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The children were all nestled snug in their beds while visions of ghosts and goblins danced in their heads.

Okay, I’m obviously taking some serious poetic license here, but the Halloween season is upon us; most kids are ecstatic, and the stores are filled with every kind of creepy costume and ghostly gadget imaginable. Plus, the promise of bags filled with candy is guaranteed to put smiles on many young faces.

But what about those frightful images for young children? My kids may be enamored with the eerie, but a few years ago some of the decorations adorning our neighborhood made them a bit unsettled. As parents, we can easily overcome this dilemma. After all, Halloween is just for fun, and most of our waking hours we’re teaching our children the meaning of pretend. Thankfully, treats always trump tricks, and most kids learn quickly that underneath that werewolf mask is really sweet Joey from down the street. There are many ways to skin that proverbial cat.Photo: science.howstuffworks.com

Nevertheless, it’s not a stretch for kids to ponder even pretend scenarios, which can trigger questions that we as parents often don’t know how to answer. Like recently when my Tim Burton-loving daughter who prefers Coraline to Cinderella asked me when her grandfather was going to die. Gulp.

Clearly when it comes to talking to kids about the reality of death, we’re presented with a greater challenge. Zombies may be defeated by Brad Pitt in the movies, but our children will inevitably experience the death of a loved one, and nobody in the world will be able to change that fact. Because a young child has a basic need to feel safe, the permanence of death can be a very traumatizing subject to broach. With my daughter’s question, I explained that people die when they’re either very sick or very old. My response to her question: “Papa may be old for a long time before he dies.”

So when my husband’s grandmother passed away last month, I simply told our five and eight-year-old daughters that “great grandma went to heaven today,” and we said a little prayer for her together. I kept it light, unemotional and matter of fact, and I tried not to let them see my sadness. We’re Catholic, so they’ve learned to lean on the solid foundation we’ve built together through our faith. So far, it’s working for us, but we’ve merely scratched the surface and have kept our children away from wakes and funeral services until they are of the age where they can better process such events.

Regardless of a family’s religious beliefs, the experts all agree that being honest with children about death is an important first step. Children, depending on their age or maturity level, may have many different reactions to conversations about death. In our household, my daughters began asking questions around four, an age most child psychologists believe children are very literal in their ability to understand things.

According to kidshealth.org, “kids from the ages of about 6 to 10 start to grasp the finality of death, even if they don't understand that it will happen to every living thing one day…Often, kids this age personify death and think of it as the ‘boogeyman’ or a ghost or a skeleton. They deal best with death when given accurate, simple, clear and honest explanations about what happened.”

So keeping in the spirit of Halloween, as long as children aren’t terrified of those make-believe monsters, we can unleash the unnerving and delve into the disturbing. It’s for fun, after all. If anything, it may be a good time to let them know that consuming too much candy isn’t a good formula for a long, healthy life.

Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  or follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: science.howstuffworks.com


Philadelphia Neighborhoods: Exploring Your Options

Imagine waking up each morning in a neighborhood that may have been made just for you, with friends and neighbors that exemplify the qualities and values you appreciate most. Our town is what we make it, and Philly's residents make it a great one. To the sports fan and the housewife, to the nature enthusiast and the biker, we bring to you the neighborhoods that will enliven your senses and bring out the true you. Be yourself and enjoy a life in Philly.

Philadelphia is a wonderful conglomeration of very unique and distinct neighborhoods, cultures, influences, and backgrounds. We see that reflected in the architecture, the food, the art, and the fun things to do in the area, and as visitors travel from one area to the next, they may be surprised at the differences. For people looking for that perfect neighborhood – that place to settle down and be yourself – there are a few things to consider before buying or renting a home there.Photo: destination360.com

The character in these areas is another symptom of the numbers of passionate people who call Philadelphia home. The culture here is very… possessive. We make things our own, and then work hard to protect it. This has, of course, led to certain incidents. (Throwing batteries at J.D. Drew during a baseball game and pelting a Santa Claus with snowballs at a Christmas-time football game come to mind. Even if the Santa incident was 45 years ago, it’s the kind of thing people refuse to forget. Still, it all goes to show the level of dedication the people here express.

So how do you find the neighborhood that matches your own personality and interests? Where do you even start looking? Obviously, there’s a lot of subjectivity to these kinds of questions, but if we start by examining the personality in some of these areas, we can find the area that matches your interests. Whether you’re an artist, academic, sports fan, or anything else, there’s a place for you in Philly.

