Monkey See, Monkey Do!

Ahh, the weekend.  Time for a little work, rest, and play.
The kids found some adhesive "jewels" that I had bought for a craft project and apparently decided to use them for themselves.  Rachel appeared downstairs with a jeweled butterfly on her face.  Nicholas was quite proud of his "face painting" but I did have to point out that ball point pen won't come off her face as easily as real face paint or a makeup pencil would have.  Still, it is quite cute.

We spent a couple of hours today working together in the backyard.  We have a few really tall trees in our backyard and they drop tons of leaves each fall.  While I don't mind a leaf carpeted backyard, the leaves tend to all migrate into the pool and that isn't a good thing.  So each autumn, there are multiple family events that include scooping leaves out of the pool and raking and bagging the rest of the leaves in the yard before they have a chance to take a dive.  The kids are always out there helping us.  It is important to us that they learn how to do all kinds of chores and that they gain an appreciation for taking care of their home and the blessings God has given us.

Of course, after the work is done, there must be time for play.  As we looked up to see all the beautiful fall colors still hanging in the trees, we noticed our little monkey boy had already scaled the oak tree.  To give you an idea of how high he is, the fence is 8 feet tall and he is probably a good 6 feet above the top of the fence!  You see why we call him monkey boy?!

Rachel was also climbing high but she stayed a little closer to the ground!

But you know the saying, "Monkey See, Monkey Do"?  Our fence makes the perfect ladder for getting into the trees that line that side of the yard!

She made it! Thumbs up :)

Our two little monkeys up in the trees!

Stuart went around to the street side of the fence to catch this next picture.  Can you spot the monkey in the light blue shirt?  Again, our fence is 8 feet tall! 

I hope you had a great weekend and enjoyed some time outside, whether it involved raking leaves or climbing trees!

Birthday Fun at Build-A-Bear

One of Rachel's birthday presents included a trip to Build-A-Bear Workshop.  She has never been before and was super excited to go pick out her own bear to make!

Rachel started with picking out the type of stuffed animal she wanted to make.  There are so many fun animals to choose from that it took her quite a while but finally the perfect new friend was chosen. Rachel chose a sweet white bear covered in colorful hearts.  It is just an empty shell of a bear though.  Now it was time to start filling it!

She looked at the different sounds she could add to her bear.    There were 16 different choices and she sampled each of them on the little button keyboard below.  There were some that said, "Happy Birthday!" or "I love you" and others that sang songs.  She loves Disney's Frozen so she chose the song "Let It Go".  I have a feeling we will all be very tired of that song rather quickly!  She opened the drawer at the top that corresponded with the number for her song and pulled out the little sound box herself.

Next she chose a scent to put inside her bear.  They are scented plastic discs that come in fun fragrances like bubble gum, chocolate, strawberry, etc.  Rachel chose Cotton Candy.

Next she picked out her bear's heart.  She could pick the little satin filled heart pillow or the plastic heart that actually plays a heartbeat when pressed.  She chose the heartbeat.  This bear has it all!

Next Rachel went to the giant spinning box of cotton.  A Bear Assistant held her bear on a nozzle while Rachel used a pedal to release some of the cotton into her bear to fill up her little body.

The Bear Assistant held the bear open while Rachel put all of the special treasures inside her new friend.

Once the little bear was full, the Bear Assistant stitched up the little hole in the bear's back.

When the Bear Assistant handed the finished bear to Rachel, she squealed and giggled with joy!

When she finally settled down a bit, I was able to snap this picture of the two cuties.

Rachel took her bear over to get her first pretend bath.

Then she took her bear to pick out an outfit.  Oh the choices! (and this is only some of the clothing options!)

Rachel collected everything together in a Bear Dressing Room.  She selected a dress, panties, shoes, roller skates, brush, and even a fold out pink chair.

This is one fancy teddy bear!  Rachel is so proud that she made her new bear herself.  She loves everything about her because she got to pick it all out herself.  What a perfect gift!

Finally, she filled out the registration form for her new bear and gave her a name....Love Bear.  Then she filled out and printed her bear's birth certificate.

