Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dallas Summer Kid Activities

Summer is almost here!  That means no school, ice cream and snow cones, summer camps, and finding ways to pass the lazy days of summer.  Now that my kids are a little older, I have come across a pretty good list of places to help beat the heat in Dallas too.  

Outside Fun
  • Ridgewood Recreation Center remodeled their splash park last summer and it's lots of fun for kids to run around without the hassle of a pool!  There is also a playground next to it for fun before or after swim:

  • Arboretum picnics in the morning (before it gets too hot)

  • Top Golf  for putt-putt

  • Playgrounds that have padded surfaces with some shade are Scottish Rite Hospital's playground and Coffee Park at Hillcrest and Northwest Highway.  We had our daughter's 2nd birthday party at Scottish Rite awhile back and loved it!

  • Klyde Warren park downtown also has a lot to offer, including splash areas for kids to run around, food trucks and a park. If you are feeling adventurous, you can try to take the Trolleydown there too. 

  • Cry baby movies at the Angelika recommended for babies under 6 months on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 1:30pm. 
  • Alamo Drafthouse also has summer movies for kids in the mornings. This summer they will have Mary Poppins, Despicable Me, Night at the Museum, etc. Check out their site for more details here.
  • Studio Movie Grill has Summer Kid Movies Mon-Friday at 11am for 1$ kids and 2$ adults, check the schedule here.
Indoor Playgrounds
  • Pump-it-Up on Forest Lane has open gym play Monday-Fridays from 10-11:30am and from 12-1:30pm.  7$ first child, 5$ additional child.  You can now reserve a spot online! Check out their Online Registration here.
  • JumpStreet indoor trampoline park has open jump from 10am-9pm Monday-Sunday and is 4$ if under 4 and 8$ from ages 4-7.
  • The Perot Museum has an area on the lower level for children under age 5 to play and run around in, with water play, climbing structures and art activities.  Just beware the museum and parking gets crowded in the summer with kids out of school!
  • Walnut Hill Rec Center on Walnut Hill and Midway Rd. has open play/gym for children through age 4, Monday through Fridays from 10:30-11:45am for 5$. Express Cheer Open Gym
  • CooCoos.  Ok, so technically this place is in Plano and I haven't been yet, but CooCoos is a huge indoor bounce house type place. 8$ for children 4 and older and 5$ for 3 and under, open daily from 10-6pm. 6505 W Park Blvd.
  • Lake Highlands Rec Center now also has a great indoor playground for our littles from ages 0-5. It's 3$ for open play, Wildcat Fun Zone operates weekdays from 9-10:30am, 11-12:30pm, 3-4:30pm, and 5-6:30pm.

  • Indoor Playgrounds at Galleria Mall and Willowbend Mall.  I prefer going to the Galleria one in the mornings when it's not as hot (it's on the top floor) and not as crowded :)

  • The Treefort at Watermark Church has a great indoor play area. Check out the daily schedule of open hours here (scroll down).

  • We also love going to the Fair Park Aquarium. It's small so it's not too crowded, parking is free and kids of all ages love it! Plus it's air conditioned :) 8$ for adults and 6$ for kids 3+

Libraries and Storytimes
  • Barnes and Noble at Lincoln Park also has storytime on Tuesdays at 10:30am
  • Northpark Bookmarks Baby Bounce and Tickles for Toddlers. Check out their calendar for weekly times: 
  • Tuesdays at Whole Foods Park Ln has storytime and crafting at 10am! We love going here for the free snacks too!
  • Pottery Barn Kids off Knox also has a Tuesday storytime at 11am
  • Storytimes at Lochwood Library on Fridays at 10:30m or Skillman Library at 10:30am on Thursdays.  Also Highland Park Library has them daily at 10am, click on link here.  The Preston-Royal location also has a different activity each Tuesday at 10:30am from music classes, to storytimes.
  • For fun weekend storytimes, visit the Half Price Bookstore on Sundays at 3pm for children under age 10.
  • Richardson Public Library I've heard has the best area for kids with an aquarium, lots of stocked kids books and a train table. Check out their schedule for storytimes though as you have to register beforehand here.
    • Best indoor restaurant playground is at the Chick-Fil-A at Southwestern and Central Expy, and Hillcrest Ave because it's not as crowded!
    • Bake and Play at Mockingbird and Abrams is a great indoor play area for kids.  Complete with dress-up clothes for girls and boys, playscapes, train tables, doll houses and food to feed your youngster!  It's 8$ per child, but if you buy a 10 pass punch card, it's 5$ a child. Don't forget socks for you and your kids!

