Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And now, a word from your local farmer's market

This past weekend I took Marissa to the Lyndale farmer's market. I'd heard a lot about how great the farmer's markets were in our area. We've never ventured farther than the local vegetable stand in the parking lot across from KinderCare, so I thought that this weekend might be a nice time to check out the biggest one in Minnesota, on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis.

We've clearly been missing the boat, but I'm glad to finally catch it now. Earlier in the week I had bought some green beans from the local supermarket. My girls love them when sauted with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. The ones in the store didn't look great but weren't the worst ones I've ever seen, so I bought a small bunch.

This past weekend Marissa and I went to the farmer's market and saw what green beans are supposed to look like.

Wow! What a difference when you put them side-by-side.

I prepared the ones from the farmer's market and ended up throwing away the ones from the supermarket -- in comparison they just couldn't compete, they were so shriveled and brown.

What was even more fun is that there were lots of flowers, plants, baked goodies and other yummies to have...even a little coffee shop! We spent about an hour there and spent all of $8, all of which was either eaten at the time or is still in our frig, feeding our family.

Marissa was saying, "Mommy, this smells gooooood!"

Click here for more information on all of the farmer's markets around the Twin Cities. Support your local farmer and feed your family some goodness. Our family is definitely going to be back, hopefully often!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lindsey's Cut for a Cause

Lindsey grew her hair out this past school year for the express purpose of donating it. She was thrilled to follow through on that commitment on Saturday, when she donated an 8-inch ponytail to Beautiful Lengths.

I'll let the pictures tell the story of how she felt about this deed.

She couldn't wait to go to Minneapolis KIDS today to show her friends her new 'do. It makes her look so mature! She's already talking about growing it out again this coming fall and winter to donate next summer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Newest Parenting Tool

The timer.

I can't remember who suggested it or if I read it somewhere, but somewhere I heard that if you find yourself constantly nagging your kids to do a requested task, that you should set a timer to give them an incentive. It was less about keeping track of time and more about putting the burden of time keeping on a third-party, namely, the timer itself. Hey, I didn't tell you it's time to get out of the bath, the timer said it.

Two examples happened in the last 24 hours.

Last night, Marissa was in the tub, one of her favorite places. She loves playing in water, I think she's half mermaid. Wayne had given her a five-minute warning but hadn't set the timer. About five minutes later I come in and say, "Okay kiddo! Five minutes is up, time to get out." At which she says, "Five more minutes!" I say, "No, but I'll give you one more minute, okay?" and I set the timer for one minute.

One minute later I hear the timer go off and head back to the bathroom. By the time I get there she has taken the toys out of the tub, pulled the drain and has already reached over and turned the timer off. Wow! Well now, that worked...on to example number two.

This morning we were all getting ready to leave the house. In typical Lindsey fashion, Lindsey got distracted by her fabulous parasol she bought at Valley Fair yesterday and was singing songs and telling stories involving this parasol. It was sweet and cute and I hated to end it by reminding her for the fourth time that what I actually needed her to do was get dressed. So instead I walked into her room with the timer in hand and said, "Lindsey, you seem to be having a hard time focusing on what I've asked you to do. I'm going to set the timer for five minutes and I would like you to be dressed by the time the timer goes off."

She didn't panic or freak out, she simply started getting dressed. By the time the timer went off she was already dressed and back at playing her little game. No nagging, no threatening of taking away privileges, no cries of protest. Hey, the timer said it was time to get dressed, not me.

I may be jinxing myself by writing this post of how well this is working for us right now, but hopefully not.

Well, my lunch is over, I'd better get back to work -- my timer just went off.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Special 80th Birthday

The weekend before Grandma's marathon our family made a special trip back to Tracy, MN for Wayne's dad's 80th birthday. Wayne's sister Laurie flew in from NYC for the event, as she had back in April when Millie turned 80.

And while Laurie's arrival makes the visit special, this trip was made all the more special by a surprise guest: granddaughter Rita and her son Jacob flew in from New Mexico for the party! That was a fabulous surprise.

We also had a baby shower for Wayne's nephew Darin and his wife Emily's first child, Aubrey (pictured above). She is the third great-grandchild for Neil and Millie. So now the family consists of Neil and Millie and their five kids and spouses, 10 grandkids and four spouses and three great grandchildren. They have spread out all the way from New York City to California, with points north and south all between.

That's quite a family.

I could go on to describe all the shenanigans, the card playing, the poking fun and joking around, the philosophical conversations, the baby passing, the gift passing, the toddler talk, the blocks, toys, clothes, diapers and best of all, the air mattresses.

But instead, I will leave you with one story.

