Monday, October 30, 2006

Searching for Fun Houston Families

Is your family a Fun Family?

The University of Texas School of Public Health and the Kelsey Research Foundation are conducting a research study on family routines. If you have children ages 6 to 9 and are interested in participating, please call Dr. Liliana Escobar-Chaves at (713) 500-9637 or email her at or contact Ana Bedoya at (713) 500-9797 or

You will be compensated for your time.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Spooky Weekend in Houston

If you haven't picked your pumpkin yet, be sure to head out to Dewberry Farm this weekend. It's fantastic. See my earlier blog entry for details.

Another great Halloween treat this weekend is the Zoo Boo. From noon to 5 pm this Saturday and Sunday, the Houston Zoo is decorated for Halloween with pumpkins and ghosts galore. Kids enjoy safe trick or treating while learning about creepy, crawly critters that live at the zoo. Children are encouraged to wear their costumes, which makes so many parents happy that their kids won't just wear the costume one day of the year!

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pumpkins at Dewberry Farm

If your family hasn't taken a trip to Dewberry Farm yet, there's still time. We almost didn't go this past weekend because it was pouring at our Houston house. I called Dewberry Farm to check the weather and it was NOT raining there. I thought they were maybe faking me out but we headed out to Brookshire to pick our pumpkin.

The best thing about Dewberry Farm is that after picking your own pumpkin from the patch, there are tons of fun kids activities. From heading up & then down the big slide, to jumping in the haystacks to exploring at the petting zoo, this place is a wonderful family activity. In fact, we again agreed this year that it's an annual tradition. This year, we were delighted to have our cousin Becca come with us. Perhaps she enjoyed it most of all.

Until the next nap time...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Communication in Families Starts Early

My husband & I were talking last night about those funny things that our parents used to do to us that we swear we won't do to our own kids. No, I'm not talking about how they punished us or how my parents always said "because I'm the mom/dad and I said so" without explaining the reason. Trent & I were discussing lighter things.

I remember hating to have my face washed. It was the typical tug-of-war that many families experience. The funny thing about it is that I hated this because the wash cloths in the kitchen constantly smelled like mildew! Groce! Unfortunately, at the early age of 4, I didn't even know what mildew was, much less could I verbalize this horrendous smell that being slimed onto my face. Finally, after years of stinky torture, I told my mom that the washcloth smelled bad. She sniffed it & I'll never forget her face. We both doubled over in laughter. To this day, I'm compulsive about washing little K's face with a new washcloth, even though it adds to the loads of laundry. It will be one thing my daughter won't be able to blame me for.

My husband tells the tale of his mother always carrying a tissue in her purse for emergencies. Trent says he'd see his mom blow her nose and then carefully tuck the tissue back in her purse. Days later, his mom would try wiping Trent's nose with that same tissue! Blah! Trent would scream, "No way. I saw you blow your nose on that tissue the other day." His mother explained that she had already "cleaned out the tissue" so it was fine. Trent today is scared of the tissue in his mother's purse. Pretty funny, huh?

What does all of this boil down to in my mind? Communication. As parents, we should try to remember that while our kids often seem so exceptional, their little minds aren't always able to keep up with ours. Instead of manhandling my daughter so I can wipe the donut crumbs from her face, maybe I should ask her if she can clean her face. "Yes, Kylie does it," I'll say. When she fights me on getting into the car, I should probably try to figure out WHY she doesn't like the car. (She only has the Elmo video and 50 books to keep her pleased. What else could she need in the car?) By starting to communicate and understand my daughter, I hopefully will be on the road to a more open relationship with her. Every step counts. And when Little K is entering middle school and has tons of questions about her world, I'll be trained to talk with her and listen to what she has on her mind. Little K may be more willing to share her thoughts because she has grown accustomed to sharing with me. Well, I'm hopeful. At least my daughter won't have to smell a dirty wash cloth.

