Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Adding a Little Christmas Cheer

I was surprised this week when Jackson's awesome 1st grade teacher sent out a link to the Portable North Pole website.  She got it from a family member back in the states and I was shocked that she'd never heard of it.  (She's pretty with-it)  Equally surprising to me were the number of with-it mommies at the classroom Christmas party, sorry....HOLIDAY party....who hadn't heard of it.  Rarely in life am I the one who is in The Know, especially when there's Technology involved.  Technology and Math...not my strong points.  

Anyhow, our family has been using the Portable North Pole website for several years and our kids always look forward to it.  The awesome thing is--IT'S FREE!  You answer a few simple questions about your kiddo, upload a few pictures, and WHAM...a video arrives into your email box to your child from Santa.  It's the Real Santa, too--not some fake looking guy in a fake beard and red suit. This Santa is legit.  There's also a paid video you can buy for a couple of bucks as well.  Paying will make your video a bit long and more detailed, plus you get to upload more pictures--proof that Santa REALLY is watching and he Knows....This year you can also sign up for a video that will arrive on Christmas Eve.  I'm hoping it tells the kids to get into to bed--somehow, our brats always struggle with that!!

Another one of my favorite Christmas traditions is snapping a picture of Santa in front of our Christmas tree.  On the I Caught Santa website, you can upload a picture of your Christmas tree (or fireplace, outside of your house, etc) and super-impose Santa right into the picture.  It's not super cheap, but my kids LOVE it.  Santa always leaves his picture taken in front of our tree next to our milk and cookies plate. This is great for kids on the brink of doubting Santa's existence--I hate the idea that children are learning "The Jingle News" as we call it at our house at a younger and younger age!
Santa in front of our tree last year...

And finally, my personally favorite: Norad Santa.  We've been using this for years and every year, I cry when my kids are talking with the volunteers at Norad who are spending Christmas Eve answering calls from excited children all over the world.  I remember Tory and Trey calling when they were both little and I remember how sad I was when I thought that we wouldn't be able to call from here in Italy (especially that first year when we were living in the hotel at Christmas while we were waiting for our house to be ready) Cheer up, though...you can call from overseas and the wait time is actually far shorter :) The folks are always super nice and my kids are always thrilled to talk to a real Santa helper.  They have a pretty extensive website also! The number to call is 1 (877) 446-6723. (1-877-HI-NORAD) 

If you've been living under a rock recently and somehow have never heard of these  websites, be sure to check them out. And if you have some equally (or better) Santa websites, be sure to share in the comments below!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Absent With Explanations

Life has been crazy here on Via Fontanelle--so crazy in fact, I couldn't settle down to write anything worthy of reading. I'd taken to writing most of my posts on my phone while waiting in the car for something....for the bus, to pick Delilah up from school, for appointments....

I felt absolutely NO inspiration to write. I just wasn't feeling it. 

All of this told me it was time to take a little break, plus I have a bit of a secret...

Steve (the husband) has been deployed to Africa on a UN mission since the summer. It was one of those fast and furious preparations for deployment--we literally had just a week or so of notice and then he was gone.  It was a short one, as far as deployments go--only four months, which honestly seems like a drop in the bucket compared to our previous deployments, including the most recent one which was 14 months.  But as any Army spouse living overseas can tell you, a deployment here can be extra hard. Kudos to my Army sisters (and brothers) who stuggled through a year long deployment while living in Italy and came out smiling on the other side...I applaud you.

Anyhow, with security being what it is now, I would have been crazy to publicly announce Steve was gone, and I've always promised myself that my blog would be about our real life, not a make-believe one, so I took a little break. 

I'm back now and can't wait to tell you about our latest adventures! (Including an awesome trip to Prague!!)