30 December 2009

What to Do Today: Dec. 31

Most kids can't make it till midnight, so let them celebrate a bit early at the Noon Year's Eve Family Celebration from 10:30am-2pm today at the Dallas Museum of Art. Radio Disney will be on hand to get the party started, with music, dancing and prizes awarded at the stroke of noon! $10 adults; children younger than 12 free; $5 adults between 10:30am and 2pm.

Ring in 2010 in style at Red Carpet New Year's Eve: A Night at the Oscars at 8pm today at Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will perform music from well-known Academy Award contenders. Tickets start at $29.

Take a field trip south for a night of extraordinary music with The Dallas Symphony Presents A New Year's Concert Celebration at 7:30pm today at Dallas' Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. The acclaimed orchestra will perform light classical music including waltzes and polkas. It will definitely be worth the trip! Tickets start at $25.

Write Your Own Mommy Diary!

What's a day like in your shoes? Tell us about it! We're calling on all of our loyal mommy readers to write their own Mommy Diary; your diary will be considered for publication in an upcoming edition of either DallasChild, NorthTexasChild or FortWorthChild magazines!

Let other moms know how you survive and thrive in your family's daily routine. Keep track of your activities from dusk till dawn, writing down your thoughts in a Word document. Format each time and activity like so: "8AM-9:30AM: Dropped the kids off and grabbed coffee at Starbucks." Submissions need to be approximately 850 words long; all diary entries should be submitted with a digital family photo. Please e-mail all submissions to gsparling@dallaschild.com.

Once submitted, you'll receive confirmation via e-mail and, if your diary is chosen for publication in an upcoming magazine, an editor will contact you for more information.


29 December 2009

What to Do Today: Dec. 30

Celebrate a special holiday with Kwanzaa: A Harvest Celebration at 10:30am today at NorthPark Center's Bookmarks in Dallas. Storyteller Melody "Afi" Bell will teach kids about the traditions of Kwanzaa with books, drumming and more. Free.

Bring in the new year with a fun book at Preschool Storytime at 10:30am today at Fort Worth's Summerglen Library. Kids will love hearing stories and making a cute craft to take home. Free.

Bring your little Einstein to the Little Scientists Storytime from 10-11:30am today at Frisco's Sci-Tech Discovery Center. Kids ages 3 and older will have fun with a science experiment, a story and songs that will get their minds working! Free.

24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all our fantastic readers and fans! Whether you're spending the holidays baking cookies, enjoying this rare white Texas Christmas or settling in for the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story on TV, we hope you're staying safe and warm.
We appreciate all your support. It's been a great year and we have lots of exciting ideas lined up for 2010!

—The DallasChild Staff

22 December 2009

What to Do Today: Dec. 23

There's still time to get your holiday ballet fix! Catch the Collin County Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker at 6pm today at Richardson's Charles W. Eisemann Center for Performing Arts. The dance classic will be accompanied by the Plano Symphony Orchestra and the Collin County Children's Chorus. Tickets start at $15.

Time for a story! Children ages 3-5 will love Booker's Storytime at 10:30am today at the Fort Worth Central Library. Booker the Library Armadillo will lead the fun with books, puppets, songs and crafts. Free.

Finishing up some last-minute shopping? Stop by the Barnes and Noble Booksellers at The Shops at Highland Village for Weekly Storytime at 10am today. Kids of all ages are invited to sit down and listen to a story or two (while you finally get a breather!). Free.

21 December 2009

What to Do Today: Dec. 22

Hear beautiful holiday tunes during Christmas at the Meyerson at 8pm today at Dallas' Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. The Dallas Wind Symphony will perform fun songs like "The Donner and Blitzen Polka" and "Jingle Bells Fantasy," and the audience will be invited to sing along! Tickets start at $16.

Let your little ones hear a fun book at Preschool Storytime at 10:30am today at the Fort Worth Summerglen Library. Kids will hear a story and make a cool craft to take home. Free.

School's out, so why not treat your brood to Family Time at 7pm today at the Coppell Public Library! The whole family will enjoy stories, songs, crafts and more. Space is limited, so grab an admission ticket at the Information Desk before the event starts. Free.

Name That Baby!

Bruce Lansky—better known as the "Baby Name Guru"—shares his forecast of the hottest trends for baby naming in 2010:

Boys' Names
The upcoming trends for naming a new baby boy include using various spellings of sound-alike names (Jayden, Aiden, Hayden, Caden); using Old Testament names (Eli, Isaac, Nathan, Aaron); using Irish names (Brody, Liam, Connor); and using Western "C" names (Carter, Cooper, Colton, Chase).

