Friday, March 30, 2007

Impact of Day Care on Kids

"A Downside to Day Care?" is an article published in Newsweek that examines research conducted about the result on young children being in early child care programs. The results are interesting. This research seems to confirm that too much learning and structure at too young of an age can actually be detrimental to a child's behavior. As my cousin Juli pointed out, it makes me steer clear of Montessori programs for sure.

What I like best about this article is the insight & research interpretation provided by Margaret Burchinal, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina and a co-author of the study. Burchinal says: "The take-home message (of the research) is parents of young children need to figure out what makes their lives work so they can be the kind of parent they really want to be with their children...Parenting matters far more than any single decision about child care--or all the decisions put together. Quality parenting predicts school success."

My take? So if you're a parent who works outside of the home, focus on the time you have with your kid(s). Make that time count. If you're able to stay home with your child/children, be sure that you're happy with that decision and find it rewarding. No matter which way you work (at home with the kids or in an office), a parent needs to find fulfillment. The impact is not only on you but also on your youngsters. Let me know what you think by adding a comment to this blog.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Indoor Houston Activities Invite Imagination

I've been worried that it's going to rain all day but nothing yet. I clearly remember the weather forecast calling for a 40% chance of rain today. Little K will be home with me tomorrow so the raindrops will likely come then. Thank goodness we have MOPS in the morning to keep both of our minds active.
If you're looking for a fun indoor activity when it's raining or just too hot (those days aren't far away!), take a trip to Memorial City Mall. Little K loves the Carousel. I love comparing this photo with last year's photo. It's amazing to see how fast our children grow up. After a $1 ride on the Carousel, grab a bite to eat in the nearby Food Court. Then, wander through the mall until you come to the Milky Way Playcastle. There is a height restriction of 48" tall to enter so this is best for young kids. Burn off some energy while you & your child climb through the fantasy world of mushrooms, nets and slides.

If your child is older and an aspiring author, bring him/her to Brazos Bookstore on Tuesday, March 27 at 7 pm, when the store celebrates the arrival of author & former Houstonian Laura Moser. Moser is the co-author of the book series including The Rise and Fall of a 10th Grade Social Climber, All Q, No A: More Tales of a 10th-Grade Social Climber, and Foreign Exposure: The Social Climber Abroad -- the latter of which Moser & co-author Lauren Mechling will be showcasing Tuesday night. Encourage your preteens and teens to meet these authors in the flesh and learn how to pursue a writing career. See the interview with these authors to determine if this is a good fit for your young writer. It's motivating to hear from young women like these who have turned a passion for writing, exciting travels and fun into a profession. I don't think the kids will be the only ones to learn from these authors. Hope to see you there.

Brazos Bookstore also has a young children's reading area and hopes to begin a parent & child story time. More updates to come.

So now you have at least a few options to spark your imagination whether it rains tomorrow or not. Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Parents, You Feel Overextended but Making an Impact

Thanks to the Heights MOPS group for a great trip to Art Mix Learning Center today. We got our hands full of paint, play doh and tools for creating wonderful art pieces that now decorate our refrigerator. The camaraderie of this group is so refreshing and Little K continues to learn important lessons like sharing, cleaning up and returning to the fun place another day. (Smile!) You know those lessons.

My cousin Juli forwarded this link to a fantastic and intriguing article posted to MSNBC called "Despite 'Mommy Guilt', Time With Kids Rising." I hope you'll check it out. The reporter does a good job of explaining how parents' expectations of ourselves has dramatically increased over the last several decades, yet we're doing more for our families. It's helpful in putting things into perspective and reminding ourselves that we are, indeed, doing a good job as parents.

Also a special thanks to Colyn for bailing us out of a pinch yesterday. When both parents are called to work in the late evening, it's great to have my sister nearby to lend a hand. And Little K loves to play with her Aunt "Juji".

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Houston

Well, I know I'm not the only Houstonian who is glad to see the sunshine finally come out to play. The rain has certainly made for a soggy Spring Break.

The good news is that St. Patrick's Day is this Saturday, March 17 and there's plenty of fun in store. The City's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade starts at noon with the route beginning at Texas and Crawford in downtown Houston, ending at Prairie and Caroline. Darn your greens and celebrate being Irish or pretending to be Irish for the day! The parade will wrap up around 2 pm.

