Christmas Tradition – Decorating the Tree with #TysonGoodness

Every year when we get out the tree and ornaments and begin to deck the halls, sometime after Thanksgiving Day but usually before St. Nick Day on December 5th, we have a tradition. I get an assortment of finger type food and we have an hors d’oeuvre dinner. Sounds fancy? Nope. I’m talking about easy, peasy yummy finger food we love on plates in the living room coffee table where we can grab and go as we decorate (with a Christmas movie playing in the background, of course!).

A couple of staples are:

1. baked potato skins (my favorite)

2. a cheeseball with crackers (Ed’s favorite)

3. frozen pizza cut into small bites (we all love this!)

A couple new things we tried this year. Carmalized onion and cheese puffs (I loved them but no one else did. However, they will be back next year!) And the new Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwhiches.

Tyson chicken nuggets are in my freezer 24/7/365. If we get low on this item, bells and alarms start sounding because my kids are crazy for their chicken nuggets and they are a fast lunch, snack or dinner option when things get hectic in our household. And they do get hectic!

Now we have another #TysonGoodness favorite. Knowing I was going to be reviewing the mini sandwiches (and almost certain the kids were going to love them) I bought them at Walmart and tucked them in the freezer for our annual tree decorating event.

That night I went to get them out and HELLO…all but one of the packages were gone! Guess who already tried them out? My husband! He had been taking the microwavable packages (each with 2 mini sandwiches in them) to work during the week and having them as a breakfast or snack and LOVES them!

So with Mickey Mouses Christmas playing on the TV and the artificial tree halfway assembled…I cooked the last two mini sandwhiches for Jack and Annie. After giving dad a hard time, the kids dove in and loved them!

Since then we’ve had them as after school snacks and weekend lunches because they are so easy to prepare (just pop em in the microwave in their package for about a minute on each side). I’ve been told by the kids and Ed that they have a place on the “staples” grocery list next to the regular Tyson nuggets.

A GREAT Deal on Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches!

 

Still Living The Dream readers, you know I loves me a good deal and love it even more when I can pass one on to you! Currently if you buy two Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches at a participating Walmart, you’ll receive a $5.00 Walmart Gift Card!

Hello good deal, nice to meet you!

My freezer will be well stocked now! Just be sure to checkwww.Tysongoodness.com to find out where to go because they aren’t available at all Walmart stores. Click here for more information about the promotion which ends on 1/13/12.

 

So tell me, what’s one of your holiday traditions? Do you cook something special for the occasion?

 

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Mom Spark Media. All opinions shared are my own. 

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The Smurfs Are Coming to Houston! (Plus FIVE Giveaways!)

Did you catch The Smurfs movie when it hit the theatres? We did and loved it! Good news for both fans of the movie or fans to be….The Smurfs is available TODAY in a 3-disc holiday blu-ray and DVD gift set that includes an all-new mini movie called The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol.

The Smurfs blu-ray has bonus features as well as “Smurf-o-vision” which allows you to interact and play games on your iPad while watching the movie on TV.

Hello? Fun!

About the movie:

When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs™ out of their village, they tumble from their magical world into ours – in fact, smack dab in the middle of Central Park. Just three apples high and stuck in the Big Apple, the Smurfs™ must find a way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down. Directed by Raja Gosnell (Scooby Doo) and starring Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”), Jayma Mays (“Glee”), Sofia Vergara (“Modern Family”), and Hank Azaria (“The Simpsons”) as Gargamel, the film features the smurf™-ect voices of singing sensation Katy Perry as Smurfette, George Lopez (Rio) as Grouchy and Jonathan Winters (The Flinstones) as the original Papa Smurf.

Great news for those in Houston!

The Smurfs will be making a special appearance at Walmart on December 10th and 11th.You can see your favorite Smurf and have your photo taken for free on Saturday, December 10th

  • from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Wal-Mart at 9555 S. Post Oak, 77096
  • from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Wal-Mart at 12353 FM 1960 W, 77065

They’ll be back on Sunday, December 11th, this time at the Walmart at 5655 E Sam Houston Parkway N, 77015 from noon to 3:00 p.m.

Smurf-tastic news for Still Living The Dream Readers!

A Giveaway!!

I’m giving away FIVE DVD copies of The Smurfs movie! That’s right, five winners – just in time for the holidays! Just leave me a comment below telling me who your favorite Smurf is to be entered. I’ll choose five winners at random when The Smurfs come to town, on Saturday, December 10th at 11:59 CST.