    • Monster Yogurt in Casa Linda is also a great way to cool off the summer with a froyo AND an indoor playground!  Check out their site here.

    • Sno snowcones!  The best way to beat the heat, just wish it had indoor playground. But they have the best all natural flavors made in house! Meadow and I-75.

    Hope this list helps fill up your Summer fun! If there are any other places I've forgotten, post in the comments below. Happy Summer!

    Thursday, April 30, 2015

    Mother's Day Gift Ideas

    Mother's day is next weekend and it's one of my favorite holidays! I love being able to celebrate motherhood with my mom, grandmother and my 2 little girls.  It's a day to cherish the love I have for my kids, the day I gave birth to them, and the generations of moms in my family.

    And when it comes to deciding on what to get our moms, I found some cute gift ideas to also show our love:

    1) Olive Yew Mother's Day Necklace:  (37$)

    2) Olive Yew's Heart Initial Necklace: (50$)
    This is one of my favorites I wear with my little girls' initials and a heart between them.  You can choose gold, silver or rose gold.

    3). Shop Compliments "Gratitude" necklace: (47$) and available in white, navy, lime, pink, or mint on gold chain or black on silver chain.

    4). Handbags! One of my favorites and lately I have been searching like crazy for a new tote that has interior pockets for busy moms that's not a diaper bag.  There are a lot of cute totes out there, and fancy ones like the Louis Vuitton Neverfull, and the Goyard, but there are no pockets! The bucket totes are hard for me because I am constantly digging for my phone, keys and not to mention the mass amount of junk my kids demand I carry.  Sippy cups too.  So I have found a few cute ones that have interior pockets and are super stylish:

    Barrington Gifts Savannah Zippered Tote (175$)  This bag has 5 pockets total, 1 exterior, 2 side interior pockets for water bottles, etc and a cell phone pocket, a zippered pocket and a slip pocket. Click on the link above to see all the fun patterns and colors.

    Stella and Dot La Totale Large (118$).  Cute pattern and several interior pockets, including a water bottle one! Comes in navy as well.

    Botkier Women's Soho Tote (250$).  I've been eyeing this one myself, but wish it had a few more interior pockets. I just love the edginess to it.  It has 2 pockets but still durable and the interior glittery color is cute too!  It comes in several different colors.

    5) And for those that want to give the classic gift of perfume, I have always loved Grace by Philosophy Amazing Grace Spray Fragrance, 4-Fluid Ounce . It's a sweet scent and you can wear it daily. (48$)

    So there you have it, my top picks. Of course don't get me wrong, a nice spa day is a great gift too, but also just spending time with your mother or your children is the best gift of all!  Mother's day is not always all about the gifts we give, but the time we spend with them that day and to show appreciation and love :)

    Sunday, April 12, 2015

    Focus on the Positives

    Lately we've been hearing the word, "no" a lot in our house.  It's in the form of "not right now," or "don't slam the door!"  I try to use my play therapy words such as "toys are not for throwing," but sometimes it just doesn't happen.

    The "no's" usually occur in the morning, when I am running on zero energy and so are my children as we get ready to leave the house for the day.  As I am rushing around making sure teeth are brushed, and clothes are on, something always happens and it makes us late.  Another trip to the potty, or someone isn't happy with the shirt they are wearing.

