December 11, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks: free iBook

Under my list of must-see movies this holiday season, Saving Mr. Banks is on the list. Tom Hanks consistently gives incredible performances and watching him become whoever he is portraying is magical. To see him portray our century's king of magic making, Walt Disney, is something I eagerly anticipate. 

As a Disney blogger, I have the opportunity to share advance information with my readers. Available now is a  free iBook  filled with behind the scenes footage, interactive pages, and trivia to satisfy any fan.


from the press release: 
DISNEY’S “SAVING MR. BANKS” BOOK GIVES FANS
A SUPERCALIFRAGILISTIC BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK
AT THE MAKING OF THE TIMELESS CLASSIC “MARY POPPINS” 

Featuring Rare and Exclusive Archival Treasures, Recording Sessions from the Academy Award®–Winning Composers, an Interactive Timeline of Historic Walt Disney Studios Milestones, Storyboards, Video and More 

BURBANK, CALIF. (December 10, 2013) — Walt Disney Studios announces the release of SAVING MR. BANKS: The Official Multi-touch Book, based on Disney’s highly anticipated film “Saving Mr. Banks,” in theaters December 20, 2013. Exploring the previously untold story of how Walt Disney worked his magic on author P.L. Travers to secure the rights to her book, “Mary Poppins,” the book includes a foreword by Academy Award®-winning composer Richard Sherman; never-before-seen correspondence between Walt Disney and P.L. Travers; rare storyboards and scripts from the Disney archives; an interactive timeline of historic Walt Disney Studios milestones; original recordings of the Sherman Brothers, performing their “Mary Poppins” hit songs; facts and profiles on the key characters in “Saving Mr. Banks”—all created by Apple’s  digital book creation app, iBooks Author. 

The “Saving Mr. Banks” book is available for free, exclusively on iBooks at www.iTunes.com/SavingMrBanks. 

Using Apple’s iBooks Author, the UK digital agency, Brandwidth was able to include video, audio and multi-touch interaction to create a robust storytelling experience. Readers can watch interviews featuring the cast and filmmakers, browse extensive photo galleries and explore the original storyboards and concept art—all in full retina detail. ‘Mary Popovers’ deliver fascinating facts throughout the book. 

Two-time Academy Award®–winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks topline Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen. 

When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise—one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation. 

For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge.  He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp. 

It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history. 

Disney presents “Saving Mr. Banks,” directed by John Lee Hancock, produced by Alison Owen, Ian Collie and Philip Steuer, and written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Executive producers are Paul Trijbits, Christine Langan, Andrew Mason and Troy Lum.

December 5, 2013

Cash for college students

Cash4Books 10% Bonus Code: DecShare10
As the parent of a college freshman, I'm learning quickly how frequently their pockets get emptied. College has incidental expenses above and beyond the obvious, such as tuition, room, board, and books. I remember that in addition to finishing my finals, one of the best things about a semester change was the chance to sell back the books I had paid so dearly for at the beginning of the semester. As a hint, hold onto the ones in your major. You may actually reference them in the future.

But for my offspring and her friends? If you need some extra cash over your holiday break? We have reviewed different book selling services and our research shows that Cash4Books.net frequently pays more than any other company.

Now through the end of the year, they are paying an additional 10%.

If you are going to sell back any of your textbooks, check out Cash4Books, first. As a disclaimer, Fresh Daily Bread does have a professional relationship with this company. Regardless, of all the book services we work with, this has consistently been reported to pay the highest of any service. It's worth checking out.

Happy Holidays & good luck on finals!

(and in that mom voice you know so well, don't forget to eat something healthy and get some sleep).
With love,
Mom

November 25, 2013

What good is gratitude? (infographic)


November 14, 2013

Social media as a business tool

Selling Through Social Media to Close More Leads
Selling Through Social Media to Close More Leads
InsideView

September 18, 2013

Is profanity really necessary?

The other day, my spouse dropped his phone and the screen shattered. We knew it was an easy fix, for an expert. In fact when we called the business, they told it it would be about 45 minutes. We were happy, took the phone in and ran a few errands.

I didn't like the name of the repair store, as it contained profanity. It really bothered me that it's such commonplace that a business can actually use profanity in their name. Ironically, their signage removes the second "S" so it uses the word as, instead of a**. In fact, my naivete was on full display as I thought the company was making a play on the name of the founder (thinking it was Brokeas). I was wrong. When we walked in the store, and filled out the paperwork and then received an invoice, indeed, it did say "Broke Ass".

Really?

Yes. Really.

Maybe that seems petty on my part to be upset that a mainstream company would capitalize on profanity to market their wares. I was also upset about a popular Facebook page called, "I f*ing love science". Well, I love science too, but I can love it without f*ing it. And it bothers me.

dumbing downIt's not that I'm old or crotchety either. I was driving around with my 15 year old and I remarked that it bothered me how we had to take our phone to be fixed at a place that used profanity in their company name. She looked at me and said, "Yeah, I know. It's like Idiocracy",  (the 2006 film about how dumb our nation is in 500 years), where the most popular restaurant is:

Butt:F***ers

It's insulting to dumb down our vernacular to the profane. We're smarter than that. Or are we? Because it's seemingly still funny to make a play on words, from children's entertainment to reputable businesses.

What do you think? Am I missing something?


September 11, 2013

The Ultimate Life Giveaway

Are you living THE ULTIMATE LIFE?

Between the pressure of running a foundation started by his late grandfather, being sued by his greedy extended family, and seeing his beloved Alexia leave on an extended mission trip to Haiti, Jason Stevens' world is unraveling. But when Jason discovers a journal that his grandfather began as a Depression-era lad, his writings transport Jason on an incredible rags-to-riches ride. With everything he loves hanging in the balance, Jason hopes he can discover THE ULTIMATE LIFE.

Opening in theaters September 6, THE ULTIMATE LIFE (the sequel to The Ultimate Gift) reminds us some things are worth more than money!

With The Ultimate Life Blog App, take the quiz to find out if YOU are Living Life to the Fullest! Read six great ways to start living the ultimate life NOW, as written by Jim Stovall, author of The Ultimate Life book. And watch the official trailer for this inspiring movie! One lucky reader will win The Ultimate Life prize package, which includes: 
    movie prize pack giveaway
  • A DVD of The Ultimate Gift, the pre-quel to The Ultimate Life
  • The Ultimate Gift book by Jim Stovall
  • The Ultimate Gift charm bracelet
  • The Ultimate Life leather-bound journal
To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog with the results of your Ultimate Life quiz by September 15, 2013 midnight EST. Winner to be chosen from the comments. 

promotional consideration given to The Ultimate Life for this great prize package




August 29, 2013

Getting Older

I'm winding down. My body clock has sent me all sorts of hints. The night sweats/heat flashes, the weight gain. My uterus has been checking the balance in her 401K on a monthly basis. Apparently now is the time.

