Sunday, December 25, 2011

#41 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Storytime at Northpark Mall with "The Real Santa." Seriously, this Santa is amazing. Storytime is everyday at 10:30 am and is wonderful. "The Real Santa" has a degree in child psychology and is incredibly engaging.
Here is our annual picture with Santa, previous pictures can be found in last year's blog post found here,

Madeleine at 7 1/2, Everett at 4. December 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

#40 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Lowe's Build and Grow Kid's Clinic. I wrote about the Home Depot clinic as my #19 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids, but they are on different Saturdays so it is worth mentioning both! My kids love these events! You have to preregister and arrive right on time (10 am). This is a wonderful free kid activity!

#39 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Attend Tuba Christmas. This event is held throughout the world, you can find one close to you here. I found out about Tuba Christmas last year after Christmas and since it was on Christmas Eve here in Dallas last year I thought it would be on Christmas Eve again. Unfortunately, since Christmas Eve was on Saturday, it was on Friday! So, I missed it. But I will be ready for it next Christmas at Thanksgiving Square downtown! You can watch the 2007 Tuba Christmas in Dallas on youtube here.

#38 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Visit Santa's Village in Richardson. This free event is awesome, though I have not yet figured out the time to go when it is not busy...

This year the kids (mine and my sister's) loved the sleigh rides! These wonderful volunteers ran them up and down the sidewalk in this sleigh. The kids did this 3 times!

Cousin picture with a Christmas... duck???

And the girls wrote letters to Santa. The photo above is the letter from my niece, it says, "Dear Santa, I want my two front teeth for Christmas. P.S. Are you really real?"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

#37 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Ride the Polar Express train. We had such a good time! My mom bought tickets for my family and my sister's family and after a 2 hour drive to Palestine, Texas, we boarded the polar express train for the north pole. The kids were all dressed in their pajamas like in the story and we were all treated to hot chocolate and a sugar cookie on the 30 minute ride. While we journeyed to the north pole we heard the polar express story through the speaker system of the train while the train staff walked up and down the aisle showing us the pictures from the book. Then we were at the north pole! As we drove by we saw Santa and the elves. As the train turned around to head back home we learned that Santa was on the train! Santa walked by and delivered our bell from the reindeer's sleigh and we loudly sang Christmas songs and danced on our 30 minute ride back. It was such fun!

We are ready!

The kids were more ready!

There were a lot of us on that train!

Madeleine and Lee

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

#36 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Visit the Neiman Marcus window display at Christmastime. Here is a video of them installing them this year. The kids can crawl in them and have a blast. Make sure that you go when they are open, times can be found here.

The kids loved exploring.

Some happy kids.

They were above us!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

#35 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Go ice skating at the Galleria. Or watch the ice skaters and now you can enjoy the beautiful Christmas tree. Right now my kids love to watch the ice skaters and are not ready to go ice skating themselves. This is a favorite activity, especially in December when we can also be mesmerized by the huge Christmas tree.

#34 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Visit the Trinity River Audubon Center. This is an amazing place to visit. It is free the 3rd Thursdays of the month from 9 am - 9 pm. We have been for birthday parties and on the free days, this place is just awesome. It is easy to forget here that you are surrounded by a metropolitan city. And the kids love running around and exploring outside.

#33 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Try out an indoor climbing wall. Over the Thankgiving holiday we visited my dad's Lifetime Fitness gym where they have an indoor climbing wall. You have to be 5 to try it, but my 7 year old loved it! There is a rock climbing place 5 minutes from our house, and now I can't wait to go! Unfortunately this is not a free activity, but it was fun.

Madeleine is the one high in the air...

this is what you can do while you are waiting for your older siblings to finish on the climbing wall. The floor was recycled tire pieces...

#32 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Attend Fair Park Holiday. We were unable to attend this year (it is the Saturday after Thanksgiving) due to family obligations but we have attended in the past and had a great time. There is tons of free stuff and other than having to pay $10 to park, it is free. A wonderful opportunity to enjoy Fair Park in Dallas for an event other than the State Fair.

#31 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Attend the Dallas Children's Medical Center Holiday Parade. You can buy bleacher seats for $25 each (it is a fundraiser for Children's Medical Center) or camp out a spot along the parade route for free. It is so much fun to attend a parade in person that we so often only see on TV. The kids love this family Christmas tradition!

Everett and Madeleine with the Lorax.

A cowboy! There are so many clowns and other folks entertaining the kids.

These reindeer antlers are passed out by the clowns.

Jay Jay the jet plane!

Bob the builder!

#30 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Visit the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine. At Christmas time it is beautiful! However, it is not cheap. Even if you want to only explore the train, lights, and lifesize gingerbread house inside the hotel, you will still pay $12 to park! However, if you have tickets to ICE your parking will be validated. ICE is amazing, it is such fun to put on the blue parkas and freeze as you marvel at the creations. It is expensive though and this year we paid even more to do the snow tubing. It was so much fun, but my back hurt for 2 days! Everyone had a great time!

