Category Archives: Kids


As vegetarians, YA and I have a kitchen stocked a little differently than most of the folks we know and certainly differently than mainstream America.  So I don’t get too worked up about food recalls because it never affects us.  Until last month when a news story about Skippy Peanut Butter jumped out at me.  The photo on all the articles I saw were of Skippy Reduced Fat and Skippy Super Chunk – Super Chunk is what YA and I have in our cupboard.  We’ve tried lots of peanuts butters over the years, including the much-better-for-us co-op brands, but we always come back to Skippy.  That said, I was a little panicked when I read about metal fragments and that 60,000 jars had been recalled and Minnesota was one of the states.

The only other time I’ve been involved in a recall was about 12 years ago when a part on my Saturn was found to be defective.  That turned out to be quite an ordeal.  I called, took the car in and AFTER they took out the defective part, they realized that the new part they had in stock wasn’t for a car as old as mine.  Well, just put the old part back in until they can get a new part, right?.  Nope – the old part is designed so that once it comes out, it doesn’t go back in.   Then it turned out that since my car was older, they hadn’t actually started the production process for the needed part.  I was in a loaner (a very nice loaner) for close to 12 weeks.  But driving a loaner around didn’t trip any of my anxiety buttons like learning that my daughter and I might have ingested metal fragments along with our peanut butter.

Luckily I quickly discovered that the only Skippy products involved were the Reduced Fat versions and the creamy with plant protein added.  YA and I can’t stand the reduced fat (why bother even eating peanut butter) and I’ve never even SEEN the plant protein version.  (Isn’t a peanut a plant?  Isn’t all peanut butter plant-based protein?)

So I wasn’t in a panic very long but it was enough to get my heart going a bit.

Any good recall stories?


I just returned from a meeting of State and Provincial psychology regulatory boards held in New Orleans. It was our first in-person meeting in two years, and the Louisiana Board was so happy and proud to have the conference in their state.

One of the Louisiana Board members is a native of Louisiana and the the co-founder of a Mardi Gras krewe. I don’t know much about these organizations, but they seem integral to the celebration of Mardi Gras across the state and host parade floats, wear costumes, and have all sorts of parties and concerts throughout the year. He gave out Mardi Gras doubloons from his krewe to the conference attendees this weekend. The doubloons are large, colored, cast aluminum coins that are thrown from Mardi Gras parade floats. He also made us honorary members of his krewe, and translated the “secret” Latin motto of his Krewe, which is “Sicut equites aggredtuntur hominem vivere oportet” . I forgot the exact meaning, but it had something to do with living life to the fullest.

Our grandson turns 4 today, and I told him over the phone that I had pirate doubloons to give him when we see him in two weeks. (It would have been this coming weekend, but his mother is afflicted with COVID, and we had to change our travel plans.) Our son told our grandson that we were in a pirate town, and he is so excited to see the pirate coins and the pirate jeweled necklaces I got in New Orleans. It is magical to him, and I love to feed his imagination with simple things that can take on such meaning. Those are the best toys, I think.

Have you ever been to Mardi Gras? What seemed magical when you were a child? What were your best toys? Translate the Latin motto, if you can.

Bringing Up Baby

In two weeks we will pick up our new Cesky Terrier pup in Oklahoma. He will be a about 12 weeks old. We haven’t had a puppy in the house in 20 years. That was when we got our second Welsh Terrier. We have been considering all the things we will need, such as a crate, as we are crate training, leash, collar, puppy chews, treats for reinforcement, and dog bed. We will take the breeder’s recommendations for the kind of food and the immunization schedule. We will have him microchipped. Our son is encouraging us to get a bell to hang on the back door for the dog to ring when it has to go outside. He successfully trained his West Highland Terrier to do that.

When we got our first Welsh Terrier, the breeder, who lived in Mankato, was dismayed to find out that we were psychologists. She said that, in her experience, psychologists weren’t consistent enough to raise terriers. We did pretty well with our dogs, I thought. They were terribly impulsive and naughty, but that is sort of how Welsh Terriers are. They never bit anyone, and I consider that a success.

I think that we will have more time for dog training since we have no kids at home like we did with the Welshies. Our new pup will have all our attention. I do know that I am not going to let him sleep with us, like we did our first dogs. He will sleep in his crate. I am also prepared to be exhausted for the first couple of months getting up in the night to take him outside, but that will get better with time. I think, this time, though, I will get a terrier training book our son recommended. I will show that Mankato breeder we raise can a good terrier citizen with excellent manners.

What do you consider essential puppy accoutrements? What successes or flops have you had training pets?

Still Winter?

Today’s post comes from Ben

There’s a lot of people reading this blog we don’t know where they’re at. I hope everyone is surviving whatever weather is going on in your area. Snowstorms, tornadoes, cold rain, or maybe you’re somewhere where it’s hot and rainy. Any event, I hope you’re surviving. My chives are coming.

