Thursday, October 30, 2014

15 Irresistible Halloween Jokes That Will Have Your Kids Dieing Of Laughter

I gather it's been a big week for Halloween jokes at Justin Hayward Elementary.  Lily's been bringing them home every day, fancying herself the next Joan Rivers, perhaps.  Anyway, in the Spirit of the season, I thought I'd share some of the best:



These Halloween jokes will "haunt" your little kid, in a good way!

  • What do monsters like on their mashed potatoes?  GRAVE-y!  
  • Where does a ghost go on a Saturday night?  Anywhere he can BOO-gie!
  • What is a mummy's favorite type of music?  WRAP!
  • What do you call a first-grade monster?  An elementary-GHOUL student!
  • What room in a haunted house goes flap! flap! flap?  The BATroom!

Halloween jokes?  Meow!
  • What do ghosts wish on at night?  MONstars!
  • Where do ghosts put up notices?  On a BOO-lletin board!
  • Why didn't the skeleton dance at the party?  He had no BODY to dance with!
  • Where did the goblin throw the football?  Over the GHOUL line!
  • What lives in a haunted house and loves the World Series?  A baseball BAT!

Rock your funnybone with these Halloween jokes!


  • What do you get if you cross rain clouds with ghosts?  Thunder and FRIGHTENING!
  • What has wheels and shrieks?  A roller-GHOSTER!
  • Which member of the ghost hockey team wears a mask?  The GHOULIE!
  • What's scary and rescues ships?  The GHOST Guard!
  • What do you call two spiders who just got married?  NewlyWEBbed!




Note:  Again, these are the jokes my daughter told.  Find more at www.halloween.com

Thanks for reading and....


Have a FUN, SAFE HALLOWEEN!
























Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Getting Your Child To Help Out Around The House With The Proper Tools

Before I had kids, I used to see child-size tools in stores and think, “What a waste of money!” I learned my lesson quickly, however, when Junior was about 4 and we decided he should start helping with the raking of leaves every Fall. I mean, we had mounds of leaves that needed to be raked and bagged.  It was about time he got involved and, honestly, my child wanted help out around the house!  The adult-sized rakes were far too cumbersome and frustrated the boy, so it was worth the $18 to buy our boy the proper tool for him.


Children often want to help out around the house, but they need the proper tools to do so.


Now, we have a full collection of kid-sized tools that enable even my little one to assist around the house. I'm not talking craftsperson tools (although if you want a list of 11 Tools To Get Your Kids, visit this article from Popular Mechanics); I'm talking about simple purchases that those of us in Suburbia can get to help instill a work ethic in our children while allowing them to add elbow-grease value to family life. Here's what we have:


  1. A child-sized rake is one useful multi-purpose tool!
    The aforementioned rake with a 42” handle (available here). It allows a kid to rake without smacking themselves in the face with the handle. Get one with a lacquered wood handle so it won't splinter. This rake is also useful for adults when you have to scoop lawn debris or leaves from a tight spot.

     
  2. A whisk broom and dust pan. I've bought several of these over the years at Walmart and Dollar General. They come in very handy to clean up glitter, sticker, beads, etc. My kids know that Mom doesn't get as mad about a mess when I see them cleaning it up themselves.


  3. A kid-sized snow shovel. We had record-breaking snow in the Northeast last year and they're predicting a “Snowpocalypse” this year. Even our plastic shovel was too heavy for my daughter, so I'm glad we had this 11” shovel on hand (available here ). Tip:  buy a couple of these and keep one in your car's trunk.  It's good for shoveling yourself out when the snow plow plows you in on the street or you get stuck in the snow.  This tool comes in handy, as well, when you bag leaves.  Just rake the leaves onto the shovel and place them in a bag - it will save your back!

    This is a really handy tool whether you've got kids or not!



  4. Leather gloves for kids. Hear me out: when you kid needs to scoop lawn debris or leaves, you don't know what's in there! Latex gloves tear, these do not. It's worth it to protect your child from thorns, poison ivy, and God knows what else!
    Don't be dissing these tools! They'll protect your child's hands!

