Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Lights (Our very Griswold yard!)

I come by it honestly. It's in my blood. My family has always decorated the yard for Christmas. We rarely put lights on the actual house, something about ladders being too risky, but everything else was fair game. My favorite thing was our Santa. He was plastic, somewhere between 5.5 and 6 feet tall, and brilliantly lit. From the time I was very small, the holidays began when Santa appeared in the front yard.

photo by Amy Hodges

(I wish I had a better picture of him. I think I need to raid my mom's pictures to see if I can find one. This is a year we happened to have a white Christmas. It's the only one I remember, we do live in very southeast, coastal, North Carolina.)

Eventually, I was drafted to help with the outdoor lights. Trees, bushes, fences were all covered in lights. Bushes got smaller lights and trees got the enormous C9 lights. Fences got artfully draped white lights. 

Fast forward to now. My husband fortunately indulges my need to create a spectacle of the yard. Lights, wreaths, and inflatables grace our yard every Christmas.   We make a plan of where to place everything. My daughter wanted to help this year but gave up after one strand of lights. (I'll give her a break, she started on a very prickly holly)

photo by Amy Hodges
The Santa on the left isn't quite inflated, and Santa Mickey isn't up on the right (YET!)

Front porch with flashing Mickey lights out front
photo by Amy Hodges

Our front porch Christmas tree and flashing Mickey lights. The only thing missing is our Moravian Star. The light burned out and of course it takes a special bulb!

Looking down the front of the house
photo by Amy Hodges
This is looking down the front of our house. Can you guess that I love colored lights?

Reindeer barn
photo by Amy Hodges
This is a new addition this year, the Reindeer Barn inflatable.

A very Mickey Christmas indeed!
photo by Amy Hodges
Can you guess which one is my favorite?

Photo by Amy Hodges
This is actually my favorite. You'll never see if from the front. It's in a little side courtyard. I typically work at our kitchen table and this is just outside the bay window next to the table. I enjoy these every single night. 

Now I'm curious about you. Do you decorate your yard for the holidays? Colored lights or white? Twinkling or always on? Inflatables or tasteful wreaths with ribbons? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, December 3, 2012

New Fantasyland Vlog

I couldn't help myself, I have too much to say about the New Fantasyland expansion! This is long, so grab a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine if you stop by later in the day) and let me tell you about New Fantasyland. If you're short on time, skip to the last minute where I have some more pictures of the lovely new area. Let me know if you have any questions!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Fantasyland at Disney World

In less than a week, New Fantasyland will have it's Grand Opening in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. At the end of October, I was invited to visit Disney World and preview the attractions in New Fantasyland. I jumped at the chance to see what the new section of the park was going to look like. The New Fantasyland project is the biggest expansion the Magic Kingdom has seen in its forty years. (Seems like 40 is the age to look at getting a little work done!) The project doubled the size of Fantasyland and in my opinion, completed it. I couldn't see it before, but now, having seen the new area, the old Fantasyland seems not quite done.

The Beast's Castle
photo by Amy Hodges

We were fortunate enough to have two Imagineers with us when we toured. (Walt Disney Imagineering focuses on concept, design, and the ever important story) Chris Kelly and Diego Parras shared some of the process behind developing the story for New Fantasyland. One of the many things that separates Disney Parks from other theme parks is the story that weaves throughout the parks. Everything has a story. It was a gift to walk through the expansion and be able to see it through their eyes.
Imagineers Chris Kelly and Diego Parras, photo by Amy Hodges

But let's get down to it. Let's answer the questions I know you're asking. What did I think? What about the attractions? What about the food? There must be shopping! Where are the characters? What does it all meannnnnn?
Ahem, before I get too carried away, let's get to it. I will do a more in depth post about all of these but I'll hit the highlights today.

Attractions New Fantasyland opens with several new and reimagined attractions in two distinct areas.
In the Enchanted Forest, you will find Enchanted Tales with Belle and Under the Sea~Journey of the Little Mermaid. The aptly named Enchanted Tales with Belle was a delight.  It's hard to give too much detail because there is an audience participation component that puts everyone into the story. The experience takes character interaction to an exciting new level. Under the Sea~Journey of the Little Mermaid is a beautiful, classic Disney dark ride. You ride in a clamshell (similar to the Finding Nemo attraction in Epcot) to the bottom of the sea and experience highlights of The Little Mermaid's story.

kiss the girl
photo by Amy Hodges

In Storybook Circus, The Barnstormer rollercoaster now stars the Great Goofini, Dumbo the Flying Elephant has doubled its capacity with a second ride and an amazing indoor waiting area, and you will find the new Casey Jr. Splash & Soak Station. The Barnstormer is a great introductory rollercoaster. It was the first my daughter would ride and she still insists on riding it at least once a visit. (We all enjoy it, too!) The changes to the Dumbo attraction are brilliant and so very welcome. Doubling the capacity AND giving families an interactive, inside waiting area? Genius. We all know how hot Florida can be. The Casey Jr. area is a great place to cool off.

