Behind the Scenes at the Medieval Times TV Commercial Shoot

Medieval Times has introduced a new show this year and we had a fun opportunity to be a part of their TV commercial shoot.  Check in began at 6:45 am.  That is really early for us to be up and in Dallas.  Fortunately, they provided a nice breakfast for everyone.

While we were waiting to be seated, Rachel and I watched the queen getting her hair and makeup done.  This was fun because we don't usually get to see this kind of behind the scenes prepping before a show.  Since it was a commercial shoot and not their regular show, we knew to expect a bit of a more casual atmosphere.

Your seats determine which knight you will be cheering for.  We were seated on the first row in the black and white knight's section.  Of course we donned our black and white crowns.  The production team announced that everyone must keep their crowns on all day and we were asked to check each other throughout the day to be sure that the words "Medieval Times" stayed centered on our head in case we were to appear in any of the camera shots.

As people were still being seated, we enjoyed looking at the additional things being set up for the commercial shoot that aren't usually a part of the show, like the camera car and the giant overhead skrim to diffuse the light.  

The camera car was the camera most used in the shots.  It held two people - a driver and a camera operator.  The camera operator could adjust the arm in all directions as they followed the action around the arena.  The camera was in a gyro stabilizer so even as the car went over bumps in the sand, the camera remained relatively steady.

The actual Medieval Times show has a whole story line to follow but since this was just for the commercial shoot, they only performed bits and pieces of action scenes for the camera.  We watched several knights jousting as the camera car followed them along.  Here is a video of our black and white knight jousting with his rival, the red and yellow knight.

There was a lot of repeating scenes and a lot of waiting as the crew discussed the scene and tweaked the camera or the performers. 

They brought in another kind of camera attached to a large drone to get overhead action shots.  I heard it looked like the DJI Inspire which is a VERY NICE drone.  The drone operators were careful not to spook the horses with it though.

At lunch time, we were served a box lunch.  I was sad because I was really hoping for the standard Medieval Times meal.  But then we heard that they were going to serve that for dinner.  This was a nice surprise because I didn't even know we were getting dinner too!

Here is another shot of the horses and camera car in action.  I think it would be fun working on that camera car.

In addition to the jousting, there were also several scenes of sword fighting.

They used this other camera strapped to a man for a few shots.  It also seemed to have a gyro stabilizer on it. 

The commercial shoot was planned to take 12 hours which is a long time for anyone, especially wiggly kids.  We were allowed to bring books and tablets to keep us entertained between shots.  But it was also nice to just have time together. 

We finally met the Queen!  In the 34 years since Medieval Times has been jousting, there has never been a queen in the show.  I'm excited to come back and see the new story line with the queen.

We heard from our server that they would be serving dinner soon.  Oh, I do love dinner at Medieval Times.  It is simple food but it is delicious.  

Of course, in keeping with the time period, you aren't allowed to have any utensils so you eat everything with your hands or sip from a bowl.

For participating in the commercial shoot, we were each given a swag bag.  Each bag contained a Medieval Times themed t-shirt, drink koozie, 2 rubber bracelets, and most importantly, two FREE tickets to come back and see the new show!

For more information about the show, please visit the Medieval Times website.  You can also follow them at Medieval Times Twitter and Medieval Times Facebook.

Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls {Community Service Ideas for Kids}

The Coppell Home School Association is a great place for homeschoolers to go on some amazing field trips with other homeschool friends.  We recently went on a service-related field trip to the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid in Dallas.  They serve in countries around the world but their six main countries include Peru, Honduras, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Kenya.  

They have many programs available but we were specifically there to work on the Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls program which provides new shoes and socks to orphans in the United States and around the world.  It was a great way for my children to serve others in a child-friendly environment and help spread God's love to the world.  Here are some facts we learned:

  • There are 153 million orphans and 95% of them are over the age of 6
  • Shoes protect people's feet from hookworm, jiggers, parasites, and tetanus
  • Since 1999, Buckner has collected and distributed 3 million pairs of shoes to children in 80 countries.
  • 50,000 shoes have been sent to orphans in the United States

The boys in our group went off to help in the back while the girls worked directly with the shoes.  We worked together on this box of female athletic shoes.

We would take a pair, cut off any labels and remove any of the paper that might be stuck down in the shoe (it costs more in shipping to leave tags and packaging material in the shoes).  Then we wrote an encouraging note to whomever would receive these shoes. 

We said a prayer over the shoes for the person who would wear them.  

Then we tucked the note inside the shoes and secured them together with giant rubber bands.

Once we were done, we deposited the shoes into the appropriate bins for their size.

While the girls were working on the shoes, the boys were in the back of the room, sorting through other donated goods.

Nicholas was helping to pull down boxes from the stacks and sorting through them.

He joked about all the boxes being Bath Tissue boxes but none of them actually contained bath tissue.

He worked hard and seemed to enjoy what he was doing.

We worked for 2 hours.  When we were done we were encouraged to try the Barefoot Experience.  Buckner had pictures of the ground in Peru, Ethiopia, and Mexico and they had recreated that ground for us to walk on with our bare feet. 

It certainly helped us gain an appreciation for how hard it must be for people in these countries who have no shoes.

It was inspiring to see a long row of boxes filled with shoes lined up and ready to ship out to these countries in need.

I am so grateful to the Coppell Home School Association for introducing us to Buckner.  We all enjoyed the work and we would love to serve here again.

Volunteers are needed for Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls in the Dallas and Rio Grand Valley areas.  Please consider reaching out to them and seeing how you can help.

