Halloween is my family's absolute favorite time of year. With two theatrical kids who dress up in quirky costumes on a weekly basis, Halloween is HUGE in our home.
My kids have already designed their Halloween costumes for this year. My daughter is wearing a crazy pink dress she found at a flea market this summer. My son is reprising his portrayal of The Artful Dodger for the 2nd year.
Because Halloween is so big for us, we've created some unique family traditions through the years.
At least two months before Halloween my kids are well into costume planning. Rather than buy pre-made costumes, we head to second hand shops or flea markets to find inexpensive pieces that can be turned into a costume. Last year my daughter was the Corpse Bride and wore an old white negligee from Value Village. My son's Dodger costume was made from an old suit which we cut the arms off of. The process of making the costumes is almost, but not quite, as much fun of wearing it the night of.
For the last several years it's been boys against girls to see who can carve the best pumpkin. Each team sequesters itself somewhere in the house and spends a couple of hours carving a masterpiece. Then we Tweet and Facebook out the photos and let our social media friends pick their fave. My daughter and I haven't won yet (we were robbed) against my husband and son, but this year we are going to out carve the guys.
Almost as fun as making our costumes is doing up our lawn to resemble a Tim Burton style graveyard. Every year each of the kids is allowed to buy one terrifying prop to add to our scary collection of gravestones and ghouls. One full day is spent figuring out frightening scenerios to scare and impress our neighbours.
My daughter has severe allergies to all nuts, so I am so acutely aware of how awful it is for kids with food allergies to receive candy they can't eat. According to Anaphylaxis Canada, peanut allergies affect about two in 100 children and half of Canadians know someone with a serious food allergy (www.anaphylaxis.ca). It’s easy to make Halloween safer for everyone involved - including kids and their family and friends - by making the right choices. I cannot tell you the relief I experienced when I discovered the iconic big red box of assorted chocolates from Nestlé which are proudly made in a peanut-free facility a few years ago. The assortment of bite-sized Aero, Smarties, Kit Kit and Coffee Crisp is what we hand out every Halloween, and it's what we hope our daughter gets when she empties her bag after her night of trick or treating. It's safe and yummy (and I like to eat the Coffee Crisps).
Sadly, many of our neighbours haven't clued in to the fact that so many kids have allergies. So my son came up with a plan to protect his little sister. When they head out for a night of trick or treating, he announces to each homeowner that his little sister (indicates to cute little girl beside him) has severe allergies and asks if they have any nut-free treats. Every year, I see the nervous glances from people who chose to hand out Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or some other potentially harmful snack, as they run back to their kitchen to see if they have anything appropriate.
Once both kids' bags are filled, we head home and dump out all their sweets. Together we go through both bags to find any dangerous goodies that may contain traces of nuts. This is the stressful part, because many companies don't include the ingredients on bite-sized candies. Any candy that can make my daughter sick goes into my son's pile. He counts out an equal number of nut-free options from his bag so they both end up with the same amount of candy. Sweet, huh?
But it makes me sad. Why can't people be more sensitive to the growing number of kids with severe allergies? Which leads me to our newest Halloween tradition which I hope you will adopt at your home too...
I am so proud to be part of a campaign with Nestlé. This year, we're asking you to start a new family tradition: Paint the Town Red by purchasing Nestlé's Assorted snack size bars in the iconic red box and placing the box in your window to let families know you are giving out Halloween Treats made in a peanut-free facility. Then, you can click here to make a pledge that you will continue to provide peanut-free treats made in a peanut free facility on Halloween. This pledge is part of our contest to win a supply of Nestlé Assorted snack size bars made in a peanut-free facility for your street for Halloween. Talk about a win/win situation. You give away great candy, allergic kids are safe and up to 50 houses on your street will be Painting the Town Red because of you.
On behalf of my daughter, and all the other kids who need to be safe every Halloween, thank you!
Wanna win Halloween loot for every house on your street?
