Giving Back For The Holidays With Planes

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I’m lucky in that I have pretty good kids, but like any kids, they are all about themselves at Christmas. I want them to learn that they are lucky for the things they have and that not everyone is as fortunate as them. We’ve donated to different organizations around the holidays in years past, but this year, I decided to include the kids in what we do. They need to fully understand that Christmas is more about giving than receiving.

We decided to choose a name off the angel tree at my daughter’s church daycare. After going back and forth and reading every card at least 4 times, they picked out a 4 year old boy. In his list, it mentioned that he liked toys cars and trucks, so on our next trip to Wal-Mart we looked to see what we could find. We found some of the Disney Planes toys were on Rollback. That just meant we could buy him more toys! With the Planes toys in mind, we decided to do the entire gift around the movie. The kids had a blast picking everything out. They really got into the spirit. We even bought a few extra toys to donate to Toys for Tots.

The Planes Fire and Rescue toys on Rollback include:
Disney Planes Flight to the Finish Speedway  $24.97 
Disney Planes Fire & Rescue Die-Cast Vehicles 3-Pack $14.97
Disney Planes Fire & Rescue Deluxe Talking Vehicle Assortment $19.97
Planes Character Assortment die-cast set & the Disney Planes: Fire and Rescue Character Assortment die-cast set $4.97

Once that was dropped off at church, I wondered what else the kids could do. They wanted to stick with our Planes theme, so we decided to make cookies. We make cut out sugar cookies, but made sure to include the airplane cookie cutter. We made cut out cookies every year and they always have a blast decorating them. After they were all iced and covered in sprinkles, they delivered them to our neighbors. We don’t really know our neighbors, but it’s always nice to get an unexpected surprise from someone. You never know when something you  may consider  insignificant, can make a huge impact on someone else.

Do you want your kids to give back this season? Think outside the box for what they can help do.
– Have them make cards and deliver them to a nursing home.
– Buy small gifts or make cards and hand them out at a children’s hospital.
– Kids can buy and donate toys to organizations like Toys for Tots.
– Make cards/care packages and send them to deployed service members overseas.
– Buy gifts for a family in need through the Salvation Army or similar organization.
– Hand out food to the homeless.
– Older kids can volunteer at homeless shelters. 

What have you or your family done to give back during the holidays?

Friday Stuff and 6 Days Till Christmas!

- Our Christmas card! We never seem to have family pictures of us. This was taken over Thanksgiving in Northern California. Not the best, but it’s us!

– Little Man was sick on Monday. Poor kid woke up throwing up and proceeded to do the same all day long. Thankfully, he was happy to lay on the couch and watch movies so I could work. He’s my kid who never gets sick. He is going to his dad’s for Christmas and as much as I wish he was staying with us, I want him to get better so he can go. I’m so looking forward to some days off though. We don’t really have any big Christmas plans though. I want to go to a Christmas Eve service, we’ll open presents on Christmas and spend lots of time skyping and calling family. We do have tickets for Disney on Ice though and I promised the little one we’d go see Annie. She’s super excited. Heck, she’s more excited about Annie than Disney on Ice. Every time we go to Target, she looks at all the Annie branded clothes and reminds me that she needs Annie clothes to see the Annie movie. Silly girl. 

– When I picked Little Miss up from school on Monday, she ran to hug one of her friends as we were leaving. His mom (I assume it was his mom), said she was really cute and then asked if I was her mom? Older sister? I laughed a bit too much, told her thank you, but I was her mom. The next day, my boss, who doesn’t see me on a weekly basis, asked if I had lost weight cause I looked good. I told her no, sadly, it was just my super slimming pants. It’s amazing what a compliment can do though. Why don’t we compliment people more often? Even if it’s just to say their shirt is cute or something little. Some days, a compliment can turn a person’s mood around. If all it does is put a smile on their face, that’s enough. 

– I was wrapping Amy Poehler’s Yes Please the other day and I kinda got distracted by the first 3 chapters. I need to read the rest of it now, but I wrapped and mailed it! Oh, the problems I have.

