Wendy Knuth Author of Moore Zombies, blogging about the human experience.

Tag Archives: #parenting

Spooky Time – A Fun Halloween Game!

Tonight I reminisce.  I would like to tell you about the fun & scary game that somehow just came to be.  It became a favorite Halloween tradition for our family.  Spooky Time.

When my children were very young, I liked to set the mood for whatever holiday was present.  I just happened to be shopping for Christmas items at a craft store when I noticed a 90% off deal for Halloween items.  Lucky me. I bought numerous, numerous candle holders at 10 cents apiece.  Skulls, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, etc.

So come next Halloween, I put them on display.  I also wanted to play some Halloween music, and all I could find was CD’s with songs such as The Purple People Eater.  I used to light the candles in the spooky looking candle holders, as well as in the jack-o-lanterns we had carved.  I would play the fun music and the kids would run around.

We turned out the lights so we could see how spooky the carved pumpkins and ghosts looked.  Then we decided to play hide-n-seek.  There were numerous candles everywhere so that every room was very well lit.  We even left some of the lights on, but dimmed them.  My boys were so cute.  They would go to their bedroom for one minute to give us time to hide.  Then, they would come out with big eyes, fake swords and plastic armor.

As the kids grew, I had to find scarier music.  So I went online and found some great clips that I downloaded and put on CD’s:  Werewolf howls, theme music from The Exorcist, theme music from the Halloween movies, music with people screaming on occasion, maniacal clown house music, the dreaded string sounds that you usually hear when someone is being attacked in a movie, etc.

The years continued to pass and we had to have less and less light as hiders were more easily found.  By this time, the REALLY scary music was blasting, and the neighbor children came over for this great, fun, scary, Spooky Time.  Sometimes the kids would hide with adults being the seekers, other times vice-versa.  We discovered throwing items at or near a seeker could throw them off, and there was a lot of moving around so that hiders could go to a place where the seeker had already checked, leaving the seeker to believe no one was hiding there.  One thing was very apparent – the jump scare never gets old!

Fast forward a couple of years.  The lights were almost none existent.  The music still blared on.  So, yes, injuries started to occur.  Hiders and seekers would run into each other.  One night, I heard “Wendy, I’m bleeding!”  We turned on the lights and our neighbor had a split in the center of his forehead.  How very Halloween to have blood dripping down all over his face and onto the carpet.  I thought he had crawled into an outside wall corner but it turns out he had just run straight into the flat surface of the wall.  Head wounds bleed, um, a lot.

Boys and men are so funny.  As my husband and I were working on the boy’s wound, my husband told him that someday women would be impressed with his scar, but that he needed a better story.  Apparently, running into a wall doesn’t excite the ladies.  All of the boys got to work.  I was amazed by all of their fantastic stories as to how our neighbor had now suffered this injury.  Great imaginations!

Being the only female present, I found it very interesting that there was no screaming or crying, but almost a proudness, a rite of passage if you will.  I’m sure if some young girl had split her head open things would have been quite different.

I don’t think that was the last year of Spooky Time.   I believe the next year the kids wore their karate gear, including headgear.  We may have even gone one more year.  But it was pretty much the end of an era.  And that is why I reminisce.  It was a lot of fun.  Go ahead and give it a try, just remember to leave some lights on.

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies  MooreZombies.com

What’s wrong with the children of today? Raised by Hypocrites!

I have seen many facebook posts about how different the childhood lives were of us older folks.  We are so proud of our crazy escapades.  We used to run wild with parental consent.  Playing outside was the norm.   At times, we were literally miles away, and far outside the reach of any authority.  We were physically fit, we were using our imaginations, and we got dirty.  We had a great time.

I grew up in a neighborhood full of mostly boys.  There was motorcycle riding, bicycle riding, skateboarding all sans helmet, pick-up games of football and kick ball, horseback riding and other such activities.  There was a creek nearby for swimming, fishing, and crawdad catching.

So, what stands out?  Well, let’s see.  There was the time when I was riding on the back of an ATV, a stick somehow got stuck up my pant leg and so I shook my leg to get rid of it.  My leg was caught under the back tire, which sucked me right off the seat and I was slammed to the ground as the tire rolled over my limb. My driver friend took a serious hit to her ribs against the handlebars.

One day, my neighbor decided he would like to be strung up a tree.  Seriously, it was his idea.  Does anyone remember how much fun you can have with the old rope over the branch trick?  Well, said neighbor boy created a loop and put it around his neck and asked my brother to start pulling on the rope.  He made it a few feet off the ground before he started making very strange noises and the writhing of his body was evidence enough for my brother to let him down.  Brilliant thinking on behalf of both of them.

At one point in time, boyhood frustrations were running high.  There were altercations occurring.  One day, we kids happened across previously mentioned hang him up boy and his military father.  The father thought it would be a great idea to duke it out and settle the tension.  So he asked “Who wants to fight?”  Boys agreed to fighting, and fighting occurred.  As the only girl, I was an observer.  As I recall, the fights ended on their own with mutual consent.  Can you imagine the headlines today?

These are but a few of my many, many stories I could tell you about the youth of past days.

So, parents, if life was so great, why won’t you let your children experience the same?

Let your children run wild with no knowledge of their whereabouts for hours on end.  Let them trick-or-treat unsupervised.  Let them sell cookies door-to-door to complete strangers with no parents watching over them.  Forget the helmets, forget the seatbelts.  Remember how much fun it was without them?  Swimming alone, why not?  There is nothing like living a little dangerously.  It will build character.  As a small test, tell your children to leave their cell phones at home to simulate the lack of contact.  Are you game?  Probably not.