We went the day before Thanksgiving with my sister's family.

This year it was all Shrek ice sculptures.

it was cold!

The nativity scene

snow tubing! The kids loved riding by themselves! We got to ride 10 times with our combo ticket.

A movie of Madeleine snow tubing.

#29 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Visit the tubes at Irving Bible Church. On a rainy or a cold day, visit the tubes! There is free wifi, couches for the parents, and the kids get to climb and play and have a great time! Click on this link to see photos and to get directions and times. Every time we have visited the tubes the kids have had a great time and I have enjoyed reading a book!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sherry Smith, my mother-in-law

Sherry was older when she had Lee, my husband. She turned 40 right after he was born (today that would be no big deal!). Randy (Lee's half-brother) was a senior in high school when Lee was born and had a great story of not telling a girl he was bringing over that his mom was great with child. She was very surprised!

I remember when I met Sherry I was so nervous. I liked her son after all. Sherry was as nice as she could be and impressed me with her confidence. She had a ceramics business for 20 years and I remember going to craft shows simply filled with awe that someone could not only create such art, but paint it and sell it as well. Sherry said that rabbits paid for Lee to go to college. When we were in college, apparently ceramic rabbits were very popular, who knew?

When I looked at our wedding album today, I was struck with how proud Sherry looked. She was so proud of Lee, so proud of us and when I looked through pictures of her with our kids she was so happy. She called herself Mi to her grandkids, because Taylor her first grandson had called her that. Sherry had told Taylor that this toy was his but this other toy was mine and Sherry became mine/Mi to Taylor.

I remember when Lee and I lived in England in 2001 and Sherry and Paul came to visit. Sherry was always cold, but she was always cold in Texas too! In the picture below Sherry is in the middle, I promise!

After Madeleine was born Sherry came to stay with us for a week. She showed me how to make Lee's favorite meals and I remember she was very surprised that I did not have tomato juice (who has tomato juice?) and we had to run to the little convenience store in Krum. The tomato juice from the store had dust on it!

When Madeleine was 4 and Everett was just born, Sherry developed PSP, it is very similiar to Parkinsons, but does not respond to medication. It has been a long journey, and there was lots of grief along the way. Grief for the loss of the incredible woman that I knew, loss for the grandmother that my children would never have the opportunity to grow up knowing, loss for the mother-in-law that I would no longer have. It seemed unfair that someone who was always going and doing had to move into a nursing home, was no longer able to get around, and seemed to be slipping further and further away. One of the last times that I saw Sherry, Everett was playing with a balloon. It looked like Sherry was trying to smile and so we had Everett hit the balloon towards Sherry and she hit it back to him. They were playing together! They hit the balloon back and forth and back and forth and it was like time stopped. It made me so happy and so sad at the same time.

It is a hard thing to lose a parent, so whether it is quick or whether it is slow, may we relish those Holy Spirit moments when we experience the joy that God reveals, the peace that God showers and the love that God brings.

Sherry passed away this morning and her memorial service will be at First UMC in Kemp at 10 am on Friday, November 18, 2011.

Sherry, Madeleine (age 3 1/2) and Paul, February 2008

Everett (4 months) and Sherry

Monday, November 7, 2011

#28 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Visit Casa Manana in Fort Worth. I won tickets to see Oliver! through the KERA Art & Seek weekly email but since it was the 7 pm Friday night showing in Fort Worth and I knew that it would be too late for my own kids, I invited my dad and stepmom. We had a great adult evening with an incredible hamburger at Fred's Texas Cafe. Then, we headed over to see Oliver! The actors were amazing in the show but I was sort of surprised with the bad guy's loud screams (all of the children in the audience got very quiet) and I did not remember how the story ended so when there was a murder and a loud gunshot I was really surprised. It did not seem appropriate for children, and I was glad that I had not brought mine. However, Casa Manana has wonderful children's plays and is a great place to take your kids! I love to support children's theater!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Everett turns 4

Somehow (not quite sure how) Everett is 4! We had a great time celebrating his birthday this past Wednesday and he had an incredible time with his friends from school and church at Pump It Up (a bounce house place) at his birthday party on Saturday.

Everett's request for his birthday breakfast was donuts. That kid can eat 2 kolaches, a regular donut, and 3 donut holes! And yet we have to cinch up his pants.

A quick learner at the scooter from Nana!

Pirate dress up clothes from us, I love his pirate earring!

This kid loves bounce houses!

Everett not wanting anyone else in the birthday chair!

All of us in the birthday chair.

