Cautionary Tales

Don’t jump on the bed. Remember Aaron across the street who broke his arm doing that?

If you race up the front steps, you might puncture your knee just like Daddy did that time. We spent hours in Urgent Care that day. With a newborn.

Donkey-kicking your brother is a bad idea. Just ask Auntie – she broke her arm when she was flung across the basement when we were kids. I may or may not have been involved in that.

Sliding down the stairs on your belly will end badly. Did I ever tell you about the time Uncle Rob got carpet burn doing that?

Don’t ride your bike with your eyes closed. Just trust me on that – I have first hand experience.

Do I really need to remind you why you shouldn’t run around naked?

Chasing your brothers around the bedrooms – guys, I had to call our nurse neighbour last time you did that.

Go ahead and name a questionable activity and I can give you a real life cautionary tale outlining the dangers.

Care to lean really far on the kitchen table while standing on your chair? I recently witnessed a son scrape his belly doing that. I thought he had broken a rib or done some serious internal damage.

Feel like putting some coins in your mouth? My cousin once swallowed a dollar’s worth of quarters and had to go to the hospital.

Think it’s fun to stick your leg through the spindles on the stairwell? A kindergarten student once got her knee stuck in the bars at the playground. It took a whole team of us and a bottle of Palmolive to get her out.

Want to pour yourself a nice, tall glass of milk after a sleep over at your friend’s house? Sit back and let me tell you about Gary.

Gary* spent the night at his good friend, Kevin’s house. He woke up, and as any young kid does, he headed down to find himself some breakfast. Several members of Kevin’s family were gathered around the kitchen table enjoying a selection of cold cereal.

Milk in the bag = not recycled.
If only there was a way to make this milk stretch a bit further

Gary surveyed the options and made his choice (probably Corn Flakes, Gary wasn’t much of a risk-taker). He topped it off with a splash of milk and dug in. Partway through his most important meal of the day, Gary realized he was thirsty so he poured himself a refreshing glass of milk. He took a swig and thought, “Hmmm, tastes kind of sweet.” Ate some cereal, took another sip, “Yes,” he thought, “Their milk tastes like they put sugar in it.”

Being the polite young man that he was, Gary finished up his cereal without mentioning the sugar-infused milk. As he brought his bowl to the sink, Kevin asked him, “did you drink that whole glass of milk?”

As Gary turned to answer his former best friend, he saw the remaining family members pour the leftover milk from their cereal bowls into the glass pitcher on the table. The very same pitcher Gary had chugged from.

My son, never, ever, drink the sweet milk.

This is perfectly good milk. DON'T WASTE IT.
This is perfectly good milk. DON’T WASTE IT.

___________

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent and easily duped.

This post is dedicated to the real “Gary” and to frugal parents everywhere.

Your turn, best cost-saving idea you’ve got. Go.

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Oreo in Review

Did you know that there are all kinds of Special Edition flavours of Oreos? And not just Double Stuff and Mint. There is a seemingly endless list of these limited engagement cookies.

Hold on there, friend. Before you pour yourself a tall glass of milk to go with these sandwiches of sweet tastiness, be warned:  there’s a catch. You can only get them in the US. Apparently, Nabisco wasn’t happy with how the War of 1812 ended and included some sort of no-sharing-Oreos clause in The Treaty of Ghent (I’m 95% certain that’s true).

But have no fear! I have American connections and have procured a small sampling of SPECIAL EDITION OREOS. And being the kind and generous mom that I am (okay, I couldn’t hide them before the boys saw the packages) our family has been enjoying them and rating them.

Now I present to you the Limited Selection of Special Edition Oreos, In Review. 

It's like a small disk of "dream come true"
It’s like a small disk of “dream come true”

Peanut Butter

I doubt you could pair chocolate with peanut butter and have it be anything other than delicious. Nabisco did not let us down. It was just the right blend of two of my favourite things. Bonus is that you cannot send them to school due to the nuts, so it means more for you to eat at home once the kids are in bed.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Cups of Coffee (that’s the Moyer Official Rating System).

