Tuesday, June 4, 2019

High-flying Fun with iFly Fort Worth!

I went skydiving when I was 25.

My best childhood friend and I called it our "quarter-life crisis" and jumped out of an airplane outside Denton, TX, tandem with experienced skydivers for the thrill.

It was incredible.

Not something I'm dying to do again, mind you, but something that I'll be forever glad I checked off my bucket list!

Last week, iFly hosted a blogger night for local bloggers and influencers to experience the awesomeness of indoor skydiving. Sadly, I couldn't participate myself because I'm 30 weeks pregnant, but my girls were more than happy to literally "jump in" and let me know all about this awesome experience.

The cool thing about iFly is that it is more of a weightless experience- so even those that are afraid of heights (and will therefore never check skydiving off their bucket lists) can still experience the awesomeness of indoor skydiving!

To save time before you arrive, buy your passes and fill out waivers online at iflyworld.com. iFly has two DFW locations- Frisco and Hurst (or Dallas and Fort Worth, as they are classified on the Website), so we chose the Fort Worth location because it is only about 12 miles from our south Arlington residence, just up 820 and across the highway from North East Mall.

After getting checked in, flyers take a quick "flight class." We went to flight class to learn about hand signals and proper form while in the flight tunnel. (You wear ear plugs while in the wind tunnel, and then have a helmet over your ears. Combined with the excessive noise of the wind tunnel itself, these things make it nearly impossible to communicate without hand signals inside the wind tunnel!) They practiced proper flight technique and were trained by their instructor so as to be prepared for the experience! This part of the experience took about 10-15 minutes.

After reviewing all the proper hand signals and procedures, it was time to suit up! Please note- I neglected to read the fine print on the email I received from iFly and had my girls dressed improperly. Flyers should come in pants or shorts (not dresses, for comfort's sake) and need to wear lace-up, secure sneakers (not flip flops like my oldest. Luckily they do keep sneakers behind the counter for poor souls like us!). The girls put on flight suits, sneakers, ear plugs, goggles and helmets. The certainly looked like proper skydivers once they were in full gear!

Their group was full- 10 flyers. Each flyer gets two flights, each for a total of one minute. The first flight is merely to give you a taste. The girls got to experience weightlessness and feel what it's like in a wind tunnel. They were in the tunnel with a flight instructor who was able to properly guide them and signal them as necessary.

The second time around they really got to have fun. For $5 extra per person, the flyers can be taken up the tunnel 3-4 times with the instructor's help. Once we came this far, well, we didn't have it in us to say no! So for their second "flight," the girls got to go high in the wind tunnel several times and do a few tricks with the instructor.

After the flight, the girls each got a completion certificate and a chance to view photos and videos of themselves in flight.

The cost of the flight package starts at around $70 per person. iFly also does birthday parties, events, Scout outings, field trips and executive events. How cool would this place be for a birthday party?!

My oldest daughter's Girl Scout troop actually came to iFly in 2018 to do a STEM activity and earn a badge. They LOVED it. This program is awesome for school groups, scout groups and so many more. You can fly as young as 3 years old!

They are having an awesome homeschool flying event tomorrow where you can experience one flight for $35- this is an awesome deal! Here is the link for tickets:


A few extra bits to know:

- It's fun to watch! Not only can you watch the other flyers, but instructors often do stunts and tricks after they help their groups go. Some are very flashy while some are very funny. The girls loved watching them all!

- There are lockers for your personal belongings while you are "in flight."

- There is a gift shop with swag and vending machines with chips, candy and pop.

- Parking is free.

Please note- my girls received free flights in exchange for my honest testimony. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Stepping Back in Time at Scarborough Renaissance Festival

In search of another fun adventure in DFW this past weekend, the girls of Everything Arlington headed off to Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, despite the rain (and mud!) and had good old medieval fun!

Scarborough Renaissance Festival began in 1981 and has blossomed into one of the largest in the country! The festival mimics a 16th-Century English village on 35 acres of land. The festival boasts more than 200 shops and more than 200 live performances each day! The festival continues for eight consecutive weekends each year starting the first weekend in April and ending the final weekend in May. Between the rides and the pubs, the mermaid lagoon and the Museum of Mythical Creatures, the festival features something for everyone in the family. And it's only a 40 minute drive from Arlington straight down highway 287!

