*If you’re looking for the ThinkFun Games giveaway, please click here.  The winner will be announced on Friday, October 21st.

**This is a post that I first published on October 14th, 2010.   Due to extreme laziness popular demand, I am re-posting it, almost one year later to the day.  Please enjoy.


I am an epic failure.

Just ask my children.  They’ll tell you, with heavy sighs all around and a far-off longing in their eyes.

Sit yourselves down and make yourselves comfortable, friends, and I’ll explain.

As the temperature dips outside and autumn leaves flutter to the ground, The Cherubs’ attentions naturally turn to Halloween, arguably the most exciting night in the life of a child aside from Christmas Eve.

So how do I fail?

In the October Exterior Home Decor Department.

You see, when my children reached elementary school age, they developed themselves a serious case of Keeping Up with the Joneses.  They began to cast wistful glances across the street and comment upon how impressive our neighbor’s house looked in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

For The Joneses, October Exterior Home Decor is all about the scary.

The creepy.

The macabre.

The I’ll-Run-Into-That-Yard-If-I’m-Triple-Dog-Dared-And-Then-Get-The-Heck-Out-Of-Dodge-Before-I-Soil-Myself brand of October Exterior Home Decor.

They have lights that flash.

And things that scream.

And inanimate creatures so lifelike that you’re certain they’ll seize you and bare-handedly pull your rapidly beating heart right out of your chest if you linger too long on their property.

Yo.  They gots their gruesome goin’ ON.  They be rockin’ the horror thang.  Big time.

As for me, I truly have no qualms with Halloween. It’s fun. Sure, I prefer not to glorify the origins of this day, but my beliefs do not prevent me from enjoying trick-or-treating, bobbing for apples, or dressing my poor aging dog in a strap-on felt witch’s hat.

And I have no qualms with The Joneses.  As a matter of fact, I am fantastically fond of The Joneses.  Our children play together.  We Mommies and Daddies have enjoyed many a happy hour together.  We have a very amicable relationship, and I don’t think I could find better neighbors if I tried.

But when it comes to October Exterior Home Decor, I simply cannot keep up with these Joneses.


Sure…I can do fall-like.


Now we’re talking.


I am the undisputed Queen of Autumnal.

But I just can’t do scary.

You know…like The Joneses do it.

S to the C to the A to the R to the Y…SCARY.

Believe me when I say:  It’s not them.  It’s me.

And each fall it becomes more and more abundantly clear how epically I fail in Scary 101.

The Joneses hang up this:

And I hang up this:

They drive this on a stake into their flower beds:

And I insert this into my flower beds:


“Mom.”  Twin B sighed just the other day as he trudged up our festive driveway after shooting hoops with The Jones Boys in their spooky driveway.  “You’re embarrassing us.  Can’t you be a little scarier? You know, like-”

“Like The Joneses do it?”  I finished for him wearily.  “Let me think.  Um…no.”

Please.” my oldest son took my hand in his.  “Try.  One scary thing.  Just get one scary thing for our yard, and I won’t ask for anything else.  I promise.”

I looked at him, sized up the ‘tween angst on his face and folded like a cheap suit.  “All right…I have to run some errands tomorrow morning while you’re at school…I’ll see what I can scare up.  Ha, ha!  Get it?  Scare up?”

My pathetic attempt at humor was ignored, but Twin B’s spirits were visibly lifted at the prospect of keeping up with The Joneses in some small way.

So while errand running the next day, I made a purchase at a nearby discount store, brought it home, and displayed it in front of the big Bartlett pear tree in our front yard.

And I stationed myself at the front window when The Cherubs were due to return home from school.

Right on time, the bus stopped, its door opened, and a handful of Jones and Desperate children burst forth from within, running full-tilt toward my house, Twin B in the lead.

As my son reached our front yard, he stopped short and stared, slack-jawed, at the newest addition to our October Exterior Home Decor:

No one uttered the words, but the expression on Twin B’s face as well as on the rest of the children’s faces said it all.

Failure.  Of epic proportions.

And by the way, don’t even get me started on the topic of Halloween costumes.

That, my friends, is another post entirely.