Friday, April 18, 2014

Mother Nature, Hear Me Roar!


I put my boots away for the fifth and final time yesterday. I don’t care if it snows again, or the mercury drops below freezing. I am moving on with life. On to a new season, on to Spring.

I made this grand gesture yesterday in great theatrical form (just ask my family). I flung open the closet doors, tucked the boots waaaaaaay back in the closet, and covered them with every pair of sandals and flip-flops I own. It is at this time that I also proclaimed that I am not wearing tights or hose again until next October, AND I may even put away my heavy coat.

I realize I am probably jinxing it for the rest of you, and for that I apologize. But at some point, someone has to say: enough is enough. Mother Nature hear me roar! I am moving on to Spring with or without you.

It was easy to be brave at that time while I was watching Chief Meteorologist Mark Tarello tell me we may hit 70 next week. I am experienced enough with Minnesota weather to know that the following week after that it could take an ugly turn. But I won’t turn with it. I will begin spring time activities. There is precious little time before the heat and humidity of summer closes in on us. Before mosquitos descend onto our yards, decks, our lives. So the time to enjoy Spring is now…the calendar says so. Onward! Springing forward in The Good Life.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Family, Friends, Firefighters and....Rick Springfield


TGIF! Time to start looking toward the weekend. Well, to be honest, I am still reeling from LAST weekend. For me, so many things about last weekend truly epitomize why I truly believe living here is The Good Life.

Let’s start with Friday evening. A week of kids under the weather or on the mend, left us all tired and staying in for the night. What a blessing that turned out to be. My oldest son was home from college for spring break, so the other kids joined him around the kitchen table and we brought out the board games. That has always been a great way for our family to connect. From Head Bands to Clue, we enjoyed the competition and each other’s company! My family,?Tops in my Good Life.

And speaking of competition, boy, did our Minnesota State University Mankato Mavericks hockey team make us proud…by making history Saturday night! The Mavs won the WCHA championship title for the first time EVER and brought that Broadmoor Trophy back to Mankato. I was watching the game from the Legion in Lake Crystal. After enjoying a delicious rib dinner good friends to support  the Lake Crystal Fire Department, we found a TV playing the game and gathered around the set, watching our boys play their hearts out! I so happy I was with friends for that moment, friends that mean a lot in my Good Life. (And how thankful are we for all those brave volunteer firefighters throughout our region, they keep us safe in this Good Life.)

But wait, the weekend was only half over! I still had Sunday! One thing I have always enjoyed about my job is the many people I get to meet and interview. Regular readers of this blog are probably aware,  I have a bit of an affinity for Rick Springfield. ;) He has his debut fiction novel coming out in May and agreed to let me interview him about that before his show Sunday night at the Panteges Theater in Minneapolis. So, there we sat, face to face. I was a mere four feet away from an artist I’ve admired for 30 years (okay, maybe longer). He was gracious, and cool, and, frankly, very excited about his book. (Magnificant Vibration, coming out May 6!) I think he was also excited about being interviewed once again by me (okay, I’m making that part up.)
 But living in an area that allows me to so thoroughly enjoy, family, friends, and work, is truly a special place indeed. My special, Good Life.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ode To Blackberry

After four good years together, I recently made a decision to let go of something that has been by my side 24/7. We have shared many a funny note, taken countless pictures preserving precious memories, and then together shared those memories on Facebook for all our close friends to see. But, more and more of my friends and family are telling me it’s time to move on, that this particular relationship is holding me back. They say if I would just start looking around, I might find something better that will open up a whole new world for me. So, I caved to peer pressure (yes, at my age) and decided to try to move on.  Bye Bye Blackberry.

So I went down to the AT&T store to see about what everyone was calling an “upgrade.”  The young man was very helpful, going over the feature of the iPhone versus the Android vs. a Windows phone. He told me about the speed with which I could browse the Internet, the number and quality of the pixels in the camera each phone had to offer, and how I could send an email, while watching YouTube, while live tweeting…yes, all at the same time! (Why is that even appealing?)
When he finished speaking, I had to ask, “But, can you actually make a phone call on any these?”
In his minutes- long dissertation on each device, he failed to mention if that was a feature.

