How Hubby Saved Halloween

Posted in holidays on November 2nd, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , ,

October is normally one of the busiest months for our family, and that was true before October 2011 – the month that saw us being blessed with a new baby, starting homeschooling, and Hubby starting a new job/career all at the same time.  There are so many fun fall and Halloween events and activities that we like to do this time of year; we didn’t even realize exactly how many until this year when we had to scale it back a bit.  We skipped the corn mazes, the pumpkin farms, and all the haunted attractions this year.  We did take the kids to the mall for the trick-or-treating there, and it was lots of fun even if there were 50 times more people than last year – there was a line circling the perimeter of the entire mall!  Not a problem, seeing as how we live near the smallest mall I’ve ever seen and the line was continuously moving – as I said, lots of fun!

I heard about a congressman on the news who wants to pass legislation to move Halloween to the 4th Saturday in October because it’s safer for kids and easier to work around school if trick-or-treating is always on a Saturday and earlier in the day.  Some lady they interviewed for her opinion on the street was against it; she said that would be like moving Christmas to make it more convenient.  Umm, not even close in my opinion, but I won’t go there.  My point is that the area in which I live always schedules the Halloween stuff on Saturdays anyway – I guess we’re ahead of our time here in rural Ohio, haha.  This year we had 2 Halloween parties and our trick-or-treat on Saturday October 29.  Except we found out during the mall trick or treat (which was on Tuesday night) that baby Luke is a homebody – he gets really fussy when we try to take him places, especially if it’s outdoor places, and yes, we do bundle him up.  Saturday was a very big day for all of us because Hubby’s and my lack of sleep finally caught up to us.  We began the day on a very grumpy note, and everything was very hectic as we tried to get our work done at the church and ready the kids for the Halloween festivities.  We made it to the first party – the community Halloween party they have at the ice rink (no ice of course).  We had tons of fun as usual, and we even got on the hayride before the rain came and before the line got too long.  But Luke decided he was finished with the Halloween party before we were.  No sticking this baby in a stroller and feeding him on the go like we did with the other 4 kids; he just won’t have it and voices his complaints loudly.  Luke is our fussiest baby; the others were all very adaptable babies – in retrospect, I guess we were spoiled.  We are a very busy family, so either us scaling things back for Luke or trying to get him to adapt to our busyness will be interesting.  He can go from what I call ‘zero to screaming’ in a matter of seconds, but don’t get me wrong – he’s oh-so-incredibly cute and lovable.  It’s just that his idea of a good time is being held and cuddled – constantly.  Which also explains my lack of blogging lately – while I am feeling better after being sick most of the pregnancy and am recovering well after the surgery, I am not a very successful one-handed typist.  There really isn’t a choice between cuddling a cute baby or blogging, now is there?  So anyway, I took Luke to the car while Hubby finished up at the party with the other kids, and we decided to put off trick-or-treating until another day and do it in a nearby community that had scheduled it on Sunday.  We also decided that Hubby would stay home with Luke that evening while I took the other kids to our other planned Halloween party.  We went home and tossed a couple of frozen pizzas in the oven for a quick dinner, but wouldn’t you know by the way that Saturday was going – we burnt a pizza and only the kids got fed.  At least our evening plan worked out – I went to the party with the 4 older kids, and we all had a blast.  Luke actually let Hubby catch a nap while we were gone too!

