My online journal.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Permanent hiatus

Hey there; I'm hangin' it up for a while.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Polar Express Cookie

This recipe has been on the back of the last three boxes of raisins we've bought. Ed freaks out ever time he sees the logo, and Lucy finally convinced me to make the cookies.

I have to admit, raisins and chocolate sounded grody to me. I made a couple changes which I'll explain. The results were SUPER tasty and I will definitely make them again!

The Polar Express Cookie
adapted from the Sun-Maid Raisins box

1/2 cup butter or margarine (I used 1/4 c butter and 1/4 c applesauce)
1 & 2/3 c sugar (I used 1 cup white sugar and 1/3 cup "natural" sugar, thereby reducing the sugar by 20% and adding a really nice texture)
1 Tablespoon (no, really!) vanilla
2 oz (2 squares) unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 c. all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole-wheat)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. milk
1 cup raisins
powdered sugar

Combine butter, sugar, and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy. Blend in chocolate. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to chocolate mixture alternately with milk. Stir in raisins.

Cover and refrigerate 1 hour until firm. Heat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheets. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in powdered sugar. Bake in upper third of oven, 10-12 minutes; do not overbake!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Shed no tears for me; there'll be rain enough today

Ed likes to throw things, just to hear what kind of sound they make when they land. And the other evening he actually asked for his "cowboy pajamas" and when I told him they were dirty, and could he please wear his dinosaur 'jamas instead, he agreed. A couple minutes later I found him rifling through Lucy's pajama drawer, throwing things everywhere. And I said, "Ed, what on EARTH are you doing?"

Through his little tears he sobbed, "A dinosaur 'jamas instead!!"
He was looking for them.

And he LOVES to say who he is. Now that he's figured out that HE'S Eddie, and nobody else is. "I'm Eddie!" all day.

He also came up to me one morning, fully clothed, and said "A take off a shirt. A be nay-kay. A take off a biaper. I'm a naked data." I don't really know what that was all about.

I got my Winona Currents alumni magazine in the mail yesterday and there was an article on A Prairie Home Companion's broadcast from Winona State this February. Featured in the article is Kathryn Hauser Slusher, whose name and very-fuzzy-and-barely-visible profile I recognized from my days at WSU. When I read she'd been a dance minor, I realized I DID remember her -- she was in Dreamscape, the spring-of-1995 modern-dance show that I was cruelly coerced into doing... that I did not enjoy at all... that included Chris Badger rolling around on the floor with a 15-foot tree root to the song of the humpback whales... that drove a knife into my burgeoning love of dance and theatre.

Anyway, Ms. Slusher was in that show. I found her picture in my scrapbook this afternoon, along with the program with our names in it. I only barely remember her. But in this article, she spoke of WSU in glowing terms.

Note that this gal has something akin to my dream job: working at APHC.

And it occurred to me that I've spent lots of brainpower recently maligning Winona State, or at least my experience there. I received a degree in a field I don't care ever to work in again, and I have a good friend and former classmate who had to learn the hard way that WSU wasn't prestigious enough to get him into the grad school of his choice. I spent way too much time having fun and way too little time appreciating the education I was receiving, at the price I was receiving it.

I felt mostly unmentored and uncounseled there. I have a passion for helping people, for teaching, for service... but I didn't discover any of those things until long after I graduated... after it was too late to take advantage of the scholarships I'd been receiving, and get a degree in a field in which I have true interest.

I have felt that some of my time there was wasted remaining uninvolved in theatre, in part because Winona is not a hotbed of musical theatre performance. Or at least I didn't seek it out. I regret missing out on some of my potential and I have been blaming, in part, Winona State.

But I read Kathryn Slusher's words, and I realized how ungrateful I'd been. I've long heard that it's not what happens to you in life, but how you react to it, that makes the difference. I understood the concept but just wasn't really applying it to myself. Well, I get it now. I was sort of feeling... well, "victimized" is WAY too strong a word, but I was feeling somehow wronged by my choice of college.

Now obviously that is ridiculous. I met Joel at Winona, as well as some of my very best friends in the entire universe. I DID get a degree, and while I don't care if I ever work in that field again, and while YES it makes me a little wistful when I realize I'm never going to be a paleontologist or a doctor or a licensed teacher or a Broadway dancer or a large-animal veterinarian or even a college professor... I can indeed choose to embrace the positives. The very big, weighty positives which make up my life right now -- not the least of which is this little life that Joel and Lu and Ned and I carve out daily.

The lead article in today's Pioneer Press Daily Life section is about "feeling slighted" and I feel that here is one thing I can do to make the world a more peaceful place.

I can choose how I feel and how I react.