Great Goofini
photo by Amy Hodges

Food In the Enchanted Forest you will find Gaston's Tavern, Be Our Guest Restaurant, and Maurice's Amazing Popping Machine. Gaston's Tavern is a counter service restaurant with inside seating. Gaston's is exactly what you would expect from the movie (he does use antlers in all of his decorating!) It has a menu that includes a new pork shank, delicious cinnamon roll, and the new beverage, Lafou's Brew. Be Our Guest is a clever new addition. For lunch the restaurant is a quick service location and it changes to table service for the evenings. There is so much to share about Be Our Guest, it will truly require it's own post. The restaurant is insanely beautiful and every detail is so well thought out. (The food was incredible, too!) Maurice's Amazing Popping Machine is a stand in the village to get that wonderful Disney popcorn. Sharp eyes might see the plans for the popping machine when they walk through Maurice's cottage!

In Storybook Circus you can find Big Top Treats inside the new Big Top Souvenirs which brings us to..

Shopping Big Top Souvenirs is a circus themed shop. You can find an assortment of merchandise, especially of the flying elephant variety! Bonjour Village Gifts has opened in the Enchanted Forest. This shop is carrying Beauty and the Beast themed gifts. There are some lovely gifts including specialty china and glassware.

Characters Ariel has taken up residence in her new grotto. Fans young and old will appreciate the queue with great seaside details. Although it isn't a traditional character experience, you will meet Belle at her Enchanted Tales. Gaston has been making appearances by his tavern. The Beast has been seen near Be Our Guest. In Storybook Circus, Pete's Silly Sideshow has opened with appearances by Minnie Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, and Goofy.

What does it all mean? There is a whole new area to explore and love!

I'll be writing more, but I wanted to include this link to a video from the Disney Parks Blog. We were able to help make Magic Kingdom history!!!

I attended this New Fantasyland preview at the invitation of Disney Parks. My travel, hotel, park tickets and some meals and experiences were provided.  I was not required to post but cannot help blogging about one of my very favorite subjects. My opinions, as always, are my very own. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from President Lincoln

Lincoln Thanksgiving
courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

I'm hoping to go see Lincoln over the holiday weekend, seems appropriate! Have you seen it? I'd love to hear what you thought!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Smart Rinse Challenge Results

At the beginning of October my family started the Smart Rinse Challenge. Listerine challenged us to change our families' dental routine by incorporating Listerine Smart Rinse. I always knew we needed to do more than just brush our teeth, but I had no idea how much difference a mouth rinse would make. I've always brushed and flossed. My children brush their teeth well, but I wouldn't call them champion flossers. From Listerine, "Brushing, Flossing and rinsing with a mouthrinse like Listerine Smart Rinse is an essential combination for maintaining a healthy mouth and protecting your child's teeth against cavities. It is especially designed for kids, provides 12-hour cavity protection, and strengthens teeth 99 percent better than brushing alone."

Did you know that on average it takes about 66 days to form a habit? (I think it takes less time if the habit involves chocolate.) There was a moment when I realized I had developed a habit of using the Smart Rinse mouth rinse. I had to travel out of town for a short trip. I packed my carryon bag and completely forgot to pack a travel bottle of Smart Rinse. When I brushed and flossed my teeth before bed I felt incomplete. I missed the Smart Rinse. My teeth didn't feel as clean. I tried to use the mouth rinse available in the hotel gift shop, but it didn't feel the same. I had been hooked. My Smart Rinse habit has been formed.

My children have also been hooked. Mouth rinse is an easy sell for them. They might not be excellent flossers yet, but I think the Smart Rinse is making a difference. So many products in the dental care area only appeal to children or adults. Smart Rinse appealed to my tween and my teenager.  I can help my children develop healthier habits, I call it a win. Fortunately for us, Smart Rinse made a difference for my whole family.

Disclosure: I received products from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE SMART RINSE Sweet Smart Challenge. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Maple Pumpkin Custard from Spoonful.com

I like to think I'm adventurous in the kitchen as far as what I will try to cook, but custard is one of those dishes I've always shied away from. I'm not sure why, but it always seemed a little fiddly and complicated. This week I noticed a recipe from Spoonful.com that seemed yummy, Maple Pumpkin Custard. (If you haven't checked out Spoonful.com, you should. They feature family friendly activities, including cooking and crafting.)

Ingredients for Maple Pumpkin Custard
photo by Amy Hodges

By some minor miracle, I had all of the ingredients at hand. I'm not sure at all why I had both Heavy Cream and Light Cream? The custard was easy to prepare and the recipe was easy to follow. In a short time I had some lovely custards. Some of us weren't patient and tasted them as soon as they cooled to room temperature. My husband held out and waited until they had cooled in the refrigerator. They were super yummy. I love pumpkin, and who doesn't love maple? It's one of the first recipes I've tried from Spoonful and it won't be the last! 

