You’ve only got a few hours till the most exciting holiday on any kid’s calendar: Halloween! What are you going to serve those hungry little beasties?
I’ll have a cauldron of vegetarian chili bubbling and apple cider with mulling spices simmering on the stove. But who cares about that? The little ones are looking for SWEETS!
This is one I’ve made for about 10 years running. I can’t even remember where I saw it first, but I’ve kind of taken it over as my own specialty. I usually send this as a class treat, but they would be great for a party snack or favor, or to pop into trick-or-treat bags. Better than stale ol’ popcorn balls, these spooky delights will thrill young and old alike.
Here’s what you need:
— Giant $2 bag of fresh-popped popcorn from Walmart or wherever.
— Box of Latex-free, powder-free gloves (I found mine at CVS), or thin plastic food service gloves.
— Bag of Brach’s autumn mix (use the candy corn, eat the pumpkins).
— Package of spider rings from Dollar Tree.
— Twist ties from bread bags.
Kids as young as 2 can help with the assembly.
I saw some super-cute Toy Story Alien Cupcakes in a recent Family Fun magazine. Click here for the recipe, which involves green food coloring, Mentos and green-apple sour straw candy. These are sure to make an impression.
Peanut Butter Caramel Apples
We’re going to make some quick caramel apples using sheets of caramel wrap from Concord Foods. I picked up a few packages and a bag of Galas at the market, plus I’ll have the kids decorate them with some Reese’s Pieces I just happen to have hangin’ around. Sounds yummy, right? And if you make it at home, it’s about half the cost of buying pre-packaged caramel apples.
Kitty Litter Cake
And no proper Halloween party would be complete without some weird, gross-out food items, so for my piece de resistance: Kitty Litter Cake!
I made this a few days ago for a colleague who was coming back to work after a long illness. He loves cats, volunteers at a shelter and raises funds for an annual spay and neuter program, so of course I thought this would be the perfect thing to celebrate with. And yes, people actually ate it!
Here’s how I did it:
— Make a box cake, let it cool, and ice it with a tub of frosting (I used chocolate fudge cake mix and vanilla icing, but any kind will do). I used a metal pan and ‘scoop,’ but you could bake the cake then plop it into a NEW kitty litter pan and serve it with a new scoop, if you want to get really fancy.
— Crush about a package and a half of graham crackers in a zipper-top plastic bag. Sprinkle on cake to cover, so no icing shows through.
— Sprinkle green sugar crystals, or decors, all over to look like ‘odor-absorbing crystals.’ Find these in the cake decorating section at the grocery store, or make your own my mixing a few drops of green food coloring with large-crystal sugar — or just plain sugar.
— Unwrap some small Tootsie Rolls and put them on a plate. Microwave them for 10 or so seconds, and shape as desired. This was my 4-year-old’s favorite part!
— If you happen to have a Dollar Tree near by, run over there and purchase a bag of plastic flies. Place a few on top to add to the authenticity of the dish.
Wishing you all have a frightfully fun Halloween!Tweet
I took my 14-year-old son on an educational adventure yesterday, and I even pulled him out of school to do it!
We got to hear the 14th Dalai Lama — exiled Tibetan leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner, humble Buddhist monk — speak at Miami University right here in Ohio.
Yeah, that Dalai Lama.
I read about his planned trip to Oxford months ago and thought, wow, that would be an experience. To be in the presence of such an inspirational figure, a real agent of change, would really blow my mind. I just knew it.
Then it struck me: Hearing this man’s faith-filled, positive message might further my son’s own path to God. Nevermind we’re not Buddhists. The Dalai Lama certainly wouldn’t try to convert us. He espouses tolerance and compassion — perfect lessons for any teen.
So I set about to make it happen.
After an initial ticket offering sold out to students in short order, MU scrounged around and came up with 300 extra seats. My nimble-fingered hubby — who had many years of practice scoring us rock concert tickets — procured us two great seats within 3 minutes of the box office opening online. We had the hottest ticket in town.
At that point I started to feel guilty that we could only get two tickets. Wouldn’t my 12-year-old daughter enjoy seeing him just as much? How about my Dalai Lama-loving neighbor friend, or my old Buddhist buddy over in West Virginia? Didn’t they deserve this little treasure more than me — a frazzled fortysomething soccer mom from Dayton?
But I overcame my Catholic guilt and didn’t sacrifice my ticket, and I’m sooooo happy I went. Enlightened even.
His quiet energy lifted my heart and recharged my mind.
Many times during the Dalai Lama’s 90-minute talk, he spoke to me directly. He kept coming back to the theme that all humanity craves affection, from the time we drink our mother’s milk. It’s like we have a need in our blood for a mother’s tenderness and devotion.
He said a loving bond between mother and baby is so crucial that it can set us up for a happy, successful future. By contrast, he said children who are robbed of that affection are scarred for life.