I am now five days in with my new Galaxy. And I miss my Blackberry. I loved the way it fit perfectly in my hand (just the right size), the way I could quickly glance and see clearly if I had a text, email, Facebook or Twitter notification. (With my new “phone” the screen is too cluttered.)  I loved how just a quick slide of its backside and a keyboard was there for ease of typing out texts or emails. (Touch screens are too sensitive with my “fat fingers”) And I loved that I didn’t spend twice as long on these notes by always correcting the auto correct. Yes, I loved my Blackberry….cracked screen and all.
I do still carry my Blackberry in my purse. A reminder of the good times we’ve shared; kids sporting events, family get togethers, and countless Rick Springfield concerts (you knew I’d get his name in here SOMEWHERE). This gadget has been a big part of my Good Life the last few years.


Now, navigating with my Galaxy is a whole new universe to me. Hopefully in time I will find my way. There’s probably an app for that. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

What Warms Your Heart?


Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but I am still going to write about love.  I am opting not to write about the love for my family (that is so abundant it would surely fill a million pages!) I am going to write about a different kind of love: my love of life here in Mankato. Yes, even when the mercury drops well below zero, and the snow piles up well above ground, I am still happy to be here in this city. (I should probably issue a cheese alert here) But no matter the temperature outside, things about this city will always warm your heart. (Awwww….)

I took my daughter to a birthday party at All Seasons Arena last weekend. She was a little nervous as she doesn’t have a lot of skating experience. But seeing that, her friends immediately skated to her side, holding her up and catching her when she fell. They were smiling the whole time. And my heart was warmed.

I walked into work one morning and my co-worker took the time out of her busy day to ask me how my son’s dive meet went the night before. And my heart was warmed.

Another example can be found at a MSU Maverick Hockey game. The walk from the parked car to the Verizon Wireless Center is cold. But once inside, I see families laughing together. I see Stomper trying to reach every little pint-sized fan he can. I see kids, only waist high on many of the players, cheer and chant and dream that one day they’ll be out on that very same ice. And my heart is warmed.

So, as we watch the snow and the temperature drop today, let us reflect on what warms our hearts. Let us reflect on this Good Life.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Too Cold Outside? Try The Alphabet Game


What I have always told my kids is to make the most of each day! When I think they are spending too much time on the computer or in front of the TV, I’ll ask “Are you making the most of today?” Or if they complain about having to go somewhere with me, I’ll say, “Well, you have to go, so you might as well find a way to make the most of it!”

This weekend  my daughter  asked, “When it’s this cold out, how am I supposed to make the most of my day?” (I had just settled in on my couch to catch up on DVR, but thinking that wouldn’t be setting a good example, I quickly got up.)

Now, this idea is surely not original. I am not usually so clever so someone at some time must have planted this seed in my head. The alphabet game. So simple, it’s brilliant. You put the letters of the alphabet in a bowl, then pick a letter and think of three things to do that start with that letter. Take the letter B.

We brainstormed (which didn’t count as a B activity by the way) and we came up with book, bake, and boogie.

 I read a book out loud with her. Gosh, how many years has it been since I’ve done that? I’m not sure why when she got to the age of being able to read on her own, I stopped reading with her.

Next, baking. A little low on baking supplies, but no worries, there’s now an app for that. I can just stick in what ingredients I have, and recipes pop up. As many can attest, my skills in the kitchen are, well, actually nonexistent. But its about the time spent together doing it, rather than the outcome of the final product. Thank goodness.

Then we boogied. There in our home where no one could see us, we could blast our music and move any way we wanted to.  Picking the music though took compromise. We agreed on a little of her favorite, One Direction and little of my favorite, Rick Springfield (for the record, she knows the words to every one of his songs, I love that!)

And with those three B words, we knocked out the lamest of all B words: boredom.

In fact, I’m looking forward to another day at home like that. Another day in The Good Life.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hanging Posters A.K.A. Bonding Time!


As she gets older, I am seeing more and more of myself in my daughter Grace.  This is a notion that mortifies her and she absolutely denies any of it. But, the truth is, she has my height, my dimples, my anxiety, and turns out, my propensity for being star struck.

