Tuesday, November 24, 2020

DIY Turkey Crafts for Thanksgiving

I'm such a sucker for holiday kids crafts, especially if they involve handprints. It's such a fun way to mark a passing moment of time with your kiddos.

I still proudly display the turkey canvas we made when my youngest was a newborn that has each girl’s handprint at that point in time (they were 4, 1 and newborn). That newborn is now 7, and her hand is double the size it was on that canvas. I love to look at it every year and remember fondly that season of life.

Now that my girls are older, they don't need my help, as much, creating memorable crafts. Every year, we love to make Thanksgiving Turkeys out of paper plates and brown paper bags to decorate our table for the big feast. Thanks to Pinterest through the years we've found a number of awesome variations that make our Thanksgiving table look one-of-a-kind.

We love making paper plate turkeys, and one we look forward to making every year is a handprint turkey on a paper plate.

Check out my great list of turkey crafts I compiled for Zulily for more fun crafts to make with your kiddos for turkey day!

Paper Plate Turkey:

1. Trace hand onto paper plate.

2. Color in the palm and thumb brown. To the thumb, add details- eye, beak, wattle (yep, the red hang-y thing on the turkey's neck is called a wattle!). 

3. Color each of the fingers a different color to act as the turkey's feathers. 

4. Lastly, draw legs underneath the handprints for the legs and feet. 

I detailed how to make several more fun turkeys out of paper plates over at Zulily. Check out my blog post there for inspiration on paper plate turkeys.

This year, my girls decided to create a turkey that was inspired by something we see a lot of in Winter- pinecones! 

Pinecone Turkey

1. Take pinecones and lay them down on the table with the top facing you. 

2. Glue on eyes, a beak and wattle. 

3. Take strips of colored construction paper and write down things you are thankful for on each strip and stick them between the edges of the pinecone. 

They turned out so cute and will be a wonderful addition to our Thanksgiving table!

There are so many ways to create your own paper plate turkey to hang on the fridge or use as a centerpiece at your Thanksgiving Feast! What fun variations of a paper plate turkey have you found (and made)?

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Mrs. Claus- The Holidays' Most Underrecognized Super Woman

It's November.

And Zulily, one of my favorite online retailers whom I write for, just did an article about how women run the holidays in most households around the country. Check it out here: Zulily's article, Dear Mrs. Claus

This article got me thinking. In my house, November means that I'm starting to make my holiday shopping lists and check them twice (hats off to all you mega-planners out there who are already done shopping. I salute you!). I'm checking to see what toys are hot this season and where to find them at the lowest prices. I'm making menus for holiday meals I'll serve my family or dishes I'll bring to any meals we may share with extended family. I'm checking the budget. I'm figuring out how to rearrange furniture to accommodate a tree (or two, or three!) and wondering what pieces I'll need to purchase this season to round out my festive trimmings. As I type, I'm also messaging with several photographers, trying to line up holiday photos and then slap my favorites onto a holiday card I'll mail to friends and family near and far. 


Truly, I'm doing it all. The holidays. As the mom, the matriarch of my family of five, the holidays, and all their tedium and wonder, are my responsibility to plan and execute. 

Don't get me wrong- I have a wonderful, loving, supporting husband who works hard to provide for my family! He truly is outstanding. 

But I don't think I'm alone in feeling that women are the brains behind the operation that is the holiday season.

So why does Santa, the jolly man in red, get so much recognition each holiday season? I think it's safe to assume that Mrs. Claus is a huge part of the holiday operations at the North Pole as much as every mama out there like me is the heart and soul of her family's holidays. Why, then, doesn't Mrs. Claus get any credit?

Did you know that the first mention of Mrs. Claus is in 1849, in a short story called "A Christmas Legend," by missionary James Rees? Santa Claus himself was made popular in American Culture in the later half of the 18th Century. So, Mrs. Claus didn't come onto the scene for more than 50 years after her jolly husband became the figurehead of the holidays in America. 

I suppose, given the time that Santa rose to popularity, the fact that Santa, a man, was the person to thank for holiday cheer isn't entirely unexpected. But come on. It's 2020. We know that women run the homestead and the holidays. We know that women are a truly vital part of holiday festivities, from trimming the tree to wrapping the presents. We know that the holiday season wouldn't go off so seamlessly in most American households if supermoms didn't undertake the task of making everything merry and bright.