Once you are through the front gates (adults are $28, kids are $13 and 4 and under are free, parking is complimentary), merriment awaits! Don't be shy in dressing up- many festival attendees do! We saw kids in pirate and princess costumes and adults in themed costumes, too! Everyone delights in stepping back in time.

We headed first to scout the rides and grab some food. Turkey legs are a favorite at the festival (according to the festival Website, more than 20 tons of turkey legs are consumed annually!), but my girls opted for sausage on a stick and chicken on a stick, both of which they loved! We topped it off with fries and an Italian Ice. The Italian Ice was our favorite- it was strawberry-flavored, served in an orange peel, and much creamier than we expected Italian Ice to be. And it was only $6!

After eating and posing for a few photos in the guillotine (they had SO many questions!), we decided to check out a few rides. The rides are man-powered, which makes them so cool! Not only did the girls enjoy watching the rides, they enjoyed going on a few! Rides are $3 per person each, so they each got to do two. They loved the Crow's Nest, a festival favorite, where they sit in- you guessed it, a crow's nest!- and are wound up a pole and then free-spin back down. They also opted to try the Barrel of Bedlam, where they sat in a barrel and spun forward and backward as well as side to side.

We paused during our day to check out the shops and admire the beautiful fairy wings and elaborate costumes and wooden swords. There were places to get Henna Body Art and face paint, and shops to get elf ears and flower crowns. We loved admiring it all!

We loved checking out the mermaid lagoon, a free exhibit where the girls get to see and take photos with mermaids (and mermen!). At the entrance to the lagoon is a sand pile, which kept my little two occupied while my oldest daughter and I caught the festival parade that happens at 1 pm. Everyone in the parade was in character and so fun! They interacted with us, handed us a few goodies and really seemed to enjoy themselves. We loved listening to the bagpipers and observing the parade.

After the mermaids we wandered to the petting zoo, which my kids loved. The petting zoo is $3 per person for an all-day pass, and the area has lots of animals! Alpacas, pigs, horses, goats, bulls and a zonkey (that's not a mistype- we saw a half donkey, half zebra!) kept the girls laughing and smiling for the better part of an hour! You can also buy food to feed the animals for an additional price.

Near the petting zoo is the jousting, our favorite show to watch. The purple knight asked my middle daughter to cheer for him, and she waved his colors proudly. Jousting is so neat (and a bit barbaric), and the show did not disappoint. It reminded us of Medieval Times, which prompted my girls to ask me how soon we can go back there! The theatrics and performance were well worth seeing and my girls stood still for the entire performance!

We also checked out the maze, another fun activity for the kids to try. It's also $3 per person, and kids (and adults) can hang out there as long as they like. It was actually a good opportunity for me to sit down while the kids run a bit wild! They loved it.

We spent about 4.5 hours at the festival and easily could have stayed longer! The festival is open on the weekends from 10 am until 7 pm. Definitely allow the full day to absolutely enjoy the festival to the fullest! Learn more about Scarborough Renaissance Festival here: www.srfestival.com

A few tips for a successful trip:

- Most places in the festival are cash only, including rides and food (and all rides are a la carte). While there are ATMs on-site, I recommend coming with lots of cash to avoid the extra fees.

- After a good rainfall, the festival is quite muddy. Wear waterproof shoes or bring rainboots- and maybe something to change into when  you get back to the car! My kids were filthy after our day at the fair!

- No food or drinks are allowed into the festival, so plan accordingly. I did bring a refillable water bottle with me because there are water fountains at the restrooms so we didn't have to continually pay $3 for drinks.

- Many performers have tip jars set out. Factor this in to your spend.

- Dress up if that's your thing! My girls wish I would have packed them princess dresses. We saw several Rapunzel dresses and pirate costumes, both of which we own and will bring next time!

- Strollers and wagons are allowed, and wagons (with canopies) can be rented onsite. Bring something to wash the wheels off upon leaving if you bring your own, or lay old towels in your trunk to prevent mud (or dust/dirt if it's a dry weekend) from getting everywhere.

