The Lady's New Nose

    It’s been a long time, but I’m finally back to finish what I started.  And speaking of finishing what I started, I should probably write that post about the second part of our trip from this past summer.  I know it’s long over-due and long forgotten, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t get it done.  I’m thinking that will be my next “all new and exciting” post.  Stay tuned for that, it just might arrive before Christmas.  Christmas makes me busy.

    Without further ado, may I present our new mudroom in pictures…

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    Okay, it’s the mudroom, but mostly it’s Tyler.  This is what Tyler does each day; he gets what he wants.  In this case, he wants shoes that are located inside of the awesome mudroom cabinets.   So he climbs onto the bench, walks to the cabinet door, opens the cabinet door…

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    …climbs down, grabs the shoes, and disappears.  This leaves the lady’s new nose empty and ready for a photo.  Awww,  isn’t she lovely.

    Mazie in mudroom IMG 0468 IMG 0468 IMG 0471

    Now it’s Mazie turn to get in on the photo action.  The mudroom cabinet is perfection.  We have room to hang 14 coats, house a crap-load of shoes, tuck away all of our hats and mittens, and even our cookbooks have a home.  Because the mudroom is pretty narrow it’s hard to get a good picture of the front of the cabinet so you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you it’s supremely good.

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    Tyler’s back again and looking for an escape.  This offers a different view of my handsome lady’s nose with a view into the kitchen.  And just to round out the pictures, here’s a view of the mudroom just past the cabinet before you get to the desk.  There is a large opening where you can walk into our old office and pocket French doors if you want some privacy.  This means you can now make a circle inside our house.  The kids love to circle and I’ve gotta say circling isn’t just for kids, adults love it too.  And that my friends is our new mudroom and my children.  The End.

    The Kate Club

    Mazie has joined her first social club.  It’s called “The Kate Club” and it’s quite exclusive.  You must be a girl, garner an invitation, and you must be willing to “eat” a leaf before you join and every day after that.  The club members call it “eating a leaf” but really all you do is put it in your mouth, chew it up, and spit it out.  The club meets during recess and focuses on chasing boys and doing what Kate says.  The club is named after Kate since she started it and so it only makes sense that she would instruct other members about what they should be doing while the club is in session.

    I’m loving this club.  I’m thinking about starting my own Tammy club where each day we drink a mommy beer and chase men…and of course, do what I say.


    Large Enough To Drive From The Back Seat

    I’ve been a back seat driver for as long as I can remember.  I think as young as sixteen I had opinions on routes, speed and general driving prowess.  I’m sure I drove my mom and dad crazy; I know I drive Jamie crazy when I get all back-seat-driver in his face.

    Well people, karma has come a calling.  My sweet six-year-old daughter Mazie already has the signs of a mean back seat driver.  It began with a general curiosity about the rules and regulations of the road.  Why this and why that and how come this and how come that.  This curiosity has been looking to transition to instruction for awhile now.  She’s been on the verge for several months.

    I’ve been getting questions like “Why did you go through that yellow light” or “Why didn’t you use your turn signal” instead of “When do you go through a yellow light” or “When do you use your turn signal”.  The switch from gaining knowledge to questioning my skills is underway.  She’s also begun noticing the roads taken to get certain places and I can only imagine before long we will be debating the finer points of this or that way to get somewhere.

    Mazie had a significant back seat driving breakthrough this morning.  For the first time ever she truly instructed my driving.  At least twice if not three times, she reminded me to use my turn signal.  The imaginary Jamie sitting on my shoulder was laughing out loud, but I did not utter a single sound.  I merely turned on my turn signal as I’d been told.  We can all use a little back seat driving from time to time.

    Larger Than A Pee-Infested Bit Of Potty Talk

    Mazie delights in potty talk.  We have never had a strict rule forbidding its use.  I’ve always figured it’s reasonably harmless and we have bigger fish to fry.  And maybe since it’s not forbidden it will wear itself out.

    Turns out, potty talk, at least in our house, doesn’t seem likely to wear itself out.  In fact it seems to be gathering steam.  I keep hoping that allowing this outlet is in some way beneficial, like potty talk is a necessary part of growing up for most kids and disallowing the activity turns it underground where you can no longer hear what’s being said.

