Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Halloween Trick?

Robert took the kids out trick or treating tonight about 6:30. It is a lovely evening: no rain, no wind, not even very cold. And thanks to daylight savings, it’s not quite pitch black. I would venture to say this is the most enjoyable trick or treating evening we’ve had in the 10 years I’ve been paying attention to things like this.

About 20 minutes after the kids left a pack of cute pre-teen girls showed up on my doorstep. There was a chorus of “trick-or-treat” but one voice sounded different in a familiar sort of way. There in the middle of the group of 11 year old girls was a little cowboy. It was Isaac trick or treating his own house.

The girls turned, left and Isaac came in the house. I looked all over for Robert, but he was nowhere to be seen.

“Where’s Dad?” I asked Isaac.

“I don’t know, I lost him.”

Isaac claimed he was done trick or treating and sat down in the front room and started to eat his candy. I figured Robert would eventually figure out he’d lost his 3 year old son, so I went outside to watch for him running down the street. Sure enough, after a minute or so, I saw Robert. He double checked with Isaac to make sure he was actually finished trick or treating and went back to the other boys.

Wouldn’t you know it, 15 minutes later, Isaac was ready to trick or treat again. Robert had his phone so I called and luckily he was just across the street and a couple houses down.

Hopefully he will survive the night with out losing any more kids. Did I mention he’s one of two adults out with 6 boys? I think I got the better end of the bargain by hanging out at home, updating my blog, and jumping up to answer the door every few minutes.

Werewolf Bar Mitzvah

Happy Halloween. I am planning a more detailed post, with pictures, after the kids get dressed up tonight. However, I couldn't resist sharing the full version of Werewolf Bar Mitzvah with you. If you are a faithful 30 Rock viewer you will recall the October 11 episode when Tracy Jordan mentions his novelty song "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah." On 30 Rock we just got to listen to a small part of the song. Here, for your listening pleasure, is the whole song.

If you don't watch 30 Rock it probably won't be very funny. It might be a little bit funny.

If you'd like to see the video clip from the show, click here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What's Nanowrimo?

You might have noticed the little yellow "nano wrimo" graphic on the side bar of this blog. Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place from November 1st through November 30th. Those participating in nanowrimo write a 50,000 word rough draft novel in 30 days.

I'd never heard of nanowrimo until last fall when my cousin Catherine announced her intention to write a 30 day novel and was looking for other insane, I mean enthusiastic people to join her. I declined last year, but am really looking forward to participating with her this year. (By the way, she won nanowrimo last year by meeting the 50,000 word goal--way to go Catherine!)

After November 1st, you can click on the yellow typewriter picture (on the sidebar, not on this post) and check out my word count and watch me progress towards 50,000 words. Hopefully the fact that anyone can check in and see how I'm doing will provide the motivation to keep writing and not give up.

Now, a little word of gratitude...

My sister Angela is amazing. Just check out her blog and see what she's been up to if you don't believe me. Angela was the technical wizard who figured out how to make that little yellow rectangle turn into a link to my nanowrimo page. I really don't know how she did it, but I think it involved writing HTML, lighting a scented candle and chanting in binary code. Thank you Angela!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mummy Update

So the question is: Should I get the kids dinner or do a quick blog post? Dinner? Blog? Dinner? Blog?

I'm thinking that after last night's candy haul and the subsequent candy scarfing, the kids are probably not that interested in dinner anyway. Plus it's leftover home made pea soup and home made wheat rolls and I didn't get really good feedback on it the first time around and the rolls were hot out of the oven, so I'm not sure I've got a chance with dinner tonight.

Here's a quick update on the mummy costume I was working on yesterday:

Cheesecloth: I ran out of strips of cheesecloth, which, by the way, is self destructive. You have about 30 seconds to work with it before it starts falling apart. For the mummy look, it worked ok, but I ended up with lots of little white strings all over me, the table where I sew and my carpet. When Ethan wore the costume, he left little white strings every where he sat.

The Ladies Turtleneck Sweater: I had Ethan try the sweater on when he came home from school. As I was yanking it over his head he said, "this smells like a girl." I assured him nothing could be farther from the truth and pointed out all the fabulous mummy features the sweater had, like too-long sleeves which would cover up his hands and make them look all mummified. (So, you can't hold your Halloween bucket with the sleeves covering your need to sacrifice your comfort for the costume's authenticity!)

