Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not exactly 'Home Alone' but close enough ...

his "Home Alone" face

The Jump and Roll was jumping and rolling. Kids heading in every direction. The smaller of my two had disappeared into the climbing structure and the biggun wanted me to help her glide on her rented wheels.

I was talking to some other mothers when the music faded out and the microphone cut in. ...

"Would SIOBHAN please come to the ticket counter. Again. SIOBHAN please come to the ticket counter."

I stood there, perplexed. For some reason my mind focused on the word AGAIN.

"That can't be me," I said and looked toward my wallet on the table. Didn't lose anything with my name on it. And they stressed 'again.' Maybe they're looking for someone they'd already summoned before."

"Really?" my friend laughed. "You think there could possibly be another Siobhan here? The name has gotten that popular?"

She was right. How many of us could there be? I started to worry. Maybe there was an accident and Jed couldn't get through on the cell phone ..."

I started walking faster toward the place where we entered, passing the place I was supposed to appear (a place I would have named the "PRIZE BOOTH" not "TICKET COUNTER" if I were in charge of naming areas in a large indoor playground).

Of course. ... It's probably a good thing I'm not in charge of too many children. ...

A woman stopped me and asked if I was "Siobhan" before I noticed the boy in her arms was my son.

I held out my arms, feeling horrible.

"He couldn't find you and was crying," the woman said. "He knew your name, but wouldn't tell me his."

I'm not sure which was worse ... that I had not noticed he was missing or that I had no idea he could pronounce my name so clearly.

Monday, December 27, 2010



Welp, I'll tell you what ... I'm never going to think of TYPEFACE the same way again.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We really do mean 'Happy Holidays'

foodies at a party

Her classroom holiday party - THE event of the season - was today and the not-ready-for-daytime family was invited.

Hair? Uncombed. *Check*

Faces? Unwashed. *Yes* And *Yes*

Fancy clothes? What? We just did laundry the other day. Our comfy clothes are perfectly presentable. There's no need to get out the ol' prom dress. Marking that as an *Uh-huh*

What about holiday colors? Orange and black ARE holiday colors. What planet do you call home, anyway? *Holiday-Schmoliday*

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Flying off the shelf ...


Let's hope the eight tiny reindeer can keep their roof-clattering paws hooves off.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Updates and downgrades


My camera has decided it needs a break.

Its protests come in the form of noise, focus problems and exposure maladies.

It's almost like the surprise of film without the happy results.

More than slightly disappointing.

There's only a few days left before I conclude my 365 project ...

And I don't suppose Santa will be hitting up the Nikon elves on my behalf this Christmas, but there may be enough for a couple of rolls of film and brief return to the analog days.

I've been missing film almost as much as I've been missing life before Internets.


It's true.

Last weekend I turned off the phone. Barely touched the computer. And the world didn't spin off its axis. It was a relief, really.

There's something about imposing goals (on something you like to do) and trying to meet them (in a to-the-letter sort of way) ... It sucks the joy right out of it.

So. ...

I'll finish the project, but I'll likely be phoning it in.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holy craftacular, Batman!


So ...

You know how The Champ is a fan of bats, right?

*Long, meandering, beside-the-point story alert*

Well, we were out late one night ... well past bedtime ... for a holiday event that almost ensures the kids will fall asleep in the car on the way home and you'll have to carry them up to their beds ...

and hope their teeth won't disintegrate from a night without dentifrice.

*Check. Check. Check ... and Check.*

Of course, Jed is already snoring by the time I'm done making sure the kids are tucked in ... I think I'll go downstairs and surf the interwebs for a while.

... also, I seem to recall feeding time for the dog and cat has been overlooked.

So I head downstairs ... Stopping dead in my tracks at the fourth-step from the bottom.

Because in the living room, FLYING AT ME, is a bat.

Now, I know bats are pretty small and harmless when they're all folded up and hanging upside down in a bat lair, cleverly cut into the side of a mountain by some Hollywood film crew ...

In my house. Where my bed and computer are. The thing was a menacing giant.