Maple Pumpkin Custard from Spoonful.com
photo by Amy Hodges

I was not compensated in any way for this post! (except with yummy custards and a renewed confidence in the kitchen.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wreck It Ralph ~ Contest and Clip

Great news from the world of Wreck It Ralph! Disney is having a contest on Facebook and the Grand Prize is a trip from Adventures by Disney! Once you choose your avatar you can complete missions for more entries. 

wreck it ralph contest

And as a little treat, here is the latest clip from Wreck It Ralph featuring one of my favorites, Jane Lynch. Wreck It Ralph opens nationwide November 2nd.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Get Unreal ~ Candy Tasting Party

photo by Amy Hodges

Want to know how to get your friends and family to stop by? Tell them you're having a candy tasting. That's right, Candy Tasting. Last weekend I was thrilled to host a candy tasting for Unreal Candy. If you haven't heard about Unreal, get ready to. They actually have a mission with their candy. "We believe that all junk food can be made differently, with better ingredients, without the junk, with great taste, and at the same price." I don't know about you, but when I hear that something is "all-natural," or "healthier" I become wary. The six year old inside of me thinks there is no way it can taste anything close to the alternative. Unreal candy is, well, unreal. All of the candies are tasty and healthier than the leading brand. 

It was fun to hear what my friends had to say about Unreal. Some of us are of a certain age, and the fiber and protein benefits from Unreal are almost too good to be true. We still want to treat ourselves and our families occasionally. It's incredible to have a "healthier" candy. One of my friends works with law enforcement trainees. She was taking some candy back for them to try because they have to count every calorie while they are training. Candy with protein? BONUS!! 

If you want to learn more about Unreal, including where you can purchase it, please check out their website Get Unreal, their Facebook page, or their YouTube channel

Good Friends!
photo by Amy Hodges

I was sent candy samples from Unreal for the tasting and compensated by Global Influence for this post. All opinions remain firmly mine. 

Amazing Race Recap 1014 Blame The Edit

My recap from the October 14th episode of The Amazing Race. Find my "Blame the Edit" recaps here and on MomTV!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Corgi Cuteness ~ Who needs thumbs?

Sandy gets desperate and entertains herself! She does this every day, usually after the kids go to school.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wreck It Ralph ~ New Clip

I am so excited about Wreck It Ralph, the latest offering from Walt Disney Animation Studios. The movie opens November 2nd, see you there!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Listerine Smart Rinse Challenge

photo by Amy Hodges

I'm about to give you some startling information so prepare yourself. (not kidding!) "Oral disease has become the number one chronic childhood illness in the U. S. " Number one. Oral disease. Just like most of you, I grew up brushing my teeth and going to the dentist. It was what everyone I knew did. My mother harped on our dental health and it wasn't until I was older that I knew why. When my mom was a child, her family was poor. Her parents never took her to the dentist. (My mom has a beautiful smile.) She was determined that we would not worry about our teeth like she always had.
Flash forward a few more years to when my children were in elementary school. The school had asked for a volunteer to accompany a dental hygienist as she examined children in the lower grades (kindergarden through second grade.) I was sadly shocked at the number of children who had never been to a dentist and how many of them were suffering from oral disease. Some of the children had cavities that even I could see. It is so important to have a good dental care routine.
At the heart of most dental care routines is brushing. We can't ever forget the importance of brushing your teeth, but "brushing alone misses 75% of your mouth!" I'm thrilled to be taking part in the #SweetSmart challenge sponsored by Listerine Smart Rinse. It's a perfect time of year to focus on our dental routine. We've gotten back into the swing of things with school and homework and I have been on a fall cleaning rampage. For the next month we are going to try to refine our habits and see if we can make our dental routine even healthier. Since it's October and Halloween is looming, I can't think of a better time to make sure we are taking care of our teeth well!
We are looking at our whole routine, but especially incorporating Listerine Smart Rinse mouthrinse. A little more information about Smart Rinse: "Brushing, Flossing and rinsing with a mouthrinse like Listerine Smart Rinse is an essential combination for maintaining a healthy mouth and protecting your child's teeth against cavities. It is especially designed for kids, provides 12-hour cavity protection, and strengthens teeth 99 percent better than brushing alone."
I'll be posting more about the challenge to let you know how it's going!

Disclosure: I received products from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE SMART RINSE Sweet Smart Challenge. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

Retirement from Vlogtober

It was inevitable. I have decided to retire from daily vlogging in the Vlogtober challenge. (You're welcome!) Desiree from Mommy Reporter is hosting Vlogtober. Check out the video for my retirement announcement!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Blame the Edit Survivor Recap

Over at the beautiful new Mom TV, I've started a new webisode series, Blame the Edit. I'll be posting recaps of some of my favorite reality television shows. Tonight I'm talking about Survivor. Fortunately, this will also serve as my Vlogtober post of the day. (3 days y'all, I'm on a roll!!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Vlogtober Day Two

The second day of participating in Vlogtober and I almost forgot to upload a video.  Forgive the lack of make-up and the fact that I got back out of bed to record this! Be sure to visit Mommy Reporter to find the other Vlogtober videos.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Vlogtober Day One

For the month of October, I'm joining Desiree from Mommy Reporter for Vlogtober.  The premise is simple, post a vlog every day for the whole month. I hope you'll follow along, or you can join in by linking up on Desiree's site! I'm also posting at the new Mom TV. They just relaunched and the new site is beautiful. Check it out. There are lots of videos to choose from, or you can add your own! Be sure to check back tomorrow for another vlog!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

#VlogMom High School Reunions

This week, Rajean from B Cause I Said So asked us if we had ever attended a high school or college reunion. Watch to see my answer, and be sure to check out my fellow #VlogMom participants below!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Glad Freezer Ware~Microwave Lasanga Roll-Ups

I know we all have our "go-to" recipes. The recipes you keep in your back pocket. They are usually either a family favorite, easy to prepare, or both. This recipe is both! Like most other families, we lead a busy life. We still like to have dinner at home and sometimes that means thinking ahead. I try to keep a few meals in the freezer for when I go out of town or when we just don't have time to prep and cook. This recipe for Microwave Lasagna Roll-Ups goes from the freezer to the microwave and is ready in 12 minutes. 