Ethan took the sweater off and went outside to play. I proceeded to sew strips of cheesecloth around the base of the shirt which was satisfyingly easy. Then I got to the arm pits and got stuck. I decided to skip to the neck and I sewed several strips of cheesecloth to the neck. I ended up hand sewing the final strips to the shirt as the kids were waiting in the car to go to the party.

Finally, I was as done as I could be and I called Ethan over so I could put the mummy top on him. Well...

Cheesecloth doesn't really stretch and I'd sewn it right around the neck so it was neat and form fitting. But it wouldn't go over Ethan's head. Not a bit. So I clipped and cut and poked holes and essentially destroyed the neck so that it finally slipped over his head.

Final Words: Luckily for me, the more I messed up, the better the mummy costume looked. It didn't even look too bad with the arms unwrapped. I could buy more cheesecloth and finish a few more empty spots on the top, but I think I'll call it good. I am done making Halloween costumes for another year. Look for pictures after Oct. 31.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Big Surprise

Once again I have gotten in over my head. The church Halloween Party and Chili Cook-off is hours away and Ethan’s mummy costume is unfinished. My plan: buy grey sweat pants, sweatshirt and cheese cloth. Cut cheese cloth into strips and wrap around the sweats then sew in place. Presto! Mummy costume.

In my warped brain, this would have taken me approximately 30 minutes and would look fabulous.

In reality, I’m an idiot. I can’t even explain why this is difficult in a way that would make sense because I don’t know what that little part of my sewing machine is called that isn’t long enough to accommodate the entire length of sweat pant leg so that I can sew around and around all the way up the leg. (Or down the leg…I’d take down the leg if I could figure out a way to make that work.)

I still have the mummy top to work on, which is no longer going to be a sweatshirt because I’ve decided that it would be too bulky for this last-minute-super-easy-thrown-together costume that will take me 30 minutes. So I ventured into Goodwill today with the 2 little ones (yes, as a matter of fact, that was them diving under the clothing racks, playing hide and seek) to find a grey turtle neck.

What I ended up with was a copy of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, because I’ve heard so much about it and have finally decided to read it, and a cream colored ladies ribbed turtle neck. I’m pretty sure the turtle neck will fit Ethan if I can manage to get it over his head before he realizes it’s girl clothes.

Looking at the glass half-full, this last minute church party costume crunch will ensure that I’ll be ready for Halloween night.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wimpy Kid Wows Ethan

I just read a winner of a book and passed it on to Ethan. I know it's a winner of a book because (gasp) Ethan’s reading it. The book is Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.

Rather than attempt a mediocre book-report-style review, I will direct you to Fuse #8 for Librarian Betsy Bird's professional opinion. (She's a professional librarian, and a professional reviewer.)

Basically, Wimpy Kid tells of middle-schooler Greg Haffley in a novel with pictures. The text is printed in a goofy handwriting font and every page has plenty of illustrations to crack you up or make a point. The pages are even lined to mimic a real diary.

I requested this book from the library when I read it just might be up for funniest book of the year and kept seeing it pop up on various children's lit blogs as one of the best books for middle grades. To top it off, Wimpy Kid is a total boy book and boy books don't come along very often.

So, if you know a 8-12 year old boy who is reluctant to pick up a book, throw Diary of a Wimpy Kid his way and leave him alone.

If you are still curious, check out the Diary of a Wimpy Kid blog. You can also check out this site for sample pages from the book.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

And in Other News...

In a tragic playroom accident, Jack, President of Jack-in-the-Box suffered multiple, life threatening injuries when Mega T-Rex suddenly charged and attacked him. Witnesses claim the attack was unprovoked, but another witness, commenting on conditions of anonymity said, "Look at my impressive wing-span," followed up by, "I have a laser, and I'll use it."

Jack was dressed for the ski slopes but close friends admit that although they've never seen him in anything other than ski gear, they're pretty sure he's never been skiing.

It's been rumored that Jack has an army of antenna balls at his command but so far not one has shown up to offer assistance.

