Saturday, November 22, 2008

Three More Days

We are going down to North Carolina for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mechanical Girl

We have a way of noticing when people do something for a while with energy. I can NOT think of a word to say that, but here's what I mean: If a child seems to eat a lot more on a particular day or at a particular meal we say "You're an eating machine!" or if someone is dancing and dancing and dancing we'll say "You're a dancing machine!" or they power through 500 pages of a thick book and they are called a "reading machine."

Lily received a Build-A-Bear kit for her birthday 2 months ago which we have brought out whenever Tyra and I get out our knitting for her to work by us. It's tricky and Mom is not adept at tying knots and helping tiny fingers with a plastic needle sewing the front and back of the bear's fur together. Lily usually can handle it for around 10 minutes before needing a break for the day. But today she was clingy and needed to be on my lap and instead of reading stories I decided to see if we couldn't finish sewing up that bear. She stayed with it through well over 30 minutes. Tyra came by checking up on Lil's progress every now and then and finally towards the end she exclaimed "Wow, Lily! You're a sewing machine!"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tyra Turns Ten

Tyra never seemed excited about doing a birthday party with friends this year, so we decided not to have one. She was excited, however, to get to choose a restaurant for dinner. She chose Chinese, the buffete in Rockville with a sushi bar too. This place keeps us all happy. Tom and I mostly get the sushi. Tyra mostly eats the Lo Mein (her favorite) and Thomas went to town on the General Tsao's chicken and Beth picks around at some french fries and fried rice. She'd take one bite of most anything we offer her, say "Yum" before she'd really chewed, then say no thanks to another bite of it. But Lily was the best. She ate the mussels out of the shells, the baby octopus, the squid, etc.

Back home, I had made some cream puffs per Tyra's request. She was so sweet and encouraging when they kept getting flatter and flatter as they cooled. She told me how they were great, and she loved the chocolate pudding center and the whip cream center, etc. But she couldn't resist calling them "cream flats" instead of cream puffs. We all enjoyed that.

We played some of the games I remember enjoying when I was about Tyra's age, but that at her friend parties she has been too worried about how they'd go to want to try them. We played the Flour Game where you put a cup of flour on a plate and place an item on the top of it (an M&M would be better than the penny I used since I remembered that from my day.) Then you take turns making single cuts, top to bottom, until it the item falls, and the person who made it fall has to get it out with no hands.
We also played the Candy Bar Game: A hershey's bar is placed in a baking pan with 2 socks and 1 or 2 butter knives. Then you roll a die and if you get a 6 you get to put on the socks and try to open the candy bar and cut off a piece and eat it before someone else rolls a 6. I don't know how Tom managed, but he ate almost all of it. He always has been good at games :)

The Candy Conflict

Two weeks after Halloween, our children still have candy. In this phase of candy consumption, most on the "good" candy is gone, so the "bad" candy is slowly being consumed out of a sense of duty. Last year we resolved this by requiring each child to throw away one piece of candy each time they ate one piece of candy. This unfortunately requires a lot of policing and reminding, and I did not feel up to the task this year.

DISLAIMER: I must say the the following was performed without the supervision of my wife (she was babysitting for a friend this evening). While she may like the results, she often doesn't condone my methods.

So how to get rid of the candy? This year I came up with a bold new idea. I asked Su to buy a bunch of the good candy that was cheap after Halloween. Here was the deal: no one got to partake of the new candy, until they relinquished their rights to their Halloween candy and turned it all in to the authorities (me). Of course, Tyra and Thomas mocked my plan and declared they would never give in, even after I ate five Reeses in a row. Lily was convinced that she would do whatever Tyra was doing.

That left Beth. That poor girl's candy supply had suffered the most from parental and sibling raiding already. So she correctly determined that it was a win for her. She declared that she would turn in her candy, even as Tyra was proclaiming, "Don't give in Beth! It is just a trick! You will lose all of your candy!" Instead of chewing old bubble gum and sucking on Smarties, Beth was now feasting on an assortment of chocolate bars.

"Would you like another Reeses Beth? How about a Three Musketeers? You can have as many as you want on the day you turn in your candy." So Beth feasted and feasted. Yes, I know this isn't great, but I was hoping this was only a one day affair. Within a half an hour, the cracks started to appear. Tyra approached me and asked, "Can I trade some of my candy for the good stuff?" "No." "But I have some good candy that I don't want to lose!" "Then eat it now, and then turn in your bucket." Beth came up and asked for another Reeses, which I happily provided. "Dad! You're killing me!", Tyra proclaimed.

At this point, Tyra and Thomas each sat down with their buckets and started eating. At first they enjoyed it, but by the tenth piece of candy they were each slowing down. Thomas said, "Dad, I don't want to eat all my candy right now." "Then don't.", I replied. "But I don't want you to eat it all." "Then don't give it to me." "But I want some of the new candy." So again I reminded him of the deal, and told him to decide which candy was better, his candy or my candy. "Your candy.", he muttered under his breath. He ate a couple pieces more and then said, "Fine. I give up. Here's my candy.", and dumped the remainder of his candy into my bag. After eating a Reeses or two, I asked him if he wanted any more. "No. I feel sick.", he replied.

Tyra was dying. Reeses were one of her favorites and everyone was "enjoying" them except for her. She knew the end was near. She had a couple more choice pieces and then turned in her candy. She also ate 2-3 Reeses and then "hit the wall". Yes, we were all close to a sugar coma at this point. Lily came in and couldn't believe that her heroine had caved. She was prepared for a long drawn out engagement. "I thought you weren't turning in you candy!", she scolded Tyra. Tyra responded with a shrug. "OK, then I am turning in my candy.", Lily declared. Since Lily didn't eat any of her candy before turning it in, she enjoyed eating the new candy bars much more than her siblings.

Game over! No more private stashes of candy. No more endless sucking of lolipops, jolly ranchers, lifesavers, etc. Just four kids sick from eating candy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How to stop your parents from stealing your Halloween candy

Like most parents, I enjoy secretly raiding my children's Halloween candy each night after they have gone to sleep. You just take a little here and a little there. They don't seem to notice if you take things slow. You are just helping them, right? They don't need that much sugar, right?

Well, a couple of days after Halloween, after the parent's supply of candy had run out, I went hunting. I pulled out Thomas' Halloween bucket and noticed a folded piece of paper on top. "What this?", I thought, slowly unfolding the paper. I was a little surprised to see an itemized list of the contents of the bucket, which looked as if it had been updated and re-inventoried each day after minor candy consumption.

I showed it to Susan and we had a good laugh. She had already seen it. Twice. Neither of us dared take anything. I wonder if that would have worked on my mom?