Summer Reading: Kids Book Club

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It’s August, so it’s no surprise that:

1) it feels like it’s 1,000 degrees outside

and

2) it feels like it’s been 1,000 days since school let out for the summer!  

If you are like our families, you have vacationed, camped, day camped, swam and generally worn yourselves out “summering”!   Last week we featured some fun indoor activities to keep your kids entertained in the dog days of summer, but this week we are switching it up and bit! 

Whether you are headed to the beach, about to tackle ANOTHER road trip or are just tired and ready to chill on the couch for a few hours, we have the perfect summer reading list for your kiddos!  Recommended by the kids in our own LECPTA Book Club, these books are sure to keep your kids entertained over the LONG dog days of summer.

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List of Books (as recommended by our kiddos) in no particular order:

  1. Jedi Academy Series

  2. The 39 Clue Series

  3. The Secret Rescuers Series

  4. Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like

  5. Mr. Wormwood

  6. Mr. Popper’s Penguins

  7. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Trilogy

  8. Clifford Finds a Friend

  9. Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig

  10. Nancy Clancy

  11. Captain Underpants (recommended multiple times and a sure crowd favorite!)

  12. Again!

  13. The Land of Stories Series

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Water Is Awesome, But Use It Wisely

Wondering how much water your lawn needs in this heat wave?  We were (especially after opening our own water bills this month!) and we reached out to our favorite, local, East Dallas gardening expert for her recommendations!

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"Your lawn needs between 5 and 10 minutes of watering twice a week at the most to remain healthy, says Courtney Esposito of Bee Contained, "Overwatering your lawn is not only wasteful to your pocketbook it is wasteful to our most precious resource."

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The City of Dallas passed a Water Conservation ordinance in 2012 which limits "non-essential" watering to twice a week.  This ordinance is in effect starting April 1 and runs through October 31st.  Since the water conservation program began, Dallas has decreased the number of gallons used per capita/per day by 22% - a number that really makes an impact when you think about how much Dallas is expected to grow (and how much water we will be using) over the next 10-20 years! Variances may be given for new landscaping that needs additional watering to take hold and residents are permitted to use soaker hoses and hand watering at their discretion.  

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Our friends at The Richards Group just launched their third iteration of the Water Is Awesome Campaign for the City of Dallas and the Tarrant Regional Water District. The goal of this year was to get residents to sign up for weekly watering advice. The watering advice uses weather stations from all across Dallas/Fort Worth to give you a precise amount of watering for your zip code. To sign up go here. 

How do you conserve water when it's this hot outside - we want to know!  Send us your own tips and tricks. 

What to do in Dallas when it’s HOT!

What to do in Dallas when it’s HOT!

by Heather Guild

 This Mediterranean Transitional in Prosper’s Whitley Place is more than 6,000 square feet of family-friendly space that is also grown up enough for great entertaining.

One of the reasons I love living in Dallas is that there is always something fun and interesting to do---fast forward to August in Dallas when it’s unbearably hot and it’s essential to seek out indoor activities!  We recently had friends visit from out of town and treated their trip as a mini-staycation, exploring different attractions around town.  As the forecast is calling for one of the hottest weeks in the last few years to settle upon Dallas this week, I’m sharing some of our favorite indoor activities for you and your family this week!  

 This spacious home at 4221 Glacier Point Court backs up to a lush greenbelt.

IFly
This may be my son’s new favorite activity!  Designed to simulate skydiving, IFly offers kids as little as 5 an opportunity to “fly” in their windtunnel.  Each flight provides two-1 minute flights with an option to go “high” on the second flight.  A great half day of fun for all ages (I may have even tried it out)!  If you love the experience, you can buy additional flights for future use at a discounted price AFTER you finish your session. Need to make this a full day’s worth of fun?  Finish your flight and head over to the Dave and Buster’s next door!  
 