A month ago I committed to do the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. The 5km run just happens to be on my birthday, September 30, so I turned the run into my birthday party.
With less than two weeks to go, eighteen of my friends have joined my team. Here's who is coming to the party with running shoes, so to speak.
A-type competitive design blogger Sarah Gunn is treating this run like a race.
Kat Armstrong is a SERIOUS runner, but is healing from a pulled groin injury. Kat's day job is with the Canadian Cancer Society and was the first on our team to reach her fundraising goal. File that under A for Awesome!!
Kelli Williams has raised $250 so far, leading the pack in dollars.
Nance Williams is also running with us.
My nutrtionist, work out buddy and owner of Zen Beginnings Marina Zelenovic has signed up. We're still waiting for our über fit friends Lesley, who teaches cardio yoga, and Chris, aka @SpiderMom1, to join us.
Katja and Laura Wulfers are sisters, and I think they are both training to kick some butt in this run.
Cassandra Sadek, my book loving buddy from Random House, is taking this run seriously. I can't wait to watch her in action!!
And the party doesn't end there.
One in nine women in Toronto, Ontario and across Canada are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives and funds raised by the Foundation go towards innovative research, education and awareness.
If you aren't able to join our team, in lieu of the birthday gift I know you were planning on buying me, I would LOVE if you would donate to our team.
Thank you on behalf of the estimated 22,700 women in Canada who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
Sometimes the universe sends you a challenge that is just out of your comfort zone. It takes a creative mind to rise to the occasion.
A recent survey conducted by Trident (you know, the chewing gum company) discovered that 9 out of 10 Canadians said they find fun in the little things every day. I agree with 65 per cent of Canadians who believe that fun is all about discovering something unexpected like taking a spontaneous road trip (73 per cent) singing at the top of their lungs (49 per cent) or running through a sprinkler on a hot day (39 per cent). And a whopping 96 per cent of Canadians say it’s important to share fun things with others.
Then I was asked by Trident to write about what I do for fun. Hmm....Well, I work. That's my idea of fun. Pathetic, right? I can tell you when I go to Clevelands House Family Resort, it's about relaxation, not fun. I run to feel great. I shop when I'm stressed. But I wouldn't categorize any of the above as simply good old-fashioned fun. I'm kind of a curmudgeon like that. Ask Sharon DeVellis. She knows this about me.
And then I saw this fun video done by the Trident team, and was inspired.
Instead of lying on my back looking for animals in clouds, I took the concept one step further.
Here's what I did for fun this past weekend.
I sat down and asked people I really like to stand around me in a messy circle. I pointed my trusty iPhone camera up and shot their faces against the clouds. It looks kind of goofy but when we put a few of them together, it's not bad. In fact, I think I may have discovered a new genre of portraiture.
Here's a portrait I took of my clan who indulged me in some silliness. Freaky, huh? We look like Siamese Twins. For this my technique was different. I used the forward facing lens, and while I held my phone, my son pressed the button to take the shot.
Here's a few YMC Bloggers who let me have some fun with them. They look good even upside down!
Then, I tried it out a family portrait for Sarah Gunn. Apparently this is the best portrait they've ever had done. (Kidding, mostly.)
School is starting. These days it's all work and no play. So, I appreciated this little reminder to add some fun into my multi-tasking day.
If you want to participate in the Trident Fun-Raiser for a chance to win some free gum, here's what you need to do:
Go to www.facebook.com/tridentcanada, complete the task, snap a photo with Instagram, use the hashtag #seewhatunfolds and watch the fun-meter go up.
Once the weekly goal is met, Trident will release 1,000 packs of FREE Trident Layers gum!
This is proudly sponsored by our friends at Trident.
Trident is helping Canadians to See What Unfolds by spreading fun across Canada. Stay on top of the fun and follow the hashtag #SeeWhatUnfolds or check out the Trident Fun-Raiser on Facebook.