Pay It Forward in 2015: Join the #DeedADay Movement

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This coming year I am amped to transform my blog and my time to something I’m truly passionate about.  I found it fitting that the first post in my “transformation” phase be something related to social good and am hoping this sets the tone for my 2015!

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I’m excited to share the opportunity for you all to join me in the #DeedADay movement! Let 2015 be your year of paying it forward. If you make any resolutions, please let this be one that you aim to commit too!   Don’t let the season of giving end after the winter holidays.

Dedicate yourself to doing 100 good deeds this year!

The 100 Good Deeds project is simple.  This bracelet acts as a reminder that each time you do a good deed, you move the rubber ring closer to the 100th bead. Mary Fisher artist, author and HIV/AIDs activist, designed this gorgeous bracelet strung with 100 beads by HIV positive and economically fragile women in Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda, South Africa, India, Indonesia, and Haiti. Just by knowing the purpose and work behind making the bracelets is a solid reminder to be thankful for our own blessings and pay those blessings forward!

I’d like to make this a resolution project for my family.  We’ve been blessed with so much that I only find it necessary to do the same for others.

 

Best wishes in 2015!

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New Family Fun at Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2014!

Santa recites the Night Before Christmas...he's the BEST Santa I've ever seen!

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Last week I had the opportunity to celebrate the beginning of the new holiday season at Busch Gardens Christmas Town in Williamsburg, VA!  It has become a family tradition for us and the kids always look forward to it.  I’m so surprised that they love going even though many rides are closed and the weather can get super chilly at night. However, they truly enjoy marveling at the thousands of Christmas lights that adorn every inch of the already beautiful park, the shows, and the holiday food!  It is the perfect way to spend quality time with the family and do something festive during the holidays.  Here are some of the highlights of our trip!

First off, my favorite part of Christmas Town are the lights!  Once dark settles, every inch of the park is lit up offering a wonderful glow of holiday warmth!

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Second, Christmas Town is the perfect opportunity to check out the shopping and delicious food!  Usually when we go to Busch Gardens in the warmer months, we are so busy riding rides that we don’t get to take a peak into the many shops with unique gifts and wares from around the world.  Regarding the food, if you think you are in store for the usual pizza and burgers you are quite mistaken.  The menus for all of your favorite Busch Gardens dining options from Germany’s Fest Haus to the town square’s Dicken’s Tavern, you’ll get a chance to nibble on yummy holiday fare including holiday-themed cocktails, clam chowder, carved ham/turkey, gingerbread, and more.  There are also tons of food stands throughout the park with tasty treats like the popular Christmas Town hot chocolate, wassail, peppermint mocha, donut holes, and even cider and egg-nog themed cocktails!

Our favorite tradition is Santa’s Fireside Feast.  It is a themed-buffet that is an extra park fee, but it offers an intimate Santa experience complete with a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, elves to keep you company, and topped off with Mrs. Santa coming around to give you her homemade cookies!  Your kids will get a chance to sit and talk with Santa as well as get a picture!  The food is delicious as well!  We had turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato casserole, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, swedish meetballs, pasta salad, salad, chili, and more that I know I stuffed my pregnant face with!

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What honestly keeps us coming back each year are the shows.  The talent, singing, and dancing is phenomenal!  Our all-time favorite show is Gloria! which provides an upbeat and soulful telling of the story of the birth of Jesus.  Just wait until you hear their version of Away in a Manger…always gives me the chills!  This year there is a NEW show called Scrooge, No More! and it is a must-see!  It is a retelling of a Christmas Carol and the music is awesome!  The show combines a diverse set of tunes reminiscent of rock, holiday classics, and upbeat pop ballads.  The costumes, set design, and special effects are high-quality (you’ll think you are watching a Broadway show!).  Tip:  If you have little ones, make sure you sit in the front rows in the center.  They’ll love the ending!

 

Busch Gardens Christmas Town is open from now until December 31st!  Don’t miss out!  Click here for more info!  You can follow all of the fun and pics at #ChristmasTown.

 

Disclaimer:  I was given complimentary admission to Busch Gardens Christmas Town as part of a blogger preview event.  The thoughts and opinions listed here are completely my own. 

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Thank Your Neighbors with Mister Rogers #BeMyNeighbor

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It is so easy to get caught up in our own hectic schedule that we can overlook the people who are oftentimes some of a family’s biggest helpers-your neighbors.

Have you ever leaned on a neighbor to see your kids onto the bus in the morning when you had an early work meeting?  Have they made sure your kids got off the bus safely and were watched while you had a family emergency?  Did they let you know your garage door was still open as evening approached?  These are some of the things my lovely neighbors have done for me.  If you haven’t had similar experiences, maybe it’s time for to reach out and get to know your neighbors.

It’s never too late.

What is the inspiration for this post?  Mr. Rogers of course.  Don’t you remember?

Won’t you be my neighbor?

The Fred Rogers Company has recently launched the #BeMyNeighbor campaign that includes the new website Won’t You Be My Neighbor.  The premise is simple.  Be inspired by Mr. Roger’s neighborly philosophy, see what everyone’s doing to be neighborly to each other across the country from stories and messages across social media, and share your own acts of compassion towards each other.

Isn’t this a great way to spread joy to one another…from house to house…and even beyond our immediate cul de sacs?

Here are some creative ways I’ve found you can give thanks and gratitude to your neighbors this holiday season!

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Bake something.  Make something.  It can be as simple as a small batch of cookies or a loaf of banana bread.  Whatever you are talented at in nourishing your belly, your neighbors will appreciate it!  Before you deliver it, print off some of these touching printables from Thrify Decor Chick to send a meaningful message to them!

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Decorate.  Think your neighbors could use a little holiday cheer every time they arrive home?  This may spark a bit of sunshine to help tackle anything they are going through.  Make an inexpensive holiday wreath that looks like a million bucks.  Here’s a simple one from Lindsay of Recreated that involves some common bulb decorations and a pie tin (I”m sure everyone has some piling up from Thanksgiving leftovers!)

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Donate.  Maybe your neighbor is elderly and is having a hard time getting to the grocery store often enough during this cold weather.  Maybe the family is falling on hard financial times.  Here is a thoughtful idea from B-Inspired Mama as part of her generous random act of kindness project for the #ShareAMeal campaign!

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Give your physical strength.  Rake up their leaves for your neighbor.  Okay, this requires more help.  Hopefully, you have kids to help you.  Maybe you can elicit a team in the neighborhood.  This is perfect for the neighbor who fell recently ill or is recovering from a surgery/injury.  Here are 7 Tips for Raking Leaves Like A Pro from Popular Mechanics to help!

These are just a few ideas, but you can be inspired by more at the Won’t You Be My Neighbor site.  I’m sure you and your children can brainstorm great ideas based on who your neighbors are and what you know they are going through.  Have fun spreading cheer!

 

 

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