Sunday we drove the 10 miles to the town where we were going to trick-or-treat, but we quickly became confused – no one was out; it was like a ghost town.  Hubby stopped at a gas station and found out that the trick-or-treating was from 3:30-5.  We had readied ourselves and arrived there ready to trick-or-treat from 5:30-7.  Apparently my lack of sleep had impaired my ability to read the time correctly in the newspaper.  I can’t beleive I did that – I had checked the paper probably about FIVE times throughout the week to make sure I had the right time, day, and place.  And I had misread the information each of those FIVE times.  So my genius Hubby made us a plan.  He stopped at Walmart and picked up 2 huge bags of candy – at full price I might add, which was hard for him.  He loves store clearances and sales, and it’s a testament to how much he loves his family that he bought all that candy at full price knowing that it would be half off in just a day or two.  But anyway, we got the candy and stopped at the dollar store and bought each kid a flashlight.  We drove over to the park, and Hubby hid the candy all around the park and then we let the kids loose with their flashlights and trick-or-treat bags to find it.  They loved it!  They said they liked it even more than trick-or-treating, and we even got an unprompted handmade thank you card later that evening from 7-year-old Sammie – and I quote, “I love wat we did today”.  I should add how great the kids were in the car as we tried to figure out what was going on with the trick-or-treating.  They were all in their costumes and ready to go, and then mom and dad starting driving around aimlessly.  When they found out they wouldn’t be trick-or-treating after all, there was not a tear, not even a protest.  Just a few questions and much patience as they waited to see what we would do instead – they are AMAZING!

I think I have some video of the kids at the mall, but other than that, things were way too hectic during our Halloween celebrations to take many pictures or video.  We have our wonderful memories though, and those of course are priceless.

Here’s a picture of my kids dressed in their Halloween costumes on the day they arrived in the mail from Grammie.  11-year-old Taylor was a pirate, 7-year-old Sammie and 5-year-old Disney were princesses, and 3-year-old Christopher was Superman:

Halloween Fun (Was Had)

Posted in family fun, holidays on November 10th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s officially mid-November already, and Halloween is over.  Because Halloween is one of our family’s favorite holidays, we try to take advantage of doing every Halloween-related activity we can, which often stretches the season.  We began on the Tuesday before Halloween at the mall.  They held a weather-proof (good thing too, the weather on Tuesday was so awful our tornado sirens were activated) trick-or-treat event in the mall, with costumed kids going from store to store receiving candy.  Our kids had a blast, and our little guy got the hang of trick-or-treating REALLY quickly!  He would receive his candy, and his way of saying ‘thank you’ was to give a little wave – it was adorable – see for yourself!  He’s the one in the Blue’s Clues costume:

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At first he was afraid of some of the scary masks, but he was quickly over that too.  The rest of the week stayed relatively Halloween-free, until Friday, when we had planned a Halloween-themed game night.  We requested guests to wear costumes (any excuse to dress up in a costume for Halloween – I really like to participate as much as I can!!), and we had quite a variety: from an escaped inmate (Hubby) to Flo the Progressive Insurance nurse, a nerd, a couple of hippies, a professor, a zookeeper on safari (me) – even a few members of the “real” Mafia made an appearance (we frequently play a game called ‘Mafia’ at game night and it’s tons of fun!  A few of the regular game nighters decided to dress up as Mafia as a shout-out to the game).  Fun was had, and we were able to rest up for Saturday, which was the annual community Halloween party.  My kids loved the hayride, complete with monsters that jump out of the brush and chase the wagon, and we rode 3 times.  There are all kinds of things to do at the community party, and it’s all free: from gourmet slushes (best wild berry slush ever!), cotton candy, hot dogs, and popcorn to carnival games, bouncy castles, and a maze for the kids, it’s all so much fun!

After that was time for Trick or Treating, and we had fun even if Hubby wasn’t feeling so well (he is better now – thanks for your thoughts and prayers!).  Let’s see…  don’t think I mentioned the kids’ costumes: my oldest (almost 11 already!) was a cowgirl, 6-year-old Sammie was a princess, 4-year-old Disney was a witch at the mall who switched to Dora for Saturdays’ events, and 2-year-old Christopher was Blue from Blue’s Clues.  We had fun Trick or Treating, and Hubby and I chose an old favorite movie of ours to watch afterward: The Uninvited – not totally scary (we usually try to watch a scary movie together on Halloween), but we both felt like a great thriller more than a horror movie this year.  Here is my little boy dressed as Blue:

Sunday saw church, and we had a blast in Sunday school as usual – except that poor Hubby had to stay home.  Also, we were very tired on Saturday after trick or treating, so we didn’t get a chance to get our annual picture of the kids in their costumes sitting on the couch.  But we got one of all 4 of them in the mall, so here it is:

Overall, a very fun 2010 Halloween, one that I can’t believe came and went so quickly – SO quickly in fact, that it’s already been over for weeks!  Unbelievable!!  Hope your Halloween was safe, fun, and happy, and that your Thanksgiving will be the same!!

