How Should We Respond to Facebook “Friends”?

Image credit: DigitalTrends

Image credit: DigitalTrends

Something weird happened recently. Well, maybe it wasn’t weird. Maybe it was serendipitous. I’m talking about my Facebook feed. Social media­–­that nebulous electronic siren that pulls our attention toward all manner of idiocy and information like perpetual exploding impulses of light flashing in front of our eyes­–so central to contemporary life that its effects deserve some critical thinking. At least, that’s what I’ve attempted to do following a recent encounter with digital serendipity. Think.

What happened?

Nothing that probably hasn’t happened to you before. But for me, this tiny (or huge, depending on how you look at it) event spurred me toward analysis of my own behavior.

It was during my morning routine. After brewing coffee and packing lunches, I sat down in my corner chair, flicked on a lamp, covered my feet with a blanket, got up to find my reading glasses, sat back down again, sipped my coffee and began to read the daily news on my phone. This is the time of day I scroll through social media much like I used to read the morning newspaper. I read news stories, blog posts and watch the occasional cat video. I also skim what’s happening with “friends”. But here’s the thing about Facebook friends. Facebook curates our news feeds. So we see posts from the same sources most of the time. You could have hundreds or even thousands of “friends” but only see posts from a small fraction of them on a regular basis.

Of course, I could always do a search on each friend’s name to discover what they had for dinner last night. But I don’t. You don’t. We simply scroll.

So I was scrolling. And for some reason, up pops a post from a woman I only know peripherally (like most Facebook friends). Her post announces that her young son has recently finished eight months of treatment for leukemia. The post went on to thank all those who’d been praying for their family, bringing meals and helping to schlep their older kids to activities. Her youngster will now embark on years of long-term maintenance that will include a regimen of medicines and therapies that don’t sound like a joyous childhood adventure.

First, I’m stunned. This woman’s child has been gravely ill for months and I had no idea. People are commenting on her recent post praising God for her son’s improved health. They knew. They’ve been praying, possibly bringing those meals she talked about or in some way helping this family.

I had the nerve to click a button and become “friends” with someone on Facebook only to discover that I know nothing of her daily life. I am not a friend. I am a voyeur. And now I know something. Something big. Do I have an obligation to respond?

I could have kept scrolling. Convince myself that it would be weird to comment on something that’s been going on for months and that I’m only now learning about.

But I couldn’t do that. A friend wouldn’t do that.

So I commented on her post. Admitted to not knowing and to feeling privileged that now, as a result of the digital gods and algorithms, I’m able to be a part of those praying for her son. I should probably make more of an effort to support this family beyond typing a few nice words and tossing up a momentary prayer. But will I? Would you?

This leads me to more thoughts about social media connections. A friend once commented that it seems so many more people are experiencing tragedies or health challenges. But then another friend responded that it likely only seems that way because of social media.

Think about it.

Our circles of “friends” are exponentially larger than the social circles our parents travelled in. People were once connected only to those in their neighborhood, church, kids’ sports team or social club. If you moved away, that was typically the end of your connections to certain groups of people except for maybe an annual Christmas card. You’d often never know what was going on behind the scenes with people you’d only met a couple of times at your kids’ preschool fundraiser.

But these days, we’re “friends” with all kinds of people all across the country. People we barely even know. And we get to know things about these people that we’d never have known without social media. Thus, we get the feeling that more people are dealing with tough life issues. Not necessarily because that’s true. But because we “know” more people!

This could be depressing to think that our electronically expanded social circles simply bring us a barrage of bad news. But flip it on its head and consider the blessings of Go Fund Me pages and Caring Bridge sites. Without our ability to connect to larger audiences, we’d have smaller pools of folks contributing to good causes and fewer people praying for miracles and less donated meals to families with a sick kid.

Yes. Our social circles are larger thanks to social media. We have more “friends” than ever before. But what is our responsibility to respond when social media alerts us to the hardships of these friends? I’m not sure I’ve figured that out. But I know for certain I’m not supposed to just scroll.


This Little Light of Mine

Photo by Sarah Dibbern

Photo by Sarah Dibbern

Day two of dreary dampness here on the tundra. Folks in my neck of the northern plains can’t really complain though since we’ve been dodging the cold and snow more typical of this time of year. And yet, a sadness looms. Hearts are heavy as grief tries to inch some folks closer to despair. The world fallen. Cruelty, anger and suspicision create a fog that can be difficult to see through.

At least this is how I feel at the moment. Sad for lives lost. Frustrated by injustice. Fearful for the future.

