Category Archives: Easily Amused

Be Good-at-Cinderella

“Hola!!” I said to a student and his mom; we were approaching them on the street in downtown Minneapolis. 

“Hola!” they said back, both excited to see Little L; I often show videos of her in Spanish class at school. 

“We’re out searching for her shoe,” I explained. “We lost it this morning on the way to music class.” 

“Oh, she’s like Cinderella!” my student’s mother said. “Lost a shoe.” 

While I might not jump to compare my one-year-old to a stereotypical Disney princess, in this situation, yes, she had lost a shoe – and it hadn’t even been because of a harried exit. In fact, the shoe hadn’t even been on her foot! I let her go in her socked feet to music class because it’s just a carpeted room and because we’re always late and it takes a good minute and a half to get those shoes on. But I had thrown them in the bottom compartment of the stroller just in case we stopped to roam around in a park on the way home. 

We hadn’t, though so I didn’t notice the lost footwear until we arrived home – okay, after stopping to grab me a sandwich on the way. The whole music class outing, in fact, had seemed rather idyllic on this fall day. Or maybe just the walk home – watching toddlers try to play cymbals can be a little dizzying. We strolled through the autumn breeze, picked up toothpaste at the pharmacy, and bought a sandwich. This is what I had imagined motherhood being like while I was pregnant; the first year of Little L’s life was a reality check.

When we arrived home on this out-of-the-ordinary fall day, I removed only one pink sneaker from the bottom of Little L’s stroller. 

Now that Little L was a walker, I had to think about shoes. She didn’t need them in her stroller or when running around the carpeted music classroom (don’t worry; we would change her socks when we got home). But what if we stopped somewhere and she asked to get out? 

Asked is an exaggeration. What if she started flailing her body and trying to slip out of her stroller? 

Best to be prepared, and so I had thrown a pair of pink shoes that I received from my aunt (receiving hand-me-downs and gifts and how to manage them is a whole topic of its own – let me know if any of you have any tips!). 

But upon removing Little L from her stroller – she had not gotten out despite a weak protest when we strolled through a grassy mini-park across from Lunds – I found only one pink shoe in the under-stroller holder.

So after nap time, Little L and I set out again to retrace our route. I had already called music class and they did not have the shoe. 

But surely someone had seen it along the road and set it on the curb or on top of an electrical box? I see things like this all the time.

Look – someone put these lost keys out to be found!

Nothing. No shoes, not even anything pink that could have given me a moment of false hope. 

In my mind I fantasized about finding that shoe – how vindicated I would feel. “We traced our entire route to music class and back!” I would tell Alex, who would listen with admiration to my perseverance and dedication to shoe recovery. “And then we found it!” I would conclude, victoriously.

You see, it was the only pair of shoes that fit her at the time. And it seemed like a waste to buy more shoes of the same size – who knows how long they would fit?

But that night I texted my mom, asking if she could get a pair of shoes for Little L. She brought them on Wednesday and informed me that although she had leveled up on Little L’s shoe size, she had stuck cotton in the toes. 

It was not a week later when I found these in my mailbox at school.

The Fairy Shoe-Mother bequeaths me with footwear for Little L.

While I didn’t know who had provided the mystery shoes, I was both grateful and disappointed. If only I’d discovered the barely-worn hand-me-down shoes sooner, I could have avoided acquiring that extra pair of shoes! 

When I came home from work on a Thursday, my mother-in-law told me about the great time Little L had walking around with her grandparents in the park. 

“And those little blue shoes, she loved them!” she said. 

I was glad they fit.

“She loves how they squeak.”


Yup. Squeaky shoes. While I’ve seen my fair share of kindergartners with shoes that light up each time the strike their heel down, I didn’t even know shoes that talked were a thing. Go figure.

So now Little L is a big fan of the squeaky shoes. Now that it’s winter she mostly wears boots outside, but we use the squeaky shoes for adventures in the condo building like going down to check the mail. 

A number of neighbors have been amused by the shoes and some of their dogs even like them too.

So for now, we use them every once in awhile – though I keep them hidden on a high-up shelf so that she won’t see them and ask to wear them. 

And on the days when they get a little annoying, I think, well, she’ll probably either lose one or outgrow them soon. 

Be Good-at-Minnie

With a mom who is somewhat against things, Little L gets by on three cups. I’m sure we’ll get her more someday, especially once she stops using bottles, but for now she has three, one of which was a gift. 

And so when the purple Minnie Mouse cup (the coolest cup and obviously the one that was a gift from a family friend) went missing, I retraced its whereabouts in my mind to a dinner out at Brasa. 

