Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Earning our Ears - Turning "Me" into "We"

One of the more common challenges on a trip to Disney can be the “me” syndrome.  It’s all about “me”!
I want to ride this; I don’t want to ride that.  I don’t want to wait in line; I don’t want to sit next to my sister.  I want to buy that, and that and that.   I want to do it all and have it all now!

It is easy to get caught up in the “me” syndrome in our immediate gratification society.  But, here is a secret…. A trip to Disney can be a valuable lesson in compromise, respect and selfless behavior.   Yes, it is true.  It’s a little thing called sharing the Disney Magic, or what my family calls Earning our Ears.

Earning our Ears is similar to the positive reinforcement method used by teachers called Caught Being Good. The concept is fairly easy.  When someone is caught doing something selfless, considerate, and from the heart, they are sharing the Disney Magic.  They are acting like our Pal Mickey, and that is why we call it Earning our Ears.

What are examples of Earning our Ears?  
  • We go on a ride our mom and dad want to ride (but we don’t want to) without complaining.
  • We share a bite of our Mickey bar with our brother.
  • We don’t whine when we have to wait in line. Instead we find games to entertain ourselves.
  • We let a shorter child stand in front of us so they can see the parade.
You get the idea.

How do you recognize these acts and reinforce this behavior? 

First, it is up to your parenting style.  For some, a kind word and simple acknowledgement of the act will work.  “Way to go for Earning your Ears!”  For others, a special item used to recognize the good deed can help.  Here are a few ideas:
Need something inexpensive and easy?  Stickers are a way to say “good job!”  Buy them at the store or save the extras you get from Cast Members during your stay.  When someone is caught Earning their Ears, pull out a sticker, talk about what they did and how great it feels to make someone else smile.

Are you crafty?  Consider a craft where you can add beads to a necklace or a pin.  The beads can spell out something or be used to earn their way up to a special treat like a set of Mouse Ears.  Then they literally have “Earned their Ears.”  

Do your kids have an interest in lanyards and pins?  Buy a lanyard and some pins either before the trip online, in the store or once you get to the parks.  Give them the lanyard and explain that they might earn a pin if they are caught doing something selfless to show they know what the Disney Magic is all about.

The key is to discuss what being selfless is, what respect is and how the feeling inside of us is the best gift of all.  That is what Earning your Ears is all about.  Villains may try to come along and steal the Disney Magic.  They may try to keep us from Earning our Ears.  But it is up to us to keep those Villains at bay and keep the Magic going, just like Mickey.

And don’t forget that the best way to teach Disney Magic is by showing it in our own actions.   The pins, the beads, the stickers are all just ways to help reinforce the behavior if you feel you need something extra.    But soon, the reward for everyone will be the feeling deep down inside, the Disney Magic that builds up in the heart and can’t help but burst out.
In the words of Samuel Johnson,
Love and magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart. And they both take practice.
Now go Earn your Ears!
PS - If the villains still show up, it might just be time for a nap.

Making Magical Accessories - Pin It!

Part 2 of Making Magical Accessories!

While searching the jewelry section of our local Michaels, hubby and I brainstormed this cute little craft.   It can be a fun way for children to Earn their Ears (see post), a handy way to pin important information to your child in case they get lost (phone number, name) or a one of a kind accessory for your park tote or diaper bag.

Magical Pin:
Pin Craft
  • Bead Landing, 2.25 inch pins – These pins are nickel free and come in a 5 pack for $2.99 at Michaels.
  • Bead Avenue, Square Black Alpha Blocks – The black alphabet letters are from Bead Avenue and were on Clearance for $.79 at Michaels, what a bargain!  For the white heart beads see Part 1 of the Making Magical Accessories.
Decide if you want just a single pin with letters or multiple pins to form a phrase or several words (like above).  Plan out your beads first, then place them on the pins.  If you are making a phrase (like above), string the pins onto a single pin and place beads in between.

As is, your creation can be pinned to a strap of a diaper bag or purse.  If you want to pin it to clothing or a flat surface, securely attach a Bead Landing Bar Pin.  Bar Pins are sold in variety packs and can be attached to anything to make them a pin.  I attached the heart beads on my creation to the Bar Pin and made sure it was securely attached.  Feel free to use hot glue if you are nervous it will fall off.  The pack of Bar Pins ran be $2.99 at Michaels and included over 26 different pin backs.