– The little one is big on crafts. She’ll randomly tell me she’s going to make a craft and sit down with paper, markers, scissors, glue/tape, and whatever else she has handy, like pinecones, and make me something. I’ve been trying to come up with things we can make together, but I’m not the best at all this crafty stuff. We did make washi tape Christmas trees. They’ve replaced the washi tape turkeys that were hanging above my computer. When we were at my in-laws over Thanksgiving, we had a whole day of crafting. My mother-in-law is super good at all this stuff, so I just feed off her ideas. The kids got bored pretty quick, but my mother-in-law and I kept at it all day. She has tons of junk in her ‘project’ pile, so we dug out fence posts, tiles, and old metal TV trays. We cut the fence posts in to even pieces. We then painted them, the kids painted the tiles, and we painted the TV trays with chalkboard paint. It is hanging in my kitchen now. The boards were painted with Christmas trees and are now on my mantle. I was pretty proud of myself. Maybe I can do all this if I just have the materials handy.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Let me preface this by saying this is one of the best books I’ve read (or listened to) in a long time!

MacMillan Audio loves me and sends me great books that I probably would have never picked up myself. I have never read any of Kristin Hannah’s books. Obviously I’ve heard of her, but had just never read any of her stuff. 

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gaetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

Oh my gosh! Was this book wonderful! Starting in 1939, it covers the story of 2 sisters throughout the second World War. Occasionally, we jump to 1995 and here a bit about one of the sisters current life as an old woman living in America. The sisters change over the course of the war. The two have never gotten along well, life and circumstances contributed to that. The war does nothing to bring them closer, but they figure it out. They find strength and courage they didn’t know they had. We hear about the women left at home, but it’s always American women. We never here the stories of the women who were directly involved in the war. The women who said goodbye to their husbands, saw their friends and neighbors deported for being Jewish, and were forced to live with the enemy. Their stories of survival must be amazing. Those stories should be shared. We need to remember this time, especially now when people seem to forget how quickly someone can attack or how evil people can be. Be prepared though, this book made me cry more than once. I’m talking full on, I was emotionally involved, sobbing in my car in rush hour traffic, while listening to this. It is a wonderful story though. You have no idea what’s going to happen, but nothing is really unbelievable. This is a beautiful story that will stay with you.  

I’m amazed at the amount of research that went into this book. There were things I had never heard of and had to look up. The only downside of this being an audiobook was that I didn’t know how to spell the French words to Google them. I managed with some, but others I was at a total loss for. I wanted to be able to look up towns so I had a visual in my head, but I couldn’t. I did appreciate the narrator’s efforts in reading it though. She did French, German, American, and English accents, as well as the narrator voice. All were well done.  

The book comes out January 29 and the audiobook February 3.

For the Kristin Hannah fans, what else of her’s do you recommend?

What She Wore Wednesday

This time of year calls for festive outfits for Christmas parties!
Sweater – Crazy 8 / Pants – WalMart / Boots – Target / Belt – Old Navy

Top Favorite Pop Christmas Songs

Christmas songs are ok. I don’t get overly excited about them, but there are a few that I love! They are mostly pop songs too and I love a good pop song. 

8. Idina Menzel and Michael Buble – Baby It’s Cold Outside

This is a new song this year and they did a great version of it. The video also makes this one.

7. Paul McCartney  and Wings – Wonderful Christmas Time

I’m a fan of pretty much any Wings song and this has the cheese synthesizer and is awesome!

6. Dolly Parton – Hard Candy Christmas 

I love this song and it’s from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Dolly and Burt Reynolds at their finest. Their is nothing better than 80’s Dolly. 

5. Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers – Christmas Without You

The video almost makes this one better. It also rings true when you husband is deployed over Christmas. Plus, any Dolly/Kenny collaboration is great. Islands in the Stream anyone?

4.Wham – Last Christmas

I know not everyone likes this song, but I love it! I also love Wham, so there’s that. This one is even on my iPod. Don’t judge.

3. Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas

 This song is 20 years old now, but it’s still as great as it was in 1994. It’s also one of her best selling singles.

2. The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping

The Waitresses aren’t as well known, but I promise they had another hit in the 80’s. You might remember the Spice Girls version better.

1. Judy Garland – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

I don’t know if you would call this pop, but it was popular music at the time Meet Me In St. Louis came out. That’s also a favorite movie of mine.