    I hear plenty of potty talk.  I try to give Mazie the impression that I’m ignoring her as I’m not interested in spurring on the behavior, but momma can’t help but hear most of what she says…

    Mazie and a friend have invented a teacher by the name of Ms. Twiggles.  Ms. Twiggles spends her days with a terrible urge to use the restroom and nary a restroom in sight.  She ends up with lots of clothes in need of a wash.  They absolutely love these stories and derive great joy in spinning tales of a bladder-challenged teacher.

    The other day in the car Mazie informed me that Tyler’s poop puked because it ate too much pee.  I didn’t laugh or even smile, but her creativity in the potty talk world is impressive and sometimes I can’t help but to chuckle, at least on the inside.

    Here’s what I’m wondering:  Is my lenience with the potty talk doing anything detrimental to my kid?   I haven’t read a parenting book or article that has ever addressed this topic.  Yes it’s rude.  Yes it’s gross.  But, is it harmful?  Will she end up in the long run somehow wronged?  For those parents or grandparents who have a rule against potty talk, why do you have the rule?  What I’m wondering is is the rule just for the adults and polite society, so that our ears don’t bleed from all the grossness, or is there something deeper going on, something that I haven’t identified.  If you completely disagree with me, let me know what you think and why.  If you agree with me, give me a warm fuzzy.  If you are in the middle, I’m anxious to hear.  I am really curious to hear people’s honest take on this issue.

    Childhood Stories

    Mazie loves stories; I guess most people do.  She usually requests stories from when I was a kid.  It’s always interesting to try and remember way back when and it’s fun too, so Mazie frequently gets her wish.

    She has a few favorites, like when I got knocked unconscious after sledding off a jump and landed on a parked car on Christmas Eve, or the time my friend and I were playing in the attic without my mom’s knowledge and my friend tripped coming out of the attic into my closet ceiling and broke her nose.  I thought she should just brush it off, clean up, and no one would ever know.  After all, we were supposed to have a sleep-over that night and I knew all of the blood would probably result in a cancellation.

    There was the time I pooped in the swimming pool, because I was having so much fun and didn’t want to get out and ruin my good time.  Of course what I didn’t know then that I quickly found out was that poop doesn’t magically disappear like pee in a pool.  Instead the poop starts “swimming” all on its own, the pool is evacuated and has to be drained and cleaned.  Oops.  Another Mazie favorite is the time I pooped out the window of my upstairs bedroom because my parents were busying showing the house to potential buyers and they were all camped out in the bathroom and I really had to go.  Seriously, I don’t know what was wrong with me; I was a gross kid.

    There are lots and lots of stories and they generally break down into two categories, painful things or embarrassing things.  Mazie doesn’t seem to have a preference for either type of story, she’s happy to revel in either my past embarrassment or pain.

    The Michael Vorlicek story is one of the exceptions to this rule.  Michael Vorlicek was the first boy I ever “went” with.  We were both fourth graders at Forest Hills Elementary School.  A friend of mine approached me at recess one day and asked if I wanted to “go” with Michael.  Not knowing who he was, I wasn’t sure.  I asked some of my friends and they were all of the opinion that accepting Michael’s invitation was a good idea.  So I told my friend yes, she told Michael’s friend yes, Michael’s friend told Michael yes, and viola a romance was born.

    I’m not sure how long we stayed together, but I’m guessing it was a brief affair.  Michael was nothing if not a gentleman.  He showered me with gifts.  His friends bestowed a massive heap of gum packs on me one day at lunch and I quickly became very popular.  His friends also brought me a large Valentine’s heart filled with chocolates on Valentine’s Day and a gold-colored necklace with three stars.  Michael was a generous guy, even if we never talked or looked at one another.  Such is the guise of fourth grade love.

    I’m not sure what went wrong with our love tryst, but one day it fell apart.  In what I remember as our only face-to-face exchange, I said something rude, ripped the necklace off my neck, and handed it stiffly back to Michael.  Who knows, maybe he dumped me and started showering some other girl with goodies.  I just don’t remember.