The Perot
It’s no surprise that The Perot Museum tops any list of great indoor activiites, but even if you have already been this summer, the new “Ultimate Dinosaurs” exhibit is worth going again!  An interactive exhibit on Pangea fascinated everyone in our group and the checklist of activities to complete before leaving the special exhibit kept our kids goal oriented and entertained!  Plus, it’s always fun to race the dinosaurs in the SPORTS HALL!  

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Creamistry

No day of science is complete without a trip to one of Dallas’ newest ice cream parlors!  Creamistry uses liquid nitrogen to create your ice cream right in front of you!  Located on Greenville Avenue, it’s a fun and unique experience - and a perfect treat when it’s 105 degrees outside!
 

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Bowl and Barrel
I love this place, but it’s not usually our first option for economical bowling with the kiddo.  That being said, they are running a  fantastic summer promotion!  Every Monday-Wednesday, kids can bowl for an hour and get shoes, lunch and a drink for $10! Plus, the happy hour specials from 3-5 are pretty awesome too! I think that makes this a win for everyone!  

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Other indoor activity ideas:
Catch a movie at the Alamo Draft House in Lake Highlands!
Spend the day rock climbing at Summit
Check out the new Crayola Experience in Plano! (everyone I know who has gone said their kids loved it!)
Enter the Oval Office and Situation Room at the George W. Bush Presidential Library
Visit the newest indoor water park in DFW at Epic Waters 


Have a favorite indoor Dallas activity - we want to know about it!  

Candy's Dirt - Prosper Listing Hightlight

Whitley Place Custom Home Provides Family Friendly Luxury in Prosper

by Bethany Erickson

 This Mediterranean Transitional in Prosper’s Whitley Place is more than 6,000 square feet of family-friendly space that is also grown up enough for great entertaining.

This Mediterranean Transitional in Prosper’s Whitley Place is more than 6,000 square feet of family-friendly space that is also grown up enough for great entertaining.

If you’re looking for a custom luxury home, on a one-of-a-kind lot, but also want a neighborhood that is family friendly, you can’t get much more perfect than homes in Whitley Place in Prosper, trust us.

Whitley Place offers some of the best amenities — a community pool, creek, lake pavilion, walking trails, and even a special playground for the tiniest kids (complete with splash pool). And the greenbelt — we can’t rave enough about. A hybrid of park area that was donated by the developers to the Town of Prosper and a private open space owned by the Whitley Place HOA, plenty of green space and trees means family outings are an easy walk from your home.

None of that is a surprise, by the way, when you factor in that the developers of Whitley Place — CC Joint Ventures — are also responsible for some of the nicest communities in Southlake and Westlake, too.

And Haley Wagstaff, member of the Heather Guild Group with Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, has just the home for you, too — 4221 Glacier Point Court.

 This spacious home at 4221 Glacier Point Court backs up to a lush greenbelt.

This spacious home at 4221 Glacier Point Court backs up to a lush greenbelt.

Listed at $1.75 million, the Mediterranean Transitional is a home you’d be proud to entertain in, but also a home that is kid-friendly — right down to the en-suite bathrooms in all three upstairs bedrooms, which means no fighting over bathroom time on busy school mornings.

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Upstairs also features a large game room and media room.

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Downstairs, a spacious, open floor plan (the whole house is more than 6,000 square feet of living space) provides opportunities for formal entertaining, or less formal gatherings — things Wagstaff says make this home “truly an entertainer’s dream.”

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“The spectacular chef’s kitchen boasts two large islands with gorgeous countertops, top-of-the-range Thermador appliances and refrigerator, and designer lighting,” Wagstaff told us.  

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Downstairs also boasts a master bedroom that is truly a retreat. It overlooks the backyard (more on that backyard in a minute) and opens to an en-suite, spacious bathroom with a beverage center, double vanities, and a large walk-in closet.

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Also downstairs? A great study and a guest bedroom (if you’re keeping count, that’s five bedrooms, five full baths, and one half bath).

