Family Halloween Party Ideas

Kids carving pumpkins

Are you throwing a Halloween party? I love gathering with friends on Halloween, just a few families for dinner and wandering the neighborhood.

We have friends who live in a neighborhood that is crazy for Halloween decorations and lights. We arrive at their house when it isn’t quite dark, and we all eat dinner. As the sun goes down and the lights come up, we join the rest of the neighborhood in wandering from house to house.

I’ve pulled together a few ideas for games you can play while it’s still light then more traditional activities that ease your Halloween into a Samhain celebration of the end of harvest.

Finish the Harvest

Before party time, gather the last of the food from your garden and clean up the yard. Make a wreath from your own garden. Mine will include a lot of grapes from this year’s bumper crop.

Fun Halloween Games for Kids

You don’t need more than two or three games for kids. If they are in costume, they can make their own fun. Here are a few simple games to bring them back to occasional focus.

Bones relay. Cut out simple outlines of bones to create a full skeleton. Put a piece of tape on each bone. Depending how many children will be at the party, you could have more than one set of bones. Start each skeleton with a skull on a wall or a large board. Put the pile of bones at least 10 feet away. Have one child start by picking a bone and running to the board with the skull to add the bone. Then, the child runs back to touch the next person, who chooses a bone and runs to put it on the board. The relay continues until all of the bones are stuck on the board.

If the kids don’t know how a skeleton fits together, it’s OK. Guessing works just fine. The fun is in seeing how wild the final skeleton can get.

Any party game involving the harvest is perfect for this end-of-harvest-season celebration.

Bobbing for apples. Fill a metal tub with slightly warm water. The cold weather will cool it down, and you want people to stick around long enough to get an apple. Have kids gather around the tub. One at a time, have them hold their hands behind their back and bite at an apple using only their mouth. It gets very wet!

Squash bowling. Put 10 tall, flat-bottomed squash at one end of a lawn in triangular, bowling configuration. Butternut squash are perfect for this. Then, give each player a small round squash (like a pumpkin), small enough to hold with one hand, and let them roll it across the lawn to knock down the squash pins. You don’t need to keep score because everyone has fun with this one.

Carve a Traditional Jack-o-lantern

If your children are going to prowl the neighborhood for treats, how about using traditional jack-o-lanterns?

Carve jack-o-lanterns not just from pumpkins but from turnips and beets as well. You could do this activity earlier in the day or even the day before. (They dry out if you do them too far in advance.) Suspend the small lanterns by strings hanging from sticks. You can either put a tea light or a battery light in each. Carry these around to light your night. Leave them lining the walk when you get home to light the way for the ghosts who return that night to find their way home.

End with a Bonfire

When the kids get home and the parents just want to sit in a circle and talk, it’s a perfect time for a bonfire. Tell stories. They don’t need to scare the children, but it is traditional to tell stories about your own dead friends and relatives.

Be sure to leave an extra, empty place setting inviting the dead to join you. Welcome the dark half of the year with the fire. The fire is orange; the night is black.

Have a bountiful end of harvest.

© Ilona75 | Dreamstime.com - Boy Busy Carving A Pumpkin Jack-o-lantern For Halloween Photo

Handwoven Wrap Carrier

Neobulle Woven Baby Wrap carrier

 

Looking for a special gift for a new parent or for yourself? We love the new Neobulle Woven baby wrap for ease, softness, and beauty.

With the tools, the stuff of parenting, simple works perfectly. We don’t need a lot of extras. If you are managing to keep your needs for baby gear simple, you might want to splurge on a few special items.

Because we wear our babies hours a day, every day for the first two or more years, a baby carrier is a perfect place to treat yourself to something especially nice. For me, buying the best baby wrap is one of those rare gifts for myself.

Our favorite woven wrap is a new product to the bynature.ca store: Neobulle Woven Baby Wraps.

  • Easy to use, even for beginners
  • Big range of carry positions
  • Birth to toddlers (up to 45lbs)
  • Beautiful colors, from bright to subtle to print
  • High-quality weave
  • 100% Certified Öko-Tex cotton, stringent testing for harmful chemicals
  • Rave reviews for amazing support
  • Sturdy material gets softer with washing and wear

Hand-woven Wrap

Neobulle handwoven baby wrap France

One of our favorite things about this wrap: it’s handwoven. I love knowing that I’m supporting the work of artisans who create beautiful fabrics like these. Neobulle is designed and woven in France to the highest standards.

