Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Why didn't somebody tell me?! August 22nd has come and gone, and I didn't know that it was National Punctuation Day! Oh yes, National Punctuation Day is very real. It has its own Web site featuring ways to celebrate the day, as well as information on about a dozen different marks of punctuation and their proper usage.

The guy who created the day seems to have done it in good fun (just read his list of recommended activities for the day), but it also calls to our attention--and asks average citizens to call to others' attention--the problem of improper punctuation all around us: on billboards, in newspapers, even in our own written communication. Perhaps you'd like to advertise your concern for correct punctuation by purchasing and wearing a punctuation T-shirt?

I, for one, am excited to add this new holiday to my calendar. Is it just because I'm an English teacher that I find National Punctuation Day amusing and worthwhile? Are there any amateur punctuation mavens out there who are excited about National Punctuation Day? Share your comments and let me know!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Game Night

Many, many years ago, we used to travel to Grandin, ND for occasional "game nights" with our friends the Zanders (for your reference). "Game Night in Grandin!" was our mantra and rallying cry before each scheduled night of fun. Then they moved to Harwood, ND, and the alliteration was lost. (Another friend suggested "Hell Night in Harwood," which--although colorful--did not capture the spirit of the event.) Perhaps not surprisingly, our game nights ceased shortly thereafter.

This year they have been revived--albeit without the Zanders! We and several offspring-possessing couples are mutual friends, and we have taken to inviting the entire crew to one another's house once every month or two for a meal and games. This past Tuesday it was the Mobergs' turn to host ("Entertainment Night in East Grand Forks"?). We felt compelled to take our turn during the summer so that we could use our sun room (read: "not insulated for winter use"), since without the sun room our house itself is approximately the size of a postage stamp.

Susan served "tacos in a bag" (here's the basic idea) and vegetable and fruit platters (the other couples brought additional yummies, including cake and brownies for dessert), and we served up strawberry slush for the kids and a brandy slush for the adults. The younguns played in the yard until we deemed it time to start the night's video: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a movie chosen not only because it's a delightful and age-appropriate classic, but also because it runs nearly two-and-a-half hours.

That translated to two-and-a-half hours of kid-free time for the adults to visit and laugh in the sun room. We also cracked open an old, old board game I had received in college that is essentially a survey to see what each sex knows about the other. Its questions rely on survey information that is, by now, at least fifteen years old, but it was still pretty funny to quiz one another. (Jesse, how can a dad with a daughter not know the name of the Disney princesses?!)

Our next game night is September 9 at the Jungs' home (the Jungs are perhaps the two funniest adults in our group). What do they have in store for us? Stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Early the Caterpillar

Our daughters have a caterpillar named Early. Our good family friend Cathy brought it to them in a clear, plastic terrarium case, along with a hearty supply of milkweed leaves for it to eat. When the girls peeked in, they saw that the caterpillar was suctioned onto the underside of the lid at that particular moment, and they assumed it was already planning to transmogrify into a chrysalis. However, they also knew it was too early for it to enter that stage--thus, the name Early.

As it turns out, Early knew all too well that it wasn't yet time to form a pupa. It has since been all over the terrarium, exploring, stopping to eat its weight in leaves, hanging from the side or from the lid, and pooping. And pooping and pooping and pooping. The other morning, the girls and Susan were cleaning Early's poop out of the terrarium, and Suzanna christened Early a "lean, green, pooping machine." Early doesn't seem to mind.

In a week or so, Early will attach itself to a twig and metamorphose into a chrysalis, in which form it will stay for a couple weeks before emerging as a monarch butterfly. Early will inflate its wings with blood (stored in its abdomen while inside the pupa), then rest and wait for us to release it outside. Suzanna had a caterpillar a few years ago that she named Darin. It was a bittersweet moment that day on the driveway when we shooed Darin out of her (yes, "her") container and into the sky for her journey to Mexico for the winter. Soon we'll bid adieu to Early, too. I think a few weeks trapped in a plastic case tapped daily by thirty tiny fingers is a small price to pay for a winter spent in the South.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A New Baby (and Some Cute Kid Sayings)

Our friends Jeff and Janelle in Harwood, ND just had a baby! Jordan was born the day before my birthday. He has a brother (Jaden) and sister (Megan), but my daughters consider themselves his (and Jaden's and Megan's) sisters, too. Jordan's parents are Suzanna's godparents, and she doesn't let them forget it. She has also adopted their entire family as her "godfamily"--thus, the (god)sister and (god)brothers. We spent a good chunk of today in Harwood, holding the new baby and playing with the other kids (actually, our girls took care of that, for the most part) and visiting. No matter how infrequently we see them, we never have any trouble picking up as though we'd never parted; and our kids and theirs get along famously. We're pretty lucky to have them as such close family friends.

