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Are Your Kids Caught in the Vampire Craze?

by Tina on November 14, 2012
category: Uncategorized

Bram Stoker had no idea what he was starting when he created the iconic Dracula. Before Dracula” was published, vampires were the stuff of nightmares and very real to certain European cultures. Afterwards, the terrifying creatures captured the imaginations of writers, filmmakers and the general Western populace.

The Shift from Tradition

“Nosferatu,” an early silent film released in 1922, was loosely based on Stoker’s “Dracula.” It is scary in a way that resonates with audiences even today, but the main character, Count Orlock, creates a sense of sympathy and sadness. For a long time, vampires were some combination of utterly terrifying and extremely sad. Then Anne Rice came along with “Interview with a Vampire” and changed everything.

At first, authors kept the inhuman traits intact while slowly romanticizing the vampires. As years go on, writers continually push vampires toward being extremely long-lived humans rather than monsters. Sure, the monstrous traits come out in certain situations, but there is usually a clear distinction between the “good” vampires and the “bad” ones. The “Twilight” series, the “Sookie Stackhouse” novels and “The Vampire Diaries” novels are responsible for the latest resurgence in vampire-mania.

Modern Vampires in Film and Television

If the “Twilight” books were popular, they barely compare to the popularity of their movie adaptations. “Twilight,” while meant for teenage audiences, appeals to adults too. The current vampire-themed television series are “True Blood” and “The Vampire Diaries.” “True Blood,” based on the “Sookie Stackhouse” books, is a very adult series. “The Vampire Diaries,” adapted from the books of the same name, is for teenagers, but it appeals to a wider audience like “Twilight” does.

To catch up on “True Blood,” HBOGo, HBO’s streaming service, has several seasons available, but you must have an active cable subscription to take advantage of it. To get the full series, you will have to rent or buy the seasons on DVD or Blu-ray. However, you can start streaming The Vampire Diaries on Netflix starting with season one. Some of the “Twilight” movies are also available on Netflix.

“Twilight” offers the mildest take on the new sexy vampires, but despite their popularity, many vampire fans find the lack of certain vampire traits unappealing. “True Blood” and “The Vampire Diaries” let the primal side of vampires shine through regularly, which appeals to fans of the more traditional, gory vampires typically associated with blood-sucking. Interestingly, both television series have high-budget film quality effects, the characters have more depth and the vampires appeal to men and women of all ages.

Seeing A Show With The Whole Family

by Tina on November 8, 2012
category: Fun time & Toys

An average night of entertainment consists of watching television or movies, for most. While this is suitable for average nights, it is not very special. If you are looking for something more interesting to do, choose something that will create good memories and that the whole family can enjoy; consider seeing a theatrical performance.

The days of theater are not past but are alive and well. There are numerous shows across the globe every day and night attracting enthusiastic crowds. Here are a few tips for planning a night of theater.

Find a Show

Look online or in your local paper for future shows. In your paper, listings will probably be in the entertainment or arts/culture section. Online, search for your city and use keywords such as, “musicals,” or “live theater.”

One of the most popular shows right now is the musical Wicked. Wicked contains a few familiar characters from the Wizard of Oz but takes a much different and intriguing spin. It describes how the wicked witch of the west got her start and explores her early interactions with Glinda, the good witch of the north. This particular show is suitable for adults and children alike and has an amazing music score. Many people like it so much that they see it more than once.

Book Your Tickets Early

You should order your tickets early to get the best choices in seating. Some popular shows, such as Wicked, sell out quickly. To order your tickets online, search for your area. For example, if you are in Baltimore, just search for Wicked Baltimore tickets and several ticket broker sites will show up.

When you are placing your order, you will get to look at a seating chart. The best seats will be higher priced than other seats, but you can still get decent seats on a budget, if you buy them early enough.

Make a Night of it

Think about making the whole night special by dressing up and going out to dinner before the show. Take the kids to a place they love and watch their excitement grow as the evening progresses. The first time, you could even leave it as a surprise until you have arrived at the theater. If everyone enjoys it, you could even make this a family tradition monthly or around holidays or birthdays.