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Discussing Fire Safety with Houston Kids

I'm not a huge fan of videos or DVDs for kids because I'm constantly reminded that parents need to limit TV time. Okay, okay. I agree and I try to do that. But there is some good stuff out there. I actually remember telling my mom years ago some phenominal, new fact. Then, when she was SO impressed with her child's knowledge, I told her "And you said I couldn't learn anything from television!"

With Fire Fest being held in Houston this Saturday (see previous entry for details on Fire Fest), I wanted to get my daughter prepared for the fire truck noises so she could really enjoy FireFest and not be too scared. My husband & I bought Little K a video called "Elmo Visits the Firehouse" and I've been amazed. Not only does Little K love the Elmo (or "Melmo" as she calls the furry critter) video, she's learning about fire safety and to trust firefighters. Using the traditional back drop of child-friendly Sesame Street, the characters experience a small fire and learn how to respond safely. Elmo meets a firefighter who invites Elmo to the firehouse to learn more about firefighters and not be scared.

If your child is interested in firefighters or you'd like to approach the topic of fire safety with your youngsters in a nonthreatening way, I suggest renting or buying "Elmo Visits the Firehouse." It's a great precursor to Fire Fest this weekend but it can be played later as a positive reminder of important safety lessons. Check it out. Parents won't mind the singing and dancing either. :-)

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fire Fest Blazes in Houston

The Houston Fire Museum sponsors Fire Fest this Saturday, 10/21 to honor firefighters and educate Houstonians about what happens daily in the life of a Houston firefighter. The Houston program is so well regarded that aspiring firefighters from all over come to Houston to train. This is a great way for your children to learn how the fire department serves Houstonians. Bring the kids to enjoy fire demonstrations, fire trucks, music, food and fun. Plus, children love to shake hands with real firefighters.

Recommended age: 1+ years
Admission: FREE
Time: 10 am–5 pm
Physical location: HFD Val Jahnke Training Facility at 8030 Braniff (off Telephone Rd. behind Hobby Airport) 713-524-2526

For more cool ideas of things to do with your children in Houston, check out or purchase a copy of the book 100+ Activities for Houston Kids.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Halloween Haunts for Houston Kids -- All Ages

With the Halloween decorations out & about, I've been reflecting on favorite scary moments. What's yours?

Years ago, my little sister & I convinced our Dad & PaPa to rent us the movie Arachnophobia, starring John Goodman. This was exciting. We wanted to be scared yet be able to walk away from the fright. Our PaPa only agreed to half watch the flick as he visited with our parents during his visit to Houston from Ohio. My sister Colyn & I clung to the side of the sofa, enthralled by the movie about creepy, crawly spiders. The hair on our arms and the backs of our necks stood tall. My teeth clenched tightly.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed PaPa, creeping toward us. His smirky smile forewarned his horseplay but I sat quietly and watched. My lil sis was too engaged in the spooky film to notice otherwise. PaPa crawled close with a Pussy Willow branch in his hand. As he approached Colyn, he slowly rubbed the furry pussy willow against her leg.

"Ahhh!" she screamed. As terrified Colyn ran down the hall to escape the gigantic tarantula that was surely behind her, PaPa & I roared with laughter. The movie continued on by itself as we howled together. Later, Colyn rejoined us, promising to get us both back. She, too, smiled.

This is my favorite spooky story. (Sorry, Colyn!) So instead of paying hefty prices to take your kids to an overrated, teen-run haunted house, create your own spooky stories at home. Whether funny or slightly scary, doing it together is worth while.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Family Day on the Prairie This Saturday

Looking for something fun to do with the kids this weekend?

Head out to the Family Day on the Prairie & Preserve Tour this Saturday, October 14 from 9 am - noon at Nelson Farms.

