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It’s the Great (Teal) Pumpkin!



Halloween trick-or-treat alternatives for kids with food allergies

I vaguely remember this movement last year, but never actually saw it in execution. To be fair, we live in a rural area where you can’t exactly trick-or-treat farm to farm, but even at the many trunk-or-treat events we went to I didn’t see anything regarding teal pumpkins. I saw it all over Facebook, but that was about the extent of it. It seemed like a cool idea, and I was hoping it would gain popularity.

Apparently it did, because this year I see the tell tale teal pumpkins everywhere! In the places you’d never expect…the local grocery store, our farmers market, sitting at the end of a dirt road on the drive of an old farm straddling the border of North and South Carolina. It has arrived. The Great Teal Pumpkin is here!


The Teal Pumpkin Project focuses on bringing the joy of Halloween to kids with food allergies. Although it took awhile to reach our neck of the woods, the Teal Pumpkin Project was actually started back in 2014. According to, 15 million Americans have food allergies, which accounts for about 1 in 13 children. How many kids are in your child’s class? Usually 20+…so it’s safe to say you have at least one, if not two, kids that have a food allergy.

To participate, all you do is place a teal pumpkin (or a sign) outside. That’s it. This indicates that you have non-food treats available for children who cannot have candy. Suggestions for non-food items are bubbles, stickers, pencils, tattoos, crayons, and bouncy balls. I was at Costco last week and saw a giant bag of tiny containers of Play-doh that would be absolutely perfect!

Halloween is a magical day. It can also be crushing to a child when their magic is ruined. Kids with food allergies face a struggle every day of their lives. Let’s give them a day off to just be kids.


We don’t need no education…


Okay, obviously not true but all I could do at open house this evening was sing Pink Floyd in my head and think of random Kindergarten Cop quotes. And come home to write this.

Dear teachers,

I bow to you. I really do.  As a mom who homeschooled and now is sending a kiddo to navigate the waters of school at his request, I don’t know how you do it. Teaching and corralling my own children is nerve wracking enough. I can’t imagine doing it with 20+ kids who aren’t even your own. Add the pressures of testing, teaching styles, grades, and various other controversial  topics and I imagine your days are just full of stress.


Let me just tell you something. Something that you may already know, but maybe just need to hear it again.

I don’t really care how my kid scores on all these exams in the long run. I don’t care if he’s top in his class. I don’t care if he won a spelling bee or if he’s a faster or slower reader than other kids. If the way it’s being taught doesn’t work for him, then we will find another way. As long as he’s doing his very best and is happy, then right now that is enough for me.

What I do care about is that he is learning to love and respect others. I feel like I’ve been teaching this at home, but it can only go so far when your world consists of your family and friends. His world is about to get a whole lot bigger, and I need you to help him navigate it. You are there on the front lines with him. I need you to be his role model and his platoon leader.

Obviously there are lots of things going on lately that are hateful and confusing. I feel like especially right now our society has reached a critical point where we need to alter our direction of where we’ve been heading in regards to basic respect and courtesy. Kids may not know the details but I guarantee you they know the underlying feel of it. I’ll be damned if my child ever feels it’s okay to hurt or belittle another person for who they are. So please, help my child feel safe to stand up for what’s right. Help his classmates embrace him for who he is and him to embrace them for who they are, each individually. Help him to trust his “inside feeling” when something isn’t right. If a child is lonely, encourage him to find a way to help. If he is the lonely one, encourage another child to do the same for him.

This all starts at home, and I need you to help me continue it at school.

I don’t care how fast he can do a math worksheet or how neat his handwriting is. I care about whether he’s happy. I care about what things make him happy. I care about whether he loves others as he loves himself and that he loves himself as he loves others. I tell him to always help others because it is the right thing to do. To always have open arms.  I need you to show him in action.

I’m sure this is redundant, and something you already do without question. Maybe I’m just writing this to reassure myself.

Thank you for teaching our kids math, handwriting, and all the other academic necessities that serve us well in life. But mostly thank you for training up our kids to be humans when they are with you. Good humans. Humane, kind, generous, strong humans who will steer humanity in the right direction. I could do it all by myself, but I’m choosing not to. I’m choosing not to because I feel like it takes a village, and our family extends beyond blood to the people around us that we share aspects of our life with.


From my hands to yours.


Bedtime – science or sanity saver?


Ah, summer time.  For most school age kids, it’s a break from the hectic up-at-dawn mornings hurriedly getting ready for school. It also means more lax bedtimes, and if you are certifiably insane and willing to give up your evening quiet time (which I am not, can you tell?) it means your kids are up late. That’s great if they sleep in, but most do not. So how much sleep do kids really need? And how important is it to maintain a sleep schedule?