*Please note, I was given complimentary admission in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Family Dinnertime at Genghis Grill!

I love going out to eat places where the experience is interactive.

And no, I'm not referring to places where my kids can go and run and act like wild monkeys on the indoor playareas while I beg them to eat. 

I mean places where I do more than just read a few items off of a menu and try to decide whether or not I will like every single item in that dish.

Enter Genghis Grill here. 

An interactive dining experience where you can create your own meal!

And the Genghis Grill at the Arlington Highlands has been newly remodeled, making it a spot you have got to try out for lunch or dinner!

I took my hungry crew (three kids, two grandparents and one exhausted preggo!) Thursday for dinner. I hadn't been to a Genghis Grill in years, honestly, and my girls and parents had never been.

The restaurant was busy but not packed, and we were able to be seated immediately. Coloring sheets and crayons were presented to my girls and drink menus to each of the adults (sad face there!). From there, a server came over and explained the entire dining process to us. Drinks are now self-serve, and, after you select what size bowl you want, you create your own meal!

My girls each grabbed a small bowl and raced up to the counter to customize their meals. So many options! You start by selecting your protein, and man do you have options! Steak, chicken, pork, tofu, bacon, the list goes on. My youngest chose chicken, my middle daughter chose shrimp and my oldest chose steak. I chose chicken, myself.

After you put your raw meat in your bowl, you pick a spice for your meat. Once you sprinkle on your favorite spice, you get to pack the bowl down with all the veggies! From bean sprouts to mushrooms and peas to water chestnuts (with a few fruits mixed in for variety), you can load your bowl down with yummy-looking veggies before selecting your sauce. I'm totally a teriyaki girl, so I went with Island Teriyaki.

After you build your bowl, you give the employee working the line your name and tell him or her if you'd prefer rice or noodles with your bowl. After you've made your selection, you can head back to your seat- or watch your food prepared before you!

My girls loved watching the people working the grill pour their bowls onto the hot surface to prepare the food. They each took turns guessing whose food was where on the grill and loved seeing it flipped and stirred until it was ready to be plated and served!

After your food is ready, your server brings it back to you. If you are good with chopsticks, you can enjoy your meal that way. The restaurant had chopstick trainers available for my girls, who loved trying to eat their food with chopsticks! I personally stuck to a fork.

The food was such a reasonable price- $9.99 for a small bowl (perfect for kids!) or $12.99 for a regular bowl, which is the perfect portion, in my opinion. Genghis Grill also has a variety of appetizers and desserts available for purchase. 

We loved our dinner at Genghis Grill, and my girls can't wait to go back. My oldest has already been plotting out what combination of foods she will try in her bowl next time!

*disclaimer- I did receive a free dinner for my family in exchange for my review and promotion. All thoughts and opinions are my own*

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Fun Easter Events in the Arlington Area 2019

Spring is definitely in the air!
My girls love this time of year... Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, evening bike rides and outside play return to our daily schedule.
I love this time of year because every store in town has an endless supply of Cadbury Mini Eggs. Since I can't have wine (ah, preggo life!), these will do just fine thankyouverymuch.

My girls also can't wait for Easter and all the fun, free activities that pop up around town! Egg hunts, bunny visits and candy and trinkets galore!

Below you'll find a list of great events all over town!

Saturday, April 13

Easter Egg-stravaganza at Crossroads Arlington, 10a- 1p, Free.
3221 W. Pioneer Parkway, Pantego
Egg hunt, bounce house, raffle, karaoke, face paint, and much more fun for the whole family!

