Paynesville Press - April 3, 2002

Community Perspective

Life at 515 Maple Street

By Dee Johnson

Life begins early here at 515 Maple Street. I am up before the sun, sitting in a chair by the front window, pointing at cars as they go by in the "real world." I am kept company by my twin boys, Eric and Luke (18 months).

Three years ago, my husband Dave, daughter Ella (now four years old), Stanley (Dave's seven-year-old canine hunting companion), and I moved to Paynesville. For Dave, it was a trip back home. For me, it was a move back to Stearns County...I grew up in St. Cloud.

Dave began working full time, and I began staying at home full time. Wow, what an adjustment to the opposite roles we had in the Cities.

But, after a full year of feeling sorry for myself, I decided it was time to get to know the people and town of Paynesville. And have I ever been blessed with great new friends and a wonderful community.

Our typical day is anything but typical these days. My neighbors often wonder what is happening at the Johnson house.

Between Grandpa Doc picking Ella up for preschool, Grandma Lois stopping in to see if we need anything downtown, Grandma Carrie coming for a visit from St. Cloud, or Grandpa Syl stopping in to do some handy work around the house, our front door is often a revolving door. It can sometimes be busy, but we are very lucky to have such wonderful grandparents nearby.

Eventually, I knew it was time to find playmates for the kids and friends for me. About two years ago, some new friends of mine and I started a play group. The idea came from a group of us moms who wanted to get together in between our once a week ECFE class. We exchanged names and numbers and slowly we got the group under way.

We used the excuse that our kids needed playmates, but truly the group of moms that get together are striving to stay sane themselves. Our kids play, and trash the house of the week while us moms try to enjoy some adult conversation and a cup of coffee.

Our husbands say the good thing about play group is that the house gets a good cleaning before the crew arrives. The bad thing is that it is a mess when they leave. But, in the end, it is well worth the effort and fun to have company and playmates.

Well, the moms decided to carry play group a step further. Being we didn't feel it was appropriate to drink Bloody Marys during our morning play group, we now have what we call "GNO." It stands for Girl's Night Out. About once a month, some of us cooped-up moms head out for a night on the town. We find out that we truly are capable of finishing a conversation once started. We also realize that life does exist beyond naps, diapers, and bedtime routines.

We even have conversations about things other than our kids. Wow!

This year, we have taken play group a few steps further, adding Run and Romp on Wednesday afternoons at the elementary cafeteria. We meet from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and watch our kids "run and romp" around the gym and hopefully wear off lots of energy. It is a great place for kids, up to five years old, to have a safe place to run and ride bikes, trikes, and scooters.

The kids love it and again, us moms (and sometimes dads) enjoy the company of each other. Everyone with young kids is welcome, so come and join us!

Another reason I have found to get together with other moms has been at Mom's Bible Study that Diane Nelson has started at our church. The first meeting was supposed to be held at Paynesville Lutheran Church, but the day turned out to be windy and snowy so the group kindly relocated at my house so I could be part of it. Since then, my house has been the meeting spot for us moms to develop our faith together.

Come and join us every second and fourth Friday of the month at 9:30 a.m. It's a great way to really get to know your friends and another opportunity for the kids to play.

Finally, this winter we also discovered another well-kept secret in town: open skating at the ice arena. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with the little ones as a family. Ella began the winter pushing a chair around the ice and by the time the ice was taken out she could actually skate by herself. It was a fun place for us to meet other families and have the kids hang out together.

My life is anything but boring these days. We have things we can do almost every day of the week. But, as my kids are getting older, I am starting to think about what we will do in the future to keep busy. We may outgrow play group and "run and romp," but we still need to play.

What will we do to fill our days with fun? Will my kids spend too much time in front of the TV? Or will us moms find another activity in town to keep us and our kids out of trouble? Maybe it will be an outdoor community swimming pool in the summer. Maybe it will be an outdoor hockey rink in the winter. Who knows, but when us moms get an idea in our out!

Oh, and remember to wave next time you drive by 515 Maple Street. Chances are someone is pointing at you.

Johnson is the mother of three children and has lived in Paynesville for three years.

Would you like to participate as a Community Perspective writer? Call Michael Jacobson at 320-243-3772 to get scheduled as a writer or e-mail him at

Contact the author at | Return to Viewpoint