Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Children's Book Review: Adopted Ed

Today is the last day of National Adoption Month. Its a cause near and dear to my heart because, as many of you know, my brother and I are both adopted. Growing up, there weren't that many resources available to my parents to help explain adoption or that showed adopted families. The concept of adoption is often odd and confusing to other children. I think every adopted child at one point or another has experienced some hurtful taunting or teasing on the subject.

In Darren Maddern's new book Adopted Ed he strives to, "Tell a story on adoption...and weave a broad message of understanding, acceptance, and empowerment." The story of Ed is told in a relatable manner, showing how Ed is very much like most children. He likes ice cream, cartoons, and comics. Then one day Ed has an altercation with some bullies, who say cruel things and make him feel very badly. Mom comforts Ed and tells him in a very simple way that, "Adoption is a great act of love. It's a gift of the Heavens sent down from above." That he is special. It also address how adopted children usually want to know more about their birth parents at some point, and that this is normal.

The entire book is told in a very positive manner, it doesn't delve too much into specifics. It focuses on what a positive thing adoption is, how adoptive parents love their kids, and how adoptive parents are...well just mom and dad to their kids. It concludes with some examples of famous adopted people. Adopted Ed is a nice introduction to the concept of adoption. I liked how it began with all the ways Ed is probably just like you. Then goes onto a situation, which sadly many of our kids have experienced...teasing. I thought that would be a good time to stop and talk about empathy and feelings. Then at the end it reinforces that an adopted child is a gift, just like any child is. If I was still teaching kindergarten, I would use this title as a read aloud during my beginning of the year unit on families. It is good to teach that families come in all shapes and sizes, so to speak.


Disclosure: I am reviewing Adopted Ed through a campaign coordinated by One2One Network. A reviewer's copy was provided, however, the opinions expressed within are my own and unbiased.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Trimming the Tree

We always decorate our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. I think it started back when we were newly weds in California because we always traveled back to Michigan for the holidays. We were lucky in that I was teaching and Brad, as a graduate student, was also on an academic calendar. So we got to go home for about two weeks.

Since it cut down on the amount of time we were in our apartment in California, I wanted to decorate for the holidays as soon as possible so I could enjoy everything. Even though we only had a little table top tree, I enjoyed putting on the ornaments and setting out the two bright red jeweled berry topiaries that we splurged on one year. As a couple on a budget they were quite expensive for us at the time, but I just love them and it's not the holidays without them!
This year we were busy around the house on Saturday and also got our annual holiday photos done too. It was still a bit chilly but warmer than usual so we took just a few outside and then several more indoors. The Christmas magic must be in the air already because one of the two family shots in our front yard came out the best out of all our attempts.
She's a little windswept, but this one of ER's sweet little smile by the evergreen by our front porch will also be gracing the inside of our card. I can't wait to get them! The photo calendars I ordered at the same time have already shipped, I hope these come soon too.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy 70th Birthday Dad

Today is my Dad's 70th birthday! We celebrated with dinner out, chocolate cake, and a new stylish hat for ER's Papa!
It was a pretty low key celebration, as we all went on a fun trip to the Washington City Zoo, and Washington City Beach, as well as the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago over the summer to officially mark it.
Happy Birthday Dad! Looking forward to many more with you!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our Thanksgiving

I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! We managed to get a family picture in which everyone is looking at the camera and smiling:)I also took this picture of ER with Grandma Norma. Aren't the piggy tails cute?
I'll leave you with something I was glad to see at the feast, the pumpkin chocolate chip bars I think are super scrumptious!


Friday, November 26, 2010

A Crafty Soiree #13: Special Black Friday Edition

So glad you joined us during this busy holiday time! I hope all of my creative friends Stateside are full of turkey:) The big feast is normally followed by what is known as Black Friday, when holiday shopping officially kicks off. Although, it does seem like the sales start popping up earlier and earlier doesn't it? I used to love going with my mom for a little social shopping with friends, but whenever I HAVE to get something I get stressed out. I prefer to wander aimlessly, find a few things here and there, and sip on a peppermint hot chocolate than fight with crowds and longs lines.