I remembered having the cup there, because I let Little L take a sip without the top. This meant that water poured into the trough of her bib, leaving the food leftovers sopping wet. 

Had the purple cup remained on the Brasa premises? Neither its lid nor it were to be found in the diaper bag. 

“Hi, I’m calling about a left item,” I said when I called Brasa the next day. 

“Okay, what is it you’re missing?” 

“It’s my daughter’s cup – it’s purple and has Minnie Mouse on it,” I explained. Saying “my daughter” still feels weird. But I really wanted that cup back and wasn’t going to pretend it was mine.

“Just a minute.” 

I unloaded the dishwasher as I was placed on hold. The frequent dishwashings are the reason we can make do with three cups. I placed the blue things that go inside the bottles to dry on the metal rungs of the bottle drying-rack and waited for the verdict.

“Hi again,” a voice said as he took me off hold.

“So what outfit was it that Minnie was wearing on the cup?”

Huh!? What was Minnie wearing? A dress of sorts, I’m guessing. Probably not an astronaut suit or a basketball uniform, though Minnie should be able to wear whatever she wants, dressing for comfort or utility – not just fashion.

Why was he asking? Were multiple purple Minnie Mouse cups left at Brasa and he needed to clarify which was mine? Or was it a security measure to make sure I wasn’t trolling restaurants trying to commit a Minnie-crime of amassing used baby cups?

“Maybe a dress?”

He seemed pleased by my answer. “Okay! This is probably it then. We’ll leave it for you in the host stand.” 

When I went to pick it up the next day, I was relieved to discover that it was indeed our Minnie Mouse cup. “Oh, I think I put it in here a few days ago,” the woman working at the front told me. 

“Yeah, it took me a while to realize it had gone missing,” I said. More specifically, until Day 2 of the dirty dishwasher when the other two cups were unusable.

“Oh, I get it,” she told me. “I have kids too.”

The irony of this all is that in the time it took me to get around to finishing this post, Little L has now discovered that the Minnie Cup – unlike the two sippy cups – releases a satisfying burst of water when dropped on the floor from her high chair. 

These days, there is surprisingly little drinking going on from the Minnie cup, prompting me to recently place an order for two additional sippy cups. 

Let’s hope Little L doesn’t leave the Minnie Cup anywhere else again soon, because at this rate, I’m not so sure I’d make the trip back to claim it. 

Be Good-at-Keeping-Track

The University of Minnesota has a snazzy new medical center.

And they don’t want you to pay them. 

“Would it be possible to pay my copay?” I ask the “concierge” who is checking me in. I feel like I’m at a hotel, attaching my green beeper to my jumper so that my provider can come locate me using the GPS! 

“I can’t process your payment,” the concierge in uniform says. She wears a white button-up shirt and a U of M kerchief around her neck. It is snazzy. This is at least a four-star hotel. 

Plus there are refreshments in the waiting area. 

“I’d have to call someone up here to help you.”

“Okay,” I say, though she was probably hoping I’d give her an easy out.

I have time. I proceed to the Refreshment Area where I pig out on decaf coffee (it is afternoon so I restrain myself just a bit) while I wait. This coffee machine is the reason I showed up 20 minutes before my appointment. 

coffee machine
Yes, I will have some coffee, thank you!

Finally a man wearing a maroon and gold-striped tie shows up with an iPad. He found me, I’m assuming, based on my GPS Tracker.

“You’d like to pay your copay?” 

“I would,” I say. “It’s a lot easier to pay now than to get a bill in the mail.” 

“I agree,” he says, and I’m glad to see that he finds meaning and purpose in walking around the clinic tracking down those few outliers who want to pay here and now.

I mean, it’s not that hard to pay the bill online. It just requires logging into your account, which just requires remembering your password. And in the time between receiving the bill and paying it, keeping track of the paper bill.

In other words, more effort than I’m willing to put in.

And then, despite my effort to head off snail mail from the U, one uneventful Friday, Axel receives an envelope with the clinic logo on it.

Aha! I think. He must not have tracked down the guy in the fancy tie.

But it is something entirely different.

Is there a special robot whose job it is to send these notices out?

Axel had forgotten to turn his GPS Tracker back in. And now they had tracked him all the way to his house!

He simply needed to send the Tracker back in the Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope. No need to add a tracking number, because, obviously, they could track down the Tracker without much trouble.

“Do you know where your Tracker is?” I asked Axel.

“Oh yeah,” he said, walked to the front closet, producing the lime green device in about 1/8 of the time it usually takes him to locate his condo keys.

