Mom brings book characters to life with 12 dazzling costumes

One stay-at-home mom of two recently created 12 book-inspired Halloween costumes that are so spot-on, it’s spooky.

Carrie and Scott Chapman — along with their two daughters, Georgia, 3, and Ruthie, 1 — of Utah, love Halloween so much, they decided to bring storybook characters to life through a dazzling costume series. From Fancy Nancy, to Amelia Bedelia, to The Cat in the Hat, Carrie’s low-cost, homemade costumes transform fantasy into reality.

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Fancy Nancy

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Amelia Bedelia

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The Cat in the Hat

“We really love Halloween in our house like crazy,” Carrie, 29, said. “My husband and I, and my 3 year-old, we love Halloween more than Christmas.”

In fact, the family was so excited for Halloween this year that Carrie bought Georgia’s Sleeping Beauty costume and her own matching Maleficent costume at the beginning of August.

“And then I was like, well this is kind of a bummer that it’s August and now I don’t have all of this fun time to think about fun costumes,” she said. “I was kind of lamenting to my cousin about it and how you can only be one thing for Halloween. And that was so sad, because I was like, this should be a week-long thing where you dress up as something different every day.”

Carrie’s husband, Scott, suggested it would be neat to do a series of book-themed costumes. The ideas starting pouring out from there and the rest is history.

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Emily Elizabeth from Clifford the Big Red Dog

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Camilla Cream of A Bad Case of the Stripes

“My daughter really, really loved it,” Carrie said. “She would get so excited.”

The amount of time that went into each costume varied – from five minutes of throwing her daughter in overalls, putting her hair in pigtails and handing her a stuffed pig for the Charlotte’s Web costume, to The Paper Bag Princess, which took significantly longer than Carrie expected.

“I didn’t do any sewing – all of it was no-sew,” she said, noting some sewing would need to be added to a few of costumes, if they were to be actually worn for Halloween. “I also wanted to use stuff that I just had around the house or wouldn’t cost me very much.”

In creating a total of 12 dazzling costumes for little Georgia, Carrie said she only spent about $30, including makeup, wigs and everything else.

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Strega Nona

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Fern from Charlotte’s Web

Completing this costume project also allowed Carrie to introduce new stories to her daughter along the way.

“I think, photo-wise, The Paper Bag Princess one was probably my favorite,” she said. “I found a $10 dragon costume at Costco that I threw my baby (Ruthie) in. The Paper Bag Princess was not a story that she knew, but it was one that I wanted to do the costume for. And so I bought the book, and then my daughter fell in love with it. She was so excited to be the Paper Bag Princess.”

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The Paper Bag Princess

paperbag princess Mom brings book characters to life with 12 dazzling costumes

The Paper Bag Princess

Fancy Nancy was another one of her favorite costumes in the series, Carrie noted. Some of her friends’ and family members’ favorites include Olivia and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

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If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

In addition to creating the costumes, Carrie shot all of her own photos, which were taken Colorado before her family recently moved to Utah. To read more about her book-themed costume series, check out Carrie’s blog, Seeker of Happiness, where she also sells homemade tote bags. And, be sure to keep an eye out for more magnificent storybook characters next year!

“I just wanted to inspire people,” she said. “Any moms who might have been like my mom and hate Halloween , you can throw your daughter in overalls and give her a stuffed pig and call her Fern from Charlotte’s Web, and be good – instead of stressing, or spending a lot of money or worrying about it … Kids can still have fun and be excited about their costume, without being some expensive super hero or some crazy-expensive princess.”

All photos courtesy of Carrie Chapman

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Got a friend having a baby? Bring her this...(recipe)

There is something in the water in my neck of the woods because mamas are popping out babies all the time. I go in phases with the meals I bring them — for a while I was making this Kid’s Favorite Stir Fry and before that this Farmer’s Market Lasagna. Now, I’m totally in this Dressed Up Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese phase, mostly because I want to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I started making it because I remembered how hungry I was after having all three of my kids. The nursing, lack of sleep, taking care of the other kids really did me in and I don’t think I’ve ever been so ravenous as those first few weeks post-baby. So while this mac n cheese isn’t the heart-healthiest meal, it is the most comforting — and what new mama doesn’t need comfort?

And if you don’t make this for someone else? Make it for yourself.

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

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Dressed Up Bacon Mac n Cheese
You can assemble this completely and refrigerate 24 hours until ready to bake. Just bring to room temp before baking (or add additional bake time to account for the cold.) You can also double this and bake in a 9×13. When I bring it to someone I include a garden salad and some pumpkin bread icon smile Got a friend having a baby? Bring her this...(recipe)

8 ounces macaroni
2 1/2 cups cold milk
2 large eggs
2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
3 slices white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
12 ounces shredded Italian blend cheese
6 strips bacon
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart shallow casserole dish. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain; transfer the pasta to the prepared casserole dish along with 1/4 cup of the cold milk. (This will cool the pasta and prevent it from becoming gummy.)