    Last week it was slamming a door for the 15th time! I snapped and tried a Pavlov dog technique of raising my voice and saying "no!" Kind of like what you are supposed to do to a dog when they are in the middle of having an accident in your house. The sharp "No!" is supposed to trigger the bell reflex and they aren't supposed to do it again.  But on a toddler, uhm, not so much. Pavlov didn't work, it just caused more tantrums. You mean kids aren't like dogs? :)

    Lesson learned from mommy. So I pulled myself together and remembered it's best to use words that describe what they are SUPPOSED to do instead.  If your child is slamming doors, instead of saying "don't bang the door!" say, "doors are not for playing with, they are to be pushed gently."  Because when you say "no", all the child hears is the action part such as "slam door!"  She doesn't hear the "don't" part to your discipline.

    The best plan is to tell them what you want them to do.  I know I've talked a little much about positive and negative reinforcers, but it's so true.  When we give any attention to negative behaviors, it's still attention and they eat it up!  Especially those second borns or 3rds or 4ths who just don't get as much attention.  They seem to act out way more than the first borns, and when they pull on their sister or push her and start laughing, guess what they are trying to do? Yep, you guessed it, get your attention and their siblings'.

    So stay calm (yes I know, easier said than done), and focus on the positive actions.  The louder and more energetic your response, then the more likely they will act out. Completely hard to do when your child is throwing things all over the place and you try to say all quiet, "sweetie pie, toys are not for throwing, if you want to throw something, you can throw this ball."  Just take a deep breath, realize it's not the end of the world if a toy breaks, or a toy breaks a picture frame. It may be super super frustrating, but the more calm and short the response, the less likely they will do it again.  No reaction from you = no attention = less negative behaviors.  Of course a consequence may be needed here, but still stick to your less 'attention rewarding' behaviors.

    Also try to find time to give that extra attention with hugs, kisses, story time, and one-on-one play time.  It will help curb some of their acting out!  And if you're looking for a good reference, I stumbled across a book that teaches you how to stay calm and work on communicating better with your young child called What Babies Want.  Any of you have advice on less is best when it comes to positive reinforcement?

    Sunday, April 5, 2015

    Happy Easter!

    Happy Easter!  Today was a fun family celebrated day starting with Easter baskets from the Easter Bunny (Frozen themed of course), Church and then dinner with our family. I love how the day is spent relaxing and enjoying family time!  Stores were closed and there wasn't any rushing around or errands to run.  I wish there were more days like this :)  Hope everyone had a great weekend!

    Thursday, April 2, 2015

    Busy Moms

    I wanted to have an awesome Easter post this week of fun crafting ideas, but it's 11:15pm and I haven't even broken out the Paas Easter Decorating kit yet this week. You know, the 1$ cardboard box dye kit? Sigh. I am having a hard time figuring out why I feel more busy now than I did with a newborn or two?

    When I first brought home my first baby girl, I was overwhelmed as all moms are. Life went on outside my home but I thought time stopped at mine. If people emailed me I thought, "hello, don't they know I just had a baby?? I won't be able to respond to your emails in like, 3 weeks, maybe even next month!"

    Time did kind of stop. Except I didn't realize how nice and easy it was.  My first year with my girl was so sweet!! I loved spending my day with nap times and feedings, Kindermusik classes, neighborhood play dates, park play times and grocery shopping and of course free play. It was a dream for me, as I'd always wanted to be stay at home mom when I grew up. Of course there were sleepless nights (ahem every night until she was 15 months old), and temper tantrums but for the most part it was an amazing year.

    Then I got pregnant again, and enrolled her in a Moms Day Out program one day a week. We still had minimal activities and loved all the 'play time' we had. 9 months later I delivered my second baby- my first was 24 months old at the time.  We had a pretty easy transition, and it was summer time, so we relaxed and played at home most of the time.

    Not going to lie, going from 1 baby to 2 was hard work the first several months, especially with a colic baby!  Getting out of the house was rough at first. How do I get each child in the car? Let alone the babies. I would see moms with 3 grocery shopping, with 2 in the cart and another in the carrier. Seriously?