More chances below…just be sure to leave a comment for each one you do!!

  • Follow me on Twitter at @jpatrickcomm
  • “Like” Still Living The Dream on Facebook
  • “Like” The Smurfs on Facebook
  • Follow me via Google Friend Connect
  • Sign up to receive Still Living The Dream posts via email (see top of this blog)
  • Tweet this giveaway daily for another entry each day by using the following language: “I entered to win one of five DVD copies of The Smurfs movie. You can, too! http://bit.ly/sVzqxJ @jpatrickcomm”

I was not compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

 

 

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Celebrate the Holidays at SeaWorld San Antonio – A Giveaway!

Debi and her family arriving at SeaWorld!

I have a friend who is nuts about SeaWorld. For the past several years she has purchased season passes for her family of five and they visit the park several times a year. You probably think they live in San Antonio, right? Nope. They are in Houston and make a road trip to see Shamu every spring and fall and several times in the summer.

In fact, Debi, her husband and three kids just got back from a visit over Thanksgiving break. While I went to SeaWorld during Halloween (which was awesome!) I wanted to hear all about her trip and what’s new and different during the Christmas holiday.

(I decided to do this post “interview style” and I’m not gonna lie….I felt all Katie Couric – ish)

Still Living The Dream (SLTD for short….that’s ME!): Debi, you’re nuts over SeaWorld. What’s up with that?!

Debi: We LOVE SeaWorld. It’s one of the few places that my 16 year-old daughter, nine-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son all enjoy.

SLTD: Even though you live in Houston, you have purchased season passes for the past several years. Is it worth it?

Debi: I’m very frugal. SeaWorld gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Since we go many times a year…it’s very affordable.

SLTD: How else do you save money when you visit the park?

Debi: We get great deals on hotels through priceline.com and a lot of hotels have shuttles to the park so you don’t have to pay for parking.

A while back we bought the refillable drink bottles and popcorn container and we bring them each time for free ice-water or $1.00 soda refills and $1.00 popcorn refills.

SLTD: Don’t you get bored after going to the park so many times?

Debi: No….there’s always a new show or attraction and the park does it up for Halloween and Christmas with special events and entertainment.

SLTD: I went to SeaWorld for Halloween and had a blast. They had trick or treating, special decorations and shows that my kids loved. Tell me about what’s different at SeaWorld for Christmas.

Debi: First of all, while we love summer time at SeaWorld, fall and spring are great times to go because the park isn’t as crowded.

SLTD: I know! My kids loved that the lines were shorter and the park was calmer when we went at Halloween.

Debi: We rode The Great White in the front seats three times in a row without waiting and only had to show up about five minutes before the Shamu show to get a good seat!

SLTD: Was the Shamu show Christmas related?

The Sea Lion Show

Debi: Yes – so cute. All of the shows were. My favorite was the sea lion and otter “countdown to Christmas” show. So stinkin’ cute! But there were a lot of other cool things there, too.

SLTD: Tell me more! (picture me with my hand on my chin as I inch up in my seat and give an inquisitve look to Debi!!)

Debi: Jenn, you’re a dork.

SLTD: Yes. Yes, I am. But go on.

Mrs. Dolphin Claus!

Debi: Well, different areas are decorated in different themes. By the park entrance there was the pathway of lights where you can stroll along and meet different characters dressed up and take free pictures.

Candy Cane Forest

By the Shamu roller coaster was the candy cane forest  and there is a little, cute cartoonish type house where you can get hot cocoa.

SLTD: Cute!

Debi: And there are a lot of strolling entertainers like people on stilts dressed up like elves and nutcrackers, carolers and Christmas marachi band.

Sheriff Snowman

SLTD: And what about the big guy? Was he there?

Debi: Yes, Santa is at SeaWorld and for just $11 for two people, you can have milk and cookies with him.

SLTD: My kids would love that!

Debi: We had a blast and stayed all day on Friday (from noon to 9:00 p.m.) then came back on Saturday. The park is SO pretty at night with all the lights.

SLTD: Anything else?

Debi: Oh, be sure to check out the 4D movie featuring Polar Express. It’s about 20 minutes long and so cool. The “ride” moves and the room gets foggy . It’s like you’re really on the train.

SLTD: Will you be getting passes again next year?

Debi: YES! Especially since Aquatica is opening in the spring. My kids are SO excited.

