Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Me: "The kids are quiet and engaged in building Legos. I'm going to record the intro for the story real quick."
Chris: "Okay. Have fun!"
Me: "It'll just take me a...."
Mags: "Mama! Mama! Where are you? I NEEEEEEEEEEED you."
Me: "Seriously, Chris? She has a sixth sense for these things. It's like when I try to use the bathroom by myself."
Chris: "Or shove an entire candy bar in your mouth. She always knows."
Me: "It's creeptastic."

Halloween is drawing closer. It's a time of year when our creative sides come out in full force. As many of you know, I also co-host another blog site called Night Light Stories with my husband, Chris. We write original children's stories together. I record them and we put the audio out on iTunes for free. Since the Fall is my favorite season and Halloween is Chris' favorite holiday, we really enjoy writing our seasonal stories and episodes. Chris also hosts his own podcast called A.T.TIPSCAST where he shares free or commonly found technology based strategies that can be used by anyone. 

Seeing how we've been producing both these podcasts for 5+ years, I thought I'd share our Fall-ish and Halloween-ish episodes with you. Enjoy! 


Click here to listen to: An Interview with a Zombie (8:32)

A talk show host interviews a popular guest 
about his latest viral video.

Free audio downloadAn Interview with a Zombie
Blog with activities: An Interview with a Zombie

The Patchwork Pumpkin: Part 1 (17:12) and Part 2 (12:14)

A little girl living on a farm longs to carve the Halloween pumpkin 
with her father but his chores seem to keep them apart. 
Can she find a different way to spent time with her father?

Free audio download: The Patchwork Pumpkin (Part 1)
Blog with activities: The Patchwork Pumpkin (Part 1)
Free audio download: The Patchwork Pumpkin (Part 2)
Blog with activities: The Patchwork Pumpkin (Part 2)

The Heebie Jeebies: (6:57)

What goes bump in the night? How do you keep the Heebie Jeebies 
away, especially on Halloween?

Free audio download: The Heebie Jeebies
Blog with activities: The Heebie Jeebies

A Glummy, Gloomy Halloween (11:17)

A goblin named Glum wants to have a surprise birthday party for his brother Gloom, but every monster he invites already has plans for the evening.

Free audio download: A Glummy, Gloomy Halloween
Blog with activities: A Glummy, Gloomy Halloween

Auntie Kerry and the Paskamansett Pumpkin Regatta (17:29)

Auntie Kerry recruits her family to fulfill her dream of competing in aunique river race but when she gets sick they are forced to come together as a team without their fearless leader.

The Turns of the Seasons (13:58)

One by one, the seasons take turns impacting people's lives. 

Free audio download: The Turns of the Seasons

Blog with activities: The Turns of the Seasons

Migration (6:23)

A boy and his mother discover the wonder of watching a letter fly 
through the sky.  

Free audio download: Migration
Blog with activities: Migration


Click here to listen to: Saber Saw's Game

When Chris and Melissa wake up in a strange room after a Halloween party they meet the notorious Saber Saw who asks them if they want to play a game.  Will they win?

Click here to listen to: It's Alive

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST features a recording of the events that transpired in the attic of the Bugaj household on a stormy night in October 2012 which involves electricity, a tablet computer, some spare parts, and (of course) some strategies that can help students.
Click here to listen to: Count Edula's Game

This episode features a visit to Count Edula’s mansion where he asks about some tools he can use to help organize his  “hypothetical” zombie army.  Chris’s suggestions just so happen to be useful tools to help students as well. 

Click here to listen to: Paranormal Apptipity

Chris and his wife Melissa describe a variety of educational tools

as they conduct a paranormal investigation.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Abduction

This post is in response to the Trifextra Weekend Challenge. They asked us to write a 33-word explanation of what scares us. So many choices, so little time.

The Abduction

Footsteps from behind matched hers, followed by a loud crack. Darkness. Her eyes shot open. A strong smell of pine wood and dirt. Tightly fit. 
Her pleas absorbed by six feet of earth.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ode to a Hairdryer

Mags: "Can we blow dry my hair tonight after bath?"
Me: "Sure we can."
Mags: "Can I hold the hair dryer myself? You know the one with the spinnie thing on the end."
Me: "The Tornado?"
Mags: "Yeah. The air goes all over the place. It's like the hair dryer is having a party."

