Tag Archives: halloween

Have a Happy, Safe Halloween!

26 Oct

My love of Halloween is no secret among my friends. I adore all of the rituals, from decorating the house and baking pumpkin-shaped cookies to carving jack-o-lanterns and handing out candy. To make sure your family has a great October 31st, check out the following safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Halloween Safety Tips

ALL DRESSED UP:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections.

CARVING A NICHE:

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers.  Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

HOME SAFE HOME:

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.

ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL:

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.

Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:

  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
  • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!

HEALTHY HALLOWEEN:

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

For more information, visit www.aap.org.

My Lesson in Judgment

19 Oct

Something I struggle with consistently is judgment.  I don’t want to be a judgmental person, but it happens.  I have been working consistently, especially in the past two years, to make a personal commitment not to judge people.  Across the board.  For anything.

I had an experience this week that really brought this lesson full circle.  I can laugh about it now, and even in the moment, I did, but was still feeling humiliated.

My mom called me this week, as my oldest daughter was out of school on break.  My mom’s co-worker has this dummy mummy that they dress up from time to time.  My oldest daughter “follows” the dummy mummy (his name is Renfro) and she sends my daughter pictures for every holiday theme for which Renfro is appropriately dressed.

My mom called and asked if I would like to take my kids to the Dollar Store so they could pick out some Halloween decorations, come to her office, and dress Renfro up.  Sure, it was a homeschool day for my younger daughter, but we had already been to the library and completed most of our work for the day.  It would be fun!

So, I go into the Dollar Store (completely unprepared: we’d had a make up gymnastics class that morning, then went straight to the store, so I hadn’t packed snacks or anything, because I was not expecting to be gone for that long).  The kids are whining about being hungry, so I let them pick out snacks in addition to all of their paraphernalia to make Renfro look more appropriate for Halloween.

Side note: I don’t usually allow my kids to eat a lot of junk food.  In fact, we don’t even keep most junk foods in the house.  My husband gets migraines from MSG, so we never eat things like Cheetos, Doritos, etc.  So, that’s what my kids want.  That morning, I was feeling especially giving and high on life, so I say, “Sure, get whatever you want!”

They load up.  We get to the register to check out.  Our total: $7 and some change.  My kids are hovering around the register grabbing for the snacks and the checkout lady asks if she can give the snacks to the kids.  I respond, “Sure!”  “Will you open this, mommy?” they ask.  “Of course!”  So I open both bags of chips and the kids go to eating them like they haven’t eaten in days.  It was ridiculous.

That wasn’t the only thing that was ridiculous that day.  My credit card gets declined.  “What? That’s impossible!” I say.  The checkout lady asks me if it’s a debit card.  I say no.  She says, “We only take debit cards or cash.”  Well, I don’t have any cash.  I recently swapped my huge wallet I kept leaving places for a smaller one that only holds what I need, a credit card, id, and library card.  I don’t have my debit card.

I’m starting to turn three shades of red and am completely mortified.  I start apologizing profusely and tell the kids, we’ll have to go home and get a snack; we have to give these ones back, because I didn’t bring the right money.

My oldest daughter starts wailing.  She is crying actual tears, saying loudly, “But, I’m starving!”  I’m completely dumbfounded.  The woman in line behind me is staring.  The checkout woman doesn’t say a word.  She doesn’t know what to say.  I know both women are making judgments about me.  “How could she not know she needed cash or a debit card?”  “I can’t believe she just let her kids eat the snacks in the store!”  “Her kids are starving and she buys them Cheetos and Doritos?”  “Nice parenting!”  I started to laugh a little as I wrestle the chips from the oldest daughter and the lady behind me, after what seems like an eternity, says, “I’ll buy their snacks!”

She was an angel that morning, and I truly appreciated the generous offering of a dollar so that my children could have their junky snacks, but the looks on her face as well as the checkout lady had already registered.  I just wanted to scream, “I’m not a bad parent!  I do have money to feed my kids!  They almost never eat junk food!”

I got to thinking about it later and I realized that the shoe is on the other foot.  So many times, I’ve sat back and judged others because of actions I saw in the moment, but never considered what might really be going on.  The truth is that’s the point.  It does not even matter what’s going on.  Judgment is wrong.  It makes people feel bad and is a product of fear, and not love.  I strive to lead my life focused on love, not fear, and as a result, need not judge.  I’m so grateful for opportunities like this that I can learn from, even when they feel humiliating at the time.  I’m grateful for the awareness to see things as they really are.  The life lessons are everywhere!  Are you taking the time to discover them and make change where change is needed?

Fall Activities Around Arlington

4 Oct

HOLY SCARECROW, BATMAN!!  There’s SO much to do around here this month!  Here are a few – click on the links for more info.

State Fair of Texas (through October 23)

Dallas Arboretum – Autumn at the Arboretum (daily in October)

Pumpkin picking and scarecrow building at Gnismer Farms (Wednesday, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in October)

Studio Movie Grill – Spookley the Square Pumpkin (weekends in October)

Halloween Crafts at Michael’s stores (various dates through October)

Green Meadows Petting Farm in Grand Prairie (daily from October 6 – November 1; closed October 8-9)

After Dark in the Park at River Legacy (October 7-9)

Harvest Fair at the Grand Prairie Farmers Market (October 15)

Log Cabin Village – Frontier Fall Fest (October 15)

Fort Worth Zoo – Boo at the Zoo (October 21-23 & 28-30)

Fort Worth Botanic Garden – Fall Festival in the Japanese Garden (October 22 & 23)

Halloween Nights at the Dallas Zoo (October 27-29)

So-Long to the Sweet Life

21 Feb

My name is Lisa and I am a sugar addict.

