Sunday, April 5, 2009

Notes from the Supply Monitor: Lite Brite Magic

When I was a kid, I spent hours on end with my Lite Brite, and now would like to pass its lessons on to all the children I babysit. It was almost as if the Lite Brite was my babysitter, colorful and wise, responsible for so much of who I grew up to be. I mean, who knew that forcing a hard peg through a thin barrier until it tears, then repeatedly inserting it into a tight hole until it lights up with joy could teach you so much about life? I never did raise the price of my Lemonade... still 10 cents since 1982.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sexual Harrassment in the Workplace!

I'm referring, of course, to the unmistakable resemblance of the Gentile child's haircut to the head of a circumcised penis. Even in the high-rolling, fast-paced world of Computer Programming, this is totally unacceptable!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Iron Chef Shenanigans

Jacob and Ella wanted to eat some junk food before dinner tonight, so I let them compete against each other in a round of Iron Chef. I played the role of Chairman Kaga, mainly because I planned on doing a backflip to open up the show. I made the kids hold up a printed bedsheet in front of a lamp so you could see my silhouette from the audience and explained how I was going to burst through it, do the flip, and land on the kitchen linoleum. Neither sibling believed me, and I have to admit... they were right not to. The last time I did a backflip I was 15 and bouncing on a trampoline, plus I'm pretty sure I was on drugs. The kids had to settle for a disappointing front somersault on the living room carpet and, like sex with a senior citizen, it was crooked, slow and ended early. A C- at best.

After that plane crash of an opener, the games really began. The special ingredient was: WAFFLES. We used frozen Eggos. While the waffles toasted, the kids had 3 minutes to rush around the kitchen barefoot, climbing up on top of the counter and grabbing ingredients. The rules were: 1. If you got to the ingredient first, you got to have it at your station. 2. If the opponent wanted to use it, you had to oblige them, but not until AFTER you were finished using it. 3. No tattling!

Using a turkey baster as a microphone, I followed the kids around and made voiceover commentary in a Canadian accent. Jacob and Ella were so into it. You could almost see cartoon light bulbs of inspiration hovering above their heads as they rummaged through the candy cupboard. There was a gleam of confidence in their eyes, like mentally they were rubbing their hands together excitedly and saying, "Oh MAN, this is gonna be good... why, I could even be a professional and win a real cash prize!"

After I checked their stations over for safety violations and signs of race fixing, I set the timer for the cooking portion of the competition. They had 3 more minutes to make a dish using the Eggo and their chosen ingredients. Here's what they each came up with:

Jacob's Cinnamon Choco-Crunch Waffle

Ella's Marshmallow Surprise

I made the children describe their waffles to me and present them at the judge's table. Then I banished them to the living room and graded their dishes on Taste, Appearance, Creativity and Je Ne Sais Quois. It was a tough decision, but Jacob was declared the winner because "in the end, it all comes down to taste." Even though Ella's Marshmallow Surprise was the most creative with it's masterful use of chopped up granola bar, the Surprise ended up being cement-like coffee candy from 1998 and I accidentally swallowed one whole. After it was all over, I was able to teach the kids another valuable lesson about cleaning up the kitchen using mainly your mouth. Hopped up on chocolate syrup, the kids ate virtually no dinner and were then made to run laps around the yard holding sacks of flour to burn off some energy before bed.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Notes from the Hot Dog Pot: The Hotdoctopus

I would just like to take a moment to inform everyone that innocently chillin' in the files are instructions on how to make a Hot Dog Octopus, attractively splayed open on a bed of Mac n' Cheese with a harmonious Five-Kiwi and Parsley garnish. The only improvement I can possibly think of is to add clove eyes, a gold jump ring monocle and a waxed mustache cut from a black licorice wheel. Then to place the entire thing on a sterling silver covered platter and wait for the children to get really, really hungry before lifting the cover theatrically and announcing, "DINNER... IS SERVED!" I think I'll try it on Saturday night.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions

Interviewing a babysitter has evolved over the last three decades from a simple one-question phonecall ("Are you available on the evening of Saturday, May 12th, 1981? You are! Oh thank God, you're hired.") to a gruelling process involving costly agencies and time-consuming cyberstalking. After all this modern-day hoopla, parents can still be left with a nagging sense of insecurity. Concerns tug at your guilty conscience as you pull out of the driveway wearing lipstick for the first time in 3 years. Have all my questions really been answered? How much do I actually know about the glamorous world of babysitting? Am I providing a nurturing environment for my babysitter so that she in turn can nurture my children's spongey, impressionable minds?

