Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Status Snackers

Status Snackers are on the rise. Is one of them yours?

Allow me to reminisce about my own childhood power cravings (read: sugar cravings). Raised in a house of brown rice, peas and potatos, sweets were exotic, bordering on erotic. Junk food had that other-worldly magic aura shared by the Easter Bunny and Santa. So, when I entered the real world of Kindergarton and saw how the other half lived, mega watt bulbs no less than exploded in my head.

I don’t remember her name, I don’t even remember her face, but I will never forget what she looked like from behind sitting in the lunchroom. Two perfectly coifed, ringlet pony tails, parted with razor sharp precision - the kind of perfection that must of hurt like a mofo to install. And beyond the back of her pretty little head, was her sandwich. Nutella… on Wonderbread. (Don’t tell me you’ve never tried Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread. Think Purdy’s hedgehogs.)

Next to this vision of beauty, I would sit and crack my wax paper to reveal a dark husk of a peanut butter sandwich. (Remember when we ate peanut butter at school?) This girl was timid under all other circumstances, but she soon discovered her power, at least over me. I don’t remember Ringlets being mean about it, but for a shy girl, Nutella sandwiches were a way of making friends.

With Halloween still rearing it’s ugly head out of our highest cupboards, Status Snacking is rampant right now. It’s all about who has candy and how they work it. There are those that lord it over others and those that give it over for brownie points (so to speak). There’s even status in being a recipient. After all, there isn’t always enough for everyone.

Should I somehow try to strategize against this? Should I make sure I pack a yummy enough lunch that she isn’t deemed powerless and yet not so yummy that she's corrupted by the power? Do I have too much time on my hands??



Thursday, November 18, 2010


Here's the cachet. All this steel and gunpowder, stashed on top of the fridge.  Well, maybe not stashed.  More like...banished.  Yes, our boys are into weapons.  They're into combat, whether it be with a (plastic) sword, gun, laser, light saber or Wii remote.  They like to blow things up real good.  They like to yell "You'll pay for dis!" and "Fire at Will!!" and "You're going to the Doom Dimension!".  They like the Star Wars movies.  Every last violent detail.

All of this is my nightmare.  Not because I'm a girl, so much, but because I'm a pacifist.  I cry when people are mad at me.  I cry when I think people should be mad at me.  I fight like a feeb and  refuse to play contact sports or anything that might make me fall down.  I want peace and am willing to do pretty much anything to achieve it.  So, to have two screaming small people running around the house (fake) shooting at each other and slashing the air,  rogue jedis on crack's just too much.  I pluck the above weapons out of their hands whenever things get hairy and send them into exile on top of the fridge.  I plop bags of chips on them and forget they exist.  I shrug innocently when the kids can't find their "piece" and their "blaster".  Even their little lego people are packing heat!

I'm a little worried that these two are going to grow up to be maniacal psychos terrorizing the city with pirate pistols from Disneyland (see above) or worse.  Maybe they'll even start hunting fowl and game.  While living in LA, I visited a hypnotherapist to help me deal with some important life issues.  During one session I expressed concern about my son's need to run around pretending he was shooting a gun, which was actually a curved piece of wooden train track.  I felt that this could escalate and he would scare all his little girlfriends right out of his life.  Matt laughed a little.  Patiently, he explained that as a child he'd careen around with his toy guns playing Cops & Robbers, Cowboys & First Nations People with the best of them...and has grown up to do yoga for 2 hours a day and study Transcendental Meditation.  Truly, he's about as gentle as they get. Sigh.  l guess I should give those machines of menace back over to the kids, and surrender all the nerf darts that I've hidden in my sock drawer.  Soon as my welts are gone...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guerilla Soup Kitchen

OK, it was nothing so noble...

Saffron and I needed to take some shots for our upcoming website launch (look out!) and we wanted a group of kids in them. It being November in Vancouver, we built igloos and went seal hunting. I kid you. (Us Canadian folk love to mess with the rest of y’all.) Everyone knows children respond to sugar, so we sent out a few quick emails offering a bribe of hot chocolate at the local playground.