Jack is currently in critical condition and still in Mega T-Rex's mouth.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Halloween Candy Solutions

Our kids have no less than 3 Halloween candy-gathering events coming up: The Intel Family Halloween Party, our church "trunk-or-treat," and the big day, October 31st. I'm not expecting Intel to load us with much in the way of candy, but the trunk-or-treat is a candy jackpot. Kids make the circuit around church parking lot over and over again until trunks run out of candy. Cars are parked close together and kids get the equivalent of 2 hours of neighborhood trick-or-treating in 20 minutes or less. Finally, we have October 31st. I'm not too worried about Jonah and Isaac's candy haul. However, Ethan's candy gathering abilities have increased over the last few years and I'm anticipating he will bring home an obscene amount of candy.

I'm not looking forward to this candy influx and I personally know that a few of you feel the same way. (Adele...any comments?) My increasing dread prompted me to write an article for listing several creative ways to get rid of too much Halloween candy. Of course I had to be sweet and gentle about the suggestions I gave because I don't want to offend anyone who might have more scruples than I when it comes to dealing with kids and candy.

But here, on my blog, I can be honest. I can tell you how I really feel, share my secret strategies and bare my soul, so to speak. Here is the number one thing I do to reduce the amount of Halloween candy in our house...

(If you are one of my children, I am going to have to ask that you stop reading this post immediately. Now! Stop! I think I hear Dad calling you. Did I tell you there are cookies in the kitchen? Go!)

...I steal my kid's candy.

Well, I suppose "steal" is a harsh word. Let me explain.

When the kids come home from any event where they accumulate candy, I remind them of my rule: For every candy wrapper I find around the house (not including the garbage can), I get to take 1 piece of candy from everyone. I would honestly be happy if they just kept the candy wrappers off the ground as the litter that ends up all over my house is really my biggest gripe with Halloween candy (Easter is a whole other post.) For some reason, however, this threat seems to have little effect. With in minutes, wrappers start appearing on the floor, in between couch cushions, and under beds.

The second thing I do when the kids come home is exercise the "mommy tax." This is the payment I get for dressing them in cute costumes and letting them out the door in the first place. The mommy tax usually relieves my boys of their Mounds and Almond Joy bars, which in their eyes, is a big win/win. However, not that many people are giving out Mounds and Almond Joys anymore (finally caught on that kids hate coconut, I suppose) so my mommy tax has dwindled. I also accept Jr. Mints and Smarties as part of the tax, but the subjects complain mightily when they have to part with those candies.

The third thing I do is go through the kids candy haul and confiscate anything with a stick. Well, that pretty much includes lollipops. I can barely handle M&M wrappers on the floor, but sticky lollipop sticks stuck to the carpet and furniture practically send me over the edge. (Yes, as a matter of fact I do live with animals!) Like I said, my threats don't seem to keep kids from littering all over the house, so I just make a little pre-emptive strike on the lollipops and the days following October 31st go a little more smoothly.

A few days after Halloween, I estimate how much trash I've picked up around the house. I then "thin out" the candy stash as significantly as I can without drawing too much attention. This isn't really stealing because the kids were fairly warned about the consequences of leaving wrappers on the floor. If they do notice candy missing from their stash I simply show or tell them about all the wrappers I've picked up. That shuts them up pretty fast.

Other than the Mounds, Almond Joys, Smarties and Jr. Mints, all confiscated candy makes a one-way trip to the garbage. Using this strategy, along with encouraging the kids to eat their candy as quickly as possible, I'm usually able to clear the house of candy with in 5-6 days.

I actually found a few creative suggestions for other ways to re-route an excess of Halloween candy during the research for my article. I’ll try and post a few kinder suggestions in the coming days, along with a link to my article.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Plan of Attack!

Found: A map of the neighborhood, drawn by Ethan, with a Halloween trick-or-treating plan of attack. Includes a key with colors indicating good and bad homes (good homes give out full sized candy bars) and arrows indicating the most efficient route. Almost illegible notes give these instructions: take extra candy bag and first aid kit just in case.

Should I be worried that Ethan thinks he will need a first aid kit for trick-or-treating or be happy he is thinking ahead? As for the extra candy bag…I don’t know how to break this to Ethan…if he has that much candy that he needs a 2nd bag, I’ll be handing out the contents of the first bag in big fistfuls to anyone who comes ringing our doorbell.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What is That?