I got excited when I figured out that I could zoom my computer screen print larger. I haven't quite admitted I need bi-focals. It's way more fun to spend half my day looking for glasses. The irony is that I need them to drive, not to read. The problem is once I put them on to drive, I cannot read unless I take them off. Hence always looking for them.

I am happy that there are pretty flip flops because my feet don't like heels anymore. Actually they never did, but I was patient enough to endure.

Speaking of patience, mine seems to be evaporating with my estrogen. I get annoyed more easily, but I also apologize more quickly when I'm a jerk.

So I'm getting older. Missing a period in my 20s meant something so much different than it does today. Today missing one means I'm just getting older and they are slowing down.

Then the slice of me that isn't thrilled about getting older wonders... maybe? Am I? Could I be? So I spend an hour researching the chances of a vasectomy reversing after 15 years. Turns out that the chances are about 1 in 4,000. Coupled with the chances of a 47 year old woman conceiving? About 5% after trying for a year. I'm no statistician, but I'm going to say it's time to admit I'm aging.

I probably should have known it was going to happen. I've gained weight, been moody, and had the hot flashes. In fact, this spring, I had an epic hot flash incident that I've laughed about relentlessly, perhaps that laughter was a form of denial.

What was the incident you ask?

Oh heck, why not?

I was visiting family out of state. Our travel arrangements were such that my husband was flying in later that evening. So I wanted to wait up for him. We had been drinking wine earlier in the evening and it was a cooler night in Florida. Everyone went to bed, but I sat up alone, entertaining myself on the internet until he arrived.

Then it hit me. A hot flash so enormous I was certain that flames were shooting out of my ears. In a desperate attempt to quell the heat, I looked at the cool ceramic tile floor. I laid down flat on the floor pressing my face against the tile, just enjoying the relief. I actually thought the idea through as much as a menopausal brain can.

Mom decided she would keep me company so she came back out to the kitchen to find me face down on the floor. "WHAT are you doing?" she exclaimed, shaking her head, and also grateful that I wasn't hurt, but just laying on the floor for some strange reason.

I stood up, very matter of factly, and explained I had been having a hot flash and wanted to cool down quickly, I even asked her to touch my neck to prove how hot I was.

She clucked and looked at me and said, "Why didn't you take off your sweater?"

Oh. Or I could have done that.

Yeah, I'm getting older.


August 12, 2013

Worker bee works for me

I'm posting this on my publicly personal blog. This is where I share things that are interesting to me but not necessarily marketable or promoting anything but my state of mind. And my audience is primarily my friends, though I don't object if others want to know what's on my mind.

I use this space to tell stories about my life and family and to promote folks I know who are doing cool things in film and media. Sprinkled with more of my life stories.

Today is a reflection.

One of my favorite celebrities is Steven Van Zandt. I discovered him as a Springsteen fan, but that gypsy boy is the one I have my celebrity crush on. He's cool as hell and I love when he does interesting things. So today, I found a recent interview with him and I figured out why he resonates so much with me.

He was being interviewed about his career as Springsteen's right hand and then again as the Soprano's right hand. He is who I fancy myself to be as he explained how much he enjoys being behind the scenes, not the star. The worker bee. I repeatedly tell folks I'm not leader material. I am the one who does what needs to be done. Another pop culture reference is the teen hit from a few years ago, Sky High, where the world was divided into heroes and sidekicks. I'm the Robin to Batman. I'm proudly sidekick all the way.

In my career life, I was an assistant, a Vice Pres, a helper. I like that role. It suits me well. Some folks need glory and titles, I need results. My experience says that you get more done behind the scenes instead of at the helm.

It doesn't mean I don't have my own talent, it means that my talent is best magnified by working with another. I am not comfortable with the role of being in charge. So let me take my gifts and help make you the best you can be. I'm cool with being Little Steven or Robin. I just want to make a difference and I don't need or want marquis billing.

So... my question is -- what are you?

August 8, 2013

Top ten problems facing public education in America (repost)

Top ten problems facing public education in America (via www.gimby.org)
The most essential problems with public education in America are seldom addressed in plain language. Below, GIMBY hones in on public education’s ten most pressing problems.Poverty It’s hard to arrive at school each day focused and ready to learn…

July 22, 2013

Back to school textbook savings round-up

As the Fresh household prepares to send our firstborn off to college, we decided to share some of the textbook companies and opportunities we have received from different affiliates. Hopefully it will help you save some money on your textbook shopping. 

rent or sell textbooks

10OFF150 for $10 off $150 purchase

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Win textbooks, e textbooks
No purchase necessary

Enter to win a $250 textbook scholarship each semester

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Sell your old college textbooks in three easy steps at Cash4Books.net 
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Sell your textbooks at www.sellbackbooks.com

July 17, 2013

Help make a movie... from the producer of Cool Runnings, Snow Dogs & Little Giants

personal notes & a chance for me namedrop a little bit: My friend Tommy is a Hollywood mad genius. His quirky sense of humor was the inspiration for the Shrek movies, as well as several fun children's hits. He takes a turn towards adult matters in his latest project, but with the same quirky sense of humor and brilliance. If you loved any of those movies and are ready to see his work grow up, help contribute a few bucks. I want to see this movie and we can make it happen! There's even a way to buy yourself into the credits of a REAL LIFE HOLLYWOOD movie. 

Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Tommy Swerdlow

In the fall of 2011 we made a short movie called The High Road. It was a simple idea about three very different fellows bonded by the same very urgent need. Well lo and behold, people really dug it - REALLY DUG IT, and the oft-heard comment was “I wish it were longer"... Well, we know enough to give the people what they want. Tommy and TJ Bowen (the guy in the backseat whose “arm hairs are full of electricity”) have written a great script (Tommy thinks it’s the best thing he’s ever written, and he’s written a lot) and the key players from the team that made the short are all on board, including our actors and both our young logistics wizard of a producer (Lee Buckley) and our boy genius cameraman (Jon De Menil, who is genetically incapable of taking a bad photograph). We start shooting August 12 and are ready to do OUR part if YOU are ready to do yours.


The House Itself


A DRUG MOVIE WITH NO DRUGS... The House Itself is a very original take on an unoriginal subject. We have no desire to glorify or romanticize the “cool factor” or danger of drug use in any way. A “dope” movie like no other, the film’s intent is to use drug addiction as a metaphor for misplaced desire, for looking for love in the all the wrong places. Now who can’t relate to that?

Who Are We?

Tommy Swerdlow, our writer and director, came to Los Angeles as an actor in 1983 and had a brief but successful acting career co-starring in movies such as Real Genius, Howard The Duck and Child’s Play. He had a starring role in the Vietnam war film Hamburger Hill. He started writing movies in 1989 and is best known for Cool Runnings and Little Giants among others. He was the first writer on Shrek and was responsible for taking a six page book about an ogre and making a movie about a donkey and an ogre. He has written extensively in television as well and had an original series on the WB in 2000 called Brutally Normal.

