When Halloween is really tricky…


In just a few days, little goblins will be ringing my doorbell. I can’t wait…I really love seeing kids having fun, all dressed up in costume, and so excited to go home and sort out their treats!

However, for many families, Halloween is really not all that much fun. Special needs can throw a wrench into this holiday, making it a rough day for everyone. For some kids, costumes are itchy, or have unfamiliar textures that make them feel uneasy. For others, the concept of dressing up feels uncomfortable. One mom of a child with autism confided, “My daughter really doesn’t like to pretend to be someone she’s not.” Some children may have difficulty navigating wet lawns and uneven pavement in the dark, while others feel frustrated because they’re sensitive or allergic to many of the popular treats they collect. Finally, those who struggle socially are often left out of trick-or-treating groups or Halloween parties. One dad found out that every child in the neighborhood was invited to a pumpkin party…except his son. When another neighbor asked the party host about it, she simply replied. “Oh. We really don’t care for him. So he’s not invited.”

While we can’t control the hearts and minds of everyone in the neighborhood, we can easily make a few modifications to our Halloween practices that can help everyone feel welcome and included. Here are a few suggestions:

  •  Consider giving your trick-or-treaters fair warning if you enjoy a spooky Halloween. Perhaps you can post a sign that points to your front door that warns, “Those who want a fun Halloween scare, go this way…” and another sign that points to your back door that indicates, “Those who prefer a friendly face, please go this way.” Have your spouse or a teen helper take over that station, and parents can help their kids decide which choice is best.
  • If you are aware that kids in your neighborhood have food sensitivities, consider offering a choice of candy or pocket money. Tie up a couple of shiny dimes or a quarter in a Halloween bag for kids who can’t have candy.
  • Chat with your kids about their Halloween plans, and gently suggest they include someone who may not have plans. The child who is invited may refuse, but for kids who are frequently left out of such activities, the invitation alone is priceless.
  • Invite a child who can’t trick-or-treat to hang out with you for a couple of hours. For kids whose health is fragile or for those who have disabilities that make trick-or-treating impractical, a special invitation to your house could make a tremendous difference. In addition, this might allow parents to assist others in the family with Halloween activities…or just have a couple of hours of rest.
  • Go easy on kids’ manners. In the best of circumstances, Halloween is exciting and overwhelming. For kids who struggle with language, impulse control or social skills, waiting for their turn politely or saying, “thank you so much” just might not happen. Be sure to send every kid off with a warm, and heart-felt, “Thank you for coming…I was so happy to see you!”

None of these ideas is ground-breaking of course…just a few simple ways to spread a little love and “treat” your neighbors to a great Halloween. Enjoy!

Annie and Bill getting ready for trick-or-treating...just a month before our move to Ohio

Annie and Bill getting ready for trick-or-treating…1998

Five Facts for Friday {10.25.13}

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you are having a great week. It’s been a busy week here on the blog…hello to our new visitors. I’m so glad you are here!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted 5 Facts. For those of you who are just joining us, these are simply 5 random observations and musings from me…and usually a question so you can weigh in, too!


Five Facts for FRIDAY~

1. If a person’s hands and legs turn an odd shade of blue, she should not panic, call the doctor and assume she is in cardiac arrest. It could be something as simple as the dye from a new pair of jeans.
2. In other news, I bought a new pair of jeans last week.
3. Snow day in October? Please and thank you!
4. Someone told me that I should be a stand-up comedian. Growing up, I was NEVER the funny one. I was the nerdy one. It’s a whole new day, people.
5. TV Theme songs…I loved the Partridge Family’s song. Which TV theme song did you enjoy?

Hope your weekend is cozy!

Life Lessons from “Words With Friends.”


I am one of the 5 million-plus people who plays Words With Friends.

I love it.

There’s something about that bubbly sound as the letters go into place and the little jingle I hear when I hit “play.” I get a rush when I put together a word that gets multiplied in the scoring. Plus…I get to “chat” with friends far and near…my sister-in-law, Wendy, and I have solved many world problems during our games!

I do have quite a formidable opponent, though. Meet Barbara Newman.

She wins at least 90% of the time. I don’t know how she does it…but she seems to magically put letters together in combinations that must make the scrabble board sing.

And every time we play, I learn something new. A new word. A new strategy. New humility (because every time I think I’ve got her cornered, she counters!)

Barb and I share not only a love of words, but a great passion for teaching and ministry as well. Barbara is the Director of Church Services for CLC Network, as well as an Inclusion Teacher at Zeeland Christian School in Michigan. She has authored several books, including Autism and Your Church and Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities.

It occurred to me over the past year, that our Words With Friends games hold a lot of life lessons…Here are just a few:

  • Play with someone who is more skilled than yourself. I have become a better Words With Friends player because of Barb. Similarly, I am a better teacher because I have watched her in action. I often hear myself saying in my own trainings, “My friend Barbara Newman  always says…”

    This is true: Iron sharpens iron. Play with someone from whom you can learn!

  • Be proactive. Just when I think I’ve beat Barb, she plays a word that turns the game in her favor…and fast! She has a knack for thinking ahead, considering options, and anticipating what I might do. This works well in the classroom and in the home. When we, as teachers and parents, can spend time anticipating what kids might do, we’re more apt to help them make good choices and learn effectively.
  • Be strategic. Barb seems to know which letters to play and which to save. She considers the “whole game” rather than just the next play…she really uses a long-term view and appears to gauge her actions based on winning the game rather than just her turn. While this might set her back temporarily, it invariably gives her an edge in the end. In parenting, friendship, ministry and teaching, we need to be strategic…as Covey says, “begin with the end in mind.”
  • Be available. Barb is a busy ladyshe teachers, travels, and writes, and volunteers. Even so, she always makes time to take her turn, even when I know she must be utterly exhausted (sometimes she plays at 4 a.m.!) Those who have worked with her know that she is similarly available to help churches, parents and children, with an endless creativity and an easy, comfortable disposition. What a gift we can give, in all of our relationships and leadership opportunities when we are willing to be available.
  • Eliminate competition. (I don’t mean “do away with the opponent!”) Barb seems to focus more on playing games with people rather than against them. She’s humble and fun and encouraging at every turn. She lives this out in her teaching and ministry as well.Recently, as she and I shared lunch at a conference she said, “There is NO ROOM for competition in the Kingdom.” 

Thanks, Barb!


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