     

  5. Safety goggles and ear protectors. Instill the concept of safety early. These  goggles will protect little eyes. I couldn't find kid-sized ear protectors, but I still think kids should wear them, even if they are adult-size. Leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and snow blowers are LOUD! It's worth your child's discomfort if it protects their hearing.
     

  6. These tools also allow THEM to replace the batteries on their devices.
    Screwdrivers. Helping mom or dad screw something into a piece of wood is an easy way to get kids to help. They'll do it safely with these screwdrivers.



  7. Dusting materials. My daughter loves to dust, so I take a dry Swiffer sheet and cut it in half. This website also provides instructions on how to make a dusting mitt for your child. Or they could just use an old sock over their little hands.



  8. A light clothes hamper. And now a word about the Teen. He was complaining (the real word rhymes with 'witchin') about how the hampers we had “hurt his hands” and were “too heavy” (add whining and you'll get an idea of the drama). So it was completely worth the $12 I paid for this hamper that I bought at Target. No more excuses, Junior; get to work! Even his little sister can carry this unit, full of clothes, up the stairs.

    A tool that erases any excuse from the Teen - totally worth the money!


Again, those are the tools I have. My daughter actually has a kid-sized corn broom but, honestly, outside of a few jokes about witches at Halloween, we never used it for anything; that's why I didn't mention it above. And I've seen the kid-sized vacuum cleaners, but honestly, I've always thought those really were a waste of money.  Any parent I know who had one said their kid used it maybe twice and then never vacuumed again.  In doing research for this post, however, I found a great website called For Small Hands ) that has dozens of child-size tools that I never even thought of (mops, a bucket with wringer, etc.) for those who REALLY want their kids to help.

Letting kids help around the house gives them confidence, shows them that they're important members of the family, and helps you out in the process. Get them the right tools and they'll be more inclined to help. It worked for me!


~~

Thanks for reading!  Please come back again!  






Monday, October 27, 2014

Pack These 7 Halloween Necessities



Be ready before you go out on Halloween night!


As an experienced mom who's been trick-or-treating with her kids for 11 years now (my oldest is 14), I've had my share of Halloween “whoopsies.” What I mean is, I've forgotten to bring stuff that would have been helpful and had to rely on the kindness of the other moms I was with to help me out. So, allow me, dear reader, to spare you embarrassment and turmoil by reminding you to bring the following as you take your wee one(s) trick-or-treating:

  1. Flashlights – Notice it's a plural. YOU will need a flashlight and each child will as well. Those light up wands other parents have may look cute and help you see your kid, but it won't help them as they navigate uneven pavement and dog poo. I bring an extra flashlight because my darling daughter has dropped hers and not realized it until she's several houses away; by that time, she wants to keep up with her friends and will have no part of going back to retrieve it.

  2. An Extra Jacket Or Sweatshirt For Your Kid – Here, in the Northeast, it's dark and cold when we go out. 20 minutes into our journey, I can guarantee that my daughter will announce that she's cold. An extra jacket or sweatshirt comes in mighty handy.

  3. Plastic Bags For Candy Overflow – People give out a lot of candy and those Halloween baskets get heavy. Your little one will be begging you to take some of it, so bring a plastic grocery bag to handle the overflow.

    Sometimes there's too much Halloween candy for kids to hold!

  4. Water – Running from house to house is hard work. My daughter gets fluoridated water which I pretend will mitigate the damage the candy will be doing to her teeth. 

  5. A Snack For You – The website www.savvysource.com lists among their Halloween essentials, “healthy snacks for the kids.” Seriously, do they think kids are going to choose string cheese over a bagful of candy?! Just so YOU'RE not tempted to dip into the till, bring an apple or low-fat granola bar for yourself.

  6. Your Camera – Cellphones take nice pictures, but cameras take better ones. I use both for maximum coverage of Halloween.

  7. Hand Sanitizer – My area's been hit hard by the Enterovirus. I'm not taking any chances with my child getting sick. I'm hauling Purell and making her use it. Alternatively, you could bring baby wipes.  

And don't forget to limit your time while you're out trick-or-treating. Halloween this year is on a Friday and after a full week of school, the kids are going to be TIRED. You don't want to wind up a mile or more from home only to hear a little voice implore, “Carry me!” We're out in the 'hood 90 minutes max. After that, Mommy gets cranky and Halloween-ed out.