I was going to subject you all to a little guessing game to see if you could tell me what was in the picture above. The more I look at it though, the more obvious it seems. So, rather than insult your intelligence, I will come right out and tell you that my picture is of apple peels.

I peeled about 40 pounds of Elstar apples today and made apple sauce. The sauce turned out quite tasty according to my resident fruit-a-holic, Jonah. Most fortunately, Angela loaned me the Pampered Chef "Apple Peeler Corer Slicer" which sped up the peeling process and spared me a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome. If I hadn’t had that handy tool, I’d most likely still be peeling apples and not updating my blog.

I ended up with 14 quarts of apple sauce (7 regular and 7 cinnamon-spice) and still have another 40 pounds of Macintosh apples to go. Bring it on!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Don't You Hate That?

OK, so I'm trying to stay healthy and eat right. In the past I had a lovely little habit of drinking Dr. Pepper. It was so delicious and every time I had one (about once a day) I also craved (needed, required, had to have...) chocolate. So each afternoon I would sit on my butt in front of the computer while drinking my delicious Dr. Pepper and eating my yummy chocolate. It was just once a day, so it wasn't really that big of a deal, right?

Well, about 18 months ago, I decided I needed to loose a few pounds, so I did a two week no-carb-type cleanse diet. I survived the two weeks and felt GREAT! Gone was my craving for so much sugar. I brought carbs back into my diet in the form of whole grains (as much as possible) and really limited my snacking.

Part of the healthy eating fall out was the exclusion of Dr. Pepper and caffeine from my diet. I don't know if caffeine had a negative effect on my weight, but I just didn't want it messing with my energy levels. I wanted my body to regulate itself naturally, blah, blah, blah.

So, I'm feeling pretty good, no caffeine, trying to drink lots of water. I went through a Crystal Light kick, which turned into an IZZE obsession and have finally landed on a healthy Vitamin Water by Glacéau relationship.

Well, Vitamin Water is $1.25 a bottle! So when I saw Kirkland "Vita Rain" at Costco for $9.59 for 24 bottles, I thought I'd found a Vitamin Water equivalent at a great price. The bottles look the same, the copy on the outside of the bottle has a similar casual, funny and sarcastic slant, the vitamin levels are the same and even the ingredients are the same...mostly.

However, the Vita Rain, Tropical Citrus flavor also includes "natural caffeine." What!?

I'm not even sure I know what natural caffeine is, but it sounds a lot like regular caffeine and why does this drink need to have it? I don't want caffeine. I hate when drinks that shouldn't have caffeine like root beer and orange soda and health drinks sneak it into their formula.

I think I should just go back to drinking plain old water.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Please Ignore the Carpet

Why is it that I can spend the whole day cleaning, folding, vacuuming and putting away then leave for one hour and come home to a house in disarray? This is what happened last night, but I can't say that anyone was really at fault. Unfortunately, Isaac threw up twice while I was gone, so between the cleaning up of that mess and the creation of several others, the house I came home to did not resemble the one I left.

Sunday, I had a meeting and was gone one hour. ONE HOUR! When I came home, every person in our family was in the computer room. All appeared to be having a fine time doing whatever it was they were doing. A short while later, I noticed a miniature marshmallow had been torn apart to create optimal stickyness and smashed into the carpet just under the computer desk. I noticed it when my bare foot stuck to that particular spot of carpet.

Now, our carpet is nothing special. While many of our friends in the area request "shoes off" when inviting us into their homes, I usually request of our house guests "shoes on for your safety and protection." The only source of comfort I have about our stained and worn carpet is that it's not as bad as the family I knew growing up who had not only worn a hole right through their carpet and pad, but had gone on to wear a hole right through the floor boards so you could see down into the crawl space under the house. (You have to take your comfort where you can get it.)

So our carpet has seen better days and with 3 boys who think nothing of tromping through the house in muddy shoes, or spilling, drawing or even throwing up on the carpet, we are in no hurry to spend thousands to give them a clean slate with which to work their special brand of magic.

Back to the marshmallow sticking to my foot...I was irritated. Of all the stained and worn carpet in the house, the section under the desk was a protected haven that was still fairly pleasant. I had a few questions:

1. What were the kids doing snacking on mini marshmallows when I made sure they were well fed and snacked up before I left?

