10.28.2010

The Leftover Halloween Candy Guide for Dummies

Halloween candy has its own hierarchy. It's very simple. There's the chocolate...and then there's everything else.

You bring home your overflowing plastic jack-o-lantern bucket (assuming the made-in-China handle didn't break under the weight), dump it all out on the living room floor, and perform a quick, cursory scan of the haul. It's easy to key in on the most valuable commodities - members of the classic chocolate family - Hershey's miniatures, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Milky Way, Twix, KitKat, Rolo, and MnM's. Those babies have to be immediately corraled into a special pile, separate from all the rest, in case any siblings attempt quick, unsolicited switcheroos amidst the chaos. You seriously cannot afford to lose a smidgen of the chocolatey goodness.

Once that's done, you examine the leftovers with a jaundiced eye:

Crayons, Notepads, Fruit, and Pencils. Utter disappointments.

Dubble Bubble Gum. These enormous pink globs in the pink, blue, and yellow wrapper are equivalent to putting five sticks of gum in your mouth at one time. When you start chewing, you can actually feel the gritty sugar granules...and the beginning of cavity-formation. It stays sickly sweet for a total of 9 seconds, and then it turns to tire rubber. The first 9 seconds are pretty great, though.

Dum-Dum's. Pass. Your doctor gives you those after you've had a shot. So does the nice lady at the bank. They're too pedestrian. Moving on...

Smarties. For reasons unknown to man (since moms are the ones in charge of such things), Smarties are the candy-of-choice for birthday party favor bags the world over. They are cheap, easy, no mess, no fuss, but a bit redundant. Seen one Smarty (yes, that's the singular version), seen 'em all. It's dangerously easy to eat the whole pack before you can blink. And then you ask yourself...why did I do that? You didn't even want them to begin with.

Atomic Fire Balls. When your parents "checked" your Halloween candy, they were really checking for these atrocities. Because I am pretty sure they can kill you.

Pixie Stix. Whoever got rich of these had a brilliant idea. "Let's fill a tube of paper with dyed sugar! And then kids can dump it all out in their grubby little hands and lick it off!" If they don't do it that way, they suck the sugar from the paper tube, which turns the paper all wet and soggy. Pixie Stix are a dead end, I tell you.

Candy Corn. They say that writing about controversial subjects is a good way to attract readers. Let's try it out. I am going to make a provocative statement, and I shall then stand by it unfalteringly: Candy corn is unquestionably the worst candy known to man. I really don't think corn was ever meant to be candy. Squanto would agree.

Tootsie Rolls. When you think of a tootsie roll, what do you think of? Enough said.

Now...for the most sinister of all leftover candies. The ones that have no real name. The ones that you always see left in the bottom of the candy bucket when Thanksgiving rolls around. The ones that only mean people give out. You know them. I know them. They are...

The tan chewy things that come in either a solid black or orange wrapper. What ARE those? Why do they have no name? Where did they come from? Why do they mysteriously turn up every year? No one knows! Their sole purpose is to entice you into giving them "another chance" just before you gag and run for the trash can.

So the big take-away for today's survey of leftover Halloween candy is this: Once the chocolate is gone, no good thing dwelleth within your bucket. Adopt this as your mantra. And I assure you...it will never steer your wrong.

Until next time,





10.22.2010

The Full Armor According to She-Ra

She-Ra Princess of Power is celebrating her 25th anniversary.

In the 1980's, she was the ulimate heroine of little girls everywhere. (Actually, I WAS her.) We watched her cartoon every morning before school and would anxiously await our favorite part, which you could always count on happening the exact same way without fail...because the animators inserted the same sequence into the show for every episode. She would pull her sword out of the sheath behind her back, raise it over her head, and say authoritatively, "For the honor of Greyskull, I AM SHE-RA!" Then in a flurry of blue and pink sparkles, she transformed, Cinderella-style, from squeaky-voiced Princess Adora into decidedly deeper-voiced She-Ra, leader of the Great Rebellion and defender of planet Etheria from the evil Horde.

She was awesome. Really.

She had superhuman strength. Could lift huge boulders over her head and throw them at bad robots. Communicated with animals. Ran really fast. Had He-Man for a brother. Was allowed to wear gold knee-boots and a mini-skirt. Carried a sword with a jewel on it from whence sprung all manner of rainbow sparkles on command. Blocked dangerous laser beams with her shield. Had really cool friends, each sold separately.