I assume Axel took the Tracker home on accident. And if Axel could pocket the green gadget, so could anyone. Do they send out 100 of those letters a day? Does the guy in the maroon and gold striped tie stuff envelopes when no one is summoning him to make a payment?

The new clinic is fancy. And efficient in an inefficient way, which I guess I kind of respect.

I mean, I can’t complain too much.  I really do like that free coffee.


Be Good-at-Breakfast

On my last day of work for the school year, my principal provided breakfast. 

“Do you want some Naked Juice?” I asked my friend.

Axel and I really like Naked Juice – it’s tasty and healthy! But its price is neither tasty nor healthy.

“I don’t really like it,” my friend responded.

“But it’s expensive!” I said.

And then I taught him an important lesson: when eating free food, load up on the pricier items. 

picture of breakfast with bottle of Naked Juice
One glass of Naked Juice is worth at least a dollar. Drink up, friends.

My friend didn’t listen; he didn’t even have a glass. 

But don’t worry… I had two.

Found…and Lost?

Little L didn’t say anything or even seem to notice. A “nanana” or “ohhhhh” would have been helpful in this situation, but she was busy looking for dogs or trees or airplanes.

It looked like her jean jacket laying on the corner, wet from the overnight rain.

And then I remembered that her grandparents had taken her to the park the day before. Didn’t I see this same jacket in some of the photos of her swinging?

“Is this yours, Little L?”

She was too busy sucking the buckle of her stroller to even glance in my direction.

Have you ever seen one shoe or a book of brain teasers sitting on the sidewalk, where some kind (or lazy) person has put it, hoping its rightful owner will return to claim it?

What vindication for the person who had put the jacket here! I hoped they would come back later and find that it had been found.

I picked the jacket up with my thumb and forefinger – also known as a pincer grasp for those of you who spend time analyzing the fine motor skills of young children – and carried it home, where I placed it directly in the washing machine.

Later I checked her closet and, sure enough, there was no jean jacket.

I think of all the time Axel spends looking for his keys and wallet and wedding ring. It’s so stressful to know you’ve lost something.

But to find something without experiencing the period of having lost? What a windfall! Or a jacketfall in this case.

Meanwhile, Little L was unfazed. Sure, she laughed when I stretched my calves at the end of the walk, but she does that every time – she probably thinks I’m unsuccessfully trying to push the brick wall of our apartment building over.

The moral of the story is this: it is better to have found and lost than never to have found at all.

A Tale of 5 Bananas

I reached into the grocery bag and pulled out a plastic container of … muffins? 

That’s odd, I thought. 

I hadn’t ordered any muffins, but maybe Axel had added them onto the Instacart order. One of the benefits of Instacart is that you can do collaborative shopping, so sometimes there are surprises in the bag. 

I reached back in.

More muffins? 

To my shock – and delight? – the entire bag was filled with containers of banana mini-muffins. 

They must have given us part of someone else’s order, I thought. Someone who was throwing a brunch gathering or bringing breakfast to a meeting.

Too bad for them, but what Instacart mistakenly brings, you don’t have to (and aren’t able to) give back. 

Then i remembered: the order seemed expensive when I had placed it. I assumed it was because of something pricey, like vitamins or multiple bags of almonds that I had placed in the virtual cart and forgotten about.

But now, as a funny nervous feeling began to set in, I thought, where are my bananas? 

Rummaging through the paper bags, I discovered that the bananas were nowhere to be found. 

Oh no.

I’d been doing so many spacey things lately… forgetting meetings at work, not realizing that two students were twins…

I opened my Instacart app. 

It was me. Instead of ordering five bananas, I ordered five boxes of banana mini-muffins. 

For a total of 60 mini-muffins. 

If you know the way Axel and I eat, you’ll know that 60 mini-muffins is only a slight challenge for us – and an exciting one. But paying for 60 mini-muffins? That was the part that got to me. 

We decided to each take a box to work with us. I believe Axel left his in the staff lounge to share. I, on the other hand, kept mine in my room, offering them to teachers and staff as I saw them throughout the day. 

I maybe shared about six of them. I mean, I needed a snack too!

The Instacart order arrived on a Thursday. By Saturday, we were muffin-free.

I’m now more careful with my ordering. I haven’t made that same mistake since. 


Dealership Deals

On a sunny St. Patrick’s Day, my father-in-law arrived at our condo having brought us a few bags of supplies from Trader Joe’s and ready to take our keys and car to the Honda dealer as requested.