Raspberry Fudge Cremes

"Oreos"

These almost didn’t make the cut since they are not the traditional “sandwich cookie” but since they say “Oreo” on the package, I loosened the entry requirements. They did sit on the shelf a little longer than usual as a bit of an Oreo-purist demonstration (I forgot they were there).

Wow. I got them out for the boys and almost immediately wished I hadn’t announced they were for everyone. So good. We snarfed down one row in record time and the second almost as quickly. In order to maintain my standing with the neighbour kids, I sent the remaining row along on a playdate. I have never regretted anything more. Curse you, generosity.

Rating: 4 1/2 Cups of Coffee

Cool Mint

Mint, with attitude. In Canada it's called "Mint, if that's okay with you"
Mint, with attitude. In Canada it’s called “Mint, if that’s okay with you”

Come on. The only thing that I might love more than chocolate and peanut butter is chocolate mint. These are the only specialty flavours that are occasionally available in Canada, but having the American version was still a special treat.

We didn’t get a chance to fully review these since my parents ate half the package before they delivered it. Something I can understand, but will not forget, Mom and Dad.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Cups of Coffee

Birthday Cake

HB, Jan. HB.
HB, Jan. HB.

I don’t know what kind of chemists or wizards Mr. Christie employs, but these really do taste like birthday cake. Bonus points are applied since I received these tasty goodies as part of a birthday gift.

The *kid appeal for this edition is high. So high, there was no way my little darlings were going to forget we had some in the closet, so I was forced thrilled to share.

Bravo, Nabisco, bra – vo.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Cups of Coffee

Cookie Dough

Worth exercising for
Worth exercising for

Oh, man did this flavour deliver. I first learned of this new edition on Twitter and knew we had to try it. Hands down, this is the favourite. There was just a hint of mocha which reminded me of the Dutch spritz cookies we used to eat with Sunday morning coffee growing up. Delicious. Once this package was opened, all other special selections were second-class cookies

Rating: 5 out of 5 Cups of Coffee

Honourable Mentions

Berry Burst Ice Cream: an acceptable alternative if Cookie Dough is sold out.

Triple Double: yummy, but tough to justify eating more than 2 or 7 of these since they are pretty big.

Unrated Flavours

I have not eaten these editions, but that won’t stop me from reviewing them.

Lemon: No.

Watermelon: Why? WHY?

Gingerbread: Please don’t.

Candy Corn: Offer these to guests who have overstayed their welcome. 

*Investment opportunity: I’d like to develop a camouflage sleeve with pictures of lentils on it to slip right over any package of Oreos you don’t want to share. Just email me your credit card info and we’ll get this started.

———

Which flavour would you like to see Mr. Christie try next?

 

My Five Rules for Beach Day

There’s a tradition in many Canadian schools to have Spirit Days. One particular favourite is Beach Day which typically occurs immediately before March Break. The logic is that Canadian winters are long and dreary and the best way to snap out of a “lots of snow, but not enough to cancel school” funk is to dress up in your beach attire and pretend not to notice that your eyes are frozen open.

Guys, I’m part of the group that decided to do this. Again.

How do I forget every time that I really don’t like Beach Day?

Oh, sure, Spirit Days are great and even better when the staff participates. The smiles and cute comments from the students are always fun. I love dressing up for Halloween or a good old Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest. These days build a sense of community and it’s worth being silly to accomplish that.

But Beach Day. What were we thinking?

Let’s have a theme day that accentuates our pale, pasty skin and lack of muscle tone from weeks of being indoors. I’m in!

And so, I present to you, My Five Rules for Beach Day.

1. Moisturize. And preferably not just the night before.

2. Commit. Did the nail polish you started to paint minutes before leaving for school turn clumpy and hard to apply? Oh, well. You’re slapping that varnish on all ten of your little piggies because the only thing more noticeable than clumpy nail polish is having only one toe painted.

How can your toes look anything but amazing in "Gloppy Magenta"?
How can your toes look anything but fabulous in “Gloppy Magenta”?

3. Layer. It’s winter in Canada. Even if the heat is turned up, it’s going to be cold. And socks will help cover up your botched pedicure.

