The Sweet Smell of Halloween Candy

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Am I the only one who loves the smell of Halloween candy? No matter what you’ve collected while out trick-or-treating, it always smells the same when you stick your nose in the bag.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, go take a whiff of the Halloween candy that your kids just collected. It’s amazing. It’s also virtually impossible to describe — sort of an emergent property that arises whenever you combine multiple types of candy in a small space.

Mmmmm… The sweet smell of Halloween candy… In this case, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

Published on November 1st, 2009 - Leave a Comment
Filed under: Daily Life
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Blockbuster Express Promo Codes – Free DVD Rentals!

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Ready for a family movie night? Our local Publix grocery store recently replaced their MovieCube kiosks with Blockbuster Express kiosks. Movies are $1/night, just like RedBox, and the selection is actually pretty good.

Even better, there are a number of Blockbuster Express promo codes out there floating around. What follows is a list of codes that I’ve run across…

Blockbuster promo codes

(updated 11/23/09)

  • OCTOBER (One free overnight rental; expires 10/31/09???)
  • PTPX91X (One free overnight rental; expires 10/31/09)
  • G29RA3 (One free overnight rental; expires 11/04/09)
  • GW9RA4 (One free overnight rental; expires 11/04/09)
  • GER9A2 (One free overnight rental; expires 11/11/09)
  • GSNX9X8 (One free overnight rental; expires 11/15/09)
  • PUBLIX1 (One free overnight rental; expires 11/25/09)
  • PUBLIX2 (Rent one, get one free; expires 11/25/09)
  • NOVEMBER (One free overnight rental; expires 11/30/09)
  • GU9SA (Rent one, get one free; expires 12/2/09)
  • G29SA1 (One free overnight rental; expires 12/3/09)
  • PUBLIX3 (One free overnight rental; expires 12/21/09)
  • KIOSK (One free overnight rental; expires expires 2/1/10)

Note that I haven’t tested all of these promo codes (yet), but the ones that I’ve used have worked perfectly. As far as I’m aware, these codes are good at any location so, you may even be able to use the “Publix” promo codes at Blockbuster kiosks in non-Publix locations. Your mileage may vary, but it’s worth a shot.

Oh, and one more thing… Yes, it seems that you can use these codes more than once as long as you use a different credit card — or at least that’s how it’s been working so far. Once again, YMMV.

Published on October 30th, 2009 - 7 Comments
Filed under: Fun
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How to Remove Marker Ink From Your Carpet

Written by dad - 7 Comments

As I write this, there’s a guy cleaning the carpet in the other room, and I’m starting to lose hope…

Ink on the carpet…

Six or eight weeks ago, Son #4 (currently four years old) went through a scribbling phase. He scribbled on the door frame and his desk with a pencil (no big deal), he scribbled on the hardwood floor with a black Sharpie (despite being “permanent,” it eventually came off), and he scribbled on the carpet in his bedroom with (supposedly) washable markers.

Unfortunately, we got sidetracked and didn’t get around to cleaning the marker off the carpet until today. My wife started out trying to clean one of the spots with Resolve. When that didn’t work, she called a local carpet cleaner. They were actually able to make it out here this afternoon, but the last I checked, the news wasn’t good.

…and it won’t come out

The worst of the scribbles are in the dead center of the room, and the steam cleaner was unable to make a dent in them. When I walked in the door from work, the cleaning guy was telling my wife that he was going to try a “heavy duty” cleaner, but that he suspected our son had gotten his hands on permanent markers.

We dug the markers out and, sure enough, they said “Washable” right there on the barrel. I’m guessing that what they really mean by “Washable” is more along the lines of “Washable, but if (and only if) you take care of the problem immediately.” We didn’t, and we might now have to live with the consequences.

Update: The carpet cleaner managed to make the stain fade, but the ink is still there, and it’s still fairly obvious. Oh well, I guess this is just something else to help us remember the “Terrible Fours.” Lesson learned… If you want to remove “Washable” ink from carpet, you should start cleaning immediately. If not, it will magically morph into permanent ink.

