edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Halloween Happy Hour October 30, 2016

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Halloween Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Halloween crept up on us this year. Last year we were scheming and sewing a month in advance (Queen of Hearts for a Day). This year’s Halloween prep was more spontaneous. It came together in one evening – Thursday the 27th – for a Halloween after school happy hour of sorts we planned to host Friday the 28th.
 

Calvin, my 11 year-old son, out of football and basketball for two weeks due to an injury, clearly sought another outlet for all of his excess energy. He channeled it into last-minute party planning inspired by Yummly, a place to search, archive and share sourced recipes from a whole host of top recipe sites like Delicious Table and Six Sisters’ Stuff.
 

After perusing Yummly for a half-hour, he saved 12 recipes into a folder we created in the Yummly app we titled Halloween ’16. I talked him down to seven recipes (after all, we hadn’t even invited anyone to the party that was to happen right after school on Friday). He made a spreadsheet and I quickly went through the ingredient list for each recipe. With our shopping list set, we were off to Target by 6:30p.m.
 

In addition to the ingredients, we picked up some treat bags and table decor and started our party project by 7:45p.m. The recipes that made the final cut included:
Halloween Chex Mix (Jam Hands)
Halloween Chocolate Pumpkin Cake (Aberdeen’s Kitchen)
Crescent Mummy Dogs (Pillsbury)
Halloween Graveyard Pudding Cups (Six Sisters’ Stuff)
Spider Oreos (La Jolla Mom)
Halloween Oreo Stuffed Brownies (Boston Girl Bakes) (the only one we didn’t make)
Haunted Halloween Witches Brew Party Punch (Delicious Table)

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Mummy Dog Madness

 

Calvin would have stayed up into the wee hours if I hadn’t set a firm stop time of 10:00p.m. (in reality it was more like 10:30). He started with the Spider Oreos — pulling the Golden Oreo Double Stuffed cookies apart, placing the pretzel stick legs on the open-faced bottom of the cookie, adding some additional melted frosting (cream cheese) or what I like to call “baking glue,” securing the top and adding the mini M&M eyes.
 

Then we tackled the cake. Wow, 21 ingredients and way more elaborate than I anticipated. No going back now — this would be the main attraction. We mixed so much that my average mixer was fully maxed with enough batter to fill three 8″ rounds (a mixer the next size up is going on my Christmas list). While the cakes baked, we moved on to the Halloween Chex Mix, a thankfully simple recipe. Cal melted white chocolate chips in the microwave, measured 5 ingredients, mixed them up and placed on a cookie sheet to harden.
 

By this time it was already 10:15p.m. Cal signed off for bed, but not before reviewing the baking plan with me first: So you’ll finish the pudding cups and mummy dogs tonight? I confirmed that was the plan.
 

I was on my own. With a clean mixer ready for round two, I mixed the Halloween cake frosting including orange juice and sifted powdered sugar (of which I had exactly 4 cups, just as the recipe called for). This went into the fridge for the early morning frosting step after cakes had sufficiently cooled.

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Halloween Treat-Eating Experts


 

Moving onto to the pudding cups, I mixed the chocolate instant pudding (dry mix and 2 c milk) and let it set while I took on the challenge of crushing orange frosting filled Oreo Double Stuffs. They do not crush well. I came back to the pudding mixture that set within 6 minutes and folded in the Cool Whip. The pudding mix then went into the clear small cups and the Oreo mix, painstakingly recrushed, comprised the next layer (regular Oreo crushing, much easier). The R. I. P. tombstone detailing and pumpkin candy adds would have to wait for the next day.
 

The cakes came out of the oven at 11:17p.m. and clean up began. I ended with a clearing of our dining room table and setting of the $3 Target orange and black striped tablecloth, spider web plates and napkins by midnight.
 