SLTD: I know! We checked out SeaWorld’s unique water park in Orlando a couple months ago and it’s unbelievable. I’ll be posting more about all that the water park will offer on my blog soon.

Debi: I’m jealous!

SLTD: Of my good looks or charming personality?

Debi: We’re through here!

SLTD: Love ya, Debi

Debi: Loving ya, back!

Did I miss my calling or what?! I should be on 60 minutes with my “in your face” interviewing techniques that probe for the honest answers. I swear I saw Debi cry during our talk. Tears of joy, no doubt!

This is my friend Chuck (the trainer, not the whale). If you go to SeaWorld, tell him I said hi.

A Giveaway!

So are you ready to kick the holidays into gear with a trip to SeaWorld? I have a family four-pack of tickets to offer one lucky Still Living The Dream reader. All you have to do is leave a comment about your favorite holiday tradition. Tickets are good until January 2012 for the SeaWorld San Antonio location only. One winner will be selected at random on Wednesday, December 7, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. CST.

More chances? You know it. Leave a separate comment for each item you do below.

  • Follow me on Twitter at @jpatrickcomm
  • “Like” Still Living The Dream on Facebook
  • Follow me via Google Friend Connect
  • Sign up to receive Still Living The Dream posts via email (see top of this blog)
  • Tweet this giveaway daily for another entry each day by using the following language: “I entered to win four tickets to SeaWorld San Antonio. You can, too! http://bit.ly/sYAxEq @jpatrickcomm”
I received passes to visit SeaWorld in San Antonio and Aquatica in Orlando but did not receive compensation for this post. All thoughts and opinions are mine and Debi’s. I would like to thank Debi for taking time to share her family’s visit to SeaWorld with Still Living The Dream and for knowing all about me but choosing to be my friend anyway! Love you, Debi!
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Personalized Ornaments

Christmas spoiler alert!

Mom – are you reading this?

STOP. Right. now.

I know keeping Christmas surprises is not your strength – especially when they have to do with your own presents. But you need to be strong. For your grandchildren. Because they are giving you this present. And you can’t act. And they won’t buy your pretend surprised face Christmas morning when you open this. I never did growing up when you sneaked a peek at my present to you. None of us did. You’ve been a present shaker, peeker, “I’ll just sneak a little look then tape it back” upper. It’s time you knew that the gig is up.

But I love you anyways and I call you later. Have a good day. Bye.

Everyone else stay and scroll down.

 

 

 

Is she gone? I suspect not. But I’m going to carry on like she is and only time will tell whether she had the will-power. Or whether she ever even reads my blog!

Either way she’s getting the cutest darn ornament this year. My mom is a coach at an elementary school and I picked out this ornament from www.ornamentshop.com which was personalized by them. How stinkin’ cute is this?!

They have tons of ornaments to pick from and they are so affordable. The coach ornament was just $12.95! They have a wide variety in each category so there’s something for everyone. I’m thinking about getting some of these for teacher gifts because although they have a lot of general teacher ornaments (like “world’s greatest teacher”), they have many more in hobbies/activities categories so I can get something special and different for each teacher.

I love Christmas and family traditions in general. (You can read about my annual tradition of giving each of my children a new ornament according to their interests each year on St. Nicholas Day here.) While I was shopping around on Ornament Shop I found an entire section, Christmas A to Z, where they provide tips and fun information about Christmas and the holiday season around the world. Find out why Santa’s suit is red, a history of Christmas cards and where Santa’s elves came from.

Every year, after the tree is decorated, Ed puts a star on the top of our Christmas tree. I always wondered why the star is the symbol many use to decorate this spot. You can find out why and what other symbols are commonly used at Ornament Shop on their tree toppers post here. So cool!

So tell me, what holiday traditions do you cherish each Christmas? Do any of them involve Christmas ornaments and/or decorating the tree in a special way?

 

I was given an ornament to review but wasn’t compensated in any other way for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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It’s Time to Start Shopping! Review and Giveaways

The holidays are quickly approaching. Have you started shopping for gifts?

Me either.

But I recently found a great gift website I wanted to share with you that might make it easier for both you and me to find that perfect gift for those we love (including, well – us….because these items are too cute and I want one of everything).

AnnPage.com has a variety of personalized items like stationary, invitations and monogrammed gifts. I really love the monogrammed jewelry, aprons and cosmetic bags but I am dying for one of her monogrammed laptop cases. My PC died recently and I invested in a new MacBook Pro and the case would look so awesome when I cart myself to Barnes and Noble or Starbucks to get some of my writing done.