Rachel has a wonderful experience making her own stuffed animal.  She even loved the box they sent her bear home in.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl!  And welcome to our home, Love Bear, you singing, smelly, heart-beating, sparkly, panty-wearing, roller skating bear!

I'm sure this bear will be close to Rachel's heart for a long time.  I couldn't help but think of a time Nicholas made his own bear.  Although it was at a library and not nearly as elaborate as this, he still cherishes Bumblebear (oh he was so little then!).

Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas at the Dallas Arboretum

We always love going to the Dallas Arboretum but our favorite time to go is around Christmas.  It's always so magical this time of year! 
This year the Arboretum is celebating Christmas with the 12 Days of ChristmasFirst we were charmed by the live carolers singing joyful Christmas songs to help get us in the spirit.

Christmas Carolers

The 12 Days of Christmas exhibit brings the beloved Christmas carol to life!  The elaborate collection includes 12 life-size Victorian gazebos filled with charming costumed characters, whimsical animals, and delightful music.  Each gazebo is about 25 feet tall.  They are numbered on the top and has a sign in front to let you know which Day of Christmas it celebrates. 

Five Golden Rings display at the Dallas Arboretum

This one is "Five Golden Rings".  It features a Victorian circus with a ceiling swagged in red and white fabric to mimic a circus tent.  The center circus ring has a cute polar bear wearing a vest and collar as he balaces a spinning gold ring on his nose!  He is surrounded by 4 seals wearing adorable ruffled collars balancing spinning bedazzled gold rings on their noses! 

The displays are so wonderful because they are presented in a fun way that even young kids can enjoy. Rachel even felt compelled to dance along to the music!

Each Christmas gazebo is magically decorated and include music, lights, and moving parts.  My kids were amazed by each beautiful gazebo we saw!

Two Turtle Doves display at the Dallas Arboretum
These sweet turtle doves snuggle together on an arrow that pierces their heart shaped cage as it spins around to the music.  It is so beautiful!

Two Turtle Doves

The 12 Days of Christmas will be open daily through January 4, 2015 and is included with your general admission.  Daytime general admission is regular pricing and free for Arboretum members.

Adults: $15 non-members

Seniors: $12 non-members

Children ages 3-12: $10 non-members

Children under 3 are free.
Parking: $10 at the gate.
The 12 Days at Night
You can also enjoy special admission to see the 12 Days of Christmas at night.  They are even more beautiful lit up!  The 12 Days at Night will be available Sundays-Thursdays, 6-10 p.m. (Nov. 16-20, Nov. 23-26, Nov. 30-Dec. 4, Dec. 7-11, Dec. 14-18, Dec. 21-23, Dec. 28-30) and special weekend nights: Nov. 28, 29, Dec. 26, 27 and Jan. 2-4.  The Garden is open for special lighted nighttime showings. Festive holiday music provided by carolers.

The 12 Days at Night pricing:
Adults: $20 non-members; $12 members
Seniors: $15 non-members; $10 members
Children ages 3-12: $10 non-members; $9 members
Children under 3 are free.
Parking is included with admission.
Special Pricing/Promotions:
Military and First Responder Mondays
November 17& 24, December 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29
Active and retired military members and First Responders with identification receive free admission during the day and night. Offer available on site at the ticket booth.
Wednesday BOGO
November 19-December 31
Buy One, Get One Free ticket. Tickets are valid for daytime only. Offer available on site at the ticket booth.
Senior Thursdays
November 20-December 18
$11 day or evening admission with 20% Hoffman Family Gift Store discount. Daytime tickets cannot be used again at night. Offer available on site at the ticket booth.
Pearl Harbor Day
Sunday, December 7
Active and retired military members receive free admission during the day and evening. Offer available on site at the ticket booth.
Special Holiday Festivities:
November 29-December 21
Saturdays and Sundays Noon-4 p.m.
Enjoy visits with Santa, reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
November 29-January 4
Daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Daytime tours of the DeGolyer House holiday decorations.  The house will be decorated top to bottom with a collection of Byers' Choice Ltd. Christmas Caroler figurines that were collected throughout the United States and beyond. They are treasured for their simple beauty and on display as they carry out the Victorian theme present in the garden. This significant private collection was generously donated for display at the Arboretum by Kim and John Semyan.

