Principal Dresses as Elf on the Shelf and Hides Around School

If you’re a parent who celebrates Christmas, you are probably beyond thrilled that the holidays are over and you can finally put that infernal Elf on the Shelf back into storage.

If you’re a kid who still believes in Santa, you’re probably just as thrilled. Because there is nothing scarier than a spy from the North Pole reporting on your bad deeds and jeopardizing your Christmas bounty.

Well, there’s one thing scarier, as students at Kensington Elementary in Waxhaw, North Carolina learned before they left for Winter break.

Kensington’s principal, Terry Vaughn, dressed up as the Elf on the Shelf for the school’s Character Day. And what’s worse, throughout the day he hid around the school, much like the Elf does when he’s surveilling children.

All joking aside, Principal Vaughn really went for it, dressing up from head to toe in a convincing (and ridiculous) elf costume, and generally seeming to have a ball, going above and beyond to make great memories for his students.

Twitter was totally here for the dedicated educator’s holiday shenanigans.

4 Things That Will Help You Remain Calm When Your Kids Use The Internet

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The idea of unleashing your child into the digital world gives parents the same trepidation traditionally reserved for teaching a hormone-crazed teenager how to merge into rush hour traffic. Sure, the World Wide Web can be a scary place, but in a lot of ways, the experience is better than when we were kids. What we’ve lost in dial-up noises, we’ve gained in parental controls and strategies to make the online world a healthier environment for our kids.

You Control the World They Play In

There aren’t many phrases scarier for a parent than “in-app purchases available.” Thankfully, you can add layers of purchasing restrictions to make sure your kid doesn’t convert your life savings into video game currency.

Once you have your pocketbook protected, most apps and services also have filters you can apply to serve up only age-appropriate content. Video platforms get better every day at creating a digital world with training wheels for pre-teens. Most games restrict chat functions for younger kids so you don’t have to worry about strangers trying to make small talk with your second grader who simply wants to feed a pretend horse in an open-world environment.

Most importantly, keeping kids aware of your screen time rules — and enforcing them — will go a long way to keeping their digital habit a healthy one.

Today’s Parental Supervision Tools Are Next Level

Just as you want to know who your kid’s in-person friends are, you can monitor their early digital interactions to make sure they’re using the internet for good. Apps like Messenger Kids create a safer environment where kids can interact and play with their buddies while parents keep an eye on their whole experience.

Messaging apps are not only a great way for kids to stay connected with buddies outside of a classroom or play date, but they’re a solid introduction for kids to the digital world. They foster creativity by giving kids freedom in how they play and connect, while also aiding social and emotional development by helping kids stay in touch with friends and family members.

With Messenger Kids, you have your own separate Parent Dashboard that allows you to manage your kid’s contact list, set “off times” to enforce screen time limits, and check in on your child’s conversations, which is especially helpful with younger kids.

You’re Already Teaching Them What They Need To Know

Isolation and bullying are among the biggest dangers for teenagers growing up digitally. Actually, they’re some of the biggest problems of being a kid, period. But just as the digital world can intensify some of those issues, smart digital tools can also be part of the solution.

Many apps and platforms are joining the mission to educate and encourage positive behaviors in the digital realm. The Messenger Kids Pledge echoes the attitudes we want our kids to exhibit in real life: Be Kind, Be Respectful, Be Safe, and Have Fun. To help kids learn these behaviors and put them into practice, Messenger Kids’ new interactive Pledge Planets activity puts kids in charge of helping characters navigate social situations by using their digital citizenship skills. Messenger Kids’ interactive games also have report functions to help dramatically limit in-game bullying, while parental supervision tools let you monitor your kid’s online play.

Fortunately, there has never been more education and awareness in schools to combat issues like bullying. Those are the same values and lessons you’re instilling in your kids at home, both in-person and online.

Spending Time Online With Your Kid Can Be an Incredible Bonding Experience

Having an online kid doesn’t have to be scary — it can actually enhance your relationship. It’s something fun to do together. You don’t have to wait to throw a ball around the yard, you can destroy your fourth-grader in your favorite racing game. Meeting your kid on their level and gaming together, whether it’s a world-building game or a team-up-to-defend-the-world-from-zombies game, are memories they’ll carry forever. And it gives you a chance to model the behavior you expect from them online.

