the-joy-of-Christmas-and-the-fun-traditions-we-create
Education

This post was written in collaboration with Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa and Mom It Forward Network however, all opinions, ideas, thoughts, and tips shared are my own.

 

I love Christmas!  When I say it’s my favorite time of year, I mean it.  I absolutely love everything about Christmas.  I love the Christmas music that usually starts Thanksgiving Day on KLTY.  I love the lights and decorations displayed on homes and businesses everywhere.  I love the movies, you know Christmas movies like “A Christmas Story” or “It’s A Wonderful Life (my all-time favorite).  My mom and I watch it every year. She may actually watch it like 4 or 5 times during the month of December.  LOL, I am so serious. 

As you can tell, those are memories from a few year ago that have stayed with me over my life (yes, a few years ago).  Material things are nice to have but memories last forever!  Now that I am a mom, I love creating memories and Christmas traditions with my son like dressing up in matching pajamas and having hot cocoa to celebrate the completion of our Christmas tree and decorations.  If your kiddo(s) are anything close to mine, we often spend additional time rearranging the 25 ornaments placed together in a 1-foot radius.

 Christmas-traditions-with- stephens-gourmet-cocoa

 

I must admit starting the hot cocoa tradition in matching PJ’s was the best.  My son, Chance loves hot cocoa.  So, when I told him that I was selected to participate in a campaign for Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa, he could not wait until the cocoa arrived.  He checked the mailed faithful and daily even during the weekend.  Once it arrived, he wanted to put the Christmas decorations up that day. 

Every cup of cocoa you drink has to live up to the first one you had as a kid. Now that’s a tough job! Other cocoas might come close, but Stephen’s will set your new cocoa standard! Stephen’s cocoa is rich, creamy and quite simply the tastiest you’ve ever had. They are continually introducing new and unique flavors, as well as cocoa innovations like our Single-cups for Keurig®-style coffee makers. Stephens also offers a special selection of delicious ciders, whose traditional (and not-so-traditional) flavors make the perfect drink for any holiday.

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We opened the box and he began assigning the flavors.  At the direction of Chance, I was to have the Mint Truffle, daddy would have the Salted Carmel, and he was dead set on the CandyCane flavor.  I must admit, he was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to try the S’mores. The disappointment didn’t last long. As soon as I scooped the hot cocoa out of the can and into his cup, the flavor truly didn’t matter.  When he tasted it…..let’s just say we are having it again when family arrives from out of town…. And on the night before Christmas….And Christmas Day…..you get the picture.

Christmas-traditions-with-matching-pajamas-and-hot-cocoa-strephens-gourmet-hot-cocoa

 

Over the next few weeks, we have a few other traditions to continue like baking and decorating sugar cookies, allowing Chance to open one gift on Christmas Eve, selecting an Angel Tree family to bless, and starting new ones like serving the homeless.  I am especially excited about starting a tradition that will ensure that we keep Christ in Christmas.  This year we are celebrating the birth of Christ with a birthday cake.  We love birthdays in our home.  We are excited to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with a birthday cake on Christmas Day.

Christmas-traditions-celebrating-Jesus-birthday

I told you I love Christmas! It’s my favorite time of year.  I disconnect for a few weeks for spiritual renewal and another few weeks for one-on-one time with my son while he is out of school – all while creating traditions that will add to Chance’s experience of Christmas as Jesus’ birthday.

Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition? Please share it with me in the comments, as we are always looking to add more fun to our Christmas traditions!  Perhaps you want to have hot cocoa in matching pajamas like us…Please check out the delicious and unique cocoa flavors on the website Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa and follow Stephen’s on Facebook, or follow along using hashtag #StephensGourmet

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

P.S. Enter to win a year’s supply of Stephen’s! We’re giving away 15, one-pound cans of our delicious, one-of-a-kind cocoa to a very lucky winner! What’s more, you get to choose which of our 22 flavors you’d like to try! From bestselling classics (like CandyCane and Mint Truffle), to our newest creations (including Old Fashioned Chocolate Malt, English Toffee, and Salted Caramel), the choice is yours!  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Education

During the #ThorRagnarokEvent, we met the littleBits team at the Disney Studios and learned more about the company, their new products, and participated in a team building activity of building our very own Star Wars Droid.

Disney-bloggers-at-Disney-studios-with-littlebits

littleBits makes technology kits that are fun, easy-to-use, and infinitely creative. The kits are composed of electronic building blocks that are color-coded, magnetic, and make complex technology simple and fun. Together they’re interchangeable in millions of different ways to empower kids to invent anything – from a sibling alarm, to a wireless robot, to a digital instrument. 

littleBits-droid-inventor-kit

As an early education advocate and the Founder of A Chance to Learn, an organization created to combat the issue of children entering kindergarten behind, the littleBits activity was one of my favorites.  I could hardly wait to get home and experience it with my son, Chance.  It was finally time to open the box, examine the contents, and prepare for our adventure.  