And she was not afraid of anything.

I made it one of my goals in life at age 9 to collect as many of the each-sold-separately Princess of Power dolls that I could. I still have them, to this day, and now my daughter plays with them, even though none of her friends know who they are. Names like Flutterina, Frosta, and Perfuma make the bad guys tremble in their boots. I'm happy to see that the Great Rebellion lives on.

One thing that I have always found to be notable about the She-Ra doll (and probably completely coincidental, as well) is that she embodies every single aspect of the "full armor of God" described in Ephesians 6.

"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

I guess Paul probably had a Roman soldier in mind when he penned these words, but I still think of She-Ra when I read it. You can see it there - she's got the belt, the breastplate, the fitted boots, the shield, the helmet, and the sword. All defensive elements, except for the last...the sword, which is the word.

She-Ra's sword was her secret. (It even says so on the picture of that DVD cover above.) It had the power to transform. It was not something to fling around carelessly. It's the same for the Word that we have in our hands, which also has the power to transform, but is not to be wielded improperly. Sword...check.

Lies aplenty scurrying all around you. Belt of truth...check.

Emotions running high. Heart is hurting. Having a come-apart maybe? Breastplate of righteousness...check.

Lots of crummy stuff in the world that requires a sure defense. Shield of faith...check.

Hard to keep your mind under control. Helmet of salvation...check.

Open, seeking hearts that wonder why we're here and where we're going. Feet ready to bring the gospel to them...check.

Get your She-Ra on.

Now if only rainbow sparkles would come out of my Bible...

10.14.2010

My Daughter Wants to Meet the Noo Kids: The Sobering Impact of Parental Influence

Kids are like computerized sponges, if there were such a thing. They soak everything up, and then they store it in memory. Indefinitely. And the primary source for their gathering of data to file away is...their parents.

Like it or not, they watch. They listen. And then, they emulate. They pick up on attitudes, mannerisms, likes and dislikes, and moods. They notice inconsistencies and injustices. The world notoriously underestimates their perceptiveness. If a daughter hears her mom constantly talking about how much she loves to shop, then a miniature shopper will soon emerge in that household. If a son sees his daddy watching football every Saturday, then that kid will probably get the football gene imprinted on him, too. And if your child knows who your favorite musical group currently is (or used to be), then they will regurgitate that opinion as their own on a report at school. Which is what my 6-year-old did today.

Her first-grade assignment was: "If you could meet a famous person, who would you like to meet? And what three questions would you ask them?"

To my amusement, this is what my daughter brought home. I have transcribed the report below the picture.


"I wanted to meet the Noo Kids. I now a lot of ther sog's. My mom rele likes them. Wen they wer yug they wer rele famis. Now they are stel famis. At the end of the yer my mom will go to ther consrt. She will take a pechr and show it to me. Som of thim are dads. Can I have your odgraf? What are your kids names? What was it like wen you wer yug?"

I suppose I should not have been surprised. Why wouldn't she want to meet the New Kids on the Block, who her mommy liked way back when and still does this time around? The realm of "famous people" that she knows about is pretty limited, outside of fictional characters. On an artistic note, I like that the guy on the far left, (who my daughter identified as Joey), proportionally has much bigger hair than the rest, which was certainly true in 1990. And I'm certain that the Noo Kids themselves would be thrilled to know that kids today would like to ask them what the world was like decades ago, back in the old days when they were young.

"What did your teacher say?" I asked.

She grinned and said, "She laughed."

I'm sure she did. Most kids in her class were answering with Hannah Montana and the President. How many would know about a pop culture phenomenon that occurred way before their time? And even if they did, why would they care? There's only one answer to that...

Because mommy does.

It's sweet. It's precious and dear, and all of those things. But it's also very sobering.

My daughter's report is a prime example of the stamp that I can place on my kids...for better or for worse. (And this is where I will ask the peanut gallery to refrain from ribbing me about the specific "stamp" I have just discussed.) Our beliefs, philosophies, and attitudes are the very first ones that our children encounter in this world. And that counts for a lot. It is an incredible responsibility. I heard a mother at the school today telling her child to get his (blank) out of the car. That's a type of stamp. The way that I talk about other people, in public and behind closed doors, is like a template for my kids to use. Whatever life-perspective, whatever worldview, whatever preference that parents voice is like handing it to their children on a platter.