Executive Producer Daren Hicks has supervised the production of some of the biggest movies ever, from Transformers to portions of Ironman 3. 

Producers Lee Buckley and Clay Reed know what it takes to stretch our every dollar to its limit. We couldn't ask for a more experienced or dedicated team.


Where Your Money Goes


We're all invested in this project, and all of our above-the-line (fancy term for expensive people) folks are dedicating their time. Our equipment is donated, our future is bright, but there are still areas of unavoidable hard costs.

First, the money goes to food. You'd be surprised at what it takes to feed 20-30 people a meal and a half every day for 3 weeks. It also goes to permits. Unfortunately, the fine people of the Los Angeles permitting offices don't distinguish between sizes of production. We pay as much as the big guys. With more donations, we get better locations. With better locations, we can provide a better movie. We are anything but frivolous, and know what it takes to stretch our dollars to their absolute limit. We're excited, focused, and determined to bring this story to life, and with your help, we can make it better and better.

July 14, 2013

Why I hate guns

Crazy thing?

I've taught my children for almost 18 years now that the word "hate" is wrong. And perhaps it is in this case as well... But it seems fitting.

Understand, when I say "I hate guns", it is simply my opinion. I actually recently considered overcoming my hatred because "the world is a dangerous place". I thought being a member of the gun-toters society may be something I'd grow into.

But travel back with me in time. Join me in a college class I had my freshman year. You remember that time. The year you were about to learn just how little you knew. You entered those walls filled with pride and puffery, convinced that everything the world had to offer was somehow absorbed in the previous 12 years of education. You knew everything. Or at least I thought I did. Perhaps you were less arrogant about your drop in the bucket.

I was a freshman. Dr. James Kweder was our professor and the class was Social Control. His job was to enlighten our class how the world worked and who had the power. I strutted in there with all the answers. Or so I thought.

The year was 1985. Our teacher asked us how we felt about guns. I boldly raised my hand and announced, "I hate them. I will never own one." I quickly was about to learn how little I knew. My Socratic instructor raised an eyebrow at me quizzically, and said, "Really?" The question mark was a lower case one, if there is such a creature. His question was more an invitation as he proceeded to invite me to the front of the room.

"Kim, you hate guns, cannot imagine yourself using one, correct?" 

I emphatically nodded, with a small speech prepared, ready to talk about all the reasons I would never use a gun, but he continued...

"Take a few minutes with me, Kim. Put yourself in these shoes..."

He began to describe a street corner. It was evening, the sky was dark and I was alone, waiting for a friend. I had a gun in my pocket, just to be safe. Okay, I thought arrogantly, and I tried to ignore his part of the scenario that I had a gun, because I never would. What kind of game was this, I wondered.

He continued, in his even voice. "Kim, you're in Hough. (for those of you who aren't native to Cleveland, Ohio, Hough is one scary neighborhood, the historical site of the 1960s riots). It's irrelevant that the riots had ended two decades ago, a reputation is forever. According to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:
The HOUGH RIOTS, were a spontaneous outbreak of violence characterized by vandalism, looting, arson, and sporadic gunfire. Although there had been racial disturbances earlier in the summer, these events proved to be more serious and widespread. The riots were sparked by a dispute over a glass of water at the Seventy-Niners Cafe at Hough Ave. and E. 79th St. on the evening of 18 July, which escalated until the police were unable to deal with the situation. As the crowd grew larger, rock throwing, looting, and vandalism gradually spread throughout the Hough area. The following evening the violence was repeated, with fires set in the area as well as reports of sniper fire.
I took my grades seriously, so I mentally immersed myself in the worse neighborhood in our metro area. He paused and was silent while I digested where I was mentally waiting. He walked outside the classroom door, still silent.

I ran through the scenarios. I knew what to do. I could run, I could avoid that neighborhood. I could never have to know if I had it in me.

He started to walk back into the classroom, slowly and wordlessly, but with arms extended. I said, "Can I help you?" More silence, and he moved closer.

I watched my professor and thought about the scene he painted. I was on the corner of the theoretically most dangerous neighborhood in town. Alone. Waiting for a friend. A gun in my pocket. He took a few more steps towards me, slowly. I stepped backwards, and for a moment the professor broke the wall. He said, "I forgot to tell you, you're on crutches. You cannot run."

Gulp.

"What do you want?" I asked, hand confidently patting my pocket. More silence, but another step closer, arms still extended.

"I have a gun," I announce.

Another step closer.

"Stop or I will shoot", I state, confident my threat will stop this madness that is building.

I pull out my gun and point it at the silent menace as he continues to move closer.

My personal space is invaded. And with all the absurdity of my statement about never, I state, "bang" and pretend to shoot the gun.

I shot him. It may be predictable to know that his explanation was that he was the harmless neighborhood hugger. Naturally the person I pretended to shoot was harmless. Regardless, gun ownership and usage took over the minute I was out of my realm of understanding. I shot a man who wanted to hug me.

My idea of invincibility, when I was literally and figuratively paralyzed, coupled with the arrogance we embrace when we're young, dissolved. Even in the most contrived situations, once I got inside my head long enough, I was ready to shoot. Our media's job is to get into our heads. When I was 18, I was sure I knew everything. What I didn't know yet was that I possessed within me the fortitude to kill my brother or sister.

When you own a gun, the most important thing to remember is who the owner is. Don't let the gun will own you if you forget, and it's easier than you imagine.

That is the moment I knew, I hate guns. I hated that they made me weak. I hated how lazy I was about figuring out what a person wants. I hated that I acted like a gun made me safe, and I wouldn't hesitate to use it if I were scared enough. And Lord knows the world is forever trying to scare us, rather than inform us. Scared folks with weapons are much easier to manipulate.

That was the moment.

So I say again, I hate guns. I hate that they remind me who I am.






June 30, 2013

EquityLock Protector Giveaway (reprint)

(from Our Daily Green) 
EquityLock Protector Giveaway
(via www.ourdailygreenlife.blogspot.com)
In a world of the 3Rs of reduce, reuse, recycle, there is also a 4th R to consider. Repair. But how many times do we cringe when the repair bill can exceed the price of replacement? For some folks, it's reached the point of not even attempting to fix…

June 27, 2013

The gift of encouragement

One of my favorite ways to spend my time is encouraging others. I don't know if that's a function of my essential laziness, that I would rather goad others into fulfilling their potential so I don't have to? Perhaps lazy isn't the right word, but rather efficient. I figure it's more productive to encourage 10 folks to do something than me try to do the work of 10. But the seeds of encouragement were planted  when I was still in high school, by a very special classmate.

In high school, I dated a wonderful boy. He was so smart, so talented, and his heart was huge. We went to the Sadie Hawkins dance together, although I admit I asked him as a buddy. He was so crestfallen when I asked and it wasn't romantic. Teenagers are masters of mixed signals. Typical J. Geils song stuff. He liked me, but I liked another, and someone else liked someone else. I don't even remember it all. I'm rapidly getting off track. The boy agreed to go to the dance with me and he pulled out all the romantic stops to change my friendly invite to a romantic one. I admit, it worked, and what started as a friendship turned into a sweetheart thing.

