Thursday, December 01, 2016

Cheers To All My Best Friends

Social Anxiety is one of my many anxieties. I have always liked the idea of an ultimate best friend. One person who I consider my best friend and they consider me their best friend.

1. Can read your mind and you can read hers/his
2. You both always know what to say and do for the other.
3. You don't question sharing the things you wouldn't share with anyone else.

For most of my childhood I considered my first friend my best friend. But, she lived in a different town. She had her own group of friends. She considered me a close friend, but not her best friend. I even had a dream she was pregnant with a second child two months before she got pregnant with her second child. She's due soon.

During middle school she canceled with me a bunch of times when we were supposed to get together. We stayed friends. But, had started to grow apart. In the meantime, I met the friend that would be my maid of honor. She is still a very close friend of mine. She too lived in a different town. She too has always had a group of friends that she's closer with then me.

As we've grown older most of our views on social issues have started to differ. We grew apart. Just a little. But, that's understandable. I got married at 24 and had Zach at 28. She just this past July got married at 35. We simply have less in common. Our lives have taken different paths. I am always grateful for the time we spend together though. But, I don't think we are as close as we were as teenagers. That's very common though.

When Zach started Kindergarten I met my best Mom friend. Her son is who Zach calls his best friend. Her son has said the same thing about Zach. I take him home from school almost every day. She's always so busy so I cherish every moment we get together. We have similar social views so it's nice to have a safe person to share these things with. She also helped me realize something important.

There are a lot of people that fit those three best friend things from the top. You don't need one best friend who considers you their best friend too. What we really need are amazing close friends. It made me take a good look at the friends I have had in my life. Most are acquaintances. But, I have many that fit those three things.

I think what was on my mind was the thought "I can't think of anyone that would consider me their best friend". The only one I know for sure is Josh. Perhaps there are others who consider me one of a few best friends. No one has ever told me if they do (or did). I think it's healthy to have close friends from many places.

I still consider all of these women best friends. I have since added many more to that list. Most importantly, I added Josh to that list. I am blessed with all of the people I am friends with. I'm curious if these three women will know it's them.

Friendship is hard for someone with social anxiety. My best friends are the ones that understand me. If I ever had asked you for social skills advice or shared something very private with you, you are on that list! I hope I am as good a friend to you as you are to me!

These are all amazing people. They all have the following in common.

1. kind
2. generous
3. happy
4. smart
5. funny
6. trustworthy
7. loves kids
8. considerate

Cheers to all my best friends! I am lucky to have all of you!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Is Santa Real?

I never lied to Zach. I decided when we first started trying to get pregnant to answer his questions in an age appropriate way. My theory was this, if you lie to your child, it teaches them that it's okay to lie. You can tell them to "do as I say but not as I do". However, "actions speak louder then words".

Statistically, a teenager is less likely to try drugs and alcohol if they have a close relationship with their family. But, that means they have to feel like they can trust their parents. Young kids are very innocent and trusting. They believe what their parents tell them.

The truth about Santa always comes out. In my case, I recognized my mom's handwriting. When I was about Zach's age I decided to leave carrots out for the Easter bunny. After all, it's not fair that Santa gets food and the Easter Bunny doesn't. The thank you note was written in my mom's handwriting. I had seen her writing in enough places to recognize it. That Christmas, I read the tags. All were in her handwriting.

When Zach was in Kindergarten he asked point blank "is Santa real?" We never told him either way. We did what he asked to do when he believed. We did the cookies each Christmas eve. We listened as he talked about Santa. He took pictures with Santa in town. When he asked, we told him the truth. Including about Saint Nicholas.

We talked to him many times about not telling his friends. "Just don't get involved in Santa talk at school". But, both last year and in Kindergarten he spoke up. Parents who used to include me in conversations started excluding me. I'm the bad guy because I don't lie to my kid. "Tell him not to talk about it." We did many times. Last year, we told him not to say anything a half hour before he said something. I can't control what he does. But, I am not going to change how I parent to please someone else either.

Zach seems to enjoy Christmas more since we told him. He knows almost all of his gifts. So he wrapped Josh's while I wrapped his. He had fun doing that together. Yesterday he helped Josh wrap mine. He has his hands in everything Christmas.

 His favorite Christmas thing is the tree. He set up the one in his room (6ft tall 21in wide) and the one in the living room. On Christmas eve he wants to be the one to put the presents under the tree. He still takes his picture with the town Santa.

