Halloween Costumes 2023

Happy Halloween, friends! I hope today’s holiday finds you well and hopefully you have something to be excited about. Whether that be passing out candy to trick-or-treaters, watching a horror movie marathon, or, in my case, enjoying Halloween through your children, my wish is that you have some optimism fueling that fire inside of your jack-o-lantern.

Sloan and Beau in their 2023 Halloween costumes with the Black Panther (aka Aminah 😉) – Photo courtesy of Shauna.

This Halloween marks the fourth time Sidney and I have had the opportunity to dress two kids in costumes. However, I think this year was the easiest in terms of deciding who was going to wear what. Let’s end the suspense…

Beau…I mean Spiderman…walks away from a trunk at the St. Mary Halloween Extravaganza.

For the second year in a row, Sloan is a witch. The familiar costume beat out Mary Poppins and the decision was entirely our daughter’s. But this year’s version is slightly refreshed from Halloween 2022. She now has a fancy jack-o-lantern t-shirt to wear over her black garb and an accessory has been added…a black and orange broom! Sloan LOVES the prop we bought at Target as it was hard to find her without it between her legs at this past weekend’s Halloween festivities as she used it to “fly” from trunk to trunk.

Beau and Sloan pose for a photo at the Spokane County Library Halloween craft event this past Friday.

When it comes to Beau, he naturally went with the most appropriate costume for this stage in his life…SPIDERMAN! I personally would have been disappointed if he didn’t opt for the character he watches on Disney+ every single day. Watching hours and hours of “Spidey And His Amazing Friends” prepared Beau very well for how to act while in costume. At the library Halloween craft event on Friday and at all the trunk-or-treats on Saturday, Beau used his hand to sling imaginary webs at everyone he encountered. There is something so endearing about watching a mini 3-year-old Spiderman strut around in his costume.

Horrible blurry photo but it does show Beau shooting his web.

I don’t have any “a witch and a Spiderman walk into a bar…” jokes so I will end with this: Be safe tonight! Happy Halloween to all. Don’t Blink.

Our Halloween Candy Moderation Strategy

We made the rounds on the trunk-or-treat circuit this past weekend. In addition to Saturday’s St. Mary Halloween Extravaganza that had a trunk-or-treat component to it, we took the kids to a couple public trunk-or-treats later that evening. As you could imagine, Sloan and Beau accumulated some candy.

As we were driving home from that final trunk-or-treat, Sidney did something that caught us all by surprise. She asked Sloan and Beau for their treat bags. Once they were passed up to the front seat Sidney took Sloan’s treat bag and dumped it all into Beau’s treat bag. No, little brother wasn’t getting all of big sister’s loot, Sidney was establishing a single source of candy for all…parents included 😂. Consolidation at its best!

This is our single Halloween treat bag for the whole family.

Sidney is taking this new approach to Halloween candy for a couple reasons (and it makes sense). First, she doesn’t want the kids fighting over who got what. Nothing is more annoying than the jealousy and whining that comes from one kid when they see that their sibling scored more Nerd Clusters than they did.

Also, the single stream of candy will make monitoring so much easier. With us controlling all the candy from the beginning, our children won’t be able to hoard their sweets, stash pieces away, or accidentally spill Pop Rocks all over the carpet.

Perhaps most important of all, we can control moderation. Sloan and Beau are extremely impressive when it comes to eating a lot of candy in a very short period of time. But until an Olympic sport is created for that, it isn’t something that we encourage. With the one container of candy kept high in our pantry, we can distribute a couple pieces of candy to the kids at times we deem appropriate.

And, of course, as I alluded to above, this new approach will also increase the window of opportunity we have to…how shall I put it…test for quality control? With “Sloan’s candy” and “Beau’s candy” now merged to form “family’s candy” we are much more obliged to sample the stash every now and then.

With the main event tomorrow, we plan to continue with this strategy. Look for a future update. Don’t Blink.

Day #300

In 2023 I have written blog posts to commemorate the 100th day of the year and also the halfway point of the year. So, I thought it was entirely appropriate to recognize today…

The 300th day of the year!

Today, Oct. 27, is the 300th day of 2023.

We have now reached the last century that this year (or any year for that matter 😂) will see. It kind of is a thought-provoking milestone. We have now made it through 82% of the year only for the remaining 18% to cram in Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. And you wonder why it is a stressful time of the year for people.

