Thursday, December 12, 2013

Santa's Surprise Visit

The Holiday Season officially starts once the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade makes its way across 34th Street and Herald Square.  From that moment on, it's hard to go an entire day without seeing Santa.  Whether he's ringing bells outside a grocery store or posing for pictures with screaming toddlers at your local mall, The Man in the Red Suit is everywhere.  Working with elementary kiddos, you'd better believe I've seen more than my fair share of Mr. Claus this December.  But, today my entire concept of a visit from Santa changed.

As part of DCS's Teacher of the Year celebration, I'm visiting the winners classrooms, snagging some B-Roll and interviews for a massive video I'll be making for the Big Day.  

Well, today, I stopped by the classroom of a Special Education teacher at Saxon Heights Elementary. 
This little guy was so excited to see the Big Man in his red suit!
He apologized for his day being pushed back by about 15 minutes, explaining most of his class was still at lunch.  He asked if I had other plans, wondering if I'd be able to stay.  After reassuring him filming his class was my main priority, he revealed that Santa himself was scheduled to make a visit once all the kiddos returned back from lunch.

As the students made their way to their desks, Mr. Claus walked in behind them and sat down in a white rocking chair.  Immediately, a debate broke out as to who would be the first to sit on his lap.  Each of the eight students present sat on Santa's knee, got their picture taken, and received a perfectly wrapped package.  The verbal students too told the festive figure what else they wanted come Christmas morning, while the non-verbal little ones smiled or pointed to his beard.

One at a time, they opened their gifts.  As the ribbon and wrapping feel to the floor, I was excited to see that each present had been specifically chosen by Santa, with the help of our Saxon Teacher of the Year, for the student.  For example, one of the precious babies wants to be a cowboy when he grows up, sighting Woody from Toy Story as his ultimate role model, so he received a cowboy hat.  His little sister opened a cell phone-esque gadget that plays music.  The second she heard one of its 25 tunes, she started clapping her hands and dancing.

Literally, from start to finish, I loved every second of getting to peak in on their Christmas party.  I feel like so often we get so consumed with the hustle and bustle of the Holidays.  But, seeing these kiddos today, as their faces lit up once Santa walked in the room, made all the Christmas craziness worth it!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dublin's Christmas Parade

Complete with more than 45 floats and hundreds of performers, there's no telling the people of Dublin, GA their Christmas Parade can't compete with Macy's Thanksgiving number.  I recently attended the local holiday favorite to snag some pictures for work, and let's just say we've got some very cute kiddos!  
A cutie from one of our elementary floats, she was taking her job of waving to the crowd very seriously!  
I'll have a blue Christmas stuck in my igloo... 
I bet your Christmas Parade doesn't have giant paper mache cattle trotting down Main Street. 

I would have a heard time just walking in front of my entire town, let alone jump roping the route. 
It wouldn't be a parade with the Big Man himself. 
It's little girls like her that make my job worth it!  Not only is she always dressed to the nines, complete with matching bows, jewelry, and color-coordinated shoes but also one of the sweetest kiddos you'll ever meet.  Every time she sees me, I'm practically guaranteed of getting a hug.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

25 Holiday Memories

Throughout the month of November, many of my Facebook Friends posted daily updates of what they were most thankful for.  Inspired by them, I've come up with a list of my 25 favorite December memories.  I know I should be counting day the days to Christmas, posting one at a time, but with all the hustle and bustle of the Holidays, I figure a few will get lost, so here they are all at once.  Some of them are annual, while others occurred when I was a tiny tot, but regardless I hope you enjoy.