Anyway, one morning, he got my locker combination from someone and I got to school to find my locker stuffed with candy, a little figurine and a letter. Believe it or not, I saved the letter and ceramic figurine. It was about ENCOURAGEMENT. (when I share some of its contents, you'll understand why I've held onto it.)

from William Barclay: One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. It is easy to laugh at men's ideals, it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word. 
RIP Petehis own words: Sun shines where love grows. Change is often desirable, frequently necessary and always inevitable. All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today. Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. All the wonders you seek are within yourself. Celebrate life one day at a time. Never let yesterday use up today. Remember yesterday, dream about tomorrow, but live for today. May your day be filled to overflowing with all that makes you happiest. To love someone is to always show them new ways to grow. 

We broke up but remained friends, distantly. I don't remember how or why we broke up. He was light years ahead of me at 17 and I didn't get the maturity of his words or thoughts.

His second year of college, he committed suicide. I can only guess the reasons, as we had not stayed in touch. I wish I could ask him. I wish he could tell me why he no longer believed in how amazing he was. One of the biggest stresses in his life was what direction to go. He was that brilliant that he had perfect scores on everything. He was on a full ride scholarship and he had no idea what direction to take.

I don't know why but it still breaks my heart. I found his letter recently when I moved my office downstairs. I realized how much his words shaped my life. I suppose a piece of him lives in me. I like to think so, anyway. He may never know how much his words changed how I approached the world, but they did. I'll always remember him.

Thanks, Pete.

June 21, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer on DVD Blu-Ray

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved my fairy tales. Fairy tales are actually a simple way to work through some of the most complex human problems, from coming of age to finding one's purpose in life. They are part of our collective human unconscious. Lately, there has a been a resurgent interest in retelling our childhood stories, in movies and television. A recent offering is a new twist on the old tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.

In cooperation with Warner Bros., we are happy to offer one lucky reader the a Jack the Giant Slayer Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet). 

To enter, we would like to know via a blog comment your favorite fairy tale. Please respond by July 04, 2013 at midnight EST to qualify.

About Jack the Giant Slayer:

Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing Jack (Nicholas Hoult), into the battle of this life to stop them. Fighting for a kingdom and its people, and the love of a brave princess, he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend... and gets the chance to become a legend himself! Directed by Brian Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns)
Starring: Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy), Ewan McGregor (Star Wars, Moulin Rouge!), and Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones).




June 14, 2013

Dragonflies

The legend of the Dragonfly tells of its role as a spirit guide. Many tales tell of people, troubled with inner conflicts and doubts, being guided, and helped by dragonflies. The most important instrument to have, the dragonfly teaches, is a flower. 

Nature puts them out there for us to find. A flower brings joy and love to your heart, and makes it strong. Whenever you feel disconnected, find a flower. It will connect you to the Earth and to yourself. 

I wanted to share a few of the dragonfly photos I've taken over the years. 

Today felt like that sort of day. 

Corolla NC



silk flower


June 7, 2013

Rent textbooks to save money

Campus Book RentalsAs my daughter approaches high school graduation, one of the overriding concerns is the cost of textbooks, especially for university requirements that are not in her major field of study. It seems crazy to spend hundreds of dollars for a book that will never be opened past the semester it is used.

College students around the nation are picking up some of their requirements with a summer school class and find themselves also concerned about the cost of a text book. Fresh Daily Bread is proud to partner with CampusBookRentals and share their special summer rental sale. They offer textbooks for a rental fee of only $29.99 for the summer. Click the banner for more information and don't worry about having a bookcase textbooks that cannot be re-sold, are never re-read and only helped fulfill some core required courses.

Trust me on this one, unless it's in your major field of study, you'll never open that book again after you get your credit hours.


June 5, 2013

Test your Civil War knowledge trivia and qualify to win!

The Civil War has been a source of fascination for people around the nation. Some personal friends of mine regularly participate in Civil War re-enactments. In fact, the dad has actually grown Civil War era lampchop sideburns to authenticate his role. The regional chapter sets up a large display at our county fair and participates in demonstrations around the area to bring that era to life. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, on June28th, the film Copperhead, starring Peter Fonda, Billy Campbell and Angus MacFayden premiers in theaters around the nation. 

If you're fascinated by this slice of American history, Fresh Daily Bread is proud to offer a Copperhead Prize Package: 
  • Official Copperhead Movie Poster hand signed by Director/Producer Ron Maxwell (Gettysburg, Gods and Generals) (27 X 40)
  • The Copperhead Official Companion Book [Author: Harold Frederic]
  • Movie Theater Cash [Valid for 1 Movie Admission]


“Copperhead is a glowing, luxuriant tale of love and conflict – a Romeo and Juliet for the American Civil War, where loyalty and liberty tear a small town and two families to pieces. Here is the Civil War as it was fought, not on the battlefields, but in the hearts of the American people. Gorgeously filmed, a pastoral idyll.”
− Allen Guelzo, author of "Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War" and Director, Civil War Studies Program, Gettysburg College
To qualify, simply leave a comment indicating your score. A winner will be drawn on June 15th at midnight EST from the comments. 

A special thank you to Copperhead for this great promotion

May 31, 2013

Space Warriors on Hallmark Channel May 31st

Since I was a child, I was fascinated with outer space. I remember seeing Neil Armstrong's famous steps and words as a preschooler (dating myself) and then being enthralled with the TV show Star Trek. As I grew older, the Star Wars trilogy defined my formative years. Space captures the imagination of every generation, and tonight the Hallmark Channel offers a new movie for today's generation.

In Space Warriors, six highly skilled teenagers are handpicked to be part of a summer space camp competition but they don’t realize that they will be forced to solve a life or death crisis aboard the International Space Station as the world anxiously watches. 

Even if you don't have the Hallmark Channel, you could win a DVD/Blu-Ray combo. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling me why you'd like to win a family trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s Space Camp! (and if you watch Space Warriors and get the secret word, you could!) 

Winners will be selected on June 10th from all entries by midnight EST. 

We would like to thank our friends at Walden Family Theater for providing the promotional material to offer our readers. Good luck! 


May 30, 2013

Monsters University – Final Trailer

This clip parallels with Fresh Daily Bread's life as we prepare for our oldest to graduate from high school and go to college. In the words of Mike Wizowski, "I'm officially a college student". And so are you, sweet daughter... so are you!

In theaters June 21, 2013
MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (In 3D)

DISNEY•PIXAR 

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Genre: Comedy/Animation
Rating: G

Voice Talent: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Dave Foley, Sean P. Hayes, Joel Murray, Peter Sohn, Charlie Day, Nathan Fillion, Bobby Moynihan, Julia Sweeney, Aubrey Plaza, Tyler Labine, John Krasinski, Bonnie Hunt, Beth Behrs and John Ratzenberger.



