Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this post. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. #UbiChamps
Some days you gotta dance, Live it up when you get the chance, ‘Cause when the world doesn’t make no sense, And you’re feeling just a little too tense, Gotta loosen up those chains and dance – Dixie Chicks
Man, the Dixie Chicks got that one right. Some days you just gotta dance! There really isn’t a better way to let loose than spending a night with friends for a ‘girls night in’ dance party. It is pretty much impossible to be unhappy and dance at the same time. Sometimes you just need those nights where you cut loose and act like a kid again.
The plan was for the girls to come over around 6pm, we’d order dinner, drink a little wine, and play Just Dance 4 for a little bit. Instead, when they arrived, we opened a bottle of red and got straight to playing, if you can call dancing playing. We barely stopped for dinner; we wound up playing until 1030pm! That is over 4 hours of dancing and laughing! In Weight Watcher points, that’s about 12 points of exercise! One of the girls said, it was “surprisingly more of a workout than expected, but didn’t feel like a workout at all.”
As a kid, I quit dance class because I didn’t like performing in front of people. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped caring so much, especially when there is no way to look good while mimicking the silly dance moves in Just Dance 4. (And now there is video proof for all to see!) The first song we tested out was Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe. In the spirit of the American Music Awards that were last weekend, I am going to host my own Just Dance 4 Awards for the Best Music Video, The Worst Music Video and the Best Group Dance.
In the spirit of the American Music Awards that were last weekend, I am going to judge Just Dance 4 based on The Best Music Video, The Worst Music Video and the Best Group Dance.
Rick Astley – Never Going to Give You Up takes home the award for The Best Music Video. The video was as entertaining to watch as it was to dance to. In the background there was a sinking Titanic, UFOs, Godzilla, robots and more. 80’s music is just so much fun to dance to. When the song was over, Katherine said, “If all the videos were like that, I’d do so much better.”
B-52’s – Rock Lobster wins The Worst Music Video Award. There was this awkward lobster-man that was just too creepy and weird.
And finally, the Best Group Dance award goes to Dirty Dancing- I’ve Had The Time of My Life. We reenacted a choreographed duet as Baby and Johnny Castle. Hopefully, it is obvious who was who in the video below. Some of the moves didn’t quite fit the rhythm but we tried to make it work. Sadly the jump catch/hug at the end was accidentally cut out. Nobody puts Baby in a corner!
Check out the highlight video from a few of the songs we had a blast dancing to:
Top 6 bits of feedback for UbiSoft:
Videos should be more like Rick’s. So much more entertaining and fun to watch.
I would love to see themed games like 90’s, Boy Bands, 80’s power ballad, modern, pop, reggae, or even zumba class songs. There were just too many random, unknown or bad songs on this disc.
There is a calorie counter on Just Sweat portion but that should be made available on Just Dance, too. The calorie counter was a good feature, but the workout portion wasn’t much of a workout. I also preferred the Just Dance songs and dances.
Maybe include a 3 minute intro video, “As you level up, you unlock more levels of difficulty. Every 5th level, you unlock a new song”. We wanted to know what we needed to do to unlock the “Cute Badge” or any of the levels. Maybe we didn’t play long enough (4 hours isn’t enough?) but we wanted to know how to accomplish goals and we weren’t sure how. I wish I had read the wikipedia article before playing – it explained bits of the game that were confusing.
DDR has different levels of difficulty for each song and JD4 should too. While some songs, like Call Me Maybe unlock another version, it was kind of confusing. All songs should be classified by Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. As you advance, the harder levels unlock. This would increase the challenge and extend the playing life and interest in the game.
We found that the level of difficulty didn’t seem to correspond with the difficulty of the dance moves. Rick Astley would be a great starter and Time Warp was not hard enough to be a level 3.
