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Friday, September 28, 2012

My Non-Negotiable: Family Dinner

When asked to name one of my strengths recently, my oldest daughter told me, "you always make sure we have healthy food and that we always eat dinner together." I never thought that was a strength.  I assumed that family dinner happened nightly for most families. After asking my girls about their friends' families I found out that it was a rarity, not the standard. 


Is it true that families don't eat dinner together these days? Are people in such a hurry in their lives that they can't make the time to gather and sit down at a family meal anymore?

Although our dinner time fluctuates from day to day based on what activities we have, I make sure that my kids know dinner time is family time and therefore sacred time. We aren't allowed to have any electronic devices at the table. If your phone buzzes or rings, you're not allowed to pick it up. Crazy, but good.

Dinner time is different than any other meal. We start with a quick read from the scriptures and a kneeling family prayer. We take turns listening to each other. Everyone talks about their day, if they want to share. We ask about their favorite part of the day and usually have a few good laughs. We discuss current events, social situations, difficulties at school or work, small successes, funny stories and plans for the future. Some of our favorite times happen after everyone is finished eating, but stays at the table because we're having such a good time together. Those moments are golden.

Most of the time it's not perfect, though. Often we have interrupting, kicking, poking, shoving, crying, stealing food from someone else or taking seconds without asking if anyone else wants more. Family life at its finest.

But, we keep trying.

Family dinner time is the best opportunity to teach my kids how to be gracious, polite, kind, patient, tolerant and well-mannered people.

Kids need their parent's undivided attention more than ever these days. Dinner time is the best time to do that. No TV, no smart phones, no distractions — just a good meal with those we love best in the world.

Do you have family dinner? If not, why?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Halloween Happenings in Utah 2012

Unspeakable Horrors for Scamps and Imps of All Ages

Whether you have an iron-clad constitution or you’re a scaredy cat when it comes to Halloween, Utah has a treat bag full of activities and celebrations to put you in the mood come October 31. From corn mazes, to a ghost tours, to pumpkin patches, to after-dark spooks, this list compiles some of the most ghastly events and celebrations this side of the afterworld. Don’t worry, there’s plenty to keep the kiddo’s and faint-of-heart busy, too. Love spine-tingling heebie jeebies? There’s a gaggle of options. No more moaning and groaning about what to do this Halloween. Go forth and spook!


Monster Block Party at the Gallivan Center

The Monster Block Party is a free, family-friendly Halloween party for Salt Lake City's goblins and ghouls of all ages. There will be trick-or-treat booths, a costume contest with prizes (kid, teen and adult divisions), arts and crafts, a pumpkin drop, live performances and more.

Freak-out Factor: Mild
Saturday, October 27: 11am-3pm
Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main


If you're looking for a way to keep the winter weight gain at bay, or maybe you want to justify all the candy you're planning on eating this Halloween, here are two fantastic race/walk options. If you're really ambitious, you could do both!

Running Scared 5K and 10K

Get out your cobwebs and motivate your little ghouls and goblins to move with this Halloween-themed race. If the idea of running a half or full marathon scares the bejeebers out of you (and your eight-year-old), a 5K or 10K around the Daybreak Lake is the perfect pre-holiday festivity.  Come in costume and get in the holiday spirit. Kids seven and under are free, (they don't get a medal or shirt, but they can be purchased separately). Post race fun includes balloons, face painting, games, prizes and lots more!

Freak-out Factor: Mild
Day Break Lake
Saturday, October 27
Both races start at 10am
Check website for route, packet pick-up and more details
Registration: $30 - $35

Night of the Running Dead 5K

This year's Night of the Running Dead 5K will be an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of zombies!

All runners will register as either Undead or Human. If Undead, they may dress as such and start the race two minutes after the humans begin their run. You’ll see an army of undead chasing the living, which is, of course, whole point of the race! Costumes are optional but highly encouraged, especially for anyone in the One-mile Creep n' Crawl.

Race fees benefit the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

Freak-out Factor: Mild
October 20, One-mile Creep and Crawl starts at 8pm, 5K starts at 9pm
Sandy Centennial Parkway
Registration: $25-$40
Check website for route, packet pick-up and more details


Cornbelly’s Maze and Pumpkin Fest

Not just a corn maze, Cornbelly's includes a pumpkin patch, playground, farm-themed kiddie rides, Pumpkin Princess Playland, Halloween parade, contests and more--even pig races!  There’s even a haunted section of Cornbelly’s called Insanity Point, which starts on October 5. Make sure to visit the corn cannons and pumpkin blasters and check out the Jack-o-Lantern Tree with hundreds of elaborately carved Jack-o-Lanterns.