Last Call For Haunted Houses!!

Posted in holidays on October 27th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This weekend sees the last of the Halloween season of 2010.  I always try my best to do as much Halloween and fall-related things as possible; I just love the season.  This year I’ve been lucky enough to have gotten to try THREE haunted houses, and I will rate them here in case anyone has time to check any of them out.  I would really like to fit in a few more or even a repeat visit to one I’ve already been to, but I have a jam-packed weekend planned with other fun stuff like Halloween parties and Trick-or-Treating.

A few weekends ago, we visited the Chicago area and were able to get to two haunted houses, both in the area where we were staying – Aurora.  We would have liked to check out some other of the MANY haunted houses in the suburbs (as well as other entertainment offerings), but alas, we quickly ran out of time.  So the haunted houses visited were:

BASEMENT OF THE DEAD – 42 W. New York St. Aurora IL 60502 -This is by far the best haunted house that I’ve ever been to.  I’ve been able to visit here 2 years in a row, and it’s gotten better with time.  The makeup on the creatures is incredible – horror movie caliber –  and the characters waiting to scare people waiting in line are great.  They ALWAYS stay in character, which is very important, and they are creative in their scariness – much more than the typical  monster or “BOO!” yelling psychopath.  I tried to get video of the ultra-impressive 7+ foot tall monsters that hang around outside, but Basement of the Dead is located in downtown Aurora, so I had to help my husband navigate around the tricky one-way streets instead.  A MUST SEE for any haunted house enthusiast!  We will probably be making the trip next year, if not just for this haunted house alone; it’s that good!  4!’s for fright out of 4.

MIDNIGHT MASSACRE – 3440 Odyssey Court Naperville IL 60540 – Well, there really isn’t much to say about this lame attempt at a haunted house.  I don’t even think it was made less scary by our visit to Basement of the Dead before this one – it wouldn’t have been any better even if we hadn’t just visited a  spectacular haunted house first.  The scariest thing about Midnight Massacre was the hour and a half we waited in line, which was hidden from view when you buy your tickets.  We got a bad clue when we saw a snack stand in line – you know they won’t want you taking food or drink into their haunted house, so if they let you buy food and drink in line, you know you’re going to have a long wait.  And in this case, a long wait for what?  The haunted house was not scary.  This one did consist of actors (?) yelling cheesy things like “BOO!”  There was a guy dressed like Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street, and his “scare” was jumping up from a bed and yelling “Freddy!”  We even had one actor apologize to us and say, “Hey, I tried.”  Talk about breaking character!  But in a haunted house as bad as this one, it didn’t really matter that he broke character, that wasn’t the only thing wrong with it.  The first part of if was a black light maze that was so obviously part of a lazer tag course – they didn’t even try to hide it.  But there weren’t any monsters in it or anything.  They had a couple of cool robots and animatronics, especially this one large dinosaur thing, but it was just a head, and they didn’t do anything to cover up the robotic looking body.  And the actors were terrible.  Enough said about this one, not recommended – well, maybe for a kid’s first haunted house.  One ! (for effort Iguess) out of 4!’s

Leader’s Family Farms – near the intersection of Ohio State Route 24 and Henry County Rd. 16 near Napoleon, Ohio – I got to go into this haunted attraction with one of my youth group girls, and she was a screamer.  It was a lot of fun, especially since the ghouls and monsters focused their attention on the screamer and left me alone!  We did not have the time to check out their new haunted attraction, PanDEMONium, but Screamacres was a nice haunted attraction as always.  3! out of 4! – Lots of the same old haunted house effects, but being outside and in the middle of nowhere certainly adds to the effect.  I should also note that Leader’s has activities for the entire family, every age group.  Great fall fun to be had here.

