Ghost Stories

Halloween weekend is upon us!  Some good, old fashioned, scary story telling never ages.  I asked around friends and family for their favorite ghost stories from their childhood.  The nice thing about most of these stories, we have all heard them enough that we can put our own spin on it!  You can creep it up or creep it down.  Just remember, you reap what you sew with scary stories and kids.  You creep the story up, you will have a bunk mate for the evening.  Happy Halloween! 

La Llorona

  Once there was a beautiful woman named Xochitl.  She fell in love with a wealthy rancher.  They were married and had two children together.  One day Xochitl saw her husband kissing another woman.  In a fit of rage, she drowned her two children in the river by their house.  Realizing what she had done, Xochitl flung herself into the river drowning.  When Xochitl went up to heaven, they would not let her in until she finds her children.  So now she spends her days by the river, forever weeping and forever looking for her lost children.

Bloody Mary

There once was a little girl named Mary who lived in a cemetery with her family.  Her father was a gravedigger.  When he buried a body, he would always leave a string leading into the grave with a bell on the other end.  That way if anyone was buried alive, they could ring the bell and the gravedigger would be able to dig them up.

One day a terrible disease swept through the village.  It would cause people to fall into a deep sleep before dying.  They would check to see if the person was alive by placing a mirror under their nose.  If the mirror fogged up, then they were still alive.  Mary came home sick one day and fell into a deep sleep.  Her parents were devastated when they place the mirror under her nose and no breath fogged up the mirror.

They buried Mary behind their house in a grave with a string attached to a bell.  Shockingly, Mary wasn’t dead.  She awoke inside her coffin.  She pulled the string on the bell, but she pulled too hard and the string yanked the bell off its hook.  Days later her mother went to visit her grave, and saw the bell on the ground.  Realizing what happened they dug up Mary’s grave and found she died with a petrified look on her face and scratch marks on the ceiling of her coffin. 

To this day if you light a candle in your bathroom with the lights off and call Bloody Mary three times, Mary appears and scratches your eyes out!

Hook for a Hand

Once there was a teenage couple who went out on a date.  At the end of the night, they decided to go drive into the woods and gaze up at the stars.  As they are parked, they heard a radio story about an escaped inmate from the nearby insane asylum.  This inmate had previously killed several teenagers with his hook he had instead of a hand.  The girl got scared and decides she wants to go home.  The guy starts his car and pulls out of the woods when he hears a long scratching noise down the side of his car.  They continue home and when he gets out of his car to check the damage, he sees a hook stuck in the car door handle.

Babysitter ghost story

A young woman decided to take a babysitting job on Halloween night.  When she gets to the house the parents let her know the kids are already asleep.  She is welcome to watch TV until they get home.  The parents leave and the babysitter goes to check on the kids who are sound asleep in their beds. 

She comes downstairs and turns on the TV.  The house has a lot of odd collectibles all over the shelves.  The oddest being a statue next to the TV.  It appears to be a large gnome dressed in overalls and a small red hat.  Even though the gnome is just a statue, it makes her feel really uncomfortable.  She feels like it’s watching her.  She decides to take a blanket and place it over the gnome.  Then she plops on the couch and turns on a scary movie. 

After the movie is over, she gets a call from the parents checking in on their kids.  The babysitter goes upstairs, and the kids are still sounds asleep.  She tells the mom the kids are asleep and that everything is okay.  She asks if she can move the gnome statue because it is kind of creeping her out.  The mom pauses on the phone and says “we don’t have a gnome statue.”  The babysitter rushes down stairs to where the gnome statue was sitting next to the TV all night.  But all that is there is the white sheet on the floor.

Nanny Tales: Potty Training

In my time as a nanny, I have had the pleasure (cough) of potty training four children.  I would never describe myself as an “expert in potty training.”  Mainly because it is a weird thing to brag about.  But I do have some hysterical stories from my attempts to help toddlers through this major milestone. 


When I started working for Sam’s family, he was about to turn three years old.  He had fully mastered peeing in the potty, but pooping was not going to happen.  Sam’s older brother Adam had been potty trained for several years.  The boys’ parents had used pennies as a way to encourage Adam to use the toilet, and were doing the same with Sam.  A common theme throughout all my potty training experiences is bribery.  More importantly, the right kind of bribery.  Now while Adam had been cool with getting a penny every time he used the potty, Sam didn’t really see the value in money.