I can sulk, or I can decide sulking is a waste of time.

I can allow things to offend me, or I can let it roll off my back. Better yet, I can try to figure out what was meant by the "offender" because most likely it had very little to do with me.

I can wallow in self-pity or I can forge my own path.

So that's that! Oh, the title of this post is the first line of "Stranger to the Rain," a beautiful song from Children of Eden by Stephen Schwartz. That song came to me in a couple weird ways last week, and I felt it was trying to tell me something. It's about not crumbling in the face of adversity.

In other news, the Hastings HS gig is going great -- except in true Meg form, I may have made the dances a *teeny* bit too complicated. I'm going to have to go back next week, which means securing a nanny for a couple hours on a couple mornings. *Shrug* Calling Grampa Books...

I acquired some plants at the ECFE plant sale last Friday. I know, I KNOW, I hate plants! I hate how they don't cry when they are hungry! I hate how they die just to spite me! But there were a couple "leftovers" after the pre-orders were filled: orphans in need of some love. I took 'em home with me. A couple coleus, some impatiens, some tomatoes and basil, and some "walking green onions." And something white I can't pronounce or spell. I don't have real pots to put them in, and I know I can't put them in the ground until Thursday and even then I might hesitate because it's only like 40 degrees out right now! And, like, I have sooooo much free time to spend repotting plants. Arrrgh, what was I thinking?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Introducing Ms. Sportiquette

I'm not *quite* ready to do this (though it's been in the pipeline for almost a year!), but I seriously can't wait another minute.

I've been hearing lots of sad news lately. I've been following lots of very sad stories, very eloquently told: miscarriages, sick babies, sick parents, untimely death, loss, and suffering.

It gets overwhelming. I've spent time weeping in front of my computer recently. And there's a time for that.

But I also believe there is a time for laughter and levity. And without taking anything away from the struggles of these families, I want to offer a place for some fun. Now, I don't know about all of you, but I equate "fun" with sports and games and athletic events and activity and fitness.

So... have you been in attendance at an athletic event, and questioned any of the protocol and/or proceedings? Do you play sports and have a pet peeve about others' behavior? Do you wonder what's with rally-scoring in volleyball? How female gymnasts keep from getting wedgies? Do you have an opinion about football pants?

Ask Ms. Sportiquette!

Your place to ask any and all sports-related questions. Email 'em in, or call me if you can dig up my number. No new questions = no new posts! Don't be shy!

Mr. Ryan Goes To Washington

I knew I'd forget something.

My uncle Jim (my dad's brother) is biking from Chicago to Washington, D.C. all by his lonesome (well, my dad and uncle Dan are keeping him company but not biking). Jim is raising money forthe tuition assistance program at his parish school, St. Robert Bellarmine. Follow his progress here  at

Horse heaven

I got a call on Friday morning from the choral director at Hastings High School -- it's a choreographic emergency!! The HHS choral program has, apparently, 600(!) kids... and a show in less than 4 weeks. So I spent much of my weekend inventing dances to six different choral medleys.

Jean and I went on a 4-mile run together on Saturday and I rollerbladed with her for a 12-miler on Sunday. Over the course of the weekend, we also caught two shows (Seussical at St. Jude's and Footloose at Hill Murray), tried out the new Jimmy Lee indoor water park in St Paul (I can still do a forward 1.5, and a back flip, off the diving board! I've regained my youth!), watched the Derby (and fielded dozens of questions from Lucy about poor Eight Belles), went to church, went to the Petersons' for lunch, prepped for a dance class that didn't end up happening, and made a flurry of phone calls lining up babysitters for the next couple weeks. Whew!

I've got to get Lucy to dance class -- she and Eddie are playing some weird pretend game in their room right now, and all I can hear are very insistent choruses of "Mommy!" to which I (of course) reply "What?" before getting back "No -- COW Mommy!" I guess I'm not expected to answer to that.

Then a few moments later I hear "My daddy is DEAD." Time to go talk about the horses again, I think.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Beautiful to banal in 2.2 seconds

If you ever need reassurance that maybe this world isn't such a bad place after all -- and who couldn't use such reassurance? -- I highly recommend holding a crying baby in your arms and soothing it to sleep.

I had the honor of doing that twice today (and it's just barely 2pm!) -- first to a beautiful almost-5-month-old named Rosemary (at ECFE), and just now to my own baby Ed.

Watching the peace and beauty of a little person surrendering to a much-needed nap -- it's a very powerful thing. Being able to take the time to be a part of that experience -- that's a very humbling blessing.

Lucy was eating breakfast this morning, and mentioned some little boy she saw yesterday.

"He can burp his ABC's," she reported, "and that's adorable."