Holiday Tea:

November 28-December 31, 2014

Daily 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. at the Restaurant DeGolyer

Enjoy an elegant, three-course holiday tea for a special Christmas memory for those 12 and older. Prices range between $47 and $57 and include parkingand admission to the garden. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 214.515.6511 or purchased online at

The Dallas Arboretum is located at 8525 Garland Rd., Dallas, Texas 75218.  For information, please call them at 214-515-6615 or visit the Dallas Arboretum Facebook page.

Veteran's Day Relay in Flower Mound

Flower Mound is celebrating Veteran's Day with an all day Relay where residents are running the American flag through town at 3 mile intervals.  We were lucky enough to see the first hand-off at Station 4 on Morriss Road this morning.  Here is the runner bringing the flag in and the new runner is in the white shirt behind the cart waiting to take the flag for the next leg of the race.

And he's off!  My kids were waving their own American flags as the runner passed by us and a few people from the neighborhood were clapping and cheering.

The relay will continue throughout the day following this map through Flower Mound for four loops.  Each station is about 3 miles apart.

For the last section of the relay, the American flag will be carried by a Flower Mound resident who graduation from West Point and served in Afghanistan where he lost both of his legs when an IED exploded.  The flag will be attached to his wheelchair and he will hand pedal the last 3 miles of the relay.  This should occur about 4:30 or so on Lakeside but it is hard to know for sure since the pace of each runner varies.

If you are in the area, please come out and cheer for the runners as they pass by.  

Thank you to all Veterans who have served our country and sacrificed so much!

Veteran's Day Events in Dallas-Fort Worth area

Long ago, our soldiers received welcome home parades when they returned from battle.  Sadly, this doesn't happen much anymore. I just learned that the national P.O. Box for Holiday Mail for Heroes has been discontinued this year (but local Red Cross chapters may take it over).  Locally, the Welcome Home a Hero program at DFW airport was discontinued about 2 years ago.

I feel it is important to teach our kids about the sacrifices that our veterans have made so that they can appreciate all that has gone into making this great nation.  We teach our kids about the men and women who have served our country as we study historical events in our homeschool.  We also bring history a little closer to home by researching our family genealogies and teachingour children about the role that their own ancestors have played in the founding and making of this country. 

With that in mind, I was just looking for some Veteran’s Day activities that we could enjoy with our kids this week. 
Here are a few sites to help you and your kids learn more about the importance of Veteran's Day:

Veteran's Day History (from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website)
Veteran's Day Teacher's Guide (powerpoint)
Veteran's History Project
Take a Vet to School
Volunteering at the VA

In honor of Veteran's, many restaurants and businesses will offer special deals for veterans.  Check out the Military Benefits website for more information.


To let the community celebrate our American heroes, cities across the nation will often have parades, fireworks, and other family friendly events around Veteran's Day.  Here are a few Veteran's Day events in Dallas-Fort Worth to celebrate our great heroes in 2014.

Dallas Veteran's Day Parade
Tuesday, November 11th with massing of the colors and the 11th hour (11:00 AM) ceremony in front of City Hall. The parade will commence following the official ceremony (approximately 1 hour). The route will start at Reunion Arena, will proceed north on Houston Street, east on Main Street, south on Ervay Street, west on Young Street, south on Akard Street and pass in review in front of City Hall.

The parade route is similar to prior years. After passing in review, parade units will turn south on Ervay and disperse south of City Hall.

Military vehicles and equipment, veterans organizations, civic and corporate displays will be available for viewing at 9:30 AM in front of City Hall and will be dismantled after the parade.
2014 Parade Theme: "Honoring Our Wounded Veterans".

Grand Marshals
Vice Admiral David B. Robinson, USN (Ret)
Corporal Jake Schick, USMC
Sergeant Vince Rios, USA
Keynote Speaker
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst
As in years past we anticipate more than 150 units in the parade.

For more information, please take a look at the Dallas Veteran's Day Parade website.