And then in turn, they will pluck it from that platter and consume it, digest it, and ask for more, being the little computerized sponges that they are. That is, at least until age 12, when everything changes. But I'm not there yet.

These days, I can enjoy (or rather, be mindful of) the fact that she is into whatever mommy is into. My little mini-me. We only get one chance to do this parenting thing. One time around the (ahem)...block.

And little copycats are always watching.

Hang tough until next time,

10.10.2010

Havin' a Come-Apart

There's an expression that we have here in the South that I am fond of using occasionally. It's called having a come-apart. Ever heard of those? A come-apart is a noun, not a verb. I like it because it applies in a variety of different contexts. Like these:

Sallie Mae, age 2, had a come-apart right there in the middle of the Wal-Mart toy department.

Billy Bob was so excited when the Crimson Tide scored a touchdown that he jumped out of his easy-chair and had a come-apart.

When Cletus broke Raylene's heart, she had a come-apart that lasted for three weeks solid.

(Remember that show Designing Women?) Julia Sugarbaker was so livid that the rest of the ladies could only stand there slackjawed at the magnitude of her come-apart.

Come-aparts can be positive or negative. Generally negative, as you can tell from the above examples. You may be thinking right now about various times in your life that you've had them. Self-control leaves you, your ability to think clearly is minimized, emotions take over, and the fragile seams that hold you together begin to pop, one by one. Like a balloon that keeps inflating into the danger zone. Any second, you know it's going to end up in brightly colored rubber pieces, accompanied by a sonic BOOM. And then behold...the mighty come-apart.

I almost had one this week, matter of fact. It was the end of a particularly trying day. It was late, and I could almost hear the little seams popping all over me. I was on the brink. Nighttime come-aparts are the worst, you know, because troubles are always magnified at night. It was the moment of truth for me - surrender to the come-apart or suck it up?

But in a little window of stillness, this came: "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17

It was like was a life-preserver.

In Jesus all things hold together. The creation. The galaxy. All the planets in their orbits. And everything underneath your skin...bones, muscles, organs, heart and soul. When whatever you're facing makes you feel like you might split into a million pieces. When the pressure is on, with no relief in sight.

In Him all things hold together.

When stress has you under its thumb. When you have had it with somebody. When news comes that is a blow to the stomach.

In Him all things hold together.

You might even mutter to youself over and over to "keep it together" through those intense moments. You can practically will the dam not to bust, even as it begins to sprout some leaks. You can take deep breaths and count to 10. You can go for a walk. And sometimes the come-apart comes upon you anyway. But no matter what you do or don't do, there is an arch that extends over it all, and it's big enough for you...and the rest of creation, too:

In Him all things hold together.

Addendum: Within literally five minutes of completing this post that was still echoing in my brain, a 13 x 9 Pyrex dish shattered in a trillion tiny pieces all over my kitchen floor. Company was due to arrive in an hour, and dinner was not even in the oven. I held together, but sadly, the Pyrex dish had a come-apart right there before my eyes. Oh, the irony, the irony.

10.05.2010

The Gray Hair Song

What do you do when you haven't had your hair colored in a while? Or, more specifically...in eons? You make up a song about it. Here is a little ditty about my recently deficient hair-coloring habits, inspired by Pebbles Flintstone. I'm sure you remember her smash hit from 1965:

I don't think I'm going to make a youtube of this one, mainly because I don't want anyone looking too closely at my hair. So just pretend I'm singing it, with Bam-Bam (I mean, Always-Supportive Hubby) strumming his guitar in the background. OK, here goes.

*steps up to the mic*

Mommy told me something a little kid should know,

It's all about gray hairs, and I've learned to hate them so.

She said that they cause trouble when you let 'em creep up slow,

They will never, ever leave you...So you should let 'em go...

 

And let the gray come in, face it with a grin,

What started with ONE hair...has somehow become TEN,

So let the gray come in, face it with a grin,

Postpone your salon trip, and let the gray come in.

 

If I forget to color and rinse, gray hairs will still remain,

But coloring and rinsing hair is such a dreadful pain.

So if you just don't have time, and your wallet's getting thin,

Postpone your salon trip and let the gray come in.

 

So let the gray come in, face it with a grin,

What started with ONE hair...has somehow become TEN,

So let the gray come in, face it with a grin,

Postpone your salon trip, and let the gray come in.

(*bows* Thank you, thank you very much.)

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