    What I do remember is that name, Michael Vorlicek.  It’s seared into my brain.  It’s on instant recall.  Sometimes I forget the name of a neighbor or an acquaintance, but I’m always on the ready with Michael Vorlicek.



    Why A yBike?

    It’s now been a full week living with the yBike Pewi and a great week it has been.  If you live with or know a one or two-year-old, read this and then head to the nearest yBike retailer.  This thing is that good…

    Tyler Holding Bike
    1. The bike is cute.  It looks like a smiley face on wheels.
    2. It’s small.  We have a smaller house and it’s the first large toy we’ve owned that doesn’t take up much space.
    3. It’s light.  When it needs to be moved, it’s easy for anyone to move it.
    4. Your kid will look cute riding the thing.  Sure, your kid’s cute now, but wait till you see him/her on a yBike.
    5. Your kid will spend at least an hour a day riding the thing.  That’s an hour a day not spent trying to kill him/herself.
    6. Your kid will spend another hour a day pushing or carrying the bike.  Your child will beam with pride at the accomplishment and you will marvel at your excellent purchasing skills.
    7. Your kid can multi-task while yBiking.  Who says you can’t talk on a pretend remote control phone while riding a big red smiley face?
    8. Your older child/children will delight in riding it when the younger one is asleep.  You will smartly make a rule that the yBike is reserved for the little one while he/she is awake and remind the older one/ones of the many hours of toddler-free Y bike fun he/she/they will have when the little one is sleeping.
    9. The yBike works well on rugs and hardwood and it’s easy to get from one to the other.  He/she will again smile at the accomplishment.
    10. The yBike has 4 casters that swivel 360 degrees for easy movement.  Your kid doesn’t get frustrated and can easily move around obstacles.

    I know what the cousin is getting for his one-year-old birthday.  Go Pewi!

    Larger Than A Banana-Shaped Candy

    I distinctly remember my grade school lunches.  Mom would give me money to buy hot lunch, I would pocket the money, and choose cash over food.  In middle school I switched to a private school and along with the regular hot lunch, they also served an àla carte style lunch.  What started as a pretzel and string cheese a day, quickly morphed into a 2 or 3 pretzel a day lunch, where I brought my own money to supplement the money my mom gave me.

    Turns out it wasn’t the cash I wanted so much as the ability to eat what I wanted.  Once the opportunity to eat something I really liked arrived and I didn’t have a mom around to monitor my actions, I jumped on it and quickly did so to excess.

    Mazie is a child much like I was.  She will forgo a meal without a second thought if she deems it not to her liking, and she will eat like a large adult male if there is something that she loves up for grabs.

    I’d really like to keep her from trekking down my same food path as I don’t think it’s a very good one, but figuring out how to transform her into a person that likes lots of stuff and knows how to stop eating when she’s full, seems a daunting task.

    My latest plan involves candy.  I know, I know, it doesn’t sound good, but so far it’s working and the trade-off seems worth it.  I have high hopes that in a year or two she might genuinely like more foods and if not, well at least she’ll have better nutrition in the meantime.

    I think a lot of the battle with kids like Mazie who are really picky, but don’t have a true food aversion, is getting them to eat stuff that they don’t like more than once.  It’s been shown that if a person eats a food they don’t like, many times after eating that food 10-15 times they will either develop a taste for it or at least find it okay.  Since I can’t open Mazie’s mouth and shove the food in, and simple tactics that might work with less picky children don’t work with her, I’m sticking with the candy.

    She got a bottle of assorted fruit-shaped candy for her birthday.  Each piece of candy is small and the candy is reserved only for ’earning for eating’.  When a meal is served I tell her how many bites of something (usually 3 or 4) she doesn’t like she needs to eat to earn a piece of candy.  Once she earns a piece of candy she gets it right then and there.  There is no candy offered for foods that I know she doesn’t have a problem eating.

    A couple of nights ago she had a child-sized portion of salad and ate it all.  The salad wasn’t just some lettuce thrown into a bowl; it was chock-full of nutritious stuff.  This type of thing has never happened before.  The best we’ve done up to this point is getting her to eat a bite or two of something she doesn’t like.  Now she is eating 10-20 decent sized bites of stuff she wouldn’t have touched before.