Flower Mound Inaugural Veterans Day Relay Run

Flower Mound residents are invited to cheer on the participants in the inaugural Flower Mound Veterans Day Relay on Veterans Day, November 11. 
From 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., participants will commemorate our nation's veterans and their service by carrying the American flag in a 15-mile relay run comprised of three-mile segments throughout Town. The course will start and end in the Lakeside DFW development, followed by a post-race celebration from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Normandy Homes' model home, 609 Sandy Lane in Flower Mound. View the relay route. .
Veteran's Day Picnic and Ceremony

Please join the Town in honoring our veterans November 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Flower Mound High School, 3411 Peters Colony, in celebration of Veterans Day. A family picnic will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. that will include free hot dogs provided by the Summit Club along with cake, and lemonade. The Town will host a Veterans Review during the Veterans Day ceremony, where approximately 200 local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and JROTC units parade before the Veterans in uniform. Everyone is welcome!


American Heroes: Salute to Veterans
Saturday, November 8th The Colony, Texas
The Colony Five Star Complex,
4100 Blair Oaks, 75056

Celebrate Veteran's Day with this patriotic annual festival.

This is a FREE event, with fun for the whole family!  Tell your friends and neighbors all about it, and come help us pay tribute to Veterans, our true American Heroes!
Preliminary schedule for American Heroes festival:
  6:30amOn site registration for American Heroes 5K/10K and 1 Mile Fun Run
  8:00am1 Mile Fun Run begins
  8:30am5K and 10K Runs begin
11:00amMemorial Ceremony - "Honor & Remember" at Veterans Memorial plaza
12:00pmCarnival opens
  1:00pmCar, Truck & Bike Show registration begins
Performance on Main Stage - TYLER AND THE TRIBE
Vendor Expo opens
Heroes Hut opens
Silent Auction begins
  2:30pmCar, Truck & Bike Show registration ends
Performance on Main Stage - THIEVING BIRDS
  3:00pmCar, Truck & Bike Show judging begins
  4:00pmCar, Truck & Bike Show awards
Performance on Main Stage - ZANE WILLIAMS
  5:45pmHeroes Ceremony on Main Stage
  6:30pmHeadline performance on Main Stage - JO DEE MESSINA
  7:00pmVendor Expo closes
Heroes Hut closes
Silent Auction bidding ends
Carnival closes

These are the ONLY Veterans Day fireworks around! 

The fireworks are scheduled to begin at approximately 8:00pm on November 8th.  The shoot site for this year's show will be at the Five Star Complex, making the American Heroes festival the prime viewing area for the show.  Due to the close proximity that the fireworks shoot site has to the festival, this year's show will be a low level show.  This will be a unique fireworks show consisting of a beautiful display of colors and choreographed to America's most patriotic music.  Don't miss it!

Not able to make it to the event?  Watch the show from a distance and listen to the fireworks music broadcast on 99.9fm.  Music is only available within a close distance to the park, and because this year's show is a low level show we recommend that you be at the Five Star Complex or as close as possible for optimal fireworks viewing.

The beneficiary of this year's
American Heroes silent auction is the
Wounded Warrior Project.
Click the WWP logo above to make a
contribution to this very worthy cause!

No coolers or alcoholic beverages are allowed!  Alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase at the Beer Garden area within the festival grounds.
For more information about the American Heroes festival, call The Colony Parks & Recreation Department at (972)625-1106, email the festival staff, or visit the American Heroes website.


Lewisville ISD 16th Annual Veterans Day Celebration
Lewisville ISD¹s (LISD) will hold its 16th annual Veterans Day celebration Tuesday, Nov. 11.

  • 9:30 a.m. Recognition Breakfast - Veterans and their families are invited to attend a special recognition breakfast at Timber Creek Elementary (1900 Timber Creek Road, Flower Mound). Veterans are asked to RSVP here: or call 469.948.8152.
  • 10:30 a.m. Public Veterans Day Ceremony - The public is invited join LISD in a "Salute to American Veterans" at the Timber Creek Administration Building (1800 Timber Creek Road, Flower Mound) 

Reserved seating is available for veterans and their guests. Public may bring lawn chairs.

For more information, contact LISD Communications at 469.948.8152 or


Fort Worth Veteran's Day Parade
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The parade will stage at the LaGrave Field parking lot at North 7th Street and Main Street. Arrive no later than 9:30 AM. (Streets start closing at 9:30 AM!) Parade will start at approximately 10:00 AM and finish by noon.


