Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Great Minnesota Get Together

What else does late August in Minnesota mean except it is time for the annual Minnesota State Fair. As you can tell, we love fair food and made a day of eating our way through the exhibits, midway, and animal barns. 

Our favorites: pronto pups and deep friend cheese curds. Food we were afraid to try: alligator on a stick and big fat bacon on a stick. We managed to see the parade twice, witnessed the birth of a calf (birthing chains, OUCH!!), took in the view on the Sky Needle, petted fluffy bunnies, counted newly hatched chicks, gazed at Princess Kay of the Milky Way carved in butter, ran into friends and family, slid down the Big Slide on burlap bags, watched the judging of a country western style horse show, and rode rides on the Midway for an hour without anyone losing all of that food they had consumed. I think we are all worn out for today, but the Minnesota State Fair runs through Labor Day. We may be back!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Misguided Compassion

On behalf of all of the American exchange students whose lives were cut short on 21 December 1988, I am compelled to write in outrage about the Scottish authorities decision to release the Libyan terrorist who planted the bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 that exploded over Lockerbie Scotland killing all 259 people aboard and 11 on the ground. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, was released from a Scottish prison yesterday on grounds of compassion. His return to Libya after 21 years prompted a  celebratory hero’s welcome and a warm embrace from  the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
All on the grounds of compassion. Mr. al-Megrahi showed no mercy or had any thoughts of pity for his victims when he loaded Pan Am Flight 103 with a bomb. He will get to say goodbye to his family before he dies. The Lockerbie victims never said goodbye to their loved ones. Where lies the sympathy in Mr. al-Megrahi’s actions? He showed no compassion in December 1988. This is not compassionate move on Scotland’s part; it is an outrage! A victory for the terrorist community.
Yes, I realize he is an old dying man and is no longer a threat. I caution you. Look back at the spectacle that took place on the tarmac in Libya yesterday. Therein lies the threat. A seed of dissent planted in a young Libyan mind upon seeing Mr. al-Megrahi’s jubilant return. A hero in the minds of Libyans.
Mr. al-Megrahi is no hero. Neither is Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill who made the decision to free this terrorist. The heros are the parents, husbands, wives, siblings, and friends of those innocent people who perished. They have had to live all these 21 years with a gaping hole in their lives. We must live with the aftermath of the release of Mr. al-Megrahi. I believe this decision will impact all of us. Not now perhaps, but in the future.
Why should I, a suburban Mom living in Minnesota, care so deeply about all of this?
I held a standby ticket on Pan Am Flight 103. 

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back-To-School Blues

I have a feeling that I am not the only Mom out there counting down the days until the kids return to school. The boredom of the long summer days has set in now that it is August. The random arguments and fights between siblings has escalated as well. I believe it is time to return to school. 
Now I realize that some of you are fortunate enough to have an abundance of patience and knowledge to homeschool your kids. I commend and highly respect your decision. As for me, entering the 10th week of our 14-week long summer holiday from our public school, I give up. Mrs. Incredible is ready to hand them off to their teachers for 8 hours a day. Teachers, are you ready? Readers, please tell me that I’m not alone in my desperation to get my children back onto an organized Fall schedule. 
We have started already . . .  the back-to-school shopping trips. All three kids have grown at least one size over the summer which makes most wardrobe items obsolete. I have not really tackled the boy’s clothing issues but have gotten a jump start on my daughter’s wardrobe. Such a start that we are nearly finished!
This year we ventured to The Mall of America (MOA), otherwise known as The GREAT Mall due to the abundance of stores. As you may know from personal experience, MOA has nearly every store imaginable but we still had trouble finding the right clothes for a slender 12-year old girl. 
H&M was a hit for all three kids. Cheap, trendy, and the clothes wear really well. Nordstroms for jeans and shoes. Aeropostale for T-shirts and sweaters. We found Urban Outfitters way overpriced for the cheaply constructed clothes adorning the store. In an effort to find a denim skirt that would fit my skinny girl, we mistakenly ventured into Justice. It was a flashback to 1984 complete with neon leggings, zebra striped high-tops, and Flashdance inspired sweatshirts. Scary! My daughter can blame me but I refuse to enter Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch. The stench of the perfume at the door is enough to keep me away. Is that intentional to keep the parents out of the store? I wonder.
Now all I have left is the boys and all of the school supplies. Best of luck to all of you other back-to-school shoppers. Maybe you will join me in wishing you had bought stock in Target a decade ago. Only 33 more days and counting . . .

