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10 Things To Do This Weekend in Phoenix: Family Edition

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There’s only a few more sleeps before Santa comes to town, so that means it’s time to celebrate all weekend long. Enjoy classic holiday performances like “The Nutcracker” and “The Night Before Christmas,” become a certified elf and experience everything and anything that encompasses a winter wonderland. Check out our top picks for the weekend of Dec. 19-21.


MASK's Minute with Mom: Debbie Gaby

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MWM DGaby W2014

Check back each week for MASK's Dad Dialed In and Minute with Mom series.

Eighteen years ago, my husband and I went into the mattress business. But before we opened our first Sleep America store, I had already started a mattress recycling program with St. Vincent de Paul to keep mattresses out of land fills. Giving back and positively impacting the community has always been important to me, especially considering the experiences I had growing up.

I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Growing up in Texas, we had to work hard for what we wanted. My parents owned an antique store that, sadly, burned to the ground. They had no insurance and we lost everything.

At the age of 13, I left home, went to school and became a nanny. I had no choice but to work. But by having to provide for myself, something was instilled in me to work harder so I wouldn’t be in that position again.

When I was 18, I had a daughter. Times got tough again. I was single and divorced, with a baby and no child support. But I didn’t let it get me down. I just kept going, fueled by the knowledge that hard work and dedication will always get you somewhere in life.

Looking back, I know those challenges life gave me prepared me for my life’s work. As much as I am an entrepreneur, I’m also someone who understands the power of paying it forward.

It’s very gratifying to me to help someone get back on their feet. Whether it’s a new mattress for a child to rest their head, or a heart-to-heart talk with a young girl whose life has taken a wrong turn, I believe those small gestures make a big impact.

As important as giving back has been to me, I also wanted it to be important to my children. From an early age, I instilled the spirit of giving in my children, who have worked side by side with me on various fundraising projects. In fact, my son was so inspired that he started a shoe drive when he was in the seventh grade. He was on the basketball team and had too many pairs of shoes, so he started a campaign to give them—and other shoes he collected—to kids in need.

Even though they grew up not having to want for much, my children learned the value of hard work. When they were young, my son and daughter were expected to do chores, which they got paid for. I believe this instilled good traits and taught them to respect their things and the people around them.

As parents, we need to instill in our children that giving back is a necessity. It’s not a question of if you will, it’s a question of when you will.

Open and honest communication is another important value. There are so many things pulling our kids away from us. The strongest tool we have to stay connected with our kids is communication. We need to stop and listen when they share what’s going on in their lives.

I believe helping people is my true passion because I was given so much help when I needed it the most. I believe in the law of reciprocity—when you do something for someone, you ask them to pay it forward. I’ve seen this many times throughout my philanthropic career and what really shines through is the gratification in their hearts.


Kids Names May Effect Fate With Santa

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It turns out, the names we give our kids might effect their fate with Jolly Old Saint Nick. According to a new survey by "School Stickers,” if your child’s name is Jake or Laura, they’ve probably been not-so-nice this year. If you have a Jacob or Sophie, they’re probably well-behaved angels.

"School Stickers" released a list of the most naughty and nice boys and girls names. This was based on which names were given the most behavior stickers through the year. The study is only as scientific as the methods of giving out behavior stickers to students, but with 58,000 students iin the study, it does give us a sneak peak at what Santa's list may look like.

Naughtiest Boys

10. Luke

9. Ethan

8. Benjamin

7. Lewis

6. Jamie

5. Joshua

4. Jake

3. William

2. Cameron

1. Joseph

Naughtiest Girls

10. Jade

9. Caitlin

8. Amber

7. Courtney

6. Holly

5. Laura

4. Olivia

3. Eleanor

2. Bethany

1. Ella

Nicest Boys

10. Ryan

9. Oliver

8. Jack

7. Samuel

6. Harry

5. Adam

4. James

3. Thomas

2. Daniel

1. Jacob

Nicest Girls

10. Alice

9. Emily

8. Hannah

7. Abigail

6. Sophie

5. Grace

4. Charlotte

3. Emma

2. Georgia

1. Amy


10 Things To Do in Phoenix This Weekend: Family Edition

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year for family festivities. Visit Santa at one of his many stops in the valley, ice skate the night away, walk under a sea of glittering lights, and of course, drink a cup of warm hot cocoa. Check out our top picks for the weekend of Dec. 5-7.