Freak-out Factor: Mild. Moderate in the haunted sections
3003 North Thanksgiving Way, Lehi
Exit 284 from I-15
Open from September 28 to October 1; October 5 to November 3
Monday through Thursday: 4-10pm, $8.95
Friday and Saturday: 10am-11pm., $10.95
              Haunted maze: $15.95 (includes all areas)
Kids 2 and under are free
Use promo code "belly" for $3 off when buying tickets online by September 28

Crazy Corn Maze

With over eight acres of corn to wander through, Crazy Corn Maze will keep you guessing. A trivia question and answer game within the maze will baffle even the smartest of haunts busy for hours. The maze includes a completely separate haunted trail for more chills and thrills. The four-acre pumpkin patch opens in October and is the ideal place to get your Halloween carving pumpkins.

Freak-out Factor: Mild. But sensitive children should avoid the haunted section
8800 S. 4000 W., West Jordan/801-569-2356
Monday-Saturday in September 21 to October 31
Monday through Thursday: 6-10pm
Fridays: 6-11:30pm
Saturdays: Noon-11:30pm
Closed Sundays
Haunted section begins Sept. 28; haunting starts at dusk
No haunted section on Mondays

Ages 11+: $7.50
Ages 4-10: $4
Under 4: free
Haunted section: $4 extra


Witchfest at Gardner Village

Historic Gardner Village in West Jordan gets bewitched for Halloween with dozens of creative life-sized witches and fun activities including Breakfast with a Witch, Witches Night Out and Witchapalooza, a dinner show. There are also a petting zoo and pony rides. Check the Gardner Village events calendar for details and prices. Most activities take place on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, although some are held all week.

Freak-out Factor: Mild, though the life-sized witches are scary for sensitive children.
1100 E. 7800 S., West Jordan/801-566-8903
Displays and events: September through Halloween
October hours: Monday through Thursday, 10am to 8pm; Friday and Saturday, 10am to 9pm
Closed Sundays
Closes 5pm on October 31
Go here for more information


Haunted Forest
The Haunted Forest in American Fork, about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City, has been one of Utah's favorite haunted attractions for 22 years. Visitors walk through a real forest with scary surprises. There are also two indoor attractions, "The Haunted Mansion Show" and "Psycho Manor.”

Freak-out Factor: Moderate
September: 16, 17, 23, 24 and 30
October: 1-31 except Sundays
Weekdays: 7:30-10pm; weekends: 7:30pm to midnight
1100 S. 500 E. American Fork/801-623-1824
Tickets: $20
$1 extra for credit card purchases
Children 6 years and under free

Frightmares at Lagoon

Frightmares at Lagoon in Farmington offers fun Halloween decorations, activities and entertainment in addition to the usual thrill rides. Water rides and the water park are closed. Costumes not allowed. Many supermarkets, banks and credit unions offer discounted Lagoon tickets.

Freak-out Factor: Moderate to mild. Suitable for anyone, although sensitive children will want to avoid some shows and attractions.
Lagoon Drive in Farmington, I-15 Exit #322, 17 miles north of Salt Lake City/801-451-8000
September 21 through October 30
Fridays: 5 to 10pm; Saturdays: 11am to 10pm; Sundays: 11am to 8pm
Open at 11 a.m.-10 p.m. during fall break, October 18 through 21
Tickets: $28.95-$44.95

Ogden and Salt Lake Ghost Tours

Guided by a professional storyteller, guests travel by bus to the great "haunts" of Salt Lake City or Ogden and learn about the ghosts who dwell in historic buildings and cemeteries. Journey through time on an adventure through the rich culture and learn about many of the characters that still call Utah home even years after their deaths.

Freak-out Factor: Moderate
Every Friday and Saturday night in October
Starting times vary; tours last 1.5-2 hours
Salt Lake City tours begin behind the Rio Grande Building at 300 S. 500 W.
Ogden tours meet at Union Station parking lot
Tickets: $12-$18
Come in costume and receive a free concession
Advance reservations recommended
Buy tickets online or call 801-529-4497

Heber Valley Railroad Train Rides and Pumpkin Festival

A 45-minute evening train ride through scenic Heber Valley, your own carving pumpkin, special activities, entertainment, pumpkin treats, pumpkin decorating to kick off the festive Halloween season.

450 S. 600 W. Heber City, UT/435-654-5601
Freak-out Factor: Mild
October 18-20, 25-27, 29 & 30
Ages 4 and up: $15
Children 3 and under: $3
2 train rides available: 4pm and 5:30pm
Price includes: A pumpkin for carving, on-site activities, entertainment and a 45-minute train ride
Food and beverages available from concession car

Thanksgiving Point Barnyard Boo and Spooky Saturdays

Spooky Saturdays

Thanksgiving Point's Museum of Ancient Life is scaring up some Halloween family fun for your whole family. Guests of the Spooktacular are enouraged to show up in their favorite Halloween costume to have their face painted, make creepy crafts, and try their luck at many activities and games.