These are mostly things he wouldn't be able to do if he believed in Santa. He enjoys Christmas more knowing the truth. When he's older he'll remember he can trust us to be truthful with him. We don't hide anything from him. Statistically, that means he's less likely to try drugs and alcohol and more likely to talk to us when he's struggling.

His friends are almost 8 or are already 8. That's when most kids learn the truth about Santa. It's going to be an interesting month! Maybe they will start recognizing their parent's handwriting too. Some will pretend to believe in Santa to make their parents happy. Others will still trustingly ask their parents for the truth. That might mean Zach will be asked about it more this year. He's said something in the past. He might be able to answer their questions. Avoiding Santa talk is going to be a lot harder this year!

We set up the trees and the house this weekend. Christmas is in my home. With that, we had the talk again with Zach about just staying out of it and changing the subject! I don't want him to loose friends. I don't want to be left out with the other parents. But, this isn't about now. The parenting decisions we make now effect the decisions they make later. I have Psychologists on my side.

I don't judge the parents that do tell their kids Santa is real. I judge the parents that treat people like Zach and me poorly for being truthful. We all have our reasons for the decisions we make. For most kids, the Santa lie isn't a big deal. It's part of a bigger picture. To stop our teens from making really bad decisions we need to build trust when they are kids. If Santa is your only deception, your kid will probably be just fine. But, the more you deceive now, the more they distrust later. The truth always comes out.

Ho Ho Hope the next month is jolly!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful For The Little Things

I think most people are thankful for the big things in their lives. The top two being their family and/or their jobs. Some people are thankful for a good year for their sports team. Chicago Cubs fans are going to have a particularly thankful day today!!! Some are thankful for politics. Some are very NOT thankful for politics. Either way, when someone says "what are you thankful for?" the answer is usually over something big.

When I pray I thank God for all of the blessings in everyone's life. That includes the little things. A beautiful and sunny day that is just the right temperature. Your child's laughter. A favorite meal made just right. Anything that brings happiness big or small is a blessing to be thankful for.

Below is the list of little things I am thankful for. I encourage everyone to think of their own list. It makes life better. When times are rough, remember these things. It'll help you make it through.

1. A rabbit in the grass
2. Zach's still childlike laughter
3. Snuggling with Zach
4. My Mom's cooking
5. A kitchen table conversation with my Father
6. Josh's hugs
7. A perfect sunny day for a nice long walk (55 - 65 degrees please)
8. Everything around me being calm
9. Our artwork and photographs
10. A beautiful bloomed flower (yellow please)
11. On a sunny cool day in the fall driving through some trees as the leaves fall around us.
12. No garbage or recycling in the house
13. Everything neat and organized
14. Zach's smile
15. Zach's hugs
16. A Christmas lights tour at night (driving around seeing the decorated houses)
17. A slow day when everything is done and I can just do what I like until Zach's out of school
18. Family dinner
19. A good parking spot
20. A nice town to live in
21. Bulb sprouts in March
22. When the forsythia is blooming
23. Completing a crochet or knitting project
24. A favorite song I don't sound bad singing along to
25. My nightly glass of wine

I am grateful for my family, my faith and my home too. I like that everyone's list will be different. We all are different people with different life experiences. But, we all are blessed in ways big and small.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Let's Talk About Adoption

I'm not adopted and we aren't planning on adopting. But, it's an important topic I haven't talked about yet. With Thanksgiving being just three days away, family is on most people's mind.

A couple usually decides to adopt when they struggle to have a child of their own. Once you've been through a few cycles of IVF, adoption becomes an option along with surrogacy and donors. With surrogacy and donors, at least one parent can be a biological parent. But, that's not true with adoption.

So why choose adoption? Because a life has already been created that needs to be loved and cared for. A life has already been created who's biological parents can't be their parents. A life has already been created that is struggling to be part of a family and you are struggling to have a family. A life has already been created that needs you.

It must be a really hard decision to make for some people. The biggest fear being if you prepare for the baby but, the mother changes her mind about adoption once the baby is born. If you are adopting an older child, you are getting a child who has been through a lot more then the average kid their age! How will they act as a reaction to that personal history?

I think the most important thing in making an adoption work is love. Showing love often. Making the child feel safe and secure. They also might need to be comforted. In older kids it might depend on how they lost their birth parents. They might need lots of therapy! Can you provide that?

Because that's parenting. Even if you have a child of your own you'll need to show love often, help them feel safe and secure, provide comfort, and possibly need to send them to therapy. It doesn't matter who the biological parents are. These are needs children have.

