My husband saved his tips from driving Lyft so we could do the fair this year. ❤️
After cruising up and down St. Paul streets and finally nabbing a parking space, we noticed the 1-hour parking sign. So we moved the car a few blocks away. Now, we needed a potty stop and we still had a one mile walk before we actually got to the Fairgrounds.We ducked into the nearest coffee shop for that potty stop, which ended up being the Finnish Bistro.
While we were in line to order, a man came up to us and said, “Whatever you order, it’ll be good. Everything’s good here.” I had a Pulla latte, laced with almond syrup, nutmeg and cardamom. It was the most flavorful coffee drink I’ve ever had.
We passed the quaint St. Anthony Park Library.
(Note to self: when you have time to spare, come back to the Finnish Bistro and check out the St. Anthony Park Library. What a cute little corner of St. Paul.)
After hiking east, we discovered that in the two years we’d skipped the MN State Fair, they had relocated the pedestrian entrance. More hiking.
(This sounds like a lot of hassle, but it’s always worth it. The Minnesota State Fair feeds, spins and entertains more people per day than any other state fair in the U.S.)
We joined the crowd-stream and landed at the Farmer’s Union, where Blueberry Key Lime Pie was a newcomer on the menu…but I just couldn’t pay $8 for this teeny tiny pie.
Did I mention we didn’t have a lot of cash? This can be a challenge at the MN State Fair. It’s taglined: The Great Minnesota Get Together, but another apt subtitle might be: The Great Minnesota Smorgasboard, because it’s. food. galore. here.
And ya know…it’s kinda pricey.
There’s a brighter side of forced frugality: it makes you think: Do I really want this? before choosing.
Though I ended up saying no to the blueberry key lime pie for $8, later on I ended up saying yes to the deep-fried bacon-wrapped-cream-cheese-filled olives for $9.
And it was worth it.
We stopped off for my husband’s go-to annual pick: roasted corn.
Roasted corn, held by its natural wrapping, earns points for frugality ($5).
Plus it’s nutritionally sound. (yawn.)
My husband had the best deal of the day: The Boss Man sandwich at The Hideaway, a cute little nook tucked inside the Grandstand. With shaved prime rib and hearty egg topped with melty white cheddar on ciabatta, $9 seemed like a steal.
And then we did the cheap stuff:
Got our glucose levels checked, ate ice cream samples, and exchanged our personal information for free carabiners and shaker bottles.
Sat and listened to music.
Watched people, people and more people.
Browsed the Creative Activities building for free beauty and inspiration.
We also took in the amateur talent contest semifinals, the #1 essential thing we never miss at the fair. Our favorite act: MKDC. They are an energetic, talented, charismatic K-Pop group who wowed the crowd, took first place, and advanced to the finals.
21,588 steps later, we left the 2019 Minnesota State Fair with some cash still sitting in our pockets!
Biking with boys is a rough, unpredictable sport. Although bike etiquette comes slowly, boys on bikes do not.
Boys on bikes are powerful, confident and free! They are captains of their wheels; masters in the wind.
When you go biking with boys, you may encounter things like this:
The neon-helmeted junior rider in front of you may stop abruptly in the middle of the bike trail. He will expect you to stop, too — although you had no warning.
When there’s an orange cone on the trail, warning riders of a hazard, (crumbling pavement, loose gravel, etc.) a biking boy will zigzag as possible to the cone before swerving. He will veer left at the same time you yell out in horror: WATCH OUT! It’s like playing a telepathic game of “chicken.”
Boys on bikes like to ride “hands free” on easy stretches, or when younger riders roll by.
The exhilaration of riding may cause boys on bikes to play “air guitar” for 5-10 seconds before safely gripping their handlebars again.
Boys and bikes enjoy a symbiotic relationship. The boy propels the bike, and the bike energizes the boy. I know this, because when a boy dismounts a bike, he is suddenly energy-zapped, thirsty, and ravenous.
Boys on bikes do not care about Haiku, but some moms on bikes do:
The girls and I got up early and snuck out to Ruby’s Roost, a sweet little bakery with all the charm of a European sidewalk cafe. It’s run by an energetic family; I wonder how the mom / baker can be so model-skinny, even though she gets up before dawn and makes the most decadent pecan sweet rolls ever.
