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Encouraging a Picky Eater with {The New Food Game}

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I have tried many things to encourage my picky eater to try new foods. We stick with positive reinforcement with our children. This was at the direction of their pediatrician. I do not want to make eating feel like a chore or a battle.

I have spoken with our pediatrician about these food issues. Maybe back in the day you either ate what was served or you didn’t eat. That’s fine if that works for you. Like almost every aspect of parenting: This isn’t a competition. Do what works best for your family. We are keeping mealtime positive and fun.

Some of us have different sensory experiences. I know I’m not alone in this. I marvel at my son as he smells, holds and carefully tastes new or different food. It’s as though he is experiencing meals and snacks on another level. I sometimes tell my friends – only half-jokingly – that I think he’s going to be a chef when he grows up. I was particular about food as a kid too. There are studies that show a strong genetic component to being a picky eater.

It has been a struggle to add foods to his diet for the last five years.

It wasn’t always this way for my son. He ate anything and everything. When he was around 2-years-old he got a little stomach bug. It wasn’t a big deal. A fever, lots of extra naps and cuddles. He vomited once. And that seems to have been the trigger for his food sensitivity. He had never been sick before. The following day he only wanted water and these little rice puff snacks he liked at the time. I couldn’t get him to touch any other foods. I didn’t think much about it. He probably was still feeling crummy and his appetite wasn’t back yet. When I still couldn’t get him to eat anything else the following day, I called the pediatrician’s office.

It has been a struggle to add foods to his diet for the last five years. The list of things he will eat is pretty short, and it doesn’t include what you might guess. He won’t eat pizza or pasta. He doesn’t like burgers or chicken nuggets.

The New Food Game

I recently came up with a game to try to get him to try new foods. He earns points for completing a sample plate and those points add up. Once he gets enough points, he gets to go on a big toy shopping trip to Target.

The New Food Game is what we are calling it. He votes using the emoji chart I created for him. He also likes to make his own chart and write notes and short reviews of each sample. Bonus points for mom and dad! Our picky eater is practicing writing, spelling, storytelling in addition to expanding his palate.

picky eater

We aren’t making food a battleground; we are cheering him on as he discovers the foods he likes! And I’m getting a stronger idea of the flavors and textures that can help him to get comfortable with a wider range of things. I follow Feeding Littles and Jennifer Anderson on Instagram. I love how positive they are about helping children try foods.

My son and I talk about Pete the Cat’s Three Bite Rule. He loves the animated version on Prime Video. The story has helped my son keep giving foods another chance even if he had them before and wasn’t a fan. Giving those foods another chance sometimes means finding out they are still “super gross.” Sometimes he upgrades them to “just okay.” Progress is progress!

I Survived the North Dallas Tornado and Here’s What I Want You to Know

On October 20th, life dramatically changed for me, my family, and many other families and businesses in North Dallas. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that a violent EF-3 tornado ripped through densely-populated residential and commercial areas that many of us frequent every day. The lives of many people were deeply affected, including my own.

In our case, the tornado ripped through our neighborhood and significantly damaged our home, to the point that it is no longer livable. Repairs are estimated to take half-year or more. Because we had such little warning of the storm, me, my husband, and three-year-old son had no choice but to endure the direct hit in our car when we couldn’t get back to our home in time or into our garage due to power loss. We watched our house being destroyed while having cinderblocks, fences, and trees batter our car. We didn’t know if we would make it, and we will never be the same. And, to top it off, I am heavily pregnant.

In the weeks since the tornado, I’ve had some time to process what’s happened and have had the chance to speak with others who were affected. While I can’t speak for every survivor, here is what I want you to know:

  1. Survivors of the tornado are still dealing with the effects of the storm every day.

As of this writing, it’s been a month-and-a-half since the tornado hit us. And I’m still dealing with the emotional and practical effects every single day. We are displaced from our home and lost most of our possessions. Every day has brought new logistical nightmares that I could never imagine having to deal with.

What I want you to know is that life is not normal for us and won’t be normal for a long time. While we have thankfully moved past the phase where getting through every single day is an overwhelming challenge, nothing is normal. We’re living in a house that’s not our own with a fraction of our possessions. We have to deal with contractors and insurance for hours every single day, so our time no longer feels like our own. And many of us are dealing with trauma.

I read an article recently discussing how for most of Dallas, life has moved on, and the tornado is now a blip in the city’s rearview mirror. Unless you drive through the affected areas that now look like war zones, it’s easy to forget that this happened. But please be sensitive to the fact that the tornado continues to deeply affect people’s lives.

  1. Please be mindful of how you talk about the tornado in public spaces. 

In the weeks immediately following the storm, I can’t count the number of times I saw people gawking over photos of the tornado’s destruction or heard people complaining about the trivial ways in which the tornado has affected them, like increasing traffic. Please be aware that the person standing in line behind you might have a more personal and traumatic connection to the event, and overhearing insensitive comments like this doesn’t go over well. Additionally, my three-year-old son seemed confused at times as to whether there was another tornado, because he couldn’t easily process what he overheard people talking about in public spaces. (This helped.) Please remain mindful.

  1. If you don’t know what to say, just keep it simple.

If you didn’t know, now you do: Saying “at least you didn’t die” or “it could’ve been worse” to people who definitely thought they and their children were going to die and who are dealing with severe repercussions from an event is never a good idea.

Yes, we are grateful and thankful that nobody died or had significant injuries. I personally consider that a miracle. And I will be the first one to reflect on what’s happened and focus on gratitude. But at no point is it helpful to hear a sentence beginning with “at least” from someone who has no idea what you have been through.