Well, there you have it – those are the 3 I’ve gotten  to this year.  If you have the time and are looking for a good scare, I highly recommend Basement of the Dead in Aurora Illinois or Leader’s Family Farm’s Screamacres in Napoleon Ohio.  I wish I had more time to visit more and get some reviews.  Maybe some day I’ll be able to get down to Columbus Ohio to go to Dead Acres Haunted Hoochie; it looks very scary and really cool!

Anyone else think haunted houses should extend their seasons into November for those of us who are very busy in October taking kids trick or treating and to fall parties, etc??  I sure wish they would!!!  Have a GREAT Halloween!!

Fun On The Farm

Posted in family fun on October 4th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I think most people have fond memories of visiting a special family fun place in the fall.  The pumpkin farms that my husband and I grew up going to are much different now – his has closed down, and mine has expanded beyond the family-owned small operation into a little carnival of sorts; I visited a few years ago.  It was fun, but not the same.  We’ve since moved away from the place of our youth, and we are happy to have found a fun place in NW Ohio to make memories with our own kids: Leader’s Family Farms.

Leader’s has something for every age group: 2 haunted attractions for the older crowd, and for the family: mini-golf, a petting zoo (complete with exotics –  more on that later!), hayrides, a hay maze, slides, chicken coop shooting, and a corn maze.  For the little ones, there are bouncy castles, a moo-train, a hay-climber with tunnel, and a corn box.  The under 5 kids area is really fun, and it’s all free!  My 2-year-old and my 3-year-old had a blast over there for hours, even if my son came home with a diaper full of corn – it was worth it!  Actually, he still had corn coming out of his coat the next morning at church but again, it was well worth it!  Here is a video of him playing in the corn box in case you’re wondering what I’m talking about.  The video pans to the rest of my kids, and finishes with my 3-year-old crawling through the little kids’ tunnel:

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My husband took my two oldest girls and their friend into the haunted corn maze.  This was a big deal because this thing is SCARY!  It is the best (read: scariest) haunted house in the area, and my daughter’s friend wanted to go in it, so we convinced our daughter to go as well (they’re both 10).  Thrill-seeker little sis (age 6) really wanted to check it out, so she went too.  They might have been REALLY scared, but they all made it out, and no one cried or tried to back out at the last minute!  I wish I could have seen them in there, but the little ones were WAY too young for something like that, so I stayed out with them.  I didn’t mind too much since the exotic petting zoo was free – I hung out there for the hour and a half or so that it took my family to get through the haunted house.  They had goats, sheep, alpacas, a teeny-tiny little pig, a camel (just a fuzzy baby, not his full height even though he was taller than I…  I was wondering how old he was, and I found out he shares a February birthday with a fellow tangenteer…), and some kangaroos.  They also had some other baby animals (a fox for one) and some parrots, but they could not bring them out because the weather was terrible – windy, cold, and rainy.  But I got to pet some kangaroos and even feed them – I think it was the first time I’ve ever touched a kangaroo!  They were good-tempered, soft, and really interesting to see up close and personal.   I  think the petting zoo people got sick of me, and I would have hung out more by the country band which I also liked, except that the weather was so terrible that it was hard to even enjoy the band – we all just wanted to  stay out of the wind and rain.  Look how little this pig is:

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And here is more of the kangaroos and of the camel:

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The hayride goes out way back into the forest, and luckily we rode it in between rain showers.  The tractor even drove through a small creek bed that was partially filled – it looked like we were going to get stuck in the water:

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My kids all liked it, even if there were some concerns about tipping on the steep hills going down into the forest – but we didn’t tip.  I can’t wait to take my  son on the hayride in our town in a few weeks -there are spooks that jump out from behind the trees there, and given his fascination with monsters lately, I know he’ll have a blast!  I brought out the Halloween costumes last night for the kids to pick through to find what they’re going to be for Halloween, and my son found a Friday the 13th Jason hockey mask and insisted on going to bed with  it.  😉

I must also add that Leader’s is a family-owned farm; we struck up several  conversations with the owners,  and they are extremely nice and caring for their customers.  The farm opened a little late when we visited because of  the rain, so they gave us free passes to come back again – as busy as our Octobers are (this one being no exception), I think going back to Leader’s when the weather is better is a MUST!!  By the way, I was this close to taking home a straggler from the petting zoo.  Only time will tell if I am able to resist next time we visit…  😉

My men on the hayride:

And my girls…  note the beautiful NW Ohio countryside in the background.  The scenery will only get better as the leaves change a little more and the sun comes out:

Nightmare On… Elm Street?