Handwoven wrap baby carriers are becoming quite popular. We see that in our store, and we have started to carry more styles and brands to give parents choices.

We hope you love this wrap as much as we do. Stop by the store or sign up for our Better Babywearing Clinic for Woven Wraps on the first Wednesday of each month to learn more about baby wraps in general and Neobulle in particular. Feel for yourself how soft and stretchy it is.

 

 

Our New Favorite Baby Carrier: Onya

Onya Baby Carrier

 

Onya Baby Carriers combine the basic approach of an onbuhimbo (Onbu, Japanese carrier a bit like a mei tai carrier) with structure and ease of a buckle carrier. What you will love the most: Onya is also a baby seat. Wear your baby on the go, then harness to a straight-backed chair once you arrive. The carrier has been on the market for a few years, but it is new to the bynature.ca store.

Onya Baby Carriers

All Onya carriers hold the baby inward-facing, in the froggy M-shape (with high knees). The carrier can be used for front, back and side carry. You can breastfeed using the carrier, because the hip strap dips low under the baby to distribute the baby weight evenly on your body. High body of the carrier supports your growing baby.

You have three choices with the Onya: The Cruiser (100% brushed cotton), The Outback (water-resistant, rip-stop nylon with air-mesh lining), or The NexStep (100% recycled soft polyester twill with air-mesh lining). Onya carriers are made fairly in the Philippines.

The Cruiser
Onya cotton baby carrier

The Outback
Onya Baby Carrier Outback

The NexStep
Onya Baby Carrier Next Step

Notice all of the zippers. Useful features of the Onya include two zippered pockets, toy loops, and a D-ring clip to attach your keys. Sleeping hood with built-in sun protection can be tucked away into a pocket when not in use.

Each of the Onya carriers can be used as a baby seat when attached to a straight-back chair.

Onya Baby Seat

You can use the Onya carrier for a newborn when you snap-in the organic cotton terry Baby Booster, which gives support before your baby has head and neck control.

Onya Baby Carrier Newborn Insert

When your baby starts chewing on the carrier, and you know you babies will, you can add the organic cotton terry Chewie Teething Pad.

Onya Baby Carrier teethers

We also sell the Onya and accessories bundled together for a savings.

Onya Baby Bundle

Learn Babywearing in Person

At bynature.ca we provide trained and certified babywearing instructors to be sure that you get the baby carrier that fits your needs then you know how to use the carrier safely once you decide which is right for you and your baby.

If you are new to the idea of babywearing, try our Babywearing 101 workshop for new and expectant parents. The workshop lasts about 1.5 hours at the Parenting by Nature store.

All baby carriers purchased from bynature.ca include a complimentary 30-minute lesson on use at our store. If you want to take the lesson before you buy, you can apply the private consultation fee (up to a maximum of $20) to your baby carrier purchase within 7 days of the consultation.

To give you ongoing support, we hold a Better Babywearing Clinic every Wednesday, cycling between Wraps, Slings, Soft-structured Carriers, and Back Carry. You can pay for one clinic at a time or buy the whole series for a savings. Bring your own carrier or try a completely new style.

This past week has been International Babywearing Week, to celebrate and bring local attention to babywearing. Parents have come together wearing their babies at local events around the world. We love supporting our customers in wearing their babies.

 

 

Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Squash soup

This easy-to-make pumpkin soup warms and fills us with a similar flavor profile as pumpkin pie but without all of the heavy sweetness of a pie.

Our Canadian readers will be celebrating Thanksgiving next week, so I wanted to share one of my favorite autumn recipes for pumpkin soup, though we just as often make it butternut squash soup. Whatever squash you grew this year or you find abundant at your farmers market, use that.

You can use this as a soup course, serving just a small portion, or you can change the flavors to make it more naturally sweet and serve as a hot dessert substitute for pie. Sometimes we make this our main dish for dinner, but it works well as a side dish for Thanksgiving.

Warm to the Bone Harvest Soup

Serves: 4-6
Time: 90 minutes, mostly unattended

  • 2 cups pumpkin, cubed (other squash, such as butternut, works well)
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Spices. Balance 2-3 of the following to taste.

