April 26 National Pretzel Day

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, there were no pretzels. This was a problem for the mustard industry and the chocolate covered pretzel industry, so in the year 610 some monks came to the rescue. They took some leftover dough, and shaped it to look like children’s arms resting across their chests, baked, and handed them out as treats to kids who learned their prayers properly. These “little rewards” were called “pretiola” which is Italian for “this will be a winner in the snack food industry.”

Another reason pretzels might have their iconic shape is so that bakers could hang them on sticks for efficient storage. DearKidLoveMom.comNot only were pretzels (probably) invented by monks, they are also associated with religion because they are egg-free and dairy-free which made them excellent for Lent. So when you eat pretzels, you can feel pious and very virtuous.

Pretzels without salt are called “baldies.” They are my personal favorite.

In the late 12th century (which is before I was born), the pretzel became the symbol for the baker’s guild. Apparently, making a flawless pretzel was the pinnacle of baking achievement and one could not be considered a master baker until one perfected the art. This is ridiculous since everyone knows that the epitome of baking is creating the perfect New York bagel.

Do you know why we say people tie the knot when they get married? Pretzels. (Seriously.) In Switzerland, newlyweds traditionally break a pretzel on their wedding day for good luck. Don’t laugh—at least you can eat a broken pretzel.

The original pretzels were of the soft pretzel variety. Hard pretzels were created in the 1660s when an apprentice pretzel baker fell asleep and overbaked a batch of pretzels. Which turned out to be a good thing for those of us who like to crunch things.

The world’s largest pretzel weighed 842 lbs. It was 26.8 feet long and 10.2 feet wide. I cannot even image the amount of dipping sauce necessary.

Americans eat around two pounds of pretzels each year, but Philadelphians eat an average of twelve pounds per year. Pennsylvanians also manufacture most of the US pretzels. It’s probably something in the water.

Happy National Pretzel Day!

Love, Mom

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The Impossible Has Happened | A New Approach to Weeds

Dear Kid,

NOTE: This is not an allegory, parallel, story, parable, metaphor, or any other version of thinly disguised political commentary. This is literal. When I say “weeds”, I truly mean the stuff that grows on the lawn where it doesn’t belong.

We are—as you well know—locked in battle against the weeds. While it would not be an exaggeration or untruth to say we’re not winning, it would sort of be defeatist, so I won’t bother saying it. Not saying it, however, makes it no less true.

Daddy and I have very different attitudes toward weeds. Mine is sort of a DIE SUCKER! mentality. I’m ok with losing a few blades of grass if it means the weeds are gone. I’m ok with flame throwers or other radical treatments. DearKidLoveMom.comDaddy and I have very different attitudes toward weeds. Mine is sort of a DIE SUCKER! mentality. I’m ok with losing a few blades of grass if it means the weeds are gone. I’m ok with flame throwers or other radical treatments. Daddy has more of gentle philosophy. He believes that weeds should be tenderly dug up and disposed of. Unfortunately he leaves bits of the root so they’ll grow back, but he’s convinced that if he continues digging them (mostly) up eventually they’ll take the hint. He also believes that weeds at least serve the purpose of holding the soil and preventing erosion so they aren’t all bad, and anyway the grass will outcompete the weeds.

A house divided and all that. But I respect your father and I’ve tried to go along with the “dig things out” philosophy. And I will say that in certain areas where we’ve lavished a lot of time, attention, and mulch, the weeds aren’t too bad.

The lawn is not one of those places.

And I’ve had it.

Truly Had It.

So I announced told casually mentioned to Dad that this year we were going to spray broad leaf weed killer. Dad lectured. I mentally reviewed the menu for the week. When he was done, I explained that this was not one of those things I was asking about, it was more of a sharing of information. Dad launched into a second lecture. I revised the menu to include green beans on Thursday while I waited for him to run down. At the end I said, “Hmm.”

Then I went out and bought broad leaf weed killer (and sat through lecture #3 which was equally impressive and equally ineffective in changing my mind).

The weekend before last weekend, Daddy asked if there was anything he could do to help me outside or around the house. “Yes,” I said, “I would like you to help me spray the lawn.”

“Have you figured out where you’re going to spray? Have you read the labels? Have you thought through the timing of when you’re going to do this?”

“I just want you to hold something to protect the plants we don’t want to get weed killer on.”

“WHAT? It’s bad enough that you’re spraying! I’m not going to stand around and hold something when you’re not going to be near the plants! That’s ridiculous.”

I pointed out that he’d offered. He pointed out that he was un-offering. This led to a huge fight that mostly consisted of me not speaking to him for 10 minutes. I’m not sure he noticed.

Events and weather conspired and the spraying did not get done.

Fast forward to this weekend.

On Friday, a very contrite HusbandPerson said to me, “If you still want help spraying, I’ll help you.” Not wanting to spook him, I said very quietly, “That would be nice. What changed?”