The next morning, Calvin and I were up a bit earlier than the ushe, frosting the cake. After softening the frosting made the night before in the microwave, I added the cakes layer by layer, spread the frosting and returned it to the fridge to set. We brought out serving platters and set up the treats we could — Spider Oreos and Halloween Chex Mix. He was then off to school and I off to work.
 

Of the handful of friends we invited Thursday late eve, three were able to attend. They were planning to come home on the bus so before Calvin left for school, he set some high standards for what I was to achieve during the day. I cautioned that I most likely wouldn’t be home, nor have the time. As it turned out, I arrived home 30 seconds before they did. We rolled with it.

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Party Punch in Blood Red

 

The boys grabbed one of the snacks and disappeared for awhile. I finished the chocolate ganache frosting for the cake and set in all of the goodies, then it went back into the fridge to set. I then tackled the R.I.P. tombstones while Calvin popped in to make the Haunted Halloween Witches Brew Party Punch (3 ingredients — easy!). Next up, the mummy dogs. My 13 year-old, Ava, stepped in to help with the wraps and into the oven they went.
 

By 5:00p.m. Calvin’s last friend had arrived, so they all came to the table in a quick flash to sample all but the cake — that would come later. I headed out around 5:30 for an event and left my husband in charge. They were really quite an easy bunch. When I arrived home at 8:30p.m., all but one boy had left and remnants of cake enjoyed were scattered about the table. I cleaned up and enjoyed a piece of cake and a tall glass of milk, gathering energy to think about Halloween Phase II: costumes!
 

After all of the guests had left, Calvin and I recapped the eats. He thanked me many times during the process and after for taking the time and making the effort. It was fun to reconnect with him in the kitchen (see also #KidsintheKitchen – a hashtag to follow some of our ventures, on Instagram via @jengilhoi). We get into a rhythm and I appreciate and welcome his creativity as another collaborator to make baking and party planning fun. I’m seeing chef in his future…. A mom can dream.
 

— Here’s to more Halloween fun in years to come. Happy Halloween everyone!

 

A Fuller Fair Experience August 27, 2016

Filed under: Eats — edamomie @ 12:07 pm
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O: Outings

Our family of four fair-goers took on the MN State Fair yesterday in six hours. Now that our kids are 11 and 13, we’ve been in that six-hour duration sweet spot for the fair for the past four years (see 2012’s adventure: A Fairly Expensive Fun Factory). When they were little, visits lasted two hours — like why did we even go? I do notice, however, families with little ones and strollers who are in it for the long haul. Impressive. They must be out-of-towners. I am totally curious to see how those families do a 14-hour+ long day.

 

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Monster Cotton Candy

This year’s six hour adventure — and it’s not like I time it at all — evolved much differently than even last year. The first factor was our #Valleyfair season tickets. After five visits to the Shakopee fair, we hardly needed to be in the Midway for rides. Instead, the kids selected one ride — The SkyFlyer swings — and waited in line and rode their ride while my husband and I ventured off seeking ends at RC’s BBQ (formerly Famous Dave’s). When we returned to our meeting spot, we were ready to enjoy the Midway for sport.

 

After texting a friend who claimed to have discovered the trick to the milk jug toss, dad applied the tips and took home this huge puppy, Pinky, for our 13YO, Ava, on his first try. It must not happen that often because the other dudes around the booth and the carnies stopped mid-toss in awe (Thanks, Dar!). And now we had this huge puppy to juggle through the crowds for the rest of day… another family tradition (it was minion Robert last year).

 

After the non-extended ride factor, the second biggest thing working in my favor this year for a fuller fair experience was the food-sharing factor. In years prior, the kids always wanted their own food and drinks. Now, we each do a top three list and merge our favorites and make sidebar stops if the items are on one of our lists. We all walk away happier with no tummy aches of the type that eating an entire monster bag of cotton candy will cause.

