Category Archives: Joy Journey

Our Advent Calendar

Just like last year, we’re keeping our trip to Walt Disney World a surprise until Yule.  This year though, we’re leading up to the reveal with her advent calendar.  We bought a whole bunch of Disney pins off eBay, and have put them inside dated Disney ornaments:

Disney ornaments from Target

Disney ornaments from Target

So every day the girl gets a new pin.  

She loved the first one:

Wearing her Mickey Mouse pin on December 1st.

Showing off her Mickey Mouse pin.

But by the third was catching onto the theme and finding it less than fun.  Last year her advent calendar included little baggies filled with little toys, MLP clothes, LPS accessories, and other odds and ends with a lot more playability.  Then, by about day five, she realized these are the same pins they use for pin trading at WDW…  and a world of possibilities came flooding in on her.  Now she’s excited to see which one is inside each ornament, and likes to think about which might be keepers and which might be good for trading.

Her first five pins.

Her first five pins.

I am so looking forward to the big reveal on the 21st.  I know she’s just going to be over the moon to learn our next trip is coming up so quickly.  It’s going to be amazing!

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The Art of Drag – TNG

I’ve posted before about the glorious art form that is DRAG, so consider this post The Art of Drag – The Next Generation.

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of being the official photographer at a rather phenomenal event here in Saskatoon.  It was the True Colours Drag Show hosted by the Avenue Community Center.  All sorts of performers, from current Drag Superstars to those who are the future of the art, all performing together in a grand spectacle.  It really was a brilliant night, and I am so thrilled to have played a part – even just a small one.  So here are a few names to remember:

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Character Meets at Walt Disney World

You really do need at least five or six days to properly do all the parks (not including water parks) at Walt Disney World, and a big part of the reason why are all the character meets.  Because, lets face it, even an adult only vacation to WDW has to include character meet ‘n greets!

Most of the time, you just hop in line and wait it out.  And some of those lines can be LONG.  We were there during the off season and even then there were a couple of characters whom we waited for over an hour in line to see.  Now, if you were to skip all the character meets you could chop a couple of days off your trip, but why would you want to do that?  The characters are what makes Disney the fun that it is – otherwise it’s just a bunch of theme parks.  People love Disney World and Disneyland BECAUSE of the magic that is Disney, and that is ALL about the characters.

And let’s face it!  Most of the rides are no camera rides (though some people are asshats about it and snap pictures anyway – ruining the experience for those around them), so the character meets?  They’re your very best photo ops.  And some of the cast members really are fabulous and are SOOO worth seeing.  Peter Pan pops into mind.  Seriously, he spent about ten minutes with Lily-Ann…  who happened to be in her fairy costume.  He even tried shaking pixie dust out of her.  He really was fabulous and made the girl feel that way too.  😀

So, here are a whole whack of character meet-ups from our trip!  None of the photos have been edited or enhanced.  I am not even going to THINK about that yet.  It’s going to be a STUPID amount of work considering the two or three thousand images I have.  LOL  So it was just a RAW to JPG conversion.  LOL

From Youngling to Padawan at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

If you ask Damon, he’ll readily admit to being jealous of this particular experience.  However, he was out of the running by over two decades as it’s aimed at the little ones from five to twelve (if I’m not mistaken).  So he was forced to live vicariously through Lily-Ann, whom we were ALL super excited for.  After all, how many kids get to go from Youngling to Padawan all within 1/2 hour?!?!

When you take your family to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Jedi training academy really needs to be at the top of your “must do” list.  It’s an absolutely fabulous experience!  But you do need to get there early to sign up or risk not being included.  We had arrived at the park early to take advantage of the Magic Hours (extra hours for resort guests only) and then meandered our way over to the sign-in area.  We got there at about 9:30 and made it into the 2:30 group – the last group goes at 3:30 with the training ending by 4:00 (again, if memory serves).  So yeah… head over there first thing, and get signed in before doing any of the character meets, rides, or other attractions just to guarantee your youngling’s spot.