It's true. I can't lie. There's a party in my bathroom whenever we dry our hair. And I have Kiss products to thank for their Tornado 360 Air Booster hair dryer.

Drying Mags' baby fine hair isn't the easiest of tasks. It takes great concentration not to linger in one spot too long. Otherwise Mags will give me the "TOO HOT! TOO HOT!" alarm. In order to avoid that, I tend to shake the hair dryer all around like I 'm doing the Hokey Pokey. Shake your hair dryer in, shake your hair dryer out, shake your hair dryer in, then I shake it all about. I can't imagine that is good for the dryer. Add to that the fact that Mags, even being the beauty queen she is, does not like standing there waiting while I dry her hair. After about 45 seconds she's yelling over the blowing air,


So, when Michele and I were asked to review this new hair dryer while we were at BlogHer this summer, we couldn't just blow past this opportunity. I was excited to try it out on myself, but moreso on Mags. Four big things caught my attention:

1. The Tornado 360 blow dryer dries an area up to FOUR times larger than a conventional dryer. This helps to distribute the heat more evenly...which would elimate the "TOO HOT" Mags alarm.

2. The Tornado 360 dries up to THREE times faster than a conventional hair dryer. You know what this means?  I can get Mags' hair dry in no time flat! I just love time saving products.

3. The Tornado 360 has a rotating air booster that does the work for you...or as Mags calls it, "The party part." It spins all around, distributing heat and air so  that I don't have to shake it...at all. It's nice to have a product work FOR you.

4. The Tornado 360 has a ceramic tourmaline ionic effect which reduces the frizz and creates shiny, healthy hair. They had me at FRIZZ. Mags and I both have unruly waves to our hair. I was so happy to find that this feature is not an exaggeration. It really does what it says. And for that, Mags and I thank you, Kiss!

Being back to work full-time, the mornings are hectic. Trying to get the kids fed, lunches packed, bodies dressed, teeth brushed and hair combed is a feat in and of itself. Never mind the fact that I have to get MYSELF ready in a presentable, professional fashion. I was so pleased to find a blow dryer that does the job in half the time.

I was so thrilled, in fact, that I wrote a little poem about it. I was just going to post it, but Michele upped the ante (overachiever) and recorded herself singing a song about the Tornado 360. I'm serious. You can see her sing it here while plucking out the tune on her guitar. It's not like she set the bar high or anything. But, since I record myself reading stories a lot, I figured I could do the same. Minus the guitar and beautiful singing voice.

Here goes nothing! 
(Please keep your laughing to a low roar.)

But, WAIT! There's one more thing.

Thanks to Kiss, Michele and I are each giving away a Tornado 360. That's two hair dryers to two lucky winners. All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below. Good luck! 

Please note that, by simply clicking the 'tweet the giveaway' option, you can earn TEN entries a day for this promotion. The contest ends on Thursday, October 24, 2013.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Carving Her Way

Mags: "Why do we call them jack-o-lanterns?"
Me: "We only call them jack-o-lanterns once they're carved."
Mags: "No. I mean...why is there only JACK-o-lantern for boys? Why can't there be a JACKIE-o-lantern for girls?"
Me: "I never thought about it that way, but good point, Mags."
Mags: "That's what my noggin is for, Mama. Thinkin'."

Friday, October 11, 2013

Saving the World One Perishable Item at a Time

Me: "Where is your Super Girl outfit?"
Mags: "In my drawer. Why? Do you want me to rescue something?"
Me: "Yes. I need you to help me save some food."
Mags: "I'm on it."

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...it's...Super FoodSaver Girl! 

Seriously, Mags was all about the FoodSaver system when it came in the mail. Since Michele and I were asked to review it, I wanted my Super FoodSaver Girl side-kick (who am I kidding, I'm HER side-kick) to help me save some produce begging for mercy in our "Crisper" drawer.  

Mags was quick to pull out a red bell pepper (because it matched her outfit...I kid you not).  We cut it up and the fun began. We took the FoodSaver 2244 out of its box, unwrapped it and plugged it into the wall. We were ready to go! I read the directions to Mags <ahem> Super FoodSaver Girl and she followed them without any difficulty. It was so simple, no wonder these guys are the "market leader in the vacuuming package category."  

Check out how easy this machine is to use...