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MPR Booth and #FreshFrenchFries

 

We arrived and settled into fair mode in traditional fashion with a trip to #FreshFrenchFries consumed next door at the #MPR booth. From there, fair food in totality equated to Red Baron Pizza, Monster cotton candy, Mouse Trap cheese curds, French Onion Monkey Bread, RC BBQ ends, Sweet Martha’s Cookies, Deep Fried Olives, pear soda, Cafe Caribe turkey drumstick, corndogs and lemonade. Not saying that everyone consumed everything, but it was close.

 

We walked five miles total, but if I had to calculate, we came nowhere near working off the fair caloric consumption. After our first loop through the food building, Midway and the Grandstand area, we hopped on the northbound sky tram that stretched over a half-mile. Great mid-fair break from the action and an ideal place to scope out the crowds and the opposing southbound tram travelers taking selfies. I’d venture to guess the 12-day fair has a record number of dropped mobiles.

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Paul and Paula Bunyan

 

In the much less congested north fairgrounds we took in the Lumberjack and Lumberjill competitions at Stihl and the boys tested their skill at Bonanza rifle-shooting range. I was patient. I knew that this year might be my chance to get in the EcoExperience building and the Fine Arts building. It happened.

 

We spent time in EcoExperience checking out all of the latest developments from Citizen Environmentalists who can help track the flight of the Monarch butterfly to Paul Bunyan modeling a red hat and blue jeans made of donated red t-shirts and denim to advocate recycling. We wrote on a super smart Samsung refrigerator touch screen that turns expiration date issues into opportunities (here, make a recipe with all these items that are about to expire!) and took away some styling tips on a capsule wardrobe created by Arc’s Value Village in a #PaulaBunyan feminine denim theme.

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Pinky the Puppy; Plans for Recycling

 

At this point, about five hours into fair fun, attention spans were waning a bit. The Fine Arts Building had a tucked away restroom that made for an easy stop and a way to intro the boys to the building. I gave a stern warning that I would spend some uninterrupted, nag-free time here before we moved on. I did. We saw the annual MN State Fair commemorative art and talented local artists. One repurposed bear, made of a slew of stuffed animals stripped to their basics, gave me an idea for our recent Pinky the puppy win. I heart functional art.

 

We left the building and rounded the curve by the International Bizarre. After some brief contemplation about the lengthy Midtown Global Market line for the fish of strawberry compote (Carpe Diem ice cream) by The Rabbit Hole, we decided against it. After all it was National Dog Day and our dog, @Copperdoodleroo, had been home alone for an extended time.

 

On one last thrill-seeking adventure, my 11YO son took a $4 scare tour on his own. We headed out with nary of viewing of an animal. A bit disappointing from my perspective, but in the past we’ve dealt with allergic reactions as a part of those visits so we chose to bypass this year. Oh well… maybe for next year’s #MNStateFairBucketList.

 

— Cheers to the Great MN Get-together and enjoying it with your families! 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Just A Girl in the World August 8, 2016

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 11:29 am
Tags: , ,

O: Outings

Gwen_Stefani_Ava_JenNothing like your first concert experience. Mine was the Rolling Stones. For my daughter, Ava, I wanted the same mind-blowingness and Gwen Stefani delivered. I’m feeling Hella Good about it. In fact, when I cracked open my laptop at my co-working space this morning and Gwen belted out Misery right where she left off on my YouTube stream yesterday, I didn’t scramble to mute it.
 

It’s okay that Ava’s next concert-going experience will be different and maybe even better. She only knew about one-third of Gwen’s songs because I only just got in on tickets a few days prior to the concert. We listened to her new stuff off of #ThisIsWhatTheTruthFeelsLike, but how could there possibly be enough time over three busy days to impart all of the Stefani magic upon her? And I realize, it could be more fun with friends than your mom with an artist you’re currently all gaga over.
 

