Salem’s Christmas Parade 2011

As my little 2 year old helped me hang the stockings a few nights ago I realized that this is actually Ellie’s 3rd Christmas, but we have yet to take her to a Christmas parade.  We didn’t even consider taking her to one for her 1st Christmas.  Ellie was barely 2 months old and 5 weeks preemie at that.  I was very careful about leaving the house with her and taking her out into the cold until well after the New Year.  Last year we wanted to take her to one of the local parades, but most of them were postponed by rain, and we were busy on the dates they were rescheduled.

As this is the big parade week in our area I decided I would make a point to take her out to one of the 5 local parades going on this weekend.  Ben didn’t get home early enough from work yesterday to go to the Walhalla parade, so we decided to go to the Salem parade today.  It’s a smaller parade, but I actually prefer it.  There aren’t as many people there, and it’s closer to home.  Even still it’s a very small town with limited places to park if you don’t want to walk a mile, so we got there about 45 minutes early.  The local church parking lot was already full as was most of the street parking.  I knew the Dollar General parking lot is blocked off a few minutes before the parade starts since the entrance drops out into the parade route, so we parked there and did some shopping while we waited.  A few minutes before the parade began we headed out to the street and Ellie got comfortable on a large rock near the street to wait.

waiting patiently

The weather was beautiful today, so we didn’t have to worry about bundling up to fight the cold.  We all ended up shedding our jackets shortly after the parade began.  Now it’s been quite a few years since I actually got to attend the parade, so I admit I had completely forgotten that we needed to take a bag for candy.  Honestly I think kids score more candy from the parade than they do on Halloween!  We were near the end of the parade route, so there weren’t a lot of other kids around us.  Thanks to all the little old ladies around us Ellie filled my pockets and the hood of her jacket full of candy.  When we made it back to the car we emptied all the candy into one of our Dollar General bags and filled it practically full.  It was so cute seeing 4 little Grandma type women taking Ellie under their wings and showing her how to run for the candy.  Of course I kept her near the sidewalk, and they were rushing out to pickup what was landing near the floats.  One woman in particular asked if she could watch the parade with us because she was there alone to watch her husband ride his horse in the parade, and she didn’t have any grandbabies to enjoy it with.  I think she had more fun gathering the candy that was unsafe for Ellie to run after than Ellie did!  Ellie was honestly more interested in eating the candy than picking it up.

Christmas chocolates

Even though it was a small town parade I was a bit disappointed in the floats this year.  There are usually quite a few floats, but I guess since all the towns decided to have their parades in the same weekend Salem’s parade wasn’t top priority.  There were numerous fire trucks and such, but only a handful of floats.  The best float out there was from the Cub Scouts, and I thought it was cute that they did a camping scene.

cub scouts float

Ellie got a kick out of the Shriners float and their “bwoons” aka balloon people. 

Shriners

I was surprised that she got very excited about the Subway car.  She kept asking if we could go to eat “sanichs”. Even the Christmas parade was a marketing scheme that paid off! 

2011-12-04_16-46-41_372

Ben was in charge of the camera while I was busy preventing Ellie from running into the road and picking up candy with her, and he ended up missing most of the stuff I wish I had pictures of.  The Santa was great this year, but he didn’t get a picture of him. *frowns*  Being that this is a very small southern town there were plenty of four wheelers and horses in the parade, and the funny thing was there were so many horses Santa had to go before them!  I really wanted a photo of all of the horses coming around the corner so you could see how many there really were, but I’ll have to settle for this one that Ben took of about half the group.

Parade horses

There were about 15 more in front of that group and another 15-20 that you can’t make out in the back of the photo.  It was definitely the most horses I’ve ever seen in the parade, but we do live in the middle of redneck farmville (and I wouldn’t change it for the world) where the parade is the excuse to show off your horse (and for the teenage cowboys to show off for the girls).  Ellie got a kick out of all of them, and as she watched them she kept saying “me ride! me ride! me pony!”  I guess she really wanted to be out there with them on one of “her” ponies (my sister’s 2 mini horses that live in the pasture at our house.)  Honestly I admit I miss my days of riding in the parade.  I never got a chance to ride my own horse (I had a pony, and the family horse was too easily spooked), but there plenty of parades in my teen years where I rode with a friend or boyfriend.

So like I said it was a small affair this year, but we still had a lot of fun.  It was great family time, and I loved watching Ellie’s face light up as she waved and said bye bye to all the classic cars as they drove by, ran around picking up candy, and got all excited at the sight of the fire trucks.  No matter how big or small the parade will be next year I can’t wait to enjoy it with her again.

A Musical Night Out

We had a very enjoyable evening out tonight as a family.  Spitoono is this weekend, so our best friends asked if we would like to get the kids together for dinner at Columbos then head next door to Spitoono for a bit.  We were already planning to go hear our friend Joey’s band, True Blues, so we agreed to take the kids together.

Since Spitoono is held at the Clemson National Guard Armory right next door to Columbos we found parking for the night and met up at the restaurant at 6:30.  We’d planned to be out of there by 7:30 so we would only miss 30 minutes of the True Blues set, but the place was packed out.  I imagined it would be, so I didn’t have really high hopes of getting out of there fast in the first place.  We waited almost an hour for our food, and the kids got pretty cranky.  Ben had to take Ellie outside for a bit while we waited, but she had a great time dancing on the porch to the music she heard blasting from next door.  When our food arrived we gobbled it down and got the kids out of there before we had any serious meltdowns.