(NOTE TO JEFF AND JANELLE: This is the part where you click "comments" and leave one!)

P.S. At supper tonight, Abigail had a small burp while eating. She was a little worried, however, that the burp might turn out to be vomit instead (haven't we all experienced that kind of burp from time to time?), and we could see that by the expression on her face. Quickly that feeling (and the burp) passed, and she looked relieved, turned to us, and said, "Well, that was alarming."

P.P.S. Our daughters have taken to saying "precisely" when they agree with an observation that someone else has made. Don't most kids just say "right" instead?

Friday, August 19, 2005


Last night we ate "basagna" (lasagna) that had "bakini" (zucchini) in it. She also says "cubber" for "cover." What up with the predominant "b"?

Yes, Dear, It Does

Yesterday, in a moment of family love, my girls and I engaged in a group bear hug. Hillary's head was against my chest, Suzanna's head was pushed against my shoulder, and Abigail's head was wedged under my chin. After one second of hugging, I heard Suzanna's muffled voice comment, "Ow. Love hurts."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Abigail's Upcoming Surgery

Abigail is going to have a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. She has been having problems with her tonsils for over half a year. About every six weeks, she gets a sore throat and inflamed tonsils that make her gag and throw up while eating (as if the sore throat, fever, etc., weren't annoying enough symptoms). Finally, our family doctor referred her to an otolaryngologist (always a popular answer, I'm sure, at cocktail parties to "So, what do you do for a living?") who said, "Out they must come!"

Her surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, August 31 . . . the day before school starts! So she'll have to miss the first few days of school--Thursday and Friday, at least; we have Monday (Labor Day) off, so we'll see if she's ready to return by Tuesday. One plus is that her teacher is Mrs. Barrett, who was also Suzanna's teacher last year! So she knows Abigail already, and Abigail is familiar with her, too, and likes her.

Another plus is that Abigail is pretty fearless. She wasn't the least bit skittish about seeing the doctor, answering his questions, or learning about the surgery. She listened attentively and patiently to all the personnel in the various offices we visited as they explained the surgery, the side effects, the healing time, and other details. The only thing that got a reaction out of her was the mention of a tonsillectomy patient's diet: ice cream, popsicles, pudding, etc. She can tolerate the week or more of painful throat if she can eat ice cream daily throughout that same period. Hey, what can I say? She's my daughter.

It will be an out-patient procedure after which she will be in Mommy's care, doing only quiet, passive activities (doctor's orders). Yeah, right. Susan predicts that Abigail will skip out of the hospital and sing all the way home after surgery. It will be sad to see Abigail "out of commission" for a while until her throat heals up. But it will be good for her to feel better thereafter. And, as Susan pointed out, Abigail was so jealous when first Suzanna then Hillary had to get stitches last spring that it's about time she finally get some medical attention that her sisters don't!


My children and I have started jogging.

It started Monday with Suzanna and me. I'd like to speed up my metabolism and shed a few pounds, and Suzanna likes to do things with her daddy, so she was my exercise partner for two days. This morning we were joined by Abigail, who is never one to be left out. It was pouring rain, but Abigail was sure that shouldn't stop us (and it didn't; when the rain eased off, we went out and ran in intermittent drizzle). Hillary would like to join us, too, but Abigail and Suzanna are skeptical; they fear that, even with Hillary at a sprint, the three of us would have to be walking in order not to get too far ahead of her.

We've got a routine that starts at 6:00 A.M. (another factor precluding Hillary's participation). Monday, Suzanna appeared in our bedroom, all dressed and ready to go, and woke me up. Tuesday, I had to wake her up. Last night, we set her alarm, so this morning she woke up to the alarm, then woke Abigail up. We don our shorts, T-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, and running shoes. Then we go outside and stretch in the sun room before heading to the foot of the driveway. We clip on our pedometers (from a promo at McDonald's several months ago; Suzanna remembered them and wanted to use them), then power-walk to the end of the block. We alternate jogging and power-walking, using the sidewalks and the biking/walking path near the river. When we get back home, we stretch again, then go inside to record our steps (from the pedometers) and weight. The whole routine takes about 30 minutes.