I do not like to feel this way. I search for joy. For hope. I hug my kiddos. And admittedly, I am more excited than ever, at least since I was a child, to prepare my heart and home for Christmas. Truly a season of hope. Seriously, what is taking Thanksgiving so long to get here? I’m ready to get this holiday season started!

I will not grumble about dragging the boxes of decorations from storage. I will not lament a crowded grocery store. I will bake cookies and wrap presents and shine a light in the darkness. I do have power to be a joy-bringer. I may not be able to end the cruelty of hardened hearts or eliminate injustice. But I can offer hope, comfort and kindness to those living near me on this little patch of earth.

I can write notes of encouragement.

I can visit the lonely.

I can prepare food for the hungry.

I can do that thing where I offer to pay for the take-out order of the guy behind me in the drive-through line.

I can be forgiving to family members who irritate me.

I can be gentle with my children.

I can stop wishing for things to be easy and pray for the strength to tackle what is difficult.

I can pray for peace.

I can speak truth in love.

I can write a blog post that says you are loved. Because you are.

I can sing songs to God because I’m reminded of something so profound in a section of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s terrific book, Pastrix, where she says, “Singing in the midst of evil is what it means to be disciples. Like Mary Magdalene, the reason we can stand and weep and listen for Jesus is because we, like Mary, are bearers of resurrection, we are made new. On the third day, Jesus rose again, and we do not need to be afraid. To sing to God amidst sorrow is to defiantly proclaim… that death is not the final word. To defiantly say, once again, that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it.

Photo by Sarah Dibbern

Photo by Sarah Dibbern

Be a light for someone today my friends.



Say No to “FOMO” Parenting

fomoRecently, I had the privilege of speaking to a local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. I guess they invited me because they assumed I’d have something inspiring to say since I was once a mother of preschoolers and have survived to tell the tales. I also initiated the launch of a local MOPS group approximately 10 years ago. There was a great need in our area for the type of nurturing support MOPS provides to mothers and their offspring, and that program continues to be attended by hoards of harried mamas each month. Praise the Lord.

So, what would I talk about with these young mothers whom I feared would look at me as if I could impart some great wisdom? Well, I attempted to talk about the universal mama burden of worry. I talked about how worry seems to begin in pregnancy when we fret about our blood pressure, glucose levels, prenatal vitamins, birth plans and getting registered for a car seat that ranks near the top of the Consumer’s Report.

How once the baby is born, we worry about its breathing, sleeping and eating. And then how worry can morph and grow like the blob oozing through a fictional town in a campy horror movie. We worry about crawling, walking, falling, screen time, vaccinations, bicycle helmets, bullies, environmental toxins, developmental milestones, swallowing quarters, swallowing Polly Pockets, swallowing Legos, toilet training, finding Legos in the toilet, homework, sports, piano lessons, voice lessons, swallowing beer, throwing up beer, ACT tests and college applications. This is only a basic list of typical mom worries but you catch my drift.

And what I’ve discovered over years of trying to manage my mental state when it comes to parental worry is that parents today have the added burden of abundant choices. Yes. Just as an immigrant mother once told me how she’d stood frozen in an aisle of canned tomatoes in an American grocery store unsure which to choose, so can American parents develop serious FOMO (fear of missing out) when considering all of the options we have for our children. Families are inundated with parenting options about everything from fitness to nutrition to education.

I think back to when I started kindergarten. It seems my mother simply found the school bus that came nearest our home and put me on board. I’m not sure she even knew exactly which school that bus took me to. But all of the other moms were doing the same thing, so I’m sure this gave her some confidence in making and sticking by her decision.

Contrast this simplification to today. In our hyper-competitive educational atmosphere, where parents seemed terrified that little Jane won’t get into the best college if she doesn’t attend the most dynamic and leadership-focused preschool, we have the added burden of choice. So many choices. Language immersion schools. Religious schools. Montessori schools. Classical education schools. Global learning schools. Play-based schools. Farm schools. And the worst part is that unlike when I was little, many parents seem to be doing something different. And they often want you to do what they’re doing because either they feel so strongly about their choice (bullies) or are secretly unsure of their choice and want you along to validate their decision (wimps).

Those who have a bit more sanity and who are less obsessed with making the “perfect” choices for their children in the arena of education may look around and wonder, “Is something wrong with me that I’m not freaking out over which school to send my 2-year-old to? Maybe I don’t love little Brenden as much as I should. I’m a terrible mother.” Then you flip through Instagram photos of moms who lost their baby weight in two weeks while you eat a box of SlimFast bars.