And please, please don’t make it about yourself. Don’t try to compare this situation to some unrelated thing that you have experienced. Unless you personally have survived a natural disaster of the same magnitude, hearing about your experience will probably not be helpful. I myself have experienced all manner of loss and hardship in my own life, but those experiences have all been different than the grief and trauma I’ve experienced since the tornado.

If you don’t know what to say, just say “I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through.” That is more than enough, and it means a lot.

  1. Every kindness shown to us after the storm really made a difference.

My overwhelming feeling after surviving this tornado is gratitude. Not just that everyone made it out safely, but that Dallas is filled with kind, generous people who were there for us in our time of greatest need.

I have done this in my personal life, but I want to say a generalized “thank you” to every single person who asked how we are doing. Who offered to move whatever items we could salvage out of our destroyed home. Who offered us clothing and baby items, knowing how much we have lost. Who helped us find temporary housing, offered insights on dealing with insurance, and who offered other substantive help. Who listened to us cry. Who took us out to lunch or coffee. Who gave us a hug. Who showed us patience and grace. Who opened their homes. Who offered to watch our child. Who were there for us in whatever ways they could think of.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

University-Model School :: Faith and Family

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The ability to give myself an anxiety attack over what should be minor life decisions is a true art.  I wish I could say that it started when I became a mom. However, it goes all the way back to being a 7th grade girl.  Just trying to pick out what outfit to wear to school would make my stomach ache.  Don’t even get me started on the lunch table configuration and trying to decide where to sit and what to eat.  Therefore, when it came time to pick out my daughter’s school, I just knew I was probably going to wind up medicated to help deal with the pressure of my first-world problems.  Let me entertain you with the “broken” path that led to my decision to enroll our daughter, Aria, in a University-Model school.

“You judge yourself and other parents according to Perfect-Parent myths.” ~Rosalind Wiseman

Broken Path to University Model School
The “broken” path that led to me giving up on striving to become a “perfect” parent.

I have often tried to mimic my idea of a perfect parent by ALWAYS being present, planning, and protecting. You know what I got as a result?  Permanent under-eye circles, never-ending exhaustion, a nice muffin top from all of those sugar bribes, and an empty bank account. I didn’t come to this realization that perfect parenting was a myth until my daughter broke her arm in multiple places at her preschool.  Even with all of the planning I did to find the perfect Pre-K class and practically sending her off to school in bubble wrap, she still managed to get hurt. After a good cry, I decided to throw my hands up, create a unique strand of curse words, and change my parenting methods ASAP.  Goodbye Stepford Wife; Hello Hot Mess Express! In regards to the idea of perfect parenting, I followed Elsa’s advice and simply, “Let it Go!”.

“There is NO such thing as a perfect parent, so just be a real one.” ~Sue Atkins

My parental philosophy shift, and the breaks in her arm, occurred the summer before her kindergarten year.  Of course, before this shift, I had already made T-charts listing the advantages and disadvantages of homeschool, public, private, charter, and the University-Model schools.  Private schools had a hefty price tag.  Remember that empty bank account mentioned above?  That was an immediate no.  There was not a charter school near our small town that I was aware of, so that was easy to mark off of the list.  Also, I just didn’t think I had the self-discipline to try homeschool right off the bat so that was another simple no.

Don’t overanalyze everything you see; give it some time, and the pieces of this puzzle will come together.” ~Jessica Park

That narrowed it down to public school or the University-Model school.  We were in the process of building a house, and the only short-term lease we could find was 40 minutes away from where our house was being built.  This definitely played into our decision.  Should I have a 40-minute each way commute to drop her off at public school five days a week or only commute three days a week at a University-Model school that is in session on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? I also loved the flexibility of having Tuesday and Thursday as homeschool days to complete assigned coursework in front of the TV and to take advantage of homeschool rates for electives like ice skating and gymnastics.

I wish I could say a lot more research went into my ultimate decision to have the pendulum swing in favor of the University Model, but it truly was more of an impulse decision to embrace my new-found parenting style and not overanalyze the decision.  Well, not anymore than I already had up to that point.  I chose the one that involved way less driving!

I suppose the better question wouldn’t be why I chose a University-Model school but rather if I am proud of that decision.  YES!!!  

1st Grade at a University Model school
First Day of First Grade 2019-2020

It feels like a true partnership between our family and the school when it comes to our daughter’s education.  Aria is halfway through first grade, and she is reading years above her grade level.  Add in that a University Model is faith based, and I adore listening to my daughter’s daily prayers.  At our particular school, the students pray, incorporate bible stories into the curriculum, and memorize a bible verse each week.  They also attend chapel on Fridays.  It is non-denominational, and where you choose to attend church outside of the school is completely up to you as a family.  The ultimate goal is to develop “wholesome, competent, and virtuous followers of Christ who will change the world in their generation.”  ~Dr. John William Turner Junior

Christ-centered University Model school
Focus on Faith & Family

I wanted to share some valuable information directly from the UMSI website.  “The University-Model® combines the best attributes of traditional schooling with the best attributes of homeschooling and integrates them into one model. The result is quality, cost-effective, college-preparatory education that gives parents more time for imparting their own faith and values to their children. In partnership with one another, parents and the school work together toward a mutual goal: to produce wholesome, competent, and virtuous followers of Christ who will change the world in their generation.”

Click {here} if you are interested in more information and seeing if there is a University-Model school near you.  I love the faith, flexibility, and attention to family provided by this particular model.  Perhaps I initially chose this over public school to save gas money, but there are so many more reasons that I choose to stay! Just keep in mind that there is no right or wrong choice when making your educational decision for your children.  It is what works best for your family!

“There are no perfect parents, and there are no perfect children, but there are plenty of PERFECT moments along the way!”

Additional resources and information:

Our contributors are sharing why they chose their school or approach to education, to help you find the best school for your family!  Make sure to check out our Guide to Childcare & Schools in and around Dallas!