This was clear as I entered her room the other night and she was hanging up her latest One Direction poster, chatting cheerfully about their latest offerings on Instagram and texting with her “Aunt Marie” about the countdown to the concert she gets to go to this summer (a Christmas present). 

It took me back to when I was 13 and had my first celebrity crush (you know who!). Then, listening to her, I realized that even though we have this fanatical behavior toward musicians in common, our experiences as 13 year olds are totally different.

She can pursue her passion for 1D (I think that’s the hip way to refer to them) via Instagram, Vine, Facebook, YouTube (I know she does this as I monitor her accounts very closely). Of course, since I grew up back in the olden days, none of these things were at my disposal as I pursued my beloved. (I think we all know who I’m talking about here.) I had to save up all my babysitting money each month to buy a teen magazine and that was my only mode of information for my main man. But watching her hang posters, now that is something I can relate to.

Of course we all know who adorned my wall back then. (Okay, for those of you new here and just tuning in, it was RICK SPRINGFIELD!) I remember carefully taking the posters out of those well-read magazines and plastering my wall.

A friend last weekend told me I shouldn’t encourage such behavior in Grace, that it’s not healthy for her to put celebrities up on a pedestal. While I certainly respect her opinion, that’s not the way I think about it.  The way I see it, music comforts Grace when she is anxious, keeps her company on long car rides, and gives her a playful side when, sadly for a 13-year old these days navigating bullying and peer pressure and all the other stuff that comes with middle school, finding something that just brings joy is a great distraction.  

So, I help her pick out the posters, and figure out where to put them in her room (lighting is VERY important, we cannot have a glare on Niall’s face). Soon enough she will grow up. She may not outgrow this childhood obsession, obviously I didn’t. But I know she will, as she matures, put it into perspective. I did. Now the pictures that adorn my wall are of the real super stars in my life, my kids. My Good Life.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Resolution Reversal For The New Year


Well, here we are at the end of another year. A time when most start making those New Year’s resolutions. I myself am often a victim of the Resolution game…only to feel like a failure by mid-February. So this year I am going to try a little resolution reversal. Instead of making a list of things I want to do in 2014, I am going to make a list of what I’m NOT going to do.

I am NOT going to take my health for granted. Several friends and people I care about faced health battles in 2013 that I can’t even begin to imagine. I am starting 2014 healthy, for that I am thankful and I don’t intend to squander it!  

I am NOT going to spend more time with my kids. Not because I don’t want to, but because, frankly, their schedules don’t allow it. They are all at ages where they are busy with their own activities and don’t have a lot of time leftover for, well, me. (They’ve chosen good, healthy activities and are happy, so it’s okay.) So instead of having unreasonable expectations, I will just vow to focus on the quality of time spent with them, rather than on quantity. I can sure make the most of those moments spent in the car, in the kitchen making dinner, and when telling them good night.

I am NOT going to ignore the needs of my neighbors. I am already involved in several community groups, but in the new  year I may focus on helping individuals in need. They are everywhere I look. Some may need food, some may need my time, often I’ll bet, they’ll only need encouragement. I think I might start not doing this one today.

I am NOT going to read more in 2014. Instead, I am going to write more. For the past several years, I have probably averaged reading a book a month. And now I have the makings of a book of my own in my head and this may be the year I get it down on paper (or on a flashdrive as the case may be).

I am NOT going to stop sweating the small stuff, because for me it is the small stuff that can make such a big difference. Issues that some people may deem small…are huge to me. It is just the way it is, so might as well stop fighting myself on it.

I am NOT going to take up a new hobby. The hobby I currently have, Rick Springfield and his music, keeps me plenty busy, and frankly helps keep me sane (okay, so this point may be debatable). Instead, maybe I’ll  focus on enjoying that hobby even more. So all this basically means is that he needs to beef up his Midwest Tour Schedule! J (Rick, I hope you’re reading this.)

By NOT doing the above, I believe I will NOT lose sight of what truly matters in my life; family, community, things that make me, me. I will not lose sight of what makes this The Good Life.