Sports Enthusiasts

Let’s start with those die-hard sports fans we’re so famous for. In Philadelphia there’s only one place to go if you want to be close to your favorite pro teams and that’s out towards the sports complex. Since the city placed Citizens Bank Park, the Wells Fargo Center, and Lincoln Financial Field all in one location, it makes the choice a lot easier.

citizens bank park

The great thing about the sports complex is that it is located closer to the outskirts of the big city, which means no one has to deal with absurd levels of congestion downtown whenever the Phillies are playing at home. There’s plenty to do in the area, and all of the stadiums contribute to an organization that supports and protects the community interests. There are around 9,000 residents living 4,100 homes around the area. While not all of them are going to be sports fans, you will definitely find the seriously dedicated in this neighborhood.

Art Aficionados

The art scene is alive and thriving in this city. We’ve always been a welcoming home for artists and creative individuals, and this sentiment is a major part of the overall feel of our urban and suburban neighborhoods. Northern Liberties, for example, has become a haven for those of an artistic mind. It was once a manufacturing district, but the cheap studio space was enough to coax a lot of struggling artists up this way. Now, the neighborhood has a significant impact on the culture around it, too, and in places like Fishtown you’ll see where a lot of the same personality has spilled over into the art, music, food, and fun.

The Educated Masses

Over in University City, you’ll find the kind of area that is influenced by the academic community. Which is to say: there’s a lot of great student housing in the area, but there are also some wonderful places for the people who make their living in academia and research. This area is home to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, so it’s filled with a vibrant energy and a lot of unique restaurants, shopping opportunities, and learning experiences.

Cultural ExpertsPhoto: Aileen Bannon

Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the country, and it is absolutely filled with opportunities to get into the culture. If you enjoy history, culture and fine art museums, you might want to look around Fairmount, or just outside the city in historical Newtown Square for a great home. You’ll find the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, historical churches, homes and more. The culture goes further than the museums, though, and you’ll see a lot of historical influence on the buildings and people in the area.

Finding the ideal home in Philadelphia isn’t hard, and there are so many different neighborhoods, each with its own history and personality, that you can help you feel immediately at home. Of course, even if you’re not sure where you’d like to settle down, you still don’t have to worry. When you start to feel the infectious energy of the people around you, you’ll start to fit right in wherever you go.

Doug Raymond grew up in Idaho, and has worked in and around home construction and real estate for most of his life. He is interested in home building, construction, architecture, interior design, landscaping, green living, writing, blogging, internet marketing, travel, sports, and the outdoors.

You can find Doug on his Google Plus profile and at  doug428raymond@gmail.com 

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Neighborhood photo: destination360.com

CBP photo: press.visitphilly.com

Art museum photo: Aileen Bannon

Join us at Chickie's & Pete's (Roosevelt Blvd Location) 94WIP ,The Griffin Gives Foundation & former Eagle Kevin Turner, who is battling ALS, make a difference in the lives of others who are doing the same. There’s food, prizes & the celtic rock band Jamison will be performing!


The cost is $25 at the door or you can get them at www.griffingives.org  Come say hello to Kevin!


Special thanks to Rose Cunningham!




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I can remember a conversation I had with an older woman at the grocery store. It was about three months after I had become a mother. My new daughter was slung in a baby carrier, her tiny face nestled close to my chest, when I shared with the woman how she always wanted to be held. With great wisdom that took me a few years to fully understand, the stranger told me to enjoy it because it wouldn’t last.

Right she was. That baby now rides a bike large enough for me, and she certainly wouldn’t want me to carry her while I shop. Many of us have heard similar advice from others. Children grow up fast, so treasure the little moments.

Toward that end, one of the most important things we can do to remember these early years is to take lots of pictures. Obvious, right? And in this day of instant communication, cell phones and digital cameras, it should be a breeze.

Sadly, my childhood can be leafed through in a few old shoe boxes of photographs and other items. I don’t hold a grudge. My parents divorced when I was nine, and mom led a largely non-traditional life as a pilot in the 80s. Scrapbooking was definitely not part of her nomenclature. But, hey, I loved being her sidekick, and I even learned how to “preflight” an airplane at age 10. Photos; Parents.com

But still being somewhat sensitive to my limited historical records, I’ve definitely put a large focus on capturing the everyday moments with my children—birthday celebrations, holidays, family trips and little milestones. And, of course, I have to keep solid proof of my daughters’ antics dressing up their little brother in sundresses and princess costumes.

