Monday, December 28, 2009

Ski Patrol

Our family will reconvene in Breckenridge tomorrow for our annual pilgrimmage. We can't wait. Just finished packing. Hope to post videos of Little K's progress in skiing and maybe photos of the fireworks reflecting on the snow.

Happy New Year to all! Until the next nap time...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Discovering Christmas Morning

So, Little K made it until 7:45 am to maneuver downstairs and discover Santa's delivery. (Amazing since she was too scared to make the annual visit to chat with him at the store or mall.) Little K also stopped by the nativity scene in our dining room and found Baby Jesus had "been born" this morning. Yes, someone else was wide awake even before us today!

Within 10 minutes, Little K shouted: "This is the best Christmas ever!" How precious. We are so blessed to have family and friends to celebrate this joyous holiday.

Merry Christmas to all. Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Photos 2009

Here are a few photos from our December 2009 adventures, including Little K's Christmas concert at school, a trip to the movies and visit with Alvin & the chipmunks and viewing of "The Nutcracker" ballet in Galveston with Popi and Grand.

Merry Christmas to all! Until the next nap time...










Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Family Activities in Galveston in December & January 2009

Check out Santa on The Strand, which has been scheduled on Saturday, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19 from 1 to 4 pm. The Nesquik Bunny will also make an appearance courtesy of Chuck Sanchelli of Nestle Toll House Cafe.

Don't forget that the Galveston Municipal Police Association's annual Galveston Christmas Parade is scheduled to travel through downtown Galveston on Saturday, Dec. 12 beginning at 4 pm. The lineup will start at 3 pm. at 25th Street and Santa Fe Place. If you are interested in participating, contact John Bertolino at 409-765-3775 (day) or 409-682-0374 (evening). The entry fee is one canned good per person.

On Jan. 9 and 10, Galveston Historical Foundation will mark the 147th anniversary of the most important military event in Galveston's history: the Civil War Battle of Galveston, which took place in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 1863. Camps representing the forces of the North and the South will be established on The Strand (Gray) and on Postoffice Street (Blue) by the 19th-Century Living History Association, Inc. and the First Texas Brigade. A reenactment of the historic battle will take place each afternoon.

Other special events include Civil War walking tours, as well as Civil War themed cemetery tours, Harbor Tours and driving tours, highlighting the city's antebellum architecture and locations along the waterfront used as forts during the war. The Tremont House is planning to offer a special package as part of this weekend. For older kids, these are great ways to bring history lessons to life.

For adults, ArtWalk is scheduled on Saturday, Jan. 23 from 6 to 9 p.m.

If you have any questions, please contact the team in Galveston at 409-763-5806.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, November 30, 2009

5 Tips to Develop Positive Kids

I receive Jon Gordon's weekly e-Newsletter. It's a great way to kick off the week with a positive attitude, which is (let's face it) not the easiest thing to do. Jon's email today was tailored to raising positive kids so I thought I'd share it here.

"As someone who studies and teaches leadership and who is also a parent of two children, ages 11 and 9, I often notice the similarities between leadership and parenting. I guess that’s why I hear from a lot of people who tell me that they not only gave my books to their colleagues and clients but also to their family and children as well. There is no better feeling in the world than hearing from a 9 year old or a teenager that has read Training Camp or The Shark and The Goldfish and has benefited from it. This inspired me to write a recent article for a parenting magazine and I wanted to share it with you as well.


5 Tips to Develop Positive Kids
I have a confession. Despite the fact that I work to develop positive leaders, schools and teams, I’m not naturally a positive person. The research says it’s not my fault. Turns out some people are born with a more positive disposition while others are born with more of a negative disposition. But there is hope. The latest research in neuroscience and positive psychology demonstrates that we can mold our brains and ourselves to be more positive, which is great news for me and my children.

For the past eight years I’ve researched and practiced countless strategies to enhance positivity. I’ve worked really hard at becoming more positive which I guess is why I’ve become such a good teacher. I’ve seen the fruits of these efforts in my life and in the people I’ve taught—most importantly my own children. I’ve seen how simple strategies and daily rituals can make a tremendous impact on their mindset, belief system and outlook on life.

I believe that positive kids become positive adults and as parents we can play a significant role in shaping our children’s perspective and mindset. In this spirit I want to share with you several tips to develop positive kids.

1. Success of the Day - Each night before bed, at dinner or while taking an after dinner walk ask your children their success of the day. The success could be a great conversation, an accomplishment at school, something they are proud of, a situation where they helped someone, etc. The important thing is to help them focus on accomplishments instead of failures. When we help our children expect success, look for success, and celebrate success they find more success and gain more confidence. Of course they need to learn from their mistakes and failures, but let’s help them to not dwell on them.

2. Bedtime Prayer - A ritual such as this provides your children with a foundation of peace, security, and confidence that gives them the strength to take on the daily challenges of being a child.

3. Implement the No Complaining Rule - It’s a simple rule that says you’re not allowed to complain unless you identify one or two possible solutions to your complaint. This empowers children to become a driver of their bus instead of being a passenger griping on the bus. They also learn to use complaints as a catalyst for positive change and positive action. Visit http://www.nocomplainingrule.com/

4. Teach them the Positive Shark Formula, E + P = 0 - This is from my latest book, The Shark and The Goldfish, which is a story about a nice and positive shark who teaches Gordy the goldfish how to overcome his fear of change and find food. After all, Goldfish wait to be fed. Sharks go find food. The formula reveals that we can’t control the (E ) Events in our life. But we can control our (P) Positive Response to these events and our response determines the (O) outcome. This formula helps children develop a strong locus of control which is a perspective that through their beliefs and actions they have an influence on their life. They come to believe that they are not a victim of circumstance but rather a hero in their own inspirational tale and that they can turn their challenges into opportunities and transform bad events into good outcomes. This helps them stay optimistic and believe that their best days are ahead of them, not behind them.

5. Feel Blessed instead of Stressed - As parents we need to realize that children, like adults, deal with a lot of stress...and stress is the enemy of positivity. Well, the great news is that when you are feeling blessed you can’t be stressed. The research says we can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time. Thus, a simple ritual is to help your children identify 3 things they are thankful for each day. You can create a gratitude journal together or you can encourage them to write these blessings on their blog, diary or simply talk about them at dinner. And anytime they are feeling stressed you can encourage them to recall something they are thankful for.I encourage you to think of your child’s mind like a garden. Each day you want to help them weed their negative thoughts and plant positive thoughts. One day of weeding and planting won’t do much. However if you practice these strategies each day, over a week, a month, a year, a lifetime, the garden grows more healthy and vibrant. Nurture your child. Take time to coach them and nourish them with lots of love and positive energy and you shall see the fruits of your efforts.

Stay Positive,
- Jon"

For more tips like these for you and your kids, visit http://www.jongordon.com/. Until the next nap time...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Review of Lola's Restaurant in the Houston Heights


Several times, I drove by Lola's on 11th Street and Yale, and was intrigued by the big sign that hangs above its door. Today, we ventured in. First, Little K and her father remarked at the front door, that is fashioned from an old telephone booth.

"Can you get the phone please?" Trent asked his four-year-old daughter, who has never seen a phone booth. The door handle was an old-fashioned phone. Cute.

I had read on another blog that you need to first order your food at the diner's register. No problem. We approached the counter with really cool wood finish below, read the menus and placed our orders. We then picked a booth beside a window and waited a short time for our food to be delivered to our table. The eclectic place was clean, light and bright. Interestingly, it supposedly was once an old car dealership so I enjoyed taking a few minutes to entertain my imagination.

Little K was delighted with her plate full of 2 big pancakes and 2 pieces of bacon. The taste test passed, too. I really enjoyed my vege omelette, although the accompanying breakfast potatoes, sausage and wheat toast were way to bland. I've had better at my house. My husband ordered a ham and cheddar cheese omelette, specifically asking for the cook to leave off the parmesan cheese. When delivered, the parmesan cheese was included. Trent said it was an interesting kick to the omelette but not what he wanted. Still, I noticed he cleaned his plate, which also included bacon, hash and toast.

Overall, for $36, we felt like the food should have been better. It was average for kid-friendliness ad the food is served quickly and they have a small kids menu, but no kids activities. We agreed we'd be willing to try it again, especially since rumor has it that Lola's has the best chicken fried steak in the Houston Heights. Hmm...

