Monthly Archives: September 2012


couldn’a said it better myself.

Tom Simpson, Ph.D. -- teacher / author / critic

A Buffalo Bills fan living in New England endures various kinds of torture. For instance, New England fans think it’s been a “long time” since their team has won a Super Bowl.

Today, the two teams met in Buffalo, and near the end of the first half, everything was going the Bills’ way. Already beating the Patriots 14-7, Buffalo recovered a fumble deep in New England territory. The Patriots’ radio commentators were ready to pack it in, for the day and even for the season. They sighed. We’re looking at 21-7 Bills at halftime, and the Patriots are looking at an early-season record of 1-3.

Idiots. Clearly, these guys are new at assuming the worst. I reminded them, as if they could hear, that there was a lot of game left — and no guarantee that the Bills would score before the half. The Bills promptly fumbled, and everything…

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I’m Back! (Did You Notice?): Recap (Lucky You!)


I haven’t posted in a few days. Nothing, not even a reblog from “the vault” of some of my (and yours, apparently) favorite posts.

Tomorrow is October 1. Traditionally, fiscal years begin on 10/1 of each year and being a Libra, I am feeling some semblance of woeful disorganization when compared to my more got-their-acts-together Virgo friends. I married a Virgo. He’s not organized. Well, not at home. “He’s a man. It’s different for the men,” said someone I used to know.

Which reminds me of that song by Goyte that I used to like.

Tomorrow I am hosting a friend as a guest blogger for the relaunch of her site. She is not only a friend, but she used to be my boss… so, you can ask her all sorts of professional stuff about me. As my boss, she was totally astounded by my insane work ethic and esprit de corps. She’s a great writer and I see this relaunch as her renaissance, so please check out what she’s offering. Super short and sweet: it’s a website devoted to the topic of food sensitivities to create restaurant and trade awareness for people whose diets have specific requirements. I won’t steal her thunder. Just please check her out tomorrow.

Later this week, probably Tuesday or Wednesday I am hosting another friend whose blog I adore. She is a wonderful photographer and I encouraged her to get out and shoot me a photo blog. I can’t wait to see what’s up her sleeve.

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I woke up this morning feeling pretty much back to normal. My birthday gave me a head cold, complete with dizziness that made me list to port (right), a fever, raspy voice and an unrelenting urge to lie down all day each day. That didn’t happen until Thursday because on Wednesday I was still busy doing family things. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say: I AM A VERY GOOD SISTER. A*hem. Ok, a little: my brother, SIL and their beautiful little family decided to visit me for bday dinner from their home which is about an hour away. When they got to my house, their car was leaking oil (ruh-roh) like … thinking of a proper analogy … like the Black Knight from Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail. Was that proper? Anyway, so we went out and checked the crank case (check me out using proper terms and whatnot) by pulling out the long shish-kebob skewer thingamajig testing it for “car blood,” as I stated it, and it was dry. “Your car has been bitten by a vampire,” I said.

Because standing over a hot engine in my driveway is exactly what I wanted to do on my 45th birthday.

Whatever… life is what happens when you’re making other plans…

So we got more car blood and put it in the hole on top of the box in the front part of the car under its hat and went back inside to eat and sing and have cake and it was a very nice time. Then it was time to go home.

When he drove away I saw a trail of car blood leading out of my street. I called them. They came back and spent the night. All’s well that ends well, but this particular visit didn’t end until I walked through the front hall doorway of my manse (it’s like a 8’x6′ area with a bench that abuts the front door and leads into the last 13′ of my house) at 1:30 the following day. The good news: the repair was minimal (a hole in the oil pan) compared to the catastrophe (engine seizure) it could have been.

Bonus of the experience: more time with the adorable niece and nephew and their parents.

