Tag Archives: activities

Fall Activities Around Arlington

4 Oct

HOLY SCARECROW, BATMAN!!  There’s SO much to do around here this month!  Here are a few – click on the links for more info.

State Fair of Texas (through October 23)

Dallas Arboretum – Autumn at the Arboretum (daily in October)

Pumpkin picking and scarecrow building at Gnismer Farms (Wednesday, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in October)

Studio Movie Grill – Spookley the Square Pumpkin (weekends in October)

Halloween Crafts at Michael’s stores (various dates through October)

Green Meadows Petting Farm in Grand Prairie (daily from October 6 – November 1; closed October 8-9)

After Dark in the Park at River Legacy (October 7-9)

Harvest Fair at the Grand Prairie Farmers Market (October 15)

Log Cabin Village – Frontier Fall Fest (October 15)

Fort Worth Zoo – Boo at the Zoo (October 21-23 & 28-30)

Fort Worth Botanic Garden – Fall Festival in the Japanese Garden (October 22 & 23)

Halloween Nights at the Dallas Zoo (October 27-29)

Party Prep: Why this is going to be the best birthday ever!

13 Sep

My son turns 6 next week and I’ve planned three days of festivities to celebrate the milestone.  Per his request, we’re having a “home party” on Saturday for his best pals.  Sunday, we’ll have dinner and cake (plus presents, of course) at my parents’ house—a.k.a. Grandma and Granddaddy’s.  Monday, Chip’s dad, babysitter and I will bring cupcakes to his classroom.  And we’ll take him to dinner at the restaurant of his choosing.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the years pondering what makes a great party.  I’ve thrown fab fetes as well as gatherings that have fallen flat—and I usually post-mortem both to figure out why.  Here are a few of my personal thoughts and conclusions.  If you have a minute, please share yours!

  • Unexpected foods: I incorporate two or more unexpected menu items simply because one of my favorite things to do as a partygoer is to sample unusual foods.  I tried tapenade for the first time at a party several years ago and thought it was superb!  This year, I’ve taken that notion a step further by building Chip’s birthday party around the idea that his friends probably never eat sugary cereals.  So what are we serving?  Captain Crunch, Apple Jacks, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, etc. (along with healthier fare like fresh fruit and mini-quiches).  I know the kids will love the cereal sampling stations—but I also expect more than a few of their parents to indulge, too.
  • Unscheduled time: I once went to a kid’s party where every second was orchestrated.  The mom literally had a flow chart designating the attendees’ every move and seemed downright stressed when the kids fell behind!  I don’t think that works for children younger than age 10 (if, frankly, it works at all).  To that end, this Saturday we’ll have one activity for the kids plus the food.  After that, it’s just a big playdate where the kids can run around and do what they want.
  • Environmental studies: We spent the last few months cooped up because of the punishing heat so we’re partying on the patio come Saturday.  I think children and their folks enjoy outside time, particularly when the weather cooperates.  As my husband and I spruced up our backyard this spring and our hot-pink crepe myrtle is in full bloom, I’m looking forward to having a chance to enjoy the outdoors, too!
  • Gifts: I go back and forth on whether kids like seeing the birthday boy/girl open presents or not.  I often think it’s a waste of good party time for all concerned.  Every year I play this one by ear but invariably Chip tears into his booty while surrounded by his besties.  I’ve decided that’s fine as long as the kids know they don’t have to sit at his feet, oohing and aahing over his gifts.  If they want to watch, great.  If not, great, too.  The only thing I really care about is that I know who gave him what so I can properly thank each person.  I always appreciate the mom who volunteers to log the loot—a true gift to me!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 27 (Winging It)

7 Jul

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

UPDATE (Thursday):

This Feat is going along perfectly with my summer attitude.  Fun, relaxed, and just enjoying the heck out of my kids before school starts.

On the first morning of this Feat, I told my kids that we could do whatever they wanted that day – they could pick.  They both immediately shouted, “Summer Fun Bowl!”  Of course, they quarreled about who got to pick (and stupid me, I couldn’t remember whose turn it was), so I let them each pick something out of the bowl.