Published on October 28th, 2009 - 7 Comments
Filed under: How To
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Kids’ Halloween Costume Ideas

Written by dad - 3 Comments

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of Halloween costumes that our kids have worn over the years. What follows is an alphabetical list of the 33 costumes that we can remember*.

Halloween costumes 1997-present

  • Achilles (the Greek hero)
  • Anakin Skywalker (you know, the young Darth Vader)
  • Batman (sorry, no Robin costume)
  • Bob the Builder (yes we can!)
  • Buzz Lightyear (of Toy Story fame)
  • Clown (just a plain old circus clown)
  • Cowboy (just a random cowboy costume – giddyup!)
  • Dalmatian (of 101 Dalmatians fame)
  • Darth Vader (oh, Anakin, what have you become?)
  • Dinosaur (a Pachycephalosaurus to be exact)
  • Frodo (Baggins, that is… from Lord of the Rings)
  • Harry Potter (complete with the scar, glasses, wand, etc.)
  • Indiana Jones (this was old-school Indy)
  • Ironman (I am Ironman)
  • Jack Bauer (from 24; for the older set)
  • Jurassic Park Ranger (in honor of the original Jurassic Park book/movie)
  • King (just a plain old medieval King costume)
  • Little Devil (this was a toddler costume)
  • Luke Skywalker (he used to bullseye womp rats in his T-16 back home…)
  • Ninja (including nunchucks, but minus the throwing stars)
  • Pirate (just a random pirate costume)
  • Pirate (Jack Sparrow in particular)
  • Power Ranger (can’t recall the details, but it was a red Power Ranger)
  • Pumpkin (this was a baby costume)
  • Rescue Hero (in honor of the Fisher-Price Rescue Heroes toys)
  • Riddick (from Chronicles of Riddick)
  • Spider Man (minus the spider webs)
  • Star Wars Clone Trooper (Commander Cody)
  • Star Wars Clone Tropper (Captain Rexx)
  • Super Man (complete with Super Man muscles)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (complete with a TMNT shell on his back)
  • Wolverine (of X-Men fame)
  • Zorro (he left his mark all over the neighborhood!)

If you’re particularly astute, you might have noticed that this list includes more costumes than we’ve had Halloween-years across our four boys. The reason for this is that, in some years, they’ve worn one costume to school and a different one on Halloween night. Also note that this list also includes the four costumes to be worn for Halloween 2009.

Please chime in and let us know what Halloween costumes your kids have worn.

Published on September 29th, 2009 - 3 Comments
Filed under: Fun
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Four Year Old With Blood in Urine

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Over the past week or two, our four year old has told us that his “pee” looks funny. When we’ve gone into the bathroom to check, he’s been right. His urine has looked darker than normal, tending toward reddish-brown. Given that he wasn’t showing any other symptoms, we chalked it up to something he had eaten and decided to keep an eye on things.

Well… He recently, he came out of the bathroom and said “Daddy, my pee is bloody.” When I went in to check, I was surprised (and a bit disturbed) to see how red it was. I called my wife into the bathroom, and she concurred. It looked a lot like blood.

Fortunately, a quick phone call to the pediatrician was enough to put our minds at ease. As it turns out, one of the side effects of the antibiotic Omnicef (i.e., cefdinir) is discoloration of urine. Sure enough, he’s been taking Omnicef, and the color change is fully consistent with what the doctor has seen in other patients.

Phew. He’s been totally football-obsessed as of late, and we were starting to think that he’d gotten hurt rough-housing with his big brothers.

Published on June 22nd, 2009 - 3 Comments
Filed under: Health
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Disney Cruise, Take Two

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Last week we went on another Disney Cruise. Those of you who were around a year ago might remember the Disney Cruise review that I published back in March of 2008. Instead of writing another full review, I thought I’d just write up some details of how this year differed from last year.

