TAKEBACKS: Episode 1/HALLOWEEN – Take back your Family Fun from the grasp of mesh

Hi Angels & Warriors AND Happy Halloween!

I miss you all when I’m not with you. The paperwork and busywork of getting a 501c(3) up-and-running is no easy task. I’m sure many of you know that from your own endeavors of those of friends. As those pieces are slowly but surely checked off the list, I find myself back to writing to you all, my first love. I love connecting with you, even digitally, and I relish in the times I get to meet you. Those meetings always leave me changed in some profound way. I am always grateful for having met an Angel. Somehow, I come away feeling the one who’s been blessed. It is indeed an embarrassment of riches to be so accepted and loved by you. I always want to give something back to you because you all give me so much, just by being who you are. This post is dedicated to my friend Sherri, who absolutely refuses to allow mesh to steal her joy and her daughter’s joy. Sherri, you inspire me, and this post is especially for you (I expect pictures!).


There are two reasons I do what I do as a patient advocate and founder of a nonprofit:

1) For love of my own mother and my own family

2) For love of you

I know, quite personally, the intimate and often intangible moments that mesh steals from our families. Playing in the snow with grandchildren has often become a distant memory, one even painful to try to access. Cooking and gathering around the kitchen to celebrate family traditions like college football gameday, Thanksgiving and so many other special times that are now not possible, and are simple pleasures in life that we see others taking for granted. It can leave us feeling left-out, angry, depressed, envious and simply hopeless on some days.

I understand that feeling, from a family member’s point of view. There are pictures that I come across of my mother and me, those smiling selfies, that were before mesh. I cry. As the holiday season approaches, we are all considering: What do we do NOW? We’ve always done “this” or “that” and now we can’t.

I never ask you to do anything that I am not going to do myself, so I’m asking you to consider the “What ifs?”

What if we did Halloween differently this year, since you maybe can’t take your child door to door candy-hunting?

What if we gave thanks at Thanksgiving in a different way this year? What if we focuses more on thanks and less on turkey?

What if Christmas wasn’t about running a million errands to make sure everything is just perfect (and perfectly stressful)?


Trust me when I say; I am not diminishing what YOU, as a mother or father have lost. I’m not diminishing what your family has lost. My family has lost it too.

I’m suggesting that we look reality in the face and say:

“I don’t like you. I’m going to change the parts of life that I can. I will have a NEW NORMAL in the face of the mesh’s continued greed to steal my joy!”

I’ve always gone trick-or-treating with my niece and nephew on Halloween. I have loved it. I love the suburban-ness of it. Families who know one another from sports, school and the local park getting together, basically to celebrate creativity, child-like wonder, and CANDY! I don’t get to do that this year either.

BUT. . . . We CAN all celebrate creativity! We CAN all celebrate child-like wonder, and we darn-sure all CAN celebrate with CANDY! No one can steal those feelings and little moments of joy from us, even though we are injured, even though our families are in shambles. So, I thought I’d share some ideas with you to help you see the light in the darkness; maybe establish your own NEW TRADITIONS and NEW NORMAL, a new Muse welcomed in, your creative juices a-flowing, your family sharing memorable moments that have been lost in your journey against mesh.

Think about the parts of your personality you’ve never dwelled in, because maybe you’ve been too busy planning, buying and executing the world’s definition of what these traditions should be. My wish for you and yours (and mine) is that you feel the hope building as you read, feel the excitement of creating “the new” and “the possible” for your family, whether you have children or not. I do not have children, and this year, I won’t be able to spend Halloween with my family or trick-or-treating with my niece and nephew, so I’ll post how I’m taking back Halloween too – how I’m creating a NEW NORMAL too! I hope it will give you some motivation and the good spirits to do the same!


Love you all! ~ Aaron



Host THE Halloween Block Party – the one where your children get to answer the door all dressed up in goblin gear and feel like the most special boys and ghouls on the block! 🙂 Instead of you running all over God’s green earth to make Halloween fun; call in those favors, and send your Hairy Husbands; your Scary Sisters-in-Law; your Ghostly Girlfriends; your Unnerving Neighbors; and that Bloodcurdling Boyfriend on the Eerie Errands for the All Hallows Eve party-to-be. Here are some ideas for family fun to dress up your host home for nada lotta:


Black lights in the lamps near your home’s entrance and in the kitchen makes for a fun and eerie atmosphere! You really don’t have to change anything. Just the lighting makes everything mysterious and melodramatic!

A treat of a table - eating candy under the eerie glow of black lighting!

A treat of a table – eating candy under the eerie glow of black lighting!

Even bath time can be a BOO of a good time! 

Black-lit Bath time!

Black-lit Bath time!

If you’re having an especially bad or painful day, you can just unplug the lamps and show your little ghouls how to put the new bulbs in place and watch as they delight in the transformation of your home! It’s a simple way to create a new memorable moment. Keep your camera in hand! I hope you’ll share pictures if you decide to take this idea and run with it!

Garish Garage Door – This one is so fun and easy to supervise. If you have a metal garage or a wood garage with a sealant, this tip won’t ruin your garage door!  garage_door_art

– Buy a few cans of Aqua Net

  • Again, minimally-supervised, but with supervision, watch your kiddos spray Menacing Messages on the garage! Your black lights will come in handy again here, as the hair-raising messages will only show up when a black light is installed. Ladder may be necessary for this one, so have a helpful friend handy for this project.