I wasn’t prepared for the fact that my daughter didn’t like what she picked, “Explore outside with a magnifying glass.”  I thought about making a rule that we HAVE to do what we draw out of the bowl, but then I figured that sort of defeated the whole purpose.  So I let her pick again, and she drew “Go see a movie,” which brought shouts of delights from both my kids.  (And me, too – two hours in cool darkness is fine by me.)

My son picked “Angry Birds water balloon and sidewalk chalk game.”  (See here for details.)  He was excited, because he’d been wanting to do that for quite a while.  I really didn’t want to go sit outside filling up water balloons, but much like my week of Playing (see Feat Number 25 here), this Feat also feels like an exercise in saying YES to my kids – something I’m sure I don’t do nearly enough.

The movie was funny and the Angry Birds game quickly turned into a water balloon free-for-all fight in which we all got soaked.  After at least a dozen deep-down belly laughs with my kids, I knew I was right where I needed to be.

ABOUT FEAT NUMBER 27:

I’m a planner.  A planner and a worrier.  If I could manage it, I’d love – LOVE! – to have a detailed schedule that organized every moment of my day, from craft time with the kids to doing laundry and yes, even down time.  I just crave that kind of organization.  I haven’t (yet) reached that level of control over my daily existence, but I do have my week fairly well planned most of the time.

But what a drag that can be for my kids!  I think they’re getting sick of all the “stuff” I have planned.

When Lori posted her great boredom-buster blog (see it here), I followed up with my list, too (here).  I made a comment to Lori that I thought about making a list of all those fun things and just letting the kids pick one every day.  I liked the idea, but then I realized a couple of problems.  First of all, the kids would pick their favorites right off the bat, and then when only a few items remained, they might moan and groan about what’s left.  Furthermore, I’m sure they would NEVER agree on anything!

So instead, I typed all those fun things up, cut them into little strips of paper, folded them up, and put them into a fishbowl.  Voila – our Summer Fun Bowl!  I told the kids that whenever we can’t think of something to do, we’ll just draw something from the bowl.  They get to take turns drawing.  And they think it’s the coolest thing ever!  Every day they want to choose something from the bowl, and so far, there’s been no grumbling about it.  (They do understand that sometimes what we draw may not be possible to do that day, like when my daughter picked “Go roller skating” last week on a day when the rink was closed.  When that happens, it just goes back into the bowl for another shot on a different day.)

For this week, I’m going to throw scheduling out the window as much as I can.  Each day, I’ll let my kids pick what they want to do for the day – whatever that may be.  (Within reason, of course – no 24-hour TV allowed!)  They may want to choose from the bowl, or maybe something will just pop into their heads.  Either way, I’m game!

Traveling with Kids

22 Jun

All summer long, parents will be traveling with their kids.  Automotive or air travel can bring a family closer together and be a really positive, fun experience with kids, or it can be a complete and total drag (we’ve all been trapped somewhere with a screaming kid at some point- NOT fun!)

Every year, our family takes a road trip to the coast, which entails being in a car upwards of twelve hours (with plenty of breaks along the way!)  On the trip this year, I turned around and flew with my youngest to Austin for a 24-hour period to watch my Godson complete his First Communion.  Overall, it was a very pleasant experience and I’ll tell you what worked for me.

Any travel takes planning.  The more I plan, the more I feel prepared.  This time around I made a ton of lists (I know, I know, I’ve already broken one of my resolutions for the new year, but I just didn’t see any way around it).  I made lists for what I needed to do to prepare for the trip as well as a running list of what I needed to pack as well and what would need to be purchased.