Now, I did what any self-respecting, bat-loving, can-do-anything woman would do in a situation like this: I crouched as low to the floor as humanly possible, crawled back up the stairs, closed the doors to the kids' rooms and woke my husband from a sound sleep.

"There's a bat in the house."

"I know. You're parents gave it to him last summer. It came with a ball and glove."

"No. The winged creature kind."

He woke up, went downstairs and commenced to wonder what he was going to do about this predicament. ...

While I sat at the top of the stairs and waited. ...

I heard the opening and closing of doors as he went on a room-to-room check.

"Did he come back your way?"

"Nope. Nothing up here but us chickens."

He was removing picture frames from the walls and banging sheet rock. He went to the Christmas tree and gave it a shake. Nothing.

Then I heard the unmistakable sound of a muffled curse.


"Did you find him?"

"He went out the door. He's gone now."

"How do you know it's a him?"

"Bad sonar, but won't ask for directions."


OK ... So that's pretty much where the inspiration for this week's craftacular project comes from ... that and the need to have a simple handmade thing-a-ma-jig to put under the tree for the kidlets.

So I put the idea "soft and comfy pillow" together with "winged, rat-like harbinger of terror."

I predict sweet dreams!


* A 9' circular pillow form or polyfill.
* Brown fur-like fabric (I cut two 10-inch circles).
* 1/2 yard of Black pleather material (leftover from the bat costume).
* A few triangles of white craft felt.
* A black, fleece remnant (cut into two triangles for ears, and a little mushroom for nose).
* Saftey eyes.
* A 4" piece of ribbon.


* A sewing machine


* A live model



* Cut two circles of brown fabric for the body.

* Cut two bat wings out of pleather. Flip over and use them to cut two more.
make them the same length as the body.

* Cut two, large triangles out of fleece and fold into smaller triangles.

* Cut mushroom shape out of fleece for nose; and cut triangles out of white felt.


* Cut tiny slits for eyes in the front side of the body fabric and insert safety eyes; secure the backs. Next sew on nose and teeth. I sewed around the entire nose, but secured the teeth only at the top.

* Flip wings so the outsides face in, and pin them together. Sewing around three sides of each wing. Turn right-side out through the end opening. Use a pencil to poke any tight spots out.

* Take the ear triagles and sew around the edge, leaving room to turn it right side out.

* Being careful to put the ears at the top of the face, turn the body circles right side in and sandwich the fabric over the wings, Ears and ribbon loop (also pointing inward). Pin around the outside.

* Sew around the whole thing, making sure to secure the appendages and leave enough room to insert the stuffing or pillow form.

* Turn right side out.

* Insert stuffing or pillow form.

* Close up the opening.


A flightless rodent you're kids CAN cuddle.

*In case you're wondering ... I put the ribbon loop at the bottom so he can hang upsidedown when he's taking a nap.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I know there are signs everywhere ...

Tar arrow 339/365

I just wish mine weren't directing me into traffic.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Planets align ... for only two hours

you can pray for a snowday ...

Just because you want a snow day ...

And you attend a school that is historically known to close on the mere whiff of flakes ...

going to school

Doesn't mean the planets will align for more than a two-hour delay.

Sorry, Charlie.

Monday, December 13, 2010

More than it seems

fashion colors

Dear Ittybit,

I know I should feel embarrassed by the excess.

More than two dozen people invited to a two-hour birthday party.

At Christmas time, no less.

But I don't feel embarrassed.

The much reviled gift bag is in full production mode at our house.

I understand the hatred for such things. Before I was a child, I've come to understand, the party WAS the present.

When I was growing up a few kids would go home with prizes, which was probably how all this excess was born. Everyone, as they start having children of their own, remembers feeling like a loser as they left party after party empty handed.

And here we are - adults, a whole lifetime later - trying to compensate for all the mild disappointments with small bag of trinkets to be handed out to the children we sugared up and are sending home with their parents.

We rent places and spaces, trying to create memories that will last until next year when we'll try to top ourselves.