I don’t want to call these last 65 days a sprint to the finish. Perhaps the beginning of your final kick around the corner is a better analogy? I think now is a good time to briefly reflect on your year. It might serve you well to initiate a fourth quarter gameplan to accomplish any resolutions you started back in January. But I don’t think it is panic time.

It is simply too early to throw in the towel on 2023 and set your sights solely on 2024. After all, it is still October for Pete’s sake. However, it is tough to discount the symbolism and literal significance of Day #300.

With that said, make the most out of your final two months and change of 2023. There is still plenty of time to make it a defining year. Have a safe Halloween weekend. Don’t Blink.

Titanic Thursday Rundown

It is the final Thursday Rundown of October which means Halloween is right around the corner. Hope the costume is picked out, the pumpkins are carved, and the trick-or-treat candy is purchased! Let’s get to tonight’s five topics…

Jack-O-Lantern Pizza – I am always in the mood for a good holiday-themed pizza which is why I am a sucker for the Papa Murphy’s pumpkin and heart-shaped pies that come out during October and February, respectively. We picked up our jack-o-lantern pizza this past Sunday and instead of opting for the $10 large-sized pizza we went with the $13 family-sized pizza. As per usual it was delicious but I wish they would use something besides olives for the eyes…perhaps sausage or pineapple?

This was the Papa Murphy’s family-sized pizza we got on Sunday night.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe – Back in my Coastal Carolina University days, I worked with a guy who was so revered for his food management and food preparation skills that he was called The Foodman. Jeff Stone, CCU’s Director of Food Services at the time, knew (and still does) everything about food. From time to time I will ask him for tips when it comes to preparing dishes. The other day I asked him for his best chocolate chip cookie recipe. You know what he told me? He said to pick up a bag of Nestle chocolate chips and follow the directions on the back of the package. I was expecting something elaborate but I thought it was a credit to Jeff that sometimes the most simple and tried-and-true recipe can be the best.

That’s me (in the Santa costume) hanging out with Jeff Stone (aka THE FOODMAN) in Dec. 2014.

The Evolution of Arthur – On Tuesday night, we read “Arthur’s Halloween.” After we finished the book, Sidney and I started talking about the changes in Arthur’s appearance over the years. We both remembered reading those “early” books where he just didn’t look very modern or kid friendly. I looked up the transformation of Arthur on Google and I found that his evolution was even more complex than originally thought.

Arthur sure has changed a lot over the years.

Titanic Book – I am trying to introduce more non-fiction books into our nightly reading as Sloan seems to take a great interest in it. Last week we read a book on the Titanic. I did question whether it was appropriate for her but I remembered how much the story of the Titanic intrigued me as a kid so I moved forward with reading it to Sloan. She also found it very interesting and talked a lot about it the next day. The book broke down a time period of four days that included initial boarding, life on the ship, its sinking, and the arrival of survivors in New York. “Four Days on the Titanic” is a good option for introducing this historical event to children.

This book on the Titanic was very interesting.

Time With The Blessed Mother – This past Sunday, we had another one of our Spokane Valley Young Adult Catholic meetings. While the adults met, I kept an eye on the kids. We were roaming around the St. Paschal campus when Sloan spotted this small statue of our Blessed Mother. Without skipping a beat she sat down on the bench and started to pray. Aria, the adorable daughter of our friends Ryan and Allyson, joined her. Sloan’s/Aria’s acts of reverence, the beautiful statue, and the gorgeous fall colors made this photo a special one. Let us all pray for peace to our Blessed Mother during these very contentious times we are living in.

Aria and Sloan sit down for a moment of prayer on the grounds of St. Paschal Catholic Church in the Spokane Valley.


Thanks for joining me for another rundown. I will be back tomorrow with a rare Friday blog post. Have a good one, friends. Don’t Blink.

Yes, Pringles Are Potato Chips

I have eaten Pringles my entire life. The brand earns my admiration for delivering a tasty product in unique packaging with some really effective marketing and a powerful logo. I grew up eating the original Pringles in the red tube and when the brand went the way of Pop-Tarts and offered a flavor explosion, I branched out and tried those options too.

I have always enjoyed Pringles.

As a Pringles fan, I became intrigued by a debate that I very recently heard about. It turns out that Procter and Gamble, the parent corporation of Pringles at the time, was extremely invested in a characteristic of the snack: Was the Pringle a potato chip?

