Things to Do
Ever since first hearing about the famous little Virginia and her letter in the September 21, 1897 edition of the New York Sun, it’s become a part of my annual holiday heart string-pulling. I cling to it more closely this year, when my 9 year-old daughter is at the age where she questions the veracity of Jolly Old Saint Nick. It’s hard in this day and age to keep that particular bit of magic alive, in a time when commercials are touting “Christmas for less!” and blatantly showing parents relieved to get presents for their children at discount prices. “Why do you have to go shopping?” she asks smugly. “How does he get to every house in one night anyway??” and “People at school say he’s not real and there’s no such thing as Santa Claus.” Telling her I still believe doesn’t seem to work as well.
With the exception of the Super Bowl, there are few times as exciting in the world of television commercials as the holiday season. There are some that stick with us for years, good or bad. I thought I’d share some of my favorites for 2009 as well as the ones that bug me the most!
Love the Island of Misfit Toys Verizon commercial. Poor iPhone!
Did you know Rayovac is the preferred battery of Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts? I didn’t! They have just completed a new commercial set in Disneyland, seen through the eyes of a little princess visiting the park, and all the magic that appears as she makes some wishes. It’s a really sweet video and I was given the opportunity to share it with you all before it debuts on Good Morning America on Monday, December 21, 2010.
Wasn’t that adorable?! I just came *back* from Walt Disney World and it makes me want to run right back. (I’d buy all those light up wands and spinners if I could too those never get old!) I loved the song too!
In addition, Rayovac is offering its Facebook fans a $3 off coupon on their new Facebook page. Just become a fan, click the coupons tab and enter your email address to receive the coupon. That’ll be helpful to stock up for batteries this holiday season!
*Rayovac asked me to share this with my readers, but I have not been compensated in any way or provided with copy to post here. I received the video and coupon link from Rayovac, not from the Walt Disney Company or any of its employees.
Alright, I’ve waited long enough for this update! The truth is, in addition to heading back to Disney World 2 days after returning from training, and then getting sick and having a sick baby to take care of, the thought of trying to put back into words all the the amazing sites, experiences and emotions I felt during the 5 days of training was just a tad overwhelming! But I’m finally here and figure if I break it down into days, I can tackle it. It’s just too good not to share, right?
On the day I was supposed to drive up, I got cold feet. I know, most people would have killed to be in my shoes, both being close enough to drive to Walt Disney World and being picked to be on this amazing panel…but I still got nervous. You see, there’s a reason why I write a blog and don’t host a pod cast or web cast or anything else involving face-to-face interaction. I am in fact, pretty shy. There, I said it. I wasn’t always this way, my 1st grade report card lists me as a “Social Butterfly” and as a result I was separated from my best friend for 2nd grade. It isn’t even because of all the moves my family made over the years, deeming me the eternal ‘new kid’ – I actually had no problem making friends and keep in touch with many of them from all the way back to grade school. This really started in college but is also a combination of being nervous about speaking in front of people. Let me digress a bit…
What better way to brighten up this holiday season than with a beautiful arrangement from 1-800-flowers.com and giving back with a donation to Toys for Tots? In order to make others’ holiday season brighter, 1-800-flowers.com has created a Secret Santa program on Facebook as part of a fundraiser for Toys for Tots. By using the Secret Santa application on Facebook, you can send a free ‘Warm Fuzzy‘ to as many friends and family members as you like, and both you and the recipient will also receive a 15% off discount code. The recipient won’t know who their Secret Santa is until December 21st. If 10,000 Warm Fuzzies are sent, 1-800-flowers.com will donate $5000 to Toys for Tots!
In addition, 1-800-flowers.com is giving 10% of net proceeds from their Toys for Tots collection back to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Just pick an arrangement or gift from their exclusive collection and enter code TOYS at checkout.
I have to admit up front, I was hoping we’d have some better news on J’s job front by now, but am confident next week will bring something wonderful. The truth is, it would be so easy to focus on the negative and not even write a post like this detailing the things for which I am thankful…times are tough for sure, and so many times in instances of strife like this, we resort to phrases like, “Why me?” However, I came to an understanding a long time ago that the best answer to that question is, “Why not me?”