It must be a hard thing to do, give your child up for adoption. Even if you are in a personal situation where keeping the baby is definitely not an option. That doesn't mean giving that child up is easy either!!! But, this choice is made when the expectant mother decides that this is what's best for their child. That this would provide a better life for their child. So these are the biological mothers that get to choose the adopted parents.

Not all mothers have that choice. Sometimes the kids go to the first person interested in adopting them. These are the kids who have lost their parents. Sometimes the parents are alive, just not allowed to be parents anymore. Other times, the parents have both died without a family to take the child in.

In theory all scenarios have a screening process for potential adoptive parents. But, people lie. Adoptive parents present the best versions of themselves and their home lives when being screened. It's just impossible to know what the child's life will be like.

One thing is always on my mind when I think of GLBT rights. A lot of adoption organizations are religious based and won't let GLBT couples adopt. Ironic since they are also against birth control. I always say "you can't have it both ways. No birth control? Then you need to let ANY couple who wants to adopt be considered." So many loving GLBT couples want to be parents. Most can provide good, loving, and safe homes to adoptive kids.

How about adopting kids of other races or nationalities? It's like anything. Some people won't care others will be insulting. Whether they mean well or not. Example, China still has a one child law. So second kids that are daughters are often put up for adoption. But, a white couple with a Chinese baby will stand out. Even good intentioned people might not realize they are staring. Are you okay with standing out? Are you okay with any hate or criticism you might face?

A family is literally what you make of it.

An adopted child is still your child. You love them and take care of them they same way you would if they came from you. It's a hard decision to make, adopting a child. It's a harder one to give your child up to, in most cases, strangers.

I like the idea of open adoption. The birth mother can still see their child. The child knows where they came from and why they were adopted. The adoptive parents don't have to carry the burden of "when do we tell him/her they are adopted?"

Because the sentence "you are adopted." Must be a life changer for most kids. In most cases it's an identity crisis wrapped in a bow. But, it shouldn't be a secret. It's the story of how your family became a family.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

An Instinctual Gallery Tour

For those that don't know I have been collecting pictures and paintings to fill the wall of the apartment. I have one more left to arrive. Once it's here, I'll take pictures! Then I'll take you on a gallery tour of my home.

With my home gallery tours I start at a specific paintings and stop at all the paintings and pictures in the apartment. I let my eyes explore the paintings and pictures. I look for symbolism and in some cases relive memories.

Gallery tours are psychological. ANY gallery tour. Our minds draw us to certain aspects of photos or paintings. Two different people can see different meanings in the same painting or photograph. Water seems to be a favorite symbolism of mine.

Tomorrow I plan to do a full gallery tour just to relax. But, today I thought it would be fun to take an instinctual gallery tour. My degree is in Dance. One thing I learned about modern dance choreography is this. Let your body flow with the music. The music will guide your movements. Let the movements happen instead of forcing something. So, I did that with my instinctual gallery tour.

I stood in the middle of the room or hallway and slowly turned around in a circle. After one circle I started a new circle. I let my mind tell me where to stop. After taking time with that painting or photograph, I did another complete circle. After that, I started a new circle and stopped where my instincts dictated. Once I had done two complete circles, I moved to the next room or the hallway.

After that I sat on a chair in the living room. The one I'm in right now in fact. I closed my eyes. When my instincts said stand, I stood. When it said go forward, I took a step. I did this with every step. I turned when my instincts said to turn. I stopped when my instincts said to stop. I ended up in the bathroom looking at a picture of Zach. Him as a baby the first time he ever saw a lit Christmas tree. He's addicted to Christmas trees and has been since the moment in that photo. We're putting up the tree for his room on Saturday.

It was a really cool experience. Even if you don't have a lot of artwork in your home, try it. I noticed that my mind didn't necessarily take me to all of my favorite paintings and photos. Most of the paintings my mind took me too were religious based. Not all of them though. Your mind takes you to the painting or photo that connects with something on your mind.

That last one, where my instincts took me to this very specific picture was the coolest thing I have experienced in a really long time! It only works if you trust your instincts. If you listen to them. In order for either version of an instinctual gallery tour to work you have to have spent time really looking at the paintings, photos and sculptures on your walls. But, that was fun discovering where my mind would lead me.

