{ Blizzard-Ready}

We enjoyed Homeschool Ski and Snowboard Day last Monday.

Hyland Hills in Bloomington, Minnesota is a tame spot for beginning skiers, and the 26 degree January day was perfect.

Anyone walking in to the chalet could tell it was a homeschool event — crockpots were everywhere, and the air smelled like patchouli and lavender essential oils.

Now, we are bracing for more snow, and true to our nature, Minnesotans are frantically storming the grocery stores to stock up, like we may be snowed in for months.

I confess I left the house at 6:00 a.m., determined to beat long lines and the blizzard.

After being urged last night by one of my teenagers to get some “fun food,” (as opposed to gloomy, drudgerous food?) I grabbed a few essentials:

  • meat
  • kombucha
  • microwave popcorn
  • hot chocolate mix
  • coffee and herbal teas
  • heavy cream for the coffee
  • makings for soup and homemade no-knead bread. (Not the boring soups I usually make from leftovers) but Copycat Olive Garden soups, like Zuppa Toscana.

In addition to these staples, we are armed with *anti-cabin fever* activities:

  • Season 2 of Gilligan’s Island DVDs, purchased at GoodWill
  • Crispin: At the Edge of the World. I love the Crispin books by Avi, and I wish I’d known about these when we were studying the Middle Ages.
  • A new puzzle. This is our third Mudpuppy puzzle, and it’s Kaleido-Beetles! I like Mudpuppy puzzles because they have three pictures of the finished puzzle for reference as you go, making it easier for 3 or more people to work on the puzzle.

Other Mudpuppy puzzles we have ordered are the 1000-piece Ocean Life, 500-piece Songbirds and 500-piece Butterflies of North America.

I’m glad we are ready, because it’s starting to snow…

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{ How To Choose Your Word of the Year (helpful reminders and simple steps) ~ reposted from The Dolly Mama }

Here’s a great post and idea to welcome the new year, from fellow blogger The Dolly Mama. I plan to figure out my word of the year and post it soon! Visit Dolly Mama’s site for simple steps to a non-condemning alternative to New Year’s Resolutions — then let me know if you find your word…


A “Word of the Year” is intended to be a kind guide that walks along side of us during the year, not a harsh master that dictates a set of “to-do’s” (God knows we don’t need any more of those voices in our heads). It’s a friend that accompanies us during our journey. (The Dolly…

via How To Choose Your Word of the Year (helpful reminders and simple steps)…Find Out Mine — The Dolly Mama

{ 3 Things to Do When Trapped Inside with the Kids }

I live in Minnesota, where snowy forecasts threaten and chapped lips are a way of life.

Despite a desire for a little more elbow room, I simply cannot bring myself to banish my children out to the frozen tundra on restless January afternoons. 

So, I, with many other hearty Midwest parents, have been forced to plan creative indoor activities, thereby saving our kids’ eyes from electronic combustion.

Here are three indoor activities to offer your children — and if the parents play along, the fun rate exponentially increases…

Jigsaw Puzzles

Puzzles may look like a simple, slow activity, but working jigsaw puzzles is actually a brain-building, skill-building pastime. Jigsaw puzzles enhance problem-solving skills, improve learning, support social interaction, and generate a feeling of accomplishment. 

Puzzles are an absorbing, therapeutic activity that can last days or weeks. If you have a spare table where a puzzle-in-progress can stay available, this is optimum. (We don’t; we just let the puzzle take over the dining room table until it’s completed.)

Jigsaw puzzles are great for many ages (but not all — watch those tiny pieces and keep your babies away.) Puzzles are beneficial for older people, too; they stimulate the brain and may delay the onset of dementia. 

puzzle victory
Together we completed OCEAN LIFE: a fun and colorful 1000 piece puzzle by Mudpuppy.

Audiobooks

Although audiobooks shouldn’t take the place of visual reading, audiobooks have their own unique benefits. Kids love being read to (adults do, too) and audiobooks are becoming popular and widely available.

 Audiobooks are a worthy activity because they:

  • build listening skills
  • improve attention span
  • enhance critical thinking skills

Kids can listen to audiobooks while they draw, build, or work puzzles. Audiobooks are also great for car trips — long or short. 

Young readers can listen to an audiobook while they read along with the print version and reluctant readers who aren’t enthusiastic about print books can be wooed into a love of reading with audiobooks. (True story.)

Audiobook narrators are usually awesome, and they transport a child right into the pages of the book. Some of our favorite audiobooks for kids include:

  • Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries
  • A-Z Mysteries
  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • Mysterious Benedict Society Series
  • Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Note: We listened to three (Hardy Boys) audiobooks while we worked the Ocean Life puzzle shown at the beginning of this post.