Posted in Movies on May 26th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We checked out the Nightmare on Elm Street remake a few weeks ago.  It was better than the Friday the 13th remake and the Halloween remake but not comparable to the Texas Chainsaw remake, which was very well done and better than the original, in my opinion.  Nightmare on Elm Street, not so much.  For starters, I don’t understand why the new Freddy Krueger was so short.  His burned face was much less scary than the original Freddy, and I have to say that having high school kids tower over him did take away some of the intended fright.  Also, Freddy’s back-story changed for the new version, which now includes allusions to child abuse of Freddy’s victims at a preschool rather than all of the terrorized kids being from Elm Street.  In fact, I don’t really know what Elm Street has to do with the new version of Nightmare on Elm Street.  Part of the reason we wanted to check this one out is because much of it was filmed in the suburbs of Chicago where we grew up, but we didn’t recognize anything, and my husband did not recognize which scenes were filmed in his former high school.  But not recognizing the filming locations was not what disappointed us most – the 2010 version of Nightmare on Elm Street is just not as scary as the original.  Sure, the special effects are better and the throwback and remakes of certain key scenes were done well and appreciated, but the movie just didn’t have the same effect.

We also recently took in the original My Bloody Valentine, the 1981 version, and it was a good horror movie.  I read afterward that much of it is actually filmed in real mines, which must have been really dangerous, and I wish I had known that before I watched the movie.  Many things were changed for the 2009 version, which I really enjoyed – probably my favorite modern day horror movie.  But to enjoy the original version was nice too.  We picked up the 2009 version on a sale at Walmart, and it came with both the 2D and 3D version and some glasses.  I’ve never had any luck with the old red/green 3D glasses technology, and this time was no exception – my vision is just too uneven, I guess.  It worked for my husband, but I ruined his fun because seeing everything in red and green was incredibly distracting for me.

We’ve also been watching the After Dark Horror Fest movies lately, and there have been too many to review, so I’ll just make quick lists of recommended vs. terrible ones for any horror fanatics reading my blog and looking for some opinions.

Good:
The Final
Kill Theory
Perfect Getaway (more thriller than horror, but good)
My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009) – especially if you can get the 3D to work for you at home.  The 3D for this one in the theater was amazing, and I really enjoyed my first horror movie 3D experience on the big screen when it came out.

Worth one viewing:
Dread
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
The Graves

Awful waste of time:
The Broken
Grace

And, I think I’ll throw this one out there separately since it’s not horror at all, but we also watched The Prestige again yesterday and it’s very good – especially the second time around.  It’s a story about two rival magicians that takes place in the 1890’s.  If you’re going to give it a try, pay attention!  Oh, and I would not look too closely at the imdb entry for it – there is too much that can be given away.  That’s all I’m going to say other than I highly recommend it, but again -it is in no way a horror film; we just watched it again recently which is why I put it in this horror-movie-laden post.

A Not-So-Perfect End To A Perfect Day

Posted in holidays on November 1st, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WHEW!  I have to admit that we totally overdid it on Halloween, but in a good way – at one point in the evening, my 5-year-old said “how many parties are we going to?!?  We threw a Halloween-themed game night on Friday, complete with things like spider venom, truth serum, and rat vomit for drinks and snacks.  Most guests wore costumes, and there was a wide collection of characters, from witches to fishes to Star Wars characters and a vampire – we even had a gay construction worker!  Fun was had, but as usual, we stayed up too late and failed to rest up for our huge day ahead –  HALLOWEEN!

