GATHER YOUR INTEREST
Lots of kids are into collecting stuff, for profit or for fun. If you're in it for the cash, auction expert Leslie Hindman has a groovy suggestion: Collect "anything of very good quality that was produced in the '70s or '60s." You can raid your parents' closet or hit some antique and second-hand stores for vintage clothing (think tie-dye or hippie). "It's inexpensive now and if it's really, really good, it will increase in value," Hindman says. Avoid obvious collections like Beanie Babies or Pokemon and baseball cards--there are just too many of them around. "Stay away from things made in large editions or things made as 'collectibles,' " Hindman says.
If fun is more important, you could focus on compact discs' ancestors--record albums and eight-track tapes--or old toys and cereal-box prizes from your parents' dinosaur days. Two books can help: "Goldmine's Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums" by Neal Umphred and "Cereal Boxes & Prizes, 1960s: A Tribute & Price Guide" by Scott Bruce.
Go for it
Get off the couch, spud
The best way to get in shape is to set a goal, so try this on for size: Decide that you'll enter the McDonald's Kids Triathlon in Chicago next August. Check out the Capri Events Web site (www.caprievents.com) for info about registration. (Plus, we'll keep you posted.) Don't feel intimidated, says Galter LifeCenter trainer Maria Elipas; most kids don't have any triathlon experience. (A triathlon for 11- to 14-year-olds is 200 meters swimming, 8 kilometers biking and 2 kilometers running. Distances for kids 7 to 10 is half of that.)
Elipas says to start with running, but start slow. "Run a block, then walk a block, then do it again," she says. "After a few days, try running two blocks."
The first week or two will be the hardest, but Elipas says keeping a training journal is a good way to keep from getting discouraged. "Each day, write down how far you ran, how far you walked and how you felt afterward. After a while, you'll start feeling really good."
For biking, keep it fun and keep it light. Try to ride your bike two or three times a week. Pick a distance you're comfortable with, even if it's just a couple blocks. The point is to try to make exercise a habit that you enjoy. Then, over time, start trying to bike the distance at a faster pace. Push it to three-quarters of a mile, then a mile. When the weather gets cold, you can use a stationary bike. Swimming is best done indoors, like at a local YMCA. The eventual goal, Elipas says, "is to swim 200 meters freestyle without stopping." But again, start slow.
If you really want to get in shape, think about ways you can eat healthier. A little junk food won't kill you, but adding a few more fruits and veggies each day could help a lot. Each food you eat is fuel for your training, so ask yourself: Do I want to use cheap unleaded or premium?
Make your guests howl
Plan a Halloween party that will be the talk of your neighborhood. What if your gathering had water in beakers that glowed in the dark? Or cupcake rats for your guests to nibble on? Or a ghost made from a grocery store bag, construction paper and a Cool Whip lid? Those simple ideas and more can be found at www.earthsands.com/holiday/halloween, one of the more in-depth but practical Halloween sites on the Web. The glowing water, for example, works because tonic water glows a lot under a black light. Another crucial prop is green slime. The Internet has lots of recipes for slime. One of the more straightforward ones is at the Mad Scientists Network: www.madsci.org/experiments/archive/878680114.Ch.html.
For cool sounds, snag the CD "Halloween Hits" (1991, Rhino Records). It has the original version of songs like "The Monster Mash" and "Ghostbusters."
Revive your room
If you're tired of staring at the same old four walls in your room, improve your view by making a collage curtain from magazine pics. Choose whatever inspires or tickles you--skateboarding moves, furry friends (we did a cat theme), travel scenes or your favorite celeb. We got the idea from "Crafty Girl: Cool Stuff to Make and Do" by Jennifer Traig, which is full of room-transforming projects.
- Magazine pages (it takes a lot of pics, so start tearing them out now)
- Construction paper in various colors
- Transparent shower curtain
- Clear tape
Glue magazine photos or original art to the construction paper. Next, hold up the curtain to your window and decide if you need to trim the length to fit the dimensions of your window. Once the shower curtain is trimmed, lay it face down on the floor, and tape your art panels securely face down until the whole curtain is covered. Hang your curtain on your existing curtain rod. You can even add a splash of color by using brightly colored shower rings.
The kids on this page all competed in the 2001 McDonald's Kids Triathlon in Chicago. The team, from Galter LifeCenter, was begun in 2000 by trainer Maria Elipas, who hopes to have 35 kids in next year's triathlon. For more info on the Galter team, call the center at 773-878-9936, ext. 7360.