The best thing about a live performance is that it is much more active than television or a movie. Yes, you are still sitting and viewing as a passive participant, but the sounds of the orchestra, the sweat on the actor’s brow, the action taking place in the here in now right in front of you is unlike any other experience.

Another wonderful thing about the theater is every performance is different. You could go to see Wicked or another show several times and each time it would be unique.

Catching a live show will be an amazing experience for your children that they will never forget, especially if the show is something they want to see. Some little boys might not admit to wanting to see a show, but if you go see something they can get excited about it may peak their interest in music, art, and theater in a way TV never will.

Hobbies for the Mind and Soul

by Tina on November 6, 2012
category: Fun time & Toys

Many people today make a habit of including regular physical exercise in their daily routine to keep their body fit and healthy. Although physical exercise is always an excellent use of time, you should also aim to include plenty of stimulating mental exercise in your daily life. You can easily incorporate mental workouts through a new hobby, from learning a new instrument to completing a craft project.

Embrace Your Musical Side When you pick up a musical instrument, you can tap into your innovative side and create your own music. However, before you can start impressing your family and forming your own band, you need to learn how to play. If starting a band seems like a fun idea to you, begin your training with basic piano lessons. Learning to play an instrument will give you an excellent outlet for your rhythmic soul after you leave your job each evening.

Manage Your Own Ecosystem For amateur scientists who enjoy nature and biology, a miniature ecosystem can provide excellent intellectual stimulation. Individuals who prefer the world of the ocean can start up their own saltwater fish tank, complete with stunning corals and playful fish. For those that prefer a desert climate, a terrarium housing toads and turtles makes an excellent choice. This hobby will require you to learn a little about your miniature ecosystem and how to keep your inhabitants alive.

Learn a New Language Even if you don’t intend to leave the country in the near future, learning a language can give you an electrifying experience. For added fun, choose a language from a country that you would love to visit someday. As you learn a country’s language, you can learn more about the culture of that nation. You can spice up this idea by learning how to cook native dishes for your friends and family.

Handcrafted Projects Making something new with your hands is a great way to stimulate your senses and your brain. You don’t have to buy a fancy sewing machine to make your own cool e-reader case. Just get a sewing needle, a few pieces of fabric, matching thread and your imagination to create a functional accessory for your daily life. Other fun crafting projects include making jewelry and pottery.

After getting home from work or putting your children to bed, don’t settle for a boring evening in front of the television. Instead, try out a new hobby to give your brain the exercise it needs to thrive.

Plan Ahead for a Fun Halloween Next Year

by Tina on October 23, 2012
category: Holidays,Pop culture

Far too many people miss out on having an excellent Halloween experience merely because they think pulling off a great costume will cost too much in time, money, or effort. Thankfully, this is not at all true. A well-planned costume will not only magnify your Halloween experience but will also be fairly easy to do if you follow these simple steps.

The first trick to a great Halloween costume is to start early. Planning ahead is the number one way of easing yourself into an awesome Halloween. If you can manage it, try to plan at least a year in advance; you’ll never get a better deal when buying a great costume than just after Halloween the previous year. If you wait too long before you begin planning your Halloween costume, you risk not being able to find what you need without paying way too much, or worse: not being able to find what you want at all. Getting started the year before will reduce much of the stress inherent in last minute costume shopping and dramatically reduce the number of problems you’ll encounter throughout the experience.

The next thing you need to do is decide on a theme. While it’s true that singleton costumes can perform well if you get lucky, the best way to ensure that your costume will be a hit is to plan together alongside your friends or family. Consider a costume that pairs well with your spouse, child, or best friend. Not only will it be more fun to go as a couple or group, but it will make your costume stand out that much more at whatever party you attend.

