Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Candy

I buy candy every year for Halloween. There is the moral questions that I must ask myself: Do I buy candy that I like? Okay, Okay! That last statement was ridiculous. What I meant to say is do I buy candy that I like a lot? There really is no candy that I don't like, but there is candy that I prefer. When the kids were little, I got whatever was on sale knowing that I could pilfer from their stash. Before you become outraged by this, let me attempt to rationalize. I would make cute little costumes- sometimes staying up until the wee hours sewing whatever fabulous idea they cooked up, and take them out trick-or-treating. Halloween is a serious time sink when your kids are little. Since we lived in a large subdivision with only two other families with children, trick-or-treaters were lavished with candy. Basically, the kids would open up their pillowcases and little old ladies would dump in the entire bowl of candy. It was really sweet, and the kids would divide their stash up into the "candy I like" and "mom's pile." My pile had anything with nuts, coconut, or mint. Coincidently, my favorite candy has nuts, coconut or mint. My pile was huge, so I was in halloween heaven.

Of course, the mom pile would quickly disappear, and then I would slowly pilfer the candy they liked until the only thing left was undesirable candy with high fructose corn syrup, food coloring and artificial flavoring. My candy eating would be interrupted by Christmas candy, cookies, etc., and I would forget all about the Halloween candy hidden in the candy jar in plain sight. It would magically go back on the radar when I opened up the candy jar at Easter. Then I told myself that I could eat their crappy stale Halloween candy because they had gobs of new fresh Easter Candy. [Sidebar: this convoluted rationalization typically takes years and years of practice.]

Now the kids are bigger, make their own costumes, take their own selves trick-or-treating with friends, and like the candy from the "mom pile." So if I want to eat Halloween candy without stealing, I have to buy candy that I like and be really stingy with all the cute little trick-or-treaters that come to the door. I have come up with an infallible way to look like a generous candy giver and still have lots of candy left at the end of the night. Now I buy my candy at the last minute [Yes, I'm the crazy lady in Walgreens digging through the piles with the other crazy people] I get several bags of real candy with nuts, coconut or mint and the decoy candy the trick-or-treaters will choose with lots of high fructose corn syrup, food coloring and artificial flavors.

I shared my Halloween Candy philosophy with my kids at 5:00pm on Halloween eve in the Halloween aisle at Walgreens, bolstering their theory that mom is crazy. The neighborhood kids think that I am a really generous fat lady, and I am beginning to suspect that I eat too much candy. We might all be right.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Going to the Zoo Zoo Zoo How about U U U

My parents were in town this weekend. They were here to see N, the oldest, in her school's fall musical 'Once Upon a Mattress' which was totally fabulous. Plans for Saturday were wide open. Since Em the youngest wanted to go to the zoo and see the baby giraffe and my parents wanted to go for a walk, it seemed like a no-brainer to combine the two. I okay'd the invite to Miss R, Em's friend and neighbor to come with us, gave my parents 2 hours to get on their shoes, and then we were off to the zoo.

One of the best kept secrets about Saint Louis is that it's a very family friendly town with a world-class zoo that is free. Yes, you read that right- FREE. Since we live in town, we could go at the drop of a hat. We just don't. We lead the same kind of busy, over-booked life that most people with kids live. The kids are teens, and a trip to the zoo just doesn't fit in with the stereotypical 'this is what good parents do with their kids on the weekends' thing anymore. So we haven't been to the zoo in years, but as soon as we hop in the car, I revert to toddler mode. Old habits die hard.

"Okay, what animal do you have to see Miss R?" I asked as we pulled out of the driveway.

She is momentarily caught off-guard by the question. Then she gives me a typical teen response, "I dunno."

I decide to explain the family's zoo protocol and embarrass Em at the same time. We moms refer to this as win-win. So I gave Miss R the benefit of my parenting prowess and bore her to tears- again win-win. So this is a brief recap of the speech:

Since the zoo is free, I used to wake N and Em up after their naps and announce that we were going to the zoo. The end of the day at the zoo is magical. All the annoying people leave, and the animals come out because it is feeding time. We would roll in about 3:00 pm and grab a free parking space just as the other parents who had gotten up early to get the free spots were leaving with their crying kids who didn't have their naps. However, when they were little, even my well-rested kids would cry when we left. "I didn't get to see the (insert some random animal in the blank)." This is the downside to visiting a world-class zoo for less than two hours- too many animals to see in too little time.

