Battles With Quinoa And Librarians

My daughter had a late birthday party this weekend.

She’s a winter baby.

February to be exact.

She was born in the deep, cold winter that gets its arms around Northerners.

The kind of cold that burns it way down into your lungs when you first step outside.

She was born in Evanston, Illinois 12 years ago.

Evanston is the first northern suburb that butts up against the last northern neighborhood in Chicago.  We were residents of that last northern neighborhood in 2005. It’s called East Rogers Park.  East because there is indeed a West Rogers Park.  East Rogers Park has nestled itself up against Lake Michigan.  The beach is beautiful in this northernmost Chicago neighborhood.  Not too crowded.  Very dog friendly.  And very cold in the winter.

It gets hard to celebrate your birthday when you are a kid when you have a winter birthday.  And it gets hard for mom to think of things to do with friends during the winter.  We have already had *these are all that I can remember right now…

a dance party (where she takes dance class)

an indoor mini waterpark party

an arty party at the local arts council

and an indoor rock climbing party that involves climbing up 65 feet in a converted grain silo.  And we drove through an actual blizzard for an hour to get to this silo with 5 of her friends.


So, I’m both running out of ideas and I’m running out of patience with winter birthday planning.

The same day we drove through that blizzard to climb 65 feet up, Zoe’s former tutor (back from her days with cancer) and her entire family of 5 got into a head on collision.  All survived thankfully.  But you can NEVER predict winter weather and so therefore, it’s hard to plan birthday gatherings.

So, this past February we skipped a party with her friends.

And opted to wait until it was summer to plan a pool party at our house.

So, that’s what happened this weekend.  Three kids couldn’t make it because they were all out of town for vacation.  Bummer.  But we had a good group for a “It’s Not My Birthday Today, But Let’s Celebrate My 12th Year Of Life Today!” party.  It was about 104 degrees and our pool sits in full sun during the peak of the day.

And no, we still haven’t gotten our air conditioning fixed in the house.

It’s been a steamy 90 degrees in my living room this past week.

I feel like I’m both losing weight and I’m building stronger character.

And my winter baby had a great afternoon with her friends.

pool party

Why is quinoa still a thing?

I thought it would be passé now, like kale.

Oh wait, I think there’s still a kale bandwagon.

Can’t they both hop on the next out-of-town bus to Nowheresville?

I have tried using quinoa, but it was a disaster for me.

The little bubbly balls kept sticking to everything.

It felt like I was working with Styrofoam peanuts when I was trying my chef skills out on it last year during an adventure with it and some peanuts to make some sort of salad.

I got a “what in tarnation is this?” reaction from my family when I sat it on the dining room table.

“It’s quinoa.  It’s supposed to be good for us” I said, trying to sound upbeat.

We all hated it.

As much as we all hated kale when we tried that.

Maybe the chia seeds I recently bought will be the clincher for us.

The new health food that we actually like.


Maybe not.

On another food note, let me throw this out to you…

Nutella spread and pizza.

Have you tried it?

Not separately, but together.

In one monstrous bite.

My kids have combined these two very different tastes during a few casual dinners at home where pepperoni pizza was involved.

This concoction is not something that they came up with on their own.

As with all strange things that they do these days, the world wide web has been their accomplice.

The chocolate hazelnut spread has become a staple on our dining room table along with parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, French dressing, and Sriracha sauce (we do love our condiments).

And only recently did Man-Farmer and I relent and try some on our pizza slice.

And there was a lovely sensation in my mouth when the spice of the tomato sauce and the salty zing of the pepperoni hit the sweet and nutty dash of the Nutella.

It was good.

Much better than we both expected.

Way better than that time we ate quinoa.



Zoe has her own library card.

Both of my kids do.

We frequent the BIG public library regularly and it’s one of our favorite places to go.

But we live in the country.

According to our address anyway.

And we have to get our library cards at the SMALL library in the small town where Zoe goes to school.

But, we don’t normally check anything out there because it’s both small, therefore not full of the books we like to read, and staffed with rude librarians.

Every single time we have been in there we have not been greeted with smiles and witty banter, but instead with scowls and judgements.

The BIG library is the exact opposite of this small town library, but since they are in the same library system we are able to check out books at the BIG-full of good cheer library.

One of the first times we went to the SMALL library where are cards were granted to us, the librarian gruffly told me to make sure “that kid picks up every toy she gets out!”  Gigi was maybe 4 years old and was playing with some puppets and puzzles they had in a corner.

Zoe has started to scooch out of the selections available in the second floor children’s section of the BIG library and has ventured into the first floor Young Adult section.  But, her library card has restrictions on it because she’s a kid and so she can’t use her card to check out some of the books that she wants to read.  So, I have to do it with my card.  Since she’s an independent young gal, she wants to check her own books out herself.  So, she asked me to have them change her card restrictions.  I asked at the check out desk at the BIG library (after the librarian and I had finished chatting about the latest episode of the British Baking Show on PBS) and she said, “oh, you have to go to your issuing library to have them change that since they are the ones that set this card up.”


Last week after Gigi’s tumbling class, which is in the little town where the SMALL library is, I said “let’s go change the restrictions on your library card.”

When I got to the front counter and told the librarian what I wanted to happen, she looked at me with a glazed look and it was almost as if I was asking her for round trip tickets on the next moon flight.

She did some tapping on her computer keyboard and asked a few times what Zoe’s age was.

“Twelve” I said.

“Hmmmm, we usually have restrictions for young adult books until the age of thirteen” she stated trying to issue some authority over the situation.

Then she got out a big book full of papers that I have NO IDEA what it was for and pretended to look for something important that she could use in her defense.  Then she went back to her computer, typed a bit more and said yet again “she’s only twelve though.”

I then responded with the boldest and most important thing that this conversation was going to end with…

“I’m her mother”

Zoe was at that point standing next to me and our resemblance is not one of child and babysitter, but of DNA that shouts MOM AND DAUGHTER.

She tried to say something else about “most young girls just come in here wanting their card levels changed so that they can check out Fifty Shades of Grey”

But when I threw out the whole “I’m her mother and I’m asking you to change it”, I heard a snicker coming from my right.

That’s when I saw an older woman who also was working at the branch reshelving the large print novels smiling at me.

She knew.

She knew the Mom Card trumps all others.

And I had thrown my Mom Card down onto the counter to win this hand.

She changed the restrictions on Zoe’s card.

And if my daughter wants to check out books at the BIG library that are in the general fiction section, the section where Hemingway, Tan, and Kingsolver reside, then it will be MY decision if she’s ready for these books.

Because I hold the winning hand…

I get to be Zoe’s mom.






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