This was a high stakes question. In Britain, there is a value-added tax on many goods although most food is exempt…except for one rather specific category: potato chips. In order to avoid a tax on Pringles, Procter and Gamble fought tooth and nail in Britain courts to avoid the label (and tax) be placed on its star snack. Some of P&G’s arguments included that Pringle’s didn’t have the quality of “potatoness” to be considered a potato chip and that since they didn’t resemble the shape of a traditional potato chip they were more of a “savory snack.”

Well, Procter and Gamble ended up losing the battle and Pringles are classified today as potato chips.

My opinion? Well, ask me as a kid and I might agree with Procter and Gamble. In my young age I would probably naturally gravitate toward P&G’s argument that Pringles didn’t resemble an actual potato chip so how could it possibly be one? Besides, as I mentioned earlier, Pringles not only have a different appearance from a potato chip but they are packaged way differently, too. Because everyone knows that potato chips come in bags, right?

But as an adult—and as a marketer myself no less—I am a little more sophisticated when it comes to marketing smoke screens. Although Pringles found a genius way for its snack to standout, whether it is packaged in a tube, bag, or coffin doesn’t persuade me from a pretty obvious fact—it is a potato chip. Might it lack some of the “potatoness” that a Lay’s potato chip contains? Perhaps. But in the same way that generic cookie dough ice cream is still cookie dough ice cream even though it might lack some of the “cookie doughness” of Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream, it is my belief that a chip with a smaller quantity of “potatoness” from another potato chip product is still a potato chip.

Is the Pringles debate even a question for you? Although it might lack the luster of other popular food questions such as “is a hot dog a sandwich?” or “is it doughnut or donut?” I do think it is worth taking a stance on. Don’t Blink.

Sloan’s Soccer Season

I didn’t know how Sloan’s soccer debut would go. I dropped the ball and signed her up late. Because of the tardiness, she was waitlisted. When the Spokane Youth Sports Association (SYSA) finally got back to us, they said there was a spot for Sloan but she would have to “play up.” SYSA organizes leagues according to birth year. So my “2017” baby would have to play with “2016” girls on a South Hill team that had already been playing together for a couple years.

Sidney provides Sloan with some pointers during a soccer match this season.

Sloan was up for the challenge.

Sloan dribbles the ball during her first soccer practice.

This past Saturday, Sloan concluded her season with the Inky Squids. The team played a six-game campaign that introduced her to a new sport and new friends. Throughout the season, which included seven practices, I saw incredible improvement in skill and confidence.

Thumbs up from Sloan for rising to the challenge of playing soccer with an experienced group.

A lot of that was the result of the coach. Caleb Hatch welcomed Sloan to the team with open arms and treated her with kindness and patience. When I responded to his “welcome” e-mail by saying Sloan might not be at the talent level of the other girls, he said “don’t be concerned” and that everyone deserves to play the game of soccer. He took Sloan under his wing the entire season and really helped her to enjoy her time on the field.

The Inky Squid’s soccer coach, Caleb Hatch, speaks with the girls during a game.

It was so much fun watching Sloan and her teammates play. We had beautiful and sunny Saturday mornings for pretty much the whole season and going to the practices on Thursday evenings was a nice break in the school/work week for the both of us. Sloan got to play in front of her grandma for every game, her grandpa for most, and for her aunts/uncle/cousins for some.

Sloan also had her brother at every soccer game.

Although I think the desire was partly fueled by the lack of running involved, Sloan embraced the goalie position and played it for a portion of every game. Nothing gave me more pride than watching her get a save! She also became a little more aggressive by the end of the season and when she remembered which way the opponents’ goal was (😂), it was fun to watch her kick the ball. She actually had a shot on goal this last game which kind of put the icing on the cake for her season.

Sloan defends the goal during one of her games. She embraced playing goalie.

For as much as I talk about Sloan taking a leap of faith to play soccer on an established team, she wasn’t alone. Sloan’s friend and classmate, Aminah, also joined Sloan on the Inky Squids. The two “outsiders” from the Valley did a great job of meshing with their new teammates although it helped that the returning girls were always so warm and welcoming.

Aminah and Sloan are close friends and they stayed close on the field (literally) too.

Sloan is already pumped to continue the two-part soccer season in the spring. I will be excited to see further improvement and perhaps even a goal from that curly-haired girl wearing the #7 jersey. Great job to Sloan for trying something new, honoring her commitment, and playing hard. Don’t Blink.