We captured a quick photo; it was drizzling before the downpour:
In the life of an aging year, August is the cheerful-going-gray-stage. Decay is in the air and birds are empty-nesters. August’s garden is full of hearty thorns that cannot be rooted out easily — and she is too tired to try.
June works hard to stay attractive, but August knows better. She’s seen the storms and wind and hail and hungry insects. She shrugs and makes do. She’s got beauty: the below-skin-deep and low-maintenance kind. It’s easy-care and comfortably hospitable; visitors pop on by for a nibble, then fly to new homes.
August weeds are reckless vines, unruly thistledown and flyaway milkweed. Her ready-to-drop flowers are barely holding on to dried, patchy blooms.
August grooms herself casually — if at all — and without a mirror.
She lays back, tanned and wrinkled, as she watches summer’s finale with a satisfied, tired smile.
Can I look at life trials like an athlete looks at barbells? She can’t weight to lift those heavy chunks of metal…because she knows they build muscle.
Here are 3 bodybuilding terms, tweaked for daily Christian living:
Gains = progress made. As an athlete builds endurance through hard work in the gym, a Christian builds endurance and patience by being exposed to difficult circumstances and responding in a spiritual way. It’s not just being exposed to difficult times and people that achieves growth. Gains are made by exercising faith and obedience muscles –especially when it’s tough.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
There are people that hit the gym all week long, and there are people that only come a few hours on a weekend. Likewise, there are people sporadically go to church or read their Bibles and perhaps feel stirred…but never really change.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1: 22-25
If you lift heavy weights in a gym, you may need a spotter. The spotter is there to prevent the weights from falling down and crushing you. Spotters may also boost the lifter’s morale by shouting encouraging phrases.
We need spiritual spotters — encouragers in life — to stand beside us as we lift emotional and spiritual weights. Spotters don’t do it for us, and they don’t tempt us to escape the gym. They are friends who stand alongside and encourage us to succeed. Their presence is comforting, helps us follow through, and prevents us from feeling crushed.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1Thessalonians 5:11
Lord, by your grace and power, may I make consistent gains as I press on in the Christian life.
May I actively look for ways to encourage others.
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Trials need not deplete me, they are used by God to complete me.
I told him, “We’re going somewhere special. I’m treating.”
So, I brought him where he could eat his kind of food (keto)
at my kind of price (Chik Fil A).
Next, we drove to a high school production of The Wizard of Oz.
Tickets were free (also within my budget)…
…but the performance was priceless.
Theater For All was started at a local high school by a theater arts teacher and a special education teacher.
They teamed up to offer theater classes and performance experience to
students with special needs.
Each actor or actress in The Wizard of Oz was paired up with a non-disabled counterpart. They did their parts together, with the assistant dressed in black “shadowing” the actor who was disabled.
Dorothy, carrying Toto in a basket, was dressed in a blue gingham dress.
The counterpart Dorothy was dressed in black, shadowing the other Dorothy with a face full of encouragement and a posture that gave her partner center stage.
What made me cry?
Hearing Dorothy belt out “Over the Rainbow” from her heart, gripping her partner’s hand, and glowing when the audience whooped and cheered. (The audience clapped and cheered throughout the play — for each song, group number and solo.)
Watching the earnest Tin Man in his wheelchair beg for a heart. He was clear, sincere and charming.
Seeing Glinda (the good witch) ad-lib with her counterpart. While Glinda only mouthed her lines, she watched her partner speak them loudly. Suddenly Glinda, with her braids and pink chiffon dress spilling over the wheelchair, leaned over and gently touched her partner with her star wand, insisting:
I love you!
I love you!
I love you!
The standing ovation was well deserved. We applauded the courage and enthusiasm of each actor with special needs.
We were deeply moved by the servant-like support of each non-disabled actor. It was clear they were up on stage simply to make the other actor successful.
The event was an visual of loving others without seeking personal glory.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves…Philippians 2:3
Mother’s Day is kind of like the Superbowl or Academy Awards for moms. And, the week before Mother’s Day can resemble an extended pre-game show — at our house, at least.