Gwen_Stefani_Scar8That aside, it was more about getting to experience that excitement for the first time with her. We did our hair and make-up (applied some false eyelashes in the Target parking lot en route) and chose our attire carefully — denim and black — always a wise choice. Other words of wisdom included you must wear a tank for a quick new concert t wardrobe swap (pictured here, I’m wearing her shirt as a scarf🙂; you must wear flats because despite having assigned seats, you will be on your feet the entire time (which I did not heed due to my must wear camo wedges); and go big on make-up, casual on clothes so you look like you don’t care too much.
 

We arrived at 6:20 to the Xcel to survey the hazy scene and hear opening act, Eve (@therealeve). Always loved that Gwen back to No Doubt days had a ska/ hip-hop vibe to her music and it makes so much sense that artistry continues to inform and weave through her versatile vibe. From Eve’s portion I say holla to the flag corp girls! I leaned over to share with Ava that our militant flag corp routines from junior highschool looked nothing like that and could have used a booty-shaking infusion. Response: eye-rolling.
 

Gwen_Stefani_TIn anticipation of Gwen, we snapped some photos, surveyed the scene which include a mom and her five-year-old in front of us. We did that t-shirt swap I had hinted about earlier in the day after she got over disbelief that I allowed a $40 t-shirt purchase without batting an eye. Later I explained how amazingly cool it felt to come back to my small town Jackson, MN, after a Tuesday night seeing The Stones in the cities. I was unapologetically exhausted (from 3:00a.m. arrival home), but my t-shirt with Jagger’s tongue spoke volumes of coolness for me. Ava’s Gwen t of choice — the one with photo booth shots and a list of 26 cities on her tour — could bring the same transcendence to her.
 

We were ready. In the first of four outfits, Gwen opted for tartan, black boots and yodeling with Wind It Up, a ska meets Sound of Music loveliness, lilt and lyrical genius. Wardrobe change two featured a bodysuit with ornate details that might possibly have included a necklace of ostrich features and denim low-rise jeans with lots of zippers. I know we’re Cool. Then she went army green militant in jeans with a glittery brilliant green top in contrast. Whatcha Waiting For?  She ended with short black shorts, a black and white half scarf/half skirt and white feathered top. She closed on more serene notes with This Is What The Truth Feels Like and Sweet Escape. 
 

Gwen_Stefani_Swiss2Amidst all of that fashion, style and lyrical variety, Blake Shelton came out for Go Ahead and Break My Heart. And because the audience knows this love story intimately, everyone seemed to get swept up in this number. Even Ava turned to me, like really? could it be? when Gwen hinted that “my favorite person in the whole world is here.” Admittedly, my heart did a few backflips, but I would never say that Blake (and Eve) were the stars of the show as the Strib review noted. C’mon, Jon! We want her to come hollaback : ) (check out PiPress review too, which is more favorable)
 

Yes, on one more Strib review follow-up note, the Stefani experience is larger than her music because she is so much larger than that. As a mom of three who I feel like I grew up with (we’re only two years apart), a fashionista (L.A.M.B. and Harajuku Lovers), her wide open love life and all its drama, and her story about making this album for her, I feel like all of those things only make her stronger, more relevant.
 

And one final note, the two times I’ve seen Gwen in concert (Nov 2002 and Aug 2016), I was sober. The first time, I was three months pregnant with Ava and this time, completely by choice to enjoy the eve with my daughter. In 2002, I recall being awed by the number of push-ups Gwen did on stage; in 2016, I’m awed by how amazing she looks and sounds and that she’s even better. She seems truly happy just being a girl in the world.
 

— Cheers, Gwen and come back to Minnesota next time ’round!

 

 

 

 

 

The Evolution of the Birthday July 17, 2016

Filed under: Independence — edamomie @ 8:59 am
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My son, Calvin, turned 11 late June and here it is, July 17, nearly a month after his birthday and I’m just getting around to reflecting upon it. I’m usually more of the moment, but his birthday celebrations have been going on for just that long. Really. Not my fault.