May 26, 2013

The Big Change

Contribution by Stevie Kirby

You know, it’s hard to grow up. There are times when I wish all I had to think about was where to sit in the lunchroom and what type of sneakers to buy instead of the rates for CDs at the bank and electriccompaniesindallas.com/. Don’t get me wrong, I love having the freedom to be able to do what I need to do when I want to do it – staying out until 3 am last weekend isn't something I could have done until now! 

But owning a home (even if my dad did buy it for me) and having a 9-5 job is really dragging me down in terms of being able to do what I want. I love that there are so many opportunities for me to meet new people here in Texas because I was really getting tired of the same old people in Alabama. I think the best thing I ever did for myself was leaving the state after college and taking this job in Dallas – it’s enough like home that I don’t feel totally homesick but it’s different enough that it feels like an adventure. 

I really wish there were more people who do what I do (I freelance, so I work from home during the day – I call it 9-5 because those are the hours I've set for myself and that’s what I have to do to keep on track) and it’s sometimes lonely here. My friends all work in an office and with other people so there are definitely moments when I wish I was more straitlaced. I could never do a desk job, though, because the inflexibility of working for a large company is just so not how I work and I would have had a really tough time adjusting. I love it here in Dallas but at some point I’m going to have to decide if I’m staying here forever or going back home to Alabama at the right time.

Guide to Parenting a Child with Food Allergies

Fresh Daily Bread is affiliated with The Allergy Kit, a drug free allergy treatment program. Because we follow the world of allergies closely, we like to share any freebies or news from such communities.  Today we offer the Guide to Parenting a Child with Food Allergies

Free Parenting Guide: Food Allergies


From Confusion to Confidence:
KFA's Starter Guide to Parenting a Child with a Food Allergy

Guide to Food Allergies
This free 47-page e-book is filled with essential information for parenting a food allergic child.

  • Understanding Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis
  • Diagnosis and Treatment
  • Food Allergies vs. Food Intolerances
  • Coping with a New Diagnosis
  • Checklist for Managing Food Allergies
  • Grocery Shopping and Label Reading
  • Dietary Concerns for Restricted Diets
  • Nutrition Information and Allergen Avoidance Lists for Milk Allergy, Egg Allergy, Peanut Allergy, Soy Allergy, Tree Nut Allergy, and Wheat Allergy
  • Where to Find Safe Foods
  • How KFA Can Help You

From Confusion to Confidence (requires Flash)

May 24, 2013

Education by the Numbers

Mom's Help

Thanks for the guest post by Jo Levy

My mom is a Realtor and it’s saved me SO much money over the years. She’s lived and worked in Texas her whole life so when I moved to Dallas she knew just who to hook me up with that would help me find the perfect house. I was dead-set on a condo but when Kelly brought me to my house I knew it was where I was meant to be. It’s craftsman style with lots of character and it’s also the cutest shade of yellow you've ever seen.

For a long time I thought my style was more modern but honestly, now that I've started buying some traditional stuff to go in here the more I think that style works best in this particular house. I've spend some time on www.electriccompaniesindallas.com looking into utility companies that serve my area. I didn't realize it but some companies are far better than others if you have an older home since older houses aren't very energy efficient, usually. Over time I’d like to make some improvements that keep the air and the electricity inside the house but those aren't going to be cheap so I’ll hold off for now.

I’d rather have a fence for the backyard so I can get a dog than get all new windows at this point in my life! Mom was really helpful when it came to negotiating my mortgage and she’s also getting a cut of my real estate agent’s commission since she referred her. I've never been interested in being a Realtor because mom’s been better at it than I could ever hope to be. I love her to death and not only is she valuable to me as a mom, she’s given me tons and tons of help as a professional, too! I wish she’d move closer to Dallas so I wouldn't have to drive three hours to see her but I've got the perfect house – I guess I can’t ask for the perfect family situation.

I Hope They Dance

Yesterday, I had my last volunteer teaching assignment with a class of city school 2nd graders. As always, their enthusiasm and energy completely charmed me. When I walked into the room, a darling little pixie of a girl looked up at me with a toothy grin and said, "I know your name!" I smiled back and said, "Oh, do you now?" She said, "You're Miss Kim!" Well sure enough, she had read my name tag and though I normally use my last name, I couldn't disappoint my clever friend, so for the next 5 hours, I was "Miss Kim!" to 22 little people.

We began the session with each child introducing themselves and telling me what they wanted to be when they grew up. Their aspirations stretched from police officer to pediatrician with a ballerina in the middle. One of the reasons I like to volunteer teach is that I firmly believe that education and love of school is the foundation to achieving those young dreams. If the day I spend in their classroom makes their overall school experience more pleasant, I believe they will be more inclined to stay in school and love to learn. I also believe that a fresh adult invigorates and encourages our youngsters.

We spent the next several hours learning about the difference between unit and assembly line production in our mock doughnut factory exercise. Then we learned about how taxes work to support our communities. We learned some simple civic planning as we researched and voted on what sort of business to bring to our mock community. We finished off with a lively rap song about the way money moves around the community, from the bank to a business, to another business, to a service industry, and eventually back to the bank.

Yesterday's class is in a school district that is plagued with crime and poverty. Something that really impacted me was when we had to do work in our workbook, half the kids didn't have pencils or crayons. The teacher tapped into her supply cabinet that she stocks out of her own pocket and as I imagined she's done 100 times if she's done it once, she gave them the necessary supplies to do the work. Something so many take for granted, like basic school supplies, is something so many of these children don't have. Without assuming too much, I wonder what else they don't have. I may not be able to give them all the things they don't have, but programs like the one I did yesterday give them something different, someone who truly loves them and wants them to succeed. Reinforcing confidence and curiosity. Reminding them how special they are and what potential they hold.

During the last lesson, as the music began to play, my little friends were wiggling with joy. I
children learning and filled with joy
promised that if they paid attention during the first time I played the song, I would play it again and they could show me some moves. The future ballerina led the dancing, doing splits and twists and pirouettes next to her desk. Another group of girls did an impromptu line dance while the little boys busted break dancing moves and moonwalks. The teacher and I caught each other's eyes while we laughed at their beauty and happiness. I am so honored she shared her class with me yesterday.

I don't know what tomorrow holds for my little friends, but I hope it includes the same joy they exploded with yesterday. I hope they always dance.

With love,
"Miss Kim"


May 20, 2013

Being the host with the most


coffee thermos serves 50
Atlanta Hotel Supply
As the summer traveling season gears up, many folks have decided to visit family and friends around the nation, whether for a reunion, a graduation party, or just to make time for friends, having company is nearly as enjoyable as being company.

But having or being company still can allow for the amenities of traveling to a luxury hotel. A lot of the accouterments found in hotel rooms across the nation can also be purchased by the homeowner.