What did I get for my birthday? Why I’m so glad you asked! I got a pair of lovely 8mm cultured pearl earrings. Studs. I am not a glamour girl. I like diamond studs OK but they’re really not me.  With diamonds it’s all about constant pressure over millions of years and even then you still have to beat the crap out of the world’s hardest substance for it to resemble anything remotely potentially beautiful and then it has to be cut (ouch!) by another diamond! and then buffed (ooph!). And then there’s that whole blood diamonds thing… watch none of that matter when I get a pair of 16-carat diamond studs one day…

But in all honesty, I relish in the pearl’s “story” – it’s such an amazing metaphor for how we all can find the CONSTANT and ever-present absolute beauty in life’s struggles, even as we are experiencing them, but what do we get at the end of the struggle, a pearl?! It’s a fantastic and wonderful, elegant and graceful reminder for me that through agitation, irritation, frustration and discomfort comes this terrifically precious little object. I wear my earrings all the time. They’re not fancy, they’re not overly obvious but they say to me: “It will be OK. No matter what’s going on, it will always be OK.”

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Domestic Bliss

I was wearing my pearls on Thursday when I discovered that my clothes dryer died. The wonderful dryer warranty fate gods are good: my  warranty ends 10/9, so we were covered. Because I had some super special double-plus secret probation MVP warranty, my repair was the scheduled for the next day, Friday, between 12 and 5. The fun happened when Sears decided to call me at 3:52 that next day, Friday, to tell my son (who answered the phone unbeknownst to me – parents of young children: DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS ANSWER THE CALL FROM A SERVICE VENDOR, especially during an election year…my kids love messing with the pollsters) that the repair dude wasn’t coming anymore because he had a job that took him to 3 hours past his contract time. I didn’t deal well. I was sick. I was newly 45 and my son almost let them off the hook. I roared like a bear and asked my son to give me the phone.

I was going to make someone poop out a pearl. I told them this news was unacceptable and requested an escalation to a supervisor. The caller said it was impossible to escalate the call and I said the following (this is true): “It’s not impossible. You’re in a call center with probably 30 other people just like you wearing headsets under low lighting sitting in swivel office chairs staring at computer screens. You can stand up, wave your flag, turn on your light, send up a flare, flash your bat signal or do whatever it is you’ve been trained to do to let a supervisor know that you’ve got a hot one on the line and that I’m about to blow my stack and call corporate because it’s still before 5pm here. I also won’t go into the matter of social networking and the fact that I write a blog and have three friends on Twitter, so I’m not so powerless anymore am I? Go ahead, I’ll wait on hold. I’ll put you on speaker.” About four minutes later, someone named Priscilla comes on. She informs me she’s a supervisor (miracle!). She will get on the matter right away and call me back shortly.

I thought so.

She called back in five minutes, panting actually, and said she had someone who was reaching out to their dispatcher to find a dude who could come. I said that would be great.

She called back again and told me that the original guy will come, but it will be late, around 7. I told her that was fine; that we would feed him dinner.

In less than ten minutes the repair guy himself called me to tell me he’d just finished a job and that he was on his way to my house. Less than five minutes after that, the repair dude showed up. (Was he at Wal*mart? In my driveway? Was I being punk’d?) Of course we let him in. Trumpets, doves, the whole fanfare. My oldest son showed him where the dryer is. “What’s the matter with it?” he asks my son. (Does NO ONE look at a service order or the computer screen before dealing with customers anymore? Christ, it’s like dealing with the school principal, suddenly I have to come equipped with advocates and again state the rationale for my situation, The Reason Why I’m asking for HELP.)  “The heating element is burnt out,” my son relays back to him while I’m growling at my phone as I dial back for the dispatcher.

My head is spinning. Someone’s lying. Right? I mean, that’s where all the rational people who weren’t raised by wolves go, right? I spoke with dispatcher and expressed my suspicions and she apologized for my inconvenience and then told me she understood, that it must be very frustrating for me. I said, “I’m not frustrated, I’m confused. Do you all have a sign, a script or something that suggests you empathize with me? Is ‘suspicion’ or ‘confusion’ not on your list of empathy words?” It didn’t go well, she was incapable of original thought. I hung up.

After the dryer repair Friday I went to see my friend Tracy Kiely at George Mason University’s Fall for The Book festival wherein she was on a Mystery Writers panel with other…mystery writers. It was fun to see her and listen to her and other writers talk about killing people and twists and turns. She’s published four! actual hardcover books and she’s a wonderful, witty writer. Check her out.