Birthday Presence

Birthday Presence

 

This year, an on-the-ball mom and friend of mine got her invites out early and marked the day before Calvin’s birthday for her son’s birthday party. Summer gets busy with kids at camp and weekends at the cabin. It was totally fine by Cal and me (she was thoughtful enough to consult with us and even sent Cal home with a special birthday cupcake!). He was jazzed to be at a sleepover at his friends even though it bumped out his birthday party with friends about three weeks.
 

Per the ushe, we were last-minute gift shopping for the family celebration on his actual birthday, a Sunday. This used to stress me out, now that’s the only way we roll. And truthfully a full 12 hours in advance left plenty of time for thoughtful selection, but in the case of the Stephen Curry shoes unavailable in his size that needed to be shipped, not so much (they would arrive 2 days after his birthday).

Golf with the Gilhois

Golf with the Gilhois

 

Calvin’s older sister, Ava, and I took on the arduous task of shopping — I jest, we fully don’t mind it. We took the afternoon the day before to scout out the afore mentioned shoes, golf shorts and fancy belt from Under Armor, PlayStation4 NBA 2K and a Nerf gun of the bizillionth variety. Check to it all. Some of it even got gift wrapped. There was even a heartfelt card from his sometimes pain-of-a-sister (who deep down loves him unconditionally and vice versa). It was a nice, low-key, little family party on the day of his birthday plus he got in 18 holes of golf, despite the heat and humidity.

 

When the boys rolled in around 8:00p.m. after golf, Calvin seemed pretty beat. Selfishly, I was not. I had spent the afternoon in the air-conditioning. I had not planned, hosted and corralled wild-spirited 11-year-old boys for a birthday party. I was relaxed, reflective and feeling so much love for this sweet boy, who is wise beyond his years.

Skyzone Prep Bench

Skyzone Prep Bench

 

The friend birthday outing would come later — just a few friends that fit in my car and a visit to Skyzone for the afternoon, followed by pizza, movies and candy I don’t even want to know about (and I didn’t — I was at the Guthrie enjoying South Pacific!). And because it was a #lateover (a phenomenon I discovered around the time of Ava’s 12th birthday), my husband dropped all of the boys off at their homes around 10:00p.m. Brilliance as far as I’m concerned!

 

Did I make his birthday special enough? What about Ava’s 13th birthday we celebrated super low-key early June, was that special enough? I couldn’t help but ask. I reminded myself that they’re calling the shots now. They don’t need princess parties or packed pinatas to enjoy their special days. Was it just my crazed mother mind that made it so for previous birthdays? And why did I go to so much work and fret planning birthday parties of the past? I like to think it’s just the evolution of a birthday and chalk it up to that. No looking back now — we’ve hit the tween and teen years. We’ve evolved.
— Happy 11th Birthday, oh my wise Calvin!

 

More Sweet Than Bitter: 13 June 10, 2016

Filed under: Independence — edamomie @ 6:45 am
Tags: , , , ,

I: Independence

My little girl is 13. And it came without any of the drama or flurry of past birthdays filled with balloons, cake and slumber-less nights. She wanted to spend her birthday with family. We were honored.

 

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Happy Hour at Benihana

We made an entire weekend out of it. It was all about Ava. With an early June birthday, the transition to new digits has always come along with the transition of the school year. This year she said goodbye to seventh grade without looking back, welcoming the independence rumored to be given to eighth graders as head of the school.

 

It was time to transition. From the stories being reported at dinner time over the last three weeks, it became clear that a restlessness that tried both teachers and students patience was heightening. I think that was a factor as we talked a month in advance about her birthday about plans for that day. She was totally fine with a low-key celebration.

 

It went like this. After school last Friday, the day before her actual birthday, her brother came home with a Good Manners certificate from fourth grade for Benihana just as we were contemplating how Ava wanted to spend her evening. That solved the first pressing question of where to go for dinner. The usual roadblock of my husband ixnaying the Mall of America wasn’t even a factor — he took the only Apple Genius Bar appointment in town for an immediate fix for his iphone.

