Category: Holiday Posts

Halloween Safety
Halloween Safety

The tricks to making it a treat

halloweenpumpkinSpooky, late-night graveyards, walk-through haunted houses, and thrilling horror movies can all come as fun and games at Halloween. People usually get a thrill of fun with intentionally frightening experiences, but don’t be tricked! Halloween ranks as the third most dangerous night of the year, especially with Halloween falling on a Friday night. So, treat yourself and your family with the knowledge of keeping it safe! Here are some helpful tips to spell out some safety rules for a “spooktacular” Halloween:

  1. Swords, knives, hammers, and any other costume accessories should be short and flexible. If costumes consist of weaponry, this is a must. You may want your costume to look rather real and defined by using realistic replicas, or even the real thing, but instead, let your costume be the real deal and keep weapons of any sort to basic toy status. If a toddler can’t play with it, its probably too dangerous to walk around with.
  2. Avoid trick-or-treating alone, especially after dark. Stay in groups and try to make it a larger group of friends and family. Make sure there are adults and older teenagers with little ones to help them navigate roads and crossings safely. Creepy prowlers are far less likely to pick on groups with adults and older kids in the mix. Drivers are much more likely to see a mass of people.
  3. Fasten reflective tape to your costumes, front and back! Depending on your costume, you can also tape it to your candy bag, just keep it in hand at all times out on your walk. If your kids aren’t keen on using reflective tape, then make it fun and use glow sticks! Tape them to your costume or purchase the glowstick necklaces and wear it effortlessly around your neck or costume hats. If you will be driving, keep in mind that many neighborhoods have narrow roads and/or no sidewalks so trick-or-treaters may be walking close to or on the road. Drive slow, scan for pedestrians, and make sure your headlamps are properly lit for visibility.
  4. Examine all your candy as you receive it to ensure it has not been tampered with. Every year, there have been reports of candy that has been tampered and ridden with sharp plastics and metals, that is the last thing you want in your mouth!
  5. Hold a flashlight as you walk to help others see you and watch where you step! You wouldn’t want to step down in any mud, holes, or pet waste! Help others navigate, especially little children who are not savvy about walking around in the dark. Lastly, alway walk, do not run, especially across driveways and streets.
  6. Always test your costume outfits and makeup first. Don’t find out that your costume is the wrong size, scratchy, or defective while you are out. Make sure that masks have enough visibility for you to see where you are walking as well as allow you to use peripheral vision. Also, test costume makeup to make sure it won’t irritate your skin or eyes!
  7. Look both ways upon crossing the street. Use crosswalks when you can and if they are not available, cross in a well-lit area.
  8. Leave valuable items at home. Carry only your wallet if you are driving, but leave it all at home. You don’t want to lose anything while you are walking out on the street in the dark. Halloween also carries a high car-theft rate because many people park in unfamiliar places, in the dark, for long periods of time. Don’t leave valuables in the car either! You can reduce the risk by returning to your car and re-parking closer to another location you would like to trick-or-treat, thus not leaving your car unattended too long. Try also to park in a well-lit area or in front of homes receiving a lot of foot traffic.
  9. Only trick-or-treat in areas that you or a friend/family member you are with, are familiar with. Walking in an area you are not familiar with poses many additional risks such as injury and losing your direction.
  10. Wear a sweater or coat. Halloween is often a cold night in our area and the weather changes rather suddenly so keep close to your car and bring warm clothing should you need it. Also be sure that your shoes are comfortable for walking.
  11. Eat candy wrapped only by the manufacturer, avoid homemade treats passed out by strangers. If you would like homemade treats, t is best to make your own or nibble on those made by well-known friends and family.
  12. Enter no one’s home, even if you are invited inside. Kindly decline and move on to the next home. Stick to visiting well lit homes and respect the homes of those with the porch light turned off; this usually means they are not welcoming trick-or-treaters. Also, avoid entering someone else’s car that may offer you a ride. You have no control where someone you don’t know may drive you. Stick to your own two feet and your own car or a friend you came with.
  13. Never walk near decor candles on lawns, under low hanging branches, or through dark tunneled areas. Regarding candles, which are often used for Halloween decor and in Jack-o-lanters, keep your distance should they be near the walkway. Most costumes are made from flame-resistant materials, but also be weary of wearing costumes with a lot of excess and loose, flowing fabric. This excess could catch and snag on things like branches, sticks, rocks, fences, and cause you to trip and fall, as well as catch a flame.

That about spells out your Halloween safety! Keep these tips in mind as you go out tonight and remember to have some fun and take care of your teeth after eating candy!

