Black Friday Kids Pick: Donkey Kong Country Returns

Donkey-Kong-Country-Returns.jpgOkay parents. We know you have your list ready to go for holiday gift giving season and we want to make sure you have one important Wii Game on your kids’ radar. Get ready, because Donkey Kong Country Returns was just released on November 19 and so far, the verdict in our house has been overwhelmingly positive. My husband, who was a huge Donkey Kong fan from back in the day (that would be the early 80’s), says the game experience for him was incredible. In fact, he was thisclose to admitting that it was better than when he first started playing the game at 10 years old.
And my eight year old? Well if this is any indication, he’s been playing it for hours ever since it arrived. Plus, he had a sleepover last night and this morning, the two kids were playing together.
The cool thing about Donkey Kong Country Returns is that you play in teams and help each other to make it through the jungle. Plus, the game even has an option where you can watch Kong navigate the jungle first so that you can see the path he takes to earn the most points and then you can go back and try it yourself. And you know what that means? It’s even easy for someone like me to play.
So there you have it folks. Donkey Kong Country – put that on your holiday wish list and if you don’t want to fight the crowds on Black Friday, simply order Donkey Kong Country Returns on Amazon. Let your fingers do the clicking and you won’t get stressed out by the crowds!

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

P1050642.jpgThanksgiving is just around the corner which means not much time for cooking really involved dinners before the big day. Try this easy and delicious Spanish tapas favorite. Don’t forget to soak up the sauce with bread!
Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp with garlic)Tapas for 4 people
One cup raw medium shrimp
3 TBS olive oil
3 cloves very thinly sliced garlic
pinch of paprika
salt to taste
In a small frying pan, heat up the oil and add the sliced garlic. When the garlic starts turning a golden color, add the salt and the shrimp. Stir a bit. When the shrimp turns fully pink, remove from the fire and sprinkle with the paprika.
Serve in small bowls with bread.
For more from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen!

Organized Thanksgiving Entertainment

j0409578.jpgWith Thanksgiving only a few days away, let’s get you organized with some added ingredients that will spice up your Thanksgiving family time. These ideas will get your entire family sharing around your Thanksgiving dinner table by playing some simple games and activities.
To start, come up with several trivia questions that both young and old can answer. For example, find trivia questions about the first Thanksgiving including historical facts or traditions that have been passed down through our country. A few trivia questions that come to mind are, “Which President issued the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation?” or “What food was served at the first Thanksgiving feast?” or facts pertaining to the writings in the first Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863. For most kids, this will be an area where they will probably dominate and ultimately win since they have recently learned facts concerning Thanksgiving in the classroom.
Creating other ways to get the entire family sharing doesn’t always have to be about Thanksgiving. Tell family stories about your most embarrassing moment or your high and low for the year.
At our home when it comes to eating Thanksgiving dinner, everyone sits in random spots. I have taken advantage of this in recent years and have placed a small gift card under one of the many chairs seated around the table. Towards the end of the meal, I ask everyone to look under his or her chair. Surprise! Someone receives a small gift.
One of my favorite memories during the holidays is when we get out our old 8mm film to watch (our silent but colored movies). My older brother often comically narrates the silent movement on each person’s lips and adlibs what the other person might be saying. We never really know for sure what is being said in our home movies. So all my memories of what is actually going on are probably skewed. However, it has been fun not only to see and remember the stories of when I was younger, but to laugh at all the hilarious stories my brother adlibbed…. whether they are true or not.
This Thanksgiving, try serving up some great fun by digging out your home videos and cooking up some interesting questions around your Thanksgiving table.
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IMG_3957_retouched.jpgLorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and founder and owner of “Get Organized!” “Get Organized!” is a professional organizing company in the Dallas, Texas area. “Get Organized!” specializes in organizing and de-cluttering homes as well as implementing systems in the home for better family management.
A popular media guest, Lorraine has appeared on Dallas’ two top morning television shows: Good Morning Texas and Good Day Fox, and has been featured on various radio outlets. She has been hallmarked in many local, regional, and national print and online magazines, such as the Dallas Morning News, The North Texas Kids Magazine, SheKnows.com, and Daily Candy Kids. To get more helpful advice from Lorraine, visit her blog Get Organized!

