Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Addictive Pumpkin Cookies

I had some leftover canned pumpkin in my refrigerator, plus half a bag of white chocolate chips in the pantry, so yesterday I tried a new recipe and made these cookies. They're marvelously autumnal and/or holiday-ish, so whether you're still in Thanksgiving mode (leftover turkey, anyone?) or are already embracing the winter holidays, these cookies seem perfect either way. They ended up being the best cookies in all of existence, in the entire history of the world. You're welcome.

By the way, I altered the recipe and used half whole-wheat flour, half white flour instead of all white, and they still turned out so addictive that it was a good thing I was freezing them for future hostess gifts, treat deliveries, or times I suddenly need refreshments to serve for unexpected company. Oh, and in case you try the recipe, note that I baked them for a shorter time than the recipe indicates -- eight minutes, then I let them rest on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before removing them to a wire rack to cool. They will seem soft and fragile, but when they cool they will remain soft and chewy. OMG yum.

Try them. But only if you're okay with the possibility of eating way too many cookies. Because they are goooooood.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kids and Separation Anxiety

Genevieve has separation anxiety. She used to cry at preschool drop-off, and even last summer during her kindergarten-preparedness class, she was still crying on the second-to-last day of "school." Then she went and shocked the hell out of me by NOT crying when it came time to start kindergarten. That was really, really weird -- but I suspect the fact that her best friend, her favorite non-relative in the entire world BY FAR, is in her class and gets picked up by the school bus immediately before she does. Genevieve feels secure when this buddy is around, and her house is the only place Genevieve will willingly go for drop-off playdates.

But when it comes to anything else -- kids-only activities and classes, drop-off birthday parties, other playdates, even staying home with a visiting grandma while Christopher and I go out on a very rare date -- she will generally become extremely anxious and cry a lot and, if there's any option, she'll refuse to go.

Yesterday she cried so much when I brought her to our friends' daughter's birthday party, even though she was with her sister and we've been to this house and spent time with this family more times than any of us can count, that I had to hang around for a good 20 minutes, cuddling her and pointing out all the reasons she should stay, all the reasons this party would be safe and fun even though I wouldn't be there for the next two hours. In the end, she did agree to stay, holding hands with Julia and sniffling, as long as I promised to come back a little early. It worked out (no one called Christopher and me on our coffee date to have us come and rescue her), but those kinds of moments are SO not fun. You're upset for your child, you're regretful for disrupting everyone else's good time, you're sorry that the crying is distressing to some of the other children, you're not sure if you should leave your child or not. You're basically in a total sweat, and you're wondering if things are ever going to change.

Both my children have separation anxiety to some extent, in different forms and at different levels. Genevieve's is the classic, don't-leave-me type, the kind I assume will fade with age. Julia is usually fine with situations she knows well -- school, friends' birthday parties, weekly swimming lessons -- but every time she starts something new, she hangs back and will often cry and not want to go. She also has occasional episodes of tearfulness at school -- for one six- or eight-week period last year in 1st grade, she cried about leaving me every morning, and even now it's not uncommon for her to cry at school if there is an unexpected substitute teacher or something else unfamiliar or if she just misses me.

Some people say that if my children had been in daycare, or if I'd made them stay with babysitters more often when they were younger (and continued to do so now), they wouldn't be like this about separation. This could be true to some extent, but honestly, as a clinical psychologist, I firmly believe that anxiety (along with so many other things) is largely a function of inborn temperament. Heredity, genetics, whatever you want to call it. Anxiety is something certain people naturally tend toward, an approach to the world passed down biologically from brain to brain. It's the way some of us simply are.