 

chance-opening-inventor-droid-box

The exterior of the box was inviting as it included all 30 pieces along with non-intimidating three steps of fun 1) Create, 2) Play, 3) Invent.  Chance and I noticed the packing material was minimum and appeared to be recycled paper and cardboard.  Big Plus!!!  

 

We followed the instructions marked “Start Here” and downloaded the DROID INVENTOR APP.  The app was easily found via Apple’s App Store.  Downloading was less than a minute so Chance didn’t get impatient.  After downloading, the app recognized his circuit and communicated to him in “Droid Talk” we had a connection.  His face lit with excitement as part one of the base assembly was complete. 

 

putting-the-littlebits-droid-together-with-chance

We then moved to competing the driving circuit, internal structure, and droid shell.  One of the biggest things he enjoyed was through each mission it was required powering on the control hub to confirm success.  This is a great way to encourage testing and also keep attention throughout the build.  We also received a “Mission Complete” message which warranted high fives throughout the build.

Once we completed the base assembly, it was time to take a test run.  Chance took a deep breath, gave me a thumbs up, and took the controls moving the droid around the living room even chasing me to complete the mission.  The sounds options were a big hit.  He really enjoyed the droid scream!!!! Over and over again pressing the button and falling on the floor with laughter.

 

As we expose him to more S.T.E.A.M. activities, this build was a great foundation to reinforce coding principals and user acceptance testing.  We had a blast and can’t wait for more products from littleBits in the future.  

 

We were so excited to build the Droid, I was also excited to share littleBits with you.   As you begin thinking about your Christmas gift list, littleBits Droid Inventor Kit would be a great gift idea.  Not only does this product shed a light on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) littleBits launched a global inventor movement and your kid can join the competition.

That’s right, the Droid Inventor Kit Competition invites kids, families, and Star Wars fans an opportunity to share their own unique Droid creation. The competition began on November 15th and will run through January 10, 2018.  AND the judges are The Last Jedi star Daisy Ridley (the actress who portrays Rey in the current Star Wars trilogy), Kelly Marie Tran (the actress who portrays Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Ayah Bdeir (founder and CEO of littleBits), and Kathleen Kennedy (president of Lucasfilms).

I know, it’s so cool! Are you ready to join the #inventorswanted movement? Snag your Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit and learn more about the competition click here.  Follow along on social: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and please share your Star Wars Droid Inventions if you decide to participate. I would love to see them.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

Education

I was invited to an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles courtesy of Sony to attend the #TheStarMovie Press Junket and screening in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.

 

As a mom nothing warms my heart more than exposing Chance to things that will enhance his life.  It’s important to me that we share our faith with him.  When I was pregnant I prayed three very specific prayers concerning him:  1) God, I pray that he is healthy. 2) God, give him a heart after You. 3) God, give him the wisdom of Solomon.  I honestly believe with all of my heart that God honored all three prayers.  Chance (given that name because God gave him a chance at life) was born healthy in spite of the many complications I experienced during pregnancy including being told that I had miscarried.  He loves God and will pray for any and everything.  He is so smart, he began reading at just 14 months.  He’s a gem of a kid…. not just because he’s my kid. 

Being invited to press junket of The Star movie, was an overwhelming experience.  The most compelling aspect being the faith-based component.  I arrived at one of my favorite hotels, The London West Hollywood and things we uphill from there.  The screening was held on site, with popcorn and Christmas cookies shaped like a star.

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In AFFIRM Films and Sony Pictures Animation’s The Star, a small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day Bo finds the courage to break free and ends up befriending newlyweds Joseph and Mary. Mary’s kindness soon sets Bo on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a loveable sheep who has lost her flock, and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become unlikely heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.

 

The Star is directed by Academy Award®-nominated writer/director Timothy Reckart; executive-produced by DeVon Franklin, Brian Henson and Lisa Henson; and produced by Jennifer Magee-Cook.      The voice cast is led by Steven Yeun (Bo the donkey), Gina Rodriguez (Mary), Zachary Levi (Joseph), Keegan-Michael Key (Dave the dove), Kelly Clarkson (Leah the horse), Anthony Anderson (Zach the goat), Aidy Bryant (Ruth the sheep), Ving Rhames (Thaddeus the dog), Gabriel Iglesias (Rufus the dog), Patricia Heaton (Edith the cow), Kristin Chenoweth (Abby the Mouse), Christopher Plummer (King Herod), and Tracy Morgan (Felix) and Tyler Perry (Cyrus) and Oprah Winfrey (Deborah) as the three camels. It makes its way into the hearts of men in theatres everywhere on November 17th.