This predictable, annual phenomenon may include:
Family members choosing sporadic sociability over phone use. By this I mean that when I come into a room, they look up and smile. They pause a moment and cheerfully answer my “What was the highlight of your day?” and perhaps two other questions before glancing down at their phones again. They may look up again at me and smile yet again if I loiter.
My older daughters peppering me with questions the Sunday before Mother’s Day:
Mama, what do you want to do for Mother’s Day?
What do you want to eat?
If it rains and we can’t go for a walk, then what do you want to do?
What’s your favorite store?
My youngest boys showering me with gushing, matriarchal flattery. Their compliments and gift-giving escalate in intensity throughout the week:
Monday: Here’s a picture I made for you — You’re the best mom ever.
Tuesday: I’ll open the door for you, most excellent mother!
Wednesday: You’re the best mom that anyone in the whole world ever had.
Thursday: You’re the greatest person ever. Except for God.
When asked, “What do you want for Mother’s Day?” there’s a teeny, tiny, selfish part of me that wants to spend *my day* alone on a remote, sunny beach inhaling an entire bag of salt and vinegar ripple chips all by myself, choosing drinks from a cooler packed with my favorite kombuchas, and soaking in the sun where no will talk to me for 24 hours.
But that would feel empty, and it would be as silly as Superbowl athletes hiding from the crowds inside the locker room, or movie stars heading to the Oscars, makeup-less in their sweats.
This is Mother’s Day — a day to shine; embrace my precious, living gifts; receive a million hugs; and absorb the fleeting moments that God has given!
Me and my precious ones…(minus one absent Air Force son)
The Papa & The Mama
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord… Psalm 127:3
It’s been over a month since I have logged in, but I haven’t been idle. This is what I have been up to:
My husband got home from out-of-state and he came back eating Keto. The man I married 29 years ago thought eating bacon was scandalous — but now he embraces bacon as a legitimate thing, and I don’t have to hide eating it anymore!
Life is change…and this is a good change.
I read several books this winter:
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller
The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History by Bill O-Reilly
The Persian Gamble by Joel C. Rosenberg
Still Life by Louise Penny
This was the best ever year for field trips. We attended two homeschool ski days; joined a free program at the Paint Factory; visited the Amazon Fulfillment Center; toured the St. Cloud Hospital; saw the Sea Life Aquarium on homeschool week; jumped at a Trampoline Park and went to the fish fry after the last day of pick-up hockey at the local ice rink.
So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Did we finish our history or math books? Nope.
However, I consider this year fruitful in other ways, because…
We got to see the underbellies of sharks, real sea turtles and God’s creativity with jellyfish — and write about it.
My youngest boys got to ski for the first time.
My three teenagers got to experience the joy of group painting, and brought home their masterpieces. (The one who most reluctantly attended was the same one who proudly set his finished canvas next to his desk at home.)
We saw how robotics works in a hospital operating room AND how robotics works in an Amazon warehouse.
On the creative side, I’m dabbling in tote bags again, thanks to a request from a friend’s daughter. The tote bags I create make use of old wool sweaters, discarded men’s dress shirts, and empty burlap bags. After years of sewing with zipper avoidance, I’m officially not afraid of zippers anymore.
Lastly, my husband and I took a preventative health test from Life Line. It’s a mobile set-up that moves you through simple tests like blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and then uses ultrasound to check for artery blockage.
But, here’s the interesting scenario: My husband, who:
works out almost every day
carries minimal spare body fat
can let a chocolate bar sit unopened in his closet for 5 months
…got only fair blood test scores. It was surprising.
I tried to feel bad for him.
But, all the while I was pleasantly surprised at my own excellent scores, since I:
have been virtually sedentary all winter long (except for the field trips I mentioned)
have oodles of spare body fat
can’t let a chocolate bar sit unopened for 5 minutes
I tried to console him. I did some online research on his behalf and it might have something to do with sleep…
Speaking of sleep, I just found the word for my kind of nap: Nappuccino. A nappuccino is when you want to take a 20-minute power nap but not go longer than that. So, you drink a cup of coffee right before your nap and then the caffeine wakes you up just when you should wake up.
I didn’t know it was a *thing*…but turns out it is 🙂