Halloween and Little Feet

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Finally, the seasons are changing! Here in California, as I am sure you are aware, we have been dealing with a drought that has claimed the lives of countless lawns and put dramatic water restraints on all of us. This parched earth has not been made easier with our sporadic triple-digit temperatures that seem to pop up out of nowhere. However, it seems that a reprieve is imminent.

For the last 5 days in a row, we have had to close the windows in the house at night and turn the heater on the early morning hours. Before the dust could burn off the grates, we have rushed to storage and taken down the bins of autumn and Halloween decorations to properly receive the season.

As our annual archeological dig commenced we were once again reminded of our bounty and how they came to be in our possession. So much of our décor was created with the help of our young children as a testament to their growth as well as the holiday.

Here are our 4 favorite items and how they were created.

 

  1. Spiders and Ghosts on Canvas: For our son we painted a canvas all black then let him put his bare feet into a plate of white paint. He then proceeded to place his foot onto the now dry canvas. When the picture is turned upside down, his foot is the shape of a ghost. Let dry and draw in eyes and a mouth! For our baby, we were a little more hands on (literally). For her we painted her canvas bright orange then painted her little sausage hands black then pressed her whole hands on the now dry canvas. When turned upside down they look like spiders. Add a few cobwebs, eyes and the work “EEEK” at the bottom and voila!

 

  1. Monster Hands: For this we traced our kid’s hands, all the way up to their forearms, on green construction paper. Then we cut them out and glued them to a black and orange sheet of paper. We then gave them dried beans and lentils to glue wherever they wanted on the hand. This gives the effect of warts and lesions. With a couple of candy corn nails, you have monster hands.

 

  1. Window Spiders: On the inside of the windows to their bedrooms we took black paint and again painted, or let them put their hands in. Then they press their hands to the windows with the left and right fingers facing out and the palms overlapped to make a really large spider right on the window. They can then wait for the paint to dry and scrape off the eyes.

 

  1. Outdoor Ghost: We bought a cheap white bed sheet and inflatable ball from the local drug store. Cut a hole in the top of the sheet and place the ball in the middle of the sheet. Run a string, rope or wire hanger through the hole in the sheet and attach to the ball, then draw a face on the ghost. We have our ghost hanging outside the dining room window from the roof and lit him from underneath with a floodlight. Ours is a friendly ghost with soft eyes and a smile as to not scare the little’s when the wind blows.

One of the major things to take into consideration when doing any of these projects is things will most likely get messy. Paint very rarely goes exactly where you want it to when applied to your toddlers, so be sure and use patience and washable paint. The best part of these projects (with the exception of our friendly ghost) is that year after year you get to see the growth of your little ghouls, and of course the kids think that being allowed to draw on them is a blast.

Happy Haunting!

Five Back-To-School Tips That Never Make the List

 

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Once again the time is upon us, as the tans begin to fade, the last remaining grains of sand come dislodged from the places that only sand can find and new school shoes gear up for a couple of month of kicking rocks to and from the bus stop accompanied by an infinite supply of grumbling. Ah yes, a new school year full of promise as well as challenges.

Not unlike most monumental happenings, the ones less likely to survive the shift are those that choose to milk the remaining minutes out of the passing time rather than prepare for it. Some simply find themselves in a been-there, done-that mentality and invariably get bowled over by the unforeseen challenges that arise. Whether it is your first back-to-school year or you live in a shoe; we all seem to know the basics, but those aren’t enough.

Here then are five things that don’t make most back-to-school lists that are sure to give you that veteran appearance and calm the seas for your smooth sailing.

1. Don’t Unleash a Swarm of Questions on the Teacher, Day 1

We all know that we have the most important kid in the class and we really need everybody to see that only the best will do for our prince/princess, but think about the cross-examination you are about to deliver so you can have every question answered on day one and then multiply that by the 20 other parents dropping off. Don’t add to the confusion. You have 3 things to do when you get to the school, drop off, honk and wave….that’s it!

2. Get There Early

This was true back in my days of being dropped off, and now imagine it with the shrinking to nonexistent attention span of the triple-shot mocha choca locha malarkey, four minutes late to their own funeral, no time to say hello-goodbye mom on a mission. We snicker at them until inevitably we are them. Make it a goal to not be them. Be early. “On time” is so 2000.

3. Think About Your Kids Feelings

Even if the beginning of the school year is not a cataclysmic jump, like 8th to 9th grade, the beginning of a new school year is the prime environment for anxiety to grow in. Talk to your kids in the last few weeks of summer and find out how they are feeling about the coming year. If they are too young to fully express themselves, be proactive and incorporate a nighttime book that deal with this topic in a fun and professional way. Ask what they think the other kids are expecting and help them reach that goal, but most of all, just listen. Let your child know that you’re on their team! This will take any loneliness out of the vastness of the moment.

4. Talk To Your Kids EVERY DAY About Their Day

This is not only underrated, but the first item to slip through the cracks after the first few weeks. Most families start with the intent of making the first conversation around the dinner table resemble exactly the Ozzie and Harriet shows they grew up on (did I just date myself?), but then the calendar gets heavy, siblings are coming and going and before you know it the “tell us about your day” is replaced with “there are Hot Pockets in the freezer”. Find the time to ask and listen how EVERY DAY is going for your kid, all year long. You will most likely be able to hear what they aren’t telling you this way.

5. This One is a Two-Fer and Will Save Gray Hairs

Get closer to your computer, I am going to whisper this so not everybody hears, because what I am about to tell you pays dividends over and over again. First-buy Two PE outfits! Not only does this cut your laundry cycle down by more than half, but also your kid won’t become “Stinky Pete” in the yearbook! Secondly-Never buy a key lock for a locker, only buy combo. This teaches the child number memorization as stops you from having to search, and then buy, multiple locks all year long. If they wanted in their locker so badly they should have remembered the number….being a parent is fun!

So there you have it, five things that seldom make the traditional lists but are sure to save you gray hairs or pulling it all out…make a note that I am bald and only want to give back!