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Tough Scholars

My husband and I were talking this morning about some trouble one of our sons is reporting at school. Our son is suggesting that he’s being bullied by a hotshot kid and yet, he’s reporting it to us in such a way (with no small measure of pride, frankly, that this particular kid’s got it in for him) that we wonder if he’s not enjoying being the fly in the ointment for the hotshot. I take this stuff seriously and I’m on it with the school counselor and we listen earnestly to our son an’ all, so before anyone feels like reporting me to CPS for not taking it seriously, chill. The thing is, Thing 2 (our 11-y.o. son) is pretty funny and impish, so the fact that he could be considered annoying to a person who takes himself entirely too seriously is something that yours truly excelled/s at*. I’m not suggesting (maybe I am?) that T2 is the instigator… well, instigation confirmed: I just asked T2 about it, if there is a certain amount of enjoyment he gets from this hotshot getting all irritated (there’s that pearl again), and yes there is. However, he is hurt by this other kids’ obvious, public and mob-like disdain for him and the fact that some of the very children who’ve been to his birthday parties are siding with the hotshot. This whole situation reminds me of a flashback scene in the excellent Albert Brooks movie, “Broadcast News” when he’s bullied by some kids at school and he shouts to them under the hood of his winter parka fueled by the rage and frustration from his predicament, “You’re all gonna work for me one day!!”

As my discussion with my husband evolved, I talked about my the neighborhood of my youth. My family was one of zero other Irish families in an area of Buffalo, N.Y., called “the West Side” and it was cool. We could see Lake Erie from our front yards. The thing is, the other families had names like “Chevetta” and “Alessandro” and “Burruano” and “DePaolo” and “Tagliarino” and “Cashio” and “Sciolino” … and “Gotti” (just kidding about Gotti; it was “Gambino” actually) my husband laughed when I said “Turner” (which is my maiden name) at the irony of the fact that I was one of five Irish people (the other four being my family) within a ten-block radius. We all went to Holy Angels Elementary School where we couldn’t openly pick on each on campus, but saved it for the walks home. I’ve got some crazy stories from those days. The point being that I was scrappy and impish and a “Class-A Shit Disturber” as my Dad used to tell me when I’d get into trouble (and thus make trouble for him) at times. I had bullies, but I stood up to them right away, probably acting like Al Brooks.

*I was recently at a party hosted by a dear friend who’s a senior officer in the U.S. Army. One of his guests was a big-mouthed blowhard who clearly couldn’t tell enough people he was part of the “awe” in Rumsfeld’s “Shock and Awe” campaign on a warship back in the day when W. thought … well, never mind about that, I’m not gonna go political. Because I live a dozen miles from the Pentagon, I have a lot of active duty or retired  service member friends. I think these officers and their work is important and I support them entirely. My kids are friends of theirs and I love their wives like they are sisters. The point is that this guy couldn’t stop talking about himself, so I dug in and started to get all glassy-eyed and eyelash blinky on him. I moved in for better hearing and then started asking the most inane and bizarre questions about the men who loaded the shells that dropped and all that, like how big the men were and if they were fit and then I asked (and he took this so seriously) if it was hot in the plane and then if the men wore shirts while loading the shells in the whatever… and this guy’s totally in line with me. Not blinking at all at what I’m asking, but of course always reverting it back to himself. And I said, “Well, that was like a while ago… so you flew that big plane with all those men dropping all that stuff?” and he said, after a pause… “Uh, no. I uh was the navigator.” And then here’s the kiss of death from me, “Oh. So you were like ‘Goose’ from “Top Gun” and someone else was the pilot…” and my other friend, who is a West Point grad, buried his shaking head in his hands in disbelief that I went there. But he’s known me a long time, he knew the guy was being set up. Well, he set himself up. I just led him there. The moral: all members are important; every role and job is essential, just don’t be a dick about it.

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According to WordPress, I’ve got somewhere in the ‘hood of 745 followers. This is NEWS to yours truly. I only know about the email count and the WordPress followers and lemme tellya, that ain’t nowheres near adding up to 745 (it’s not even near 100). So… is this possible?  Is there anyone out there in WordPress land who can gently tell me the truth? I learned about this 745 figure on my birthday! So, now that the thrill is over, if there’s anything that I need to know to let me know that it’s not accurate, now would be the time to tell me.