We're hoping to notice some weight loss as well as increased stretches of jogging and decreased stretches of power-walking. In the meantime, it has been great to have that time with my kids in the morning, enjoying some fresh air and exercise, and talking, talking, talking.

(That reminds me of another of Suzanna's favorite phrases that she used again this morning: "Oh, for heaven's to Pete's sake!")

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Our Anniversary

August always holds a momentous week for our family: my birthday, Abigail's birthday, and Susan and my anniversary, all within a five-day span. Today was the fifth day: our 12th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, Susan and I spent last night and this morning at the Inn at Maple Crossing at Mentor, MN. It's a beautiful, traditional bed-and-breakfast inn in a restored old hotel. A scrapbook of the refurbishing process in the inn's library is a quick but fascinating read. We celebrated our 5th anniversary at the inn years ago and were happy to return this summer.

Last time we stayed in the Amish room; this time it was the Victorian room (the link above will tell you more about each theme available). As with all the rooms, there is no television or telephone in the Victorian room, but there are antique furnishings, a private bath, and a private balcony overlooking Maple Lake. There are several enormous oak trees and scattered flower gardens on the lawn beneath the balcony, and the lake stretches off in all directions beyond that. It's a serene, relaxing spot to sit and read or write or converse or cuddle on the chaise longue. Inside the room is a journal for guests to sign, and all the past entries tell about the wonderful food, the beautiful surroundings, and the calm, contemplative atmosphere ("relaxful," as more than one person has put it in the journal!).

Last night we browsed in the gift shop, walked the grounds, played chess in the library, lounged and had champagne in our room, then descended for a four-course supper in the dining room: tossed salad with raspberry vinaigrette; Italian chicken, bean, and vegetable soup; beef Wellington (me) and salmon (Susan) with rice, green beans and sliced almonds, and strawberry/orange/kiwi garnish; and chocolate fudge layer cake with raspberry sauce. We drank iced tea with the meal and coffee with dessert and were completely stuffed with the incredibly delicious food. Somehow we had room for a two-course breakfast this morning (after early-morning coffee on the veranda): blueberry yogurt mixed with fruit cocktail topped with granola; and hashbrown/tomato/herb/cheese egg bake with herb-dusted country ham and cantaloupe/honeydew/watermelon garnish (with orange juice and coffee to drink). Again, delicious.

Before coming home, we toured Bergeson Gardens south of Mentor. People are free to wander the grounds and take a self-guided tour of all the flower beds using a handout available on site to learn about the varieties of plants and flowers planted in each. It is simply beautiful, and the weather was wonderful for walking the grounds and enjoying the flora--breezy, temperate, and no bugs (nor any at Maple Lake--heavenly!). I was reminded of Bergeson Gardens by seeing one of the Bergesons (Eric) every day this past week; he was a "visiting scholar" for the American history seminar I attended in Thief River Falls. He greeted Susan and me when we arrived at the gardens today.

We were able to enjoy this weekend getaway because my wonderful sister-in-law Cassie drove up from Fargo and stayed with the girls for us. When we returned this afternoon, we took Cassie and the little darlings for a late dinner at the just-reopened Green Mill (rebuilt at its original location after a fire destroyed their first building last year). By the time suppertime rolled around, we were all still stuffed from dinner, so we just went right to dessert: my birthday cake from Culver's. As we sat around moaning about our full bellies, Suzanna and I decided to take up jogging! The current plan is for me to wake her up to get into our running shoes at 6:00 A.M. First, I'd better get to bed! (When I was tucking in Abigail this evening, the girls piled on me atop Abigail's bed, and we all four fell asleep there! I awoke a little while ago and came up to update the blog. So I have had a three-hour headstart on sleep already tonight.)

