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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Registration is Now Open for Sky Ranch Summer Camps in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metro

We are lucky that there are hundreds of summer camps in the Dallas / Fort Worth metro. It's actually a bit overwhelming to go through the options to find the perfect set of camps for your little one.  Personally, I look to other moms for recommendations on the best camps for my son.  In today's post, I will pay their helpfulness forward by telling you about our favorite camp - Sky Ranch Launch Camp.  

My son attended Sky Ranch camps for the past two years.  These Christian Camps have been an amazing part of his childhood.  He attended Sky Ranch Wave Camp at Hawaiian Falls in Roanoke in 2015.  He then attended Sky Ranch Launch Camp in Keller in 2016.  He has many happy memories of the friendships and activities from these camps.  Let's start with an overview of Launch Camp.

Here is the overview from their website: "Sky Ranch is one of the leading North American Christian camps and our Launch Camps offer your child an extraordinary day camp experience – right in your neighborhood! It’s the perfect option for kids entering kindergarten through 5th grade who want to enjoy Sky Ranch Summer Camp, but are not quite ready to stay overnight."

Click here for a short video.

The camp lasts for one week, running from 9am until 4pm on Monday through Thursday and then 9am until 3pm on Friday.  There is a special closing ceremony on Friday at 3pm.

Sky Ranch Launch Camps have multiple locations across the Dallas / Ft. Worth metroplex. Each location offers several different dates to choose from so that you can find the week and location that work best for your family.

Launch Camp's 2017 Dates and Locations:
All Saints Episcopal School
Fort Worth, Texas
Session 3: June 12-16
Session 4: June 19-23
The Clariden School
Southlake, Texas
Session 9: July 24-28
Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church
Allen, Texas
Session 10: July 31 - August 4
Session 11: August 7-11
Good Shepherd Episcopal School
Dallas, Texas
Session 8: July 17-21
Session 9: July 24-28
Grapevine Faith Christian School
Grapevine, Texas
Session 7: July 10-14
Highland Park Presbyterian Church
Dallas, Texas
Session 10: July 31 - August 4
Session 11: August 7-11
Liberty Christian School
Argyle, Texas
Session 1: May 29 - June 2
Session 2: June 5-9
Lighthouse Christian Fellowship Church
Prosper, Texas
Session 4: June 19-23
Session 5: June 26-30
McKinney Christian Academy
McKinney, Texas
Session 2: June 5-9
Prestonwood Christian Academy
Plano, Texas
Session 8: July 17-21
Session 9: July 24-28
Rockwall Presbyterian Church 
Rockwall, Texas
Session 4: June 19-23
Southwest Christian School
Fort Worth, Texas
Session 3: June 12-16
St. Andrew United Methodist Church
Plano, Texas
Session 5: June 26-30
St. Michaels and All Angels Episcopal Church
Dallas, Texas
Session 7: July 10-14

Trinity Christian Academy
Addison, Texas
Session 2: June 5-9
Session 3: June 12-16
As I mentioned earlier, my son loved the Sky Ranch camps that he participated in.  The counselors were very enthusiastic and caring.  They seemed to genuinely enjoy the opportunity to work with the children. My son looked up to his counselors as role models. 

They sent home a summary of the curriculum with him each day and my son and I enjoyed talking about it in our car ride home. Their enthusiasm clearly passed on to him.  My son's favorite day had the theme of Lights, Camera, Animals. He is so curious and loves animals, so this was his favorite day of the camp. He was such a happy little chatterbox after the lessons!
The Bible verses that they covered include Genesis 1:1-31, Colossians 1:16-17, and 1 Timothy 4:4. The questions to ask included:
  • What are some things God created?
  • What is God's favorite creation?
  • How powerful is God?
  • How has God creatively made you?

In addition to focusing on bible stories, they also organized many activities and games where the children bonded. Similar to most 6-year olds, my son is very energetic and appreciated the activities and games with the counselors and children in the group.   

My son is looking forward to attending Sky Ranch Launch Camp again this year.  We absolutely love their camps and look forward to more good childhood memories.
Check out all of the camps at Sky Ranch! While we personally rave about Launch Camp, they also offer many other camps that have great reputations.
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Register Now for a Camp Invention!

Childhood is the best time to expose your bright and eager child to innovation and creativity. Building the skill to create and innovate is huge for kids today! The importance of STEM is gaining more attention in education and we live in a world full of potential “lost Einsteins” that are right on the edge of an innovative and successful future. As parents of grade-school students, you can provide an environment for your children that builds a connection between social influence and innovation education in the world of STEM.

Kids need to explore their creativity to see where their minds can take them. Hands-on activities, in the world of innovation, are critical for finding that true potential. Your young innovators might even be the next greatest American inventor one day! They can think for themselves and create solutions for today’s biggest societal challenges with the help of a little exposure to innovation in a fun and inviting environment.

