Shop Home for the Holidays has officially begun! The kick-off last Saturday went wonderfully, lots of shoppers around Como Ave to take advantage of the specials, local artisans, reindeer rides, Santa's ear and the lovely ambiance that is our mainstreet in north St.AP. I didn't get a chance to venture to the southern hemisphere of our neighborhood but heard that it was a good day in the University & Raymond shopping area. Now that most of the construction is done, everyone should take advantage of the unique business offerings in both the north and south of District 12. Keep supporting your local merchants!

Milton Square looked particularly quaint thanks to Heather Milton who has been helping her Mom, Mary Ann, and brother Pat out by rehabbing the lower level spaces and sprucing up (pun intended) the courtyard and planters. There's a large spruce tree in the center of the courtyard that was lit by Santa himself at 5pm as the shoppers strolled out of the artisan village in the lower level. Heather has added two new tenants, Satori Photography and Cosmetics on Carter. They joined in the Shop Home event and introduced themselves to many of the neighbors who attended. Stop in and welcome them when you get the chance. Our new friends at Colossal Cafe are putting the finishing touches on their soon-to-open spot. I can't wait to see the inside, I'm told it's quite colorful, just the thing for our long winters. I believe the Tinucci's still plan on a December opening. Keep checking...over in Energy Park Crossroads, I have been assured by the Bruegger's folks that Timothy's, a higher end pastry/coffee shop chain owned by Bruegger's, is still planning to open a franchise next door in 2012.

D12 - is quieting down for the year end hiatus, or maybe I just haven't checked in enough. As I said last week, they still have plenty on their plate with light rail prep but as the dust settles from the construction that is moving slowly east, all stakeholders seem to be taking a deep breath - some sighing, some weeping perhaps, but most of the businesses have managed to keep their doors open.

Schools - discussions continue around the transition plans from elementary to Jr. High. Of particular interest at the elementary school are the environmental programs that now build gradually to a 6th grade trip to WolfRidge Environmental Center on the North Shore. Next year will be the last year of 6th grade at the school so they are trying to figure out if they keep that trip for the 5th graders and do they combine the 5th & 6th next year so no one misses the opportunity. Very complicated but an important program for the school and for the parents. The 6th grade teachers do a lot of work to prepare and manage the week-long absence from the regular schedule so there is much to consider. Luckily we have a great principal in Ann Johnson, great teachers and a great group of parents figuring it all out, so I'm sure whatever they come up with will be the best solution possible. I do know that Wolfridge is also trying to help out with cost so the program can continue - as I've said before, the staff up there is incredible, so let's hope it gets figured out...Murray is also trying to figure out whether and/or how to include the new 6th graders in Wolfridge and everything else. Principal, Tim Williams is on the District Transition Committee which is exploring ways to preserve a 6th grade experience within the walls of a Jr. High. Lots of moving pieces right now.

listserv - couple of reminders from the police to make sure your garage has contrasting house numbers for easy identification. Reminds me that we took ours off to paint this summer and I don't believe they got remounted. Also, put a DO NOT LEAVE PACKAGES sign on your door when you're out, thieves often do their holiday shopping door to door...Susan Henry, the new head librarian at our St. Anthony Park branch posted her upcoming events, call 
651-642-0411 or visit www.sppl.org to find out about the computer, language and other programming coming up in January...Music in the Park Series continues to roll with more exceptional chamber music conjured up by the musical grand dame of the midwest, Julie Himmelstrup. My wife and I attended the last concert featuring Wendy Warner & Irina Nuzova on cello and piano and loved it. Incredible to see dynamic and talented musicians up close and personal. The series is close to selling out so if you want the perfect holiday present for some special people who love music (including yourselves,) email and get some tickets - there are still 4 concerts left between now and May.

St.APnotes - Sarah Deming of Serendipity Flowers in Milton Square was showing off (okay, in a quiet manner) her new baby at Shop Home last Saturday. Beautiful little guy, congrats to all including his uncle Chris, who also spends time in the neighborhood as part of Steve Townley's house moving swat team. Sarah is around more during the holidays, so stop in and get some lovely arrangements for your holiday parties...keep your walks clear for our walking and rolling friends...keep your fire hydrant clear for our firefighters.

That's all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.