It’s official.  I’m adding one more resolution to my 2011 list—to give up that seductive sweet stuff.  I’m not kidding myself, either: this is gonna be tough.

Sugar, you see, has become a fully integrated partner in my life.  My favorite holiday?  Halloween.  My favorite food?  Peppermint ice cream.  I even use a body wash that smells like a vanilla wafer and burn candles that remind me of gingerbread.  Yum.

I am hopelessly hooked.

But I’m also something else: a wife, mother, daughter and friend who needs to stay healthy.  To that end, I’ve been tinkering with the notion of cutting down on my sugar intake for weeks.  During the holidays, I realized with considerable chagrin, no meal seemed complete without something sweet at the end.  My addiction was escalating!  More unsavory evidence: about the time I was putting out cookies for Santa, my tried-and-true trick of drinking a half-cup of tomato juice stopped satisfying my relentless sweet tooth.  Sigh.

The tipping point came this weekend while reading an interview with Gary Taubes, author of the new Why We Get Fat (Knopf).  Taubes reports that the French consume half the sugar we Americans do.  And he adds that the Inuits, who ate a high-fat diet but one without carbs, had almost no incidents of breast cancer…until forty-years ago when their diet started changing to be more like ours.  (American hegemony definitely includes diet—witness the dominance of KFC in the People’s Republic.)

So wish me luck and send me your sugar-busting tips!  With any luck and some willpower, you’ll be the biggest sweetie in my life this month!

Halloween Food Drive

11 Nov

Me with all the goods!

If you’ve read my blog entries, you may know that my husband and I run a Halloween Food Drive every year.  We came up with the idea a few years ago – I can’t remember how exactly – but we decided to collect canned goods while we went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.  (We’re Halloween junkies – our house is always so decked out with spooky decorations, we were known by all our neighbors well before we started the food drive!)

Every year, our total number of bags has increased.  Our neighbors have come to expect us at their doorstep on October 31st, begging not just for candy, but for non-perishables.  It’s a lot of work on our part, but we’re lucky to have help from family members, either toting food back to our house when our wagon gets full, or just watching our kids when they get too pooped to keep going.

This year, we also got some outside help.  My sister-in-law is the 1st Vice-President of the ACA Optimist Club, an Arlington organization that offers cheerleading and dance for pre-K to 6th grade kids.  She said they needed a community project – could they donate to my food drive?  I was excited, and immediately said yes.  This could bring in a huge haul!

We usually give our donations to the Tarrant Area Food Bank, but this year we wanted to find a smaller food pantry, one that could really be helped by our modest food drive.  After a little bit of searching around, we decided to give our donations to the following two organizations:

1) The Vine Fellowship is a church in south Arlington.  They run a small food pantry that generally draws in people from the immediate area around the church.  Every Wednesday, they open their food pantry from 4-5 pm.  Anyone who needs help with food is welcome to come, but the church asks that people try to come only every other week as needed.  They have a set “fill a bag” system, in which they stock each grocery sack with the same general staples.  They give one bag to each person who shows up when the food pantry is open, usually around 15 people.  Their shelves are cleaned out each week!  They typically see elderly people coming in for food.

2) Grace Presbyterian Church, located in south Arlington, runs a program called New Day.  They coordinate with social workers, counselors, nurses, and teachers to provide food to high school teens in Arlington Public Schools.  These teens are typically struggling with difficult circumstances, such as homelessness, and they are striving to stay in school.  Often, these young people do not have any food to eat on the weekends.  New Day delivers food to the high schools, which is then passed on to the teens.

Organized and ready to be packed up for delivery!

As I had hoped, our take was HUGE this year – probably four times the size it’s ever been.  Thanks to my friends, my book club, my neighbors, and all the kids with the ACA Optimist Club for making this such a huge success!  Both organizations were overwhelmed with appreciation as my family delivered all the donations.  What a difference we’ve all made in the lives of people in our community!

For more information on the ACA Optimist Club, visit www.acaoptimistclub.com.

If you would like to made donations to either The Vine Fellowship or the New Day program at Grace Presbyterian Church, please contact me at jen@morethanmothers.com.

First Fest, a Community-Wide Family Festival

28 Oct

Yeah, I know – another festival…but really, this one sounds great!  In particular, check out the Pumpkin Run benefiting the Mission Arlington Christmas Store – get a head start on helping them out for the holidays.

First Fest will be held on October 31st, at the corner of Abram and Center Streets in downtown Arlington.

From the website:

  • Afternoon of fun begins @ 4:00pm with the Pumpkin Run, a 5k run/walk benefiting the Mission Arlington Christmas Store. Registration is $10 + a new unwrapped toy.
  • Immediately following the Pumpkin Run there is a huge FREE family friendly street party.
  • From 4:30-8:30pm there will be over 20 inflatables, bounce houses, games, a mechanical bull and street performers.
  • Food vendors will be available all day for you to purchase you favorite foods.
  • Kids will be able to Trunk R Treat at over 60 cars between 5:30 and 7:30pm.

Mansfield Fall Festival

28 Oct

Saturday, October 30, 5-9 pm

Vernon Newsom Stadium, 3700 E. Broad Street, Mansfield, TX 76063

Prizes & candy!

Carnival booths!

Themed hayride!

Bounce houses!

Petting zoo!

This Fall Festival is coordinated by the Mansfield Police Department in order to provide a safe Halloween environment for families.  Most activities are free, but some (hay ride, food booths, and jump rides) have a minimal charge to cover costs.

For more information, click here.

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