Category Archives: Kids

By Any Other Name

Tofurkey calls it a sausage.  I call it a brat.  But despite the fact that we’ve been eating them for years, when YA went to the store last week, she came home without them because I had written “brats” on the list and the product on the shelf said “sausage”.  Sigh. 

I grew up without sausage or brats.  Bacon and hot dogs were our porks of choice; I don’t know why.  I actually had never even heard of a brat until I was married and moved to Milwaukee.  By that time I was a vegetarian so never delved too deeply but has always seemed to me that a brat is just a fat hot dog.  Go ahead… pile on. 

Tofurkey’s Italian sausage is a brat to me, because if it were sausage, in my world it would be smaller and something I might have for breakfast.  But according to YA she didn’t put it in the basket because it didn’t say brat.  I won’t say we actually argued about this, but it was the first time in a long while that I’ve gotten to roll MY eyes.

Is a hot dog in a bun a sandwich?

We’re Not Bleeding

I have a babysitting gig tonight.

I was doing a quick scroll on Facebook (that’s about all I can handle on FB) and noticed my neighbor two doors up looking for a last-minute sitter since the scheduled sitter has come down sick.  It’s my neighbors anniversary and apparently the reservations have been made for months.  This is a newish neighbor; they moved in last May in the middle of pandemic and I don’t know them terribly well, but I thought “what the heck… I don’t have any plans on Friday night” and volunteered. 

The last time I did any child-minding was two Easters ago.  As part of the most over-engineered-egg-hunt in history, adults go out and hide the eggs for one assigned child (13 kids 13 and under).  Normally I am part of the egg-hiding crowd but that year there was snow on the ground and I was the lone voice of reason that maybe we should do something different.  So I rebelled and stayed with the kids in the house while all the other adults traipsed out.  Big jokes were made about whether I could handle this.  I told all the kids that as long as there was no bleeding, we would be fine.  The kids thought this was very funny and it’s still a running joke; I expect to hear that no one is bleeding on Thanksgiving.,

My neighbor is not a baker so I thought I might take some cookie dough to their house and bake cookies with the girls.  Or maybe we could make caramel popcorn to have if we watch tv.  Other than that no plans; I’m assuming from their ages (5 and 8) that they will be in bed before their folks get home, so a good book is on the docket a well.  YA thinks I’m in for a hard evening despite me reminding her that I was HER babysitter for years and she’s not bleeding.

Any advice for tonight?


On Monday YA ran an errand over lunch.   It was a short errand, so I decided to just go out in my work-from-home clothing.  Gray sweatpants and t-shirt.  At the last minute decided to throw on a sweatshirt; I have a new one that is gray with a blue-tone logo. 

YA didn’t say anything while we were out, however when we got home she said “you’re wearing a groutfit”.  Normally everything about my sartorial choices is met with YA’s disdain.  I assumed she was making the word up, a combination of grungy and outfit.  She said that it was a real word although she did not define it.

I looked it up later to see if she was just messing with me and it turns out it is a combination of gray and outfit.  And surprise surprise, apparently it is considered a chic casual trend.  You can find lots of groufit shopping opportunities online.  One of the funniest things I found was this quote:  “Dress it up with fun shoes and jewelry, or lean into groufit territory hard with some gray legging or dozy socks.”

Of course, as I think about it, I’m sure YA was just suggesting that I was all in gray, not that I was looking particularly chic!

Have you ever been accidentally trendy?


Today’s post comes to us from Steve.

Accidents are part of life, and kids are especially likely to take risks or do dumb things that result in injuries. One of my sister’s sons was a wild child who lit fires, jumped off garages, climbed trees, explored dangerous caves, ascended water towers and did other unsafe things. As an experiment, he once bit a wire attached to a lamp, a lamp that was plugged in. Electricity burned a hole in his tongue, sending him to a doctor’s office.

Apart from my one wild nephew, kids in my family have been remarkably prudent and accident-free. My daughter had only two accidents of note. Well, she had three if you count the time a dog bit her, but I blame the dog for that one. That accident had an unanticipated benefit. My daughter had struggled to remember which was her right and which was her left hand. After the bite she knew that her right was her “dog-bite hand,” and never again was confused about left and right.