He had kindly asked if I had any errands for him to run and I had come up with a list that encompassed no less than an entire day’s worth of to-dos. I have become more than adept at accepting generosity from my friends and family. Perhaps a little too much so.

“How long do you think it will be?” he asked. 

“They said a couple of hours,” I responded. “Because of the airbag recall.” 

Yup, important stuff to get taken care of. They recommended that no one ride in the passenger seat until it was fixed. While we are down with riding in back with Little L, it gets pretty squished  when, say, we have my brother along for the ride. 

“I could drive you and bring you home so you don’t have to wait,” Axel told him. 

“Why would we take away his wait at the Honda dealer?” I thought. Free cappuccino, of the gas station variety. What more could you want? 

“I could go!” I blurted out.

“No, no, I’ll go,” my father-in-law said. He had a stack of reading material; I think he was on to the Starbucks machine and free cookies. This wasn’t his first trip to the Honda dealer.

“Well, wait, she might want to go,” Axel said. “You could stay and see Little L.”

“And help install the childproof locking system,” I added wisely. Father-son time during Little L’s nap. And productivity.

Did I feel guilty depriving my father-in-law of his reading and coffee time? Of course I did! But an afternoon at the Honda dealership would probably be much more out-of-the-ordinary to me than to him.

Now you probably wonder why I didn’t just plan to go myself in the first place, why I even asked for the favor. Generally Axel and I both spend the weekend days with Little L. Not that we don’t switch off or have one of us go off to do something. 

But a two hour appointment? With transport time? That’s basically the entire afternoon. Usually we don’t leave the other alone for that long of a stretch. 

At the Honda dealership, they tell me they are swamped today. “It could be two to two and a half hours,” they say. 

“No problem.” I smile, find a coffee and a table and begin unpacking the first of my activities: my laptop. It connects automatically to the wifi from my previous days at the dealership. 

I hear a woman chewing out an employee. “I’ve been coming here for twenty years!” she says. “I can’t believe they haven’t even started the oil change yet!”

I may be the happiest person in the waiting lounge.

Because yes, it is a lounge. More like a café. Little tables, a Starbucks machine, the gas station cappuccino machine, a cookie/muffin stand. Bottled water. 

“This is my favorite café,” a man jokes to his family. I’m right there with him. 

A service agent enters and looks at me. 

“Katherine?” she asks.

I shake my head.

“Katherine? Katherine?” she walks through the waiting area.  

A young woman takes out her earbuds and stands up.

“You’re all set.”

Katherine starts packing up her laptop. Is it just me or does she possibly look a little disappointed? Katherine wanted to stay for a second cup of coffee!

Getting up to get a cappuccino and some peanut butter cookies, I return to my table and begin reading on my Kindle. We are nearing the two and a half hour mark, and I’m ready to go home. I miss Little L and Axel. 

But I’m not about to complain – or yell. 

A woman is at the cashier, explaining to her son why she has to give the cashier her credit card. 

The cashier jumps in. 

“You bring your car in, you get some treats over there, you get to watch cartoons and they work on your mom’s car… but then you have to pay! And then at the end you get to go home.”

I wonder what Little L will think of the Honda dealership. Over yonder, I see Nemo on the TV i the kids’ room. But I naively envision her coloring quietly with me at my grown-up café table as we sip our cappuccinos and I write a blog post.

But not yet. Today, this is me-time. 

I get a “passion” tea and sit myself back down. We must be in the home stretch here. Better enjoy it. 

And now we’ll be able to take passengers in the car again, so it’s really a win-win. 

When the clock reaches 3, I go up and ask about my car. It’s time to go home. 

A few minutes later, I’m paying and headed home. On the way out, the customer service agent thanks me for “being so cool.” I assume he’s commenting on my patient demeanor and not my overall frazzled look, though I don’t have any pencils stuck in my bun today and I did wear my going-out clean black hoodie. 

I get in the car – the clean car, because they wash it when they’re done – and look at the sticker on the window.

September 2018. 

By then, we’ll need to bring the car in again. I make a mental note. I’m already looking forward to my next day at the dealership. 

No-Name Coffee

Just this past week, I had a babysitter for Little L so that I could go to an acupuncture appointment. In fact, I had a babysitter for four hours, and no one leaves needles in that long!

First on my list was getting two pairs of glasses adjusted at Warby Parker. Glasses adjustments, jewelry cleaning, bangs trims – what do they have in common?

They are free ways (depending on the provider, of course) of treating yourself!

I sauntered out of Warby Parker, swaying my head side to side and delighting in how my glasses stayed perched on my nose. I had time for a cup of coffee before my appointment, but there wasn’t anything nearby.