Holy Cross Community-wide Easter Egg Hunt, 10a-12p. Free.
4400 W. Arkansas Lane, Arlington
Ages: Preschool to 12 years of age
Activities: Include Bounce Houses, Crafts, Games, Puppet Show, and Easter Egg Hunt

Golf Center of Arlington Easter Egg Hunt, 12-1p, Free.
1301 NE Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington
Join us as we hunt Easter eggs with a special visit from the Easter Bunny!
This FREE event includes egg hunt and photos with Easter Bunny.
Foods and drinks will be available for sale. Miniature golf game will be available for purchase after the egg hunt.
The egg hunt starts at noon and will take place at our miniature golf course - more than 3,000 eggs will be hidden!!! The Hunt will be in 3 age groups (3 and under, 4-6, and 7-10 years old) . Bring your basket and camera to capture memories to last a lifetime!
Following the Egg Hunt, the Easter Bunny will be on hand for photos and hugs!
Walk-ins welcome, no reservations or tickets necessary. Bring the kids, friends, and family!

Satruday, April 20

Easter Egg-stravaganza by GP Parks & Rec, 10a-12p, Free.
Airhogs Stadium; 1600 Lonestar Parkway, GP.
Join us for the 2019 Easter Eggstravaganza! This FREE family event will take place at the Airhogs Stadium and run from 10AM-12PM. The event will feature multiple Easter egg hunts on the field divided up by age group, Easter Bunny Pictures, games, and a wide variety of other activities and family fun!

Easter Celebration and Egg Hunt, The Welcome Table Christian Church in Arlington, 11a- 1p. Free.
4600 Highwood Dr., Arlington
Join us for our annual Easter Celebration and Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 20, from 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM. We will have lots of eggs to hunt, hot dogs to eat, and games to play. Plus, the Kona Ice shaved ice truck will be joining us.

Easter Egg Swim at Kirby Creek Natatorium, GP, 1:30-3:30p. $5 per person
3201 Corn Valley Rd., GP
Collect and play with Easter Eggs in the water and turn them in for a sweet prize!
Face painting and bounce house will be on-site.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

How much does the average family spend in a weekend?

According to the the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, households with children under 18 years old spend $2900 per year on entertainment ($56 weekly) and $3100 eating out ($60 weekly).
The owner of Pearachute, a company I contract for and write about on my page frequently, thinks this number is bologna. 
I, for one, agree with her. This seems soooo low. Although I have weeks where I'm disciplined and frugal, most weeks we succumb to take-out meals multiple times, and, well, if we are talking about entertainment, a trip to the movies one time costs us well more than $56.
So I kept a diary last weekend of my spending. I actually think last weekend I spent a little bit less than normal. I also think I have to factor in here that DFW has a relatively low cost of living compared to many other big cities in this country, which is why it is so appealing to families. 
What do you think? Are the numbers above accurate?

Our weekends are fairly busy (and frantic), with each one being a bit different. This weekend, for us, actually started on Friday because my husband works a 9/80 schedule, which allows him every other Friday off. My youngest, Corinne, who turned five in October, is not yet in kindergarten, so she is home with us on Fridays while her big sisters attend first and third grade.

This Friday Corinne and I wanted pedicures, and there is a new salon that opened not far from our house that was offering $10 pedicures. I couldn’t resist! We got fabulous pedicures that cost us $28 total including tip. After pedicures, we met Brad for Potbelly at lunch and spent $21. I then went for a run before heading up to school to co-manage my daughter Adelynn’s Destination Imagination team. We had practice until 6 pm on Friday, so I brought the kids a bunch of snacks. I spent $15 on fruit snacks, apple slices and potato chips to hold seven kiddos over until dinner time! To end our day, we went to a free ice skating party at our local mall. My girls started ice skating lessons about six months ago and have really taken to the ice. The party on Friday was totally free, but Adelynn was starving after Destination Imagination. She and I grabbed dinner at the mall food court while we waited for Brad to arrive with my younger daughters, who ate at home with Dad. We spent $15 on dinner. After the party, Adelynn and Brynna (my middle daughter), headed to a friend’s house for a sleepover.
Total spent on Friday: $79