Girls' Names
The upcoming trends for naming a new baby girl include using sound-alike names (Chloe, Zoey, Riley, Kylie); using faith-based names (Genesis, Nevaeh, Leah, Sarah); using "place" names (Brooklyn, Sydney); and using old-fashioned names (Madeline is most popular).

For more insight on naming a new addition, check out Bruce's full reports on Facebook here. Or, read his book 100,000 Plus Baby Names.


20 December 2009

What to Do Today: Dec. 21

Little ones will get their fix of puppets and stories with Spider's Christmas Surprise at 10:30am today at NorthPark Center's Bookmarks. Puppeteer Sandy Shrout will act out the story, a funny German folktale that will teach kids about the popular custom of putting tinsel on Christmas trees! Free.

Kids Who Care's musical version of A Christmas Carol will take the stage at 7:30pm today at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. Kids Who Care, an organization that gives children experience and education in musical theater, puts on the popular production every year! $16-$12.

Get your game face on for Fun and Games at 3:30pm today at the Coppell Public Library. Kids ages 5 and older will face off against other school-age kids in games like chess and checkers. Free.

18 December 2009

Get Dimples (The Good Kind)

Ahh, cupcakes. There's nothing quite like them, in my opinion. Little bites of cake, a sweet smattering of frosting and, if I'm lucky, a few sprinkles on top. They're the perfect treat. So imagine how thrilled I was to find out about a new bakery that will help me get my frosting fix: Dimples Cupcakes just opened in Frisco Square!

Dimples' desserts come in two sizes and a variety of flavors, including red velvet and chocolate coconut. Yum! The shop is open for the holidays from 9am-9pm Monday-Thursday and 9am-10pm Friday-Sunday. And this weekend, while you're sampling the cupcakes, you can enjoy the Christmas in the Square Light Show on Frisco Square too, with lights, carriage rides, a snow tubing hill and more! See you there (I'll be the one with frosting on my face).

Dimples Cupcakes
8880 Coleman Blvd., Frisco


17 December 2009

What to Do Today: Dec. 18

See a performance of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at 7:30pm today at the McKinney Performing Arts Center. Word of Mouth Productions will stage the well-known show about four lonely siblings who accidentally stumble upon the magical world of Narnia. $10-$6.

Kids ages 3-5 and their caregivers will explore nature up close at Preschool Discovery Club at 10:30am today at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. The December program will show children how animals adapt for winter. Call ahead to pre-register. $10 per child.

All aboard! Enjoy a fun holiday adventure on The North Pole Express at 5:30pm today at the Grapevine Cotton Belt Depot. Kids will love taking a ride on a real train, and the trip will include a stop at the North Pole Fun Park, where they can make ornaments, play in a bounce house and tell Santa their Christmas wishes. $16 for ages 2 and older.

A Snowy Treat

Every Christmas, I look forward to snow ... but not the icy precipitation that falls from the sky. (I'm a Texan, after all!) Rather, a sugary, snow-topped confection made especially for me by my mom. Every year, no matter how busy my family is (a family that stretches across the U.S.!), my mom always whips up a special batch of homemade Mint Snow-Top Cookies just for me to enjoy.

Sure, you've probably tried them before—she certainly didn't invent the recipe. But I thought I might share this creation with our blog readers to try out at home (just in case you're looking for something to share with visiting friends and family). And, this particular recipe can be a blast to make with little helpers.

After you create the chocolate dough, the recipe will ask for you to roll tablespoon-sized drops into balls (after allowing the dough to cool in the fridge). This is where the kiddos come in handy: These dough balls need to be shaken up in a zip-lock bag of powdered sugar. You can envision the dusty, powdery mess that might occur!

Do you have a favorite type of holiday cookie? We'd love to hear about what kind of sweet treats your family creates together in the kitchen.

Mint Snow-Top Cookies
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
10 oz. mint chocolate chips, divided
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
About 2/3 cup powdered sugar

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Melt 1 cup mint chocolate chips over low heat or in the microwave. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the melted mint chocolate chips and vanilla. Beat in the eggs. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients and the remaining mint chocolate chips. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with silicone baking mats. Shape the chilled dough into 1-inch balls, roll in powdered sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until sides are set but centers are still slightly soft. Let stand for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.