Or was there?

This would imply that there’s a cupfull of something steamy inside, right?

Carefully, I approached the corner cafe (we’ll call it “?” from here on out). I opened the door of ? and entered. A very with-it barista was attending to two very stylish customers. I was glad I had changed out of my sweatshirt with the baby food on it. The customer gave the name Payton or Paxton or Paisley – something that seemed like the kind of person who would drink their coffee at ?.

I ordered an Americano and a scone. Because I figured, if it was my big day out, so I might as well try to spend some money on myself. Especially after all I saved on that free glasses adjustment!

As I was waiting for the unsmiling barrista in red lipstick to prepare my Americano, I grabbed a napkin. That’s right – only one napkin. This was no Chipotle situation; I didn’t think the patrons of ? were restocking their kitchens with these organic compostable recyclable freebies.

I chose a spot at the counter to sip and eat. There was a man next to me working on a laptop wearing a hat. Not a tophat. I don’t know the name of the hat, but they’re a kind I could never pull off.

? was where it was at.

I’d recommend this café to you if I knew what it was called…

I finished up and hopped down off my stool.

I glanced to the right to make sure the guy in the cool hat wasn’t watching.

And then I stuck my half-used napkin in my backpack and walked out, still not quite sure where I’d been.

Lounging Around

My classroom is right next door to the staff lounge. 

This comes in handy in the following situations: 

  1. Putting  a cup of instant coffee in the microwave, going back to my room to change from my winter boots to my school shoes, and returning to retrieve it.
  2. Same as #1 but with tea and checking my email.
  3. When there are potlucks or a random box of Triscuits in the staff lounge, it is easy for me to return for seconds – or thirds – later in the day.

Valentine’s Week, there was plenty of food in the staff lounge thanks to the generosity of families and staff. I made my way over to have seconds on salad and thirds on brownie bites. 

Two unopened bags of M&Ms sat on the table. I resisted.

But that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about the M&Ms. The next morning when I put my instant coffee in the microwave and hit the number “2,” I checked. 

They were still there.

When I went in later to retrieve my lunch, I walked over to the table where they had been sitting.

I saw a pink triangle of plastic – The M&Ms were gone! And they had left the remnants to tease me. 

“Oh no!” I exclaimed, loud enough that the few staff members checking their phones and eating their lunches introvert-style looked up and asked what was wrong. 

“There were M&Ms,” I explained. “I was really excited—“

And then, on a table in the center of the room, I spotted them.

My breathing returned to normal; my shoulders relaxed. 

I grabbed the bag and poured myself a generous handful and returned to my room.

About ten minutes later, I returned to make a post-lunch decaf instant coffee and grabbed another large handful.

By the time the day was over, I had made quite a few trips over to the lounge. But because the bag had been sitting there all day and someone else had opened it, I was able to tell myself that most likely it wasn’t just me who had polished those pink and red circles of goodness off.

The question remains, though: There were two bags. What happened to the other one? 

Somewhere in the school is someone who was thinking about those M&Ms just as much as I was. Because their classroom isn’t as conveniently located, they must have taken them with them.

Smart move and probably best for my health.

I could have – and would have – eaten another bag easily.

Be Good-at-the-Half-Sock

Have you ever tried going to bed with cold toes? Who can fall asleep that way?

But have you ever awoken in the middle of the night, just a little overheated? Oh, if you could only get those socks off… but it’s just so much work.

Or is it?

Not when you’re wearing what I call the “half-sock.”

The half-sock is really a whole sock. But rather than pulling it up to ankle or calf length, you do not secure the sock over your heel. It is this action, or inaction, that turns it into a half-sock.

Half on, half off. The half-sock.

Yes, the half-sock dangles from your toes when you walk around, but it’s not meant to be worn around town or the condo. The half-sock is a sleeping accessory, like a nightcap or sleepmask.

Wearing the half-sock, you fall asleep with warm toes. It’s really toes that get cold; not heels. So who cares if the heels are exposed?

If you wake up in the night feeling warm, you can easily slide the half-sock off using just your feet! No need to bend your knee and pull your foot towards you or awkwardly shimmy your body into a position where you can reach your toes.

Are there any downfalls to the half-sock?

Just one.

If you don’t remember to track down your half-socks (halves-sock?) in the morning, you can get a whole lot of half-socks accumulating in what Megan and Cameron call the “bamper” at the foot of the bed.

Tonight when you’re getting ready for bed, give your feet a treat and try a half-sock or two.

You’ll discover for yourself: two half-socks do make a right.