It sounds so much more of an indictment of modern life that it seems. "It's only money" is the polar opposite of "it's such a waste." Schools of thought that can't meet in the middle and play nice.

It's social/economic position vs. social/economic position: The haves vs. the have nots.

Either way, all that angst and anticipation gets channeled into a plastic and paper assembly line. And things that don't really matter at all -- things that will undoubtedly wind up at the bottom of a drawer -- end up meaning more than they should.

... Except that they do, somehow, matter in the moment we do them. In the minutes we spend planning, shopping and producing we are working together. We are sharing a moment.

I had begun to think it didn't matter that it doesn't matter.

But I know it does matter.

The thing we lose by being so caught up in the details is the big picture; this celebration birth and belonging and life gets lost in the minutia of the minute.

More than seven years ago, when I sat on an examining table in a paper robe listening to the doctor telling me I would have a Christmas baby ... I felt sorry for her.

I thought she would forgotten in the hoopla that is the holidays.

I had no way of understanding what a gift I would get that Christmas when I met her. I didn't have the forethought, and still don't, to see how Christmas would be forever changed by you.

Each year brings a new revelation.

So as we ready for the day you will turn seven, I want to tell you to just enjoy this moment for all that it is and all it could be.

And I'll try to do the same.

Love and just-about-birthday kisses,


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Got cookies?

Cookie Party

The first time I earnestly made cookies for a "Cookie Party" (somewhere in the neighborhood of six or 18 thousand dozens) I went into labor a day before the party and the butter shortbreads, hand dipped in dark chocolate, were parceled out to the nursing staff on the maternity ward.

That was about seven years ago ...

This year we attended the same party and Jed took over the production, making his grandma's recipe bourbon balls.

(Jed, if you're reading, I did NOT spit mine out in the trash ... that was someone else. I pinky swear.)

Thing is, I kinda wish there were more of these kinds of parties in my holiday itinerary. I could eat dinners made of cookies from now until Christmas, no problem.

So, with that in mind, I thought I'd host a virtual cookie exchange here. I'd share a recipe with you in hopes you'll share one with me.

Of course I didn't really have a recipe ... so chances are I won't be able to recreate them ...

(Aren't you glad you come here?)

Anyhow ... without further spoilage, I give you ...


PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees

TOSS the following ingredients into a mixing bowl:
* Two cups or so of finely ground oatmeal
* A few shakes of enriched white flour (maybe a 3/4 of a cup) or almond flour
* About two tablespoons of butter, softened
* About two tablespoons of canola oil
* Half a box of dark brown sugar
* About half a cup of granulated sugar
* Two pours of vanilla extract
* A pinch of salt
* A spoon-tip of baking soda (couldn't find the baking powder but I would have put in an equal amount of that).

For a while.

About a cup of chocolate chunks
3/4 of a bag of shredded coconut
three dried pineapple rings, chopped

Heaping teaspoons of batter on a parchment lined baking sheet)
Bake for 10 minutes.

*I know they don't look like much, but they taste so good.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Snow kidding


While his handwriting would indicate he missed his calling as a doctor, his footwriting is completely legible.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I'm kind of glad I didn't see this ...

as I was walking IN to the dentist's office.

Seeing it on the way out was bad enough.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Secret's in the tummy ... (not the wrist)


I'm thinking this fairly adequately sums up how three-year-olds make gingerbread houses.

Fairly standard operation whether you are one, two or ... you know ... older.

Friday, December 03, 2010

It's practically a law of nature ...

Give a kid a a gift, and they'll play with the box.


So, without further explanation: I present ROCKET BOX.



* The bottle separators from a LARGE case of wine
* Scissors
* Hot melt glue gun


* Paint
* Glitter
* Markers


* The wine that came in the box.