Once you know what it is that you want, it’s time to go shopping. Finding adult women costumes or men costumes is fairly easy to do online, if you know exactly what you want. Pick out the perfect thematic costume and get it well in advance.

Now it’s time to customize. Don’t just wear the standard costume as it comes in a box; make the costume yours. Add jewelry, a cane, umbrella, or any other props that fit in character. Just make sure that everything can be carried with only one hand; costumes that require both hands tend to make for far more uncomfortable parties.

As it gets closer to Halloween, consider doing a test run to make sure everything is how you want it to look. Pick a day a month in advance or so to fully dress up as a group and do an activity at home, like board game night, poker or video games. This way you and your thematic costume group can be fully ready for the big day while not outing the surprise to everyone else who’ll be at the party.

Finally, when Halloween eventually does arrive, be sure to have fun! The whole point of planning in advance is to make your Halloween party experience thoroughly awesome, and that can’t happen unless you commit yourself to having a great time. If anything goes wrong with your costume at the last minute, don’t worry! Just consider it part of the fun.

What I Learned From Last Summer’s Vacation – How to Have an Incredible Vacation On the Cheap

by Tina on October 22, 2012
category: Fun time & Toys

Last summer, I took one of the most interesting vacation trips I could ever go on. I took an RV trip with the kids from Phoenix to San Francisco. . As a full-time writer, I have the distinct advantage of being able to work from any location. So one day in late May, I called my parents up and asked to borrow one of their two used class B motorhomes. I explained my idea, “Yes, Mom, I plan on taking my two kids on the road for the summer, stopping here and there and getting to know the country.”

At first, they thought I was a little crazy, a single mother with a somewhat limited income, on a road trip in a large RV with two kids. Was I crazy? Well, I admit, at first I was a little scared, after all the biggest vehicle I had ever driven was a van. However, I was determined to spend some quality time with my kids, and do it in an inexpensive way.

The Trip

We started off at about 5 a.m. at the beginning of June. Our destination? The Grand Canyon of course! It was only three hours away, but the kids had only been to Phoenix, so it was a great opportunity to see the Grand Canyon. We stayed at Trailer Village, an RV campground located on the South Rim of the canyon. We had planned to only stay overnight but ended up staying a few days. We spent a day rafting down the river, another walking along the trails in the early morning and evening. Other than that we just spent some time being together, playing in the pool and talking.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas was our next destination. While I knew the kids couldn’t spend time at the casinos, I also knew there were many other things available there. I planned out our trip so that we could stay at the Circus Circus RV park. The kids enjoyed the lights, the action, street vendors and shows. During the day, we toured some of the most fabulous hotels along the strip including, the Venice, the Eiffel Tower hotel, and the Excalibur. I had only planned on spending a night here, but we ended up spending the better part of a week. We took in a cirque du Soleil Show, went to the Ethel M Chocolate factory and to the Red Rock Canyon just outside of Las Vegas.

What Trip Would Be Complete Without a Visit to Disneyland?

Our next destination was Los Angeles. We stayed at several locations in this wonderful city. There is just so much to see. Our first stop was Hollywood Blvd. and then Universal Studios, but we also visited Venice beach, Santa Monica and Long Beach before heading over to Anaheim, Disneyland and then down to the San Diego Zoo.

Along the California Coast

Our trip continued up the California coastline driving along scenic highway 1. When we saw something that interested us; we would stop, play, eat out or fix something in our temporary home and enjoy our time together. We saw interesting state parks, theme parks, towns and communities. We met other RV’ers, just out having a good time like us, some actually adopting the lifestyle full time, then we made our final destination of San Francisco.

San Francisco Area

While in San Francisco, we visited family and stayed in the California Delta, an area full of waterways; meaning there were lots of RV parks, camping, skiing, rafting and boating. San Francisco is only about an hour from the Delta, so we made several day trips to the city by taking the Bart train. Needless to say, the rest of our vacation was spent languishing about, relaxing in our RV and enjoying ourselves. It was truly the best family vacation we have ever been on (inexpensive too).

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