Monday, January 29, 2007

Slide to Another Great Playground

We absolutely love the Vale-Asche Playground that opened in December '06 at Memorial Park. It’s wheel-chair accessible and has amazing toys for everyone (learn braile & sign language; run across the bridge, climb the forts). My daughter enjoyed the 9 slides over and over. Parents appreciate the rubber floor throughout the playground that keeps the mud off everyone’s shoes and softens any tumbles. This playground is located in Memorial Park on Haskell near St. Theresa School and Church.
Until the next nap time...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Houston Kids Read for Fun at Barnes & Noble

Kids' Activities Highlighted at Book Store

We had a great time this morning at the Barnes & Noble in Copperfield. After a great American Girl Club meeting (for girls age 7 & up), Clifford the Big Red Dog made a grand appearance. Here, community relations manager Cherri Northcut and her daughter Natalie introduce Clifford to the audience filled with children. My daughter was intrigued but not ready to shake paws with the Big Red Dog. Reading time was more fulfilling at one of the famous Clifford books captured everyone's attention.

During reading time, I was able to meet parents and grandparents while answering questions about my book 100+ Activities for Houston Kids. It was great meeting so many families, including one young star who's already written and published her own book.

Spring Break is ahead and long days in the sun.
Grab a copy of this book for the most Houston fun.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Nature Discovery Center Good for All Ages

We had a blast at the Nature Discovery Center yesterday! My daughter loved the nature puzzles and live-sized, walk-through exhibit of a marsh land. Our friend Jordan is only 4.5 months but enjoyed reading about sandcrabs and touching the different textures found in nature. Who wouldn't enjoy the bunnies?

The Nature Discovery Center is not just for girls though. Brink is 2.5 years and liked the rubber stamps of different animals. Brent (almost 6) and big brother Noah (almost 9) liked checking out the aquariums of snakes and roaches (ewww!) but really liked exploring outside in the sanctuary.

If you have an hour or two, head to the Nature Discovery Center at 7112 Newcastle between Bellaire & Beechnut. It's open noon to 5:30 pm but closed Mondays.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Allergy Update & Book Store Fun

After last week's trauma with the peanut allergy, Little K and I paid our pediatrician a visit yesterday. Dr. Mike quickly referred us to Allergy & Asthma Associates for official food allergy testing. "Okay," I said. It's sounds smart to me. As our doctor pointed out, if last week's episode was a fluke, we shouldn't avoid peanuts for life. Let's get better equipped.

Unfortunately, when I called to make an appointment, I was told that we first have to come in for an hour consultation before any testing will be done. As I inquired further, I discovered that these allergy experts want to first "consult" and then in a SEPARATE APPOINTMENT do the testing. Hmm. I'm wondering if these docs realize how challenging it can be to wrestle a toddler into the car when she'd rather play in the puddles on the driveway. Well, I'll give in again and go to the consulting appointment. Wish us luck. I wonder if the whole process will be this big of an ordeal. For my daughter's sake (okay, & for my sanity), I hope it gets easier.

If you live near Jersey Village and need something to do with the kids this weekend, head out to Barnes & Noble at The Center in Copperfield on Saturday morning. This store has a great morning planned. I'll be visiting with parents & grandparents near the entrance of the children's department around 10:30 am. Then, at 11 am, the store has the American Girl Book Club on the children's dept. stage. I'll be talking about my book and how it helps Houston area families find fun things to do. (Remember: spring break is around the corner!) At noon, storytime with Clifford the Big Red Dog begins. What a wonderful way to avoid the soggy playground and surround the kids with educational fun! Click here for more details and a map to the store.

Until the next nap time...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Education and Fun in Houston

We're very lucky in that my daughter has plenty of toys. With a closet and a toy box full of books, stuffed animals and more, I wonder why she'd need more for her b-day in April. I thought maybe friends could bring a toy to be donated to a charity or our party invitation could simply list "no gifts". My husband disagreed: "She's a little kid, Megan. She deserves toys for her birthday."

Still in doubt, I asked a few neighbors what they thought about the dilemma but they agreed with my hubbie. However, they did make a great suggestion. Buy educational toys for Little K and do the same for parties which she attends. Great, I know the perfect place to find these educational toys.