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Summer Diversions

What’s not to love about summer here in Minnesota? It’s warm, but not too hot. There are an abundance of lakes for boating and fishing, 10,000 so they claim. Restaurant tables spill out onto their patio for patrons. Neighbors gather for a bonfire. The kids are out running around playing kick-the-can with their friends until it is too dark to see the can. Golf courses are packed. Farmers are selling sweet corn off the back of a pick-up truck. Lakeside cabins are full of family and friends creating new memories. If only a Minnesota summer would last just a bit longer.
WA Frost
The past few weeks have presented some of the best Minnesota summer activities for me. The Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St. Paul really comes to life in the summer with outdoor dining at Moscow on the Hill, and W.A. Frost. Moscow on the Hill offers a wide array of vodka selections as well as delicious and authentic Russian food. (Sorry but I cannot post their website link as it gave a warning that the link would destroy my computer. Do not want that to happen!)  W.A. Frost  is probably the most notorious and most pretentious Cathedral Hill eatery. I love the drink menu served under the canopy of trees in the outdoor garden/patio, but I’m not crazy about the food at any time of the year. Overpriced and just not very satisfying in my opinion. If you are interested in seeing their menu go to: 
Just down Selby Avenue is the Cheeky Monkey Deli ( which offers tasty and inexpensive sandwiches and salads for lunch. Forepaughs Restaurant is also nearby with an excellent new American menu, cozy bar, and outdoor seating on the verandah and upper balcony. For more information on this St. Paul classic, please visit their website at
Also worth a try is the Barrio Tequila Bar with locations in St. Paul’s Lowertown and on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. Having tried both Barrios, I do prefer the food at the Minneapolis locale.  The newer St. Paul location has much more space but feels a bit too light and open and lacking the in dark, gothic details that the Minneapolis location offers. You will just have to try them both out for yourself. For more information on either Barrio Tequila Bar, check out their cutting-edge website at:
Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis is a blog in itself as it offers numerous bars and restaurants as well as Sommerfest at Orchestra Hall with the Minnesota Orchestra’s free concerts ( Having lived in the Twin Cities, I am almost embarrassed to admit that I had never been to Brits Pub until this past weekend. If you love English pub food, outdoor lawn bowling, or sitting on a rooftop patio sipping Pimms and Lemonade,  you will love Brits Pub. For more information,
Then there is modern art at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. I guess that I appreciate modern art because it makes me appreciate most other forms of art all the more. The permanent collection houses works by Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, and all sorts of other modern artists whose names I cannot remember. I love the building design of the Walker and stumbled upon some really interesting bathrooms on our last visit. 
However, I am a true fan of the outdoor Minneapolis Sculpture Garden which is adjacent to the Walker.  What a great place for a picnic and an afternoon stroll around the park scattered with works by Henry Moore and Claes Oldenburg. Plus it is FREE!  For more information about the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, visit
And finally here at home. The backyard firepit has seen lots of use as the edges are splattered with dribbled marshmallow from many rounds of smores. The side yard has taken a beating from all of the kickball, baseball, and football games that have been held on its turf. Even taking the dog for his morning walk has been a joy given all of the birds, snakes, and other critters along the path.
I realize that I have just scratched the surface of summer fun in the Twin Cities. Let me know some of your favorites. Happy summer!