Dip a net in the crawfish pond and discover the creatures that live there. Sweep the prairie with pole nets to find out what insects live in the tall grasses. Learn basic birding and animal track identification. See birds and animal tracks. Learn about plants you can grow in your own garden to attract beautiful butterflies. Go on a scavenger hunt. Make seed balls for the demonstration prairie. Bring the whole family to enjoy a day on the prairie and find out why we like to say, "It's flat out wonderful!" For more information or to register, write to, call 713-523-6135 or visit For directions, visit

Until the next nap time...

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Trip to Bountiful Offers Important Lesson for Houston Kids

Guest blogger Colyn Frazier shares her thoughts on the play "The Trip to Bountiful" put on by the A.D. Players in Houston.

Explaining to your child about aging can be difficult endeavor. Why do they forget things? Why did they say this or that? It can be hard for a child to understand or even be patient with Grandma or Grandpa sometimes. But the education does not only have to be a sit down discussion or a stern word telling them to be nice.

The Trip to Bountiful”, playing at Grace Theater, is a great theatrical play set in 1953 to share with your older children, ages 12+. In a short two and a half hours, you and your child will laugh, cry and walk away with an appreciation for the elderly.

Jeannette Clift George, playing Mrs. Carrie Watts, brings sarcasm and humor to an otherwise “tear jerking” production about growing old. After living in the big city for 15 years with her son, Ludie, and obnoxious daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae, Mrs. Watts attempts another great escape to her home town of Bountiful in her last days of life. It is through this journey that she finds her inner peace and the audience finds a heartfelt connection to the elderly.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Cornelius Garden Nursery Falls for Kids

Cornelius Nurseries did a wonderful job today with the Fall Harvest Festival. If you haven't gone yet, head out now! There's a moon walk for kids 3-12 years old. Since my daughter is still too young, we toured the nursery for the most beautiful, autumn flowers. "Little K", my daughter, had a great time picking some out. Then for $3, we bought her a miniature scarecrow who has ponytails! It's adorable. Little K also loved picking out her own small pumpkin and painting it. She wasn't able to decorate it as much as some of the bigger kids, but she had a blast all her own. This is a great way to spend 20 minutes to an hour with the family. Until the next nap time...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Great Bazaar This Weekend in west Houston

For families on the west side of Houston, here's a great bazaar that's fun for the whole family!

Where: St. John Vianney Catholic Church at 625 Nottingham Oaks Trail - Houston, TX 77079 Sunday, October 8, from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00p.m.
RAIN OR SHINE. Rides for Children, Teens & Adults. Silent Auction, Arts & Crafts Show, Merchandise Mart, Variety of Food Booths, BBQ, Music & Live Entertainment. Raffle, prizes: Car, Trips, and more.

I don't attend church here but our family attends the bazaar every year. It's just that much fun. Hope to see you there!

Until the next nap time...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Preparing for Halloween Fun in Houston

Well, as promised in my October newsletter, here are some great suggestions for preparing for Halloween with children in Houston.

1). Make your own scarecrow, which will be a great decoration through Thanksgiving. Grab some old jeans, shirt and hat. Stuff them with old rags or hay. You can use an old T-shirt to make the head and paint a funny face to give the scarecrow plenty of personality. Prop your new friend up on a bench, hay stack or against a tree.

2). Use Halloween cookie cutters to make holiday cookies. My 1.5 year old loved pushing the cookie cutters into the dough last Friday. Of course, her enticement was probably a pinch of the dough!

3). Pick out your pumpkin from a pumpkin patch. Our family loves Dewberry Farms for its wonderful pumpkin patch and loads of fun activities. You can easily spend a few hours here. Wear jeans, comfortable shoes and a hat.

4). Create your costume and practice wearing it. Even if you're not on a strict budget, it can be fun to get creative and make a costume. Plus, it gets the kids involved early on so they can contribute to the costume making throughout the month. Last year, my mom made my daughter a Lady Bug costume for her first Halloween. We put her in black tights and a black leotard. Then "Grand" made a small set of ladybug wings that velcro'ed to the back of the leotard. Finally, Grand created a hat that included the antennas. It was adorable!