Uncelebrated Milestones :: Baby Big Sister

Very soon my youngest and last child will reach another milestone. I’ve tried to hang on to each minute of all the cute, photo-worthy moments knowing they will be the final ones.
This milestone will be much different than the ones I’ve celebrated in the past. It’s not a milestone that has been printed on a sticker to use for pictures, there isn’t a baby book that references this benchmark. I won’t take her picture and share it to all of my social media feeds. I won’t send it in our family group text like I’ve done with the others. I won’t write it in her baby book as to remember it forever and I won’t give a “Yay, Bailey” in the typical high-pitched mom voice while clapping my hands.
I won’t celebrate this milestone at all.
Instead, I will attempt to hold back the inevitable flood of tears that have haunted me as I knew this day was coming.
My last born child will soon be older than my first born. My living children will be the oldest, but not the first born. They will have a baby big sister. And if that’s hard to comprehend, imagine having to explain it to small children.
 
No matter which way I say it, I cannot make sense of it.
Just before Thanksgiving, my daughter will have lived longer than her big sister, which makes her older. My first born, Emma, unexpectedly and without warning, died at 16 months, 20 days. My twin boys surpassed Emma’s age this same time two years ago. I can remember these same feelings of confusion and sadness. This time though, it’s final. All of my children will be older than their big sister. She is our baby big sister.
No matter which way I say it, I cannot make sense of it.
I knew this day would come just like all the other milestones that have come and gone before. This one, more than any other has affected me greatly.
It’s not unusual to hear, “That’s what Emma did” or “That was Emma’s toy” around my house. But soon, those phrases might become obsolete. That’s the scariest thing about this new normal. My frame of reference has expired. I have no comparison for kids number 2, 3, and 4. While most of the time I wing it as a mom, I’ve always had some similar experience to fall back on.
If I’m being honest, and quite vulnerable, I’m afraid the memories of Emma will stop like her age did. Does it mean that since her siblings have exceeded her age, that the memories die, too? While I know the answer seems obvious, these are real concerns for a bereaved mother.
I’m certain that it was no mistake that this milestone would happen over Thanksgiving break. It’s one of those subtle, wipe-your-tears-away reminder that I have so much to be thankful for. And I do!
I have three, beautiful children for whom each I whole-heartedly prayed for. They are the ones who keep me going.
With each passing day, I’m further away from what was, dreams and goals I had for her, for our future. I hope as I continue to make new memories with my children, that the ones of Emma are still spoken, still remembered.
“For as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” This line from the children’s book, Love You Forever doesn’t say for as long as the child is living, it says for as long as I’m living. Today I am living!
Emma, my baby you are!

3 Simple Ways to Get Your Kids Excited About Giving {Instead of Just Receiving} This Season

It was the day after Halloween and somehow my two preschoolers had already devoured the entire Amazon and Target holiday toy catalogs. Wish lists ensued. Endless questions and talk of  gadgets they “had to have” overflowed. Confession: at first I was excited. Visions of the delightful expressions on my children’s faces as they opened their presents on Christmas morning were tantalizing. But as that feeling began to dissipate, a deeper desire arose. A desire to instill gratitude and generosity into their young and vulnerable hearts. I knew instantly that fulfilling every item on their wish list was the exact opposite way to foster these virtues.

I am not here to tell you that giving your children gifts is bad or damaging. Our children will certainly still have gifts under our tree! What I am saying is that this year, we are trying to minimize the quantity and hyper-focus on those gifts and shift to including our children in the joy of giving to others. I hope some of these ideas can make their way into our family traditions over the coming years as we raise our little people to be big givers!

Help your child learn to give

  1. Create a Giving List

Alongside their wish lists, I am having each of my children create a giving list. This list will be just as colorful and fun as their wish list, but its purpose will be to brainstorm ways they can bless other people in our family and community this season. A list is such a tangible thing and honestly, I love making them! It is also a joy to see my children’s creativity bloom. No, we may not actually be able to buy daddy a new car or our neighbor a new puppy, but just the thoughts are exercising their generosity muscles.

  1. Start a New Tradition

Choose a new tradition to start with your family that focuses on giving or serving. This year our family is going to try the Giving Manger. The gist is that each time someone in your family notices someone else perform an act of kindness or service for another, the doer gets to place one piece of straw in a wooden manger. On Christmas day there will be a soft, full bed that was built through giving to lay the sweet baby Jesus on that comes with the set. I am excited to see how this activity inspires my children to love and serve each other!

  1. Go out and Give Together

This one is definitely my favorite and the ideas are endless. For us, this looks like finding ways our children can participate in creating gifts for the people in our community. As a three and almost five-year-old, their community is small, but the opportunities are still plentiful. Some of the ideas we have so far are baking Christmas cookies to deliver to our neighbors, drawing special thank you cards and leaving them with cookies for our mailman and garbage workers, cooking a meal for our new temporary neighbors that were displaced by the tornado, and putting together some bags of necessities with little Christmas goodies like candy canes to hand out to people who are homeless.

I love that my boys can truly participate in a hands-on way in each of these giving activities, deliver most of them face-to-face and really bless someone in the process.

How you teach and encourage giving with your children? Please share with us!

Dallas Moms Need to Know :: A Guide to the Month of December

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This post has been sponsored by the Dallas Theater Center. All opinions are 100% our own.

And just like that, it’s December! Holiday events in Dallas are vast and varied, and we already gathered all the major ones in a special spot for ya – our Complete Guide to the Holidays has info on tree farms, twinkling lights, Santa sightings, special events, and more. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there are a TON of good ideas over there.

The guide below has a few more low key holiday events plus other kid-friendly outings around town. December is always busy; be sure to take time for stress-free fun with the kids when you can.