The nice thing about the Just Dance series is that it really is a great way to loosen up those chains, laugh with friends and even get in a workout. Even though we are in our upper 20’s, we were pleasantly surprised at how entertained we were. While we all agreed, we probably would not invite friends over just to play the game, we would definitely include it in a game night shindig or a good “ladies date” as a free alternative to taking a barre or yoga class with a friend. We also agreed this would make a great holiday gift for friends or family. The game is available for purchase at Amazon.com or ToysRUs.com and many other retailers too.
Which video highlight did you like the most? Have you played? Which was your favorite song to dance to?
** Ubichamps provided me with the game and opinions are my own.
Every year as a kid my mom would make us all go around the Thanksgiving table and share aloud one thing we were grateful for. While I didn’t appreciate or really understand her intentions at the time, (I thought she was just being your typical annoying quirky mother) this annual act of gratitude managed to impart upon me the importance of being grateful. Turns out, she wasn’t trying to be annoying, she truly understood the meaning of Thanksgiving. This is a tradition that I will no doubt carry on with my own family, even if they think I am annoying too.
Walmart recently announced that it would be opening its doors at 8pm on Thanksgiving night, two hours earlier than last year. 10pm still stinks but at least it is after dinner whereas 8pm cuts into family time. Regardless of whether or not the two hours makes a difference, why are stores opening their doors at all on Thanksgiving day? Why can’t they wait until 12am for Black Friday? Why do retailers feel the need to cut into time that should be spent with loved ones? Is getting a good deal really more important than family?I am glad to see that Walmart employees are petitioning this, because they, like the rest of us, deserve to have time off to spend time with their friends and relatives for the holiday.
It is true, not everyone has the day off. Doctors, firefighters, police and waiters in restaurants, etc. give up their holiday for the needs of the public, for the greater good. But is it really a necessity for retailers to be open? Is this really for the greater good? Or just corporate greed? The retail giants market the doorbuster deals as being better the earlier you shop, but are shoppers really going to get better discounts just because the doors open before Black Friday? The doorbuster deal should remain the same no matter what time the doors actually open whether it be at 8pm or 4am. I don’t see it as creating or bringing in any new sales that wouldn’t have otherwise existed; I see it as retailers just moving the sale from Friday to Thursday. Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday have blended together and transitioned into one big shopping holiday, time we get off from work and school to shop and eat.
It is bad enough that we stuff our faces until we can’t move anymore, but we have to go and add insult to injury when people get into physical fights over toys. It is ironic that while at dinner we share what we’re grateful for, yet turn into monsters that very night and fight over things we don’t need.
While we are gorging and fighting over junk, there are people out there who are starving and fighting just to survive. Americans have developed this warped sense of what we “need.” What people need is to put life into perspective and realize what is truly a necessity and what is not. Can’t we use that energy and money we’re spending on chotchkes to help people who really need it?
It is sad; Americans seem to have lost the meaning of Thanksgiving. We have misplaced our priorities and forgotten what truly is important. Yes, we might watch the parade and football while a delicious meal cooks in the oven, but Thanksgiving itself isn’t just about tables full of great food nor is it about getting the best discount on holiday gifts and junk. It’s about remembering the pilgrims, spending time with family and friends and taking time to be grateful for what we have. The name itself says it all – it is about giving thanks, not about wanting more. Thanksgiving is a time, not only to give thanks for everything we have, but to give back to those who are less fortunate.
Just what we are grateful for varies for everyone; there are people who are grateful for less than what you have, Sandy survivors who are just thankful to be alive, the immigrants who are thankful to be celebrating their first Thanksgiving as a US citizen, the people in the shelter who are thankful to have a meal at all, the cancer survivor who is thankful to have lived to see her son’s wedding, or the daughter who is grateful that her father’s quadruple bi-pass surgery was a success, etc. Yet, we have companies saying that our priority this holiday should be about shopping.