  • Ginger
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put all ingredients into a roasting dish.
  3. Cover.
  4. Roast for 1 hour or until squash is soft. A little caramelization around the edges improves the flavor.
  5. Blend until smooth. Depending on your blender, you may have to cool first. With a VitaMix, just buzz it hot.
  6. Return to heat in a saucepan.
  7. Add salt to taste—this depends a lot on the stock used.
  8. Adjust spices.

We at bynature.ca wish you and your family the best during this harvest season.

Image © Msheldrake | Dreamstime.com

 

Why It’s Important to Drink Enough Water

Lifefactory Glass Bottles

 

Drinking enough water keeps you healthy. How much is enough, though? How much is too much? And, how do you keep kids drinking when you are on the run so often? We have answers.

Humans are about 60% water (45-75% depending on age, body fat, gender, etc.). We lose fluids through sweating, breathing, urinating, and moving our bowels, then we replace that water by eating foods high in water (fruits, vegetables, and soup, for example), by drinking non-water beverages, and by just drinking water. We keep our body fluids in balance when fluids in and fluids out are equal.

How much water should I drink a day?

You’ve heard that you should drink a gallon (64 ounces) of water a day. There isn’t actually any scientific support for this number, but it’s easy to remember 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day, so that can be used as a general guideline. An adult male might need about 100 ounces a day while a female might need 72 ounces. A pregnant woman would need to add another 8 ounces a day, and a breastfeeding woman would need to add another 24 ounces, or 3 small glasses of water per day.

You body uses more water when you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as you exercise (and you sweat), when it’s hot (and you sweat), when you are sick (especially if you’ve vomited or had diarrhea), or if you are losing weight (to eliminate toxins). To keep fluids in balance, drink more water in any of these situations.

Don’t drink all of that water at once

You can drink too much water all at once. Your intake shouldn’t exceed what your kidneys can excrete, which is about 1 liter or 1 quart of water in an hour. When you exceed what your kidneys can excrete, the excess goes to your cells and swells them. This is why one symptom of excess water intake is a headache, since your brain is 70-75% water.

What happens if I don’t drink enough?

Mild dehydration, when your body is losing more fluids than you are taking in, can result in feeling tired, headachy, dizzy, and, of course, thirsty. If you are exercising without drinking, you might notice muscle fatigue. More severe dehydration can leave your or your children with sunken eyes, sunken fontanel, no tears, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, and dry mouth. You are likely to notice and remedy the lack of water before the severe symptoms.

Dehydration can also lower your metabolism. If you are trying to lose weight, keep a close eye on your water intake because “[b]eing even 1% dehydrated can cause a significant drop in metabolism.” If you urine is amber or dark, you need more water.

Drink Steadily

It’s a Goldilocks situation. Not too much, not too little, just right helps to keep our body fluids in balance. Your thirst generally tells you when you need to be drinking, unless you are drinking dehydrating drinks or unless you are sick (or diabetic).

Drink water steadily throughout the day without taking in too much at once.

Your tap water is probably safe, though it’s worth watching the local water quality assessments. If you do need a water filtration system, get one that meets your needs. Most people won’t need anything fancy.

How can I get my kids to drink water?

In my family, we started when the children were small, and we limited non-water drinks. It’s easier to start a habit when your children are young, and the behavior is just what your family does.

One thing that helped a lot in my family was getting a set of four glasses each with a different design. We have the Beatles. When I see John, I know it’s my glass, and I don’t hesitate to pick it up. It’s a funny thing to make a difference, but designated water glasses has kept us drinking more.

Lifefactory Glass Bottles for the whole family

Lifefactory reusable glass water bottles

If you are avoiding plastic and aluminum bottles, so you are leaning toward glass but want to avoid breakage as well, we recommend Lifefactory glass bottles. They are covered in silicone sleeves that make them break resistant and easy to grip, even for little hands.

We like the Lifefactory Glass bottles because of the variety. For adults and older children, you can choose 12 oz, 16 oz, or 22 oz sizes. They have straw tops, loop tops, and flip tops. For little kids and babies, they have sippy tops and bottle tops. Choose a different color for each person in the family, and you will always know whose water is whose.

Lifefactory’s bottles are made in France, and the rest of the components are made in the USA. They are BPA free and dishwasher safe. Wide tops make it easy to add ice. We like the great performance of these reusable water bottles.

When you are teaching your family to have healthy habits, like drinking more water, it helps to have the right tools on hand.

Drink up.