* Take the inserts out of the box.
* Cut away one section of cardboard from a four-section piece.
* Cut the top of the remaining tabs into triangles.
* Fold so that you have a square box and pointed end.
* Glue the edges in place creating a box and nosecone.
* Cut another triangular piece and glue into the nosecone.
* Take the fourth section of cardboard and glue it into the bottom of the rocket, a section will extend past the box. Allow enough extra space so that it "catches" under the rocket's nosecone.
* Score the bottom piece of cardboard and fold it upward to make a flap.
* Add as many floors (compartments) to the rocket as will fit.
* Cut more triangles and glue to exterior ... these can be handles.
* Decorate or leave plain


* Spend the next several hours in test-flight operations.

Also ...

thanks, dad

Say 'Thanks' to the engineer. He likes to be appreciated.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

What time is it?



the Season

holiday excess ...

Which ... in my little corner

of the universe means purchasing

coffee cups I only need because my last

(and most favorite) one, which was to be put in

the car's cup holder, went flying off the car's roof

and broke into a bazillion pieces as I drove away from

the place where my bed and coffee maker reside.

No Matter.

It's that

time again ...

It's time for the slinging of holiday swag!

The new Holiday Masthead Mug is 10 (or 12, who knows) ounces of holiday joy, which I perennially have trouble giving away ... even with the addition last year of homemade candy. (But I'm not bitter.)

And new this year, we bring you Holiday Masthead Stacking Mugs ...


With four of us around it's a party!

Yeah. I know ... whatev ...

Finally ... and having nothing (and everything) to do with the holiday season of excess and guilt, I present the ultimate in passive aggressive travel drinkware:


I'm calling it the "Just Say No" travel mug.

These, and much, much more, are available for purchase at egregious prices at Cafe Press.

**And ... as per custom ... If you'd like a mug but don't want to shell out mucho dinero, just fill my email box with love. I'll pick one reader/commenter at random and you'll get a mug filled with homemade toffee. You know ... whenever I get a chance to make it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sometimes ideas just pop up

homework - a christmas tree made of last year's cards, stickers and a surprise

Each year teachers send Ittybit home with a family project: a construction paper Christmas tree she is to cut out and we are to decorate together.

They hang them in the hallways of school during an open house and a festival of trees closer to Christmas.

It's quite possibly my favorite "family homework project."

Last year she mostly decorated the tree herself, refusing to let us get our scabby, germ-y, cootie-fied mits anywhere near "her tree." (She was more polite than that, but you get my point. She's got her ideas, and ours were just trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

This year, however, she accepted ideas as well as some help. I pulled out last year's Christmas cards and we cut out some pictures and shapes and glued them to the tree. She did most of the hot-melt glue gunning (No one ever thinks when they shell out $4 bazillion dollars for school supplies every September that they'll ALL. GO. TO. SCHOOL and they'll be left scrounging the house late one night in November looking for a worn down pencil nub and a dried up old glue stick to complete HOMEWORK now do they? Nope. They don't.)

But I digress.

We do have a glue gun with which we can stick stuff to other stuff, and not once did Ittybit shoot herself in the fingertips with it.


Any way ...

She set about filling the tree with stars and stickers and Hallmark sentiments, and thinking of how to use the images she'd had me cut more precisely. We had a wreath, a horse and rider, a photo card from last Christmas with pictures of the family, a cat inside a gift bag and a sleepy little town covered in glitter snow.

She looked at me with narrowed eyes and a crooked mouth.

I reminded her of her love of pop-up books and her brain box started buzzing.

We taped pictures of she and her brother's funny faces barn door-like over the horse on an piece of accordion-folded paper.

She added a cut-out flying Santa as a star. Behind it all were cards to stabilize the tree and a ribbon hanger.

It was so big she had to hand carrying it to school because it wouldn't fit in her school folder.

She didn't mind.

She didn't even worry that kids would make fun of the silly faces that were holding back the equestrian surprise.

It was the best tree ever.

And laughing was allowed.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Self taut ...

giving himself a hug

"Look mom. ... I'm giving myself a hug."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

You're joking, right?

from the video

I know what you're thinking: A tree? The weekend after Thanksgiving? Are you crazy?

I mean ... Think about it. Are you not the folks who leave their tree up until February or March?