This is the one time of year that we are reminded to pause our busy lives for a night to reflect on what we are grateful for while we eat surrounded by friends and family. So this Thanksgiving, please take a few minutes to set aside everything that Thanksgiving has come to represent to reflect on what you are grateful for this year. Please encourage your family to go around the dining table and share something they are grateful for, too. Just as my mother did, start that as a tradition in your house, too. Listen to what others are thankful for. When we hear all the things that others are thankful for, it reminds us that we are all thankful for different things and that there is so much to be grateful for in this world. But it isn’t the elaborate details of what we are thankful for that matters. It is the simple fact that we are taking the time to appreciate what we have and reflect on that.
Lets go back to basics and rediscover the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Lets surround ourselves with our loved ones, our family and friends and give thanks.
Have a very happy and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving.
Life works in mysterious ways. The decisions we make have a ripple effect on everything that happens thereafter. When I called off my wedding in January, I knew that my life would never be the same and that I suddenly forced myself (and him too) in new and separate directions. I knew that my path immediately became one full of pain and sadness, of self-reflection and discovery, focusing on my dreams, one without my best friend and that somewhere down the road, likely years from now, we would hopefully both meet someone else to fill the hole I created. I knew the decision I made directly impacted both he and I and those who had to help lift us up, but didn’t realize how far the ripples of my decision would continue to flow.
When we make decisions, big or small, we have no idea in that moment, where the pieces will fall. At the time the decision is made, we cannot fathom the impact that it will have on us or those around us, or even those whom we have not yet met. We do not know what will be in the near or distant future. Sometimes the impact will be obvious and other times, we won’t have a clue. We think we have control, and in the moment we may, but in the end, we really don’t have control of it at all. What will be will be. The dominoes will fall where they are meant to fall and lives other than your own will be touched.
Had my wedding still happened as planned, I would never have deemed this The Year of Caryn, never would have started Tweetup For Change, would never have gone to Africa to pursue my dreams and would have already returned from my honeymoon. I’d be a wife. Instead, because of my decisions, so much is different. All because of a personal decision that I made back in January.
My new path has set in motion new possibilities and affected both my future and the future of those around me. I will meet someone someday whose path will cross with my new path.
Have you had any experiences like this where a decision you made had an unexpected impact on someone else?
The whole flying time was about 22 hours from Chicago to Tanzania. Somewhere during this time, I realized I enjoy flying alone. I enjoy the peaceful “me time” that I get. It is nice not having to answer to anyone, to get away from it all, to get lost in thought and just be disconnected for those hours of solitude. I even enjoy finding my way around a foreign airport or city on my own. To me, solo exploration is liberating and empowering and builds independence. Excuse me while I daydream about this now…
Okay, I’m back. So it finally hit me when I was landing in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania that I was actually about to step foot in Africa! I’m not going to lie, it was so exhilarating that I definitely shed a few tears of pure elation and joy knowing that 20 years of dreaming was over. Within seconds of stepping foot on the tarmac at Kilimanjaro International Airport and before I could enter the doors, the power went out. I knew my luggage hadn’t made the layover from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro, so when I arrived, I gave my information and they recorded it manually by hand, not by computer.When I got to the home base that first night, like the airport, the power was out there too. I quickly realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore and that I’d have to adjust to the power frequently going out. I learned to appreciate it (and the fan, too) when it was on.
It was two full days before I had clean clothes other than what I had in my carry-on. I knew my luggage was out of my control and I’d get it eventually. So why stress? Immediately, I embraced the Hakuna Matata mantra (Think Lion King – yes it really does mean no worries/problems) that the Tanzanians live by. Like the power, there were several things that I had to adjust to. Things you use daily and don’t think twice about at home, are luxuries or even foreign concepts in other places of the world. When you travel to a third world country, first world expectations need to be left at home.
Luxuries & things we take for granted
CCS Home-base living accommodations: There were about 30 volunteers all living in one house together. We were extremely privileged with our accommodations. It was nothing like a 4 star hotel or anything, not even close, but compared to locals, we lived like kings.
Running water– while we had running water, we were instructed not to use the tap water for any reason other than showering and washing our hands because we could get sick from the un-purified water or catch a water-born illness. The home-base staff provided us with filtered water tanks to fill our water bottles and to brush our teeth.