Update: AHA! WordPress is deceiving. They are combining all Facebook followers, Twitter followers and email subscribers/ WordPress followers  in the total count. Back to reality. Back to not 745. 🙂

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Admin: Considering Revamping

I’m in the process of coming up with something reliable, a production schedule for both my readers but I want to know if that matters to you or if you just like the loosey-Mother Goosey way things go around here.

Also, I love comments. I love to hear from you. I don’t ask questions at the end of my posts because my self confidence forbids it; to ask questions of you implies that people read  my posts and my self esteem simply won’t allow that. If you do read my posts and you do like questions at the end of blog posts, would you tell me? I’m all about being interactive; I just suspect that people have better things to do than to y’know… engage online. I wanna let you read and then move on.

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About the Online Presence thing: Facebook & Twitter

If you’re on facebook (and c’mon, who isn’t? – apparently more and more people everyday…) you can click on the “Play with Grass Oil on Facebook” icon and follow me there or just click here. Facebook apparently hates people who don’t pay for their presence online so they’re not sharing my (and other fan page admins’) updates as often or as timely as they used to before the IPO. So if you want to follow me there and receive dated updates from my page with information that might not be of interest to you anymore, jump in!… (After that glowing recommendation I can’t wait to watch my follower count go through the roof.)

Twitter is better actually, it’s instant. I can understand it if you’re not on Twitter. James Woolcott from Vanity Fair magazine just opened a Twitter account; he stated the fact that he’s now on the social media network is the harbinger of its obsolescence, so…   I’ve got a random assortment of followers, like totally random, on Twitter. Some of them just follow me hoping that I’ll share their stuff with my bounty of 106 followers because someone they follow told them about me. I have endeavored to follow some of them back, but their posts are really annoying and one guy who fancies himself as a humor blog writer really isn’t humorous; he’s funny like Andrew Dice Clay (I know, I’m dating myself, that’s OK; want another one?: Sam Kinneson) is funny: which is not funny unless he’s making fun of someone else. So I’ve stopped following him. Then there are the weird BDSM writers who somehow found me. Super! I won’t ever be their publishing competition. If you’re on Twitter, and want to see the 140 characters or less inner workings of my mosquito brain, follow me @MollyFieldTweet or click here.

I guess that’s about it. Murphy needs a walk and I’m ready to go outside, pull up a chair and watch my husband powerwash the driveway in preparation for its reseal.

Thank you!

Today is My Birthday; Life Expectancy, Biopsies


Today is my birthday. Whenever I hear someone say it’s their birthday, I am reminded of Jerry Seinfeld’s quip in response to an audience member who announced it was her birthday. He said, “Congratulations and Happy Birthday. How old are you?” And she said something unintelligible and he said instantly, “Oh, so you want attention, but not too much attention.” The crowd roared.

I am 45 today. I don’t care if people know. I have never regarded my age as some secret thing. Sometimes, depending on the light I look my age, other times not at all. I see myself as being on my 45-yard line. Meaning that I’m heading in the right direction, but I still have a ways to go.

I wasn’t planning on writing today. My friend from high school and I remark about my prolificivity (I made up that word) with the writing. He often reminds me of what Faulkner said, something along the lines of writers having to write because we can’t not write.

I have a nice day planned: some yoga in about an hour and then I’m gonna row a bit around noon. But I was walking The Murph, as I endeavor to do every morning after dropping the kids at their educave, and thoughts came to my mind.

The number-one thought is that I’m a lucky person. I am blessed with a wonderful family; my brothers are great people and their wives are terrific. My parents are still alive and getting by. My husband’s family is amazing, truly — you should meet these people — and I have my health. I squandered my youth when I was still stupid and young enough to do it and now I get to look back and caution my children to not err the way I did. I survived; someone up there’s got it in for me.

There is a middle-eastern woman in my ‘hood whom I see every morning and I have a distant fondness for: she wears her headdress, but no long gown-y stuff. She wears a bright-colored sweat suit (usually velour) and is usually on her phone; hands free but no headset. She’s in very good shape, walking at a good clip. How she carries her phone endears me to her still: she places it between her head scarf and her ear and I guess the tension of the wrap keeps it in place. My friend RICK! and I always marvel at her habit of doing this. She smiles and keeps going… I’m thinking in my head as I smile and say hello, “We’re all in this together, sister.”