Take it from a mom who has been around many blocks. Grab the items above before you head out on Halloween. You won't be sorry!

~~

Thanks for reading!  Check back in with me in a day or so when I list Halloween Rules to review with your child before they go out.  Without rules, there will be Halloween Anarchy...guaranteed! 









Saturday, October 25, 2014

THE CIRCLE: Is THIS What The Future Holds?

I could NOT put down THE CIRCLE!

What would happen if Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Paypal, Twitter, the United States government and every other entity that has a piece of your online presence were merged into one picture of you which you could not opt out of and would be harnessed for profit? That’s the premise in the delightfully chilling, modern-day Orwellian book, The Circle by Dave Eggers.
 

The Circle’s mottoes, instituted via methods akin to brainwashing, include “Sharing Is Caring,” “Secrets Are Lies,” and “Privacy Is Theft.”

Mae Holland is hired to work for this thinly-disguised version of Google. At first, it seems utopian as The Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. Quickly, she finds herself “required” to attend company events, take surveys so companies can collect her “likes” and “dislikes” and post online to bump up her ratings in the Circle community. The Circle’s mottoes, instituted in methods akin to brainwashing, include “Sharing Is Caring,” “Secrets Are Lies,” and “Privacy Is Theft.”

Mae becomes part of The Circle’s movement toward “Completion” in which every piece of information about the individual, including those of one’s ancestors, is made available to the company. Will she lose her soul to this cult-like organization which is quickly gaining Internet supremacy?


The book is fascinating because every day this Dystopian reality looms larger.
  

It asks the reader to consider what the consequences are, good and bad, of further centralization of information services and social networking with the voluntary surrender of privacy spun in totalitarian terms as the ultimate act of honesty. Online, every thought, transaction, action and experience we have is stored by some corporation. The Circle resonates because this scenario is completely plausible as we actively give away our information (and that of our children).


Author Egger’s protagonist isn’t the brightest or most well-developed character. There were times that I truly did not like her. She submits to the forces of The Circle far too willingly without thought to the repercussions even as she feels a part of her resisting. Similarly, parts of the book are far too “preachy” – I get it. By being online, we, too, may be giving away part of our souls.
Still, I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN! It is so thought-provoking, suspenseful, and creepy. At times, it made me consider shutting down my social media accounts while forcing me to question the positive value of having data on the Web – forever.

Is THE CIRCLE right? Is Privacy a form of theft because others cannot learn from our experiences?


Read it and see if The Circle doesn’t compel YOU to deeply consider your online presence!

 

Please note that this review first appeared on TheGeekParent.com.  

Friday, October 24, 2014

What To Do If You Don't Celebrate Halloween

You can still celebrate Fall even if you don't celebrate Halloween! 

While my kids and I have always been into Halloween, my husband is NOT.  He hates it, seeing it as a wanton occasion when children are given permission to beg and inflict decay on their teeth; he always makes sure he works late that day.  Like him, I've met families over the years who don't like Halloween.  Maybe it's for religious reasons or personal ones, but they just don't participate in the holiday and don't want their children to, either.

So what can you do on Halloween if you don't celebrate it? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Do something to celebrate Fall. Go apple or pumpkin picking, enjoy a hay ride, let the kids collect leaves, find a corn maze or attend a Fall festival. 

  2. Host a Fall party or throw a sleepover for other families who don't celebrate.

  3. Have an destination and/or fun activities planned.  Go bowling, to the movies, to the mall, have a treasure hunt in your backyard or turn your porch light off and hang an “out of candy” sign on your door to make that night a “family” night with plenty of games. What a blast!

  4. If your kids are old enough, you might want to venture to a special restaurant (anything that doesn't serve Happy Meals) where there's less of a chance meeting trick-or-treaters.

Remember, as well, that you can always throw a costume party so your kids get the benefit of dressing up – just don't throw the costume party in October so you disassociate it with Halloween.

Halloween is an optional holiday. You don't HAVE to celebrate it. Try some of the activities above to make the day special for your kids. You'll be making memories they'll cherish for a lifetime.


Halloween is not a mandatory holiday!