A great place that offers hands-on learning through new and up-to-date educational activities inspired by our nation’s greatest innovators is the nationally recognized STEM program Camp Invention®! It provides the spark for the next generation of great inventors and entrepreneurs. Camp Invention’s hands-on, fun activities will build those skills and inspire your child to do great things! Registration is closing fast, so it’s best if you sign up your child now at www.campinvention.org.
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Visit the New Sea Turtle Rescue Center at the SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium

SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium is pleased to announce Sea Turtle Rescue Center, a new interactive rehabilitation experience opening Saturday, May 5. 

The new permanent exhibit lets guests of all ages learn about the threats turtles face in the wild and experience first-hand the process of successfully rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing sea turtles.  Upon entry, guests will become a bonafide turtle rescuer as they collect a mock turtle from the beach, name and weigh their patient, then begin a virtual rehabilitation journey.  After using an x-ray machine to diagnose and remedy injuries, guests nurse their turtle back to health at the feeding and hydration station then release them back into the wild.

Check out this quick video for a sneak peek on the SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium Facebook page:

In addition to observing non-releasable sea turtles in a display tank, guests can also view aquarists through a glass window working with real injured patients in the aquarium’s new rehabilitation facility and hospital.  The Grapevine aquarium is the first SEA LIFE in the U.S. to be permitted to rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles and release them back into the wild through partnerships with Animal Rehabilitation Keep(ARK), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other Texas coast sea turtle hospitals. 

“Our new interactive rehabilitation exhibit profiles real-life endangered sea turtle rescues that our dedicated SEA LIFE team have been involved in.  Since our opening, we’ve rescued seven non-releasable sea turtles.  With our new permit and hospital, in addition to rescue, we can now care for sick or injured turtles until they’re well enough for release back into the wild,” said Karen Rifenbury, Curator, SEA LIFE Grapevine. “Visitors will be able to learn about new patients and the medical team working that day through our patients-in-residence display board.”

“Along the Texas coast, many turtles are found injured or sick each year. There are only five sea turtle rehabilitation facilities, so every facility has to work very hard. ARK is very excited to welcome SEA LIFE Grapevine to sea turtle rehabilitation and look forward to continuing our collaboration to save sea turtles. With the addition of their rehabilitation center, each sea turtle will be given even more attention while in rehab,” said Alicia Walker, Program Coordinator, ARK.

“Already a tremendous partner in sea turtle conservation, SEA LIFE Grapevine is now stepping up to do even more.  Recent freezing temperatures in South Texas filled our coastal rehabilitation centers to capacity with cold-stunned sea turtles.  It is reassuring to know they are there to help if needed next time,” said Mary Kay Skoruppa, Texas Coastal Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Coinciding with the opening of Sea Turtle Rescue Center, the aquarium welcomed a non-releasable green sea turtle named Thalassia.  “Sea Turtle Rescue Center also houses non-releasable sea turtles creating a turtle sanctuary not found anywhere else in DFW. Efforts like these are what make SEA LIFE Grapevine so much more than an average mall aquarium,” said Kelly Schwartz, General Manager, SEA LIFE Grapevine.

SEA LIFE Grapevine is located at 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, Grapevine, Texas 76051.  For more information visit www.visitsealife.com/grapevine or call 469-444-3050.

About SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium:
SEA LIFE Grapevine transports you into the amazing underwater world.  Prepare for astonishingly close views of everything from humble starfish and seahorses to graceful rays and powerful sharks.  With an amazing 360° ocean tunnel, 30 display tanks and thousands of sea creatures the aquarium is the perfect stop for family fun.  To get any closer you would have to get wet!  Admission is $20.95 for adults, $16.95 for children ages 3 to 12.  For more information visit www.visitsealife.com/grapevine.  SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium is located at 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, Grapevine, TX 76051. Phone: 469-444-3050. Follow us on Facebook: @sealifegrapevine Twitter: @sealifegrpevine and Instagram: @sealifenorthamerica.
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Visit the Whimsical Kiwanis Club Butterfly Festival at The Shops at Willow Bend to Create Special Childhood Memories

The Greater Plano Kiwanis Club is hosting the annual Butterfly Festival at The Shops at Willow Bend from May 4 to May 13, 2018. This whimsical event is sure to create happy childhood memories for your family as they offer the opportunity to experience more than 1,000 butterflies and more. Plus, it's located at The Shops at Willow Bend where you will be able to shop for trendy Mother's Day gifts while you are there. 

Let me share the details:
What: The Shops at Willow Bend will host The Greater Plano Kiwanis Club  Annual Butterfly Festival where visitors can walk through a conservatory filled with flowering plants and observe more than 1,000 flying butterflies in a natural setting. 
Where: The Grand Court at The Shops at Willow Bend 
When:  The display will be open May 4 – 13, 2018 on Mondays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. 
Price: Tickets are available for purchase at the display: Adults are $6.00 and Children are $5.00. Children under the age of 2 are free with adult purchase. 
Proceeds benefit:  The Greater Plano Kiwanis Club
Website: Visit here
This event created amazing childhood memories for my little boys.  They are curious about nature and have read many books about butterflies.  My oldest son knows a lot of facts about butterflies such as how they use their feet to eat and other trivia. Seeing a variety of butterflies in real life to touch and feed them was an immersive experience to treasure. Let me share a few photos from our visit.

