Halloween PSA

It is that time again for my yearly PSA post about Halloween.  This is something that is so important to me, and I will continue to share it year after year.  My youngest daughter has a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis.  It is an allergic response to certain foods.  Her esophagus can become very inflamed just by eating her trigger foods, and it can cause irreversible damage.  When she was younger, this led to several dietary restrictions.  She couldn’t have dairy, eggs, corn, peas, or squash.  If you have ever read labels, you know that just about everything contains either dairy or corn.  This made her food options extremely limited, and Halloween became a source of much stress and disappointment.  I will never forget this one Halloween a few years ago when she went out trick or treating and got a bucket full of candy. That evening she sat on the floor, dumped out her whole bucket, and then began sorting through what she could eat and what she couldn’t.  As she sat there with tears running down her face realizing that the safe pile was getting smaller and smaller, my heart broke into a million pieces.  The pile of things that she could eat had less than 10 pieces of candy.  She just kept saying how unfair it was.  I felt utterly helpless because in that moment there was absolutely nothing I could do to make it better for her.   I snapped a picture to remind me of that moment and vowed to try to make a difference not just for her, but also for other kids with allergies as well. 

Teal Pumpkin

I don’t really know what Halloween is going to look like this year.  I know some people aren’t going to participate, but I know that others are determined to give kids something to look forward to in these crazy times.  I have seen people create candy tubes that you can shoot candy through from your front porch to the sidewalk to maintain distance.  I have also seen people taping sticks to the back of candy to stick in their yards for kids to easily grab as they pass.  It doesn’t really matter how you hand out treats this year.  What matters is that you have alternatives to candy for those children like mine who can’t eat the candy.  The Teal Pumpkin Project was started several years ago by another allergy mom, and it is such a brilliant movement that allows children with dietary restrictions or allergies to still be able to participate safely in Halloween.  All you have to do is to place a teal pumpkin on your porch.  You can paint your own or most stores now sell pumpkins that are already teal just for this purpose. The teal pumpkin is a symbol to those with allergies or dietary restrictions that it is safe to come to your house.   You simply get a few non-edible treats to pass out to those kids that need them.  DON’T mix them in with your candy because some people have contact allergies.  Just have a separate bowl of non-edible treats and allergy friendly candy. When kids come to my house to trick or treat, I simply ask them up front if they have any allergies.  If so, I offer them the bucket of safe treats.  You may only get one or two kids that need the safe treats, but I can’t tell you what a difference that small act will make for those children.  The good thing about it is that even if you have non-edible treats leftover, you can just pack them up and have them for the next year as well.  While my daughter is able to eat most candy now, I will ALWAYS have a Teal Pumpkin on my porch.  It saddens me every year when my teal pumpkin is the only one in our neighborhood, and my prayer is that one day every single house will have one. That is why I will continue to share about it over and over again.

Here are some inexpensive suggestions for safe treats you can purchase. 

Bouncy Balls/Spider Rings/Erasers/Rubber Ducks/Stickers/Bubbles/Silly Glasses/Crazy Straws/Mini Notepads/Mustache Lip Whistles/Vampire Teeth/Glow Sticks/Dum Dums/Finger Puppets/Stamps/Pencils/Slap Bracelets/Slinkies/Slime/Variety Pack

I urge you to consider participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year and every year to come.  It can truly make some child’s day, and keep some mom from worrying to death about her child’s safety.

Anchored,

**This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Goodbye Halloween! Hello Christmas Season!

I’m going as “Best Dressed” again!