We received some acknowledgements of our anniversary: a greeting card from my aunt and uncle Betty and Herman in Minot, ND, one from my sister in Wilsonville, OR, and one from my dad and stepmother. However, we didn't exchange cards or gifts between ourselves this year. The stay at the inn was our gift to each other, and being alone together (I know, an oxymoron) was all the gift I could ask for. Happy anniversary, us!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cute Snit Language

Suzanna stomped into the bathroom and sat on the toilet lid, waiting for me to ask what the matter was. I did, and she explained the many things that Abigail had just said and done to irritate her. Suzanna said, "I told her that she was being so immature. Not that I know what that means." I asked her why she had left Abigail to come into the bathroom and tell me about it. Suzanna said that she had to get away from Abigail, who was "getting on my nerve" [singular]. A little later, I heard Suzanna in the hallway telling Susan that Abigail had been acting "out of her age" (older than she really is; like an adult). It's hard to be a good listener when I'm really trying to set into short-term memory these cute things that our kids say before I can write them down!

(August 13 Update: I just remembered something cute that Hillary said the other day. She needed a kleenex and told me that she had snot coming out of her "snotstril" [nostril].)

Abigail's Birthday

She's six years old now! It's so hard to believe that time has flown this quickly. She was fast asleep when I left this morning (at 7:00 A.M.) for Day Five of this week's five-day seminar in Thief River Falls, MN on Teaching American History (for both history and American literature teachers). But when I returned this afternoon, Abigail was the first person to greet me!

We talked about her day, and then she opened presents, getting clothes, dolls, art supplies, girlie things (purse, lip gloss, hair bows, etc.), savings bonds, school supplies, and a journal. The highlight of her haul? The diary. "Now I can write down all my thoughts." Actually, her method is to tell her thoughts to Suzanna, who then helps Abigail write them down. Maybe Abigail will be a more independent writer by the time she comes up with something truly secretive to put in her diary!

After presents, we went to Paradiso to eat. Abigail had her free birthday meal, and she got to wear the sombrero while they sang "Happy Birthday" to her. Then we went to Red Ray Lanes for bowling! That is something we never do as a family, so it was a real treat that everyone enjoyed. Susan showed off her bowling talent (by winning) and claimed that she learned it all from her grandma Laura, who has long been a league bowler. We ended the night at home with birthday cake and ice cream.

Yesterday was Abigail's birthday party with her friends. They had a pajama party in the middle of the day! They came wearing pajamas and carrying teddy bears and blankies. They made "Do Not Disturb" doorknob signs as a craft project. They ate French toast and sausage for dinner. They cuddled in their blankies and watched a "bedtime movie" after eating. They each received a personalized, tie-dyed T-shirt (made by Susan) and slipper socks as a lovely parting gift. The afternoon ended with cake and ice cream. Susan made the cake to look like kids sleeping in a bed; Twinkies were the bodies, marshmallows were the pillows, vanilla wafers were the faces (painted with cake decorations for eyes, mouth, and hair), and two colors of frosting were the sheets and bedspread. C-u-t-e!

Abigail has danced and sung her way through her first six years, and she danced and sang her way into Paradiso and throughout the bowling alley and into her bed tonight, too. I hope that, no matter how old she becomes, she never loses that light heart and airy spirit.

(More about the craft project: Suzanna wrote "No Boys Allowed" on her doorknob sign, then remembered me and added "Boys Allowed" to the back side of it. In anticipation of being tucked in, she had the "Boys Allowed" side showing when I came down to her room. We said prayers, talked about the day, and exchanged hugs and kisses. As I made for the door, she said, "Daddy? Would you flip the doorknob sign around now?")

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Another Year Older

Yes, my birthday was yesterday. Alas, I had to spend most of it at an education seminar in Thief River Falls, MN, away from my family. However, my wife and daughters are so wonderful that they thought of a way to make my day feel special even though I was "at work." They sent me off in the morning with a big gift bag bearing this note:

Kevin's "Birthday Bag-O-Fun!" Open the gift marked with the hour at the appropriate time--no fair opening ahead or waiting 'til the end of the day!! With love and wishes for a wonderful day from all your girls

So I brought the bag and, on the hour every hour, opened another gift. Not only was it fun for me, but it also entertained the other teachers at the seminar, who got to see everything I received and even got to partake in some of the treats! Many of the gifts were designed to be useful at the workshop I was attending. Here's what I got, when I got it, and the note that accompanied it:

7:00 A.M. -- a half-dozen old-fashioned sour cream donuts (my favorite kind) -- "The girls wanted to serve you breakfast in bed, but we're not likely to rise early enough--so pretend you're still in your jammies, ok?" I was traveling to TRF with three other teachers from East Grand Forks, so I shared with them while we drove.