1 lb ground turkey
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
8 lasagna noodles (cooked)
Your favorite seasonings. I use 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1-2 tsps finely chopped basil, 1 tsp oregano, and 1 tsp thyme
Your favorite tomato sauce. (2 cups or one jar)

Assemble noodles (see video)

Freeze up to 3 months.
Remove from freezer. Cover with tomato sauce. Loosely cover and place in microwave. (I open the lid and rest it loosely on top)
Cook for 12 minutes on high. Rotate once during cooking.

Serve with a salad and garlic bread for a great quick meal!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cardinal ~ Wordless Wednesday

Hello Cardinal
photo by Amy Hodges

Be sure to visit some of the other Wordless Wednesday posts linked below!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Revolution on NBC

15 years after the blackout...Power is everything.
Chilling, right? It's the tagline for NBC's new show, Revolution. Because the show has been filming here in Wilmington, NC, they held a screening of the pilot episode (you can watch it now at NBC.com.) I won tickets from one of our local radio stations, WGNI. My husband and I were very excited to check Revolution out. I thoroughly enjoyed the pilot episode. It is going to be a thought provoking show. We are so dependent on our technology that it's hard to imagine life without anything electrical. We are so connected that we forget there are people today in developing nations that don't have access to clean water, let alone technology. The show's executive producer is JJ Abrams who was one of the creatives behind LOST. It's inevitable that people will be looking for parallels between LOST and Revolution. Giancarlo Esposito, Captain Neville in Revolution, addressed that very question after the screening.

Yes! Much to our surprise and delight, three of Revolution's actors attended the screening. They were very generous and stayed after to answer questions. In addition to Mr. Esposito, Daniella Alonso and Graham Rogers were in attendance.  

Giancarlo Esposito talked for a bit about the film industry in Wilmington.

Graham Rogers answered a question from a young audience participant. 

And finally, Mr. Esposito was asked who would win if Revolution's Captain Neville and Breaking Bad's Gus Fring got into a fight.

Revolution is definitely not for younger children. Society has devolved to a place where violence is common. I will let my middle schooler watch if she's interested. I think it would create the opportunity for some interesting discussions.

The premiere of Revolution is September 17th at 10pm. For more information, check out the Revolution website.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

DIsney Moms Panel Search 2013

Any day now the Disney Moms Panel will begin accepting applications for 2013. I have applied every year which might discourage some people. I simply cannot be discouraged because I know how many wonderful moms and dads (with extensive Disney trip-planning skills) are out there. Disney has a very deep pool of talent to choose from. If you're one of those moms and dads, be sure to keep an eye on the 2013 Moms Panel Search webpage. Best of luck, and buckets of pixie dust, to all of us applying!

The search went live this morning! Click to apply!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

#VlogMom Goals for the School Year

This week for #VlogMom, Jessica from A Parent In America asked us what we were going to do this school year to improve our family's life. My answer is something I am ALWAYS working on! I would love to hear if you have new goals for the school year. Be sure to check out the other Vlog Mom videos in the link-up below!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Marble Cam Flower ~ Wordless Wednesday

marble cam flower
photo by Amy Hodges

Playing around with the Marble Cam app on my Iphone! Be sure to visit some of the other Wordless Wednesday photos in the link-up below! (and add your own!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Spielberg's Lincoln coming November 2012

courtesy of Dreamworks Studios

I simply cannot believe how Daniel Day-Lewis has transformed into Abraham Lincoln for this movie. He is an exceptionally talented actor and I've never doubted his abilities, but wow. I salute the Casting and Makeup Departments. 

More about the movie from Dreamworks Studios:

"Steven Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln,” a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln” is produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, based in part on the book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox film, in association with Participant Media, releases in U.S. theaters exclusive on November 9, 2012, with expansion on November 16, 2012."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Walking Through Water

walking thru water
photo by Amy Hodges

I love the water. I always have. As a child, I never had a fear of water. I have always felt connected to and restored by water. It's no coincidence that most of my life I have lived within a few miles of the Atlantic Ocean. Do you know the feeling of walking along the shoreline? Walking in an inch of water as it washes up on the beach? That is an amazing feeling. So many splash fights start there because it's just too tempting to run your foot or your hand across that water and watch it spray droplets of salt water all over whichever lucky person happens to be closest. Between that magic skimming water and being in water deep enough to swim is water that's hard to walk through. From just over your knees until almost your waist is water that slows you down. The water drags you, slows you and you're tempted to just dive under the next wave, but you know it isn't quite deep enough yet. I feel like I've been walking through that water. 