So its time to recognize Mrs. Claus as the woman behind the legend. It's time to recognize her as the superwoman she is. It's time to say thank you to Mrs. Claus. For standing by and supporting her husband and helping him be the face of the holidays. It's time to recognize and appreciate that Mrs. Claus, like me and every other superwoman and supermama out there, is a vital part of the holiday season.

Mrs. Claus- thank you. Thank you for being a vital part- even if you are often overlooked!- of the Santa and Mrs. Claus duo that makes the holidays full of festive cheer. 

Zulily even started a Change.org petition to get Mrs. Claus more recognized this time of year. Check it out here: Let's give Mrs. Claus the thanks she deserves


Friday, November 6, 2020

10 Dallas/Fort Worth Holiday Events 2020

 It's official.

The 2020 Holiday Season is upon us.

Today I got my reusable Starbucks cup in Christmas Sweater print at a jam-packed Starbucks near my house. 102.1 now has Christmas music playing around the clock. My calendar is filling up with a list of events I want to take my kiddos to to experience the magic of the season. 

I'm starting now with making my list and checking it twice so I don't miss a single minute of holiday joy! 

Here is a list of (some!) of the awesome events coming to DFW for 2020. (If I miss any, please please let me know!)

10 DFW Holiday Events for 2020

Luminova at Globe Life Field- From the makers of Enchant, Luminova is a walk-thru holiday light experience sure to delight right in Arlington. Grab your tickets and your friends and prepare for Insta-worthy pics and holiday merriment. The magic starts November 20.

Dallas Zoo Lights- this year's Zoo Lights will be drive-thru only so you can enjoy the magic from your vehicle. Kids will love seeing the zoo lit up for the holidays! Nights starting November 20th, 6:30-9:30 pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

Prairie Lights- Prairie Lights at Loyd Park in Grand Prairie will also be socially distanced this year, with customers staying in their car for the entire magical experience. The fun opens Thanksgiving night- grab your tickets in advance!

Wonder (at Toyota Music Factory)- This event is new to DFW for this year and is described as an "immersive experience for families to journey to the North Pole to meet Santa." Each kiddos who visits the big man in red gets a toy from the big guy! Make your reservations early! Event starts 11.19. This event was canceled. 

The Lights at Texas Motor Speedway- Drive through millions of sparkling lights starting Thanksgiving night. The excitement starts Thanksgiving Day. Check the Website for various discounts.

Holidays at the Gaylord Texas- No ICE! this year, but there is still lots of holiday magic to be enjoyed the Gaylord Texas. Go snow tubing, ice skate outdoors and enjoy an immersive holiday movie experience starting November 13.

North Pole Express at the Grapevine Vintage Railroad- hop aboard a 1920s-inspired coach car and journey to the North Pole. Kiddos will enjoy an on-board visit from Santa and his elves and receive a cookie and a "We Believe" bell. Please note: the website says all events are sold out, so check FB Marketplace and local buy sell trade groups for tickets.

Holiday Party at Theatre Arlington- experience fun with the whole family at Theatre Arlington's Holiday Party production running November 13- December 13.

Dallas Holiday Parade- The Dallas Holiday Parade may look a bit different this year as it adjusts to Covid protocols, but mark your calendar for December 5 at 10 am to enjoy the show.

Holidays at the Dallas Arboretum- Bundle up and head out to the Dallas Arboretum for gorgeous photos with holiday backdrops along White Rock Lake. The event features the 12 Days of Christmas and starts November 7.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 2, 2020

What To Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

If you’re like me, you’re drowning in leftover Halloween candy. 

Maybe the kiddos trick-or-treated at some very generous houses. Or maybe you bought a lot of Halloween candy expecting lots of kiddos at your door and not many trick-or-treaters turned up. 

Whatever the reason, if you don’t want the temptation of copious amounts of Halloween candy hanging around your kitchen, you have options!

Treats for Troops- send leftover candy to the troops serving overseas. While there is no collection site in Arlington, you can ship directly to the charity in San Antonio via the address on the website. 

Operation Shoebox- send this Florida-based charity, and your extra treats will be sent soldiers overseas.

Support Our Soldiers- This is a local charity where you can drop candy! There are two spots in Burleson and one in Fort Worth that will take your donations. 

Halloween Candy Buy Back- This is the Website that lets you know which organizations are paying, typically $1 per pound, for sweet treats. There are no sites in Arlington listed as candy buy-back sites, but if you know of one, I would love for you to send it my way! There are several locations in DFW, though, if you find yourself elsewhere in the Metroplex.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Halloween Freebies for Little Ghouls and Goblins (and their Mummies & Daddies!)