I made the strategic decision to switch from pennies to M&Ms.  Sam would get one M&M if he peed in the potty, and two if he pooped.  After one day, Sam stomped into the kitchen and demanded “I WANT MY M&MS!’.  I calmly explained, he would have to go poop on the potty.  Sam turned on his heels, stomped into the bathroom, and let out a deafening trumpet of success.  He came stomping back out of the bathroom and declared “THERE”, and pointed to his masterpiece.  He received 2 M&Ms.


Sam’s little sister Lizzy had a different kind of adventure toward potty training.  Suddenly Lizzy would be missing for long stretches of time, and inevitably I’d find her in her mom’s closet pooping in her diaper.  It felt like it was time to start potty training.  We got out all the books, all the potty chairs, and the giant bag of M&Ms.  But as much as we talk about it, and sat on the potty, Lizzy would somehow disappear to go poop in Mom’s closet.  One day I even tried not putting a diaper on her, and watching her like a hawk so she couldn’t escape.  But somehow, she escaped from my site, and YES I had to clean poop off of the closet floor. 

As luck would have it, we were seeing her pediatrician that week.  I asked the doctor what the deal was.  Lizzy showed all the signs of being ready, but wouldn’t do the deed!  The pediatrician simply told me, Lizzy wasn’t ready.  Even though she was exhibiting the signs, Lizzy was still too scared.  I decided to leave all the potty-training things out, but I completely backed off.  We didn’t talk about it.  We didn’t practice it.  We just left everything alone.  Then one day, I was getting Lizzy ready for a bath.  I was focused on getting the water going when Lizzy gasped!  I turned and there she was sitting on her potty.  Her eyes were as big as saucers as we both listened to the pee go in the potty.  I screamed with excitement and showered Lizzy with kisses.  Adam and Sam ran in and we all had a big celebration around a little toilet filled with pee. 


I started taking care of Peter when he was eight weeks old.  I had learned by then to take my time with potty training.  When he is ready, he is ready.  Peter started showing the signs of being ready to potty train.  I’d come to get him at nap time, and would be greeted by a bare butt and a wet diaper dramatically flung across the room.  I lost Peter in the park for a few minutes and found him hidden behind a bush to pee.  It was obviously getting close to time.  I advised Peter’s mom to just buy a little potty to have for when Peter was ready.  That night when Peter’s mom showed him the potty, she simply explained that when he needs to poop and pee this is where he sits.  Peter shrugged and said “okay”, and proceeded to sit on the potty and pee and poop.  What.  The.  Heck?  It is never that easy.  NEVER!!  His mom and I hypothesized that at Peter’s Mother’s Day Out, there was a little girl in his class potty training.  We think he must have seen her and gotten used to the idea of using a potty before we even brought it up!  Maybe the universe decided to give me a break on the third toddler.  They knew I’d be potty training a lot of kids and thought “Make this one super easy to potty train.  Give her a break.  But then make him wet the bed for like four more years.  Don’t let her get cocky.”


Peter’s little sister Josie was my most recent potty trainee.  When you get to the fourth one, there just aren’t that many surprises.  Oh, you’re hiding behind the couch to go poop.  Oh, when I put you on the potty you hold it in because you’re afraid for it to come out.  Oh, there is a soaked diaper wedged in the back of your drawer.  The routine becomes the routine, and you just wait until they are ready to take the plunge.  She did ask if she could sit on my lap while she went to the bathroom.  That was a new one.  The one thing we had working for us was Josie’s love of accessories.  The idea of having her own princess underwear was a big selling point for potty training.  Then the understanding that if she peed, she would be peeing on one of her favorite characters!  Heck no, give me that potty chair!

Potty training is a literal dirty job, but I’m happy to do it.  If I could give any advice to parents, I’d say that potty training is like the weight loss secret of the kid world.  No you can’t do it in a weekend.  No there is no quick fix or easy way to do it.  It takes time, it takes patience, and if you keep at it you will reach your goal!

The Great Snack War!

The great Snack War has been waging in American kitchens for years!  Kids and adults need snacks throughout the day.  But while we all know we need the healthy snacks, the bad snacks are just……so good!  How do we help not only ourselves to be better eaters, but our kids too?  I have several strategies below to help you win your next Snack Battle!