“Things have gone whack-a-doodle.” I swear he said that. “And We Have Purple Loosestrife.” Daddy rarely uses capital letters like that, so I knew he was serious.

“I see.”

“It’s an invasive species.

“So we need to get rid of it.” As if being a weed wasn’t a good enough reason.

“I will show you the Purple Loosestrife.” The Puppy and I dutifully followed him outside and over to a patch of not-grass. “Purple Loosestrife.” I looked. The Puppy sniffed. Weeds. “I’ll show you over here what it looks like.”

“Not necessary, I’ve got it. It’s terrible. Awful. Couldn’t be worse. Tomorrow we spray!” Grin.

Fast forward. We sprayed (and by “we” I mean Dad watched the Puppy and I sprayed). Seventeen hours later, I’d finished about 1/20th of the lawn. Baby steps. We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned.

Love, Mom


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Earth Day, Sneakers, Food Trucks, and Take a Chance Day

Dear Kid,

Happy Earth Day Weekend! (Here’s the Absolutely Accurate History of Earth Day in case you’ve forgotten.)

Hope you enjoyed your Mud Run yesterday (certainly one way to celebrate Earth Day is getting some Earth all over you).

Dad and I went to the big Earth Day festival (which has now conveniently moved from Sawyer Park to Blue Ash’s Summit Park—yay!). It was a cold-ish day (ah, April) but we had fun wandering around, visiting the booths, talking to people, and sitting on the big adult swings eating food truck lunch.

Then we bought me sneakers. You’d think (for someone as skilled in the shoe shopping arena as I am) that buy sneakies would be easy. You would be wrong in that assumption. I don’t know why, but I stress about buying sneakers. Maybe it’s because they are more function than form? I’m not sure. But the lovely people at Fleet Feet were kind enough to help find shoes for my decidedly un-fleet feet.

Unless you’ve been thinking about something stupid like eating oatmeal and BBQ potato chips for dinner in which case forget I mentioned it. DearKidLoveMom.comBy the way, today is Take A Chance Day. So if there’s something you’ve been thinking about, today might be the day to move forward. Unless you’ve been thinking about something stupid like eating oatmeal and BBQ potato chips for dinner in which case forget I mentioned it.

Love, Mom

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The Difference Between the Puppy and a Canada Goose

Dear Kid,

The 11 year-old Puppy weighs 20 pounds, most of it fluff, love, and napping.

A Canada goose weighs approximately 7 to 12 pounds, mostly poop and aggressiveness and all of it obnoxious.

A Canada goose weighs approximately 7 to 12 pounds, mostly poop and aggressiveness and all of it obnoxious. DearKidLoveMom.com

The Puppy has been adopted for life.

Canada geese mate for life.

The Puppy is the baby.

Baby Canada geese are called goslings and are adorable. They learn to swim when they are less than a day old and they learn to fly when they are between 2-3 months old. The big problem with goslings is they grow up to be geese.

The big problem with goslings is they grow up to be geese. DearKidLoveMom.com

When the Puppy feels threatened, he bares his teeth and growls and then tucks his head when he is reminded that this is unflattering behavior.

When a C. goose is threatened, it will stretch out its neck, honk, and strut out into the middle of the road. The goose regains its sense of self by exercising its power to stop traffic for miles.

The Puppy eats his food and treats and whatever else he can get his little muzzle on.

Canada geese eat mostly green stuff (grasses, plants, moldy pizza left over from last month’s frat party) and occasionally insects or some fish (generally the anchovies on the pizza).

The Puppy migrates from his pillow to the dining room floor and back again.

Canada geese migrate so that they can fly in their famous V formations. Also because it’s hard to find aquatic plants for lunch when the aqua in question is completely frozen.

Puppy poop goes in the garbage can.

Geese’s pieces do not. Which is often a problem.

Love, Mom

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Early Awakenings, Bird Brains, Renaming Raptors, and Shifting Breakfast Paradigms

Dear Kid,

Some are the strong silent type (Sylvester the Great Horned Owl comes to mind). DearKidLoveMom.comThe thing about some birds (and by “some birds” I mean Rodney the Bird) is that they’re loud. Kind of like some teenagers. Not all birds are loud. Some are the strong silent type (Sylvester the Great Horned Owl comes to mind). Rodney is not the strong silent type. Rodney is the opposite of the strong silent type. At least the silent part.

Whatever is going on in Rodney’s life, he feels the need to share it with the entire neighborhood. At the top of his little birdy lungs. Sun’s coming up? Rodney has something to say about it. Cloud cover? Rodney has commentary. Competitors flapping around the edge of “his” territory? The Riot Act (Chapters 1, 3, and 6) will be recited in full. Kids forget to close the nest door? Get earplugs; there’s going to be a full-on Rodney Rampage.