When my mother was 45 it was 1979. We were still in Buffalo and completely unaware of the changes that would befall us 2 years hence. We moved on her 47th birthday to Virginia. Here’s the post I wrote about some of those days… I’m not going to unearth anything new on this post, so if you’re curious about me, just query “Buffalo, NY” in the search field and that should tell you a fair amount.

I woke up today (yay!) grateful for all the shit that’s come my way. I have no sage advice to share. I have seen many friendships come and go. I used to think that was an indication of some character flaw in myself: that I was unstable, that my expectations were unreasonable and that people have the same friendships all their lives. I accept, with glee actually, that that is not true. I have learned a lot about myself, and my at-times utopian world view, from every single one of those now dust-covered relationships and I’m really good with it. The thing is: what’s theirs is theirs and not mine. I feel intuitively anyhow, maybe it’s a 45-thing, much stronger and ready to own what’s appropriately ‘mine.’  Denial and projection do no good for anyone.

My health is sound, I work hard for it. I realize I have more blessings than others in this department and I am completely grateful.

Two weeks ago I took my oldest son in for a look-see at the dermatologist. I saw a funky mole on his shin. It turned out that what concerned the derm was not the “blue nevus” which is a common and benign mole but two larger and asymmetrical moles on his thigh. When we first got to the practice, I offered my son his options: I can stay in the room and shield my eyes or he can go it alone with the doc and his nurse and if they need me, they’ll call me. He took the prize behind door #2. I sat in my upholstered, itchy and hard chair in the waiting room amidst the onslaught of dermovitabrasion ads blaring from the flat screens. The walls were peppered with images of impossibly beautiful people with no laugh lines thanks to lineliminate. I was flanked by “take one” pamphlets hawking similar concoctions. I tried the vitadroxyliftabeautibrasions lotions a few years ago and I realized: I am not one for the “do every night and don’t forget the sunscreen and wear a hat every day” regimen required of these products to ensure success. I’m cool with that. I dig my laugh lines.

As I waited I started reading Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night — DON’T DO THAT IN A WAITING ROOM on my Kindle. The play is a deeply dramatic depiction of a family in severe dysfunction from addiction, parsimony, anger, repressed emotions and physical illness. It’s utterly amazing, astounding and fantastically deep and reflective, but woah. I was tapped on the shoulder by a nurse and asked to come back to the room. They found something on my son.

I cheerfully stood up, eagerly followed the assistant and chirped, “Hey Bud!” to my son in his paper gown on the cold vinyl chair as I entered his exam room. His expression said, “What’s going on?” His voice said, “Hey, mom. They want you to sign something.” “OK, I’m in!” I chirped again, swallowing and sitting on the edge of the chair behind me.

My head flooded with blood. Saline was trying to pump its way out of my eyes and my throat tightened. The doctor came in, he’s Russian and I adore him because he is “Wery pohkir fazed. He dells yew nudding with heez eyez or voyze. Da.”

They needed me to sign consent to remove for biopsy two moles that “Eye… dun’t lyke. I dew nut know eef dey are beeg becuz he ees a beeg bouy naow und haz gruwn so fazt or…” and I interrupted him and said, I understand. Should I have brought him last year; you said every two years. I was on time. But my eyes were welling up and my lip began to tremble.

“No. Dis is nut dat, Mom. I am takink precushion. Bayzeline. And I meant tew yearz,” he said, I sighed.

I signed. He numbed my son and removed the moles.

The whole time I’m thinking, “GAME FACE, GAME FACE.” I kept it together. My son, also very new to this biopsy stuff said, “What do you mean, biopsy?” and the doctor started to explain that it was a test to look at the cellular nature of the samples and my son said, “No, I’m in honors biology at school, I know what a ‘biopsy‘ is. Why are you taking them…?”

I interrupted and said, “Because it’s what good doctors do. He’s not sure if they’ve stretched out because you’ve grown so fast or if these moles are suspicious. The biopsy, as you know, will tell him what he needs to know, and then we go from there.” I pressed my lips together and looked down at my sneakers. They were dirty.