2. Why were they eating in the computer room when the house rule is "eat in the kitchen only?"

3. How could the other adult (I won't mention him by name) be literally feet away from these kids and a) let them snack on mini marshmallows, b) let them eat them in a non-kitchen area, and c) let them grind one into the carpet?

Personally, I was at a loss on how to remedy the situation. Not that I care about one more stain on the carpet. I'm beyond caring about that. My concern was that my foot would have to be subject to the unpleasant stickyness every time I sat at the computer. The only way I could think to remedy the sticky mess was to stick something over the top of it, like a piece of paper, a small swatch of fabric, or 1,200 square feet of brand new carpet.

I stewed for about 2 hours on Sunday afternoon. I won't tell you all the thoughts that went through my head because I really don't want to paint that un-named other adult in a negative light. After all, he was on-call and thoroughly engrossed in looking for microscopic pieces of dust on silicon wafers. I stewed and stewed until I thought that google might be able to point me to a solution that would not include a blow torch or hydrochloric acid.

My Google search paid off and I found the following: Since marshmallows are water soluble, simply set a damp towel over the marshmallowed area for a while and the sugar in the marshmallow will dissolve. It said to treat the area with your favorite carpet cleaning method and in my case, my favorite method is dimming the lights so no one can see the stains. So, the lights are low and the carpet is not sticky.

You should see how great the carpet looks with the lights low AND my glasses off.

Monday, October 15, 2007

You're Welcome!

Saturday I made my all time favorite sandwich. I guess I should disclose that I only have about 5 sandwiches in my repertoire and 2 of them are pb&j and grilled cheese. (The third is grilled cheese with ham.) Given that information, you may find it surprising that I know how to make this sandwich at all.

I found the recipe for this sandwich in a cookbook we received as a wedding present. Picture me as a newlywed, with only one (maybe two) lunches to make on a Saturday afternoon. No one is chanting "I'm hungry" while clinging to my leg, so I am not rushed and can spend more than 90 seconds throwing together a grown-up sort of sandwich. These are the circumstances in which I discovered this delicious lunch-time meal.

I know you will thank me when I tell you how to make my delicious sandwich, thus, the title of my blog, "You're Welcome." And here is the recipe:

Baked Ham and Brie Sandwich with Honey Mustard

2 slices of wheat bread
honey mustard
1 small apple (actually, you only need about a quarter of the apple)
lemon juice
cinnamon/sugar mixture
lettuce leaves (I use red leaf)
2-3 slices of deli ham
sliced Brie

Thinly slice apple and toss in a bowl with a few teaspoons of lemon juice. Sprinkle apples with cinnamon/sugar mix. Spread each slice of bread with honey mustard. Top one slice of bread with lettuce, ham, brie slices and apple slices. Top with another piece of lettuce and the second slice of bread. Slice diagonally into triangles if it's a rainy day or lengthwise into rectangles if it's a sunny day.

This sandwich is best enjoyed in solitude, or with another grown-up. If kids enter the room while you are eating and shout, "What is that? I want a bite, give me a bite! Yuck, I don't like that, what is that, it's yucky, Mom can you get me a glass of milk, I want a snack, I'm still hungry, get me something to eat," quickly take your sandwich, run to your bedroom, lock the door and listen to some relaxing music on your iPod at high volume while you eat in peace.

You're welcome!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Typical Childhood Photo-Op

The kids had a day off from school today so I decided to take them to Lakeview Farms pumpkin patch in North Plains, Oregon. I don't really care about the pumpkins...I can get them much cheaper at Winco, or even free at Portland Community College's upcoming Fall Festival. The real reason that I or anyone goes to the pumpkin patch (in my humble opinion) is to get cute fall pictures of their kids.

We paid $12 to get 4 of us in the pumpkin patch. This gets us one ride on the paddle boat across the lake and one train ride back to the main area. Also, each ticket is good for $1 off any pumpkin we decide to buy. We ended up spending $4.25 on 3 small pumpkins.

When Ethan was a little kid, this same pumpkin patch didn't charge anything to enter. The boat and train rides were free and only the pumpkins cost money. A few years after that, they charged $2 a person to come into the pumpkin patch but that money was refunded when you purchased a pumpkin.

