Monday, October 20, 2014

Family-Friendly Halloween Activities

It's the creepy, crawly time of year when porches come alive with skeletons and jack-o-lanterns. Everything with Halloween does not have to be scary, though. Instead, here are some fun, playful ways to keep everyone in the family included in the Halloween spirit.

No-Carve Pumpkins

Using a knife to dig out slimy seeds and carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns doesn't appeal to all. No-carve pumpkin decorations are becoming more popular, with the easiest and most kid-friendly of these being painted pumpkins. With one visit to the local crafts store, get a few paintbrushes and colors of paint (craft paints or acrylic paints work well), along with sponges and scissors. At this time of year, many stores also sell pumpkins, so select smooth-surfaced ones and bring them home to wash off the dust.

At this point, let imaginations run wild. Gold-colored paint makes for a sophisticated look and checkerboard patterns are fun. Solid white paint can be used to cover every other vertical section to give you a striped pumpkin. You can have the kids choose their favorite color and coat the pumpkin entirely in it, and then cut the sponges into their favorite shapes to stamp accent colors on them. Use these pumpkins to decorate your front stoop, your dining table as a centerpiece or even line the hallway near their bedrooms.

Halloween Movies

To get into the spirit and relax at the same time, make a list of your favorite non-scary Halloween movies. Some popular titles include "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," "Hocus Pocus," "Casper," or "The Legend of Sleepy Hallow" (if you can get over the headless horseman scene!). Think about creating a routine where you schedule movie nights for the weekends so you can pop some popcorn and watch your choices together as a family.

Instead of having to scroll through TV schedule lineups to find your desired films, use a device like Roku to stream your Netflix or Hulu Plus subscriptions to get these movies instantly for your scheduled family time. When the TV is not being used, you can use the device to decorate the room with Halloween screensavers.

Halloween Treats

Halloween foods can make eating fun for kids. Simple foods like chili can be spruced up with a bat, ghost or pumpkin-shaped slice of cheddar cheese on top (you can buy inexpensive Halloween shaped cookie cutters at stores like Party City). Then, you can use these same cookie cutters to make desserts for the Halloween season. Top cookies with frosting colored with homemade natural food dyes to eliminate the artificial chemicals for your children. If you don't want to make the frosting yourself, you can buy natural decorating colors for $15 online.

Other food options can include the children in the baking process to make things like pumpkin-flavored chocolate chip bread from Gooseberry Patch. This requires mixing flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon with a wet mixture of eggs, sugar, canned pumpkin and oil. With such simple steps, children can help measure, mix and pour, and can help decide if you want to include semi-sweet chocolate chips or white chocolate chips in their own pumpkin bread loaves. Watch them burst with pride as you serve their desserts at a big Halloween meal.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dear Rovio, My Name is Bean

So my little Bean Sprout has been playing her heart out on Angry Birds Stella.  She loves - seriously LOVES - that game!  She came up to me with a letter this evening and asked if I could get it to the Rovio people.  I told her that I could and so I am posting it here for them to see.  Sure, I could mail it snail mail, but where's the fun in that?   Bean loved the idea of me posting it to the blog.

I've erased her real name and put in her blog name because I am a super protective parent that way.


I hope our friends at Rovio will see her letter and give her a shout out.  And thank you to the entire Angry Birds crew for making such a fun game for all of us to enjoy.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Verse of the Week - Psalm 18:16





He reached down from on high and took hold of me; 
He drew me out of deep waters. 
Psalm 18:16 


What is encouraging you this week?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Absolutely No Self Awareness

I've been trying to teach my daughter to ride her bike.  We raised up her training wheels in an effort to force her to balance more.  That is what led to us being outside this evening.  Bean wanted to practice some more so I suggested to her that we cross the street to the other side of our neighborhood.  There are less houses and fewer cars over there.  The street we had to cross gets very busy in the evening so, of course, I reminded her of traffic safety.  I noticed Bug was following us on his scooter.  I waited for him so that he could cross safely with us.  He's not very coordinated and his scootering takes a lot of effort for him.  He was very focused, but I also reminded him to look both ways and be careful.

I always remind the kids to be careful.

I have been reminding them of that for years.

Normally, Bug is limited to the sidewalk on his scooter.  But he wanted to come with us.

So we went to the other side and Bean began riding (that's a whole other story - she still has training wheels, at 8 years-old, ugh).  After a while of riding it was decided to head back to our side of the neighborhood.

Bug took off in his odd, strained way.  But he was fast.

He started getting closer to the street so I yelled at him, "Bug!  Bug, stop!"

He didn't stop.

He kept going.

I started running, "Bug, stop!  Bug!"

He didn't look.  He didn't even pause.  He just kept going and went right out onto the street.  He zoomed across it.  I screamed even louder, "Bug!  Bug!"

He reached the other side and finally turned around.  I finally caught up to him.  That's when I realized, again that he has ZERO self awareness.

Zero.  None.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  He just zones out and that is that.

Thank God there were no cars going by at that time.  The cars speed down that road like it is some sort of racetrack.  I can't even put it into words how scared I was.  But this is what came out...

"Bug, didn't you hear me?  What were you thinking?  Why would you do that?  You can't rush out into the street!  You didn't even look!  Did you not think to look?  Why wouldn't you look?  What on earth possessed you to just rush out into the street?  You aren't even allowed on the street because you do these things!  You can't come with us anymore!  Go back to the driveway where Daddy is.  You scared the crap out of me!  What if a car had gone by?  You could be dead!  Do you not understand that?  You have to look!  You have to pay attention!  You scared me!"

He stared at me blankly.  I knew I threw out too much at once.  I overloaded him.  His eyes filled with tears and then he made that face.  You know the face.  It's the face no parent of an autistic child wants to see because it means a meltdown in 3... 2... 1...

I grabbed him.  I hugged him.  I squeezed tight.  I told him I loved him and that I was just scared.  Then I breathed deeply with him.  That "eyes glazed over" look started to fade.

"Bug, you have to look before you cross a street."

He stood there for a minute and then he said, "I know."

But the thing is, while he does know, he has a really hard time putting that into action.

My ten year-old has autism.  He has no self awareness because of it.  It scares me at times.  I'm the mom who won't let her 10 year-old cross the street.  My neighbors think I'm weird.

I love him too much to not be weird.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Being as I'm a Stay-at-Home Mom...

You know you've thought these things. We all have at one time or another.




I'm sure that someone out there will get their knickers in a twist over these graphics, but that's their hangup, not mine.  I think they're funny.  I also think they reveal some very valid feelings for moms and more specifically for stay-at-home moms.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Verse of the Week - Psalm 19:9-10



The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
 
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
 
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
 
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
 
Psalm 19:9-10

What is encouraging you this week?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Building the Machine - The Parents

Again I ask you, is this what you really want for your kids?


When the full implementation of Common Core reaches your state, how will you feel about it?  The beginning of it is happening in my state and I'm already disgusted.  Thank God for my right to homeschool.

Edited (10/8/14): The main movie link is no longer working so I replaced it with the preview video.  You can go to the main site for the rest of the information: Building the Machine
 
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