Happy Halloween!!! I will admit that this isn’t one of my favorite days.  I guess I loved Halloween as a kid but not so much as an adult.  I don’t like scary stuff and I am not a huge candy person.  Let me make it clear, though. I will eat candy if it is there, but I don’t seek it out. As a teacher, this day was always insane and it was pointless to try to teach on Halloween or the day after it.  The kids were just crazy talking about their costumes and their anticipation of all the candy they were going to eat. Then the day after everyone is tired and coming off of a sugar high. I really feel for teachers today and tomorrow.  I totally agree with everyone that is pushing to have Halloween moved to the last Friday in October. That would make this day so much easier for everyone.  My husband will tell you that Halloween is his favorite because he loves all of the scary movies.  Sadly, we disagree on this topic.   I don’t even really decorate that much for Halloween. In fact this year, I had not decorated at all until Monday of this week when my youngest insisted on putting some pumpkins on the porch and a sign on the door.  There are people in our community that have gone all out with decorations, though. There is one house that even has a giant pirate ship in their yard. It is crazy! On top of it all, it is a very rainy and gloomy day here today.  I think it is going to be like this all day and night.  Trick or Treating is going to be miserable because everyone is going to be wet and cold.  I know that I sound like Scrooge right now, but I really don’t mean too. Halloween is just not my thing.  I do hope that everyone has a fun and safe night filled with laughs and tons of candy. I will just enjoy it from the comfort of my home passing out candy AND allergy friendly treats to all the kids in their cute costumes.

The only positive of Halloween to me is that the end of Halloween marks the beginning of the Christmas season.  I love the holiday season, especially Christmas.  The magic that is in the air as soon as November 1 hits is just so incredible to me.  It brings a change in everyone, and I love it.  The question then comes of when to put up Christmas decorations.  My family’s rule has always been to decorate the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving, but the older I get the more I want to decorate earlier.  My youngest keeps bringing up something she read or heard somewhere about how people who decorate early are happier.  It makes perfect sense to me.  I love Christmas decorations. I love seeing all the houses lit up each year and the beautiful trees in the windows.  Christmas decorations make me happy for sure, and I have a ton of them. I pretty much decorate every room on the main level of my house. I think part of the desire to decorate earlier comes with knowing that we spend much of December away from home, so we don’t get to fully enjoy our decorations.  December is when competition season starts for both of my girls and we are traveling most weekends.  In fact, we will even be spending time just before Christmas in the Bahamas this year for a gymnastics meet.  We also typically spend the week of Christmas in our hometown with family and not at home.  I think that since having kids, Santa has come to our house only once.  He usually comes to my parents’ house.  I wouldn’t want it any other way, but it does mean that we don’t get to enjoy our own decorations as much.  I wrote about this same topic last year of wanting to put my decorations up earlier but ended up not doing it.  We put them up right after Thanksgiving as usual.  This year, I really am seriously considering doing it earlier. I know my kids would love it. I just have to convince my husband.  I really can’t wait to get in the Christmas spirit. There really is nothing wrong with celebrating it as long as possible, right? Who is with me?

Anchored and Rambling,

Teal Pumpkin Project

I finally feel like I am back among the living.  I am certainly not back to 100%, but I am much better.  I am run down and tired still, but I can at least function now. If I could just get rid of this horrible cough, my life would be much more manageable.   It basically prevents me from talking or carrying on any conversation whatsoever. Whatever it is that I had has really kicked my butt.  I have been pretty useless for over a week.  I am super sad that I had to postpone lunch with one of my besties from college who I haven’t seen in years.  How sad is it that since I moved a little over a year ago, we have lived in the same county and have not seen each other once? Life gets in the way too much.  I know that I really need to work to make time for the people that I care about, but it sure it hard.  Anyway, being sick for over a week has really been miserable.  

Now on to the topic of the day! Today I am making my yearly PSA about Halloween.  It is just a week away and many of you are buying candy to pass out to all of the trick or treaters in your neighborhood.  I am urging you to consider also purchasing a few non-edible treats.  As the mom of a child who has had her diet severely restricted due to how her body reacts to certain foods, this is a topic that I am passionate about.  I always tell people about this whenever I can this time of year.  Unless you are living under a rock, you have seen story after story about the rise in food allergies among children.   I can’t tell you why more and more children are suffering from food allergies, but I know that it is happening at alarming rates.  I am here to tell you that it is serious.  It isn’t something to make light of, and it isn’t a bunch of moms overreacting.  Food allergies can literally be the cause of a child’s death. They are real, and they are scary.  Halloween is one of the scariest holidays for children with food allergies.  Some of you may say that a child should just stay home if their allergies are that bad. If you say that, then you can’t possibly have a heart.  Kids should not be punished for something they have no control over.  I firmly believe that it is our responsibility as adults to ensure the safety of ALL kids.  We have to do better at that job. 

