Easy as Spy

Setting: A chilly, overcast fall day, driving through Fargo-Moorhead, me and Dumples. Dumples wants to play I Spy, but I tell her that I can’t play because I am driving.

“That’s okay. I can play by myself.

I SPY WITH MY WITTLE EYE…something…white.

Is it the car?


Uh, that was too easy.

I’m bored with this game.”

Things You Can Do with Playdough

Dumples is four today!

Every Wednesday and Friday she goes to preschool. Every Wednesday and Friday, she cries at drop off. At the end of the two hours, she has had a great time. Every Wednesday and Friday at dinner, I ask her what she did at preschool.

“I played wif Playdough,” she tells me.

“You sure play with Playdough a lot,” I told her. Better at preschool than at home. That stuff is crazy hard to get out of nooks and crannies, and once it gets under your fingernails, fuggedaboudit.

“Yeah,” agrees Dumples. “He’s my best fwiend.”

Wait, what?

“You mean the clay stuff that you mush into shapes and hide in the couch cushions?”

“No. Playdough isn’t a clay stuff. Playdough is a puhson.”

Today, for Dumple’s birthday, I took the day off from work to do fun stuff with her. (Yay birthdays!) First, I accompanied her to preschool so she could show me all the cool stuff they have to play with.

“Okay,” I said, kneeling down next to her as we glanced around the room buzzing with eager children, “which one is Playdough?”

“Uh, Mom,” she hissed at me, “There’s no kid named Playdough. That was just pwetend.”

Dumples + Playdough = Best Friends

At the end of preschool, I picked her up to take her to lunch (Chuck E. Cheese!). “How was preschool?” She told me she wasn’t shy today, on her birthday; she talked! She told the class about her show-and-tell item, her Flying Doggie. “And I played with Playdough,” she said. And she laughed.


My boss is leaving. He’s not REALLY leaving. He’s just going to work in a different role in the same place, but it feels like he’s packing it all in. Maybe that is because he is literally packing it all in. His office already looks like an estate sale, and he’s been kindly bestowing upon me many mementos in the form of classic works of literature.

Today he bequeathed to me the 1971 Compact Oxford English dictionary, with the presumption that it might enhance my children’s vocabularies. The double tomes weighed approximately 500 pounds. (Compact! Ha! If you heave this thing open and turn the page to “irony” you’ll see a picture of this dictionary set.) As I hefted them toward my car this afternoon, I wondered how dictionaries could be getting smaller (pocket-sized even!), even as we keep adding more and more words to it. These two volumes would not include the words “selfie,” “hashtag,” or even “internet.” (Remember when Internet had to be capitalized because it was like a proper noun, a location? Glad that’s over and done.)

The dictionary set comes with a tiny sliding drawer that contains a rectangular magnifying glass.

dictionary3Dumples and I worked together to pull one of the large books from its encasement. Now we know why this is the compact version.

I guess if the power ever goes out and we have no internet access and are playing Scrabble, I would pick this dictionary as my second-choice Scrabble dictionary (after dictionary.com). Because aside from “wackadoo” and “ohmigosh,” this dictionary must have everything else. If you can read it.


The Light Up Backpack

Dumples started preschool last week. It’s only two hours, two days a week. Basically, there’s time for a song, an art project, and a snack. She needs her own backpack now, and she picked out the only one in the whole store that lights up when you shake it.  She uses it to bring her art projects home and, I presume, to engage new friends.

After the first day of preschool, I asked Dumples if she had made any new friends. “Yep!” she said, beaming.

“Tell me their names,” I coaxed her.

She thought for a moment, then eureka’d, “Silas!” She added, “Silas is my best fwiend.”

“Oh yeah? Did you play with Silas today?”


“Did you talk to Silas today?”


“But he’s your best friend?”


I’m pretty sure this best friendship is all about the light up backup. I can’t see how it could be based on anything else. If Silas even knows who Dumples is.

Important Announcement

Erma and Sigourney would like to announce the retirement of their silly nicknames. From now on, they will be referred to as Chicken and Dumples.

Be a Rebel

Erma switched elementary schools from kindergarten to first grade, because we moved. Now she is a really big kid, who takes the big yellow banana to school and possesses her own protractor.