 

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Gray and PINK is trending…

We arrived at Benihana with no reservations and a 20 minute estimated wait. Perfect time to run to Sephora to let Ava hand-select part of her birthday present from her mom; while Chad and Calvin ran off to find their birthday gift for her. We opted for bar seating versus the fancy chef prep tables (next time and WITH a reservation!) and were pleasantly surprised. It was happy hour. A few banana berry smoothies and passion fruit drinks later, we were happy with our dining experience and the price, which included $15 off for Cal’s Good Manners certificate (#HaleToday).

 

We popped into Lids after dinner to pick up Ava’s birthday present from the boys. An embroidered AGJ on a gray pinstriped baseball hat. A hit. Then it was off to see Jungle Book and with Ava just under 13 by a hair, got her last kid-priced movie ticket at $6. Sad to see that era come to an end. Now she can legitimately see PG-13 movies, another milestone.

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Must Enter 13 Caffeinated!

 

The next day was an open book. We paid a visit to the mall. No surprises there! She used some of her birthday money at PINK and Abercrombie and Francesca’s. This girl was glowing with new gray sweats, jean shorts and an adorable wide-brimmed hat for the summer. I wanted to bottle that up.

 

The afternoon was spent at home. I believe the term is chillaxin’. Her dad brought home a gift from H&M for her — tossed it to me, knowing I am the queen of recycled gift bags, tissue paper and bows. I quickly critiqued it, another gray sweatshirt, sweatshorts? I bit my tongue — I so want to see her in color. You know what, she loved her gift. Go figure.

 

We enjoyed take-out from from Quangs on Nicollet- pho and spring rolls; followed by french silk pie. Later that eve, we caught up on Once, the ABC series that duals characters in fairytale and Storybrooke real worlds. I feel like we’ve been watching this an eternity… I mean, it’s wickedly good, but will it ever, ever end?

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The Style of 13: Gray, PINK and Lots of Sunshine!

 

Sunday, I had a project. Ava was perfectly content on her own. Not really sure what she did while I tackled my business finances. Oh wait, we did a quick facial mask together late morning. When our paths crossed in the house again, it was mid-afternoon and we rallied the family for a trip to Nokomis. I took our dog, Copper, for a run around while Chad and kids lounged on the beach. Lazy afternoon.

 

We ended it on that note. With nary a call or outreach to her friends. They will be there this summer for pool, beach and movie outings over long summer days. For now, I just want to revel in the bittersweet passing of tween to teen. Beautifully executed, Ava. We love you!

 

 

 

Journal of an Average Adolescent April 30, 2016

Filed under: The Unknown — edamomie @ 11:58 am
Tags: , ,

U: The Unknown

Although each teenagers’ journey through adolescence differs widely, one thing is for sure: finding your place in this world…. well, it’s challenging. Just ask Greg Heffley, a teen comic icon brought to life in the Children’s Theatre Company production of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: it sucks.
 

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Step + Repeat; Eye Roll

I lost count on eye-rolling reactions to sharp and subtle jabs, mean-spirited exclusions, brutal popularity rankings and labels that even the audience wanted to assign to each character. It brought me right back to my middle school days in a heartbeat. It was a tough playground. Scenes and the story surrounding the “cheese touch” were dramatically executed and harkened back to game playing as a passive aggressive way to show your true feelings toward someone.
 

Greg stumbled around in his exploration, dealing with seemingly insurmountable issues like a doting mom, an sports-aspirational dad, a little brother who embarrassingly called him Bubby, a terrorizing older sibling, Rodrick, and a swooning friend, Rowley, who Greg vastly under-appreciated in true teen style. The audience cringed and commiserated along with Greg every step of the way as his miserable little existence played out.
 