To make the topping, beat the eggs with 1/4 cup of the milk in a medium bowl. Add the scallions, bread and half of the cheese to the egg mixture; set aside.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp; transfer to paper towels to drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings from the pan. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until just brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour, cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon salt; cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add the remaining 1 3/4 cups milk and 3/4 cup water to the skillet. Bring to a boil, whisking until thick. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk to cool slightly. Whisk in the remaining cheese. Add the sauce to the macaroni; stir to combine.

Crumble up the bacon and add it to the egg/bread mixture. Spread evenly over the pasta. Place the casserole dish on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven; let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6.

Read more: Got a friend having a baby? Bring her this...(recipe)

3 kids, 3 trips to the ER: A real mom's enterovirus story

Over the past two weeks, that awful respiratory virus you’ve heard so much about visited our house (all is well now and we only had to visit the ER three times).

When I read this post on a my friend Joyce’s Facebook wall, I didn’t click the “Like” button. I didn’t message her either. No. I needed to talk to my old college friend. I needed to hear her voice while she told me the whole story of how her three children contracted and endured the virus known as EV-D68.

I was concerned, of course. But I also wanted her to tell me exactly how it all happened so I could share it with all the other quietly apprehensive moms I know are out there.

First off, Joyce explained she didn’t know for a fact that it was the 68 strain of enterovirus, but all the doctors involved said it manifested the descriptors of EV-D-68 in every way. Then she said something somewhat revealing:

It’s worth being overcautious because in my kids, and, as I understand it, in most kids, the respiratory distress comes fast!

So here’s how it all went down, in Joyce’s words:

On a Tuesday night a few weeks ago, V (age 6) went to bed with mild sniffles, I didn’t think twice about. She’s had wheezing with colds a few times in the past so we had an inhaler for her. She woke up at 1 a.m. with wheezing and said she felt bad. We used her inhaler and she slept fitfully for the rest of the night. She still had a runny nose and wheezing in the morning so we used her inhaler again.  I called her pediatrician as soon as I could. They said to use her inhaler again. It didn’t help, so they said to bring her in.

We got to the office at 10: 30 and her pulse was low. They gave her a nebulizer treatment, and she still wasn’t breathing properly. Then they told us she needed to go to the hospital by ambulance.

We were transported to the nearest hospital- where I live that’s ambulance policy– and we ended up in a hospital that didn’t practice pediatric medicine.

By this time V was was vomiting too.  They gave her anti-nausea meds and and an oral steroid. She was breathing better, but still felt terrible. Then they sent us home. Halfway home, in rush-hour traffic, V said “I don’t feel good, I can’t breathe.”

What happened next was hard for Joyce to relay without her voice breaking. In short, panic ensued,  911 was called, Joyce struggled to keep V awake, and a police escort was sent to help them through the traffic. Thankfully the 911 operator had hospital staff waiting for them on the curb. More thankfully still, Joyce had chosen to go to their trusted neighborhood hospital.

It was quickly determined that the first hospital had given V only half of the dose of medication she needed. At this hospital they did an hour long nebulizer treatment and administered more oral steroids, then another nebulizer session. We were in the ER from 5 until midnight before being released.

thinkstocksickbed 3 kids, 3 trips to the ER: A real moms enterovirus story

Meanwhile, Joyce’s husband had gone to be with their older two children and discovered their daughter, C (age 13) wasn’t feeling well either. She had cold symptoms and complained of body aches. Unlike V, C had never had any respiratory problems before.

I came home at midnight and found C wheezing, though not desperately, in her room. I gave her an inhaler and called the pediatrician, again. Within an hour, C was really struggling to breathe. I  took her to the ER, and they gave her the hour-long nebulizer and oral steroid, and she was fine in 3 or 4 hours.  Neither of the girls ever had a fever during this time.

A few days later, Joyce’s oldest son M (age 16) started feeling bad. As per the pediatrician’s advice, Joyce started giving him the inhaler before any wheezing was evident.  Despite having full blown asthma, he didn’t experience any of the respiratory distress.

Phew! I asked Joyce if she had any advice for all of us worried mothers who can’t help wondering, “what if?”