Several years ago, the allergy community created the Teal Pumpkin Project.  Families that were willing to offer non-edible or allergy friendly treats were asked to place a teal pumpkin on their porch to let children with allergies know that it was safe to go to that house.  This allowed those children the chance to experience the joy of Halloween.  Thankfully this movement caught on and has now spread around the country. Hundreds of families now participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, but it isn’t enough.  We have to continue to spread the word and urge others to also participate.  There are still so many communities that have never heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project. I have actually never seen a teal pumpkin at any other house besides my own. All you have to do is to purchase a few non-edible treats or trinkets that you keep in a separate bowl from your candy.  Then place a teal pumpkin on your porch to serve as a message to those with allergies that it is safe to visit your house.  You can paint your own teal pumpkin or you can purchase them now already painted at many retailers.  I am certainly not telling you that you can’t pass out candy.  I am simply asking that you also provide a safer alternative to candy. Give those kids who can’t eat the candy the chance to experience something that all kids look forward to each year. 

I always share the story of my daughter from a couple of years ago on Halloween.  She went out and got a bucket full of candy (she can come into contact with her allergen but just can’t ingest it).  She came home and dumped out the bucket and began sorting through what she could eat and what she couldn’t.  The pile of things that she could not have was huge and the pile she could have consisted of less than 10 pieces of candy.  I watched as she sat there with tears rolling down her face thinking how unfair it was, and my heart broke.  Not one of the houses that we went to had allergy friendly treats.  In fact, we were the only house in the entire community we lived in that had a Teal Pumpkin out.  There are hundreds of children just like my daughter that want so badly to fit in and do the things their peers do.  Many of them are even worse than my daughter and cannot even come into contact with their allergen.  I am begging you for the sake of all of those children to please take part in the Teal Pumpkin Project.  Ask the kids when they come to your door in their cute or scary costumes if they have any allergies, and please offer them an alternative.  I can promise you, it will make their night and it will give all of us worried moms a huge sigh of relief.  You could literally save a child’s life and make their day a little brighter.  

Getting allergy friendly treats is as simple as buying one less bag of candy and instead buying a few inexpensive trinkets.  Often these things are less expensive than candy.  Below is a list of ideas of allergy friendly treats with links to purchase them in bulk. You can also purchase assortment packs from Amazon like this or this. The good news is that these don’t go bad so you can save whatever is left year after year. 

Anchored,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.

Halloween Horrors

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My “costume” for this year is…Best Dressed! LOL

Happy Halloween! I know I normally do an organization post on Wednesdays, but I thought I would change it up a little since today is Halloween.  I will admit that I am not a big Halloween person like some.  My husband actually loves Halloween and he says that it is his favorite holiday.  He loves it because all of the old scary movies come on TV and he just loves those.  I, however, am not a fan of scary movies, haunted houses, dressing up, or any of the other things that go along with Halloween.  I guess the candy is okay, but I really am not a huge candy person either.  I’m more of a cake and cookies kind of girl. I remember loving Halloween as a kid, though; but I think I liked more of the fall aspect of the holiday with hayrides (not scary ones), fall festivals, getting tons of candy, and trick or treating with friends. I still love going to fall festivals and taking the girls to pumpkin patches.  I even still love hayrides.  So much fun!

I’m not, however, a fan of carving pumpkins.  It just so gross to me and way too much work. I do love the look of uncarved pumpkins with fall flowers sitting on the porch, though.  That look can carry you all the way through Thanksgiving! I don’t have any fall flowers on my porch this year because, well, I do not have a green thumb.  I cannot keep any kind of plant or flower alive.  I even killed a cactus! I know, it’s sad! Some of our neighbors in this new neighborhood have gone all out with their Halloween decorations.  They have spider webs, spiders, graves, skeletons, witches, and more all over their yards and porches.  My youngest keeps telling me that we need to do more decorating, but I think I am just fine with the pumpkins on the porch and the fall wreath that is on the door.  I’m definitely for the more classic fall look than the scary Halloween look. How about you?