My grandson is a good example of a kid who is naturally cautious. One afternoon he was walking with scissors in my apartment. My daughter reflexively said, “Be careful Liam!” He wasn’t running, and didn’t appreciate being cautioned. In a quiet voice, Liam responded, “When have you ever seen me not being careful?” I thought that was a nice sentence from someone who was six.

I must have had that same natural caution, for I had very few accidents in spite of living what would now be regarded a risky childhood filled with BB guns, bicycles, bows and arrows, hunting knives and many firearms. While swinging on a very tall swing set at school I used to pump for speed and then “bail out” to sail through the air. In fact, all of the play equipment I used so recklessly as a child would be banned as too dangerous by today’s child safety experts. But I never broke a bone, suffered a concussion or had a cut serious enough to require stitches.

The one exception was when my buddy Mike shot an arrow into me. When I was fourteen I discovered a dump that was heavily infested with rats. The dump, as was true of all such places at that time, was just an open hillside where garbage was strewn willy nilly on the surface. Of course, the place stank from rotting garbage. Plumes of rancid smoke wafted over the dump, making our clothing fragrant.

For reasons that escape me now, my friends and I spent many hours hunting the dump rats with bows and arrows. Although it was a pointless activity, it was challenging. The rats were smart and quick, and they rarely ventured anywhere in sight because they had a fantastic system of tunnels in the rubbish that let them travel unseen.

One day a young rat made the mistake of leaving the security of the tunnels, and it ended up running in little circles around my feet because it apparently didn’t remember where there was an opening to the tunnel complex. I always wore four-buckle black rubber boots for trips to the dump. With the rat running right around my feet I was hopping about in panic. My panic deepened when Mike came up with his bow at full draw—a bow powerful enough to hunt deer—and let loose an arrow. Mike was a superb athlete but somewhat excitable.

I’ll never forget the astonishment of looking at my foot. Mike’s arrow had gone through the boot, through the leather street shoe underneath and was now sticking up proudly like a little flag pole. I limped out of the dump and pulled off my footwear. The arrow had hit my big toe, but apart from that had done little damage.

Back home, I handled the wound the way any teenage boy would have: I kept quiet about the accident because I didn’t want my mother to explode with anxiety. But when I left for school the next day, my mother couldn’t fail to see I was limping, so she forced the story out of me. She was not mollified by my insistence that I was okay because “it was a new, clean arrow that had only been through one rat.”

Did you have childhood accidents? Have you had some close calls? Did you ever do things as a kid that you now know were stupidly risky? Do you remember any painful or unpleasant remedies for childhood mishaps?


My van was in the shop last week for new brake pads. My office building is a mile down the same road as the dealership, so it should have been a straight shot for the driver of the courtesy car to get me and take me back to the dealership to retrieve the van when it was finished. There has been extensive construction work on the road, however, so he had to take me the winding, back way through a new housing development behind my work and the dealership.

The driver was younger, a mid-30’s guy who doubles as a mechanic, and he told me that he grew up in an older section of houses also right behind my work. He even pointed out his parents’ home. He remembered when the area of the new development was just tree shelter belts and bare plains. He reminisced with great wistfulness about the trees that were no longer there and all the “forts” he and the kids in the neighborhood would make among the trees and how they would raid the other forts and all the fun they had.

This put in mind all the forts my cousins and I would try to erect in and around the trees in the groves on their farms, trying to nail boards together to make structures and how exciting it was to sit in them. (Here, they are shelter belts. In Minnesota, they are groves).

Children love forts, even if they consist of blankets thrown over the sides of end tables. I remember my mother throwing a blanket over the sides of my crib, and how oddly satisfying that was. I couldn’t have been more than 3. Our children, too, loved blanket forts, and any small enclosure they could erect and escape into. We even had a book about innovative ways to make forts.

What are your memories of forts? Why do you think children like forts? Did you or anyone you know ever have a tree house? Any good tree climbing stories?

Fall Has Fallen

Today’s post comes from Ben

Rainy and cool today… talking lows in the upper 30’s this week… might get a frost yet. Or a freeze in the valley’s.

Ducks are good.

As of Wednesday, I’m still waiting to get my soybeans out. There’re not too many soybeans out in the fields yet. People are surprised when I tell them mine aren’t done. The neighbors who will harvest mine are working in the neighborhood; they’ve got a field right across from one of my fields so with the nice weather predicted for this week I would expect by the time you read this, soybeans might be done. Fingers crossed and the creek don’t rise. It’s out of my control; they’ll get them when they get them.