Final Thoughts! The older I get, the more aware of this I become: We like to imagine the holiday season as a dreamy, joyful affair. But for anyone struggling with hard life stuff, this time of year can be a challenge, to say the least. As 2019 comes to a close, we hope everyone can find some peace and magic, no matter their circumstances. Much love to you all!

things to do in dallas in december

As usual, we maintain a full calendar of events here, and when you subscribe to our Newsletter, you’ll get this list sent straight to your inbox.

dallas theater center a christmas carolRight now the Dallas Theater Center is all about A Christmas Carol. I grew up going to this show, and it is unquestionably one of my favorite holiday memories. They change it up a bit each season, so it never gets stale. And DTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty makes a point to focus on racial and gender diversity in casting, which we can all appreciate.

Brimming with joyful songs, magical spirits, and holiday cheer, this performance would be a perfect family holiday outing. It runs from NOW THROUGH DECEMBER 29 at the Wyly Theatre.

Ticket prices vary by seat, basically starting at $20 for kids/$40 for adults. Use promo code: TinyTim to ensure best available pricing.

Start a new friends & family holiday tradition this year!


All Month :: Dinosaurs Live! at the Heard continues. The museum closes at 5pm, meaning anyone arriving after 4 won’t get to walk the dino trails, so plan accordingly. They are open Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday. $12/adults, $9/ages 3-12, 2 & under free.

December 1 :: Head to the Dallas Farmers Market to get a taste of Texas Christmas at their annual Tamale Day. Pick up one-of-a-kind gifts at the Holiday Market while you’re there. Santa will be posing for pics from 11am-2pm. Market hours: 9am-5pm. Free!

December 1 :: The Lake Highlands Alamo Drafthouse hosts their Polar Express Party today, which means fun props, tasty treats, and interactive fun as you watch the movie. See link for more details. Note: Richardson Alamo Drafthouse will do this same event on December 7.

December 3 :: I would never deny you a freebie. In honor of their self-declared “Coolest Day of the Year,” Bahama Buck’s will be giving a free 12 oz. Sno to each guest who visits their Abrams location today. 11am-9:30pm. Free!

December 7, 14, 21 :: Slappy’s Holiday Circus at the Galleria is a classic European-style circus with puppets, magic, clowns, contortionists, aerialists and jugglers. Showtimes are at 1pm and 3pm on Level 1 by Nordstrom. Also at the Galleria, Showtime Saturdays as usual from 11:30am-12pm, with ballon artists and face painters after the first show of each month. Free!

December 5 :: Irving Arts Center’s JumpStART Stories and Art offers “Deck the Halls: The Art of the Holidays!” for ages 2 and up. It’s a story time that combines art and children’s literature. Kids create a take-home art project and then you can all browse the galleries together. 10am. Free!  (If you can’t make this Thursday morning time, consider their Sunday option, a couple spots down on this list.)

December 6 :: The Farmers Branch Historical Park hosts Bah Humbug! A Children’s Christmas for ages 3-6. Enjoy Christmas crafts and activities and a snack inside their historic structures. Tickets $2 per person.

December 7 :: If your children aren’t ready for the full Nutcracker experience, this might be just the ticket. The Tuzer Ballet will perform excerpts from the show at the Richardson Library from 3:30-4pm and 4:30-5pm today. Tickets available at 3pm on the day of at the Youth Services Help Desk. Free!

December 7 :: Did you know the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park hosts regular Family Sleepovers? Aquarium Overnights are for ages 5 and up plus a parent (limit 5 kids per adult). Learn about sea life via up-close animal encounters, hands-on activities, and a special keeper animal feeding, then sleep amongst the aquariums. 7pm-10am. Tickets $55.

December 8 :: Second Sunday Funday at the Irving Arts Center has a “Holiday of Masterpieces!” theme this month. Find your inner artist and celebrate the season with creative arts & crafts activities for the whole family. Drop in from 1-4pm. Free!

December 11, 14 :: Barnyard Buddies at Dallas Heritage Village gives us the convenience of a weekday or weekend option. Kids ages 18 months to 5 years can hear a story, then do a hands-on activity and craft. Feel free to play in The Parlor after the program until 1pm. Story time starts at 11am sharp. $5 admission for ages 2 and up.

December 17-22 :: Once on this Island is the next show in the AT&T Performing Art Center’s Broadway Series. It’s a variation on The Little Mermaid, set in the French West Indies. I used to listen to this soundtrack SO MUCH as a child. It’s a gem! Runtime is 1.5 hours, no intermission. Recommended for ages 12 and up. *December 19 is Kids Night – get one child ticket free with adult ticket purchase.

December 19-20 :: The American Girl Doll Store has a whole bunch of cute events this month, like Santa Brunch (ages 3 and up), Cookie Decorating, Gingerbread House Decorating, and their annual Holiday Tea. At the tea party, they’ll serve a selection treats and drinks for both kids and adults. Kids can craft and also create their own party favor at the build-your-own hot chocolate station. $22 per person, reservations required.

December 27 :: Join the Farmer’s Branch Historical Park for The Clock Strikes Noon and ring in the New Year with your littles at a reasonable hour. The event will be filled with crafts, snacks, and celebrating 2020 at noon. 10am-12pm. Tickets $15.

December 27 :: Bookmarks at NorthPark invites you to Chanukah presented by Chabad of Dallas. Listen to the Giant story of Chanukah, make awesome arts & crafts, have some delicious holiday treats, and light the menorah. 10:30am. Free!

December 27 :: Play Street Plano hosts a Hanukkah Celebration tonight with stories, games, crafts and traditional Hanukkah treats like brisket, carrots and potato latkes from Eatzi’s and, of course, jelly donut holes. 6:30-8:30pm. Tickets $15 per person.