Also, an ongoing messaging relationship with your kid can bring you closer. Nothing cheers up the final quarter of your workday like your kid sending a GIF on Messenger Kids after they get home from school. Ask a child how school was, and they listlessly respond, “Fine.” Ask via text, and they might give you a whole breakdown of what’s going on — though it might be communicated with memes and emojis. Still, it adds a whole new dimension to your relationship. And you can’t ask for much more than that.

Messenger Kids is the video, voice, and messaging app designed for kids to connect with family and friends. Learn more by exploring messengerkids.com.

POSTED Homeless Man Heroically Pulls Police Officer From Burning Cruiser

Johnny Walker was working near a store where a police cruiser was involved in an accident while chasing a suspect. He heard the crash, saw squad car had gone up in flames, and leapt to action.

“I’m homeless, I was doing some work for someone. I was taking some tools back when I heard ‘boom, boom, boom, boom,’” he said to a local TV station. “I ran out here to see what it is and I saw a lot of cars, but I paid attention to the fire. My instincts were to go to that car and help him out, because he was crushed in on both sides.”

The deputy was chasing a suspect of an armed robbery when he collided with another car in an intersection. Several vehicles were involved, and one woman was tragically killed.  How you respond in a situation like that says a lot about a person. He didn’t see the armed robbery, he didn’t see the cop crash into cars in the intersection. He just  saw a car on fire, and threw himself into harm’s way to help.

And Walker got a big reward for his efforts. Not in an official capacity, but his family, who thought the homeless man had passed away, saw him being interviewed on TV. They’ve since reconnected with him, and raised more than $10,000 to help him find a home and counseling. The selfless heroic act hopefully has him back on a path to more stability.

The Rock Refuses Vin Diesel’s Fast and Furious Invitation

Sometimes, even family, fall out. Even the Fast and the Furious family.

That’s what happened with Vin Diesel and The Rock, who very publicly dislike each other and stopped teaming up on Fast movies. The Rock showed up for Fast 5, 6, 7, and 8, then had enough, did his Diesel-free Hobbs and Shaw spinoff movie, and said sayonara. But Diesel, perhaps after Fast 8 and Fast 9 weren’t quite as furious as he’d hoped, finally saw the light and asked The Rock to return for Fast 10 to wrap up the series. To which The Rock said: Nah.

A few months ago, Diesel posted to Instagram:

“The world awaits the finale of ‘Fast 10,’” Diesel wrote. “As you know, my children refer to you as Uncle Dwayne in my house. There is not a holiday that goes by that they and you don’t send well wishes… but the time has come. Legacy awaits. I told you years ago that I was going to fulfill my promise to Pablo. I swore that we would reach and manifest the best Fast in the finale that is 10!”

Diesel took to Instagram to essentially beg The Rock to return. The Rock has finally responded. Not in the way Vin Diesel wanted.

In an interview with CNN, the DC’s Black Adam laid it all out:

“I told [Diesel] directly that I would not be returning to the franchise. I was firm yet cordial with my words and said that I would always be supportive of the cast and always root for the franchise to be successful, but that there was no chance I would return.”

He directly addressed Diesel’s social media post asking him back: “Vin’s recent public post was an example of his manipulation. I didn’t like that he brought up his children in the post, as well as Paul Walker’s death. Leave them out of it. We had spoken months ago about this and came to a clear understanding.”

There are no hard feelings, of course.

“My goal all along was to end my amazing journey with this incredible franchise with gratitude and grace. It’s unfortunate that this public dialogue has muddied the waters. Regardless, I’m confident in the ‘Fast’ universe and its ability to consistently deliver for the audience… I truly wish my former co-stars and crew members the best of luck and success in the next chapter.”

And that’s that.

Belfast Star Wishes Dad Was Around To See His New Movie

Not every star makes it big early. Some spend long careers grinding, never quite getting that big break, or fully realizing their potential, until later in their lives. It’s not easy waiting for recognition, or for finally delivering the project they’ve always wanted to make, especially when the people who would be most proud of your accomplishments aren’t around to see them.

For actor Jaime Dornan, that person is his father.

Dornan was a model who hit it big when he was cast in the film adaptation of the hugely popular book series, Shades of Grey. He’d become a star, and was very successful, but it’s his latest project that is getting the most attention. He stars in Belfast, an autobiographical tale from writer/director Kenneth Branagh, about a young boy growing up in Northern Ireland. The movie is an Oscar favorite, and Dornan is proud to be a part of it. He just wishes his father were still around to see it.

