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.
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