Who are we to choose who takes the easy road while others take the hard? And who’s to say someone isn’t (and they usually are) suffering ten times more than you are right now? Why not us? Who would we rather push this hardship onto? No one that I know, certainly. Again, not to say what we are going through is so unbearable or even the worst struggle we’ve experienced, but this has been given to us and we will come through it stronger than ever. Why not us?
It’s pretty obvious what my blessings are this year, I could rattle off my husband and children and mom and of course the amazing friends I’ve made recently. I am thankful for those things each and every day. In addition, I’d like to add some other things that make me pause, take a deep breath, and smile – from the inside out.
- Kids that actually *fought* yesterday over who got to dust more things as we cleaned the house. I know a time will come when they will not be so willing to help out, and I cherish these days when they are.
- A tiny little person that reminds me every minute of what’s truly important in life and how blessed I am, no matter what.
- A husband who, at the end of the day, would do any and everything just to make me smile. Despite the every day stresses and trials, I do appreciate that fact and love him more each day.
- The leaf I looked out the front window and saw fall off the tree. It’s pretty rare that we stop and look at nature happening around us and it’s the one constant in this crazy, fast-paced world we live in. So I loved that I looked up right at that moment and gave thanks for the beautiful world we live in.
- Family and friends that seem to think I’m pretty cool and are willing to support me in any way. I’ve always had a problem accepting compliments or entertaining the thought that people might actually like me…so to get that confirmation almost daily lately…is pretty mindbogglingly amazing.
- Hope. Dreams. I wouldn’t be where I am without hope and dreams. I can’t imagine a world or my mind without them and hope the day never comes when I wake up without hope in my heart and a dream to try to make come true. ♥
Inspired by some of my fellow bloggers as well as my favorite, Family Fun magazine, I thought I’d share my family’s top Turkey Day crafts! I have to admit, almost all of the crafts my children have done over the years are thanks to their amazing grandmother, my mom. She has an agenda when it comes to the holidays and always makes sure the kids get to create something new each year and feel like a big part of the festivities. I have come up with a few of my own over the years though, so this list combines both.
Turkey Cut-out Napkin Rings
This was one of my mom’s crafts last year. The kids just cut out card stock turkey shapes, rectangles to write everyone’s name on the front, then made rings out of the card stock, using cut cardboard tubes as reinforcement. They came out really cute and of course depending on the age and skill level of your artists, you could have some really unique turkeys! Another option we’ve done in the past is one I found instructions for on Family Fun – Turkey Napkin Rings from flat wooden craft spoons. I have another similar project using the craft spoons below.
Cornucopia Nut Cups
This was another from last year. Growing up, my grandmother always had painted scallop shells filled with mixed nuts at everyone’s place setting for the holidays. I may or may not have gone around picking all the cashews out of those shells, as a child. (whistles innocently…) Anyway, while we don’t use the shells anymore, we do still enjoy having mixed nuts out for the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays. My mom found this craft to make a fun, reusable decoration. The kids just drew out their own cornucopia pictures on the front of some construction paper. My daughter wanted to color hers in, while my son chose to leave his just plain (and really I was quite impressed with their creations!!) then they attached the paper to a ring using glue sticks, so they stood up on their own. Next she just put some mini cup cake liners in the ring and you fill them with nuts of your choice. You can then remove the liners and put new ones in for the next event. Of course you can fill them with whatever you like: candies, mints, anything! You could also make bigger rings to fit larger liners if you’d like the cups to hold more items.
Wooden Craft Spoon Turkeys
Another fun craft item to decorate your Thanksgiving table are these wooden craft spoon turkeys. Gather about 5 of the craft spoons and glue together with wood glue. Next glue another stick to act as the holder for the turkeys. Cut out felt for the head and the beak/waddle parts. Attach those parts and googly eyes with glue. We cut out pilgrim hats with construction paper and glued those on as well. You can then color in the ‘feathers’ any color you like with markers or even paint. The possibilities for creativity are endless! We just placed them around the table and on plates for decoration, but you could probably put them in tall cups full of nuts or candy, or even flower pots.
