Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Sidewalk Chalk + Imagination = Fun

"That's you Mommy, w/ the dress on next to the house" said my son.

"1 for Thomas, 2 for Edward, 3 for Henry, 4 for Gordon, 5 for James..."

"Inside the tracks is the playground..."

Got to Our Sidewalk Chalk Railroad 
Happy Summer!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Living with Passion

For this Monday post, I'm jumping on the Blog Carnival bandwagon which blogger & friend Missy is hosting. The question of the day is: "What are you passionate about?"

A little over three years ago, that question took on new meaning. Being passionate has always meant going above & beyond where I originally thought I could go to achieve my goals. The manifestations have also evolved, including the following:
1. Competing in Track & Field in High School & College. 
Competing in Division III Nationals ~ truly a highpoint of my college life.
2. Being the best ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor possible in my 20's, attracting "Kick Abs" class groupies at NWAC, as well as taking classes from the Twin Cities Aerobics Masters of the day, like The Firm's David Gray and Terri Mayers, not to forget Nancy Anderson.

 3. Being a visible force in the MN NPC Bodybuilding community, competing on stage & volunteering behind the scenes and later co-promoting my own events in my late 20's & early 30's.

4. Emerging as a Frontline Leader in my Marketing career through my 30's & into my 40's.

5. Finding time to volunteer & give back to the community in which I live, whether it's through "Cook for Kids" with my parish or my growing interests in preventing homelessness.

 The #1 difference over the past few years has been the onset of Motherhood.  
How quickly one life-changing event refocuses your perspective on what it means to be living with passion for something or someone. Your child is forever dependent upon you to love and care for them; nurture, teach and protect them.  As a mother/parent, no other job you will hold in your life is more important. That's why it's the role I'm most passionate about today.
I had a wonderful childhood - don't get me wrong, but at times I was envious of the family traditions I learned that my friends had & made a promise to myself that my children would never share that feeling. I'm talking about everyday traditions - not just on Hallmark holidays & family vacations. I compare it to painting mental pictures of our lives which are prevalent & enduring. 

I'm also passionate about capturing these memories we create as a family on film & in video.  There are so many different episodes of life that come and go so quickly, that if you don't protect the memories, they are sure to fade.
Now that you know a little about what I'm passionate about, please take a minute to share your passion(s) with me. Plus take a look at what the other bloggers participating in this Passion Carnival have to say:
  • plus, find even more links on Missy's website!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

St. Thomas Magazine : Spring 2010 : Still Miss The Aquin?

As a College of St. Thomas Alumni (yes I said CST, not UST as I was in the last graduating class of the College) this struck a chord with me. 

The Aquin was part of a long-standing tradition which so many of us were sad to see go, but Journalism & Communications as an art & a career path have to move forward. 

It's not unlike the old buildings on campus, which we all remember to be like home, that have been torn down to make way for newer & more extensive facilities for tomorrow's students. Take a look at another student's perspective.

St. Thomas Magazine : Spring 2010 : Still Miss The Aquin?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Making Spring Rolls w/ Garden Goodness

Lettuce & Mint from our Garden

Cilantro From Our Garden

My Little Man Sneaking Some Shrimp

So easy to layer the Lettuce, Shrimp, Mint, 
Green Onion, Cilantro & Carrots 

Top it all off with a generous 
helping of Rice Noodles

Fold in the sides, then roll tightly

Yum! So Good & Fresh (  :

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Caribou Coffee Inspiration: Guilty Pleasures - Part 2 of 2


Now that I've found these fun sayings on their napkins, I keep looking for more.  Can't help wondering what Caribou has up it's sleeve in the coming months. Guilty Pleasure number six through ten are up next:


6. My daily Chai Tea Latte (from Caribou Coffee of course.) We received a wonderful Espresso machine for Christmas many years back and it's used every single day. It's bad enough that I keep the house stocked with coffee beans for my husband just so he can avoid this type of temptation. Now I've been sucked in & am feeling pretty guilty for being this frivolous.  I'm blaming it on the fact that I don't drink coffee & that no one makes a Chai Tea Latte as good as Caribou Coffee - except maybe myself. Speaking of tea, I need to file this innovative idea under "Why didn't I think of that?!"

7. Letting my son eat Kellogg's Fruit Snacks. Cars, John Deere, Disney characters, Letter & Number Bites - He loves them all.  I should be concerned that the first ingredient on the package is Corn Syrup, but he's such a good & healthy eater 95% of the time, I don't mind. Bad Mom... Not at all.

8. Coveting my neighbor's Tech Toys.  If this were a commandment I'd constantly be in confession.  While my spouse is content with his SkyCaddy & regular phone, I have a long list of tech toys I'd love to have. I won't make a short story long with the entire list, but these first two are really needs.
  • Laptop (MacBook Pro) 15" screen would do, but a 17" would be a splurge.
  • A Smartphone.
  • New higher quality Digital Camera 
A new camera would help me capture much better shots like this one I was 
trying to get of my renegade garden in bloom:

Our desktop is on it's last legs.  It has a dysfunctional relationship with the printer.  The PC no longer talks to the printer, but the printer will talk to the PC - not the most productive pair.

