Archive | April, 2011

Night on the Town in Mansfield

27 Apr

Come to Town Park in Mansfield this Spring for “Night on the Town” movie nights!  Pack a picnic dinner and join the fun.  Along with other activities, movies will be played on a giant outdoor screen.

All movie nights will have games and prizes centered around the theme for that evening, and concessions will be available.  The playground at Town Park is brand-new and has lots of great features.  Sand volleyball and basketball courts are available for the older kids.

Town Park is located at 500 North Main Street in Mansfield. For more information please contact the Mansfield Activities Center at 817-453-5420.

April 30: Dog Show Extravaganza, Pet Parade & Vaccine Clinic at 5:00 p.m.; Dog Show judging at 6:00 p.m.;  Movie at 7:00 p.m. – “Alpha and Omega”
May 7: The Music Place & Arts Conservatory performs at 6:00 p.m.; Movie at 7:00 p.m. – “Cats and Dogs, Revenge of Kitty Galore”
May 14: Car Event at 6:00 p.m.; Movie at 7:00 p.m. – “Cars”
May 21: 1-mile Dragon Fun Run at 6:00 p.m.; Movie at 7:00 p.m. – “How to Train Your Dragon”

Day of the Child/Day of the Book at the Fort Worth Science Museum – April 30

27 Apr

Day of the Child/Day of the Book (Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros)
Saturday, April 30, 2011

10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

April 30 marks a special day in the lives of children. It is a day to celebrate children and the joy of reading! Come join the fun at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History!

  • Meet some of our live animals
  • Say hello to Dynamo, our longneck dinosaur mascot
  • Dig for dinosaur bones and fossils and meet some dinosaurs that lived in your backyard
  • Create and build playful contraptions and toys
  • Listen to stories and storytellers
  • Create your own family book
  • Enjoy jugglers, magicians  and hula hoopers
  • Play with bubbles and paint your face
  • Explore new ideas in our hands-on exhibits like the Children’s Museum, Energy Blast, Identity and Fort Worth Champions

Pick up a coupon for $1 Child Exhibit Admission for Day of the Child at Fort Worth community centers and the following Fort Worth Public Library locations: downtown, Diamond Hill/Jarvis, Northside and Seminary.

Autism Awareness Month: Where to Find Help

26 Apr

As I know firsthand, an autism diagnosis typically terrifies most parents.  From daily realities to dreams of the future, moms, dads and siblings must process the news and begin adjusting their expectations.  My advice: give yourself time to grieve then reach out for help.  (I wasn’t good at either one of those; I’m convinced I would have fared better if I’d just let myself feel crummy after my now-15-year-old daughter, Paige, was diagnosed as a preschooler.  I shut down instead.)

Here is an abbreviated list of resources from Autism Speaks, the nationwide advocacy group that might help you or a friend coping with a new diagnosis.  For more, visit

Autism Research Institute (ARI)
Founded in 1967 by Dr. Bernard Rimland, ARI conducts and fosters scientific research designed to improve the methods of diagnosing, treating, and preventing autism.  ARI also disseminates research findings to parents and others worldwide seeking help.  One of ARI’s primary projects, DAN! conferences share information and ideas toward defeating autism as quickly as possible.

Autism Society of America (ASA)
ASA exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism.  They do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy.

Defeat Autism Now (DAN!)
A project of the Autism Research Institute, DAN! meetings bring together physicians and scientists from around the world to develop advanced methods of diagnosis and treatment.  DAN! Conferences and practitioner trainings are held twice a year.

Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT) or
FEAT is a non-profit organization of parents, educators, and other professionals dedicated to providing Education, Advocacy and Support for the North Texas autism community.

First Signs
First Signs is dedicated to the early identification and intervention of children with developmental delays and disorders.  The organization provides a wealth of resources ranging from healthy development to concerns about a child: from the screening and referral process, to treatments for autism spectrum disorders.  Their stated goal is to improve screening and referral practices and to lower the age at which young children are identified with autism and other developmental disorders.

Generation Rescue
Generation Rescue was formed in 2005 by parents of children who have been diagnosed with childhood neurological disorders including autism, ADHD and other learning disabilities.  Their belief is that most of these conditions are environmental illnesses that can be treated through biomedical intervention.

