Junction of Function: Shoe Tying & Writing Made Easy

Last month, Miss E attended a Learn to Tie class at Nordstrom. She’s been wanting to learn how to tie her for awhile and I admit that my patience level with this experience was not going well. The 30 minute long class had her mostly confident in tying her shoes and life in that department has been going quite smoothly since. {I wrote about the experience and class over on Star Tribune!}

Shoe tying is one of those skills that once kids get it, they get it but the process to get them to “get it” can be quite challenging. As adults, we move so quickly and have been doing it so long that it’s often difficult to slow down and realize and explain the step by step process of shoe tying to kids.

Junction of Function, Inc developed a Shoe Tying Made Simple program available for both individuals and schools/childcare programs to master the skill The 18 inch “shoes” with giant bi-colored laces really help a child to grasp the concept and are available for $11.99 a piece.

In addition to the shoes, they offer other training tools like a CD with a shoe tying song, extra laces and a step by step book.

Junction of Function, Inc also has a program called Writing Made Simple especially good for pre-K and kindergarten students. I am really excited about this to continue to work on letters with E before she heads to kindergarten in the fall. The program focuses on the importance of writing letters properly and uses fun character kids to play games and also work on direction and formation.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed are mine.

Top Six Seattle

UntitledSo J and I went to Seattle, two weeks ago now, but feels like months ago. How can that be?

We LOVED it. It was the perfect amount of time, not too long, not too short and we had the best time. We did everything we wanted to do, walked a ton and ate and drank all the best things. Went to the best restaurants, enjoyed local Seattle fare and just really made the most of our time. It was great and I can’t wait to go back.

Here’s our top 6:

1. Coffee:

Where J loves all things quaint, independent coffee shop, I prefer me some Starbucks, so needless to say visiting the very first store in Pike Place Market was a highlight.


2. Speaking of Pike Place, this is a must see and do.


Go early, go often, eat everything and then do it again. Go for the fish throwing, the samples, J loved the Clam Chowder and I had more than my share of freshly baked chocolate croissants.

Also, Beechers Cheese? The best fresh cheese curds I’ve ever tasted. They squeak.

3. Use public transportation.
So a lot of people told us that we should rent a car but after reading about Seattle and the different methods of transportation AND the crazy traffic we decided not to. I AM SO GLAD!

Our hotel offered a shuttle to most main attractions and aside from that we really loved exploring the city. And I estimate that we saved HUNDREDS of dollars on a rental, gas, parking and HOURS of frustration with parking and traffic.

So after we arrived in Seattle we took the Light Rail to Seattle Center and then took a cab to our hotel. Estimated drive time: 1 hour. Actual time on public transit: 1 hour. Cost: $15!

We took the Light Rail a couple times, a cab when we needed to and walked a lot! I never felt as though we couldn’t do anything due to transportation because we just figured it out. I LOVE this part of visiting new cities!

4. Take a Ferry ride to Bainbridge Island:

I knew this was a for sure thing on my list of things I wanted to do in Seattle but it took a little convincing for J but once we went he loved it. The weather while we were there was simply perfect and being on the Puget Sound with the sun shining and a breeze was absolutely perfect. Bainbridge Island was a small, cute little town full of cafes, shops and real estate offices {?!?} but we made the most of it, had one of our favorite meals while there and just meandered.

5. Catch a Mariners Game:
On our flight to Seattle, we heard that the Twins were playing the Mariners while we were in town, so we hopped online Thursday morning and bought tickets just 17 rows away from the field. It was so fun to be there to cheer on our home team and see another stadium and field.
6. Don’t forget the Seattle attractions

You can’t go to Seattle and not visit all the attractions in Seattle including the gum wall, the Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation.


Have you been to Seattle? What’s your favorite or must do and see activities?

Glamorama 2014 in Minneapolis

Glamorama is coming!


Macy’s Glamorama is an hour-long high-end fashion show and musical production that not only unveils the latest fashions from the hottest designers, but also showcases heart-stopping dance, lush visuals, staging as well as incredible musical performances by chart-topping artists. Returning again to the State Theatre, this year’s theme is “Fashion Rocks.” Past musical performers have included Sheryl Crow, Bruno Mars, Far East Movement, Robin Thicke, Karmin and more.

This year’s performer? Jason Derulo.

The evening concludes with an over-the-top after-party at Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis.

The event will once again benefit Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF). For more information on CCRF, please visit www.ChildrensCancer.org.

Tickets are available for purchase now and start at $185 for both the fashion show and the after party. Tickets are available for just the fashion show for $75. You can buy tickets here.

I was honored to receive an invitation to Glamorama again from Macy’s and since I’ll be out of town the night of the event, my friend Kim has graciously agreed to cover so there will be a full recap with pics afterwards!

Post Alpha Bits Little Free Library in St. Michael!

I’m VERY excited to finally announce that a Post Alpha Bits Little Free Library has been installed in my community.
For local St. Michael friends, the Little Free Library is located at the Rec Center right off Lincoln Drive.

And oh, is she a beauty.