9. Going to four different stores to do my grocery shopping. Now I certainly don't hit each store during every week, but my standard list includes things from Trader Joe's, SuperTarget, Cub Foods & even Rainbow Foods.  You could say I'm spoiling my family, but there are certain products I won't compromise on. So, retailers if your store does not carry exactly what I need or want, I will go elsewhere.  You will lose some or all of my shopping budget dollars on any given day.

10. Collecting Books vs. Making Trips to the Library.  I am double dipping since I get most of my books on-line at Amazon.com. This is the number one reason the iPad is not on my "covet" list. Although it's not a glorified Nook or Kindle, an iPad doesn't fulfill the tactical need to turn the pages in a real book, or to highlight important points on the page for future reference. I'm not a gamer and I haven't visited a public library in over 15 years, except to do business at the Hennepin County Service Center. 

I love having my own personal library, which I can reference any time of day or night, with no threats of late fees if I get caught up in life & have to put my book down for a few days. My little one has an extensive personal library too. Many titles were given to him by Mom, Dad, and Santa, as well as his grandmother, who spent a lifetime as an educator. Soon, I'll be introducing my 3 yr old to the public library so that he can get his own library card & experience a little of what I did growing up.  I know that his future reality will not be my own. Before I know it, he'll be asking for his own laptop, Smartphone & iPad.

The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards. - Anatole France

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Caribou Coffee Inspiration: Guilty Pleasures - Part 1 of 2

Caribou Coffee is one of my favorite places these days. So many people working downtown start their day standing in line awaiting their turn to order their chosen fix.  Some are simple - Straight coffee in their own mugs - no time to wait in line for the fancy stuff.  Their baristas know so many people by name & probably what they are going to order.  Great customer service = a great customer experience time after time.

I had to search a couple of Caribou Coffee stores to find a bunch of these napkins.  They are a fun way to pass the time - thinking about these conversations starters.  I don't care much for Roller Coasters or pay much attention to Movie Quotes, but Guilty Pleasures - we all have them.  Songs - we all love those too, but they will have to wait for another post.

1. Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia Ice Cream that I buy only for myself. Everyone knows not to dare touch it.

2. Ghirardelli's Intense Dark Chocolate Twilight Delight 72% Cacao, which is another of my favorite treats that no one else in the house dares to sneak. 

3. Once Upon A Child. There is something about that store which lures me in every time I drive near it. I have this unjustified fear that I'll miss out on some fabulous treasure if I don't go in & take a look. I rarely leave empty handed. Also love that they give you extra stamps for paying with cash & not asking for a bag at the Minnetonka location.

4. My love of online shopping. Amazon.com, E-Bay, Overstock.com, Gymboree, Children's Place are some of my favorites. Who doesn't love finding the best deals around with minimal work.  When it comes to shopping, retailers can be sure that if they want my business, they need to be visible on comparison sites, plus communicate via e-mail or at least mail coupons that may be used on-line or in-store. I rarely drive to a physical store or page through catalogs these days - who has the time?

5. Playing 9 holes of Golf 1 x per week.  It may not sound like a lot, but for the last 7 years or so, I've made the commitment to Golf regularly in effort to improve my game. I really enjoy the time spend decompressing from the workday with a few of my golf-loving girlfriends.  For most of us it's a few precious hours of "Me Time" spent out in the warm evening air & good conversation later around a table with some dinner & drinks.  It calls for a few sacrifices for my husband & even my son, but "Boy's Night In" for them is good bonding time, so maybe I don't feel so guilty about this one after all.

The napkins are fun, wouldn't you agree? I'll save guilty pleasures numbered 6 - 10 for another post. Please take a few minutes & share with me some of your own guilty pleasures!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Late Morning Wakeup Call

It was not our typical morning.  My son was extra tired from the absence of naps on a weekend packed with activity.  I let him sleep in with hopes of a smooth transition at daycare. I took a few extra minutes to make my lunch & loaded up the car all before my son woke up.  Well we all know the best laid plans usually turn out differently in the end.  The drop-off was still a teary one and I ended up missing four express buses.

I typically see something unexpected when I'm on a different timetable. Today it was a cute young Amish Family - a couple & their preteen son, in typical dress, waiting for a bus to go to the Mall of America of all places. Sometimes when you first meet a person, you may have a preconceived notion about who they are and what they are all about? At least until you get to know them better, then your opinion changes. When that fifth express bus drove up, it had a different destination & numbers scrolling along the digital sign from my usual ride. 

Thank goodness for that cute Amish family putting me in the right mindset to believe that somehow I didn't have all the facts. I was busy writing this post and totally missed the driver changing the sign's numbers to match my destination. The long line of people who got on the bus ahead of me must have known the driver's routine. Had I not second-guessed why there were so many people getting on that bus heading for a strange part of town, I would have missed express bus number five too!