In my defense I'd like to point out that there have been PLENTY of years where we waited until Christmas eve and either couldn't find a tree or took the saddest little Charlie Brown Tree left on the lot. True, that was before children were in the picture, but it did happen.

In my defense, and in looking at work and school schedules not to mention the need to have a birthday party for Ittybit a week before Christmas, it turns out there are very few weekends between now and then.

So. Why put off the inevitable?

Also ... There's the entertainment value of picking out a tree:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tuning out


"You aren't going to like my idea," he said, still hungover from a night of playing tiny video games he hadn't meant to play, on a tiny screen that is destined to make him go blind.

"Try me," I said, wishing for more sleep and less talk.

"I think we should turn off the TV, stow the cell phones and just enjoy Thanksgiving."

I suppose I can understand why he'd think I'd protest. Technology addiction isn't exactly like an addiction to chemical substances ... most folks can admit, at least in a social way, they are hooked.

Have cell phone, will check it ... several times ... a minute. It's the nature of the beast.

I didn't mention how irritated he'd gotten last week when I'd accidentally instituted a similar moratorium on electronic communication by forgetting to bring my cell phone to the grocery store. I found the lack of a phone to be refreshing and oddly liberating.

Everyone else thought it an inconsiderate affront to civility.

Not only was Ittybit unable to play Angry Birds whilst we drove, but The Husband couldn't call me several times to ask when I'd be coming home, or if I could pick up an extra tub of ice cream.

*Insert Heavy Sigh*

Truth is I don't want to be tethered to technology. I don't want to compulsively check for messages from perfect strangers. I'm tired of deleting sales pitches and propaganda. I'm tired of distinguishing which is which.

The idea of turning off cell phones and closing the doors on the "entertainment center" as we go about the work of turkey and trimmings is more than nice, it's nostalgic.

We turned on music and danced. The kids exercised their imaginations and their ability to play nice. The Champ turned his coat into a sled, and Ittybit, in turn, facilitated Magic Coat Rides between the dining room and the entry hall.

It wasn't anything special. It just was direct, and without a filter.

Yet we are unable to pull the plug entirely.

At 8 o'clock, we turned on the television to watch "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." And then we saw exactly what we hadn't been missing:

Eighteen minutes of vintage, values-infused entertainment about the spirit of celebration hacked apart by 12 minutes of commercial "YOU NEED TO BUY THIS TOY" or "STORES OPEN AT MIDNIGHT WITH DOOR-BUSTER DEALS" interruptions.

"Where's Charlie Brown?" she protests the first time Walmart broke in on the entertainment.

"Walmart is holding him hostage until they get a chance to sell us on shopping there."

"Well ... Do we have to shop there to see it again?"

"No, honey. Our policy is not to deal with terrorists."

"Well ... What DO we DO then?"

"We just tune them out."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black (Hole) Friday

writing to Santa

Children everywhere are smiling a little more widely.

Their springy steps have a bit more bounce.

They are practicing penmanship and patience.

They are being courteous and kind; even asking to do more chores.

It's all because they've started making their lists ... They're checking them more than twice ... They're acting less naughty and more nice ...

Because they know Santa will soon be stuffing his overfed keister down the chiminey (or our 'STACK' as The Champ calls it) and piling presents under our tree.

What. A. Jerk.


Does he not realize how often I've told them that if they don't put away their toys I will put them away in the the donation bin?

Does he not care that the toys they begged for last year either found their way to oblivion or the bottom of the closet?

Does he not look around as he plunks down new packages, how crowded this little toyland has already become?

I mean ...

But I ask ... Where WILL Santa put new stuff?

Where will we put it?

I'm thinking, quite seriously, there needs to be a revolt at the North Pole. The Environmental Elves have to overthrow the Consumer Elves and install their own Head Honcho: Reduction Santa.

He'll be leaner, meaner and greener.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We're practically on a first-name basis with Thanksgiving

We've already met our meal.

gobble gobble

Of course, that doesn't mean everyone is looking forward to eating bird.

PRESCHOOL TEACHER: "Are you going to eat a lot of turkey on Thursday?"