5). Produce a masterpiece. Your children will enjoy making their own Halloween decorations out of crayons/markers, construction paper, old buttons, candy sprinkles, pipe cleaners and more. Then, the youngsters can decorate their closet (who cares if the paint gets torn off in there?) or give the art to a favorite relative or neighbor.

6). Attend the Creepy, Crawly Critters on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 10 am at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center. Your family will learn that spiders, snakes and other creepers play a key role in keeping nature in balance. Visit for details.

7). Head to the Bat Cave. On Friday, Oct. 20, starting at 6:26 pm, meet on the east side of the Waugh Street bridge at Allen Parkway by the viewing platform for the bat lecture. Bring a blanket and a snack/dessert for the kids. You'll learn so much about bats and then see them take flight. It's cool and not scary.

8). Turn on movie time. There are plenty of Halloween movies available for all ages. From the Peanuts Halloween special to Friday the 13th and Arachnophobia.

9). Get spooked at a haunted house. If your kids are older (middle school or older), haunted houses can be fun. Just be sure they feel comfortable in knowing that it's all pretend and encourage a group of friends to go together with one or two parents. A list of Houston haunted houses are available at

10). Carve your pumpkin a few days before Halloween. Add a candle to the center and watch it glow. Carving kits are available at most grocery stores but kids can help adults instead create their own fun face. Ask your kids to draw on the pumpkin the face they'd like to see. Have an adult do the carving. Then be sure to remind kids to be careful around the fire. Place the lit pumpkin in an area where it won't be easily pushed over.

As for trick or treating, thanks to the Bellaire Young Moms group and the Houston Police Department for these great suggestions:

Trick or Treating Safety Tips
- Shoes should fit (even if they don’t match the costume). - Avoid wearing masks when walking from house to house. Your child should be able to see properly through a mask. - Children should wear light-colored costumes with reflective tape for better visibility and the garment should be short enough to prevent tripping.
- Participate at church or local organization's festivities where the environment is more controlled.
- Carry a flashlight after sunset.
- Approach only houses that are lit. Children should be accompanied by an adult at all times, should stay within their neighborhood, and only visit homes of people they know.
- Look for costumes made of flame retardant material. Avoid hard plastic or wood props such as daggers or swords. Foam rubber is a good substitute.
- Make sure your child eats dinner before heading out. Get the vegetables in early!
- Stay on sidewalks, obey traffic signals and don't cut across yards or driveways.
- Inspect candy before any is consumed. If any candy appears to be tampered with, throw it away. If this is your child's first time to trick or treat, remember that he/she could be 1 in 15 kids under age 3 who are highly allergic to the nuts in many candies.

For more information like this, sign up for my FREE newsletter by visiting It takes less than one minute to subscribe!

Until the next nap time...

It's the Little Things

Kids are funny. I try so hard to do fun, educational and creative things with my daughter, yet she finds joy in the littlest things. Yesterday, we went to Sears to get -- I can't believe it -- an ironing board. Oh, the excitement. My little monkey took a glimpse at the escalator and couldn't wait to go up. After wandering around the first floor, a salesman finally told me the ironing boards were hidden upstairs in housewares... probably because no one in her right mind would actually want one. (Sorry, Grammy, most people hate that chore!) Well, Kylie's smile grew ear to ear as we went up that escalator. As she waved to everyone and every clothing rack on the first floor, I smiled too. Shouldn't we all enjoy the simple things like an easy ride to higher ground? How do we lose the innocence and the enjoyment that youngsters revel in? More importantly, how do you get it back?

I'm going to try by focusing this week on the little things like the woodpecker that landed outside my window this morning. Later this afternoon, I think we'll fill up the empty bird feeder in our yard and see who comes for a snack. If no birds, at least we'll have goldfish crackers and apple slices to eat... and plenty of smiles.

Lots of fun things going on in Houston next weekend so check back later this week. Until the next nap time...