 

Oprah-in-the-star-movie
Photo Credit: Sony/CTMG

I did not realize how much I needed to see The Star until I did.  You see, I have been struggling for a while with my faith.  Not because I don’t believe but I was struggling with trusting God to take care of my needs.  I’m not big on spoilers, so there will be none in this post.  However, I will share how I was impacted by The Star.

 

The Star Pic
Photo Credit: Sony/CTMG

The Birth of Christ is Powerful

Even with animation, improvisation, and lots of humor the story of the birth of Christ was still very powerful – and from an animal’s perspective.  Watching the movie renewed my faith. I felt liberated in Christ just seeing the story of His birth.  I was moved and filled with excitement at the thought of my son Chance watching it.

 

Following Your Heart Can Lead to You to Your Wildest Dreams

I have been so guilty of doing what was comfortable oppose to what I believe I was created to do.   At times, I’ve neglected to follow my heart…. not knowing that one day my heart would lead me to my dreams.  God will give you the desires of your heart, if you trust Him and follow your heart. 

 

Anyone can Change, no Matter How Much Bad They’ve Done

Your past does not have to dictate your future.  You can turn things around, but you must be willing.  For years I thought I would never escape my past, even after salvation.  But, what I realized is my past will always be my past but what matter’s the most is how I’ve positively responded to my past.  What am I changing? How am I changing?

 

Photo Credit: Sony/CTMG

I love Jesus! I really do, and I believe my relationship with Him is all that matters.  I’ve always tried to teach Chance by example how to develop a relationship with Christ.  It’s not always easy and it gets messy sometimes.  We are saved by grace, we aren’t perfect.  That’s why it’s important that we have movies like The Star

The Star is a perfect combination of humor and inspiration wrapped up in the life-changing story of the birth of Christ. I can’t wait to take Chance to see it.”

I could truly go on and on about The Star, but I am afraid that I will unconsciously include a few spoilers, and I honestly don’t want to do that.  I want you to enjoy this amazingly funny, inspiring and life-changing film with your family on November 17th.

Are you looking for a great family friendly movie that includes faith?  Whether you are or not a person of faith, this movie is full of lessons that we teach our children daily.  How have you taught your children about faith?

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

How To Treat The Buggy Problem Of Head Lice
Education

This is a sponsored campaign in collaboration with Licefreee and #WeAllGrow Latina Network, but all comments are my own.

I grew up believing that African Americans (black people) didn’t get lice.  For as long as I can remember, I was told that I could not get lice, because blacks don’t get lice.  I had every reason to believe it, since I knew no one that ever had it. 

I would have probably died with that belief had I not experienced an incident where African American children had been infected with lice.  Yes, I was the Director of Children’s Ministry at a multicultural Church, and one day a few kids from one of our families came to church with lice.

multicultural-children-and families

Initially I was concerned, but since there were only a few children that I believed could even get lice because the majority of the kids were black, therefore I didn’t freak out over it.  I notified all the parents, thoroughly cleaned the children’s area, and moved on.  A few days later, I was talking to a parent and she told me that her kids were infected with lice and it was so hard getting ride of them.  I could not believe it….I was in total shock.  I asked, “are you serious, I didn’t think black people got lice.”  She agreed.  She had been taught that same superstition but her children were infected and she had to treat them.

I began researching lice and if black people could get it and to my surprise the answer was YES. I found that there had been several studies done to figure out why black people didn’t get lice as often as white people.  The most common reason was the treatment of the hair.  Most black boys get their hair cut, which helps with remedying the lice problem, and black girls tend to get their hair straightened and use a good amount of oil.  Both immediately kills lice.

forgot-the-lice-myths

So, when I received a notification from my son’s school about lice, I was glad I had researched lice and knew that I needed to ensure that he didn’t have it…because he could.  Licefreee was created by parent, for parents…And, I was thankful for the Licefreee product.  I did not know when I agreed to participate with the campaign that I would have to use on my child.   So, I followed the “How to Check for Head Lice” checklist. 1) I checked Chance’s hair in sections.  That was hard because it’s so short.  2) I held a piece of paper near the section.  3) I pulled the nit comb through his hair.   Luckily for me, my son Chance did not have lice. 

licefreee-photo-of-motivated-mom-and-chance

But if he had, I would have treated him with licefreee. It’s a safe alternative to traditional chemical pesticide remedies for lice, and it works. Licefreee…

 ·         Kills head lice and eggs (called nits)

·         Non-toxic, homeopathic head lice treatments are safe for children 6 months and older

·         Our remedies for lice are strong enough for adults too!

·         The non-toxic choice of school nurses and pediatricians

·         Our treatments contain a professional, stainless-steel nit comb

·         Works on all hair types including thick, curly hair

·         100% Guaranteed*

licefreee-head-lice-treatment

I realize that lice aren’t the type of guest you want in your home, we certainly didn’t expect them at church…and everyone is welcomed there. LOL! But seriously, not wanting them will not make them go away once you get them.  And if you are black and were raised as I was thinking that black people can not get lice, please know you can. 