Alpha Bits sponsored 30 Little Free Libraries to go up throughout the country this past spring and early summer, other Minnesota Little Free Libraries they sponsored are located in Zimmerman, Lakeville, Robbinsdale and St. Paul. They contacted various bloggers and other influential community members to help facilitate the process. I am honored to have been included.

Once I received our Little Free Library, I dropped it off at St. Michael City Hall so they could ask the STMA Rotary about including this one when they do annual maintenance, they graciously agreed.

Students at St. Michael-Albertville High School painted and weather proofed the library and the city facilitated installation.

It was truly a community labor of love.
I LOVE it and am so excited about a new place, within walking and biking distance, to grab a book or even donate some oldies, but goodies we no longer need at home.

If you are local, will you please visit the new Little Free Library in town? If you do, will you please take a picture and share it on Facebook with #alphabitsstmichael and/or tag me?

Do you have a Little Free Library in your community?

On Seattle and Marriage

J and I returned from FIVE glorious days in Seattle on Sunday night. {More details from our trip in another post to come!} The last time we had been away for any amount of time was three years ago when I surprised J with a weeklong cruise and my cousin generously gave up her week and stayed with H and E. Since then a night here or there and plenty of date nights but no real “time” spent away.


We’ve always loved Seattle. Like talked about it before we were even engaged as a place we’d like to visit. Around Christmastime we talked about our upcoming 10 year anniversary and looked at flights in the $800 range and thought perhaps we’d have to spend our 10 year elsewhere. On a fluke, in March, I found tickets for less than half of that and in less than a days time figured out childcare {thanks to my younger sister} and booked the tickets with freelance money I’d been stashing aside for such a time as this.

We celebrated 10 years in April and I’ve said before it’s been no small feat. When I look back upon the last ten years I think a lot of what we have been doing is foundational, building, starting.

A few days before we left for Seattle I was listening to a DJ on the radio talk about marriage as the “final step” and I chuckled as we arrived wherever we were going thinking, marriage has been anything but the end.

Sure, marriage is when you move beyond the dating scene, where there are no more awkward first dates or clumsy realizations, where things get real. And along that vein marriage is where things get real.

And marriage is work.

Real, true, hard work of clarifying expectations and communication and the hard truths and realizations about oneself. I’m terrible at letting things go and though I pride myself on communication I can hold a fierce grudge towards J because he did not read my mind and know that I wanted to have dinner at that restaurant instead of this one or that I really needed him to take over the kids so I can go to the coffee shop and work. We’ve five kids juggling in position for our attention every. single. day.

And somedays we are good and fair and balanced, still other days we aren’t and we’ll be exhausted and worn down by said children and take it out on each other instead of realizing the reality of the moment.

Marriage was not an end in our relationship but a beginning.

It’s when we began the messy, beautiful, crazy life we have. We added three more babes to our family. We’ve left jobs and started new ones and juggled different schedules and celebrated and mourned. The last ten years were wonderful, full of laughter and joy but there were sad days and hard moments and grief. There was conflict and months that sometimes felt like years. It wasn’t perfect because we’re certainly not perfect. We’re flawed and selfish and stubborn. The last ten were great but greater is coming.

If April 17, 2004 was meant to be the end, I wouldn’t even know how to describe the last ten years but because I think of that date as the beginning, I consider the last ten the years of building and creating, as foundational as they were long. The last ten years were not the end but just the start. The best, I believe, is yet to come.

Budsies Turns Art into Stuffed Animals

We have a surplus of art around here and as any parent of many children knows, you just can’t save it all. We try to weed through the artwork from time to time and even gift some to friends and family but yet I know we’ve lost or misplaced or even tossed some sadly.

Budsies has a great solution for special artwork that you want to bring to life and I love this idea for birthdays and holidays and gifts of any sort.

You submit your child’s artwork via text message or email and a stuffed animal is custom made to match the artwork.

Miss E, our resident artist, just had to try it. She drew a colorful butterfly.
We submitted it to Budsies and just a few weeks later we received this:

She LOVES it! So, so fun to have her artwork truly come to life. The material is soft and fluffy and most of all Miss E is so proud and excited that her artwork was made into a treasure to keep forever.
The company was created when Alex, the owner, realized his younger sister’s artwork was getting lost, tossed or even discolored. He made his sister some stuffed animals and soon all of the neighbors were asking for one too.

Budsies are available for $69 each and right now you can save $5 with my link.

Do you have a child who would love a Budsie? What kind of artwork do you want to transform into a treasure?

Disclosure: I received a Budsie for review purposes and affiliate links are used above.

Win a Private Building Session with Master Model Builder at Legoland Discovery Center-Chicago

LEGOLAND Discovery Center’s Master Model Builder, David Howard, is searching for a building partner!

What would you recreate in LEGO bricks? If you could choose anything in the world, what would it be? Enter your idea in our contest for a chance to build it with our Master Model Builder!