We have had a rough summer. Dad injured his one good knee making him a near shut-in. Mom is in great health, but not young, and not capable of taking care of my dad on her own. We moved next door to them a few years ago, looking towards a time they might need help and not knowing how soon it would be. I am grateful to be so close physically and emotionally but that does come with a price. I have never been more aware that my parents will not be with me forever. We spent several years celebrating all the new lives in our families. It's a blessing welcoming babies and watching them grow. As much as it's a blessing to welcome new lives, it's also a blessing to walk with someone on their way out. I know that sounds so dark, so imminent, so permanent. I hope that I have years and years left to laugh and cry with Dad. Dad is going to get better, but he isn't going to be the same. He is going to face continuing challenges. His life is very different now. And so is mine.

One of my great challenges is making sure I'm not sacrificing what my family needs for Mom and Dad. I have a husband and two children who need me to be emotionally available to them. I can't use up every bit of energy and leave none for them. Sometimes I have a great balance and it does feel like I'm skipping along the shore. Today I don't feel I have any balance. The shallows and the depth elude me and I'm stuck walking through this water. I know the tide will change. I know it will get easier and it will get harder. I know I just have to keep walking. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Zombie Attack at Getting Gorgeous

zombie attack

Also in New York, I was able to attend the amazing Getting Gorgeous event hosted by Audrey McClelland and Vera Sweeney. I have met Audrey and Vera several times and they are not only gorgeous(ha!) but they are incredibly nice. This year one of the sponsors of the event was Pop Cap Games, creators of the popular Plants vs Zombies games. The Zombie was in attendance but I was clearly not impressed.

Be sure to visit some of the other Wordless Wednesday posts above, and link up your own!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Odd Life of Timothy Green ~ A Great Family Movie

timothy green
courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

When I was in New York earlier this month I had the opportunity to see an early screening of the new film from Walt Disney Pictures, The Odd Life of Timothy Green. If you watch any television, you have probably seen the commercials. When I told my friends I was going to see this movie, the universal response was, "oh, that's the one where the kid comes up out of the ground." Kids coming up out of the ground sounds like some sort of weird zombie movie, and while moments of The Odd Life of Timothy Green are certainly a little weird, I can assure you there were no zombies. 

Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim Green (Joel Edgerton) are anxious to be parents. They have an idea of what their family is going to look like and when life throws them a curve ball, they have to learn to adapt. Quickly. Timothy Green (CJ Adams) teaches them about parenting, tough choices, and deep, abiding love. 

I loved this movie. I laughed and cried my way through it.  I hate to tell you too much because I want you to go see it! It's definitely a family film, nothing objectionable in it. I do think younger children might be bored, just because some of the movie will fly right over their heads.  The major point I walked away with is that sometimes things are going to happen that are weird, wonderful and terrible. Sometimes those things, those wonderful, terrible things have a way of preparing you for something even more wonderful in your life.

I know some children are already back in school so I thought I would share this clip of Timothy's first day at school.

courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oz the Great and Powerful

Next spring, Walt Disney Pictures is releasing "Oz the Great and Powerful."
From Disney Pictures:

"Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well."

The film is scheduled for release on March 8, 2013. Disney just released a trailer for "Oz" at Comic Con and now I get to share it with you!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

#VlogMom $2000 to spend on ME

Jessica from Found the Marbles gave us this week's VlogMom topic. Jessica asked what we would do if we had $2000 dollars to go on a shopping spree. Of course I went in a slightly different direction. And, as usual, the cat makes a cameo.

I would love to hear what you would spend $2000 on! Leave a comment below and let me know.

Be sure to check out the other great #VlogMom posts below!

Friday, June 15, 2012

#VlogMom Music of my Life

For this week's #VlogMom, Alissa from Clever Compass asked to share three songs that take us back to a particular time and place. Little does she know that I ALWAYS  have music in my head. It was incredibly difficult to pick just three. I finally just turned on my video camera and used the first three that came to mind!

Be sure to check out what the other participants of #VlogMom have to say!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

#VlogMom ~What's in Your Purse?

For this week's #VlogMom, (technically last week's) Tina from Life Without Pink asked us to share what is in our purses. Like right now. Just open it up and share. I wasn't scared at all. You shouldn't be either. Well, maybe a little scared! Be sure to check out the other #VlogMoms in the link-up below!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why Do I Blog? Stream of Consciousness Sunday


I'm taking part in my friend Fadra's great meme, Stream of Consciousness Sunday. The premise is awesome. Set a timer for 5 minutes and just write. Don't edit. Don't ponder too much, just write.