16 December 2009

What to Do Today: Dec. 17

Cuddle up and head to Allen for Big Screen on the Green: Holiday Edition at 6:30pm today at Watters Creek. You'll get to see a cool holiday movie on a two-story inflatable screen! Bring blankets to sit on (lawn chair, coolers and alcohol not permitted). Today's movie is Elf, and the series will continue with Home Alone on Friday and A Christmas Story on Saturday. Free.

See the holiday favorite The Nutcracker come to life on stage courtesy of Texas Ballet Theater at 8pm today at Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall. The classic ballet includes music, magic and ... mice! Tickets start at $19.

Of course the mall is the place to be for holiday shopping, but it's also the perfect place to catch a great story at Raising Readers Storytime at 10:30am today at Denton's Barnes and Noble Booksellers! The storytime is aimed at early readers of all ages (and is the perfect break from a busy morning of shopping). Free.

Healthy Holiday Cheer

To all the yoginis out there in the blogosphere: Grab your mat and get ready for a night of yoga, holiday-themed snacks and delicious beverages at the Dallas Galleria's Lululemon Athletica store.

The two-hour event (starting at 7pm) is a perfect night out to spend with your girlfriends—including a palm reader to predict your future in 2010 and even analyze last night's dreams! Join other area yoga enthusiasts at this free evening of fun, fitness and holiday cheer.


15 December 2009

What to Do Today: Dec. 16

Hear beautiful classical music at the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra's Holiday Magic concert at 7:30pm today at Dallas' Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. The orchestra will join the Children's Chorus and Youth Chorus of Greater Dallas to perform selections from The Nutcracker Suite, Johann Bach's Sheep May Safely Graze and more. Tickets start at $8.

Enjoy holiday tunes with a twist at A Country Christmas With the Gatlin Brothers at 7:30pm today at Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall. The Grammy-winning country crooners will join the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra to perform holiday favorites as well as some of their well-known hits. Tickets start at $26.

Bring your singing voice to the Eighth-Annual Community Sing-Along from 12-1pm today at Denton's Courthouse on the Square. You'll get to sing holiday tunes with accompaniment on guitar, hammered dulcimer and violin. Free.

What to Do Today: Dec. 15

Load up the car and head to Grand Prairie for the spectacular annual Prairie Lights, from 6-9pm today at Lynn Creek Park. You'll drive through an awesome display of Christmas lights, and halfway through you can check out the Holiday Village, which includes visits with Santa and more. The display continues through Dec. 31. $20 per car Friday-Saturday and holidays; $15 per car Monday-Thursday.

Snuggle up in your warmest PJs and head to Bearly Bedtime Storytime from 6-6:30 tonight at Fort Worth's Central Library. The storytime, which is appropriate for kids of all ages, will feature fun stories with Cody the Bear. Free.

The whole clan will love Family Time at 7pm today at the Coppell Public Library. The storytime includes songs, crafts and, of course, plenty of books! Grab an admission ticket at the Information Desk. Free.

14 December 2009

Track Stars

Why not grab the kids and take a trip across America this week? We know just the perfect way to journey from the Golden Gate Bridge to Mount Rushmore and take in Times Square and Washington, D.C., while you're at it—and all for just a little over $5!

No, we haven't been hard at work negotiating huge deals with travel agencies (or I'd be writing this from Bora Bora.) We're talking about The Trains at NorthPark exhibit on display now through Jan. 3 at Dallas' NorthPark Center. The exhibit offers sights and sounds to capture any audience (even your kids!) and pull them into the wonder of the holiday season.

The Trains at NorthPark hit the tracks every year to raise money for the children and families of the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, a home-away-from-home for families who have come to Dallas with their children for treatment in local hospitals. Because of the popularity of the exhibit, it now provides almost half of the annual operating budget for the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas.

So feel good and guilt-free about taking this trip ... it's for a wonderful cause!

Visit http://www.rmhdallas.com/trains/index.html for more information.


What to Do Today: Dec. 14

Check out the dazzling holiday trees at Deck the Halls from 9am-5pm today at Dallas' Old Red Courthouse. Local nonprofit organizations have pulled out all the stops to create the most beautiful tree of all—and museum visitors will have the final say on whose tree is tops by voting at the exhibit! $8 adults; $6 seniors; $5 children ages 3-16; children younger than 3 free.

Local author Amanda Thrasher will bring a bit of whimsy to your day with an Interactive Book Signing from 9:30-11am and 5-7:30pm today at Fort Worth's Barnes and Noble Booksellers at Hulen Shopping Center. You'll hear excerpts from Thrasher's new book, Mischief in the Mushroom Patch, and kids can make a fairy wing craft and have their faces painted! Free.