Fortunately, Rodney is (literally) a birdbrain, so his outbursts generally don’t last very long (personally, I think he forgets what he’s talking about by the time he reaches the middle of a sentence).

I’ve decided that Sylvester the Great Horned Owl should be renamed SYLVESTER THE GREAT horned owl. I wonder what the Raptor Inc people will think about that?

I also wonder if S the G (h o) would like to eat Rodney for breakfast…

Love, Mom


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Raptors, Little Miami River, Fiona the Hippo, and Puking Up Lunch

Raptors, Little Miami River, Fiona the Hippo, and Puking Up Lunch

Dear Kid,

Your Dad is generally a smart man.

For example, he could have said, “Want to go to a dinner event with me?” at which point I would have had to think up 4,862 creative ways to say, “No.

Instead, he said, “Do you want to go to the Little Miami Conservancy’s dinner where Raptor Inc will have birds and Thane Maynard will be the keynote speaker?”

Um, yes. Raptors and Thane Maynard? Of freakin’ course!


So last night we went to the event.

I got there first (I’ll wait while you roll your eyes and say “Of COURSE you got there first.”). There weren’t many people around the raptors which was weird because LIVE RAPTORS. I immediately snagged the spot closest to the raptor people (and by “closest” I mean about 6 atoms away from the birds and by “raptor people” I mean the people that the raptors brought with them because birds don’t know how to drive).

First I met Lucy the Peregrine Falcon. She’s gorgeous. I was close enough to see her nares. Get your mind out of the gutter. “Nares” means nostrils. And Peregrine Falcons have a boney tubercle in each nare which directs airflow so that their brains don’t explode when they dive. The nares are such an exceptional design that jet engines are modeled after them. So pretty much when you’re in an airplane you’re there courtesy of a peregrine’s shnoz.

Lucy the Peregrine Falcon DearKidLoveMom.com

Then I met Sylvester the Great Horned Owl (have I told you how much I love those Raptor Inc people?). I’ve never been that close to a GHO and Sylvester is beautiful. His eyes are stunning. And enormous. Golden. He was beautifully behaved. (Sometimes he casts a pellet in public. And we say “casts a pellet” because he is a classy guy and “pukes up lunch remnants” is not classy.)

Sylvester the Great Horned Owl does not need to suffer succotash since he's served mice, quail, and other delicacies. DearKidLoveMom.com

If you’re in the area, go see the raptors the last Sunday of each month (March – November) from 1pm to 4pm. Well worth it.

Fred Shaw, the Shawnee storyteller, gave the blessing which was beautiful. (When was the last time you heard me say that?) Then food, then Thane.

Our very own 90 Second Naturalist told stories about the Little Miami River and then he talked about Fiona, the Zoo’s preemie hippo. Hard to know which is sweeter—Fiona or the cake they served for dessert.

Thane Maynard talking about Fiona the baby hippo. DearKidLoveMom.com

Love, Mom

Know someone who likes Raptors? or hippos? or who just might enjoy DearKidLoveMom.com? Share the love.

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The Best (and the Worst) Times to Wake Up

Dear Kid,

After extensive scientific research (and by “extensive scientific research” I mean in my opinion) the absolute best time to wake up is 1 ½ minutes before your alarm goes off. This gives you enough time to snuggle under the blankets without falling back to sleep and actually get out of bed before being summoned by All the Hounds from Hell (and by All the Hounds from Hell I mean the alarm clock).

The Best (and the Worst) Times to Wake Up DearKidLoveMom.com

If you can wake up just before you need to, you’ve (probably) gotten the right amount of sleep. Your body (or your mind—or if you’re exceptionally lucky both mind and body) are ready to start the day.

The bar-none, absolutely, completely, unarguably worst time to wake up is 45 minutes after your alarm first mentioned the day was to begin. (Don’t argue—I just said “unarguably”.) Forty-five minutes means you can probably hustle yourself out the door and get wherever you need to be on time—you’ll just look like you slept in a gutter. And you’ll feel that way too because you won’t have had time for breakfast or – gak! – coffee. Oversleep more than 45 minutes and you probably won’t get “there” on time, so you just roll over and go back to sleep or you get up and take your time getting ready because you’re going to be late anyway.

The second worst time to wake up is an hour and a half before your scheduled reveille. (Reveille—the bugle call used to wake up military personnel and prisoners. An hour and a half before reveille—the freakin’ middle of the night.) No one needs to be awake in the middle of the night. I say this with confidence because “middle of the night” shows up at a different time for everyone. My friend who gets up at 4am to tend cow and goat defines “middle of the night” far differently than I do, but would still agree that sleeping time is time for sleeping not for getting up.

The perfect time to be reading Dear Kid Love Mom is – by definition – right now.

Love, Mom

Who do you know who would enjoy DearKidLoveMom.com? Spread the word.

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