Tag Archives: summer

Summer’s Here!

Summer has officially come to Texas, and we’re celebrating with the purchase of our annual summer pool from (gasp) Walmart!

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Last Saturday, we spent several hours hanging out outside in the pool. The Little Man enjoyed it so much more than he did last year, and was able to “rough house” in the water with Daddy.

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And then we discovered, The Little Man wasn’t our only waterbaby!

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Look! Mommy came out from behind the camera!

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Happy Weekend in the Sun! 

Summer S’mores: Enjoying the Outdoors with Cutter

In Texas, our summer has already begun. We’ve been in the 90’s for a few weeks now, and although the rainstorms keep moving through, the heat somehow finds a way to stay around.

This time last year, we’d planned on having a brand new patio to help us keep cool and enjoy the summer the little more; however, life got in the way. Instead, we have an awesome new DIY fort that will keep us outdoors probably just as much as a patio would have. My son will make sure of that!

The first weekend this bad boy was fully built, we decided to spend the evening outdoors and enjoy the rare spring-like weather before the real summer heat begins.

But there was one tiny problem that was about to ruin our whole evening…mosquitoes!

I hate these suckers! There’s nothing worse than enjoying a beautiful night on the patio only to hear that tiny buzzing noise in your ear and the nagging itching feeling from where you were just bit.

Since I knew we’d planned on being outside for awhile, I brought out the “sure-fire” way to solve this little problem.

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For whatever reason, most of the other repellent brands haven’t worked for us in the past, so each year we continue to go back to Cutter. For s’more night, I decided to pull out the trusty CitroGuard candle and the new Cutter Dry insect repellent spray.

The Cutter CitroGuard candle uses real citronella oil which is proven to repel insects and creates a barrier of protection around my space.

The Cutter Dry Personal Repellent spray is a water-based, corn starch formula (containing only 10% DEET) that leaves less residue and a light, clean feeling on my skin. It’s unscented, and is not oily or greasy.

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Now, I’ll warn you. I’m not very “green” when it comes to my yard or what I’ll do to get rid of these pesky bugs, but now that I have a little one attached to me at all times, I want to be more careful what I spray on my body since he’ll be inhaling it which is why I chose another new Cutter product for me and my kiddos.

To protect Baby Z, I chose to keep him inside as much as possible, and then let the candle do most of the work; however for the Little Man I used Cutter Natural. It contains all natural ingredients and essential oils derived from geraniums as an effective alternative to DEET.

Once those mosquitoes were no longer a problem, we were able to enjoy the night and the new playground without anything ruining the fun!

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I’ll also add that if you haven’t had a s’more in awhile, make sure to add that to your summer to-do list.

They were so sticky, gooey, and delicious!

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And so much fun to eat!

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The look of a child who’s had a little too much chocolate!

 You can find out more about Cutter’s wide range of insect repellent by following them on Facebook or Pinterest!

**I received Cutter Repellent products and compensation from Cutter Repellent for this blog post; however, all opinions are 100% my own and mosquitoes were probably hurt in the process. 
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A Little Summer Reading

Every once in awhile I’ll get into a reading kick where I read more than just my one book a month for book club, and for the last two months, I’ve definitely been enjoying some much needed reading! I honestly can’t remember the last time I sat down and read book after book. Okay, with the exception of my guilty pleasure reads; The Hunger Games back in March and The Twilight Series in 2010. 

I wish I could say I owe the increase in reading to our two vacations, but the only time I found myself reading was on the airplane to and from New York. The only reason I’ve gotten as much reading done as I have is that I’ve been forcing myself to make the time. Even if that means neglecting my blog slightly during the Little Man’s nap times or right before bed. :)

It also doesn’t hurt that it’s been nearly impossible to put the books down that my Book Club or I’ve chosen! 

If you’re looking for some good book choices, here’s what you’ll find recently read in my Kindle. 

 

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen – I know. I’m a little behind on this one, but after seeing the first 20 minutes on the plane to Maui, I instantly stopped watching and picked up the book. As expected, the book is so much better than the movie! This is the story of a 20-something man named Jacob in the 1920’s who find himself wandering alone after the death of his parents.He drops out of Cornell during his last final exam before graduating as a veterinarian, and finds himself hitching a ride on a train for a traveling circus. He develops an odd trio relationship with the animal director and his wife, as you discover something just isn’t right between the couple. 

This is a really light and easy read; however, it was difficult to read some parts that involved animal cruelty and some graphic sexual scenes. Fortunately both are few and far between!