    It’s made dinner fun instead of something she dreads, and watching her eat things willingly, without complaint, is a magical thing for me.  You can call me a bad mother and I won’t even mind.  I’ll be watching my six-year-old eat salad.

    The Curious Garden

    Last year I bought Mazie a book called The Curious Garden.  It’s about a boy who starts a garden on an old abandoned railroad that is elevated above the city.  We’ve read the story many times and I’ve always thought it was a cool idea to turn an old railway into a linear garden.

    I subscribe to a blog/website, I’m not sure which it really is, called Web Urbanist and every day in my e-mail box I get their daily post.  It’s a hodge-podge of cutting edge, modern design.  One day it might have twenty pictures of crazy, whacked-out cars and the next day it’s innovative iphone covers or mind-blowing hotels.  I usually glance at the e-mail, but every once in a while the e-mail really grabs my attention, just like it did today.

    Today the post is all about The High Line.  The High Line is an elevated city park in NYC built on an old abandoned railway.  Sound familiar?  The visual images of the park instantly reminded me of The Curious Garden book.  I grabbed the book off of the shelf and read the author’s note.  Turns out his book is inspired by the High Line and the wild garden that sprouted there when the railway was left unused.


    If you live in NYC have you checked this park out?  What do you think?  Is it as cool as it looks and reads?  I spent some time on The High Line’s website learning more about the project and park and I think it’s really inspiring.  I’m planning to visit the next time I’m in NYC.

    Larger Than A Cat Wearing Swim Goggles

    Mazie might not be older, but she’s definitely bigger than our 20+ year old cat Gypsie.  Gypsie is in liver failure and will need to be put to sleep soon.  Mazie has been in on the discussion the whole time and is aware of Gypsie’s fate.

    It is with this in mind that she decided to make a card for Gypsie.  I told her a card wouldn’t make much sense to give a cat, but after confirming that she could indeed give the cat a card, she proceeded on.  She next asked me what Gypsie’s favorite color is.  “Gypsie doesn’t have a favorite color,” I replied, “She’s a cat.”  She thought for a second and then said almost to herself, “Oh yah, Gigi (Mazie’s friend) said Gypsie’s favorite color was orange,” and then made a card for the cat with orange as the feature color.

    The logic of a five year old is awesome!

    Second story…Mazie is sitting on the steps and we are pretending.  She is a doctor and wearing swim goggles.  I ask her what the goggles are for and she doesn’t answer.  After a few minutes more of doctor play I ask again, “So, you never did tell me why you are wearing goggles?” and she replies, “Cause I’m a doctor”.  I say, “Doctors wear goggles?” and she says, “Pretend ones do.”  Brilliant!

    Tomorrow Mazie turns 6…



    Larger Than Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Mo

    Mazie’s new way to decide everything is eeny-meeny-miny-mo.  What shirt to wear, who should put her to bed, which food should she eat first, the list goes on and on, and each item is put to the test with eeny-meeny. She reports at the end of each round of eeny-meeny, that “it” picked “x”. As if eeny-meeny were a sentient being that had an opinion and that opinion needed to be observed and followed. She rarely likes the conclusion that “it” comes to and this leads to another round of eeny-meeny. She has yet to figure out that if she starts eeny-meeny with the same hand each time, she will get the same result. So, this leads to another round of eeny-meeny, which leads to another round, and so on, until at some point she accidentally starts with the other hand and gets the answer she desires. If she already knows what option she wants, why does she insist on spending many precious minutes each day doing eeny-meeny? I am befuddled…

    Larger Than An American Idol Dream

    I’ve never been a Jennifer Lopez person. I know who she is, I don’t live under a rock, but I couldn’t tell you the name of any of her songs, if she’s married, single, dating or really anything about her. She’s pretty and she’s a singer/actress, that’s all I know. However, I am a fan of American Idol even though it shames me to admit it.

    Ever since I saw the first show, I was hooked. I many times hate the performances, but watching each week gives me satisfaction. The ritual of every January starting with all of the hopefuls, culling them down to a group of 24, then 12 and then a winner is fun for me. I like a lot of the singers that they have on the show, but I’ve never liked a single song that any one of them have released. They talk on the show about being unique and having your own take and spin on a song, but when the music comes out after the show is over, it’s always the same. Over produced ick, or at least to my tender ears it sounds like over produced ick.