You don't have to either, because each week we've got loads of crafty folk sharing their talents with us! There are lots of great ideas to inspire you to have a Handmade Holiday! Here are just three of the links from last week's party to get the creative ideas flowing! If you've made something that would make a wonderful present to put underneath the tree, make sure you link it up so we can all share ideas!
Amie at Kitty Cats and Airplanes made and provides a tutorial on how to make this cute button bracelet. That would be a fun gift to give, I love the movement of the buttons. She also sells them if it's perfect for someone on your gift list and you need a shortcut.
Donene at Easy Peasy Grandma has a brand new grand baby boy to model this adorable little knitted hat. I love the big chunky yarn she used and the big button! My mom made my daughter many a sweet little hat and even some for my friends when they had little ones. A little hat to keep baby warm is always appreciated, and my mom says they are quick little projects. So there's plenty of time to make some for the winter holidays!Christy at From Glitter to Gumdrops has solved my dilemma as to what we can give to all our little neighborhood friends that is 1) not to expensive to make but still 2) useful and fun. I think I might make a batch of gingerbread and peppermint, because ER and I are especially partial to the latter. Plus then we could make it pink or red and girlie it up a bit:)

Ladies, for being our features this week, we're happy to offer you our special Crafty Soiree Ribbon! It's yours to proudly display! Don't forget to check out today's Crafty Soiree post at Yesterday on Tuesday, we both pick three participants to feature each week so you might have been featured by Malia. But you'll have to visit her to find out!

Now it's your turn to link up! The linky will be open for a week, so you have plenty of time to join us! Here are some guidelines for our guests:
  • Link up your creative projects! Crafts, Decor, Recipes, Sewing and Organizing tips are are welcome. Kids crafts are welcome too, we want to see how you're encouraging the next generation of artists!
  • Add your links to the specific posts and not your blog's homepage. Please make sure you post is NEW to A Crafty Soiree, it can be from your archives but should not be something you linked up to our soiree before. We've had a few repeats and we'd like to avoid that.
  • Add my Crafty Soiree button above or link back to me in your posts, so others can find us and join in!
  • Please comment on the post linked up in front of you. All partygoers love meeting new friends... don't just stop there...if you see something that catches your fancy-- stop by and say hi!
  • Please consider following the hostesses, me and Malia, we want to get to know our guests
  • Most importantly... enjoy yourself and have fun!

Don't forget, A Crafty Soiree is hosted on two blogs, so when you link up on one your link will automatically show up on the other one too! Please note, by linking up to A Crafty Soiree, you're giving permission to feature your project and photos in the future, with proper credit of course☺

Before you leave after joining us, don't forget to enter my You Can Make This Giveaway for $100 bundle of epatterns, it ends on the 30th!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's Turkey Day!

I have so many reasons to feel blessed, today I am especially happy because I just got back much better results from my quarterly round of tests, that check up on my diabetes, than expected. Plus I am finally feeling more myself after getting so run down after my bad case of the flu back in October. Yeah, that bout hit me HARD!

We had a great conference with ER's preschool teacher on Monday and I'm so proud of my little sweetie pie. I'm excited because Brad helped me figure out why my sewing machine hasn't been working properly and now I can work on some simple projects I really wanted to make for Christmas. I can't believe it's the end of November, but grateful for this opportunity to stop and reflect on how many positive things I have going on in my life and rejuvenate before the busy Christmas season.

I'm looking forward to the big dinner with our family today! We're taking the green bean casserole - yum-o, so I'll probably be over indulging in that and treat myself to a chocolate chip pumpkin bar:) Hope you all have a lovely day! Thank you so very much for being a part of Katie's Nesting Spot. Your comments and support mean so much to me!

For my crafty friends, looking to join up to A Crafty Soiree, Malia and I are postponing it one day in honor of Thanksgiving, here in the US. The current one is extended another day:) We'll have a special Black Friday one tomorrow, so skip the crowds at the store and come here to find some inspiration for crafty goodness:)


Credit: Premade Card Template courtesy of Ziggle Designs.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tangled: Released Today

Earlier in the month we got to see Walt Disney Pictures’ 50th full-length animated feature, Tangled in Disney Digital 3D. The moment Rapunzel's 70 feet of golden hair with more than 100,000 individual strands showed up on the screen, I knew they had another hit! Based on the classic fairy tale Rapunzel, Tangled is the story of a "mother" and daughter's complicated relationship. It about a child wanting to break free of an over-protective parent; explore the world on her own. Something most of us can relate to, but with some very drastic exceptions...hopefully none of you have a mother kept young through the magic of your very special tresses! Tangled is also very much the story of Flynn Rider, no shadowy Prince we only meet at the happily ever after Flynn come with his own personal baggage...the quintessential bad boy with a heart of gold underneath. Together both our protagonists get, well "Tangled" up in an adventure, danger, misunderstandings, and of course a big musical number...it wouldn't be Disney without that, you know!Surprisingly, one of the most memorable moments is when our pair encounter a seemingly vicious bunch of pub thugs. Turns out looks can be deceiving, their some of the hero's of the movie and their crusty exteriors hide some very complex men with dreams of their own. Their musical number was the best of the film.Being the parent of a four year old, who gets scared by every little thing, I was a bit worried that parts might be a bit too much for her. Both Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty and the Wicked Witch of Snow White scare her to the point where she hasn't been able to sit through either of those movies. Mother Gothel and the other villains aren't too scary, she's even got quite a voice and sense of humor. Even the littlest fans should be able to make it through the movie. Thus capturing another generation of fans at an early age for Disney!One of the most awe inspiring moments for sheer beauty is the exciting climatic scene with a dazzling, lantern-filled skyline. Every lantern has its own animated fire that contains 10,000 micro points of light. The highest lantern count in a shot is 46,000 lanterns, which equals 460 million points of light!