Until the next nap time...

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Wonderwild in Review


I've received a lot of questions about Wonderwild, which opened earlier this month. On Nov. 1, we stopped by to inquire.
Being new, the facility was very clean. Wonderwild had one of the inflatable bounce houses with the slide that competing venues have. However, it also has a Jumpoline that is safer than traditional trampolines. Little K loved bouncing around on it.
They also have an area marked off for the very youngest players with soft-sided toys and climbing structures. It's in the same room as the inflatable and Jumpoline, making it easier for a parent to watch an older child and toddler in relatively the same area.
The staff person prided herself on how safe all the features were. I'd agree. It did seem very safe. Although my husband pointed out one concern. The indoor train is powered by youngsters' arms. (At lower left, Little K is pedaling with her arms.) Trent's concern is that kids could easily get a finger or toe pinched in the train track, especially as kids exit the Jumpoline and explore the train. Hopefully, the staff will put up a fence of some sort to prevent this.
One thing I really like about Wonderwild is the incorporation of art in the fun atmosphere. Not only will Wonderwild offer art classes in 2010, they also decorated the facility with colorful art pieces. I also like the fact that they offer healthy food choices from Zoe's Kitchen so your kids can enjoy themselves without overindulging in greasy pizza.
Hour of Operation:
M-F 9 am- 7 pm, $10 for walkers, $8 for pre-walkers. They are open EVERY day in November except Thanksgiving Day (11/26) for open play. So if your child's school is already out for Thanksgiving, this is a fun thing to explore and it's not weather dependent. Alternatively, you can purchase an annual membership for $675 but I think few people will be able to afford that price tag for something that would supplement school and other extracurricular activities. Maybe I'm wrong?
More Opportunities for Fun:
PLAY OR SHOP DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING. Come PLAY at Wonderwild on Friday, November 27, to work off the turkey and pumpkin pie. Bring your whole family & have fun together.

Or take advantage of the Drop and SHOP program on Friday, Nov. 27. From 9:30 am-12:30 pm, they’ll watch your kids and make sure they have a great time while you get a head
start on holiday shopping! Activities include an art project, groove to some music, and of course,
play in the play area. Walkers only. Child must be potty-trained. Must bring own lunch.
$25 per child. Members are free. You must pre-register by Nov. 25 by calling 832-863-3275 or email wonderwhy@gowonderwild.com.

FREE BREAKFAST AND PHOTO WITH SANTA
Come meet Santa on Saturday, December 19, from 8-10 am, in your holiday best for some light
bites and a photo session with a real bearded Santa Claus! Wonderwild will give you a FREE 4x6 photo to remember the occasion. Photo packages will be available for purchase as well.
Space is limited. You must pre-register by December 16 for the event by calling 832-863-3275. FREE for adults, kids, infants--yes, you read it correctly, it’s FREE!!

NEW YEAR'S EVE IN LONDON
Get ready for Thursday, December 31, from 4:30-6:30 pm to countdown the New Year --London style! At 6 pm in Houston, it is midnight in London, so get ready to rock n' roll the night
away to some live music. Wonderwild will have complimentary food and drinks, plus other fun
activities. This is a great way for families to celebrate, play and bring in the New Year together!
Space is limited. $15 per child. Members are free. You must purchase tickets in advance by calling 832-863-3275 or email wonderwhy@gowonderwild.com.
Maybe we'll see you there. Until the next nap time...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fall is in the Air in Houston Area

After an eventful Grandparents Day in Houston, we headed to the ranch. I love it there this time of year. Not only is the weather a bit cooler, but the leaves on the trees actually change color in Navasota. Plus, we get to take hay rides.
Today, after lunch, PaPa had to run errands so we went to the local tractor shop. I know, glamourous. But Little K enjoyed playing on the "kids digger" just like they have at Dewberry Farm. When my dad saw her "digging a lake", he smiled and said he'd have to take Little K on a real back-hoe like he used to take me and my sister when we were little. Fond memories.
On our way out, we stopped for a quick photo shoot at the entrance, thus the photo at left. It was cleverly decorated for Thanksgiving, which happens to be one of my favorite holidays. Not only is my birthday around Thanksgiving, but it also seems to be the forgotten holiday and I always pull for the under dog. The stores seem to go directly from Halloween to Christmas. Do you not remember how the United States got started? Enough of my soap box.
This evening, we went for a ride in the ranch buggy/ATV. I insisted on riding in the back with the cool kids, while my parents drove up front. It was cute to see Little K and her cousin Claire bundled up. I tucked them in with a blanket because it was cool and, frankly, my sister promised to release stories better left untold if her daughter came home sick from too much cold outside wind. I obliged willingly.
As Dad drove, our 8-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback dog ran diligently beside the ATV. The only problem was that we didn't want him to run that close. There was literally about 2 inches between him and the ATV. I worried that one of his legs would get run over. Apparently, my parenting "worry" skills also applies to the dog. Nice. As my dad tried to drive faster and lose the dog, I leaned out of the back, pushing the dog away and used my best dog commands to make him move away from the vehicle. No luck. Finally, we stopped so I could lift the 73-pound dog into the back of the vehicle with the cool kids. At last, he was cool, too, and enjoyed the ride. Why the kids smiled and laughed the whole time EXCEPT when my mom took this picture, I don't know. Oh well.
Tomorrow, we'll return to Houston but this has been a fun, relaxing weekend despite the rain. I have especially enjoyed spending time with my niece. The 1-year-old has been a good reminder of what it's like to have a toddler under foot. (An observation, not a wish for a second child..) She's has retaught me that, although she doesn't yet have many verbal skills, she understands most of what I say. It's also been good for Little K because she's forced to share everything... something an only child doesn't experience much. Interestingly, Little K has not asked for a younger sibling all weekend. My work is done. Hee. Hee.
In advance, Happy Thanksgiving to all. Until the next nap time...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Running Late from Work

So I literally ran into the auditorium, trying to make it to my daughter's Grandparents Day/Thanksgiving Day celebration. Since I was running late from my work conference call and PreK always goes first as the youngest students, I missed her singing. Ugh. I feel horrible. My husband greeted me at the door and saw the frantic look on my face.

"Just say you thought the 'Gobble, Gobble' part was the best," he said.

My dad then walked up and offered me his seat up front. I sat by my mom and my in-laws, who dutifully watched the remaining grades do their presentations. At least Little K's grandparents were front & center. At least it wasn't Parents Day. But oh, how I wish I could have seen her. The personal one-act show that she did for me later was adorable but I hate to miss those little moments. Luckily, Little K hasn't asked me if I saw her because I don't want to lie, nor do I want her to know that her working mother didn't make it in time. I'm good at beating myself up over these things. Oh well. Better luck next time.

Until the next nap time...

Balancing Work and Family

Have you ever been torn between work commitments and family? I'm on a work conference call but need to go to my daughter's 10 am Thankgiving production. The call is important in that we're planning for next year and even talking about giving back to a local charity. Still, my child is my top priority. Hmmm... this will be interesting to step off this call. Ugh.

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Faces in the Crowd: Helping Parents Create Memories

Yeah! I'm so excited. Reporter Flori Meeks wrote the article "Faces in the Crowd: Helping Parents Create Memories". The article reviews my book 100+ Activities for Houston Kids with input from recent purchasers. I hope you'll check it out at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nb/heights/news/6724686.html.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Emma Turns the Corner, Little K Preps for Grandparents

Good news! Emma gets to go home from the hospital. We are all thrilled and thankful for your prayers. Please continue to pray for her as radiation treatments will begin to prevent the tumor from returning again.

Little K has been preparing for Grandparents Day, which is celebrated on Nov. 20 at our school. Apparently, she'll carry up the gifts at the 8:15 am mass and later sing a song with her classmates. Then, we get to play hookie by going to eat with Little K's two grandmothers and two grandfathers. How lucky we are! It's too bad her great-grandparents couldn't join us but they'll be in our thoughts.

Any suggestions on special gifts for the Grandparents? I'd like to give them a small token in remembrance of the day.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Thoughts at Bed Time

What a day. As I bathed Little K tonight, I yawned and told her how tired I was. It's just been a long day with heavy thoughts, yet hopeful thoughts. Our last report on our friend Emma was: "7pm update: Emma is recovering nicely in the PICU. She is amazing! Clapping in a rythym and singing "Hungry, Hungry Hippos.""