As Saf mentioned on Crackbook, my offerings look like the Fraser River. I just wonder what the Health Board would have to say about the unidentifiable dribble coming down that tail light. That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger?

Friday, November 12, 2010

We Have a Winner!

The firecrackers and bottle rockets are flying far less frequently this week and most of our kids have lost interest in all the crap they filled up on after trick-or-treating. Yay! Thank you for your entries, your emails, your comments and memories...and we have found a winner for our Cheapest Costume Contest! Lurene, your son's $3.00 Snake Charmer takes the prize! Thanks to your mother's hoarding instincts (and the power of parachute pants) you've won our Autumn Basket of Fall Treats to help you weather the season!
Rachael, your kids' 0.00 grocery bag masterpieces made us glad to be alive. They couldn't qualify 'cause of their lack of Hallwe'en-ness but they make the ultimate statement about what kids are capable of without a trip around the Costume Store. The rest of us, who shelled out $ to Toysrus or similar, are skulking behind our very expensive wastes of fabric and hoping we can squeeze another year out of the thing...Thanks again for participating and stay warm and cozy this weekend, all!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hallowe'en & Cheap Costume Contest

So, how was your Hallow's Eve?  Ours was Good Times, considering the boys were recovering from strep throat.  And that Dawk Vader wiped out face first in his helmet right out of the gate in broad daylight.  He spent most of our trick-or-treating time in his stroller, helmet-free.  Cody from StarWarsCloneWars brought home a heavy bag of loot.  And Daddy and I went as lazy pirates.  Camille's girl was a wizard!  Don't call her a witch or a fairy, she hates that!
that is not me in a thong

THANK YOU for your pics for the Cheapest Costume Contest!  Here are a few entries!  TWO DAYS LEFT to win our secret prize, so if you're reading this, use the email button in the sidebar or just email me directly from your address book and attach your pics and prices!  Contest ends Friday November 5th!
From Grace, we have:
The witch was 7.00, hat and dress from the thrift shop. Indiana Jones was: Total $11 , $2 hat at Thrift shop, mint condition GAP boys cowhide jacket Value Village $9 (will be used as a jacket for some years as it’s big! LOL) whip was from Santa last year rest was regular clothes and some brown makeup for 5 o’clock shadow

 Adding to show you my ghost and vampire from about 4 years ago, shredded sheet, cheesecloth, and makeup, regular clothes and $2 thrift shop vest + generic cape from VV did the trick!! Those were my cheapest yet.  And the scariest actually, kids at preschool found them a bit too scary....Grace(yes, Grace, they scare the crap out of me, too!)

From Rachael:
Ha! Well written, that made me laugh both in rememberance of my own Halloween years and also for the irony of your post and how closely it resembles my own sentiments  about our excessive consumption as a population in general. I'm frugal like you, for the most part. Costumes for my kids usually come from Value Village.This kittie costume from a couple years ago cost $4.99, all second hand.  

The picture of the kids wearing shopping bags are not Halloween costumes but they were costumes the kids made for fun, which I realize may me look like I am too cheap to buy toys but the truth is they did this themselves. I do feel that  kids have more fun creating imaginary play than they do playing with painted plastic, that's why they play
 with the box at Christmas time....Rachael

and From Lurene:
Rock Star.  $7 total.  Wig $7 (USA yeeeeeeeeears ago....) / vest $0 (mine, from my closet yeeeeeeeeeears ago..) / pleather pants? $0 (MINE ...from yeeeeeeeeears ago....) / electric guitar? $0.  His Dad’s (from 1983) 
Snake Charmer / Aladdin.  $3 total.  Vest $0 (again,...mine...) / pants $0 my sister Shannon actually WORE these in the 80’s  - God love my Mother “the Hoarder”!  Shoes. $0 They were a gift from James on a recent trip to India.  Turbin. $0 it’s my favorite scarf.  Sword. $3 Value Village (yeeeeeeeeeeears ago).....Lurene