I got my hands on a personalized  acrylic cup from Ann Page and LOVE it. The Personalized Acrylic Cups with lid and straw holds up to 16 fl. oz. – perfect for water, frozen drinks, or a canned beverage with ice.

While I write it sits by my computer…reminding me to drink water. I also got a kraft paper notepad with my initial on it. This is very cute and perfect for me when I’m doing research for an article to jot down quick notes. I also use it a lot to send notes to Annie and Jackson’s teacher.

But check this out….the CUTEST market totes. I’m telling you – these are so stinkin’ fun and the cutest gift you could get yourself  – er – your friend or mother-in-law!! The 18″L x 11.5″W – 9″H market totes are fully collapsible, come in a variety of colors and patterns and can be embroidered with a name or initials. They are perfect for running errands. I can totally see this tote sitting in my front car seat holding things I need to return, letters/gifts to be mailed, dry cleaning to take in. I’m loving it!

Are you?

GIVEAWAYS

Good. I thought you might. So how about a chance to win one? AnnPage is giving away not one, but TWO PERSONALIZED market totes. That’s right – two people will win one. How awesome is THAT?

And what about if you don’t win an awesome market tote?

Well then, you just might win an awesome PERSONALIZED acrylic cup like mine. Except it won’t say Jennifer on it. Because that’s just silly. Unless your name IS Jennifer. And then that would work out quite well. Again, AnnPage.com is giving away acrylic cups to TWO lucky Still Living the Dream readers.

That’s FOUR winners total. Which is so completely cool. I’m feeling very Oprah-ish with this giveaway thanks to the good folks at AnnPage.com. So here’s how to enter.

1. Visit AnnPage.com and leave a note in the comments section back here about which pattern is your favorite market tote. Easy Peasy!

After you do that you can have more chances to win by doing one or more of the following (and leaving a comment for each one that you do!):

  • Follow me on Twitter at @jpatrickcomm
  • “Like” Still Living The Dream on Facebook
  • “Like” AnnPage on Facebook
  • Follow me via Google Friend Connect
  • Sign up to receive Still Living The Dream posts via email (see top of this blog)
  • Tweet this giveaway up to once a day for the duration of the giveaway using the following language: “Win one of two market totes and one of two acrylic cups from AnnPage http://bit.ly/oqTDBI @jpatrickcomm”
Four winners will be selected at random on November 8, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. Open to those in the U.S. only.

Disclaimer: I received an acrylic cup and notepad to review but didn’t receive any other compensation for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

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Here We Go

So on Saturday I was thinking it would be a good idea to go Christmas shopping. With the kids. At an outlet mall. Two weeks before Christmas.

Seriously.

Sometimes I think I’ve got some kind of brain condition that makes it impossible for me to make a good decision when it comes to shopping.

After bribing the kids on multiple occasions with Yu-gi-oh cards and rides on the mechanical horses and cars, we did kinda, sorta ok.

Until we got to Osh Gosh Bygosh. Or was it Carters? I don’t even freakin’ know because by the time we got there I had spent $25 on vending machine food and drinks and couldn’t feel my left hand because I didn’t have the use of my right arm to carry all of my purchases (remember – rotator cuff surgery? Keep up with me.)

I was supposed to meet my friend in Gymboree (I had taken my son to Vans because he really “NEEDS” another pair of sneakers). When she wasn’t in Gymboree I naturally assumed she’d be in one of the other toddler type clothing stores nearby. I found her in the dressing room with one of my kids (sadly, I hadn’t even noticed my four-year-old wasn’t with me, but no harm, no foul). Annie (my daughter) was trying on a matching outfit with Molly (her daughter – same age) and they were giddy with excitement at the thought of being all blingy and cute and matchy-matchy.

Being a girl and a shopper myself, I totally got that.

But what unfolded next was chaos that no four-year-old could have mustered. It took the 40 years of mis-guided shopping techniques and unresolved spending problems of their mommies.

Jenn – “Since Molly and Annie will have matching outfits, should we call Marci to see if her daughter Lauren (their friend) wants one, too”

Julie – “Good idea, and if we call Marci we better call Natalie so her daughter Maddie doesn’t feel left out.”