Falling for Creativity
Falling for Creativity

Autumn crafts for kids

The days of dashing through sprinklers, playing at the park, and in general, spending the majority of your time outdoors are quickly coming to an end. For many of us, fall weather has already descended. In the midwest, temperatures are already low enough to warrant light jackets. For moms everywhere this means finding fun and educational indoor activities – FAST! For many, it means breaking out some hands on crafts that allow the little ones to exercise creativity, motor skills, and excess energy while learning a thing or two.

Depending on which part of the country you live in, the fall provides a unique opportunity to engage in some fun and frugal crafts by using items found in nature such as leaves and pine cones. Here are some crafts that are easy, fun, and kid friendly!

Bird Feeders

Pinecones

 

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MATERIALS

  • Pine cones – Look for those that are open to make spreading the peanut butter a lot easier.
  • Peanut butter – Don’t be afraid to buy off-brand or cheap peanut butter…the birds won’t mind!
  • Twine
  • Bird seed

 

DIRECTIONS

1. Cut a length of twine for each pine cone. The twine should be long enough to tie around the top of a pine cone and then hang from a tree branch (12-20″)

2. Tie the twine around the very top part of the pine cone. NOTE: Do this first because doing it last (after the pine cones are covered in peanut butter) would be super messy.

3. Using a small spatula or butter knife, spread peanut butter over the pine cone. NOTE: A little goes a long way so you don’t need a lot and the less you give the kids the less mess they make! 4. Pour some birdseed into a bowl wide enough for the pine cone. Roll the pine cone in the birdseed. You can also sprinkle birdseed directly onto the pine cone to make sure it is well covered.

Pumpkins and Squash

 

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You can also make a pretty unique bird feeder out of pumpkins or any squash! Not only are these unique but they are a lovely seasonal touch to a tree right outside a window.

  1. Cut a 3- to 5-pound pumpkin in half; scoop out, leaving a 1/2-inch thick wall.
  2. Cut a 1/2-inch-deep groove in the rim for pumpkin seeds.
  3. For perches, poke holes and insert twigs.
  4. To hang, knot two lengths of twine together in center; tack knot to feeder bottom.
  5. Fill with bird seed.

Leaf Wreath

 

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Create a leaf wreath this season… so easy to do! This is a wonderful craft project for any age. It is quick to put together and brings some of the outside in. This is an easy craft, so it works well as a daycare or preschool craft. Take a walk with the children and have them enjoy the color of the leaves and collect those that have fallen on the ground. Try to pick up the ones that are still fresh, and avoid the dry ones.

This craft isn’t just for children. Any age will enjoy a walk outdoors, collecting leaves this time of year. Senior centers and nursing homes can use this a craft for their residents. Each senior can decorate their own nature wreath to hang on their door.

Things Needed:

  • Fresh Fall leaves in various colors
  • Paper plate
  • White school glue
  • Scissors
  • Pretty ribbon
  1. Begin this Autumn craft by collecting about twenty colorful leaves from outside. Try to get nice fresh ones that have just fallen… they will be easier to glue on.
  2. Cut the middle out from a paper plate. Fold the plate in half to get the cut started in the middle, then cut along the rim to make about a 2 inch paper plate border (young kids may need help with this part).
  3. Continue building the wreath by gluing each leaf to the paper plate. Slightly overlap each leaf. For this leaf craft, I had each leaf point in the same direction, with the stems pointing inward.
  4. Next, clip off the stems from each leaf using scissors.
  5. Tie a pretty Fall ribbon in a bow, then glue the bow on to the wreath.

A handy tip to extend the life of your leaf wreath is to dip the leaves in wax to “preserve” their freshness. Heat some white or cream colored wax over a wax warmer and dip the leaves to coat them thoroughly. Hold the leaf vertically to allow it to drip excess wax as it dries. The wax will dry in about 30 seconds, there you go! Dip the leaves before you begin gluing them to the paper plate and you will have a wreath that will remain “soft” and fresh looking for weeks. You can also use clear acrylic spray which can be found in hardware or craft stores along with the spray paint. Clear acrylic spray can give the leaves a nice glossy finish.

 

Easy, safe homemade paint

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Sometimes the best Halloween costume is as simple as great face paint. Instead of picking up expensive kits made with questionable ingredients that may be harsh on skin (and leave lingering marks the next day), try making your own. It’s easier than you think and only costs a few dollars to pull off.