So, in no particular order…

1) Christmas Cookies With Ma:
  Each year my sister and I decorate Christmas Cookies with my grandmother, Ma.  Since we were little girls it's been an annual tradition that the three of us make the dough from scratch, select way to many cookie cutters, and wind up with more sprinkles on the ground than on our sweet treats.
2) Mr. Potato Head:  Way back when the first Toy Story came out, all my baby sister asked Santa for was a Mr. Potato Head.  Literally, we went to sit on the Jolly Man's knee, and while I had a mile long list, all she wanted was her very own Mr. Potato Head.  My dad happened to capture the moment she opened the present on camera, and it's frequently named as one of Becky's cutest moments.  Plus, even now that she's practically 21, every time I see a Mr. Potato Head I think of Becky and contemplate adding another to her collection. 
3) Christmas Music, Especially the Michael Buble Album:  About two weeks before Thanksgiving every year, I have this incessant need to cram as many "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" and "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" as I possibly can before December 25th passes me by and I'm forced to remove the Christmas Stations from my Pandora playlist. 
4) Christmas Eve Service at Riverside United Methodist Church:  For the past few years, my family's spent Christmas Eve at our home church in Macon.  In addition to the pastor's sermon, there's just something about the giant tree and too many poinsettia bushes to count that officially makes it Christmas for me.
5)  RUMC's Drive-Thru Nativity:  Keeping with my home church, I was reminded of their annual tradition of hosting a Drive-Thru Nativity for the folks of Macon, GA.  Complete with camels and costumes, it's an awesome attempt of bringing Luke Chapter 2 to live.
6) Picking Out and Decorating the Christmas Tree:  My mom goes way over the top when it comes to Christmas.  Our family has this running joke where we say it looks like Santa threw up everywhere once she gets all the decorations to her liking.  So, of course picking out the Mac Daddy Decoration is always a favorite family outing.
7) Seeing Kiddos Eyes Grow Wide When They Reveal What Presents They're Asking Santa For:  Truth be told, this one comes from a video project I'm currently working on for church.  I went around asking them what's the #1 item on their wish list, and seeing their reactions, especially as the days dwindle down to Christmas morning, is so awesome.  Plus, if their parents are around and they say something really of the wall, hearing Mom or Dad react could be a number all its own.
8) Our Family Christmas Party:  December's pretty much a month filled with countless get-togethers, but for me, nothing comes close to our annual Family Christmas Party.  Even though we may not see each other too often throughout the year's other 364 days, those few hours our entire family spends eating, drinking, and being merry is something I look forward to the whole year long.
9) The Nutcracker:  Instantly, a trip to the ballet puts me in a better mood, and the story of Clara and her wooden Nutcracker is by far my favorite.  So, I don't care where you live, find the nearest Nutcracker and see it.
10) The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade:  Because I was fortunate enough to dance in it twice, I'm sure it's got an extra special place in my heart.  But, for me, seeing Santa ride with his reindeer is the official start to the Holiday Season.
11) The Furby Christmas:  This Thanksgiving Break, my siblings and I were reminiscing about a few of our favorite Christmas memories, and the Year of the Furby definitely took the cake.  I look back at the toy today and can't quite figure out why the three of us had to have them.  But, like a scene from Jingle All the Way, our mom waited in the longest line imaginable to insure we each had one underneath the Christmas tree.  If that isn't love, what is?
12) New PJs:  Each December 24th, we're allowed to open one present…new pajamas.  When we were little, my mom wanted us to look cute for Christmas morning pictures, so the annual "First Gift of Christmas" usually included some sort of plaid that matched my sister and brother.  Thankfully, these days the onesies have been left alone, but I assure you my mom still  searches the stores high and low to find each one of her  three babies the perfect pair of new nightwear.
13) Watching Holiday Movies With My Brother and Sister:  Regardless of whether it's a claymation classic or the absolutely amazing "Santa Clause," making cocoa and watching Christmas movies with my brother and sister is a holiday tradition that will never change.
14) Kids Yule Love at TSA:  Every year, Tattnall hosts a Christmas Spectacular that could rival the Rockettes.  Complete with toy soldiers, elves, and a visit from Santa, what really sets it apart is the fact that each student brings in a toy for a local child in need.  Growing  up, seeing the giant pile of presents for kids in our community made me realize how blessed I really am. 
15) Lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree:  Last year, I was at 30 Rock for all the action, but even years when I'm 1,000 miles away, seeing the lighting of the large tree is a favorite holiday tradition. 
16) Wrapping Presents:  Like everything else she does, my mom takes gift wrapping to the next level.  We've got way to much wrapping paper, complete with matching gift tags and glittery bows.  So, each present signed Love, Momma really is a work of art.  Sure, I can crease down the corners with the best of them but not without making a huge mess!  Literally, my sister always compares my holiday wrapping to a tornado touchdown. 
17) Christmas Day Feast:  We really do have the perfect meal come December 25th.  Each member of the family has their own requests, and my mom strives to make everyone happy. 
18) The SEC Championship:  Even though my Beloved Bama won't be playing this year, there's just something about watching the Big Game.  Plus, it doesn't hurt that for the past seven years, the winner of the National Championship has come from our Conferences, so basically taking the Southern Crown means taking the Top Title.
19) Chick-fil-A Peppermint Milkshakes:  Have you ever tasted this tiny bits of heaven in milkshake form?
20) Christmas Windows:  I'll always remember when I was 15 years old and saw the Christmas Windows at Bergdorf Goodman.  They were umber chic with a black and white color palette; immediately I fell in love with fashion and its contribution to Christmas.
21) Tacky Sweaters:  December presents us with the perfect opportunity to wear our dad's old, tacky sweaters and not be judged.  Because really, is their anything better than snuggling up in an oversized Bill  Cosby sweater?
22) The Barbie Jeep Christmas:  My sister will tell you, I'm not the best driver.  Just like a newly licensed 16 year old, I'm still worried everyone on the road is trying to hit me, and I don't always let my passengers shut the door before I drive off.  That being said, I think my driving woes all started when I was four.  My grandparents gave my sister and I a Barbie Jeep for Christmas, and I just couldn't get the hang of hitting the gas and steering at the same time.  Thanks to the joys of technology, there's way to much video footage of my four year old self being incredibly pouty because my little sis was way better at driving than me.
23) Daily Advent Gifts:  A few years back, my mom started the tradition of giving us a small present each day leading up to Christmas.  So, the whole month of December we get a little something as a reminder that she's thinking about us and praying for us to get home soon.  Especially when I was away at school, her tiny treats were just what I needed to make it through finals.  They're usually trinkets she found in the Target Dollar bin, but the fact that she searches for them all year and actually hunts for tiny treats we'll enjoy is always an incredible reminder to me of her unfailing love. 
24) Joseph and the Plastic Nativity:  My little brother's name is Joseph, so it's really not a huge leap in guessing his favorite character from the Bible is Joseph, Jesus' earthly father.  So, when he was a kiddo and learning all about the real Reason for the Season,  my little brother asked if we could put out a plastic nativity scene in our front yard.  He said though, only Jesus and Joseph should be represented on our front yard; Mary didn't need to be there too.  My mom tried to explain how important Mary really was, but he was adamant that only Jesus and Joseph needed to be there.  So, we had to specifically find a plastic nativity set where Mary was holding Baby Jesus.  That was the only way our Joseph would allow her to stand alongside Jesus and Joseph.
25) Christmas Lights:  Each December 24th, after going to the Christmas Eve service, I love driving around the neighborhood with my family pointing out which family has the craziest lights display. 