Saturday morning I actually ran a 5K that supports a local charity in town while my girls slept in at their friend’s house (the race entry was $30). Corinne got a lazy morning with Dad while I managed a sub-30 5K at 12 weeks pregnant! After I got home and got everyone fed, we headed off to a Girl Scout Cookie Booth. My older two girls are both involved in Girl Scouts, and we love it. They have done some incredible activities (including Medieval Times, camp outs, iFly, and so much more!) with the money they have raised selling cookies. This year, both my girls want to sell more than 2,000 combined boxes (I did not mistype that number!). Not only does the money they raise support all kinds of activities they get to do with their troops, they also earn free days at summer camp here in North Texas with all the boxes they sell. So we went to our local Walgreens from 1:30- 4:30 to sell cookies. Halfway through, they got a treat for good behavior and awesome sales. I spent $8 at Walgreens on snacks and treats. After we got home, I was too lazy and worn out to cook, so we ordered pizza and had a family movie night! We watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which I just finished reading to the girls. We spent $30 on Domino’s pizza.
Total spent: $68

Sunday morning I got up before my crew and made breakfast- hashbrowns, eggs and bacon. They loved it! After running four miles, I got Adelynn and I ready to go to another cookie booth (did I mention how many boxes my girls want to sell?) at the mall. Once we got to the mall, Adelynn talked me into Jamba Juice smoothies for lunch. I spent $11. Brad took my younger two girls up to the skating rink at the mall to practice. We love that our skate tuition includes free skating during any public session. The lessons can be pricey ($135 per girl for a 7-week session), but they enjoy it so much! Adelynn and I left the mall at 3 and I swapped girls with my husband. Brynna and I then worked a cookie booth at 7 Eleven for an hour and sold a lot of boxes! 7 Eleven loves hosting Girl Scouts in our area and allows the girls free fountain beverages or hot chocolate (and coffee for mom!) when they work a booth, which is an awesome incentive for my kids. They love hot chocolate! We then headed home to prepare for school on Monday and have dinner at home.
Total spent: $11

Weekend spend total: $158

Thursday, November 29, 2018

An Enchanting Holiday: Our Evening at Enchant Christmas!

I am so glad that Enchant Christmas is back in Arlington again this year.

I was able to go twice last year, and I sincerely loved the experience.

The light maze is just like something out of a cheesy Lifetime movie, and I just can't get enough of it! Watching my girls glide through the maze in search of the items on the treasure hunt list is one of those memories that will last a lifetime!

This year Enchant Christmas is inside Globe Life Park. We parked at Texas Live (cost to park is $10, although if there are other events going on in the area, the cost may be higher) and entered the Ballpark near Homebase. There is a gorgeous TEXAS light display out front, and a larger-than-life lighted reindeer greets you upon entrance. The magic begins immediately!

There are vendors along the perimeter of the park, allowing you to get some Christmas shopping done before or after you enjoy the maze. You can also visit Santa and snap photos with your own camera! You can also purchase professional photos onsite. The Santa at Enchant is fabulous, and my crazy girls loved telling him about all the things they want this Christmas! There is food for purchase at the concession stands around the ballpark, as well as adult beverages. There is a stage for live music with great local artists performing periodically.

Once you make your way down to the field, however, the magic truly begins. You are greeted by "snow" to set the mood, and given a postcard to begin your journey through the maze. Eddie the Mischievous Elf has misplaced some toys for girls and boys on Santa's Nice List, and Santa needs our help to find them. My girls spun in circles trying to locate a massive toy airplane and giant lighted Teddy Bear. They screamed delightedly each time they located one of the eight missing toys.

I tried furiously to keep up with them and begged them to stop sporadically to capture gorgeous photos. There was a walk-through area with hanging lights that took gorgeous pictures as well as cute holiday sayings on gorgeous fake greenery that showed up well in photos (You had me at Ho Ho Ho was my personal favorite!). I could have snapped photos for days!

My girls have been taking ice skating lessons at Parks Mall for about six months now, so they couldn't wait to get out on the ice! This year, instead of a traditional circular rink, Enchant features an ice skating trail that is roughly 8,500 square feet! It is shaped in a loop, similar to a lazy river! My girls loved circling the ice as many times as they possibly good. Skate rentals are provided on site for $10. If you bring your own skates, ice skating is free!

Tickets for Enchant vary in price depending on what day you go. Kids three and under are free! There are lots of discounted options available at enchantchristmas.com.