NO THROWING OF ITEMS from ANY parade float to spectators.
NO stopping the parade flow to perform or shake hands.
Members walking with the parade entry must be easily identified from spectators by the wearing of a uniform, tee shirt, vest, cap, etc. and must keep spectators away form the moving vehicles.
NO alcoholic beverages during the parade.

For more information, please visit the Tarrant County Veterans Council website.


Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery
Veteran's Day program, Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 3:00.
2000 Mountain Creek Parkway
Dallas, TX 75211
Phone: (214) 467-3374
FAX: (214) 467-3316
Grand Prairie Veterans Day Celebration
Tues., Nov. 11 • 10am • Veterans Memorial • 925 Conover
Join us at The Veteran’s Memorial as we pay tribute to our Veterans who have served us by keeping our freedom intact. The ceremony will include a 21-gun salute, a fly over, bag piper, and a military brass band and culminate with our traditional free “All American Lunch” of hot dogs and lemonade. Please come out and show our Veteran’s how much their sacrifices have meant to us by attending this patriotic event.


Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Patriotic Concert
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Uptown Theater, 120 E. Main, Grand Prairie

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Brass Ensemble will present a patriotic concert of thrilling marches and heartfelt military salutes on Veteran’s Day at the Uptown Theater at 7:30 pm.  
Tickets are available at The Uptown Box Office in advance.  Call The Uptown Theater at 972-237-8786 for more information.


Farmer's Branch Veteran's Day Ceremony

Join us in honoring our nations veterans during our annual Veterans Day Celebration. We will have a patriotic ceremony followed by some great entertainment and will end with an All-American hot dog lunch! Admission is free. We encourage arriving early as the event has grown stronger within the community!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Begins at 10:30 am
Farmers Branch Senior Center
14055 Dennis Lane

Entertainment by The Manhattan Dolls

Wizzy Gizmo: Who Created Everything? {Review}

Who Created Everything?

This is an important question and one that my kids delighted in learning about as they listened to the Wizzy Gizmo CD, Who Created Everything?

This audio drama is a fun Bible study for kids on the Book of Genesis.  It is told in a story format with fun characters on an exciting learning adventure.  Wizzy Gizmo is a wacky professor and inventor who has created the amazing Gizmovision that can bring books to life to be experienced in person.  As the Gizmovision brought the Bible to life for the characters on the CD, my kids were engaged with the story while learning about scripture, the days of Creation, and Who created everything.

The story lasts a little over 30 minutes but there is also about 24 minutes of bonus soundtrack material as well.

What my kids liked most
My daughter liked the catchy tunes and bopped her head along to the beat.  My son liked the cool names like "Gizmovision" and their ship, the "Gizmoblaster".  They both thought the story was a fun way for kids to listen to the Bible.

What my kids didn't like
My daughter wished there was a video instead of a CD so she could see the silly characters and the Gizmovision.  She thought some coloring pages of each of the days of Creation to work on while she listened to the CD would be great too.

My comments
As a homeschool mom, I'm always looking for products that support my children's Christian education.  As to my daughter's comments about wishing it was a DVD, I'm prefer audio CDs like this.  We usually listen to audio books in the car while driving around town running errands.   I find that we are more likely to discuss the stories together and make comments along the way than if they were watching it on a video.  Besides, I like audio books because it encourages the child to use their own imaginations to create what they think the characters and contraptions would look like.  I loved the fun story and songs.  I just wish that we could get more stories but so far this is the only audio CD available...but I hear they are working on more right now.

How to get the CD
You can order online at Wizzy Gizmo.  You can get the digital download for yourself for just $9.99 or get the CD and digital download for $14.99.  I like having both because I can play the digital version on the computer at home and keep the CD in the car for when we are driving around.

For more reviews, please take a look at the Home and School Mosaics: Wizzy Gizmo Review page.  For more information about Wizzy Gizmo, please visit their website at  You can also follow Wizzy Gizmo on Facebook, Twitter, Google+and Pinterest.

Note: Wizzy Gizmo sent me the CD, Who Created Everything? for free in exchange for my honest review.  I was not told what to say about it and my opinions stated here are all my own.