Then Julie leaves me in line to go look at matching shoes. MATCHING SHOES? I’ve got several kids (I mean, who can count at this point), many packages, a couple outfits and I’m on my cell phone without the use of one arm. Luckily the line was about 20 people long so I had time to discuss the particulars with Marci but couldn’t get in touch with Natalie.

Julie comes back with pink shoes that would clearly look darling with the outfits.

Jenn: “Dave Ramsey is going to be VERY disappointed with us, Julie”

Jenn (to a lady in line that I don’t know): “Do you think I should get these?”

What? I’m consulting strangers on my purchases now?

We finally got up to the front and in attempt to save money (parish the thought of actually putting back the shoes) I beg the cashier to honor the extra coupon I had somewhere back home in a messy stack of papers. She does and after ringing us up…together because we got an extra $10 coupon if we combined the purchase – never mind the chaos of sorting everything out later…Natalie calls us back!

Of course she wants a matching outfit – do they have her size?

Now I’m running to the rack and shouting across the store to anybody that will listen, “Does this shirt come in any other sizes?!”

After we find out what they have and what Maddie could get away with wearing (we are no longer concerned with getting exact sizes at this point-matching is our only desire). We go on to discuss the extra expense of the shoes. Natalie is going back and forth like a yo-yo (we are all taking the Dave Ramsey course and convinced that Dave himself with show up in Carters or where ever we are and have a come to Jesus with us).

Remember – we are AT the cashier at this point. With a line behind us.

Walking out with shirts, shoes and skirts of all sizes and shapes 15 minutes later – we aren’t quite sure what happened. My nine-year-old son reminds me that at some point during the chaos I promised him a pony or a car or something high dollar like that.

But lookey, lookey. Aren’t they cute?!!

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Christmas Lights (Hang with me – I eventually get to the point)

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear.”
Buddy the Elf

AHHHHHH!

Is it really just one week until Christmas? What happened to control? What happened to organization? What happened to peace and joy?

I’m in full crisis mode because while I was johnny-on-the-spot with mailing two of my out-of-town family packages, two others have yet to be wrapped and packaged. Mainly due to the fact that the presents are still at the stores where they live. And I have no idea how to get to said stores. Because I have no idea what the items even are yet.

So I will go running around town like the crazy woman I am but try so hard to hide, trying to find the perfect gift for a perfect price only to pay astronomical postage fees in order for it to get to its destination before December 25th….in one piece.

Which segues nicely into what this blog is really about. Christmas movies…well, really Christmas lights. (Oh hush. The connection makes perfect sense to me.)

Two nights ago my husband suggested we go to Prestonwood subdivision, which has been known for it’s over-the-top outside Christmas lights for decades. We rushed to get the kids bathed and PJ’d and closed the door to our outdoor Christmas light-less house to be amazed at what others with more energy, creativity and electrical engineering knowledge had to show for themselves.

I think some of the neighbors of Prestonwood have grown tired of the “everyone is supposed to decorate the outside of their house with Christmas lights tradition.” A lot of the houses went for the minimalistic approach to outdoor illumination – like us. But some got into it and – as my son, Jackson said (Annie was fast asleep in the back of the mini-van),”this is fun!”. I think he was referring to the fact that we got to drive around a neighborhood with our head-lights off and seat-belt less for an hour on a school night – but still.

Some of the streets had themes like “Frosty the Snowman” or “A Peanuts Christmas” or “The 12 Days of Christmas”. Each house on that particular block had to contribute decorations to support said theme. I had a “brilliant” (as in “bright”) idea.

Although we hadn’t been able to get our act together to put up even one silly strand of lights around our front door in four years – I was going to organize a theme for OUR block. It would have to be a tribute to either the movie “Elf” or “Christmas Vacation”. Both are hysterical and we watch them at our house the entire year….not just in December.

Seriously – can you see it now? If we go with Christmas Vacation, some one’s house can have the Clark Griswold light display of non-twinkling white lights.

Someone else could have a big tree with a fake squirrel in it. We could have the sledding scene at some one’s house with the burned-out bottom of the silver saucer sled from the non-choleric, silicone-based kitchen lubricant that creates a surface 500 times more slippery than any cooking oil.

And think of the possibilities that surround Eddie’s tenement on wheels!

And Elf….someone could do the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest or the sea of swirly twirly gum drops. I’m almost giddy with excitement.

But alas, the stores are calling my name for those last minute gifts and the post-office is beckoning me to come join their never-ending, three-hour wait lines.

Here’s to best intentions….and hope for NEXT year!