I don’t know about you but “back in the old days” as my daughter would say, my parents didn’t go out and buy me these crazy and expensive Halloween costumes like kids wear now. I remember in my really younger days having those plastic trash bag-like outfits with the plastic mask with the rubber band that held it to your face.  I think one was a Cabbage Patch Kid and maybe a My Little Pony one year. I think my mom has pictures of them somewhere at her house. Then as I got a little older, I made my own costumes. This was also back in the days when you could wear your costume to school and had a costume contest.  I will throw in there that I won 1st prize for my Paper Bag Lady. Haha! I must say that I was pretty creative.   I told this to my kids the other day and they looked at me like I had 3 heads.  The thought of actually having to put work into their costumes was a concept that they couldn’t imagine.  Are my kids spoiled or what? When I had all of my pictures out organizing them the other day, I found these pics of the homemade costumes above and showed them to the girls.  They of course just looked at me like I was a weirdo.  Got to love them, though! But, for real, wasn’t I cool? Go ahead and click on them and make them bigger to see the whole costumes for all their glory. You know you want to! LOL!

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Now that you have had a good laugh at my expense, I want to get into the one thing that I am passionate about at Halloween, and that is the Teal Pumpkin Project.  If you have never heard of it before, this is a movement that was begun several years ago by some parents of children with severe food allergies who are often unable to experience the joy of trick or treating because it can be deadly for them. The point of the Teal Pumpkin Project is not only to make others aware of kids with food allergies but also to encourage people to provide safe options for kids with allergies (non-edible treats).  As the parent of a child who has had so many food restrictions due to her EOE, Halloween was a depressing day in the past.  Although her allergens did not cause her to go into anaphylactic shock like they do for so many kids (even if they just touch or smell the allergen), she was still unable to ingest most of the candy that she got on Halloween because it could damage her esophagus.  After we would get back from trick or treating, she would sit on the floor with all of her candy dumped out in front of her and sort it into a pile of what she could eat and a pile of what she couldn’t eat.  Let me tell you that she would then sit there and cry because her pile of allowable candy was soooo small compared to the pile of what she now had to give to her sister or someone else.  It was the saddest thing and absolutely broke my heart for her.

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I know it may be too late for this year, but I urge you to consider offering alternative treats to candy. I am not saying that you shouldn’t give out candy, by all means, please do.  I am just asking that you have a SEPARATE bowl of allergy friendly treats available to those kids that can’t have the candy.  What are some allergy friendly treats you may ask? Non-edible things like pencils, spider rings, Halloween themed erasers, small containers of play dough, silly puddy, those rubber bracelets, and vampire teeth are so easy to find at places like The Dollar Store or even at Walmart and Target for very little cost. Dum Dum lollipops are also allergy friendly for most kids with nut and dairy allergies. There are so many affordable alternatives.

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How will these kids know that it is safe for them to come to your house to trick or treat? If you are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, you simply place a teal colored pumpkin at your door and that lets parents and kids with allergies know that it is safe at your house.  I have painted several plastic pumpkins over the years, but now you can actually purchase teal pumpkins at craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby as more people become aware and are willing to participate.  You could even choose to paint a real pumpkin that you carve and make all cute or scary if that’s your fancy.

The number of kids with life-threatening allergies is increasing in alarming rates and no one really knows why.  Just because you have an allergy, you shouldn’t have to miss out on the fun tradition of trick or treating like every other kid around. The parents of these kids shouldn’t have to fear this day because they are afraid of their child coming into contact with something that could essentially kill them.  Please be aware and consider participating in this amazing movement. I know it would mean the world to thousands of little boys and girls like mine. Better safe than sorry! It really could mean the difference of life and death for a child. That’s a Halloween Horror that I am not willing to live with.

Anchored and a Proud Supporter of The Teal Pumpkin Project,

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