On Friday night I was at Neil & Millie's with our girls while others were out dining. We gathered around and sat outside as the sun had made an appearance in time to set and it was a beautiful evening.  Soon a train came up through the fields, making its way out into the open where it would eventually gain speed on its way west.

Millie began talking about the trolley that she used to take when she was going to school in Minneapolis. She had broken up with Neil for a time to get herself an education, something that not many women in her generation did. She was living in Minneapolis and he was living out on the farm. Eventually her schooling finished up, she returned to Tracy, they got back together and the rest is history.

Millie was talking about the different places she could take the trolley and was trying to remember where exactly she had to catch the trolley from when suddenly Neil says, "1507 University Avenue Southeast."

I asked, "What's that?"

"Her address," he says. "That's where she lived -- I wrote her many a letter there." And then he looks at me with an impish grin on his face. "And you know what? She answered those letters, too."

All these years later, with 80 years of people, places and things for him to remember, he still remembered her college address.

Now that's love.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Father's Day to Remember

We arrived home on Father's Day after the marathon weekend in Duluth to an empty house -- Travis and Elizabeth had taken our girls with them to Elizabeth's family's Father's Day celebration, where it sounds like they gorged on food and played games.

We unloaded and unpacked, and saw that the house was in its usual disarray. Once everyone arrived home, we found that the "disarray" had a purpose: it was a planned and prepared Father's Day party!

Lindsey had created a banner which someone had hung for her in the living room. Then, she had created different activity stations: a drawing station, where you could draw a Father's Day card, a card station where you set the finished cards, a present station, a tea party station, and best of all, a hugs and kisses station, which Lindsey correctly predicted would be Wayne's favorite station of all.

We began the party with a tea party, with tasty little treats provided by me. Lindsey played server and would take people's orders for cinnamon swirls or marshmallow cakes. Lndsey and Marissa both poured water for each other -- the Sunday flyer was the placemat of choice.

Then we emptied the present station and brought Wayne his presents, both handmade pieces by the girls. Here's Wayne opening up Marissa's gift -- I love how she jumps up and down when she gets excited.

The hugs and kisses part happened in various stations, we didn't need to be near the fireplace for that.

It was a fantastic Father's Day and such a wonderful way to finish the weekend.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Saturday was not his day

I had hoped that we would return victorious, planning for a trip to Boston. Wayne was hoping this even moreso than I.

But that was not to be.

A strong headwind, high humidity despite cool temps and calf cramps starting at mile 16 all destined him to try again, at a later time and venue, to make his goal of a Boston qualifying marathon time. He needed to run 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 35 minutes (they are given a 59-second window after the needed time, so he really needed a 3:35:59.) His final official time was 3:53:45.

He was pacing well early on until he hit the aforementioned mile 16. His slower pace the latter half of the race could not be made up. For his detailed results, click here.

In typical competitive athletic fashion, Wayne is disappointed with his time, frustrated that his body could not accomplish what his mind had set out to do.

And yet, I am incredibly proud of him.

He finished 1,452 out of a total 5,597 runners, and finished 97th in his division (out of 339 runners). That puts him in the top third of runners.

More impressive still, he has joined the approximately .13% of the US population that has ever finished a marathon. Grandma's marathon this year had over 7,000 runners expected, but only 5,597 showed up on Saturday.
Not only did he show up, he finished.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Big Event Approach-eth

This weekend is the Big Event: Grandma's Marathon.

This is Wayne's second marathon. He ran his first last October in Ashland, Wisconsin, where he came to within three minutes of qualifying for Boston. Had it not been for painful calf cramps the last five miles, he probably would've qualified.

He only began running October of 2008, on a drunken dare of sorts. We have friends and former neighbors who had come back to Minnesota to visit over Halloween. While out visiting on a Friday night, the husband informed Wayne that he was going to run the Halloween 5K race prior to the big Anoka Halloween parade -- Wayne let him know that even without training for said 5K, he could kick that man's behind. So Saturday morning, hangover and all, they both set out for Anoka for the challenge, which Wayne won, but only, according to Jim (Wayne's competition), because Jim was slowing up to accompany a first-time 5K-er on her run.

Eighten months later, Wayne is running his second-ever marathon, trying for a Bostom qualifying time.

This is his personal goal. His quest. The reason why he's been getting up at 5 am weekdays to get a few miles in before work. The reason he leaves the house at 7 am Sunday mornings for his "long runs," i.e. 22 miles or so of training.

He and I are leaving tomorrow morning to head up to Duluth -- our nephew and his wife will be arriving at our house in the afternoon to pick up our girls from their respective places and spend the weekend with them at our home.