Eventually I figured out how to solve the 'my kid cries every time we leave the zoo' problem. Once I initiated the 'choose one animal that you have to see' plan, everyone was happy. We also had the 'frosting on the cake' list- animals that would be fun to see, but our day would not be ruined if we didn't get to them. On the way to the zoo, we would plan our walking route. The kids had a sense of control, and I had happy kids. Again, win-win.

After I explain all of this to Miss R, she thinks for a moment (probably taking time to reflect how weird Em's mom is) then announces that she would like to see the penguins. I smile. Of course, penguins. The penguins and the giraffes are at opposite ends of the zoo giving us the opportunity to make a list of 'frosting on the cake' animals. It's nice to know that some things never change. My parents and I got to take our walk, the girls got to see their animals, and no one cried. Win-win.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Paperwork Frustration Part II

It is rare that I get to sleep in. Today was one of those rare days. My husband, however, had different ideas. He woke me up to find HIS paperwork for HIS doctor's appointment. I wanted to kill him, but he made me coffee. We're even.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Things moms could learn from Luis Urzua

I celebrated with the rest of the world when the Chilean miners were rescued this week. I was particularly inspired by Luis Urzua, the supervisor who gave the miners the hope and confidence that they would be rescued. They rationed a 2 day supply of tuna and milk by having a "meal" together every 48 hours. This meal consisted of a teaspoon of canned tuna and 1/2 cup of milk. Each miner had a job. They gathered equipment, dug for water, built a latrine area, and mapped the mine all without fistacuffs. And that was all before they were found.

I am clearly no Luis Urzua. If I was there would be no fights over the last cookie, the remote control, or doing chores at my house. Luis, you are my hero.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weird/Real Science

I am employed by day, and sometimes nights and weekends as a scientist. So I was intrigued by the Yahoo headline a few days ago that said "Study shows McDonald's Happy meal doesn't spoil." So here's the scoop- a woman placed a happy meal on her New York apartment kitchen counter, took a picture of it every day for 6 months, and the happy meal never molded. Furthermore, she is calling this 'art.' The story was picked up by Good Morning America. But as a scientist, mother, and all-around regular person, I have several problems with this:

(1) Science isn't real unless it is done by people in white lab coats with evil laughs and questionable intentions. I learned this from TV, not reality.

(2) All good experiments have controls- a made from scratch hamburger and fries perhaps? If the hypothesis of the experiment is to show that McDonald's adds crap to their food to keep it fresh, then you need a meal to control for the environment to show that there is nothing wonky (a very scientific word) about your kitchen.

(3) My husband's family is from Jersey City. The apartments within a 25 mile radius of Manhattan have just enough counter space to put down a happy meal. So I am supposed to believe that this happy meal sat out for 6 months on the kitchen counter. Unrealistic and Gross!

(4) The executives at McDonald's are morons; they issued a statement vehemently denying that their food does not rot.......wait a minute! Why are you commenting on this? And why do you feel the need to state that your food rots?

(5) Finally- this is obvious and stupid. However, everyone knows that stupid, obvious stuff makes the best kind of science, art and news.

Therefore, since I have no artistic talent, I will need to talk my boss who is NOT an evil scientist into writing a grant. $1,000,000 for the 'Longitudinal study of the Environmental effects of post-consumption deterioration of chemically modified Solanum tuberosum' should just about cover my expenses. I will buy happy meals every day, and maybe a cup of Joe and the occasional cherry pie. All I need is a fab new digital camera and an evil assistant who coincidently will be really hot in a bad boy kind of way. After three years of careful notetaking, I will write up my findings in a peer-reviewed journal so that the rest of the world can know what every stressed, over-scheduled mom knows. McDonald's french fry bits that are found in between or under the seats in your car will not deteriorate or rot. Millions of moms know this; it is not science, art or news.

And just on the off chance that all of this is news, watch 'Supersize Me' a documentary from 2004 about what consuming McDonald's food will do to you. At the very end, they discuss the bizarre fact that the french fries do not deteriorate.