Pine Cone Turkey Place Cards
My mom made this one with the kids a few years back but unfortunately I do not have pictures of their creations, so I found a similar craft with instructions on Family Fun’s site. We just added little cards with guest’s names on them to turn them into place cards for the table. These are especially fun to make because you get to go on a nature walk to collect the pine cones first!
I saw this on a baking group last year and had to make them. They are so simple to do, yet involved so the kids loved making them. For each turkey you make, you’ll need 2 Oreos, a mini Reese’s peanut butter cup, a Whopper, some candy corn, white frosting for ‘glue’ and yellow frosting/gel for the feet. You can also use some blue or other color frosting for the eyes.
Stand one Oreo up on top of a flat Oreo, and use some of the white frosting to attach them. Add 5 or 6 candy corn white part down, into the top Oreo’s filling to make the ‘feathers’ of the turkey. Be VERY careful with this because if you push too hard you will split open the Oreo. We went through quite a few, but no one complained. Cut the Reese’s mini cup in half, and attach with a bit of frosting so the cut part is facing down onto the Oreo. Attach the Whopper on top of the Reese’s cup as the head, with a bit more frosting. Next add 2 candy corns, with the white tips facing up, to the Reese’s cup, as wings – this is optional if you’d rather have a turkey without wings, it looks cute without too. Cut off the tip of another candy corn and attach with frosting to the Whopper as the beak. Next use the white frosting to make eyes, using a colored gel if you’d like for pupils. Use the yellow frosting for feet on the bottom Oreo. You can also get red frosting or gel to make a waddle, but we forgot that step last year! This year we might experiment with chocolate-filled Oreos, or maybe even save some Halloween orange-filled ones next year! The best part about this table decor is everyone gets to eat their creation!
Laminated Thanksgiving Artwork Place Mats
A few years back a neighbor of mine invited a bunch of us over to have the kids create Thanksgiving place mats. The kids decorated large sheets of construction paper using markers, crayons, glitter and leaves they’d collected from outside. (Keep in mind we live in Florida, you can probably find much prettier leaves in the northern regions!) I may have helped a bit with some of the drawing. 😉 Then they colored their names in with stencils and the moms printed out Happy Thanksgiving with the year on them. Our neighbor then took them down to the local print shop and got them laminated for just a few dollars. This will be the 6th Thanksgiving that we’ve used these place mats, they are a treasured keepsake! I can’t wait till the baby is old enough to make his own place mat to add to the table.
I hope you try out some of our family’s Thanksgiving crafts, I know my children enjoy the traditions they created so much and love showing off their handi-work each year. So many of these can take on a personal twist and embellishments from your own family will make these one-of-a-kind decorations something to be thankful for.
It’s hard to believe Sesame Street is turning 40 today, but it’s true. This pioneering children’s television show has stood the test of time and continues to adapt and appeal to new children every year. In honor of today’s anniversary and inspired by my new blogging friend OhAmanda‘s Top Ten Tuesday, I thought I’d put together a list of my personal Top 10 Sesame Street Songs and Skits.
Each link below is a video from YouTube and will open in a new window so you can view them all at your leisure – Sesame Street’s birthday has slowed YouTube a bit with all the views.
10. R.E.M. – Furry Happy Monsters
9. Ladysmith Black Mambazo – African Alphabet Song
8. ladybug picnic
7. Martians Find a Phone – Kids, that item is a PHONE-shocking, I know! It had a cord and no buttons!! How did we survive?
6. Teeny Little Super Guy I remember looking in my cabinets and wishing he was there!
5. Herry & John John Count to 20 (LOVE John John!!)
4. Fly in my Soup! Waiter!!
3. Container of Milk, Loaf of Bread and a Stick of Butter I still say this every time I have to make a grocery list.
2. 1-12 Pinball Song I think this just sums up the 70’s.
