Top 5 Halloween Party Themes

In less than three weeks, it will be Halloween. You’re running out of time to plan an unforgettable, totally unique Halloween party that will set you apart from all the boring sugar cookie decorating and pumpkin carving celebrations.

Please. You’re better than that.

If you’re having a hard time coming up with a unique theme for your Halloween Hullabaloo, I’ve done all the thinking for you.*

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: This terrifying moral tale was meant to teach kids to avoid gluttony, greed, pride, sloth, etc. As young Charlie Bucket watches his fellow factory adventurers fall in the traps of the insane chocolatier, Willy Wonka, we learn . . . ummm . . . candy is made from children?? Add creepy Oompa Loompas and you’ve got the makings of one cocoa-crazy party.

Dental Visit: Create a Halloween nightmare with a drill, a reclining chair, shiny lights, medical face masks and the smell of nitrous oxide. Let panic ensue.

dental chair

(Looks sanitary to me. Open wide.)

Sesame Street: Imaginary woolly mammoths, 10-foot birds running amok, green monsters jumping out of trash cans, a red furry creature screaming, “Hug me!”, a vampire count with no concept of personal space, creepy puppets just waiting for someone to shove a hand up their spine—just a normal day on Sesame Street. But a super creepy party theme.

Junior High School: Tap into those repressed fears of being clumsy, inadequate, sweaty, stupid, terrified, alone, mocked, left out and smelly. Turn your kitchen into a junior high lunch room, complete with a “cool-kids-only” table and extra sloppy sloppy Joe’s. Hand each child a pop history quiz and tell them they get no treats until they answer everything correctly. No cheating, dammit!


(Can’t you feel the terror??)

Hospital Waiting Room: Arrange uncomfortable chairs around the edges of the room. Toss in a few Popular Mechanics magazines from 1998 and a handful of STD pamphlets. Hang a broken clock on the wall. Hand party goers novel-length medical forms to fill out because the hospital has updated its medical records system again and needs all your information in triplicate. Have someone constantly sneeze without covering their nose/mouth.

What’s been your favorite Halloween party? I’m always looking for new ideas!

*This pre-thinking service is available for only $99. If you call today, you get a second one free.

Thankful to Have Been ‘Just a Mom’


(The creatures who made me a mom.)

For years I was just a mom. When people asked what I did for a living, I’d respond, “I’m just a stay-at-home mom.” Ironically, I was never home. I was shuttling kids to and from softball, swimming, dance, school and the mall. I spent approximately 20 years living in my van – and I wasn’t even homeless.

Being a full-time mom is exhausting. People who’ve never spent 24 hours with small children have no idea how listening to the opening notes of “Sesame Street” for the billionth time can make your ear drums bleed.  

I’d wake up early to enjoy some alone time and hear the shuffling of pajama-footed feet as a toddler waddled into the kitchen and onto my lap where she rested against my chest, smelling like baby shampoo, warm blankets and dreams. I’d put my nose in her hair, inhale that scent and think: remember this.

I’d snuggle with my daughters on the couch with piles of library books. We’d read about hungry caterpillars, wicked witches, Sneetches, wild things and little blue engines. I’d share stories about being kind, wise and brave, and I’d pray those messages would stick.

A favorite activity was making cinnamon rolls, letting the girls bake their own sugar-covered creations. They would be coated with flour, butter and cinnamon, and the same ingredients blanketed the floor, but it was OK. It was cleanable. Memories lasted longer than spilled milk.    

Depending on the day, my girls were princesses, gypsies, cheerleaders or demons. They’d walk down the sidewalk with pink, plastic high-heeled shoes slapping the soles of their feet, or wear queen costumes while racing on Big Wheels, catching the fabric under the wheels until all their dresses had shredded hems.

There were thousands of homework assignments, reading logs and math quizzes. Hundreds of times hearing “My teacher hates me” or “I don’t get it. Explain it again.”

At night, there were bedtime stories, bedtime songs and bedtime prayers; all the rituals kids need to keep their moms around a few more moments; delaying sleep just a little bit longer.

But sleep was never a reprieve. I’d often go from coma-level slumber to caffeine-addict wide awake in five seconds or less, wakened by a cry, and sometimes the undeniably disgusting sound of vomit hitting the sheets or carpet.   

And the next day I’d do it all again.

I was so jealous of my neighbor. She’d go to work each morning dressed in a classy skirt and blazer, looking important and doing important things. She was able to talk to grown-ups all day, and probably didn’t have to tell any co-worker to stop wiping their boogers on the couch.

She didn’t go to bed scraping Play-Doh out of her hair. She didn’t watch Cinderella all day or have to be the Ken doll all the time. I schlepped around the house 24/7 in stained yoga paints and T-shirts, listening to poop jokes and kids telling on each other. 

Because the grass is always greener, maybe she wished she could be a slacker like me, eating cold fish sticks and playing Chutes and Ladders for hours at a time. 

We were far from rich, but we were also far from poor. It was a time when Band-Aids and kisses healed skinned knees, and chocolate chip cookies and hugs mended broken hearts. And even though it was an emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting time, I’m so grateful for my daughters’ childhoods. 

I’m so thankful I was able to play and laugh and love. Even though I was just a mom. 

Top 5 Things I Learned in Kindergarten

Kindergarten was pretty laid back when I was 5 years old. We weren’t pressured to actually learn anything; it was more of a social experiment. If we didn’t know basic shapes, colors or letters, our teacher assumed we’d learn what we needed from  Sesame Street. So instead of being stressed, we played for a year before the harsh reality of First Grade kicked in.

sesame(This is where I learned all the important stuff.)

My teacher was the amazing Miss Hansen at Viewmont Elementary–and I wanted to marry her. She was pretty, smart, fun and full of ideas to keep a room full of curtain climbers entertained for four hours every day.

Here are some important things I learned in kindergarten:

  • Don’t eat snow. After watching us eat snowballs, Miss Hansen got out her handy-dandy hot plate, dumped a pile of snow in a pot, and melted it so we could see what we were eating. Floating in the melted snow were various items including gravel, a rodent skeleton and the bumper of a VW Beetle. I haven’t eaten snow since.

melted snow(This pile of crap was found in a melted snowman.)

  • Boys are strange creatures. When I started kindergarten, I hadn’t been blessed with my little brother yet. He wasn’t even a naughty grin on my dad’s face.  So encountering boys on a daily basis induced several levels of culture shock. Boys made weird sounds. They banged dump trucks into my ankles. They ran around with no purpose. And they thought the word “poop” was literary genius. Turns out, boys didn’t change much as I got older.
  • Sitting incorrectly is dangerous. If you lean back in your chair you’ll fall over, break your neck and end up in a wheelchair forever. This horrifying lesson stayed with me long after kindergarten graduation. I still think of Miss Hansen when I see somebody balancing on the back legs of a chair.


  • Coconut milk is pretty nasty. During the spring, Miss Hansen planned a faux class trip to Hawaii. We drew pictures of what we’d pack (swimming suit and candy), made leis (nobody snickered), went on a “plane trip” and had a sip of coconut milk. And promptly spit that crap out.
  • It’s okay to wear pants. I wore dresses all the time. It gave me the illusion I was a sweet little girl. My dad bought me a new dress for kindergarten and I wore that blue dress with the attached red apron until it fell apart. But, before the annual zoo trip, Miss Hansen insisted everyone wear pants. I was shocked. And then I discovered I loved pants! I could climb without boys looking up my dress (see Boys Are Strange Creatures)! Haven’t worn a dress since.