So when I first decided to fully commit to the important role as our family’s historian, I had some lofty ideas. I bought scrapbooks, special stickers, colored pages and other tools to create masterpieces worthy of Martha Stewart’s praise. In reality, I found little time for such detailed projects, having three babies in four years and working full-time until our second child was born. I never strayed far from my camera, but I struggled with the next steps—actually putting pictures in albums. Instead, I procrastinated- choosing park outings and play dates, baking cookies and having tea parties with my children. After all, I wasn’t really that crafty, so the idea of scrapbooking sounded more like a chore to add to my growing lists: do laundry, clean baseboards, and make your children’s first years look worthy of a spread in American Baby Magazine.

Then I discovered how easy it was to become a digital scrap-booker using well-known, online services like Snapfish and Shutterfly. I could download photos straight from my camera to these sites and create albums to share with others, print (not to be stored in shoeboxes) or create my own little Sherwin family history books.

Now, without putting heaps of pressure on myself, I create a simple photo scrapbook after each child’s birthday celebration. We go big on birthdays in our household, throwing fun parties and taking lots of pictures, so creating personalized memory books makes sense. Each year, no matter how disorganized I sometimes feel, I know my children are guaranteed photos from their special day.

While I love to claim I’m still somewhat mysterious and unpredictable, those who know me well can always catch up on my family’s doings when I hand them one of these hard-backed shiny books. I’m proud to say I no longer feel like this is a chore in my life, and I love reaching into the bookshelf to grab a few books that each tell its own story about those little moments that will soon pass us by.

Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  or follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: parents.com


The 30th Gala for the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey takes place Saturday, October 12th, 2013 at Borgata Hotel and Casino from 7-11pm


The gala is held once every five years and funds raised goes towards expanding the mission and reach of people the charity serves. The Ronald McDonald House is an independent 501c3 and relies heavily on the support of South Jersey.


The Ronald McDonald House helps over 13,000 local families in their hospitals each year and another 850 at their house in Camden.


Your support is always welcomed and you can be part of this event!


You can purchase your tickets here!


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Philly2Philly’s writers of “A Snowball’s Chance”  have a Q&A/book signing at Barnes & Noble in Deptford, New Jersey on Saturday, October 12th!


Joe Vallee, Ryan Downs, Matt Goldberg and Billy Vargus will be appearing at the store from 1pm-3pm. The four will answer questions from the audience and sign copies of the book- which will be available on site at Barnes & Noble.

“A Snowball’s Chance”  has been a critical success and a fan favorite with fans throughout the Delaware Valley and beyond. It’s a must for EVERY Philly sports fan!!


Hope to see you all there!!


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On October 6th, VSEC and B&R Fitness will be hosting an event called Winston’s Wish. This event will raise money for the VSEC Lend-A-Paw Foundation which helps fund emergency and specialty veterinary care for homeless pets and pets whose owners are in demonstrated financial distress.


The event will feature: A musical performance by the band SORAIA. They will perform songs from their new album co-written with Bon Jovi. A fashion show of past VSEC patients (pets) dressed to impress light refreshments and wag bags (swag bags) will be provided. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door.


We hope you will consider supporting our event. Below you will find a list of ways to get involved.


1. Vendor Tables – if you are interested in having a table at the event to promote your company or sell products. Please call Tracie 215.938.6557


2. Give-a-ways for our gift bags – we are assembling wag bags for the attendees (similar to swag bags at other events). We are looking for small promotional items, samples or coupons that can be included in the bags, 100 pieces needed. Please call Tracie 215.938.6557


3. Silent auction items – we are looking for gift baskets or prizes that can be included in our silent auction. Please call Tracie 215.938.6557


4. Attend the event! Visit www.vsecvet.com/winstonswish to purchase tickets. All donations will receive a tax deductible form.



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Several members of the local and national basketball fraternity gathered Wednesday night for Meet & Greet Legends reception presented by Discovery Ministries at  Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield, NJ.


The event, which served as a fundraiser for Discovery Ministries, featured LaSalle University men’s basketball coach Dr. John Giannini, former number one NBA draft pick Pervis Ellison, NCAA basketball coaching legend Theresa Grentz and ESPN Basketball Analyst Tim Legler. The group shared their tremendous life experiences and spoke on behalf of Discovery Ministries and the impact that it’s had on its participants for over four decades.Philadelphia basketball community comes together for Discovery Ministries fundraiser


The two most responsible for putting the event together are Msgr. Michael Mannion and event coordinator Jeanine Reynolds Delaney.  Msgr. Mannion, the Director of Community Relations for the Diocese of Camden, has been a part of Discovery Ministries since its inception in 1974. Not one of the speakers on the evening failed to recognize the impact Msgr. Mannion has had on their life as well as countless others he has touched along the way.