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See – This is the sequel to the novel Shanghai Girls. I won’t share too much information so that I won’t ruin two books for you, but these are some of the better books I’ve read all year. Shanghai Girls is the story of two sisters, Pearl and May, as that they attempt to escape China in the 1930’s as it’s about to be taken over by the Japanese. You follow their story as they smuggle themselves out of China and over to the United States via an immigration island where they’re forced to deal with difficult situations. The novel continues as they learn to make the best of their new lives in America. 

Dreams of Joy follows up from where the story leaves off in Shanghai Girls. Pearl is forced to return to the Republic of China in the 1950’s while it’s in the height of Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward campaign. 

Both books are filled with amazing and very sad history as they’re based on actual events that took place. I loved both books since I know nothing about China’s history as a closed country. It was so interesting to read, I almost found the historical situations more interesting than the fiction! 

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – This was another quick read. Partially because it was extremely relateable to me as a mom and wife, but the plot moved really smoothly as several characters told the story. The last thing Alice remembers is being 28 years old, married to the love of her life, and 14 weeks pregnant with her first child. When one morning she finds herself on the floor of a spin class and is pushing 40 with the scars of a C-section on her body. Within an hour she finds out, she has 3 children and is in the process of divorcing her husband. What Alice Forgot takes the reader through the missing 10 years of Alice’s life. 

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin – Confession! I just finished this book even though it was our Book Club choice for May. I really wanted to read it, and then never did, but I’m so glad I finally got around to it. I’m always nervous about picking up murder-mystery books because you never know what type of book you’re going to get; however, this one was right up my alley! I could read it before bed without getting scared. 

This is the story of Silas and Larry; two boys from the backwoods of Mississippi who share a deep secret about a night that took place in High School. For Larry, it meant living in isolation until his 40’s and for Silas, moving away and disowning his friend. It takes a near-death tragedy to bring these two people back together as they begin to unravel all the events that took place almost 25 year prior. 


11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King – I’m not going to lie. This book is a commitment. With a total of 880 pages and weighing in at just over 2 pounds, if you’re a slow reader like me, you will spend a few weeks (or longer) working on this book. But, I found myself unable to put it down! Even though I knew I’d have to be up at 6am, I found myself awake at 1am still reading. 

Forget the Stephen King horror writer you know, and meet Stephen King historical fiction/sci-fi writer. Jake Epping, a high school English teacher, goes on a bizarre journey when he discovers a time portal in his local diner’s stockroom. He is enlisted by the diner’s owner to take over his passion – to prevent the Kennedy assassination in Dallas. The biggest problem Jake encounters is that the time portal takes him back to 1957, and he has to begin a life in the past while he waits for this world-altering event to take place. And if he’s able to go through with stopping the assassination, what type of consequences await for him in the past, in the future, and to the world? 

I also loved this book because, although it’s not 100% accurate with the events that took place surrounding Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the Kennedy Assassination, it’s fairly accurate in the places he lived, worked, and visited in Dallas and Fort Worth. I always enjoy reading historical information about my home city and discovering the way things used to be. 

So, that’s my summer reading list. And I’m excited because I’m actually a month ahead on my Book Club reading which means I have a whole month to continue reading books of my choice. 

What do you suggest I read next? 

A Family 4th

We had a very festive Fourth of July holiday! 

It started with our neighborhood parade.

Although the parade wasn’t extremely exciting, we did have Mr. Troy Dungan as our Grand Marshall. 

After nap time, we headed over to my parents’ house for some swim time. 

And time for a quick family photo before the Little Man’s bedtime.  

It’s hard to believe how big he’s gotten since this time last year.

I hope you had a wonderful Independence Day with your family! 

DMB Friday: Discovering Celebration Park in Allen

Today on Dallas Moms Blog, I’m reviewing Celebration Park in Allen, Texas. 

You can read all about it here!

In an attempt to not overwhelm our readers with pictures, I only included a few in the post, but it was such a beautiful day in Allen and I couldn’t imagine not sharing the rest of them with you. 

It really was a breathtaking park!
One of several covered pavilions. 
The spray grounds.

A panoramic view of the enormous playground. 
 A view from the top!

What my toddler sees.
And we’re learning to climb! 
What’s one of your favorite parks? 

Monkey See, Monkey Do at the Dallas Zoo

About a month ago, I wrote a post for Dallas Moms Blog trying to promote an “elite” event at the Dallas Zoo called Monkey See, Monkey Do.

It was really hard for me to write this without trying to sound like I was selling the event because I wasn’t. I definitely had my doubts. The event was $60 per person with the exception of children ages 2 and under who were free. $60 a person! Although the event sounded like fun, I wasn’t sold. 

Well, Saturday night was the event…and I’d now like to eat my words. 

