Tag Archive | Ciity of Arlington

Best. Birthday. EVER.

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We surprised her with the party. At first she had no idea what was going on.

August 31 was my daughter’s 7th birthday. Every year, her parties have been huge. We’ve invited everyone in her class, as well as every set of relatives we have, and the result is always chaos. Sometimes, we even do an entire weekend of parties, with one in Arlington for her friends and one in Austin for family only. After last year, in which we threw a weekend of parties and traveled to Austin and back in less than a day, and then took my final exam for my paralegal certification on that Monday, we were done with huge, elaborate weekend parties.

Simplicity is best.

I’d once read that you should keep the number of guests to your child’s age, so if your kid is turning seven, you should have seven guests. The problem we always had was limiting the guests to just a handful. We always invited the whole class, as well as Sunday school friends and family. But this year, Olivia shares a birthday with a little boy in her class. So we were already pretty evenly split, with Olivia’s male classmates opting for Matthew’s party while many of the girls went with Olivia’s party. And then, it was a holiday weekend, so some families were going out of town. And for the first time ever, we did not do a big whoop-de-do with family. We ended up with five guests altogether.

Family guilt aside–it was perfect!

As you might know, I am a Naturally Fun blogger with the City of Arlington, and I decided to give the Elzie Odom Center a try for Olivia’s party this year. She just learned how to skate this summer, and I thought it would be fun to have a good old-fashioned skate party. I’d also never booked a party at the Rec Center before, so I was eager to see what it was like.

The cost of the basic party package is $135, and that includes the cake, punch, decorations, goody bags, and skating for up to 10 guests. You are also assigned a party planner who handles the whole thing from start to finish. By the time we arrived, the party room was set up and the rink (which doubles as the basketball court, so it is HUGE) was ready to go. Our party planner got us all fitted out with skates and offered little rolly-walker thingies to the inexperienced skaters. I’d just like to go on record and say I had to learn to skate the old-fashioned way, by falling down a LOT. There were no walkers back in my day!

The rink at Elzie Odom is perfect for inexperienced skaters because it’s bright and well-lit, and they don’t blare the music or dim the lights–at least not for our party. We also had the place completely to ourselves, so we didn’t have to worry about being mown down by older, more experienced skaters.  They also had the giant fans going, so it stayed cool and nice even as we worked up a sweat. I hadn’t skated since I was thirteen, so after falling once (yes it hurt and yes I laughed anyway–I had to set a good example for my seven year old after all!) I remembered to bend my knees and lean forward as I skated.

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“C’mon Dad! You can do it! Follow me!”

We got to skate for about an hour, then had a cake and presents break, and then another half hour of skating. It was really enjoyable to have a party with so few things going on. Skate, cake, skate. We weren’t trying to herd a bunch of kittens through a ton of activities–if your kid is like mine, she likes to do one thing that interests her and HATES transitions. If that’s the case, then a skate party at Elzie Odom might really work well for you too.

I really can’t say enough nice things about our experience at the Elzie Odom. Our party planner was so helpful and friendly, the skating was fun, and the party was just relaxed and low-key. I’d really recommend it for anyone seeking a party venue.

I guess Olivia said it all when she skated past me–walker and all–and hollered, “This is the BEST party EVER!”

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Olivia is about to blow out the candles!

You can learn more about the Naturally Fun program at the City of Arlington through the following media links:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/arlingtonparks

Twitter – www.twitter.com/arlington_parks

YouTube – www.youtube.com/NaturallyFunTV

Website – www.naturallyfun.org

Naturally FunTents and Tales 2013–For the Win!

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So the reason I have been gone for a few weeks is simple: I’ve been finishing my latest book, which will be published by Love Inspired Historical in 2014. This book was way more difficult to write that my previous three because I had to start all over with new characters. A new series means building a new world, and while I still set the story in Tansley Village, I had to come up with each character’s personality quirks, their likes and dislikes, even the color of their eyes and hair. I had to think of names, people, which is one of the things I find hardest to do.

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Movie time!

So, anyway, I was working on finishing the book. And when I am in the throes of a deadline, it falls to my husband to entertain our daughter. Since I am now an official Naturally Fun blogger for the City of Arlington, we turned to the program guide to see what cool things were on the horizon that would allow my husband and daughter some fun together time while allowing me some much needed writing time.First up—Tents and Tales in River Legacy Park. This was held just two weeks ago, which if you will recall, was unusually and unseasonably cold here. I kept one eye on my laptop and one eye on the Weather Channel, expecting to tell Zach that we’d just have to back out. But I guess I don’t understand the thrall of camping because not only did they go, but there was a huge turnout. Now, full disclosure: they didn’t stay out all night. Olivia is still pretty young for camping out overnight and the weather was really cold. But on the plus side, Tents and Tales was geared specifically for kids and families; if you needed to leave early, no problem.

Staying warm and having fun!

Staying warm and having fun!

My daughter and husband had a blast, and already have planned to return next year. My daughter got to have the full camping experience: story time (with the famous Mr. Bob from the Central Library), roasting marshmallows, watching Madagascar 3 on the big screen, and eating hot dogs. Zach really liked how there were just enough activities spaced far enough apart that kids were kept entertained, but there was neither a rush to finish nor too much of a lull.

Since we got Zach a new tent for his birthday, he was only too eager to try out his new camping gear. But I was impressed by the fact that they offered tents for rent onsite. So, if you wanted to try camping but didn’t want to shell out money for a tent that you might never use again, you could still try it out. And the entrance fee was really affordable at $10/person. Not too shabby when you get an entire evening’s worth of snacks, dinner, and entertainment.

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Daddy daughter time!

Bottom line: Tents and Tales at River Legacy gets two thumbs up from both Zach and Olivia.

And I give it my own thumbs up for allowing me to finish writing Chapter Twenty-Two in peace and quiet.

You can learn more about the Naturally Fun program at the City of Arlington through the following media links:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/arlingtonparks

Twitter – www.twitter.com/arlington_parks

YouTube – www.youtube.com/NaturallyFunTV

Website – www.naturallyfun.org