The answer to both is a lot, and very.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, kids ages 1-3 need 12-14 hours, ages  3-5 need 11-13 hours, and ages 5-10 need 10-11 hours. Kids desperately need these hours for both physical and mental development. Kids who don’t get enough sleep can have mood swings, behavioral problems, cognitive problems, and physical symptoms such as headaches. You know how awful, forgetful, and physically ill you feel when your newborn hasn’t let you sleep in weeks? That’s how your kids feel. Although instead of being a coffee guzzling zombie like you, they ramp up in activity and also in bad attitudes and behavior. Sadly, the NSF says about 30% of kids fall in this category of less sleep than what is recommended.

PubMed has a study published by the Japanese Society of Child Neurology that shows the long term effects of having an early bedtime. A large group (over 40,000) children were followed over a lengthy period of time and it was found that children that had an early and predictable bedtime at the age of two were much less likely to have attention and behavioral issues at age 8. There are literally hundreds of studies showing the positive effects of consistent and early bedtimes on children’s health, and I could type them out for days.

So even though you may not need to be up and at ‘em first thing in the morning, try to maintain your child’s sleep routine throughout the summer. Vacations and other adventures are always going to throw a loop into your routine, but for the most part try to keep it within the norm. The recommended bedtime for elementary aged kids and younger surprisingly isn’t when-they-collapse-on-the-floor-o’clock. It’s between 7-8pm. My kids are in bed between 7 and 7:30. Yes, it’s still light out in the summer. Black out curtains work wonders! They are healthy and well rested, and I get a few peaceful hours to myself in the evenings after being tortured playing with them all day. Everyone wins.


Try to have the same routine every evening. Rooms should be nice and dark, nice and cool, and kids shouldn’t have TVs in their rooms (so basically nice and boring). Turn off electronics an hour before bedtime. Try to avoid school and sports functions that last up till bedtime.

So yeah, I get a lot of flack for peacing out early from social functions and whatnot because my kids have to go to bed. Whatever though, it’s science ya’ll. Science and sanity. My two favorite things.


Mythbusters: It is safe to place your infant seat on the top portion of a shopping cart


In this Mythbusters article I’m going to touch on something that’s been discussed before. It may be somewhat of a rerun but given the incredibly common practice I think it’s due time.

Myth – It is safe to place your infant seat on the top portion of a shopping cart, especially when it clicks into place.

Car-Seat-on-top-of-shopping-cartMany people view this as truth because, well, everyone does it. Surely if it is that awful and dangerous then you wouldn’t see every infant in the store chilling in their car seat on the cart every time you go to Target, right? Plus it clicks in! It’s meant to be placed there!

This next paragraph may be a total spoiler but I suspect you already know the answer anyway since I’m running a blog post on it.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (, between 2008 and 2012 there were approximately 107,300 shopping cart related injuries treated in kids under  the age of 5. Of these cases, 85% were head/facial injuries. The American Academy of Pediatrics shows that, between 2003 and 2007, approximately 43,562 infants were treated in emergency rooms for being injured while in a car seat that was not in use in a vehicle. 84.3% were head injuries, the majority of them being due to either the infant falling out of the car seat or the car seat falling from an elevated surface.


I know the following scenarios are disturbing to imagine, but I feel like they will illustrate how easy this can happen to anyone.

Case 1: You just wrapped up grocery shopping. Your baby is snoozing happily in his infant seat on the cart.  You’re pushing the cart through the parking lot to your car and you cruise over a speed bump. The infant seat that clicked perfectly into that spot on the cart 30 minutes earlier pops off the cart and topples to the ground. Your sweet baby slams head first onto the pavement from 4 feet up in the air, with the additional weight of the car seat on top of him.

Case 2: You’re shopping at Target with your newborn and your crazy toddler. You have your baby in his car seat on the cart but you ALWAYS have one hand on him. Except when your toddler knocks off some containers of baby puffs from the shelf on the floor. You bend over for just a second to pick them up. Your toddler wants to kiss your baby’s feet and pulls up on the cart handle to reach. The cart tips over and the baby goes face first onto the concrete floor, cart on top of him, not to mention the crush your toddler is going to get too.

Sadly, I didn’t make those up.

If you want to spare yourself the nightmare, please use the car seat IN THE CAR. Not outside of it. I know it’s handy when they’re napping, but it’s just so easy to temporarily sit them on a counter, a table, or a shopping cart. Yes they make little docks on shopping carts designed for infant seats, but shopping carts tip so unbelievably easy that it’s just not worth the risk. If you need to place a car seat in a shopping cart then place it in the big part of the cart. I know that defeats the purpose of the cart, but that’s really the only solution here.

Obviously this myth is busted. Break the cycle and share with those you know. Your kid is going to have plenty of opportunities to get hurt…here’s one you can avoid.