8:00 A.M. -- "Rubber Grip Stick Pens with Fashion Inks" -- "Hillary was sure you'd like all the 'totally wicked' ink colors -- happy notetaking!" -- The package of pens was wrapped in a Hillary-made card decorated with lots of, um, "abstract art" in shades of orange and red. She wrote her own name at the bottom. I used different colors of pen all day long!

9:00 A.M. -- a mini stapler set -- "We've seen the binder--this might come in handy . . ." -- The binder to which this refers is my three-ring binder PACKED with handouts for the seminar.

10:00 A.M. -- a bag of M & M's -- "mmm . . . chocolate! 'nuf said." -- I was seated next to my EGF colleague who is known district-wide for being the queen of chocolate. When I opened the bag and handed it to her, she was most pleased! When I indicated that she should pass it on after helping herself to some, she looked crushed! The bag was empty after two passes around the table.

11: 00 A.M. -- a battery-operated personal fan -- "Abigail was concerned that you might get too hot -- we're sending along batteries, just in case she's right!" -- It was wrapped in an Abigail-made card with flowers and black rain clouds on one side, and on the other side, "I Love You, DaDa!" Above that, she wrote "To Dad" on one line and "dy" underneath it. She also wrote "Abigail" right above "From:"

12: 00 P.M. -- a five-pack of highlighters -- "The 'highlight' of your day . . ."

1: 00 P.M. -- a spiral-bound notebook with a blue patterned cover -- "Suzanna chose this particular notebook because it's your favorite color!" -- In it was tucked a Suzanna-made card in shades of blue with "Happy Birthday Daddy" on the cover, "Suzanna Loves you Dad" on the inside, and "Love You Dad" on the back.

2: 00 P.M. -- a bag of KitKat Bites -- "A little more chocolate to get through the day!" -- This bag, too, was empty after just a couple trips around the table of teachers.

3: 00 P.M. -- a TV Guide crossword puzzles book -- "Relax--enjoy--you've earned it!"

4: 00 P.M. --a gift card to Movie Gallery (a movie rental store) -- "One last little treat--use it tonight or keep it for another time! I hope you've enjoyed all your little goodies today--Happy Birthday! I love you! Susan P.S. This isn't the last gift."

When I got back to EGF, my family took me out to supper at G.F. Goodribs, where I ate barbecued spare ribs, a twice-baked potato, baked French onion soup, garlic toast, and frozen mud pie for dessert -- ALL FOR FREE! They treat birthday folks well, I should say. At home afterward, we were all too full to eat the frozen custard cake Susan had bought from Culver's restaurant (the custard flavor is cookies-n-cream).

So I opened gifts instead! I got a card and polo shirt from my dad and stepmom, a Barnes & Noble gift card from my friend, a card from my aunt, a card from my brother-in-law and his family, a card from one of my sisters, and (online) an e-card from the other. My girls gave me cologne and books, three of which (Crossworld, 1776, and Specimen Days) have been on my "must read" list all summer. Before the girls retired for the night, I played a rousing game of Junior Monopoly with them. It was an excellent day, owing in large part to the fun one-gift-per-hour idea. What a great family!

Tomorrow is Abigail's sixth birthday! More on that to come . . .

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Morey Family Reunion

I returned from the education conference in St. Joseph, MN the evening of Wednesday, August 3. Our friends from Houston, TX arrived in time for supper, then spent the night with us on their way from Bemidji, MN to Lincoln, NE. They left the morning of Thursday, August 4, after which my family hit the road for Upper Eau Claire Lake outside Barnes, WI (about an hour southeast of Superior/Duluth).

Susan's aunt and uncle Patty and Frank have a couple lake homes there, and they invited the Morey family (Susan's mom and her sisters and brother and their offspring) to spend the weekend for an informal reunion. My mother-in-law is no longer living, but all her siblings were there, as were many of Susan's cousins and their families or dates. With all those people--each arriving and departing on different days--sleeping arrangements were far too complicated to figure out in advance, so people just fell asleep wherever there was open floor or couch space. Somehow meals just appeared at meal times (thanks to the aunts and some of the more industrious cousins, including Susan) and were delicious. Otherwise, people were on their own for socializing and entertainment.