Now don’t get me wrong. Choice can be a good thing. I understand that not all square pegs will fit into one round hole of a single type of instructional method. But when we lack the community support provided by peers who are all pulling in the same direction, we can get caught up in second-guessing our decisions and this can make us miserable.

That’s why groups like MOPS are so important. We crave community. We crave reassurance and support. Now, of course not all the moms in whichever type of community group you choose are necessarily going to be making the same parenting decisions as you. But hopefully, you find a group of friends or mentors with whom you can talk through important parenting topics and gain a sense of confidence in your personal choices.

Like my international friend who was just looking for some canned tomatoes, maybe ask yourself if some of the decisions you’re afraid to make are truly going to ruin your sauce. Unlikely.

The things we worry about as mothers can be important but are rarely the most important. The most important thing is to raise moral and ethical children who love the Lord with all their hearts, minds and souls and who love their neighbors as themselves. When I was pregnant and really worried about the health of my unborn baby, my doc said something like, “You could have a perfectly healthy baby who grows up to steal twenty bucks out of your purse.” I think she was saying, there are no perfect children and no perfect parents.

If you’re going to worry about what they’re learning, this is the most important thing we need to teach them. And community groups for parents or circles of friends whose lives are rooted in biblical principals can help redirect our focus toward what’s most important. You may also find that learning to reduce your own anxiety when it comes to pursuing perfection for your kids may result in more confident, comfortable children who worry less about performance and pursuing perfection just to please you. Something to think about…



Giving Myself Permission to Procrastinate

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

I knew I had a blog post scheduled for today and I had time to write it over the past week. But I procrastinated. I waited until the very last possible minute to spill my thoughts onto the page about… procrastination.

Allow me to illuminate my thought process on this particular topic. Because I tend to procrastinate and so the reasons behind my procrastination and whether I should try to correct this habitual behavior have occupied a fair amount of space in my brain as of late.

What I’ve come to believe about myself is this–I would not procrastinate unless I know I can get the task done. Eventually. And in a timely enough manner to satisfy whatever needs I have for control, accomplishment and not getting fired. For example, I’d already been noodling this topic and what I planned to say about it. So, I was not super concerned about how much time it would take to write about my conclusions. And what I’ve concluded, in addition to the fact that I would not procrastinate unless I had some confidence in my ability to perform under pressure, is that procrastinating and then stewing over it during the period of procrastination is a waste of time that I’ve gifted myself by procrastinating in the first place. Did you get that?

Typical procrastination for me goes kind of like this: I have a task that I don’t particularly feel like doing at the given moment (reasons for procrastination vary and I’ll address that shortly) So I put the task off. Then, in the free time I’ve just allotted myself by procrastinating, I wring my hands in shame and self-flagellation that I should be doing the task instead of say, taking a nap or reading a novel or shopping for a new outfit. Ultimately, I end up completing the task but have ruined any free time allotted via procrastination. The whole endeavor makes me think I should have just done the task earlier and saved myself the travel expenses associated with my guilt trip.

Same could be said for other lifestyle choices, like exercise, housekeeping and eating cake. If you’ve established a routine for regular exercise, cleanliness and healthy eating habits, (this first part is very important by the way) then why beat yourself up if you take a day off from the gym, scrubbing toilets or eat a piece of cake? We ruin what could be enjoyable experiences by shaming ourselves while we indulge in doing nothing or doing things that aren’t considered productive.

So when it comes to the temptation to procrastinate, I’ve decided to examine my reasons for doing it and then, if I conclude that I can indeed accomplish a given task later, I’ll refuse to ruin my freed up time with worry. If I determine that I can’t accomplish the task later without feeling overwhelmed or stressed, then I’ll just do the task earlier rather than wait. So once I’ve made a conscience decision to procrastinate, I’m gonna stand by that decision without agonizing about whether I should be making a different choice.

And so, why do we choose to procrastinate in the first place? Author and evangelical pastor Rick Warren suggests we do if for one of five reasons: indecision, perfectionism, fear, anger or laziness. I’d like to add my own category and that’s mood or inspiration. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like doing something. I’d rather take a nap, go for a walk or watch The Voice. But Warren’s reasoning seems legit, especially the first two–indecision and perfectionism–which seem to be two sides of the same coin if you ask me. But when one of these two behaviors plagues me, I’m reminded that indecision is a decision complete with its own set of consequences and need for accountability.