Don't panic: you're not alone! I've created this handy list of Frequently Asked Questions just for you. These nuggets of knowledge are of the utmost importance to a good babysitter/parent relationship. If you like, you can print it out and stick it to your fridge with a magnet for quick reference, or distribute it paper menu-style amongst your neighbor's windshields. Now get going, you - that basket of Olive Garden breadsticks isn't going to get drunk and lick the salt off of itself!

Just the FAQ's, Ma'am!
All About Babysitters
by Jenni

Q: I have a fridge stocked with icy cold beverages, and you're welcome to help yourself. What do babysitters drink?

A: Crystal Light, ice tea and beer

Q: I'm meeting a blind date at the Rusty Nail for Happy Hour, and I won't be able to fix dinner. What can I leave for you so you can make something quick and easy for yourself and the kids?

A: Money, so we can order a pizza. If that's not possible, the next best thing is to leave some hot dogs in a small pot of boiling water accompanied by a package of room-temperature buns on the counter. Carrots and ranch dressing should be left in the fridge to maintain freshness.

Q: Do you know CPR?

A: Does anyone really know CPR?

Q: I don't allow television or video games in my home. Are you going to have a problem with that?

A: Absolutely not. Your children and I will have a wonderful time playing Coney Island Carnies with some steak knives and the Lazy Susan. Or, if the rain lets up, we'll go to the park and set up an unlicensed mustache trimming stand to scam German tourists.

Q: We don't believe children's primal urges should be stifled with a lot of negative rules and regulations, so we don't have a set bedtime or punish so-called "bad" behavior. Can I expect you to create a similar environment while I'm away?

A: No, becuase I will never be caught within a 50-meter radius of your children.

Q: I'm having an affair with a substitute art teacher, and she thinks my kids ought to be more creative at home. What kinds of crafts do babysitters know how to make?

A: God's Eye, lanyard, tooled leather key fob, macaroni jewelry, dried bean art, celery/carnation food-coloring arrangement, Easter egg dying, friendship bracelet, clay pipe

Q: Do babysitters really steal husbands?

A: Sometimes, but usually it's pretty gross to even imagine making love to your aging, bald husband, let alone actually doing it. Officially, it violates the Babysitter's Code.

Q: I put out an outfit for my child to wear to school the next day, and he/she came bak in something completely different! What happened?

A: You must be very busy because you accidentally left out a pair of Crocs and your child thought he/she had to wear them! To school! Don't worry: I donated them to a Mexican worm farm and thus had to completely redo your child's outfit from scratch. I only charged you for postage and gas.

Q: Uh-oh, it looks like I'm going to be late! Is that OK?

A: Totally! Supervised visiting hours at my boyfriend's facility are from 8:00 am - 8:50 am, so I don't have any plans for later tonight. Relax, and take your time coming home. This is your night, and I'm just here to help you enjoy it for $20 an hour.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Public Service Announcement: The Lonely Little Chip

During Spring Break of either 2000, 2001 or 2002, I made a promise to be the best Child Advocate twelve Pesos could buy. I kept myself alert while digging through the bottom of the prison latrine (unfortunately, in the morning it was revealed to be a public toilet at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville) by dreaming up a series of child safety Public Service Announcements. Here is the first.

Four Dangerous Joykills:

1. When people give out toothbrushes for Halloween - especially if you're a dentist. Do you need to be so self-righteous EVERY day in October? Really? All the way to the bitter end, huh?
2. A pinata filled with raisins.
3. Candy Villains, especially Lord Licorice. What a royal douche!
4. When people make cookies for children and put way less chocolate chips then the recipe requires. If you want to be healthy, please just give a kid some nice crunchy carrots. Don't put health where it doesn't belong: in the cookies.

Rosie received some such cookies from a well-meaning yet grossly misguided relative the other day. I watched as she carefully wriggled her fingernail across the surface like an Archaeologist digging for delicate pottery shards. A full minute later, the cookie was crumbled to bits and Rosie's face broke into an expression of relief as she extracted the lone chocolate chip from the rubble. Then she put it up her nose. Carefully weighing her options, she then removed it from her nose and placed it in her mouth. "I want... chocolate chips!" she announced. Don't we all, Rosie. Don't we all.

Friday, February 13, 2009

High Fructose Hijinx

Since he is now in Jr. High, I've started educating Ryan about everything important a teenager should know after his younger siblings have gone to sleep. Last night I taught him that sequined nipple covers are called "Pasties." In return, he taught me how to do this:
Ingredients: one orange. You're welcome!