Creative Advice from Walt Disney

Maybe it’s because I’m a blogger – where creative art lasts for approximately two minutes if you’re lucky – but I’m always in awe of a creative endeavor that continues to make an impression on people generations after it was created.

Take Batman for example, who recently turned 75. Or the Chronicles of Narnia, close to 65. Or Star Wars, pushing 40 in the next few years. I would imagine there is nothing more exciting and celebrated for an artist than to create something with the potential to outlast themselves.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Disney’s It’s a Small World, an attraction ridden by children around the world for five decades. Congratulations to the creative team are in order indeed.

Alice Davis, Disney legend, was the commissioned costume designer for this attraction. It is said that when she asked Walt Disney about the budget for her part of the project, he responded with this wonderful  nugget of creative advice (you can watch her entire interview in the video “Disney’s Journey from Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen” here):

Walt Disney, clearly knew what he was talking about. Of the creative projects he had a hand in, there are many more, which have been loved for longer than this one attraction. He understood that the single most important component of creating a lasting impression with your art is probably the simplest:

To always do your best.

His words really hit me as a blogger – someone trying to establish a voice, hone my skills, and make something special readers would want to come back to in this tiny space I call my online home. To stop looking at everyone else’s best, and just simply show up every day and do my own.

But that truth applies everywhere doesn’t it?

Whether you’re a photographer, a teacher, a sous chef, or a stay-at-home mom, the secret to your success and your lasting influence is to keep showing up every day and giving YOUR best.

Sometimes it’s the simplest truths that are the most profound.

What do you need to do today to give your best where you are?

Always. Always what we Need.

We wake up to the sound of the rain drumming the ceiling above us, and with it the peppering of my mind with the coming events of our day.

Garbage out. Mike off to work. Pick up Uncle John. Fish for dinner.

“Mommy I can hear the rain,” my eldest whispers with his head cocked toward the window in awe. Probably because we haven’t heard that sound for so long.

I’m out of bed now, rubbing my eyes. Trying to focus, I manage to flip on the Keurig. Just one cup of coffee. I just need one cup of coffee.

Breakfast. Make the bed. Get us dressed. Out the door.

I expect to be annoyed running out to the car this morning, but with every one tucked quietly and belted into their seats, I smile to myself as I start the car.

At least it isn’t snowing.

We begin the drive thanking God for the rain. This simple prayer sets my day so clearly into focus, and with it, come the gentle lyrics of a song . . .

Send some rain, would you send some rain?
‘Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again -
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would you send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid

A plea for mercy. A plea for change. A plea for provision. We know those prayers well.

But maybe not, not today
Maybe You’ll provide in other ways
And if that’s the case . . .

Moments of disappointment coupled by moments of creative surprise when God says “no” to a prayer by answering a different kind of “yes” -

We’ll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Moments of waiting producing such hard-won character, building such faith in our hearts when we find ways to say thank you in difficult circumstances.

Oh, the differences that often are between
Everything we want and what we really need

So many “no’s” and so many “yes’s” but always, always, always what we need.

We’ll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need

Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.

My heart beats hard inside me, and I can barely continue singing the words.

We have so much. Are so full. So rich. So thankful for all the answered prayers, and all the unanswered ones that have helped us reach today.

Because here we are, driving in the rain. And it’s no longer snowing.

You can listen to Gratitude by Nichole Nordeman here, or read the entire lyrics to her song here.

Decorating for Sesame Street

I really enjoy theme decorating for birthday parties. Each of my boys get so excited to select their own party theme and love seeing our living room turn into something special to celebrate them – but decorating can get costly if you’re not careful. I loved that we were able to reuse and repurpose most of our decorations for this years Sesame Street party.

Decorating for Sesame Street 1Because Noah loves Sesame Street so much, we have a lot of dolls and toys already on hand we were able to arrange around the living room with guest goodie bags for the party.

Pictured above: Walter (from The Muppets), Rockin Abc Big Bird, Cookie Monster, (little) Ernie, and Elmo.