1. Lowercase n This will always be my favorite.
While discussing my Top 10, my husband of course chimed in with his own picks and we soon had many more than 10, so I thought I’d add some of his favorites that weren’t in my list, as a bonus! I truly feel his favorites have shaped him has a person, since he’s sitting here laughing hysterically as he watches the videos.
5. Doin’ the Pigeon This was part of J’s courtship dance for me. 😉
4. Phone Booth Rock Again, kids – this is called a “phone booth” if you needed to call someone while not at home, you used this, and a DIME to make a phone call. Crazy.
3. Bert & Ernie Fishing Heeere fishy fishy!!
2. It Ain’t Bad to Get Mad This Goat is okay with his anger issues.
1. Kermit the Gorf He was laughing to the point of tears watching this, perhaps I shouldn’t be blogging that though…
Of course these videos are just the tip of the iceberg of 40 years of amazing songs, parodies and skits. The humor back in the 1970’s was hilarious and free spirited. Though political correctness has changed the focus a bit, there are still some great parodies out there even now – they just released a Sesame Street version of “Mad Men” which is pretty funny. Popular musicians and actors will also still continue to make appearances, making the show much more enjoyable for parents as well.
We left off a lot of the more popular favorites, “C is for Cookie”, “Rubber Duckie” etc. but I hope you’ll comment here and share your favorites so we can all remember this epic show together!
You all know by now about my lifelong love of Disney and the various ways that love has manifested itself – as a cast member, a travel agent, a newlywed, a parent, and forever just a little kid at heart. In that time, I’ve met some amazing people: fellow cast members, Disney management, co-workers and friends both locally and online. However, in the short time that I’ve been blogging about Disney and my family full-time (less than 5 months) the connections I’ve made and caliber of people I’ve met are nothing short of spectacular.
I’ve chatted and emailed and met people where we feel – know there is an instant connection as if we’ve been friends for years. Disney is of course a major common denominator in those equations, there is always something to talk about or share. Though they are out there, it is very rare that I meet or talk with someone with a negative view of Disney. The love Walt had for his life’s work is contagious after all. It’s fun to pretend to be a Disney villain every now and then but most people with a true love of the Parks take on the caring, sharing, “do the right thing” attitude. Of course another characteristic is the embodiment of “dreams do come true“. All Disney fans I’ve met can rely on that mantra to make it through a bad day or carry on the hope for a goal they are trying to reach. I am no exception.
So I guess it should have come as no surprise to me when, in the midst of hoping my own dreams of being on the Disney Moms Panel came true, my husband had a setback and lost his job last week, that my friends (old and new) came rallying to our sides with love, support and offers to help. I couldn’t help but still be awed by what was unfolding before me. I received countless private messages of prayers, good thoughts and wishes via Twitter, Facebook and email. Offers to network J.’s resume around, websites to check, people to call. Unbelievable. All for someone most of them had never met. It really moved me to tears!
With all of that support and help, we had no time to mope or think of the negatives to the situation – we were both instantly pumped up and ready to find that next amazing opportunity that awaited him around the corner. If there’s something I’ve always had, it’s belief in my husband’s abilities. When I met him he was a bag boy at a grocery store (hey, he was 16!) and he turned himself into a successful IT network engineer, followed by software and .Net web developing AND is currently working on his 8th technical book to be published. So I have no doubt something will appear on the horizon that will make use of his wonderful talents. The help and networking from my friends has just been the added bit of pixie dust encouraging us to keep moving forward.
I wanted to thank everyone again for their words, prayers and thoughts for J. and our family. I cannot put into words myself (shocking I know!) how much it means to me to have all of you in our corner, lifting us up in both our times of triumph and need. I am forever grateful to know you and that you thought enough of us to help us succeed like this. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I will keep everyone posted about when (not if!) J. secures a new position. He is meeting with people today which will hopefully lead to interviews and new job offers very soon. Of course, I am still hoping there’s some pixie dust waiting for me this week, in the form of a phone call from the Disney Moms Panel (a happy call I hope!) – and I’ll let you know about that this week as well. In these tough economic times, few are safe from life changes like this, whether in a large corporation or a smaller business. One thing is certain, friends and family will pull you through…and I have some of the best. Thank you all…♥