Whew…here's my Top 25 Memories that officially mean the Holiday Season is underway.  What are a few of your favorites that you share with your family? 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Disney's Very Merry Christmas Party

I may be 22, but I still believe that Disney World is the most magical place on earth!  There's just something about the millions of Mickey Mouse heads and the fact that they can make it snow on Main Street when it's 85° that appeals to me.  So, when my grandmother, Ma, asked if I'd like to join her and Becky on the annual "Very Merry Christmas Party" visit, how could I say no?

Before we even hit the park, each of us had our
"Must Do" activities of the day: 
1) Momma-see the Christmas Parade
2) Ma-ride Peter Pan
3) Becky-ride It's A Small  World
4) Me-ride Haunted Mansion
And, I'm very excited to say each was accomplished in addition to much, much more. 

For me especially, the real "oh my gosh, this is amazing moment" occurred when the other three ladies agreed to forego our reservations at the Liberty Tree Tavern.  Instead, we waited in line and got to eat at Beast's Castle!  With her love of reading, of course the Francophile Princess, Belle, would be my favorite Disney princess.  So, the fact that I got to eat in the restaurant dedicated to her, well you'd think I was a five year old.  Plus, it was decorated in the cutest Christmas decoration.  I especially loved the tree in Beast's "Be Our Guest" Ballroom.  It was covered with stained glass Mrs. Potts, Lumieres, and Cogsworths, and the topper was Angelique from Beauty and the Beast:  The Enchanted Christmas

How cute is my baby sister?  She posed alongside the gargoyles as we waited for our table.
If you eat nothing else all day, be sure to snag a dessert from Beast's Castle!  They're so scrumptious! 

Talk about your ferocious faces! 
Never known to be a disappoint, the Christmas Parade was the cutest thing.  In addition to your typical favorites on floats, the fact that each new sequence smelled like the Holidays really set it apart from your average amusement park parade.  And, anything that includes Santa is always a win in my book.  