As moms, unfortunately we have to be prepared to treat head lice.  Have you had to treat your child for lice? Would you consider using licefreee, a non-toxic product?  Please share how you’ve treated lice.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

 

Education

Thanks Disney for hosting me at Disneyland to celebrate the in-home release of Cars 3 on digital and Blu-ray.

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Photo Credit: Disney Pixar
Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers led by arrogant hotshot Jackson Storm, the legendary Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is suddenly sidelined and pushed from the sport he loves. To get back on track, he’ll need the help of eager young racing technician Cruz Ramirez, inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected twists and turns of fate. ‘Cause when the rubber finally hits the road, proving that #95 is still in the game will test the courage of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage! Bring home the high-octane hit that’s fully loaded with unforgettable characters, spectacular animation and turbocharged bonus extras!

 

 

My son absolutely LOVED Cars!! I did not think anything could top it…well until Cars 2.  So, when the Cars 3 promotion started, we could not wait to see it this past summer.  It was all that we could talk about for weeks leading up to the release date.    

Realizing some of you may not have seen it yet, I don’t want to give spoilers but there were so many lessons we learned from the movie, the biggest one being courage.  Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you.   Throughout the movie, even the songs depicted a need for courage.  Here are a few lessons from Lightning that I want to share with you.

cars-3-phot-from-pixar
Photo Credit: Disney Pixar

LESSONS FROM LIGHTNING

Lightning learned that one moment can change your life forever.  I know for me; my life would be much easier if we had known about the concepts that I now teach.  I could have possibly avoided so many struggles and suffering.  However, my desire to help others live their best life was forged out of my attempt to live my best life.

Racing wasn’t the best part of Doc’s life Lightning, you were. – Smokey

 

Lighting learned it takes courage to decide to be done.   I am always reminding myself, if I continue to do the same thing my life will stay the same.  But if I decide to do something different, my life can be filled with all of the things that I desired.  It’s never easy but you have to decide to be done with one thing in order to try something new.

“Don’t fear failure. Be afraid of not having a chance. You have a chance.” – Sally

 

Lightning learned that the negative things in life can motivate us.  While you can’t always control what happens, you can control how you respond to it.  There’s been many times when negativity tried to suffocate my creativity and steal my dreams.  The negative things that has happened in my life now fuel my faith to expect great things every day. 

It’s a wonder what you can do when you’re not overthinking things. – Smokey

 

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Photo Credit: Disney Pixar

Being courageous is not easy.  I think everyone has moments when they are scared of doing something.  As parents we talk more to our children about responsibility, resect, and truth.  But a courage conversation can go a long way with teaching our children to be true to themselves as they grow up. 

 

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There are so many other lessons from Cars 3.  This is why you must snag a copy of the Cars 3 Blu-Ray + Bonus Pack available today, November 7th. It includes shorts, commentary on the making of the movie, and deleted scenes.  A few of my favorite bonus features are:

  • Let’s. Get. Crazy.: The “rules” of figure 8 racing, and how Disney Pixar created the Thunder Hollow Crazy 8 race.
  • Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool: An exclusive new mini of testimonials from the Crazy 8 racers on how Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool changed their lives.
  • Ready for the Race: An interesting look at Hendrick Motorsports campus that influenced the filmmakers.
  • Crus Ramirez: The Yellow Car that Could: Cristela Alonzo (Cruz) and filmmakers journey of creating this new character.
  • 5 Deleted Scenes: There’s an explanation for every deleted scene. The deleted scenes are: “The Boogie Woogie,” “The Jars of Dirt,” “Lugnut,” “The Bolt,” “More than New Paint.”
  • Theatrical Short Lou: A short film written by Dave Mullins about a monster that lives inside a lost-and-found box. It’s entertaining with a positive message about bullying.   
Photo Credit: Disney

Encouraging our children to practice courage is important.  Are you teaching your children to be courageous? How do you feel about the lessons from Lightning? Please comment below, I would love to hear from you.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

How Friends Make Our Lives More Interesting And Fun
Education

I was invited to an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles courtesy of Disney to attend the #ThorRagnarokEvent & ABCTVEvent in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.

 

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Photo Credit: Allison Waken

She walked in the interview room at the Montage Hotel with a huge smile and a vibrant attitude!  Loved her from the start as she was super sweet and personable.  I think I loved her even more as she gave us a glimpse of herself and the history of her special friendship with Taika Waititi.

 

rachel-house-2
Photo Credit: Allison Waken

The word friend is used so commonly, as it should…we should all have friends, both close and distant.  I sometimes call you all friend in many of my blog posts.  I believe that relationships are our most valuable resource.  However, there are some friendships that are so special it’s sometimes hard to put them into words.  Just like the friendship between Rachel House and Taika Waititi.