I hope to have decent phone coverage in Duluth -- look for updates via Facebook or Twitter. I hope the last one reads like this:

Boston Bound.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

One Small Step for Marissa...One GIANT Step for Mommy

A couple of weeks ago Marissa learned how to buckle herself into her booster seat.

Any parent will tell you -- this is a big milestone.

Perhaps not for the child. Probably the child has been buckling various things for a year or more by now -- a belt, a strap on a doll stroller, a shoe, whatever.

This is a huge milestone for parents.

This is up there with potty training in my book. I am serious.

For 7 years now I have been strapping at least one but most often two children into carseats and/or boosters. This entails bending your body 90 degrees at the waist with minimal support, wrenching your arm around a bulky carseat/booster seat, and trying to fit a buckle which seems to shrink in your hand into an invisible latch that you cannot see (per bulky carseat/booster seat noted previously). It's like trying to thread a needle without looking at either item, and while just lying the needle on the table and poking the thread at it. See how well that works for ya.

The other part of strapping my kids in carseats that I won't miss: the ever so lovely rear view that my fellow parents at daycare get to see. I am embarrassed to say that there are a few parents that I recognize by seeing their rear ends poking out of the backdoor of their car as they strap their kids in. And I am even more embarrassed to say that they probably recognize me the same way. We should just walk into parent meet-and-greets bent over, butt first. We'd all know who the other parents were if only we could look up to see.

That part is always made all the more fun by children who take their time getting into their carseats, insistent on telling you about their day, showing you their art project, making sure they have their blankies...all while you stand out the open rear door in the pouring rain, wishing you could just get in the damn car yourself. Don't bother carrying an umbrella -- ever try doing that needle and thread thing with just one arm, while holding the other arm as far above your head as possible, while bent over at a 90-degree angle? My chiropractor is smiling at the vision: hmmm....that'll be three visits a week for at least four weeks, cha-ching...

Now that Marissa has mastered the buckle, here's how we get into the car when we all have to go somewhere.

1. We all open our own doors.
2. We all close our own doors.
3. We all buckle ourselves in.
4. We get ready to ride.


Monday, June 14, 2010

The Growing of the Children

This past Sunday I had a few quiet hours (!) in which Lindsey was at a birthday party. I offered to play games with Marissa; she appeased me for 10 minutes and then announced she wanted to play teacher, and could I kindly go away and not watch her? So off I went, with some time to myself while listening to the 4-year-old instruct her imaginary pupils on how to use the word bingo cards she passed out on the edges of our rug.

So I spent my hour finally tackling the girls' drawers. They had last been organized in October of last year, when it became apparent that our last lovely warm spells in September were not returning anytime soon, and that we would need to actually stock their drawers with long pants and shirts and pack away the shorts and swimsuits, lest they get pulled out to be worn by the girls despite the cool weather.

They are not very good at keeping their drawers neat and I have given up on straightening the drawers frequently. It's not worth it -- I've seen the way they paw through them looking for outfits. I have better things to do with my time than push that boulder up that hill.

So of course by the time I get around to changing the clothes seasonally, their drawers are a complete wreck. When I do laundry I simply put the folded clean clothes on top of the heaps that are in the drawers, and by the next outfit change you can't tell the folded stack from the rest of the chaos. Whatever, not my drawers.

This photo was taken after I had already emptied out half the drawer...which was just as chaotic as the half that you see here.

I began with Lindsey's drawers, because inherently many of the clothes that don't fit her will end up in Marissa's drawers. I ended up with a little heap of clothing to transfer over, but most of it will wait until winter to find their way into Marissa's drawers.

Don't Lindsey's drawers look nice, all organized? Aahhh! Order out of chaos!

Then, off to Marissa's room, where I pulled out all the shorts that wouldn't fit her this year, mostly 4Ts. And t-shirts -- my heavens, what is a 2T t-shirt still doing in her drawer?! I know it runs big but even so, she could NEVER fit in that now.

And then I came across this gem:

This was a gift from my mom and stepdad, I think. Marissa wore it a lot. And by "a lot" I mean she would throw a fit if we tried to have her wear something else. Even her teachers at pre-school would comment if she was wearing something other than this t-shirt. It's a 3T -- also too small.

I sorted, piled and folded the items that would be staying in her drawers, then began packing up the clothes that were leaving.

And that's when it hit me: these clothes are leaving our house. No children living here fit into them anymore.

My youngest has officially outgrown the toddler size, she's now wearing a child's size 5. Having just been to a baby shower over the weekend, I had a recent perspective of how very small my children started out, and they are so far beyond that already.

Five or six short months from now I will be going through this process again, purging the too small, the worn, the ripped, the out-of-season, to be replaced with bigger clothes for my growing children.