For starters, we had the exact same itinerary, and we stayed in the exact same staterooms. The ship was in great shape — in fact, it was actually taken out of service for a few weeks last fall for refurbishing and a number of upgrades. A nice change in the staterooms was that they replaced all of the old TVs with brand new 22″ LCD TVs. Topside, the ship also sports a new “Splash Zone” near the Mickey Pool for kids that are still in diapers and thus aren’t allowed in the regular pools.

Another change was that they re-did the age groups for kids programs. The Oceaneer’s Club is now home to the 3-4 and 5-7 year old programs, with the Oceaneer’s Lab housing the 8-10 year old program, and Ocean Quest housing the 11-13 year olds.

As before, the kids loved their programs, though they were once again a bit slow to warm up to being dropped off. Early in the week, they complained about not wanting to go the Club/Lab/Quest, but by the end of the week they didn’t want to leave.

Another big difference this year had to do with shore excursions. After our fantastic experience at Castaway Cay last year, we decided that we wanted to spend as much time as possible at the beach. Thus, we went to Seven Mile Beach at Grand Cayman, and then we hit up a private beach club called Nachi Cocom in Cozumel. We booked the former through Disney, and the latter on our own (we just caught a cab from the pier in Cozumel). Both beaches were beautiful, and very relaxing.

The only downside this year was that I got sick and spent one of our sea days recovering in our stateroom. Aside from that, we had a great time. It’s not cheap but, if you can swing it, a Disney Cruise makes for a great family vacation. For more details, check out last year’s review.

Published on March 16th, 2009 - Leave a Comment
Filed under: Travel
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Strep, Impetigo, Sinusitis, and God Knows What Else

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It’s been a long, long time since we’ve updated. What can I say? We’ve been busy. On top of that, we’ve also been sick. All of us. Not for the five months since I last updated, but for the past week or two. It started with Son #4 coming home sick from preschool…

In the beginning

At the time, we though that he just had a nasty virus, but we now suspect that he was a walking bug bomb. His “virus” eventually led to impetigo due to crusty, cracked nostrils. As unfortuante as that sounds, it may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him, as we think that the antibiotics took care of something else… Strep.

Anatomy of an outbreak

Last Friday, I came home from work early feeling like crap. Sore throat, achy, and exhausted, I crawled into bed and tried to recover. I felt better when flying high on my ibuprofen/acetaminophen cocktail, but otherwise I suffered through the weekend.

Meanwhile, Son #1 started feeling crappy on Saturday, a situation that deteriorated as time wore on. By Monday he puking and my throat still hurt. On Tuesday morning we went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with strep, whereas Son #1 was diagnosed with sinusitis (the resulting drainage was irritating his throat and upsetting his stomach). I got Omnicef, and he got a Z-Pac.

Puking in triplicate

Around that same time, my wife picked up Son #3 from school with a fever. Son #2 was still fine, so he stayed for the remainder of the day. By evening, they both hurled (after eating some pizza and drinking some red fruit punch). Lovely. Counting Son #1’s pre-dawn hurl, that meant that three of our four kids threw up that day. Son #4 was blissfully ignorant of the havoc that he had created, as he had long since recovered.

Recovery? Not so fast

On Wednesday, I was staring to feel better, but my lovely and talented wife was starting to feel like crap. On top of that, Son #1 was developing a bad cough reminiscent of an earlier bout with pneumonia. And Son #2 was still in pretty rough shape with a fever all day long, dizziness, and a sore throat. So…

This morning my wife, Son #1, and Son #2 all headed back to the doctor. She just called. The good news is that Son #1 doesn’t have pneumonia. Another bit of good news is that nobody else has strep (lucky me!). The bad news is that they’re now all on antibiotics combatting a sinus infection.

And so it goes. At least it’s not H. pylori, and nobody got hurt.

Published on February 12th, 2009 - 2 Comments
Filed under: Daily Life,Health
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How to Deal With a Bully at School

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How do you teach your kids to deal with a bully? Our oldest son, who is currently ten (nearly eleven) years old and in 5th grade, told us last night that one of the kids in his class has been picking on him and calling him names.