Dornan’s father, Jim, was a renowned obstetrician and gynecologist and was considered a pioneer in the field of women’s reproductive rights. He passed away from Covid-19 last March while Dornan was on quarantine while filming in Australia.

“For my dad not to see Belfast really hurts,” he told the Sunday Times. “I take comfort from the fact that he knows I did it. Some people go their whole lives without being told they’ve made their parents proud. My dad told me every day.”

Dornan says his father was the one who encouraged him to explore his creative side – rather than end up a working stiff.

“I didn’t want to become an estate agent in Belfast and play a bit of club rugby at weekends — with the greatest respect to estate agents in Belfast,” he added. “I just felt I had a wee bit more to offer than that… even though it is lunacy to try to be an actor. Only 4 per cent of actors are employed — who in their right mind would pursue that?”

His dad encouraged him, and Dornan has made his way quite well, and his dad knew it.

Peter Dinklage Says Fans Need to ‘Move On’ From Game of Thrones Ending

Game of Thrones was an incredible show. Groundbreaking for HBO and it absolutely deserved all the good accolades that came its way. But that last season…Season 8 of the show will always be the asterisk that drags the show down from being one of the best ever. But, star Peter Dinklage has a message for fans; “Move on.”

Dinklage, who was truly fantastic as Tyrion Lannister, gave a wide-ranging interview to the New York Times recently about new projects he’s working on. Late in the interview, he was asked about the ending.

He said he thought people were upset with it because “they wanted the pretty white people to ride off into the sunset together.”

“By the way, it’s fiction. There’s dragons in it. Move on,” he laughed. “No, but the show subverts what you think, and that’s what I love about it.”

Dinklage thought it was the perfect time to end the show, and thought the ending was brilliant in how it wasn’t about who ruled after all.

“Everybody had their own stories going on while watching that show, but nobody’s was as good as what the show delivered, I think,” he said.

He does make a strong case for how the show frequently went out of its way to set up a fantasy trope and then cut it down. It’s what kept the show interesting and kept viewers on their feet. HOWEVER, The fans have some legit gripes with how sped up the creators made that last season. Author George R.R. Martin thought the show should’ve been two seasons longer (of course he did, he can’t finish anything) and he’s probably right. At least another season would’ve allowed them to set up the finish better.

Still, the destination was the destination, no matter how bungled the pacing was. And people…were not going to like that destination. It’s unseen if that’s how Martin plans to end things (although he clued the creators into other major moments that aren’t in the books yet, so I can’t imagine he veers off course with the ending), but Dinklage is right in that everyone had a different story. And no matter what, many of them were going to be mad with how it ended  (and just the fact that it actually was over).

But if the ending actually was as good as he thinks it was, the show would still be spoken about reverently in culture. Instead, most people have moved on. And that’s the biggest sign that things didn’t work as well as possible.

Laura: So Lucky

“We have 2 under 2, about 14 months apart. Covid has become increasingly difficult with being in lock down and stay home orders (we’re in Ontario).

My husband has worked around the clock to be able to provide for us, as we’ve felt the financial ramifications just like so many. He works two jobs to cover our expenses and comes home always so present and involved with the kids. Always there to give me a break when I’m on my mental tipping point.

He’s always the first to say, “go for a drive, or go have a nap”… he does so much for us and never asks for anything in return. We’re so lucky.”

– Laura Fleming

Teen McDonald’s Employee Jumps Through Drive-thru Window To Save Choking Woman

A Minnesota teen served up more than just burgers and fries during her Saturday shift at McDonald’s. Throughout the seven months 15-year-old Sydney Raley spent working at the McDonald’s in Eden Prairie, her biggest challenges consisted of handling the daily lunch rush. That is, until a seemingly-typical day at the drive-thru turned almost catastrophic.

The hard-working teen was in the midst of her weekend shift, taking orders and handing customers their food through the drive-thru window. Working in food service can be incredibly hectic, but Sydney’s attentiveness and quick thinking meant the difference between life and death for one customer. After handing a woman and her daughter their first bag of food, Sydney turned to check on the remainder of their order. When the 15-year-old went to update her customers, she noticed something was seriously wrong.

“She was coughing like crazy, and I noticed she was gagging.” Sydney told CNN. “Her daughter was in the passenger seat and she looked so freaked out. I immediately knew ‘Oh, no, she’s choking.'”