It reminded me of the importance of being the best mom I can be.
And much to my joy, my son was touched by the Dalai Lama’s grace and goodwill too.
After the presentation, I listened in as the teen gave his dad the highlights: He liked the idea of all religions being good and equal, all with a goal of harmony — and he agreed that greed used in the name of religion breeds hate and bloodshed.
Son also appreciated the concept that humans are basically good and ethical at heart.
But he was especially impressed with the Dalai Lama’s charming wit, and laughed as he recalled the DL joking that “If you think these points are nonsense, then forget it. I’m leaving to Canada, so your problems remain with you.”
I hope the Dalai Lama experience made my son realize that he has the power to create his own happiness and make the world a better place.
For a photo gallery from Dalai Lama’s talk at Miami University, click here.
Recommended viewing: “Kundun,” 1997, directed by Martin Scorsese. This lushly filmed biography follows the Dalai Lama through his youth, from an assertive 2-year-old farmer’s child to a budding 22-year-old leader who must flee his country amid the backdrop of the Chinese revolution. Rated PG-13 for violent images.Tweet
I could write a book based only on the things my kids say. Occassionally, their filters malfunction and I am sent reeling - and giggling (and checking my own filter).
Noah - the observant one - informed me he thinks the entire lower level of our house should be called “the playroom.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Because it has a toy room for us kids and a bar for you guys.”
Faaannntastic. I hope he isn’t telling his friends that.
Then there is Nick. You are guaranteed a laugh when Nick is around. You are also guaranteed to be embarrassed or have to explain something.
I was cleaning the “playroom” while Nick was in the toy room when I heard, “Oh! (the water flowed over the dam) it!”
“Nick. Don’t say that. Where did you hear that?”
“Sssoorryy,” he said and just looked at me with those, I-heard-it-from-you-eyes.
“Oh. Well, mommy shouldn’t say that either,” I said sheepishly.
On a similar note, Nick was practicing rhyming words, “Mom! Sissy and (letter that comes between ‘O’ and ‘Q’ in the alphabet)issy rhyme!”
“Yes, honey, they do,” I said cringing. “But, that’s not a nice word so don’t use that example at school.”
Soon after, Nick was watching outside as my husband drove away in his car. “There goes baby daddy!” Nick said.
My neck nearly snapped as I whipped around to look at him. “What did you say?” He proudly repeated the description of his observance.
(Sigh.) “That isn’t nice, Nicky. I don’t want to hear it again.”
But, as my husband says, sometimes he’d like to just “get inside Nick’s head to see what’s going on.”
Case and point; he told my Aunt Mary she was “shaped like an apple pie.” Fortunately, Aunt Mary has a good sense of humor.
On a recent visit to Chuck E. Cheese, Nick apparently had a spiritual revelation.
The electronic puppet band started playing their songs. The music got louder and the disco lights started flashing from the ceiling, Nick looked up in awe and blurted out, “I see Jesus!”
“You do? At Chuck E. Cheese?” I said.
But, who am I to doubt? Maybe he did. It sure made him smile.
And me, too.
Email this contributing writer at Motherhoodcolumn@yahoo.com.Tweet
It’s October and our favorite time of year; bonfires, football, hay rides, colorful leaves, candy corn, pumpkins and Halloween.
Back-in-the-day, my folks had the coolest Halloween decorations in the neighborhood. I easily recall the excitement that came with hanging the long and lanky paper skeleton from the ceiling beams and the spooky Frankenstein in the hallway.
The pumpkins and fall decorations have been displayed in our house since September. The Halloween decorations followed soon after because Nick just couldn’t wait any longer.
As for the Halloween candy? Yeah - we have that, too. But don’t worry - it won’t be a month old come Beggars night because it will never last that long in our house.
In October there is no fighting the crowds, wrapping gifts or baking mountains of cookies - in fact, you don’t even have to be yourself.
The boys decided a while ago they wanted to be the Super Mario Brothers this Halloween. Mario and Luigi have been residing in our house for a couple of weeks now - we get our moneys worth out of these over-priced costumes.
It crossed my mind to “make” them their costumes, but A.) I’m not that creative B.) I’m not that creative and C.) You know (And yes, I realize it’s simply overalls and hats.)
As for our daughter, we aren’t sure yet what costume she will be sporting. Last year it was the standard infant pumpkin. Maybe a princess this year - the boys have aptly dubbed her “Princess Pee-Pee Pants.”
Since Beggars night overlaps with Princess 3P’s bedtime, she will likely be in the house passing out treats as opposed to begging for them.
“Trick-or-treat” is not in her vocabulary yet and she lacks a full set of candy-crunching chompers but, she does make a good “punkin’ face.”
Enjoy the season and have a safe Halloween.
Email this contributing writer at Motherhoodcolumn@yahoo.com.Tweet
Ah, October: homecoming games, hot cider, hayrides — and pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins!