I KNOW! It's so cool, right? Mags sealed five different things in about four minutes. That included the time it took to cut the bags to size. We sealed one open side of the bag with the "Seal" button.  Then, when we were ready, we placed the food product into the bag and inserted the other open end into the machine. Mags tucked the bag in, pushed down the lock on the side and pressed the "Vac/Seal" button. She particularly loved watching the bag mold to the shape of the food as all the air was sucked out of the bag. 

For the record, that first Red Pepper we sealed was opened four days later and sent in lunchboxes to school. It was still as crisp (I had to try a piece to be sure) as when we first cut it. 

My only true concern was going through all the bags they sent within our first "sealing" session. But, to my surprise, the roll of plastic material that was sent to us was able to be custom cut for the food you are FoodSave...ing.  

One helpful tip I would give would be to follow the directions in adding THREE additional inches to the amount of bag material you think you would need. This allows a little bit of forgiveness so you aren't sealing the bags too close to the edge. 

When I continued to read about FoodSaver, it only got better. Did you know...

  • You can buy their products on FoodSaver.com and also on Amazon or Target. 
  • Their bags and containers have been proven to save food five times longer than plastic wrap or regular plastic containers. 
  • It's sleek design makes it easy to store in between uses. 
  • FoodSaver brags (as it should) that it can save a family up to $2700 A YEAR on wasted food and produce. I can't wait! 

Don't take our word for it. Go ahead and try it! You and your family can save that kind of money a year, too. 

Want to win a little something personal from Michele and me? We love you guys for reading. Which is why Michele and I are each going to make a little something special in our kitchens and send it to you ... FoodSaver'd, of course. We'll be taking entries through Thursday, October 17, 2013.

Good luck! And remember...
you too can save the world, one perishable item at a time. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Tuck: "I read this in school today, but I still don't get it. How can you wrinkle a heart? I mean...you can't actually reach into someone and do that. Unless you're a zombie."
Mags: "Or a vampire."
Chris: "Or a Creeper from Minecraft."
Me: (sigh)

The month of October is National Bullying Prevention Month. There are loads of confidence-building strategies for how to deal with a bully. But for me, that saying in the above picture struck a chord. I loved that it was front and center in my son's third grade classroom. It's so very true. 

So, when we were asked to talk to our homeroom high school students about bullying this week, I knew just what to do. In high school, you hear all sorts of things. The good, the bad and the ugly. I wanted to do something that would make an impact, but not overwhelm them to the point they started hearing me as the teacher's voice in Charlie Brown. 

"Waaa waaa waaaa wa waaaaaa."  

I wanted to let them know that words are powerful. In one fell swoop they can build you up or tear you down.  So, to demonstrate these actions, I had the students draw a picture of themselves. Mine was a quick, little stick figure. Most of the students followed my lead and kept it simple. 

After they finished, I told them to crumple up their paper. Tightly. In a wad. They huffed and puffed about ruining their masterpieces,  but eventually they were all doing it. I then instructed them to open up their crumpled paper and try to flatten it out. They each worked hard, some using the edge of a ruler, others using the table. Then it started to click. One by one the light bulbs were shining bright over their heads. An immediate connection was being made. Awesome! One particularly astute student shared, 

"I get it, Mrs. B. Thoughtless and cruel words that are spoken often linger for a long while. You can't get them out of your head...like you can't get the wrinkles out of the paper. Think before you speak and choose your words carefully because there's no take backs on words." 

Exactly. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I've been asked the same question multiple times from my colleagues and students alike since starting this school year:

"What do you like better...elementary or high school?"

Of course, on any given day, I could give you a different answer. 
But the truth is that both levels have their merits. As much as 
the students are different, they are the same.  
Here, let me explain...

In second grade, I constantly strained my neck downward to look them in the eyes. I also did about ten sets of squats all day long.

In high school, I'm constantly stretching my neck and head upward in order to reach their eye level. And by the end of the day, my calves are burning from all the heel raises I do.

In second grade I was the tallest person in the room.

In high school, I'm the shortest person, even with three inch heels that click-clack down the hallways. 

In second grade, the kids noticed every wrinkle, zit, or new freckle I developed  throughout the year. It was endearing that they paid that close attention to me. 

In high school, the kids are smart enough NOT to point out these things at all. They are also educated enough to know that a simple remark about how I blend in with the Seniors in the hall will go a long way. 

