It’s Not All Mary Poppins

October 31

No post today. Too many EXCITED TODDLERS surround me. Excuse me: a kittycat, a ghost, a mermaid, a cow, and a farmer. And they’re all VERY VERY EXCITED!!! All this without one speck of sugar. Lord only knows what they’ll be like tomorrow…


October 31, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

Halloween Candy

What a lot of good ideas you all had! Turns out most of you are Rationers to one degree or another. Rationers with a side of Hoarders, Rationers who Hide some but not all.

I rather like the new option you provided me, which I’m calling the Traders. I see Anastasia and Bethany’s objection to the “Halloween Fairy” — do we really need another layer of cutesy pretense and complication? — but I do like the idea of giving kids the option of trading in all or part of their candy for a gift. Maybe your child would honestly prefer a new Lego accessory or a couple of books instead of the extra eight pounds of candy. What a good option!

Another terrific idea: Turning the chocolate into a fondu! An idea the whole family can enjoy. Heck, you could throw a party. That way, the chocolate gets shared among many, instead of consumed by one or two, it is eaten with healthy fruit, and becomes a social event for the whole family. A really good option. I suspect gummi worms would not work for this project.

Like Kristy, I’m bemused by all the children who get bored by candy. In my years of daycare and parenting, I’ve only known one child who didn’t have a sweet tooth. Every other kid I’ve known? Would happily devour the entire Halloween bag in a couple of days to a week, given the opportunity.

There’s only one true Glutton in the list, the person who lets the child eat the entire bag, at the pace of their choosing.

And me? I was of the Glutton camp. I understand — and approve of! — the value of teaching a child the skills of impulse control and moderation. However, if the result of that is candy every day? For months on end? That’s not a lesson I wanted to teach my kids, either. Candy is not something you get every day. It’s an occasional treat.

Now, I could have controlled that, too. I could have put the candy aside and let them have some a day or two a week. But that would have been our treats for the entire year. I’d rather some of our treats be a trip to the ice cream store, or dessert after dinner. (We have dessert in our home maybe once a month. Maybe. Sweets are occasional treats.) I didn’t want to be monitoring that damned bag for the entire year.

So, the combined result of principle and laziness … a total Halloween glut. My kids (as I did as a child) came home, dumped their bags out on the living room floor, and together, the three of them, sorted, traded, bartered. And yes, tossed. There were some things that all three of them agreed were gross.

Mum got her share, too, of course. (Chips! Doritos!) Some were set aside for Christmas stockings. And the rest? They took their bags to their rooms, and I ignored them. About a week later, I’d go into their rooms and clean up the wrappers, etc. And yes, for that week, we were especially diligent about pre-bed tooth-brushing!

And so, within a week, it was done. Over. Until next year.

It’s not a solution that everyone would choose, and that’s fine, of course. I’m not telling anyone how they should do it, just telling you how I did it. The result for my kids is young adults who are at a good weight for their height and build, and who eat well and healthfully… and who indulge in treats on occasion. Could you get that result with another approach? Of course! One abberant night in a year does not make a pattern. It’s the consistent lessons and patterns of the other, normal 364 days that teach and train!

November 1, 2011 Posted by | food, health and safety, holidays | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How do you Handle the Candy?

The daycare Halloween Party was all it should be: small children in ADORABLE COSTUMES!!!, lots of good food, conversation which got steadily louder and more animated, only one whining child (bonus!), a few adult costumes, too, a bonus grandmother, and a happy mess when everyone left.

(Mental note: next potluck party, I ask everyone to bring their own dishes and cutlery. Much quicker clean-up when they take their dirty dishes home!!)

They talked about Halloween, of course. And with Halloween came the Big Question: What do you Do with the Candy?

There are two main schools of dealing with candy:

1. The Gluttons. Let the kids go wild. Let them chomp their way unsupervised through the entire bag as quickly as they want. And then we brush and brush and brush our teeth.

2. The Rationers. Parents take ownership of the bag, and dole out candies, one or two a day, until they’re gone.

There are some variants:

The Hoarders: parents who take some candies and set them aside for Christmas stockings or upcoming events. (November birthday party? PERFECT!)

The Hiders: parents who take a portion of the candies and set them aside FOR THEMSELVES!!!

The Eliminators: parents who take candies and THROW.THEM.OUT.

(It is far, far better that these three be done in secret. Do not let your children know, if these are in your candy-dealing arsenal. Well, except the Eliminator. That one is hard to hide…)

One approach discussed at the party which was totally new to me:

The Scientists: You eliminate the candies by performing science experiments on them. How do they handle water? (Some will dissolve right away!) What’s their boiling point? I don’t know what all else you could do, but apparently there are all sorts of ways to scientifically eliminate candy without ingesting them.

Another approach was discussed: take the candy away.

“She doesn’t know what’s going on,” one mother said of her daughter. “So I’m just going to take the bag when we get home, and it’ll vanish.”

Inside my head, I rolled my eyes. (You’ve never done that? It’s a useful trick, if a bit painful… You’ll use it a lot when your kids are teens.) You think? She might not know now, but as soon as that first handful gets dropped in the bag, SHE’LL KNOW. You can trust me on that. I didn’t feel the need to say any of that. Experience will prove me right. (Or wrong, but I doubt it.) Natural consequences: Not just for toddlers!

Emma, however, was horrified: “What? Let them go out, but don’t let them have their candy?!?!?” She shook her head, disgusted. “That’s totally unfair. These are toddlers. If you don’t want them getting more than a couple of handfuls of candy, you only take them to three houses. Pfft.” (Obviously, this occurred in a conversation with me after the party. My polite Emma did not say this to the mother.)

