Thursday, October 15, 2009

Can the Candy? I think Not.

You'd think that after years of eating candy which resulted in thousands of dollars and endless hours spent in the dentist chair to repair my damaged teeth, I would have kicked the habit. But alas, I have not. Nor would I ever deny a trick-or-treater the joy that comes with a sack full of candy. As far as I'm concerned, folks who hand out healthy alternatives to candy, should be burned at the stake. Ok, that might be a little harsh, let's leave it at egged. People who hand out apples and granola bars on Halloween should be egged.

I was thumbing through a ridiculous women's magazine the other day when I came across an article entitled How to Manage Halloween. Really? When did Halloween get so complicated that we need tips on how best to manage the day?

Here's what I learned....

Avoid stocking up on Halloween candy early. Having candy around the house will only tempt you. Aim to purchase your candy no more than a day or two before Halloween (you may hit some great sales, too!) Having eaten my weight in candy corn over the past two weeks, I can vouch for the temptation thing, but the part about hitting some great sales is a bunch of bunk. If you wait too long to purchase your Halloween loot, you will be left with the candy that nobody wants and you're just asking to be egged.

There is nothing wrong with giving treats that are healthier than traditional candy. Um, yes there is...that statement is completely false. Nobody wants a bag of baked chips, a box of raisins or a bag of microwave popcorn in their plastic pumpkin head. A Clif Bar is a great snack for a random day in April, but come October 31st, kids want chocolate. And I am not talking about dark chocolate miniatures, I'm talking Snickers.

Consider handing out non-food treats.
Consider nothing of the sort. Repeat after me: bubbles, pencils, stickers and Slinkies are not treats. I've heard stories of clever moms who give out toothbrushes instead of tasty treats. I have one word for those moms: killjoy.

Rally your neighbors and as a community make a plan for a healthier Halloween.
God help the neighbor in my 'hood who approaches me with a pre-approved treat list. I'm not in favor of passing out candy to kids every day (I know that's rich coming from me) but one day a year isn't going to kill 'em. Stop raining on their parade and let them have a Kit Kat.

Talk to your kids about the treats that they are most looking forward to and the right amount to consume. Make a pact with them about what you will do with the "left-overs".
I'll tell you right now, I could never be friends with the woman who wrote this article. Ever. But as tips go, this one isn't bad. In fact, I guess it's good for my kids to know up front which candy I'm going to be looting from their stash. As far as left-overs go...I define left-overs as the candy that remains after all the trading is complete. It's the candy that nobody wants (think: Dots, miscellaneous hard candies, wax candy lips and Good & Plenty). The left-overs should be tossed out immediately, as I have been known to cave in a weak moment.

Consider a visit from the Halloween Fairy. Allow your children to pick ten pieces of candy from their haul and place the rest on a table for the Halloween Fairy. When the children awake on November 1st, they find that the Fairy has left a small gift in exchange for the candy. Good luck with that plan. It would have never worked when my kids were young. First of all, my daughter stopped believing in Santa at age 4, so something tells me the idea of a Halloween Fairy who confiscates her candy would never have taken off. Secondly, as the person most likely to play the role of the Halloween Fairy, I can assure you that the candy would be safer with my kids. And last, but not least, why do today's parents feel the need to control every aspect of their children's lives? It's Halloween, for crying out loud, let the kids enjoy the day.

When I was a kid, handing out apples was frowned upon by parents and children alike. Everybody knew the story of the psychopath who hid razor blades in apples and passed them out to unsuspecting children on Halloween. Dozens of children cut their mouths when they bit into the forbidden fruit. Clearly this was an urban legend as most children would not voluntarily choose to bite into healthy apples over delicious candy on Halloween night.

Now go buy some Hershey bars before they disappear from the shelves.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rewriting Memories

I sat in my car watching my son leap out of the school bus hoping that the weight of his backpack wouldn't crush him on his dismount. He landed a perfect 10 at the bottom of the steps and immediately sprung into action sprinting toward his friend. They must have been making paper airplanes on the ride home because they each had what appeared to be a stash of folded paper in their hands. As soon as they were in throwing distance of one another, they began pelting the crowd with their homemade crafts. I could hear their shouts of joy and roaring laughter through the closed windows. But the fun ended when my son's friend spotted his ride and took off like a shot. My son glided a few more planes before repositioning his gigantic backpack on his back and finally looking around for me.

When he spotted my car, he lifted his chin acknowledging my presence and slowly made his way over picking up a few stray airplanes and making necessary repairs. As he swung open the car door he asked, "Are you still dizzy, Mom?" This morning's bout of vertigo was by far the worst. I barely made it downstairs and I suppose, in hindsight, I never should have gotten up. I was a nasty, cranky, bitter mess during breakfast and I let me family know it. My Mommy Dearest performance ended when I screamed bloody murder about a pillow on a chair that hadn't been put back properly the night before. Then I dramatically excused myself and stumbled back upstairs cursing and carrying on every step of the way until I collapsed in my bed.

"I am a bit dizzy" I told my son "but not nearly as bad as I was this morning." It's so like my sweet son to ask how I am feeling, but I think this time he was inquiring because he wanted to know if I was still in a foul mood. I told him that I slept from about 9:00 am until about 1:30 in the afternoon and woke up feeling much better.