I don’t think I procrastinate out of fear or anger, although I love how Warren says that procrastination is sometimes a way of passive resistance, like a child sloooooowly picking up their toys. Any parent or manager of people might want to take note of this procrastination motivation.

And then there is plain ‘ol laziness. You may think this is synonymous with my “mood or need for inspiration” excuse, and you may be right. But guess what? I’ve considered the consequences of my actions and accept them with my head held high. I will not spoil my occasional desire to be lazy with guilt over not always being productive. Especially, if I’ve proven to myself that everything that needs to get done eventually gets done.

Hopefully, this post helps you process your own tendencies toward procrastination and that you’ll also stop beating yourself up for sometimes putting things off. And if this post made no sense at all, it’s likely because I wrote it in haste at the very last minute.


Tips for Figuring Out Fall Fashion (a suburban mom’s rant)


IMG_3410I’m having trouble dressing myself. Not the activity of daily living kind of trouble. But the “I hate everything in my closet” kind of trouble. I’m reminded of how I used to tease a relative for being photographed wearing the same outfits across a span of 20 years. I’m becoming that person. I can’t remember how long ago I purchased certain tops or pants. I stand and stare at the relatively few up-to-date items I own, make a choice, and then realize I don’t have shoes to match. And just when I think I’ve got my finger on the fleeting pulse of fashion, the “trend-setters” cough up some new craze that makes me curse under my breath.

The Horse Blanket Poncho~IMG_3409_edited-1

It’s everywhere, in every store window, those fringed wraps with bold western patterns and bat wing sleeves. I am 5’3” inches tall and I’m guessing I’ll look more like a tiny pony tripping under its mama’s fancy horse blanket than a sexy Annie Oakley. Plus, I live on the tundra where it regularly gets below zero for days, weeks, sometimes even months at a time. How the heck am I supposed to stuff those shawl sleeves that make my arms look as if they’re giant webbed Aqua-man toes into a sexy down puffer jacket?

Ankle Boots~

I was into the tall boot thing cause I can wear warm socks and still look chic. Plus, chicks in tall boots look like they’re about to team up with Harrison Ford on some a grand adventure of either the Indiana Jones or Star Wars variety. But then came the “bootie” an ankle boot that looks cute but leaves me very confused about what to do with my pants. Do I roll them up? Tuck them in? I’m at a loss. And since only the tiniest of footie socks can be worn with booties, I’m really afraid my ankles are going to get cold once the snow flies. Bean BootsSo instead, I’ve chosen a brand new pair of Bean Boots in my closet. Suck it fashion police. Come winter, I’m going to strut around town wearing fleece lined snow boots that’ll make me look like I’m on yet another adventure, only this time with Paul Bunyan instead of Harrison Ford.

Hipster Plaid~

One way I could get my teenage sons to wear button down collared shirts instead of perennial t-shirts was to buy plaid patterns. Looks good on them. But now, all of us apparently are supposed to look as if we’re heading out to chop wood. I truly don’t mind the look, especially since it would pair well with my outdoorsy Bean boots. But my sons may scoff at looking like we’ve deliberately dressed like “twinsies”. If I go plaid, it’s gotta be grown up–like say a plaid silk blouse or an ultra-feminine plaid dress. Reserve the hipster plaid flannel shirts for teenagers and Bernie Sanders rallies.

High Waisted Jeans~

I plan to ruin this look for all the “fashionable” young women out there by embracing it fully! These jeans are amazing. I can stuff all of my matronly muffin-top into the pants, zip everything securely into place, and off I go. I’m SO much more comfortable knowing that when I bend over, my briefs don’t show. (Never did embrace the whole thong thing. Underwear is the only “hipster” thing about me. TMI? Welp, seeing so many a** cracks in low rise jeans over the years is TMI, so cut me some slack.) In my new jeans, I’m not constantly hiking up the waistband like you know you have to do every five seconds with those low-riders. Everything just stays put, as it should. Why the heck did mature women allow themselves to be shamed by Tina Fey for wearing “mom jeans”–the exact look that is currently all the rage? Hey! The mom jean was our look first, so this mom will wear them with pride. No way anyone can convince me now that I’m too old for these pants.


Not All Parenting Decisions Are “Perfect”

IMG_2887Every parenting decision I make teaches my kids something about my values. Some decisions are easier than others like, you must eat your vegetables, brush your teeth, do your homework, be kind to others and don’t talk back.