I am very fond of authentic friendships.  You know those that are born and grow organically? That’s the type of friendship between Rachel and Taika. When asked how she and Taika knew each other, she answered,

I met him when he was 17.  He was in a play in this little theater in Wellington, and he was the best thing about it.  I was a couple years older, and at drama school at the time. I met him after and said, “You were so great. Thank you so much.” And then started becoming a fan of his little crazy comedy stuff that he’d do with Jermaine and Bret, and another guy, Nigel Collins.”

“So, I became a very big fan. From then, we just kept staying in touch.  I had no idea he was going to end up being an awesome film director. He was an artist, and an actor, and a comedian.”

 

She kept in touch as a fan, and became a friend.  Friends become a significant part of our lives.  I think that’s my favorite part of their story.  Friendships can develop from supporting someone else’s talent.  Giving someone the gift of being influential in your life is a great joy as a friend.  Rachel has clearly been an influence in Taika’s life, she’s been coined as his “good luck charm”. When asked how she felt about that she said,

Not good, because when you put that out there, it can reverse.  I was thinking, oh no, maybe that’s going to implode. But it didn’t, thank goodness.”  I’m sure that was tough, carrying that type of pressure but it was amazing at the same time.

 

rachel-house-4
Photo Credit: Allison Waken

Friends make our lives more interesting and fun.  Being friendly can get you more friends but you don’t need many friends to help get you through life.  Give enough attention to the friends that really matter for your well-being.  For example, Rachel was coined as Taika’s good luck charm.  But the friendship is reciprocal in nature.  Rachel said,

I got a top-secret audition that I had to do through my agent. And she said, “Oh, it’s for Marvel.”   And I said, “Well, that’ll be Taika.”  And she went, “Oh yeah, of course it will.

I was given this tiny little saying with a few lines.   New Zealand is so small, so one of my buddies, who’s a casting director filmed it and then sent it off.  I then got a very kind of drawl, email from Taika saying, “Oh, by the way, you got the role,” which is really lovely. I don’t know if they saw any other people. I’m not sure.”

Friends selflessly help you even when you don’t realize you need help.  They support you unconditionally and are ready to happily stand by you to ensure that you are the leading cast member in your own life.

 

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Photo Credit: Marvel

In our everyday life, we need a friend to lean on, to listen, to grieve with, and to motivate us.  It’s a highly motivating thing to know that there are a few people who will always love you and believe in you.  A good friend of mine, Yvonne, lost someone very influential in her life.  She had worked for him for years, and loved him immensely.  He was a celebrity, so when he died the whole world grieved…but she was the first person I thought about when I heard the news.  Once we spoke she said, “I’m just sitting here on the floor in the dark and I can’t stop crying.”  I replied, “Do you want me to come sit in the dark with you and hold your hand?” 

Friendships can have a major impact on your life and your overall well-being.  Friends heighten your happiness and reduce your stress.  One of the major benefits of having friends is they improve our lives.

How are your friends improving your life? How are you improving theirs? Tell me about the impact of friendship in your life.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

P.S. Both Rachel and Taika gave an amazing Performance in Thor: Ragnarok.  It’s in theatres everywhere, please check it out, and follow Marvel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.

 

need-help-with-holiday-shopping-heres-my-thor-ragnarok-gift-guide
Education

I was invited to an all-expense paid trip by Disney in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.

 

Christmas is my favorite holiday!  I love decorating the house, putting up the Christmas tree, watching my favorite Christmas movies, and baking cookies.  Our family gets together laughing, eating, and sharing gifts.  My mom and I will watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” at least 8 times between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. 

Everything seems so extra special to me. I am truly celebrating the birth of my Savior and it makes me happy inside.  And it’s the only time that I truly enjoy shopping.  We usually have an adult gift exchange which is really fun.  But I am mostly shopping for my son, Chance and nieces and nephews. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas and buying gifts or deciding on future birthday gifts I’ve rounded up a selection of Thor: Ragnarok gifts that are sure to put a smile on your kids face. 

 

thor-ragnarok-products

 

  1. Thor Ultimate Mjolnir Hammer, $25

Summon the power of Thor with this Ultimate Mjolnir Hammer that features voice and sound effects.  If your kid is into sound effects, this hammer is perfect.

 

  1. Funko POP Hela Masked, $10

This is a collectible! A Marvel fan would be happy to get this Thor Ragnarok, Hela Masked figure from Funko that comes in a window display box.

 

  1. Hulk Mask by Hasbro, $25

Your little hero can Hulk out with this deluxe mask featuring Marvel’s Incredible Avenger.  Opening your mouth activates a chin lever then opens Hulk’s mouth and moves his eyebrows.

