Monday, June 20, 2011

breaking the social media news

When do you break big news over social media?

This has been something I've thought about for awhile. I'm not one of those attention-hungry people who post sicknesses or grievances on Facebook. I don't use it as a political or spiritual platform. I don't post much personal business on there. I keep it fairly benign. I keep my private life, for the most part, private. Even since I've started this blog, I've become even more private about what is posted on the internet about me and about my friends.

As ironic as it may sound, I've never been a big newsy "guess what" person. I think I've been overly cautious about being perceived as a braggart or self-absorbed person. Even when I won awards, I didn't necessarily run around telling everyone. Instead, I generally only told a select few that I knew would be genuinely happy.

But I have big news. Dave and I are expecting the sequel baby around, ironically, Labor Day. We've told our bosses. My coworkers found out at happy hour when I wasn't drinking. We've told our families. They found out in mother's day cards. We've told the close friends that we routinely associate with. Well, Dave mostly took care of that.

But we haven't broken the news to friends, family, and acquaintances on the social media circuit. How do you even do that? Throw out a small comment and see how many people "Like" it? Do we wait until the sequel baby arrives and then post pictures and let everyone wonder? Give a few people the heads-up so no one gets miffed they didn't get a personal update? Think about a creative status update that reveals the big news? Post a random blog entry like this one?

Cutting back

I admit it. I'm a chronic joiner. Always have been. Look at my resume' from high school to college to afterward, and you can see that I've joined a variety of organizations. Since I went to school in rural areas, clubs gave me the an outlet to travel, compete, and see places. It helped me earn scholarships. It padded my early resume' with honors and awards, and it kept me out of trouble. I don't regret it.

I didn't enjoy my first two years of college because I wasn't involved. I worked. I studied. And, I got another job and worked more. I thought college was supposed to be more exciting than as I researched other colleges to transfer, I also tried out the campus television station. The baptist student union. A sorority. The debate team. And by my junior year, I started enjoying college as I added more clubs and organizations to the list. I got to know people at my small campus fairly quickly and I threw my transfer papers in the trash.

I followed the same pattern in my adult life. I get interested in a club. I join. I'm dependable, responsible, and helpful by nature so I generally wind up in a leadership position in three years or less. Then, I get overbooked. Stressed. Getting out of bed too early on a Saturday morning and wondering why in the heck I'm doing this.

Every so often, I'd realize I wasn't living my life. My life was living me.

As my family changes and expands, I've realized this can't go on. Something has got to go. So, I've cut back my extracurricular activities dramatically. I've given up board positions. I've cut back on volunteering. I've carefully examined what I get out of clubs and what I don't. I've made new rules about my involvement....such as aside from religious organizations, I refuse to join an organization with a weekly commitment. I look for flexibility and the benefit of networking. Does something cause me stress? Do I really enjoy being with everyone here? Aside from one organization that where I'm fulfilling a leadership obligation, I've culled back my involvement to it's lowest point that it's been since about the fourth grade.

And, as life has slowed down and I sometimes have weekends with zero commitments and instead projects I can complete and days I can spend at the park or cook my family dinner, I've loved the transition. Who knew?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sweet Surprise for Dessert

While writing about our adventure up North, it's impossible not to write about the food. There's a reason why food is missing from the other blogs.

Because it was basically terrible.

Either I got some rotten recommendations or people just don't know what good food is. Dave and I mapped out our route and our plans and we decided to stick to the classic restaurants the North Shore is known for.

In Grand Marais, we shunned popular destination (and bumper sticker generator) Sven & Ole's for the Blue Water Grill. Big mistake. Sven & Ole's is a destination sort of place that serves up interesting pizza. Well, no one in our group was really in the mood for pizza. So, we went to the Blue Water Grill. Not that great of an experience. Scant portions and substandard diner fare all the way around. The only bright spot was my Aunt's Walleye sandwich which was as big as her plate....which reinforces the rule to always eat what the place is known for. After all, that's the area where they excel.