"NO! I don't eat turkey. I eat PASTA!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

'Mom ... ask me how I'm feeling'


"OK, Champ. How are you feeling?"

"I'm feeling a little duplicated today. Thanks."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Morning Commute

Brought to you by Toddler Tours Productions ... you might want Dramamine.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Can't Becuter

pencil box

Mom, can I pway my Webkinz World on your becuter?

On what?

Your becuter? How do you say that?


No. It's BEEcuter.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Miserly ...


I'm fairly certain I've inherited a recessive gene that, once I became a mother, made me incapable of allowing more than one measly, miserly drop of shampoo to be wasted during the course of a bath.

I didn't make the rule.

I'm merely genetically predisposed to enforcing it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

His angelic face

You can't tell from his sweet face

Belies his near constant attempts to poke me in the eye lens.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Even into the depths of the bear's cave, light finds its way inside


There are times, in moments of deplorable weakness, I find myself wishing to be the parent of an "only child."

There are moments when the underlying hum of ordinary sibling discontent seems deafeningly uncommon.

"He's in my way!"

"She's not moving!"

"I don't want him in my room!"

"She won't let me play with her!"

"He won't give it back!"

"She won't give it back!"

"He won't leave me alone!"



There never seems to be a period I find pleasure in being the referee.

And yet, it is usually during those times, and often when I've thrown up my hands and stalked away in total abdication of my parental responsibilities, that they work out their differences in the most favorable of ways.

They might pull toys out of the bins and disorganize them by size ... or color ... or material of construction.

Or scatter crayons through three rooms, leaving a paper trail of clues in the form of quickly scrawled drawings.

They might build a cave out of couch cushions and take turns being the bear.

And the next time I hear my name, it will sound of joyful noise. And when I look to see what they want, one of them will look up at me in surprise and tell me I wasn't the "MOM" in the game they were playing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And then I burst into tears

diaper bum

When I call the babysitter I usually know what I'm in for. ...

"He's really having a great day.

"So happy. So chatty. I love him. He's just a joy."

Today wasn't even the exception.

"He's been so good today. He's so happy to be wearing big-boy underwear. He's going to the potty when he has to and he's kept G.I. Joe dry all day."

"I predict you won't have to buy another package of diapers again. ...

"You can cross that expense right off your grocery shopping list."

And then I burst into tears.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Paper or plastic?

stop cling trenns

My husband isn't fond of the sales pitch. I pity the the telemarketer that is at the end of the phone he answers. Even if they have legal approval to call, it doesn't mean he'll be cordial.

He's especially unhappy with the credit card companies and their wormy ways.

Always pitching their products, always adding more fine print.

Recently, he decided to send them some fine prints of his own. He collected all pitch letters he could find and commissioned Ittybit to draw some pretty pictures to return in their prepaid envelopes.

She drew unhappy squirrels ...

unhappy squirrel

Who would rather have the shelter of trees ... than kids in college, or we in our suburbs, buried in paper or encased in plastic.

Monday, November 08, 2010

From this angle ...


You can't really tell how horribly I butchered his hair.

But I did.

bad haircut

I will blame the use of a Crayola-brand pair of safety scissors and his willingness to let me cut his hair with them.

It certainly wouldn't be that I have no idea what I'm doing.

Friday, November 05, 2010

If a leaf falls in the parking lot will anyone hear it?

Maybe, if it's attached to your keys.

if a key chain falls in the forrest

This was a quick and easy project.

First I found an old key fob and cannibalized the ring mechanism.

Then I found some earth-toned scraps of felt and cut them in a manner that resembles no leaf found in nature. I also cut a long, rectangular strip of felt, folded it in half length-wise and sewed it along the length with a zig-sag stitch.

Next I threaded the keyring with the "petiole," folded the fabric and inserted the ends in between the two sides of "leaf" at the top. Then I sewed it all together at the point of the axil and continued sewing along the outer edges of the leaf.

I then attempted to sew veins on the interior of the leaf.

I got as far as the mid rib and gave up.