We began Saturday by making the rats costumes and taking them to the pet store for a costume contest.  No word yet how they placed in the contest, but Bobby Jack dressed as a zebra while Oreo was a Pink Lady from Grease – the kids had a blast!  We took  the rats home and headed out to the ice rink for the annual community Halloween party – one of my favorite things about living here.  We get there right when it opens and head straight for the hayride, where we are driven around the huge park.  Occasionally, creepy creatures run from hideouts among the trees and chase the wagon!  Not as many people were in line this year, so we got to ride the hayride twice, and then the kids tried some of the games, the maze, and the bouncy castles, while Mom and Dad chatted with long-lost friends and sipped slushies and hot chocolate (everything at this party is free and donated by local businesses and organizations!)  We got our hot dogs to go this year, and they told us to take a huge pumpkin home – we still have to carve our pumpkins, so we were more than happy to get one more!

We were able to rest for about an hour, then it was time for trick-or-treating.  We moved into our neighborhood 3 years ago, and we learned the first year that it’s not good for trick-or-treating.  We love where we live, but come Halloween, it seems like many neighbors aren’t home, so we’d have to make the kids walk blocks for only a few houses with porch lights on.  So we drive across town and trick-or-treat in a friendly neighborhood where some friends live, and we started with  their house.  Our little guy dressed as Barney, Disney was Dora the Explorer, Sammie was a princess, and Taylor was a bloody prom girl.

Halloween 09

Oh wait, you need to see Barney with his tail 😉

Halloween 09 (5)

I absolutely love Halloween – of course I think my own kids were the cutest, but I  love seeing all the kids dressed up.  An honorable mention goes to the 4 teenage boys who were dressed as the Teletubbies – my 3-year-old daughter was asking where the Teletubbies were all night, but we never did catch up to them…

Halloween 09 (15)

We took in quite a haul with the 4 kids, and after the second house, our 15½-month-old had the hang of taking candy from strangers.  Ok, that sounds really bad, but Halloween is a unique event, he was allowed, and it was really cute!  We got in the car after we were done trick-or-treating and headed over to a party at our friends’ church.  The kids had a blast there as always, and we made out like bandits in the raffle!  Years of not winning anything we entered apparently caught up with us on Halloween night because a few bucks in raffle tickets won us 2 value meals at Burger King and 3 really cool brand new toys for the kids!

But here is where things start to change from perfect to overwhelming – at the church we ran into my Kindergartner’s friend Hannah from preschool.  This child has many medical issues, and she’s been in and out of the hospital her entire life for brain surgeries.  Her mother was telling us how she doesn’t like her preschool anymore and how she’s been depressed because she doesn’t have any friends.  So who could possible tell this little girl “no” when she asked if she could come sleep over again?  Certainly not us, no matter how exhausted we were from the weekend’s activities…

After the church, we headed over to the community theater where they were having a Wizard of Oz party.  I  was completely exhausted, and we had to hurry home to meet up with my daughter’s little friend, but I really enjoyed the Wizard of Oz party during the short time we were there.  They did an AWESOME job with the decorations, and there were so many neat Oz-themed games and activities – even a yellow brick road! -that I will forgive the inclusion of some things from Wicked.  I guess I should say for any readers who don’t know – I’m a huge Wizard of Oz fan, but it’s the movie that I really enjoy.  I don’t remember the book much, and what I’ve seen of Wicked did not impress me, to say the least, but that’s another blog post altogether…

So FINALLY we get home, and Hannah is waiting for us.  At this point, I was SO incredibly tired, not to mention my car full of garbage, pieces of costume, and spilled candy.  All I wanted to do was end Halloween my favorite way –  watching a scary movie with Hubby.  So we got the kids (all SIX of them, since two daughters had friends over) as settled as was humanly possible after I-don’t-even-want-to-think-about how much candy and were about to  start our movie when Hannah comes down the stairs.  We sent her back up, and checked email and basically killed some time until we felt confident we could start a movie without any kids coming downstairs or calling for us.  Well, that never happened.  Somehow, we had forgotten that Hannah is a friend who is very needy and also one who outright REFUSES to go to bed.  We started the movie anyway, and we only had to interrupt it like 5 times (a late 80’s thriller called I,Madman – both hubby and I recommend it!).  But Hannah began one of her many descents down the stairs right during a climatic moment in the movie, which made my husband jump a mile high, which in turn made my heart stop and stomach drop.  And that was when I  knew I wouldn’t be falling asleep for hours.  Hannah finally fell asleep when there was only 15 minutes left in the movie, but she outlasted every one of the other kids, and by then, it was 2 am!  I guess you could say I put my extra daylight savings hour to good use; I think it’s the only hour of sleep I got!  I had trouble falling asleep, then I had terrible nightmares all night and kept waking up –  one was about Hannah; I’m not even kidding!  I woke up early to the sounds of kids playing and couldn’t fall back asleep.  So here we are, the Sunday after Halloween, dead tired with a messy Halloween-themed house and a trashed car.  But at least our house once again contains only the 4 kids who live here, and the main trouble-maker has been sacked out all day – told you we overdid it!

