“Dasher is a captivating tale that gives us all the feels of the Christmas Spirit with the story of Dasher.” – Momma Braga
Dasher is an adventurous young reindeer with a wish in her heart. She spends her days with her family under the hot sun in a traveling circus, but she longs for a different life – one where there is snow beneath her hooves and the North Star above her head. One day, when the opportunity arises, Dasher seizes her destiny and takes off in pursuit of the life she wants to live. It’s not long before she meets a nice man in a red suit with a horse-drawn sleigh – a man named Santa. And soon, with the help of a powerful Christmas wish, nothing will be the same.
Dasher is a captivating tale that gives us all the feels of the Christmas Spirit with the story of Dasher. We have all heard of Rudolph but have you ever wonder about the other reindeers? I know that we have and now we get to read the tale of Dasher from this author’s perspective, Matt Tavares.
So what did we think of it? We loved it! Such an articulated tale full of hope, love and magic. A perfect combination for a Christmas story and one that should be told. We love hearing stories on other icons that may not have had any light shine on them previously. Good on Dasher for getting her spotlight! By the way, we love to know that Dasher is a female. For some odd reason, I always thought that Dasher was a male so this was great to learn. 😉
Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give Dasher 10 stars out of 5! It is an absolutely beautiful story through words and illustrations. We truly recommend this book for children ages four to eight. However, this book is great for the child in every person who wonders how Santa’s great team of reindeers became the team who bring much joy to children around the world.
If you would like to bring this book to your collection and into your reading collection, click here.
About the Author
Matt Tavares is the author-illustrator of Crossing Niagara, Henry Aaron’s Dream, There Goes Ted Williams, Becoming Babe Ruth, and Growing Up Pedro, as well as Zachary’s Ball, Oliver’s Game, and Mudball. He is the illustrator of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Over the River and Through the Wood, Lady Liberty by Doreen Rappaport, The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup, and Jubilee! by Alicia Potter. Most recently he wrote and illustrated the modern Christmas tale Red and Lulu. Matt Tavares lives in Ogunquit, Maine.
Until next time…Happy Parenting!
*This book was provided in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are our own.
“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…
You really are a heel…
You’re as cuddly as a cactus, you’re as charming as an eel…
A beloved holiday classic, The Grinch is a well-known tale for many by Dr. Seuss. It is one of our favourite stories to read during the holiday season and we are delighted to see it grace the big screen once again in its natural form, animation!
For their eight fully animated feature, Illumination and Universal Pictures present Dr. SEUSS’ The Grinch, based on Dr. Seuss’ beloved holiday classic. The Grinch tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl’s generous holiday spirit. Funny, heartwarming and visually stunning, it’s a universal story about the spirit of Christmas and the indomitable power of optimism.
Academy Award® nominee Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice to the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company. With a cave rigged with inventions and contraptions for his day-to-day needs, the Grinch only sees his neighbors in Who-ville when he runs out of food.
Each year at Christmas they disrupt his tranquil solitude with their increasingly bigger, brighter and louder celebrations. When the Whos declare they are going to make Christmas three times bigger this year, the Grinch realizes there is only one way for him to gain some peace and quiet: he must steal Christmas. To do so, he decides he will pose as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, even going so far as to trap a lackadaisical misfit reindeer to pull his sleigh.
Meanwhile, down in Who-ville, Cindy-Lou Who – a young girl overflowing with holiday cheer – plots with her gang of friends to trap Santa Claus as he makes his Christmas Eve rounds so that she can thank him for help for her overworked single mother. As Christmas approaches, however, her good-natured scheme threatens to collide with the Grinch’s more nefarious one. Will Cindy-Lou achieve her goal of finally meeting Santa Claus? Will the Grinch succeed in silencing the Whos’ holiday cheer once and for all?
Find out when the Grinch hits theatres this November!
We know that we will be checking it out and we will be doing a review of our thoughts once we do. Stay tuned!
Winter is synonymous with death, but I never saw it that way. Perhaps because I was a person who grew up amongst snow for eight plus months of the year, it would be sad that eight plus months of each year of my life resembled that of a morgue. The truth of the matter is, winter to me is not death at all. It is the most important season of the year. Where I am from, if you do not have a cold winter, you have a lot of bugs in the summer. You get a dry spell and the trees do not blossom with their usual vibrancy. To this point, when you look under the snow, many roots are planting, many flowers are beginning to blossom. The earth is deciding what the next year will bring. To me, winter is pause, winter is beginning. It is the most powerful season.