At Little K's bed time, I couldn't help but to think of how blessed I am to have a healthy child and a community that can raise up a family through thoughts and prayers. Everyone should have this.

After Little K went to bed and Trent returned home from a meeting, I finished reading the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Here's one of my favorites from the book:

"In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generousity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices."

Until the next nap time...

Eyes Wide Open

Here's the latest on our friend Emma from her mom's FaceBook page:

"3:30 update: Emma made it through with flying colors! Doc got all of the tumor on the brainstem. She looks fantastic, can open her eyes and talk. Next 24 hours-still need to pray!"

Come on friends. Keep those prayers coming!

Until the next nap time...

Pray for Emma... A Mother's Wish

This morning, I write with a heavy heart. Little K's friend Emma, who battled a brain tumor 1.5 years ago, is fighting again. They discovered on Saturday that her brain tumor had grown quite a bit since the last scan in September. The tumor is now blocking the fluid in her brain. Today, they are rushing her into surgery in hopes of removing the tumor. Radiation will follow for weeks.

In the midst of it all, Emma's mommy is due with their third child -- a boy -- next week so we're also praying that the little boy does not come early. As Jayne said, she needs to be with Emma first. The surgery today is quite nerve-wracking but absolutely required, not to mention the tough, yet precious, road that lies before this family.

Her mother is asking that we all keep Emma & their family in our thoughts & prayers today. A Mother's Wish... I think today this will be many mothers' wishes.

"Let us see your kindness, Lord, and grant us your salvation." - Psalm 85:8.

Until the next nap time...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

100+ Activities for Houston Kids Reviewed on Chronicle Blog

A fellow blogger has written a review of my book 100+ Activities For Houston Kids on the Houston Chronicle blog site. Check it out and let me know your thoughts. Thanks for your comments and reviews!

http://blogs.chron.com/westsidestory/2009/10/kids_activities_abound_in_west_1.html

Friday, November 06, 2009

Breakfast Time Laughs

So this morning, I was telling Little K how important it was for her to drink her OJ in hopes of her kicking the cough she has. Then, I told my husband the same thing. Yes, I'm bossy.

Trent poured his big glass of OJ and it looked so good that I decided to pour myself a small glass. I filled two small cups with crushed ice and then started pouring in the OJ for me and my daughter. Suddenly, I realized that my OJ looked much thicker than the juice in my husband's cup. Hmm... that's weird, I thought. I continued pouring.

"Oh my gosh!" I shouted. "Look at what I did. I'm pouring Egg Beaters into our juice glasses."

We all laughed as my husband & I tried to get the Egg Beaters out of the cups and into the omelette pan for breakfast.

"At least you didn't try to cook the orange juice," my husband laughed.

Clearly, I had not had my caffeine yet. Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How Embarassing! I'm Not Old

So my daughter had a play date with another 4-year-old yesterday in our neighborhood. When I picked up Little K to head home, her mother told me the most interesting thing.

Little K apparently had given the friend's mom a big hug. In response, the mom said: "Thank you. That was so nice of you to give me a hug."

Little K responded: "I love to give old people hugs."

Yes, really, she said that. When I left with my head hanging in shame, I told my fellow mom, "I think you look so young." Her husband looked oddly at both of us. He knew he shouldn't ask.

Until the next nap time...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Time Again in Houston


Pumpkin picking and carving is a big deal in my family. I have the fondest memories of picking out pumpkins with my family. We always tried to pick the biggest pumpkin, knowing that my mother would complain that she simply could not bake that many pies. She'd try every time. If we had 5 pumpkin pies, no one minded. Mom always played along.
And those pies! Yummy! I won't embarrass myself by admitting how many pumpkin pies I ate one time. My mother wanted to crawl under a rock. That's what happens when you have a baby who's born the day after Thanksgiving!

My sister & I always picked the biggest pumpkins. If we couldn't actually pick it up, even better. The tradition continues in the Salch family. On Saturday we went to a local pumpkin spot and Little K picked out the biggest one. Trent & I laughed. It must be in our DNA.

My dear friend Kelley called us early in October to find out when we'd be roasting pumpkin seeds. How about this Tuesday night? She'll likely be here because she says ours taste better. Sounds like a mini mid-week pumpkin carving party to me.
Until the next nap time...

Party Like a Rock Star

On Friday night, Little K attended a "Party Like a Rock Star" birthday party at Double Dave's pizza. Our whole family had fun dressing up. I'm not sure our hosts expected the adults to dress like a rock star, but Trent & I couldn't resist. Trent pulled from the bottom of his shirt drawer a Van Halen concert T-shirt circa 1992 and a Metallica concert T-shirt from around the same period. I had tried to throw out these things years ago because they really are horrendous. My husband refused. I actually remember roller skating to Van Halen so I'll give a little there. Metallica is just too hard rock for me.

Thus, my husband smiled in delight when I sported his old Metallica shirt (above) to a five-year-olds birthday party. All in the name of fun, right?
Little K wore her "Daddy's Rockstar" shirt with a pink hair extension and, of course, her Hannah Montannah guitar. (I can't believe I just wrote Metallica and Hannah Montannah in the same blog.)

The party hosts went all out. I was surprised to learn that the Double Dave's on 34th Street and Ella Boulevard has a sizeable patio in the back. The party was complete with a DJ, strobe light, inflatable guitars, temporary tattoos, temporary hair dye/spray and bubbles. We laughed when the DJ tried to get the 4 & 5-year-olds to sing "Who Let the Dogs Out?" because they clearly had never heard that song. That didn't stop them from dancing and doing the hoola-hoop for all to see. After eating pizza, the hosts distributed sugar cookies shaped into colorful music notes, tying nicely into the "Rock Star" theme. But they didn't forget the cake and brownies, too.
Toward the end of the party, one little girl held the microphone and sang her little heart out. It was hillarious. She even thanked her adult audience after each song.
I have to say, it was really a clever and enjoyable party. When both parents & kids are smiling, you know you've done well and this family really did a super job.
Another favorite aspect is that the birthday girl's parents asked that in lieu of b-day gifts, we purchase a book to be donated to the girl's school library in her honor. They even provided a "Rock Star"-themed sticker to place inside your book saying the book was being donated in honor of the birthday girl. They really thought of every angle, including the giving back to others.

Houston Zoo in the Autumn







Over the last month, we've gone to the Houston Zoo twice and really enjoyed it. Finally this week, I decided to buy a Zoo membership. A friend said that even on rainy days, her family will go to the Zoo because there are so many indoor exhibits. It sounds like a plan.

I have to say that the Houston Zoo is a lot different from when I was a kid. New things include the water fountain for kids to play in (great for hot months when Mommy remembers exta clothes), the carousel, and the frozen Icees. Still, I love the fact that the Zoo does have the bat exhibit (which I used to be fascinated with. Note "used to be") and the traditional zoo animals. It's a good mix of tradition and new.
I found the Zoo Boo to be very crowded but cute. I liked seeing the animals play and eat pumpkins that the zoo keepers had added to their cages. Plus, seeing so many kids in their Halloween costumes was adorable. I just wish we had gone earlier in the day (not 4 pm) so that the trick-or-treat booths were still running.

These photos are from our Zoo trip last weekend for Zoo Boo as well as our trip on a no-school day with our St. Rose School friends. We're already looking forward to our next trip to the Zoo. Note to self: wear comfortable shoes & pack snacks.
Until the next nap time...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wonderwild is Coming to Houston

Here is a great new venture for local families with kids. We are so intrigued and can't wait to check it out.

Wonderwild is the brainchild of local Houston moms who were tired of the heat, humidity and bugs. An art gallery, education center, and indoor playground, Wonderwild focuses on up-and-coming local, national and international artists--creating an artful environment where families can learn and play. Our 4300+ sq. ft. play area and equipment encourages children to physically and mentally challenge themselves in order to build strong muscles, creativity, and confidence. Our extensive array of play equipment includes:

- One of the city's only kid-powered trains with an indoor track--kids exert their own energy to make their cars move
- A giant 28-ft. wide indoor inflatatable "Jumpoline"--it's like jumping on the biggest bed ever, safe even for toddlers
- Soft play structures designed by product designers and child development experts, allowing kids of all ages to create their own dynamic area of play that never gets old
- 15 ft. inflatable slide* A special place just for infants to roam free and discover the world around them
- A three-story playscape that kids can wear themselves out by crawling, running, climbing and sliding - COMING SOON NOV 2009!

