Wednesday, January 26, 2011

one week until disney on ice toy story 3 (and counting)

if you have spent any time at all around the myatt house lately, you know that we have spent a lot of time thinking and talking about the upcoming disney on ice toy story 3 show.  this promises to be our favorite disney on ice show of all time.

we've spent a little time talking about who we would like to meet if we had a chance to meet one of the characters up close and in person.

tate would love to hang out with buzz lightyear for awhile.  i think that he wouldn't mind taking a little flight with buzz, "to infinity and beyond."  i don't think tate has picked up from the movie that buzz's wings don't fly and his laser doesn't burn--he spends a lot of time flying his buzz action figure around, shooting at the "bad guys."

tessa got a jesse doll for christmas, so i'm pretty sure she would love to meet her "in person."  i imagine tessa would feel pretty shy about the experience, then spend the next six months talking about how incredible it was to be with her.  jesse seems to have a special place in her heart.

zoe would choose to meet slinky dog.  the whole time they were together, i think she would be trying to figure out a way to sneak him home with her so she could finally have a dog, even if a slinky one.

as for me, well, i have a certain affinity for tall, lanky guys so i wouldn't mind spending a little time with sheriff woody.  since he is so good at making detailed plans, maybe i could get him to help me come up with a good plan for getting through the day with everyone clothed, fed and relatively happy!

don't forget your opportunity to see  disney on ice: toy story 3 starts today.  from january 26 through january 30, allstate arena will be hosting the show.  from february 2 through february 13, you can see the show (with free parking) at the united center.

for tickets, log on or call ticketmaster (1-800-745-3000).  if you use the code "mom" at checkout, you can get 4 tickets for $44 for the weekday shows and friday's matinee; or you can save $4 per ticket for the weekend shows (service charges and handling fees will still apply).


my family will be attending the show february 2 for free, thanks to the feld family. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

winners! (only 10 days late)

you may or may not be aware that we've had a little family drama around here, so i apologize for my delay in letting you know the winners of the giveaways.


the winner of the betty crocker sugar cookie package is...
janie!  congratulations.  i know three boys who will be very happy to help you eat some cookies (if you can manage to bake them before the baby comes, that is!

the winner of the pillsbury toaster strudel package is...
lili!  i hope you enjoy having a little extra warmth in your morning.

for those of you who didn't win, come back soon because i have two more giveaways to share with you!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

read this book: son of hamas review

in high school, i had to read a short story that has stuck with me over the course of these many (many!) years. unfortunately, the title and the author have not stuck with me, and google has not come to my rescue so you will just have to take my word for it.

during some routine war exercises performed by the armed forces, it is discovered that someone has been shot down. over the course of deliberations, the reader learns that this "someone" is an angel. after more deliberations, the whole incident is hushed up and made to go away. unfortunately, the world will never learn the truth about the message the angel had from God for the world: "love one another."

i think that son of hamas is the true-to-life version of this story.  hearing about his experience growing up in the maelstrom of middle east politics, one wonders how peace can ever come to a land troubled by such a violent and turbulent past and present.

mosab hassan yousef (for those of you as ignorant as i am) is the oldest son of sheikh hassan yousef, one of the founding members of hamas, one of several muslim terrorist groups fighting the israelis for control of palestine.  many of the suicide bombings in and around israel can be attributed to the military wing of hamas.

as the son of the founder and respected leader, mosab was on a fast track not only to follow in his father's footsteps but even to seek greater and more violent attacks against the israelis.  oddly enough, his face-to-face experience with torturers from his own people and a more peaceable and agreeable experience with the israelis, caused him to change his thinking and alter his course.

in the book, mosab promises to provide the solution to middle east problems.  like the angel of the short story, the answer is to love one another.  the only way peace can come to the middle east is if everyone agrees to love their enemies.

if you have always been confused, as i have been, about the situation in the middle east, or if you would just love to have an insider's view of the political intricacies, this is definitely a book not to be missed.  i will be telling everyone i know to read this book.

i received a free copy of this book from tyndale publishers.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.  there is a chance i could earn a few pennies if you buy this book using the link i have here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

disney on ice: toy story 3



when we took the kids to see toy story 3 this summer, it was a big hit with everyone. who would have thought that the pixar people could ever top toy story 1 and 2? once again, they have not failed to deliver.