Other decisions are more challenging, like insisting the children dress or look a certain way. This topic has reared its overly-hair-gelled head on more than one occasion over the years. Like the time when our youngest son was 3 years old and was so obsessed with Buzz Lightyear that the hubs had to wrestle the little beast out of our mini-van to go see Disney On Ice. Our strong-willed (Disney demon possessed) child didn’t want Buzz to see him wearing the outfit I’d chosen for him. I think it was just khakis and a sweater but for some reason, the kid believed he looked beyond embarrassing and would only agree to enter the ice arena with his winter coat completely zipped up under his chin.

Then there was the time I caved and began letting the boys wear shorts to church in the summertime. (Personally, I’m not into the all casual, all the time, Jesus loves me in my “holey” blue jeans look. But that’s a topic for another post.) Anyway, here comes our eldest son, probably 13 at the time, dressed for church in shorts, a Polo shirt and white athletic socks slipped inside his top-siders. (This was before the recent norm-core–I’m dressing like my grandpa to be ironic fashion phase–which my son wouldn’t know anything about anyway.)

“Um,” I said, “those shoes would look better without the socks.”

“But they’re not comfortable without socks,” he said.

“Yes, but crew socks looks silly with shorts.”

His response… “Oh, so now you’re making me a slave to fashion!?”

I took a deep breath, re-evaluated my values, and said, “Of course not. Go ahead and wear the socks.”

Fast-forward a few years and the stakes get raised on the whole have the kids look socially respectable without insisting they conform to outrageous, media-fueled standards of attractiveness. Take orthodontia for instance. One of our sons, thanks to the hubs’ crooked teeth gene pool, has a pretty tight set of chompers. He did a “preliminary” round of braces while in the fifth grade to untangle his front teeth. But we were informed that once all of his permanent teeth came in, it was likely he’d need braces again. That was nearly three years ago. Let’s just say I’ve kept my fingers tightly crossed since then.

Welp, his teeth are still tight but not distractingly crooked. The orthodontist recommended another round of mouth metal. But then, our wise (and maybe just a bit antagonistic and headstrong) son asked the orthodontist why he needed braces.

British Smiles“That’s a very good question,” she said. “I suppose if you lived in England or the Netherlands, you likely wouldn’t get braces and you’d fit in just fine. But here in America, most young people have straight teeth.”

Let that sink in for a moment.

My son’s teeth are not causing him any discomfort. He can easily chew his food, has no jaw pain and has a very nice smile. But his teeth are not perfectly straight and we live in America. The boy, to his credit, looked at me like–you can’t be serious.

But I’ll admit to sometimes feeling like I’m failing my kids whenever I don’t provide them some opportunity available to most upper middle-class American children, including a movie-star quality smile.

But then, I brought up the topic of braces with a girlfriend whose child also has “non-American” teeth. This mother sought multiple opinions about recommended procedures for her elementary school aged daughter. She was told by one particular orthodontist that his recommendations are based not only on how best to straighten her daughter’s teeth, but he also takes into consideration the desired profile of the child’s face and if the parents want to give the girl pouty lips. WHAT THE??

So now, orthodontia in America can be akin to cosmetic surgery? Cause that’s what I heard. And if I hadn’t clenched my perfectly straight, albeit a bit gapped teeth, I might have screamed.

Now don’t get me wrong. Orthodontia is a useful tool for all those little Susies and little Johnnies who would otherwise endure life with teeth that look inherited from Austin Powers or Bugs Bunny. But what message would I be sending my children by shelling out thousands of dollars for the sole purpose of helping them look more “perfect”? And it’s not as if my son feels self-conscious about his smile. (Trust me. Ever since the dreaded Disney on Ice incident, it’s been very clear whenever this kid is unhappy about how he looks.) He feels confident in how he looks and doesn’t want another round of braces. Do I say, “Sorry kid. I know you feel pretty good about yourself. But guess what, you’re not good enough. In America, everybody must aspire to looking “perfect” so that you might have a long and tortured life of being overly concerned with your appearance”?

No thank you. We’re making a different choice. At least for now. This parenting thing can be fraught with contradictions and reversals of decisions. And our orthodontist seems to get that since she shrugged off our decision, most likely because she sees “lots of teens who come back just before senior pictures, asking for a more “perfect” smile.” God help us all.


A “Fair” Way to Say Adieu to Summer

071_1024There are two types of people in Minnesota. We are State Fair people. I’m not sure how to classify the other type–Elitist? Boring? Enochlophobic? Misanthropic? Anyway, I once fit into one or more of these other classifications before actually experiencing the fair for the first time. We were transplants to Minnesota and the hubs mentioned that the Minnesota State Fair was supposed to be a big deal. I recoiled with a scowl. My vision of a fair was of tromping over straw-covered dirt paths, risking my life on rickety rides and ordering $5 hotdogs from a vendor who’d surely slogged the food over from a nearby gas station dumpster.