They are holding grand opening parties in late October to celebrate Halloween on Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31. We can't wait. Check 'em out at http://www.gowonderwild.com/

Until the next nap time...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Our Trip to the Land of Oz

This morning we went to the Children's Houston Symphony to see & hear "The Wizard of Oz". Little K loves music. It was great. I loved the fact that they kept it to one hour, just right for my 4.5 year old. The performance included actors that spoke and sang a bit about the story. Then, the conductor Mr. Franz did a great job of leading the Houston Symphony through a lively performance. I also appreciated how they wove in educational aspects. For instance, Little K has decided that she doesn't like percussion. "It's too loud and mean," she said. Perhaps she's inherited my dislike for loud noises. Does that mean we've eliminated screaming matches? Hmmm....

Looking forward to another performance in the future. Thanks to the Majeres Family for giving us their tickets. It was awesome.

Until the next nap time...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Students Sing at St. Rose of Lima Church

video On Saturday evening, Little K and her classmates sang "This Little Light of Mine" at our church service. You can see Little K over the heads of the congregation. My husband promised he would be discrete with the video camera but I'm not sure that really happened. Still, this is so cute that it brought tears to my eyes. So precious. I was also so excited to see so many families turn out for this, considering the kids only sang one song after Communion. People who weren't even Catholic came to see their children sing. How wonderful to see that. Go St. Rose of Lima School!
Please add your comments to my blog. Until the next nap time...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Count Your Bessings

This week has been a doozy but rounded out nicely. One of my marketing clients keeps flip-flopping on what they want. Another client wants more work done but doesn't want to pay for more hours. Well, I wish I could get more done in the same time, too. Go figure.

Then, Thursday morning my husband Trent was shaving, shook his head and muscles in his neck and back began to spasm. Soon, he couldn't move his neck at all and he was carrying his arm as if it was in a sling. His general practitioner saw Trent at 11:30 am, gave him muscle relaxant and anti-inflamatory pills, and sent him on his way. Trent stayed as still as a statue in the bed for the rest of the day but the meds were not helping.

"Ah, if the pills aren't working by Friday, I'll call the doctor for another prescription," Trent said with a strain in his voice.

Occasionally, his entire body would jerk in pain. Trent said the muscle spasms were going up his spine into this scalp. I asked if it was also hurting his feet because his legs would shake so much. "No, that's just me bracing myself," he said. Comforting, I thought sarcastically.

Trent finally fell asleep Thursday evening and watched my weekly TV shows, and then went to bed. Suddenly, at 2:30 am Friday, I woke to Trent trying to stand up beside the bed but he was in extreme pain. It looked as if the muscles were spasming and shaking his whole body violently. I called my sister Colyn so she could stay with our sleeping daughter. We rushed to the hospital, where we stayed until 5:30 am. Trent was given two Vicodins, a shot of another muscle relaxant and a shot of an anti-inflammatory.

We returned home to discover my sister had taken our daughter to her house so she could get ready for work while her husband headed to work himself. Trent headed to bed while I went to pick up my daughter.

"Is Juji (nickname for my sister) going to pick me up again tomorrow?" my daughter asked. "That was fun!" It was not even 5:45 am. It, in fact, was not fun.

Trent slept all day on Friday but is recovering nicely. He took Little K to the park today to meet some school friends. He looked a bit like Frankenstein, not moving his head much, but his sunny disposition is back and he's feeling much better. One friend even took this photo of Little K and her classmate at the top of the climbing tower. So glad Little K could get down on her own. Trent wouldn't have been much help even today. Many thanks for the thoughts & prayers for his quick recovery.

This morning, I went to a funeral of a 38-year-old father of two kids. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack, leaving his wife and kids. I wish them great strength and hope the community will continue to be there for them. It reminded me that, despite the stresses we've experienced this week, all is well on this home front. If only all were so lucky. Hug your families and count your blessings.

Until another nap time...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Free Theater Performances in Houston

I had to pass along this exciting opportunity to watch theater performances in Houston at no charge. There are matinee performances for kids and evening performances for adults. Check it out. Thanks to Elena for sharing this tip.

http://haatx.com/free-night-of-theater-schedule-of-performances/

Until the next nap time...

Monday, September 21, 2009

In Three Minutes or Less.. This Could Happen to You

So last night, Little K & I took our baths and then I helped her get dressed into her PJs. When I was getting her PJs out of the drawer, I found some baby lotion that I used to put on Little K as a baby because it smelled so good. Of course, as soon as I explained this to her, Little K wanted to put some on. Fine. "After we put your PJs on, you can put some lotion on your legs and hands," I told her. I even dabbed a bit of lotion into her hands and then put the bottle back in her top drawer.

I quickly ventured to my room to trade a bath towel for my own PJs. I hung up my bath towel in the bathroom and met Little K at the top of the stairs. We headed down stairs for dinner. In three minutes or less, we had dressed and were on our way to a peaceful dinner.

Dinner ran long so at 8:15 pm, our 3 family members headed back upstairs to put Little K to bed. I noticed a slimey handprint on her antique dresser but figured she had too much lotion and accidentally put her hand there. I returned from the bathroom with a damp washcloth to clean it off. As I wiped this solution off the dresser, I realized it was not lotion. In fact, I was smelling a very strong scent of Desitin or something close. Slowly, the confessions began.

I'm told that Little K didn't think she had enough lotion so she opened her top drawer, found some A+D ointment (for diaper rash) and began applying the ointment... everywhere. She not only put it on her hands and dresser, Trent & I discovered globs, big globs, on two of her little chairs and blobbing on the foot of her antique bed. Blah. I was so angry that I couldn't even be groced out. It seriously looked like something from the movie "Gremlins".

Trent & I used numerous (no kidding) wash cloths to wipe the ointment off, noting just how well that ointment repels water. I told Little K that she would not have any TV on Monday and she couldn't go to her friend's house on Tuesday. (Yes, I've already given in.) Then, I told her she "was on red -- big time" like her teacher tells the students when they're not behaving in the class room. I never yelled but I really could not believe my eyes, or nose. Little K hid under her bedroom covers.

Today, the scent of A+D ointment is much weaker but her ceiling fan continues to circulate the air. I threw out the A+D ointment and put the lotion in the bathroom on an out-of-reach shelf. Finally, at lunch today, I explained to my friend Shelly the torture that Little K had put me through and laughed the entire way through the episode. Too bad I didn't take photos of the goop. You know the saying: "One day, we'll look back on this and laugh"? That day is today.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, September 14, 2009

PreK Posse Takes on Houston's Food Allergy Walk 2009

So this Saturday, our family and some wonderful friends participated in the 2.5-mile Food Allergy Walk. The purpose was to raise awareness of food allergies and help fund research to find cures.
OR as one little friend told me: "We're walking so we can get money to give the doctors to help (Little K) not be allergic to peanuts any more." That was enough to motivate me to walk the 2.5 miles, even with Little K on my back for a sizeable portion of it.
I caught myself tearing up when I saw on the backs of our (big & small) friends: "I am walking for Little K.". Ten children and many parents headed down Allen Parkway that gray morning but it seemed like fun for most of us. I even had a small competition with two of the boys. They just wouldn't let me win.
After completing the walk, the kids pulled together enough energy for several Moonwalks, snowcones and muddy feet (thanks to the light rains on Friday and the Saturday activities in a nearby field). I visited a few small tents that had tons of information and products for families with food allergies. I picked up peanut-free snack bars, restaurant guides and more. It was quite helpful but also opened my eyes to those with worse food allergies than my daughter. (One mom told me her son is allergic to protein. He can only eat 5 grams of protein a day or his body goes into anaphylactic shock! No way!)
By noon, we were all exhausted. I looked around at these families, who got up early on a dreary Saturday morning, dragging kids into downtown Houston. They got nothing out of this but a bit of exercise that day. I'm wrong. They've won friends for life.
Until the next nap time...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

2 Cowgirls


This weekend we stopped by the John Deere store in Navasota since my dad needed something or other there. The girls (Little K and her cousin) decided that they would spend their time sitting on this saddle (see left). Too cute.
Until the next nap time...