Indoor plumbing – although I got really good at ‘popping a squat,’ especially on the mountain, we were lucky the home-base had toilets with actual toilet seats, rather than holes in the ground.
Clean water – Every time I saw Brenda, the little neighbor girl, squat down and drink directly from the stream, my heart would break a little. The kids would drink directly from the same dirt-filled stream that they washed their clothes in. Without clean water, it is easy to understand why the kids were always so dirty.
Being clean – even being clean was a luxury. Every day we would get filthy dirty. Most of the roads are rocky and covered in red dirt. It was nearly impossible to stay clean. Just from walking around, my feet would get so dirty that when I took my Keens off, I had deep dirt lines that looked like I was still wearing sandals. I constantly had hand prints on my shirt from my students.
Shower- yes, having running water and a shower was more than what some of the locals had. I’d see people cleaning their arms and feet in the nearby streams.
Hot water – we had to turn on the hot water heater with a switch before showering but that didn’t guarantee that the hot water (or power) wouldn’t run out before you were finished.
Laundry – My mom asked me when I returned if they had washing machines and I couldn’t help but laugh. No, there were no washing machines or dryers. We had to hand wash all of our clothes and put them out on the line to dry, just like the locals. At least we were lucky enough to have clean running water to rinse our clothes in. I would frequently see women washing their clothes in the dirt-filled streams. Once dry, we had to iron everything to kill any Mango Fly eggs that might be nested on our clothes. The heat from the iron kills the eggs. Some people said it wasn’t Mango Fly season and didn’t iron their stuff but having Mango Flies in my underwear and vajayjay was not a risk I was willing to take. My question remains, what do the locals do during season? I don’t think they all own irons.
Room situation-I shared a small room with 4 other volunteers and we each had our own bed with mosquito net. Each room even had its own shower, sink and toilet. See? We lived in luxury like kings. Guilty.
Electricity – As I learned early on, power was very sporadic. It frequently went out leaving us to write in our journals or shower by flashlight. The school had no electricity at all. The windows provided the lighting for the room.
Clothing- We take for granted that we have clothes that fit and options to choose from. The kids often had shoes that didn’t fit or safety pins where buttons should be to keep their pants up, and they wore the same thing every.single.day. The kids wore the same thing every single day, so rotating between 3 skirts for 3 weeks was totally acceptable.
Language- we take being able to communicate for granted. I give teachers credit. It’s hard work, especially when you can’t explain the directions because they don’t understand english or if a kid comes to you crying. You helpless when this happens because you don’t know what happened and you know that whatever you say to comfort the kid, doesn’t matter because to them you are speaking gibberish.
Air Conditioning – It was usually about 90 degrees but it was a pleasant and comfortable heat. There was no A/C, only fans at the home-base. And that fan only worked when the power was on. The first time I felt A/C was at a hotel in Zanzibar. I was like, “What is this cold air!?!” I had forgotten what it felt like after 2 weeks without it.
Paved streets –Most of the main roads are paved but the side streets are not. They are so rocky, you are pretty much off-roading every time you get in the car. I considered seeing a chiropractor upon my return because of all the bouncing.
Sidewalks – There are none. Locals walk or ride their bike everywhere and they do so on the side of the street. This is by no means safe because cars don’t seem to abide by any traffic laws. Like London, they drive on the left but there were plenty of times where we drove on the right side of what would be presumed to be the shoulder, even with oncoming traffic heading right towards us.
School Resources –Or seriously lack thereof. You are probably imagining your elementary school with school supplies galore: chairs, art decorations, lights, paper, a whiteboard, toys, crayons, and a playground. The schools in Tanzania have none of that. I was lucky in that my school had more resources than others. I had pencils, desks and a barely functioning chalkboard. One of the volunteers said that his school of three to seven year olds used razor blades as pencil sharpeners. Razor blades! The chalk is so cheap it crumbles upon contact and the kids use sharp bottle caps to help them count for math. People complained that they didn’t have enough supplies, but at the end of the day, You really just need to make do with what you have. That is what the community does, and they survive. So did we. Future CCS volunteers BRING SUPPLIES WITH YOU to Africa. They are not considered donations if you use it to help you teach and the school doesn’t become dependent on it. I will talk more about school in a later post.