I have a friend in her mid-thirties. She is a great person, but she is worried about getting older. Now that she is in her mid-thirties, she feels her job is to serve her family and then it’s one foot in the grave. Morbid, isn’t it? She also hates winter. Let’s face it folks, your mid-thirties is about beginnings and really finding yourself. You have a lot of life left to live. Also, it’s never about how much time you have but how you spend it.
At a party recently, my beautiful friend’s negative words stung me a bit. I was celebrating the holiday season with friends. We have all known each other since we were fourteen and we have had some amazing adventures. We know each other inside and out. Some of us are married, some of us are not. Some of us have children, some of us do not. Some have similar jobs and some do not. We are really different people with a combined enjoyment of each other.
So picture it, my dear friend is hosting this party as she hosts most of them as she is the half way point for most of us to travel. We see each other only a couple times a year now. We go to her house and this friend really can decorate. It is your quintessential Christmas house with a modern trendy touch and you could just put this picture of her home in a magazine. In another life, my friend was an interior designer, but in this life, she is a really great teacher.
The friends start pouring in with their partners and kids. The children immediately know the routine and start inventing some game. From babies to kids, they all just have this understanding that they all will like each other.
I paused in the midst of Christmas stories and laughs and memories of yesteryear. I felt like winter. No, not the way my friend describes winter, the way I do.
Here are these people, who saw me grow up. I saw them grow up. We saw each other go through some great times. We have lost family members. We are all friends with each other’s siblings. Now, we have these children, of all different ages, playing together as if the universe has aligned. They generally enjoy each other’s company! The older ones seem to mind the younger ones. The cycle begins again.
In some ways, no matter what this world has to offer them, they have this core group that will always root for them, put them first and celebrate their wins and pull them through their challenges.
They will always be someone’s number one.
My friend’s son reads to me.
He reads now!
I remember he was the first baby of the group. We arrived at a dessert shop as we all nervously met this sweet little boy. We held him. I held him and we were all nervous. How are we going to raise this person, this little ‘being’ of two of my dear friends? We were all promoted to uncles and aunts and suddenly, we had a responsibility more important than ourselves. Our siblings did not have children and so we all just learned to be the best friends and aunts and uncles to this child we could be. Then more babies came. We got into the swing of things. Now its “old hat” as they say.
I look at my friend’s faces who I still see as fourteen years old, navigating through this amazing and terrifying thing we call life. My friend’s son is still reading to me and my other friend has just given birth to the most beautiful little girl who is like the PERFECT baby. My friend insists she has her moments. But in this moment in winter at Christmas, this moment of beauty and simplicity, I will call one of the most cherished moments of my life and it’s no surprise it is in wintertime.
We had the pleasure of attending the Swim with Santa event which was done by Aqua-Tots Swim School in Mississauga.
This was a member-exclusive event which was an all-ages and complimentary with the annual membership to the school. It is one of many great perks of registering at Aqua-Tots Swim Schools.
The event was on Saturday, December 2nd from 2pm to 4pm and we were excited to go, especially Nikki who just adores going to swim school.
We arrived a little early which gave us some time to settle. We couldn’t help notice how beautiful and festive the swim school was decorated. They did not miss a single detail, from the candy cane shaped balloons at the front entrance to the festive décor at each activity section.
Our first stop was to drop off our non-perishable food donations for the Mississauga Food Bank which Aqua-Tots Swim School was collecting. Nikki happily placed our donation in the box and we were ready to see what to do next!
Nikki of course sat right at the arts and crafts station as it was her opportunity to get creative before Santa arrived. Nikki made a snowman ornament, coloured an Ollie with Santa page, and made a snowman mask. She had a blast!
Santa soon arrived and Nikki was in disbelief that he made it all the way to her swim school. Nikki was awfully shy so she opted out to take a photo with Santa. However, the pool was open for the family swim and Nikki was very excited to swim with her daddy (my husband , Mike).
It was so wonderful to see them both go into the swimming pool and Nikki showing her daddy all the skills that she has learned during swim class. They had such a wonderful time swimming together and Santa even made an appearance on deck to say hello to all the children with their families (please note that Santa did not go in the swimming pool, hehe). Even though I was only a spectator, I couldn’t help feel the joyous spirit with the Christmas music playing in the background and watching all the families having so much fun. There was a holiday story corner where you can hear your favourite holiday story, a festive photo booth with props to capture your moment at the event and there was also a relay game where you need to help Santa deliver his gifts. All of these activities combined made it such an amazing event.
Not only did this event encompass all the fun from the holidays but it captured the spirit! Aqua-Tots Swim Schools showed the true spirit of the season by collecting non-perishable food items for the Mississauga Food Bank and they were also selling Ollie ornaments (Ollie is their official Otter mascot and the ornaments were created by one of the staff members – talk about talent!) which proceeds from the sale was benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters Charity. The true spirit of the season is giving and that is exactly what Aqua-Tots Swim Schools was doing on this fine Saturday afternoon.
Above all, we had an amazing time at this very special event. We enjoyed every piece of it and the best take away for us was doing it together as a family. As we left the event, my husband turned to me and said that this was the best afternoon! He got to spend some real quality time with Nikki and this is everything that he ever wanted. Hearing that made my day as it was so nice to see them bond as my husband works different shifts and sometimes long hours so quality time is hard to do. This event gave that opportunity and it was just so much fun!
Remember that if you are looking to enroll your child in a swimming school, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools would be a great choice as they offer these types of events that really bring the community together.
Also make sure to follow them on Facebook to see what’s new.
There is no denying that Christmas is my favorite time of the year! To me it’s the spirit of Christmas that I enjoy the most as to me it’s the most caring time of the year. Therefore, when we got the opportunity to review a new book by I See Me Books on Christmas – I was thrilled!
Nikki got her “Very Own Christmas” from I See Me Books and she was as excited as me (in all honesty I must have been a tad more excited then she was).
This past weekend we sat down to read the story. When we opened the book, Nikki’s photo was there with her full complete name (first, middle and last) with her date of birth. It was a super sweet personalized touch!
The story is about the Santa quest to decorate the tree with a name to string across it for all the world to see. But it’s not just any name! It’s a name of child whose Christmas spirit is always shining through. The book then takes us on an adventure through Santaland where each character says a letter (from the child’s name) and using a positive descriptive word for the child. As we went through each letter and each page, my heart warmed up.
At the end of the story, Santa announces Nikki’s name and says that you can feel her Christmas spirit which warms up his heart to hear it. This last page had my eyes watering as that is exactly how I feel about my daughter. She is my Christmas spirit and now I have a book that I could read to her to let her know exactly that!
For this #MelandNikkiReview we give “My Very Own Christmas” 5+++ jingle bells out of 5. We also have included this on our recommended list which will be out soon!
The book is personalized to truly make the child feel special and unique. The words used are positive and empowering which we love! We just loved everything that this book had to offer us such as the beautiful illustrations, the customized and inspiring story, and for making us ALL feel special when Nikki is named as the child with Christmas spirit. This book even though was about her very own Christmas Story, I felt like it was mine too. We will definitely be reading this book leading up to Christmas and I look forward to it!
As many of my readers have learnt through my blog that giving and charity is something that I hold dear to my heart. This is why I am delighted to inform you all of a special partnership that started on November 1st with I See Me Books the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, and every purchase will benefit the national non-profit.
I See Me Books has also launched “Letters of Love” campaign. Anyone on this page can write an uplifting letter to a child with cancer and make a lasting gift of kindness. Near the end of December they will deliver the letters to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, where they will be given to the children. For every 50 letters they receive, they will donate a copy of My Very Own Christmas to a child supported for the non-profit. If you would like to donate to this cause directly you can do so through the page. The goal is to reach $10,000 and I know it can be done.
If you would like to purchase your own book, please click here.
Christmas is probably the number one holiday where people throw big parties with their family and friends. In every great party there is always great food served to keep your guests happy and their tummy’s full. I will share with you my top ten food ideas I like to do for a holiday party.
I will share some appetizer and dessert ideas that are so simple to make that your toddler can help you make them. Before you begin, always keep in mind any allergies your guests may have and also use your best judgment on what exactly your toddler can help you with. With that being said, grab your apron and let’s get started.
Top Ten Party Food Ideas
Santa Baby Cupcakes
Ingredients: Your favorite cupcake recipe, White, Black and Red Icing, and White Mini Marshmallows.
Once you have baked and cooled off your favorite cupcakes it will be time to decorate. Ice the cupcakes using the White icing. Then with the Red Icing cover the very top of the cupcake as Santa’s hat. With the White marshmallows put them at the bottom of the cupcake creating his beard. Finally with the Black icing, create his eyes together.
Edible Christmas Wreath
Ingredients: Hotdogs, Pillsbury Dough Boy (pigs in a blanket) pastry and Ketchup
Cut the hotdogs in half and roll them up in the dough, until you have achieved the “pigs in a blanket look.” Follow baking instructions shown on the packaging. Once baked and cooled off, place them onto a round plate into a reef shape. Then using Ketchup you can create a bow shape on the bottom of your edible reef.
Ingredients: Your favorite sugar cookie recipe, M&M’s (Brown and Red), Mini Chocolate covered Pretzels.