Suppose you've got an entire group of folks coming for a reunion and want to serve hot coffee or cold lemonade all day. A hotel thermal server is the perfect solution for perfect hostessing. It also would be a great addition to a team mom's beverage solutions.

margarita maker
Hotel Bar Supplies
hotel supply online

As the day winds down and it's time to relax, what says I'm a great hostess more than whipping up a frozen summer drink? Again, a hotel supply business will have commercial grade blenders at retail store prices and adds a level of hospitality to any guest. Or what about the guest that brings such an item for a hostess gift and offers to start happy hour for the hostess?

After the socializing and relaxation, nothing says "You're Welcome Here" like fresh linens and comfortable pillows. To save on the cost of bedding, check out the prices on a hotel supply online site. You may find yourself opening your doors and sweeping off the welcome mat on a regular basis.

PeachSuite Hotel Supply has sponsored today's post. Nonetheless, we believe that consumers should be creative when shopping for bulk supplies and look at non-traditional retail outlets as well. To learn more about sponsoring a post on one of our sites, Click Here

Are you a stickler for grammar?

Or r u kewl with wat has happened to our written language as the result of abbreviated words to make text messaging more efficient? Is there a difference between your texting style and your writing style?  

I don't punctuate when I text. I've also found myself using abt. instead of about in regular writing. It saves 1 letter keystroke. Rather lazy, indeed. (as was the prior verb deficient sentence). 

So? How much does grammar matter to you?

Sound off... 

The Oxford Comma
Courtesy of: OnlineSchools.com

May 13, 2013

Post-Apocalyptic Mother's Day Post

The world didn't end. This year anyway. Nor do I think it will be anytime soon, and even if it is, my adherence to my religious upbringing is a comfort me, however much a placebo. Fact is, if it ends, it's over, if it doesn't, there's more where that came from. It ultimately means to live each day as it comes at me in the best way I can.

I am neither pleased, nor am I ashamed, but I celebrated Mother's Day in a very passive way. I just didn't acknowledge it. It may seem petty on my part, but to make a big deal about it seems disingenuous. I waver between the two points on the line. I don't want to acknowledge my mother beyond saying, "Thank you for getting pregnant and giving birth to me. I commend you for holding up society's expectations as long as you could."

I don't choose to go into detail, I think I've aired enough laundry at this point. Just understand, I don't know how to celebrate the basic human fact that I have a mother. To me that's like celebrating the fact that two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen make water. There isn't Hydrogen Day that water is expected to acknowledge.

I don't know what to say that isn't fake. The years that I acknowledge it, it's a frantic search to find the right card that says as little as possible as honestly as possible. Things like, "I wouldn't be who I am today without you". I don't hate my mother, she just isn't really a part of my life, at least not in a tangential way.

To be honest, I don't even know how to celebrate "me" as a mother. I thought at some point in time after being a mom, I would feel like I could thump my chest with pride and claim to be the reason I have great kids. In fact, they have done all they have because they are talented and smart. I helped them grow, by caring for the seeds. There is no gardener's day celebrating the fact that someone planted a seed and it grew into a flowering plant. It's just part of the job and what the seed planter expects. If it doesn't grow into a flower, it's more that the gardener missed something.

I, too, held up the expectations. I got married and had kids, chose to stay home with them instead of working. I am glad I've been here. I've been a gardener to the most incredible thing there is. To watch a baby turn into a child, into a young adult... and I remember each step and I celebrate it. My babies are exploding with blooms. I'm glad I didn't let that seedling wither. Why plant a seed if you don't want to care for it?

You see, for me, every day is Mother's Day. I am a mother 365 days a year, and one day is just a blip on the calendar. I am thrilled to witness the life I helped create growing into marvelous and wonderful beings. Members of the human race who I believe will make it better. I didn't do anything special. I did what I was supposed to do. I was there. I really don't want to pat myself on the back.

To praise someone for doing their job seems akin to giving a trophy to everyone who competes. I don't like it in Little League, and honestly, I don't like it in parenting. We are doing our job as members of the human race. We are fulfilling the unspoken agreement we have with the universe when we bring new life into it.

Motherhood is just what women who have babies are supposed to do.

May 10, 2013

MU = Mom-sters University for one day

From little monsters to big ones, everyone has a mom-ster. Possibly listening to tunes. 

It's coming. Will you be there? 


May 8, 2013

I want you to know... (my Mother's Day wish)

I've spent some time this week navigating questions about what I "want" for Mother's Day. This year is a milestone year for me in ways, because after 17+ years of being a mom, I am sending my firstborn off to college.

My "mommy" days are done. It's time to be the mother. And time to tell my children what I want.

I want you to think. By that, I mean that you need to consider the choices that are endless... and pick one. Intelligently. I also want you to make choices that are your own. Don't choose something that either agrees or defies what we've tried to instill. Please, I get there are times you hate my words, but for the love of all that is holy, do not choose the opposite based on a chance to defy me.

I want you to hate me. And quickly get over it. I know you will hate me. It means you are doing #1. You are thinking. So that trumps #2, my wish that you like me. In order for #1 to happen, at some point in time #2 must. You need to have such an opposite view of what I want for you that you hate me. Then realize, I may have a point. Stop hating me while you begrudgingly accept my wisdom.

I want you to know how to tell me I'm full of it. I want you to be smart enough to say why you don't agree with me. I want you to know that I already know you're smart. Prove it. Show me a reason to change my mind. What you don't know is that I can and will if you're convincing. Because...

I want you to know that I'm not perfect. My only perfection is my ability to love you without condition. I love you with every fiber I have. You are everything I ever wanted in life, I wanted to be a parent. I didn't know how, and I still don't but that will never change how much I love you. I know I screwed up at times. I know where I failed. I hope my failure didn't cripple you. Because YOU are so much more than me. You are me without my mistakes. You're young. You are unmarred. Your life is my hope. Base it on your gut, not me. I am not perfect.

Lastly, I want you to know... You belong to you. The world is yours and you can do as you wish. I can hope, pray, and even nudge you... but ultimately, you're you. I want you to have the confidence to be the best YOU there is. My work is almost done, but I'll never stop loving you. You're mine and I'm proud.

Thank you for being part of my world. Being a mother is the greatest honor there is.



May 3, 2013

More praise for the world's most noble profession: teaching

While the title is purely subjective, the sentiment behind it, truly heartfelt. As the month of May began, so did my daughter's countdown to high school graduation. Her first award banquet was the evening of the first, for her school's Speech and Debate team, part of the National Forensic League (yes, she's in the NFL).

Their teacher/coach is also a math teacher at the school and the hours he puts into both tutoring and coaching his students is nothing short of amazing. He's a quirky fellow, famous for his groan-worthy, yet endearing, puns. His students are challenged by his work but learn, and go on to excel. Rumor has it he once was seen without a tie, but never without a collared shirt, and almost always with a jacket. He dresses to command respect, but he also earns his student's affection. He is a class act.