    But, none of this is the point. The point of all of this is an introduction into why my daughter knows who Jennifer Lopez is. This is Mazie’s first year watching American Idol. She doesn’t really care about the show and spends most of her time playing while the show is on, but this is the first show we have watched as a “family” and I’m grooving on the idea.

    The one thing Mazie does love about American Idol is Jennifer Lopez. From the first moment she saw the show, she has been captivated by her. She refers to her as Ms. Jennifer Lopez. It’s freaking cute and I can’t help but to like Jennifer Lopez myself. I’m never going to be a fan of her music, but as she is my daughter’s first celebrity “crush”, I heart Jennifer Lopez.

    Mazie is also in the process of learning to read and write. She’s not had much interest in either activity, but in the last month or two, she’s started to see the light. She now writes phonetically and that’s another freaking cute thing. I’m sure everybody’s kid does it, but it’s my first exposure and I’m digging the experience.

    All of this back story is finally going to pay off: Here is the picture that she drew of Jennifer Lopez with included name at the top. I don’t often say these words, but you can quote me…it’s precious!

    Larger Than A Compliment

    I’m not big on doling out compliments. If I give someone a compliment, it’s usually because they have done, said, worn, or whatever something so big and beauteous that I can’t keep my pleasant feelings to myself. I’m also not a person that talks about her kid in an overly positive way. In fact, many times it’s quite the opposite. I talk more about Mazie’s failings than her successes; it’s a Midwestern thing or at least that’s what I tell myself. Honking Mazie’s horn is like honking my horn and therefore it shouldn’t be done regularly. There is a fine line between proud and pompous and I am careful not to overstep.

    All of the aforementioned is just the background for what I’m about to report…

    My child, Mazie Kaye Thingelstad, has been the cutest, funniest, sweetest, most well-behaved kid for the last while. She has been a sheer pleasure to be around. Not all the time, all the place, after all she’s three. But, for the most part my child is in a stage of contentment that I find bewildering and lovely. She says funny kid stuff, she does funny kid stuff. She listens and does as she’s asked. She pees and poops in the toliet, she gets her own water out of the sink and climbs into the car by herself. Other than the endless three year old question of “why”(which I know is her just being inquisitive, but I still find annoying), she doesn’t do much that isn’t grand. I’m counting my lucky stars and I know my number will be up soon, but for now my Mazie is the rockin’est preschooler I know.

    Winnipeg Wrap-Up

    We spent last weekend at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. This was my fourth year and in some bizarre and strange way, this may have been my favorite festival. The weather was most unpleasant for almost half of the time, with one day of 50 degree, windy, rainy storms from morning till night, the mosquitos were out of control, it felt like we hardly heard any music and I was showerless from Thursday afternoon through Sunday evening. Despite all of this, I found myself sitting back and digging the experience.

    I throughly enjoyed my first visit to the festival when we camped in the family campground, but the last two years were a bit lackluster for me. We took Mazie when she was one, stayed in a hotel and while it was really nice to shower each day, hoteling the festival lacks something. Last year, we camped, but in festival campgrounds (i.e. the party campground) because you can walk right from the campground into the festival and I foolishly thought that it might be fun to stay up late and be young again, but alas it wasn’t. This year we returned to the family campground, with family and friends in tow, and the the magic returned. Long live the Winnipeg Folk Festival!


    It struck me that while we were on our trip I spent a lot of time writing about restaurants and food. Here at home I also pay a lot of attention to restaurants and food and so it seemed only fair that I yap a little bit about some of my favorite places to dine here in the cities*. I am devoting this post to my number one, top dog, king of the jungle, favorite restaurant, Yum Kitchen and Bakery. It’s casual food, done right. The place is always hopping, but it’s not hard to find a table. It’s set up counter-style, where you order and they bring the food to you. Everything is good (except the burger), some things are really good, it’s affordable and the food is made from scratch. It’s the kind of place where most anyone can find something they like, including the kids. In fact, it’s Mazie’s favorite restaurant by a landslide. She can’t get enough of their macaroni and cheese. The place is frequented by little old ladies, hipsters, business types and lots of families. The only group that I’ve yet to spot is the little old man club. They are located on the verge of Minneapolis in St. Louis Park, so both suburbanites and city folk feel at home. If you’ve never checked the place out, give it a try and let me know what you think.