There was something bittersweet about this: I am happy that I have healthy growing children, happy to have the toddler tantrums behind us, the potty training, the frustration of trying to understand a 3-year-old's speech, yet it all went by so fleetingly. How much more quickly will the next season's clothing changes come around, quickening their childhood?

Don't tell me, I know: all too soon.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

On Your Left

The way in which some people lose all sensibility and manners when they get behind the wheels of their vehicles has been the subject of many a stand-up comedian, a blog rant, a conversation around a dinner table.

And then...there is the biking/skating trail.

I inline skate around the lakes frequently, moreso this summer than others since I'm training for a half-marathon skate in August. There is a walking path and a biking path -- the biking path has a top speed limit of 15 mph. Sure, it sounds slow when you're in a car, but try it on a bike; many bikers are cruising faster than that.

In the Twin Cities, the unwritten rule is that bikers/skaters stay on the right-hand side of the biking path. If someone is going to pass that person, they yell "on your left!" so that the person knows that someone is coming up on their left and they should keep right. It's a nice courtesy so that you don't stride wide and catch a biker in the wheel. Or, just so you aren't startled and lose your balance in your surprise.

Now that Lindsey's got her own pair of rollerblades, I've been taking her out skating with me. I taught her about staying on the right, how people may call out to pass, et cetera.

Being the very cautious girl that she is, when she was in the lead we were going so slowly we should've been on the walking path. So after a little bit I passed her, calling on "on your left!" as I did so. I got in front and went just a little faster, so she could push herself to go faster too.

I heard nothing from her as I passed her, and eventually looked behind to see how far behind me she was.

Much to my surprise, as I turned to look I heard a little voice saying, "on your left!" and there she was, passing me back.

Sweet. Maybe someday I'll have myself a skating partner.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Jenny's Review of On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Two guys hitchhike from New York to San Franscisco.

They are broke and don't get work. They spend every dollar they can scrounge on drugs, booze and women.

They get tired of being broke in San Fran and hitchhike back to New York.

They are broke and don't get work. They spend every dollar they can scrounge on drugs, booze and women.

They hitchhike across the US, until near the end of the book they decide to hitchhike to Mexico, where they are broke, scrounge some money which they spend on drugs, booze and women, only in Mexico it's a lot cheaper.

The end.

And this is a classic??

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Muslim Woman's Bluetooth??

Tonight I was driving home and saw a Muslim woman crossing the street in front of me. She was using her cell phone which she had tucked into her headdress, which kept it snug against her head and allowed her to talk hands free.

I couldn't grab my camera fast enough to get a photo, but there was something about a Muslim woman in America using her traditional headdress to make a modern communication device more efficient which struck me as funny.

Trip to the Zoo

We fit so much in to our Memorial Day weekend I have to rewind to document our trip to the Minnesota Zoo.

Memorial Day weekend was the opening weekend of a new host of African animals that they’ve got displayed along their Tropical Trail. We decided to go check them out.

I think the girls are checking out the crocodiles here.

Those are two of the funniest birds I’ve ever seen. What is going to hatch from those eggs?!

Lindsey and Marissa literally came out of their shells.

The biggest hit had to be the grizzly bears. It’s a relatively new exhibit, and usually when we’ve been by the bears are off in the furthest part of the exhibit, sleeping in big fur balls in the shade. But since it was pretty hot this day, they were “fishing” in the water right next to the glass divider. Unfortunately for the bears, the water isn’t actually stocked with fish, but there was a stick that was in there that they had fun taking turns fishing out.

The cheetah was pretty cool, he was pacing along the glass and watching the people as he passed. You can see the girls’ hands as the cheetah dipped his head down to get petted. Too bad for him there was glass between he and the humans. He’ll just have to imagine it.

The tiger area had a display about scat, which is tiger poop. (Not sure why it’s called scat – jazz singers everywhere should be offended.) Lindsey was fascinated by this display and was touching the pretend scat, when Wayne told her he was pretty sure it was the real deal.

“Mommy,” she said as I snapped this photo, “Is this poop real?”

All too soon it was time to go. Marissa bought a new pink hat in the souvenir shop as we left, which she’s been wearing every day since.

We didn’t try to see everything, so we will definitely have to come back a few times this summer to see the rest of the sites.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

A Prelude to Goth

The other day Lindsey asked me for some lipstick to use to play dress up. All of my make-up is the permanent, staining kind that you use with a color and a gloss, not very child-friendly. So I gave her the only lipstick I could find -- the black stuff I used this past Halloween for my costume as a Goth goddess.

I don't know, I think the black sets off her eyes. Goth could look good on her. Except I don't think she's supposed to smile. Ever.