Internet access To have internet at your fingertips is a first world luxury. We were lucky that the home-base had a wi-fi connection, although it was dodgy and only worked a handful of times. The lack of wi-fi turned out to be an interesting social experiment. When the internet was down, the volunteers actually held conversations and took an interest in each other at the dining tables. It was obvious when the wi-fi was working because people would be silently staring into their lap. We had wi-fi for a day before it went out and that was enough to make people complain and feel entitled to need have it. I think many volunteers forgot they were in Africa, a third world country, and would complain incessantly when the Internet went out. #Firstworldproblems I didn’t expect to have any Internet at the home-base so I had mentally prepared myself to do as the locals do, and only get Internet from the Internet Cafe’s in town, so to me, it was a privilege to have it at all (when it worked).
Why have we become so reliant and dependent on technology? Why is it so hard to detach? Have we become so untrusting that no one can do our job as well as we can, so we have to check in constantly? Is it out of fear we are missing something that we are always “checking in”? News flash, being in Africa is way cooler than whatever it is your friend made for dinner back at home. Yet, people can’t seem to disconnect.
Food – For most of us in The States, we are lucky that food is plentiful, we can go to the store whenever we want and we have grocery stores filled with endless options. For some of the students in Tanzania, the only food they would get for the whole day was the porridge we served them. It is a cornmeal based drink that looked white and chalky and reminded me of an oatmeal paper mache. It didn’t look appetizing but the kids drank it and were always grateful saying, “Thank you TEACHA!” And here were some of the volunteers complaining that they wanted more variety or spices at the home-base. I was appalled that they couldn’t just be appreciative that we being served food at all, let alone three delicious meals a day.
While the volunteers were complaining, they weren’t appreciating the quality and freshness of the food. It was wonderful to have such fresh and natural food that hasn’t been genetically modified. In East Africa, if you want fruit like an avocado, banana, or mango, you pick it from your tree or get it from the local store. You want beef? You either kill your own cow or the butcher kills his. You want pork? Same thing, kill your pig. The cows are not given hormones or steroids to fatten them up. You can actually taste the freshness in the food. Most families keep animals for food, not as pets. It was common to see animals everywhere. Some are acquired from dowry’s; cows for meat and milk, chickens for meat and eggs; and pigs for pork. Dogs are not pets, they roam free and like the chickens, they have to fend for themselves to find their own food. I know we have “free-range” chickens in The States, but in East Africa there are no chicken farms or cages. They are literally free-range. Even the yolk is not as dark yellow as it is here because supposedly the chickens are healthier and not as fatty.We were told that they know where they live and even after a day of roaming, they will always return home. Why did the chicken cross the road? To find food.
Outside the home-base, the rule was if you can’t peel it, don’t eat it.The bananas were mini and the watermelons were loaded with seeds. In America, sadly, even our fruit isn’t completely all-natural. Everything is bigger and the manufacturers genetically alter the fruit to have fewer seeds. Personally, I’d rather have more seeds than have my fruit doped up. In Tanzania, I knew it was all-natural whereas in The States, I don’t trust where the meat is coming from, how it is raised (or killed), or what genetically modified and unnatural substance it was given. Even the meat with flies swarming around it in the street market, is safer to eat than what we are buying in stores. This opened my eyes to GMO’s and I have decided to stop eating red meat and chicken. I feel that all these hormones and GMO’s that we are giving our animals, and then ingesting ourselves, is a large reason why cancer is so prevalent here. That isn’t a problem in Tanzania. One man told me his neighbor died at 114 and his father at 102. I think everything we put into our bodies matters and if the FDA isn’t going to protect us, I want to do everything in my power to take care of myself the best way I can.