  • It was the most frightening thing ever, in that car with V. In hindsight, if I gave my child an inhaler and two hours later they hadn’t improved,  I would go straight to the ER of my choosing. Too much hesitation, second guessing, could be very dangerous.
  • Make sure the hospital has a pediatric practice.
  • Question everything! Don’t always accept what the doctor is saying. When we checked out of the first hospital I noticed V’s breathing seemed quick, but a nurse assured me she was fine. “I wish I had said, ‘her breathing isn’t perfect, why are we leaving?’”
  • Check your desire to not overreact. I’ve never seen illness move this quickly. Inside of 10 hours it went from minor cold symptoms to emergency.
  • When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Keep your kids home from school.

Images from Thinkstock and Thinkstock

Read more: 3 kids, 3 trips to the ER: A real mom's enterovirus story

Melissa Joan Hart's mom fail: Been there, done that

Melissa Joan Hart had a fairly serious fail moment happen recently that I can commiserate with all too well.

E! News reports the actress “experienced a scary situation after she accidently locked her two-year-old son, Tucker, in her GMC Denali Tuesday.”

According to eyewitnesses, the 38-year-old and her husband, Mark Wilkerson, were on their way to a studio when the incident occurred.

As soon as they realized the situation, the couple called AAA Auto Insurance who rushed to the scene. They immediately opened the door with a slim jim tool, which resulted in the child being reunited with his mom and dad.

“No harm was done and Tucker was rescued,” an eyewitness told E! News. “AAA was able to open the door quickly.”

Tucker is the couple’s youngest child. His older brothers, pictured below, are 8-year-old Mason and 6-year-old Brady.

Melissa Joan Hart kids Melissa Joan Harts mom fail: Been there, done that

Via Twitter Melissa Joan Hart confirmed the reports of her motherhood mishap were accurate, and added an excuse in for being caught looking a little disheveled. She wrote late Wednesday:

“Yes Tuck is fine after locking himself in our car for a few mins on tues.&yes I looked a lil rough after just arriving home from a nite shoot & massive home construction!”

The situation is almost exactly the same as what had me in tears years ago.

My family had pulled into a shopping center, and my husband and firstborn popped out of the car to run an errand. I, who was staying in the vehicle with our 1-year-old, then decided to grab something out of the back hatch and somehow hit the lock button as I exited the vehicle.

I talked myself out of freaking out initially, since my husband was going to return momentarily — presumably with his keys in his pocket — only to discover he had left them with me. Both sets were locked inside.

We too called for a tow truck and thanked our lucky stars it wasn’t hot out and everyone was safe, but then our 3-year-old caught on to something was wrong and started asking questions. I couldn’t answer them without tearing up, and when the baby saw me crying through the window he started crying too…which the toddler heard and then had to join in on. It was a sad, sad situation.

Eventually the tow truck came and popped open the door and all was fine. Years later I can appreciate it was just a little mishap that’s almost funny, but in the moment I was kind of a wreck about it!

Photos: PR Photos

Mason and Brady are now bonafide big kids, but it wasn’t that long ago they were just wee ones. A look back at the eldest two of this star’s children, in our gallery of celebrity kids who love their pacifiers:

Read more: Melissa Joan Hart's mom fail: Been there, done that

Big news: It's never too early or too late for an epidural

The latest research on epidurals reveals any time during the labor is the right time to get one — as long as the anesthesiologist is around.

A report published Thursday in the Cochrane Library by researchers in Singapore states women need not wait until reaching a certain stage of labor before being given this type of pain relief. The researchers reviewed nine studies which looked at the timing of epidurals and birth outcomes.

Epidural timing news Big news: Its never too early or too late for an epidural

Earlier reports had suggested that starting epidural anesthesia early (before the cervix was dilated no more than 4 to 5 cm) might prolong labor or increase the likelihood of a cesarean section. The analysis, however, found this wasn’t the case.

“The literature has been fairly consistent that epidurals do not meaningfully prolong labor,” Dr. Neil Seligman, a maternal and fetal medicine expert at University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, explained. “There may be a small difference but there is no meaningful difference.”

The researchers concluded “it would appear to be advantageous to initiate epidural analgesia for labor early, when requested by the woman.”

Can you imagine the days of being checked to see if you’re far enough along yet being no more?

During both of my experiences my water broke without contractions starting on their own, and eventually I was given pitocin to move things along. Even the slightest amount felt like going from zero to 100 in mere minutes, and I was more than ready for an epidural by the time they agreed to give it to me.

With my firstborn’s birth I labored for many hours after getting it, but with my second I was ready to push just as soon as the line was in. I suppose, from my personal experience then, I was right in line with the findings an epidural doesn’t influence labor length — baby is just going to make his or her debut when ever they’re ready!

Photos: MorgueFile, WikimediaCommons

Read more: Big news: It's never too early or too late for an epidural