The storms that came through Tuesday night in our area didn’t hurt anything. And then Thursday it was so windy again! Man! I noticed a tree hanging over the road and the trunk is split. I said to Kelly would could wait for it to fall over, or I could call the local tree company. She agreed that might be a pretty good idea. The doors on our machine shed are 20 feet wide and 16 feet tall. Two sliding doors that meet in the middle, one set on the south end, which is pretty well sheltered, and the doors I use the most on the west side. They are out in the open and in a good wind, when closed, they will swing in and out so bad they would rip themselves apart if not anchored at the bottom center. The sides lock, it’s just the middle that moves. When the shed was built there was a metal bracket on the ground that the doors slid into, and that would secure the bottom. This metal bracket was attached to a 6” x 6” post sunk in the ground below frost level. Over the years this metal bracket has been broken and fixed and broken and fixed so many times the top of the 6 x 6 has deteriorated to the point nothing can be attached to it anymore. I really should do something about it someday. It’s on my list. But for the last 20 years, I have been putting a 5 gallon bucket full of log chains in front of the doors to stop them swaying in so much. The bucket probably weighs 80 pounds. The doors will still blow out a bit, but they don’t go in. Except when we have these really strong winds and then it will push the 80 pound bucket back in the shop about 16 inches. which then allows the door to swing in and out much more than it should. I saw another farmer strapped the doors to his tractor, so I do that when it’s this windy.

Lost a poufy duck on Tuesday. It was there in the morning. Later in the day we heard the chickens all squawk and the guineas were making a lot of noise and everybody was taking shelter under the lilac bushes. We didn’t see anything but that night there was only one poufy duck.

Still got a pheasant running around looking for an easy meal. Next day I happen to see out the window a Cooper’s hawk sitting on an electric line. As I stepped out the door to try and get a picture of it, it swooped down and I thought for sure was going to try to take a chicken. But the chickens are bigger than it is. And It thought twice. Flew around the yard for a while. Enough Kelly could get the good camera and get a few pictures of it. 

A G.I. bug went through the house beginning Sunday. 24 to 36 hours later we’re mostly OK.

I’ve been delivering a lot of straw lately. It’s fascinating to me that if you open the rear sliding window of a truck, all the loose straw in the box will blow forward into the cab. Don’t ask me how I know this. It makes quite a mess. Fascinating air currents, but messy.

Got a favorite raptor? What do you think of the Rapture? Or ruptures?

Alpha and Omega

Our daughter has two cats, and is entirely besotted by the younger one who she named Percy. He is a handsome tuxedo boy, He is very naughty, knocked over her television and busted it, and likes to make huge leaps into her garbage can because he likes the way the lid swings back and forth. He gets a lot of baths as a result, since he gets so dirty. He hides his toys in her bed.

The other day, daughter was expressing how much she loved this cat, and described him as her “Alpha and Omega”. I was surprised and gratified to hear her say that, only because it confirmed for me that dragging our children to church all those years was worth it. I guess she was listening and I didn’t even know it. I suppose I would rather she describe the Lord, and not her cat, in such terms, but it is a positive start.

What naughty animals have you loved in spite of themselves? Who has surprised you in a good way lately? What or who is your Alpha and Omega?

Cookie Doldroms

Girl Scout Cookies came up in conversation yesterday.  I sold GS cookie as a kid and was the Cookie Mom for several years when YA was in scouting.  I am aware that as cookies go, they are extraordinarily expensive, but I’ve always thought of them as more of a charity than a fair purchase.  Any time I see Girl Scouts selling cookies, I buy a box or two.  The grocery store, the hardware store, at my office and from the grand-daughter of a friend of mine.

This year that habit netted us well over 12 boxes of cookies.  We tried all the new ones (none of them passed the “we’ll buy them again next year” test).  YA’s favorites are Thin Mints and PB Patties.  Mine are Samoas and Shortbreads.  But clearly neither of us are as enamored of the cookies this year as we have been in the past.  I still have 2 boxes of the Shortbread sitting on the counter and have googled what I could do with them (I did get a good idea for something to put in spring baskets this year – I’ll take a picture in April when it happens).  YA has a box of PB that has been opened but clearly not touched for at least a week and there is a half a package of the Lemonades in a ziplock that no one has touched for quite some time.  (Don’t get me started on the packaging for the Lemonades and the French Toast – it’s criminal!)  I’m pretty sure the Lemonades are going to get tossed.

It’s making me re-think my strategy where GS cookies are concerned.  Maybe if I run across Girl Scouts who are selling, I should just buy one box.  And buy fewer from my friend’s grand-daughter.  And maybe pass on signs I see up at the office.  Because even if I just think of them as a charity, it bugs me to throw out cookies or to finish a box just because we have too many of them.  At least I have a year to refine how I’m going to handle this next time.

Do you have too many of anything in your house because it’s a good cause?

Easy as…..

Even though I didn’t celebrate Pi Day the way I would have preferred (lots of pies, lots of party), I did pull some pie dough out of the freezer and picked up some frozen blueberries last weekend.  My plan was to make a blueberry pie – YA’s favorite – on Monday over my lunch.  Blueberry is about the easiest pie out there – no slicing of anything, no fancy ingredients, nothing that needs to marinate or rise.  If you cheat, like I often do w/ pre-made pie dough, it’s about a 10-minute project before you’re slipping the pie plate into the oven.