Once you have mixed up your favorite sugar cookie recipe shape them into a reindeer face, then put them in the over to bake. As soon as they are ready to be taken out and still soft add your decorations before they are cooled or else they won’t stay on. Add two brown M&M’s for eyes, a red one for the nose and two chocolate covered pretzels as the antlers.
Oh Christmas Tree
Ingredients: Broccoli, different Cheeses, Carrots, and Cherry tomatoes
On a serving tray create your Christmas tree using the ingredients mentioned above. You can also do this same idea with fruits. Use the carrots as your stem and the broccoli as your tree, then add some cherry tomatoes as your ornaments. You can achieve this same look with different cheeses and use grapes for the stem look.
Ingredients: Strawberries and your favorite non-bake cheese cake recipe.
Cut and scoop out a small amount of the strawberry so there is room to add a filling. Once you have made your favorite non-bake cheese cake recipe put it in a piping bag and fill the strawberries. Place them on a nice tray and refrigerate overnight.
A treat for Santa
Ingredients: Your favorite cookie recipe, icing and Christmas edible sprinkles
After you have baked and cooled off your favorite sugar cookie recipe; add some icing and then your Christmas edible sprinkles.
A Mellow out Christmas
Ingredients: Marshmallows, melted chocolate, Lollipop sticks, Red and Green edible sprinkles
With the lollipop sticks dip the ends with the melted chocolate and stick a marshmallow on the stick. Set them all aside for about two minutes to let the chocolate harden and keep the marshmallow in place. Then dip the whole marshmallow into the melted chocolate and face them down onto a cookie sheet (lollipop sticks should face up) then before the chocolate hardens, add some red and green edible sprinkles.
Christmas Shaped Sandwiches
Ingredients: Sandwiches of your choice and Christmas shaped cookie cutters
Once you have made all your sandwiches, use your Christmas shaped cookie cutters to cut out different shapes and designs. I got my Christmas cookie cutters from my local dollar store.
Chips and Dip
Ingredients: Sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, tall candy canes and a glass short bowl
First place your chips in a nice bowl and set aside. Then with your glass short bowl glue or tape your tall candy canes around. You can also add a nice ribbon to add more decoration. Then in that same bowl mix your salsa and sour cream together until all mixed smooth; then add some shredded cheese on top of your dip.
Christmas Mini Taco Wreath
Ingredients: Tortilla scoop chips, salsa, ground beef, sour cream, tomato, red bell pepper and green onion.
Mix and prepare your ground beef with your desired spices. Once fully cooked put aside and cut up your tomato and green onions into small pieces. Place your tortilla chips on a rounded serving tray in the shape of a reef. Add in each chip some ground beef, sour cream, tomato and green onion. Once completed be creative with your red bell pepper to create a bow to display at the bottom of your Christmas Mini Taco Reef.
It is so important to introduce children as young as toddlers to the kitchen. Yes there are many dangers but as long as they know that they should always have an adult with them, then there shouldn’t be a problem. Even if your toddler just watches you bake or cook, they will absorb so much information. It might also help those that are picky eaters grab interest in that night’s dinner if they have the opportunity to pitch an idea for the meal and help prepare it.
If you make any of these delicious ideas be sure to tag me as I love to see everyone’s tasty creations.
Until next time… Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
About the Author
Karen Braga graduated from Sheridan College with an Early Childhood Education Diploma. She worked with children for about five years before expanding her skills in Administration. Karen is a loving Godmother/Auntie to one. Combined with her ECE background and passion for DIY projects and baking, she has recently become an expert writer for mom blogger, Momma Braga. Karen hopes by sharing her knowledge, tips and tricks, she can bring families together through her creative ideas.
I have this massive goal, and with everyone’s help, we can make it happen! My goal is to fill social media with posts of Christmas lights, I want to bring a smile to a very special boy’s face. That Special Boy is named Elijah, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma at the age of 3, & has been fighting for his life everyday since. His family usually goes all out for Christmas, decorating their house with lights, and all kinds of Christmas goodies! Sadly this year, with everything they are unable to put many lights or decorations up. Elijah loves everything about Christmas! I ask that everyone who is putting lights up, please think of Elijah when you do, & if you could place a sign in your yard with “#LightsForElijah” share it on social media with the hashtag in the description. Lets make this go global & show Elijah some love! Will you help me light the world with Christmas light?
Remember to share your pictures with your sign with the hashtag #LightsforElijah and let’s bring a smile to sweet Elijah. To follow Elijah and his fight, check out his Facebook page and blog page. Also make sure to follow his mom, Melody on YouTube, and Facebook.