"So when I was in reading class, you were falling asleep." He paused for a second and then added, "I almost fell asleep at that time, too." He confided that sometimes he gets so sleepy in reading, he has to concentrate just to keep his eyes open. My power of recall is pretty much shot, but I have vivid memories of sitting at a desk trying desperately to control my head bobs. I'd like to think that those sleepy moments came later in the day after a full schedule of challenging classes, but who am I kidding, I was probably doing head bobs in the morning just like my son. But, the beauty of not having a good memory is that I can rewrite history and since my son pretty much believes everything that I say, I am able to fool my captive audience. "Hmm, I never got bored in school. I loved all of my classes, especially reading." Then I added, "Maybe we need to adjust your bedtime." I may be dizzy, but I'm still as sharp as a tack.

During dinner my daughter complained that she has to memorize a bunch of prepositions for a test. "It's so stupid" she whined, "we're just going to forget them after the test." I'll give it to you, 99% of what I learned in middle school is completely gone, but somehow the prepositions stuck with me. About, above, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beside, between, beyond...I can rattle them off in alphabetical order in about 16 seconds. If you'd prefer, I can sing them to the tune of America the Beautiful. A useless feat, I realize, but I celebrate the few things I've managed to retain.

I'll teach her the new lyrics to America the Beautiful over the next few days and she'll be all set for that test. And maybe in 40 years she will still be able to spot a prepositional phrase when she sees one. One can only hope. But it would be nice if her memory failed her on one account...and that would be the memory of her lunatic mother and her crazy performance this morning. I'll do my best to rewrite history, "Remember when I had vertigo and I was just not myself...." Hmm. I don't think she'll buy it, but my son probably will.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

As The World Turns....

I finally saw Julie & Julia. For weeks I've been hearing and reading great things about the movie. As promised, Meryl Streep's performance was amazing and Nora Ephron's screenplay was magical. Several people told me that I'd especially enjoy Amy Adam's character, Julie Powell, the blogger who gained a large following, scored a book deal and eventually sold the movie rights to her story.

As much as I would like to follow in Julie Powell's footsteps, her story is not why I was enamored with this movie. It was Julia Child's excessive use of butter that had me mesmerized. Ms. Childs was no stranger to fat, as evidenced in her pork and veal stuffed duck that she then wrapped in a buttery pastry crust. For all intents and purposes, Julia Childs and her husband, Paul, were walking, talking heart-attacks-waiting-to-happen. But, they both lived into their 90's. Fair? Hardly.

From what I can gather from the movie, both Childs were heavy smokers, enjoyed their wine and the only exercise they got was walking to the market. For more butter. I'm not knocking their lifestyle, in fact, I'm bitter and jealous. I desperately try to lead a healthy lifestyle: I avoid butter, do not eat red meat, work out on a daily basis, drink (almost) 8 glasses of water a day, eat my fair share of fruits, vegetables and healthy nuts, drink alcohol in moderation, and visit my doctors for yearly preventative medical check ups. And yet, despite my best efforts, I have had some strange ailments over the years. Well, really just since I turned 40. Five years ago (ok, almost six).

My latest malady came 5 days ago in the form of vertigo. After spending a few days in bed while the world whirled me by, I finally managed to drag myself to a doctor who diagnosed me with Benign Paroxymsal Positional Vertigo...those of us afflicted simply refer to is as BPPV. It seems that the inner ear, the labyrinth, if you will, maintains a sense of balance. Small pieces of said labyrinth, called canaliths, can break off and float into ear canals where they have no business floating and when this causes vertigo.

Using what is called the Epley Maneuver, the doctor was able to move the canaliths into an area of my head that does not upset my balance. Or at least, that was the plan. Many patients feel immediate relief after the procedure, others require a second maneuver. So far, I haven't benefitted from its effects. If I don't feel relief soon, I am cutting my own head off, thus eliminating the need for a second maneuver.

But if I really wanted to, I could perform the maneuver on my own. In fact, I did, perform the move the day before I visited the doctor. Having spent the better part of the day Googling vertigo and all that it encompasses, I was able to find several You Tube videos detailing the Epley Maneuver. But, much to my dismay, it did not do the trick. The only thing that my DIY Epley Maneuver provided me with was a massive projectile vomit session. Too much information? Yeah, well, I apologize.

After yesterday's doctor-assisted manipulation, they sent me home sporting a neck brace with directions to stay vertical for 48 hours. They told me that I should sleep in a Lazy-Boy at a 45 degree angle. And that would have been just swell, providing I had a Lazy-Boy to lounge in. Instead, my kids constructed a make-shift variety in the guest bed (while laughing at my neck brace). But, to no avail, I am still spinning.

What would Julie do? She'd probably blog about it. And while blogging does allow me to keep my head is in the perfect position (neck long, chin out), I can assure you, it hasn't helped with the dizziness. So what would Julia do? I bet she'd throw caution to the wind, shed the neck brace and saute something in butter. Perhaps chopping a few onions will force my head into a position that will knock my insubordinate canaliths back into place, thereby releasing me from this endless pirouette.

I'm going to give it a try. What do I have to lose? Everything is better with butter. That's my new motto, thanks to Julia.