Mystery Boxes…Do You Dare (Halloween Party 2013)

We had our annual Halloween party this past weekend and it was a lot of fun.

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As well as being quite tasty.

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But….not too healthy (only some of the butter we used).

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We may have cooked ourselves silly making sugar cookies, pumpkin whooopie pies, banana bread, oreo mummies, cupcakes, chocolate faces, pretzel witch fingers, pretzel eyeballs, marshmallow sticks, rice krispie treats, snickerdoodle cookies, and pumpkin muffins.

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We also played a game which I think the kids enjoyed – Mystery Boxes

The idea of Mystery Boxes is to reach into the box and try and figure out what food is in there.

For example, I told the kids that I had witches hair. Once they felt it, they needed to decide what food my witches hair really was.

I took 4 boxes (Cheezits, Amazon, shoe boxes) and spray painted them or covered them in fabric with Modge Podge.


I then glued on a piece of cloth to the outside which covered a hole I had cut out in each box.


Each box on the inside was lined with tin foil. One had a cup and another had a bowl which held the food items.


Before starting the game, I handed out a piece of paper to each child and told them what was in the mystery boxes – witches hair, mummy intestines, troll eyes, and Frankenstein eyes. Then I had some parents hold the boxes for me, not letting the kids peek inside the boxes.

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This picture of my son reaching into the box is my favorite one from the party.

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Here’s a sample of the sheet with their guesses on it.


Here we all are talking about what each of their guesses is for the food items.

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And the reveal….

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In case you are wondering…

Witch Hair = Ramen Noodles

Frankenstein Eyes – Olives

Mummy Intestines = Lasagna Noodles

Troll Ears = Dried Apricots


Mystery Boxes = Silly & Slimey Fun 🙂




Man o man.

This thing called life just knocks the wind out of you sometimes.

The first thing out of my middle schoolers mouth when I picked him up from school yesterday was, “Kids told me Mrs. Matheus’ son died. She got a call during 6th period that he died. He’s in the Air Force. We watched her walk out to her car and leave.”

First off. How Awful.

Nothing is worse than your child dying.

Second off. She had to find out that horrible news in front of a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds.

Fast forward two hours, back at our house, with me at the computer checking to see if soccer practice was still on.

I open an email from my boys’ swim coach.

It informs me that one of the summer swim coaches has died.

He was 21.

It was self-inflicted.

First off. Again. How awful.

Just being a parent makes my heart break with this news.

I only knew this kid from afar.

He was always smiling and laughing with the kids and the other coaches.

For three years my kids knew him and loved him.

Second off. How dare you? Why would you do such a thing?

I’m not really mad at him. I’m disappointed and sad for my kids.

And heartbroken for his family and friends.

I know I will never know what led him to that decision and I’m not sure I need to know.

But I do know that I will continue to tell my kids everyday that I will always love them, forever and ever, no matter what.

I chose not to share with my kids the manner in which Coach Jake died. That’s too much information for even an adult to comprehend, never mind an 8 year old. He died. His family is sad. We are sad.

The next day I again picked my son up from middle school and asked him if he had a substitute in Mrs. Matheus’ class.

“No. It was actually her dog that died not her son.”

We had a bit of a laugh, learned never to completely trust the word of middle schoolers sharing information in the hallways, and went on with our day.

And I may have told him thirty times that day, ” I will always love you, forever and ever, no matter what.”

*I never use real names in my blog except those of my children.

Weekly Menu

I hate cooking.

No, that’s not actually true.

I really really dislike cooking.

It’s not calming for me, it’s not enjoyable, I just don’t like it.

I don’t like menu planning either.

(I have obviously now entered my Archie Bunker phase of life).

But I do both because it’s hard to be a stay at home mom and not be the one in charge of cooking. I have I tried to lobby to hire a cook, but somehow, my husband sees that as my role.

So seeing as this appears to be my gig for awhile, I decided to make a menu planning board.


I used a frame I already had, printed out a free menu planning printable, and used an old expo marker I had from teaching to write out the meals.

We’ve been using this for a few weeks and somehow it just makes the whole process a little more enjoyable.


And yes, we eat out once a week.

I need to keep moving toward that white light at the end of the week or else I’d completely give up and just serve cereal for every meal.

*In case you are interested I found the meal plan printable here.

*And just for the record, my husband is awesome and always helps me cook.

Invest in a Woman

We are adopting.

It is a wonderful thing which our family is very excited about.

But it’s also something really sad.

It means a family couldn’t be kept together.

Either by financial reasons, illness, or death.

I will always think of the mama who isn’t celebrating birthdays, first days of school, and the first loose tooth with their child.

My child soon.

There are roughly 150 million orphans in the world.

I can’t help 150,000,000 children.

But maybe I can help prevent some kids being added to that number.

The company fashionABLE creates sustainable business for Africans so they aren’t dependent upon charity. They focus on empowering women by giving them jobs.

The women of Ethiopia have made the scarves and leather pieces that are listed for sale on the fashionABLE site.

Take a moment and watch this quick video about these beautiful women and the company they work for.

To celebrate the company’s 3rd year in business they are offering 30% off of all of their products today.

Having the opportunity to work. What a gift. Something we don’t always view that way.

Invest in a woman.

If you invest in her you will invest in her child.

I invested in a woman today.

You can too.

The Rabbits – Part 2 – It Gets Ugly

Well folks.