We stopped and ate at Betty's Pies, which is right on 61 and a local legend for pies and pasties. A pastie is like a turnover or meat pie stuffed full of beef or chicken with a carrot, rutabaga, onion, and potato mixture baked inside. It was bland to say the least. My broasted chicken wasn't bad, but it's not what I would've expected--broiled and roasted. Instead, it was fried, served with fake mashed potatoes, but a decent biscuit.

But stick to what one is known for, and in a place like Betty's Pies, one must try the pie.

We did. Four different pieces at our table and they were all good. We tried strawberry-rhubarb, coconut, banana cream, and blueberry. Yum.

But the sweetest surprise came from something we didn't even order. Since we were back in a porch area by ourselves, we let Jack roam around the dining room. At one point, he started walking. He would take 3-4 steps on his own without holding onto an adult's hand. Of course, this got us very excited.

In the future, we might stop again at Betty's Pies and skip the meal, but stop for a piece of pie and to remember when our toddler finally started toddling.

North Shore Flavor

When you venture out of the metro area, you truly start to experience Minnesota. I firmly believe there are rednecks and country folk just about everywhere, and this state is no exception. Most everyone we encountered was very friendly and helpful.

We stopped at a Scandinavian shop that was full of interesting arts and crafts. Thanks to my lovely Swedish and Norwegian friends, I can tell a Dalla horse from a julebakka...but maybe not a tomte from a nissa.

There are also several smoked fish and cheese stores along the trek North. Dave and I brought some some yummy smoked havarti cheese and Dave grabbed some smoked trout that I think his parents would like too.

Grand Marais is full of cute shops. We stopped in several small stores, but I think everyone's favorite was either the old fashioned Ben Frankin's or the World's Best Donut Shop, which did have some fantastic fresh donuts. There was a line continually outside of their door. While we were in Grand Marais, the lake was lapping up on the beach just like the ocean would have. A thick fog kept us from seeing that far away from shore. I found it ironic that my Aunt, who counts collecting seashells on the beach as one of her favorite vacation hobbies, collected smooth, interesting stones from the shores of the Lake. This is agate country, but we didn't find any--at least that we could tell.

Of course, Canal Park in Duluth is a destination for browsing too. Several antique stores, shops, and fish & cheese stores are spread out in a small area near the bridge. There weren't that many people around this weekend, so we got to look around minus the crowds. I asked one clerk when the place got really busy and he told me, "When summer begins. You know, at the end of July."

The Trip North

When you drive out of 90 degree heat, it's hard to fathom you'll be shivering in just a few hours. I contemplated this as I packed my bags to go to the North Shore over Memorial Day weekend. I stuck in a sweater, but only after going back and forth on whether I *really* needed that sweater.

I did.My family came to visit over Memorial Day weekend and we headed to the North Shore for a site-seeing trip. The weather left much to be desired. Most of our views of Lake Superior were shrouded in fog and sometimes rain. We drove up to Duluth and stayed in a place called the Inn on Gitchee Gumee, which means "big lake." The place was full of Big Woods kitsch, with birch bark beds and North Woods decor. The innkeepers were charming and made us breakfast one morning. While the first night was rather cramped because of space (all 7 of us in one small cabin) I am proud to say we all made the best of it and took it in stride.

The area is truly beautiful. State Parks dot scenic Hwy 61 all the way to Canada. Since the weather was crummy, we wound up staying in the car more than we would've liked....and we wound up driving all the way to the Canadian border. My grandparents are the rest-stopping-est people I know, so we stopped at Visitor Centers and Rest Stops along the way. When we got to the Visitor Center at the border, the clouds parted and the sun shone. Two bald eagles flew across the river overlook and landed in a big tree to just chirp at each other. It was a nice moment.

Besides taking in the foggy scenery, we stopped at shops along the way and went on a lake cruise to see the Duluth Harbor and Lake Superior. Jack was very well behaved, despite the long time we spent in the car. The one time we ventured out to check out a lighthouse, by the time Dave and I had Jack bundled up.... the rest of the crew was climbing back into the car, declaring it too cold and windy to be outside. That's what happens when you expose Arkansans to a cold, wet 40-degrees and windy kind of day.

I didn't bat an eye when I learned they'd also packed an electric blanket for the trip.