 

 

But you don’t have to do all your entertaining inside, either — the backyard offers a whole new option, complete with an outdoor kitchen and gorgeous outdoor living and dining rooms. A fire pit with seating area and a play set complete the family-friendly, entertaining-friendly dream backyard.

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But the other bonus is that you’ll be living in Prosper (which known by the slogan, “A Place Where Everyone Matters”), a town that first grew up around the Saint Louis and San Francisco Railroad, and then more recently along the tollway extension, U.S. Highway 380, and Preston Road.

And Whitley Place has its own spot in Prosper history, sitting on land that once was home to the very beginnings of what would become Prosper, with the Sway Back Union Congregation Cumberland Presbyterian (later the Walnut Grove Presbyterian Church) planting its roots in a white wood frame church in 1852, remaining there until 1994. The former church site is now home to a family who lives in Glacier Point Drive.

You can go have family lunches at the Cotton Gin downtown, and stop by Menchie’s for frozen yogurt in the hot summer afternoons. If you work fast, you might even be in your new home in time to take part in the town’s Fourth of July Festivities. And you’re also close to family fun in Frisco as well – from The Star to Roughriders games to MLS soccer matches.

And Prosper ISD schools are some of the best in the state, with students routinely winning and placing well in UIL competitions. The home is zoned for Cynthia A. Cockrell ElementaryLorene Rogers Middle School, and Prosper High.  

Looking to sell your home this summer? Staging Is A Must

A Client's Perspective

"Heather, Valerie and company did a fantastic job of selling my house.  I had an offer within 6 days of my one and only open house in  February.

I was a little out of sorts with the staging process but it worked exceptionally well.  The house looked much different than a bachelor’s interpretation of furnishings. Apparently, it looked a lot better to the general public!

I think the Heather Guild Group is a wonderful assemblage of ladies that work in unison for the purpose of selling their client’s real estate." - Duncan Mackenzie (6930 Southridge)

As an added value, we offer complimentary staging services to our clients.  Curious how much staging makes a difference, check out some of these before and after photos. 

Contact us and let us go to work selling your house for the maximum price possible.

SUMMER IS ALMOST HERE

Cool things to do in & around Downtown Dallas

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Do your kids like to dance? Do you? If you haven't attended a Disco Kids night at It'll Do, you have to add this to your family "bucket list". At only $5 per child this a great night for all to strut their stuff on a light-up dance floor to the sound of lots of great music. 

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Catch a FREE movie under the stars at the Dallas Farmers Market. Come early and grab a bite at The Market. Bring lawn chairs or a blanket. 

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Safari Nights Concert Series at the Dallas Zoo

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Whether you're a science buff or just have a curious mind, the world-class Perot Museum offers a treasure trove of goodies that are certain to fascinate visitors of any age. Opened in 2012, this stunning 180,000-square-foot architectural gem, designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne and his firm, Morphosis-- features five floors of mind-blowing exhibit halls filled with hands-on activities, interactive kiosks and a state-of-the-art multimedia cinema. Highlights include a children's museum with a dinosaur dig, a hall of gems and minerals with a 5-foot geode and an earth hall where you can experience an earthquake. Not to be missed is the Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall where explorers can build robots and create their own digital music. A good way to start is to take the external glass escalator up to the top and work your way down while enjoying the panoramic views of downtown Dallas.

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Native Texas Park Bluebonnet Toursat George Bush Presidential Library and Museum 

Led by docents from the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the free guided walking tours take visitors through the one-mile network of trails on the Bush Center’s grounds. The tour showcases bluebonnets and other native wildflowers along with a variety of native plants and grasses, migrating butterflies and birds. The free docent guided tours are offered Saturdays at 10 and 11 a.m. until June 2. Space is limited and tours are offered on a first come, first served basis. Self-guided tours of the grounds are free every day from sunrise to sunset.