We arrived right at the start of the event at 6pm. We were surprised to find out when we pulled into the parking lot that every guest was given complimentary valet. They helped me unload our stroller and large diaper bag, and we headed to check in. 

Although 1,000 people were invited, I would guess only a third arrived before 6:30pm. And since the zoo was closed to the public, it felt like we had the whole park to ourselves! 


Now if you haven’t been to the Dallas Zoo in awhile, you should know that the park is divided into 2 
separate sections. On one side is the Giants of the Savanna exhibit with an amazing 11 acre giraffe, ostrich, elephant, and zebra enclosure. (There’s also a gorilla habitat, but for this event they had it blocked off.) To get to the second part of the zoo, you have to head back to the main gate where you can venture to Zoo North.  

We decided to do the Giraffe feeding first since most of the other events were in Zoo North on the other side of the park. Once again, when we arrived there were only 2 other families there feeding the giraffes, and we had no problem stepping up to the rail. On a typical day, the zoo will charge $5 for a head of lettuce, but included in the cost of the event was free lettuce, and they continued to offer us more once we’d given all of ours away! 

One of my favorite parts of the night was the vendors. Upon entering the northern part of the zoo, we were immediately greeted 3 tables offering (not selling!) wine, beer, wine’ritas, sodas, chips, popcorn, and water. I so wish I’d know EVERYTHING was going to be free or I wouldn’t have lugged my 2 liter bottles of Ozarka to the event.


Then as we turned the corner, we saw restaurant row. Abacus, eatZi’s, El Fenix, Flying Fish, The Purple Cow, Uncle Julio’s, Smashburger, Urban Crust, Monkey Bar, Dulce by La Duni, and more were throwing food at you as you walked by. Unable to refuse, we grabbed a few items and sat down to eat. 

Chips, queso, and guac from El Fenix
Egg Rolls from Asian Mint
Truffle Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon from Abacus
BBQ Pork Sliders from Monkey Grill. 
Unbelievable Chocolate Peanut Butter cake from Dallas Affairs Cake Company. 
Italian Grilled Cheese & Tomato Basil Soup from eatZi’s.

The list could go on, and I wish my stomach could have too. 

Since the Little Man wasn’t going to make it much past 8, we decided to keep our zoo visit short and just head to the Children’s Zoo. And I’m so glad we did! He had a blast since they’d opened up all of their petting areas for free of charge. We got to play with goats and sheep, touch a possum, and fed some birds. I’m sure if he were a little older he would have loved the pony rides they were offering too! 

Although we were able to go for free through Dallas Moms Blog, after thinking about our night Tim and I decided it was definitely something we’d pay to do in the future. Of course, two or three kids over the age of 2 might change that decision drastically, but as a small family, it would be worth it! Especially since $50 of the $60 ticket is tax deductible. 


In the end, we had a great time as a family at an event we wouldn’t have thought about going to before. 


I also learned for every 1 good shot you get of your little one with a perfect smile, you’ll get twice as many with faces that look like these. :) 

Have you been to Kid To Do at the Dallas Zoo? 
What were your impressions? 

Looking for a Dallas VBS?

My friend and I were talking the other day about summer plans, and I mentioned that I’d be helping out at my church’s Vacation Bible School. When she mentioned her church didn’t have a VBS, I was slightly shocked. 

Growing up, I can remember spending several summers attending Vacation Bible School at my cousin’s church Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Dallas. We’d spend half a day learning about a bible story, having a snack time, playing in their gym, and participating in arts & crafts. Until I moved out of parent’s home, I still had a matchstick cross hanging on my wall that I made one summer. 

My husband has even more amazing memories of Vacation Bible School. While he was growing up at Richardson East Church of Christ, there were several years where the entire church would pull together to recreate a Biblical town. For a few days, they’d wander around hearing Bible stories from dressed up church members, were able to pet live animals that you’d find in some of the stories, and also had amazing arts & crafts. 

When I think of how my children are going to spend their summers, I can’t imagine Vacation Bible School not being a part of it!  So to help out my friends that attend churches that don’t participate in a VBS, I’ve come up with a list of places you can take your children this summer!

 Just click on the image and you’ll be taken directly to that Church’s VBS page.  

And remember, you don’t have to be a member to attend a VBS! The whole point is to draw in visitors and meet new people!

*Online Registration ended, but you can still go on June 4th and sign up!

Park Cities Baptist Church’s VBS is for children ages Kindergarten through 6th Grade. 
Begins Monday, June 4 to Friday, June 8th from 9am-12pm.
Cost: FREE!

