Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Couple Christmas Distractions

Ok, I haven't been completely diligent on any of my tasks --- so you get a bonus blog ---, and if your family likes Santa (I do because I grew up with it, but I know that's controversial and it's been really hard for my husband to grow accustomed to, etc).  Anyway!  Here are a couple fun "Santa" things you can do by yourself, with the kiddos, or whomever!
Photo from PNP TV linked below

First:  Portable North Pole TV
I sent these fun videos from Santa to each of my kids, both of my parents, AND my husband (lover's option).  This was loads of fun.  When I got the email for each of the kids' videos I plugged my laptop into the TV and let the kids watch the videos from Santa on the big screen. It's far from perfect as it didn't have any of my children's names in their spoken list and I couldn't chose a sounds like of my own, only the ones the computer thought were close (for example my oldest daughter's name is very similar to my mom's and if you are expecting to hear one you hear it even if you say the other, but that combination wasn't an option and it does use the print version of the name in the video, so I couldn't just use my Mom's name.)  Also my son's name which is fairly common wasn't on the list, but some uncommon names were offered as "sounds-likes".

The options for kids were good.  Adults were a bit rougher.  My dad had a tough year, with being unemployed for two years, and finally going back to his old job at a drastic pay cut.  I wanted Santa to commiserate on him for his tough year, but that meant the next conversation point was to congratulate him for overcoming some addiction... hmmm I almost chose Facebook, but when I heard Santa say Facebook..... yeah I changed it.  I didn't notice a big difference between adult family and friends options and lover, would've been nice to see more options, but yeah I know that's tricky stuff.

All in all very fun!

Second:  NORAD Kid's Countdown and NORAD Track's Santa
Probably the biggest Santa supporter there is, has to be NORAD!  Oh boy, do they ever go all out!  Once again they are partnered with Google and have a Christmas festivity in the form of a December countdown.  Each day a new building in North Pole village is unlocked and a new game, activity, event is open.  There are all kinds of games, many rehashing old favorites.  My kids have been really enjoying playing them even though many are too hard for them.  They especially love memory and tetris.  Oh and this one with a snowman on skis that they aren't any good at, but play anyway.  My 6 year old was playing the pipe game on a Christmas tree, she was good at that one.

On Christmas Eve, the tracker will go into full effect.  You can watch it on the site, follow along on facebook (Like Norad Track's Santa), or follow in Google Earth.  There are animated clips of Santa and his crew flying past world landmarks, brief discussions of other parts of the world and many many major cities of the world highlighted in sequence as Kris Kringle makes his rounds.  It's a fun countdown for all involved!

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