So, what's this picture that my mind literally led my body to?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My Secured Credit Card

I used to have excellent credit. Then Josh took over paying the bills. Basically, it meant we had to spend years without either of us having a credit card and I took over the finances. We used debit cards for online purchases and cash for everything else.

In January, enough time had passed for me to apply for a secured credit card. This is how secured credit cards work. You put a certain amount of money into a savings account. That is your credit limit. You have to apply for the secured card and some will be turned down. I was accepted for a nice credit limit but we put less in the account as my credit limit.

The point of a secured credit card is to help someone build a credit history. Most if not all banks offer one. I had been told that if I was responsible with the credit card, I would automatically graduate in seven months. More on that part later.

My approach to paying all monthly bills is to send the check the day the statement is ready. By all I mean credit cards, energy, utilities, and insurance. But, with credit cards you need to be careful of your credit limit too. My secured card was a smaller limit then I really needed. So I paid it every week. It was always paid in full and on time. I never went above the credit limit. Doing that kept the limit under control for the month.

It's important that I add that I never save any of my credit card numbers anywhere. I take the steps to delete them after purchases. That's for security. I check the accounts each day for security as well as statement status. When someone was using my card number in May, I caught it the next day. They didn't get much. Since then I check the credit cards multiple times a day.

I didn't graduate from a secured card after seven months.. My bank didn't check my credit report after seven months. They only checked the activity on the secured card. Since I never carried that big of a balance, the automated system didn't approve me. That's just a guess. No one could figure out why I never graduated. That includes employees at the credit card company. Again, everything was always paid in full and on time. There is no real reason to not automatically graduate me.

Unless they wanted me to apply separately for an unsecured card. I had gotten approved for more then one credit card since getting the secured card. That separate application means they can check my whole credit report. Not just the one card. I have a good credit report and have the entire time since getting the secured card. I applied with my bank for an unsecured card. It arrived in the mail today. I canceled the secured card today and paid it off.

Soon that "hostage" money will be released. The money used for the credit limit. It will remain in savings. In December I would have had to pay an annual fee to continue with the secured card. I had already gotten a different unsecured credit card. I didn't need the secured card anymore. So I planned to cancel it whether I got approved for the bank's unsecured card or not. I wasn't surprised to hear I had been approved.

I don't know what a financial advisor would have told me to do. Length of credit is important. But, the first store card I got is only a few weeks newer then that secured card was.

For longevity it would have been better not to cancel that secured card. But, I also avoided an annual fee and freed money for savings. I have all of the cards I need without the secured card now.

Would I recommend a secured card? ABSOLUTELY!!!! Especially for college kids! It's a good way to establish credit without being able to get out of control. It's also great for others like us. Reestablishing credit is important. It's easier to get approved for a secured card, but not guaranteed.

It feels good to have good credit again. Between cash back and store discounts, we have made and saved a nice amount of money this year. Money we missed out on when we couldn't get credit.

Credit is very important in America. The secured credit cards came out of the Great Recession. A way to help people get back on their feet. If you can't get an unsecured credit card, try to get a secured card. There are good ones out there. I might have canceled it today, but, my secured card was the helping hand I needed to get back my good credit.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Election Aftershock

Like many Hillary supporters I am grieving today. I have gone through a lot of strong emotions the last two days: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. All of them. Including acceptance.

For a lot of women, this is about the next step in women's suffrage. Note the rage part of the word. It's an emotion many women are feeling today. Not all Trump supporters are white supremacists. I know generally good people who supported Trump. I have been struggling with how.

A lot of people weren't that crazy about Trump, but they liked him more then Hillary. Benghazi and the emails were just too much for them. I just keep thinking to myself "If it was Wendy Davis, would we have finally taken the last step and had our first Madam President?"

In 2013 she led the 11 hour filibuster in Texas over abortion rights. Rick Perry passed the legislation anyway at a later date. She lost her run for Governor but it is Texas. Democrats don't win in Texas at that level. She also doesn't have controversies. She would have been hard to attack personally so easily. In 2020, she might be worth encouraging to run.


during the election, when Trump had the lead for a while. I did a rough count. Technically, Hillary had a chance. But some states were still at mid percentages and Trump had a fraction of a percentage lead in a bunch of them. Like many Hillary supporters, I was in denial that she was unlikely to win technicality or not.


I started typing down my emotions in word. It helped release some of that anger. It got darker then I have ever been!!! I didn't know my thoughts could get that dark! But, Trump's thing is inducing anger.