Friday, September 04, 2009

Food Allergy Walk in Houston: Sept. 12

As many of you know, my daughter "Little K" has a severe peanut allergy. When it came time for classmates to bring snacks to school for her class, we all learned a whole lot about food allergies. Perhaps one of the most touching experiences was when one mother organized a group at our school to participate in the upcoming Food Allergy Walk... with my daughter in mind. These families willingness to study food labels and walk beside us in this venture has brought tears to my eyes... now three times. I have really been moved by their support and encouragement. So here's what our group is doing and how you can help:

Our Family will be participating in the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network's Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward A Cure. The 2.5 mile walk will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12 2009, at Sam Houston Park and is designed to raise funds to find a cure for food allergies. Please support our fundraising efforts with a donation, prayer or good wish.

Tax-deductible donations will make a difference in the lives of many! Any amount, large or small, helps us continue Moving Toward A Cure! We greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.

Click here to visit our personal page.

OR you can join us by Clicking here to view the team page for St. Rose PreK Posse.

Thank you for your support!!! Until the next nap time...

2 Free Movie Passes


If you haven't yet been to Studio Movie Grill, here's your chance.
No Cash Value. Get your coupon for 2 admissions to the same movie with the same showtime. 3D Service Charge Applies. This coupon (at left) has a unique barcode that can only be used once. Any copies presented after the barcode has been scanned will not be accepted. Secure your coupon by visiting http://www.studiomoviegrill.com/ReferAFriend/referafriend.html.
Studio Restrictions May Apply. One coupon per household.
Valid from Sept. 8th - Sept 30th. Do you have a friend who would also like a Free Movie Pass?Click Here!. For showtimes, please visit http://www.studiomoviegrill.com/
Until the next nap time...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Remember the Fall by Doing Something Good on 9/11

I really like this idea from "DoSomething.org" so I thought I'd pass it along.

Take Action on 9/11. September 11th is The National Day of Service and Remembrance. And we want YOU to honor the day by taking action in your communities. Tell us what you'll do on 9/11 by this Friday,9/4 at 5 pm EST, and DoSomething.org will send you a T-shirt!

Check it out at http://www.dosomething.org/user/login?destination=node%2F438161. Or post your ideas to this blog and encourage others to great things on 9/11.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Who Knew I'd Learn So Much in Pre-Kindergarten

I just got home from my Board meeting, paid the babysitter and looked in the mirror when I realized my face was adorned with glitter. Nice. I suppose this comes with being the mother of a Pre-K student since not only her artwork but also her dolls, purses and outfits shine with the sticky stuff. How I missed the face of glitter before my Board meeting, I don't know. Is that why our normally 2+ hour meeting lasted just under an hour? Maybe folks couldn't hold in their laughter any more?

Pre-K has brought about several interesting things, including:
- the comment that one boy smells good. When I asked about this, Little K said that the boy puts perfume on the back of his neck. "What are you doing smelling a boy's neck?" I inquired. "No, Mommy. He told me." Okay, I guess.

- When Little K saw a nun this morning with Father Clint, she asked me if the lady was his mother. I quickly realized that my daughter has not ever met a nun. I now have another item on my To Do list.

- My daughter insists that I should NOT put cookies in her lunch. "They're not healthy," she says. I really thought animal crackers/cookies were acceptable but Mommy continues to learn a lot in Pre-K.

- Little K's favorite thing at school? Nap time. "Really, what about art, music, Spanish, religion, reading," I asked, launching the Spanish Inquisition at the Salch household. "Nope, it's nap 'cause it's short," she said simply.

What funny things do your kids say? Or friends' kids say?

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Color Children's Creativity with Art Classes at Chapelwood

ART FOR ALL HOUSTON invites you to join its exciting FALL CLASSES!

Classes begin THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10TH and will study CAVE PAINTINGS TO PICASSO, a historical view of art through the ages. The class will study art history and art making through the masters and end the semester with a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) to view the works in person.

SCHEDULE FOR FALL:
MONDAYS: PREK -K 2:30-3:30 pm
1st -3rd grade 3:30-5 pm

WEDNESDAYS: PreK-K 2:30-3:30 pm
4th grade and up 3:30-5 pm

THURSDAYS: 3-5 year olds 2-3 pm

Location: Chapelwood Methodist Church
Plus, ART FOR ALL ANNIVERSARY ART SHOW (including all current and former students)
will be held on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29th 6-7 PM.

Last day for registration is SEPTEMBER 2, 2009. Visit the Web site and register with your credit card by using PAY PAL.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New School Year Starts Out Great


Yes, we've been quite busy with the new school year starting and Little K's entrance into Pre-Kindergarten. The requirement to be there by 7:45 am is difficult for both of us and we both miss our play time but are finding ways to squeeze it in after school and on the weekends. Thank goodness for that book. Smile.

I must be a nerd for uniforms and packed lunches because those are two of my favorite things so far. Weird. I love how all the kids look in those St. Rose Catholic School uniforms. The funny thing is it's the same uniform that my sister and several of my friends wore at St. Cecilia. My emails to girlfriends have really made them laugh.

Little K keeps telling me that she's not allowed to have a cookie in her lunch box which is not true. She's the only child who does not want dessert, I'm sure. Our school has done a great job of keeping her away from peanuts and peanut products due to her allergy. I think it's been a big shock to the school staff but they've been so accommodating. We are so blessed!

How has your school year started out?

Until the next nap time...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Meet the Teacher Day

With the new school year comes "Meet the Teacher Day". My Little K is beginning PreK and I think I'm more nervous than she is. We'll be off to our, I mean HER, first day at PreK. It's only a half-day so we can get the hang of things. I'll share updates soon.

A big thanks to my Mom who spent the day with Little K on Wednesday while I went to work. It was good to have that special time.

Another big, tasty thanks to Cici & Popi for the delicious school-themed cookie bouquet that arrived yesterday for my new student. Little K enjoyed eating the tires off the school bus last night and then devouring the driver. (smile).

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

MaMa Needs a New Pair of Shoes

My mom teases that instead of having a second child, I bought a dog. Thus far, she's right. The thing is, I don't remember Little K being half the trouble of this dog. At least when she was 6 months old, I could keep up with her and even place her in a play pen so I could relax a bit.

Not with Dutch, our Rhodesian Ridgeback. Last night, he mutilated Arthur the Stuffed Bear that's been with me since 1997. Arthur went to my mom's house today to undergo surgery, I mean, sewing treatments.
This evening, after an all-day strategy meeting, I carefully placed my brown high-heels on the counter and made dinner. I ran upstairs to check email before my Mom brought Little K back for the day. When I returned downstairs, I not only found the blue accent pillow from our bedroom but also part of my shoe. (Other parts of the shoe were scattered throughout the den.) The dog looked at me and seemed to say "Look, Dad came home to walk me at lunch. Where's YOUR love?"

The dog is now outside while I sip on chardonnay and await my darling 4-year-old Little K. MaMa needs a new pair of shoes! And this could get expensive.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, August 07, 2009

Animalopolis Roars into IMAX

I think this looks like a fun thing to do with the kids.

Animalopolis Roars into IMAX
New “Seussian” style IMAX entertaining for kids of all ages

HOUSTON—Explore the animal kingdom with Animalopolis, a “Seusssian” style film, done in rhyme and verse, presenting 13 different wild animals as they are found in their natural habitats. Viewers get a unique perspective of the beauty of these magnificent creatures, from the glory and majesty of lions, to the sleek grace and beauty of cheetahs. Other animals such as polar bears, crabs, sea lions, rhinos, hippos and zebras are also captured on film.

“Animalopolis is a unique, hilarious IMAX that makes learning fun,” said Charlotte Brohi, vice president of IMAX operations. “This whimsical look at the real world of animals as they play in their natural habitat not only reaches out to parents and teachers alike but engages even the youngest of audiences who are sure to giggle, cheer and clap throughout.”

Animalopolis focuses on the lifestyles of 13 unique animals, sometimes ascribing human-like attributes to the animals to allow the audience to relate to the personalities of these creatures. A lion bursts into opera, singing “The Marriage of Figaro” to his pride. Sea lions turn somersaults and bears dance the waltz. This film is ideal for both the young and the young at heart. The animals are presented in a fun and humorous way, with just enough information to spark the viewers’ interest without dampening their desire to learn more.