Yet, it was so sweet. Sitting on either side of me, taking in the show, were my kids. Calvin, my 10 year-old, who I could nearly slip right into Greg’s shoes in a few years and Ava, my 12 year-old, who could witness her current 7th grade situation and the realness of it.
 

We all loved the performance, but for different reasons. I appreciated that Greg possessed the innocence of his age as well as the fluid emotions and struggle to not only do the right thing, but define it for himself through a series of hard-knocks. Ava connected with trying not to subscribe to mainstream beliefs, but finding that values and judgements are next to impossible to escape in middle school life and its close quarters (which begs the question, should we be teaching more empathy in our schools?). Calvin, owner of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, thought it was sheer comedic fun.

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Stack of Wimpy Books

Sharing our reviews over a slice of pizza after the performance, we talked about the experience of the story from book to movie (see our 2011 review of Rodrick Rules) to musical. We unanimously agreed that the ever-changing set design, comedic craftiness — the backdrop a sheet of loose-leaf paper, the furniture, doors and props white with black piping and Greg and Rowley’s comedy strip creation process on paper played out onto a screen — were spot on. The exact comic strip, right down to the first one that echoes Greg’s onstage commentary about his mom buying the shamefully labeled “Diary,” when it really was just a journal, felt very true to the written series.
 

Highlights of storylines and performances included Rodrick’s masterfully delivered death threats, Rowley’s crush on teenage music icon, Joshie, the highly coveted “Mom Bucks” (monopoly money) and the reputation-ruining “Cheese Touch.” The characters creatively jumped off the Wimpy kid pages in posture, Greg with a hollowed out slouch stature and Rodrick with all of the slanky starkness of a teen in a darkened state.
 

The concept of Diary of a Wimpy Kid seems to hold the message that adolescence and all its challenges are normal — there are no exceptions nor can one get around it. You just have to go through it. So embrace it and pencil in a date to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Musical now through June 12. Your tweens and teens might roll their eyes, but this is one moment where you just say trust me. Well done, CTC and congratulations on 50 years!

 

 

 

Riding the Wave of Wellness February 14, 2016

Y: Yolo

Peak Performers MN

Peak Performers #MNRepresent

You only live once. I created the blog category, YOLO, to capture my family’s travel adventures. This post might not fit the bill as it’s about a cruise I embarked on SOLO (or without the family), but it’s story worthy nonetheless.

 

I admit to being a bit enamored with the idea of a cruise, but never quite enough to pull the trigger and book one. In November, due to the wellness business I’m building, I was invited to join my team on what’s called a Peak Performers Cruise (hashtag that). I thought about it for a half a sec and went for it. What could be better than working out daily on a cruise ship in the sun on the seas, visiting Cozumel and Grand Cayman and connecting with people impassioned by the same mindset and goals?

 

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Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance

I could check “cruise” off of my bucket list if it was ever really on it, I reasoned. I could write some of it off as a business expense. I was most definite I could use a warm winter getaway from Minnesota. I pushed down the memories from other rocky journeys at sea, seeking whales off the San Diego coast and riding the water taxi to and from the island of Stromboli off the coast of Sicily. These ventures never made me queasy. It was more like the anxiety of what could happen at sea, inflicted by watching movies like Jaws and The Titanic.

 

The anticipation of relaxation and exploration overrode those feelings and I was focused on the positive in the months leading up to trip. Our team (Amanda, Karry, Jen) flew into Fort Meyers on Sunday, February 7, the day of the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas’ #royalincident. On the two-hour drive up to Tampa to board our cruise ship our friend and driver asked if we had heard what had happened on the Anthem. I tuned it out as much as possible. In fact the Royal WiFi throughout the cruise was sometimes spotty and slow and shared among our team and our multiple devices, made weather and news feeds less accessible.