A bit of background

While the name-calling has been pretty run-of-the-mill stuff so far, we don’t want it growing into something larger. Moreover, the kid in question apparently told our son that he’d “get him” during recess if he told a teacher. Given this, we’ve decided that it would best to nip it in the bud right now.

It seems that the protagonist is an equal opportunity bully, in that he’s been picking on and threatening a number of kids in the class, including a number of our son’s friend. From the sound of things, he’s a bit of a loner, and I suspect he’s lashing out because he feels left out.

Anyway, enough pop psychology…

Standing up to a bully

Rather than inserting ourselves into the situation, we’ve decided that it would be best for our son to try and work this out on his own, at least at first. To that end, we had a chat with him last night before bed and suggested some possible responses the next time this happens.

We certainly don’t want him to escalate things, so we’ve advised him to steer clear of this kid as much as possible. However, if confronted, we would like to see him stand up for himself, so…

First and foremost, we suggested that he respond to any further name-calling by simply making eye contact and telling the other kid (firmly and confidently) to:

“Stop calling me names.”

If asked what he’s going to do about it, we suggested that he respond matter-of-factly with:

“Tell the teacher.”

If he’s then greeted with a playground threat, we advised him to respond with:

“Stop threatening me. I’m not afraid of you.”

It doesn’t hurt that the kid is actually considerably smaller than our son, and he’s not actually afraid of him — he’s more annoyed than anything else. And to close with:

“If you don’t stop, I will tell the teacher.”

And then make good on his promise by telling the teacher.

The goal here is to be firm, confident, and non-provocative. In my experience, the vast majority of incidents like this happen because the protagonist enjoys getting a rise out of their mark, and they are further emboldened when their victim shies away from the confrontation, so… Say it like you mean it, and then act on it.

This is all new territory for use, so we’ll see how it goes.

Published on September 11th, 2008 - 14 Comments
Filed under: Child Safety,Daily Life,Education
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The Boys of Summer Have Gone

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Long time, no write… Our three oldest went back to school a week ago yesterday, and our youngest goes back to preschool on Monday. This year, he’ll be in for five days per week. That means that my lovely and talented wife gets some much needed downtime on weekday mornings.

On the topic of going back to school… When I was a kid, we always got out in early June and went back after Labor Day. Same deal in college. That schedule is now so engrained into my psyche that I have a really hard time adjusting to the idea that summer vacation starts in early May. By the time my mind and body accept the idea that it’s summer, there’s only two months left.

No matter, we had a great summer. Our three oldest had a great swim season early in the summer, and we also took a couple of nice trips. This includes a mid-summer week lakeside with family and a long end of summer weekend at the ocean.

The boys are now settling back into their school routine and we’re gearing up for fall soccer. While we coached three teams last fall and two in the spring, we’re scaling back to one this fall (though we might end up helping with a second).

Published on August 14th, 2008 - One Comment
Filed under: Daily Life
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Free Movie Tickets From Discover/Fandango

Written by dad - 2 Comments

As a followup to my earlier post about free summer movies, I just wanted to point out that Fandango and Discover are offering a buy-one-get-one-free promotion on movie tickets.

This offer is good through September 30, 2008. To participate, simply click go here, enter your zip code, select the theater and showtime for the movie you want to see, select the number of tickets (at least TWO, and one will be free), then use your Discover Card to pay. The price of one of the tickets will automatically be deducted from your order.

Terms and Conditions:

This offer is only valid for Discover® Cardmembers who purchase at least one movie ticket on The one free movie ticket must be used at the same time as the first movie ticket purchased on This offer is valid from a limited time from 07/01/08-09/30/08, while supplies last. The one free ticket is up to a $12.50 value, including a convenience charge. Limit one free ticket per customer.

Published on July 16th, 2008 - 2 Comments
Filed under: Miscellany
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