 Halloween 2020 will, no doubt, be one for the books.

Whatever your plans may be for this Saturday holiday (conveniently partnered with daylight savings time this year. An extra hour of Halloween! Not sure if that's a good or bad thing this year...), there are freebies out there to help you celebrate the day!

So grab the kids and a costume and snag these Halloween 2020 freebies!

Dickey's BBQ Pit- Kids ages 12 and younger in costume eat free on Halloween.

IHOP- Kids 12 and younger get a free mummy pancake. 7 am- 10 pm, October 26-30.

Krispy Kreme- Anyone in costume gets a free donut on Halloween

McAlister's Deli- Kids in costume get a free kids meal with the purchase of an adult entree, 10/30-11/1.

Steak N Shake- Kids 12 and younger in costume can get a free shake on Halloween. 

QT- Kids in costume get a free vanilla ice cream cone at QT between 4 and 10 pm on Halloween

Let me know if you see a great deal that I've missed! What freebies will you grab this weekend?!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Have Kids, Will Travel: North Texas Jellystone

North Texas Jellystone is a spot I've wanted to escape to for years. Not only is it close by (less than 30 minutes from Arlington in Burleson, Texas!), but it is full of outdoor activities that my husband and I would have engaged in as kids. From arts and crafts to Gaga Ball and fishing to foosball, kids (and adults) can find a plethora of things to do away from dreaded screens.

Jellystone offers year-round fun. We have talked for years about visiting in the summer because Pirate's Cove, the onsite waterpark, would offer my girls hours of fun. However, we opted for fall because there is just something wonderful about cooler nights and shorter days (and I love love love fall festivals, pumpkin everything and a good excuse to get into your Halloween costume more than once a season!).

There are lots of options for lodging at Jellystone, and the option you pick really depends on the number of people in your party and the amount of cash in your budget. If you are a true outdoorsman, tent camping might be for you! Renting a tent site is the cheapest way to do Jellystone, and community bathrooms are available to use. If you are an RVer, you can pull up your RV to a campsite and enjoy. (You can even rent an RV if you are curious as to what vacationing in an RV might be like!) There is even a brand-new pirate ship on site that is multiple levels and accommodates multiple people and parties per room and per floor. 

After looking extensively through all options, we decided on the new 2-bedroom family cabins that sleep up to 10 people with two bedrooms containing a queen bed each and a large open loft with three queen mattresses. We had nine people camping with us, so this fit our group the best! Our cabin came complete with a fridge and microwave, screened-in porch and AC. Outside there was a fire pit and picnic table and inside there were multiple TVs, in case you, like my husband, need one to fall asleep to. Aside from linens and towels, we carried in everything that we needed for the weekend, including firewood, utensils, plates and so on. We were given two parking spots with our rental and extra cars were $10 each. We also paid for 9 guests for two days. Additional guests we wanted to bring in for the day would have been $25 each. There is a two night minimum on most bookings. (I did not receive any sort of discount or incentive for my stay or my review. I paid the same prices anyone else would have had to for the same accommodations on my selected dates)

Once you arrive at Jellystone, the opportunities for entertainment are truly endless! Year-round, there are three playgrounds for kiddos, complete with swings, slides, monkey bars and more. There is a GaGa Ball pit, Laser Tag, Paintball (this activity costs additional money), fishing at Stafford Lake (bring your own supplies), two basketball courts, foosball, trails for hiking and more. In warmer months, there are two on-site pools in addition to Pirate's Cove Waterpark. You can rent golf carts to zip around the property, bring your bikes to move around or simply walk, as we did (this earned more than a few complaints as we moved over to accommodate golf carts!). There is also a spot to purchase arts and crafts to make and assemble on property as well as a gift shop and snack shop. While we brought in our own food for most of the weekend, we did order Mr. Jim's Pizza Saturday evening and they delivered right to our cabin!

We absolutely loved the Fall Festival that launched the first weekend of October. Sure, things look a little different than they may have a year ago because of Covid, but Jellystone did a good job of keeping things as normal as possible. There were costume contests and pumpkin painting (bring your own pumpkin!). We participated in a "pumpkin fling" with a slingshot and a pie pumpkin. We walked around the property locating wooden pumpkins and snapped photos by them. Once we found all 18, we showed our photos at the gift shop to receive small bags of candy. There was a nightly rolling dance party with Yogi Bear and a DJ that encouraged us to dance and move around. And, Saturday night, there was a Carnival de Jynx, where we played carnival games to earn prizes and went through a haunted house! I brought six girls into the haunted house and only brought out four not crying, so, I guess it was pretty spooky! 

