Wednesday, March 28, 2007


My daughter, Stacey, is my life's focus, and most of my excess energy is spent on her entertainment and well-being, and fretting about her safety and future. Although I dote on her friends somewhat when the occasion calls for it, such as getting her friends the cool Hillary Duff T-shirts when a couple of them went with Stacey and me to see her in concert, or fixing extra plates for dinner when the stragglers playing at our house get hungry, I rarely focus on any one of them to the point that it stands out. This last Girl Scouts meeting was an exception.

One of the girls in her troop, Taylor, is allergic to peanuts. When she comes over to spend the night, we always make sure she has her epi-pen, and that I don't have any menu plans involving peanut butter or tree nuts of any kind (to err on the side of caution), and if we eat out we alert the restaurant staff of the allergy, etc. I read some time ago about a peanut butter substitute made from sunflower seeds, Sunbutter. Around Christmas last year, I bought some and tried it out, and it was pretty tasty. Stacey and I thought it would be a nice Christmas present for Taylor and her father (also allergic) if we made some buckeyes out of it.

I had never made buckeyes before, so I found a recipe and substituted Sunbutter for the amount of peanut butter the recipe called for. They turned out edible, but much too sweet due to my chocolate selection, and a little sticky since I didn't use any paraffin or shortening with the chocolate. I was disappointed, but Stacey, being 10, didn't mind the super-sweetness of them. We delivered them to Taylor's house, to moderate fanfare and a couple of goodbye hugs. It was a nice moment, sure, but I knew I could make better product for round 2.

Round 2 came on Tuesday the 20th, when it was our turn to bring snacks to Girl Scouts. Historically, Stacey and I had brought snacks near Thanksgiving and again near my birthday. This was due to the snack list being alphabetized, and our last name starting with A. This was a great system for me, since I like making pumpkin pies and birthday cake, but the snack order was changed this year, and the Autery's got stuck with St. Patrick's Day instead. In the intervening months, I had procured a double-boiler, semi-sweet chocolate chips, a block of paraffin, and of course another batch of Sunbutter.

After school on the day of the meeting, Stacey and I worked together to make the evening's snacks. We took turns mixing the dough, I melted the wax and chocolate, and Stacey used a toothpick to dip the dough balls into the chocolate. The result was an order of magnitude tastier than my first attempt, and the troop gobbled down all 35 of them, concurring with my quality assessment. They also ate about half of the Christmas wreaths (cornflakes + marshmallow + green food coloring) we made because it was close to St. Patrick's Day, and they were green.

The punchline to all this was Stacey introducing the snacks not as buckeyes, but as "Taylor-tots", to the great amusement of the other girls. So our choice of snack was influenced by the food allergy of one girl, but the joy was still in the family candy making that Stacey and I did side by side.

In the news, Stacey's soccer season has started up again. A few of the girls from the fall season (Melany, Holly, Rachel, Bob/Katie, and Nicole) are back on the same team, along with some new girls (Margaret, Kelly, Haley, and a few I can't remember yet). Last season's coach isn't coaching this season, as his daughter has a leg injury and can't play, so one of the WASA organizers is sub coaching for us. He's a good guy, older, and has a good understanding of the game and how to herd rowdy 10 year olds into being productive. I predict that our team, using the placeholder name "Totally Turquoise Turtles", will fare better this season than we did last fall.

It just occurred to me that I never answered the riddle from March 1 about what color hat Sam is wearing. He's wearing a red one. Here is the sentence that gives it away:

"Sam sees that Frank is wearing a white hat, and Bob a red one..."

If either Frank or Bob saw two white hats, they would know that they were wearing red, otherwise they can't be sure. Since they both said they didn't know, neither of them saw two white hats. Since Frank was wearing a white hat, if Sam's hat were white, then Bob would have confidently announced his color... but he didn't, meaning he saw a white hat (Frank's), and a red hat (Sam's).

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