he can eat: Rice, meat, vegetables, fruit, and a few other things.

Chinese buffets have lots of rice, meat and veggies.

Ta Da!

The Panda Garden Big Birthday Bash!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Should We Let Our Children Quit?

My short answer is "it depends."

Quitting something - an activity, a club, a team, a class, even a job - can be a difficult decision. For parents and kids.

If your son started guitar lessons, then decided they were too hard after a couple sessions, would you let him quit? Or would you make him keep going? If so, for how long?

I don't believe in forcing a child (or adult) to stick with something that they hate or dread doing.

But at the same time, if they've made a commitment to something - and it's not going to cause any lasting psychological or physical damage - then I say you have to stick with it. Especially if it's a short commitment.

For example, my daughter started Track Team at her junior high last week.

This week she wants to quit.

I said, "No!"

Here's my reasoning:

1. She made a commitment to being on the team.
2. It's a very short season. Only 4 or 5 meets.
3. I volunteered to be the Track Snack Mom and I . . .
a. Don't want to quit after I volunteered.
b. Don't want to be Snack Mom for a team my daughter's not even on.

So, she's still on the team.

I'm sure once she starts practicing again, she'll be fine. (She missed all last week due to illness.) The first meet is on Wednesday.

I bet a little air-in-her-hair, Gatorade, and team spirit will remind her why she joined in the first place.

At least I hope so.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why I Take My Daughter to the Theater

Tonight, Paul, Juliana and I are going to the Guthrie Theater to see HAY FEVER by Noel Coward. It's a comedy about an eccentric family and their weekend guests. The reviews say it's very funny.

Humor is great after a long week.

But that's not why I bring my daughter to the theater.

I bring her because I want her to see real people creating characters and situations right before our eyes.

I want her to see the complicated dance of actors playing off each other.

I want her to see the tremendous physicality of acting.

I want her to see human emotions up close and personal. But from a safe place.

I want her to be dramatically literate. To be familiar with classic and new theatrical productions. To enjoy new musicals like MEMPHIS as much as Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. To wonder, could I do that on stage? Could I create those awesome costumes? Could I direct a group of actors?

For many years I was a drama teacher. I've taught grades 1-12. Theater is an amazing, equalizing endeavor. Kids who might not be great in their academic classes, might shine on stage. Or kids who love to draw might excel at stage design. Kids who love organization, and being "behind the scenes", might enjoy stage direction.

Theater is a real-world application of creative abilities.

Even if my daughter never performs on stage or never designs a costume, she will have an appreciation for live theater that only comes from seeing it, hearing it, breathing it.

So tonight, I expect we will laugh ourselves silly. And I can't wait. Being a part of a group of strangers, all sitting together with a purpose - to watch and enjoy - and all laughing or gasping or crying together. It's pretty darn amazing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Little Neighborhood in the Big City

(Carnegie Library in my neighborhood)

Today I'm linking up with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Prompt #3: Write about neighbors.

* * * * * * * * *

I live in an older, tree-lined neighborhood in the middle of a large urban area. Even though over 2 million people live in the greater Twin Cities area, our little neighborhood feels a lot like a small town.

I can literally walk to the elementary school, the junior high school, my church, the library, the post office, a bookstore, shops, restaurants, and even my doctor.

(Neighborhood Bookstore)

I feel very lucky.

It's a good thing we bought our house 16 years ago. Lots of people want to live here and the housing prices have gone way up.

But I can understand why people want to live here.

I say "Hi" to people I know every time I walk down the street.

My daughter and husband say, "You know everyone!"

I don't know everyone, but I sure know a lot of people here. I know many parents with kids who attend school with my daughter. Also, I've been working at the bookstore for nearly 4 years. You meet a lot of people at a bookstore.

Plus, I grew up here.

Yes, my childhood home is one street over. One of my best friends growing up lives down the street in her grandmother's old house. I went to elementary school here. The same school my daughter attended.

It's kinda weird and lots of wonderful.

But, I didn't always live here. In fact, in fourth grade we moved to another state.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I moved back. So did my brother. He now lives about 1 mile from me and our families see each other a lot.

So for me, living here is like coming home.

I feel very, very lucky to live in this neighborhood and have these neighbors.

I wouldn't trade it for anything.

(Except maybe a free mansion in Hawaii.)

Mama’s Losin’ It

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I'm Officially the Track Snack Mom

The word is out.

The Track Team has great snacks!

Seriously, when I asked some of my tutoring kids if they were going to join track, they said, "I heard they have good snacks."

Yes we do.

Last year's Track Snack organizer has moved onto high school with her son (who is an AMAZING runner and had better be on the high school track team!)

So, I'm taking over.

Just so you know, here's a list of good track snacks:

- Apples
- Carrots
- Pretzels
- Gummy Bears
- Licorice
- Granola Bars
- Small snack packs of nuts
- Peanut butter with pretzel snack packs

Basically, any low calorie snack with lots of carbs will work.

No candy bars please.

