22 December 2007

The Great Candy Debate

Yesterday marked what seems like the eleventy-millionth time I've had to address the issue of too much candy with Avery. I can't remember when it started . . maybe around Halloween . . but the kid is OBSESSED with candy. We made a 2-piece of candy per day rule in order to try to "be fair", but that just caused her to hide extra candy under her bed and eat it at will when she was up in her room. Then, just as that stash ran down December rolled around and the Advent Trees went up. These, if you're not familiar, are quilted trees with a piece of candy tied on for each day in December before Christmas. It's a tradition we had when we were kids growing up and that I don't remember ever being the highlight of our day the way they are with my girls. But what do I know?

Anyway, I'm not even sure how it came up but yesterday Ave let it slip that she had some candy hidden under her bed. I was busy keeping Lily away from the presents under the tree at the time, so it almost slipped past me completely, but when I realized what she'd said I kind of flipped out a little bit. Apparently her teacher had sent her home with a little bag full of candy after school today and she didn't want to give it up. I can understand that, but she knows about the 2-piece per day rule, and she knows how I feel about her hiding things from us. Was I wrong to be upset? I have been telling Avery for almost a month now that her obsession with candy and sweets is disturbing to me, and that after the Advent Tree was finished there wasn't going to be any candy kept in the house. Her dental work is already costing us a fortune and I don't in any way think that saying "no" to candy is unreasonable.

The fight comes from Mandi, who thinks that being too strict about it is going to lead to eating disorders and rebellious eating habits when Ave gets to be old enough to choose and pay for her own meals. Simply, zero candy = resentment = I'll get you back some day = obsessed about food = bulemia = anorexia nervosa = 83 pounds at 18 years old = heroin addict who purges 4 times a day in the McDonalds parking lot. I personally have a hard time going down that slippery slope. I think kids need to be told the ancient word every now and then and get over the idea that they're entitled to have whatever the hell they want. The ancient word? NO! We don't allow weapons . . is she going to become a serial killer to spite us? We don't allow skanky (read: typical) clothes . . will she become a stripper? I really don't think so. We are the parents, you are the child, you need to live with the fact that the rules aren't always going to be liked. Am I really far off base? I feel like by not punishing her for the deceit by tightening the restrictions we're giving her the green light to circumvent the guidelines in the future. Mandi says "I'd rather not fight about food because I don't want it to be an issue." I say candy is not food. I've tried to stop fighting with Ave about her choice to not eat whatever meals are put in front of her. I concede that it's her problem if she's hungry, we try to offer healthy snacks, and I make sure her lunches are big and full of things I know she'll eat. So I feel like on the subject of junk, like candy, I'm being reasonable to have "strict" restrictions. Or is it really possible that something like this can cause lead to lashing out and rebelling down the road? I'd like some honest comments and feedback about this. I can handle being wrong about it, but I'm going to have to be convinced.

21 December 2007

I Am A Celebrity!

That's right, mark it down on your calendar, today's the day my true celebrity status was realized! We went to Avery's school around 11:30, planning just to have lunch with her on this the last day before Christmas break (ughhh). We got to the classroom a minute or two before they came out, dropped the teacher's gift off and followed the line into the Cafetorium (come on, you can figure it out). So as we walk in I'm immediately mobbed by a throng of adoring second graders, every one of them screaming and looking all googley-eyed as I walked through the room. Mandi was thrown out of the way and almost hit her head on a wayward trash can, and Lily got trampled and had to go to the nurse's office. Avery, meanwhile, was trying to run interference and restore order to the scene, very deliberately lining up the adoring masses and quickly setting up an impromptu autograph table near the front of the room. A large contingent of teachers came by to . . . aww, who am I kidding, nobody's buying this anymore. Sorry, that was a fun little fantasy to play out.

The real story is that 2 or 3 of Avery's teammates from The Green Dragons came over from across the room when they saw us to say hello, and Mandi was giving me a hard time about being such a celebrity among the 7 year olds. I told her I'd gladly take that until my career as a well-known blogger-slash-birdwatcher took off, at which time I'd have to eschew my elementary school fans for a little older crowd. I'll let you know when that starts happening . .

20 December 2007

Recipes, etc.

Hello everyone, sorry for the long layoff. Christmas shopping, as I'm sure you all know, is extraordinarily time consuming, especially when you're male and are essentially clueless when it comes to the subject. I'm a very good list maker and checker-offer, but writing an item on a list does not equate to being able to find it in a mad house, er, mall at Christmas time. So it's not that there hasn't been anything interesting to post about, just that the 27 hour day hasn't been invented yet.

On the bright side, Mandi did the meal plan for the last two weeks (and usurped my grocery store trip Tuesday . . grrr), and she picked out some really good new recipes for us to try. I spent this afternoon adding a few of them to the Recipe List , so if you're struggling for meal ideas maybe give them a try. My favorite of the bunch was undoubtedly the Farfalle with Sausage, Cannellini Beans, and Kale. It was the first time I'd ever cooked with kale, and it definitely didn't disappoint. The Beef, Black Bean, and Chorizo Chili was also very good, although we replaced the chorizo with turkey-Andouille sausage. The result was not quite as spicy as it would have been, but certainly spicy enough and a lot lower in fat. Win-win there, and it made enough to freeze leftovers.

As for Phillip (a.k.a. "The Cat"), still no sign of him. He has not surfaced in either of the local Vet's offices or at the county animal shelter, but he also hasn't been scratching at the back door. I had hoped that the big increase in the number of birds in the back yard would lure him back, but so far it hasn't. At over 10 days missing, I'm certainly beyond any expectation (although not hope) that he'll ever be back. The last time he was out of the house he showed up at the back door after an hour, belly full of grass and more than ready to find a warm blanket or piece of upholstered furniture to curl up on. He'll certainly have his pick if he decides to return.

And in the last (and most exciting) piece of news from the last few days . . . drumroll please . . drumroll . . WE'RE DEBT FREE!!!!! We sent the last payment out Tuesday for my student loans, leaving our mortgage as the only debt we have left. We have spent the last 4 or 5 years "Living like no one else", so that someday we might be able to "Live like no one else". Our lifestyle of frugality and sacrifice has paid dividends this week, and it's an awesome feeling. To everyone who's heard me talk about it at one point or another, I urge you to get started RIGHT NOW! The feeling of freedom you'll feel when your money finally starts working for you (instead of you working for your money) is incredible! Imagine yourself, much like Mel Gibson did in Braveheart, screaming FREEDOM! at the top of your lungs as you send in that last payment, and you'll start to understand the feeling it created for us. Good luck if you get on board, it's a great New Year's resolution (even though I am against the general notion of resolutions). But that's a different post . .