In second grade, the kids appreciate every sticker earned on their work and adorned their folders with them. 

In high school...well...that doesn't change.

In second grade, the kids permeated a distinct smell in my room after recess. It was like a mix of crisp Fall air and sweaty hair. 

In high school, the kids fill the building with a musky, bed-head smell. Also, the hall immediately rises ten degrees when the bell rings.

In second grade, the kids don't believe in personal space. The closer to my face, the better. In fact, they would just climb right into my lap to simply ask to use the bathroom. 

In high school, the kids don't believe in personal space...but only with each other.

In second grade, if you pass a previous student in the hall, say hello. Loudly. For all to hear. Because they will be FRANTICALLY waving at me and in a strained whisper-scream call out,  "MRS. BUGAJ! REMEMBER ME FROM LAST YEAR?!?! HI!!" 

In high school, even if I've just left class where I laughed with them and they shared their life long dreams with me...it doesn't matter. Do NOT acknowledge their existence when you see them in the hall. Or raise your hand to wave at them. It apparently is a big NO-NO and unspoken rule. Code Red. 

In second grade, if the kids forgot to do their homework, they would not look me in the eye and, if possible, try to distract me from asking about it. They would pull out their scissors and eclectic collection of erasers to throw me off the scent. 

In high school...well...yep...pretty much the same deal. Except replace scissors with iPhone.

In second grade, they thrived on my enthusiasm, reacted to my moods, and knew when I needed a laugh.

In high school *I* thrive on their enthusiasm, react to their moods and know when they need a laugh.  

One thing is for sure. In both these areas of teaching, you share in experiencing their "ah ha" moments, their frustrations, their accomplishments and their fears. You share in building their confidence, their knowledge and their trust. You share in finding their passion, their happiness and their pride. You share in helping each other grow. 

Because the truth is, no matter what age you teach, you 
learn just as much from them as they learn from you.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Mags: "Mama. Did you see the HUGE box for you downstairs?"
Me: "Yep. I'm so excited!"
Mags: "What is it?"
Me: "A pressure washer from Ryobi! It sprays water really fast so that it blows the dirt right off the house!"
Mags: "Like the Big Bad Wolf in the Three Little Pigs?"
Me: "Kinda. But this is with water...and there are no pigs."
Mags: "It won't blow the house DOWN, will it?"
Me: "No. It just takes the grime off the siding and the deck."
Mags: "Well...phew! That's a relief."

Guess what came in the mail? Something that made Chris and me jump up and down. Something that brought out our outdoorsy side. Something that made us play Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine which one of us got to use it first. That's right, I'm talking about a Ryobi Gas Pressure Washer powered by Honda. It took us all of two seconds to bust that box open and see the beauty that awaited inside.

Living on the side of a mountain means there's lots of extra dirt, rocks, wet leaves and...did I already say dirt?  Never mind how the falling leaves fill our gutters and ponds. That's where Ryobi saved our DAYS. Days it would take to wash down the house, days it would take to scrub the green grime off our deck and days it would take to shovel out goopy build-up in the ponds. We couldn't wait to see how it would work.  

Since we were asked to review it, we took it seriously. I wanted to see how hard it would be to actually get this machine up and running. Honestly, it took a few turns of the screw driver for some quick accessories (like the spray nozzle holder), a quart of oil, some soap and of course....

...which someone forgot to refill when they used the last of it in the lawnmower a few weeks ago. <ahem> So, while Chris ran to the closest 7-11 to get some gas, I read up on the IMPRESSIVE functions and options this model of Ryobi Pressure Washer offers.

  • Has 3100 PSI (pressure per square inch)
  • Powered by a 187 cc Honda engine
  • Idle down technology for better fuel efficiency
  • 5-in-1 nozzle for easy spray-pattern changes
  • On board detergent tank and accessory storage
  • Has a 25' ultra flexible high pressure hose
  • Has 12 inch wheels, which allow for easy handling as you roll it across the terrain in your yard.
  • Weighs 65 pounds. (Compared to carrying both my sleeping kids upstairs from the car, this was a piece of cake to lift.)
  • Three Year Unit Limited Warranty and a Two Year Engine Limited Warranty.

It also has accessories that are sold separately, but I am going to add them to my Christmas list immediately! They are a Gutter Cleaner and a Turbo Nozzle for that extra power. Basically, I was in love.