Travel Sanity Savers

There’s something to be said about spending the holidays close to home but if you happen to be traveling with kids in tow, we’ve got a few great suggestions on what to pack so that your kids are entertained and your back is not strained when you’re attempting to get through airport security.
NEW MOM MUST-HAVES
If you’re a new parent, all I can say is I’ve been there and feel your pain. What with the umbrella stroller, the car seat, the cheerios, formula, diapers and toys, it can truly be a nightmare navigating through an airport with a toddler or newborn. Two of our picks that’ll make traveling easier are Diaper Buds and Pish Posh Mommy – two products created by moms for moms!
diaperbuds.jpgDiaper Buds: I recently heard a story of a mom who was forced to check her carry on bag because it was stuffed with diapers and she then had to bring her baby on board without a single diaper to change her! With Diaper Buds you can fit one in your pocket! The diapers are shrink wrapped which means you can bring at least 4-5 diapers with you and they hardly take up any room in your bag!
pishposh-mommy-diaper-clutch-300x199.jpgPish Posh Mommy: There is nothing more frustrating than putting your diaper bag through the security check and they wind up confiscating your diaper cream, formula and anything else that’s not less than the 4 oz. minimum. With Pish Posh Mommy, you can actually place all your must have diaper and feeding items into a convenient carryall or a fashionable bag that you can even place inside a handbag or carryon – which means no diaper bag required!!!
MUST HAVE ITEMS FOR KIDS
My advice for this one is Less is More! My three top picks for kids:
iPod Touch – Download their favorite apps, music, TV shows and videos and they’ll be entertained for hours. My kids’ favorite free games include Pocket God and The Moron Test (ugh) which incidentally is a game that tests your knowledge.
nintendo-dsi-xl-e3.jpgNintendo Dsi XL – If you’re traveling on a long trip, this is a must-have item. It comes with built in games from Brain Age to Flip Notes, voice recorder and camera. My daughter’s favorite game for the holidays is Art Academy and Style Savvy. And my son’s – anything with the words Mario in the title. And my fave – 100 classic books that you can read right in the palm of your hand!!!
Playing Cards – Go old school, bring a deck of cards and play everything from Spit, to War to five card stud – well, maybe not the poker game, but there’s plenty of great card games that’ll keep your kids entertained for hours.

Jennifer Grey is the Ultimate Role Mommy

Screen shot 2010-11-24 at 8.51.42 AM.pngI know I’ve been a bit fanatical this season with my love of “Dancing with the Stars.” To be perfectly honest, in past seasons, I really wasn’t that interested in the show. That is, until I found out that one of my favorite film stars was competing. I first fell in love with Jennifer Grey when she played Baby in “Dirty Dancing.” I was a junior in high school and remember seeing it the first time with my friend Julie who I now see from time to time on Facebook but have not actually connected with her IRL in more than two decades (but that’s a whole different story).
Since that nostalgic moment in that dilapidated theater that shut down a few years after we saw the film, I think I’ve seen “Dirty Dancing” at least 50 times. I can recite the lines. I remember vividly the scene when Baby dances up the steps or when Johnny raises her over his head while they’re in the lake. I remember when I bought the soundtrack and played those songs over and over again on my walkman (yes, walkman). I remember buying denim shorts. And I remember getting Baby’s adorable haircut.
So imagine my thrill to find out that Baby was back! And she looked absolutely gorgeous. You would never guess that Jennifer Grey is now 50 years old. It’s as if she hasn’t aged a day since the film. But now, more than two decades later, she’s now a wife and mother who put her own career on hold while battling a host of back problems (she was in a serious car accident with Matthew Broderick prior to the release of “Dirty Dancing” and never quite recovered from it). Thankfully, Jennifer finally decided to re-ignite her passion for dancing and made her fans fall in love with her all over again.
During the competition, her entire family (including famous Broadway dad Joel Grey) was front and center cheering her on. And during the finale, her friends Jamie Lee Curtis and Melanie Griffith could be seen hooting and hollering too.
It was so great to see how Jennifer embraced her “Dirty Dancing” fan base. While I would have loved to have seen her re-create “I’ve Had the Time Of My Life,” I did enjoy the homage to the film with “Do You Love Me?” She wore a 1950’s inspired dress while carrying a watermelon (a throwback to the film) and then whipped off the dress and wore a sparkly fuschia number that lit up as she danced her heart out on stage and on top of the judges desk.
The next evening during the finals, we learned that Jennifer had ruptured a disc in her back and despite the pain, she managed to pull two more performances out of the hat and won that mirror ball trophy.
Today, as I sat watching Jennifer and the finalists on “Good Morning America” wearing a “Dirty Dancing” inspired dress, all I can say is kudos to this inspiring wife, mother and daughter. It was truly a thrill to watch her perform and every time she stepped out on that stage, she brought me back to the time when I first watched her fly into Patrick Swayze’s arms. No matter how old she gets, Jennifer Grey will always hold a special place in the hearts of women like me. And as we get ready to take a few days off from our incredibly hectic lives, I’m thinking it’s time to kick back and watch one of the best feel good dance films of all time.
Congratulations Jennifer Grey – you are the ultimate Role Mommy! And for the sentimental moms out there, take a look at this blast from the past!