Saturday, April 29, 2017

Hockey at the Dr. Pepper Star Center

Nicholas has gotten back into hockey and loves it!  He plays at the Dr. Pepper Star Center in Farmers Branch.


He has always been fast on the ice but when he was in hockey in the past he wasn't the best at really being competitive and going after the puck.  He is older now and more confident and we really see the improvement in how he plays the game.



He goes after the puck even in a clump of other players.  And he makes goals now!


Rachel is a great cheerleader on the side.  She crinkles her nose when the other team scores.




He has made a friend on his team.  She is the only girl on the team.  At the beginning of the season she started picking on Nicholas and poking him with her hockey stick.  Now they can be seen picking at each other while sitting on the bench.



Oh they are back at it on the bench.  Nicholas has gotten good at defending himself and even play fights back with her.  He doesn't see this as flirting at all. :)


The team tied this time but we don't really care how the team does.  We are just excited to see the improvement that Nicholas has been making in his hockey skills.  


Monday, April 24, 2017

Basket Case Game at AHG

Each week, Rachel looks forward to getting together with her American Heritage Girls group.  They get to visit with their friends, work on badges together, maybe have a snack, and usually play a game or two to help get the wiggles out. Their newest game is Basket Case.  


One of the leaders found it locally but you can also get it at Amazon (affiliate link).  The idea is simple.  One girl wears the basket headband while another girl throws ping pong balls into the basket.  There are a set of white balls and red balls so you can divide up into two teams and have a fun little competition.


The headbands were slightly too big for the girls' heads so they had to hold them on but they had so much fun playing this game!


Note: This post contains an affiliate link which means that if you purchase the item through this link then I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  This does not affect the price you pay for the product in any way.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Family Fun at Lone Star Park {Grand Prairie, TX}


I was invited to a media party at Lone Star Park for their Opening Night and anniversary party to celebrate their 20th season of horse racing.  I had never been to Lone Star Park before so I was excited to check it out and learn about something new - how to "play the ponies".


Since gambling takes place at Lone Star Park I was a little surprised that the invitation said that my whole family was welcome to attend.  I wasn't sure my kids would enjoy it but Rachel got all dressed up for the event and both kids were in awe of the whole concept of Valet Parking.


The gates open at 4:30 but the first race wasn't scheduled to post until about 6:30.  We arrived around 6:00 just in time to watch some of the opening ceremonies and get a feel for the land. 

The media party was in the Hall of Fame suite on the 7th floor.  The view of the races was just amazing and we were right on the finish line!


In case you want to see the action a little more close up, there are big screens to watch the race in a little more detail.


The race winners and final odds were posted on the board at the end of each race.


We all enjoyed watching the horses and trying to guess who would win.  We were not gambling at this point.  We still had to figure out how all of that worked.


Rodney works at Lone Star Park and he did a great job of explaining how the betting works.  There is a whole lot more to it than I expected but you really can keep it super simple if you want to.  We chose horses by their cool names like Rise to Greatness.  Betting on a Win is simply a bet that the horse will win first place.  Easy peasy.


There are lots of other ways to be though like Place, Show, Across the Board, Daily Double, and Exacta.  Each horse only races once and you can look up information about them in the race program.


You can place a bet for as little as $2.00.  Although minors can not place bets, they sure can have some fun by helping Mommy pick a horse to bet on.  My kids had a great time.


We made our way down to the ground level to watch the last few races from there.


It was great seeing the horses right in front of us as they crossed the finish line!


Once the races were complete, we headed over to the paddocks to watch the horses come in, have their saddles removed, and get a bite to eat.


Lone Star Park is a fun, family friendly outing.  General admission is only $5.00 and you don't have to bet a thing to still have a good time.

About Lone Star Park:  Lone Star Park is located at 1000 Lone Star Parkway in Grand Prairie, Texas. All ages are welcome but you must be 21 or older to place a wager.   Advance reservations for reserved seating and dining may be made by calling (972) 263-PONY or 1-800-795-RACE.  
2017 BIG EVENT DATES:
Kentucky Derby Day – Saturday, May 6 
Preakness Stakes Day – Saturday, May 20 
Memorial Day Monday – Monday, May 29
Belmont Stakes Day – Saturday, June 10
Lone Stars & Stripes Fireworks Celebration – Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4 
Breeders’ Cup Day – Saturday, November 4
For more information, please check out the Lone Star Park website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Ultimate Nerf War Birthday Party

Nicholas wanted another Nerf War for his 13th birthday party.  He did this for his last birthday party and so we already had the perfect spot at a local park to hold the battles.  It was a really easy party because there isn't much planning to do.  He invited his friends and we stocked up on Nerf darts.