Helping Young Moms and Their Children {Service Hours for Kids}

Rachel is working towards earning the President's Volunteer Service Award so she is earning a lot of service hours this year.  We are always looking for ways for her to serve in the community.  Our church, Valley Creek, has created the Next Steps Center to partner with organizations and schools in the community to see how they can best serve the people in our area.

The Next Steps Center has reached out to a local Young Life group and found a way to make an impact in the lives of young moms and their children.  The Next Steps Center and Young Life bring about 50 young moms together for dinner and support at the center twice a month.  These moms range in age from 11 to 23 years old.  The Next Steps Center is also creating a Baby Needs store where the Young Life moms can shop for maternity items, baby clothes, big kid clothes, etc.  There are some new items but most of the items are gently used and offered to the moms for free.

The store is rather new.  This is a cute shot of the shopping area.  But they have received tons of bags and boxes of donated items that were just piled up in a spare room off to the side.  So Rachel and two of her friends from American Heritage Girls signed up to help sort the items.

They first sorted the items into 4 categories - girls winter, girls summer, boys winter, and boys summer.  Once that part was done, they went back through and sorted each category into sizes such as girls winter age 0-6 months, girls winter age 9-24 months, etc.

We were there for four hours but in the end the storage room looked so nice and organized!  Rachel felt good knowing that she helped to make this happen.

This experience was great for me too and I plan to reach out to see how I can help serve the Young Life moms on a regular basis when they come to the Next Steps Center.  What amazing things can happen when two great organizations like these come together to be the hands and feet of Jesus!

Valentine's Day Party on a Budget

I planned the Valentine's Day party for Rachel's AHG Explorers group.  We have a budget but I wanted to make things nice for the girls so I shopped at my favorite resource, Dollar Tree!  This place has some neat things that you can use creatively for all kinds of projects.  And everything in the store is just $1.00 each!

I got 2 red plastic table covers to make it festive...and to keep the markers from the art project from staining the church's tables ($2.00).  

I also got 2 bouquets of fake pink and white roses.  Each bouquet had 5 flowers on it ($2.00).  I pulled the flowers off the stems and just placed them in the center of each table as a centerpiece and then scattered some glitter hearts around the table ($1.00). 

Each of the girls were bringing Valentine's Day cards to share with their friends.  I thought about making little mail boxes for each of them but time was short so I just bought each of them a Valentine's Day gift bag.  They were $1.00 each and they were colorful and glittery.

I found lots of options for free Valentine's Day themed bingo games to print at home.  But we were going to have 17 girls playing so I needed 17 different bingo cards.  I ended up having to purchase a classroom set from Rosie's Superstars on the Teachers Pay Teachers site.  I love finding school resources there!  I printed the cards at home and then bought boxes of candy conversation hearts at Dollar Tree for the girls to use as bingo markers.  They loved snacking on their bingo markers!

We played several rounds on bingo.  The girls were then given a challenge to see how high they could stack their candy hearts.  Some made single file towers.  Others made pyramids like this one and other crazy creations.

Rachel was happy to just eat hers.

Of course candy hearts weren't the only snack.  The girls brought plenty of sweet treats to share with their friends.  What is a party without lots of sweets???

I also had the girls make a service project.  They made a May Basket paper craft that they could share with an elderly neighbor or anyone who needed cheering up.  I found the template at AlphaMom and used a few sheets of scrapbook paper that I already had.

The party was for 17 girls.  It included decorations, games, a craft, a service project, Valentine's Day goody bags, and treats for less than $30 out of our budget.  I do love Dollar Tree!

A Hockey and Beef Kind of Birthday

Stuart just had a birthday.  He's holding at 32 years.  

He is an amazing husband and an incredible dad to our two beautiful kids.  His parents, my parents, and I all pitched in to show him just how much we love and appreciate him.  He didn't give me anything for a wish list so we had to go out on a limb and guess what he might like.

We started the morning with gifts before he went to work.

He first opened the smaller gifts....some hockey stick tape, hockey drink coasters, and most importantly a new Dallas Stars blanket to keep in his car so he could finally give me back the blanket he stole from my car when he realized how brilliant I was for always having a blanket in my car.....

Then we let him open his nicer present.  New hockey gloves.  He had some used gloves that he had finally worn holes in the finger tips so it was time for new ones.  

Then we pulled out a bigger present from the closet.  He says he was stumped when he tried to figure out what it was.

He finally opened it and found a new hockey bag.  I was so glad to be able to get this for him.  It is so much nicer than the crummy old giant blue bag that he had to carry around on his shoulders packed full of gear and bumping into walls as he walked.  This one stands upright and has wheels!

On Wednesdays nights, I am at the hockey rink with the kids until 7:30 so Stuart cooks and has dinner ready for us when we get home.  But I didn't want him to cook on his birthday so we convinced him to try a new Brazilian Steakhouse in town called Carvao.  

I think it would be more appropriate to call it Meat Palace or something catchy like.  On the table each person has a little card that is green on one side and red on the other.  When the card is green, the servers will walk by and offer you various types of meat including beef, pork, lamb, and chicken that they will carve for you right at the table.  When you are stuffed, just turn the card to red and they will walk on by.

There is a salad bar as well but we didn't want to fill on on lettuce when these incredible meats were waiting for us.  My favorite was this Picanha which I believe is the house specialty.  

As the server carves, you use your tongs to hold the slices as they are cut.  The kids had a great time with this.

Stuart, we hope you had a wonderful birthday.  We love you!