Wednesday, March 10, 2010

To:  All active members of the Society for Preschool Idiosyncrasies  (SPI)
From: the Governing Board (2010) of the SPI
Re: Guide to Mystifying Food-Related Behaviors, update 3.10.10.

Please be advised that  March is National Repetitive Food Request Month.  This year's celebration will be spearheaded by the Upstate New York chapter of the SPI, although all national chapters are strongly encouraged to take part.  Several competition events have been arranged and prizes (1st place, Temporary Bath Immunity; 2d place, Tantrum Escalation Kit; 3d place, Supplemental Television Viewing) will be awarded for the members who sustain their Repetitive Food Campaign for the entire month.  Creativity is also encouraged; special prizes will be issued for members who successfully combine their RFRs with Esoteric Preparation Instructions and/or Sudden Refusals to Consume the Prepared Items.

Members are advised to develop their own original requests, but 2d Vice President Matty offers his own current activities as an example of a sustained RFR/EPI/Surprise-Now-I-Won't-Eat-It campaign which has his parents, "Mom" and "Dad"  (not their real names), completely baffled.

The chosen food item is known as "bread and butter."  It is eaten for all meals and, on bonus days, for snack as well.  Preparation requirements are photo-documented below and include:

(1) precise matching of bread pieces (brand loyalty is also required here; an attempt by "Mom" to substitute a different bread resulted in a "Surprise, Now I won't eat it" penalty)

(2) complete and consistent butter coverage

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(3) thorough trimming of all breadcrusts (again, a failure to excise all traces of crust is subject to penalty, typically profuse gagging noises and ejection of partially chewed offending pieces)

(4) precision carving of the food item into certain designated shapes (penalty for failure to accurately anticipate the desired shape usually involves prolonged screaming and, occasionally, jettisoning of the food item onto the floor)

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(5) bonus points are awarded for presentation of food as a smiley face; all food must be issued in the same %^^$ bowl at each meal/snack.


Participants are reminded that-- particularly where crusts have been removed in a painstaking fashion or other special accommodations to whim have been made--it is inadvisable to eat the entire food item.  Rather, an extra margin of food should be left in the bowl at each meal; variations include eating one bite from the tip of each piece and eating only half of the food served.  Remaining pieces should be smushed, licked, dunked, dropped, or otherwise mishandled in order to prevent storage of the food item for later consumption.  Be aware that overuse of this tactic may result in a sudden and unjustified refusal by the parent to serve the requested food and will result in a corresponding reduction of the participant's overall score, or, in the event of a prolonged food preparation strike, elimination from the competition.


Second VP Matty reports that his campaign has been wildly successful.  His parents, particularly "Mom," are baffled as to his food choice and unable to predict when triangles or squares will be required, but are almost fully trained to meet Matty's whims and have not yet flatly refused to serve the "bread and butter."  He noticed while shopping this week that "Mom" laid in an extra supply of the approved bread and butter, and he is now considering the implementation of a response tactic, possibly a Short Term Diversionary Food Switch with Accompanying Rejection of all "Bread and Butter" Foods.

SPI members are reminded that all communiques to and from the Governing Board are top secret and confidential.  The success of our group depends entirely on our collective ability to keep parents in a state of constant confusion, and all behavioral guidelines are, therefore, subject to change without notice. Members are referred to prior Memos outlining the most common Secrecy Preservation Tactics, including #5.09.00 "Looking Bewildered,"  #3.21.96 "Maintaining an Expression of Wide-Eyed Innocence," #4.26.38 "Proper Use of Diversion Tactics, Including Unprovoked Tantrums, Sudden Crying Pretenses, and Unexpected Vomiting and/or Illness (Emergency Use Only),"  and #2.16.21 "Effective Denial Tactics, Including Employment of Catchphrases 1 & 2 ("I dunno" and "Wasn't me"), Blame Shifting, and Engaging the Services of Invisible Friends."