Unfortunately last week was a little stressful to say the least and my lunch “hour” on Monday ended up being an 8-minute cheese sandwich (that includes the making and eating of said sandwich).  So pie didn’t happen.  And you all know that when I’m busy at this time of year I don’t have much energy  at the end of the day.  Daylight savings helps a little but not enough.  YA asked about the pie a couple of times the next few days and finally on Friday I told her I’d work on it over the weekend.

Friday night I was wallowing after a 10-hour work day, in my jammies at 7 with a book in hand when I smelled the aroma of baking wafting up from the downstairs.  YA likes to do her cooking and baking in the evening and it smelled good but I didn’t wander down to see what she was doing.  I was actually a little surprised when she came upstairs later and announced she had made a blueberry pie.   I don’t remember her ever making a pie on her own; actually I don’t remember her ever even being involved in pie making.  Of course, I can’t trust my memory on this – heck I can’t even remember the Wordle word an hour later!

I asked her if it tasted good and she said she had put it in the fridge to cool down.  When I got up on Saturday I was surprised to see a whole pie in the fridge; I assumed she would have a piece before she went to bed (which is always later than me).  But it was still whole and gorgeous.  Not only did she weave the lattice crust, the lattice pieces were really even; she had clearly used one of my pastry cutters.  Sure enough there is was in the sink (waiting to be washed). 

She knew I had a pastry cutter for lattice work?  I had a quick thought that maybe aliens came down and helped her, but I do actually know better.  So may surprises with YA.  And among all this fun news – the pie tastes great as well!

If an alien came to help you, what project would you like assistance on?

Cone of Shame

Last week Guinevere took a flying leap off the back porch steps in her never-ending pursuit of squirrel removal in our back yard.  Not that this pursuit has ever shown any positive outcomes.  When she came back in, she was limping a little and leaving a little trail of bloody spots on the kitchen floor.  When YA and I wrestled her to the ground to take a look, it turns out that she had ripped one of toenails partly off below the quick.  Ouch.

Neither I nor YA was brave enough to clip off the nail so YA carted Guinevere off to the vet where they applied a little anesthetic and loped it off.  Of course that turned out to be the easy part.  Guinevere, like most dogs I assume, just could not leave the toe alone.  I’m sure after the drugs wore off, it hurt so she reacted as animals do.  Licking.  And licking.  After not long a time, she had licked her little pad raw and she didn’t show any signs of stopping.

At night we were able to wrap her foot and leg up within an inch of its life (antibiotic ointment, bandage, sock, lots of painter’s tape) but during they day, she had the wrappings off within minutes.  YA found a cone of shame up in the attic and brought it down to try to keep her away from the foot.

This turned out to be awful for the dog and for me (dog spends more time with me at night).  When we put the cone on her, she was beyond paralyzed.  She wouldn’t move, wouldn’t lay down and after about a half an hour, she started to breathe a little heavily.  Her eyes said “please, please save me” and I couldn’t stand it; I took the cone off, made her get on the bed with me and re-directed her every time she took a lick.  This went on for DAYS.  And do we even need to say that repetitive noises (like a dog licking its paw) drive me up a wall? 

Finally at the 10-day mark, she has mostly stopped bothering the toe.  The quick appears to have covered over and her pad is now longer licked raw.  I’m not sure who feels better about this – Guinevere or me?

Have you ever had to be cruel to be kind?

Good News

This has been an awful week for bad news. In times like these, I think it is helpful to focus on whatever good things are happening in our immediate settings.

Our son let me know last night that his West Highland Terrier had successfully excreted the leather shoe laces and leather slipper he had ingested last week. There was concern it could have provoked an intestinal crisis. We seem to be in the clear. I have received excretion updates all week. I am relieved the terrier is ok.

Our daughter informed us that her work evaluations are stellar, and her place of employment is investing a lot of money to train her in three very expensive therapy modalities in the next several months. She is supremely happy.

What are the positive things that have happened in your life this week? How do you cope with bad news?

My Favorite Villian

I hadn’t thought about Hector P. Valenti, Star of Stage and Screen, since the last time I read one of the Lyle the Crocodile books to our children. Given that our youngest is 26, it has been a while. Husband mentioned him the other day as one of his favorite literary villians.

The House on East 88th Street by Bernard Waber was one of the first books I read all by myself as a child. I loved the water colors and the storyline, about Lyle the Crocodile, a caviar swilling reptile who is abandoned by his owner Hector, a down and out performer, and who becomes a beloved member of a human household in New York City. In all the Lyle books, Mr. Valenti tries to get Lyle back into show business with him in various nefarious ways, only to have virtue and love win out in the end. I just reread The House on East 88th Street, and it is a fresh and lovely as when I first read it in 1963. Hector is a good villain indeed.

Who are your favorite literary villains? What children’s books would you like to read again? What is your opinion of Turkish Caviar?