We walked next door to Spitoono, and as I expected Ellie had a blast.  It took about 20 minutes for her to warm up to the large crowd of people around us, but once she settled into the environment all she wanted to do was dance her little butt off.  I tried to get photos and video, but it was just took dark by then for my cell phone camera to handle.  She had a great time running around and dancing with her little buddy, JJ, and she put on quite the show.  She was in front of the stage dancing like crazy while another one of our favorite local bands, The Deadly Crank Dogs, played, and she had an audience full of people cheering her on.  I enjoyed watching every minute of it, and it was a great way for my mind to escape from all the craziness we’ve been dealing with lately.

For an hour I forgot about the job situation, and I watched my daughter become a little tiny dancer.  She’s got music running through her veins as I always assumed she would.  She comes from two families full of musicians, and her love of music is already showing through.  She felt the music, moved in time to it, and floated across the ground like it was a part of her.  I would really love to be able to afford both dance classes and music lessons for her, but it will all depend on what the future holds.  If nothing else I plan to teach her to play the violin.  I can do that on my own for free, and her PopPop can’t wait for the day he can set her in front of his drum set.

It was kind of sad to see the night come to an end, but at 10pm we had to leave.  Ellie was enjoying herself so much I hated to drag her out of there, and she put up quite a fight, but it was well past bedtime.  She slept a bit on the way home, but as soon as we walked in the door she was awake and begging for music again.  I obliged by turning on ETV to the rerun of the PBS Great Performances that featured Jackie Evancho.  I still get chills every time I hear that little girl’s beautiful voice.  Ellie loves her, too, so she curled up on the couch and watched while I jumped on the job boards to see if there were any new postings.  I saw plenty of nursing, cleaning crew, and Medical Equipment Repairer Jobs, but as usual there was absolutely nothing in the construction field. Ugh. I gave up and curled up on the couch with Ellie to watch the last few minutes of the PBS special while she drifted off to sleep in my arms.  I would say it was the perfect ending to a very enjoyable evening.

Bye Bye Netflix, Hello Vudu

I admit it.  I used to love Netflix, but now not so much.  Yes, the price hike definitely played a role in changing my mind, but mostly I’m just sick of waiting forever for new releases to become available.

Even still I gave in and kept my Netflix account because there are quite a few documentaries that Ben has been renting from there.  Then the price hike hit, and we decided it just wasn’t worth it to keep everything. 

Considering we often forget to stick the envelope in the mail we only really ended up watching about 2 movies a month on our 1 at a time plan anyway.  Plus there have been many months when we’ve really wanted to see a new DVD release, so we’ve spent extra money at Redbox or Ingles (before they shut down their DVD rentals) to rent it right then instead of waiting forever for it to show up on Netflix.

When our billing cycle was set to renew a couple weeks ago I gave in and kept the streaming portion only because Ellie loves the Backyardigans, and I like having the ability to turn the show on whenever I need to keep her occupied for a few minutes.  Neither Ben nor I really watch the streaming portion much because the selection is, well, crappy. 

Is it really worth it to pay $7.99/month just so Ellie has access to Backyardigans? 

No!  That’s basically handing Netflix $95.88/year to keep my child entertained for less than 30 minutes each day!  Do you know how many Backyardigans DVDs I could buy with that?  Backyardigans DVDs mostly range from $6.99-10.99 brand new on Amazon, even less for used versions.  Plus Ellie’s birthday is coming up in October, and I already have tons of family members asking for a birthday wishlist which can now include the DVDs.  I gave myself a mental head slap and decided Netflix is losing my business completely.

As for movies, there’s still the Redbox option if we feel like driving that far.  The closest Redbox location is about 10 minutes away, and there have been many times I’ve gone there to rent something only to find out none are available.  For me it’s a waste of gas if I don’t already have plans to go into town 2 days in a row.

We could pay $3.99-4.99 each to rent movies at the local video store, but yet again it’s more expensive, and I still have to drive to town to pick it up/return it.

I’ve seen a lot of people talking about switching to Amazon On Demand, but I tried the service and wasn’t pleased with it.  I want to be able to watch movies on my 42″ TV, not my 15″ computer monitor.

So what’s left to choose from?  Well Ben called me into the living room tonight and asked me what the new movie thing on the PS3 is.  I checked it out and discovered you can now watch Vudu streaming HD movies on the PS3.  I admit I’m not sure how long Vudu has been available on the PS3 because I don’t touch it that often.  What I do know is we can sign up for a $5.99 credit to try out the service, and if we don’t like it we don’t have to keep using it.  What I like is that you can watch instantly streaming New Releases in HD for $2 each, and the rental period lasts for 2 days.  That’s great when you have a toddler who likes to wake up right as you rent the movie.  It gives us extra time to watch it.

Does the service work?  I don’t know yet.  I’ll give it a try tomorrow to find out, but I’m really excited about it.  If I like the service it looks like I’ve found a new place to rent movies without wasting gas driving to town, and considering we usually only watch about 2 movies a month we’ll be saving money, too.  Then again having the instant access will probably mean we’ll be more likely to sit down and watch a movie, but I’d personally rather pay a little more each month to watch new releases instantly!