Perhaps I had this experience in the start of the week to get me thinking in some new ways. It was a late morning wakeup call. My eyes are open a bit wider & my ears tuned in more closely to the conversations & stimuli around me.  There are probably a few important lessons to be learned along the way.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Seasons Change

As Spring winds down & the First Day of Summer quickly approaches, I decided it was time to redecorate this space. It never hurts to freshen things up a bit. I'm the type that likes to change the decor in my home every season, so why not do the same here with my home away from home.

"There is only one moment in time when it is essential to awaken.  
That moment is now. - "The Buddha, India" 

I wish the last couple of days hadn't flown by so quickly. Our days were filled with a graduation, a wedding, an informal family gathering, plus a graduation open house - all substantial moments in life to cherish.  The open house got me thinking about all that I have to look forward to with my son in the years to come. When I see young men, I try to imagine what kind of man my son will turn out to be.  I have no doubt that with every new milestone reached, he will continue to make his mother proud. 

With this new daily work schedule, outside of my reading list, causes like preventing homelessness & regular family obligations, I'm craving incremental inspiration.  I am in the middle of brainstorming many more topics which people can identify and be passionate about.

I'm looking forward to planning fun Summer field trips with my son.  Now that we will have more weekend time for discovery, I know opportunities to make some fabulous new family memories, gather material for this blog and capture great photographs along the way will come.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Live For Today - It Changes In An Instant

How kids make progressions in leaps & bounds at this age amazes me. From writing words to coloring within the lines, my son is growing up too fast. Not that long ago I swear I was just helping him hold the pencil the right way as he wrote & now the words are recognizable - with no help from Mom.
 Memories are made in an instant. Look the other way & you'll miss them. Life can change in an instant. Live for today, because tomorrow is never promised.
Yes, of course I want him to learn as much as possible - to grow more independent every day, to feel confident and secure in his skin. I'm just not quite ready for him to come home and quiz me on the Spanish he learned that day at school: "Rojo is Red, Mom. What is Yellow? What is Green? What is Blue, Mom?"  Or to have a witty comeback for why he's not ready to take a nap like: "I'm not sleepy anymore - I don't have any yawns in my mouth."
"I pray that my love for you will brim with practical wisdom, that where appropriate I will be able to respond to your questions with clear answers. I pray that my love for you will brim with imagination, that where appropriate I will be able to answer your questions with enlightening stories. - Modern prayer from Uppsala, Sweden
How quickly little boys quickly grow into little men. The other day, he asked for a wipe, then proceeded to clean the kitchen table before dinner.  He methodically removed each placemat & them put them back in their places when he was finished. He loves to water the plants in our landscaping and even Swiffer the hardwood floors.  I'm aware the novelty of being Mom's little helper may eventually wear off, but in the meantime I'm enjoying the daily surprises. 
Many working Moms end the day feeling more stressed than when it started. There is usually so much to be done before we are able to call it a night and rest. As I reflected on some of the good family memories that were made this week, a few aha's came to mind. You might even call it a mini survival kit for the working mom.
1. Reserve your battles for the things that are most important. 
2. Don't waste energy obsessing about the things you can't control - the unknowns. 
3. Keep that list of regrets in your life short. 
4. Find inspiration in the things you see around you that renew a sense of hope & fulfillment. 
5. Try not to get so caught up in the challenges of today that you miss the sweetness and the joys.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

It's PotLuck - A few dishes to pass around the table

I spent some time catching up on Google Reader last evening.  I had no idea how quickly those posts pile up.  Whenever I need a blog fix, I almost always link to followed blogs either directly or via a twitter link, which Google doesn't care about or acknowledge. 

There has been some really good information & writing found on Twitter and in blogs lately, so I thought I'd share a few of them with you. I'm calling today's post "Potluck". Make sure you stop & visit each link when you're done reading.

1. Meet Julia Dinsmore, (aka @nothosepeople on Twitter) in an Emmy-nominated TPT (Twin Cities Public Television) documentary, Close The Gap.  One more gem of hers: Danny Glover's narration of Julia's world renowned poem "Not Those People". I started following Julia on Twitter recently thanks to a couple of our shared connections & really would love to meet her one day soon. She's been an inspiration to so many because she speaks & sings about truths. Julia has lived that which she educates about and crusades for, so people can really identify with and trust her.

2. Twin Cities Journalist Trish Van Pilsum, (aka @TrishAtFox on Twitter) recently blogged about a story she did which should be important to all of us - Teen Driving Safety:  "One Life at a Time".

3. Mark Horvath, (aka @hardlynormal) on Twitter tweeted a link to a great article about lawmakers in Honolulu visiting homeless individuals in order to seek input on solutions to end homelessness. 

4. This last one is crazy, but so true: kids are wired for technology these days long before their parents ever were. Check out this article by Mike Henry which was published on Adage.com, What a Toddler Can Tell You About the Future of Media.

I hope you enjoy this little snack!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Why I love this time of year

Blueberries in the making...

Roses in bloom

Too many Peonies?!

Buds That Resemble Baby Carrots