For older kids and their families, head to Miller Outdoor Theatre to see a live performance by the Trinity Irish Dance Company starting at 8 pm. These dancers are amazing and have been highlighted on shows like Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. Welcome them to Houston this Saturday. Bring a blanket for a nice picnic and pack some Irish snacks... potatoes, Irish beef stew, Shepherd's Pie or delicious scones. I've actually visited Ireland and loved the food. Try one of these tasty recipes from Kraft.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rodeo Even Fun in the Rodeo

Don't let the rain keep you away from the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. The Livestock Show has tons of things to do indoors including:
- Destination AGventure has critters to pet and learn about
- Check out the boots & saddles that are available for sale (Little K tries out a saddle here!)
- Color and veg out in bean bags while you learn about fruit and vegetables
- Ride a pony
- Capture your kids' joy in a photo while they sit on top of a longhorn bull
- The treats are finger-licking good!
We were lucky enough to visit last Saturday when the crew from 93Q Morning Zoo was there. My nephew thought it was so cool to meet radio stars, especially Jenny Law. Whew! With only a week left of the rodeo, be sure to spend a few hours there -- rain or shine.
Until the next nap time...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bayou City Art Fest Prepares Its Canvas

The Bayou City Art Fest in Memorial Park is great activity for the whole family. With stroller in tow, we loved walking through the park and looking at so much great art. And they even had activities for the little ones. This year's details are below. Mark Your Calendars!

The world will set the stage for the Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park’s diverse performing arts presentations -- from MECA mariachis and Houston Salsa Dancers to Shaolin Kung Fu and Dance Asia; and from Celtic Bands to Eastern Indian dance.

Celebrating its tenth spring in Memorial Park, the 36th Annual Festival is slated for Friday, March 23 through Sunday, March 25, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The performing artists will join more than 300 fine artists and dozens of international food and wine café vendors in transforming the park’s meandering, tree-lined trails into a magical art colony offering a host of visual, performing and culinary delights.
The multi-cultural performers, dressed in traditional costumes, along with crafts demonstrations by the Gulf Coast Wood Turners’ Association, origami artist Joan Son, The Blacksmith Association and Clay Houston potters, are presented by the Houston Arts Alliance. Bayou City Art Festival is funded in part by grants from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.

The entertainment line-up is:
Saturday, March 24
11 a.m. - Bayou City Concert Musicals – Musical Theater
noon – Dance Asia
1 p.m. – MECA Mariachis
2 p.m. - Del Espadin Baile Espanol flamenco dancers; CORE Performance Company
3 p.m. – Houston Bay Area Ballet & Theater
4 p.m. – Houston Metropolitan Company dance troupe; CORE Performance Company
5 p.m. – Bill Klecka Band Celtic musicians

Sunday, March 24
11 a.m. – Brazilian Arts folkloric dancing
noon – Shruthilaya - Traditional Indian Dance from the Indian Cultural Center
1 p.m. – Houston Salsa Dancers, Inc.
2 p.m. – Revels singers; CORE Performance Company
3 p.m. – Ambassadors International Ballet Folklorico from Central and South America
4 p.m. – Shaolin Kung Fu Academy; CORE Performance Company
5 p.m. – Bayou City Performing Arts musical theater
Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park selected impressionist landscape artist Michael McKee as its featured artist. His featured piece, “Fragrant Twilight,” embodies his rich, earthy colorations and reflects his love for soft pastels and an appreciation of the balance between “color, expression and technique,” according to the artist.

Bayou City Art Festival showcases works representing 19 media formats: clay, drawing/ pastel, fiber/textiles, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, watercolor and wood, plus the Emerging Artists installation art by area high school students. Budding young artists enjoy the interactive Creative Zone presented by Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which engages children in creating their own art works to take home. Adding to the festive outdoor gallery atmosphere is a “Broadway theme” in Houston's Broadway Café, the performing arts stage, plus performance art by CORE Performance Company, whose costumed dancers will perform the world premiere of “Shedd” amidst the pines.

“You won’t need to leave the park if you’re hungry or thirsty – refresh yourself at the wide range of international food and beer and wine cafes,” said Joe Pogge, president of the board of the Art Colony Association, producer of the Bayou City Art Festivals.

The City of Houston, Budweiser Select, Houston Parks & Recreation Department, Smooth Jazz 95.7, Burt’s Bees, David Powers Homes and KPRC-TV are the Festival sponsors.

Over the past 36 years, the Bayou City Art Festivals, a 501c(3) organization, has raised more than $2.3 million for local charities. The 2007 charity partners are: Art League Houston, Bering Omega Community Service, DiverseWorks Art Space, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Lawndale Art Center, Memorial Park Conservancy, Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts (MECA), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, CORE Performance Company, SPARK School Park Program, Spay-Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP), The Orange Show Foundation, Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA), and YMCA of Greater Houston Downtown.

Admission is $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under.

There is no public parking in Memorial Park. Free shuttle service 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. to and from the Park on Friday from Northwest Mall on Hwy. 290; and on Saturday and Sunday from Northwest Mall and Downtown: Memorial Drive at Rusk, Rusk at Smith and Smith at Capitol.
For schedules and further information check or call (713) 521-0133. # # #

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Houston Precinct 4 Serves Up Spring Fun

If you're looking for some fun outdoor activities, Harris County Precinct 4 has a lot planned. The precinct's newsletter Parkscape is a wonderful resource for Houston families, especially those living in or near precinct 4. (Here's a map of precinct 4's parks.)