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Countdown to Christmas

It’s chilly today and I have Christmas music playing while I’m sitting at my computer working. I’m feeling very Christmasy and I wanted to share a little project I made to help my family countdown the days until Christmas. I got the idea from my favorite scrapbooker, Stacy Julian. You really should check out her website at http://www.stacyjulian.com/. She’s the bomb-diggity and has tons of great ideas.

I made this from just paper and ribbon. on a silver ring. There’s a page for each day and behind the page is a pocket with a tag. On each tag is something to do that relates to the season. Since we can’t afford some of the activities we’d love to do – like going to the Nutcracker Ballet or riding on the Polar Express train in Rusk, I had to get creative with fun things that are less expensive or free. It’s a little harder in Houston where we don’t have snow or a lot of traditional winter-type sports and activities (can’t build a snowman or go sledding)! And, because I’m trying to teach my children about the season and how important it is to give, not just to get….there are some that involve giving to others.

Here is a list of some of my ideas:

  1. Talk a walk around the neighborhood at night with hot chocolate
  2. Build a fire in the fireplace
  3. Go caroling
  4. Write a letter to Santa on www.emailsanta.com
  5. Read a Christmas book
  6. Watch a Christmas movie (The 25 days until Christmas on the Family Channel makes this easy and I have our Christmas movies in a basket by the TV).
  7. Make Christmas crafts (we are getting together with some friends to do this next week)
  8. Bake cookies and give to someone else
  9. Decorate a Gingerbread house (Michael’s craft store has these on sale!)
  10. Go ice skating (at the mall!)
  11. Make a Christmas box for Operation Child charity
  12. String popcorn
  13. Make an ornament

Additionally, I plan to leave some small goodies outside our door on December 6th – which is St. Nicholas Day. Check out www.stnicholascenter.org to learn more about this holiday celebrated in other countries, but not observed as much in the U.S.

If you live in Houston – I’ve found some fun things going on that you might want to do with your family. We are going to try to do some of them!

  • Heritage Society’s Candlelight Tour on December 11 and 12 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.
  • Lights in The Heights on December 12th
  • Dickens on the Strand in Galveston December 5 and 6
  • Snow Flurry at the Museum of Natural Science December 5th from 1-4 pm
  • Holiday in the Woodlands (ice skating and shopping) www.holidayinthewoodlands.com

I’ll also be posting some unique gift ideas and special finds on both www.healthyhoustonkids.com where I’m a contributing writer and my blog. Check back from time to time and let me know if you have any ideas of things to do or give this holiday season!

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I came, I saw, I conquered – Black Friday

Ah, Thanksgiving…turkey cooking in the oven. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on TV. The kids fighting in the family room. And mom – pouring over the Black Friday Ads in search of the ultimate deal.
Really – the pouring has been going on for days….just on the Internet. Pretty much all the ads were released online ahead of time and I already had my game plan. Which included….you guessed it – Zhu Zhu pets.

Toys R Us, which opened at midnight, promised the first 100 people a Zhu Zhu pet. I thought I’d get over to the closest one by 10 ish and be there in plenty of time to make the cut. My friend, Julie, and I were riding together and meeting our other friend, Marci and her sister, Liz. We were in it to win it.

My family and I went to the Uptown Tree Lighting Ceremony from 5:00 p.m. to about 7:30 p.m. ish. We had a great time and as the time crept along I became more and more giddy about the purchase I was about to make.

We got home at about 8:30 ish. Believing I had at least an hour to get ready – I puttered about thinking of things to bring…a book maybe, a chair definitely – the paper? Probably. And the phone rang. It was Marci.

“Liz and I are already here and there’s about 30 people ahead of us – get down here NOW.”

Shit!

I went into panic mode. I tried to reach Julie at home and on her cell. No answer. After multiple attempts I had to make a do or die decision. I would have to leave without her.

“I gotta go!” I screamed to my husband.

“I thought you weren’t leav….”

“Plans changed…line long….no time,” I panted as I ran around the house like that kid in Home Alone with my arms flying above my head.

“Calm down,” Ed said. “It’s just a Zh…..”

The look I gave him was enough to stop even Santa Claus in his tracks. It was the mother of all don’t go there looks and he heard me loud and clear.

“I’ll get a lawn chair – grab a couple blankets,” he said. It was good to have him on board.

I didn’t have time to grab food, drinks or anything to do. Heck – I don’t think I even kissed the kids good-bye.