Cereal Killer Thursday Rundown

Happy Friday Eve! Compared to August and September, this month has seemed to fly by for me. Less than two weeks until Halloween. Let’s get started with tonight’s five topics…

Cerealflation – Let me vent for a minute. What you see below is ridiculous and nothing short of highway robbery. The fact that Safeway had the nerve to put a tag underneath those cereal boxes and associate it with a promotion makes me even angrier. How in good conscience can any retailer try to sell a small box of cereal for $6.99? Out of all the products I have seen impacted by inflation and greed over the past couple years, this takes the cake (or the cereal bowl). I will continue to buy our family’s cereal from Grocery Outlet at $.99 per box.

Listen right now: I will NOT pay almost $7 for a box of cereal.

ONE Stadium – On Friday night I took the kids to ONE Stadium, the brand new sports facility that Spokane District 81 built for its schools. Located smack in the middle of downtown, we visited the stadium to watch my alma mater Mead High School play Lewis and Clark High School. Although my Panthers fell short, we still had fun exploring the stadium. Perhaps the coolest feature is the magical scales that you put your concession items on. Once the items are placed, the accurate price is automatically reflected on the screen. Can’t wait to see the epic sporting events that ONE Stadium will hold over the many years to come.

A few photos from our first visit to Spokane’s ONE Stadium, including the scale that instantly tabulated your total.

Cookie Sandwiches – On Tuesday night I decided to whip up a treat for our Engaged Encounter meeting. I opted for chocolate cookie sandwiches. I baked the cookies with my famous cake mix recipe and then put vanilla frosting in the middle. They were a hit as not a single crumb was left.

I baked these for our Engaged Encounter meeting.

Trick-Or-Treat Chart – As we draw closer to Halloween I am sure many of you are starting to stock up on the candy you will pass out to trick-or-treaters. I thought that as you make your candy selections that I would re-share this “How Kids Judge Halloween” graphic that originally appeared in my blog five years ago. It always brings a smile to my face. The category that Sidney and I fall under? None of them! The past few years we have gone over to my parents’ house and helped them pass out candy to the nearly 300 trick-or-treaters who come to their door on any given Halloween. My mom definitely represents “The Trusty Provider” category.

This chart is golden.

Way Too Extreme – I love a good haunted house. Over the years I have heard about these “extreme” haunted houses that require you to sign a waiver and last for hours. It kind of appealed to me but not after the documentary I watched on Hulu this week. Called “Monster Inside: America’s Most Extreme Haunted House,” the film tells the story of the house of horrors that deranged Russ McKamey created. What the “experience” amounted to was Russ basically torturing the people who signed up to do it. There is absolutely no connection to Halloween or anything that resembles a classic haunted house. You won’t believe it until you watch the documentary…I don’t approve.

This documentary was disturbing.


That will conclude things for this evening. Please continue to pray for peace in the Holy Land and all other war-torn areas. Don’t Blink.

My Top 5 Favorite Pasta Noodles

A half decade ago on this special date, I came clean with my favorite pasta dish. At the time, people were shocked that an Italian like myself would choose such an elementary and simple pasta entrée…buttered noodles. Oh well, I can’t run away from who I am.

Sidney made this batch of buttered noodles for me years ago.

But this year for National Pasta Day I figured I would get away from specific dishes and focus on the noodle itself. Pasta is so fun because you can cook with whatever noodle fits your personality at the given moment. So tonight I am counting down my top five favorite pasta noodles.

I could eat pasta every day. Let’s get into my countdown of favorite noodles.

5. Acini Di Pepe – This is the pasta noodle I remember my mom using a lot when she made me buttered noodles growing up. This type of noodle is so small that you eat it with a spoon! Eating it while hot feels great gliding down your throat as it warms your soul.

4. Rigatoni – When it comes to the pasta noodle that is easiest to eat with a fork, rigatoni takes the prize. This tube-shaped noodle is what we buy a lot at our house because Sloan and Beau can use their forks to easily pick at it. If you don’t want to go with traditional spaghetti and meatballs, I think rigatoni is the next best noodle option to pair with your protein.

3. Rotini – If we are talking texture, my favorite noodle is rotini. I love how the corkscrew shape flirts with the tongue and the agreeable experience that ensues when biting down. This noodle also can add flair as often you will see it presented in three different colors.

2. Shells – Please see the photo below for the size of pasta noodle I am referring to. As with rotini, I also like shells for their texture but the main reason why I have this variety ranked so high is because of how they hold sauce. I am a big fan of how the sauce seeps into the enclosure of the shells to produce almost a gusher-like effect. It also provides a noodle-to-sauce consistency that I appreciate.