Lily-Ann was so proud of herself.  She took her training very seriously, and mastered her fears – taking on Vader like a seasoned pro.  She jumped and skipped, thusting her diploma in the air with a strong and determined “I did it” attitude.  It really was one of those once in a life time, amazing, moments that won’t be forgotten.

Nature

Today’s challenge was to photograph “nature”. Now, I know a daily blog is all about instant gratification… But I’m going to ask you to wait just the same. Because I took a ton of “nature” shots at the Animal Kingdom park. The problem? They’re all on my good camera and my external hard drive. I barely touched my phone today. LOL. It was pretty amazing, even if we completely missed dinoland (kid kid was just way too scared to see dinosaurs up close and personal). We did go on safari though, which was pretty cool… And Jewles conquered her roller coaster fear on expedition Everest! All in all, an amazing day!

We’re here!!!

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Our last flight of the day, having the wings de-iced before take off. I figured this worked pretty darn well for the “light” challenge.

Now, I’ve been up for almost two days and as excited as I am to share all the details of our trip this far, I am beat and must sleep. Night!

The Happiest Place on Earth!

For the last couple of years we’ve been scrimping and saving…  often as little as ten bucks here or twenty bucks there…  putting it aside in the hopes that we’d have enough money to take the girl to Disney World while she was still young enough for the magic to be “real”.  It’s a stupidly expensive trip, and we’re a low income family, so we knew we’d be saving for a few years (at least).  Then we sold our house.  Yes, we bought a new one.  And yes the new house has issues that we really should fix before doing anything else…  but instead of renovating the bathroom, insulating the walls, fixing the plumbing, or purchasing a new oven and dishwasher?  We’ve used the cash to top up our savings and we’re taking the girl to Disney World!

The problems with the house will still be here when we get back, and we can slowly work towards fixing each problem…  but the magic of a place like Disney World only holds true for such a short while.  And even by the time they are seven, kids know way too much to put their belief in actors and actresses paid to portray cartoon princesses and princes.

Kid kid is five and a half, and if we have a way to do it, I couldn’t imagine not taking her on this type of once in a lifetime trip.  So on January 28th Damon, Lily-Ann, her Auntie Jewles, and myself will be hopping on a plane and heading for Orlando – and we’re not coming back until February 6th!  Thankfully my sister Riki and her girlfriend Kate have volunteered to stay at our place to care for our animal family, which puts my mind at ease over leaving them all for so long.

We're going to Disney World!

We’re going to Disney World!

When I decided to do the January photo-a-day challenge I could think of no better time to announce our trip than on the day we’re challenged to photograph “happiness”.  After all, what greater happiness can there be then seeing a dream come true and taking your daughter to a place where all her childhood fantasies can materialize right in front of her.  Pixie Hollow, Cinderella’s Castle, Prince Eric’s Castle, Belle’s Cottage…  and all the characters who belong there.  She’ll get to experience it all!

So yeah…  There may be smarter things we could do with the money, but there certainly isn’t anything more wonderful!

photo a day challenge for january

Preparing for Yule!

The girl, her face all filled with light and wonder, as we prepare to decorate the tree.

Filled with Wonder!

I figure it’s about time that I shared a few pictures from December first, when we decorated our Yule tree.  It’s our first year with a big (six foot) tree.  I’ve posted before about our little half-a-tree that we normally hang on the wall.  Well, in our new house we actually have room for a regular sized tree – so when Grampa offered us his (he was switching to a table top sized one) we gratefully accepted!

Lily-Ann, all wrapped up in garlands, ready for Yule!

All wrapped up!

We really did love our little half-tree-thing…  but this?  Watching the girl’s face light up, getting to pick out and buy new ornaments, as well as hanging some that Grampa and Gramma Joan gifted us?  It was pretty amazing.  Lily-Ann had the most wonderful time and it did my heart some good to be a part of it all.

Kid Kid decorating our Yule Tree, our first year with a large tree!