Don’t Buy It

There is a reason why people are very disappointed when they raid my pantry for snacks.  I have not bought cookies or chips in years.  Why?  Because they last about five minutes once they enter my house.  Self-control is difficult for most adults.  It is next to impossible for kids!  If you don’t want your child to eat the unhealthy snacks, do not buy them. 

Look Out For “Healthy”

The food industry is really good at making bright colorful packaging, slapping some buzz words like “real fruit juice”, and convincing you it is healthy.  But we all know the truth.  Veggies Straw are just skinny potato chips.  Fruit Snacks are just gummy bears shaped like fruit.  It can be hard to market healthy food, because actual healthy food is boring to advertise.  A banana is just a banana.  I suppose they could put some more fun stickers on bananas!  Brand bananas for boys called “The Ultimate Banana” and for girls like “Princess Banana”.  But at the end of the day, there is only so many ways to make healthy food look “cool”.

Snacks For Home

Snacks at home are a lot easier to plan.  You have good storage and are able to prep snacks for the week!  Fruits and vegetables should always be your number one choice for snacks.  Always have a fruit bowl filled with easily accessible apples, bananas, etc.  If your kids don’t like certain fruits, don’t give up!  There are a lot of fruits out there to try.  Great vegetables to have on hand are pickles, carrots or celery.  Dips like hummus or guacamole are filling and perfect to have with your vegetables.  Great items to have stocked in the refrigerator are things like yogurt and string cheese.  Healthy pantry snacks for kids, who need something to crunch, are items like nuts, trail mix, or plantain chips.

Snacks For School

Snacks for school can be a little bit trickier.  It can be tough to plan ahead and schools often restrict certain snacks kids are allowed.  Here in Texas the heat can also play a big factor in what snacks are best for kids to take to school.  While yogurt and cheese are great snacks, school lunch-box ice packs only do so well for a long school day.  Fruits and vegetables should once again be your top choice.  Dried fruits and vegetables are a great option if your kids don’t keep their lunch boxes indoors during a school day.  If nuts are allowed in your school, trail mix is your new best friend!  If not try some popcorn for your kids who need that crunch! 

Controlling The Snacking

While in a perfect world, you’d have a house full of healthy snacks and your child would skip merrily home from school and say “dear mother, might I please have an apple before supper?”  But life happens and we all just do the best we can to keep our household happy and running.  There are other ways to keep the unhealthy snacking at bay.  Having snacks be a part of your normal routine is a good way to start.  If children have expectations of one morning snack and one afternoon snack, the angry demands for more snacks goes down.  Also keep in mind, kids get ravenous when they go through growth spurts.  This is when begging for snacks is at an all-time high!  Best way to see if your kid is going through a growth spurt, offer your kids a healthy snack, if they take it, vacuum it down and immediately ask for more, then it’s a growth spurt.

Another good trick to control snacking is a snack box.  Make a nice box for each one of your children.  Every day fill the box with the number of snacks your children are allowed to eat.  Tell them they can eat these snacks whenever they want.  But once the box is empty, that is all the snacks they get for day.  It helps give some control to the kids.  They pick what snacks are in the box and when they can eat them.  Also take the blame off of you when they eat everything in their box! 

The Snack War is one we all battle.  Best we can do is try and give our kids the tools to fight that battle as well.     

Always Be Prepared

School is back and with a new year, comes new injuries.  While I’ve always had my Mary Poppin’s bag filled with extra clothes, baby wipes, and snacks, I decided to tap into my inner boy scout and learn “what are the best things to have in your own first aid kit.” 

Kids are very determined to hurt themselves.  Having the right items stocked in your house, helps you prepare for even the craziest of accidents.  Once I looked at the recommendations for first aid kits, I immediately became overwhelmed and turned off my computer.  Warning!  It doesn’t take much to go from buying bandages on the Red Cross website, to building a bomb shelter.

We all know what our medicine cabinets really look like.  A scattering of random Band-Aids litters the bottom of the drawer, random medicines loosely stacked on top, and a perfectly put together travel kit someone gave you as a gift (but you’ve never used).  A good habit to get into is regularly going down the pharmacy aisle in the grocery store to check what needs to be restocked in your own home.

A dedicated first aid kit for your sitters and nannies is good to have on hand .  As much fun as it sounds, digging through someone else’s medicine cabinet looking for Band-Aids is always uncomfortable.  Below are some good items to have readily available for anyone in your home.