I'm not saying that learning and experiences never mediate anxiety (in both directions); clinical anxiety disorders are one of the most rewarding psychological illnesses to treat, because they respond so well to cognitive-behavioral therapy (the type that I practice(d)). But the general (non-clinical) personality tendency to be anxious about things, the natural tendency to approach the unfamiliar with worry and anxiety -- that's inborn temperament. Also, my husband and I have never had the money to afford sitters on a regular basis. Right now, we are not even able to pay our basic household bills with our monthly income (to the rescue: credit cards and my parents' generosity); we certainly aren't able to hire babysitters.

So, really, it's all a moot point. It's just the way things are.

What about you; do your children ever suffer from separation anxiety? How do you handle it?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Keeping the Holidays Manageable

We had a very nice Thanksgiving. My parents drove down from northern Minnesota to be with us, and this year, at the dinner table, when discussing what they are thankful for, my girls actually included mention of family/parents. This is notable because, in previous years, they've typically spouted haphazard lists of things like "Snoopy," or "snow," or "candy." I guess at seven and five you realize that in the grand scheme of things, not being an orphan is more important than sugar or cartoon characters. Just barely, though. Genevieve did also say that she's thankful for TV. ("Because otherwise, I wouldn't have anything to WATCH!" Indeed.)

Now that the holiday season is fully upon us, I think it's a good time to revisit the piece I wrote for BlogHer last year at around this time: Steps for a Smaller, Saner Holiday Season. Enjoy, and consider NOW how you're going to keep your wits about you for the next month, as you wrangle children through tree trimming and house decorating and party planning and sledding and cookie baking and gift shopping and school concerts and ice skating and holiday get-togethers and trips to see grandma and grandpa, all while you attend to the day-to-day schedule and your family's basic needs.

I always say that, in most families, it's mom who's in charge of "throwing" the holidays, like you throw a party--it's just that this party lasts for a good five or six weeks. It can be exhausting, but when you have kids it's also extraordinarily fun and rewarding, both because you want them to experience all the best of the season and because children appreciate and enjoy things so incredibly much, even the tiny, simple things--in every fiber of their little beings. It really does cause you to experience things differently, too.

So, go forth and eat the rest of that pumpkin pie. You're going to need the energy, mamas.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide

Are you ready for the Mama in Wonderland 2011 Holiday Gift Guide? Full of awesome ideas for great gifts for all the moms you know (including you)?

Here goes! (Oh and by the way: none of these companies is compensating me in any way for these plugs. You're welcome, companies.)

When choosing a gift for a mom -- whether that be a friend, your sister, your cousin, or your own mom -- you can't go wrong with the Benefit Eye Bright instant eye brightening pencil, a miracle makeup stick that makes you look like you've gotten more sleep than you actually have. Don't think of it as telling the recipient that she has giant dark circles under her eyes. Think of it as saying, I'm a mom too; I get it. This will help and you will love it.

Again, in the beauty department, I highly recommend Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Anti-Wrinkle Deep Wrinkle Night Moisturizer (whew, that's a mouthful). I know this may be a sensitive maneuver; after all, you don't want to imply that your favorite fellow mom is a wrinkled old crone. But if we're talking about your BFF with whom you discuss everything, including the indignities of turning forty, this is a great gift. It works!

PeaceLoveMom t-shirts. OMG, I love this company so much I cannot even tell you. Their tees, with their signature positive, mom-celebratory messages, are unbelievably fab: comfy, cute, hip, and happiness-inducing. I have the "Lucky Mom, 24/7" thermal tee, above (mine is a bright raspberry, but I love that pumpkin color), and I get comments and compliments on it wherever I go. But be sure and check out all their cheerful options, which include designs like "happy mom," "Major Mom," and "Peace Love Mom." The hard part is choosing which one to buy. You might just have to include one for yourself in your order.

Mothers' jewelry has been all the rage for awhile now, but AJ's Collection offers particularly pretty, modern pieces that will stand the test of time and make you happy every time you wear them. Personally, I want the "Lucky Two" necklace, above; but I also love the "Deux Mini," and there are myriad choices for moms and grandmas of any number of children or grandchildren.

