Saturday, December 9, 2017

Thankful tree, Christmas wish lists, Weird Panera encounter

Dusts off blog

Everyone had nine leaves on which to write the things for which they are thankful for 2017’s Thankful Tree. Here they are, listed in no particular order.

  1. Warm House
  2. Viber
  3. The internet
  4. Doughnuts
  5. Interesting job
  6. Tea at night
  7. Running
  8. St. Mike’s
  9. Family
  1. Electricity
  2. Antibiotics
  3. Soft pillows
  4. Maureen
  5. Family
  6. Mold
  7. Creativity
  8. Thermos

  1. Intelligence
  2. Food
  3. Speech
  4. Holidays
  5. Minecraft
  6. Civilization
  7. Internet
  8. Clothing
  9. Shelter

  1. Friends
  2. Wolfy (stuffed husky)
  3. Doughnuts
  4. Thanksgiving
  5. Teddy
  6. Day/night
  7. School
  8. Money
  9. People that draw women for good jobs (This one is inspired by a cartoon of career choices and some of the people with careers were women.) (We talk about gender and racial equality a lot.)
Ann Marie
  1. Mommy
  2. Daddy
  3. Teddy
  4. Jack
  5. Nora
  6. Family
  7. My friends
  8. YouTube
Teddy (filled in by me)
  1. Mama
  2. Daddy
  3. Jack
  4. Nora
  5. Ann Marie
  6. Nursing
  7. Soft, soft blankets
  8. Milk 
  9. Milk and binks and blankets
It is also important that I capture the kids’ Christmas wish lists this year.

  • Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U
  • 100 billion dollars (he is willing to accept 100 million dollars)
  • A Hatchimal
  • LOL dolls
  • Sisters 8 series
Ann Marie:
  • A stuffed puppy
  • A hamster. Not a REAL one, a STUFFED one.
  • One hundred dollars
Finally, I took the three oldest kids Christmas shopping today. We stopped for lunch at Panera. After placing our order, Ann Marie had a minor meltdown about Nora’s moving her hat and coat to a different seat. A woman came up and said, “Excuse me?” Earlier, Ann Marie had bonked her mouth on the shopping cart and I only found out because a woman saw it and explained to me what happened, so I was primed to think that Ann Marie had again hurt herself and I had missed it. I paused in my tending to the weeping Ann Maire to see what the woman wanted. This is what she said.

“I noticed your daughter is in distress, and I was wondering if you’d like me to teach her some meditation techniques?”
I am not making that up even a little bit.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Doll

Last May, we went to Disney World. While we were there, we let each kid pick a souvenir. Jack built a light saber, Nora found a handmade necklace, and Ann Marie chose one of those two-sided dolls that was Rapunzel on one side and Tiana on the other. You know the kind; one head is hidden under the skirt of the other head, and you flip it upside down and reverse the skirt to switch characters.

We bought the Rapunzel/Tiana doll, henceforth known as “Tinunzel,” on our first day in the Magic Kingdom. And while the double princess dolls could be found in tons of shops all over the park, the Tinunzel doll was only in the shop right by the park entrance on Main Street. This became an issue later, when Ann Marie woke up that night and barfed on it. She was fine; it was “too much theme park fun barf” not “gravely ill barf.”

Fortunately, we were planning a second day in the Magic Kingdom, and my friend Jen is a Disney World expert and had told me that you can exchange anything at Disney World for any reason. She lives about twenty minutes from the park and has exchanged many items, even ones obviously broken by her children. She says it’s included in the outrageously high prices. You’re paying for 100% satisfaction!

So when we went back to the Magic Kingdom for our second visit a few days later, I wrapped Tinunzel up in a plastic bag and stashed her (them?) in the bottom of the stroller. We were borrowing Jen’s BOB Revolution stroller, which she had kindly stocked with a cooler and 5 disposable rain ponchos. We were very glad of the ponchos on our first Magic Kingdom day when it rained that afternoon.

When we got to the park, we went to the shop right away and I told the cast member working the register that my daughter had thrown up on the doll that we just bought, and could we please exchange it for an identical doll? The cast member said we’d need a receipt.


Let’s break that down: Either I can exchange a doll that was damaged after purchase or I can’t. The receipt merely serves to prove that I bought the doll at Disney World. Given that I was exchanging the doll for an identical doll, what is the point of proving I bought it there? If I were asking for credit, I’d understand. Or if she had said she can’t exchange it because the damage occurred after purchase, I’d also understand. But no exchange without a receipt? What?

I of course did not have the receipt, so I took Tinunzel and left, figuring I’d try it in one of the other 10,000 shops in the park. That is how I know that Tinunzel is only available in that one shop. I checked.

Happily for me, my friend and Disney expert Jen and her kids came to join us at the park later that day. Jen was stunned that the cast member wouldn’t exchange the doll, and she agreed to help me try again later. So on the way out, Jen and her kids headed to the shop with me and Ann Marie, who was very very cranky. We parked the strollers outside, and I grabbed the plastic-wrapped, barfed-upon doll and went in.

“Hi, my friend’s daughter was sick and threw up on this doll. A cast member outside said you’d be able to help us out in here?” said Jen to the guy working the register. I held up the plastic-wrapped doll and the new doll with a hopeful expression on my face.

“You just want to exchange it for the same doll?” said the cast member.

“Right,” I said.

“Heugghhaahhh!” said Ann Marie, as she chose that exact moment to barf on the floor, demonstrating exquisite timing.

So then there was a flurry of activity as Jen hustled her vomit-suggestible kids away, the cast member called maintenance, and I guarded the soiled area to keep customers from accidentally walking through it. While we waited for maintenance, I handed the wrapped doll to the cast member and he gave me a new doll to replace it. Eventually they brought a “wet floor” thingy and we took the new doll and left.

That night, Andrew unpacked the stroller, and he found something interesting. He found the plastic-wrapped, barfed-upon Tinunzel doll still in the stroller basket.

You see, in the flurry and rush of activity, combined with the fresh barf, I had accidentally exchanged the bundle of our used rain ponchos for a brand-new Tinunzel doll. Basically, we ran a complicated con job to score a free princess doll. And we couldn’t have done it without Ann Marie.

She’s method.

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.