And we've got a surprise posting from our own mama!  I am busted for not remembering my costume correctly--here is the real deal and some perspective from when we did it Old School:
Here’s an archival photo of the blogging sisters (Saf & Camille) dressed up for Hallowe’en the old fashioned way.  Not a sheet but a really nice (but old and stained) tablecloth sacrificed for the occasion and the Christmas tinsel on the end of a chopstick was not to be sneezed at either...  Cost: $0, result: a fairy or an angel?  A bit of makeup to paint a big smile onto our clown, a minor investment for a red bowler hat, a borrowed tie and the cost probably came to $2 on that costume.  Every Hallowe’en there was a scramble to cobble together something.  Imagination was a key ingredient.  It was fun! Mama

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Used To Be All Mine

My daughter as Richard Simmons. Remember when we could live our Halloween fantasies vicariously through our children? (The Princess/Enchantress/Fairy thing is getting a bit tired these days.) PS No, I don't plan on scooping the wicked surPRIZE from y'all (immediate family is exempt, of course), but I'm proud to say it cost me $0 and provided more entertainment than a jug of wine.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dawk Vader and The Costume Woes (send pics for a prize!)

                                            Ghost in Damask Standard Pillow Case
Camille and I are from an era where there was no massive online vacuum sealed Hallowe'en Costume Mecca.  Grew up in a house where your folks would take a holey sheet, belt it with some Christmas tinsel, tie more tinsel around your head, cover a chopstick in tinfoil, stick some of the above-mentioned tinsel on the end and BAM!, you're an Angel Fairy!  Later, rich teenagers would rent from the costume store, or wore their parent's work uniforms and spilled drinks on them at parties (not me, I swear).

 By the time I got pregnant with our first son, not only were Old Navy and the Gap pumping out adorable, plush, probably slave-laboured costumes with tails, ears and padded feet for a pretty penny but, though we hadn't installed MacOS9 yet,  the flimsy online costume craze was quietly gathering momentum.

Now Hallowe'en is totally out of control.  Yards are decorated and lit with the same holiday fervor as at Christmas time.  Peanut free chocolate is shoveled into plastic pumpkins with handles...what happened to paper bags and pillow cases?  And, strangest of all, online stores and Hallowe'en warehouses are selling scads of mass produced licensed costumes from tv/movie hits of the moment---Avatar, Star Wars, Jersey Shore (what the heck is that?), Buzz Lightyear...Do you know how hard it was to find a size 8 in the Cody from Star Wars Clone Wars costume?  And that my 8 yr old was not only willing to be clothed in head-to-toe white spandex, but was also willing to wear a half-helmet with an elastic across the back? Once he says thank you for his candy and turns around, it'll be painfully clear we could only afford the 19.99 package.
...weapon not included

I'm not sure just what I'm getting at, but I needed to write a bit about Hallowe'en so that I could:
1) post this picture of The Duck, who is going to be Dawk Vader (though there were a few dawk moments where he changed his mind back to Michael Jackson and then a Scuwvy Pirate AFTER we bought the 40.00 talking helmet).  I can't quite get over how much he looks like Rick Moranis in Spaceballs.  And he's not afraid to use the fowce.

  On the night he'll wear dawk shoes, of course.

2) (way more importantly) ask you to send us a picture of YOUR kid(s) in costume, along with the grand total $ you spent on their outfit.  The lowest cost costumer will win a prize!!  Not telling what, and hand-me-downs don't count.  Please use the "email" button on the right side of our blog and attach a picture (jpeg) along with your comment.  Your child will be cooed over on our blog, and I'll get to see how the other parents do it.  Contest ends on November 5th!  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Total Recall

OK, this time it’s not about lead or cadmium content, it's about… wait for it… a perfectly rounded plastic ignition key (see the purple nub?) and it's outrageous potential for danger. I have to say, this massive Fisher Price recall kinda makes me laugh… and I do realize that’s a tad inappropriate. I can’t help but regret that I didn’t come up with the brilliant idea of letting my daughter ride her Dora bike at 100 KM unattended! I’ll just have to get brainstorming for an even more creative lawsuit... CA-CHING!
Now, I do understand the ‘small parts’ concerns, although how many of us have actually banished all items smaller than baseballs from arms reach for fear of choking the chitlens? The grapes from the crisper? Felt circles on dining room chairs? Buttons on OUR clothes?? Signed, Safety Goose (might have to pass the crown soon)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Free $ or Child Labour?