    • I guess I should preface my food writing with a few caveats: I am a picky eater. I don’t (in general) like chain restaurants. I try to dine in places where they offer organic, local, and/or sustainable food choices. I wish more restaurants offered grass-fed beef!

    Here comes the bride

    A quick shout out to the newlyweds, Kurt and Rosalin (Jamie’s mom/my mom-in-law). Happy wedding, happy marriage and happy Java. Thanks for a fun evening filled with good food, family, friends and a belly dancer. It was nice to see you all fancied up in your party clothes, gooey-eyed and in love. I hope you guys are off to a relaxing and fun-filled start…see you at the folk festival!

    If you, the non-Rosalin/non-Kurt reader of this blog, missed the big celebration, here are a few pictures to help your mind’s eye recreate the magic! Click through if you wish to see the full image.

    The crew out to lunch The kiss The wedding fam Larger than a flower girl Flower girl mazie The ceremony Rosalin and bd Everyone belly dancing The happy couple and cake The after party Signing the certificate

    What I learned at the Ranch

    1. I still like riding horses.

    2. At this point in her life Mazie isn’t a huge fan of kid camp.

    3. Kids get really tired after a week of kid camp.

    4. Jamie likes to ride horses (even he was surprised). Jamie likes to trot on a horse (more surprised) and occasionally canter (super-duper surprised). Maril and Kent also enjoy riding horses.

    5. Being at a guest ranch is a lot like going to camp when I was a kid, except it costs more. It’s cool to be able to time-shift a few decades and relive kid moments.

    6. It’s fun to be a staff member at the Ranch, but there is lots of drama.

    7. I wish I would have worked at a ranch, or somewhere similar, when I was in college.

    8. I would like to repeat this experience each and every year.
      [gallery] If you want to look at the full-size image, just click on a picture.

    Larger than a Canon 40D

    Jamie wields a camera most of the time, most of the place and I’m often with a camera. Mazie decided the other day that she was sick of her no camera status so she invented a camera of her own. She had the best of times walking around taking shots of all of the pretty scenery. We had a hard time getting her back in the van as there were just so many pictures to take.

    Larger than a Beetle

    White plate is car wash, purple sticks are instruments of bathing.I never would have guessed it, but Mazie digs toy cars. She’s picked up two on the trip, a rad VW microbus decked out with peace signs and 60’s memorabilia and a VW beetle covered with a scary leopard print (I tried to convince her to go for a different look, but she was set on the “cat” theme). At home Mazie spends countless hours conducting the lives of her dolls and stuffed animals. Her cast of characters include a life-sized dolled named Mark, who, in case you’re wondering, is a girl, and Johnny, a stuffed bear dressed in very girlie clothes who Mazie insists is a boy. She has a wooden pull-frog on a string, froggie, and a few other babies, all girls, with names like Just Baby, Baby Beans and Little Tiny Baby. Mazie spends most of her free-time at home making sure that all of these “individuals” get fed, take naps, dress and undress, take walks, and get to know one another better. We brought a couple of her dolls and animals with, but without the supporting paraphernalia (stroller, toy kitchen, crib, clothes, etc…), she hasn’t had much interest in them…And here enters the cars. The cars have completely taken over Mazie’s world of play. She drives them around hours each day, inventing roads, trips, pretend people, car washes and elaborate stories. It’s awesome.

    Quotes from the road...3rd Installment

    Yesterday, at the Shark Reef Aquarium, Mazie saw a bunch of fish schooling. She said, “Mom, look, a class!”

    Larger than a two year old

    That’s right, Mazie is now three! Today was the big day and she celebrated in true Mazie fashion: a pool visit, strawberries, mac and cheese, chocolate cake and lots of playing. Here is a pictorial of the day’s festivities (you have to click through to see the full picture)…


    If you are looking for a touching account of Mazie turning three, tune into Jamie’s post. I’m not too good at that sort of thing, so I decided to let him take the reigns and drive that horse.

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