You don't have to spend a lot to make someone's holiday. Give one of Old Navy's colorful scarves; any mom will appreciate looking stylish AND feeling cozy and warm while wrangling kids at the sledding hill or skating rink this winter.

Got an outdoor exerciser on your list? Moms know it's tough to fit exercise into our busy schedules; it often means our winter walks and runs happen either before the sun rises or after it sets -- i.e., when children are sleeping or otherwise occupied. I just ordered a pair of Knuckle Lights, and though I haven't received them yet, I'm psyched to exercise outside in December and January without being terrified I'm either going to slip on an unseen patch of ice or get hit by a car in the dark. I bet you know someone who would love this nifty invention, too.

And, of course, shameless self-promotion: As mentioned the other day, my book The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual: How to Have a Wondrous Life Amidst Kids and Chaos comes out just before the holidays -- December 15th, I believe (I'll let you know). It's a one-stop resource for keeping yourself sane, healthy, and happy; your kids entertained; and your household in order. It's especially for any at-home mom who struggles with taking care of herself as thoroughly as she takes care of her kids, and who loves being a mom but also admits that it drives her crazy at times. Oh, wait a minute -- that's pretty much any at-home mom! How convenient! Just order a bunch of copies of my book and your holiday shopping is done.

Until then, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am thankful for every single one of you who reads my blog. Yes, I am talking to YOU.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

If You Don't Have a Penny, a Ha'Penny Will Do.

I don't want to get all maudlin on you, so I won't say a whole lot, but my family is seriously scraping the bottom of the piggy bank this fall. Christopher and I both got laid off from our part-time jobs in September. His layoff is temporary, thank God, and he should be re-hired in January, but my more sizable chunk seems gone for good. These jobs were the ones that paid the bills and allowed for the fun and "treats" that Christopher's regular full-time day job does not cover. (Stay-at-home motherhood, while super-valuable and important, does not come with a salary, as we all know.)

Unfortunately, when my job shriveled up, there was every reason to believe it was also a temporary hiccup, so I continued to use my credit card to buy and pay for the extras I was used to getting -- the new chinos and long-sleeved tees for fall, the skin cream, the brow tint, the coffee dates with my kids, the exciting big Christmas present for my girls, bought early -- as well as the necessities I had no choice but to buy: the medical-grade UV light box that my doctor recommended, the vitamins and supplements for my falling-out hair, the new contact lenses, the groceries, the new snow pants and mittens for my daughters, the hand-held safety lights for my after-dark winter runs, the ENDLESS doctor and dentist and opthamologist co-pays, the physical therapy and cortisone injection and lab-work bills. Because I assumed in a month or two I'd have the ability to pay it off. Horrifyingly, that has not been the case. The end result is a large credit card balance, right before Christmas.

So what's my point, you ask? I'm boring and annoying you? My point is that, since Christmas may be rather spare in my house this year (other than for my kids, because I simply could not resist the on-sale BIG DOLLHOUSE, shhhh! OMG can you imagine being 5 and 7 years old and coming down the stairs on Christmas morning to that?? could not resist), I'm going to make up for it with a fun blog post for you -- a round-up of GREAT holiday gifts for moms. Use it to buy for your best friend, your sis, your cousin, your aunt, your mom -- or direct your husband or partner to it for ideas for stuffing your stocking. (Not meant as a euphemism.)

Check back soon. I'll have some sweet suggestions for you, or for the Santa in your house.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday Sledding

Over the weekend, it snowed in my town for the first time this season. Only an inch, maybe--nothing major. But enough to send the children out in snow pants and parkas and boots as fast as possible. Children here--maybe children everywhere?--get very excited about snow. Especially the first snow.

