An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

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.



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.


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.


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.


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
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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!






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