As a side note, my bag is from a company called Initials, Inc.  I love that their personalization is Free.  The only thing you have to beware of is that you can't personalize with anything trademarked.  But you can get creative with phrases like "WDW 1971" or "Got Ears?" as I did above.

Make Your Own Bead:
Want to make your own beads for your pin or necklace?  It is so easy to do with Polymer Clay.
Create you own bead
  • Craft Smart, Polymer Clay  – The 2 oz packages of Craft Smart Polymer Clay come in a variety of colors.  I selected black and red and purchased them for $1.49 each at Michaels.
To make the Mickey Ears:
  1. Roll 3 separate balls of clay, one large (the head) and two small (the ears).
  2. Push a pin or toothpick through the head to create the hole for the bead (so it can be strung on a necklace or a pin).
  3. Place the two small ears on top of the head to see how they look.  Be sure they align right with the hole you created.  If the ears do not look quite right, try making them larger or smaller until they look like Mickey.
  4. Be sure the ears are pushed securely onto the head or add a small amount of clay between the ears and head to help.  This may take a little trial and error.  If the ears are not secure, they may fall off after baking.
  5. For Minnie's bow, flatten a piece of red clay.  Use a toothpick to trace a bow out of the clay (cutting all the way through).  Mold your bow until it looks just right.
Don't forget that it shouldn't look perfect.  Handmade is not perfect and the imperfections add character to your piece.  Also, don't be afraid to test and try and retry and try again.  You will need to get use to the clay and different methods may work for you.

Follow the directions on the Polymer Clay for baking and let the items cool before touching.

Making Magical Accessories - Necklaces!

Hubby and I made a trip to Michaels and our creative wheels were turning! Whether you are Earning Your Ears or just want some magical bling, here a few fun and easy necklaces you can make on your own. Don't forget to check out Part 2 of Making Magical Accessories - Pin It!

Beaded Necklace
Bead Necklace
  • Silkies Necklaces - Silkies makes inexpensive stretchable necklaces perfect for this craft.  The pack I purchase came with 6 black plastic necklaces and cost $4.99 at Michaels.  They are fairly easy to open and close and secure around the neck.
  • Bead Landing, Alpha Blocks – I found a large pack of white alphabet block beads for $7.99 at Michaels. You can buy smaller packs just make sure they have holes large enough to put the necklace through.
  • Pony Beads – For my project, I purchased a mix pack of black, white and grey pony beads for $3.99 at Michael’s.
This craft is so simple once you have the supplies.  Select a pattern and a word, name or phrase.  Layout your design before putting it on the necklace to ensure letters face the correct way and the pattern is what you want.  Add the beads to the necklace and you are done!
Don't forget to look for coupons or shop and compare online.  I found a coupon for 30% off my entire purchase of Michaels jewelry (all of these items were considered jewelry)!

Bottlecap Necklace:
Bottle Cap Necklace
  • Silkies Necklaces - This time I used a 2 pack of Silkies black velvet necklaces that I found for $2.99 at Michaels.
  • Fashion Caps - The Fashion Caps came in a pack of 24 with different colors or 48 in only silver.  I purchased the 48 silver at Michaels for $7.99 (and used a 40% off one item coupon).   These caps have holes in each side already so a necklace can slide through.
  • Pony Beads – Pony Beads can be used if you want to add some extra flare.
  • Stickers - Select any stickers you like as long as they fit on the bottle cap.
Another simple craft!  I am an avid scrapbooker, so I had several Disney stickers already on hand.  I tried several different stickers until I found the black circle above and placed some red Mickey ears on top.   Or be super creative and create your own sticker on the computer.  If you've been to Disney before, consider a picture of you and your favorite character.  The great thing about printing your own sticker is it can be whatever you want!

Happy crafting and go show your Disney style!   

* Note that prices listed are what I paid at the time of purchase and may not reflect current pricing.  Also be sure to pay attention to the warnings on any and all of these products.  Some are not suitable for certain ages due to small parts causing a choking hazard.

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