The snow fell on Saturday afternoon, and my daughters played in it a little then, between the time it switched over from rain until they and the friends I was babysitting decided some hot chocolate was in order; and then we were all gone to a big party in the evening. But Sunday morning they were up before six, as usual...and by 7:30 a.m. they were sledding our backyard hill. Kids! They amaze me. I mean, at 7:30 a.m. I was drinking coffee in my pajamas and contemplating nothing more ambitious than, say, eating breakfast.

The snow will melt in a day or two; this week is supposed to be warm. Oops, I mean, "warm." I realize that 45 degrees is not "warm" to my southern friends.

But the snow will return soon. And it was a fun weekend.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Holiday Gift-Buying for all the Moms You Know (Including Yourself)

Faithful readers!

In just a few short weeks, in mid-December (exact date to be determined; I will update you!), my first book will be released by Booktrope Publishing. (OMG! Insert screaming and jumping up and down here.)

A comprehensive handbook for happy and healthy stay-at-home motherhood, The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual: How to Have a Wondrous Life Amidst Kids and Chaos is a combination of professional self-help advice for taking better care of yourself, and real-life anecdotes and practical strategies for making your life as a stay-at-home mom easier and more fun. It's for stay-at-home moms of all kinds (total novices or experienced SAHMs), with kids of all ages, and includes plenty of ideas and resources for any mom who could use some help keeping her kids entertained, her house reasonably tidy, and her sanity intact.

Originally, my book stemmed from this blog, but it expanded into a much larger project when I decided to use my expertise as a clinical health psychologist to address the parts of at-home motherhood that seem to trip women up the most (time for yourself; sleep; fitness; nutrition; mood; taking care of yourself and not just your kids; balancing parenting with other relationships; stress). Who doesn't need help with all that, right? But don't worry--it's also a fun and funny read about life in the trenches of motherhood, with excerpts from this blog as well as examples of mothering craziness from my own life and the lives of other moms I know.

Plus, if you buy my book, you'll get to read about just how grim my life was during my first year of motherhood, before this blog and before I had any other mom friends. Wouldn't you love to find out just how much chocolate I consumed that year? And how much I cried? And how crazy I was? Sure you do.

My book comes out right before Christmas, so bookmark Amazon.com and get your mouse ready to click. I'm sure you know a mom or two who could use this book. Maybe you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

You Can't Really Argue With That.

One of the best parts about having children is how, once you do, you're sort of set with a constant source of entertainment. I mean, they're always saying and doing things that crack you up.

Here was Genevieve yesterday, as we passed a large cemetery on the way home to our far-edge-of-town neighborhood:

"Boy! Lots of people are DEAD."

I laughed the whole rest of the way home.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sugar High

So, I said yes to the cookie exchange. I did! In the end, I was tipped over to the "end up with 15 dozen cookies in the freezer at a time of year when fat and sugar take the place of mood-altering medications" option by two things: a.) the suggestion by two of my friends at playgroup yesterday that I contribute fudge rather than cookies, since my fudge recipe once made approximately ten trillion pieces of fudge, so much fudge I couldn't give it all away, and the cookie exchange could involve a daunting amount of baking, depending on how many people sign up (not decided for sure on the fudge, by the way; I do love to bake); and b.) the cheery, infectious attitude of my friend (and my kids' pediatrician) Heidi, who wrote on Facebook, "what could be bad about baking a ton of cookies and coming away with just as many cookies as you made??" (or something to that effect).

In other words, I chose to embrace the fun and crazy parts of the holiday season (baking a zillion cookies!) rather than get too stuck on the sabotage-the-bathroom-scale aspects.

With kids in the house, you have to give all the way in to Christmas. I don't mean you have to go big and expensive and elaborate and excessive; you all know I wrote about the exact opposite last year for BlogHer. I mean that children force you, as a parent, to focus more on the joyful, even frivolous aspects of the holiday season, rather than either sort of ignoring the holidays altogether or ruminating mainly on the bills and chores and extra work involved (both of which I have been guilty of in my previous, childless life).