Trimming the Tree!

After it was all decorated, I put out the bags for her Advent Calendar, and she dug through them looking for bag number one…  thus beginning a wonderful new Yule tradition in our wonderful new home.

ready to open bag number one from her advent calendar.

Advent, Day One!

With that, here’s wishing you all a Joy-filled Yule!  One packed full with wonderment and delight.  Take time to be childlike!

Dicken's Christmas quote about how good it is to experience life through a child's perspective.

 

 

DIY Thrift Store Advent Calendar!

This year, our first in our new home, I figured we should do something different, something special for the holidays.  So I decided to put together a thrift store (second hand or previously enjoyed) advent calendar.  Thus far, it’s been a really big hit!

We’ve all had those store bought advent calendars with the icky pieces of low quality chocolate behind each window, counting down the days to the holidays.  Well, the thrift store advent calendar may count down the days to the holidays, but it’s WAY more fun, and really wasn’t all that expensive either.  It may be a little late for you to make one for this year, but I’ll talk you through the process anyway.  I have a feeling it may be one other kids would enjoy too.

Step One:  Collect the Goodies!

Every kid, or kid at heart, has something little they really enjoy.  For Lily-Ann I knew I could find a ton of little My Little Pony and Littlest Petshop items in thrift stores and from my fellow collectors at the MLPTP (an online forum).  Used toy cars, and other collectibles would also be great, and for the bigger kids in your life I’m sure there are all sorts of things you could find – think about their favourite things and just go from there.

Step Two:  Decide on Packaging!

You’ll also need packaging for your advent calendar.  We went cute and inexpensive with these little craft baggies.  I actually found them in the baking section at Michael’s, and they were only a few dollars a pack.  I bought two packs, one in red and the other in green.

Step Three:  Organize your Finds!

Next I poured all the goodies out on my bed and grouped them by theme.  In the picture above you can see that a bunch of the LPS items actually made a pretty good “camping” collection.  You can see how easy it would be for the girl to pretend that a kitten and a hamster head out for a weekend retreat with everything they might need.  Arrange and rearrange everything you’ve purchased until you’ve got 24 (or however long your countdown will be) piles of goodies.

Step Four:  Label the Bags!

Labeling the bags is the next step, and while there are lots of cute ways you could do this, I’m about keeping it easy.  So if you feel up to it you can use glitter and glue, beads, or stickers, stencils or cut outs, and any number of wonderfully crafty-good items…  but I simply grabbed one of the girls markers and wrote right on the bags.  As long as you have one bag for every day of your countdown, you are good to go.

Step Five:  Fill the Bags!

Deciding what goes in the bag for each day is a fun part.  Well, at least I know I enjoyed it…  I staggered things so every few days there would be a toy, and it would alternate with a crafting item, or maybe a dress-up item for one of her ponies, or collector’s cards.  Of course, you could just dump any old thing in any old bag in any old order, but I had fun with it.  LOL

Step Six:  Close and Place!

Then all that is left is taping the bags closed and putting them around the tree, leaving them out to be pondered over and opened with relish and the joy of discovery.  Enjoy your countdown!!!

Blessed Samhain – from Fairy Berry and us

Before anything else, I just wanted to wish you all a blessed Samhain.  Hold close the ones you love, and remember well those who have already passed from this world.  As the world enters the dark half of the year, gather close to share stories and memories, and soon we’ll return to the light.  Brightest blessings, may your lives be filled with warmth, caring, and many wonderful new memories to share in the future.

Now…  I want you to say hello to Fairy Berry.  The girl was just thrilled when I finally let her see the ponysona costume I’d created for her.  As I helped her into each piece, she’d run to the bathroom to see how it looked:  and with pants, sweater, two wigs, and ears, that was several trips to check out her reflection.  So she was quite happy to show it off while I snapped a few pictures before she headed to school this afternoon.  It’s totally adorable on her, and the wings worked just as I’d hoped:  they actually flap as she walks, skips, and hops along.  😀

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