But then! But then! I got pregnant. My being knocked up has nothing to do with the fair, per se. But being hospitalized on bed rest during the “12 Best Days of Summer” meant I watched a lot of KARE at the Fair. Everyday, a new delight was paraded or spotlighted on KARE 11 news. I wanted to try those great-looking foods, watch demonstrations by artisans and performers, trace the history of agriculture and win a giant stuffed toy! I wanted to experience all the great stuff I was seeing on TV.

The following year, with our then one-year-old in tow, we ventured out for our first visit to the Minnesota State Fair. We haven’t missed a year since. That was 15 years ago.

The Minnesota State Fair really is a big deal. It’s not plopped down on some farm field, but has a mapped urban location with paved streets and permanent buildings that feature displays of fine art, creative handcrafts, home-baked goods, youth science experiments, innovative technologies, cultural exhibitions and more! We learn something new or every year.

DSC02322_1024The barns are enormous and the State Fair has helped this city girl develop a deeper appreciation for farming and the proper care of animals. I remember being so excited about the new CHS Miracle of Birth Center in 2006. I wanted our children to experience a nearness to nature that I’d never been privy to. And it’s amazing! Filled with baby chicks, rabbits, lambs and cows. Oh my. We once sat for some time waiting to witness the birth of a calf. I was awe-struck. Trouble is, one of our kiddos prefers the dried and fluffed animal variety and has some trouble with anything squishy or covered in the gelatinous goo associated with a trip through the Play-dough maker of life. Poor kid had to lie down for nearly 30 minutes after seeing Mother Nature do her thing. So, we rarely venture into that barn anymore. Don’t need to traumatize the boy any further. But I still highly recommend it! For most people, it’s thrilling and adorable.

IMG_1049_1024The Mighty Midway is mighty indeed. There’s even a Kidway with smaller amusement rides for those not yet taller than a yardstick. Once our kids graduated to the larger rides, they decided that throwing baseballs at plates or shooting bb-guns at rubber ducks was more their speed. And the hubs–that poor guy has been trying for years (and spending a small fortune) trying to lift a pop bottle to standing with a plastic ring attached to a fishing pole. He swears that one day he’s gonna start practicing at home before heading out to the fair. But he’s yet to get ahead of that curve. Still, we laugh. We cheer each other on. We occasionally win small stuffed animals that we toss sacrificially to our happy dog when we get home.


And the food. Yes, the food. Not gonna lie. We plan most of our day around the food. Most expert fair-goers do the same. Cibophobics and Paleo-vegan-gluen-fun-food dieters can give it a rest for a day. Our annual forage through Minnesota fair food has not resulted in any long-term health effects or above average BMI. So relax and enjoy some Minnesota bounty and the ingenuity of these amazing food vendors.

First, we peruse the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book for coupons. Those who want standard fare like corndogs, pizza or cheeseburgers are sure to find a discount.

Then we map out where our favorites and must-try items are located so that we don’t overlook or eat too much of any one item while we’re there. Some of our regular favorites include:

Walleye Cakes, Fried Pickles, Korean Tacos, Turkey To Go, Porkchop on a Stick, Deep Fried Candy Bars, Roasted Corn on the Cob and Wild Rice Burgers.

This year we look forward to trying:

Kalettes, Indie Frites, Cluck and Moo–Oh, and the Blueberry Beer! So good. So, so good.

Walleye Cakes

Walleye Cakes

Fried Pickles

Fried Pickles

Blueberry Beer

Blueberry Beer

I’ve only scratched the surface of all there is to do and see and eat at the Minnesota State Fair. It truly takes more than one day to get it all in. But, we’ve limited our annual excursion to one full day because admission, parking and eating can quickly count up. But it’s worth every penny to be part of this terrific Minnesota tradition. What are your favorite state fair activities, experiences or foods? Are you a single day or multi-day visitor? Do you like it best during the day or after dark? How many Grandstand shows have you taken in?

It may be August and many Minnesotans may dread the inevitable march toward winter on the tundra. But waving adieu to summer with this kind of send-off is something our family will always cherish.

The River Raft Ride - A Minnesota State Fair tradition for the boys.

The River Raft Ride – A Minnesota State Fair tradition for the boys.

Have fun at the fair!