Begins Sunday, June 10 to Wednesday, June 13 from 6pm-8pm.
Preschool to 4th Graders are welcome! It’s FREE!
Available at all 3 campuses (Plano, Dallas, & Prosper), children ages 3 to 6th grade are welcome! And it’s FREE for all!
Begins Monday, June 25th to Thursday, June 28th for ages 4 to 6th grade!
Meets from 9am-12:30pm with a special 5:30pm wrap-up party on June 28th.
Cost: Free! T-Shirts: $10

Children ages 4 to 6th grade are welcome, and will meet from 9am-12pm 
on Monday, July 9th to Friday, July 13th.
Registration is $10 per child ($20 max per family).
All children ages 4 to 6th grade are invited for FREE!
VBS will take place Monday, July 16 to Friday, July 20 from 9am-12:30pm
KidsVision for Life will also be offering free eye exams and glasses at this event!
 Open to ages 4-12, and will meet daily from 9am-12pm.
It’s FREE!

Does your church have a Vacation Bible School you want to share? 

Let’s Try This Again

We had a busy Memorial Day weekend! 

We were at “The Property” one day, and then hanging out at the pool the next. It was a great weekend to be outside too. The weather was perfect! Although I’m not sure who thought Texas needed to be this hot already in May! 
The last time we’d been swimming was when the Little Man was 5 months old, so it was a little bit of a shock when he got back in for the first time. The water was a little chilly right when you got in, but it didn’t take long to get accustomed to. 

Once he adjusted to the idea of being in a big pool of water, it didn’t take long for us to realize we had a Little Fish on our hands! 

Whether it was walking off the edge, being thrown into the pool, or being thrown up into the air, he had no fear!

We even got the dog involved in on the fun!
Happy Summer! 

A Visit to the Property

For almost 15 years, my parents have owned about 88 acres of land in a small Central Texas town called Groesbeck. Over the years, the lake near their property has begun to develop (similar to Possum Kingdom), but not much has changed on “The Property” while they’ve owned it; which is what they like about it! It’s a way for my dad to leave the stress of his job behind and work on projects that he loves.

And now that they have a grandchild, The Property has taken on a whole new meaning for them…and for me. 

Honestly, (unlike my brother) I avoided this place like the plague. In High School, I didn’t want to go because I’d miss being with my friends. In college, my fear of the wilderness was at it’s peak with a constant fear of being attacked by large spiders. Then as time went on, I became busy with my work and home life. But now that I have a son, I’m starting to see what my brother saw and why he’s enjoyed it so much. 

It’s a place you can be on your own. 
Explore.

There’s acres and acres to just get lost in. 

Friends to keep you company. 

And a place to just let boys be boys. 

This was the second time since the Little Man was born that we’ve made it down to “The Property” and now that he’s getting a little older we hope to be back much more often! 



How do you let your kids explore nature? 

A Memorial Day Tribute

On Monday, May 28, 2012 our country will celebrate Memorial Day. 

I used to consider this holiday as a marker for the first real weekend of Summer. 

Through out my childhood, we’d get together with friends and family to go boating out on the lake or hang out at my parents’ house by the pool and BBQ . As I became a teacher, this was literally the sign that summer was beginning since it was usually the last week of school and the start of summer break. 

This all changed for me 5 years ago when my brother became a Marine

Although he wouldn’t be shipped overseas for 4 years, throughout his service we were prepared for him to be deployed at any moment. One week he’d be working on base in North Carolina, and the next he might be in some of the most dangerous countries in the world; Iran, Iraq, or Afghanistan.

As we anticipated his leave, I began to notice more and more stories on the news that I’d never paid attention to. “Arkansas Soldier dies in Afghanistan,” “North Texas Soldier Dies In Afghanistan,” NATO Soldier dies in Afghan Shooting, “Soldier Dies While on Skype with Wife,” “Soldier from Mesquite Killed in Iraq” and the stories go on and on. 

For me, Memorial Day was no longer that Celebrate Summer 3 day weekend, it was a day to remember my brother and the service he was doing for his country.

There are lots of blogs that can do a better job of pulling at your heart strings and help you to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day (like this one Kidd Kraddick – My Memorial Day). Many of these blogs might make you feel overly patriotic or even slightly guilty, but I’m not going to do that. 

My brother is one of the majority who went overseas, served his country, and came home. So, just like you, on Memorial Day, I’m eager to celebrate the summer season that God has given us and celebrate a wonderful life with family and friends. 

But I urge you. . .

For just a brief moment on Monday to honor those who didn’t make it home. 

Soldiers like
Those brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, and friends who aren’t able to enjoy a hot dog and beer with their loved ones. 

Remember on Memorial Day.