During Spring Break, Jones Park will have various activities planned to teach kids about frogs, fangs and stargazing. For kids 10-15, the Junior Canoe Training will teach the basics of canoeing and then take the kids on a half-day trip. Reservations are required.

I especially like the Calendar of Events section of the newsletter that spells out all the activities throughout precinct 4 from March - May. From Breakfast with the Easter Bunny on March 31 to nature hunts to the Fishing Derby on April 28, you're bound to find something that entices your kids.

Sign up to receive the precinct's FREE printed newsletter by visitng, calling 281-893-3726 or mailing your request to Public Affairs Department, 1731 Hugh Road, Houston, TX. 77067.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Veggie Tales Take on Chicken

Do your children love Veggie Tales?

Wednesday March 7 from 5:30 – 8 PM join Bob and Larry for songs and dancing, arts and crafts and video entertainment.

Bring your camera and have your picture taken with Bob and Larry. Here's a special event at Chik-Fil-A at 3101 W. Holcombe Blvd.

Call 713 660-8200 for more information.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Vote for Texas Children's Hospital

I credit Texas Children's Hospital (TCH) with saving my daughter's life from a staph infection when she was only 2 weeks old. Our lives would be drastically different with TCH. In turn, I ask each of you to help this amazing hospital in Houston in a contest to win a new fun center for the facility's patients. To vote for TCH, click here and click on the Get Started box in red. For details on the contest, click here.

Thank you for your votes!

Until the next nap time...

Friday, March 02, 2007

10 Tips for Navigating Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo with Kids

10 Tips for Navigating the Livestock Show & Rodeo with Kids:

1. Enter the parking lot at the Kirby & Westridge entrance and tell the parking attendants that you have children. During the week, they’ll let you park up close to minimize the walk, although you’ll need to leave by 1 pm. Arrive as early as 9 am.
2. Before you arrive, talk to your family about how to gently pet animals. Many of the exhibitors instruct kids to use the “2-finger pet” but in the excitement, arms are flying. Prepare your youngsters by showing them how to use two fingers to pet animals.
3. Back pack, back pack. Forget the purse and strap on your backpack so your arms are free to help your kids explore.
4. Pack hand wipes. While the petting zoo area does have hand sanitizer available, our hands still felt filthy after an hour. We were glad we had a bag of wipes.
5. Eat a snack on the way & avoid spending too much money on pricey carni-fare.
6. Wear closed-toe shoes. Not everyone can pull on boots, but avoid flip-flops or sandals. I was surprised how many people walked around the show in flip-flops and filthy feet. Ewww!
7. Wear a cowboy/cowgirl hat that fits. Encourage the kids to wear cowboy hats that have the under-chin strap so that the wind doesn’t blow off their hats. Pull back long hair on windy days.
8. Head to Reliant Center first to explore indoors at Destination: Agventure. Most of these activities are included at no extra charge, although photos on the bulls and the pony rides are extra. If the kids still have energy after this, then head outdoors to the carnival and food area. This will minimize the money you spend there. Don’t forget the Horse Arena for a view at these beautiful animals.
9. Bring your own camera to capture candid moments. Discounted prices exist at the longhorn bull photo shoot for those who brought their own camera.
10. Don’t feel like you have to cram it all in. Buy the FunPass! for $20 and you can return as many times as you’d like. Shorter trips are easier on young children. Kids under 2 years old are FREE.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Houston Rodeo Great for Kids, Families

It’s officially Rodeo time in Houston, providing a great way for kids to learn about agriculture, animals and sports. Head to Destination: AGventure where your kids can pet various types of rabbits, learn how chickens hatch from eggs of many colors, and see more animals than on most farms. The petting zoo gives children a chance to pet and feed chickens, goats, lambs and even Kangaroos! Take a ride on a pony or do a photo shoot on the back of a longhorn bull. Yeehaw!

For families with young kids, I recommend attending the livestock show for a few hours during the week. If you can take off from work, this is the best way to avoid the crowd. Families can park up close by entering the Kirby & Westridge entrance. Just tell the parking attendant that you have young kids and you’ll be directed upfront. The Ford Truck Tram will take you right to Reliant Center for Destination: Agventure. Close parking is available between 9 am and 1 pm during the week. Weekday parking is $7. Weekend parking goes up to $12.

Rodeo performance tickets begin at $17. Entrance to the livestock show is only $6/person. If you plan to attend the livestock show more than once this year, buy the FunPass! for $20 and you gain access to everything except the concert for all 20 days of rodeo.

Weekend matinees are perfect for kids. See bull riders, barrel racers and famous performers from Martina McBride to Brooks & Dunn. The outdoor carnival presents fun rides, games and tasty treats for kids age ~6 and up.

Check back this week for 10 tips for navigating the rodeo with kids.

Little K is calling. Until the next nap time...