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Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park

This living history village, located in one of the city's oldest parks on the southeastern edge of downtown-- allows visitors to experience what life was like in North Texas during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The village is comprised of thirty-eight restored and fully furnished buildings, some of which include-- a log cabin, a Greek Revival style mansion, a school house, a shotgun house and a farmstead. Kids will especially like the general store where they can weigh products, wrap up merchandise and sit around an old stove playing a game of checkers. Adding to the atmosphere are costumed docents, live farm animals and a host of recurring events, ranging from mock gunfights to historical reenactments.

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Nestled inside a massive refurbished warehouse in Dallas' Historic West End District, this privately-owned aquatic wonderland is home to countless varieties of marine life (many of which are endangered) from all over the world. In addition to stingrays, piranhas, electric eels, poison dart frogs and Orinoco crocodiles, the aquarium boasts a 20,000-gallon walk-through exhibit brimming with hundreds of Indo-Pacific fish-- as well as a forty-foot long glassed-in tunnel filled with sharks circling overhead. But there's more than fish that meets the eye, visitors can commune with everything from three-toed sloths, manatees and giant river otters to penguins, snakes, tree kangaroos and even a few jaguars. There's also a lush three-level (seven stories in height) recreated South American rain-forest-- complete with free-flying birds, pink flamingos, monkeys and a 40-foot waterfall. Not-to-be-missed are the talks and feeding sessions held throughout the day. Be sure to check the website schedule before you go.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS… DO WE STAY OR DO WE GO?

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At my core, I believe that our community as a whole is better served when everyone’s child (not just mine) gets a quality education.  And, along those lines, I believe there are those less willing and able to speak out for themselves that are better served when I add my voice to the community (in this case DISD) in which we are all a part.

But this year, my beliefs have been at war with my heart and mind, which has been embarrassing for someone who has been vocally supportive of public education for so long. In short, it came time for me to practice what I preached…and I paused.

This kid starts kindergarten in the fall. He has a bright mind, full of questions about how things work, why they work that way and he is always looking for a new “project”. I want his brain to be challenged, his heart to be nurtured and his perception of reality to include as much of a complete and full view of the world as we are able to give him. Can over crowded schools in run down buildings provide a back drop for a thriving learning environment? Or is he himself becoming the statistic I want him to be aware of that not all children are able to go to school in safe, clean schools. You know the mom speech…”You are lucky, not all kids get to do X”.

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One one hand, I find myself excited by the promise I see on the horizon at DISD.  We are a city on the brink of great change within our public school system…if we don’t screw it up.  I’m excited by the leadership of Mike Miles and his “Choice Schools” proposal…and then I come across things like this.

I’m disheartened.

I’m told that my child is considered less worthy of needed facility funds because we have a school with few students on free and reduced lunch. Or to paraphrase a speaker I recently heard, DISD wants to keep the parents of the top schools just happy enough they don’t leave while bringing other schools up to par.

I thought about this approach in the context of my marriage.  What if I kept my husband just happy enough that he didn’t want to leave? What kind of life am I setting him up for? One where he will thrive and succeed? Or one where he will just get by?

I see the constant infighting and bickering amongst the DISD board members and I wonder if they will ever be able to achieve the greatness I see ahead.  It’s there.  We can reach it. I want to.  My friends want to.  We are not the elitist parents you (trustees) have made us out to be.  We care about our children, and the children at all of the DISD schools. We know in 20 years, our children will all be figuring out bigger, more complex problems together…and it

is to all of our benefit if my child, her child, his child and their child all receive the first-class quality education that I know DISD can provide.  If that’s their focus.  Please don’t let us down.  Please don’t make us go.  We want to stay.  And, we would like for our children to stay in buildings with adequate facilities.  Their basic needs should be met.  Safety should not be a concern for parents…not in Lakewood, not in West Dallas, North Dallas, Oak Cliff or Oaklawn.