#27 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Go to the State Fair of Texas. Growing up in Houston I never heard about the State Fair of Texas, but we did go to the Houston Rodeo a few times. Lee is a pro at visiting the State Fair and I love going with him every year. Here is our with kids battle plan. Arrive before 10 am (this year they even let us in at 9:30 am!) and head straight for Little Hands on the Farm. The kids love being farmers!

Then, the children's barnyard and on to the Food and Fiber building for the $2 milk, see Elsie the cow, and enjoy all of the free samples (this year it was ice cream cones!). By now it is time for the first backyard circus show. This year Madeleine was chosen as the tightrope walker and Everett was a lion!

A movie of Everett as a lion. It is hard to tell which lion is Everett, but he had so much fun.

On our way to lunch we stopped at the Hall of State and enjoyed the Texas history exhibit, it is the 175th anniversary of Texas Independence! Then on to a dollar dog for the kids (seriously, they are $1 hot dogs - best deal ever!) and corny dogs for us. So yummy!

Then a wander through the car show, this year Madeleine tried the rock climbing wall and did great! Enjoy the movie of her climbing.

Lee and Everett were wandering through more of the car show while Madeleine rock climbed so Madeleine and I were able to visit the Komen truck and get free Komen stuff!

Next we stopped at the DAR building for $1 water and also visited Homes of Tomorrow. Pretty cool, innovative stuff!

Next was the ferris wheel ride. This was Everett's first trip and he was a pro.

Next stop was the green house next to the ferris wheel with the man dressed up like a tree (so cool!), the pumpkin carver and pumpkin painting.

Madeleine sporting her new Komen hat thing.

Everett thought his pumpkin was a football.

By now we were pooped. So, we headed back to the car stopping to try the fried buffalo chicken flapjack (best taste winner). Lee said it was spicy but good. We also stopped at the McDonald's truck, they were giving away free mango smoothies, and we stopped at the dairy truck. The kids loved milking the cow. We also stopped at a science table with students from one of the area colleges. The kids loved playing with all of their science experiments.

Unfortunately, our 6 hours at the state fair was not enough! So, we are going back and this time we will see the butter sculpture, the dog show, the acrobats, milking of the cow, birds of the world show, a midway game for the kids, a midway ride for the kids, and I must try the fried bubble gum (most creative winner).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A week in Vegas

Last week I went with Lee to Vegas. Lee went to a Conference and I explored Vegas and its amazing art, read three books, laid by the pool in the shade, and took a day trip to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon! When Lee got back from his meetings we would go eat delicious food and then come back to the room where Lee had to do the work that he was missing while being at the Conference. For me it was a relaxing, refreshing week! I enjoyed the free stuff in Vegas, the fall of Atlantis show at Caesar's Palace, the Bellagio fountains, and we did gamble... once. We were on our way to the airport and I said that we had to gamble once, so I took 4 pennies in my wallet and headed to the penny slots at the hotel. However, they only took dollar bills! We lost the first time and then won the second time. I quickly cashed out with the six dollars that I had won!

Vegas felt like a different world, when you were inside the hotels you felt like you were outside (the ceilings are painted like the sky). We stayed at the Palazzo where you could go on a gondola ride (for $64 for a private ride)!

I was amazed at all of the art in Vegas. The Bellagio hotel lobby adorned with a Chihuly glass ceiling was breathtaking.

the Bellagio

The Chihuly Gallery at CityCenter was amazing, just amazing. And free!

the ceiling of the Venetian hotel.

Great places that we ate at in Vegas.
Todd English's Olives in the Bellagio
Emeril's Table 10 in the Venetian
Mon Ami Gabi in Paris. We ate here for dinner and I came back for breakfast.
Hash House a Go Go or breakfast in the Imperial Palace.
Serendipity 3 outside Caesar's Palace. Best $10 frozen hot chocolate milk shake!
Wynn hotel buffet. Incredible dinner & okay breakfast. No blueberry muffins!

us at the Wynn

my dessert plate at the Wynn. marshmallows dipped in chocolate were the best!

My day trip to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon was such fun. I signed up in the hotel and definitely did not get a great deal but had a great time. Some people recommended calling 1800-2-canyon next time for a better deal. Next time... I was so glad to walk on the skywalk and had a wonderful time.

The skywalk was so scary (we were 4,000 feet above the canyon), but the view was so breathtaking. No cameras, cell phones, or bags were allowed because people had dropped them and I was so glad. For about 30 minutes I just looked and did not worry about trying to capture anything with my camera. God is amazing.

eagle point by the skywalk. Notice the eagle in the rock over my right shoulder.

The Grand Canyon is just awesome.

On our drive back to Vegas (about 2 1/2 hours) we stopped at Hoover dam.

I loved seeing the Hoover dam and also the incredible new Hoover bypass bridge.

I made a lot of great friends being by myself!

this sums up my week in Vegas.