We are nearly ready for Halloween at our house. The 4-year-old’s red ninja costume has arrived. I found it for $9.99 on clearance at CostumeExpress.com. And I used a coupon code to get 10% off that, so I even splurged for the $1.99 plastic nunchucks! (Just use Google to find a promotional code that fits your purchase.) He’s thoroughly enjoying playing dress-up.
The tween and her friends are going the popular route: Lady Gaga wigs, masks and gloves for them all.
She’s already gotten extra mileage out of the $13 wig: She dressed as her history teacher for “celebrity day” at school — and earned an extra class pass!
— One thing we haven’t done yet is start the neighborhood round of “Phantom Ghost,” our version of ding-dong-ditch. It’s a holiday tradition we’ve been doing for years, surprising friends with bags of trinkets and treats on their doorstep. Click here to find out how your family can share in the fun.
— The people at IHOP promise treats, not tricks, throughout the month of October. IHOP will be featuring Trick or Treat All-You-Can-Eat Buttermilk Pancakes and “design your own” Scary Face Pancakes, which will be given out free — one per child — to kids 12 and younger on Friday, Oct. 29.
Did you know that all IHOP Kids menu items are under 600 calories? Visit IHOP.com for more info and participating stores.
— And speaking of tradition and nutrition: The Candy … oh, The Candy …
Shauna Johnson, nutrition instructor at Wellspring Academies, a residential weight-loss program for overweight teens, sent some great tips on how to keep kids happy and healthy — but not overloaded on sugar.
Wait to buy your candy. We tend to eat what’s in the pantry. This year, try waiting until trick-or-treat day to buy your candy or at least hide it somewhere until then.
Plan your own activity. Halloween is about having fun, not hoarding stashes of candy. Corn mazes, haunted houses, even planning your own party are activities that take the focus off sugary treats. (We plan to go to Springboro’s Windmill Farm Market to celebrate the season.)
Limit the amount you grab. It’s hard to not take a handful of anything that’s free, but limiting your children to only one item at each of your stops is a healthy start. At the very least, it’s polite for the trick-or-treaters after them.
Offer healthy alternatives. Don’t worry about getting toilet-papered, not every house needs to offer candied apples. Gum, hard candy, glow sticks/glow necklaces, and plastic rings are all popular, healthy alternatives.
Ration the amount of candy eaten afterward. According to Johnson, the typical dietary recommendation for candy is a maximum intake of 22 pounds per year for a 12-year-old child — a good portion of which can often be eaten in a single night during Halloween! But don’t let doling out the occasional treat haunt you. Offer one after a healthy lunch, exercise, or a homework session.
Do you have your own Halloween hints to share?Tweet
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, Puritan character Hester Prynne is forced to wear a letter ‘A’ on her chest identifying her as an adulterer.
Likewise today, those who may disrupt dinner at a restaurant are identified with? Children.
A North Carolina restaurant owner recently banned “screaming children.” Brenda Armes told WECT-6 News her business is now booming, “It has been a good thing for us. It has brought us in more customers than it has ever kept away.”
I can’t say I’m surprised. Children are an unpredictable work-in-progress.
I, too, would like to enjoy a peaceful dinner out, but with kids that’s hard to do. Try as I might to keep them entertained, they don’t always sit still or keep quiet and explaining to a 13-month-old that she has to “ask politely, don’t screech” is next to impossible, although she’s learned sign language for “milk,” “more” and “eat” which limits her frustration.
The dirty looks from the childless patrons are really uncalled for. My husband and I are well aware when our kids have crossed the line and we will handle it.
Nonetheless, we are always ready to pack up dinner in a to-go box and head for the hills.
“Ban kids from restaurants” is a Facebook page which states “If you’re tired of going out to eat only to be subjected to children’s tantrums and their parents’ indifference to the feelings of other customers, this is your group.”
Do you honestly think we want to be in a restaurant while our child has a meltdown because his macaroni is cold? I assure you, we don’t. But, it happens.
I’m not so sure parental indifference is the problem in all cases, perhaps society is becoming less tolerant of children in general (children should be seen and not heard, right?)
But, what about the adults who behave like children? Shouldn’t they be banned, too?
I don’t mean just the drunk-and-disorderlies, but your everyday “big people” who snap.
For example, Rants From Mommyland blogger and mom, Lydia, recently wrote of her experience with a “stroller kicker.”
Lydia’s baby stroller momentarily blocked a store aisle. When she failed to maneuver out of the way fast enough; a frenzied and rushed woman had the audacity to kick the stroller!
And we think kids only learn bad things on television.
A childless (but “child friendly”) colleague of mine sums it up well: “I’m not scared to shush people’s kids, but I’ve also shushed adults who were using profanity or being too loud in a public place. You can be well-behaved (or not) at any age!”
Email this contributing writer at Motherhoodcolumn@yahoo.com.Tweet