These kids need their healthy power carbs!

Oh, and there are about 60 kids on the team, so snacks in bulk are best.

This is not our team:

This is the St. Paul Central High School track team from 1914.

I bet they would have liked our snacks.

(They probably only got raisins.)

* * * * * * * * *

Do you have any other great Track Snack ideas? I love to hear your suggestions!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring Photo Fling

It's a beautiful day here in St. Paul.

The sun is shining and the temperature is perfect for a jean jacket.

Paul's parents are visiting for the weekend, so we decided to go on a field trip to the Como Zoo and Conservatory.

It was a perfect choice.

The spring flowers are blooming and gorgeous!

Here are some photos to enjoy!


Easter Lily


Asiatic Lily


Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Time to Run

Junior High Track & Field started today.

My daughter ran track last year and is running again this year.

Last year she joined the track team even though none of her friends joined. I was very proud of her.

When I was in high school, I joined track for ONE DAY. They made me run a mile, and I quit. (I joined the musical instead.)

My daughter's team runs a mile every day just to WARM UP! And my daughter still chose to run track again this year, and convinced some friends to join too.

Here's what my daughter wore to practice:

Cami - Aeropostale
Basketball shorts - Kohls (boys dept.)
Reebok running shoes - Lady Footlocker

Every team has a coach. The their's is the awesome Ms. Pittman.

Don't mess with Ms. Pittman.

Last year, some kids (including my daughter) skipped practice one day. The next day Ms. Pittman sent all the regular kids home and made the "skippers" run up and down the school stairs for an extra 1/2 hour.

My daughter never skipped track practice again.

Here's what Ms. Pittman made them do on Day 1:

1. Two laps around the entire school building,
2. A 3rd lap around when their lines weren't straight enough,
3. Stretching and working on how to hold your hands when you run,
4. Running with high-knees and butt-kicks, UP and DOWN a big hill many times,
5. Jumping on and over a line again and again,
6. Working on running form,
7. More stretching.

Even though I can only run a few blocks (vs. a few miles), I love Track & Field season. I love sitting in the stands and cheering on those junior high runners.

Plus, I bring "track snacks." The track team is known for having good snacks. Seriously.

I bring the granola bars, go-gurts, dried fruit, trail mix and Gatorade.

And my daughter runs . . . and runs . . . and runs.

Monday, April 2, 2012

What Kind of Spider is That?!

Today I broke out the lawn chair.

It hit 70 degrees and the sun was shining.

And we have a patio (as of last summer). Time for some relaxation!

I was happily enjoying some quality time with my laptop, when suddenly I noticed a fairly large, hairy black spider sitting next to me on my lounge chair.

I flicked it off my chair and onto the patio.

That's when I noticed it had a RED/ORANGE spot on its back!

Since my only association with red spots on spiders is the BLACK WIDOW SPIDER, I was a little concerned.

(See, doesn't that look suspicious.)

So I decided to do some investigating. Black Widows don't live in Minnesota, right? So what the heck kind of spider is that?

As a side note, I actually like spiders. They are my friends. Not my enemies. In fact, when I see a spider in the house, I usually capture it in a glass and put it outside.

Spiders aren't my scary thing. Like mice.

If there is a mouse in my house, I'm up on a chair faster than you can say, "Jiminy Cricket." And as for snakes. I can't even talk about it.

But spiders are A-OK.

So I started looking around. I found several websites, including the University of Minnesota Extension website with a very informative article on Minnesota spiders. But my spider wasn't there.

In the Potentially Dangerous spiders article, I found a Northern Widow spider that looked similar to mine.

The Northern Widow spider is uncommon and less deadly than the Black Widow. But, it still can make you pretty darn sick if it bites you.

But, still it wasn't quite right.

So, I called U of MN Extension. No answer.

But I was determined. So, I looked up the author of the spider article and called him.

I know, I know, maybe I shouldn't be bothering university professors at 4:45 pm on their own personal office number, but hey, I punched in his last name and the number showed up.

So, I called.

He answered.

I very politely asked about my spider.

He assured me that it was not poisonous. He said it could be a Cobweb spider.

I told him we had lots of Jumping Spiders and Wolf Spiders.

He said, "That sounds exciting!"

You've gotta love entomologists.

I thanked him and hung up.

See, no harm done. But still no positive identification of my spider.

Just then, Mr. (or Ms.) Spider showed up again, ON MY LEG!

This time I flicked him off and my husband got a picture.

After a closer look, I now think my spider is a good, old Wolf Spider.

(See how hairy and wolfy he is?)

Even though I think spiders are fine creatures, I don't want one sitting on my leg while I Pinterest and Blog.

I'm glad my spider visitor is gone. He/She crawled up under my house siding and is staying put. And that's just fine with me.

Now I can get back to my Pinteresting.

* * * * * * * * *

If anyone knows what kind of spider this is, please let me know. Is it a Wolf Spider after all? Or should I be wearing armor when I sit on my patio?