National Autism Association (NAA)
NAA’s mission is to educate and empower families affected by autism and other neurological disorders, while advocating on behalf of those who cannot fight for their own rights.  They aim to educate society that autism is not a lifelong incurable genetic disorder but one that is biomedically definable and treatable.  Their efforts include raising public and professional awareness of environmental toxins as causative factors in neurological damage that often results in an autism or related diagnosis.

Organization for Autism Research (OAR)
OAR was created in 2001 by parents and grandparents who shared a common belief that applied research would answer the questions that parents, families, individuals with autism, teachers and caregivers confront daily.  No other autism organization has this singular focus.

Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)
TACA provides information, resources, and support to families affected by autism.  For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments.  TACA helps to strengthen the autism community by connecting families and the professionals who can help them.

Weekend Calendar Reminder

21 Apr

Here’s a quick look at what’s going on this weekend – click on the links or check out our calendar for all the details!

Saturday, April 23:

Fort Worth Prairie Fest

Special-Needs Screening of Rio at Studio Movie Grill

Dallas Roars! Festival of Flight at the Dallas Zoo

Dinos Unearthed

Bugs at the Heard Museum

HONK! Junior at Artisan Center Theater

Free Kids’ Crafts at Lakeshore Learning

Kids’ Fishing at Bass Pro Shops

Kidtoon Movies at Studio Movie Grill (Arlington Highlands)

Texas Sized Easter Celebration

Sunday, April 24:

Dinos Unearthed

Bugs at the Heard Museum

Dallas Roars! Festival of Flight at the Dallas Zoo

Kidtoon Movies at Studio Movie Grill (Arlington Highlands)

Organ Donation – A Personal Story

21 Apr

In honor of National Organ Donation month in April, we invited guest blogger Robyn to share her story with us.  Robyn recounts the story of how organ donation suddenly became a very personal issue in her life:

April 2, 2002, my 16-year-old daughter, Charis, and I went out for our customary evening walk.  Charis was as healthy as could be.  She was tall, thin, active, and she didn’t use drugs or drink.  She had never had any health problems at all beyond the typical childhood illnesses.

Charis became a statistic within a few moments’ time when she had a massive, unexplained coronary—like the stories you hear on the news, where a track star, or basketball player collapsed and died.  Only she didn’t die.  She hung in there and survived.

By the middle of the night, she was in surgery for a heart bypass.  The bypass didn’t save her heart, and she was placed on life support with 85% of her heart destroyed.  Our only hope was a heart transplant, and she was moved to the very top of the list to receive the first heart available for her size and blood type.  For nearly two weeks she lay in the ICU in a near-coma, on a ventilator and feeding tube.  She couldn’t speak and could barely move, writing notes on a pad lying on her stomach.  At 5’6”, she only weighed 102 pounds when she had her heart attack, and lost 20 pounds in the ICU, so weak that she was sleeping almost all the time.

April 12, 2002, a family in east Texas allowed their 12-year-old son to ride a 4-wheeler in a pasture.  His father was doing yard work, and watching as his son rode around.  He wasn’t reckless, he wasn’t wild, and he wasn’t going fast.  He went up a small incline, gave it a little bit too much gas, which caused it to come up and roll backwards on top of him, crushing his skull.  Dad ran to him and gave him CPR until the ambulance arrived.  By the next day, he was declared brain dead, but was kept on life support as the family gathered to say their goodbyes.

April 14, 2002, we received a call at 2:00 a.m. with the news that a heart was available.  It was one of the most heart-wrenching moments of my life, knowing that because someone else’s child died, mine would be given a chance to live.

The previous evening, I had prayed a desperate prayer.  I had told God that we were ready to give Charis to Him.  Whatever He wanted to do, we were ready.  In my heart, I was letting her go, believing that she would soon die.  But then we got the call.

We all gathered and kissed her goodbye, and I collapsed in tears as the doors shut behind her.  My baby girl was going to have her heart taken out of her chest.  There was no turning back now.  She was in surgery by 6:00 a.m., and out by 10:00 a.m.!

