Goodbye, Goodyblog!

Thank you, dear readers, for following Goodyblog these past few years! All of our new content—the celeb interviews, the giveaways—will be moving to our other blogs. Please follow along with the ones that are geared to your own children’s ages. If you’re pregnant and looking for baby-gear giveaways and fun scoops on pregnant celebs, see Everything Pregnancy. If you’ve got a little one at home, don’t miss All About Babies. And keep watching for the launch of our new blog for big kids, Everything Kids, which will feature toys, movie news, and more. Finally, you can always read a fresh take on today’s parenting hot topics at The Parents Perspective. We love serving up fun; now we’ll just be spreading it out! Goody Bye!

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Creator of Elf on the Shelf Inspires Christmas Spirit

You may have a watchful elf camping out somewhere in your home, but even if you don’t, you’re probably familiar with The Elf on the Shelf®. Parents across America have been busy welcoming this character into their homes—and into their children’s hearts.

Chanda Bell, a former reading and English teacher, created the The Elf on the Shelf® concept with her mother in their small hometown of Marietta, Georgia. The mom and daughter duo had no idea it would become a country-wide sensation, but it’s now their mission to make it a Christmas tradition that helps the holiday spirit thrive.

The magic began when Chanda was just a little girl. Her mother would tuck her in at night with a sweet story about a little elf who would watch over her and report back to Santa. After her mother kissed her goodnight, Chanda remembers confiding in the elf and sharing her Christmas wish-list. “He was like a magical family friend,” Bell says.

Now, the character has exceeded anything she’s ever imagined. One of her favorite ways to stir up The Elf on the Shelf® spirit is by reading the book to a group of children—or by marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade next to their inflatable elf (the tallest float in the bunch!). For Chanda, it’s a dream come true to listen to children on the sidelines chant, “Elf on the Shelf,” and hear the names they’ve given their elves at home.

Bell confesses that her main goal for The Elf on the Shelf® was initially just to create family moments. Toys and stuffed animals don’t hold the same meaning for everyone in the family, according to Bell, so she created something everyone could participate in. From mom and dad moving the elf around to the kids racing to find it first, it’s safe to say she’s accomplished that goal.

In addition to creating family moments, Bell hopes to liven up the Christmas spirit in kids across the country. That’s why she created the storybook, Elf Pets®: A Reindeer Tradition. Elf Pets encourages children to snuggle with their special reindeer friend at night in the hopes that stirring up enough Christmas spirit will help Santa’s sleigh lift off into the night. Bell says, “Elf Pets is unique because it teaches kids to actually look beyond themselves for the purpose of helping Santa on Christmas Eve!”

Whether or not there’s an elf on your shelf this Christmas, Chanda encourages all parents to remember the importance of tradition and holiday spirit—not just for their children, but for the entire family.

 

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Trista and Ryan Sutter On Giving Back

 

Remember the duo you fell in love with back in 2003, Trista and Ryan Sutter? Of course you do.

Since their days on the Bachelorette, Trista and Ryan have been sitting snug next to each other on the rollercoaster ride that is life. One of the consistent challenges the Sutters face is dealing with Ryan’s commitment to working overnight shifts at his Colorado fire department. He has to tell his kids that he’ll be away from the home for a few days at a time, and he struggles knowing Trista will have to man everything on her own while he’s away.

Since the Sutters know just how hard working overnight shifts can be during the holiday season, they teamed up with Coffee-Mate and surprised some overnight-shift workers with holiday cheer and well-deserved presents! They captured the moments in a beautiful short film, Coffee-Mate Brings Home to the Night Shift.

Trista described filming the charitable video as a total “bonding experience” between her and Ryan. In addition to giving back and drawing attention to overnight workers, one of her favorite moments was sneaking up to the security guard’s desk, and leaving him his surprise envelope. Ryan loved it too, and he says, “It feels good to give back and it’s really fun to make other people feel good.”

This holiday season the Sutters will be decorating tons of Christmas cookies to show off to their German relatives on Facetime. Ryan wishes Santa would bring him the silver Airstream trailer featured in the Coffee-Mate video, and all Trista really wants is to be blessed with many joyful holidays to come. Her Christmas wish comes as no surprise, as Trista knows a lot about being thankful. If you need to learn a thing or two, check out her gratitude memoir, Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart.

This holiday season, what will you do? It might not be the worst idea to grab your partner and dive into the community with a charitable heart. Giving back with your partner seems to work magic on both the community, and your relationship.

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Donald Faison is Hysterical in Luvs #Willitleak Campaign

Insider Images/Andrew Kelly for Luvs (UNITED STATES)

This year celebrity daddy Donald Faison took on a brand-new role when he dressed up as Santa! In partnership with Luvs, Faison shared laughter and Ho-Ho-Hos with diaper-bearing cuties as part of the Luvs #Willitleak campaign at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan on December 9. The event stirred up excitement over a giggle-inducing 23 second “Will it Leak on Santa’s Suit?” video.