I organized the way the car was loaded.  I made sure the kids had snacks and drinks that were accessible to them at all times.  For the older two kids, I filled baskets with things to keep them busy on the long trip.  For my 5 year old, I packed activity books with markers, sticker books (Usborne makes some awesome ones), regular books for reading, her school work, an MP3 player with headphones, and a book of mazes.  For my three- year old, I packed tons of little trinkets she could play with (a mini lunch box filled with dinosaur figurines, mermaids, etc,), a mini etch a sketch, dry erase activity books, lift the flap books, and a TAG pen with books (and ear buds to attach).  For the baby, I loaded the seat back pocket nearest him with baby toys, a scarf, touch and feel books, etc.

When the going got tough and I needed some quiet time, I would pop in a DVD movie.  (In fact, a friend of mine very generously loaned me a complete system that attaches to the backs of the headrests).  It was a life saver on the way home!

I also purchased a few decks from Usborne books, one of which is called 50 Travel Games and Activities.  The kids enjoyed taking turns drawing from that deck and playing new games together as a family.

As far as traveling with my youngest (11 months), I had to get creative at times.  He had a blast for almost an hour playing with an empty water bottle!  When we were at the airport, I made sure he walked/crawled around as much as possible before we would get on the plane.  I packed a carry on with a small inflatable ball, which I blew up while waiting in the terminal, and we would literally play “fetch” with it.  I packed lots of clean healthy snacks (like dried fruit) in the no spill snack cups that he could reach in and help feed himself with.  I made sure he had a sippy cup with water in it (just in case), but he ended up nursing both times on take off and landing, so we did not end up having any trouble with his ears popping.

On the actual plane, I used the mystery box toy Jen had made.  It completely entertained him for an hour.  He would pull one toy out; discover it for a few minutes, then move on to something else.  There was a scarf inside, which was a big hit too, because we could play peek a boo and hide the other toys with it as well.  Because I had worn him out so well in the terminal, he slept the entire leg of one flight.

In the carry on I also had lift the flap & touch and feel books, as well as a travel pouch of tissues (I figured if I got really desperate, I would let him pull them out one by one and/or tear them to shreds), a glowing spinny toy we got at the circus, a Cheerios board book (it’s really cute- there are cut outs in the book where you put actual Cheerios and the baby can eat them while you read) and a few baby toys he hadn’t seen in a long time.  (I tried to think ahead and put away things he really liked for about a month before we traveled, so he’d be really excited to see them).

In the past, I have exchanged books and toys with friends of mine (meaning I would lend them things to take on their trip that would be “new” to their kids and they have done the same for me).  That’s nice because then you don’t have to go out and buy anything and typically other moms have a ton of things that your kids love to play with.  Jen also has a really cool Hang Man puzzle by Melissa and Doug whereby the letters and hangman pieces are tethered to the board with bands.  It would be great for road trips.  I’ll be looking for one in the near future!

Feel free to share what works for you!

First Saturdays at the Crow Collection

1 Jun

First Saturdays at the Crow Collection | 10:00 AM–2:00 PM
Join us each month for a free day of family fun at the Crow Collection! Enjoy performances, face painting, storytelling, art activities, and more.

NEW Yogiños: Yoga for Youth® Family Yoga at AdventureAsia | 11:00 AM

Children as young as 2 years old and their favorite adult can join certified yoga instructors for an engaging family yoga session with Yogiños: Yoga for Youth®.

The Crow Collection is located in Dallas at 2010 Flora Street (between Harwood & Olive).  For more information, click here.

Weekend Calendar Reminder

13 May

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!

Friday, May 13:

Frontier Forts Days at Stockyards Station

Bugs at the Heard Museum

Saturday, May 7:

Hansel & Gretel at Artisan Center Theater

Frontier Forts Days at Stockyards Station

Doodlebug Craft and Vendor Fair

Children’s Workshop at the Kimbell Art Museum

Free Kids’ Crafts at Lakeshore Learning

Kids’ Fishing at Bass Pro Shops

Kidtoon Movies at Studio Movie Grill (Arlington Highlands)

Bugs at the Heard Museum

Night on the Town at Town Park in Mansfield

Sunday, May 8:

Doodlebug Craft and Vendor Fair

Bugs at the Heard Museum

Kidtoon Movies at Studio Movie Grill (Arlington Highlands)

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.

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