And if that means baking a zillion cookies and possibly eating just as many, well...it's best to adopt my friend Heidi's attitude and just enjoy it all--preferably with your kids--as much as you can. That can be challenging if you're struggling financially or you're dealing with health issues or winter makes you feel like stabbing yourself in the head half the time. Believe me, I know. But you can still try. And children's happy, excited faces and grabby hands and sticky sugary smiles help with that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Bright Side

So today when I went in for my annual girly check-up, my gynecologist scheduled me for a baseline mammogram. I told my friends that I am officially old, but my friend Kathy said you're not old until you get a baseline colonoscopy. Whew.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In a Perfect World, Doughnuts Would be Good for You.

I'm not even kidding you, EVERY SINGLE DAMN YEAR at about this time, by about 5:20 p.m. when it is pitch black outside and seems like, oh, about midnight, and the Novembery wind is starting to flail around and you just know that within days--maybe hours--it will be really cold, I am snuggling into my burrow, snacking on sweet carbs, and gaining five to ten pounds. Then I spend the entire winter feeling terrible about myself and yet at the same time feeling extremely averse to exercising and/or eating fewer sweet carbs. Then in the spring it eventually all goes away and starts up again the following autumn. It's so obviously biochemical it's ridiculous.

This year I'm attempting to use a medical-grade UV light box to quell this annual attempt at hibernation--complete with the layering on of protective fat--but so far it's not working at all. I don't know how long you have to use it before it starts to work (or realize it's not working).

The other day I got an invitation to participate in a Christmas cookie exchange in December. It involves baking a dozen cookies for every person who participates, and you get a dozen from each other person in return. There are over 20 people invited, although I don't know how many invitees will ultimately join up. It sounds super fun--I LOVE to bake--and it's a bunch of my friends who are doing it. I was about to RSVP yes when I realized I could theoretically end up with, like, 15 dozen cookies in my freezer on December 12th. Sure, I'd make up treat plates and give a bunch of them away as gifts to my neighbors, the school bus driver, and other special people in my family's life. But in the end there'd still be an awful lot of sweet carbs in my freezer.

And me with the hibernation and the burrow and the ten pounds and the feeling terrible.

I haven't decided yet. I'm too busy raising my dopamine levels via sugar and chocolate. It's really unfortunate that carrot sticks and water don't stimulate the feel-good portions of your brain.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'll Brew Some Coffee Up for You.

This week has been a little on the lonely side. Due to a sick child and whatnot, I haven't been able to hang out with any friends all week -- no park meet-ups, no playgroups. I took my kids to swimming on Sunday and small-talked with a dad I know, took both girls and myself to our nice dentist yesterday and chatted with the receptionist for a minute or two, and other than that mainly stayed inside with Genevieve as she sniffled and laid around morosely feeling terrible. (Bad cold; home from school for two days.) Yesterday I finally caught up with a long-distance friend by phone for an hour, my BFF Veronica with whom I hadn't actually talked in many weeks (texting, though I love it, isn't the same).

Staying home full-time with children can be a lonely endeavor. It seems weird, because oftentimes you aren't really home all that much; shouldn't you have plenty of opportunity for socializing? But it doesn't always work that way. Kids get sick and you end up quarantined at home. Cold weather comes and no one's at the park or the pool every day like they were in the summer. You go and do the grocery shopping; you run the errands or volunteer in your child's classroom. But none of those things really guarantees an adult conversation. Hence the addictive quality, for many a stay-at-home mom, of Facebook and twitter and blog-reading. Some days those online shout-outs are the only adult interaction I get between 8 and 5.

So, let's chat, shall we? Have I told you about the disastrous pumpkin-swirl brownie recipe I tried yesterday? It didn't swirl, overflowed the pan, and took twice as long to bake as the instructions directed. Weird, right? They taste good though. (They're for company, but I had to do some quality-control.) Did you know my mother-in-law is visiting? (Hence the brownies.) Do you want to come over and hang out? Oh, wait.