That is far from the end of the story.  After a heart transplant, you don’t just walk out of the hospital healed.  You have a set of lifelong issues.  Because of immunosuppressant drugs, Charis will always be extra fragile and susceptible to all sorts of illnesses.  She was diagnosed with lymphoma when she was 21, and underwent 6 months of horrible chemo, but is now in remission.

Charis was told that a side effect of one of the chemo drugs was that she would be sterile.  Yet again, she rose above it.  She had gotten engaged the Christmas after the bout of cancer, and in June discovered that she was pregnant.  Her doctors advised her to terminate her pregnancy, but she chose to carry the baby.  She and Isidro got married in November, and Elijah was born about 6 weeks early, very small, but healthy, in January of 2009.  The pregnancy caused her to go into rejection, which she has been treated for ever since.

Charis and her son, Elijah

Elijah turned 2 in January of this year.  Charis is loving life, loving being a mom.  I’m just so, so thankful for every single day we have her.

I urge everyone reading this to consider becoming an organ donor.  It is vitally important that your closest family members know your wishes.  As you can see by my story, events happen so quickly that there isn’t time in the moment.  Go to and click on “Register” to find your state and discover the process for your state.

Lastly, please know that your status as a potential donor doesn’t affect your treatment in an emergency.  Rich or famous people are not bumped to the top of the list.  The list is name, occupation, social status blind.  It is listed by severity, and a few other statistics, such as blood type.

I’m more than happy to answer any questions, or to expound on my daughter’s story.  Feel free to email me at

Dallas Roars! Festival of Flight at the Dallas Zoo

20 Apr

Take off for the Zoo and celebrate spring these three weekends with live entertainment, activities for the kids, bounce houses, and more. You won’t want to miss the opening of the new bird show, SOAR, A Festival of Flight, as well as the opening of the seasonal Butterflies exhibit, coming May 7.

Festival of Flight dates in April are:

April 23, 12-5 pm

April 24, 1-5 pm

April 30, 12-5 pm

For more information, visit


20 Apr

A few weekends ago a good friend of mine invited my family and I over for dinner.  She lives out in the country and I always enjoy visiting with her.  With each visit, we learn new things, like how to plant peach trees and get the most out of your harvest.  My friend is what I like to call “crunchy”, not unlike myself.  I am always picking her brain about whatever latest gadget they have or ways to live a more sustainable, environmentally friendly life.

This last visit, we were introduced to the juicer!  I had never in my life tried freshly squeezed juice, so they offered to make us some, right on the spot.  I watched as my friend’s husband prepared an entire bag of carrots (washed and cut both tips off the ends), then fed them a few at a time into the juicer.  The result was a tall glass of the freshest, zestiest juice I had ever had.  We let the kids try some and to my amazement, my picky eater loved it!

My husband and I went home from dinner straight to do our research on juicers.  It turns out that eating fruits and vegetables in liquid form allows your body to more easily (and quickly) absorb all of the nutrients.  My friend had mentioned certain things they had tried, like granny smith apples that literally gave them a buzz from drinking.

This weekend the juicer we liked went on sale, so we bought it and started right away!  Our first juice was an instant success with the entire family (even the baby)!  It was the best investment we have made recently!  Our first recipe was our own made-up concoction.  We juiced about 2 cups of fresh spinach, 1 whole apple (minus the core), and a slice of lemon (rind on) about ¼” thick.

The result was a sweet, refreshing bright green, super healthy juice!  Another benefit to juicing, we can recycle the waste.  We recently purchased a compost bin, so, we’ll be adding all of our pulp to it whenever we juice!

Texas Sized Easter Celebration

20 Apr

Fort Worth Stockyards Station Hosts a Texas Sized Easter Celebration & Egg Hunt on April 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm.

What:  Annual Easter Celebration and Egg Hunt.  Activities include:

  • Easter Egg Hunt for kids of ages 0-12 begins at High Noon.
  • Pictures with Easter Bunny 12:00 – 3 p.m. (Bring your own camera).
  • Face Painter 12-3pm
  • Balloon Artist 12-3pm
  • Petting Zoo 1-4pm
  • Fort Worth Herd Cowcamp 1:30 – 2:30p.m.
  • Fort Worth Herd Cattle Drive at 4:00 p.m.