 

  1. Funko POP Hulk Helmeted Gladiator, $10

Hulk fans will love this Thor Ragnarok inspired, Hulk Helmeted, as a stylized pop vinyl from Funko figure stands 3 3/4 inches and comes in a window display box.

 

  1. “Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok: The Junior Novel” book, $6

Thor’s world is about to explode in this exciting junior novel based on the upcoming film Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok.  His devious brother, Loki has taken over his home of Asgard, the powerful and ancient Hela has emerged with dark designs.

 

  1. Funko POP Thor Gladiator Suit, $10

This Thor Ragnarok Thor Gladiator from Funko is sure to be a big hit with the Thor fans.  He stands 3 3/4 inches and comes in a window display box. Check out the other Thor Ragnarok figures from Funko! collect them all!

 

  1. Funko POP Valkyrie Scavenger Suit, $10

She’s a cutie and a great gift.  This Thor Ragnarok inspired Valkyrie Scavenger is a stylized pop vinyl figure from Funko. 

 

  1. Funko POP Loki Sakaarian, $10

From Thor Ragnarok, Loki Sakaarian, the brother of Thor is sure to bring a smile to kids face.  This stylized pop vinyl from Funko figure is like the others and stands 3 3/4 inches and comes in a window display box.

 

  1. Hulk Smash Fists by Hasbro, $30

Get ready for super smashing action with these Hulk Smash Fists. Featuring heroic sound effects inspired by Thor: Ragnarok these giant green gloves really pack a punch at playtime.


What do you think? They can easily be Christmas or birthday gifts, right?  No matter which you choose, I know that it will make any kid (or some adult Marvel fans) very happy.  With the movie in theatres everywhere today, it will be hard not having at least one of these items under the tree.

 

thor-ragnarok-products-review-by-chance

 

When I brought them home to Chance, you would have thought it was Christmas.  Had I been thinking, I would have saved them all for Christmas.  He played with everything and LOVED them all.

Are you going to make Thor: Ragnarok inspired products gifts this year?  Please let me know what gifts you are surprising your kiddos with this year?

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

Don’t forget to follow Marvel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.

 

Education

While in Los Angeles as press for Disney at the #ThorRaganrokEvent, we got a chance to interview Karl Urban

Karl Urban group photo
Photo Credit: Allison Waken

I did not expect for Karl Urban to be so amazing.  I mean, not only is he a talented actor, he is a perfect gentleman.  He walked in the room and went row by row shaking our hands.  He immediately became my favorite Thor: Ragnarok actor.  We were all so impressed, we talked about it the whole day.

karl-urban-during-thor-raganrok-press-junket
Photo Credit: Allison Waken

He was consistent with throughout the interview.  He was funny, charming, and a joy to interview.  Playing Asgardian Skurge (or otherwise known as the Executioner in the comics) in the film, with a tattooed shaved head alongside Cate Blanchette’s goddess of death, Hela – Karl Urban easily held our attention as he shared his Thor: Ragnarok experience.

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

After going through the interview, I took some time to pick out the most impactful quotes or actionable advice that resonated with me.  These takeaways are what make interviews so rewarding.  I whole heartedly believe in experiential learning, by doing and making your share of mistakes along the way.  I also believe in learning from the experiences of others.  Here are my favorite takeaways from the interview with Karl Urban

 

GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

I believe in recognizing those who recognize others. By doing so, we are sending a signal that kind and sincere acknowledgement of credit is something to be valued.  When asked if a lot of the movie was improvised, and if he could talk a little about it, he immediately gave credit to Marvel and Taika.

“Allegedly. Full credit to Marvel, they hired a director in Taika who has a very strong comedic style and sensibility and they actually let him do his job.  There was already a brilliant foundation in the script and we would shoot a couple of versions of what was on the page and then shoot a wealth of material that Taika quite frankly just made up.  You’d be in the middle of a take and he’d be, “oh why don’t you say this line”.  It was actually kind of liberating.  You felt comfortable in that there was no such thing as a bad choice. There was nothing precious about it.  I think that really afforded everybody a wonderful freedom to fully explore all the options.” 

 

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Photo Credit: Allison Waken

 

BE THANKFUL AND CELEBRATE OTHERS

There was a time when I found it difficult to celebrate the success of others around me when I was working so hard to excel.  A friend once told me, “when God blesses someone it means that the line is moving.”  It was a huge breakthrough for me when I realized that the success of those around me was to my benefit…it meant that the line is moving, and I am closer to being next.  Clearly Karl understands the principal as well. When asked if the premiere was his first time watching the movie and how did it make him feel, his response showed gratitude and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm.

“Yes! I feel so blessed.  It was such a pleasurable experience to not only see the film with friends and colleagues but to see the film with an audience who were thoroughly entertained.  Again, you have to give full credit to Taika and Marvel for really producing a film that I think reboots Thor in a wonderful healthy positive way.  And I’m so happy for Chris that he’s actually finally been given the opportunity to spread his wings.  I think that this film showcases his complete full potential.  Everyone was allowed to bring it.”