Butterfly Band-Aids:  Everyone has a story about busting open some part of their body that should remain closed.  These little dudes can take care of most cuts. 

Dermoplast Spray:  This antiseptic spray is also a pain reliever! A double whammy for keeping wounds clean!

Benadryl:  No one found out they were allergic to something in an easy way.  While it would be nice to be able to keep EpiPens in your first aid kit, they require a prescription. 

The Red Cross has an amazing website where you can shop for first aids items and premade kits.  Items like a breathing barrier or an aluminum finger splint aren’t things you will probably need, but they can’t hurt to have on hand (pun not intended).

The Red Cross recommends keeping a first aid kit in your car as well as your home.  I decided to head on over to Target to make myself a small, travel first aid kit.  It was a bit overwhelming walking through the pharmacy trying to decide what I would need, and if I was missing anything vital.  I decided to look back at my years of taking care of kids, and try and remember all the things I wish I had.

Tweezers:  “I’VE GOT A SPLINTER!!!”  Dear Lord have mercy on me when a kid gets a splinter.  We all know getting a splinter in the kid world is basically the equivalent to getting your arm chopped off.  Having a pair of tweezers on hand would have saved a couple of afternoons at the playground.

Gauze:  I have seen quite a few knocks to the head in my day.  If you’ve ever seen any wound to the face you know, it bleeds a LOT.  A small cut on the lip or a nose bleed, and suddenly you’re in the hallway of The Shining.  Wipes and Kleenex just don’t do the trick when it comes to stopping blood.  Gauze are the best solution to stop the blood and get back to fun.

Tylenol, Benadryl, Dramamine:  Seeing your kid sick is the worst.  Seeing your kid sick and being unable to help because you’re not home is miserable!  Keeping a few of these medications on hand for an emergency can help you make it home. I bought kids’ chewable of each medicine.  Putting liquid medicines in a car is not an experiment I’d like to try in the oppressive Texas heat.

There is a lot of information out there on how to be best prepare for an emergency.  It can get overwhelming very quickly. I found it very helpful to think about what I experienced as a child, and as a childcare worker.  It is always better to have these items and not need them, than need them and not have them.  I certainly never needed a snow shovel in Texas, but ask me about this past February.

Having a first aid kit and updating it regularly is a good habit for everyone to get into.  Go check out the Red Cross website and see what they have to offer!

The Splash Shack

The summer of 2021 is coming to a close.  If you are looking for a last bit of summer fun before school starts, I recommend The Splash Shack!  An indoor water park in Cedar Park, the Splash Shack is specifically made for children 10 and under.  I am not a big fan of water parks.  Between the heat, the lines, and the warm bath water, it has never been my favorite place to take kids.  But this water park is indoors, always heated to 82 degrees, and limits the number of people allowed inside.  This was something I couldn’t pass up trying!

Pricing is dictated by height (at 5’2′ I was slightly concerned), and the park is perfectly made for little kids.  The Splash Shack is made of multiple water slides, and that’s about it.  The simplicity of the place is actually what makes it enjoyable.  Kids climb up the slides, go down the slides, rinse and repeat.  There is also a giant water bucket that hangs over the play area.  It fills with water and makes an absolutely epic splash! 


Prepare to get wet:  There is a lovely sitting area, where you can relax and keep an eye on your kids, but I see no way you could go to this water park and stay dry.  The building is pretty small and large splashes are inevitable.  Some productive parents came in their yoga pants and were working or reading.  One giant bucket splash later, the work was put away. 

No outside food or drink:  We could have stayed at the water park for longer, but they don’t allow outside food or drink.  There is a lovely snack bar with your standard chips and drinks.  The day we went, they were also offering pizza for sale.  But all-in-all, it would have been nicer if we could have packed a lunch.  We still got a solid two and half hours of play time.  But we definitely could’ve stayed longer!

Take breaks:  I appreciate that most pools these days clear the pool every hour for safety.  It gives you a chance to take kids to the bathroom, reapply sunscreen, etc.  Since you are inside, this is easily forgotten.  And with little kids and lots of space to pee, you can see why adding in your own break time would be a good idea!

So should you make the trip to The Splash Shack?