Decorating for Sesame Street 2The goodie bags are made of fabric and stuffed with tissue paper to help them stand on their own. The Sesame Street fabric and bold personalized letters helped pull the decor together for us, and because it was money already spent for guests, it was a perfect (temporary) repurpose for party decorations.

Pictured above: Kermit the Frog (from The Muppets), Lullaby And Good Night Elmo, Ernie, Murray, and (little) Bert.

Decorating for Sesame Street 3Pictured above: Sesame Street Neighborhood Playset with various figure sets. 

Decorating for Sesame Street 4I was able to reuse last year’s birthday banner, with graphics from MuppetWiki, and Mike was gracious enough to string up some colored streamers. We didn’t even bother with balloons.

Decorating for Sesame Street 5Pictured above: Sesame Street band set figures.

Decorating for Sesame StreetPictured above: Gift table.

Elmo Cake & CupcakesAuntie Jessie of course worked her magic with the Wilton Elmo Face Cake Pan for her secret chocolate cake, and I added our family favorite Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes to the dessert table. Super yummy, super festive, and when the party was over, clean up was obviously a breeze!

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Sesame Street Party Games & Goodie Bags

It was really exciting to plan another Sesame Street party for my youngest – this time with some of his besties in mind. Birthdayinabox.com had some incredible Sesame Street party game ideas that we used (with a few modifications) to entertain our five-and-under crowd, and I was extremely happy with the way the goodie bags turned out. Keep reading for game links (with original Birthdayinabox.com rules), tips and tricks from our try at the games, and party pictures!

Sesame Street Party Games and Goodie Bags

Elmo Says

It’s Simon Says with a Sesame Street twist! Birthday boy got to go first, and we encouraged everyone to wear the Elmo hat when taking their turn.

Journey to Ernie & Elmo Says

Journey to Ernie

The kids had so much fun finding Ernie’s little rubber duckies, but because we played this game early on, many forgot to take them home. End the game portion of your party with this one, and make sure to have the right number of duckies (one per child, two per child, etc.).

What’s in Big Bird’s Nest?

Make sure to tap on your guests’ parents for help with this game! The four and five-year-old girls thought this one was amazing, but the little ones (and boys) were quickly disinterested.

Oscar the Grouch Game

We didn’t bother with any prizes for this one – the kids were just so excited to toss the paper in the can. It amazes me how amusing simple can be :).

Oscar The Grouch Game

Big Bird’s Balloon Game

We had so much fun with balloons at Elijah’s Star Wars Party it was imperative we include them for Noah’s. I blew up balloons and drew faces with sharpie (Big Bird, Oscar and Cookie) ahead of time and then just let the kids play with them as they wanted. No rules necessary. This might have been the hit of the party!

Big Bird's Balloon Game

Goodie Bags

We created handmade personalized Sesame Street totes for each child (tutorial coming soon!) and included a Sesame Street board book inside. This is my favorite party giveaway we’ve ever done because Noah’s guests loved having something so personal to take home with them – and they looked awesome collectively decorating our party space . . . but more on that later :).

Sesame Street Goodie Bags

Lyle Finds His Mother | Lifeline Theater

My family was given four tickets to see Lyle Finds His Mother at Lifeline Theatre in exchange for posting a review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own. 

Special thanks to Andrew Saenz from Shout Marketing and Media Relations for connecting us with Lifeline Theatre and the story of Lyle.

Lyle (Anthony Kayer, left) is reunited with his crocodile Mother (Deanna Myers, right); in Lifeline Theatre’s world premiere musical, “Lyle Finds His Mother,” adapted by Jessica Wright Buha, music and lyrics by Michael James Brooks, and directed by Dorothy Milne; based on the beloved children’s book by Bernard Waber; runs March 22, 2014, through April 27, 2014. Lifeline Theatre is located at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. Chicago, IL 60626. For tickets call the box office at 773-761-4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett.

Lyle is reunited with his crocodile Mother. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett.