Participants may report their efforts to the Upstate New York SPI "March is RFR Month" committee.   This Memo should be committed to memory and then destroyed.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Winter Blues, Chased Away

It is all my fault.  For months, I have been begging and pleading and wishing for it.  More Snow.  I firmly believe that if we are going to be stuck with cold temperatures and gray skies, we should at least have some snow to play in.  Last week I got my wish.  Not only did it snow, but we got a snow day out of it.  And then, just when I thought I was going to spend the day on some over due work and just nag my kids to go out and play, some friends drove out to keep us company, play in the snow with us, and get stuck in our driveway.  It was the perfect snow day.

The great thing about late winter snow storms is that the temperature usually isn't quite so frigid, which makes playing outside that much more enjoyable.  On Saturday morning, we let the kids fend for themselves and El Husbando and I took the dog snow-shoeing.  The dog took a pass on the actual snow shoes and for a little while, we weren't even sure we could get him to leave the property because he is so firmly trained to his Invisible Fence boundaries. In the end, we tricked him by crossing the IF line in an unusual spot and when we came home, don't you think he insisted in taking the long way back to the house so that he could cross at that same spot again?  Dogs.

On the way down to the walking trail, we passed these little beauties:  cats(tails) in hats.


El Husbando with the fraidy-dog:


Fraidy-dog getting all low on the trail:


He loves the snow and, invisible fence issues aside, he thought this was just about the best day ever.  He spent the rest of it sleeping, which made it a pretty good one in my book too.  There's really not a lot of good stuff that happens when a large dog gets cabin fever.

One way we have passed the winter days is tossing different foods into the coop and seeing what the chickens will eat.  So far, the answer has been everything.  Spinach, wilty salad, and cracked corn were not surprising; we expected them to gobble it all up and they obliged.  But, I threw (literally: it has to clear a 6 foot fence) a bunch (head? stalk group?) of celery in the other day and now there is no sign of it.  We have also learned that you can hang a head of cabbage and they will peck at it with a viciousness that is terrifying.  The first cabbage that I put in was  steadfastly ignored for a few days until they decided that it had come in peace. (In this sense, the are much bolder than my children, who still believe that cabbage is deadly). Then they hacked away at it until nothing but the core was left.  The second cabbage didn't even last 24 hours.  The only disappointment is that the birds can peck at the cabbage and tear off the leaves without making the head sway too much, even though it is suspended from a wire loop on a rope.  I was really hoping to watch some chicken volleyball.

The other surprise favorite was spaghetti.  My advice on this issue is never to let a seven year old toss spaghetti into your chicken run.  Regardless of my thorough and clear instructions as to spaghetti placement (between the nets, please), an awful lot of it ended up stranded (hahaha) on top of the netting instead of in the coop. The girls didn't seem to care.  They gobbled up the noodles that fell to the ground, and the stuff that didn't fall immediately has since vanished.  All problems relating to leftover spaghetti have now been solved, but I can't help wondering if they were disappointed that we hadn't thrown them real worms.


As if snow days and spaghetti eating chickens were not enough to take the edge off of winter, we celebrated Purim last week.  The highlight for the boys was the annual Purim Carnival. The girls and I gave it a miss this year, but we couldn't keep Matty away.  As soon as he saw the bouncy house, the throngs of small, screaming children, and the mountains of worthless plastic prizes, he became a man on a mission.  He dragged El Husbando in and was rewarded with fabulous gifts, including a yellow lei and an unidentifiable purple plastic animal with rubber spikes. Nate was the proud winner of the funny glasses, but he was very happy to share them. Certain elder children, however, were much too cool to be photographed wearing them.


And last, I really and truly did finish my knitting olympics project, the Slanting Gretel Tee. I even finished it during the real Olympics, which entitled me to cyber-medals and pdf certificates of knitting excellence. Unfortunately, my knitting skills far outstrip my compter skills, and I have not yet been able to copy my gold medal image to post on my blog.  Bummer.  But, really the prize is that I get to wear this:


The goofy bit of extra fabric in the front has settled down a little bit, and it turns out that this whole short sleeve layered sweater thing is very comfy.  I have worn the sweater twice in the week since I finished it (a thrilling tale in itself; I was weaving in ends between games in a 6th grade basketball tournament) and since the bugger is machine washable, it won't just languish on the handwash pile waiting for me to clean it up again.  Hurray for me!