Well...at least let me know how YOUR week is going. I really want to know.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Bite Me, Running Injury. Also Winter. Also My Hair.

At the risk of sounding whiny and morose...oh, who am I kidding? I have no qualms about sounding whiny and morose, you all know that. Let's start over.


Listen, people, for many years I have used running to dispel stress and feel better about any number of things that may be bothering me. Non-runners won't understand, but fellow runners surely will: you can go outside feeling anxious, angry, broke, fat, stressed, depressed, or panicked that your hair is falling out, pound out a good long run, and come home feeling ten million times better. Not only does it actively fix the anxious, angry, fat, and depressed parts, but it also makes you feel less stressed and panicky about whatever it is that it can't fix (hair falling out, broke).

The cortisone injection helped, but not completely. I'm better than I was in May, but I still can't run more than a short bit, a few times a week, and even then my hip protests somewhat (which is how I know I can't run more than a short bit). There is no going outside and running for an hour and coming home lighter (figuratively and literally, actually).

As my five-year-old would say (loudly and with much scowling and growling), UGH!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Peewee Photographer

I just got an updated draft of the layout of my upcoming book. Little things in the design are still being added and tweaked -- spacing, font, graphic elements, etc. This draft was the first to include a credit for the photo of me that will be on the back cover (or inside the back cover) of the book. "Author photo credit: Genevieve Tassava." My five-year-old took my picture last fall, when she was four. It's my author photo for the book (also the photo on this blog). How awesome is that? My little daughter will have her name on my book as the credited photographer. I love it.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

New Winner

Hey, everyone. The last Shutterfly 25-cards giveaway prize was not claimed, so I randomly drew a new name. Katrina, you are the winner! I've got a promo code with your name on it.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Wondrous Life

Yesterday I saw my book, The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual: How to Have a Wondrous Life Amidst Kids and Chaos, fully laid out for the first time. On the computer, I mean, but still! The designer sent me a file of the entire thing, every page, laid out how it will look in print, and with the cover mocked up and everything. How cool is that? It was definitely one of the most significant and exciting moments of my life.

Of course, I had that significant moment while also preparing to go volunteer in Genevieve's kindergarten classroom and fielding an e-mail from Julia's teacher about the fact that she had cried at school because she was scared about having a substitute teacher for the afternoon. So I couldn't exactly drink in the moment and reflect on the hard work and events of the past two years that have led to the imminent publication of my book--you know, how it's the culmination of a lifelong dream and all that? I was a little too busy e-mailing Julia's 2nd-grade teacher and making sure the soup for dinner was started before I went over to volunteer in kindergarten. Which is the exact sort of thing the book is all about, really. So it's all kind of fitting and wonderful.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

My Running Route, November.

(Part of) my running route in November: woods, prairie.

It's November. There's no denying anymore what is coming. It's gray, breezy, and brisk, and that happened overnight. (On Halloween it was sunny, calm, and warm.)

Last night I went up to my running route--perhaps my favorite place on earth for several years now--and though I didn't dare run (injured hip), I walked part of it just to be in the air and amidst the prairie and woods. Every time I'm up there at that time of day, I see the same family of white-tailed deer; they're always at the same bend in the wooded trail, and usually they leap away into the trees when they see me coming but once they stood not ten feet from me and just watched me go past, big eyes staring, still as a painting.

I go much farther into the woods than the photos up there imply, and I often see wildlife--deer or pheasants or wild turkeys. It was too dark to take pictures inside the woods, though, and I didn't think of it when I was at the best part of my route, a ridge that overlooks a vast swath of rolling meadow and prairie grass, edged in banks of trees meeting the large sky where the sun was setting. You can't see any part of town right there, and you'd swear you were hundreds of miles from human life.