More high marks go to the sweeping view of the valley Rapunzel lives with Mother Gothel in. The waterfall and stream in the tower valley were animated to match the characteristics of streams and waterfalls in California’s Yosemite. The effects supervisor took a two-day trip and shot more than 150 video clips for reference. The art directors were then able to pick out their favorite characteristics. More than 10 million individual water droplet "points" make up the waterfall. How's THAT for detail! Now wonder it looked amazing! The bottom line, Tangled will be extremely popular. With it's enthralling tale, talented voice actors, beautiful animation, and the requisite fairy tale ending, it's more than worth leaving the shopping lines to see opening weekend. The whole family will be entertained. The little girls can sigh over the Rapunzel's long hair and the boys will find the adventure and Flynn provide more than enough of an adrenalin rush. It's also the kind of film the parents accompanying their kiddos will be drawn into as well.

My husband Brad commented that he was surprised by how much he thoroughly enjoyed the movie. When we left the theater, my daughter immediately asked to see it again and her new Rapunzel doll is her current favorite; it's safe to say that for her and me too, the film more than lived up to it's hype. It'll be one we purchase the day it comes out.

Don't forget! Today at midnight EST my Tangled Giveaway Ends! Enter while you still can:)


Disclosure: My family attended complimentary preview showing of this movie. The giveaway and press materials were provided to me, however, my opinions and experience with Tangled are unbiased by this relationship.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One Sheet Pocket Book

Here's a quick little 3"X4" mini, made by folding just one sheet of 12X12 paper. There are eight little pockets, perfect for tags and other interactive elements. I made it in an evening, the same day I found the instructions on the Pinecone Press Blog. I just had to do it immediately:) I love it when something inspires me like that. My first try is pretty basic, but now that I've got the technique down, I can't wait to make more.

Here are two little tips I learned:
  1. Yes the ribbon bows are cute...but they also make the book a lot bulkier and top heavy. I'd just fold and staple them on next time.
  2. Pick a double sided paper with patterns on both sides that are random and do not have a specific design that needs to be facing a certain way to look right. See those cute pinecones below? Yeah on half of the album they are upside down. I like to think I'm a veteran papercrafter, I SO should've know that!
Shared at: Get Your Craft On at Today's Creative Blog.


Here Comes Santa Paws: Review, Activities, & Special Savings

Today DISNEY’S THE SEARCH FOR SANTA PAWS is out! With all the shopping to be done on Black Friday, this is one DVD you'll want to add to your cart! It's a really nice movie to set the tone for the upcoming We got to preview it several weeks ago, and I've been eager to share this exciting and uplifting movie with you ever since. The big city adventure reveals the how the legendary friendship of Santa Claus and Santa Paws began and is a great children's movie for the holidays.

Plot Synopsis:

The film follows in the tradition of Disney’s classic holiday tales with a heartwarming story about the power of giving and the true meaning of Christmas. An exciting prequel, the movie allows kids of all ages to discover how the legendary friendship of Santa Claus and Santa Paws began – as it is the inspiring original film (in a timeline it precedes 2009’s Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws).

In the movie, when Santa and his new best friend, Paws, discover that the boys and girls of the world have lost the spirit of the season, they take a trip to New York City. But after Santa loses his memory, it’s up to Paws, a faithful orphan named Quinn (America’s Got Talent’s Kaitlyn Maher), her new friend Will (The Game Plan’s Madison Pettis) and a wonderful group of magical talking dogs to save St. Nick and show the world what Christmas is really all about. Do you believe in Santa Paws? Experiencing this sure‐to‐be holiday classic, full of fun, adventure and a carrying the timeless messages of the holidays, with surely delight the entire family!