Next time I might use this as a reference.

Or maybe I'll just bring a leaf inside.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The UnHappy Meal


On Tuesday the San Francisco board of supervisors passed a preliminary vote seeking to ban toys in kids' meals that are high in calories (more than 600) and that don't contain fruit or vegetables (that aren't deep fried or covered in sugary sauces). If the measure passes next week it will be the first major city to ban a practice of direct marketing to children via fast food.

I know I should probably be rejoicing. Marketing directly to children seems so unsavory, so completely devoid of a moral compass, especially when it comes to things we don't need for survival ...

And there are times I'd like to light the knee-high level of the yogurt case on fire just to watch Dora the Explorer and the Trix rabbit melt in a dairy and plastic inferno.

But I've come to understand marketing as something to which we don't have to be enslaved.

Wanting something you can't have isn't such a bad thing.

Having something that's not good for you, on occasion, isn't the end of the world.

Knowing when someone wants you to see a movie, or try a food substance (called a "product" in some development meeting) ... or buy a bigger toy based on the movie you saw after you got a smaller toy in the cardboard box of food product ... might actually be a pretty good lesson to learn.

Saying "No," can be a soul-building, life-affirming experience. And if you try to let the stress of the whining and the pleading and the begging waft past you to the cleaning products aisle, it can be a refreshing experience for the kids, too.

Saying "Yes," doesn't have to undermine your ability to be a good and effective parent. It can be whatever you make it.

Worrying too much about which takes the lead and when is what seems to be our undoing.

For all these reasons, I don't see the de-mirthing of packaged kids meals as the government protecting people from anyone other than themselves.

If the government was REALLY concerned about the health of children it might look past the quick, short-term fixes that are based on consumer choice and focus more on what choices are offered and why. It would try and make sure fresh, healthy locally grown food was more affordable instead of sugary-foods made cheap by the subsidies in corn. It would focus on why big companies like Pepsi are getting contracts with schools and why schools are courting them. It would really take an interest in the fat content in the meals they provide in school lunches. It would put its efforts into making sure children's health, and not insurance companies' bottom lines, benefit most from health care reform.

Because the real problems we face has little to do with the hunk of plastic in a paper box. The hunk of plastic is just a reminder of the problem.

We are not balanced. There is more commercial than program, more selling than making and more buying than saving. Ultimately there is more cost than value.

Of course, I might be saying all this because I have loved Happy Meal toys since they came out in 1979. I've enjoyed my happenstance collecting of them over the years. It may not be something everyone can understand, but marketing has its place in our memories of growing up as it has in our experience of it.

We'll probably continue to stop by McDonald's every once in a while on our way to work in the mornings. I'll get coffee. The kids will split an order of hot cakes ... and if we like what we see, we'll buy the toys separately (they sell them for roughly $2).

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Things I didn't know until a few days before yesterday ...


* I didn't know that The Champ would actually be helpful with a dust broom and pan.

* That the word QUIP would be on a first-grade spelling list.

* I didn't know where the new representative-elect from the 20th Congressional District lived in my hometown.

* I didn't know (but I should have guessed) I would have felt depressed the day after the election.

* Or that penguins had barbed skin on their tongues and in their throats.

* That penguins are able to drink fresh water by filtering the salt from seawater.

* That polar bears' fur isn't white, it's transparent (and hollow).

* That all polar bears are all left handed.

* I didn't know butterflies taste with their feet.

* Or that Monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico and usually migrate twice in their lifetime.

* I had no idea that a Monarch's lifespan is two years.

* I didn't know that pumpkin carving in America originated with the Irish, who found pumpkins in greater abundance and easier to work with than the turnips they carved in Ireland.

* Or that pumpkin flowers were edible.

* And sadly, I also had no idea Ittybit had a sensitivity to pumpkin guts.


* Nor did I realize the resulting itchy rash would last for three days.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day ...

Election Day for me meant Take Your BatBoy to Work Day

This year, for me, meant "Take Your BatBoy Son to Work Day."

Monday, November 01, 2010