Freak-out Factor: Mild
Saturdays in October (6, 13, 20, 27): 11am to 4pm
Adults: $10
Children: 3-12:  $8
Members: free
3003 N. Thanksgiving Way in Lehi/801-768-2300

Barnyard Boo

Barnyard Boo, at Thanksgiving Point's Farm Country, offers less-spooky activities for the younger goblins. Enjoy storytelling, entertainment, and a variety of Halloween-themed activities for kids like boo bowling, hairy horseshoes, spider toss and many more fun games.

Freak-out Factor: Mild
Weekends and fall break, October 11 through 29
See website for specific dates and hours
Adults and children: $5
Members: free
3003 N. Thanksgiving Way in Lehi/801-768-2300

This is the Place Heritage Park Haunted Village

Haunted houses, shadowy streets, headless horsemen and assorted spooks lend This is the Place Heritage Park a decidedly creepy air in the evenings during the month of October. For the little ones, there's also a daytime event, Little Haunts, where kids can wear their costume to the park and enjoy pony rides, train rides, crafts and more.

Freak-out Factor: Moderate for Haunted Village, Mild for Little Haunts
Haunted Village
October 10-31 except Sundays
Monday-Thursday: 7-10 pm;  Fridays and Saturdays: 7-11pm
$15 per person

Little Haunts
Oct. 20-22: 9 am-5 pm
Adults: $10; Kids  3-11 and seniors: $7

2601 E. Sunnyside Avenue, Salt Lake City/801.582.1847


Odyssey Dance Theater’s “Thriller”

One of the most popular dance events of the year in Utah, ODT's Halloween show lives up to its name with monsters, madmen and mayhem along with incredible dance and a few laughs. Performances at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, the Egyptian Theatre in Park City, the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo, the Val Browning Center for the Arts in Ogden, Chase Fine Arts Center in Logan, and Tuacahn Amphitheater in St. George.

Freak-out Factor: Somewhat scary; suitable for children 10 and older.
Kingsbury Hall from October 10-30: 7:30pm except Sundays, Saturday matinees: 2pm
Tickets: $20-$40
See website for discount offers, performance times and location details

“Y” Light at Off Broadway Theater

Back by popular demand, this OBT Halloween parody explores what life would be like for Mormon Vampires down at B"Y"U, and how they would relate to their arch enemy Ute Indian tribe werewolf counterparts from the "U." Poor Ella has moved to American Forks and is caught up in this love triangle, until the original vampire, Count Dracula, arrives on the scene and wants Ella for his own. This musical parody will leave you rolling in the aisles.

Freak-out Factor: Mild
Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays from September 30 through October 29: 7:30pm
272 S. Main St./801-355-4628
Tickets: $8-$16


Tracy Aviary Halloween Hoot

Crisp, cool air and colorful leaves mean two things at Tracy Aviary: autumn is coming and so is the Halloween Hoot! All ghosts, vampires, witches and ghouls are welcome to this annual event October 6, 13, 20, 27 & 31. Watch a spooktacular bird show, indulge in story time that will scare your socks off and let your creativity flow while making Halloween crafts including wicked-fun face paint.  

Freak-out Factor: Mild
October 6,13,20,27 and 31: 11am to 3pm
589 E. 1300 S./801-596-8500
Adult: $7; Student/senior: $6; Child: $3, 2 and under: free
50% off for those in costume.

Living Planet Aquarium Haunted Rainforest

The Living Planet's "Journey To South America" will be transformed into the Haunted Rainforest. Bring your family through the depths of the spooky rainforest where you will encounter man-eating piranha, giant anacondas and Goliath bird-eating spiders! This is a great way to kick off your Halloween celebration. On Halloween, there will be a costume parade,

Freak-out Factor: Mild
Saturday-Monday, October  29-31: 10am to 6pm
725 E. 10600 S. in Sandy/801-355-3474
Adults: $9.45; Seniors, students and military: $8.45: Children 3-17: $7.45
Children 2 and under: free

Hogle Zoo Boo at the Zoo and Enchanted Evening Explorations

Boo at the Zoo
Hogle Zoo's annual Boo at the Zoo is great Halloween fun for kids 12 and younger. Come in costume to trick-or-treat at candy booths set up throughout zoo grounds. Trick-or-Treat bags will be provided (while supplies last), or bring your own.

Freak-out Factor: Mild
Saturday, Oct. 27: 9am to 3pm
Adults: $12.75; 65 and older;  $9.75; Children 3 to 12: $9.75
Children 2 and younger: free

Enchanted Evening Explorations
In addition to Boo at the Zoo on October 27, Hogle Zoo offers exclusive, after-hours, guided tours of the zoo called Enchanted Evening Explorations. Come in costume for frightful fun for all ages.
Oct. 20, 21, 22, 27, 28: 7:30pm to 9pm
Tickets: $10 per person

2600 East Sunnyside Avenue/(801) 582-1631

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