 

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Photo Credit: Allison Waken

 

LIFE IS BORING WITHOUT WOMEN

He said it not me, but I agree.  Well, he didn’t say “life” is boring, he said the “movie”. But I think he meant to say life. LOL! But seriously, women are wives, mothers, sisters and friends.  Nature is defined as a woman, she’s Mother Nature.  We have the ability to carry other humans inside of our body, that is absolutely amazing and phenomenal. 

Karl’s answer was perfect when asked, “Chicks are awesome and were fighting against everything, what does that mean for you? Since this is a movie that younger people are watching, is that important for you? Cate and Tessa?” He answered,

“It’s imperative.  I think it would have been a boring movie without them.  To think, Cate and Tessa are so wonderful in this film, they are my favorite parts of the movie and I love seeing Tessa’s swagger.  I love the journey of her character from the dark place that she was in to redemption, to reclaiming herself with her identity.”

“I thought it was a strong compelling journey.  And I had such a wonderful time working with Cate Blanchett.  To be perfectly honest, she was the reason I decided to do this movie, it was the opportunity to work with Cate Blanchett.  I read that script and saw that ninety percent of my material was with her, I’m like where do I sign up?  How much do I pay you?”

I often have deep thoughts on life and what living life means to me. What makes my life meaningful?  With exception of my family, close friends, and Sonny and Cher Barbie….I am most happy when I am fully present and mindful. When I am encouraging and acknowledging others, showing gratitude and thanksgiving for what I’ve been given, and when I am in the presence of great girlfriends. 

Karl’s perspective applies directly to my life.  I want to be a mom that leads by example. I want to teach my son to give credit where credit is due.  I want him to see my gratefulness, and adopt it as his own. I want him to want the best for others and celebrate them when they get it.  I want him to appreciate and respect women, knowing that we are delicate nurtures of life.

Friends, the #ThorRaganrokEvent has taken me on an amazing journey.  I never imagined that I would learn so much, and develop such an appreciation for the movie beyond my love for Thor himself.  I am truly grateful!

How has Karl’s perspective impacted you? What are your takeaways from his interview? Please share your thoughts, I would love to hear from you!

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

Follow Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and go see the movie tomorrow, November 3rd in theatres everywhere!

Education

I was invited to an all-expense paid trip by Disney in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.

 

Thor Movie Poster

 

On October 11th, I attended the Thor: Ragnarok press conference in Los Angeles.  It was my first premiere press conference and I was really excited.  The room was full of media and the stage was set. The cast was one by one, Kevin Feige (Marvel Studios President), Karl Urban (Skurge), Rachel House (Topaz), Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Cate Blanchette (Hela), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), and Taika Waititi (Director & Korg).  While the entire interview was informative and entertaining, I decided to concentrate on the following three key learnings:

 

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Photo Credit: Dwan @MommaDJane

1. IT’S DIFFERENT

It’s no surprise that the first question asked was directed to Chris Hemsworth, I would have started with him myself.  The moderator jumped right in and asked, “what makes this Thor different from the others?”  Chris responded saying,

“Taika Waititi.  I think we all had a, a vision, and an idea, and a want to do something vastly different than what we’d done before – to take it to a different place.  And that meant doing away with what we knew, and just reinventing it. It all came from his crazy, wonderful brain, and his inspiration, and him pushing us every day on set, and constantly encouraging us to improvise, and explore, and take risks.  And it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had on a set, and a film that I feel the proudest of, just because of this – this whole team, and the collaboration, and fun we had.”

 The beauty of the question and the answer was the word “different.”  Taika took a “different” approach that took the movie in a different direction.  And the cast loved it!  As moms we are challenged with teaching our children to appreciate and respect differences.  What makes us different, is what makes us beautiful. And while our children did not come with a manual, they did come with an open mind.  Helping them accept their “different” as kids makes them more productive adults.

 

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Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

2. IT’S HEART-CENTERED

I am completely smitten by Taika’s passion.  When asked, “you kind of brought an independent sensibility to this monstrous film, and gave it fun, and a little heart, too.  What was the process like for you?” I thought how befitting, it’s the perfect statement -question combination for Taika.  His answer did not surprise me at all, he said,

“Well, when they first asked me to come and talk to them about making this film, obviously I thought that Marvel had lost their minds, so they’re just hiring anyone now.”  “But I came in, and I knew my strengths, and I had to ignore the scale of this monster, this beast.  It’s a huge, huge film.  And what can be distracting on set is if you look over your shoulder, and you see 300 people standing there.  And you know, so you – I have to – I just had to keep reminding myself what’s more important is what’s inside the rectangle, and usually, it’s two or three people trying to remember their lines.  So, it doesn’t matter the scale of the film – that’s always the same, you know.  I just focused down on what I was used to, which was what’s in front of the camera.”