Faison says the Santa suit was hot—but hanging out with a bunch of kids was cool. Even cooler: Luvs will donate diapers through the Children’s Miracle Network to families in need, based on how many impressions the “Will it Leak on Santa’s Suit?” video gets by Christmas night!

Faison has one wish this Christmas, and that’s to spend time with family. You should do the same too. He says, “Relax, reload, unwind and get ready for the upcoming year. Spend time with your kids—you just can’t tell me looking at your kid doesn’t make you happy.”

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Vanessa Williams: Holidays Are About “How thankful and blessed you are to have family and friends.”

By social-media demand, M&M has brought back M&M’s Crispy to satisfy your holiday chocolate cravings. Parents caught up with Vanessa Williams—singer, actress, former Miss America, mom to four kids, plus the voice of M&M’s Ms. Brown—about her family’s holiday traditions, what she wishes she knew when her kids were younger, and raising confident daughters.

P: M&M’s Crispy are a great holiday snack. What’s your holiday snack to make with your kids?

VW: I love Christmas cookies no matter what they are—sugar or Linzer Torte or chocolate. My parents were both music teachers so they’d always get cookies from their students. It’s one of the things that always makes me feel like I’m in the Christmas spirit.

P: You’ve had an illustrious career in acting and singing and now your daughter, Jillian, is a singer. Is Christmas a super musical holiday in your house?

VW: We listen to a lot and I’ve been lucky enough to do two Christmas CDs. I’ve done Christmas on Broadway and specials and always am delighted to have the music component. But Christmas starts too early now. It’s so commercialized. You barely make it through Halloween and then it’s the tunes. It’s nice to concentrate and focus on what the time should really be about: how thankful and blessed you are to have family and friends and to appreciate what’s happened through the year. The music for me is more reverential than commercial and that’s what we try to do with playing the music in the house and singing as a family.

P: Of your four children only Sasha is still at home. Is there any tradition that brings everyone back with childhood memories?

VW: We have a Christmas Eve pageant. When the kids were young they would each get a part depending on what class—second graders could be angels and if you were Mary and Joseph you were the stars. We still go to the children’s mass because we love seeing the kids. It also reminds us of how long we’ve been together and the roles they had. Then we come back to the house and I make a lasagna and the kids open one gift. Christmas Eve is the one we try to make consistent every year.

P: Your kids are growing up quickly, but is there anything about parenthood that still baffles you?

VW: I think it’s just the adolescent years. It’s a mixed bag every day. You don’t know what the mood’s going to be, the hormones are raging, their bodies are changing and their attitudes change as well. The biggest thing is to not take it personally. You have to be there and be consistent and set limits and [give] advice, but be steady.

P: What do you know now about being a parent that you wish you had known about those early years?

VW: I know so many parents are hyper-focused on achievement and test scores. It’s almost like you’re in competition with other parents, and the kids are overwhelmed and stressed out. Life will turn out the way it’s supposed to turn out. I think it puts too much pressure on the parents who micromanage their kids. It’s anxiety-causing. Within [kids who have the] same parents you’re going to get four different personalities, four different studying types, four different skill levels, and you have to tailor your energy toward each child. If you get a bad test score in 7th grade, guess what? You can still be the CEO of a company because if that’s what you’re good at and you work hard and life happens to bring you that opportunity, they’re not gonna know what you got on your 8th grade geometry test.

P: You have three daughters and there is a prominent dialogue today about raising women who are not defined by their appearance, yet we cannot deny that how you present yourself matters. How do you navigate this challenge as a mom?

VW: I think it’s getting worse, particularly when you have social media and the opportunity to take images of yourself and correct them. You’re presenting a perfection constantly and you’re always trying to live up to the perfect example on a day-to-day basis. Luckily for me and luckily for my kids I emphasize what they do, which is talent.

I’ve also had the luxury of taking my kids all over the world so they see the different body types and the different genetics that are different in Brazil than they are in Egypt than they are in Austria. Instead of trying to squeeze yourself into a box where you don’t fit, that’s the great thing about traveling the world. They can appreciate [differences] and I think it really helps in term of self-esteem and really feeling comfortable.

How to Make Sandwich Cookie Snowglobes
How to Make Sandwich Cookie Snowglobes
How to Make Sandwich Cookie Snowglobes

If cookies aren’t your favorite, find enough cupcake recipes for a year here!

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Give Your Kids Great Hair for Photos

*guest written by Cozy Friedman, founder of the new SoCozy Professional Hair Care Collection for Children and Cozy’s Cuts for Kids. The New York City salons are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. 

These hairstyling do’s and don’ts to give your little one the best shot at the cutest school photo ever, and are equally good for holiday photos.

