Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ann Marie Sayings

Walking past the neighbor's house, Nora asked, "How old is Mrs. Q.?" 

"93," I said. 

"Wow," said Nora. "She's going to die soon."

"Um," I said.

"Should we tell her?" said Ann Marie.

Ann Marie, in a still-wet nighttime diaper and PJs, peeked into the kitchen to see if we were there. We were. Then she ran through the kitchen REALLY FAST so that we wouldn't see she hadn't changed yet. We saw.

Upon learning that I had to go buy milk, Ann Marie said, "Oh, are you going to get it at the area?" I was flummoxed for a while. "The area?" I said. 

"Yes! The area!"

The area... The area... "Oh! The dairy!" I said.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Kid-approved black bean soup

I have three kids. One of them eats lots of things. One of them eats some things. And one of them would waste away without cheese and bread in all their many forms. But 2/3 of the children requested leftover black bean soup for lunch, and the other one claimed to like the tortilla chips soaked in black bean soup last night. And although that did not translate into her actually eating any of them beyond the small taste that was so delicious, I'm counting it as a win.

It is also a win because it's super easy and fast to make. So here you go:

Dr. Maureen's Black Bean Soup

Active time: 20 or so minutes depending on how fast you can chop vegetables
Total time: 40-60 minutes
Serves 6

Notes: The "Basic" ingredients are what I think are minimally required for the soup. You can add whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand as you like. My variations are in the "Variations" section. Also, I am just guessing at the amounts of the non-canned ingredients. For what it's worth, I used cilantro and leftover crockpot-salsa-chicken for the first time last night and was met with rave reviews as its being the best version ever.


1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion
2 medium carrots, diced or rounds or however you like them
2 medium stalks celery, diced
32-48 oz. chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper, cumin, to taste
shredded cheese
tortilla chips

Chopped fresh spinach
Diced fresh tomatoes
Fresh or frozen corn kernels
Cooked chicken if you have any on hand
1-2 Tbsp fresh cilantro


  1. Saute the diced onion in olive oil in a medium-large pot until soft, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery, cook until all veggies are soft, about 5-8 minutes more.
  2. Add the rinsed beans, diced tomatoes, and any other vegetables you are using. Add the broth. You need at least 32 ounces, but you might want to add more if you have a lot of vegetables. Make sure the broth covers all the vegetables.
  3. Add fresh cilantro, several shakes of cumin, some salt and pepper to taste. Reserve the cooked chicken.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer about 20-30 minutes.
  5. Blend with an immersion blender; if you don't have one transfer the soup to a blender in small batches and blend. 
  6. Add cooked chicken pieces, simmer till heated through.
  7. Serve with tortilla chips, passing shredded cheese as a topping.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Best book I've read this year

Nora wrote me a story. I present it here, with translation, but without comment.

To Mom: "The Angry Girl Wanted To Mash The Flower" By Nora

The girl saw a flower and did not know what to do.

But suddenly, she had an idea.

She was going to step on that flower.

And she stepped on that flower.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Insult to injury: A chance for recreational outrage

As we all know, sidewalk parking is my personal hill to die on. People in my city regularly park on the sidewalk. Sometimes they leave room for a single-width stroller, sometimes not even that. I started a one-woman crusade last year and ended up getting the police to start issuing tickets, so the problem has been greatly reduced. But I still have to call the cops sometimes. 

But there is this one house on my route to and from school. It's a multi-family, and one of the families has an absolutely terrifying dog. It's pitbull-esque, and it does not care for strangers walking on the sidewalk in front of its house. The yard is fenced in, but it's a chain-link fence that is right up against the sidewalk. When the dog is outside, it is never tied up and if it sees you walking by the house it runs up to the fence and stands on its hind legs - which brings its head higher than the fence, mind you - and tries to chew your face off. Or at least it SEEMS like it's trying to chew your face off. It appears that it wants nothing more than to chew your face off. It snarls, barks, growls, and scrabbles at the fence, trying to get out. 

I have a fear of dogs anyway, so I am unable to walk by this dog when it's clambering up the fence like that. I just cannot do it. At a minimum, I have to walk into the street so I can put some distance between me and the slavering jaws. When I'm with the kids, I usually cross the street - which means walking in front of the weirdo house with huge bushes that block the entire house from view and protrude into the sidewalk forcing me to duck as I walk by! Just as bad as sidewalk parking! -  but I hate that I am forced to do that. And I hate that stupid dog. I HATE that dog. 