Don’t you love it, Taika focused on what was in front of the camera…people.  Our world is increasingly diverse.  Our children have friends that are much different than them. Like Taika, we can easily be distracted by our differences, that’s why we must help our children be more heart-centered and focus on people.  We can seek out cultural events or eat ethnic food to learn more about our differences.  But when we try to get to know people that look, live, eat, or speak differently than we do…that takes heart and teaches our children how to live inclusively.

 

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Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

3. IT’S NONTRADITIONAL

The critics are talking about how “different” Thor: Ragnarok is in comparison to the first two films.   It’s mostly contributed to Taika.  Even Kevin Feige said, “Thor was our idea, but perfected and improved by Taika.”  It’s clear that the difference is also due to the nontraditional approach to the movie.  I don’t want to spoil it, but there are several scenes that will truly shock you, especially if you are a Thor fan.  The next question was directed to Tessa Thompson.  She asked, “First, did you have any pressure playing a character that was mechanical white in the comics, and bringing that character to life?  How did you feel about that?”  Tessa responded,

“No, I didn’t feel any pressure with that specifically.  The things that I thought about around particulars of Valkyrie had more to do with, mass and size.  For example, I thought, I’m short,’ or I’m not buff enough.’  Or how she’s arguably as strong as Thor.  How do I stand next to a person like Chris Hemsworth and feel like that’s true, you know.  So, I didn’t think so much – I mean, satisfying Norse mythology, it’s mystifying, and fantastical, and glorious, and also very confusing and doesn’t make a lot of sense.” 

“I remember someone online saying like, ‘You know, Tessa Thompson playing Valkyrie is white genocide.’  Which is just as mystifying as Norse mythology.  I just figured, this thing that I’m tasked to do with any character that has its own iconography is to capture the spirit of the character, and I think the spirit of all of us, at the risk of sounding, cheesy, has very little to do with what color we are.  So, I just didn’t really invest in that.”

I remember applauding so loud in response to Tessa’s answer.  It was perfect! She was confident, passionate, and very impressive.  If we are going to teach our children not to make decisions based on stereotypes, then we must lead by example.  Tessa playing the role of a traditional white, blonde superhero was not only different, but heroic.  This is a “teachable moment” for us moms.  Some of our children may ask about Valkyrie not being white.  We will have an opportunity to help them learn about differences and not pretend that they don’t exist.

 

tessa-and-taika-on-set-of-thor-ragnarok
Photo Credit: Britni Newton Vigil

As moms, we are our children first teacher.  We teach them how to count, say thank you, play patty cake, to pray, to be respectful…the list goes on.  We have to do the same when it comes to appreciating and respecting differences.  Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common.  We must celebrate it daily.  It’s nice to have movies that reinforce those beliefs.

Are you teaching your children how to appreciate and respect others’ differences?  By doing so we are ultimately teaching our children to be responsible and successful.  Please share your thoughts about the importance of diversity.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

P.S.  On November 3rd Thor: Ragnarok will be in theatres everywhere.  I hope you and your family decides to go see it.  In the meantime, follow Marvel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.

Education

Earlier this year I attended the Disney Dreamer Academy as press.  As a result, I had an opportunity to participate in an interview with Disney Executive, Tracy D. Powell on Disney Dreamers Academy. 

 

My-trip-to-dda

“Disney Dreamers Academy is a power-packed, 4-day event held annually at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, in which 100 select high school students, ages 13-19, are inspired to dream big and get a jump-start on making those dreams come true!”

At the Disney Dreamer Academy, the Dreamers experience what is called Dreamer Inspiration where they learn more about the transformational power of dreams that will open a new world of possibilities for them and their future.

During the interview with Tracy, I asked “what are the top 3 reasons parents should encourage their children to apply for Disney Dreamer Academy?”  She responded, “while there are way more than three, I would say:

1. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that can change the trajectory of your child’s future. 

2. It’s a unique way to experience Walt Disney World. 

3. The connections parents have with each other and their kid, helps to evolve the dreamer in both of them!”

 

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I could not agree more.  When our children believe they can be great, have a destiny and future ahead of them, they tend to avoid risky behaviors. When they are passionate about something, not only are they more apt to pursue it, they have less time for trouble and things that could potentially steal their dreams.

Today, October 31st is the last day to apply to the 2018 Disney Dreamers Academy program.  The program will help your child convert their dreams into goals, and create a plan to make those goals a reality.  Potential Dreamers must be between the ages of 13-19, enrolled in high school, grades 9th through 12th and living in the United States. 

Are you encouraging your child to apply today? If you have a child that fits the qualifications mentioned above, submit the application NOW!Today is last day to apply.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom