Halloween safety tips and myths

Halloween Safety proceed with candy and caution

Halloween safety is a concern for every parent this time of year. Here are some helpful tips and also some myths discussed to make your Halloween Safety effective and still keep the fun in the holiday.

Halloween Safety for your family this year includes not only being safe, but not falling victim to myths and hoaxes. In this episode, Anna from beautygirlsmom.com speaks about:

Halloween Safety

 

Halloween Candy Myths – Did you know there has never been a documented case of stranger product tampering involving Halloween candy?  I did not.  Yet Denver police are coming out “guns blazing”, warning parents about potential hazards due to the legalization of marijuana.  Jim from Left Wing Libertarian disputes the validity of those concerns.

Trunk or Treat, the safer community friendly alternative to door to door Trick or Treat – but be prepared to up your Trick or Treat treat budget.  We easily gave out almost 1000 pieces of candy last year!

Halloween Safety  Trunk or Treat a safer option

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Common Sense Halloween Safety – Some things, you just know are the wrong thing to do, especially with regard to costumes (no full face masks on little ones!), when to call it a day and turn your porch lights off, and which houses to avoid while trick or treating.

Plus:
When is too old to Trick or Treat – when grandma comes knocking
Halloween Costume Sensitivity – don’t punish the kids
Sewing your own home made Halloween costumes –
Halloween curfews

Be safe, have fun, and don’t forget to send all of your Clark bars and Butterfingers to me!

 

Alternative to Microsoft Streets and Trips?

I can’t handle being called an anti-Microsoft person — that would be like being called a Universal Mom over a Walt Disney World Mom. But with Jim retired from Microsoft due to his disability, I have been given lots of new found freedoms over the past two years. We all have iPhones for one.  I cannot begin to tell you how horrible it was 12 years ago to be forced to use early adopter alpha beta gamma whatever they call it – I called it junk – Windows smartphones. The only thing they did good was let me play Bubble Burst.

On our last two cross country trips we used a laptop and Microsoft Streets and Trips. It lets you plan a trip from A to B, but “budget” in hours of sleep or rest and add stops to your itinerary. It had its problems — the biggest being no one goes on vacation on DAY ONE. We need to be somewhere by June 25th, 2012 – not DAY FOUR. I don’t know if they have fixed that bug from previous versions yet – fingers crossed.

But back to the original question — before I spend money on the 2011 or 2012 version of Microsoft Streets and Trips – is there an alternative?  Are you guys using anything I should look into?

It costs an awful lot of money to ALMOST die!

The picture below is not for the faint of heart.  If you are prone to heart palpitations, seizures or fainting spells, and have not taken your medication today, I warn you not to go any further.  If you are easily frightened at the movie theater, you may not want to read any more.  Go ahead, avert your eyes.  I warn you, this isn’t pretty.

This is my hospital bill from my recent experience with almost dying.  It leaves me wondering how many people they actually knock off when they see this kind of bill coming at them.  It certainly must not do much for repeat hospital business, but the undertakers must love it!

So, nearly $100,000 later, I’m still here, thank God, but now is the perfect time to rant on health insurance.  Because if this had happened just a few days later, I might not have had health insurance, and I’d be looking at selling these kidneys that failed me on the black market to pay for medical treatment.

Not that long ago, I probably would not have even looked at this bill.  When Jim was with Microsoft, we had what I will call The World’s Best Health Insurance Coverage EVER.  In 14 years, we’ve had no copays, no deductibles, no costs for prescriptions, reimbursement for eye glasses, no referrals – nada.  It’s been healthcare bliss.

When Jim went out on disability, we had our COBRA premiums covered for a while.  But now those premiums are all ours.  And they’re scary.

That World’s Best Health Insurance Coverage EVER now costs us just shy of $2000 a month.

Oh my, I should have put a warning there, too, huh?  Are you up off of the floor yet?  Dusted yourself off, rubbed the “are you freaking kidding me” out of your eyes?

That’s right – monthly health insurance for my family is almost $2000 a month.  And it’s great, awesome, amazing coverage.

But because we can’t afford to continue to pay $2000 a month, plus afford those luxuries we’ve become accustom to like eating, clothing, and a place to live, we’re going to be dropping the World’s Best Health Insurance Coverage EVER and replacing it with something way less adequate.

For that reason, we’ve been looking at how much health care has been costing us.  For the girls, knock on wood, it’s minimal.  Other than well visits, the girls have rarely been to see the pediatrician.  For Jim, most of the bills are eye related, and we’ve been very fortunate that the VA Hospital will become his primary medical care at no cost to us.  But for me, the past year has been my unhealthiest.  I’ve been in the hospital four times – and of those four times, once was a week for a really serious infection, and another was my recent stay in ICU with that nearly dying thing.  And for that, we’ve been really lucky to have the World’s Best Health Insurance Coverage EVER.

But now we won’t.  And while our monthly health insurance bill is still looking like it might be in the range of almost $800, the coverage is going to be dramatically less.  I’d be looking at this $100,000 bill, and know that about 20% of it would be our responsibility.  And then there would have been a copayment for the emergency room.  And then there would have been a maximum put on the radiology services, so I’d owe some more there.  And then I’d have to pay my deductible for the year.

And then I’d be so grateful to have these kidneys returned to good health, so I could sell them on the black market and pay the hospital bills to get them healthy.

I won’t tell you there’s something wrong with the healthcare system in the United States.  You already know that.  But in case you see me selling pencils on the street corners, you’ll know I’m not trying to pay for another trip to Walt Disney World.  I probably just need an aspirin.

 

 

Top Secret war plans leaked

One of the top secret documents leaked on wikileaks today

My DH thought this was hilarious. For peace and domestic tranquility – aka a Starbucks Latte, I am entertaining his sense of humor

10 reasons to never shop at PathMark

That might sound a bit harsh, because after all, who or what is Pathmark, and why will I never shop there?

1 – PathMark is a local supermarket chain, that has very few stores left in my area. Its not convenient.  For anyone.

2 – The stores in my area are old and they look old.  Not Joan Rivers old, old like they haven’t had any work done old.

3 – The stores inside just aren’t appealing to the eye – in a “this is a bad neighborhood, don’t stop the car” sort of way.

4 – The aisles are those old style, tightly packed aisles where two carts can’t pass each other without risking bodily contact.

5 – The prices are high on almost everything.  Well, almost everything I buy, anyway.

6 – We drink sugar free iced tea (my apologies to my southern sisters and brothers, who are probably now trying to erase my blog from their “history”), which we get in a mix.  The Cherry Hill, NJ PathMark was $1.50 a can higher then Wegman’s around the corner.  I know this technically counts as the same reason as number 5, but it was so outrageous, I had to give it it’s own number.

7 – We only came here because they had an offering going on for a free thanksgiving turkey. By the time we overspent on all the items to spend $300 for the free turkey, we could have bought the turkey just in the amount we overspent on our normal groceries.  Yeah, this is kinda the same reason as number 5, too.  But the prices here really ticked me off.

8 – We bought pretzels last Friday. Bag #1 opened on Saturday was stale. Bag #2 opened on Monday was also stale.  Please recall reason 1 for not going to Pathmark – it’s not convenient.  Not even to return over priced, stale pretzels.

9 – Bathroom is inside the warehouse and looks like an industrial restroom for employees covered in grease.  Even our WalMart has a cleaner restroom.

10 – They don’t give away free turkeys all year long.  And since that was the only reason to shop at Pathmark in the first place, that eliminates the only good reason to shop there at all.

Now on a side note, the coupon for the free turkey was good on up to 20 pounds of turkey. They had no larger turkeys out, and Jim asked at the meat counter if larger turkeys were available.  They did wheel out a pallet of turkeys in boxes and handed him a 20+ pound turkey.  And on our 2 visits to spend $300 the cashiers were friendly.  Well, at least one was.

PathMark
989 Church Road
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002-1301
(856) 482-5433

Don’t let Gordan Ramsay into your kitchen

Okay, to clear the air and be upfront, he can come into MY kitchen anytime.  Not only is he a hottie, but I am not the best cook, and I’d be glad for some assistance in that area.  From a hottie.

I’ve been watching Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares for a quite a while – both the UK version and the US version.  I’m a huge fan of The F Word.  I even tune in now and again to Hell’s Kitchen (although honestly, they seem to be a worse bunch of chefs than I am!).  And he seems like he knows what he’s doing.  Ramsay seems like he knows what he’s talking about, and he’s got successful restaurants of his own under his belt.

Right?

Well, not entirely.  His empire has been crumbling as of late, and rumors have circulated that the Ramsay enterprise is in dire financial straits.  There have been reports of him having to sell personal belongings – a la Pawn Stars – to pay off debts owed and taxes that are due.

So I started looking into some of the restaurants featured on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

Gone.  More than half.

Not that they wouldn’t have closed anyway – although there are some restaurant owners who have blamed the famed chef for their ultimate demise.  But whatever business plan Ramsay has to get these mostly Mom and Pop restaurants back on solid ground doesn’t work for them – and evidently, it doesn’t always work for Ramsay, either.  Three of his restaurants closed within a six month span in 2008, and in recent days, he fired his father-in-law (who was chief executive of the chef’s company) and two other family members.

He has just written an open letter to his mother-in-law, essentially begging her to resume communication with his wife and children following his in-laws’ decision to halt all communications with Ramsay or his family.

Until he puts his business and family lives in order, I’m not sure I’d want him handling the sharp knives in my kitchen.

Would you?

Is Eastern State Penitentiary to scary for kids?

In a word, yes.  In a few words, are you freakin’ crazy?  This is a Dad asking this question, right?  No self respecting, child loving mother would even ponder the thought.

To begin with, the place is pretty scary looking even in the daylight.  When it’s not Halloween. Even for grown ups.

Then there’s that other thing, you know the one where they say the place is haunted.  You knew that, right?  You’ve seen it on Ghost Hunters.  Twice.  Apparently there were so many ghosts, they had to visit twice to see them all.  It’s a scary place.  Even for grown ups.

An apparition captured on film at Eastern State Penitentiary

So when you add to this already frightening combination the fact that Terror Behind the Walls is rated as the number one haunted house in America, you can assume one thing.  This place is scary.  Even for grown ups.

The fright takes place in five separate haunted attractions on the 11 acre grounds of the prison.  There are live actors in terrifying situations there to make sure you scream, cover your eyes, and in some cases, require the use of the clean underwear your mother has always told you should be in your glove box.  This haunted house is not for the weak.  Tackle some small, local Halloween haunted houses before you decide to give Eastern State a try.  Even if you’re a grown up.

I will tell you, though, that the proceeds of Terror Behind the Walls all goes to the not-for-profit Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, which aims to preserve the very rich history of the prison.  That makes it even more enticing to go.  Except I’m a chicken.

So yes.  Eastern State Penitentiary – at least the Terror Behind the Walls is too scary for kids.  And even for grown ups.

But there are tours specifically geared toward children, and I highly recommend that you do one.  The history, the legends, and the stories will captivate your child.  The recommended age for the tours is 12 and older.  It is still a little bit scary.

Even for grown ups.

Visit www.easternstate.org for more information on Terror Behind the Walls and the other tours available at Eastern State Penitentiary.

Mother Daughter Halloween Costumes

Every Dad’s dream this Halloween is to have their wife and daughters all dressed alike for a memorable Halloween portrait.  Of course, with Dads being men, we know that they are rarely in their right mind, and the idea of putting women of all different ages, shapes and sizes in the same outfit pretty much qualifies that Dad for some sort of therapy.

But there I was anyway, picking out matching Halloween costumes for me and the girls.  It wasn’t pretty.  Oh, the girls were pretty – they always are.  They looked adorable all dressed up as sailors.  I could not muster adorable.  I did muster disgruntled.

For those of you that saw me at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and recognize that I was not wearing my disgruntled sailor outfit, this photo should be an indication as to why I was not.

Next Halloween, I’m making Jim dress like the girls.  Start sending your ideas in now.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 101

One of my favorite events of all time at Walt Disney World is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  The party, which takes place on select nights from September through November 1st, takes place at the Magic Kingdom.  You have to purchase a separate ticket for the event, but I always think it’s well worth the price.

So is it worth it for your family?

Here’s how it works for us.

The day of the party, we spend a leisurely morning having breakfast, lounging at the pool, or doing some souvenir shopping.  There is no wake up call, no time to be out and about.  If you are buying multi-day park passes, this saves you a day.

In years past, your party ticket allowed you to enter the theme park at 4:00 in the afternoon – even though the party doesn’t technically begin until 7:00.  This is not an advertised benefit, and it could be revoked at any time, but for my family, it has always meant going in, having a nice dinner, browsing some shops, and being ready for the fun of the party right when it begins.  You go through specific turnstiles, and you will be given a wristband and trick or treat bag – no need to bring one from home!

Once the party begins, you will usually find that due to the limited number of tickets that are sold for this event, many of the attractions are walk ons.  This is an incredible time saver!  If you go into the theme park at 7:00, by the time midnight rolls around, you could probably  have done all of the attractions you would have wanted to do, and avoided the day time crowds.  As a bonus, you may even have time to hit up a couple of the trick or treat stations.

And here’s a tip about the trick or treat stations – while the lines at the stations move very quickly, you will find towards the end of the evening, there are virtually no lines at all.  You could do all of the attractions you want to do, then go trick or treating, and still come away with a pretty good haul of candy!

There are two parades that take place during the party.  The early parade is the bigger draw, because for some families with young children (or those that spent all day in a theme park and are exhausted), they know they won’t make it to the second parade.  My favorite viewing spot for the second parade?  At the very start of Main Street, on the side by the firehouse.  I am almost always standing down there by myself, and the headless horseman and I are almost BFFs!

The fireworks for the party are not necessarily meant to be seen from in front of Cinderella Castle, so if you happen to be in Liberty Square, you’re still golden in terms of fireworks viewing.

And take it from a mom with experience – your kids won’t know if you wait until they go to sleep and swipe all of the Clark bars!  And if you eat them all before the kids wake up the next morning, you’re doing yourself a favor.  Now they won’t melt on the trip home!

I think the party is a terrific value over the cost of a theme park pass.  We get at least as much – if not more – done during the party than we do in a day at the park, and it comes sprinkled with pixie dust in the form of Smartees and Laffy Taffy!

This is a must do for us every year.