The socks really tie the whole outfit together
The socks really tie the whole outfit together

4. Layer. No, for real. You better be dressed for the weather. It’s only summer in your imagination.

Not everyone can pull off shorts and winter boots.
Not everyone can pull off shorts and winter boots.

5. Hydrate. Pretending to be at the beach can be hard work. Trying to appear that you’re confident wearing clothes that may or may not feel snug due to your winter consumption of M&Ms and chips (we all need a little extra insulation) can really bring on a thirst.

Bearded Husband thoughtfully dropped this off, making it extra refreshing
Bearded Husband thoughtfully dropped this off, making it extra refreshing

*Special thanks for the guest appearance by Amanda, modelling the always popular Socks with Sandals.

__________________

Theme Days: Love them or hate them? Would you wear your beach attire or pretend you “forgot”?

Stamppot Survivor

The signs were all there: the large stock pot was on the stove, my mom was busy peeling potatoes, and I could see the chopped onions ready to take the plunge into the soon-to-be-boiling water. I spied some carrots still in the bag and I knew they would be joining the onions all in good time. And yes, there was the head of cabbage, too.

Without a doubt, it was happening.

Mom was making Stamppot.

This Dutch *mainstay has many variations, some involving kale, others include bacon, some both. But all versions rely on boiling root vegetables together and mashing them up beyond recognition.

Use a really big pot so you have enough to make EVERYONE cry
Use a really big pot so you have enough to make EVERYONE cry

This was the worst possible dinnertime scenario I could conceive. Stamppot. Why, Mom? Why? I already apologized for the Tupperware Avalanche and the toenails behind the couch.

There was no escaping the smell of Stamppot cooking. That odour of onions with just a hint of smelly socks was a constant reminder of my dinnertime fate. It was too late to feign an illness or get an invitation to dine at my friend’s house. That meal was coming and I had nowhere to hide.

Once I realized the inevitability of me consuming this “meal”, I quickly went through the five stages of Stamppot eating:

1. Denial: Noooooooooooooooo.

2. Anger: Why? Why? WHY? WHO ASKED HER TO MAKE THIS ABOMINATION?

3. Bargaining: I’ll never complain about another meal if you will just let me have Cup-a-Soup tonight.

4. More Bargaining: Just name your price, woman – it’s yours.

5. Acceptance: Fine. I’ll eat it. But it’s not going to be pretty.

Stamppot is often served with sausage. My mom would claim it was to “balance out the meal” but I knew it was really to bribe savvy children into eating it. Nice try, Mom. No amount of salty meat deliciousness could convince this kid that Stamppot is edible.

Reduce your family's cholesterol, if not their tears
Reduce your family’s cholesterol, if not their tears

I had to develop some strategies to get through a Stamppot meal. First, I would ask for the smallest portion possible, often trying to serve myself. Then I would casually move the mash around my plate, giving the illusion of consumption. Next, I would plead at my brother with my eyes to please, please eat some of mine.

Let’s talk about my brother for a moment. I don’t know what happened to him as a young child, but he ate Stamppot with gusto. He would pile it on the platter, not a dinner plate, the platter, then top it with a sausage link, stick his elbows out and proceed to shovel it into his mouth. There would be no polite conversation with him when Stamppot was served. I’m quite certain one of us was switched at birth.

After much threatening and cajoling by my mom, I would finally take a bite. Well, that wasn’t too bad, got myself a nice forkful of potato. Then a bratwurst chaser. A second bite followed – okay, I can handle this. This pattern continued for a few more bites. And then – I just bit into some cabbage! Take this away! Stamppot was my first experience with a “Bait and Switch” scenario. It’s like internet dating on a plate.

I admit that I was a picky eater as a child, and for that I apologize profusely to my mom. But can we all please just end the conspiracy? Let’s have no future generations go through any unnecessary mealtime suffering. 

Just say “no” to Stamppot.

*Stamppot has been described by some reliable sources as “punishment in a pan” and tasting like “anger”. There are others who claim it is “delicious” and “the best”, but they are liars.