The new elementary school is pretty great. Only three classes of first grade; no automatic flushes in the bathroom; and the principal gave us the school tour herself! The only thing that troubles me is…they promote rebellion.

Well, they promote rebellion and conformity at the same time. It’s a little confusing. Apparently, the rebel way is for everybody to dress alike.

My favorite rebel behavior is “leave no trace.” Frankly, this sounds very gangster. It’s both rebellious and conformist at the same time. It wins!

And anyway, being a rebel is a mite bit better than Erma’s previous school, at which she was a potato. Go Spuds!

Kidisms from the Apple Orchard

Walking along a nature trail at the Maple Hills Apple Orchard, I’m not sure if Erma asked what caused dinosaurs to become extinct or some other chicken-and-egg type question, but I told her, “Nobody knows.”

“Hey!” said Sigourney, hands on her hips, “that’s my line!”

“Oh, really? Did you copyright that line?”


“Did you patent protect it?”

“Yes, I cat and tekkidded,” Sigourney insisted.

“What is cat and tekkid?” wondered Erma. “Nobody knows.”

“Hey!” said Sigourney, “that’s my line!”

Sigourney in the Apple House.

On the drive home from the orchard, the kids were playing on their kid tablets. Erma, excitedly from the back seat: “Mom! Guess what! Sigourney beat the game! She’s a vegetarian now!”

“What? What game are you playing?”

“Let me look. Um. Best Pet Vet. I’m gonna play and see if I can be a vegetarian.”

Not a bad idea for a game, actually. Has anyone cat-and-tekkidded this idea?

Erma blow drying her painted pumpkin.

My Verruca

Today I found out that I am part witch. The part of me that is witch is the part of me that made me hobble around; cry in pain through the twilight hours; and never, ever, ever tell another soul the embarrassing secret that was happening to the bottom of my foot.

That’s because I thought it was a corn. My mother thought it was a corn. My mother-in-law thought it was a corn. Google image search thought it was a — no, I can’t go back to that dark place. Anyway, even my primary care physician thought it was a corn. And that was embarrassing. Not only was it a corn, but it was a corn that would not be Epsom salt-bathed away, no matter how hard I pumiced.

That is how I ended up with a referral to the P-word, the foot specialist, the word we dare not say. There I sat in a giant airplane hangar, full of neutral colors and fake green plants and lots and lots of people waiting to see different specialists. I sat among a crowd of people who could barely stand up. (I watched them try. It was hard to watch.) My name was shouted and my blood pressure instantly shot through the roof. (Which as I said, was high enough to contain a jumbo jet.)

The nurse asked me some questions. What was my current level of pain? Did I feel safe at home? Have I had an unexplained weight gain? Are there guns in my home? Is there a religious affiliation that I would like them to note in case of…

“Excuse me. I’m here for my foot. Why would I need my rabbi?” I MAY have asked, “Am I going to die?” At the least, I was thinking it.

“Hmm, your blood pressure is pretty high,” the nurse noted, while I was pondering my imminent corn-fed demise.

She told me to take off my shoe and sock and sit in a massage chair. There was new age music playing. She said the doctor would be right in.

The doctor came in 20 minutes later. She was fifteen years old. I almost carded her. She had a scalpel, so I figured, sure, she was the doctor. She pushed some buttons and the massage chair moved around like a dentist chair. I stuck my foot in her face. “It’s a wart!” she proclaimed.

That’s when the big gun came out. The freeze gun. Doctor Goodfeet asked me if I was ready. I was not ready. But I said I was. Then the bullet hit the bone. Actually, the liquefied nitrogen hit the weird foot growth.

That was it. It was over. The massage chair never massaged me; my rabbi was a no-show.

And I’m no longer a witch.

Unless the procedure didn’t work. Then I get to go back and do it all over again. I’ll keep my rabbi on speed-dial.

I Ask Them What They Are Talking About and They Say ‘Just Kid Stuff’

Overheard in the living room:

“Every time Scooby eats a Scooby snack, we have to eat a Scooby snack, and if Scooby eats TWO Scooby snacks, then we have to eat TWO Scooby snacks and if Scooby eats THREE Scooby snacks, we eat three!”

“That’s a LOT of Scooby Snacks!”