25 Days Of Giving ~ Holiday Mail For Heroes

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25 Days Of Giving ~ Holiday Mail For HeroesIn my opinion, our U.S. soldiers don’t get enough gratitude. They sacrifice their time away from their own families and friends, and sometimes life and limb, to keep our country and our freedoms safe. Being away from your family is hard enough … imagine being away from the during the holidays, maybe being injured in a hospital bed and your family is still too far away to come visit you.

This program is sponsored by The Red Cross and is something really easy you can do and only costs the price of paper and postage … or if you have an extra Christmas card, send that. I found a “Thank You” coloring page that I printed out on my home computer and Ava enjoyed coloring it today. I’ll hand-write a little note to a soldier and send it with Ava’s coloring.

The Red Cross is also taking this program to social media …

“This year, we’re expanding the ways you can participate in this terrific program. If you’re an InstagramVine, or general Twitter user, you can tag photos or video messages with the #HolidayMail hashtag and we will be able to display these on our blog so service members across the country and around the world will be able to see your cheery holiday message! Sending an image or video will save trees, reduce the amount of mail that needs sorting, brings cheer to MANY service members, and has a much faster delivery time than mailed cards! We will be hosting all of the videos on a special Holiday Mail page so that any hospital, military installation, or veterans center will be easily able to display the stream of videos for our military members. Also, the stream can be accessed at anytime, simply look up #HolidayMail in your Instagram app. Some tips for a good video:

1. Make sure you’re in a well-lit area.

2. If you’re doing a video, be sure to speak clearly and not too fast (we’re sure you have a LOT to say!).

3. Use a generic greeting (we cannot guarantee a specific member of the military will view your video).

4. Send a generic holiday message like:

  • Thank you for serving! We wish you a safe and wonderful holiday season!
  • Happy Holidays! I hope this message brings you a smile.

5. Tag your video with #HolidayMail before you post it.

6. GET CREATIVE! Sing part of your favorite holiday song, capture snowmen and snow angels, have a (safe) snowball fight, get your friends and family involved!

We may even use some of the best pictures and videos we see for a separate post on our site – so have fun with this. We’re excited to help you spread even more holiday cheer this season!

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Tinsel’s Antics & Shenanigans ~ Day 3 2013

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We found Tinsel this morning with all of our Elfing supplies & goodies ready to be packed up and delivered later today to our new neighbors.

UPDATE: December 5th – I just drove a few doors down my street and saw 4 more Elfing bags in front of other neighbors homes! Christmas cheer is spreading here quickly!!!!

Now I have to go get ready for tomorrow. Please don’t forget to submit your elf’s shenanigans & antics into Tinsel’s 2nd Annual Elfing Around Photo Challenge.

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Tinsel’s Antics & Shenanigans ~ Day 2 2013

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We found Tinsel on the computer checking all of her social media accounts that she set up last year. Please go friend her: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Now I have to go get ready for tomorrow. Please don’t forget to submit your elf’s shenanigans & antics into Tinsel’s 2nd Annual Elfing Around Photo Challenge.

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25 Days Of Giving ~ Bennett’s Bears

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On Day 2 of my “25 Days Of Giving” series, I am asking you to give. Bennett’s Bears is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart … Bennett is two of my best friends’ son, and this is their story …

On December 14, 2011, Bennett Nester was diagnosed with Brain Cancer right before Christmas. His family spent the days leading up to Christmas in the Texas Children’s ICU unit and were blown away at the number of gifts people were donating to the kids during this difficult time. One gift Bennett got while in the hospital was a brown Build-A-Bear which he loved. The following Christmas, they decided to give back to other families who had to be in the hospital at the same time that they did, and to let those kids know that despite all the tears, sometimes the hug of a bear can be just enough to get you through one more day. In December 2012, Bennett’s Bears was able to give over 250 Build-A-Bears to the children at Texas Children’s Hospital, and with donations this year they hope to top that number! Bennett is still treating today and continues to be a fighter.

Bennett, along with his family and friends deliver the bears to the children at the hospital on December 10th … so it is too late the order bears to be shipped for delivery this year. However, if you are local, they are hosting an event at Joystix Classic Games & Pinballs (1820 Franklin St., Houston, Texas 77002) from 7 – 10 tonight. If you can’t go to the event at Joystix, you can email Bennett’s mom, Brande, to schedule a pick-up at bennettnester@gmail.com. You can check the website for more details: www.BennettsBears.com.

If you can’t get a Build-A-Bear sent over in time this year, please add this cause to your list for next year’s collection campaign.

Please take a moment to view recent stories on Bennett’s Bears:

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Tinsel’s Antics & Shenanigans ~ Day 1 2013

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 We found Tinsel on the couch this morning with snacks and her movie. We all cuddled up with daddy and watched it. 

Now I have to go get ready for tomorrow. Please don’t forget to submit your elf’s shenanigans & antics into Tinsel’s 2nd Annual Elfing Around Photo Challenge.

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PLEASE TAKE ONE SECOND TO VOTE FOR ME!!! All you need to do is click on the banner in the sidebar to the right to register a vote for me! You can vote one time every 24 hours from every computer and cell phone! THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!! I really appreciate your support!