Lest you get the wrong impression, I have not called the cops on these people. The dog is always contained in the yard. I understand rationally that the dog cannot get out, and that these people are not breaking any laws by having a mean dog. But the thing about an irrational fear is that it is irrational, so I can't just explain to myself that it's perfectly safe to walk by a a dog whose bared fangs are inches from my head. 

But I think these dog owners are terrible people. I think that if you are going to have a dog and not train that dog to allow people to pass by your property using the public sidewalk, then you should have the common courtesy to make sure the fence is at least set back from the sidewalk! Am I alone in this? Are there dog lovers or owners out there who have an opinion on this?

Also, one time I was walking the kids home from school and the dog surprised us as we got to the fence. I startled and ran with the stroller, but Nora startled and ran INTO THE STREET and FELL DOWN and the owner was outside and my, how he chuckled. Yes, all very hilarious. Especially when I tried to go get Nora, but we were on a hill, so the stroller started to roll and I had to leave Nora screaming in the street in order to stop Ann Marie from rolling away. 

So no, these people are not my favorites. 

But! Sidewalk parking! This is how they park:

There is room to get a single stroller through there, but the cars on the sidewalk force us right up against the fence where the dog leaps up and tries to kill us. 

I actually came across the dog owner outside with no dog on Wednesday took the opportunity to ask him if he could stop parking like that because his dog is terrifying and my children and I don't like having to walk right next to it. Unfortunately, that was not his car; it belongs to the guy who lives downstairs. He said he'd talk to him. It obviously went very well. 

So who wants to leave me a comment about how these people are terrible and their dog is terrible?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Seven in Seven 6: Not seven in a ROW...

Well I didn't make it, but that's because I was felled by a stomach bug, so I think allowances can be made. And this is going to be a quick takes kind of post.

1. Ann Marie says "aqua puss" for "octopus" and "polka nuts" for "polka dots." Two things that need documentation, I think we can all agree.

2. Andrew and I are going to get solar panels on our house, and we are so psyched. Our house has a huge long roof that faces south, and we've wanted to do this for years, but were always afraid it would cost too much up front. When I saw something in the paper talking about the city partnering with a green energy company to put in solar panels, I figured I'd at least call and find out a ballpark figure for it, and two weeks later we had signed papers. We are getting more than half off in discounts and tax incentives and the energy company has a sweet deal with a bank for a low-interest loan on the rest, so we should have this thing paying for itself pretty soon. And just THINK of the net gain in smug hippie points we get! A farm share, cloth diapers, a hybrid car, and now solar panels? We will soon be unbearable to be around.*

3. On the down side, the solar guy put 12:00 into his calendar instead of 9:00 for the follow-up visit we just had, and then the visit took 5 hours instead of the 90 minutes or so we had expected. So that kind of borked the whole day. And then I was felled that night, as aforementioned, with Jack close behind me. Jack got so sick I actually called the doctor to find out at what point I had to take him to the ER for fluids, so the weekend was not so great overall. (Jack is totally fine and did not need to go to the ER.)

4. Because Ann Marie plays me like a fiddle, it takes me five times longer to put her to bed than it takes anyone else. I usually find myself holding her hand until she falls asleep, in fact. Does anyone else hold her hand until she falls asleep? No. No, they do not. Just me, the sucker. And now Nora is begging me to hold HER hand until she falls asleep and this madness must end except that I am too unwilling to go through the torture of the Change Of How Things Go. Plus, it's nice and quiet in here.

5. I am writing this on my new iPad, which I got from my ever-generous mother-in-law for my birthday, although in this particular instance she had a hidden agenda in that she wants to face-time with the kids. But I haven't let them touch it yet as it has no protective cover, and I know that once they get it I'm never going to see it again. But the silicone case is en route, MIL, so soon. Tomorrow it should be here.

6. With the gift of the iPad, Andrew and I now have 3 laptops, 3 tablets, 2 smartphones, a Samsung Galaxy MP3 player, and an iPod touch. One of the laptops is my work laptop, but this is nuts. Comfortable and entertaining, but nuts! To quote Temerity Jane (do not know how to link from the iPad): "Complaints invalid."