now that toy story 3 has been put "on ice," we have three excited kids counting the days until we get to go see the movie brought to life in new and amazing ways. my kids have made it clear that nothing should stand in the way of our family's attendance at this show (which means i have a great bargaining chip when it comes to homework, cleaning their room, or anything else i can imagine for them to do for me!).

thankfully, disney on ice: toy story 3 has a lot of dates available for families to attend.  from january 26 through january 30, allstate arena will be hosting the show.  from february 2 through february 13, you can see the show (with free parking) at the united center.

for tickets, log on or call ticketmaster (1-800-745-3000).  if you use the code "mom" at checkout, you can get 4 tickets for $44 for the weekday shows and friday's matinee; or you can save $4 per ticket for the weekend shows (service charges and handling fees will still apply).

as a reminder and as a gift to your kids, print out this coloring sheet and get ready to join woody and his game for a night of adventure, excitement and fun.

i received tickets for my family to attend this event in exchange for sharing this information with you. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

a warm start to the morning: pillsbury toaster strudel (w/giveaway)

i don't know if you've noticed, but it is cold around here in the mornings.  not only have we had temperatures in the teens, but the wind chill has been even lower.  these are the days when it is hard to get out of bed, and even harder to get out the door for school.

since i have to send the kids out the door even in the most frigid of temperatures, i like the idea of giving them something hot to eat in the morning.  pillsbury toaster strudels is one possibility for us to start the morning off with something warm.

i have never purchased these before but, with the coupon i received from pillsbury, tessa and i picked out some raspberry toaster strudels to give them a try.  the morning that we left for tennessee was freezing cold, so i quickly warmed up the strudels and handed them out to the kids as they headed out to the van.  it was blessedly quiet in the van for the five minutes it took for everyone to gobble them up.  then they immediately started asking for more!

since we were going to be traveling, i didn't have them ice the top of their strudels, and everybody still thought they tasted great.  these will definitely remain a special, "once in awhile," treat, but i will be glad to use them occasionally to give them something warm as they walk out the door.

if you are looking for some entertainment, pillsbury now has a "doodle on a strudel" facebook application.  you can use your cursor to draw your favorite icing designs and share them on facebook or send them to your friends.

you can also try to win toaster strudel pastries for a month by entering the "a million morning smiles" sweepstakes, now through february 7, 2011.

if you would like to try toaster strudels for yourself, leave a comment telling me your favorite get-out-the-door-on-a-cold-morning breakfast.  i have a prize pack including a coupon for pillsbury toaster strudel, a stuffed pillsbury dough boy, and a happy face placemat, coffee mug and squeezy ball.  i will choose a winner, using random.org, on january 16 (usa residents only, please).

i received a prize pack for myself and the opportunity to offer one to you from pillsbury through myblogspark.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

let the holiday goodness continue! (giveaway)

we are still getting emails thanking us for the pumpkin butter we passed out as a holiday gift this year.  we just finished enjoying the cookies that others gave us.

which has led me to question why we only share these culinary delights once a year.  i know that my winter-blues would be greatly lifted by gifts of cookies and other deliciousness.

betty crocker has a lot of suggestions to help the winter pass more joyfully with baking goodness at their website devoted to baking sweet memories.  there you can find great recipes for fun, wintry treats, like snowman coconut cake or classic gingerbread cookies (which frankly should not to relegated to christmastime alone).  you can also play a game to win some fun prizes.

after many attempts to figure out the best way to share our homemade treats with others, i have found that gladware! storage products are the most practical and useful, since they can be reused again and again.

if you are in the mood to lift your mood by baking for yourself or others, betty crocker, gladware! and i would love to jumpstart your baking with a gift.  leave a comment below to win a prize pack that includes a betty crocker sugar cookie mix, a gladware sample pack and a $25 safeway gift card.  just tell me what your favorite treat to give or receive is (usa residents only, please).  i will choose a winner using random.org on january 16.

i received a prize pack for myself and the opportunity to offer one to you from betty crocker, gladware and safeway through myblogspark.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

winners!

i neglected to post the winner of the holiday survival kit (sorry about that! i would like to make a new year's resolution to be more timely but i'm pretty sure (just like last year) that resolution won't make it to martin luther king day!).



the winner is...erika! hopefully you survived the holidays thanks to your handy-dandy survival kit.
the winner of the e-z socks is...janie!  subscribing to the blog for the extra entry made all the difference! (and now you will never miss another giveaway!)