    But all in all my life wasn't too crazy busy as my toddler was in school now 2 days a week from 9-12pm. We only had 1 activity, ballet classes at 10am in the morning.  I volunteered on my neighborhood PTA board and had meetings once a month. Life was good.  I thought I was busy, but little did I know how easy it was.

    Fast forward 2 years later and my head is spinning! Spinning!  And I've heard it only gets worse as they get older.  I've realized that having 2 kids that are now old enough to do things instead of just sitting in the Bumbo makes your life a tad bit busier.

    Both girls are in school now.  One goes 5 days a week and the other 2, but now I have to pack 2 lunches. I have 2 holiday parties to attend, 2 classrooms to help with (teacher appreciation, volunteer projects, etc.) and 2 girls to get dressed in the mornings.  EVERY morning.  I am on the school's parent committee, so we meet monthly for meetings and have volunteer responsibilities.  I am also in my area's junior women's league and we have meetings and volunteer responsibilities as well.  Plus I am still involved in my area's early childhood PTA.

    And as for activities, both girls take ballet and now both are in swim lessons. This is the first year the toddler is taking swim lessons too. So in a way, it's nice to have the 30 minutes in the waiting area free without having to entertain her while waiting for her sister!  The oldest also does soccer now on Saturdays so we have a 45 minute game once a week starting now until the summer begins.  And even though both are in activities, they are still at a young age to where they need constant help with getting dressed, getting into the car seats, holding hands crossing streets, etc.

    Moms with multiple kids and older children, I've heard it gets crazier with activities. Music, sports, academics, homework?  Don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to all of the fun times ahead, really I am.  But just have to say I need a little break and can't wait for summer.  With all the rushing around now, I am looking forward to slower days.  All I can say is thank goodness for my Erin Condren calendar and Cozi app.  It keeps me organized for the most part.  Although I do miss stuff now and then.  RSVP what?  Now if only there was an app to help keep my emails organized, I'd be all over it!

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    Big Sibling, Little Sibling


    Ever since the birth of our second child, we have referred to our first born as "Big Sister..." and the baby was called the "Baby."  But when our "baby" turned two, we slowly started calling her "little sister" here and there. But I'd been cautious since her birth as well with the whole 'Parentification' of the oldest child syndrome, and didn't want to give too many responsibilities to our oldest child.  You can read more about Parentification in my old post here, but basically it's a psych term to describe having the older children take on the responsibility of raising the younger children in the household (and also can be used to describe children having to raise their own parents, but we'll save that for another time :)

    Yes, I know there were days of Little House on the Prairie where there were farms with families of 12 children, and the oldest would help with the youngest kids.  That's just what you did back then. It's also because there wasn't any birth control :)  My grandmother was one of 11 kids as well and it makes my uterus hurt to even think of having that many children.

    Ok, ok back to my topic of discussion... I have really worked hard on giving my oldest just a few tasks to help me with the 'baby.'  Things like, "can you hand me that diaper please?"  or "can you hand her that toy?"  Now, since they are just 24 months apart, there aren't a whole bunch of things she can do to help like feed her breakfast, or get her dressed.  In fact it's funny when my oldest wants to really help and does try to get her younger sister dressed and put her shirt over her head!  It's really cute :)

    But for the most part, I don't want my oldest to feel like she has the responsibility to care for her younger sister.  Why you ask?  Ahem..well, just a few reasons:

    -Kids should be kids, not parents

    -I don't want the oldest to feel the burden of having to raise the younger one

    -I don't want my oldest to feel resentment when she gets older of having taken care of her younger sibling

    -I don't want my oldest to feel the 'worry' for her younger sibling that regular parents have on a daily basis.  Now I know it's just natural that the older sibling will look out for the younger sibling(s) without us asking them.  Like when they go off to camp together, or your neighborhood gym's childcare place.  But I don't want the extra worry that can go along with that to be too extreme for them.