*Our HE washing machine also generates its own electricity during the spin cycle.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Seven in Seven 5: Lent

Ash Wednesday is coming up fast, and I have to confess something. The internet has introduced me to a bunch of people who use each Lent to grow as Catholics, but I fear I am not one of those people. I try. I do, I try. But the truth is I hate Lent. I don’t LIKE to make sacrifices and think about my sins. And as for fasting… well let me say that Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only two days when I miss being pregnant, because pregnant women aren’t supposed to fast.  

A few years ago I tried to come up with something more creative to give up for Lent than the usual chocolate or cookies, something that would help me get closer to God. I’ve had years and years of practice in giving up sweets and I honestly don’t think I get that much out of it anymore. My first idea was to give up all fiction with the idea that I’d read spiritual books instead. And I did not read a scrap of fiction for those six weeks! However, I mostly used my fiction-reading time to watch more TV. Not exactly in the spirit of things. Last year I theoretically gave up checking Twitter in the evenings. I think I may have stuck to that, but I also may have been a bit fluid on my definition of “evening.”

But what can I do but continue to try? This year, I am going to do the fiction/spiritual reading thing again. I think the key to success on this front is to find spiritual books that aren’t too terribly dense, or I may find myself once again surfing the internet and watching TV instead of reading. I already bought The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning on the recommendation of Miriel and Susie, The Shadow of his Wings on the recommendation of Jennifer at Conversion Diary, and I plan to buy Jennifer’s own book as well. If you have anything to suggest, I would love to hear it. I have read appallingly few books of this type, so suggest anything, even if you think it’s something I must have read by now.

What are your Lenten plans? Do you give things up? Does doing so help you grow in your faith? 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seven in Seven 4: Today

Lauren posted her day 4 post on Twitter. I read it as I held Nora’s hand while she went to sleep and was reminded that I am also participating in the “Seven post in seven days” (hosted by Jennifer at Conversion Diary), and I may have cursed internally a little bit. But blog posting is like exercise: I’m always glad I’ve done it even if I’d really rather be watching Veronica Mars while in the middle of it.

Today you get to hear about my day, because I don’t really know what else to talk about and when you give yourself arbitrary deadlines you are choosing quantity over quality. In contrast, Snoozical chose quality with her last post, and even if it did mean she quit “Seven in seven,” it was absolutely worth it and you should go read it.  

Meanwhile, my day started at 2am when Ann Marie woke up and threw up in her bed. Is there anything more pathetic than a barfing toddler? She had no idea what was happening of course and everything was just terrible. On the bright side, the mess was all contained in the crib so it was a relatively easy clean up. I should say it was relatively easy for Andrew to clean up because he was the one stuck with ferrying gross sheets and blankets upstairs to the wash while I cradled Ann Marie in the bathroom and tried to comfort her.
She and I stayed in the bathroom for a while and then she slept with me in my bed while I dozed fitfully, bolting upright every hour or so to hold her head over the bucket. Meanwhile, my sainted husband made trips back and forth to the bathroom to clean out the bucket and then slept in the chair in the girls’ room because Nora was freaking out.

All this meant that I had to call in sick to work today. Given that today was my day to work for an hourly rate, something I only do every other Thursday, this was irritating because it means I lose out on the pay for today. On the other hand, it was a blessing to have Andrew home so there were two of us to deal with the terribleness that is a sick toddler. And in fact, Andrew got up and started to get Jack ready for school while Ann Marie and I stayed in bed for an extra half hour. Then Andrew took Nora – whom we kept home from school because she was up for about two hours due to all the commotion – and ran a bunch of errands while I held Ann Marie on the couch and we both took a nap. So I’m pretty glad I stayed home.

In all, it was really not that bad of a day. Ann Marie threw up for the last time at 9:30 or so and was begging for cheese sticks by noon. (Almost as pathetic as an actively vomiting toddler is a recently-vomiting toddler who is now hungry and can’t understand why you won’t feed her.) The entire household was in bed by 9pm and it is now 9:23 and I’m the only one awake, so we’re OK. All that’s left now is the ticking time bomb feeling that one of us is about to be felled. We’ve laid towels out on the rugs by Nora’s bed and talked to her about aiming for the bowl, but who knows.

I thought I’d have something else to say here, but it looks like you’re stuck with this. But that’s what you get for choosing quantity over quality. You get this.