-Soap and water easily removes the hair spray, or hey, take the black-light down ad leave the message up for next year!

  • Sit with your grand-ghouls or your candy-craving children, and come up with fun scary phrases. Make it educational by teaching them to rhyme or teaching new definitions of words.

Spider Webs are an easy and affordable way to dress-up your entrance, especially if you exchange your regular porch light bulb for a black light! Here is a picture and where you can buy! Don’t go to those overpriced Halloween stores. Got to your local fabric store, like Joann’s Fabrics or Michael’s and buy the kind of stuffing used for pillows, etc. which is easily pulled apart. A couple of plastic spiders and you’re done!

spider_webs spiderweb_entry spiderwebentry_2


PLAY SCARY MOVIES ON ALL THE TVs – Hitchcock black/white movies are just as scary with no sound as are the newer (and often inappropriate for young audiences) movies. Sirius/XM or your local radio station will have spooky music you can play instead of the TVs. That way, it’s spooky in every room!


Alfred Hitchcock Presents!


The one and only real PSYCHO!


Janet Leigh in PSYCHO


James Stewart in VERTIGO




COOKING – easy recipes for kids!

I’ve spoken with many of you who long for the days when you could stand (or sit for that matter) long enough to cook with your children. Here are some easy recipes for Halloween that require minimal supervision and are lots of fun for your little goblins.


Some cashews and a little food coloring go a long way. Enjoy watching your child’s creativity come to life!

Ghost Cookies    

Even cuter in a hollowed-out mini pumpkin!

Even cuter in a hollowed-out mini pumpkin!

-Buy as many packages of Nutter Butters as you can stand!

-Buy white almond bark for melting (over a double boiler)

-Buy a candy fork, as it works best for dipping.

-Buy a package of the mini Hershey’s chocolate chips

-Buy some wax paper

To prepare, heat the white almond bark over a double boiler until melted. Place a cookie sheet coated in wax paper on the cabinet, and get your bowl full of mini chips ready. Use the candy fork to stick into the bottom of your Nutter Butter. Twist the Nutter Butter until it’s fully coated with the white almond bark. Immediately place your coated cookie on top of the wax paper, and while the almond bark is still soft, add two mini chocolate chips for eyes. Voila- Ghost Cookies! Let your kids be creative and make different faces with different candies if you like. 🙂

Halloween Punch that is “hands-on!” Your kiddos will really love this one!  PUNCH

  • Prepare your favorite punch recipe (combining marshmallows and sprite or another soda of your choice will give the foamy, scary look)
  • Buy non-powdered latex gloves, available at your grocer in the aisle where the paper towels, etc. are or sometimes the cleaning supplies aisle.

-Prepare your favorite punch or use Hawaiian Punch or Kool-Aid if you prefer. Put it in a big glass bowl with a ladle or cup for scooping.

  • Fill 4-6 latex gloves with water and freeze them.
  • When you’re ready to serve the punch, remove the frozen “hands” from the freezer. Cut away the latex. Do a quick rinse off, and place the floating hands in the punch bowl!

  • A clear-ish punch using pineapple juice and Sprite means you can make whatever Creepy Colored Punch your little hearts desire!

    A clear-ish punch using pineapple juice and Sprite means you can make whatever Creepy Colored Punch your little hearts desire!

    • As your “ice cold hands” will melt over time, be sure to have back-ups ready, and you may want to make your punch stronger than usual, as the ice will melt and dilute its flavor!

    Dry Ice is usually available during this time at your local adult beverage store, but be sure kids do not touch it. It is very harmful to the skin. If you wish to use it, put it in a second larger bowl, wrapped in a trashbag and cut holes in the trash bag so the magical mist can float out with a safety guard around most of it


    COSTUMES – Stay away from those costly Halloween Stores!

    For Dan & Mom or Grandpa & Grandma

    – Frankenstein & His Bride – usually easily accomplished with colored hairspray and green makeup! Have fun with it! Or, be interpretive and just buy the t-shirt! There is really no wrong way to do this costume!

    bride-of-frankenstein frankenstein_bride nick-lachey-2-6601

    t-shirt-bride t-shirts_frankenstein


    Easy, Affordable Costumes for the Kiddos (from age 1-92)

    Pea-sized Peacock – So sweet! A little peacock is easy to make with a turquoise onesie, orange tights and peacock feathers, usually sold at the fabric store or craft store!


    Cowgirl/Cowboy – All the necessary components are easy to find a resale shops, Salvation Army or other shops (I like to call them “junkin” shops!

    Texas, Texas - YEEHAW!

    Texas, Texas – YEEHAW!

    Google Maps! For Mom & Dad or Teen Couples with younger siblings to delight! Easy to make with cardboard, headbands, a color printer, and an old t-shirt. 🙂

    Google Maps - Routes A and B!


    Pre-teen or Teen girls who like to do EVERYTHING together! Uh, duh, Mom!

    Jelly Bellies!  Pre-teen or Teen girls who like to do EVERYTHING together! Uh, duh, Mom!


    TEENS LOVE THIS ONE since it's a recent movie and a little edgy. :)

    THE IDENTITY THIEF – TEENS LOVE THIS ONE since it’s a recent movie and a little edgy. 🙂

    3 responses

      • Hi Helen – Thank you for your kind words! I am propelled forward by your kindness! I hope some of the tips help you and your family. I really want us to learn our “new normal” whatever that may be, and find joy somehow in the midst of the misery, which is common to every person in some form or another.


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