Today’s (Optional) Writing Prompt: Do you have a secret blogging life? Are you connected to your “real life” friends and family through social media? How does that affect your writing?
While I don't have a "secret" blogging life, there is a significant group of my friends and family that don't understand what I'm doing. I'll admit, there are days when I don't understand it. I will get a box of fun stuff to review on my front porch(thank you ups) and wonder why on earth I'm the one chosen to review. The question frequently leads me to ponder why I am blogging. 
The why of blogging is a huge question for me. (I think the answer is slightly different for every blogger.) I love the outlet. I love the ability to be a little creative. I love having this little slice of the internet that is mine(cue the seagulls from Finding Nemo~ mine mine mine mine) Who reads my blog has very little impact on how I write. I am always writing for me. I hope that readers/viewers get something out of it, whether that's a laugh, new information or a new perspective, but I am always writing for me. 
I do love that social media allows me to keep in touch with friends/family/loved ones who don't live nearby. I think I rely on Facebook too much sometimes when I should be reaching out to my friends. 
And my five minutes is up. 
If you want to participate, or just read some of the other Stream of Consciousness posts, head over to All Things Fadra to get the scoop. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lego Summer Brickation~Myrtle Beach, SC


My kids have been out of school for one day(ONE!) and I'm already trying to figure out if we have enough activities planned. We are all in luck because Lego is having their Summer Brickation event at Broadway at the Beach, 1112 Celebrity Circle, Myrtle Beach, S.C.  The Summer Brickation will last from June 6th through July 17th. Several stations are set up to give your children a chance to exercise their creativity with Lego. I love the beautiful Lego sets you can buy, but I love the opportunity for my kids to use their creativity more. Lego also has several large Lego sculptures for photo opportunities. 

To celebrate the Lego Summer Brickation, Lego is giving away several prize packs. I don't do a lot of giveaways but I was excited for the chance to participate in this one. Who doesn't love Legos? (okay, I know we've all experienced the excruciating pain of stepping on a rogue lego in the middle of the night~ but Legos still rock!) 

The prize pack consists of 
legobrickationprizepack (1)
a Lego Club Magazine, 10 bricks to click(a pack of 10 bricks with building instructions) and a pirate hat.

Entry could not be easier. Leave a comment below to enter. For an additional entry, you can follow my blog via email or RSS. Just leave me another comment to let me know you are following. The contest will run through June 18th at noon. I will choose the winner using random.org. You have 24 hours to respond or I will choose another winner. Good Luck and Happy Building!

I was selected by GigCoin and compensated to participate in this posting and giveaway. As always my opinions remain my very own. (If there is any doubt of my family's devotion to Lego, I'll be happy to post a picture the Lego-filled closet in our playroom!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Brave Glossary from Disney Pixar

courtesy of Disney/Pixar

It's no secret that I am excited for the release of Disney/Pixar's new movie, Brave. I am a little '"extra" excited because the movie is set in Scotland. My ancestors were from the West coast of Scotland, from a tiny island called Islay (known primarily for it's Scotch!) I have been to Scotland once and would love to return with my family. The country is filled with stories and legends. 

From a press release: "Set in the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland, Disney•Pixar’s “Brave” follows the heroic journey of Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to change her fate, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane), unleashing chaos in the kingdom. When she turns to an eccentric Witch (voice of Julie Walters), she is granted an ill-fated wish and the ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her resources—including her mischievous triplet brothers—to undo a beastly curse and discover the meaning of true bravery. Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and produced by Katherine Sarafian, “Brave” is a grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and signature Pixar h or. Opens on June 22, 2012, in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters."

To help prepare for the movie, Disney/Pixar sent a glossary of Scottish terms. I'm not sure how many of these you would actually hear in Scotland, but some of them are great fun!


A story set in Scotland would be jiggery pokery without its share of Scottish words and phrases. And crivens, “Brave” has plenty! But it would all be for naught unless accompanied by a proper glossary, so here goes…

Indigenous, native
Taught to filmmakers by Emma Thompson (voice of Queen Elinor), who used it to describe “Brave’s” Castle Dunbroch because it appears to have grown right out of the earth.

A blue dye extracted from a cabbage-type plant used by inhabitants of ancient Scotland to paint their bodies
Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin paint their bodies in blue wode to proclaim that they are ready for battle at any moment.


Many fools
galoot = clumsy, oafish person

A Celtic trumpet with a bell shaped like a boar’s head. Held vertically so it can be heard in large crowds, a carnyx was used during wartime to send troops into battle.
In “Brave,” it signals the start of the Highland Games.

Wow! You’re cool or ferocious or tough!
crivens = expression of surprise or shock

An expression that describes something outlandish or imaginary
tatty = shabby, cheap
bogle, boggle or bogill = ghost or folkloric being

A dialect from the Aberdeenshire region in Scotland
Elgin native Kevin McKidd (voice of MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin), who learned Doric from his grandfather, proposed to filmmakers for Young MacGuffin to speak the incomprehensible dialect in “Brave.”

Unwanted stomachache or a bad case of the nerves
collywobbles = upset stomach; intestinal disturbances or a feeling of apprehension

For no reason

Fix, clean up or otherwise remedy something that’s been horribly mishandled.
guddle = make a mess of it

An unfortunate bit of magic
gamy = bad

Small, narrow, secluded valley

Outlandish, unattractive senior
googly = strange, odd

Similar to Dancing Tatty Bogle, something that’s absurd or fantastical

Though some will joke that a haggis is a small animal native to Scotland, it is actually a traditional Scottish pudding made with sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, encased in a sheep’s stomach and cooked for several hours. Often served with “neeps and tatties" (turnips and potatoes).