Delaney, was a standout star at Washington Township High School and Saint Joseph’s University before turning her career to teaching at Rowan University and at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. Delaney's son Tim, a 6-8 power forward at Pitman High School, committed to Villanova University last June- and he's just a junior!


Since the launch of Discovery House almost 40 years ago, over 30,000 youth, young adults, and family members have participated in spiritual retreats at Discovery Ministries that have helped participants grow, pursue their dreams, and develop their God-given talents and gifts.


Discovery Ministries now also provides social, recreational, and spiritual opportunities for families with chronically ill children, handicapped children, or special needs children. Discovery House thus serves as a "home away from home" for families who deserve special care and attention.


Located in South Jersey (3730 Richards Ave, Mullica Township, NJ 08037) near Hammonton, the newly renovated and expanded Discovery House also hosts workshops, conferences, meetings, and training sessions sponsored by church and community groups, service and educational organizations.



To make a donation to the Discovery House, checks should be made out and mailed to:


Discovery Ministries

Brenda Jarger

106 Vesper Avenue

Westmont, NJ 08108-2438


Phone: 609-381-6200

E-Mail: bjarger@verizon.net  


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For Philadelphians, I don’t know which is worse: Being the city that threw snowballs at Santa Claus and NEVER being able to live it down because of the national media, or having the train wreck known as Miley Cyrus cite the city for taking part in her transformation to Hannah Montana to (fill in whatever blank you want here). Cyrus, who spent a lot of last summer in Philadelphia while her then-fiance Liam Hemsworth shot Paranoia with Harrison Ford. Cyrus recently discussed this in the recent edition of Rolling Stone Magazine. 


Mike Jerrick, Sheinelle Jones and Karen Hepp talked about it on FOX 29’s Good Day Philadelphia Wednesday morning.

Philadelphia News, Weather and Sports from WTXF FOX 29


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It seems like only yesterday that Dexter Morgan began using The Code to exact his macabre version of vigilante justice on those he deemed wrong.  But, after eight amazing seasons, Dexter  has come to an end.  


Fans have been waiting impatiently all season to see just what would become of the likeable serial killer.


Tonight they got their wish.


“Remember the Monsters?” took a few minutes to start because, unsurprisingly, there were some flashback clips and some sound bytes from the cast—past and present. When it did start, we were in for a doozy of an episode!Photo: Showtime


If you haven’t watched it yet and you want to be surprised by how the whole shebang went down, then stop reading now.  If not…


The show started with Dexter and Harrison in the airport getting ready to leave for Argentina.  Hannah calls them from the bathroom to let them know that Elway is in the waiting area.  He hasn’t yet seen her, but will if she tries to board with them.  So Dexter comes up with an ingenious way to shake Elway. Once he’s taken care of, he calls Hannah and tells her that the coast is clear- although his stunt has also cost them their flight.


Deb is found and is put in an ambulance for transport to the hospital.  Quinn rides with her and she tells him that she’s done things that she isn’t proud of. He tells her that the good she’s done cancels out the bad and that she’s a good person.  They finally make it to the hospital and she tells Quinn that she loves him before being wheeled away for surgery.


Batista makes the decision to tell Dexter about his sister and Matthews makes the call.  Dexter tells Hannah that Saxon shot his sister and that he has to go to the hospital to see her.  Before leaving, he tells her that they should go to a different place when they finally leave in order to once again shake Elway. Saxon makes an appearance, commandeers a truck, and takes off.  In the meantime Dexter makes it to the hospital.


Elway continues to try to contact DM Clayton and lets him know that Hannah is still in town and he will keep trying to locate her.  Elway makes some calls and learns that Clayton has been killed. When Deb wakes up Dexter is waiting.  She’s surprised to see him since he should be on his way to Argentina.  He’s upset and guilty and feels as if he’s screwed up Deb’s life.  She tells him otherwise and that she wants him to be happy.  A doctor comes in to check up on Deb and tells them that she’s optimistic about her recovery. When the doctor leaves, Dexter tells her about what happened at the airport.  Dexter still wants to find a way to get Hannah out of the country, yet also wants to take care of Saxon before he goes with her.