The Kid Test:

My four year old daughter has always been really into puppies; I knew that this would be something she'd love. There is just something fun about talking puppies and Santa Paws is a big furry puff ball that you just want to reach out and hug. I was right, she loved that the puppies really talked, any scene with Santa Paws, her eyes were glued to.

Her favorite parts were the peeks inside Santa's North Pole workshop and when Santa Paws works his Christmas magic to turn the bedroom Quinn shares with the other orphans into a holiday wonderland. The singing got her up on her feet and standing on our couch so she could dance just like the girls.

It's magical holiday film that your little ones will like, while there are a few moments of drama, I never for a second didn't think the whole thing wouldn't have a very happy ending. All the loose ends are tied up neatly, just like a big bow on top of a Christmas present, and really isn't that what you want...that satisfying over the top Disney ending? This forsee this film one of the movies my daughter remembers watching year after year during her childhood.
DISNEY’S THE SEARCH FOR SANTA PAWS comes with a stocking full of fantastic bonus
features, two of which ER really liked.
  • My daughter's personal favorite, an interactive Animated Pop‐Up Book, featuring new canine friends from The Search For Santa Paws. She wanted to watch it over and over and over and over...well you get the point...
  • Sing‐Along Mode ‐ colorful lyrics added to the film’ song sequences, so audiences can
    sing along to the film’ fantastic new songs.
  • Another big hit with ER was the music video from tween favorite Debby Ryan (Disney Channel’s Suite Life on Deck) performing an updated arrangement of ‘Deck The Halls.’
  • Deleted scenes

Recently, director Robert Vince and producer Anna McRoberts spoke about THE SEARCH FOR SANTA PAWS during a virtual roundtable in support of today's DVD release. Here are a few of their comments about working with the child actors and the animals that I found interesting.

Question - For "The Search for Santa Paws", you literally found yourselves a new star with young actress Kaitlyn Maher. For such a young child, was she easy to work with, especially around the dog (that plays Paws)?

Answer - Anna McRoberts: We first used Kaitlyn as a voice on Santa Buddies and we were beyond impressed with her talent and presence and knew we had to put her in front of the camera next. Kaitlyn is an amazing person, very intelligent and a consummate professional. She was a true pleasure to work with. She is also a real dog lover and if I may speak for her, I am sure she might pick the puppy scenes as some of her favorites. In addition, her and Paws became very fast friends.

Question - What was the funniest blooper that happened on set with the dogs and/or kids?

Answer - Robert Vince: When you work with kids and animals bloopers occur daily. In the dancing scene "I Do Believe In Christmas," the girls were so excited they kept falling off the beds.

Question - My kids have really loved this movie. The talking animals were a huge hit. What did the child actors that were part of it think when they saw the final movie?

Answer - Anna McRoberts: The kids were overjoyed when they saw the final product. They It's really exciting for them to see the film come to life on a whole other level from when they were on-set filming.

Question - That word, MAGIC, is such a tremendous word. You've used it frequently. Do you believe in Christmas Magic?

Answer - Anna McRoberts: Absolutely, I believe very strongly in the concept of Christmas magic and magic in general. I am also a strong proponent of the idea that "what we believe, we can achieve" which is why I think Christmas is my favorite holiday. It's a time of year that we are all reminded to believe in believing and that when we do, anything can happen!

Question - Kids seem to stop 'believing' earlier and earlier, does that present a challenge in developing story lines that appeal to the entire family.

Answer - Robert Vince: Unfortunately, children are inundated with commercial messages that can sometimes rob their sense of imagination. Movies are one of the places children can allow their imaginations to run free. We do our best to explain some of the logical issues like "Why are there so many Santa Clauses at every mall?' and so far our "ambassadors for the Santa Cause spreading the message of love and kindness for the one and only Santa Clause" idea has been very well received.
Activitiy Sheets:

To help get your into the holiday spirit and because I know after your kiddos see THE SEARCH FOR SANTA PAWS, they'll want to do more Santa Paws related activities! You may print-and-play with these craft pages that will show you how to make some cute projects any dog lover will like.
Special Money Saving Offer:

In the spirit of giving, Disney Movie Rewards is offering $10 off The Search for Santa Paws Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack! Click here to find out more!


Disclosure: I received a complimentary reviewers copy to faciliate this review, opinons expressed within are personal and unbiased.

Monday, November 22, 2010

So Thankful Dry Erase Frame

With Thanksgiving on Thursday, I wanted to share a super quick way to add an easy thankful activity to your home. With a few fall themd rub-ons, alphabet stickers, and a sheet of scrapbook paper, one of our picture frames was transformed into a "So Thankful" dry erase frame. It was ready to display in our entryway within fifteen minutes.