I'm getting ready to say goodbye to this route for awhile, because once it's snowed in, I can't run the woods and prairie anymore. Not that I've done much running this summer and fall anyway. Even so, it's hard to leave it. There's something truly restorative and soothing about being out in nature like that. And I don't mean "nature" like your neighbor's yard or the path behind the golf course.

Are you ready for November?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I Need a Candy Detox.

I find this photo anticlimactic. They actually looked much cuter than this. Genevieve was a witch (a cute, adorable one). Julia was a pioneer girl--basically the embodiment of the Little House books. I think she insisted she was Mary Ingalls, seeing as how Mary was the oldest sister and so is she. But I don't think anyone else really got all that. No matter. Candy flowed like water. Or something. I don't know. I have a sugar hangover. How about you?

There Are No Words. Other Than These, I Mean.

Another year, another giant bowl of excess candy purchased for trick-or-treaters--apparently, the six hundred trick-or-treaters I inexplicably thought would come to my door. What the...? What am I thinking, people? Why does this happen EVERY YEAR? What is wrong with my brain that I can't remember, in the candy aisle at Target each October, that I DON'T NEED FOUR BAGS OF CANDY. I need, like, two. Or even one, if I don't give fistfuls to every child at my door in a frantic attempt to rid my house of the millions of calories that will otherwise end up in my mouth.

And speaking of excess candy, Good Lord Almighty I cannot BELIEVE my daughters' hauls. Since they literally go to only two blocks of houses, it seems everyone else is giving out fistfuls of candy, too. Actually, I know they are, because I witness it every year. Perhaps that knowledge somehow subconsciously affects my candy-buying every year. Keeping up with the Joneses and all that?

Even though my daughters DEFINITELY do not need it, I don't really believe in taking most of their Halloween candy away from them like some parents I know. I realize that's probably the best thing to do, parenting-wise. (They trade it in for a toy, or some such.) But it just seems sort of Grinch-ish and mean. If the Grinch had anything to do with Halloween. Which he doesn't.

I do dump out and sort through their stash once they go to bed, and confiscate anything choke-y or age-inappropriate (gum, Blow-Pops, jawbreakers, etc.). (What to do with those, by the way? Parents don't like that crap!) And then, last night, I also pilfered a ton of duplicate candy bars and M&Ms, not because I need or even really want to eat them but because my children just do not need hundred and hundreds of calories of chocolate and sugar. They do just fine with things like that in their normal daily lives which involve birthday parties, Mama's homemade desserts, school treats, playdate snacks, and all other manner of treat sources--no doubt way too many.

But in the end, their bags are still stuffed and heavy, to a ridiculous degree, and I keep wondering how much more I should take out, that they wouldn't remember they had. I don't want to deprive them of the fun of knowing what they got and what they'll get to eat; but I also know that it's totally excessive, all of it. And then there's the other question, of who's going to eat all that candy? The good stuff--the Reese's, the Snickers, the M&Ms and Milky Ways and Hershey bars? OMG! You all, I am coming off a running injury and subsequent six months of minimal exercise, paired with stress, a vitamin D deficiency, and annual autumnal mood issues. I already have five or six extra pounds vying for permanent residence on my...uh..."assets." This does not bode well. Oh sure, you might say, "Just don't eat it." But then I'd have to slug you and freeze you out of my social circle.

Just kidding.

Well, to round the night out right, Halloween ended with my 7-year-old developing apparent pinkeye (I assume that I'm next; it happens every time) and my Internet connection crashing just as I completed an online freelance article I'd been working on all day (if by "all day" you mean the multiple separate blocks of three minutes I had here and there between childcare, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, making the special mummy hotdogs for my daughter's Halloween dinner, and the like) and clicked "submit" to turn it in. Thus erasing my entire freelance article. Good thing the article WAS ONLY WORTH FIVE DOLLARS. Yes, that is what my life has come to. I am ghostwriting 400-word retail blog posts about kids' messenger bags for five dollars. Or not, if my computer crashes on me!


Halloween costume photo to come.