That teacher inspires each of his team members to get up every winter Saturday morning and meet at the school, sometimes as early as 5 AM, to travel to a tournament to compete. They do so, joyfully. What a testament to his influence.

In four years of my daughter's high school career, I've never enjoyed an awards banquet more, and I've been to a myriad of them. The team had over 80 kids, and yet, our coach managed to make it seem like the banquet was to honor one and only one student. He praised each senior in a personal speech, talking about why they were an asset to the team. This year, our team won the state championship, something we later found out, that his math mind had calculated that they had an 83% chance of winning. From the kids who went to nationals to the ones who never placed, nobody was ignored.

I don't have a lot more to say beyond a sincere thank you.

Mr. Hamilton, you're absolutely the best. 


My kids are lucky to have you. Thank you for everything you give, heart and soul, to our students.

Canfield HS Speech and Debate 2013

New Trailer from Pixar's Monsters U

1 NEW Official Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Logo

We're more than a little excited for the "pre-quel" to Monsters, Inc. It's hard to believe it has been 12 years since the original movie, but in Fresh Daily Bread's home, our own firstborn monster will be going to college in the fall. This is a perfect family segue into the life changes and to learn how it all began with Mike and Sulley. From the press kit:

Ever since college-bound Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal) was a little monster, he has dreamed of becoming a Scarer—and he knows better than anyone that the best Scarers come from Monsters University (MU). But during his first semester at MU, Mike’s plans are derailed when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (voice of John Goodman), a natural-born Scarer.  The pair’s out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program. To make matters worse, they realize they will have to work together, along with an odd bunch of misfit monsters, if they ever hope to make things right. Screaming with laughter and oozing with heart, Disney•Pixar’s “Monsters University” is directed by Dan Scanlon (“Cars,” “Mater and the Ghostlight,” “Tracy”), produced by Kori Rae (“Up,” “The Incredibles,” “Monsters, Inc.”) and features music from future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and award-winning composer Randy Newman (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Toy Story 3”).
For more information, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter. The film opens in  U.S. theaters on June 21, 2013, and will be shown in 3D in select theaters. For more information, check out the Monsters U website.

April 26, 2013

Here's lookin' at you, Mom! Warner Bros.Giveaway!

Are you a movie buff? One of the reasons we work so closely with so many movie companies is a genuine love of the art of film making. It's such a thrill to get early information as well as offer great giveaways to my readers. 

Today's giveaway is no different. In celebration of Warner Brothers' 90th anniversary, they are releasing a boxed set of 100 classics. I had no idea how many classics were WB films, but the game below lets you guess. There are classics such as Gone with the Wind to modern favorites like The Notebook. What a perfect gift for the movie loving mom.. (hint hint!) 

We also are able to offer a movie giveaway to one lucky reader,  a DVD/Blu-ray copy of either A Star is Born or Cabaret. Who can think of these classics without humming along with Barbra Streisand's Evergreen or Liza Minelli's Cabaret, old chum? 

To enter, just leave a comment below and tell us one of your favorite WB films after refreshing your memory with the "Guess-the-Scene" game. (It's fun, try to beat the clock). Entries must be received by May 10th at midnight EST. 

Thank you to Warner Bros. for sponsoring this giveaway. 


April 24, 2013

On the receiving end of bullying

My last post discussed how I picked on a classmate when I was in elementary school along with an apology that I hope reaches out across the years and miles. I never realized how devastating it can be to be the target of someone's hostility until a few years later, when those same shoes were on my feet.

It was my ninth grade year, first year in high school. My junior high years had been a little bit of a rough transition from the comfort and security of elementary school. In our district, the three small towns came together in 7th grade in one building. So I went from 30 some students in my grade to about 150. That was the same year my parents began their divorce proceedings. It was a difficult and awkward time fraught with uncertainty. But I made a new friend who had just moved to our town, and we began to hang out at each other's houses. My friend came from a very large family and her house was always such fun to visit. The hustle and bustle of a large family just made me feel completely welcome amidst the chaos that was unfolding at my own home. My new friend and I met on the school bus and for the next two years spent a lot of time together.

When we got to high school, we didn't have as many classes together and we drifted apart. To this day I don't exactly know why we stopped doing things together, but we did which is fairly typical of friendships at that age. Around that same time, though, her older sister apparently decided it was time to voice her dislike of me, often and loudly. We still all rode the same bus but didn't sit together anymore. I don't know if I inadvertently did something to offend my friend or if the older sister never liked me and had her chance to speak up, but wow did she. I've gone over it a thousand times in my head, wondering what I may have done. It took me years to realize it wasn't me, but instead just a very angry young woman.

She would get on the bus and if I was on the aisle, she'd shove me as she walked to the back of the bus. I began to cower against the window. She would talk really loud about how much she hated me and laugh at me when I would either try to stand up for myself or goad me into responding if I ignored her. Meanwhile, the girl who had been my friend would just sit and snicker while her sister picked on me. I didn't know what to do or where to turn. There was nothing I could do to get her to just leave me alone. She was so mean and cruel to me. I'm not sure why nobody else spoke up unless they were afraid she would turn on them next.

At school during our lunch period, after we finished eating, we would usually go sit in the gym and watch the intramural basketball teams play. I was sitting with a group of my freshman friends and she was walking into the gym. As she walked by, she stopped to shove me and push her way through to the upper bleachers. She looked at me and sneered, "Get the hell out of my way." I mustered a courage that to this day I don't know where it came from, but I said, "Why don't you make me?"

It was the wrong thing to say. She slapped me across the face so hard I still feel the sting. It happened so quickly that not all my friends even saw what she did. I sat there in the bleachers with my eyes welling up with tears. I don't know why she hated me so much. I tried to act dignified and sat there for a few minutes stunned, until I trusted my legs to take me to the restroom where I could splash my face and try to gather my composure before I went to my Latin class. The bullying didn't really end, but I did my best to avoid her the rest of the year. I rode the bus in silence and ignored her. At the end of my freshman year I moved away to another state, which solved my own bullying issue by attrition. I wasn't there for her to bully.

When I look back on that now, I still am not sure exactly what the solution is. Ignoring her didn't help, standing up to her didn't help. I think she was just mean and probably felt safe picking on me because she knew how to get inside my head from all the time I spent with her family.

I think the best thing we can do on that end is to instill a strong sense of self and confidence in our own children. Make sure they understand that when someone is mean to them, it's usually more about that person's own insecurities than anything. When someone behaves in a way that makes no sense, it's not really about you, but them. I also have wonder if I had pointedly asked her in front of witnesses, "Why are you picking on me? Why are you so angry with me?" I wonder if I had put her on the spot and forced her to answer why she was behaving as she was if it would have diffused the situation. But then again, as I said in the previous post, there is no good reason to bully someone, ever.