Today, we went to the Lakeshore Learning store and in less than 10 minutes, I had purchased 2 gifts for a 2-year-old boy's upcoming birthday party and got plenty of ideas for my own daughter. My husband and daughter stayed in the car since it was minutes away for our regular nap time (thus, the rush) but I checked out the arts & crafts table. Each Saturday, Lakeshore has a different craft scheduled. It's a great way to get those minds & fingers moving while parents grab a needed gift. Check out the craft schedule here. Now we're at home, a few minutes and tears late for nap time but already Little K is fast asleep. Hope this gift idea and activity helps your family.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Food Allergies in Kids Serious Danger

For those of you who read my blog regularly and/or subscribe to my newsletter, you know I've done a little research on food allergies in kids. I've suspected that my daughter might be allergic to soy but most doctors recommend waiting until age 3 before testing kids. Well, today we accidentally discovered that my daughter is severely allergic to peanuts. Ugh.

For a small snack, I gave my 21 month old two Saltine crackers with peanut butter on them. She touched the peanut butter and didn't like the way it felt. Instead, she asked for grapes and tried to get the peanut butter off her hands. Before my wonderful housekeeper or I could wash her hands, Little K had already spread it to her face and into one of her eyes. In less than 5 minutes, my daughter had blisters on her face & hands, was scratching her throat, crying and pulling at her ears. Based on my previous talks with Robyn O'Brien of AllergyKids, I knew immediately what was happening and called the pediatrician. (I should have a frequently flyer program there!) The nurse on the phone said to take my child immediately to the ER.

Thank God the staff at Northwest Memorial Hermann recognized the potential seriousness of a peanut allergy. As soon as I told the welcome desk staff what I suspected, they had us in an emergency room in less than 2 minutes. I'm not exagerating. My daughter's face just looked so horrible and my daughter buried herself deeply into my arms, whimpering. She knew something was wrong but, of course, couldn't understand what.

Luckily, her oxygen level was at 100 percent and her temperature was normal. The staff gave her some Benadryl and we watched the swelling and blisters disappear before our eyes... almost entirely. This all happened without my daughter actually eating a peanut or peanut butter. It only touched her skin! Imagine what could have happened if she had eaten the peanut butter. Thank you, God. Before being released from the hospital, the staff gave my daughter a steroid to help her lungs stay open through the night. She'll have an oral medication daily for 3 days and, of course, another trip to her pediatrician to discuss next steps. The remaining redness and swelling near her eye should disappear in the next day or so.

Peanut allergies can be fatal and are very common amongst children. An estimated 5 million American children have food allergies, according to AllergyKids. The Food Allergy Initiative says: "Dr. Scott Sicherer has documented that a food allergen, such as peanut, can be transferred through saliva to an allergic person through kissing, resulting in a reaction." Wow! I encourage all parents to learn about the most common foods that cause these reactions and know what the signs of a reaction are. Be on the safe side. It's just not worth looking at your child and not being able to help. Arm yourself and your children. You'll feel so much better & so will your family.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, January 12, 2007

MLK Day and More in Houston

Looking for fun things to do on Monday, when schools are closed and the city of Houston celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? Here are some ideas.

The "We Are the Dream" Parade and Rally starts at 8 am in downtown at Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. and Beekman. Participants will then march to MacGregor Park for the festivities, which are expected to last until 2 pm. There have been rumors of a second parade in the afternoon as well, but the City's online calendar does not list that. Let's just hope the weather holds for the morning parade.

If the parade is not your style, try heading to the Houston Zoo, which is FREE on MLK Day. The Zoo animals have planned plenty of fun for kids of all ages. Head out early to make the most of this trip. Gates open at 9 am.