“Oh,” said my son.

“Ok?” said the doc.

“Ok,” said my son.

The whole way home after that I’m keeping it together. My son kept it together but was openly resentful that I didn’t ask enough questions. I knew that was coming. I didn’t ask “enough” questions because I wasn’t sure of the responses and I wanted the doctor to speak freely and not in front of my son. I fully intended to follow up with a call the next day. My son said to me, “If it’s bad news, you’ll tell me, right?” And I said, “Totally. I would never keep anything like that from you.” (Lie?)

The whole time I’m driving, I’m thinking, “Today’s drive and wait in the office could have been the last normal hour I had with my son. We might be in for a total shift in a week. Right now, all I know is that he’s here…”

I am not one given to histrionics. I am not a drama-seeker. I hate that shit. So I did a good job of staying pretty calm even though I was totally preoccupied. Be the adult and the leader. My son picked up on my cues and stayed focused on what he knew, which was that he has a conservative and careful doctor and that a scar from a biopsy is a hell of a lot better than not having the scar. Moments after we pulled in the driveway, my husband came home and I lost it in front of him while our son was jamming to some Led Zepplin on his electric guitar upstairs in his room.

“You’re overreacting. You don’t know anything. Why didn’t you ask the questions?” I wanted to shove him through a wall. He walked out. He came back a few moments later and I said to him, “I need a soft place to fall. I need that to be you. I need you to deal with my fractured emotional state right now because I have been keeping my shit together since I had to put down my Kindle in the waiting room.”

He silently nodded and agreed, he wasn’t being my soft place to fall. He allowed me to crumble into his arms. I heaved. I cried like a baby. Then I bootstrapped and moved on, we gently high-fived. Not kidding.

A week later, the call came: he’s OK. The moles are benign, but one needs further removal because it’s “atypical” but not “abnormal” and not “precancerous.” I told my son that we have to go back tomorrow, actually, and he said, “OK. Good because I want it all gone; no sense in having it there if it’s not safe.”

My son is just one of my heroes. Going forward, my life expectancy is to just have a good time, not make waves if at all possible and continue to write, share, learn from my upcoming and guaranteed mistakes. This “life” stuff is good though. It is.

So I’m off to yoga and then the water. Have a great day. I will too.

Happy birthday to me.

Thank you.

Dinner: Beef Roast in the Crock Pot


I started this post at 11am today… I am now just getting around to publishing it. Mondays are really hard for me; the kids get out three hours earlier than usual on Mondays. It’s a drag. Everything I do has to be set on Fast Forward. The original title of this post was, “Dinner You Still Have Time to Make.” Best intentions…

But… at 11am, I put this in the crock pot:

1 beef round eye round roast (about 2#)

white onion, chopped

1 1# bag of baby carrots or 6 whole carrots, chopped

1 beer, a dark stock if possible

5 cloves garlic, minced

4 tbsp olive oil

6 bay leaves

1/2 tsp salt

1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes

1/4 cup water

Place pan on burner set on high, let pan warm up. Sear all sides of the beef in a flat pan with 2 tbsp olive oil and half of the garlic.

Add bay leaves, entire beer to pan, let boil for a couple minutes, add stewed tomatoes, salt, gently stir.

In the pan you just emptied, add the rest of the olive oil and garlic, chopped onions and carrots. Add water to mixture.  Cook for about five minutes or until onions become translucent.

Add this to crock pot and close it up.

If you have just two hours: set on high and walk away.

If you have more than two hours, set on low and let it cook all day if you want.

When you’re ready to eat, the “stew” will be watery so (this is totally optional), add 1/3 cup of flour to 1/3 cup of water to make a thick base to ADD to the crock pot to thicken the stew (do NOT add flour as it is; it must be mixed with the water first), if that’s how you want it.

Take out the meat first, let it sit for about 2 minutes and then cut it in “steaks.”

Serve with mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles and cover with gravy / sauce, add carrots to the plates.

It’s very tasty, the kids love it,  and I have NO clue about how caloric it is.

Here’s a pic of it in the crock pot just before I left for several hours:


I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you.