Moyerangelo

Welcome to the Sneak Peek of my upcoming Art Extravaganza! You might be surprised to learn I am just four years old, but talent and inspiration can strike at any age.

Currently, this exhibit is housed in my bedroom. I like to think of it as a constant work-in-progress since my roommate has very little impulse control.

This piece speaks to my love of gum. When I was young and reckless, I occasionally left my chewed gum on the carpet. Mmmm….gum.

Tribute to Gum
My Gum, My Love

This next display was a random inspiration I had when Mommy called up that it was time for breakfast. I tossed those sticker frames down and when I returned, I was just as smitten as you are.

The lines, the use of space. Inspired, I know.
The lines, the use of space. Inspired, I know.

It’s funny, when I began this particular piece, I was going to go with one or two sheets, but once I got started I realized more is always better. See how the creepy wooden bear accentuates the pumpkins? And I love how the multi-colured squirrel plays off the green in the monsters.

Haunted Monster Mash Up
Go Ahead, Choose One, But Not THAT One

I feel it’s important to encourage the artistic drive in others, so I let my little brother try his hand. I really like how he played up the different textures here: carpet, bed skirt, paper. He might be ready for his own exhibition soon, that little Picaso.

Sticker Carpet Study
Sticker Carpet Study

Here I tried a little something with metal and wood. I like the contrast of the black sticker against the white canvas of the closet door.

Closet Door: Gateway to Diapers
Closet Door: Gateway to Diapers

A different approach with furniture as my framework. Not as bold as the white, but the warmer look works, too, don’t you think?

Top Drawer
Top Drawer

Now this one I am particularly proud of. I tried my hand at something more whimsical here just for Mommy. “Oh, no, another diaper change – wait! What’s this? A darling sticker from my favourite son.” (I just know that’s what she’ll say).

Diaper Surprise
Diaper Surprise

This final selection has me stumped. I’m not sure which look to use. The first is the safe, classical approach.

Retro Sippy Cup
The Cup

This one is just a little edgier with the dirt clod in the background. Maybe it makes my work more accessible?

Retro Sippy Cup Slumming It
The Cup Rebellion

Please cast your vote to help me decide. Any art forms you’d like to see in my next exhibit? I’m very strong with glitter glue as well and I’m not afraid to delve into papier mache.

Robotic Teacher Agents – Guest Post by Ricky Anderson

Today is a BIG DEAL.

My first guest blogger! Ricky Anderson is funny. No, not funny, really REALLY funny. Still not enough. He is super really funny. Nope. Hilarious. Yes, hilarious. See for yourself over at his blog www.rickyanderson.net or on twitter @Arthur2Sheds or why not both?

Ricky is not nearly the procrastinator he makes himself out to be. Thought I’d have a lot of nagging ahead of me, but he got this post done in a timely manner. Ricky, you ARE special. Well done, Ricky’s mom.

———

It’s time we talked about it.

Everyone’s been thinking it for years, but until now it’s been the topic nobody wanted to bring up.

Robots.

You’ve failed us, Science. You pretend to know everything, what with your Mars rovers and particle destroyers and anti-aging creams.

But the truth is – you’re stuck. You promised us robots. From The Jetsons to I, Robot to The Matrix, you’ve been making us promises for years. And yet the only robot I have access to is a Roomba.

Seriously? A vacuum cleaner. How exciting. I guess it beats a colon cleaner.

We interrupt this post for a message from Ricky’s agent, Ricky (no relation).

I would like to apologize for this post. It was written in a sleep-deprived haze, fueled entirely by caffeine. Ricky has strong opinions on the subject of robots. However, his boss needed him to do some database fiddling, so he had to leave this post incomplete…

…JUST LIKE SCIENCE AND THE ROBOTS.

Note from Ricky’s agent, Ricky’s agent, Ricky (some relation, but we don’t talk about that side of the family since the Thanksgiving incident):

Oh, sorry. I just remembered that Jan asked me (Ricky, not Ricky or Ricky) to write about being a teacher’s kid.

My mom was a teacher. A fantastic and real good awesome one.

And clearly she made me special.

So take note, Science…and go make me a special robot!