Christmas Shoppers Surprise With “Hallelujah Chorus”

The video, and the explanation from the Opera Company of Philadelphia are sufficient to describe this post. I will add, however, that it would have been fun to join in had I been one of the Christmas shoppers taken by surprise. 🙂 (I’m sure many did!)

From the creator of this video, and this event:

On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation’s “Random Acts of Culture” at Macy’s in Center City Philadelphia. Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ – the world’s largest pipe organ – the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah” at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers.

This event is one of 1,000 “Random Acts of Culture” to be funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over the next three years. The initiative transports the classical arts out of the concert halls and opera houses and into our communities to enrich our everyday lives.

To learn more about this program and view more events, visit

The Opera Company thanks Macy’s and the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ ( for their partnership, as well as Organ Music Director Peter Conte and Fred Haas, accompanists; OCP Chorus Master Elizabeth Braden, conductor; and Sound Engineer James R. Stemke.

For a complete list of participating choirs and more information, visit

This event was planned to coincide with the first day of National Opera Week.

Good (Competitive) Family Fun!

NFL LogoFor the last two, or maybe three years we Campbells have been having some more interactive fun with the weekly NFL games. Not only do we enjoy watching as much of them as we can on weekends, we also try to predict the outcome of each, and we have quite the “set up” to track our results!

Before the season begins we print out all the NFL logos on card stock (6 total sets) and then we set to work cutting each one out. That’s a pretty fun part, too, as the kids enjoy cutting out the shapes of the logos. (And Alex enjoys making the shapes even more interesting!) Then we put them all in little ziploc baggies that bear our names and we’re ready to go.

Then each week, I print out the schedule of games and one of us sets up the bulletin board with the week’s games. Everybody then pins up the logo of the team they expect to win and we have a nice little pick’s board hanging on our dining room wall. On Sundays we put up big colorful thumbtacks next to the choices that were correct.

There are five columns of predictions next to the game list. Dad, Ian, Alex (the original three participants), Mom & “The Girls” (our six- and four-year-old girls who work as a team). So far Emma and Cameron are not participating. But I’m sure they will!

Now, the best part this year is the current standings. The first year, I finished as the winner, but only by a narrow margin over our then 6-year-old son. Last year I believe Ian won, by a good amount of games (Dad finishing second) and this year? I know it’s only two weeks, but… the girls are SIX games ahead of the rest of us!!!

The Girls: 23-9
Dad: 18-14
Mom: 17-15
Alex: 16-16
Ian: 14-18

Too funny! I mean… those little girls probably have the best record of any prognosticators anywhere. And the best part is, they’re not just completely guessing! They actually know the teams, which ones tend to win more or less, and that home teams generally have the advantage over road teams. Incredible!

Family Fantasy SportsSo, along with our own family fantasy football league (hosted at we have quite a bit of fun here in the Campbell household during football season!

(Fun except when Ian steals all of the free agent running backs that I am trying to pick up!!!)


Grime’s Glen

Grime's Glen in Naples, NY

There’s a very neat little spot, hidden away in the town of Naples, NY, that we finally “discovered” last year, just before Cameron was born at the end of July. We had been told about it by a few people, but finally got to experience it for ourselves last mid-summer.

Yesterday, we “discovered” even more.

Last year, even though we knew there was a waterfall there, we were content to just splash around in the stream and explore a tiny bit from our point of entry. The stream flows over a rock bed with plenty of rocks of all sorts strewn throughout it. So there are tiny “waterfalls” everywhere for the kids to play in, even use as water slides. They love it!

So last year, we weren’t aware just how fun it was, and they had no change of clothes. They just got wet in what they were wearing. THIS year, we came prepared! The kids all had their bathing suits, ready to go. And, even though the water, flowing from the top of a mountain stream (well, OK, a … foot hill stream?) was much colder than they anticipated… they didn’t care! They were in there splashing around as soon as they could be!

This time we determined to find that waterfall! After splashing around a bit where we entered the stream, we began our trek. A trek that involved lots of stumbling on the smooth, wet rocks, as well as several fun discoveries along the way.

At one point, with so many tiny people struggling to continue, Mom was ready to give up, but we all encouraged her to press on. Finally, I (Dad) agreed and we left the youngest with Mom to play around in a big open spot of the stream while the oldest (um, and our two-year-old daughter) decided to push on to see how far that waterfall was.

It was very close!

Just around the bend, we saw it! Hooray!!! We called everyone else to push on and the scout party pushed ahead to confirm our discovery. Indeed we had finally found the big waterfall!

Grime's Glen - Naples, NY

Much fun ensued as the oldest began climbing as high and as much as they could! Everyone had fun getting wet in the falling water. Even Cameron! I brought him up to it and found a spot where there was a “tiny waterfall” he could play with. He got down on this knees and just started playing! Loved it!

We stayed there for a while, enjoying, and then headed back downstream to our van to head home. But no fun family celebration day is complete without ice cream! So, on our way home (well, about 10 miles out of the way… “on the way”) we stopped by an ice cream place we know of there and enjoyed lots of great homemade ice cream!

It was a super fun way to celebrate Cameron’s birthday, and the best part is, he thought so too! A one-year-old, loving treking through a mile or so of a stream up to a fairly large waterfall?! What a fun kid he is!

So, at Cam’s recommendation, you may want to check out Grime’s Glen on your next birthday, too!

Unexpected Fun at Swift’s Landing Park

Swift's Landing Park

Following some errands yesterday (which mostly didn’t go as planned, since, due to a much later start to our excursion, everything was closing on us!) on a lovely, nearly-summer’s night with a beautiful sunset, I decided that we should finish off the day with a visit to a local park.