They started by meeting a woman dressed as a beautiful butterfly. Her costume was fantastic. My youngest son rocked his butterfly wings while being mesmerized by her costume!  

We entered the tent that contained thousands of butterflies such as the one tucked into the flowers above.

Here is another butterfly. I've never seen one this big!

The volunteers at the event were fantastic. I think that they realized that we were clueless about how to feed a butterfly, so one woman came over and taught us how to feed one. It was a surreal experience to connect with a butterfly and feed it!

 Here is a closer view.

Here it is when she handed it over to our son.  While he looks confused in the photo, let me tell you that he raved about the butterflies for the rest of the day! He seems to have a new obsession with butterflies now that he has seen them up close, touched them, and fed them.

In addition to the live butterfly experience, the Butterfly Festival also includes face painting, balloon animals, and a trendy little gift shop area with butterfly items. Here is a view from above!

Finally, Mother's Day is just around the corner. If you are already at the Butterfly Festival, you might as well fit in some Mother's Day shopping at The Shops at Willow Bend. To give you some inspiration, the photo below is a reminder of some of my favorite shops there - Godiva Chocolatier, L'Occitane, Bath & Body Works, Crabtree & Evelyn, Hallmark, and Paint me Pretty. Click here for the full mall directory.

We hope that you have the opportunity to experience the Butterfly Festival and create happy childhood memories with your children too!

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Fun Facts and Summer Toys: Splash Play, Sand Play, & More

In today's post, I'll share some fun facts and summer toys that are a blast! (Pun intended!) Let's start with watermelons. 

Fun Fact: Have you ever heard that water melons are comprised mainly of water?  It's true.  They approximately 92% water. They are delicious and help you to stay hydrated. Now, let's tie that into a toy.  

Fun Toy: Mega Melon Sprinkler Ball   Ages 4+, $19.99, Target and Target.com
Kids will have a JUMBO good time this summer with the new Mega Melon Sprinkler Ball. Standing 3 feet tall, this giant, inflatable melon ball of fun, spouts water from four different fountains. It’s the super soaker inflatable of the summer.

Fun Fact: The origin of Hot Potato is unknown.

Fun Toy: Splash Out is a fun toy that reminds me of a fun twist on Hot Potato. (Yes, literally, a twist!). Let me share the details.

Splash Out   Ages 6+, $14.99, Spring 2018 at Toys R Us, and other major retailers
Far Out Toys puts a new twist on the splashing fun of this all time favorite.  With more than ten million units sold, Splash Out is all new this year and gets even more engaging with the featured Challenge game.  Answer quickly or you Splash Out! Players pick a category from the 20 water-resistant cards included and must give examples before turning the ball over as the timer ticks down to the big splash! There’s a way to play indoors, now, too! The new version comes with a small balloon adaptor cup that contains the splash for indoor fun.  There’s also a special adaptor nozzle that makes it easy to pour in any kind of liquid – soda, slime, juice and more.  The new set also comes with ten reusable Quick-Seal balloon clips to make it even easier to play.

Fun Fact: There are squirt guns with continuous blasting mode.

Fun Toy: If you want an ultimate water toy this summer, the Tidal Storm Battle Monster has two modes - a Constant blasting mode where you hook it up to a hose and a pump action mode. Here are the details.

Tidal Storm Battle Monster   Ages 6+, $19.99

Getting the upperhand in competition has never been easier with this SuperMax Power Water Blaster.  The pressurized water blaster action will send water soaring up to 38 feet! The Battle Monster has two blast modes – Constant Blasting with hook-up to a garden hose, and Pump Action. Also comes with adjustable spray nozzles.

Fun Fact: Every seashell is unique.

Fun Toy: Spend the day at the beach having fun in the sand and looking for perfect seashells. There are two trendy toys that are fun for the beach - the American Plastics 20 piece Deluxe Beach Basket and their Seashell Roller. I really like this set because it is an amazing value. Here are the details.

20 pc Deluxe Beach Basket    Ages 1 ½ +, $15
Little ones can pack up all their beach essentials in one handy, stackable beach basket that has it all, as the lid doubles as a sieve! This roomy basket holds everything kids can imagine for an endless day of sand building play. The basket includes two boats, three hand tools, a pail, three large sand shapes, four medium sand shapes, three castle molds, a large character shovel, and a sprinkling can. 

Seashell Roller   Ages 1 ½ +, $3
The sand is kids canvas as they can roll this sturdy, wooden-handled, ocean-themed roller and decorate the sand. Kids can press and roll it over damp sand to make imprints of starfish, carbs and seashells. Perfect for a day of some fun in the sun for the little ones.

We hope that you enjoyed this glimpse into our favorite toys for summer!  

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