So, I hope you enjoy some of the pictures I got for $16.25. The kids had a good time and I think it was a little better than staying home and watching TV, which I probably would have caved in and let them do.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And If You Don't Have a Y Chromosome....

From Amazon:

THE DARING BOOK FOR GIRLS is the manual for everything that girls need to know –– and that doesn't mean sewing buttonholes! Whether it's female heroes in history, secret note–passing skills, science projects, friendship bracelets, double dutch, cats cradle, the perfect cartwheel or the eternal mystery of what boys are thinking, this book has it all. But it's not just a guide to giggling at sleepovers –– although that's included, of course! Whether readers consider themselves tomboys, girly–girls, or a little bit of both, this book is every girl's invitation to adventure.

Also from Amazon:

How to do almost anything in one handy little book! Want to be known for your unique style? Inside you'll learn how to design your own clothes (p. 35), do the perfect manicure (p. 82), or make your own lip gloss (p. 11). Feel like impressing your friends? Show them how you can make a crystal (p. 16), juggle one-handed (p. 33), or deal with a bully (p. 42). Bored and need something to do? Not anymore when you find out how to keep a secret diary (p. 88), make a scrapbook (p. 9), or put together a dance routine (p. 24). And tons of other neat-o things you need to know how to do!

Let me get this straight: Girls have all the American Girl publications, Nancy Drew books, any book written by Meg Cabot and a thousand other feel good, you can do it, money/period/hairstyle/crush-surviving guidebooks? The market is saturated with stuff for girls.

On the other hand, anything that would interest boys inevitably has to be shared by girls too. Just because boys don't like to read doesn't mean publishers should forget about them. That is part of what makes "The Dangerous Book for Boys" so appealing. No one is going to ban girls from opening it's pages, but this is one book that is most definitely 100% for boys.

So, if little girls really feel they need another book to tell them how to weave the perfect friendship bracelet and how to paint the perfect manicure, if they can't live with out a giggle-guide for sleep overs, then please help yourself to yet another book designed specifically for girls. But, with the abundance of titles girls have to choose from, couldn't we let the boys have their "Dangerous" book without having publishers trying to grab a piece of the action?

Ok, I know, it's just a book. I'll go have a cookie and take some deep breaths. I'll be ok.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Dangerous Book for Parents

Have you seen this book? "The Dangerous Book For Boys" is the best-selling book created by two brothers who felt the over-protective "rules and safety" environment we were creating for our children (more specifically, our boys) was doing them no favors. Inspired by the idea that boys need to test their limits and occasionally fall off things, this book contains plenty of vital information all boys need to know.

There is a section on how to tie knots and what each knot is used for. There are directions for how to build a tree house and a go cart. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are described, with color pictures. The book even has poetry every boy should know, including "If" by Rudyard Kipling (my personal favorite.)

Ethan was immediately drawn, however, to the section describing the rules of poker. After reading through the material several times, Ethan announced he wanted to play poker. To be fair, the authors do a great job of helping the reader understand the risk of playing poker. I believe their suggestion had to do with finding a good charity to donate to if you felt you had a bunch of money you didn't need.

Ethan was insistent that we play poker, so Sunday after noon, we played poker. Ethan loved it. When Ethan suggested we play poker for Family Home Evening on Monday night, Robert and I felt Ethan needed a little more education on poker.

"Poker is a game of chance, like playing the lottery or gambling," I told Ethan. "You really shouldn't ever play for money."

"Isn't Bunco gambling?" Ethan quickly shot back.

I was a little flustered. "Well, uh, that's different, because, uh....tell him why it's different Robert."

I swear Robert had a smug little look on his face. He was no help.

"It's like I'm paying for dinner, kind of," I offered Ethan, "with gifts...that are sometimes great and sometimes less great."

Ethan lost interest in my Bunco rationalization and turned his attention to Robert. "What about mutual funds?" (Mutual Funds!!! Where in the world did he learn about mutual funds? He's only 9...I don't think I knew about mutual funds until I was in my 20's.)

Now it was Robert's turn to think quickly as he tried to justify, I mean explain, the difference between investing and gambling.

