Monday, February 8, 2016

Oh, Mickey Mouse!







































Oh, Mickey Mouse! Look at you! You're magical! - that plump, fuzzy nose - those sassy saucer ears - big bright eyes all a-sparkle...! No wonder people come miles and miles to find you - and wish they never had to leave! You fill us up with dreams of carefree family fun, of white-gloved giant hugs and sunny smiles that never, ever fade! Yes, Mickey Mouse, I think by now you know - you occupy a mouse-shaped space in all our hearts!

"Pssst! Want to hear a secret? Guess who's got a grandparent-shaped space in his heart just for YOU?!"

Oh, Mickey Mouse!

Wow.













I'm so glad that "wow" is a word. Because I've used it a lot lately. Ever since I learned that the wonderful people at Better Homes and Gardens and Walt Disney World® Resort are providing my party of eight with a five day, four night visit to Walt Disney World® Resort. Plus, you may win your own Walt Disney World® Resort vacation in the Better Homes and Gardens "Making Memories Magical Contest." Enter and YOU may win a journey for eight of your own, park tickets and resort accommodations included!

Here's what it's all about, grandparents!....

Upload and share a recent photo of your grandkids, kids and/or families making memories together with their grandparents on social media using #MagicalMemoriesContest or on Facebook.com/BHG. One grand prize of a multi-generational Walt Disney World® vacation for up to 8 people will be awarded. A Walt Disney World® Resort gift basket will also be given away monthly. And, a gallery of contest entry photos will live on Facebook.com/BHG. Check to see if yours is there! 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., 21 years and older. Begins: 12:00 a.m. ET on February 1, 2016. Ends: 11:59 p.m. ET on May 15, 2016. Subject to Official Rules at www.facebook/bhg.com. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Meredith Corporation. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Inc. ("Twitter") or Instagram. By entering, you understand you are providing your information to Sponsor and not to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. 

My own trip, scheduled for February 9 - 13, 2016, includes grandpa and the double-twin (two boys, 7; two girls, 3) family of my oldest daughter, Mary Jo, and her husband, Tom - all eight of us! I know what you're thinking now. "Wow. Can this get any better?" Well, yes. It does!

As the grand prize contest winner, you can spend every magical moment of your trip alongside the little ones in your life who swell your heart with joy and pride - those who've made you a grandparent. With them, you may laugh and love and eat way too much and buy out the gift shop! Together, you might cover your eyes at sneering pirates, spin yourself silly in whirling teacups, and breathe "oooh!" and "ahhh!" at fabulous fireworks. I know. Do you even dare to dream that this could happen to you? Well, "Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo!" You can't win it if you're not gonna enter it! Now, go find your "Mouskatool" (camera!) and get on your "Mouskadoer" (computer!) and show us your very own "Grand Adventure!"

My heartfelt appreciation to both Walt Disney World® Resort and the efficient and very gracious Mara VanGeldern, associate marketing manager at Better Homes and Gardens. She tirelessly worked to coordinate this project, succeeding handsomely at making me "Goofy" with excitement. Mara is a real princess!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Better Homes and Gardens and Walt Disney World® Resort. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"Whooo I Love!"







































Brielle and I have been working on this little gem for some time now - and it is my hope that we'll continue to work on it for additional months, if not years!

The two of us occasionally talk about those we love. Let's see - filling her five year old heart, there's mommy and daddy of course, accompanied by little brother, Austin, and both sets of grandparents. Beyond them, we move into cousin, pet, and friend territory. And sometimes Bree mentions him first, but other times she saves the best for last: "I love Jesus, too, you know, grandma!"

Valentine's Day just feels like the perfect time to acknowledge and honor these recipients of her affection. That's our target completion date for bringing everyone together!

We begin with a list. A year ago, it would have been me who did all of the writing. But Bree's in Kindergarten this year, and I'm amazed at the academic progress she's made; she prints well and reads with speed and accuracy!

From there we decide how we'll acquire pictures for the 6" square, kid-size portable scrapbook we're compiling. We draw up a plan. Some entries are found by the dozens (cousins!) on grandma's computer, just waiting to be sorted and printed. Other subjects need to be hunted down and photographed (grandpa!). Still others will be featured in carefully hand drawn images. Baby Jesus, for instance. Bree is serious about the place of honor he'll take in her little book of love. We take our time with this business, one person at a time, checking names off as we go.

I find a source of corny Valentine sayings and share them with my little love bug. She likes the owl theme and we decide on "Whooo I Love" as a title. Paper punches and spools of vivid ribbon emerge, and soon, we've got our cover! Coordinating inside pages take care of the rest.



We opt for round metal book rings to hold everything together because that makes it easier to add pages as a continuing stream of new people to love enters Bree's world. I think she'll enjoy having this little companion by her side - on both good days and bad - even after she's outgrown adding pages with the enthusiasm she shares today. Love of God, love of family - all reciprocated - are the heart of every day - not just that special one reserved in February!

At right: Brielle - author of "Whooo I Love!"
Photograph by Michelle Starr