Baby-3 (Proceed with caution)

This water park is quite small which is nice.  There are changing tables in every bathroom.  There is space for babies to crawl and splash in the water.  However, children are not allowed to sit in your lap to go down water slides.  If you’ve got a braver toddler, this shouldn’t be a problem.  But the more cautious ones are going to have to get some courage.

3-6 (Go now!)

It is a great outing for this age group.  They climb up and slide down, climb up and slide down, over and over again until they need a snack!  The size of the place makes it perfect to keep an eye on everyone.  Lifeguards are set up all over the tiny area, making sure the kids are safe and taking turns.  

6-10 (Go now!)

While this park is great for little kids, it’s not like the big kids are going to be bored and think this place is for babies.  The same enjoyment the little kids have, the big kids will have too.  A lot of the slides are side by side and perfect for kids who want to race each other!  

Sweet Eats Fruit Farm

I am madly in love with Sweet Eats Farm.  We all know the challenge of keeping kids entertained during Covid 19.  After exhausting every craft on Pinterest, cooking every single kid-friendly recipe, and watching more “Ryan’s Mystery Playdate” than should ever be legally allowed, we needed something to get us out of the house. Sweet Eats Farm swooped down from heaven, and saved us. It gave me a whole morning of hands-off fun, and an afternoon of exhausted children taking long naps.  If you’re looking for a good day trip, I have found your savior!

This large fruit farm was started in 2013, and has grown to an amazing utopia of kid fun.  Picking your own fruit is just one of the many attractions this farm has to offer.  At $15 per person (free for under 2), the price is well worth it.  This post would go on forever if I were to list all the things kids can do while at the farm.  I will simply give you our personal favorites, and you can see for yourself all there is to offer.

Jump Pads:  Two huge inflatable jump pads are located on the farm.  We all know the amazing euphoria of watching kids get all their energy out, while you sit and relax.  I consistently had to keep pulling the kids off the jump pads to go try other things.  The jump pads are by far their favorite activity.

Petting Zoo:  With bunnies, chicks, goats, and more, the petting zoo came in a close second for the kids’ favorite activity.  All the animals are very calm and happy to take some food out of your hand.  Be forewarned, you will be asked if you can take a random farm animal home.  “Why can’t we take the goat?  He would fit in the car.”

Duck Races:  While not the most famous races on the farm (pig races for the win), we spent a solid chunk of time racing rubber ducks down PVC pipes.  Kids love simple, fun repetitive behavior.  And the duck races check all the boxes. 


Wear sunscreen:  I visited Sweet Eats in December and still got a little rosy on my cheeks and forehead.  There is a lot of shade, but it’s Texas’ sun, and it’s sneaky.

Pack snacks and maybe lunch:  There is a nice food truck on the farm.  But they only have hamburgers, hot dogs and chips.  Even drinks are a limited.  I can testify that the food is good.  But if you have picky eaters, definitely pack a lunch.

Wear tennis shoes:  When you first get to the farm, there is a small concession stand where you get your wristbands for the day.  Then you walk down a long, gravel path to all the fun activities.  This long walk is when you realize flip-flops were a bad choice. 

So, should you make the trip out the Sweet Eats Farm?

Baby-3 (stop)

Honestly, not the best day trip for the babes.  It is a far drive, no matter what side of Williamson county you’re on.  The only restrooms are port-a-potties.  Diaper changes and picky potty-trainees will be out of luck.  The property is not super stroller friendly.  I saw a well-intentioned family with a wagon, and they could barely wheel it out of the parking lot.  While there are fun animals to see, and a few safe places to crawl, it is too much for this age group.

3-6 (proceed with caution)

My trips to Sweet Eats farm included two four-year-old, a 6 year-old, and a 7 year-old.  One 4 year-old wanted nothing more than to pet and feed all the animals!  The other 4 year-old had to be picked up every time a chicken came by.  (Fun Fact: the chickens are everywhere).  The 6 and 7 year-old loved all the activities, but were still too small for a few of the things they wanted to do.  They had an amazing time, and everyone was exhausted and ready to leave by lunch.  I think for this particular age group, it depends on your child’s personality.  If you have a cautious kiddo, this might not be the place for you.  If you have child who looks at a wall and says “wonder what happens if I run into it head first”, they will be in heaven! 

6-10 (GO NOW)

For the elementary school kids, this place is perfect!  Plenty of space to run and jump.  There is enough stuff to keep them busy for the whole day. A fabulous day outside with no screen time! Get your tickets and go!