Tips and Tricks Before You Go:

1. Check the weather and dress accordingly. We picked a warm night to attend and I lugged heavy jackets we didn't need around the ballpark! We could have skipped them! But the ballpark isn't climate controlled, so if it's cool, bring your coat!

2. Allow at least two hours to enjoy the experience. I'm telling you- I had to drag my kids off the ice. I wish we had gone on a weekend night when I wouldn't have had to worry about getting the girls home and in bed!

3. See Santa! Especially if the line isn't long. He's great, and the photos, even just from my iPhone, are stunning!

4. Bring your camera! I use my phone but I brought my backup battery just in case. I would have cried if my phone had died because I was taking too many pictures!

5. Enjoy!

**Disclaimer: I did receive complimentary admission to Enchant's media night in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own**

Monday, November 26, 2018

DFW for the Holidays: Prairie Lights 2018

For years I've intended to take the girls to Prairie Lights at Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie.

And for years, it hasn't happened.

We went for the first time last night... And I now am certain we've been missing out on a fabulous event all these years!

Prairie Lights, about a 20-minute drive from my home in west Arlington, is a drive-through light display with a "Holiday Village" halfway through where you can stretch your legs, enjoy a few treats, see the man in red himself and so much more!

First and foremost- Prairie Lights in super affordable! I have a family of five and only one parent who works full time, meaning we can't spend on holiday activities the way we might want to. Prairie Lights is one of the more affordable options in the Metroplex. It is $35 per car on the weekdays and $45 on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. If you drive a minivan like I do, you can bring 7 people for that one price! This price includes two rides at holiday village, a Christmas show, loads of photo ops and more!

The Website (www.prairielights.org) told us to arrive early to avoid lines and to allow about 1.5 hours to enjoy the attraction to the fullest. So we pulled into line at 5:45 and were through the gates by 6:05. We spent about 20 minutes enjoying the first set of drive-through lights. This year, the lights told several stories. First, A Bug's Christmas, followed by a story that told us about preparing for and then enjoying a large holiday feast. My girls enjoy the moving lights, the silly elves, all of it! I enjoyed our drive through "A Victorian Christmas" and seeing images of Christmases passed.

Parking at Holiday Village and walking through there was my girls' most favorite part of the experience. There is a carousel and a spinning bear/dog/animal ride appropriate for kids of all ages- and the price of these rides is included in admission. How great is that?! There is also a hot dog vendor out front.

Enter the tent marked "Holiday Village," and more magic awaits! You can shop, snap gorgeous photos, treat yourself to hot chocolate, coffee, popcorn and more or go and see Santa (there is an extra charge for Santa photos). There is also a Christmas show with both live actors and images on white screens that we enjoyed. It's a quick 10 minutes and cute for all ages (my girls nearly died laughing when the male actor introduced himself- he has a very silly name, but you'll have to go and find out what it is for yourself!).

After fueling up on $2 hot chocolate (the money benefits scholarships given out by the Grand Prairie Parks and Recreation Department, so it's hard to resist!), we walked through the lights village behind the heated tent. What a treat! More photo ops, lighted representations of different countries (I couldn't resist snapping the Eiffel Tower), walk-through tunnels and much more.

After we got back in our car, we enjoyed about 10 more minutes of drive-through lights before making our way back home.

My girls and I loved our experience at Prairie Lights. I'm honestly kicking myself for never having taken them before. Now that I know what a delight it is, I know we will be back!

Tips and Tricks before you go:
1. Get there early! Gates are at 6. Try to be in line before gates open to avoid crowds.
2. Plan to spend about an hour and a half enjoying the entire experience.
3. Dress for the weather! My girls would have ridden the rides about 100 times each if I had been properly dressed to stand and watch them!
4. Catch the show. It's super cute! (and there's "snow" at the end!)
5. Bring a few dollars to buy coffee or hot cocoa or a pretzel at the concession stand. The money is for a great cause! (they do take cards)
6. If you want to experience Prairie Lights with lots of friends, consider renting a limo or bus and splitting the cost! The cost is higher to get in for larger vehicles but may lower the cost per person depending on how many people attend.
7. Enjoy!

*Disclaimer- I was given free admission to Prairie Lights in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*