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The Half-Time Report, Part II: A look back at the most discussed and commented-upon blogs of July to December
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Friday, 28 December 2012 14:48
Many of us have gone over the river and through the woods this holiday season to visit grandma, grandpa, assorted uncles, aunts and cousins. In other words, we’ve logged a frequent fliers’ tachometer of miles to celebrate with the whole assemblage of Christmas-sweater-wearing moms and dads, silly, smart and successful siblings, and eggnog-swilling neighbors. It’s the whole effervescent enchilada, bursting at the seams with good cheer and much merriment.
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The Half-Time Report: A look back at the most discussed and commented-upon blogs of January to June
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Thursday, 20 December 2012 20:09
It’s always good during the frenetic holiday season to take a step back and ponder the past year’s triumphs and failings, personal gains and professional stumbles. It’s a “day at the spa” for one’s soul to sit down and figure out what has brought you great joy and what has peddled despair or sadness to your doorstep. If you can calculate what has been the happiest moments, perhaps you can work twice as hard at embracing those during the upcoming year. If you know what has given you grief or has added heartbreak to your days, then maybe you can learn to sidestep those issues or ward off their reoccurrences. It’s important to review the past so the future can be better and brighter.
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Guys and Dolls, Girls and Guns? Do toy trends reflect our world or create our society?
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Thursday, 13 December 2012 14:25
With only 12 days left until Christmas, the panic of “what, where, when, why, and who” is in full gear. Back in journalism class, those were the all-important five W’s—the essential questions and considerations that had to pop up in the opening section of a news story. Nowadays, with jingling and jangling hanging above and inside my head, I’m more prone to mad dashes to the store than tracking down quotes for punchy first paragraphs. My five W’s are all about my shopping list, and what I should get the people in my family and network of friends.
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Second Helpings of Wisdom: A banquet of brainy doll talk and witty observations.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 26 November 2012 16:07

Thanksgiving was once again a test of endurance. It’s the one meal a year that separates the men from the boys, the women from the girls, and your waistline from getting easily back into your “skinny jeans.” As always, I loved every morsel while I was savoring it. After counting the number of forkfuls, and then multiplying it by pie (yes, the baked goods, not the mathematical calculation), I realized I probably consumed more in my single sit-down than Kate Moss has in a month. That’s quite disheartening!

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Highlands Heroines: Disney’s “Brave” celebrates the strength and spirit of mothers and daughters.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 19 November 2012 15:08

My family watches a lot of movies. Many times it’s classics that my husband and I grew up seeing and adoring—lots of MGM entertainment vehicles, cinematic adaptations of great books, movie musicals (they don’t make ’em like “The Sound of Music” or “The King and I” anymore). So, in my living room, we’re all pretty steeped in film concepts and film images. My kids are only 8 and 10, but they could give Siskel & Ebert a run for their money back in their thumbs-up heyday. They both have their opinions on what’s good, what’s great, and what’s worth watching again, and again, and again.

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Electoral Collage: Dolls & figures pay tribute to the first president and his colonial peers.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 12 November 2012 14:50

Well, it’s the week after Election Day, and depending upon one’s political slant, it’s either a cause for celebration or a case of consternation. Regardless of how the vote turned out, and your personal reaction to it, people who cast their ballots exercised a constitutional right that separates an enlightened nation from other countries that still toil in darkness. A change in leadership—or in this case, the maintaining of the status quo in the executive and the legislative branches—is accomplished by pulling levers, not by triggers being pulled on rifles and handguns.

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Creature Features: Makies and Mattel provide made-to-order fun.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 05 November 2012 16:19

If you’re like me, you’re always astonished when you watch movies that depict family life from 100 or 200 years ago. It seems that every father could whittle a complete dining-room set from a single tree; all mothers could sew outfits that carried their children from baptisms to wedding days; and every child could minuet, play the piano, sing at least one aria, and translate original Latin texts into pristine English. Yep, those were the days!

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Monster Mash-up: Dolls and an impending storm create a “FrankenFest” of thrills and chills!
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 29 October 2012 13:52

Once you get to be over the age of 10 or 11, Halloween stops being all that scary. Sure, you might continue to dress up and do ghoulish makeup—or even, more frightening for us moms, the sexy, slutty nurse or kitty cosmetics for kids—but the actual trembling-in-your-boots, afraid-to-stroll-through-a-cemetery anxiety normally fades away and is replaced by a healthy appreciation of the holiday and its macabre festivities. Things might get spooky, but it’s all in good, clean fun! Or is it?

 

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Let’s Get Ready to Rumba: NFL or DWTS? Both are physical, ferocious, and fan favorites.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 13:55

What makes a dancer? Five years ago, I would have said “rhythm, grace, musicality, and talent.” That was before I took ballroom dance lessons with my friend Cam. Today I say it’s “baubles, beading, a Bedazzler glue gun, and a brilliant smile.” Cam and I may not ever win a national or regional title (or even a hokey-pokey face-off), but we certainly have learned to hold our heads high while remaining in hold. In fact, we swear we just don’t dance but rather fly as we fox trot and quick step across a dance studio’s floor.

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Super Sleuthing in Doll Land: James Bond and his female counterparts make a killing in collectibles.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 15 October 2012 13:46

Unless you live in a cave—or have been hiding out in a Bond Villain’s lair—you must know that this is the 50th anniversary of the 007 movie franchise. The current Brit who is inhabiting the tux, tie, and tough-guy demeanor is Daniel Craig, and he’s been popping up on talk shows, magazine covers, and even late-night comedy gigs. (He hosted “SNL” on Saturday, October 6.) Perhaps his most unique cameo was when he skydived out of a plane with Queen Elizabeth of England during the Summer Olympics. He was literally enacting the notion of “skyfalling.”

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