Archive | September, 2010

St. John the Apostle Pumpkin Patch

30 Sep

Every year, St. John the Apostle United Methodist Church in Arlington holds a pumpkin patch on the sprawling lawn outside their church building.

It’s one of the best places for pumpkin-related photo-ops I’ve ever seen!  Not only do they have a TON of pumpkins, they have lots of cute props (like the pumpkin stand above, cardboard cut-outs, hay bales, etc.) that make great scenery for setting up pictures.  And the staff is always so wonderful and friendly.

Check them out!  They’re open 10 am to 8 pm daily, from October 3rd through the 31st.  Prices are reasonable, and proceeds from pumpkin sales go directly to fund their youth missions.

St. John the Apostle Church is located in Arlington, near the corner of Green Oaks and South Cooper (behind the Kohl’s).  For their website, click here.

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

30 Sep

It’s here – it’s really here!  Wait, what?  No, no, not Christmas – AUTUMN.  The cool weather has finally arrived!!  After months of sweaty discomfort, it’s time to dust off the jeans and jackets and enjoy the fall weather, plus all the activities that come with it.

Like many people, I despise Texas summers.  Once June hits, I sequester myself into a self-imposed summer hibernation.  I avoid the sun like the plague (though somehow I always manage to end up with tan lines!).

But when the air finally cools off, I feel like I come alive after months of missing out on life.  Everything suddenly feels bright and new.  I feel energized!  I want to have another baby, write a book, run a race!  Everything just seems so…possible.

As I sit here, it’s only 70 degrees outside, and very windy.  (Just saying that brings a tear to my eye!)  We’ve got all the windows in our house open, I’m wearing pants and a sweatshirt, and I actually played outside for over an hour with my kids this morning.  For me, it’s hard to imagine anything better.

And there are suddenly so many things to do – festivals, races, hayrides, petting farms, pumpkin patches, and of course, the best of all – HALLOWEEN!

Halloween is absolutely my favorite holiday, maybe because my mood in October is just so darn good.  My house is decorated to the hilt, and I run a Halloween food drive in which my family trick-or-treats around our neighborhood to collect canned goods.  It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding!

So get ready – I will be sharing LOTS of fall and Halloween-related activities with you!  After all, it IS the most wonderful time of the year!!  Or something like that.

Calloway’s Fall Harvest Festival – All Day, All Locations

29 Sep

Calloway's and Cornelius Fall Harvest

All Calloway’s Nursery locations are holding their annual Fall Harvest Festival on October 2nd, beginning at 9 am.

Highlights include:

  • Miniature Farmer’s Market
  • Picture Takin’ Place
  • Scarecrow Village
  • Pumpkin decorating – each child will receive a free pie pumpkin and decorative materials
  • Mad Science performances
  • Free Clinics for adults: Fall’s Colorful Flowers and Container Gardens
  • Children can plant flowers at the Potting Station

Plus, popcorn and balloons, free all day!  For locations and more information, click below:

http://mytexasgarden.com/index.php/events/fall-harvest/

Nursing in Public

29 Sep

Nursing in public can be a very tricky subject for some people.  When I had my first baby, it took me FOREVER before I felt completely comfortable enough to even attempt to do it in public.  What if I got a dirty look?  What if my breast was accidentally exposed?  What if someone asked me to leave or feed my baby in the bathroom?  What if someone stared at me?  What if the nipple shield fell off?  What if I couldn’t get the baby properly latched right away?

I’d heard plenty of horror stories, some of them through the media, about women being asked to leave certain places and then large groups of women subsequently staging “nurse-ins” where hoards of women show up at the “offending” location and nurse their babies.  I was NOT looking for that kind of attention.

To make matters worse, as a first-time mom, I was feeling quite insecure about nursing in public, because for me, it was quite a production just getting it done.  With my first baby, I used a nipple shield (for the first 16 weeks), which meant I needed to see my breast to put it on, see the baby’s mouth, and it was difficult to be “discreet.”  Plus, I am a relatively modest person.  But, I am grateful that I was attending local La Leche League meetings at the time, and saw nursing mothers regularly.  Over time, I became more and more confident in my ability to feed my baby, even in public.

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

28 Sep

I have many weaknesses.

Chocolate.  Coffee-table books.  The Container Store.

But one flaw that impacts far more than my waistline or wallet is my ongoing reluctance to ask for help.  This summer, though, I didn’t have a choice.  Circumstances compelled me to rally against my introverted instincts on behalf of Paige, my 14-year-old with autism.

I should have suspected we were in for an unusual summer during the last week of the 2009-10 school year.  For the first time ever, Paige refused to board the bus.  At the time, I chalked up her balking to burnout.  After all, she had struggled all year to adapt to junior high.  So, frankly, had I.

Not helping matters was “the biter,” a fellow student with autism in most of Paige’s classes.  After the fourth (and final) chomp on Paige’s leg in early May, I asked for a schedule change so Paige would have very limited contact with that particular child.  While the teachers readily honored my request (making me kick myself for not asking sooner!), plenty of damage had been done.  I interpreted my non-verbal daughter’s shrieks as signaling she had no intention of returning.

I figured everything would right itself during the two-week break before summer school started.

Wrong!

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Creative Hands

24 Sep

Creative Hands is a paint-your-own-ceramics studio located in central Arlington.  Prices vary – you can pay just a couple of dollars for a small (and I mean, SMALL) figurine, or you could pay $20 or more for a large one.  Fortunately, they have lots of sizes in-between!  The price listed on the figurine (plus tax) is all you pay – the paint itself doesn’t cost anything extra.  (For the 2 pieces my kids are painting in the pictures below, I spent a total of about $13.)

After choosing what they want to paint, the kids get to put on a smock and grab a seat at one of the many tables that fill the studio.  Cups full of brushes and water line the tables, and an employee will bring over a tray full of small paint containers.

When they’re finished with their masterpieces, they get to choose a simple, shiny glaze or a sparkly glitter glaze.  Then they can play in the jungle-themed kids’ area while the art dries, which takes about 15 minutes.

The atmosphere is so cute, and a definite artistic inspiration in itself.  Walls are handpainted with castle and jungle scenes, and a 3-D “tree” made out of cardboard covers the kids’ play area.  It seems like every square inch of the place is painted with something – even the furniture and the ceiling!

Creative Hands also does birthday parties.  They recently expanded the interior of the studio, so parties now have a separate room.

Handpainted ceramics are a fantastic idea for gift-giving, and just plain fun for any occasion.  Enjoy creating your own artistic expressions!

For the Creative Hands website, click here.

Wes and his seahorse

Rosie and her green duck

Roundtable Discussion – Homeschooling

24 Sep

So I’m considering homeschooling my kids.  Just CONSIDERING it.  I go back and forth between both sides of the issue – I could debate myself endlessly on the subject.  There are days when I am convinced that my children would benefit from being exposed to lots of different teachers and the fresh new experiences they have to offer.  Other days I’m drawn to the personalized education I could give my kids, and the freedom it would bring to our schedule.

A friend of mine, a former elementary school teacher, heard me mention homeschooling recently.  She practically did a spit-take:

“PLEASE tell me you’re not thinking of homeschooling, Jen.  No way!”

Taken aback by her reaction, I stammered, “Um, well, I was just sort of thinking about it a little.”

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