When: April 23rd from 12 – 4 p.m.

Where: The Easter Egg Hunt is held on the lawns of the Historic Livestock Exchange Building and Stockyards Visitors Center. Additional Easter activities are held inside Stockyards Station and along East Exchange Avenue.

Who:  Fort Worth Stockyards Station, a western destination offering over 25 unique shops, dining and entertainment, indoor and outdoor event facilities, historic walking tours, horseback riding, the one hour “Trinity River Run” on a vintage steam engine, the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the home to the world’s only twice daily cattle drive.

For more information on the Easter Celebration contact (817) 625-9715 or click here.

Special-Needs Screening of Rio at Studio Movie Grill

19 Apr

If you’re the parent of a special-needs child, you’ll love this one.  Studio Movie Grill offers screenings of movies with the lights turned up and the audio turned down.

Kids with special needs and their siblings are free; others are $5.

The next showing is Rio, rated G, on April 23rd at 11 am.

Tickets are available only at the box office.  For more information, visit

Autism Awareness Month: Disabilities on Film

19 Apr

Even at a time where 1 in 110 kids receives an autism diagnosis—meaning virtually everyone in this country has some kind of contact with a child on the spectrum—I still get this question with fair regularity: “Can your daughter memorize the phone book like the guy in Rain Man?”

I don’t really mind.  Before 2000, when my Paige received her diagnosis, my only point of reference was Dustin Hoffman, too.  Paige (now 15) isn’t a savant and doesn’t talk.  As Dr. Carolyn Garver, director of the Autism Treatment Center in Dallas, puts it: “If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.”  They are like snowflakes—each with their own unique strengths and quirks.  (Which might just sum up every kid out there!)

I do appreciate media depictions of kids on the spectrum, if only to raise awareness.  It seems most of these projects see the light of day when a producer or writer has a child on the spectrum.  So much the better:  the “insiders” perspective can only help round-out the depiction in film.

Which brings me to a new movie making the art-house rounds (which I’m hoping comes to the Angelika in Dallas ASAP!): “FLY AWAY”.  Here’s the news release with a link to the trailer:

A powerful film directed by Emmy Award winner Janet Grillo (Autism: The Musical), FLY AWAY narrates the story of Jeanne (Beth Broderick, Bonfire of the Vanities, Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and her autistic teenage daughter, Mandy (Ashley Rickards, One Tree Hill).  Jeanne has cared for Mandy since the day she was born, growing closer every day to a child who is charmingly offbeat one moment and nearly impossible to manage the next.  In the dog park, Jeanne encounters Tom (Greg Germann, Ally McBeal, Friends with Money), an easygoing and accepting neighbor who sparks a romantic interest, but she finds juggling Mandy’s care and her own career leaves little room for a new man.  As the pressures of work and her child’s needs increase, she must decide whether or not to enroll Mandy in a therapeutic residential facility.  Over the course of a few weeks, Jeanne is confronted with the most difficult decision a parent can make: to let go, allowing her child to grow, but also grow apart; or to hold on tight and fall together.

Statement from Director Janet Grillo, who won an Emmy for her film, “AUTISM THE MUSICAL” (which is awesome, BTW):

As the mother of a child with disabilities, I was immediately thrust into the challenge every parent must face at some point: meeting the needs of your child when it is at great cost to yourself.  Perhaps the very measure of love is what and how much we are willing to sacrifice.  Although parenting someone with Autism is particular, the primal drive to do the best for oneʼs child is universal.  FLY AWAY tells this story.

FLY AWAY is a personal film, derived from experience.  As I have journeyed with other parents of children with special needs, Iʼve witnessed great pain and extraordinary passion.  Iʼve also watched parents unable to place their children in full time therapeutic residences, when it was clearly needed.  While such placement is not best for all or even most children on the spectrum, it’s tragic when parents are too plagued with fear and guilt to make the choice when it is.  If FLY AWAY eases the pain of even one parentʼs torturous decision, or if it expands the heart of even one person untouched by Autism to accept our children and appreciate our struggles, it will have been well worth making.  The authenticity of our story can provide insight and hope.  Truth often does.

-Janet Grillo

Check out the trailer:

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