Animalopolis director Tim Huntley, is an Academy Award winner for “Up,” a live action short, and has also received an Emmy and three additional Emmy nominations.
See more, hear more, feel more in IMAX®. For tickets, or more information, visit http://www.hmns.org/ or call (713) 639-4629.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science—one of the nation’s most heavily attended museums—is a centerpiece of the Houston Museum District. With four floors of permanent exhibit halls, and the Wortham IMAX® Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center, Burke Baker Planetarium and George Observatory and as host to world-class and ever-changing touring exhibitions, the Museum has something to delight every age group. With such diverse and extraordinary offerings, a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, located at One Hermann Circle Drive in the heart of the Museum District, is always an adventure.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Starting School for the First Time: Pre-Kindergarten

My little girl starts PreK next Friday. Wow! How time flies! I'm excited about the opportunities that this presents from the Christmas concert to learning to read. Still, I'm realizing that I'm holding onto her more than ever. My sweet little girl is growing up so fast. And I'm not crazy about not being able to "play hookie" whenever we want. I know, I know. Make the most of your weekends. We will.

My mom also mentioned that children often react to big changes like school starting in different ways. Some kids crawl into bed with their parents. (Wait. Little K started doing that last week.) Some kids start wetting the bed. (Okay there.) Others might just be more snuggly than usual. (My daughter is definitely doing that but it could be instigated by her mother.)

What are your experiences with this? Did your child react in a surprising way when he/she started elementary school? I want to hear from you. Tips?

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Great Birthday Ideas

Today is my little sister's birthday so I have to give her a shout out. "Happy Birthday, Colyn!"

Speaking of birthdays, we went to the most creative kid's birthday party the other weekend. The little boy's b-day party had a theme of getting dirty. (How appropriate.)
Upon arrival, the children took off their shoes and socks so they could walk in paint and then put their footprints on a piece of butcher paper. The paper was hung to dry with each child's name on it so they could take it home with them. (Little K's footprints are now hanging on our laundry room door, which also is the entrance to our art supply room.) I've just got to remember to write the date on the paper so I have a reference point in the future.



Kids then could dig in a wheelbarrow to find small toys. The dad helped the kids put Mentos in a bottle of soda and then watch the soda fountain erupt upward feet in the air. (See the photo to the left for an idea of how this display really comes together for some entertainment. It will make you think twice before eating Mentos and drinking soda again for sure.)
One grandmother helped the children make homemade slime. Silly string was plentiful. I can't forget the big paper that hung on the fence, inviting friends and family to add a personal note with paint.

Still, my absolute favorite was the human sundae. Despite my teasing, I promised NOT to post pictures of the victims but let me describe this one for you. It was awesome!
One aunt and uncle of the birthday boy (my great friend & her husband) wore all white clothes and sat down on the bottom of a refrigerator box that was carefully placed outside. Then, all the guests (yes, even the adults) were invited to decorate these two people with ice cream sundae makings. Imagine these adults COVERED in whip cream, colored sprinkles, chocolate syrup and cherries. Luckily, they both wore goggles because they were soaked in dessert. Boy, was it a riot.

If you can convince a family member to do this at your next party, try it. Just realize that paybacks are guaranteed. Until the next nap time...

Monday, July 27, 2009

How to Write and Publish a Book

I've received questions about how to publish a book from a few friends so I thought I'd post my notes here. These are in no way a guarantee that your book will get published, but these are my tips and notes. If you live in Houston, I also recommend Roger Leslie's one-day class through Leisure Learning Unlimited. See www.llu.com.

Book Publishing Resources

So you want to publish a book? First, you need to buy or borrow the annual book called Writer's Market, which tells you the types of books that each publishing house is planning to fund within the given year. Find several that are closely related to your book topic. Send them either a copy of your manuscript or an outline. The book usually tells you what each publishing house wants (manuscript, outline, etc.) The publishing houses receive tons of requests so allow for several months before they respond. Some writers believe in hiring a literary agent, who can help you find the right publishing house but realize you have to pay the literary agent as well. See more details on literary agents below.

Below are some notes that I’ve taken over the years that might help you, too.

Resources

- Association of Authors’ Representation at http://www.aar-online.org/mc/page.do
a. Has code of ethics for literary agents
b. Can use free, searchable database to find info on literary agents by name; can search “children” to pull up list of possible literary agents & whether they’re accepting new clients
c. Also has list of recommended resources from copyright info to book fairs

- Literary Agent Research & Evaluation at www.agentresearch.com
- Publishing Scams by Professor Jim Fisher at http://www.edinboro.edu/cwis/polisci/jimfisher/scams/overview.html
- Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators at http://www.scbwi.org/
- Writer Beware http://www.sfwa.org/beware/agents.html

Types of Books

-board books and novelty: age ~2-5
- picture books or early readers: age ~ 4-8
- middle grade reads: age ~ 8-12
- books for teens: age ~10-14

Recommended Books
- How to Write & Sell Children’s Picture Books
- Writer's Market
- Children’s Writers & Illustrators Market: includes payment info for publishers, contact info, etc.
- Ten Percent of Nothing: The Case of the Literary Agent from Hell by Professor Jim Fisher

Some Children’s Book Publishers
- Scholastic www.scholastic.com 212-343-6100
a. Publishes Harry Potter and Clifford the Big Red Dog series
- HarperCollins www.harperchildrens.com and www.harperchildrens.com/hch/aboutus 212-261-6500
a. Publishes Berenstain Bears series and Goodnight Moon & Where the Wild Things Are
- Kane Miller www.kanemiller.com; info@kanemiller.com
- Hyperion www.hyperionchildrensbooks.com and www.babyeinstein.com
a. Publishes Baby Einstein book series
- Random House www.randomhouse.com
a. Publishes Dr. Seuss

Questions for literary agents:
1. Will you provide a list of recent sales including author, title and publisher? (AAR recommends 10 books within 18 months.)
2. Will you provide info on your experience and background? (resume or CV)
3. Are you listed in Bill Martin’s Agent Research & Evaluation (AR&E)?

FAQs about Literary Agents – borrowed from AAR:
What can an agent do for you?
Literary and dramatic agents are engaged in the marketing of rights to literary properties.
They serve as their clients' representatives with respect to the clients' literary work. They review their clients' work and advise them about its quality and potential marketability, nd the possible strategy for securing its publication. An agent's relationship to a client is fiduciary and includes fiscal responsibility for funds collected on the client's behalf.

Your Agent May:
· Offer editorial guidance.
· Establish contacts for you with firms and persons who are acquiring rights to literary and/or dramatic material.
· Advise you about current trends conditions, practices, and contractual terms.
· Market your literary material and rights therein. Negotiate and review licensing agreements.
· Review royalty statements.
· Monitor licensees' marketing of your work.

What does the Author/Agent relationship consist of?
The specifics of the relationship between an author and agent will vary depending on the nature of the work in question, the author's needs, and the agent's policies and practices. At a minimum, the relationship should include:
· An understanding as to what works of the author-and what rights in those works-are covered by the relationship.
· Agreement as to the compensation the agent is to receive for the agent's services.
· Agreement as to what expenses of the agent are to be reimbursed by the author, and how that reimbursement is to be made.

How can you find an agent?
Literary agents are listed in many sources, including Literary Market Place, a directory of the publishing industry, which is available at most libraries. You may also ask for recommendations from editors, writing instructors, or fellow writers.

Most agents will not accept queries by telephone, fax or E-mail. To contact an agent, write a brief letter describing your work and listing your prior publications (if any). You must include a stamped self-addressed envelope for reply. You may approach several agents at the same time. Submit material only when an agent asks you to do so, and agents expect you to inform them when you are submitting to more than one agent simultaneously. Your materials should be unbound, neatly typed and double-spaced. Be sure to include a stamped, self-addressed mailer for return of your manuscript. Always retain a copy of your manuscript.

Once you have found an agent who wants to represent you, you should feel free to discuss such matters as the nature and scope of the agent's responsibilities, the agent's compensation, the expenses for which the agent will be reimbursed, etc. and to inquire about the agency's size, client list and areas of specialization.

The AAR believes that the practice of literary agents charging clients or potential clients for reading and evaluating literary works (including outlines, proposals, and partial or complete manuscripts) is subject to serious abuse that reflects adversely on our profession. For that reason, the AAR prohibits its members from charging reading fees.