Hope you had a GREAT Halloween!!!

The Halloween Haunting Of Munger Road

Posted in holidays on October 18th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Ok, so who had a haunted house in their neighborhood when they were a kid?  For us, it was a haunted road located in a Chicago suburb about 15 minutes away from ours.  Actually, my group of friends were from a few different area high schools, and we  had all heard of Munger Road from kids at our schools.  Back in the ’90’s when such haunted tales were spun that made us actually want to visit, the road was a deceptively secluded partial dirt side street that ran through a forest preserve and connected two main thoroughfares.  At night, the road was dark, isolated, and spooky.  There were many rumors about the incidents that took place on Munger, but here is the basic story:  There was a little house right next to the railroad tracks.  The ghost story said that the man who lived in the house was mowing his lawn when he was hit by a train.  I can’t remember if the train supposedly derailed or if the man got too close or what happened, but his ghost was said to haunt this area, along with ghost trains.

It was a fun place for our group to check out while we were in high school, and we did note some strange happenings.  We would see mysterious headlights that would disappear (there was no place for a car to turn off the road!).  My friends had a police scanner in their car, aka, a fuzzbuster, and the thing would go berserk down Munger.  Because it was a dirt road, our cars would come out very dusty, but once there were distinct handprints on the trunk.  Now as an adult, I can think of scientific explanations for this, but at the time, it was scary!  There was also the time a cop came out of nowhere (we had been up and down the road several times and didn’t see him), pulled us over, but he was really nice about it and sent us on our way.  I found it odd at the time because we had about seven teenagers stuffed into my friend’s teeny little hatchback car, and the police officer didn’t even say anything about it, much less write us seatbelt tickets.  For months afterward, we would tell the story and call him ‘the Scooby Doo cop’.

In recent years, I’ve heard that the house has been torn down, and I wonder if kids still go there.  Unfortunately, there has been at least one homicide around the area of Munger Road, which adds a whole new element to the fright.  During our haunted house tour in Illinois the other weekend, we drove within yards of Munger, but we didn’t stop – we wanted to see haunted house attractions!  Besides, I don’t even know if the area has the same sort of spooky appeal it had over a decade ago now…

I’ve found a little bit about Munger on the internet, including these stories, but I have yet to add my own.  Maybe next time we’re in town we’ll drive by, just to see how the area has changed and what has become of Munger…

So it’s finally Halloween, time to share your own ghost story, or tales of rumored haunts near where you grew up.  Add them to the comments section below, and have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Zip Line Zaniness

Posted in Kids on October 15th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Autumn brings about a whole new breed of fun family things to do: pumpkin farms, hay rides, apple picking, playing in the leaves, corn mazes, haunted houses…  the list goes on and on.  A few weeks ago, during a visit to a local farm which boasts such fun fall activities as a corn maze, petting zoo, hay ride, and haunted corn maze amongst other things, my kids had a blast with the zip line.  It’s all fun and games, as they say, until someone gets hurt…

And while no one was seriously injured during the filming of the following video, my 2-year-old daughter has decided that the zip line is no longer for her.  When you watch the following video, you’ll see why.  Her 5-year-old sister goes first and has a blast, but poor little Disney didn’t fare so well.  Don’t worry if your instinct is to chuckle – she wasn’t hurt, just a little frightened.  After all, people must find these types of things funny.  Isn’t that the reason why America’s Funniest Home Videos became a show filled with video clips of people getting injured?