Get ready for some mommy bonding (and lots of fun!) at the Greater Lewisville Early Childhood PTA Meeting from 9:30-11:30am today at Flower Mound United Methodist Church. This month's meeting will include an auction and holiday party. Free.

11 December 2009

Baby-Proof Books

Take a look at your baby's books. Chances are there are various rips, stains and … umm … bite marks. My kids were particularly fond of chewing off the corners of all their board books, leaving them permanently soggy and, let's face it, gross. But if your books are in a similar state (or getting there, thanks to your baby's latest bout of teething) there's good news: Indestructibles are here!

This new line of books, created by a mother of triplets, is completely baby proof. Each tiny tome is washable, chew-proof, rip-proof and nontoxic. In other words, your little one can go nuts on these things and not do any damage! The three sweet little books, each the perfect size for tots to tote, have no words—just bright, lovely pictures that are sure to spark young imaginations.

The books, which were just released this week, retail for $4.95 each and are available at local bookstores. But here's even more good news: We're giving away a set of all three to one lucky reader! Just e-mail me a picture of your little reader with his or her favorite (and most chewed-up, torn and generally destroyed) book! The first one I receive wins the prize.

— Claudia

What to Do Today: Dec. 11

Hear fun, festive music at Cheer! A Christmas Celebration at 7:30pm today (and continuing at 7:30pm every Monday-Saturday, 2:30pm every Sunday through Dec. 20) at Dallas' Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Chorus and a children's choir will perform holiday favorites—and Santa will even make an appearance. Tickets start at $25.

Marvel at spectacular feats of dance at A Holiday Special at 7pm today at Fort Worth's Will Rogers Auditorium. Ballet Concerto dancers will perform "Swingin' Into the Holidays," a medley of popular holiday songs; "Hanukkah Flamenco," a dance honoring the Jewish Festival of Lights; and much more. Tickets are $20-$5.

Don't miss the premiere of It's a Wonderful Life at 7:30pm today at Highland Village's Studio B Theater. The holiday classic about George Bailey and the lessons he learns about his life at Christmastime are sure to strike a chord! $15 adults; $12 seniors; $10 children younger than 11.

10 December 2009

Celebrate With Your Four-Legged Friends!

Treat your pup to a pre-holiday present: Help celebrate the newest opening of Dallas' Waggin' Tail Dog Park at 11am Saturday Dec. 12 at 5841 Keller Springs Road in Dallas.

Furry friends are welcome to join owners for the ribbon cutting ceremony honoring this seven-acre park with a gigantic deck overlooking White Rock Creek. At this new park, walking trails encircle fenced play areas for large and small dogs. Drinking fountains for both humans and man's best friend are available on site. And, if your dog is like mine (a swimming-crazed pup!), you might bring a towel and prepare to dry muddy and wet paws from adventures in the nearby creek.

Cast members from The 101 Dalmatians Musical (now showing at the Music Hall at Fair Park) will be on hand to help cut the ribbon. And, Dallas Animal Services will be micro-chipping furry loved ones, in addition to kid-friendly activities (like face painting, hot dogs, a balloon sculptor and the Dallas Police Department's K-9 squad!).

What: Opening of Dallas' newest dog park, Waggin' Tail Dog Park
When: 11am, Saturday Dec. 12
Where: 5841 Keller Springs Road in Dallas (on the north side of Keller Springs and the west side of Preston Road)
Cost: Free!


What to Do Today: Dec. 10

Kick off your holiday season with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starting at 7:30pm today at Grand Prairie's Nokia Theatre. In addition to fancy footwork by the famous dance troupe, you'll see flying reindeer, life-size toy soldiers and, of course, Santa Claus! Tickets start at $29.75.

Don't miss the fun at the Night of Holiday Magic from 6-9pm today at NRH2O Family Water Park in North Richland Hills. Kids will flip for a snow tubing hill, pictures with Santa, crafts, a marshmallow roast and more. Free admission; small charge for some activities.

Bundle up the whole clan and head to Family Storytime at 7pm today at the Grapevine Public Library. You'll enjoy books, songs ... and plenty of family togetherness! Free.

09 December 2009

Run the Rock For a Cause

Get ready to run this weekend (or at least dodge traffic barriers) as the MetroPCS Dallas White Rock Marathon weekend kicks off on Saturday. While the marathon and half-marathon race isn't until Sunday, there are plenty of activities that you and your family can enjoy Saturday morning.

