Jul/Aug
2013

Watch Your Step!

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Written by Amy Brase

watch-your-step

We have ruined our oldest daughter for hiking forevermore. What began as a fun family adventure culminated in an angst-filled memory.

It was a gorgeous fall day, and we were doing the Minnesota thing by heading “Up North” to inhale the essence of Lake Superior just north of Duluth at Gooseberry Falls State Park.

The park is a treasure trove of meandering trails, bluffs and easy-access waterfalls. Hike five minutes and BOOM—a stunning waterfall. Hike five more and BAM—another one! As predicted, the kids were magnetically drawn to nature. We were like a family on the front of travel brochures. Someone should have been taking pictures of our natural ease in the wilderness.

 

May/Jun
2013

The Paint Shirt Legacy

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Written by Marlene Petersen

the-paint-shirt-legacy

Anyone who’s ever taken on do-it-yourself projects has one. No one talks about it. No one ever sees it except the dog… and household family members if it can’t be helped. Mine sits in a shadowy corner of my house 314.2 days of the year hidden behind things I treasure in order to keep anyone from discovering it. It only emerges for messy projects—deck cleaning, drywalling and painting. Yes, it’s the paint shirt.

My mother had one too. It was a short-sleeved, pigment-smeared, faded blue T-shirt I saw nearly every Saturday of my childhood because we were on a single-mom shoestring budget and there was never money to hire anything done (or even buy a new paint shirt). So, lawn mowing, out it came. Leaky faucet, it was there. Ritual weekend cleaning, the shirt was on the job.

 

Mar/Apr
2013

Before Bentley

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Written by Amy Brase

before-bentleyDear Grown-Up Children,

Today I bought chicken liver treats with the intention of carrying them in my pocket. This belongs on the list of “Things I’d Never, Ever Do,” as well as “Epic Examples of My Love for You.”

I suppose it’s only natural for kids to long for a puppy. But I, myself, just wasn’t a dog person. Unfortunately for you, I also had no desire for a cat, bird, lizard or rodent. Our short stint with two aquatic frogs (who never left the water and cleaned their own tank) was about as far as I could stretch.

Lest you think of your mama as heartless, I've been a human person from the time you were poppy seeds with beating hearts. I’ve just preferred our yard free of poop, my clothes free of slobber and our budget free of vet services.

 

Jan/Feb
2013

Take It From Me

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Written by Amy Brase

take-it-from-me

It’s confession time. For years, I’ve fantasized about having my own advice column. What a thrill it would be to receive angst-filled letters from loyal readers and then wave a magic wand of wisdom over their predicaments.

It’s not that I think I have magical wisdom. If true, my own life would be considerably less messy! But I do believe in the power of words, especially when they are from complete strangers. I could be that stranger!

I’d need a catchy pen name to establish credibility. “Dear Amy” is sort of dull and already taken. It’s also hardly anonymous. With a pseudonym, my personality could be the sweet grandma next door with timeless teachings. Or the witty girlfriend down the street with hilarious one-liners. I could even be the edgy, straightforward chic with a no-nonsense style.

 

Nov/Dec
2012

Furry Friend Fanatic

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Written by Amy Brase

furry-friend-fanaticThere's a room in our house I don't want you to know about.

It started out as a smallish dilemma. Then it became a slippery slope sort of problem. By the time the holidays are over, I expect it to be a full-blown issue. We may need an intervention.

There's an enthusiast in the family, and she's in denial. She's five, and she's a hoarder.

"Oh, that's so normal for little ones!" you all say as you settle onto your couch without having to remove seventeen furry friends first.

"It's sweet!" you add as you reminisce about your one, two or three special childhood lovies.

 

Sep/Oct
2012

Coming of Age

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Written by Amy Brase

Junk mail rarely catches my eye, but this ditty did the trick. With vibrant colors, sassy doodles and an attached sample, this tri-fold ad was clearly targeted to mothers of Tweens, courtesy of Kotex. (Is it just me or do certain words transport you back to junior high and make you want to cry a little?)

While I was envisioning a year of cupcakes, Shrinky Dinks and sparkly nail polish with our almost 11-year-old, marketers were homing in.

Here's what the ad said: "Girls are getting their periods younger than ever. Some girls get their periods as young as 8."

The poor babes! From Play-Doh to pads. "Don't procrastinate! Pick your day now for 'the talk,' and put it on your calendar so you stick to it!"

I had beautiful intentions of being candid and sharing age-appropriate wisdom. It would be naturally woven over time. No awkwardness. Just warm fuzzies of closeness.

That’s how it was supposed to go.

 

May/Jun
2012

Because I Said So! Love, Mommy

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Written by Amy Brase

0049A profound revelation washed over me in a sketchy public restroom stall.

    As I painstakingly teetered over my little one to wipe her tush, she peered up with a smile to boast, “Mommy! I did it! I went potty without touching anything!”

    Indeed, she had kept her hands to herself, her legs on the dry part of the seat, and her skirt off the floor. It was an incredibly proud moment.

    That’s when it occurred to me: this is what my child thinks is important to me—that she remain as sanitized as possible when approaching a precarious toilet. Is that really the message I want to embed in her precious little heart? Well, maybe. But, there’s so much more.

 

Mar/Apr
2012

The Age of Hereafter - A case of mistaken identity

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Written by Laurie Helmers

0044I was a woman on a mission again. I’m always trying to do too many things in too short a time, but as a self-proclaimed champion multi-tasker, I’m usually successful. So as I raced my cart toward the busy checkout lanes, I scanned for the shortest line. There it was—only one couple paying and no one waiting.

    I slid into line and exchanged a quick glance of acknowledgment with the woman in front of me. Seconds later, we caught each other in another glance. Then the man glanced at me. If we’d all had cartoon word bubbles above our heads, they’d have had captions like: “I think I know you, but I’m not sure, and I’m too embarrassed to start a conversation in case I’m wrong.”

 

Jan/Feb
2012

Fantasies of Self-Reform

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Written by Amy Brase

0003Never again will I approach a grocery store without a meal plan. No more aimless filling of the cart! In fact, there’s a smartphone app that’s going to compose my grocery list and transform our family dinners. At least, that’s what my friend Heather says. She’s using it so I’m going to try it, too.

 

Jan/Feb
2011

Freddie the basset hound and the Mysterious Itch

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Written by Marlene Petersen

0003My basset hound, Freddie, is one of the gentlest, best-tempered dogs you’ll ever meet. He has only two annoying traits: his love of rolling in anything smelly and his uncanny ability to turn something harmless, like the aforementioned roll, into a vet bill that would make Donald Trump choke.

    This spring, one such odiferous tumble in the woods produced one of his highest vet bills yet, entangling us in something far more unpleasant and expensive than just rancid odors.

 

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