Things are busy in my real job world and I’m almost stressing out over them. Got the college show to open on the 28th. Got an open house for the remodeling at another theater scheduled for the 6th of November and I need to get those bathroom stalls installed. Plus class. Plus “life”. It’s enough to push a man to drink.

Doing a local field trip come Monday in geology class. It’s hard to do field trips during Covid. Everyone drives themselves… Trying to fit 3 or 4 stops into 2 hours. I predict it will be like herding cats, but we’ll see. Just a 1/4 mile up the road from campus is an exposed hillside of St. Peter Sandstone. And a little bit further is some other rocks and then there’s a spot I specifically keep asking the teacher about because of the layers and colors in this exposed hillside. Isn’t it amazing to realize these rocks are a BILLION years old and that the layer of darker rock on the top was put there 60 MILLION YEARS AGO?? MAN!! That just blows me away. I know just enough from class now to be dangerous. I’m just beginning to understand that rocks can change and become other rocks. Pressure or erosion and now it’s a different rock. Huh! I just thought they were rocks. I’m far to old to remember all the terms, but it’s interesting.

Last week and we talked about finding things and that reminded me of some other stuff we’ve found in the woods or in the fields.

November 1st one year, I was going in to do some plowing and down one of the field roads was a car. Tires were gone, stereo ripped out, one of those “key Keeper” things the car dealers used to have on the rear window was in the back seat. I called the deputies. Seems like if you find a car before it’s reported stolen, they don’t know what to do with it. They contacted the owner. He had consigned it to a dealership to sell and it had been stolen off the lot. But it was still his problem at this point. So now it was considered ‘abandoned’ and the owner had to hire a tow truck to come and pick it up.

One time a friend was leaving and a few minutes later was back to say there was a car tipped over in the woods but there was no one around. I drove up there to see it and it appeared from the tire tracks they had been fishtailing up the road, lost control, hit a bank and tipped the car over. There was just a little bit of blood on the door frame from pulling themselves out, but no one around. This was way before airbags or cell phones. I waited, Kelly went back and called deputies. I saw a car come in, see me, and back away again. I don’t recall what all became of that. There’s been several situations of me chasing people out of the fields. Twenty years ago, before we put the gates on the end of our driveway, it was worse. With the gates, they didn’t have a place to hide and trouble moved on.

Just yesterday I noticed someone over at a rented field, vehicle tracks off the road, made a loop through the soybean field, and back on to the road. Sigh. Could be worse; could have made a lot more tracks through the field. This will only amount to a few bushels. Dad always told the story of kids driving through the hayfield. Except they lost the license plate in the field. Deputies were able to track them down. Somehow dad arranged that their punishment was for them to come out one Saturday morning and help clean calf barns using a pitch fork. He said they were good kids, and they were just screwing around. But stay out of the fields next time.

We got to know some of the sheriff deputies pretty well. One night Kelly saw several cars come down in the yard, turn around and go back out. Well, that pretty much means ‘Party’ so she called deputies. I was coming home and from the highway I was seeing this line of car headlights coming out of our driveway. What the heck?? Eventually I could get in and there were 3 deputies. There was a party down a field road, out of sight, and the kids had just tapped the keg when the deputies showed up. Officer Kirby was pretty excited about breaking up the party. Of course, the kids took off running and the officers told them, ‘We got your cars, you may as well come back.’ I think everyone got a warning that night. And I found plastic cups all over the corn field that fall.

TALK ABOUT BEING PUNISHED. As a kid, As an employee? Or punishment given as a parent or employer.

TV Time

While Husband and I were toiling away in Brookings laat weekend helping our son and daughter-in-law settle into their new home, our daughter and a friend were having an adventure in Hollywood.

In August, our daughter won two tickets to the filming of a Dr. Phil show. Airfare from Tacoma to Burbank was pretty cheap, both young women are single, both are social workers who think Dr. Phil is just awful, so what could be more fun than to go to California to the filming?

Daughter and I have been too busy this week for her to give me a full account of the trip. All I know is that the filming of the show took six hours, Dr. Phil doesn’t take a trauma informed approach to his interventions, and they got to meet a member of Motley Cru. She still thinks Dr. Phil is awful.

What TV show would you want to see filmed? What talk shows did like or not like growing up? What goofy adventures did you have as a young adult?