Do you have any suggestions for alternatives to Halloween? Share! Share! Share!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FREE Halloween Printables


 

Every year, my kids and I have made window decorations for Halloween. The teen, of course, is “too cool” to do that, but I was surprised when the 9-year old declared that she was “too busy” to make pumpkins out of orange construction paper and ghosts from computer paper. Honestly, a part of me was sad. 






Still, the window MUST be festively adorned, so I give you (drumroll, please), these simple Halloween shapes which you can quickly cut out and use for your windows. 

 


Just right-click to copy each graphic, then paste it into a blank document and print it out on white paper.  A few quick cuts and you can tape them to your doors and/or windows to add a scarey (but not too, scarey) element to your house.  I was done in less than 5 minutes. 


Happy Halloween!





Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Is This The Mug That Will Save Your Kid's Lunch?

Need a mug for your kid's lunch?  Read on...



Early in September, my son announced that he will be bringing his lunch to high school every day. Apparently, the cafeteria is too far from where the freshmen eat and, knowing his school, I believe him.  I want to give him hot lunches some days and he (gasp!) will not use the thermos I've been using for his sister (What? A 14-year old is too cool for a Dora mug? Unreasonable!). What to do?

So I purchased a Sistema To-Go Soup Mug from my local grocery store.  This 22.1 ounce plastic mug:

  • Is BPA free.
  • Has a large handle, so it's easy to grasp.
  • Holds a whole can of soup (it's really big).
  • Has easy-open clasps around the top (as opposed to my daughter's thermos where she has to get some help from a teacher).
  • Has a vented lid so you can heat up food in the microwave.
  • Is freezer and dishwasher safe.

All of those are wonderful features. I heated up some soup, sealed the mug, and turned it upside down – no leaks. Of course, when my son took it to school, it had somehow leaked all over his lunch bag. Yuck! I've read other reviews of this product and many people found the same thing. Also, food does not stay hot for very long, which is fine because my son has an early lunch period and, honestly, the thing is plastic so it's not meant to keep food hot. 

Soup in this mug may not be a good idea for your kid's lunch.


So is the Sistema To-Go Soup Mug a waste of money? If you plan on sending your kid to school with soup, yes, unless you place plastic wrap or foil under the cover so the soup stays inside. I also place the item in a Ziploc bag, just in case it does leak, and send my child with extra napkins. 

What the mug is REALLY good for, however, are non-liquidy things like mac and cheese, a thick chili, salads, mushy cake, and macaroni dishes. As long as the food doesn't ooze, you're good.

Does this replace a costly metal mug? No, but it's handy for, again, non-soup lunches. And with a price point of about $6 at my supermarket, it was worth a try. Find more about Sistema products on their website, http://sistemaplastics.com.

~~

Thanks for reading....check back in later this week for some free, Halloween printables!


 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

To The Mother I Yelled At Last Thursday

Too bad I didn't have a 2'x4' - I could have done more than just yelled!

I don't often lose it with other mothers. I get the fact that, working or not, parenting is HARD work and it really isn't my place to criticize another. Until you've walked in their shoes, you have no idea what kind of baggage anyone is carrying or what kind of pressure they're under, blah, blah, blah.  But when another parent's priorities are so out of whack that they affect one of my kids, I get angry.  More like livid.   Here's what happened:

Moron (not her real name, but what she is) texted me earlier in the week, asking if my daughter, Lily, could come over. Sure, I responded, and thanked her. I didn't think twice about it. Lily has had many playdates with Moron's daughter, Idiot, and even had a sleepover at their house. I trusted Moron, even though I knew Idiot is wild and undisciplined (the child once did a cartwheel and when I was spotting her, knocked so hard into my mouth that she dislodged one of my fillings. While I sat there in pain, Idiot then laughed about it.  Thanks, Kid.). I wasn't going to have Moron's kid at my house, but if Idiot wanted to invite Lily, okay. So I wrote a note and stuck it in Lily's backpack, saying that Lily would be going home with Moron (who, at this point, I did not know was a REAL moron).

20 minutes after school ended yesterday, I received a call from the Main Office. “Lily is here. Idiot takes the bus and we called her live-in nanny who knows nothing about the playdate. Please come and pick your daughter up.” I raced over there and on the way received a call from Moron. “I just got a call from the school,” she said. “I'm not home, Idiot takes the bus so isn't on the pick-up line, and I forgot to tell my nanny about the playdate, so even if there had been one, you would have had to pick Lily up from school to bring her here. Oh, and Thursdays aren't good for me anyway.”