It’s a small county park that features lots of grass, lots of picnic tables, and a few creeks running through and around it. There’s a baseball backstop which we have employed a time or two. And the train tracks which run through our town are just across the creek, so we’ve been known to spend an evening or two sitting on the bank of the creek watching for trains. (The kids—and Dad—love it!)

Last night, thanks to the recommendation of a friend who heads up this group, we headed to the other end of the park to see some “waterfalls”. Now, these are not regular, natural waterfalls, but spillover from the Erie Canal. However… there is water… falling… and so, we enjoyed seeing the waterfalls!

More than enjoyed, Alex was ecstatic! He was at the lead of our train of people, and when he caught the first glimpse of the rather long/wide “waterfalls” he squealed, “Whoa!! Come here!!! Look at these!!!!” I love seeing my kids excited. I think it’s one of my favorite things. 🙂

So we crossed a pretty cool-looking bridge to the other side where Alex was seeing these exciting waterfalls, and observed all that there was to observe for a while. After a few minutes, we observed a beaver! He swam out from one of the banks, heading up the creek where the path ahead of us went.

Always the explorers, the older three kids (followed by their younger sister, number four) ran up the path to see if they could see Mr. Beaver up there. Sure enough, there was another bridge where they could watch him swimming right to them! Mom & Dad and the babies finally caught up and watched as Mr. Beaver swam up as close as I’ve ever seen a beaver… just under the bridge there was a small “island” that he came up on for a moment… then he swam back where he came from! Funny!

So, if you’re in Wayne County, NY, and want to explore a new park … we recommend Swift’s Landing on the east side of Palmyra. Actually, it’s on the Canalway Trail which goes along the Erie Canal for… well, I have no idea how far. Perhaps this website will tell us? (Looks like it goes from Buffalo to Albany! Wow!)

As it has been in the past, and maybe even more now, the Canalway Trail and the parks it connects us to will be much frequented by the Campbells this summer!

Math Whiz

I have mentioned here many times before that my Dad (probably much like your Dad?) is a great proponent of the email forward. 🙂 Now, honestly, I don’t like email forwards, I don’t trust them, and usually I just delete them. But I’ll at least scan> most of the ones that come in from my Dad.

Today’s was a fun little math puzzle that claims that anyone who can come up with the answer has an IQ of at least 120. (According to some sources, that means you are either “Gifted” or “Highly Intelligent”.) Not sure how accurate that really is, but it was a fun puzzle to solve. Took me about five minutes… (what does that say about me?) 🙂

(Note: after solving the puzzle that supposedly showed that my IQ was over 120, I decided to take an online IQ test here… great way to “wake up” my brain this morning!)

Leave your answer as a comment and I’ll post the answer later this week (also as a comment). (If you’re reading this well after the post date… DON’T READ THE COMMENTS before you figure it out. (What fun would that be??)

Alright, get those math wheels a crankin’

Here is a neat math problem. The people who forwarded it to me claim that only people with an IQ 120 and over are able to figure this out.

2 + 3 = 10
7 + 2 = 63
6 + 5 = 66
8 + 4 = 96

9 + 7 = ???

StumbleUpon: Discover Great Stuff toolbar

I have a recommendation for you today. A long while ago, I was introduced to a website/technology called StumbleUpon. You may have noticed the little icon down in the “Share this post” bar below… StumbleUpon icon. Well, that’s for StumbleUpon.

How it works is, you set up your free account with them, and then bring up their site in your browser, and click on that “Stumble” button in the toolbar above. (The toolbar will automatically show up under your normal browser toolbars.) As you start visiting sites that other StumbleUpon users have recommended, you can click the “like” or “don’t like” buttons, or just “stumble” to the next site.

As you click on the like or don’t like options, you start to build a list of “favorites.” These are also grouped by category, which will help you fine tune your “stumbling,” focusing on a particular type of website.

It really does work quite well. Head on over and give it a spin today. You’ll discover some really great and probably very useful websites. (I know I have. Check out some of the ones I have liked in the past at my stumbleupon page.)

And, if you’re so inclined, you can bump up in the StumbleUpon rankings by just “liking” it, or you can even leave a review if you’re feeling wordy!


Thanks to a friend of ours, we have now been exposed to an apparent internet phenomenon, a video of a lip-syncing Russian from 1978, singing a song without any words.

Yes. You read that right.

The reason we know it’s a phenomenon is the incredible number of alternate versions available on YouTube, including this very well produced mash up below:

Really. I have no idea how this became such a hit, but… I can almost guarantee you’ll be humming this after watching both of these videos.

You’ve been warned. 🙂

Pizza Makers

The kids got to be pizza makers for a night!We decided, sort of last-minute, to head out to one of our favorite places last night (Leo’s Pizza) and take advantage of the kids eat free Tuesday special ( …we have a lot of kids!!) We also got to drop by and celebrate a birthday with some friends, so it was a fun night out!

But the bonus for the night was, just after we were served our food by the guy who runs the place. He has taken a liking to our family, especially our cute kids. As he served the pizza he said to the boys, “As soon as you’re done, I have a ‘special mission’ for you, so let me know when you’re done.” We didn’t have any idea what he meant, but couldn’t wait to find out!

Once they were ready, the boys—and Kirsten—went over to “report for duty” … and that’s when the fun began!

They were outfitted with aprons (Kirsten’s needed a bit of help as she’s still a bit short…) 🙂 and then they proceeded back to the kitchen. He showed them around a bit and then got out a ball of dough for Ian to pound, Alex added the sauce, Kirstie added the cheese, and they all chose and added their own toppings! They threw the pizza in the oven and got to take home their first made-by-themselves pizza! 🙂 It was really cute, and so fun!

Click the picture of our little pizza chefs above to see the larger version (though, it’s a bit fuzzy since it was just from a cell phone). We already liked Leo’s Pizza, but I think we might like it even a bit more, now!