For those of you who like to plan ahead, here's a fun activity for Valentine's Day.
The River Oaks Chamber Orchestra will host the second concert of its 2006 – 2007 season on Saturday, February 10, 2007, at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, 2450 River Oaks Blvd., 5:00 p.m. A music education program is available for children age ten and under, giving parents the opportunity to enjoy an early Valentine’s dinner. (See photo above.) A repeat performance will be held on Sunday, February 11, 2007, at Temple Emanu El, 1500 Sunset Blvd., 6:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online at or at the Bookstore at St. John the Divine Church. The cost is $25 per person. Childcare runs $20 for the first child and $15 for each additional child and extends through 9:30 p.m. Reservations are required. Visit or call (713) 665- 2700 for additional information.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Kids Go Down, But Not Out

... not even close. My daughter had a runny nose and mucousy/sleepy eyes yesterday so I took her to the pediatrician. One ear infection, sinus issues and probable bacteria in her eyes, we left with prescriptions for 3 medicines. It's that time of year, right? My husband & I gave Little K a dose of each medication and sent her to bed at 7:30 pm. This morning, it was obvious she didn't have enough of the medicines in her system to make a difference yet. Daddy stayed with his only daughter this morning, while Mommy ran up Hwy 290 to a business meeting. Little K was still groggy when I returned at 10:30 am to relieve my husband from sick duty so he could get onto work.

It's a miracle! By 4 pm, she was obviously feeling better. I say "obviously" because she was literally doing laps around the house, chasing the indoor cat, eating a piece of chalk, applying Daddy's aftershave and opening doors that she shouldn't. And YES, I was watching her. When I was about at my whit's end, I carefully knelt down beside my toddler and asked her for a hug, a really big one. Little K obliged and it quickly put things into perspective. I wish I always had the foresight to think of that request. Don't you? Try it. Little arms wrapped tightly around your neck do wonders. As does 24 hours worth of medication.

Looking for another family restaurant?
Consider this: Rainbow Lodge has settled into its log cabin on White Oak Bayou and is celebrating its 30th Year Anniversary! How are they celebrating? Hopefully, with your family.

Sunday Supper! Family Night includes Comfort Food Specials Such AsOsso Bucco, Steak Frites, "Mac & Cheese", Grilled Gulf Fish and More.
Location: 2011 Ella Blvd. at East TC JesterHouston, Texas 77008
Phone#: 713-861 8666 for menus, map and photos
Open every day, except Mondays

Until the next nap time...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Parents' Muscles Important for Hugging Kids

I've been having some pain in my right shoulder and was a bit concerned but, like most busy parents, blew it off to move onto more important things. When the pain became debilitating, I called the doctor... of course, over the holidays. I wondered, what if the pain gets so bad that I can't pick up my daughter? Or I can't throw the ball with her in the front yard? Just a few years ago, my thought process would have been quite different. I would have worried about carrying my laptop through the US' biggest airports with an injured shoulder, not hugging my daughter and husband. Funny how kids change us.

After a doctor's trip and a visit to the physical therapist today, I'm told I likely have tendonitis and weak shoulder and rotater cup muscles. Whoopie! Sounds silly, huh? I thought so but I left therapy deflated. I was surprised that the strength in my right arm was so little. (This after I told the doctors that I had NOT noticed any loss of strength. Way to go, Megan.) Armed with a massage (ahhh...), exercises to do 6 days a week and physical therapy at least twice a week, we're hoping my shoulder muscles will strengthen. I have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on 1/17/06 per my primary care physician's orders. Hopefully, Dr. Street will tell me to continue with physical therapy and leave me alone.

All this said, I've come to appreciate hugs even more -- something I didn't know was possible. Give your kids or grandkids a big hug today. They'll appreciate it and so will you.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Bumpy Return to Work & School

Returning to school or work after the long holidays is always tough, right? Last night, I suspected my daughter's return to nursery school today would be difficult and I was right. Little K was still sleeping when I entered her room this morning with a nice sippy cup of milk. (I wish someone woke me up that way... well, caffeine is preferable to milk but you get the idea.) As her little eyes slowly opened, I gave her a few minutes to wake up while I got out her clothes and got her diaper ready.

Minutes later, Little K was on the bedroom floor, screaming that she didn't want to get dressed. Now, I assure you that every day during the holidays, she got dressed but today it was a wrestling match. Mom won, of course.

Her teachers at school noticed a struggle was occurring when we walked in her classroom with a pacifier still in her mouth. Luckily, my daughter recognized the fun that was going to occur today and slowly handed over the prized "paci." I'll soon leave to pick my prized possession up from school and hope she had a pleasant return to school, albeit a bumpy start. Hope your families are off to a good start too.

Until the next nap time...