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24 Favorite Christmas Books For Pre-School Aged Children

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24 Favorite Christmas Books For Pre-School Aged ChildrenOne of the traditions I wanted to start this year was getting 24 Christmas themed books (I’d probably use the same ones each year), wrapping them, putting them under the tree, and letting the girls open one each night to be read at bedtime. This way, they’d have a gift to open every night in December. However, I think Ava is still too young to appreciate the fun of unwrapping a gift, so I’m putting it on the list of must-do’s for next year for sure. That will give me time to collect some Christmas books.  Here is the list of Christmas books I’m after so that I can start this Christmas tradition for next year. Some of the titles are classics and some are a lot newer. Click on the images to order directly from one of the most trusted online shopping websites, Amazon.com:

  1. Elf On The Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold
  2. The Velveteen Rabbit by Gennady Spirin
  3. Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
  4. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
  5. How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  6. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
  7. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer by Barbara Shook Hazen
  8. The Nutcracker by John Cech
  9. Frosty The Snowman by Diane Muldrow
  10. Santa Claus by Rod Green
  11. A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe
  12. The Christmas Donkey by T. William Taylor
  13. God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
  14. The Very Snowy Christmas by Diana Hendry
  15. Snowmen At Christmas by Caralyn Buehner
  16. The First Christmas by Lois Rock
  17. The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup
  18. Christmas Lights by Marion Dane Bauer
  19. B Is For Bethlehem by Isabel Wilner
  20. I Spy Christmas by Jean Marzollo
  21. Christmas Is by Gail Gibbons
  22. Bear Stays Up For Christmas by Karma Wilson
  23. The Spirit Of Christmas by Nancy Tillman
  24. Dream Snow by Eric Carle

As the girls get older, obviously we will need to expand our Christmas book library so that we can carry this tradition on with more age appropriate books. What are your favorite Christmas books and stories? 

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25 Days Of Giving ~ December Giveaway

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To kick of my “25 Days Of Giving” series, I am hosting the return of my $50 Gift Card! Who can’t use an extra $50, especially during the holidays?

In case this is your first time to participate, this is how it will work …

  1. Click on the image below (a new window will open to a third party site so please allow for pop-ups).
  2. You will have 10 chances to enter, some options allow you to enter everyday!
  3. DONE!

egiftcard_$50

I will announce the winner on the first day of next month. A new giveaway will be posted the first week of every month. 🙂

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Our 2nd Annual North Pole Breakfast

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 We had our 2nd Annual North Pole Breakfast this morning!!! So much fun!

For the past week or so, I’ve been searching the inter-web-thingy looking for an elf door. People are damned proud of these things. Most people are selling them for $25 – $40 depending on how adorable they are. You know me … I drove my happy little hiney down to Hobby Lobby and found myself an unpainted wooden door for under $10 and decided I could paint it myself (exactly the way I wanted)! I already had the craft paint from previous projects. I love it and I’m going to find a place for it tonight where it will live through the EOS season! YAY!

Now I have to go get ready for tomorrow. Please don’t forget to submit your elf’s shenanigans & antics into Tinsel’s 2nd Annual Elfing Around Photo Challenge.

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December Subway Art

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The holidays really snuck up on me this month and I’ve got so much to catch up on. To boot, this is my busiest month of the year! Thank goodness there are only 2 holidays … Christmas Eve/Christmas & New Years Eve. Don’t eat too much! Let me know if you have something you’d like me to include. 

If I featured your post, please grab an “I’ve Been Featured” button and display it proudly on your blog.

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Via The 36th Avenue. Click the image to be taken to her website where you can download the printable for free!

Via Eye Candy. Click the image to be taken to her website where you can download the printable for free!

Via The 36th Avenue. Click the image to be taken to her website where you can download the printable for free!

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PLEASE TAKE ONE SECOND TO VOTE FOR ME!!! All you need to do is click on the banner in the sidebar to the right to register a vote for me! You can vote one time every 24 hours from every computer and cell phone! THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!! I really appreciate your support!

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Tinsel’s 2nd Annual Elfing Around Photo Challenge

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Tinsel's 2nd Annual Elfing Around Photo Challenge 2013

In honor of our elf’s return, I am hosting a photo challenge consisting of all of your elves’ shenanigans & antics. This is how it will work … take photos of your elf’s antics, email them to me at arealhousewifeinhouston@gmail.com with the subject “Elfing Around” along with your elf’s name and a brief description of the photo (I will use this information in my post so don’t give me any personal information you don’t want me to share with everyone else … of course, I will not share any of your contact information). On Christmas day, I will post all the silliness that has ensued during this holiday season from Santa’s little helpers.

Click >HERE< to see the post from last year’s photo challenge.

Have fun! 

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PLEASE TAKE ONE SECOND TO VOTE FOR ME!!! All you need to do is click on the banner in the sidebar to the right to register a vote for me! You can vote one time every 24 hours from every computer and cell phone! THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!! I really appreciate your support!

Don’t forget to find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Until next time, this has been a real housewife in Houston moment.