It started while the votes were coming in but continued through most of the day. Usually, I pray for everyone. Everyone needs prayers. For a better job, a cure for a health issue, a home, food, surviving a natural disaster, and anything else. I decided not to include Trump supporters in my prayers anymore. If a natural disaster takes your home away, karma baby my prayers for everything to be okay are for the blue dots in a sea of hateful reds!!! Last night, I hoped God, who probably wants me to pray for everyone, would change things.  After all was said and done I decided to pray for everyone except the Trump supporters who wouldn't pray for me.


A lot of crying. I made a smart decision this morning though. Last time the line was crossed and I broke, I found the comfort and support I needed by going to my church. My first thought at 5am when seeing the results was to do that today. It was the best thing I could have done. I had been questioning my view on how God works. Does he have a plan? My female Episcopal priest helped me understand that he doesn't control these things. But he guides and supports us through our struggles. I spent most of the day fearful over how awful our lives are going to get when Trump enacts his policies.


That brings me to acceptance. My Mom reminded me that Trump was a Democrat until Obama was elected. He is also an entertainer who knows how to manipulate people into doing as he wishes. A lot of what he'll do will be bad and expect another recession. But, he might do something good too.

I crossed over from depression to acceptance when talking to my priest about a painting we got. Thomas Kinkade's "Conquering the Storm". It's the summer painting. I needed a brushwork for summer. I thought I'd start with lighthouses because he's known for them. The only other brushwork lighthouse was a fall one. There weren't any other brushworks that work for summer. This painting had bothered me since it arrived a couple of months ago.

In part of the painting is a ship struggling in a storm. This isn't helpful because of my fear of ships. On the other side is a lighthouse with the stormy sky clearing. Lighthouses symbolize safety, security, support, and guidance. I wanted to be okay with this painting. So I took time to really look at it. My eyes never went to the struggling ship first. They always started with the lighthouse. Safety, security, support and guidance.

We talked about how God is like that lighthouse. The meaning of the painting is that you will make it through the hard times. I see it differently now. I like it now. I still think God had a hand in it being the only summer brushwork option.

I actually started off wanting Martin O'Malley. Cory Booker is a favorite of mine too. What if Tim Kaine was the Presidential candidate? Again, what about Wendy Davis? From the non-hateful Trump supporters I know it sounded like their issue with Hillary was all of that controversy. Would they have voted for any of these candidates instead? Maybe in 2020 we'll find out.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

An Election Already Won (No Text To Vote edit)

Most people decided a long time ago who they were going to vote for. We are a partisan nation. Democrats will vote for Hillary, Republicans will vote for Donald, and independents aren't really independent.

Every independent I know leans in one direction or the other. They claim to be independent. Yet, as they talk about their opinions on political issues, it becomes clear which party they really are a part of. You don't have to agree with 100% of the party's stances to vote for that party.

Hillary Clinton has been in politics for so long. People have already decided how they feel about her. Donald Trump has fans from being a celebrity. As a celebrity, people have already decided how they feel about him too. Both are long term public figures. Long before the primaries started, a winner was chosen.

It's frustrating. Donald Trump has one thing he has succeeded in. That's entertainment. All of his businesses fail. They can. He has his family money to take risks with. Many people have overlooked some obvious signs that he isn't fit for being POTUS. It's days before the election and Trump Tower just filed for bankruptcy. I hope his lawyers don't expect to be paid. He has a habit of not paying those who work hard for him. Over 300 Economists have warned voters to not vote for him. Yet, some people like his economic plan of making himself richer at the expense of everyone else.

Not all of his voters are fans of him as a public figure. Some are just looking for someone who hasn't been in politics before. Tired of political corruption, they are looking for someone they think hasn't been touched by that corruption. I get their frustration. But, I also appreciate the irony that in looking for someone uncorrupt they support the most corrupt person in America!!!

A lot of people decided long ago about how they feel about Hillary. In a way, for many people it has seemed inevitable. Inevitable that she would be our first female President. Some people embrace it. Some people fear it. But, it has had a sense of destiny for at least a decade.

So, I'm going to bring up the elephant in the room. Pun intended. How do you truly feel about having a woman president? Is there ANY woman you would accept in that position? Because I think a lot of the hate and opposition directed at her isn't because of her. It's out of misogyny. There are even some people who generally support women's rights that just aren't ready for a female president. The reflex for most people is to say "no, it's her". Okay, then who currently would you vote for as the first woman this election?