Festivals that celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture and heritage, especially that of the Scottish Highlands. Includes competitions in piping and drumming, dancing, archery, caber tossing, stone put and other Scottish athletics, plus entertainment and exhibits.


Oh my!
Exclamation of bewilderment or exasperation

A pleated and draped tartan fabric garment worn by Scottish men
During the production of “Brave” director Mark Andrews and several animators wore

kilts to work on Fridays—dubbed Kilt Fridays—to get in the spirit of Scotland and the film’s characters.




Unsavory person or being
manky = dirty, worthless or in bad taste

Wow! Holy cow!
An exclamation of surprise, shock or being overwhelmed

Useless individual

Head-butt ‘em

A tricky or slick being with magical powers
scaffy = trickster

Belittling description of a goofy and unworthy opponent
simpering = silly smile
jackanape =  an insulting reference to a monkey or ape; a braggart; a mischievous child

Sink Viking ships by making holes in the bottom

Eat with abandon
gob = mouth

A specially designed woven fabric that identifies a clan. April 6th is National Tartan Day in the United States.

A test of strength and skill seen in Highland Games in which the competitor raises a pole vertically with the small end down, and then throws it
Caber = a long, tapered section of a tree trunk

Turnip… or foolish person. Or both.


bile yer heed (boil your head) = don’t be ridiculous. Also used as an exclamation if someone is doing something stupid and it's annoying
In “Brave” King Fergus sings what he’ll do to the demon bear Mor’du when he catches him to avenge his lost leg. Not only will he boil his head, but he’ll add dumplings to make a bear stew.

Ghostly lights or small blue spirits that lead the way to treasure or doom.
In “Brave,” the will o’ the wisps lead Merida to change her fate.

I think "dreadful collywobbles" might be my favorite! See you at the movie!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Recipes from Magazines

Tell me I'm not the only one. I buy beautiful magazines with recipes and pictures of beautiful food (that must taste wonderful because the pictures are so lovely.) The magazine collects dust on my bedside table until I finally toss it into the recycling bin. If we're being honest, I don't toss it in the recycling bin, I put it on top of the stack of other beautiful magazines with pictures of beautiful food because "I want to try that recipe someday." Now Pinterest feeds this addiction with much less mess.
 Yesterday I broke down and decided to make one of the recipes. One of my favorite food magazines is Everyday Food by Martha Stewart. I had some cherry tomatoes so I decided to try the recipe for "Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Capers."  The recipe was easy and actually did taste good. (Yay, me!)

photo (21)
photo by Amy Hodges

I want to know,  do you have any favorite recipes you found in a magazine?

Friday, May 25, 2012

#VlogMom ~ The Junk Drawer Dare

The very fabulous Megan from Sweet Sadie Marie gave us our prompt for VlogMom this week. Megan asked us to share three things from our car console or our junk drawer. I recently cleaned my car out (yes, I really did) so I was forced to check out the junk drawer. I think I have some pretty fun stuff! Be sure to visit the other #VlogMom videos in the links below, and I would LOVE to hear the strangest thing you have in your junk drawer!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

L'Occitane Angelica Instant Hydration Mask Review

I don't usually have(or make) time for spa days. With a busy family, I tend to put myself at the bottom of the to-do list. I was thrilled when L'Occitane sent me their new Angelica Instant Hydration Mask. This mask is easy to use, and true to its name, instantly hydrated the skin on my face. Watch the video of my at-home spa treatment! 

For more information about the Angelica Mask, please visit L'Occitane's Facebook page. There's even an offer for a free Angelica Facial!

L'Occitane sent me products to try, but any opinions expressed here are all mine and only mine!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

#VlogMom Character Flaws

For this week's VlogMom, Tania from Pure Natural Diva asked us to share one of our character flaws, after all, everyone has them! As usual I break the rules a little bit. Be sure to check out the other Vlogmoms in the links below, or record your own video and add it to the mix!

Monday, April 23, 2012

She Streams Conference Recap

In late March I attended the She Streams Conference held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The conference was well organized with good sponsors, strong speakers, and relevant workshops. I came away with lots of practical advice on how to "up my game." I can't wait to put it all into action!

Thank you to Maria Bailey and the excellent team at BSM Media (especially my very patient contact, ElizaBeth!) Thank you as well to AT&T for supporting the conference and providing a Samsung Focus phone for me to document my journey. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

#VlogMom~Parenting Advice

This week's VlogMom topic comes from Kadi Prescott of Our Seven Seeds. Kadi asked us to share three pieces of parenting advice we wish someone had shared with us. As usual, I stretch the question a little bit. AND I filmed in the chicken coop. Because that's what you do, right?

I'd love to hear your favorite parenting advice, and be sure to check out some of the other VlogMom participants below!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yacht Club Resort 1993 ~ Wordless Wednesday

Yacht Club 93
photo by Amy Hodges

Okay, I can't resist a few words today! In the spring of 1993, three of my girlfriends and I visited Walt Disney World and stayed at the Yacht Club Resort. I loved it and have stayed there several more times. I was thrilled beyond words to discover that the 2012 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration would be held at the Yacht Club. I am so excited to be attending (NEXT WEEK!) and glad to be returning to the Yacht Club. 