Krypto

Okay, this one was dredged up from my childhood math class (thank you, Mr. Kesti) and it’s more educational than it is pure fun. But, approached creatively, Krypto can be a pleasant addition to your indoor arsenal of activities. 

There is a commercial version of Krypto, but this is how we play it at home, without buying the game:

  1. Choose 5 cards from a joker-less deck of cards.
  2. Write those numbers on a white board.
  3. Choose one more number and write it at the bottom. 

Krypto

Everyone looks at the board and tries to find a way to use all top 5 numbers to get the target number at the bottom.

You can add, subtract, multiply and divide the numbers until the target number is reached.

Example: 13 – 3 = 10….10 -7 = 3…5 – 3 = 2…2 x 1 = 2

This uses all of the numbers, and the result is the target number (2) at the bottom.

When someone arrives at the target number, she yells, “KRYPTO!” and demonstrates how she got the answer.

We keep track of points and play it regularly as part of our homeschooling routine.

If your kids take to it, you can plan a lively Krypto tournament.

With or without competition, you’ll have some fun and keep math skills sharp over the holidays. Krypto is also a great low-key summer activity – a great way to stay math-savvy over school break. For more explanation, here’s a Krypto video.

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Whether you live where it’s cold, or just need some rainy day ideas, hopefully you will enjoy some of this indoor fun that keeps Minnesotans snowbound but smiling until March.

Make that April.

 

 

Cabin photo:Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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{ Life Lurches }

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Life Lurches

After traveling on level lands,

Like a train —

Life lurches.

Precarious and perpetual

Pressing through unknown tunnels

Hairpin turns and

Unexpected crossings.

Now the Conductor

Guides and glides into familiar flatness

So I roll along, resting

Awaiting the next corner.

 


 

photo ~ Antoine Beauvillain

lurch: make an abrupt, unsteady, uncontrolled movement or series of movements; stagger.

edited and reposted from August 2017

{ I’m Meant for Little Things }

I find myself wallowing in the memory of a handful of recent conversations about motherhood, watching children fly away, and stepping reluctantly into “The Afternoon of Life.”

(That’s a book, given to me by my daughter. I groaned when I saw it, but it’s actually just right for me…and funny, too.)

So, just now I scrawled out a poem — with sappy tears streaming down my face– and my 20-year old son comes in, unaware of my poignant tears, to get something from this room.

“Don’t mind me,” I say. “I’m just writing poetry that makes me cry.”

“Your OWN poetry is making you cry?”

“Yes. I’ll read it to you when I’m done.” 

(Maybe. If you’re lucky.)

I’m Meant for Little Things

Big things? No, I’m meant for little things — 

I’m the tapper of  a traveling stream of a thousand text messages and heart emojis, a hundred “are you almost homes?” and “luv yous”

I’m the tiny-Lego-helmet-finder and the “Where’s my Wallet?” wizard 

 

Big things? No, little things —

 

I’m the finger-mender of the glove that gets lost a day later at the hockey rink

An empty cupboard magician, a juggler of leftovers, and a make-do artist

I’m the queen of laundry

(my royal eyes have seen that same pair of underwear a hundred times)

 

Big things? No, little things —

 

I’m the hopefully-wise-advice-giver

The occasional hugger and everyday love-giver

The rambling-dream-listener —

A tea-maker, sick-fixer, peacemaker

And everyone’s personal spelling coach.

 

Big things? No, little things —

 

I’m piecing together my

slowly-growing-love-mosaic out of

lots of little things

While praying someday

they will all see the Big Picture.

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Photo:  Roman Kraft

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{ Minnesota State Fair 2019 }

My husband saved his tips from driving Lyft so we could do the fair this year. ❤️

0After 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. 

 

 

finnish

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. 

 

St-_Anthony_Park_Branch_Library_2013-09-30_23-41-19We 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 bought our tickets, got our bags checked and finally added ourselves to the 2019 first-day-at-the-fair record attendance number of 133,326.

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.

blueberry key lime 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.

state fair mn olives

 

 

And it was worth it.

 

 

 

roasted corn2We 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! 

 

 

 

big wheel
One of the tallest traveling giant Ferris wheels in North America is coming to the Minnesota State Fair! The Great Big Wheel carries riders to a height of 156 feet, offering breathtaking views of the State Fairgrounds and beyond! The 15-story-tall Great Big Wheel is equipped with 36 enclosed gondolas each holding six people. Don’t miss the spectacular lighting display as the sun goes down!

 

 

 

 

{ Boys on Bikes }

 

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.

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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.
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Summer bike rides with boys are the best.

Boys on bikes do not care about Haiku, but some moms on bikes do:

~~~

Bike ride on a trail

Nature perfumes our journey

Through sunshine and shade

~~~

Orange cone photo credit: Colin Czerwinski