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Lincoln Legends

Posted in true crime on September 14th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Just in time for the Halloween season, as I mull over costume choices for myself and my two youngest, haunted places have come up in conversations recently.  These recent topics have reminded me of a few such places in Lincoln Nebraska…

Back when we were a little family with only one toddler, we lived in Lincoln for a year.  It was a great city – large yet rurally isolated and without the sprawling suburbs we had grown accustomed to after growing up in the Chicago area.  After a few months in Lincoln, I was charmed by the city and began reading up on local history, which is where I found out about the interesting stories of Charles Starkweather and Robber’s Cave.

delete charles-starkweather-and-carol-fugate(Caril Fugate and Charles Starkweather before the murder spree)

Charles Starkweather was a young, lower-class, James Dean wannabe who dated a younger girl named Caril Fugate in Lincoln in the 1950’s.  There is some debate about Caril’s role in the horrific events for which the pair is known, but Starkweather was convicted of the murders of 11 people in Nebraska and Wyoming during a 1958 eight-day-long murder spree.  Starkweather was executed by the state in 1959 at the age of 20, while Caril served some time and is now presumably living a quiet life.  I think it would be interesting to see an interview with the now 68-year-old Fugate, but like everyone else involved in the horror, she deserves her privacy and probably guards it.  So anyway, Starkweather is buried in a large, beautiful cemetery nestled amongst rolling hills in the heart of Lincoln called Wyuka Cemetery, and has the unusual (however macabre) distinction of being buried in the same cemetery as some of his victims.  Caril’s dilapidated house (where the first murders, those of her family, took place) no longer stands.  But Starkweather had a huge grudge against upper class folks, and the beautiful house of the Ward family, a wealthy couple who along with their maid fell victim to Starkweather’s massacre, still stands.  Also interesting are the many works of pop culture inspired by the rampage; movies such as Natural Born Killers (though this one is very loosely based), Badlands, and books: characters in both Stephen King’s The Stand as well as Outside Valentine are based upon Starkweather, Caril and some of the victims.  Interestingly, the author of Outside Valentine, Liza Ward, is the granddaughter of the wealthy couple that were victims of Starkweather in 1958.

So anyway, if you’re into that kind of thing, plenty to see in Lincoln based upon the Starkweather case alone, but that was actually a super-huge tangent that took me away from the original reason I wanted to write this post!  Guess I’ll save Robber’s Cave for my next post…

Nightmare On Alumni Street

Posted in Movies on April 28th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As has been the trend lately, they are going to remake a popular horror movie from my youth – Nightmare On Elm Street.  When the movie came out in 1984, I was too young (and scared) to watch it, but the main character, Freddy Krueger, was everywhere.  Everyone wanted to be Freddy for Halloween, and just his picture was enough to scare me silly.  I think even people who don’t like horror movies know who Freddy Krueger is – a burn victim with a hideously scarred face who has knives for fingernails and invades the dreams of his victims.  We tried watching Nightmare On Elm Street as adults not too long ago, and it wasn’t scary – it just came across as dumb.  So maybe a remake IS in order.  I just hope it’s not horrible like Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake.  Actually, the Friday the 13th remake wasn’t so great either.  I did enjoy the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake though, and I really liked the remake of My Bloody Valentine – two movies that prove slasher films can be successfully remade.  So I hope this Nightmare on Elm Street is on par with the latter two I mentioned.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because I read an article about how they are going to be filming this remake in Chicago, with some scenes being filmed at the high school my husband attended.  The students had a surprise assembly on Friday, where they were told that their high school is going to be used to film a movie and that extras would be needed.  How cool of an assembly would THAT be?  The article mentions that the movie will be out April 16, but it doesn’t specify which year – I’m hoping they mean 2010 because I’m anxious to see it!  I just hope they don’t try to do any funky computer stuff for Freddy’s face or glove.  I think good old fashioned makeup is sometimes what makes things scarier!  Here is the article about the choosing of the high schools.  And just for fun, here is the trailer from the original Nightmare on Elm Street:

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