Sydney learned the Heimlich maneuver from a Red Cross class for babysitters years before, and almost automatically, her training kicked in. After instructing both her manager and the customer’s daughter to call 911, Sydney leaped through the drive-thru window to do whatever she could to save the woman’s life.

With the help of a bystander, Sydney dislodged the chicken nugget from the choking woman’s throat. Though the customer was still in a state of shock, her immense gratitude was evident. The heroic teen received a reward from the Edina Police Department for her heroism, and well-earned praise from her community as a whole.

Kingsman Director Wants To Put Henry Cavill in a Fun Superman Movie

Of all the ways DC has botched their movie universe, from their painful attempt to match the MCU’s team up with a hastily-assembled version of their own, to Wonder Woman 1984, to the Snydercut, no character has gotten shorter shift than Superman.

The most iconic superhero of all got one controversial movie in which he utterly betrayed his most fundamental principles, and then didn’t even get a sequel of his own. He was immediately thrust into Batman v. Superman and then the Justice League, for which he was largely absent. And in none of those movies did he live up to the promise of his comics, or of the first two Christopher Reeve films.

Someday we’ll hopefully get a worthy follow-up, and maybe it will be directed by the Kingsmen’s Matthew Vaughn. The director is currently doing press for The King’s Man, his Kingsmen prequel, and he revealed to The Wrap that not only does he want to make a Superman movie, but he also pitched one before Man of Steel.

“I was desperate to do a Superman film. Desperate,” Vaughn confessed. “I pitched a big Superman movie before they made ‘Man of Steel.’”

He didn’t get that chance, but he’s still pining. And after having worked with Henry Cavill, he wants the Man of Steel star to reprise the role. With a slightly different tone than Snyder’s pompous, gray-toned take.

“I just got to work with Henry Cavill, which was lovely, on ‘Argylle’ and he’s unbelievable in it. I still think there’s room for a new Superman film, but a proper Superman film. A colorful, fun Superman movie. Not a dark one.”

He explains that he wishes the character had gotten his own sequel before he joined Batman’s world, which has a very different tone – especially since the Nolan movies reinvented the character for modern times

“I just thought it was a mistake putting the Batman vibe into the Superman world,” Vaughn said. “I just think they’re two separate — they’re just not relatable in any way, in my mind. It should be fun. I mean, look, ‘The Dark Knight’ was obviously different, and it made sense and it was brilliant, as a film and as a comic. But Superman was always… I loved the [Richard] Donner ‘Superman’ movie, and I think ‘Wonder Woman’ worked because, I think, ‘Wonder Woman’ was basically remaking [Donner’s] ‘Superman’ in a weird way. Yeah, I love Superman.”

I love Superman too, and that all sounds good to me. There are plenty of ways to make the character work without going the angsty, conflicted route. I’d love to see Vaughn, or someone else with the right mindset, make it work.

Either way, the character will endure. But hopefully, we’ll see him soar again soon.

An NFL Player Surprised Two Dozen Kids With New Bikes for Christmas

In the world of great seasonal content, few things will rank up there with “famous person surprises kids with cool presents.” One of the latest was fantasy football standout Joe Mixon, who has been tearing it up for the Bengals on the gridiron. And the impact he’s leaving off the field is proving to be just as big.

Mixon surprised 28 kids from the Boys & Girls club to a local arcade for a few hours of unlimited video games and pizza. They even all got Icees for dessert. The biggest surprise was saved for last, as Mixon made sure each kid would have a Christmas to remember as he gave everyone there a brand new bike and helmet. The kids were floored and started testing them out right there in the arcade.

Mixon posed for pictures with the kids and went out of his way to make their day special. It’s cool to see pro athletes giving back in a real way. It wasn’t just a staged photo where the player pops in for some good press, Mixon was there for those kids the whole day. And the bikes were the icing on the cake.

“This community has embraced me and become a second home for me, so to be able to give back and inspire these children is the least I can do,” he said. It’s not even the first time Mixon has gone this route, as he’s pulled the arcade/bike surprise in the past as well.

The Bengals have exceeded expectations this season and were close to being even better if not for a few very close losses. Mixon has been carrying the backfield for Cincinnati, while star QB Joe Burrow has been one of the best in the NFL throwing the football.

Even above his play on the field, Mixon can at least know he has 28 new fans after putting some magic into their holiday season.