Chris hadn't even put the car into park when I was opening the back door to get the gas can to fill up the tank.

Then came the real test...for me, at least. Could I pull start this myself? 

 The answer was yes. Not only could I start it with minimal effort, but I also could maneuver it up the rocky hill in our yard to the front of the house. Once I had it secured in a more level area, the fun began.  

The results were immediate. This before and after 
picture was taken only after five minutes of spraying. 

We were thrilled, so we power washed everything in sight, from the windows to the concrete patio to the front door. There was no doubt this machine held up to its reliable Ryobi name.

In conclusion, our family gives this machine many enthusiastic thumbs up. 
(Well, not Mags...she was a little bit nervous about the power of 
the water coming out of the nozzle.) 

But, truly, the pictures above and below are worth a thousand words.
Tuck took a break from riding his bike to come over and try it.
And, yes, Chris is hugging the pressure washer.

Wait! Don't go just yet! As a thank you for reading today, Michele (who just reviewed a  Ryobi Generator) and I want to offer you a chance to win another great Ryobi product. So, we're giving away TWO collapsible Ryobi lawn & leaf bags* ... just in time for fall! They're perfect for collecting debris, leaves and other trash. Now...who's going to come help me rake? 

*If this item is unavailable at time of order, another product of similar value with be substituted. Contest ends October 14th at midnight.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Me: "How do my nails look, Mags?"
Mags: "Not good, Mama. Not good at all."
Me: "I should have let you paint them."
Mags: "That's what I've been sayin' for YEARS!"

I tried something new the other night. KISS products puts out a do-it-at-home acrylic nail kit. Since I started my new job two things have happened simultaneously. My time has decreased substantially while my stress has increased exponentially. This combination leads to me reverting back to my nervous (VERY BAD) habit. One that I am ashamed to say have passed on to my eight-year-old. Yep! You guessed it. Biting my nails.

I know. Ewww! It's gross. But, I've found that when I paint my nails, it deters me because I don't want to ruin the polished look. Michele and I had each received a set of acrylic paint and an LED lamp from KISS, so I thought I'd give it a try. The directions seemed easy enough, so I gave it a try.

Two things that I would remember for next time:

1. My nails were shorter than usual. 

2. I didn't take the time to really wipe off the excess polish that got on the outer skin of my fingers.

In the end, after I had done a bottom coat, cured, a color coat, cured, a top coat and a final cure...my nails were hard and the polish was shiny. 
However, the quick job I did was not sufficient. 

When I do them again, I am going to:

1. Set aside a solid half an hour. 

2. Really pay attention to making sure I cleared the bottom and color coats were cleaned off of my skin before I cured them under the LED lamp. 

3. Double the time for curing that the box suggested.

However, lucky for me, I had a backup plan in case my skills needed some practice. KISS also sent me some of their "imPRESS'' nails. They have a lot of cool styles and colors. The nails were just my speed. You peel off the back and stick them on your own nail. I found these were perfect. I was pressed for time...and these pressed on in no time. 

And, teaching in a high school, the pattern on them was a huge hit! 

Plus, Mags had a blast mixing and matching them with me!

Wanna try some Kiss Products for yourself?

Michele and I are giving away TWO prize packages courtesy of Kiss. Each package includes a Kiss Tornado 360  hair dryer and a pack of Kiss EverEZLashes. 

Your hair and your eyes will thank you for it. 

(Not literally though. That would be terrifying.)

The contest ends on Tuesday, October 10, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Random is the Word

Tuck: "Mama, why do you have a picture of a chicken on your phone?"
Me: "I do? I don't remember."
Mags: "RANDOM!"

You know how sometimes you go through your camera roll to see what you can delete? Then, while you're doing this,  you find the most random pictures sprinkled in between the family visit from last weekend and the pumpkin patch. No? Just me? I find that hard to believe. Here, let me give you five examples of what I'm talking about.

While cleaning up my phone photos tonight, 
I found the following random pictures...

I'm not certain I even took this picture.
Aww. This is pretty. That must have been why I took it?

This possibly could have been by accident. You know how you butt dial?
Maybe I butt snapped?
Now, I'll ALWAYS be able to remember the time it took me to...uh...umm...hmm...
What in the world? Seriously. WHAT IN THE WORLD?

What random pics are on your phone? 
Share with me here or post them on my Facebook Page.