    -I don't want the youngest to be spoiled and feel like everyone will look out for her, when she needs to learn to look out for herself like everyone else does. Avoiding the whole 'entitlement generation' saga and being spoiled.

    -I want my children to be close to each other.   Asking the oldest to do more causes unequality and competition among each other = resentment and hostility.

    -I want me children to grow up as equals with less fighting and tattling and more of a 'team'

    -I try not to label them in general as 'shy' or 'outgoing' and 'big sister' so they don't take on those labels as excuses or use them as a negative

    Now I know as they get older there will be the questions from my youngest child, "why does she get to go do XYZ and I don't?"  Well, because she is 2 years older than you. Yes, there will be the unequality there and vice versa with the youngest getting away with a few things because she is younger and 'doesn't understand yet.'  But hopefully those times will be few and far between :)

    So for now, I try to say more of the, "You are such a great sister!"  vs.  "You are such a great big sister!!", when I want to point out how helpful and caring they are to each other.

    BUT, not that I am so harsh on it all,  I do give a few "you are such an awesome big sister" to show her how being older and caring towards younger, less helpful people is a good thing.  So just like everything else, I do so in moderation :)

    How do you handle your kids' roles at home?

    Friday, February 27, 2015

    Praise vs Encouragement

    The other day I picked up my child from school and she said a child in her class told her that her artwork "wasn't very good" :(  I know kids hearing these things are some of the pains of growing up in life, and kids will be mean and we won't always be there to protect them.  I am determined not to be a helicopter parent :)

    I ran across another old handout of mine to help me in responding in way so my girls motivate themselves and increase their self-esteem in these situations.  To learn to just 'brush it off' and have confidence.  Encouraging our children is the best technique we have.  Encouraging them along the way so they know it's not all about pleasing other people, but to be happy with ourselves.

    Praise: Praise is giving well, praise to our children and telling them how proud we are of them, "that's great" and "good job, you did wonderful!"  Saying these things here and there is OKAY, but try to make more encouraging remarks.

    Encouragement: Statements that will teach children to encourage themselves and not considered about getting praise from others

    Discouragement: Belittling children and causing low-self-esteem

    I've touched on this topic before here, but thought these little handouts are great reminders as our kids grow!

             Praise vs Encouragement

                             Praise                                       Encouragement                      Discouragement

    You cleaned up your room just            You really worked hard at        You left a sock out, I hope
    like I told you to!                                     cleaning up your room!              you do better next time!

    You got an A! That's my girl!             I can tell you are very proud      You may have made an A
                                                                    of your grade!                             in Science, but what about

    You make me happy when you         It was brave of you to tell the            I can't believe you 
    tell the truth!                                       truth, even though you knew you    disobeyed me! I don't
                                                                would get in trouble                     want to hear another word!

    You don't need my help. You're         I am confident you will do            Here, just let me do it for
    the smartest kid in class!                      your best!                                           you.

    I like you a lot better when you        You look so happy today.                 It's nice one of us had 
    are wearing that smile!                   Would you tell me about your day?    an easy day! (sarcastic)

    You're doing great! Growing           You're looking forward to going to    All teens are the same.
    up just like I did.                               junior high and trying out all the      They think they know
                                                                  new opportunities.                            what is best for                                                                                                                                       themselves, but you have                                                                                                                     no idea what you are doing.

    Here's another chart with good comparisons:



    You are so smart!

    You are working so hard on your homework.

    You are the best listener when I tell you to pick up your toys!

    You sure make an effort to listen to me when I ask you to do something.

    You had the highest score in your class on your test! Way to go!

    You did very well on your test.  You seem to really enjoy doing well in school!

    I am so proud of you.

    You are so proud of yourself.

    You're the best at cleaning your room.

    Your room looks very neat since you straightened your bookshelves.

    I'm so proud of your artwork.

    I can see how much you enjoy art.  You take time to paint and use so many different colors.