DO shampoo your kid’s hair the night before and use a leave-in conditioner (like the SoCozy Cinch Detangler + Leave-In Conditioner) to enhance curls, smooth hair, and add body and shine. If hair is dry, flat, or full of static in the morning, spray it with a bit of water and a little more leave-in conditioner.

DON’T get a haircut the day before picture day. Ideally, schedule your appointment one to two weeks before. Hair will look more natural and any uneven areas can be corrected in time.

DO try to capture your kid’s everyday look, so that when you look back in thirty years, it’s a true representation. Nothing too fancy!

DON’T forget that school-picture day is a regular school day and not a private studio session. Keep your kid’s hairstyle simple and you’re more likely to end up with a photo everybody likes. For girls, that means no bows or hair clips.

DO use a light styling cream, such as the SoCozy Behave Styling Cream, or alcohol-free styling gel in the morning to hold a neat, smooth style that doesn’t look stiff or slick. But keep in mind the rule for styling products is the same for school glue: A little dab will do ya!

Are you a little too compulsive with your own photo-taking? Watch this video before the holidays!

Must-Knows On Tech and Child Development: Take Fewer Photos!
Must-Knows On Tech and Child Development: Take Fewer Photos!
Must-Knows On Tech and Child Development: Take Fewer Photos!

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Exclusive Gilt.com Paddington Pre-sale for Our Readers

It’s every kid’s dream come true! Parents has teamed with our friends at Gilt.com, as they host an exclusive sale featuring merchandise and authentic props from Paddington, the new hit adventure film from the producer of Harry Potter, set to release on Jan. 16. Only our readers have access to the sale before it opens up to the public on Wednesday, Dec. 10, at noon.

As if owning props from a film starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville, Ben Whishaw, Sally Hawkins and more isn’t exciting enough, you should know 100% of the proceeds benefit The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness’s “Be Homeful” campaign. The effort strives to put an end to homelessness before it begins.

The sale also features a collection of Gilt.com’s favorite children’s clothing and accessories inspired by the film, from snuggly sweaters to rain-gear, wellies and more.

Are you ready to shop? Check it out:

How can you resist this adorable Yottoy Paddington Bear? Price: $20

 

These Igor Yellow Piter Boots are so Paddington. Price: $35

 This stylish RDP Paddington Raincoat is such a steal! Price: $15

And how cute is this JoJo Maman Bebe Duffle Coat? Price: $55

Do you have a puzzle solver at home? Check out the New York Puzzle Company’s Paddington Movie Poster Jigsaw Puzzle. Price: $16

Now, if you’re really a fan, make sure you check out some memorabilia from the actual film! Check it out:

Paddington’s Skateboard Paddington wildly sets off on these hot wheels as he searches for the “owner” of a lost wallet. Price: $1,200


Jonathan Brown’s Yoyo Right before meeting Paddington, Jonathan walks through Paddington Station with his family, as he plays with his yoyo. Price: $175

Mrs. Bird’s Duster This duster doesn’t come with the dance moves, but it is the cleaning tool employed by eccentric relative of the Brown family, Mrs. Bird. She dances around while she uses dusts. Price: $150

Signed by Cast — Paddington Movie Poster Price: $250


 

 

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Baby Bloopers: Santa Edition

Anahi, 6
A month before Christmas, my daughter and I were shopping for a winter coat at a department store. She was more interested in the toys, and pleaded with me for a doll instead. I told her, “Let’s wait and see what Santa brings you first.” She began to cry, and asked, “Do you know what it’s like to have to wait an entire month for something?”
Tony Giorgi; Sacramento, CA

Alexa, 4
My daughter mentioned that she wanted ballet slippers, so I told her she should put them on her Christmas list. She gave me a funny look and said, “Mommy, I don’t want them on my list. I want them on my feet!”
Samantha Michelin; Scottsdale, AZ

Charlie, 2
I was helping my daughter write a letter to Santa. I told her she could ask for anything. She responded, “I want Santa to come over in his comfy clothes and play. And I can make him grapes!”
Nikki Antonucci; New Philadelphia, OH

Elizabeth, 6
We were sitting at the dinner table after going to see Santa earlier in the day. My daughter loudly announced, “I want a man for Christmas.” After a long moment of dead silence, we realized she meant a Ken doll for her new Barbie.
Amy Schoenhard; Bethesda, MD

Christopher, 2
During my son’s bath, he started to splash water onto the floor. I asked him a few times to stop, but he didn’t listen. So I finally told him, “Santa is watching!” He immediately looked up to the ceiling, covered his body with his hands, and cried out, “I don’t want him to see me naked!”
Lauren Amendola; Miller Place, NY

Image: Santa Claus via Shutterstock

Christmas Crafts: Clothespin Skier Ornaments
Christmas Crafts: Clothespin Skier Ornaments
Christmas Crafts: Clothespin Skier Ornaments

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