This is the second Jellystone property we have vacationed at in recent years (we went to the property in Cherokee, NC, in summer 2018) and we loved our experience. We want to find another location to visit in a year or two!

Quite honestly, Jellystone is a bit pricey. If you are looking to just camp and don't need all the amenities, you could most certainly find less expensive accommodations in DFW and beyond. I also recommend Jellystone for families- individuals without kids might not love all the children running around all day. While I paid quite a bit of money for the weekend to not include any food or drink, when I break down the cost per person per day, it wasn't terrible. There are most certainly less-expensive weekend getaways around town, but this is a fun option if you are looking for a spot for your kiddos to unwind!

I think what we loved the most about this vacation was letting the kids wander off a bit. My girls are getting older, and I'm starting to trust them a bit more than I used to. At Jellystone, I could let the girls wander to the playareas without me and trust that they knew how to get back. The girls loved telling me they were "headed off to hang out" without me. It was refreshing! I've heard so many people say this about Jellystone. It is truly a spot where kids can be kids.

Tips & Tricks for a Successful Jellystone Visit:

1. Plan meals ahead of time. Bring in all the food you can fit in your car! Once you are there you won't want to leave to go get anything!

.2. Don't forget bug spray. And suncreen. And firewood. And a lighter.

3. Bring bikes for the kids. Or scooters. It's fun for them to ride around with the other kids at the property. 

4. Bring flashlights. It gets dark at night!

5. Check the schedule on Jellystone's Website or app. There are lots of fun activities every weekend!

What did I miss?

Find out more info or book your own trip here: www.northtexasjellystone.com


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Everything Arlington's Pumpkin Patch & Fall Festival Guide 2020

This Fall, typical October activities may look a bit different (thanks, Covid!).

However, if you are an all-things-pumpkin lover like I am, you are ready to at least attempt a fun Fall with your kiddos!

I've rounded up a few of the activities going on in the greater Arlington area. Let me know if I missed any!

Farms & Festivals

Mainstay Farm (Cleburne; 30 minute drive)

Hayrides, pumpkins, a new mini rollercoaster and more! Buy tickets in advance to save on admission. Open through Halloween.

Country Critters Farm (Alvarado; 20 minute drive)

Activities include: bounce house, tractor and train playground area, pony rides, hayride, wooden maze, game areas and more. Admission is $10 per person. Some activities have an additional cost. 

Sunset Hill Tree Farm (Alvarado; 20 minute drive)

Games, activities, pumpkins and more! Weekends only. Check the Facebook page (linked above) for special admission prices.

Shadow Creek Pumpkin Farm (Midlothian; 20 minute drive)

Corn maze, swings, games and so much more... Buy tickets in advance online to skip the wait.

Forest of Fear at Joe Pool Lake (Grand Prairie; 10 minute drive) October 16, 17 & October 23, 24

Drive through the haunted forest and get spooked! No hayrides this year. $15 per car.

Midlothian Fall Fun Festival (Midlothian; 20 minute drive) October 31, 8:30a- 2:30p

Family-friendly festival featuring shopping and kids activities. Free goodie bag while supplies last.

Pumpkin Patches

Randy's Farmers Market Pumpkin Patch (Venus; 30 minute drive)

Wear your costume! Pet some cute animals, bounce in the bounce house and snag a pumpkin. Open through Halloween. Free admission.

St. John Youth Ministry Pumpkin Patch (Mansfield; 10 minute drive)

Post for cute pictures and take home some pumpkins to carve! Check the Facebook page (linked above) for weekend events with various food vendors including Pokey-O's and Steel City Pops!

Drive-Thru Events

Inglewood Kids Drive Thru Fall Festival (Grand Prairie, 10 minute drive) October 16, 5-8p

Enjoy a Fall Festival from the comfort of your vehicle. Sign up on the Facebook page (linked above)

Grace Lutheran Church Drive Thru Trunk or Treat (Arlington) October 25, 5-6:30p

Bring a bag to collect your treats!

New World United Methodist Church Trick or Treat To Go (Arlington) October 25, 5-6p