for those of you who didn't win, i have two giveaways coming soon.
(as soon as i can find a spare 15 minutes to tell you about them!)

samantha: an american girl holiday dvd review


this article first published as dvd review: samantha: an american girl holiday on blogcritics.

if there is one thing that zoe and tessa are sure to love for the holidays, it is anything to do with american girl dolls. unlike some of their other crazes, this is one i can really get on board with. the combination of great entertainment with an educational element is every parent's dream. the samantha: an american girl holiday dvd lives up to this standard.

set in new york in 1904, samanthaparkington (annasophia robb) goes to live with her "grandmary" edwards (mia farrow) after the death of her parents.  grandmary wants samantha to grow up to be a proper victorian lady, although samantha is a pretty rough-and-tumble girl when left to her own devices.  samantha may have had a lonely life if it weren't for the arrival of a family of servants next door.  this family has three girls, one of whom, nellie, is samantha's age.

as samantha and nellie's friendship develops, samantha starts to learn about the significance of class differences.  her world is further broadened when her favorite uncle gard (jordan bridges) arrives with a surprise: he is going to marry cornelia, a suffragette.  as samantha gets to know cornelia better, she is inspired herself to reach out to help the plight of others, including friend nellie who has been taken to an orphanage.

zoe especially loved this movie.  some of the themes were a little advanced for tessa and tate.  while it may not be box-office quality filming, i would say that the quality is good enough for its target audience (kids like mine).  my kids are not watching for the subtleties of good acting and directing, and i am happy for them to have a movie that is educational as well as quality entertainment.  as a parent, i find it difficult to find movies that are appropriate and yet appealing to the broad age range of my kids.  this dvd satisfies all our wishes.


the dvd comes with a few special features the kids also enjoyed. one is a tour of american girl place.  even though my kids have been multiple times, they still enjoyed watching the tour and imagining what they would buy for their dolls if they were actually there.

yhe background information about "a victorian wedding" was interesting for all of us.  it explained many details easily overlooked in the movie itself.

finally, the dvd includes a musical number from the stage show.  this inspired my girls to come up with their own musical version of the movie.  i'm sure we'll be hearing that song for the next few months!

overall, i am glad to have this movie as a part of our family dvd collection.  i'm sure we will be watching it together for many more years to come.


i received a free copy of this dvd for the purpose of this review.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

dvd review: strictly ballroom



this article first published as dvd review: strictly ballroom on Blogcritics

when bill saw the cover of strictly ballroom after it arrived in the mail, he groaned. he thought i had ordered a video on how to ballroom dance. now that we have watched the movie together (it only took a little bit of arm-twisting on my part), he is singing a different tune.


strictly ballroom combines the not-so-new tales of star-crossed lovers: the ugly duckling, and up-and-coming youth against stalwart tradition. australian dancer, scott hastings (professional dancer paul mercurio), finds himself at odds with the australian dance federation as he longs to dance with freedom and spontaneity, including dance steps forbidden by the federation. he hopes to fulfill a lifelong dream to win the coveted Australian Pan Pacific Championships but his chances are grim when his partner leaves him for someone willing to toe the conventional line. ugly duckling fran (tara morice) volunteers to follow his lead as they blaze a path toward non-conformity.

in spite of the familiarity of the basic plotline, i found myself glued to the screen as we watched the dancing and unfolding drama. somehow this movie manages to combine the familiar melodramatic struggle of youth against entrenched traditions and ideas with a comedic twist that will draw us to this movie again and again.

baz luhrman uses artful cinematography to maintain visual interest and heighten the emotional intensity of the movie. while there were times i thought the camera work made it harder to follow and enjoy the dance steps of the performers, overall, the richness of the scenery and the flash and sparkle of the costumes added to the movie's overall appeal.

the dvd's extras include a documentary about dance called "samba to slow fox" (1986, 30 minutes). in it we get a look behind-the-scenes at actual dance competitions, a view that we don't necessarily witness in dancing with the stars.

baz luhrmann; catherine martin, production designer and co-costumer; and choreographer john "cha cha" o'connell provide insightful audio commentary. who would have known that luhrmann's mother was a ballroom dance teacher? Iin the "design gallery," we get to see pictures of baz in his own competitive dancing days.

while the moral of the movie ("a life lived in fear is a life half-lived") is communicated a bit heavy-handedly, the point is still a good one. i've never laughed so hard while learning a moral like this one.

i received a free copy of this dvd for the purpose of this review.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

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