Where to See Santa in Phoenix

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Cookies, cocoa and rosy red cheeks. Santa is making an appearance again this holiday season all over the Valley. Don’t miss your chance to take a photo and share your wish list with the jolly man from the North Pole himself. 


SanTan Village

Through Dec. 24

On his tour through the Valley, Santa will make a stop at SanTan Village near Harkins Theaters. The big guy will be available for photos and visits with the whole family from 12-8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 12-6 p.m. on Sunday. Photo prices start at $30. You can even bring your pet for a photo with “Santa Paws.” Go to http://www.shopsantanvillage.com/events/santa_2014 for more details.


Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall

Through Dec. 24

Fashion Square is bringing you much more than a big red chair, but the complete Santa’s Magical Workshop & Observatory, located in the food court. Once inside, you can take photos with Santa and participate in various family activities, such as experiencing Elf-Ray Vision and scanning yourself on the Naughty or Nice O’Meter. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Sunday. Check http://www.fashionsquare.com/Events/Details/219930?startDate=11%2F15%2F2014 for more prices and hours.


Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

The Fairmont Scottsdale is also opening a Santa’s Workshop this year at La Hacienda Plaza for special visits with Kris Kringle himself. Photos are only $10 and available for immediate pick-up. After sharing your wish list, you can participate in the other holiday activities, from ice skating to a light show to a carousel ride. For more info, go to http://www.scottsdaleprincess.com/seasonal-events/christmas-at-the-princess.


Paradise Valley Mall

Through Dec. 16

Aside from hearing your gift wishes, Santa will also be telling a holiday story from 10-10:30 a.m. every Tuesday. Story Time is free and open to kids of all ages in Dillard’s Court. For more info, go to http://www.theparadisevalleymall.com/Events/Details/186201

W 228633

Westgate Entertainment District

Through Dec. 24

If you share your wish list and snap a photo with Santa at Westgate Entertainment District, you will receive a free gift while supplies last! Photo prices start at $25.  http://westgateaz.com/santa/


Tolmachoff Farms

Dec. 13 & 20

Santa is making a trip to the farm this holiday season for two days only. You will be able to take your picture with the big guy next to a bonfire, as well as sip on hot chocolate or apple cider and munch on kettle corn and s’mores. The event runs from 12-4 p.m. on both days. Go to http://www.tolmachoff-farms.com/christmas_events_phoenix_glendale_arizona.html for more info.


The Polar Express

Through Jan. 3

All aboard the train to the North Pole for a day with Santa Claus. Grand Canyon Railway is offering trips to a special place complete with hot cocoa and cookies for the ride, with gifts and Christmas characters waiting when you arrive. The train leaves each night at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Make a reservation at http://www.thetrain.com/special-events/the-polar-express/.

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Bass Pro Shop

Through Dec. 24

While Dad shops for his fishing and hunting necessities, take the kiddos to meet Santa at his workshop in the Mesa Bass Pro Shop location, complete with fun crafts and moving trains. You will receive a free photo, but photo packages and Christmas cards are also available for purchase. Check here for all the exciting details.


Dr. A.J. Chandler Park

Through Dec. 20

Santa is bringing his winter home to Chandler too. Take a step inside “Santa’s House” to meet the jolly old man and get a free picture taken with him. Exclusively on Dec. 11, the Pueblo Middle School Choir will perform! Go to http://www.chandleraz.gov/default.aspx?pageid=711 for specific dates and times the House will be open.


Kiwanis Recreation Center

Dec. 27-28

Join Santa as he works off all the holiday cookies at the Swimming with Santa event in Tempe. Take a splash in the heated indoor wave pool with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and then hear a holiday story while you munch on milk and cookies. Ticket prices range from $5-9. The event will run from 1-5 p.m. Go to http://www.tempe.gov/Home/Components/News/News/3308/3149?backlist=%2Fcity-hall%2Fcommunity-services to see more details.

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