At any rate, I will say that it didn't truly damage my esteem or have any lingering effects. I will admit, I looked her up and saw her face all these years later. That was when I wondered if I had asked her those questions what her answer would have been. I wonder if she's happier today than she was then. She looks much prettier than she did then with her scowl and mean words. I wonder if she regrets or even remembers that she was so mean to me. Makes me want to confront her, in a way.

Or maybe not. Maybe it's best to let sleeping dogs lie.

If you'd like to be part of the solution, I urge you to sign this anti-bullying pledge. I am being compensated to promote the Words Hurt campaign from TakePart.com. If I reach my signature goal, I will make a $50 donation to the National Suicide Prevention league.

April 21, 2013

An Overdue Apology for Bullying

This one is overdue by 40 years, but it comes from the heart.

I recently was invited to participate in a media campaign to promote awareness and prevention of bullying. After a cursory survey among my Facebook community, admittedly, the petition was met with some skepticism.

Comments included:
  • How would you "stop" bullying? I don't think it will ever go away, so I don't think it's realistic to say that it will be eliminated. 
  • No petitions will stop bullying. Nor will campaigns with posters and slogans. All the publicity and policing in the schools about anti-bullying has done and will do nothing.

But also this one:
  • We can't change what happens in every child's home. We can, however, take steps to curb public behavior. Just because the root of something isn't readily accessible or easily altered, that doesn't mean we have to accept the fruit that grows from it.

As I read the thoughts of my friends, my mind traveled back to my elementary school years. I have one regret and this is my attempt to rectify it. I bullied someone. I've never made peace with my actions and maybe a public confession will help. Maybe my side of it will illuminate the irrational thoughts that drive a bully to bully. I don't know. But here goes...

In second grade, a new girl moved to our town. We were a small but growing rural community because folks wanted to get away from the city life. We were within 40 minutes of a metro area so a lot of families were moving to our town. On the first day of school, a new girl, Patty, sat against the brick wall of the school building during recess. She sat on the ground, arms crossed angrily in front of her and whenever someone would come near her, she would throw rocks at them. That first impression stuck. She was mean. As an adult, I realize Patty was probably homesick and lost as the new kid, but as a seven year old and self-appointed class leader, she just was mean. And threw rocks.

For the next four years of elementary school, new kids would move in. Patty would always try to befriend the other new students, but my group of friends and I would intervene and tell the new kid that Patty was mean and nobody liked her. In elementary school hierarchies, anyone who wanted to fit in would also shun Patty. From second through sixth grade, I stood between Patty and her attempt to make friends. Even worse, I was not mean to her face. Patty rode my bus and we were assigned to sit together. I was friendly to her face the whole ride back and forth to school. But in school, I made sure everyone knew not to be friends with Patty. I have a lump in my throat as I write this and I want to go back in time and shake some sense into my little snotty self.

You see, bullying comes in all shapes and sizes and as an adult I know that. I will never be able to undo what I did and it will probably always haunt me.

I don't know what the solution is exactly, but today's sponsor has some ideas. I have partnered with TakePart.com to circulate a pledge. I am paid for every signature I send their way to pledge to stand up to bullying and its damaging effect on children, schools, and communities. I ask you to be a part of the solution by joining the movement to confront this problem head-on.

Even more than that, I need to say this. Patty, if by some twist of fate, you are out there and read this, I apologize to you from the bottom of my heart. I have never regretted anything in my life as much as what a horribly mean little girl I was to you. I cannot begin to tell you how much I admire that you never gave up trying to make friends. I don't know if you even knew why all your attempts were thwarted. You deserved to have friends and I'm also sorry that I didn't recognize that you were a lost little girl. The good news is that I've used that regret to teach my own children kindness and empathy. I really am sorry.

If I learned anything from that incident, I learned that when someone is throwing rocks, they need love and understanding, not shunning. Maybe they just need someone to listen. I honestly didn't realize at the time I was being a bully, but that is another piece of advice I have. If you treat someone unkindly, stop. If you have a chance, apologize and mean it. Make it right however you can. Bullying has emotional and physical tolls for the victim, and sometimes the depression becomes so severe, suicide seems to be the only solution.

Any bully will tell you "why" that person deserved it. The bully is wrong. Nobody deserves to be treated poorly by another human being. It's just not what thoughtful people do. Decent people nip it in the bud and stop the bullying behavior. I also am going to give myself a little slack. I don't know why one of the adults on the playground didn't notice Patty's anger and take her aside. I realize the world has changed a lot in 40 years and maybe the mindset was to let the kids work it out. I only know that today, if I were the adult, I would try to find out why Patty was throwing rocks and privately speak to one of the class leaders and ask them to help her feel more welcome. Adults have the responsibility to set the bar for children.

I am being compensated to run this campaign, so I also want to do more than talk about it. If I reach my signature goal, I will personally donate $50 to the National Suicide Prevention league. I ask my readers to please help me spread the word and encourage your friends to sign this petition.

I don't want to take away from my apology, but just know that karma got even with me... stay tuned for the story of how I was the target of a bully later in my teenage years.

April 10, 2013

Iron Man 3: coming May 3, 2013


We are very excited to promote Disney's upcoming film for a few reasons. The Iron Man series is one of my daughter's favorite franchises. In fact, she even discussed going to the movie for her after prom if she can get her beau to agree. To say she's excited is an understatement. This is part of why I love being a Disney blogger, I get all sorts of advance info on all the best releases.

Kevin O'Connor in Iron Man 3
Screen shot from Iron Man 3 featuring my HS friend
The other reason I'm excited is that one of the film's featured extras is a high school friend of mine (who maybe will agree to be interviewed about the experience if we goad him enough?). He actually has two roles in the film, this is him as "On Air Reporter".

It made my six degrees of Robert Downey Jr. reduce to two. I've been a fan of his since the 80s film, Less than Zero. Robert Downey Jr. was always one of my favorite actors from that era and it thrills me that he's one of my daughter's favorites today.

Without further ado, we present some press release information as well as a trailer from Iron Man 3.

IRON MAN 3 (in Digital 3D and RealD)
MARVEL STUDIOS presents in association with PARAMOUNT PICTURES and DMG ENTERTAINMENT

Genre: Action-adventure
Rating: PG-13
U.S. Release date: May 3, 2013
Running time: 129 min.

Based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series, first published in 1963, “Iron Man 3” returns Robert Downey Jr. (“Iron Man,” “Marvel’s The Avengers”) as the iconic Super Hero character Tony Stark/Iron Man along with Gwyneth Paltrow (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,”) as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle (“Iron Man 2”) as James “Rhodey” Rhodes and Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2”) as Happy Hogan. Set for release in the U.S. on May 3, 2013, Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” marks the second feature to be fully owned, marketed and distributed by Disney, which acquired Marvel in 2009.

Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose
reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he
embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle.
With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and
instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the
question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

In Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” Tony Stark/Iron Man finds his world reduced to rubble by a malevolent enemy
and must use his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him as he seeks to destroy the enemy
and his cohorts.



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