December 31 :: Dallas NYE Party on the Plaza features food trucks, drinks, and live entertainment at City Hall (American Idol favorites CASTRO and the Emerald City Elevation Band) as you wait for the count down to Reunion Tower Over-The-Top fireworks at midnight. 7:30pm-12:30am.

The fun never stops, y’all. Check out our Collin County Guide to Winter Events and December Events Guide for EVEN MORE family-friendly activities right around the corner.

A Family Christmas Must-See at The Dallas Theater Center

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**This post has been sponsored by Dallas Theater Center to bring you this experience.  All opinions are 100% our own!**

Dallas Theater CenterI’m a person that has always enjoyed going to plays, seeing art on stage and enjoying the hard work that goes into producing a play. I’ve seen plays that have been all themes and production styles. I didn’t even know what to expect as I had never seen A Christmas Carol in a play form but was intrigued by the idea. I headed to Dallas Theater Center with an open mind, ready to experience one of my passions in life: stage plays.  After you see A Christmas Carol at Dallas Theater Center, it will definitely become one of your family’s favorite holiday traditions!

if you are looking for a great show of entertainment AND wanting to feel the Christmas spirit, this is your show!

Let’s start at the end and I will work my way backwards. Leaving this play, I not only felt a sense of compassion and joy, but I felt the essence of Christmas injected into my conscious ready to celebrate the season. I would say that if you are looking for a great show of entertainment AND wanting to feel the Christmas spirit, this is your show!

The experience at Dallas Theater Center

Sitting in the intimate atmosphere of the Dallas Theater Center for the first time, I felt like I was a part of the play. Sounds, light, people, and surprises were coming from all over! The surround-sound experience elevated this play to one of the best I had ever seen in my life. The actors in A Christmas Carol were both talented and captivating in a very personal way. Ebenezer Scrooge’s character convinced me up close that he was both grumpy and changed through his experience on the stage. His character brought to life thoughts that each of us needs to explore. Art was happening before my very eyes. I have always felt that true art inspires and reproduces well in the hearts of those it encounters.

A Christmas CarolA special holiday challenge

The Christmas theme was hidden at first and somehow the beginning was darker than I expected. That darkness I found was simply a part of a beautiful masterpiece being created on stage as the light and darkness danced together to create an experience we all will remember. I not only hope you go to see it, I hope you will bring your entire family and I hope you will remember to complete the challenge issued at the end.

As we were walking out, my husband said to me, “Babe, wait, I want to do that thing they asked”. That is how I knew this show not only touched me, but touched all of us.

If I had to give you one thing that really set it apart, it would be a mixture of the production of the show, the talent of the cast and intimacy of the environment. Those three things created magic in art form. It was beautiful and I’m grateful to share with you that A Christmas Carol runs through December 29, 2019, and you too can experience the joy of A Christmas Carol.

Buy your tickets now!

WEBSITE :: FACEBOOK :: INSTAGRAM :: TWITTER

 

Run Now Gobble Later :: Preparing for a Turkey Trot

I have a confession—I don’t like Thanksgiving.

From the food (bleh) to the frenzied consumerism of Black Friday, it’s my least favorite holiday.

Put your fat pants on…it’s time to eat (and other reasons why I don’t like Thanksgiving)

I didn’t grow up celebrating Thanksgiving. My family isn’t American. While I was born in the U.S., my parents were not. They immigrated from Ireland, my mom when she was 17 (1st time on an airplane, not to mention more than 20 miles from home), and my dad when he was 25. 

The Irish have no equivalent to Thanksgiving. While my mom begrudgingly relented to her children’s pleas to be “just like the neighbors” and eat turkey on Thanksgiving, it was never a real holiday in our house.

Fast forward a few decades and I’m married with children of my own. Married to a man who grew up thoroughly American, a man who expected a perfect traditional Thanksgiving feast every 4th Thursday in November.

A man who astutely understood that if he expected such a feast in our house, he better learn how to cook it himself.

While my husband and my more-American-than-me kids look forward all year to Thanksgiving food, I’m not a fan. Turkey? Chicken is superior. Sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes? Baby food. Anything with pumpkin? Hate it.

Before you write me off as the Thanksgiving Grinch, there is one thing about Thanksgiving that I really like.

The Turkey Trot.

Oh my gourd, I love Thanksgiving turkey…trots 

While I may not enjoy being stuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey, running is definitely the gravy to my mashed potatoes. 

Nothing else fills me with happiness like strapping on my kicks and running a few laps around the neighborhood. There is such freedom in knowing I can run a 5K lickety-split anytime I want.

Turkey day run/walks (trots) have become a big part of the Thanksgiving Day experience. They are by far the most popular race in America, drawing nearly a million participants to more than 1,000 different events across the country.

It’s no surprise why. It’s a fun, family-friendly race, usually with a charitable component, with the focus on having a good time with friends and family. Not to mention, a chance to burn off a few calories before you strap on the old feedbag.

Thankfully, none involve actual turkeys. What they lack in taste they more than make up in speed (fun fact—wild turkeys run up to 25 mph and fly up to 55 mph).

Even my non-Thanksgiving-loving mom runs everything Thanksgiving, the nation’s largest race, Run to Feed the Hungry in Sacramento, being her trot of choice.

Last year, she ran it with 4 of her grandchildren and close to 30,000 other people.

 

Now that I’ve convinced you to run before you gobble, how should you prepare for your turkey trot?

Don’t be a jerky, run before turkey—choosing the right distance

Turkey trots are not about setting a PR (personal record). They are not supposed to be intimidating. Heck, these aren’t races you are supposed to even train for.