Now, I have my preferred method. Not that I need it any more, with my three giant, grown-up children. But I’m not going to tell you what it is yet. (Okay, so I did pretty much tell you I think the “take them away” option is not highly favoured.)

I want to know from you: What do you do with the candy? Dole it out? Let them gorge? Something else?

October 31, 2011 Posted by | holidays, parenting | , , | 22 Comments

Halloween Party

October 28, 2011 Posted by | commemoration, daycare | , , | 4 Comments

Halloween Craft: Jack o’lantern suncatchers

Super-easy toddler (and up) craft.

Clear Contac paper (Contac paper – a brand of shelf paper)
Black permanent marker
Orange tissue paper

1. With the backing still on the Contac paper, draw a pumpkin face on the clear side. (The kids can do this, too, of course. That’s Jazz’s tummy. She didn’t want to draw her own.)
2. Peel off the backing, and tape the Contac, sticky side up, onto your work surface. (So it doesn’t slither all over.)
3. Tear tissue paper into smallish pieces. Older kids can do this themselves. My kids only crunched the paper into completely unusable smoodged-up blobs of paper when they tried this…
4. Completely cover the pumpkin face with tissue, going past the edge of the picture.

5. Cut out the pumpkin face. Cute, fun, and easy!

October 26, 2011 Posted by | crafts, holidays | , , , , | 3 Comments

Halloween Craft

Here’s what we did yesterday. You could use popsicle sticks, but these are tongue depressors. (Well, the label on the package says they’re “craft sticks”, but they sure look like tongue depressors.) First you paint them orange… which for us meant that we had to mix our own paint. Turns out it takes about 8 parts yellow to one part red (or thereabouts — I was NOT measuring) to make this shade of orange.

Let the paint dry, tape the sticks together. (I used an X of masking tape.) Draw the pumpkin face using a black permanent marker. Ta-dah!! Pumpkin Puzzle!

It could be just me, but I found that the horizonal (side-to-side) sticks were easier to draw on than the vertical (up and down).

Oh, and the idea? Mix the sticks up and see if you can arrange them back into the pumpkin face!

October 21, 2011 Posted by | crafts, holidays | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Halloween … hangy thingy

Hallowe’en is coming! I’ll be hosting a party for the tots and their families at the end of the month, and that calls for some decorating! (This is also called “any excuse for crafting”.) 😀

I’ve seen these banner things for any and all events, made of any and all materials, scattered liberally throughout all the craft blogs I frequent. (Which are MANY. I love you, One Pretty Thing!)

They’re not called banners, mind you. Nor are they called pennants, though that’s certainly what they look like to me. A series of pennants strung on a ribbon to make a banner is called…

damn my recalcitrant memory anyway…

is called…


Yup. That’s it. Halloween bunting. The triangles are card stock: equal numbers of orange and black, glued one on top of the other to make a contrasting edge. The ghosts are craft foam, with faces drawn with a permanent black marker.

Right now the triangles are taped to the ribbon. Eventually, the plan is to put a hole in the top of each triangle and attach them to the black ribbon with alternating orange and black ribbons. Of course, that will mean putting letters on the other side, since the triangles will be able to turn. And then, because I like it so well and want it to last without fading, I intend to laminate the whole thing, either with a laminator, if I can be bothered to take my lazy self down to the far reaches of the back of beyond where the laminator is, or with my much-beloved Con-tact, which is in the kitchen.

(Three guesses which is more likely, even though proper laminating will be much more durable?)

October 18, 2010 Posted by | crafts | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Making lemonade

Not too long, one of my parents gave me this:

She’s a research scientist. This book was no longer of use to her, and rather than just toss it in the black box, she wondered if the kids might make use of it in some way. The cover is not what one might term “promising”, is it? I flipped through its pages. Most of them looked like this:

While others looked like this:

Oh, yeah. Just leaps right up screaming “OH! FUN TIMES!!!”, doesn’t it? There were some pages with a little pizzazz something recognizable to look at, as Mom pointed out: pencil drawings of snakes and amphibians, black-and-white photos of fish.

But the ideas, they were not a-flowing. I had NO IDEA what I’ll do with this thing. Short of tossing it in MY black box and keeping Mom’s environmental conscience pure…

Which is exactly what, when I thanked her for her thoughtfulness and tucked the book onto a shelf, I thought I’d be doing with the thing. But, see, while I am not always 100% convinced of the necessity of honesty, I am a kind person. Dammit. Which meant that while I am perfectly capable of tossing it and telling her that I’d lost it, I couldn’t bring myself to ignore the kindliness of her impulse. To sneer at her generosity, no matter how uninspiring its manifestation, would be unkind. And ungrateful. And that, I just couldn’t manage.

That means I couldn’t throw the thing away without at least trying to do something with it.

And, whadday know? We did it!

Creativity doesn’t require huge amounts of intelligence, or even artistic talent. It’s just a matter of looking at things in a playful way…


October 15, 2008 Posted by | crafts, holidays | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ooohhh, so gross!

So very, unutterably, inexpressibly vile. But if you have a child (particularly a boy) aged, oh, 8 and up (and on through 12, 15, 19 — some probably never outgrow the thrill), he’ll probably LOVE it if you were to serve this little gem at his Hallowe’en party …


Extra mommy points if you can serve it without gagging. I could see myself serving it to a room full of thrilled-to-be-grossed-out little boys (and girls. I know a few who’d LOVE this). I could even see myself laughing as I did so. However, I don’t care HOW many mommy points would be in it for me, I am not biting into that thing.


October 10, 2007 Posted by | crafts, eeewww, holidays | , , | 16 Comments