 

In hindsight, that was a very good thing. I chalked it up to a storm at sea near the Bahamas that got a little wavy, oblivious of the real magnitude of the event. The first night at sea, Monday, February 8, was unsettling for me. The ship was riding the waves and rocking us side to side like we were on the Avatar ride at Nickelodeon Universe, heightening our tilt degree with each wave crescendo. Everything creaked and groaned, the hangers clanged together. My senses were on high alert.

 

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Day Five: Four Desserts

I don’t think any of us slept a wink and maybe drifted off to a light rest for an hour before dawn. I was overjoyed to see the sunrise. Today, Tuesday, would be a new day. The ship swayed and put everyone’s agility, balance and grace to the test. Don’t fill your coffee mug more than 3/4ths full to prevent scalding your hand. Don’t look down for too long – focus your gaze on the horizon or something steady in the distance to walk gracefully without looking completely intoxicated. …I feel a top 10 Cruise Tips List coming on here…

 

I inquired on several things as I gathered research to ease my anxiety: Is this your first cruise? If so, how did last night’s waviness compare? Were you queasy? If so, did you take anything (numerous responses here from Dramamine to patches on pressure points behind the ears and wrists)? Do you know the captain? Will he ever come on a give us passengers a comforting message about what is happening?

 

When the sun came out, I relaxed and was able to enjoy being on this massive, luxurious vessel. We hit the spa and fitness center every day. I had to earn my three royal meals after all. The food and beverages were never in shortage and dining at 6:00 was a main event. Most days, I ran on the treadmill. Running on it while swaying major degrees side to side was a challenge. The message, “Placing your hands on the sensors (i.e. bar handles) is not recommended,” kept popping up, but yet I held firm. My fellow treadmillers and I laughed at the slight insanity of it.

 

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Cheers to Grand Cayman, Solid Ground

In more calorie-burning fun, we packed the dance floor at the top level of the ship in the StarQuest and danced to our heart’s content. I mean, why not have intoxicated people dancing, spilling drinks, standing on a moving platform surrounding the bar at the top-most level of the ship where it’s the least fulcrum-friendly? By the third night of this, the journey started to feel a little like the February 2 Groundhog’s Day we just came off of. Between the electric slide and the the wobble and all of the randomness, the cruise was starting to feel like a never-ending wedding.

 

Honestly, I don’t mean to sound negative. I was mostly just fascinated with cruise culture and how people (including me and our team) behave in this environment. A few things that struck me:

1. Everyone seemed to fully trust the captain (even after Anthem’s captain made a decision in complete disregard for 6,000 people’s lives, in my opinion). No one seemed concerned that when we departed Grand Cayman on Thursday, we knew we were heading into tumultuous waters (which turned out, really, to be only slight waviness compared to Monday night).

2. On day one, we were quite full after each meal and keeping things in check; by day five, our eating and ordering (up to four desserts at one meal) was insanely out of whack.

3. One of the main advantages touted with cruises — exploring new lands to get a taste of them, like the day trips we took to Cozumel (Weds) and Grand Cayman (Thurs) — really didn’t allow enough time to do them any justice. Although I will say being on land was a beautiful thing in and of itself.

 

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Sandscript #EmpoweringAll

On the upswing, I gathered a lot of reassurance from my fellow cruisers. Tammara said to me in her sweet way, “Think of it as a little city gliding along the water.” Brilliant! I’m going with that. Unique to our cruise experience was the company commonness that brought all of us together. We were all there on a journey intended to relax, reward and inspire us to new personal heights in our wellness business. I so enjoyed striking up conversations with people anywhere I went, learning about their business and gaining new insight.

 

Today, on solid ground in Minnesota, I have new perspective that I’m grateful for courtesy of this experience. From a business viewpoint, I’m ready to expand on Empowering All — find us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter — and help others on their road to wellness. From a personal perspective, I don’t believe I’ll be eager to set sail on a cruise anytime soon unless it’s a 99% chance of sunny skies and smooth waters.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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