Stick with a distance you can easily finish. If you aren’t a runner, the turkey trot is not the time to start. Walk instead.

I’m all about that baste — dressing for the race

Turkey trots are a great excuse to wear a costume.

Fun fact about our own Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot. At the 2011 Trot, Dallasites set a Guinness World Record for most people dressed as turkeys.

For the perfect Instagram-worthy photo, dress everyone up in matching outfits. Search Amazon and Etsy to find lots of cute (and affordable options).

Here’s the shirt my little turkeys wore last year:

This year my family will be sporting matching crochet turkey hats, assuming my teenager and my husband cooperate.

The gravy boat has arrived; calories disembarking – finding a turkey trot

To find a turkey trot near you, search on DFWRaces.com. I found 14 (yes, 14) local races on Thanksgiving Day.

Here are some of my favorite local turkey trots:

Arlington Turkey Trot 1-mile/5K, Globe Life Park, 1000 Ballpark Way, 8:00 a.m. Visit thedriven.net, then search by race name.

CRC Thanksgiving Day Run 5K/10K/Half, Panther Island Pavilion, 395 Purcey St., Fort Worth, Half Marathon 7:20 a.m., 1-mile fun run 7:30 a.m., 10K 7:50 a.m., 5K 8:00 a.m. Visit crcthanksgivingdayrun.athlete360.com.

Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot 8-mile/5K/1K, Dallas City Hall Plaza, 1500 Marilla St., 1K Junior Trot 8:45 a.m., 8-mile/5K run/walk 9:00 a.m. Visit thetrot.org.

Moritz Fort Worth YMCA Turkey Trot, Frost Bank, 6115 Camp Bowie Blvd., 1K Gobbler Trot 8:00 a.m., 10K 8:15 a.m., 5K 8:30 a.m. Visit fwtrot.org.

I hope you found all of my mom Thanksgiving puns plucking hilarious.

Happy running!

ICE! at The Gaylord Texan :: Reader Discount and Tips

Dallas Moms has partnered with the Gaylord Texan to bring you this review. All opinions are 100% our own. 

There are some Christmas traditions in Dallas that are pretty iconic, but we think that Lone Star Christmas at the Gaylord Texan is definitely one of the top 10. For the last seven years, my family has used the magic at the Gaylord to jump-start our holiday spirit. With over 2,000,000 twinkling lights, over 15,000 sparkling ornaments, and 100 miles of light strands, it’s hard to not throw on those matching holiday PJ’s and become fully immersed in the experience!

It’s hard to not expect Texas-sized decor from the Gaylord Texan, but each year the detail that is put into every corner of the hotel still amazes me. There are 25 ft. tall Nutcrackers and a spectacular 54 ft. tall Christmas Tree greeting you the moment you walk through the front doors of the hotel.

While the decorations for Lone Star Christmas are massive and dazzling, its the ICE! attraction that blows me away. Every year they bring in artists from China to hand carve over two million pounds of ice into a truly magnificent masterpiece. The theme of the intricately carved, brightly colored ice takes changes every year. This year the theme is A Charlie Brown Christmas.

My family and I have been several times over the years, and every year we get ‘better’ at visiting ICE! If you are planning to go, there are a few things I think you should know.

How To Prepare for ICE!

First and foremost, it’s cold. How cold? Real cold. Four-letter-word cold. 9 degrees to be specific. You will want to dress warm so you can really enjoy the attraction, because it’s breathtaking, both from the artistry and again, the cold.

  • Long sleeves and pants. Consider leggings under thin pants.
  • The Gaylord Texan passes out blue parkas to everyone {Even as small as 2T!} who goes through the attraction, but you won’t want that to be your ONLY jacket.
  • Gloves, hats, scarves…for everyone!! Tip: everyone looks the same in the blue parkas and I can see how you might lose sight of your party as you move through the attraction. Consider bright or distinct hats for the littlest guests.
  • Hand warmers. This was a new addition for us this year and it made everyone so much more comfortable! Tip: the Target Dollar Bin has lots of hand warmers right now. Go get you some! I passed ours to another family when we were finished and they were thrilled.
  • The ICE! attraction is carpeted so you don’t need any kind of special footwear. Just know that you cannot wear slick soled shoes or heels on the ice slide. 
  • New this year — No strollers allowed in the Christmas Village! In previous years you could leave a stroller just outside the exhibit, but this year they’re asking you leave them in the Conference Hallway altogether. The baby carrier is your friend. I have had a small child in an Ergo carrier strapped to me on two different visits. Just ask for a larger parka to wrap ALL the way around the little one. Works like a charm!

Now that you know how to prepare for ICE! How about a discount?

Dallas Moms has a special treat for our readers. Get a 50% discount with the code “DALLASMOM” at checkout during select dates*.Once you are finished with ICE! stick around and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in the Christmas Village. There’s snow tubing, a Build-A-Bear Workshop (with ICE! themed outfits) and a snowball throwing station.

Enjoy walking around the grounds, check out the trains and stop to say hello to (a legit) Santa. There are picture packages available for purchase right at his big, red chair. Plus, we’ve also tried ice skating, Christmas traditions with Mrs. Claus, gingerbread decorating and a Merry Snoopy Christmas scavenger hunt. **Note that all of the mentioned activities require a ticket of some sort. Pricing and information can be found on the Gaylord Texan website

Break ALL the Rules with Pete the Cat at The Eisemann Center!

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**This post has been sponsored by The Eisemann Center to bring you this experience. All opinions are 100% our own!**

Even as adults, we all have habits and patterns of behavior, routines, that keep us on track.  Maybe one or two rules that must always be followed?  Alter one aspect of a morning routine and it can throw us off all day!  As we have introduced good habits and structure into our son’s life, we have discovered that any change in his own routine unsettles his day.  We have encouraged flexibility and a more laid back attitude in our little guy, but he still needs some help every now and then.