While in the hospital, he flashes back to when Harrison was born and when Deb met his son for the first time.  He also talks to Matthews, who offers to help.  Dexter asks him to watch over Deb because Saxon is still out there. Elway goes to the hospital and runs into Dexter.  He asks about Deb, but also lets him know that he knows about him and Hannah.


While Miami gets ready for the impending hurricane, Saxon heads to a veterinary hospital where he threatens the vet with a gun and makes him stitch up his wounds.


Dexter meets up with Hannah and they discuss how she can leave.  She offers to take Harrison with her, and he wants her to so that they are both safe.


Saxon is stitched up, and while the vet is finishing up, the news of Deb’s shooting and Clayton’s death flash on the TV.


Dexter takes Hannah and Harrison to the bus station and sends them to the airport to once again try and fly out.  He tells Harrison that he will join them as soon as he ties up a few loose ends.  They say their touching goodbyes and plan to soon reunite in Buenos Aires.



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Saxon has the vet take him to the hospital.  Instead of letting the man go, Saxon cuts out his tongue and lets him go into the hospital.  During the chaos, Saxon heads to Deb’s room, but Dexter is on to him and following closely behind.  Before Dexter can get to him, Batista and his officers take Saxon instead. Dexter finds Quinn, who is visibly shaken because Deb has stopped breathing and was taken to the ICU.  She is on a ventilator and the doctor tells them that there were complications—a possible clot that triggered a major stroke that deprived her brain of oxygen.  Even if she can breathe on her own, she will never be ok again.  Only a miracle would make things better. Dexter once again flashes back to the day that Harrison was born: when things between him and Deb were good.


Hannah is on the bus and talking to Harrison about Argentina when she looks up and sees Elway sitting across the aisle from her.  He tells her to sit quietly until they reach Daytona and then, when there, he will turn her in and give Harrison to CPS.


Batista and Quinn interrogate Saxon while Dexter watches.  Quinn loses it during the interview and is sent out of the room.  Saxon asks to speak to his attorney.


Hannah offers Elway some tea.  As he’s refusing, she injects him with a horse tranquilizer and makes her getaway with Harrison.


Dexter acts as if he is going to perform a GSR test on Saxon, but his intentions are much more menacing.  Once face to face with the man who shot his sister and killed Vogel, he tells him that he only blames himself for what happened, and that Saxon’s actions forced him to look at himself and see the trail of blood and body parts he has left in his wake.  He tells Saxon that he plans to kill him with the pen that he’s placed on the table.  Saxon gets to it first and stabs him in the shoulder, but Dexter is quicker—taking the pen from his shoulder and stabbing him in the neck.  He hits the panic button and tells the officers that Saxon tried to kill him.


Batista reviews the tapes and asks Dexter why he wanted to personally do the test, especially since he no longer works there.  Dexter says that he is technically employed until the end of the week and wanted to do it so that he could look him in the eye and make sure the test was done right.  They deem the murder self defense and Dexter is off the hook.


Dexter takes his boat and heads to the hospital to see Deb.  The storm is beginning to rage and the hospital is preparing for it.  Deb is still unconscious and on the ventilator and Dexter is completely overwhelmed.  He apologizes to his sister as he sits and holds her hand.  He tells her that he can’t leave her like that and turns off the ventilator.  Dexter watches Deb slowly stop breathing and tells her one last time that he loves her.  He personally wheels her out on a gurney and takes her body to his boat, and in the chaos of the coming storm no one notices.  He drives out into the water and calls Hannah.  She is about to board the plane with Harrison and is happy about their future.  He talks to Harrison and tells him one last time that he loves him and to remember that every day until they see each other once again.  After Dexter hangs up, he takes Deb’s body, drops it overboard, and watches as it sinks.


He then decides that he needs to protect Hannah and Harrison from himself and steers his boat right into the storm. The storm is over and a rescue crew finds the wreckage from his boat floating in the water. Batista receives the call that Dexter is dead.  And Hannah reads about it while safely in Argentina with Harrison.


Just when you think it’s over, it cuts to a lumber yard, where we find Dexter very much alive and living a very sad and secret life.



Valerie Schirmer is a freelance writer/editor who has written about a wide variety of topics for newspapers, magazines, and websites. She currently resides in South Jersey with her husband, daughter, and a crazy dachshund.


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Photo: Showtime


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