What You’ll Need:

  • Corn starch
  • Face lotion
  • 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Washable paints, natural food coloring, or homemade dyes
  • Small containers
  • Small bowl
  1. Start by making a base for the face paints by mixing together equal parts cornstarch and your favorite face lotion until it forms a thick mixture. Add the vegetable oil, which keeps the paint from caking. You want things to be smooth without being too watery.
  2. Now add a spoonful of the mixture to a small container and add a pea-sized amount of washable paint. You can find packs of colorful washable paints at your local craft store or Walmart for only a few dollars. Using washable paint instead of natural food coloring creates solid colors that won’t stain clothes — or your face. Most are nontoxic, when diluted, and are safe to use on skin. Just remember to avoid using around the eye and mouth areas. You can also swap for a few drops of natural food coloring or homemade dyes.
  3. Continue adding colors until you’ve got an entire set of face paint. For a bit of shimmer, sprinkle glitter eye shadow into containers or swipe over finished face paint for allover glitter.
  4. Apply using face sponges or lip brushes for creating details. Paint will dry creating a smudge-free look. For a smoother application, add a few drops of water to the paints. As with any new makeup, rub a bit of the face paint on skin to check for reaction before applying.

Don’t feel like picking up a set of washable paints? Substitute with a few drops of natural food coloring, which also creates vibrant face paints. Just be warned that using food coloring may stain skin and clothing.

Scented playdough

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We know kids love play dough, and this recipe for scented play dough might just be the best thing around. The directions are so easy, you’ll forget all about that stuff from the store.

Encourage your little one’s budding fine motor skills and entice their noses with scented play dough that is wonderfully soft and perfectly squishy. Along with offering a great scent, using small powdered drink mixes such as Kool-aid, gives this dough seriously vibrant color. And this recipe makes just the right amount for lots and lots of scented play-dough fun. Tis the season, try adding some cinnamon or pumpkin spice with some red food coloring, or mix a few to make some lovely fall colors!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 0.13-ounce packets powdered drink mix or a few hearty dashes of cinnamon, pumpkin spice or, nutmeg.

Directions:

  1. Measure out then add the ingredients to a saucepan and stir together over medium-high heat. Continue stirring for another two to three minutes while the dough comes together.
  2. Once the dough pulls together into one big ball, turn off the heat and allow the scented play dough to cool in the pan for five minutes.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a flour-dusted work surface and knead for one minute or until completely cool. Add additional flour as needed.
  4. Offer the scented play dough to your tot and get squishing! When it’s not in use, keep the play dough in a plastic bag or container. This dough will stay soft and playable for months if properly stored.

As the weather gets colder and we approach the end of daylights savings, try out some of these crafts with your kids and enjoy the way they adorn your home for the col months to come!

 

Making New Years Resolutions As A Family
Making New Years Resolutions As A Family

As we enter into a new year, we often find ourselves looking back on our accomplishments and failures of the year before. We look within and reflect upon the new, untouched year. It is important to include our families in our observations of our past year. Setting a list of New Year Resolutions can be a wonderful time to teach our children the value of looking to the future with optimism and hope.

This year, make New Year Resolutions about bringing the family together. Doing this will help the family grow closer as they learn what’s important to each member individually. It will also help teach your children the value of settings goals for themselves. Vowing to stick to a New Year Resolution can also instill self-discipline and teach value of self-growth. Plus, it puts a positive focus in your child’s mind as they enter into the New Year and new semester at school.

new-years-dietIt’s important to make sure that each child’s goals are customized to their personalities and ages. This is where how well you know each child can be helpful as you can assist in guiding them towards areas that they need to focus on. For instance, maybe your eldest struggles with maintaining good eating habits and your middle child would rather be on the couch than playing in the backyard. After you’ve has each child make a list of things they want to improve on, make time to talk with each child individually in order to discuss their goals more specifically.

Ask your kids if there is anything they would like to implement in the New Year that would help with bringing the family together even more. Maybe you’d like to start planning a monthly family outing to go hiking or bowling. Maybe you’d like to implement bi-weekly family nights where you play games or watch movies. You can also use this time to discuss how chores and systems for maintaining household duties have been working. Should they stay the same or do they need change? is each child holding up their end, or does some re-evaluating need to be done? Once you’ve come up with 3 or so family resolutions, make a fun poster that can be hung on the refrigerator or somewhere central to serve as a reminder to the whole family. Also, have each child make a poster for their individual rooms as well in order to keep their goals in the forefront of their minds.

Focus On The Positive

As the year progresses, help each child remember their goals by reminding them at appropriate times. Keep in mind however that New Year Resolutions are not written in stone. If a a goal one of your children has set is obviously not working for them by the time a few months have passed, then site down with that child and help them figure our a new and better way they can accomplish that same goal. Also, if by next December you find that certain personal or family goals still aren’t being met, don’t despair! Remember that New Year Resolutions are designed to be fun and positive things. Encourage your children and help them reformulate un-reached goals for the next year. Keep the focus on moving forward. After all, the greatest benefit of setting these goals is that it brings the family together in a positive way that promotes communication and encouragement!

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