Pete the Cat, the Musical

That’s why I love the Pete the Cat books!  On November 24, The Eisemann Center brings to life Pete the Cat, a musical based on the series of books by Kimberly and James Dean.  Second-grader Jimmy Biddle loves rules, and isn’t so sure about the new cat, Pete, who has become his new roommate.  Pete, however, is not a rule-follower, and helps Jimmy explore life out of his comfort zone.  They travel around the world and to outer space to show Jimmy where to discover his own inspiration.  Pete introduces Jimmy to a whole new world of music and art and helps him understand there is a time and a place for all his rules!

Help your child make their own magic sunglasses and be sure to bring their sunglasses along for an inspiring and memorable family experience! (Or pick out your own magic sunglasses here or here!)

Extended family in town for Thanksgiving?  Start the week off with this fun family play.  Tickets start at just $12!

Looking for more?? Eisemann Extras, sponsored by Raising Cane’s, is the interactive program inspired by their Family Theatre Series. From monsters and potions to petting zoos and tea parties, the Extras program is sure to put a smile on every child’s face. The fun always starts at 1:30 pm on the day of every show. Space is limited and admission is sold by phone or online at www.eisemanncenter.com! *Sold separately from Family Theatre Series tickets.

WHEN:
Sunday, November 24, 2:30 pm

WHERE:
2351 Performance Drive Richardson, Texas 75082

Purchase Tickets or call: 972-744-4650

Don’t forget to check out our best tips for taking kids to the theater!

WEBSITE :: FACEBOOK :: INSTAGRAM :: TWITTER

Dallas Holiday Events : A Complete Guide to the Holidays for Families

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This guide has been sponsored by Reliant to bring you details on holiday happenings around Dallas. All opinions are 100% our own!

Your tree might not go up until after Thanksgiving, but it’s officially time to start planning holiday adventures in Dallas.

holiday events in Dallas Christmas events in Dallas

We’ve put together a complete list of events and activities around the metroplex to help you create a season full of special moments and memories – no matter what you celebrate. Friends or relatives coming to visit? This guide is your new best friend.

We all know Reliant as an electricity provider, but as I compiled this guide I kept seeing their name come up in relation to holiday activities! Reliant gets involved in our communities, bringing us really cool local events like:

It makes sense that they’re lighting up the holidays with spectacular displays – it’s literally what they do best.

reliant lights your holidays dallas zoo lights holidays at the arboretum
Reliant Lights Your Holidays

A Dallas Guide to Holiday Musicals & Productions

There’s no denying the magic of a stage show during the holidays. From children’s marionette theater to a symphony orchestra performance of classic carols, Dallas truly has something for everyone.

Psst: If you’re looking for even MORE holiday shows in the metroplex (at potentially lower price points!) have a look at our Collin County Guide to Holiday Performances & Productions over on Collin County Moms.

Dallas Christmas shows stage theater{BY DATE}

DRUMLine Live Holiday Spectacular :: Winspear Opera House :: November 19, 2019
Imagine the festive sounds of holiday cheer combining gospel, jazz, soul, Motown rhythms, and The Nutcracker Suite mixed with a hip-hop beat and the driving force of a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) marching band. This dynamic show features dazzling vocalists and talented musicians combined with spectacular choreography, lighting, and holiday costumes. Tickets from $20. 10am or 7:30pm showtimes.

A Christmas Carol :: Wyly Theater, AT&T Performing Arts Center :: November 22 to December 29, 2019
Dallas Theater Center’s A Christmas Carol boldly reimagines Dickens’ tale of joy, redemption, and the spirit of Christmas. Recommended for ages 8 and up. This is always a popular one, so you should probably stop everything and get your tickets now. From $15.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Christmas Show :: Baker Theater, Dallas Children’s Theater :: November 23 to December 29, 2019
Come see the beloved children’s book performed live along with other Eric Carle favorites Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?; 10 Little Rubber Ducks; and Dream Snow. This is an all-ages show with a Sensory-Friendly performance on November 16 & an ASL performance on December 1. Tickets from $17.

Miracle on 34th Street :: Eisemann Center, Richardson :: November 29 to December 1, 2019
This heartwarming, family-friendly performance of the 1940’s favorite includes photo opportunities with Santa and his elves in the lobby after the show. Tickets from $12.

The Nutcracker :: Winspear Opera House :: November 29 to December 8, 2019
The Texas Ballet Theater presents a classic show filled with toy soldiers and dancing snowflakes and exquisite costumes. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Tickets from $25.

Ebenezer Scrooge :: Pocket Sandwich Theater :: November 29 to December 23, 2019
Pocket Sandwich Theater is NOT your average theater experience, and I mean that in the best way. This musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol would make for a great night out. Check the FAQ for info on how things work. Tickets from $15.50.

The Nutcracker :: Eisemann Center, Richardson :: November 29 to December 24, 2019
Ok, the Eisemann Center will host FIVE ballet companies this year for different Nutcracker performances throughout the season. In order, you’ve got Chamberlain Ballet, Royale Ballet Dance Academy, Dallas Repertoire Ballet, Tuzer Ballet, and Collin County Ballet Theatre. Basically a different group each week, so lots of shows to choose from. Note: Dallas Repertoire Ballet will offer a sensory-friendly performance on December 14 at 2pm.

Black Nativity: The Musical :: Bishop Arts Theater Center :: December 5-22, 2019
This Oak Cliff tradition shares the unforgettable story of the Nativity through compelling gospel music and the beautiful poetry of Langston Hughes. Tickets from $19.50 ($12 tickets available for preview nights only).

