Entertaining J+J: Part 1

child in motion, nasher sculpture centerMost of my almost 3-year-old son’s favorite activities can be classified into 2 categories:

1. Things involving elevators: watching them, talking about them, riding in them and pushing their buttons

2. Things involving motion: as in, being in motion, and watching other things in motion – water, trains, airplanes, and, oh yes, elevators

So, it would seem that keeping him entertained would be easy: take him to the nearest hotel and let him go up and down the elevators to his heart’s content. But maybe because we have a younger daughter and we’re hoping to cultivate a broader set of interests in her or maybe because we’re too easily bored with our son’s interests, we continue to seek out new and interesting things to do with our kids in the DFW area.

We found a few favorites this summer, so I thought I would share.

summer in dfw

Dallas Arboretum

The Dallas Arboretum has an installation of child-sized houses that children can play in. Each house was designed by a local architecture firm and is based on a children’s book. Our son’s favorite was Treasure Island – probably because of the sand. This is a great place to pack a picnic lunch and spend the day.

Nasher Sculpture Garden

The first Saturday of each month is free and features art activities (scavenger hunt, crafts and demonstrations) for kids. The outdoor garden is beautiful and the James Turrell ‘skyspace’ is amazing. Almost as amazing is the grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup at the Nasher’s Wolfgang Puck cafe.

Central Market Outdoor Cafe

This is our Friday night stand-by. A cafe with an outdoor park allowing kids to play while their parents watch close by is definitely win-win. And we get to enjoy the occasional live music. Kids eat free on Tuesdays, which doesn’t help us so much on Friday nights.

They Might Be Giants

Jason in his TMBG No! shirt

Jason in his TMBG No! shirt

No! No! No!

These are my my two-and-a-half-year-old son’s favorite words – yes, ‘words’ plural. The word no seems to  be three words in his vocabulary:

1. No, I’ve considered the options and I’m certain that I don’t want what you’re suggesting.
2. No, I have no opinion on the matter but my first instinct was to say no. That’s my final answer.
3. No, I really mean yes but I don’t want to give you the benefit of knowing that I’m agreeing with you.

So it’s no surprise that the They Might Be Giant’s song, “No! No! No!,” is one of his current favorites.

Last weekend, we found out that They Might Be Giants were playing live in Kansas City (the home of grandma and grandpa), so we piled the whole family into the car and drove 8 hours so that Jason could see one of his favorite bands live.

Here’s what he looked like when TMBG (or ‘be giants’ as my son calls them) took the stage:

He's Going to Bed. Bed! Bed! Bed! Bed!

He's Going to Bed. Bed! Bed! Bed! Bed!

We had driven 8 hours the night before and endured nearly an entire day listening to live children’s music, so we weren’t going to let him sleep through the main event. It took awhile, but my husband finally woke him up and directed his attention to the stage. I’m not sure if he recognized the musicians. I realized during the show that to him, ‘be giants’ are the puppets he sees on the “Here Come the 1, 2, 3s” video. But he definitely recognized the songs, and, of course, they played his favorite, ‘No!, No!, No!”

Here’s what he looked like soon after waking up (my husband looking almost as sleepy):

Jason & Daddy at They Might Be Giants concert

Jason & Daddy at They Might Be Giants concert

And here are They Might Be Giants at the JiggleJam concert in Kansas City:

They Might Be Giants: Live in Kansas City

They Might Be Giants: Live in Kansas City

Jenna’s First Birthday

Despite rain and having to hold a ‘garden party’ indoors, Jenna’s party was lots of fun – and we avoided having to set up a canopy in the backyard. Instead, we set up a flower/butterfly collage crafts table in the living room and a tattoo parlour in the entryway. I’ll never host a kids party without tattoos again – they were a huge hit – and Jenna and I sported matching tulip tats!

Here are a few of the pictures:

Jenna's First Birthday

Jenna's First Birthday

Thank you to everyone who attended!

Making Lollipops

Homemade Lollipops


Homemade Lollipops

I chose the cake for Jenna’s garden party because it looked very cute and very easy. Little did I know the hard part would be the lollipops: finding simple lollipops to match the inspiration cake and my color scheme proved to be more difficult than I ever expected. Martha’s stylist has access to all of the lollipops of  NYC; I have access to all of the lollipops of Keller, TX. Online stores proved equally disappointing, so I was left with one choice: make my own lollipops.

Lollipop Cake from marthastewart.com

Lollipop Cake from marthastewart.com

It turns out that making candy is pretty easy. I used the following recipe and purchased a circle-shaped lollipop mold:


– 2 cups sugar

– 2/3 corn syrup

– 1/2 cup water


Heat everything in a saucepan until it reaches 300 degrees. Use a candy thermometer. Once it reaches 300, you can add food coloring and flavor, if you’d like. Spray the mold with nonstick spray and then place a lollipop stick in each mold. Pour the liquid into the mold, working quickly so it doesn’t cool and get sticky. Place in the fridge and allow to cool completely.

The hard part is achieving the exact color that you want. I made the ginger-color lollipops using one drop of pink, but I was hoping for a very, very pale pink. Because the corn syrup had a slight yellow color to it, I couldn’t create pale colored candy. I only have a couple of days till the party, but I am considering finding a clear corn syrup and making another batch.

The other hard part is the clean up. Maybe there’s a trick to what you do with the leftovers, but removing the hardened liquid from anything its come in contact with is no small chore. I left some of the liquid in a measuring cup overnight, and then decided it was best to just throw the cup away. I also reheated the remaining candy in the pan and it solidified just as I was taking it out. So, here are a few examples of what not to do:

Leftover Candy Mess

Leftover Candy Glob

Upside-down Candy-in-a-Cup

Upside-down Candy-in-a-Cup

Jenna’s First Birthday Party

My daughter’s first birthday is coming up, and I’ve decided to throw a garden party birthday brunch to celebrate.  The planning and preparations are turning out to be both fun and time-consuming, so I thought I would share my baby party event planning with other mothers who are considering a similar party theme.

I’ll post the details here, along with pictures of the final event (to be held on May 16th). In addition, I plan to post ideas for paper crafts, decorating children’s rooms and activities for kids. If you have any additional suggestions, feel free to post them here.