There is no guaranteed winner yet. Most polls say Hillary is in the lead others say Donald. But, polls don't include every American. Donald was ahead by one point for one day since early voting started. Hillary has been ahead the others.

Republicans are trying everything to suppress the vote. Hiding votes, making it hard for those in democratic-leaning areas to vote, and intimidation. It's illegal. It's the actions of a scared party. One that fears the only way to win is to cheat.

Edit 11/5/2016

No, you cannot vote through text. Trump is trying to trick people into thinking they can. So they aren't really voting and it increases his chances of winning. How has he not been arrested for vote tampering with these ads? It's blatant corruption! Hopefully, Hillary supporters will fight these tactics and vote the right way in time!!!

We don't know who is going to win. On November 9th, we don't know who will wake up as the President-Elect. Hillary might still be the current favorite. But, nothing is a given. We don't know who actually won the election yet. But, almost all of us know who we are voting for already. The election is already won. We haven't voted yet. The winner doesn't know they have won yet. But, they have already won. Even those who say they haven't decided, have decided subconsciously.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Always A Daddy's Girl

Today my father turns 70!!! I have always been close with both of my parents. But, there is no denying I have and always will be a daddy's girl. He prefers to be called "dad" now. I have long ago grew out of being a girl and into a woman. There isn't a good title for we are currently called. "Dad's woman" just sounds creepy!!! We simply will always have that special bond.

That's because we have a similar personality. A similar sense of humor. We see the world the same way. We both tend to observe the small mundane details that are often unnoticed. We understand each other when no one else does. We think alike

These are the things I love most about my father:

1. His hugs have always made me feel safe and secure. He's a tall man and I have always been small. I still have to look up to talk to him. There is nothing more soothing for anxiety then a hug that makes you feel safe and secure.

2. He's the smartest person I know.

3. He makes better eggs then any I have gotten any place else!

4. No one chops better then him! Machines and gadgets can't chop as good as him!

5. His gentle patience when teaching you something or watching a kid do something slowly (like when I was 2 and "helped" clean the windows when it was time to change them).

6. When I was little he used to sing to us when pushing my brother and me on the swings. :).

7. He's got some great life stories :)

8. Something we appreciation of nature. We can just sit outside together on a beautiful day and watch nature doing it's thing.

9. His thoughtfulness. I remember the Christmas he got my mom a hairbrush. She prefers a certain type of hairbrush. But, it has become very hard to find locally. He took the time and did the research to find just the right hairbrush for her. Because he knew it would make her happy. Women don't need flowers. Women need a husband like that. One that is tuned into her individual needs and meets them.

10. He has always made me feel loved.

70 is a big deal. I am lucky to have such a wonderful dad. My mom is lucky to have such a wonderful husband. Zach is lucky to have such a wonderful pop!!! We have all learned a lot from him. The years have given him wisdom, compassion, and appreciation.

I will always deeply love both of my parents. But, I will also always be a daddy's girl.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Orange, Black and Teal

Happy Halloween America!!!

Zach is a vampire this year, Zachula. My name not his. It's going to be easy for Zach to trick or treat. He doesn't have any food allergies. He might not like the taste of a surprise coconut candy bar, but it won't cause an allergic reaction.

But there are a lot of kids with allergies. Nuts, gluten and dairy are the hardest to deal with on Halloween. Some adults joke about all the kids with special dietary needs. It minimizes the problem. No, these kids are not just being picky. They have real health problems that need to be taken seriously. Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project.

It was started last year. All they ask is for people to have non-candy items to offer trick or treaters. If you can, place a teal pumpkin outside to let parents and kids know you have non-candy items for the kids.

Here are some ideas:

Tiny play doh (Target and Kohl's have packs with a bunch of goody bag sized play doh)

Generally anything non-candy that you can put in a birthday party goody bag. Actually, a lot of people do that already. Long before this project started. When the child obesity epidemic became newsworthy, a lot of people started offering non-candy treats.

I remember one year a little girl's grandma came to the door. She told us her granddaughter has a lot of allergies. She gave us a pre-wrapped bag to offer the little girl when she came to trick or treat. Child, mom, and grandma were thrilled to hear we had non-candy options.

A parent should never have to do that. It is reasonable to ask for something non-candy to be an option at each house. As this catches on, kids like that girl will know which houses to go to and which houses not to.

I saw some fake teal pumpkins at Target. It's also as easy as painting a real pumpkin with teal paint. It's fun for kids and adults. No pumpkin. Here's a clip art sign. Print it out and hang it on your door.