Best of Broadway: Holiday Edition :: NTPA Dallas, Black Box Theater :: December 6-8, 2019
A Broadway revue show featuring many different styles of musical theatre song and dance, most with a holiday twist. This is children’s theater, and the cast will be 1st-9th graders. Tickets $10-12.

Dallas Symphony Christmas Pops :: Meyerson Symphony Center :: December 6-15, 2019
Transcendent anthems, holiday favorites, and sing-along carols. Also making an appearance: Santa, snow, and little bit of Christmas magic. NOTE: Special 1-hour Family Christmas Pops performance on December 7 at 11am. See links for other showtimes and pricing.

RSO Holiday Classics :: Eisemann Center, Richardson :: December 7, 2019
The Plano Civic Chorus joins the Richardson Symphony Orchestra for a show filled with holiday songs the whole family will enjoy. Beginning two hours prior to the performance, you can dine at the Prelude Café for a buffet dinner. Dinner details at the link. Tickets from $20. 8pm showtime.

Winter Wonderland :: Geppetto’s Theater :: December 7 to December 22, 2019
Take a whirlwind journey to the North Pole in this charming holiday show that features a cast of over 60 marionettes. It’s a colorful, fast-paced, musical variety show, heavy on audience participation. It even snows in the audience! Tickets from $18. 11am and 2pm showtimes, Saturdays and Sundays.

Little Women: The Musical :: Studio Theater, Dallas Children’s Theater :: December 7 to December 22, 2019
Embrace the spirit of the holiday season through a story that has captured the hearts of readers for more than 150 years. Recommended for ages 9 and up, this musical adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s cherished novel will be performed by the DCT Teen Scene Players. Tickets are $16.

Rockefeller Christmas at the Majestic :: Majestic Theatre :: December 8, 2019
Radio City-style fun with jazz dancing, tap, singing, and Act II of The Nutcracker, plus live gingerbread children and snow falling on stage. Recommended for ages 4 and up. Tickets from $25. 1pm or 4:30pm showtimes.

Disney Junior Holiday Party! :: The Theatre at Grand Prairie :: December 8, 2019
Kids can can sing and dance to their favorite Disney Junior songs and holiday classics along with Disney friends like Mickey & Minnie, the Puppy Dog Pals, and Vampirina. Santa will make an appearance, too! Preview here. Tickets from $19. 3pm showtime, doors at 1:30pm.

Rocky Mountain Christmas :: Meyerson Symphony Center :: December 9, 2019
This John Denver holiday tribute features Jim Curry and his band
performing Christmas classics and timeless John Denver hits. Tickets from $39. 7:30pm showtime.

Espresso Nutcracker :: Majestic Theater :: December 13, 2019
Dallas Black Dance Academy once again presents their twist on a holiday fave. This enchanting performance for all generations features excerpts from the jazz-influenced music of Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite. Tickets from $22.50. 7pm showtime.

Scrooge!: The Musical :: NTPA Plano :: December 13-15 and December 20-22, 2019
This musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol (based on the Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated movie) reminds us to love one another and to hold each other close. Note the theater change each weekend. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Tickets $20-$30.
Psst: NTPA Plano has a whole line-up of holiday shows this month, including Starcatchers, Frozen Jr., North Pole’s Got Talent, and Snowflake Diner.

The Polyphonic Spree Christmas Show :: Majestic Theatre :: December 14, 2019
This all-ages, energetic show is pure joy and the kids will be absolutely delighted at all the stuff falling from the ceiling. Tickets from $35. 7pm showtime.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer :: Winspear Opera House :: December 15, 2019
Based on the animated television special “Rudolph the Red‐Nosed Reindeer” this family-friendly adventure teaches us that what makes you different can be what makes you special. Tickets from $25. 1pm or 5pm showtimes.

Fiesta Navidad! :: Meyerson Symphony Center :: December 17, 2019
The Grammy-winning Mariachi Los Camperos performs a concert of Mexican and Latin-inspired Christmas songs alongside the Dallas Symphony. Tickets from $32. 7:30pm showtime.

Big Brassy Christmas & Organ Extravaganza :: Meyerson Symphony Center :: December 19, 2018
Deck the halls with the DSO brass and percussion sections and the magnificent Lay FamilyConcert Organ. Tickets from $32. 7:30pm showtime.

Christmas with Megan Hilty & Cheyenne Jackson :: Meyerson Symphony Center :: December 20-22, 2019
Tony Award nominated actress and singer Megan Hilty and Theatre World Award Winner Cheyenne Jackson perform Christmas classics with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Tickets from $39.

Cirque Musica Presents Holiday Wishes :: The Theatre at Grand Prairie :: December 21, 2019
Acrobats, aerialists, hijinks, and holiday cheer. The show blends the grace and athleticism of today’s greatest circus performers with the majesty of a symphony orchestra. Preview here. Tickets from $25. 7:30pm showtime.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra :: American Airlines Center :: December 21, 2019
Trans-Siberian Orchestra will revisit one of their early works (Christmas Eve and Other Stories) presented with all-new stage production and effects. Tickets from $49.50. 3pm or 8pm showtime.

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical :: Majestic Theatre :: December 29, 2019
This all-new musical and premiere stage production includes an invitation to Santa’s North Pole and gives audiences a glimpse into the magical lives of Scout Elves. It features an original story and score, dazzling sets and costumes, and wondrous moments to make even the most cynical believe. Please note: everyone must have a ticket, including infants. Tickets from $25. 7pm showtime.

Thanks again to Reliant for sponsoring our holiday guide!

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Dallas Moms Need to Know :: A Guide to the Month...

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This post has been sponsored by the Dallas Theater Center. All opinions are 100% our own. And just like that, it's December! Holiday events in...