My mom's obsessed with the wooden soldiers, especially the one keeping the beat on the snare drum.
And, to prove that it really was snowing on Main Street, here's one more picture I snapped from our Disney Day!  Seriously, if you have kiddos (or your just a kid at heart,) I'd suggest a trip to Disney during the Holiday Season! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

All Hallow's Read

If that isn't a picture perfect moment!

I know I'm about a week behind, but better late than never...

Halloween's for more than just Trick or Treating!  It's also the perfect opportunity for Varsity Football Players and Cheerleaders to visit elementary schools.  As DCS's very own All Hallow's Read kicked off, the sideline celebrities read spooky stories and told students why they think books are cool!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Kids Triathlon

One of the best parts of working for the school system is my ability to meet so many awesome kiddos and teachers.  Constantly, I'm amazed by how many activities they're up to outside of the classroom.  So, when someone asked if I'd take action shots of my tiny tots competing in this past weekend's Kids Triathlon how could I say no?  

I was there for only three hours, but I somehow managed to take close to 2,000 photos.  
Here's a few of  my favorites though.  Hopefully, you enjoy! 
The transition spot was the first stop for all 65 competitors.
Each needed to rack their bikes, while parents laid out towels and warm clothes. 
Then, it was time to get numbered.  
And, sometimes dads were needed to help out with last minute goggle placement. 
Who says it's all about the competition?  The day wouldn't be fun without a few laughs along the way! 
And, they're off. 

Those legs were just a kicking as the swimming finish line was in site.  

A quick transition was needed as kiddos left their wet towels behind and tore off for a 6 mile bike ride. 

Following the final push-through, it was all smiles as a special medal presentation greeted every racer.  

And, of course there were sweet moments like this, as parents rejoiced with their children on a job well done! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Few Favorite Videos

Dublin City Schools has certainly been keeping me busy.  Here's a look at a few of my favorite pieces! 

1) World School Milk Day:  Got Milk? mustaches were the greatest accessory
as the elementary schools celebrated World School Milk Day!
2) Dublin Middle School Homecoming:  Talk about your Irish Pride! From tiny tots to DMS alum, the Shamrock Bowl was filled with fans cheering on the Boys of Fall as they took on the East Laurens Falcons for Homecoming 2013.
3) Hillcrest Elementary Field Day:  It's Field Day at Hillcrest Elementary!  So, students and teachers hit the ground running.  From 8:30-3, they participated in events like tug-of-war, the obstacle course, egg and spoon races, and sidewalk chalk drawing.  You could definitely call it a fun day for all!
So, what do you think?  Aren't the kiddos in our school system the absolute cutest! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Allentown's A&A Restaurant & Convenience

To G.R.I.T.S. few pieces of periodicals can compete with Southern Living.   It's the ultimate guide to Southern culture, recipes, travel, and events.  So, when I discovered a local, Middle Georgia eatery was recently featured I had to try their burgers, despite the fact that I rarely eat red meat.  

Nestled in Allentown, A&A Restaurant & Convenience is your typical family-owned, country diner where locals gather for juicy burgers.  Everyone seems to know one another, and there's just as many people crammed in the kitchen as there is sitting at a table.

I'd read the french fries were nothing to write home about, so after grabbing a super sweet tea , I ordered a cheese burger with all the fixings and a side of fried okra.  My dad opted for chicken and a Pee Wee burger.  The waitress compared its size to a Krystal, but when the patty arrived it was large enough to be a Krystal double or triple!

My plate arrived, and immediately I could tell I was in for a treat.  The homemade, griddle-fried half pounder was served just to my liking.  And, the crispy fried okra was piled high with plenty to share.

The best part of course was the price…my dad and I ate for less than $20, including tip.  I'd say it's well worth the trip and a place  where it's good to be a regular.  So, the next time you're making a trip down I-16 give it a try.  But, don't stop in too late.  They take their last order of the evening at 7:00pm.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Milk Mustache Competition

Talk about your Moo-rific Milk Mustache Competition!  In conjunction with World School Milk Day, Dublin City Schools students sported their sweetest  'staches hoping their picture would be made into a lunchroom poster.  I'm sure teachers hated me asking their students to get a little messy with their milk.  But, just look at the results!

Complete with toothless grins, big bows, and cow juice accessories, there's no denying these precious kiddos took some of the cutest Got Milk? pictures you've ever seen.  I'm just so glad I'm not the one making the final decision.