It didn’t get all Hakuna Matata on us over her.

It went the way of the Circle of Life in a slightly more horrific way than I imagined.

If you recall, our backyard became a rabbit sanctuary for the past week ever since my 8 year old son discovered a nest of baby rabbits.

My sweet, sensitive eight year old who loves animals with all his heart.

Ugh. This story sucks.

Yesterday afternoon the kids were playing in the backyard when my son announced that the rabbits were gone. They were no where to be found. I immediately believed him because he has been checking on them with the religious fervor of a Texas baptist. Okay, maybe that went a little too far.

But he said they were gone.

So we let the dog out in the backyard.

And everyone played.

And everyone played.

And everyone played.

And then..everyone came in for bedtime.

And then…everyone woke up the next day to get ready for school.

And then…just as I was biting into my hot oatmeal breakfast my eight year old came running into the kitchen screaming, “Sophie killed the baby rabbit! She killed it! It’s laying on the floor!”

Tears. Tears. Hysterical tears.

I ran into the dining room to find the dog in her crate and an obviously dead baby bunny sprawled out on our dining room floor.

How did this happen? The dog hasn’t even gone outside yet today?

Tears. Tears. Hysterical tears.

Still I can’t seem to move. I just stare at this dead bunny on my dining room floor.

I don’t understand? How did, oh no, I know what happened!

Last night when I let the dog in she ran right to her crate without stopping to get water. Unusual but not completely out of the ordinary.

I locked her in her crate and went to my room.

As I read a little while later I turned to my husband and said, “What is Sophie doing in her crate? She’s moving around a lot.”



Now I have 2 kids screaming.

I yell at the dog and lock her in her crate. I order my 11 year old to get a trash bag and I go to the garage and grab some rake contraption and a sheet. I tell my son to open up the trash bag as I try and scoop THE DEAD  RABBIT onto the rake.

I miss the first time but manage to scoop him up the second time.

My son is so disgusted by holding the bag he drops it before managing to open it up enough for me to drop THE  DEAD BUNNY and the sheet into the bag.

I tie the bag and rush it outside.

I order my son to wash his hands throughly three times while I do the same. I wash the dining room floor and wash my hands again many times. And I do a full body shiver.

I then talk with my 8 year old, the animal lover, and mumble something about animals, circle of life, Sophie thought it was a toy, and then agree to write a note to his teacher telling her what a tough morning he has had.

I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t call my husband after this experience and possibly semi-curse at him for not being home during this event. I may have forbidden him to ever leave the house again for work.

I think it’s safe to say that this experience has affected us all.

Later in the day my four year old told the Old Navy saleswoman and the grocery store clerk that our dog killed a rabbit.

My 11 year old has definitely ruled out a career in waste management.

I’m considering plans to demolish our dining room.

And my  8 year old wants to know when we are going to the SPCA to get another dog.

Yes. He is.

Apparently he has short term memory problems.

I assured him under no uncertain circumstances that we would never get another pet of any kind.

After all, I can still see that DEAD BUNNY on my dining room floor.



I’m Starting to Regret..

I’m starting to regret showing my kids all of the old movies I love and view as classics.

Movies like Mary Poppins, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and Annie.

As I was walking away after putting my 4 year old in time out, she began singing, “It’s a hard knock life for me.”

It  went something like this. “It’s a hard knock life for me. It’s a hard knock LIFE for me. It’s a hard knock LIFE FOR ME. It’s a hard KNOCK LIFE FOR ME.”

Only 14 more years for her to live that hard life with us.

Halloween Entrance

I love decorating for Halloween.

May thru September?

Not so much.

But when we roll into October I’m ready with the Halloween decor.

When I was over looking at Yellow Bliss Road I saw her free Halloween Countdown printable and thought it would be perfect in our entry way.

I printed out her chart and then printed out some Halloween characters on an orange piece of paper.


My kids take turns choosing which character to put up each morning.

As a former math teacher, I really wanted them to create a pattern with the shapes but they were having none of that idea.


I just might admit to redoing their blue painters tape circles each morning after they head off to school.

IMG_2699Borrowed some ceramic owls from my daughter’s room.


I added the orange pompoms that I had left over from a project several years ago and some purple beads.

I should probably add a black curtain over the shoe container in order to cover up our unsightly shoes but that’s just crazy talk really.

Happy Halloween Decorating!

Just in case

Just in case you were thinking about going to swim for an hour shortly after eating an apple and 2 homemade pumpkin poptarts...


That is unless you like swimming with the feeling that there is an alien about to burst through your stomach.

Of course, that feeling didn’t deter me from eating 2 more pumpkin poptarts when I got home shortly after.

But hey that’s me.

Complete self control.

After all, I didn’t have another apple.

Homemade Pumpkin Poptarts

On “The Chew” talk show the other day I saw homemade pumpkin poptarts and thought I would give them a whirl.

I’m trying to add a few more items to our Halloween buffet and thought testing them out first might be a good idea.

I changed the recipe slightly since I didn’t have pumpkin spice but I think they turned out alright.

Here are the ingredients for the homemade pumpkin poptarts:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice (I used cinnamon instead)

Flour for rolling out

Premade pie crust (you can find this in the biscuit section of the grocery store)

You can find the actual recipe for the poptarts here.

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While I don’t think they will make the cut for the Halloween party, they did make a nice surprise breakfast on a Monday morning.