Anyway, "Dangerous Book for Boys," thanks a lot. It would have been slightly easier if Ethan ripped his pants learning how to climb a fence or skinned his knee jumping out of a tree.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Another Recall: Hooray!

A few weeks ago we received our replacement Skarloey in the mail. Skarloey was one of the casualties of the Thomas the Tank Engine product recall. Luckily, Skarloey was the only toy we own, so far, that has been recalled. However, with the almost daily announcements of more recalled toys and other products that contain lead paint, it's a wonder more of us aren't coming down with lead poisoning.

I'm just waiting for the announcement that lead fishing weights have been recalled because of excessive amounts of lead. What about those lead bibs they have you wear when you get x-rays taken? I would think that would have an excessive amount of lead, but it's probably safe as long as I don't chew on it. (That's probably why the dentist puts those annoying cardboard-y things in my mouth, right?)

Well, here is the latest product to be recalled due to excessive lead content. It's a Boy Scout badge that Ethan happens to have. I'm actually thrilled that this thing has been recalled because about 2 hours after he received the badge and put it on his uniform, the beads had come off and were being used as projectiles.

I gathered up the beads as best I could and put them in a little zip lock bag with the idea that I would most definitely reattach them to the badge very, very soon. It's been over a year and the thought of just throwing them away and ripping that remaining badge part from Ethan's uniform is bringing me a strange amount of joy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Costume Crisis

October 31st is nearing and I don’t want to make Halloween costumes for my kids. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but I also don’t want to buy Halloween costumes for my kids.

3 years ago, I purchased a Darth Vader costume for Ethan for $60. This did not include the light saber or the black gauntlets, (which, I later learned, was a fancy way of saying “gloves”) and had to be purchased separately. My rational for buying such an expensive costume was that it would be worn by 3 boys over the coming years and in effect “pay for itself” as they say.

Without going into too much detail, let me just say that the $60 Darth Vader costume would have caused the Sith Lord himself to administer that creepy phantom choke maneuver on whoever designed it. It began to fall apart after only one night of tricks and treats. Ethan wore it again last year, sans helmet, which never fit correctly anyway, and it took even more of a beating.

Unless Jonah or Isaac is interested in going trick or treating as the Darth Vader who was all ratty and falling apart after Darth Sidious nearly killed him when it became clear Vader would not kill Luke, then I think our Darth Vader costume needs to be retired.

Last year Jonah and Isaac dressed up as matching pirates in costumes made by me. I spent about $60 on both of them and even though the shirts are a little funky in the collar area, they are vastly superior to the overpriced costumes you can buy in the store.

I would make creative costumes this year for all my boys, but 3 things stand in my way:

1. Two of the boys change their minds almost hourly on what they want to dress up as for Halloween.

2. One of the boys wants to be a character from a fairly obscure sci-fi show that almost no one has ever heard of: Apophis, a Goa'uld based on the god Apep of Egyptian mythology.

3. I don’t want to sew any Halloween costumes (as mentioned above.)

Yesterday I asked Isaac and Jonah if they would like to go as pirates again this year. I told them we could change up the costumes a bit by drawing fake scars on their faces and adding an eye patch. They were thrilled and quickly agreed.

Today, thoughts of being a pirate were abandoned when “The Ultimate Halloween Catalog” from Party City came in the mail. It has pictures of hundreds of Halloween costumes and all three boys couldn’t take their eyes off it. All quickly determined which costumes I would be buying them (in their dreams) and none of the costume selections included “Doctor Without Borders Doctor,” “Nobel Prize Winning Scientist,” or even “Future Tycoon.”

No, my boys wanted to be Zombie Doctor, Ghoul with Light-up Eyes, and Bleeding Chest Skeleton. Lovely.

It doesn’t really matter because I’m not buying any of those overpriced, poorly constructed costumes.

If I had to choose one part of “The Ultimate Halloween Catalog” that disturbed me most ( and there were more than a few things to be disturbed about (i.e. sexy costumes for pre-teen girls)), it would be the youth sized costumes of Freddy Kruger (Nightmare on Elm Street), Jason (Friday the 13th) and Michael Myers (Halloween). It makes me sad to think that an 8-10 year old would actually know who these characters were and want to be one of them for Halloween.