We had the incredible opportunity of returning to Lifeline Theater for their new KidSeries performance of Lyle Finds His Mother. The boys loved their last show, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!, so for several days we have been fielding how-long-until-the-show questions. Lyle did not disappoint.

Based on the book by Bernard Waber, with script by Jessica Wright Buha, music and lyrics by Michael James Brooks, and directed by Dorothy Milne; Lifeline’s adaptation of this classic children’s book was both heartwarming and creative. Lyle says goodbye to his human family and pairs up with Hector P. Valenti, Star of Stage and Screen, to earn his way through song and dance to the land of the crocodile, and his birth mother. Through his adventures he comes to learn both the importance and uniqueness of family.

Lyle (Anthony Kayer, left) poses for a portrait with his human family: (L to R) Mr. Primm (Linsey Falls), Mrs. Primm (Erin O’Shea), and Joshua (Brian Tochterman Jr.); in Lifeline Theatre’s world premiere musical, “Lyle Finds His Mother,” adapted by Jessica Wright Buha, music and lyrics by Michael James Brooks, and directed by Dorothy Milne; based on the beloved children’s book by Bernard Waber; runs March 22, 2014, through April 27, 2014. Lifeline Theatre is located at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. Chicago, IL 60626. For tickets call the box office at 773-761-4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett.

Lyle and his human family: Dad and Mom, Mr. & Mrs. Prim, and brother, Joshua. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett.

The performance wasn’t quite as tight as what I’ve come to expect from Lifeline in The Three Little Pigs, but I blame it on the fact we only visited the second public performance. My boys of course loved the show in it’s entirety. This is what I loved:

What I loved about the show

  • I mentioned this the last time I reviewed a show at Lifeline, but it is totally worth mentioning again. All of Lifeline’s shows are original adaptations of written works. This extends the theater experience for young families beyond the actual show, creating space to explore the story again through the original author’s point of view.
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  • The Lyle script is fantastic and engaging. The story follows Bernard’s closely, but the added musical and dance numbers give it a certain theatrical sparkle. My favorite scene was a duet between Lyle and his mother that incorporated a pretty impressive dance routine for such a small space.
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  • I am always amazed at the creativity and versatility of the cast and crew at Lifeline. The staging for Lyle is bold and colorful, changing scenes effortlessly and believably. The five person cast is spread convincingly over eleven different characters by way of subtle costume changes. They are experts at transforming the room over and over and over again into the imaginary world of the story they are sharing.
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  • I love that the actors and actresses are available immediately following the show to mingle with the kids and sign autographs, not only for the boys to meet the performers, but to give them an opportunity to say thank you as well.
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  • Hands down, my favorite part of this show was the message – that every family is unique and that every family is important – absolutely perfect for our family adventure day.
Lyle (Anthony Kayer, left) and Hector P. Valenti, Star of Stage and Screen (Linsey Falls, right), tour the world with their new musical act; in Lifeline Theatre’s world premiere musical, “Lyle Finds His Mother,” adapted by Jessica Wright Buha, music and lyrics by Michael James Brooks, and directed by Dorothy Milne; based on the beloved children’s book by Bernard Waber; runs March 22, 2014, through April 27, 2014. Lifeline Theatre is located at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. Chicago, IL 60626. For tickets call the box office at 773-761-4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett.

Lyle and Hector P. Valenti, Star of Stage and Screen, tour the world with their new musical act. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett.

Show run & ticket information

  • Lyle Finds His Mother runs through Sunday, April 27 (no performances Easter Sunday, April 20) at Lifeline Theatre in Rogers Park (6912 N. Glenwood Ave). Regular performance times are Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
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  • Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the Lifeline Theater Box Office (773-761-4477) or by visiting www.lifelinetheatre.com.
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  • Free parking is available at the designated lot west of the theatre (NE corner of Morse and Ravenswood) with free shuttle service before and after the show. Street parking is also available. Lifeline Theatre is handicapped and CTA accessible (Red Line Morse stop/busses).
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  • Copies of the book are made available in the lobby after the performance for $7.

This post contains affiliate links. Questions? Read my disclosure page.