Monthly Archives: February 2010

Bribe ‘Em With Thin Mints

Thin Mints may be the next breakthrough in effective parenting.

One of my orders of Girl Scout cookies arrived last weekend, and they’re helping in ways I never expected.

Getting A. to pick up his room is an exercise in patience, and our ongoing battle has given me more than one gray hair.

But the power of these chocolate marvels has made things run much more smoothly.

I offered him three cookies to get the place spic-and-span, and that piqued his interest.

Four Thin Mints and we’ve got a deal, he responded. (He’s an expert negotiator.)

I agreed, and within about five minutes, the room was spotless.

It’s got me thinking that maybe I should have ordered a couple cases to have throughout the year.

The delicious little gems could mark an end to arguments over homework and all the other little chores I need him to do.

Shoot, the lure of cookies may even work to get little C. to pick up the books and toys she scatters all around the house.

I’m down to one last box. It’s hidden in the freezer. (Keeping them cold makes them twice as tasty.)

The kids don’t know they’re there. The green box is wedged in between the Eggos and the ice trays, hidden from sight and ready for action at some future time when I’ve used up all my tricks.

I’ve got to fight the urge to chow them myself. They’re my my secret weapons, and I know I’ll need them.


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Gaga For Games

Our house has gone nuts for the Olympics.

And it’s not just because of Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn and Apolo Ohno.

This afternoon I got hooked on the men’s 30km pursuit, a cross-country ski race that I didn’t even know existed until I turned on the TV. But the drama of the breakaway by Swede Johan Olsson and the ultimate victory by his teammate, Marcus Hellner, was tough to resist.

Yes, a lot of the events are on broadcast after the fact. And I often know the results from the Web well before I sit down to watch. But who cares? Seeing Vonn win the downhill on an insanely steep and winding course is just a great story.

We’ve been into it since the opening ceremony, and the games are creeping into other parts of our lives. Last Sunday, A. and I went up to the Sierra for a little sledding (the slopes near the Valero at Cisco Grove are pretty sweet) and snowtubing (anything at Soda Springs is great for kids). As we enjoyed the sunny day and the snow, it was hard not to think about the Olympics and imagine ourselves as competitors. Snowtubers at the games? You never know. If curling can become an event, I think snowtubing has a strong chance.

A. and I dropped by the library today and he quickly snagged a couple books on snowboarding. Who would have thought snowboarding would make a boy want to read? A. is a big fan of White, and can’t wait to take a lesson. I told him as soon as he masters his RipStik — a crazy skateboard-like thing he got for Christmas — then we’ll talk about snowboarding.

In the meantime, we’ll keep watching. We’ve been bleary-eyed during the day after staying up too late to watch the night coverage. We love the good guys, like White, the villains, like Russian skater Yevgeny Plushenko, and the could-have-beens, like French downhiller Marion Rolland, who crashed right after leaving the starting gate.

The tough part will be March 1, the day after the games end. What will we do then?

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Chipmunks Stink It Up In A Good Way

If kids ran the Academy Awards, I think the latest Chipmunks flick would be up for something important.

I love movies of all kinds, but when (and if) I go to the theater these days, it’s usually for kids’ fare.

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” was a big hit in the Natomas multiplex where A. and I took it in recently.

Children (and some adults) in the audience were laughing a lot, especially during one particularly thunderous fart joke. In kidland, the Oscar for flatulence would go to this film. It really wasn’t half bad, in that it gave me a good excuse to relax for a long time and munch on a ton of candy.

As for the real Oscars, I’m lagging more than usual in seeing the nominated movies. It’s just part of being a parent of young kids, I guess. I’ve only watched two of the films up for best picture: “Inglourious Basterds” (a guilty pleasure) and “Up” (a beautiful story that won’t win for best movie, but I’m hoping it will get the Oscar for animated feature). And “Avatar”? I know I should see it, but I’m just not too excited yet about the whole blue alien thing. Maybe if the aliens were zombies I might be more motivated.

Judging from the previews we saw before watching the Chipmunks, it looks like there are some pretty decent movies for kids coming our way.

Sneak peeks of “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” (can’t miss with a 007 reference) and “The Karate Kid” (this time with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith) both got thumbs up from the 7-year-old movie critic sitting next to me. We’ll also come back to check out the 3-D “How to Train Your Dragon.”

And, of course, we have to see the next Chipmunks installment, when and if it happens.

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Theodore Roosevelt, I Knew Him Well

Presidents are on the minds of second-graders this time of year, and A. caught me off guard the other day with one of his many fine questions:

“Daddy, were you alive when Theodore Roosevelt was alive?”

I wondered if I was looking a little more haggard than usual, my son was having trouble with history, he just felt like giving me a hard time or if all three were to blame.

The query came up as he filled out one of the many school worksheets that come home each week.

I guess I had it coming, since I’m sure I drive him crazy with tales of how we did things during the dinosaur days before the Internet.

I told him no, that old TR was around long before I was born. That didn’t really satisfy him, being that he considers anything that happened before 1980 to be really, really old.

But it got me thinking about the historical reference points he has. The election of Barack Obama was probably the first time he probably thought much about presidents. As for me, the race between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford in 1976 was the first time I paid attention.

He knows there is something going on in Iraq, mainly because the parents of one of his closest friends served there. I remember watching coverage of Vietnam on the evening news in the early 1970s, which was probably not the best thing for a little kid to see. But that was probably one of the first things to get me interested in the news biz.

A. is also nuts for Wii (which we don’t have) and iPods (he listens to mine whenever he can). I remember how cool it was in the 1980s to have an Atari 2600 and a Walkman that played tapes. He got a big laugh when he saw an old Walkman last year.

Really, the Roosevelt question wasn’t so bad. I cut the little whipper snapper some slack. At least he didn’t ask me if I personally knew George Washington back in the day.

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