The world is bigger than just one person or one culture. There is a special magic that happens when you leave the safety of your own comforts, your own culture, and step away from the privileges of the Westernized World to learn from people who don’t share your language, lifestyle, beliefs or religion. You might not agree with the traditions, but while you cannot change what has been done for centuries, you can allow yourself to learn and grow while exchanging bits of your culture as they share theirs with you. Travel exposes us to new experiences, lifestyles and cultures, introduces us to new ways of doing things, expands our mind, and makes us grateful for the things we take for granted. Just as I did my first day when I took on the Hakuna Matata mantra, it is important to embrace the local culture, try the local cuisine and disconnect from home. Experiencing new cultures allows us to step outside of our bubble and grow but we have to be willing to be flexible and leave our first world expectations at home.
Much of this post you probably already know but I wanted to document all the landmark changes that occurred and the very inspiring victory speech that Obama gave.
Unless you live under a rock, you know that last night was Election Night here in America.Whether you voted for Romney or Obama, you voted. You made your voice heard. You did make a difference. You exercised your right as a US citizen and you voted. For that, I am pleased. We are lucky we live in a democracy where citizens can have a say in our government. And that is what makes America wonderful.
As of this being published, votes have been counted in 75% of the nation’s precincts. Of the 99 million votes cast, Obama led the popular vote by about 25,000. He also won the electoral votes 303-206.
No matter who it is, I always feel bad for the guy who doesn’t win. It is hard to watch the pain and sadness in the concession speeches. Romney has campaigned since 2007 and has spent billions of dollars only to come up short. It is never fun to be the loser, especially in such a public race. My heart does go out to him.
It was a very historic night. Not only did we re-elect President Obama, the first black man to be re-elected to a second term but nationwide, monumental changes were happening immediately as states were called. . Across the nation, it was ladies night. It was a bad night for guys with ridiculous views on rape but a fabulous night for women everywhere. Women can breathe knowing that all the progress we have made on women’s rights didn’t take 10 steps back. With the President’s win, my lady bits came out of hiding. So much relief there. Wisconsin elected the first openly gay person (a woman!) to Senate. There are now 19 women in the Senate. This makes me so proud to think of how far we have come. Voters in Maine and Maryland approved ballot measures making same-sex marriage legal! Colorado, Washington state legalized marijuana and Massachusetts passed it for medicinal purposes. Big Bird can go back to work on public television.
The Victory Speech: Man, was this thing a gem. Even if you didn’t vote for Obama, you have to admit that his speech was eloquent, fantastic and extremely inspiring. He truly is the greatest speaker of our generation. This speech renewed my sense of hope and made proud to call him our President. This is what our country is about.What a great way to kick off a second term.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“At the end of the night, we all must all unite now and face the next four years together.”
“We are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.”
“I want to thank every American who participated in this election. Whether you voted for the very first time, or waited in line for a very long time, by the way, we have to fix that. Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.”I love that he acknowledged everyone not just his voters, and the importance of voting.
“Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you too as our nation’s first lady.” Yes! I love that he is family man and treats his wife with respect and equality.
President told his daughters, sorry, “one dog is probably enough.” He is funny, too!
“Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated… That won’t change after tonight. And it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter– the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.” Yes! THIS. This is what makes America beautiful.
“But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.”
“Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you’ve made me a better president.”
“The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us; it’s about what can be done by us together…That’s the principle we were founded on.”
“I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting. “So well said. This goes so far beyond politics…
“I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.” Yes! Yes! This a thousands times over, yes! Exactly this. This is what America is about and why I am proud to call him my President.
“We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.” AMAZING! so well said. Reminding us to put party lines and individual goals aside and work together.
Even if you are against his tax or health care plans, you can’t deny the power of this speech and the supportive messages that he sends. It isn’t fair to think that the mess Bush left him could be completely fixed in only 4 years, so I am glad he has another 4 years to continue to rebuild this country. Now if only President Clinton could run again next…
I am so proud to call this man our 44th President.