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Our daughter was lamenting the other day what a raw deal she and her brother got in the DNA department. Both children have their father’s flat feet and bad ankles. Both have my tendency for anxiety. Both have their father’s attention deficits.

I reminded her that we owe our lives to flat feet, and that there are flat foots on my side of the family, too. My maternal grandfather immigrated to the US in about 1908. In the spring of 1914, he went back to his village in Northern Germany to attend his oldest brother’s wedding. He was promptly drafted into the German army. His very flat feet made it hard for him to march as smartly as the officers wanted him to, and he was given a medical discharge after a few weeks. He hightailed it to Bremerhaven and sailed back to the US just before the First World War broke out. Daughter wasn’t impressed. Her bad feet and ankles are quite problematic for her lately, but she is taking measures to resolve the issues with physical therapy.

I, on the other hand, inherited my father’s perfect little Dutch feet, mechanical aptitude, and musical ability. I also inherited his temper and lack of patience. I like to think I inherited a penchant for cooking from a great grandmother who was a professional cook in Hamburg in the early 1900’s.

We can learn new things on our own. We can manage our tempers. Who is to say we haven’t learned a lot of problematic behaviors and attitudes, not inherited them? You can’t argue the heritability of flat feet, though.

What good or not so good things do you think you inherited in your DNA? Who do you look like?

Going to the Mattresses

Years ago when YA moved from her loft bed into a double bed (and moved from her smaller bedroom to the next size up), I will admit that I bought her a cheap mattress.  I didn’t have much money and between getting her a bed frame and a mattress, it pretty much did away with my disposable income for a few months.  And I figured she was young, it probably wouldn’t deform her for life.  It was a traditional mattress and we drove about 15 miles an hour all the way home from the outlet shop with it precariously tied to the top of our small car.  Had to have a neighbor help me get it up the steps.

A few years later, I was able to get a new box spring and mattress for myself, using the award points that my company gives out (no cash – yea!).  My old mattress had given up the ghost; I actually had duct tape in two or three spots where the springs had poked through.  This new set was delivered and I managed to guilt the delivery guys into wrestling it up the stairs and wrestling the old set down the stairs.  

YA has been complaining about her mattress for a while now and has purchased several different toppers that she says makes it more comfortable.  Honestly part of my reluctance to get her a new mattress is the traditional “how do you get the mattress up the stairs” conundrum.

You can imagine I was a little blind-sided two weeks ago when she announced that she had purchased a new mattress for herself.  My first thought was that we were going to do another perilous trip with a mattress on top of the car.  Then I thought maybe I’d have to negotiate with two burly delivery guys again.  But nope.  She purchased one of the new mattresses that inflate when you take it out of the box.  When the delivery guy brought it, he left the big box sitting on the front sidewalk at the bottom of the stairs – that should have been my clue that it was heavier than it looked.  We managed to get it up the stairs by a combination of shoving and flipping. 

After she got it out of the box, she laid it out in Nonny’s room – apparently it had to “rest” for several hours before you lay on it.  She ended up letting it rest for a whole day and it did seem to get bigger every time I looked at it.  And it was amazingly sturdy once it was done resting.  I’m not really sure of the exact science that goes into these things, but I had assumed it would be more foamy and less sturdy.  Wrong on all counts.

So one more traditional thing evolves… no more big burly delivery folks wrestling a mattress and box spring up the steps!

What do you see as a positive evolution?

Rome, Prague, or Sioux Falls

We are planning a Christmas holiday in Brookings, South Dakota this year. Son and Daughter in Law will host in their new home. We will drive from western North Dakota, and daughter will fly to Sioux Falls from Tacoma.

Daughter texted me in exasperation last week to inform me that she could fly much cheaper to Prague or Rome than she can to Sioux Falls. That is the sad state of airfare costs in the Dakotas. where flights cost an arm and a leg if you fly out of the secondary hubs of Sioux Falls, Bismarck, Fargo, or Rapid City.

Well, I would rather be in Prague, too, but family is in Brookings, and that is where we will be. We will help daughter with her airfare so she won’t be out so much money. This made me think of what Christmas in Rome or Prague would be like, and something for us to think about in the next couple of years.

Where was the farthest from home you ever spent the holidays ? Ever been to Prague or Rome? If you planned a trip over the holidays, where would you go? Got any good stories about Sioux Falls?