These are the size of pasta shells that I like most of all.

1. Angel Hair – If a restaurant gives me a choice of pasta noodle, I always opt for angel hair. I like to effortlessly twirl my pasta on a fork and no pasta offers that ease like angel hair. Other pasta noodles like spaghetti and fettuccine can be a little too clumsy for my fork-spinning liking. I think angel hair just provides a sophistication that I enjoy and I think it pairs well with all sauces. My clear favorite indeed!


I hope you get to celebrate National Pasta Day this evening…I think we all know how that is accomplished 😉🍝. Don’t Blink.


I don’t know if this is normal or not, but the new house we recently bought didn’t come with a landscaped backyard. So, we were on the hook to get it done ourselves within six months or the overzealous HOA was going to raise hell.

Well, they can slow their roll because we got it done in two. After giving various landscapers in the area the opportunity to install sprinklers and make our small backyard look healthy and green, we decided on the man to do it. But more on him in just one short moment.

Dang, getting your yard landscaped is expensive. Even a small, no-frills project like ours. However, this was just one of those things that we had to bite the bullet on. So let’s take a look at our pre-landscaped backyard from the back porch…

A look at our backyard before any work was done on it.

Okay, and here is what it looked like when you stood beyond our backyard…

Another angle at our backyard before work started.

Now, let’s take a peek at the finished product from the porch…

Our completed backyard from the porch.

And this is what it looks like from beyond the backyard…

Here is another angle of our completed backyard.

Not bad, right? Well, to be honest, unlike my dad, I don’t have the credentials to say what constitutes a nice-looking lawn and what doesn’t. But we have grass now so that must count for something.

We hired Ryan McGee of Luxury Landscapes & Development to do our project. He estimated that the job would take at least five days but Ryan and his partner managed to complete it in two. We appreciated their hard work and for offering the lowest bid. I recommend Luxury Landscapes & Development for any landscaping projects you might have.

We won’t have to mow our backyard until the spring. So for right now, we can just enjoy it. It sure is nice to watch the gorgeous sunrises with some grass at our feet. Don’t Blink.

Reptile Thursday Rundown

Good evening everyone! This is my first Thursday Rundown as a 37-year-old so let’s hope I can prove that I still have it. Here are your topics…

Candy Bar Cake – If you read my recent blog post about my birthday tradition, you know that the below delicacy is baked frequently on October 8. This is Sid’s famous candy bar cake, a delicacy that consists of chocolate cake and a cream cheese frosting infused with Hershey bar pieces. It is quite possibly the best thing ever as my parents and siblings have grown to love it just as much as me.

An up close look at the latest candy bar cake I had the good fortune of enjoying.

Inspiration At Crush – I once wrote about the prolific coffee culture here in the Inland Northwest and the countless drive-thru espresso stands that line the city. I mentioned that all of these places have their unique “shticks” to try and stand out. Since we moved into our new house, we have been frequenting the stand just a half mile from our house, Crush Espresso. The staff at Crush differentiate themselves from other baristas by writing short inspirational phrases on the lids of the drinks they make. This morning, I ordered Sid and I Lotus drinks and our lids came with the phrases below…

Out lotus drinks from Crush Coffee. The first one says “Make your own sunshine” and the second one says “You are so loved.”

Reptile – I watched a pretty decent movie over the weekend. “Reptile” is a new release on Netflix and it is a crime/cop film that will keep you guessing throughout its duration. Some people might think it is a little slow but I appreciate a good “whodunit” every now and then. The movie includes a solid role from Justin Timberlake who uses the “F” word a lot so just be prepared for that.

I enjoyed watching “Reptile.”

Skeleton – I always appreciate the lighthearted holiday shirts that Walmart releases at the beginning of the month. It is also fun when the Walmart X account responds to my appreciation. Would you proudly wear this shirt?

I took a photo of this shirt I saw at Walmart and posted it on X (formerly known as Twitter). Walmart responded.

Abandoned Mall – I am fascinated by abandoned schools, movie theaters, and department stores. However, I am especially intrigued by abandoned malls. This was Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio. It was built in the 1970s and at one time boasted more than 140 stores. It eventually hit tough times and was abandoned. When reading up on this mall, my favorite fact was that numerous dystopian-themed movies used it in its decaying state for various scenes.

What a scene!


Thanks for joining me tonight. Please pray for all those in harm’s way in the Holy Land. May peace prevail. Don’t Blink.