Now whenever we walk by, it's easy to quickly jot something we are thankful for onto the glass with a dry erase marker. When it's full, a quick wipe with a kleenex cleans it off. Just don't forget to periodically write down for prosperity some of the things written on the frame. At the end of the month, I'll just swap out this for the picture and it'll be ready to use again next year. It's nice to add an activity that doubles as a seasonal decoration that really won't take up any space to store.

I think it would be a nice tradition to set out the frame each year and have all the guests write on it before dinner.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

TANGLED Released on Wednesday! Giveaway Reminder and Character Previews

Only THREE more days before Tangled hits the theaters! We got to attend a special pre-release showing and it was awesome! The whole family will love it, from your little kiddos to the the adults. It was ER's very first movie ever and she can't stop talking about it!

TANGLED swings into theaters everywhere on Wednesday, November 24th in Disney Digital 3D! It's also the day my special Tangled Giveaway ends! Don't forget to enter, the character t-shirt and Silly Bandz would make a great gift and there will be THREE WINNERS!!!

Below, I've shared a little bit about each of the three characters featured on the t-shirts, decide which one is your Tangled fan's favorite and then don't forget to enter my giveaway!

RAPUNZEL may have lived her entire life locked inside a hidden tower, but Rapunzel is no damsel in distress. The girl with the 70 feet of golden hair is an energetic, inquisitive teenager who fills her days with art, books, and imagination. Rapunzel is full of curiosity about the outside world, and she can’t help but feel that her true destiny lies outside of the lonely tower walls. Rapunzel has always obeyed Mother Gothel by staying hidden away and keeping her magical hair a secret… but with her 18th birthday just a day away, she is fed up with her sheltered life and ready for adventure. When a charming thief seeks refuge in her tower, Rapunzel defies Gothel and seizes the opportunity to answer the call of the kingdom. With the unwilling Flynn Rider along for the journey, Rapunzel leaves the tower for the first time, and begins a hilarious, hair-raising journey that will untangle many secrets along the way.
The ultra-confident FLYNN RIDER is his own biggest fan, and he has long relied on his wit, charm and good looks to get out of even the stickiest situation – and Flynn’s life just happens to be full of sticky situations. Flynn is a thief looking for the one last, big score that will allow him to finally live the life he’s always dreamed of. He's never been closer to having it all when he meets Rapunzel, an odd girl with ridiculously long hair. Rapunzel seems to be the only girl in the world immune to Flynn’s moves, and for the first time ever he seems to have met his match. An unlikely alliance with this girl from the tower sends Flynn on the adventure of a lifetime, and helps him realize that sometimes you don’t know what you want… until it hits you over the head… literally.
Rapunzel’s one true friend is her silent, color-changing sidekick, PASCAL. Pascal may be just a small chameleon, but he plays a big role in Rapunzel’s life. Confidante, coach and cheerleader, Pascal is a driving force behind Rapunzel’s decision to leave her lonely tower. This supportive and encouraging companion’s true colors just might hold a key to unlocking a royal mystery.

Now that you've learnd a little about each, which character are you most excited to see in Tangled? Go enter my GIVEAWAY and win their t-shirt and a set of character Silly Bandz!


Disclosure: My family saw the movie as part of a special media event, the giveaway and materials in this post were provided.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Dot Pictures

We have been reading my large selection of Thanksgiving books from my classroom library. On of ER's favorites is One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by B.G. Hennessy. Its cheerful rhyming text incorporates counting and has the Pilgrim boys and girls working with the Wampanoag children. It has a playful tone doesn't go too far into the hardships or history, but I don't know how much I want to talk about that with ER yet anyway. It's a cute story for preschoolers and introduces them to a very sanitized concept of pilgrims and Native Americans. Afterward, I wanted a quick and easy art experience for ER that would build on general Thanksgiving concepts. These these free printables from DLTK were perfect. They were also a good excuse to finally give ER the Do A Dot Art Markers I got back in September. Yes, it's a little bit of a "lazy" art project as far as prep goes. Brad's been working seven days a week for ten hours or more building laser system for a university in Kentucky at the office. I've been needing a few breaks during the day here and there.
I'd forgotten how great they are for a quick project when you need to keep little hands busy. I can't even begin to tell you what a huge improvement this is over when ER used to use dot painters at her playgroup when she was two! She colored them in the next day and has been asking for them each time we do art ever since. Yes it's important to drag out the watercolors, the paints and brushes, but man it's also nice to do this relatively mess free paint too! They're definitely something I'm thankful for!

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