How do you administer the dole?

There seem to be 3 schools of thought:

1) Make them work for it

2) Make them divide it up responsibly

3) Just give it to them and let 'em do whatever they want with it - sheesh.

I, being a near professional fence walker, have decided to apply a combination of all of the above.

When it seemed like time to give our girl an allowance, a few very debatable questions arose. First one - should she have to work for it? My initial instinct was, heck ya. How else will she know the value? It was then pointed out that WE don’t get paid to clear the table or to make our beds. Perhaps these tasks could be framed as “Household Responsibilities”, things that are expected of us and don’t hold monetary value. So in order to avoid committing to any one school of thought, we've kept her allowance meager in order to allow for ‘work opportunities’. So if she wants to save enough to buy a WII, she can scrub spots off the walls. For a long time. (OK, I’ll admit it. We’re cheap. And we’ve found a way to feel good about it.) Bonus dough is there to be made with little extra jobs around the house. Cleaning her room and clearing the table remain mandatory.

In my search for kiddie finance wisdom I came across the 3 Jar Method. I need these jars! (May seem elementary to some of you, but I’m financially challenged and am one step away from storing my savings under the mattress.) This brilliant system just seemed too responsible not to explore, although enforcing it feels a tad controlling… But really, I have so many other enticing areas of her life to micro manage! With fingers crossed, I presented my daughter with the 3 Jar Method and thankfully she was game. But in retrospect, what 6 year old wouldn’t like the idea of decorating jars and playing banker?

As it stands, our daughter puts $1 in each jar every weekend and is responsible for cleaning her room and clearing her spot at the dinner table not because her allowance depends on it, but because…well, it’s a hard knock life. Has she bit the carrot and made herself rich with endless odd jobs while her dad and I lounge in our spotless palace? Far from it. Turns out, this girl doesn’t have a capitalist bone in her body. If a clean bedroom wasn’t an absolute requirement, her Dad and I would be navigating boas and Barbie combs to kiss her good night while she lay in her pigsty bed, gleefully broke.

Of course, our system is very much customized to our daughter’s personality (and my half-assedness). So when it comes to the dole, what’s your deal?

Monday, September 6, 2010

The ball, The Chain, The Homework

Ack!  As we review the limp and rather stained lunch box, assess how many inches from the floor the bottoms of Mr The King's jeans are now rising, and search for last year's pencils in the folds of the couch and car, our thoughts turn to the most harrowing of all back-to-school comes HOMEWORK!

Unlike many of you, I have not been pulling out workbooks all summer and preventing the draining of the brain.  Mr The King has been spoiled in true style with wading pools and grandparent visits, bicycles, playdates, squirt guns, barbeques, baseball, popsicles, concerts and water parks...and he's realizing that it's all about to come crashing to an end.

"I'm not going to grade 3.  Won't be there.  Can't make me...I'm not scared of school...I'm scared of TEACHERS!" know,  I think I am too!  I'm already stressing (privately) about how we'll get our student shackled to the table and get down to business.  Second Grade homework was a bit of a Gong Show.  He didn't bring it home half the time,  and when he was forced to pull it out of his backpack and uncrumple it, he looked at it in horror as if it were his toothbrush (whole other story).  I'm talking 45 minutes of 'process' for a 15 minute task.  Am I alone here?  Many children I know have much more of a work ethic.  I liked the accomplishment of homework,  my husband just didn't bother arguing with his parents,  and most of my friends' kids are much more task-friendly than our guy.   Much, though not all, of his learning problems are about this unwillingness to just plain Work.

This year needs to be very different.  I need to give homework a solid spot in our schedule and I need to work it around the school day, dinner, soccer practice, cub scouts....somewhere before bedtime...hmmmm...when do you pull out the homework chair and play prison guard?  Am I being overdramatic?
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