Yacht Club 93-1
photo by Amy Hodges

I have to share one more picture from that trip. We ate supper in Cinderella's castle and the park was closed when we left. I couldn't resist taking a picture on Main Street, USA with a virtually empty park!

Check out some of the other Wordless Wednesday posts below, or add your own!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

#VlogMom~An Embarrassing Moment

This weeks topic is from Erin at A Parenting Production. Erin asked us to share an embarrassing moment. Fortunately(?), I had several to choose from! Be sure to check out the other #VlogMom moments in the links below. You can also visit the official Vlog Mom page to learn more about our community!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The New Girls~Wordless Wednesday

new chicks
photo by Amy Hodges

Be sure to check out some of the other great Wordless Wednesday posts below, or add your own!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

#VlogMom~Stranded with 3 Books

This week's #VlogMom question is posed by Candice from Fashionably Organized. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you want to have with you? Check out my answers in the video, then see what the other #VlogMom members have to say! I need something new to read so be sure to let me know which 3 books you would choose in the comments!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

#Vlogmom~NC Amendment One~Hot Topics

I don't usually get political on my blog. For our weekly #Vlogmom series, Julie Pron of Just Precious gave us a great thought provoking topic, "It's primary election season and there are lots of hot topics. Pick one you're passionate about and discuss." I was compelled to talk about Amendment 1 coming up for the vote in North Carolina in May. I hope that Amendment 1 will be defeated! Check out the vlog to see why, and check out my fellow #Vlogmoms in the linkup below to see what their hot topics are!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

#VlogMom A Day with a Celebrity (but which one?)

This weeks topic for #Vlogmom comes to us from Rachel Ferrucci, "If you could spend the afternoon or go out to dinner with a celebrity, who would it be?" This was a hard one for me so I'm curious who you would spend time with? Make a video and link up, or leave your answer in the comments below!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

#Vlog Moms ~ What Makes You Laugh?

For this weeks Vlog Moms, our topic comes from Rajean at Because I Said So. Rajean asked us "What makes you giggle or laugh?" I actually own up to a secret in this one!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Friends Count ~Build A Bear Workshop

Admit it. How many of you have friends and critters from Build A Bear Workshop in your house? We have several, and fun outfits to go with all of them! Build A Bear Workshop is celebrating its 15th anniversary in business this year. As a part of their celebration they asked several bloggers to talk about how friends count.

I have had the privilege of hearing the founder of Build A Bear, Maxine Clark, speak several times. She is an amazing woman who makes sure that the company operates with heart. I was honored to be a part of this program. To see all of the Friends Count videos, check out the MomTV Community.

I was compensated to participate in this video series. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

HP Review ePrint Printer 3052a

Time is the most valuable currency. I am always looking for ways to save time. I was thrilled to review the new HP Deskjet 3052a printer with ePrint. With the ePrint feature you can print on your home printer from anywhere you have internet access. Like almost everyone else I know, I am rarely at home. I am at work or somewhere waiting on my kids, (carpool or athletics.) I try to use any of my waiting time to accomplish tasks from my phone or Ipad so I have more down time when I am at home. The HP ePrint feature helps me complete tasks when I am away from home. Check out my video review to see how helpful (and how much of a time-saver) I found the printer.

Like I said in the video, the HP Deskjet 3052a is available at your local Walmart and Walmart.com for $69.00. The ePrint feature has been a time saver for me. I liked this printer so much I'm buying one for my parents!

For more information, please visit Walmart.com/HPePrint

Thursday, February 9, 2012

VlogMoms ~ Pregnancy and Parenting Advice

This week for VlogMoms, Theresa from Rock On Mommies asked us "What is the best & worst(or weirdest) parenting or pregnancy advice you received? It's been so long since I was pregnant I had to make my brain work on this one!

So how about you? What's the best/worst/or weirdest advice you've received as a parent? Comment below, or break out your camera and join us!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

Last week I was in Walt Disney World when they were testing a new interactive guest experience, "Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom." I highly recommend it if you have the chance. The video above describes Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom with tiny spoilers and the video below shows more of the actual experience. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 23, 2012


Sunrise at Wrightsville Beach, NC
photo by Amy Hodges

You know how life can be? Amazing, incredible, complicated, joyful, overwhelming, ridiculous, fabulous and, you know, LIFE! I took an accidental sabbatical in December. The holidays are always busy and I reached the point where something had to go. I decided to step away from social media for a bit. I didn't blog at all. I restricted my time on Facebook and Twitter. I wondered if I would miss it. 

I didn't miss the medium, but I did miss the people I have come to know through social media. Once you meet these people their tweets are no longer just words scrolling across the screen. I hear their voices, their laughter, and sometimes their pain. I have learned so much from all of them. I also missed blogging. I missed this particular outlet. Who wouldn't miss their own little world to say what they needed to say?? 

Now my sabbatical is almost over. I have a few more adventures I have to finish away from my computer screen but I will be back soon. I hope to see you here!