What should you do if you find an agent?
The following is a suggested list of topics for authors to discuss with literary agents who have offered to represent them:
· Are you a member of the Association of Authors' Representatives?
· How long have you been in business as an agent?
· Do you have specialists at your agency who handle movie and television rights? Foreign rights?
· Do you have subagents or corresponding agents in Hollywood and overseas?
· Who in your agency will actually be handling my work? Will the other staff members be familiar with my work and the status of my business at your agency? Will you oversee or at least keep me apprised of the work that your agency is doing on my behalf?
· Do you issue an agent-author agreement? May I review the language of the agency clause that appears in contracts you negotiate for your clients?
· How do you keep your clients informed of your activities on their behalf?
· Do you consult with your clients on any and all offers?
· What are your commission rates? What are your procedures and time-frames for processing and disbursing client funds? Do you keep different bank accounts separating author funds from agency revenue? What are your policies about charging clients for expenses incurred by your agency?
· When you issue 1099 tax forms at the end of each year, do you also furnish clients upon request with a detailed account of their financial activity, such as gross income, commissions and other deductions, and net income, for the past year?
· In the event of your death or disability, what provisions exist for my continued representation?
· If we should part company, what is your policy about handling any unsold subsidiary rights in my work?

(Please bear in mind that most agents are NOT going to be willing to spend the time answering these questions unless they have already read your material and wish to represent you.)

Questions for publishers:
1. Does publisher buy all rights?
2. How do you market and promote your children’s books?What are some recent children’s books that you’ve published? (author, title)

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Marriage in the Eyes of a Child

Tuesday night, our family was driving a short distance to visit my Grandmother. Her assisted living facility was having a family get-together so we were sure to attend.

From the back seat, Little K said: "Do you know why sometime I'm grouchy?"

My husband & I looked at each other quizzically.
"No, why are you grouchy sometimes?"

"Because Connor is taking a long time to marry me," my four-year-old responded, thinking of her little boyfriend who lives in Denver.

Trent & I howled. Finally, we pulled ourselves together and explained that she needed to be much older to get married but that we were pleased with her selection. Connor is the son of the bestman in our wedding.

How do you explain getting married to your child? Little K sees the Disney movies where Ariel (& the others) gets married at age 16 years old and thinks that's the norm.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Annual Free Child I.D. Kit Day Set for Sat., Aug. 8 at Community National Bank


Annual Free Child I.D. Kit Day Set for Sat., Aug. 8 at Community National Bank

Community National Bank (CNB) will sponsor its eighth annual “Free Child I.D. Kit Day” Saturday, August 8, 9 a.m. to noon, in the bank’s Bellaire Room, 5123 Bellaire Boulevard at South Rice. The bank, along with the Bellaire Police Department, Bellaire Lions Club and McGruff, the Crime Dog, will distribute the free child identification kits to area families as a community service.

"If you don't have a Child I.D. kit for your child, we encourage you to come get one on August 8. If you have a Child I.D. kit, we hope you will come update the photo, which should be done annually,” said Bellaire Police Department Community Resource Officer Tim Quimby. According to Community National Bank CEO Randy Dobbs, the bank has distributed hundreds of kits to help protect local children over the past seven years.

Geared to children from 2-1/2 years to early teens, Free Child I.D. Kit Day will include children's on-site instant photos and fingerprinting for their families' records. The bank will serve complimentary lemonade and donuts and distribute “goody bags” to the children.
Completed Child I.D. kits contain pertinent identification data such as names and contact information of the child's friends and family, blood type, allergy information and DNA hair sample, in a compact, comprehensive, confidential and convenient format.

Bellaire Police Department Officer Quimby notes that having a recent casual photograph of the child (as opposed to a posed portrait) is a major help to law enforcement in search efforts. He will be available to answer crime prevention questions.

The Bellaire Lions Club is a member of Lions International, the world's oldest and largest service club. Its mission is to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding. The Bellaire Lions Club is a group of service-minded men and women who serve their community and their state by carrying out the organization’s mission. Service-minded individuals, who can spare an hour or two each month, are invited to join the Bellaire Lions Club. For more information, please contact Lion Morris Dante, 713-843-6323 or morwdan@sbcglobal.net.

Community National Bank, independently owned and operated, is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. The drive-through bank, 5235 Bellaire Boulevard at Ferris St., is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to noon. The FDIC insures the deposits of Community National Bank, an equal opportunity lender.

For further information on Community National Bank's Child I.D. community service program, call (713) 664-4777.
Until the next nap time...

Disney Train Enters Houston on August 11

Mark your calendars now for a fun, FREE event. The FREE Disney Train Tour will be promoting a new movie "A Christmas Carol", starring Jim Carrey. The train will consist of several exhibit cars that show kids of all ages the behind-the-scenes making of the new movie. A 3-D theatre tent will show select scenes from the movie, giving guests a sneak peak.

While the movie hits theatres in November, the Disney Train Tour will be in Houston only one day: Tuesday, August 11 from 9 am - 7 pm. Head downtown to the Amtrak Station at 902 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX. 77002. Bring your camera for some great photos. It'll bring new light to the story of Scrooge.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Free Art Workshop for Parents & Kids

Art League Houston and Target Present Dream the Future!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECONTACT:
JILL NEPOMNICK or LINDA PHENIX at 713-523-9530

Registration (required) by e-mail: jill@artleaguehouston.org or by phone at 713-523-9530

Dream the Future! A FREE Workshop for Parents and Children (ages 5 to 11) This workshop requires a parent to attend with their children, and there is a limit of four attendees per family.

Date and Time: Saturday, July 25, 2009; 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon (Please note that once instruction begins at 10:00 am, no latecomers can be admitted. Check-in is between 9:30 and 10:00 at which time a continental breakfast will be served.)

Location: The Art League Houston House located adjacent to Art League Houston. Please note that Art League Houston is located at 1953 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX 77009. The ALH House is located at 1003 Bomar. Parking is available in the ALH parking lot. Participants are strongly advised NOT TO PARK in the Texas Art Supply parking lot.

The Dream the Future! workshop is part of Art League Houston's ArtBound! project, sponsored by Target. Artbound! workshops promote family literacy and encourage family interaction through the arts. They are taught by professional artists with activities that can be easily replicated at home.

About the Dream the Future Workshop: Art League Houston and Target are pleased to present Dream the Future!, an ArtBound! workshop led by artist and educator Angela Cook. The workshop is for parents and children (ages five to eleven) and will be held on Saturday, July 25, 2009, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The workshop is FREE, but due to limited space, reservations are required.

Artist/Educator Angela Cook will facilitate the workshop which will have families creating sculpture from everyday objects. All supplies will be provided. The sculptures created during the workshop can also serve as prototypes for things we will need in the future. This workshop is in conjunction with Detritus, an exhibition of paintings and sculptures, which will be on view at Art League Houston from July 17 to August 28, 2009. Painter Angela Berloian joins forces with Jessica Moon Bernstein, a sculptor who makes use of the detritus of others to create art.

Dream the Future! Workshop Schedule: 9:30 am to 10:00 am: registration, continental breakfast, an coloring activity 10 am - Noon: Art Workshop - Due to the nature of the workshop, once instruction begins at 10:00 am, no latecomers can be admitted.

Please note that Art League Houston maintains that creativity at its best takes time, therefore Artbound! workshops are designed to give families an experience that runs counter to fast-paced activities.

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

This Weekend: Trek across distant lands in Journey to Mecca

Trek across distant lands in Journey to Mecca
Travel with Ibn Battuta on his famed historic voyage - in IMAX

HOUSTON—Cross through time and thousands of miles of perilous desert in Journey to Mecca, opening July 1, 2009 at the Houston Museum of Natural Science Wortham IMAX® Theatre. Journey alongside Ibn Battuta, the famed Muslim traveler who ventured three times farther than Marco Polo, on an expedition made almost 700 years ago: his pilgrimage to Mecca. Venture into the most sacred sanctuary of Islam, the Grand Mosque – on the IMAX screen, the closest non-Muslims may come to witnessing this extraordinary event.

Journey to Mecca tells the story of Ibn Battuta, a young scholar who leaves Tangier in 1325 on an epic and dangerous journey, traveling alone from his home in Morocco to reach Mecca, some 3,000 miles across the North African desert. Battuta would not return home for almost 30 years, visiting over 40 countries, returning to Mecca five times to perform the Hajj and creating one of the greatest travel journals ever recorded. His perilous journey resonates with adventure while presenting an unforgettable picture of Islamic civilization during the 14th century.

The Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca that now draws three million Muslims from around the world annually, who come to practice rituals that have taken place for over 1,400 years. In Journey to Mecca, experience the Hajj as Ibn Battuta did over 700 years ago, as well as the Hajj as it is still performed today.

Journey to Mecca was created not just as a documentary about Ibn Battuta’s first Hajj but also as a bridge between the Muslim and Western worlds, built to help develop an understanding of the Hajj and of its ultimate purpose – peace.

In conjunction with the film, the Islamic Dawah Center of Houston presents Sultans of Science. This unique traveling exhibition examines Muslim scholars’ contributions to science and technology, from the explorers of the Middle Ages to Muslim engineers, astronomers and much more.

Now showing in IMAX: Under the Sea 3D, an underwater adventure that transports audiences to uniquely exotic locations for face-to-face encounters with some of the ocean’s most mysterious and unusual creatures. More information on the film is available online at http://www.hmns.org/see_do/imax/underthesea.asp

See more, hear more, feel more in IMAX®. Tickets for Journey to Mecca in the Wortham IMAX® Theater are $11 for adults; $9 for children (3-11), seniors (62+) and students with a valid college ID; and $8 for groups of 20 or more. For tickets, visit http://www.hmns.org/ or call 713-639-4629.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science—one of the nation’s most heavily attended museums—is a centerpiece of the Houston Museum District. With four floors of permanent exhibit halls, and the Wortham IMAX® Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center, Burke Baker Planetarium and George Observatory and as host to world-class and ever-changing touring exhibitions, the Museum has something to delight every age group. With such diverse and extraordinary offerings, a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, located at One Hermann Circle Drive in the heart of the Museum District, is always an adventure.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ohio Trip 2009 Concludes with a Grin

Well, our Ohio trip is quickly coming to a close. It's been wonderful. I realized toward the end that because we have a slower schedule here, I've realized how tired I am. As such, I have been able to go to bed at a decent hour, sleep in a bit and take an occasional nap. Ahhh. I'll now return to Houston better rested and ready to conquer a 2-day work week.

Today, I helped PaPa Don remove the old pea vines, till the garden and plant some new vegetables. Little K helped pull up some of the old vines until she fell backward onto her rump. PaPa Don & I roared with laughter. Suddenly, Little K claimed that something bit her leg & she was going inside. I think something maybe bit her pride but that's about it. The rest of the gardening was quite a workout. After a shower, packing and an early lasagna dinner, we'll head to the Dayton airport to begin our return home to Houston. What a wonderful trip. Now I just need to make sure we don't hold off for a year before coming back.

Little K is negotiating her pay with PaPa Don now. It's somewhere between $100 and 40 cents. I'll bet she settles on the lower end of the spectrum. Better go help.

Happy flying. Until the next nap time...

City of Houston's July 4th Celebration

Looking for some fun for July 4th? Read this article for a good description of the City of Houston's fireworks party. It's the largest in the area but, boy, is it crowded. For more ideas on July 4th activities, read my July newsletter. Subscribe online in 2 minutes or less.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, June 29, 2009

More Updates from the Ohio Trip

Yesterday, we had another blast in Ohio with our family. After a quick trip to church, we played, I mean, worked in the garden by picking red potatoes, peas, cucumbers, garlic and (Little K's favorite) raspberries. All this was after filling ourselves with Grammy's famous biscuits & gravy. Who couldn't be successful after a breakfast like that? We topped it all off with those tasty raspberries right off the vine.

Around noon, it was roaring in the 80s and surprisingly hot. I realized how little we work outside during the day in Houston's summer. We headed inside for lunch and what I thought would be nap time. No dice. Little K in PaPa Don's automatic chair and curled up, but only to watch the boob tube. At least she relaxed some.
She later played the flute's that Grammy discovered in her stash and colored a bit. The flutes are proving to be quite entertaining. Little K plays the conductor while PaPa Don & I try to play the flutes to her instruction. It always ends in a comical disaster because we can't keep up with Little K's musical mastery!
Next up, we went to cousin Bentley's house and then to her parents' club pool from 4-6:45 pm. Little K did great at practicing her swimming. Those swim lessons are paying off. When Little K saw Bentley laying on the chaise, Little K decided she wanted to be like Bentley, the big girl. During the pool's adult swim, Little K and cousin Bentley had a few snacks poolside. Bathing beauties (see photo).
For dinner, we returned to Uncle Sean, Aunt Patty and Bentley's house for delicious barbeque. I was so pleased to see Little K and cousin Bentley (almost 9) playing together -- from chalk to catching lightning bugs back at their house. GoGo the yellow lab provided some exercise, too. With no nap on Sunday, Little K fell asleep in the car on the way home but slept soundly all night - in the bed beside me. It's the first time she's ever slept in the bed with me all night. It's nice.
On Monday, we helped PaPa Don pull up the pea vines and till the soil for the next batch of beans. Well, he did most of the work since a long nap was finally in order after lunch. Tonight, we'll eat dinner at 5 pm and then head to a local elementary school where they're showing several movies for families for only $4 each. I can't wait to see how it's done and bring back some good ideas for our own school. PaPa Don is tired from yard work and says he doesn't want to go on the Girls Night. I told him that was fine because "Girls rule. Boys drool." Little K agreed.
More updates from Ohio tomorrow but then our return trip to Houston in the evening. Until the next nap time...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Eat the Peas. PaPa Don eats the Pods & more from Ohio

Not everyone gets to know their great-grandparents but Little K is different. On Friday, Little K and I flew from Houston to Dayton, Ohio, where we were greeted by PaPa Don & Grammy (my mom's parents).

Now I have to fill you in on the lead up to this trip. As a child, I'd visit Ohio once each summer to bake with Grammy and pick peas in PaPa Don's garden. PaPa Don even wrote a song about our pea-picking adventures that detailed how I ate the peas and he ate the pods. As I grew older, who ate the pods became a bit of a game.
Today, Little K continues by telling PaPa Don that he's stuck eating the pods because she eats the peas. Weeks before our "trip to Mecca", PaPa Don sent her a name tag. He said he hadn't seen Little K in SO LONG that he might not recognize her without the name tag. Artificial pea pods hung from the necklace-like name tag which read: "Hey, PaPa Don. It's me, Little K. I eat the pods." My whipper-snapper daughter quickly instructed me to edit the name tag so that it correctly read "... I eat the peas."
So yesterday, Little K ran to PaPa Don & Grammy, wearing her edited name tag AND a T-shirt that read in large pink letters: "I eat the peas. YOU eat the pods." PaPa Don's camera snapped photos quickly as his great-granddaughter sported her digs. Somehow, I don't think we'll forget the "gotcha" moment at the Dayton airport.

Before heading to PaPa Don & Grammy's house, we stopped by Aunt Kenny and Uncle Brad's house for a delicious chicken dinner. Cousin Lauren, called "the other kid" by Little K, was soon convinced to participate in drawing instructions led by the youngest family member. Interestingly, Lauren is no little kid. She graduated from undergrad at the University of Miami in Ohio in May and will work with children with ADD and ADHD in Cincinnati starting next Monday. Still, she must have been the next youngest attendant at the dinner party so Little K immediately took to her.
The teasing continues today. Uncle Sean made an appearance after riding his bike to PaPa Don & Grammy's house. P U! After Little K scarfed down all the raspberries by herself, we picked peas in the garden. She repeatedly scolded her mother for eating them, saying we needed to save them for inside. She clearly doesn't grasp the concept of finding the fattest pea pods and eating them before PaPa Don does. I, on the other hand, remain the master. We also picked more raspberries and a bright red tomato (for you Mom).
Next up, we began baking a chocolate cake that we later frosted into a 3D Barbie doll cake wearing a pink sun dress. Grammy & I shoved her into the freezer so her icing wouldn't melt. (It's in the 80s here today.) I joked that the two old bits got tired of the pretty princess with the skinny waistline so we SHOVED her in the freezer. It felt good.

A quick trip to an estate sale resulted in treasures for PaPa Don and a cross necklace for K. Who knew $1 necklace would bring so much joy?
Tonight, we'll have ham and stuffed mushrooms with the greater Ohio clan, followed by the dissection of a pink Barbie doll cake. If I don't gain 5 or more pounds this trip, I'll be floored. But the memories are sure to last a lifetime. If only everyone was as blessed as we are.
Until the next nap time...