Registration is still rolling for the The Mayor's Race 5K Fun Run and Walk—a non-competitive course starting at 9 a.m. that trails across the Trinity River, through historic Oak Cliff and back to City Hall Plaza (similar to the Turkey Trot course, if you're an ol' pro!). The one-mile run (a great chance for your budding runner to burn off some extra energy!) kicks off shortly after the 5K. Strollers are welcome.

The Mayor's 5K race begins at the corner of S. Griffin Street and Ceremonial Drive. Registration is free (yes, free!) for DISD students; and race-day registration is $20 per person. Online registration has closed, but go here to read more about how to register starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday.

After the Mayor's 5K, take your family to the Kid’s Fit and Fun Pavilion at the Race Expo held in the Dallas Convention center, starting at 10 a.m. Here you'll find games, healthy snacks and fitness advice fit for the whole family.

And, in addition to feeling great from running, know that by registering for any of this weekend's events (the 1-mile, 5K, half marathon or marathon) you are supporting a great cause: Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. For the past 13 years, Scottish Rite has been the primary beneficiary for this mega race which draws thousands of participants every year.

I look forward to seeing kids from Scottish Rite out with signs and awesome costumes on the course this year (I will be running the half marathon). It is so motivating to see them cheering on the runners—their smiling faces always help me carry on! To all race participants: Good luck and happy running!

Note: the half-marathon race and relay races have sold out, but registration for the full marathon is still available on race day.


What to Do Today: Dec. 9

Bundle up and spend this chilly day taking in Holiday at the Arboretum until 5pm today (and continuing through Dec. 31) and the Dallas Arboretum. You'll see ornaments, marionettes, seasonal art and more throughout the gardens. $10 adults; $9 seniors; $7 children ages 3-12; children younger than 3 free.

Channel your inner artist at Wonderful Wednesdays from 4-4:45pm today at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. This family-friendly program includes a gallery tour and an art activity. Meet at the museum's admission desk. Free.

Gather up your little one (ages 18 months-3 years) and head to Toddler Time Coppell at 10:30am today at the Coppell Public Library. Kids will enjoy stories, songs, crafts and more. An admission ticket is required and will be available at the Information Desk. Free.

08 December 2009

Bee Cool

I took my lunch to school with me almost every day growing up. Occasionally I'd peek inside that boring brown bag to find a little spice inside—a love note from mom. On other (more unfortunate) occasions, she put the note directly on my sandwich using a heart-shaped bread cutter mechanism - which should be outlawed! (No sandwich survived that thing.) I spent more time trying to piece my sandwich back together than I did actually eating it. Poor mom. If only she'd known about beethings and its childishly fun and creative lunch bags. She could have shown her love by sending me off to school with the coolest-looking lunch bag around.

And for moms and dads who struggle with their cool factor in other areas—rest assured, beethings can help there too. The Dallas-based online shop loves to design and print things that make them happy—and we suspect all who use their goods are happy too! Browse from silkscreen prints, notebooks, calendars and, of course, lunch bags. The only thing missing? Heart-shaped bread cutters. (Sigh of relief.)


Seeing Double

We wanted to spice things up for December. Yes, it's the holidays, and they usually don't need much spicing up (that's what families are for), but December is also our birthday month, which means that we're 23 years old this month. So instead of getting something fabulous for ourselves, we decided to share the love with you, our readers.

Our gift to you this birthday (and holiday) season? Two covers—a first ever for DallasChild. This means that if you pick your December issue up in Collin County, you see a different cover than you would in Dallas County. Exciting, isn't it? We couldn't have asked for a better present (to ourselves) than this cover—all four girls were on their modeling game and had an absolute blast with each other at the shoot.

If you're wondering, here's a breakdown of the cover fashions and set: Stella McCartney for GapKids military jacket and tulle skirt on our Stella; Stella McCartney dusty pink dress with bib detail on Katelyn (far left in left cover) with sparkly brown tights from GapKids and headband from Little Bean; velvet bow dress from one of our favorite new shops of the year, Little Bean, with our Stella's own pink vest, and pink Stella McCartney for GapKids tights; and on Alita (far right in left cover) a Wovenplay moth outfit and headband also at Little Bean. We also can't go without saying a very big thank you to The Apartment (also the site for our very cool Superhero & Princess party this fall—see our Best for Families feature for more photos) for letting us steal some of their chairs for the day and to KarlischKids for the fantastic photography.

They're a true picture of holiday cheer.

Happy Holidays! May your days be merry and bright.