There were many relatives whom I was able to visit with quite a bit more than I ever have. Usually, I see them when we pop in at a relative's home in Dickinson for the annual Christmas trip or the occasional 4th of July visit or a family wedding. This time, we had days to spend visiting, so we did. I also did some reading (I read Aunt Patty's copy of The Secret Life of Bees--read more about this wonderful book now!) and some kayaking and some swinging in the hammock and some eating of s'mores.

Our girls were non-stop dynamos in the water. All three went tubing one afternoon, and Suzanna and Abigail even tried water skiing Sunday morning (with some success)! Mostly, they swam with Hillary and their like-aged second-cousins from MT. The older cousins (late teens/early 20s) spent an afternoon playing with them in the water, too. They were in the water for hours and hours, and the girls' hair bleached even blonder while their skin got tanner and tanner (after repeated slatherings of sunscreen, too). Needless to say (yet I'm saying it), they were c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y wiped out every night and fell asleep within milliseconds of touching their pillows.

We left the afternoon of Sunday, August 7 to return to East Grand Forks (so I could leave at 6:30 A.M. the following day for Day One of a five-day education seminar in Thief River Falls, MN). It was a tiring weekend, but it was very much fun. Even with so many people in both their lake homes, Patty and Frank and their kids remained calm and welcoming hosts at all times, and there were always moments of "alone time" available to enjoy the lake, listen to the wild life, and just relax. We've never made a trip to Upper Eau Claire Lake that we didn't enjoy. This one was improved by getting to see so many relatives at the same time.

Education Minnesota Summer Seminar 2005

It's been a busy couple of weeks! It began last week with a trip to St. Joseph, MN for Education Minnesota's annual Summer Seminar. Last year was my first time at the event, and I found it professionally invigorating and just plain fun. So, an East Grand Forks colleague of mine (who also attended last year) and I encouraged a couple other teachers to accompany us this year, and it was, again, worthwhile. Here's the skinny on my time at the seminar:

Monday, August 1
We left East Grand Forks around 7:00 A.M. and arrived at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph around 11:00 A.M. We registered and ate lunch before hearing a welcome address from Education Minnesota President Judy Schaubach, followed by ice cream. My first session that afternoon was "Conversations for Better Relationships." The content reminded me a lot of the communications component of the human relations course that I have taught at Northland Community and Technical College. How much could we cover in one hour-and-a-half session? But we focused on listening carefully in order to avoid and/or diffuse conflict via better conversations. After supper (a picnic on the lawn), we had an evening forum on the education issues arising from the recently completed special session of MN's legislature.

Tuesday, August 2
All three of my sessions this day (with breaks for meals and ice cream, of course) were really installments of what otherwise would have been one lengthy session called "Membership Vitality Program (MVP)." We discussed ways to keep the teachers within our education associations involved and feeling connected, and we shared ideas for doing that from our own experiences. I came away with lots of practical resources. In the evening we just had to take part in bingo, of course (everyone does, you know), where I won nothing. However, my friends--a married couple--each won a free single room at next year's conference! Ironic.

Wednesday, August 3
The two remaining sessions of the Summer Seminar were this morning, and both of mine were interesting. The first was "Educational Research and Dissemination"--an off-putting title for a session that provided me with many resources should our education association ever become ready to take responsibility for offering professional development opportunities to our own members (to refresh our teaching with the latest in research on education issues and classroom practice). The other one was "Community Connections: Working Together," a session on how to get the involvement and support of parents, businesses, local citizens, etc., in and for our schools. There are many resources available through Education Minnesota, and this workshop made me aware of them.

(If you would like access to any of the resources that I collected at the Summer Seminar, please let me know.)

Besides all the cognitive stimulation and motivation to return to teaching after a summer away from it, the Summer Seminar was good for its social benefits, too: reconnecting with colleagues from other districts, making new acquaintances from around the state, and getting to know better my own colleagues with whom I traveled to St. Joseph. It's encouraging to hear what we're all doing in our classrooms and in our districts, and the Summer Seminar is a reliable (i.e., annual) opportunity for exchanging ideas, venting frustrations, etc. My hope is that, each year, more and more educators from East Grand Forks will attend.