Did we have great fun as youths?  Yes we did.  We didn’t know how stupid we were being, and yet we look back at it with fondness.  Did we let our children do the same?  Heck no!  Are you a hypocrite?  I can’t answer for all of you, but for me, yes, guilty as charged!

Wendy Knuth

Author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books

MooreZombies.com

Open Letter to Michelle Obama

Open Letter to Michelle Obama:

Okay folks, this is not about politics, and I’m certainly not going to reveal mine, but I do have a few words to say about sports and snack time.  In this regard, I feel if my message could go straight to the top, to someone who is trying to make this nation healthier with her Let’s Move Initiative, then maybe more attention will be drawn to my plan, and perhaps it could actually be implemented.  I would love to help Mrs. Obama out in this area with a simple, but great idea.

So here we go.  Attention parents and/or coaches (football, soccer, baseball, t-ball, basketball, etc. and so forth and so on) regarding snack time for post practice and for post games – Get Rid of It!!!!!

That’s it.  Easy enough, right?  Back in my day, I played soccer in elementary school.  For our weekly game, one parent was designated to bring a half time snack.  Soccer, as well as other sports, involves a lot of running.  Did we need a half time pick-me-up?  Yes.  It was called oranges.  There was always a large plastic bag of sliced up oranges, and we also drank water.  There was never any variation.  Week after week, our only half time option was oranges.  If you wanted something after the game, you could eat more oranges, and we did.  Do oranges have sugar?  Yes, of course, but at least you get some fiber.

When I became a parent and my children entered the world of sports, I was surprised at the weekly schedule of a post practice snack.  And, while a healthy snack schedule was incorporated for half time during games (apples, oranges, bananas), there was also a post game snack schedule.  What would parents buy?  Junk, absolute, complete junk.  Me?  Guilty.  The cheapest and easiest things to buy in bulk are junky snack items and questionable “fruit” drinks.  If you read the fine print on many of these drinks they claim to be 10% fruit juice.  At least they are honest.

A parent and I had a conversation about this once.  She had told her father about snack time and he was abhorred.  Great job, kids! You played hard, you exercised, you burned some calories, here’s a bag of sugar.  This parent and I joked about substituting a multivitamin in the place of a snack.  Perhaps it’s not such a bad idea.

There are other issues, also.  Believe me, parents know when to schedule the feeding of their children.  You look at practice and game times and determine whether a meal should take place before or after, or if a child needs a snack of the parent’s choosing beforehand.  Often times, my child was all sugared up just before dinner, leaving my other child wondering why he didn’t get the same junk.

How widespread is this practice?  When did it come into play?  I’m not sure.  I hope it’s not countrywide.  Tell me your sports practices.  I would also like to know if professional athletes wrap up their game with a bag of cookies or chips and a sugar drink.

Do we need a federal mandate to ditch this practice?  No.  We need a vote, perhaps at the very first team meeting.  Parents and coaches, please mull this over.  In the meantime, I would just love for Michelle Obama to read this so that she could bring national attention to this sugary situation.  Call me!

Wendy Knuth,

Author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books.

Homemade Christmas Tree Ornaments Are The Best!

I love my Christmas Tree!!  Many years ago when my husband and I were celebrating our first Christmases, we didn’t have much for the Christmas tree.  We bought some ornaments from a neighbor kid for a school sales drive.  We bought bright and shiny hanging balls and tinsel.  We bought a unique ornament here and there, which of course would be horribly expensive if you bought enough in one season to fill up the tree.  I’d have to say for the first several years of our marriage, our Christmas trees just had a manufactured feel.  Memories of purchasing ornaments from K-mart just don’t warm the heart.

After my Grandmother passed away, I inherited all of her numerous ornaments which I LOVE!!!  Most of them are handmade.  The woman could sew.  There are angels and stockings and snowflakes and Santas; all the typical ornaments you would think of for Christmas.  I also have mice, geese, trains, drums, teddy bears and little wreaths.  I recognized and remembered the felt angel I had made as a Camp Fire Girl with sequins and nylon material for the styrofoam head.  And there are really unique ones, such as Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow, Raggedy Ann & Andy, items you wouldn’t associate with Christmas but they are adorable.  I even have a Batman ornament and Robin ornament.  There are so many – enough to fill up the whole tree.

As a youngster, my mom would always cook popcorn on the stovetop.  Does anyone remember the labor that went into quickly moving the pot back and forth over the burner as the popcorn popped so it wouldn’t burn in the layer of oil?  My mother gave my brother and me a needle and thread so we could make long strings of popcorn for the Christmas tree.  I’m sure we ate more than we put on the string but it was great fun.  We also made chains with links made out of cut up strips of colored construction paper.  Cook that popcorn with your children, and link those links!

Since we have had our two boys, they have added to the collection.  They made ornaments in school and at home.  I still have a Kirby ornament made out of pipe cleaners, er um, chenelle sticks (they loved the Kirby Airride video game at the time).  Yes they made paper chains.  There are styrofoam balls they glued sequins and shiny glitter to, with unfolded paper clips as hangers.  There is an ice cream cone with a glued on ball.  There are simple ornaments that are paper cutouts that they drew on with crayons.  They may not be the most artistic but since they are from my boys, they are the best and I hang them with pride!

So when the Christmas tree goes up, and I start hanging the ornaments, I am flooded with memories.  My Grandmother made this with me as a little girl, here are the ones my sons made when they were young, and yes, my best friend bought this as a present for my first son and my first Christmas as a mother.  Now the tree is not just a Christmas Tree, it is a Memory Tree, truly a Family Tree, full of history, each ornament with its own story.  Make those ornaments, keep them, remember them, hang them, relive the memories and retell the stories.

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