We also charged up all of handheld radios we have.  We set them on walkie talkie channels and let the boys use them to talk to team mates as they run around in the woods during the Nerf War.  Stuart also keeps one on him so he can hear both teams' communications and know if anyone gets hurt and needs help.


We dumped all of the darts in a bucket and set it out on the table at the park.


The boys brought their own Nerf guns and loaded up on darts.  The darts are off-brand and we get them for a great price on Amazon.  It's just easier than having the boys try to keep up with their own darts and worrying about losing them.  We just buy a bunch and expect to loose a few along the way.


The boys lined up to hear the safety talk from Stuart.  Buddy system, boundary of play, how to use the radios, etc.  Then they got put into two teams.


The boys run out into the woods and try to hide so they can ambush the other team with a spray of Nerf darts.


There is a lot of excitement!  The boys are hiding or looking around or running the whole time.


Did I mention that there is a lot of running? 


Stuart and I just hung around in case we were needed but it was so fun to hear some boys shout things like, "We've been seen!  We must move out NOW!"


Some team mates would call to others on their team over the radios and ask for backup.  Their team mates came running!


Meanwhile, these sweet girls were hanging out quietly decorating the sidewalk with chalk.


The teams took a break and then regrouped for a different kind of game out in the field.  They played Capture the Flag and some kind of Zombie Infection game.


There was lots of laughter as boys ran around shooting at each other.  I think they all had a blast!


They stopped for a while to rest.  They had cupcakes and edible nerf darts.  Nicholas opened his birthday presents from his friends.

Time for another game out in the woods.  I love how this friend is loaded up with four Nerf guns!  He is prepared for anything.


I captured an awesome ambush in pictures.  One team is approaching a mound.  They are a little cautious because they know it is a good hiding place.  Did they just see someone back there??


Suddenly heads start popping up from behind the mound and start shooting at them!


Now more boys come out and they all start running after the approaching team! 


Everybody is running now!  Aaahhhhhh!!!!!!!


I love seeing those happy faces as they run for their lives!


The other team is still chasing after them as they are trying to get close enough to shoot them.



What a fun party it was!  Nicholas had a great time with his friends and said it was the "Best. Birthday. Ever!"

After the party we headed to Red, Hot, and Blue for lunch to refuel.  With his actual birthday on Monday and his party on Friday, he has kind of had two full days of birthday celebrations.  He's a happy boy.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How to Make Edible Nerf Darts {Nerf Party}

My son wanted to have a Nerf war party for his birthday.  When I asked him what he would like for a cake he said he wanted cupcakes with a Nerf dart sticking out of them.  I thought he meant a real Nerf dart but he said he was thinking they might could be made out of fondant icing and then they would be edible! Oh my!  Why does he have to be so creative?! 


I've never worked with fondant but it is an icing that kind of has the texture of Play-Doh.  I've seen lots of pictures of amazing edible creations with fondant.  I was excited to learn about it and give it a try myself.

The cheapest way to work with fondant is to buy a big tub of white fondant and color it yourself. I was in a bit of a time crunch so I opted for the pre-colored kind which was a little more expensive but I found a multi-pack that had several different colors in it and then I used the regular 40% off one item coupon for Michael's so it ended up being a good deal.

I started with just rolling up a Nerf dart sized blue cylinder of fondant but I didn't really like the results.  It would be too much fondant to bite into (the kids might think otherwise) and I was worried that they would get floppy if that sat in the heat for a little while at the party.  So I looked into ways to create a firm structure in the center.  I found a blog post online that showed fondant rolled over long cylindrical cookies and I knew that would solve my problems perfectly!

I started with rolling out a thin layer of blue fondant.  The fondant roller came with bands that you can put at the ends of the roller to control the thickness of the fondant you roll out.  I went with the thinnest one.


Then I placed a little bit of blue fondant over one end of the cookie and then eye-balled about how wide of a strip I would need to roll over the rest of the cookie and cut it out.  There are special tools for cutting fondant but my old faithful steak knife worked fine.  I seriously use my steak knives for everything!


Then the fun part.  Just roll the cookie over the fondant until it is completely covered and then cut the fondant strip off.  You may have to press down around the cookie or even out a few bumps but it usually went pretty smoothly for me.


Next I put a little bit of orange fondant over the other end of the cookie and then rolled the cookie over the fondant again and trimmed.


It took me a while to make the first few darts but once I got the hang of it I got a lot faster at making them.  My son decided he didn't want them sticking out of the cupcakes after.  Instead he just placed them on the guests' plates next to their cupcakes.  The kids loved them!