I was able to reach Julie on the phone on my way there. She was still at a family member’s house and worse yet – wasn’t feeling well. She was out.

“We lost a good man tonight,” I said to Marci after I hung up with Julie. “Let’s win this one for her. By the way – where am I going? Where the heck is the store?” Good information to have BEFORE you start driving.

I skidded into the parking lot and came running towards the line with blankets, my purse and a stadium chair flying out of my hands. “I’m here!” I shouted. “I made it. I made it.” I muttered as I dropped everything at my feet and embraced Marci as if she had just donated me her kidney. “Thank YOU.” I whispered as we hugged.

Then we waited. For 2 1/2 hours. In the cold. On the pavement. In the dark.
Actually, it wasn’t all that bad. We made friends with the people ahead of us and found out that some were actually there for something other than the Zhu Zhu pet – an IPOD touch, video games, etc.

As time dragged on, the line lengthened. By about 11:30 p.m….the crowd had wrapped around the entire building. We could see the end of the line ahead of us at the other end of the store. The store manager came through and made futile attempts to keep the peace. “Anyone who puts someone else at risk will be removed from the property.” I thought it was a little unnecessary until people started trying to cut in front of us in line, then I understood the need. It was not this store manager’s first rodeo and I was beginning to get a little nervous.Right before midnight they passed out vouchers for the most desired items. We grasped our Zhu Zhu pet voucher as if it were one of the 5 Willy Wonka golden tickets….there were only 100. I could almost hear the tears of the mommy who was 101 in line.

Two teenagers ahead of us didn’t want one. Because there was a limit of one per household, we were only allowed to purchase so we made deals of who would get the extra ones. I gave one of the teenagers $10 and my cell phone number. We would rendezvous after we made it through check-out for the “exchange”. I felt very naughty. I was breakin‘ the rules and I gotta tell you….it felt pretty good!

Until the mad rush at midnight to get into the store. Marci was ahead of me and we were running towards the Zhu Zhu pet ACCESSORIES aisle and she was stopping to put random items into her cart.
“Move it, Marci,” I screamed. “No one cares about Pixos!”
We were all disappointed to find hardly any accessories available but we did have other deals to take advantage of. I made it into the electronics department to get a video game, night vision goggles and a camera when all of sudden I sensed I was not alone. I looked around and wall to wall people had crammed into every inch of the store…carts slamming into each other and a line to check out that went around the entire store that seemed to have formed in a matter of minutes.
I felt my cheeks go flush and I knew it was time to cash in my chips.
Just 45 minutes later I left I made it through the line, receipt and Zhu Zhus in hand (along with a few other items). And besides the panic attack at the end – you know, I had fun. I think I’ll be back again next year.
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Zhu Zhu – Where are U?

So apparently I’m not the only mom to blog about her Zhu Zhu troubles. I just read a very well written and hysterical blog by another mom in Texas http://www.thebigmamablog.com/ and her search for the toy of the season. I think I’ll stop blogging and just put a link to her blog on my page with the caption,
“Put me down for what she said.”

A shout out to Linda H. goes here – because she sent me a link to this blog and she could have only KNOWN about my Zhu Zhu challenges if she READ my blog…so ,thank you my friend! Of course, Karen – I must say thanks to you too, because if I actually get a lead on one of these critters you KNOW that I’m dragging you along with me! (And the search for the WII was 2 years ago, not last year!)

I was reading through Big Mama’s reader comments. Ah – to have readers. And to have comments. And it struck me how NICE they all are. I mean – some even gave her store leads and people in other states offered to search for her and mail them to her! It saddened my heart to know that these will be the very ladies I will be knocking over in a mad rush to the Toys R Us Zhu Zhu display or cutting in line in front of at Wal-Mart in the wee hours on Black Friday.

Maybe I can find some Christmas spirit before I do one of the above. As I sit at my computer “working”, I THINK I can keep it under control – but realistically – I dunno. I mean, I could barely handle the Nutcracker Market madness a couple weeks ago….pushing and shoving to get to the front of the line for a piece of peanut brittle sample. Seriously, I’m out of control.

So if I see you out “on the streets” this season – let me just say right now – “I’m sorry.” I didn’t mean to hit you over the head with a wiffle ball bat or knock you off your feet with a motorized razer scooter. It’s not personal. I’m a relatively nice person in other situations and I hope we can get to know eachother (after the swelling goes down on your knee from the bomarang I threw at you) in January.

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