I pictured my frightened child, sitting in the Main Office. I thought about how embarrassed and sad she had probably been, standing with her teacher with no one picking her up. I considered how fortunate it was that I was home to pick my daughter up – what if I'd been on a job interview or in the middle of a root canal? How would I have been able to get Lily? I realized how irresponsible Moron had been. You want to forget your own child? Be my guest. But NOT MINE! And so I lost it.



I kept my tone even, but cold, and reviewed the details of the playdate with Moron...how SHE'D invited MY kid over today (THURSDAY); how I had no idea that Idiot took the bus and would not be with the teacher at pick-up. I told her, my volume rising, that I TRUSTED HER TO PICK MY CHILD UP FROM SCHOOL. She was taken aback by my tone, went on the defensive (“I'm so sorry YOU now have to go pick up YOUR DAUGHTER”) and said, “Maybe Lily can come over another day.” I said, “I don't think so” and hung up.

Usually when I yell at someone, I feel bad, embarrassed. I regret my tone and what I've said.  Not this time. I arrived at school and scooped Lily into my arms saying, “I would never, EVER forget you! EVER!” I apologized to the teacher who was waiting with her and I explained the situation. The teacher kindly shrugged it off. On the way home, I again, explained what had happened to Lily. She understood it was the other mother who had messed up and not me.

I get people being “ditzy.” I'm not on my game all the time, either. I forget to pack snacks until the last minute, lose my cellphone, and often run back to the house to make sure I locked the door. But when it comes to the safety of children, I'm fully present. And I would never, ever forget to pick up a child from school. In my book of priorities, kids come FIRST, never second. They are my Number One concern and if your kid is supposed to play with mine, your child is MY child while they're in my care. If there's any doubt that your child is coming with me, I confirm and then I'm there.

If you're reading this, Moron, I lost it with you. You were negligent and hurt my child. She's nervous now about going on playdates, uncertain that a parent will pick her up.  It's affecting her social life, although, with you out of her life, I believe this, too, shall pass.  Still, as far as I'm concerned, you deserved getting yelled at. 

--

Please note, a more polite version of this post was submitted to Jersey Moms Blog.  Oh, and I've learned my lesson.  From now on, ALL PLAYDATES GET CONFIRMED THE MORNING OF, although, they've never, ever needed to before.  


Thanks for reading! 


Friday, October 17, 2014

Need An Inexpensive, But Personal Party Favor? Here It Is!



My birthday girl, just "horsin'" around!

Update:  This was a big hit at the party today!  The girls loved how practical the gift & contents were!  Just an FYI.  :) 


I wrote yesterday about the low-budget gymnastics party I threw for my daughter this past weekend.  At the end of the post, I immodestly (forgive me - brilliance doesn't come often) bragged about the party favors I'd made.  Well, here they are!


I scooped up a bunch of those Design-Your-Own Cups at the Dollar Store when I saw them there (pictured at the top of the photo below).  Since everyone drinks water out of re-usable bottles, they're a no-brainer gift that all the kids will use.  I discarded the outer insert because the instructions are on the sticker on the outside of the cup anyway.

The parts to the party favors...


I bought some cheap scrapbook paper at Michael's for $.05 a sheet and made a template to fit in the cup out of the side of a cereal box (pictured right above).   I got two pretty inserts from each sheet of scrapbook paper.


After cutting the pretty paper to fit inside the cup, I just rolled it in.  Then I added three pieces of candy, a rubber duckie, and assorted hair stuff (clips, elastics, etc.) to complete the party favor.  Voila!


...and the completed party favor.


There's still a sheet in the cup with a design the kids can color themselves that came with piece, so after the party ends, the kids can go home with an activity.  All in all, I think each cup probably cost under $2 each to make, including candy.  Sweet!


Stay tuned to this blog next week because I had so much fun offering FREE GHOSTING OR BOOING SHEETS (find them here), that I think I'll offer something brand new over the next few days.  And, as always, THANKS FOR READING!!!







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