How to Enter:

  1. Make a sign that says “#Iwanttobuild”
  2. Hold the sign while taking a photo next to whatever it is you would like to build 
  3. Post your picture to our Facebook wall to enter the contest!  www.facebook.com/ldcchicago

lego2 legoTen finalists will be selected at random. From those ten, David will select his favorite as the final winner. The winner will be contacted via Facebook private message and receive a private building session with LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago’s Master Model Builder!

Entries accepted until August 29th

Terms and Conditions Apply: Please note submitted images will be reposted on branded social media channels and website for the purpose of the competition only. Entries submitted after the competition closing date will not be included. Entrants must be age 12 or under on August 31st 2014. The winning model may require adaptation due to LEGO brick availability. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago reserves the right to amend competition terms and conditions at any time.

What is it you and your kids want to build?


On Nisswa Turtle Races, Traditions and Good Friends.

Three years ago now a friend of mine and I were both reminiscing about going to the Nisswa turtle races as we grew up. And then we both realized that neither of our summer schedules were going to have us in Nisswa on a Wednesday for the turtle races. {Races happen each Wednesday through August 10 in Nisswa. Registration starts at 1 p.m. and Races start at 2 p.m. just in case you want to go!}

So we did what some call crazy, we call fun and we decided we’d load up our kids one Wednesday morning, drive up to Brainerd and make a day of it.
Now that we’ve done it three years in a row, we’re calling it a tradition.

We love the Nisswa Turtle Races and yes we know that the actual race lasts about 4.5 seconds and it’s over but it’s more of the experience. While our kids are mostly entertained by each other and whatever electronics we can load in the van, we spend the 2 plus hour drive catching up on life, swapping stories and laughing. We’ve packed our lunch each year and while the first two years we enjoyed lunch at the Paul Bunyan rest area, this year we got smart and just went to the nearby park in downtown Nisswa and once the kids were done eating, they played.
UntitledWe get our turtle numbers and let the kids explore Babe the Blue Ox and the old train in town.
We race and like I said, it takes all of 4.5 seconds and then it’s over.
So we head on over to The Chocolate Ox and enjoy oversized ice-cream cones that melt quicker than we could possibly eat them.

When all is said and done we are probably in the Brainerd/Nisswa area 4 hours or so but it is worth it. The kids have fun and have been friends most of their lives, us moms have fun and tag team the negotiations and the ice cream and the turtle wrangling. And when all is said and done we end the day grateful for fun memories and time together and look forward to doing it all over again next year.

Remembering Nan’s Battle- August 16, 2014

This August will mark 7 years that our family and many friends and extended family members have joined us to walk and run to remember my mom at the A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation 5K. This is my annual plea and invitation to join us.

I get that these days it’s not unusual to be invited to various 5K’s and fundraising events every single weekend. I get that there are so many dollars to donate. And I get that everyone’s weekends are precious.

But this cause is near and dear to my heart because it is the very disease that took my mom SEVEN years ago.


Did you know- Lung cancer claims more lives each year than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined, yet lung cancer receives disproportionately less government funding per cancer death than other types of cancer? This means private fundraising is even more important to researching and finding a treatment and cure to lung cancer.

Please consider joining us on Saturday, August 16 at Lake Harriet. The lake is beautiful and we’ve managed good weather every year. There are always lots of fun and special things for kids to be included too.

If you are interested, please join our team Remembering Nan’s Battle as we walk or run to remember my mom, Nanette Tilkens.

Adults are $35, Kids are $15 and children under $5 are free.

You can register today right here.

Parent/Baby Class at My Gym Eden Prairie {Huggies Giveaway!}

I’m excited to invite my readers to a special event sponsored by Huggies Little Movers and hosted by My Gym Eden Prairie with a class taught by Fitness Celebrity Nicole Glor. Miss F and I will be at one of the classes {hopefully 11 a.m.} and we’d love to see you there.

Here’s the rundown-

What: Join Huggies® Little Movers, My Gym and Nicole Glor of NikkiFitness, a leading fitness movement expert, to get both baby and you moving! You’ll be one of the first to try out the NEW! Huggies Little Movers with your little one as they jump and turn, flip and roll while staying comfy and dry.

When: Thursday, July 17th

Where: My Gym Eden Prairie on 6545 Flying Cloud Drive, just off Highway 212 and Shady Oak Road

Details: Make sure you and baby come ready to get moving with Nicole’s 10 Signature Baby Movements. These movements will provide parents with a full body work out and fun ways to build baby’s strength and get moving too!Huggies Little Movers Class Takeover

Nicole GlorHow: Register for your desired class by emailing mygymedenprairie@gmail.com one of the time slots below. Classes are limited so hurry before they fill up!  9-9:50am | 10-10:50am | 11-11:50am | 12-12:50pm

After the event you can upload pictures to Huggies.com/moments and each entry will receive a $2 Huggies coupon and also the chance to be featured on Huggies Facebook page.
Huggies wants to give one of my readers a ONE month supply of Huggies Little Movers diapers! {Seriously, how exciting is that!?!} Little Movers come in sizes 3-6 and the winner will be able to select their size needed once selected. You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway right here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway