Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Bike Ride

A special thanks to MOPS for allowing me to re-publish this article on taking care of yourself as a parent so that you can care for your children.

Bike Ride
Teresa Hollowell, Area CoordinatorMy husband and I have five children. To keep expenses down, we frequently travel with a camper. One benefit to camping is that we are able to take our bicycles. We love to ride.

As we prepared for our first ride of a recent trip, I made sure everyone had their helmets, water bottles and gloves. We went over the rules of the road and the importance of staying together. Everyone mounted up and off we went. My husband was in the lead, with our three older children riding in the middle, and I brought up the rear with the babies riding in the baby carrier attached to my bike.

I'd not gone half a mile when my legs began to ache. My knees were burning, and I struggled to keep up with the rest of the family. All I could think was how heavy the babies were, and how out of shape I was. I signaled my husband to stop and told him I had to turn around and go back. I couldn't continue.

With many moans and groans, we turned around and headed back to the campground. I struggled the entire trip back. I thought we would never get there. Once everyone was off their bikes and the kids were helping unload the two little ones, my son told me, "Mom, you have a flat tire." I didn't have just a flat tire. I had three flat tires.

I'd made sure the kids bikes were in good shape, and that they had their helmets and gloves. What I failed to do was look at my own bike. I hadn't checked my tires, nor had I thought to check the tires of the baby carrier.

In the same way, sometimes I forget to maintain my life. I make sure my children eat their veggies, say their prayers and get enough sleep. Yet I forget the needs of my own life. When I do take the time to care for myself, especially my spiritual needs, things are much smoother. I don't have to struggle so hard to carry the load.

The next bike ride my family took was much easier. My tires had been inflated, and I'd adjusted my seat. The load I carried wasn't as difficult to pull. I was prepared for the journey ahead!

Prayer From a Mother's HeartDear God, help me to be an example to my children in preparing for life's long journey.

Stop & Smell the Roses & Appreciate Family

So how many people does it take before the hard head relaxes? No, this is not an Aggie joke (although I know a few if you're interested.)

Yet again today, my orthopedic surgeon advised me to SLOW DOWN & in fact recommended that I take a short nap EVERY DAY. After I got back up from the floor in hysterics, I asked if he took a nap daily. "No, but I'm not as hard on myself as you are & I'm 61, not 32," he responded. Ouch! I'm working on it... really.

Even better is the Daddy Diary blog today that talks about over-booking our kids in one camp after another. Where is the balance between too much activity & lazy kids? Read the dad's blog for his complete thoughts, but he's not alone in thinking that it's okay to have some lazy summer days, curled up with your kids. Little K can make up a game of "Go night night, Grand" in about 5 seconds. Kids' imaginations will only grow when allowed the time & space.

So my new project -- wait, this is not work-related... it's a good wholesome vision for my life-- is to enjoy a balanced life with family & friends in a healthy, Christian way. I'm enthusiastic about this new approach & hope it's long lasting. Perhaps if I can quit over-booking myself, I won't do it to Little K or The Hubbie. What a loving mom I am!

Until the next nap time...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Texas Tax-Free Shopping Days: Aug. 17-19, 2007

Lots of families are already getting ready for school by purchasing new clothes. Don't forget to put August 17-19, 2007 on your calendars. That's the tax-free shopping weekend, when you can buy clothing & footwear (under $100) with no tax applicable. That's some nice savings. Of course, my Little K will likely find a princess shirt or hair bows to eat up the savings but I'm heading in the right direction.

Who knows? Maybe we can make it a day of family fun since my darling daughter loves to hide in the clothing racks. Ah, paybacks, Megan. Paybacks. I used to hide from my own mom like this until she about had a heart attack & couldn't find me. Then, I'd happily leap out at my mom and yell: "Boo!"

And a belated "Happy Birthday" to Juli & Uncle Malcolm!

Until the next nap time...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Put Your Sunny Side Up

The weather outside is overcast & rainy. The forecast for the weekend doesn't look much better but that's no reason not to think about the sun. Even when it's overcast, folks in Houston need to protect their skin. (I wear SPF 15 under my makeup every day. Little K loves the spray-on sunblock, too. Now if we can just get Little K's Daddy to follow suit!)
My PaPa Don, who lives in Ohio, volunteered for an experiment years ago during a trip to Houston. I was in seventh grade & working on my science fair project, which studied the most effective sun blocks. Again, I reiterate that PaPa Don volunteered for this project. I developed categories on his back to test different sun blocks' effectiveness. I also mimicked this experiment with fabric swatches but there's nothing like a real person who's willing to test his skin. The question at hand: If we used various brands of SPF 15, would any work better than the others?
In the end, Bullfrog Sunblock was by far the most effective. If you ask PaPa Don, in the end, his back looked like a wild man's chess game that didn't fade for some time. But we still have the stories and photos to share. What a hoot!
So when the sun comes out again as it, of course, will do, remember this science fair experiment but don't try it on your kids. Thanks a million, PaPa Don!
Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Goldilocks & the 3 Bears

So I'm really working on not "over-programming" myself & my family. When your husband kindly says: "We can't keep up with you," you know it's time to re-evaluate your schedule & corresponding priorities. When your orthopedic surgeon tells you that yes, your neck & back pain is probably exacerbated by your stress level, you think Okay, God. I get the message. I will learn to be still... at least more than I have been.

So you may or may not see me at UH's Children's Theatre Festival this Sunday at 2 pm. They're showing "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," which I think would be so fun for my 2 year-old. There are also performances this Thursday at 10:30 am & this Friday at 10:30 am & again at 1 pm. Kids tickets are only $8 with adult tickets at $9 -- a bargain. Buy your tickets by phone & ensure ticket availability by calling 713-742-2929. Group discounts are available and UH encourages groups with children ages 2-14.

Again, I may or may not see you there but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the performance regardless. Let me know by adding your review to a comment to this blog. Thanks!

Until the next nap time... (Yes, I'm posting a lot today while Little K enjoys nursery school. Tomorrow, well, that's another story since it'll be our play day!)

A.D. Players Announces Great Season for Families

If you haven't yet checked out a performance by the A. D. Players, don't miss another chance. I just received in the mail the line up for its 41st season & I'm excited. While the A. D. Players put on some productions better suited for adults (like "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "The Heiress"), they also do a great job of offering performances targeting families with youngsters.

The Children's Theater is located at 3471 Westheimer, inside St. Luke's UMC. Take a look at the 2007-2008 productions the A. D. Players have planned for your family. I have borrowed this information from the A. D. Players' brochure. I have not seen these yet since the season hasn't begun yet.

"The Great Cross-Country Race": Sept. 19-Oct. 20, 2007

"Christmas Went That a Way": Nov. 28-Dec. 22, 2007

"Peter and the Wolf": Jan. 30-March 1, 2008

"The Emperor's New Clothes": April 24-May 24, 2008

"Samson": June 25-July 26, 2008

The Children's Theater package allows your child to see all 5 shows for only $35. As the A. D. Players' brochure puts it, "For less than the price of a family trip to the movies, see five, great family-friendly shows that encourage the mental and emotional growth of your child."

To order tickets, call 713-526-2721 or visit http://www.adplayers.org/.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Siblngs Classes?

Does anyone know of any classes for soon-to-be siblings? No, it's not for me but a friend. We know at Memorial Hermann, there's a class but the older child must be at least 4 years old. The closer in, the better, but any suggestions are welcome.


Until the next nap time...

Before School Year, Plan Family Day/Night

Well, parents are already preparing for the new school year. Last night, I saw the first "back to school" ad by Target. By the way, I've double checked my calendar & it is still July. That said, many kids are returning to school in md-August this year. Unlike my parents, I never worried about returning to school because of the heat. That's what air conditioning is for. However, I think it's good for kids to have some down time and explore summer activities they don't typically get to do. That's my two cents.

As you prepare for a new school year, don't forget to dedicate time to your family & doing some group activities. Commit to a regular Family Day or Family Night. In Houston, you can use my book 100+ Activities for Houston Kids to find great events for your family. I also recommend coming together as a family to brainstorm on fun things to do over the next school year. That gets everyone excited & ensures you tackle a variety of things. Here's a link to another newsletter by Wayne Parker that provides some nice tips on planning a Family Day/Night. It provides some good tips for parents, especially dads.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Adventures of Princess Pink Petal

"Princess Pink Petal" is how the package was addressed. I smiled when I saw this weight-y box that the US mailman handed me, curiously.

"It's from my grandfather in Ohio," I said. "To my daughter."

Little K transforms into Indian Princess Pink Petal whenever we braid her hair. A few weeks ago, my mom told her that's how the Indians (Native Americans) wear their hair. Princess Pink Petal's imagination ran wild -- even at 2 years old. The true story began many moons ago when my own mother thought one of her dresses looked like that of an Indian. She loved to braid her hair and imagine that she was living in a teepee. While the heritage is distant, my mother in part Algonquin Indian. So when the days came for me to have my hair braided in preschool, I grew into Princess Blue Blossom. The "BL" sounds also helped me practice the "BL" blend/sound since I had a lisp. I often called myself Princess Boo Bossom but whatever.

Yesterday, the story continued in another generation with my 2-year-old. This package, that was so discreetly assembled with more tape than the post office, was "so heavy" the little princess said. She couldn't hold it up on her own so Blue Blossom helped her. Carefully cutting the tape, we made sure not to pierce the contents of the enchanting box. You could almost hear the rolling beat of the Indian drums in the background. Red Chief (my husband who's a red head) ate dinner & laughed. Inside was another box.

Again, we diligently opened the box to discover a gift only PaPa Don could have sent. It brought back memories of our Ohio trip so long ago... in early June 2007. It was a giant supply of dried cherries - the crowning fruit of every young princess. And as Blue Blossom opened the bag of the jewels, her young daughter's eyes grew wide with delight.

"Mine," she cried. That should translate in any language or culture. I laughed & said, "Yes, your cherries from PaPa Don."

Princess Pink Petal smiled with a mouth full of cherries. Yum. As the sun set in the Houston air, it was another good end to the day.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

First Trip to the Movie Theatre

Little K & I went on our first trip to the movie theatre today with our MOPS in the Heights group. I was a little worried that Little K wouldn't be able to sit through the entire show but figured it was a free movie so we should try it. I'm so glad we did.

We saw "Open Season" today at the cinema at the MarquE on I-10. It was really cute. While admission was free, it felt funny walking in and not getting a ticket. I walked up to two empty ticket booths and then looked at the ticket taker blankly. "No need for a ticket, ma'm," he said. I just had to make sure. So we walk in free, but my sidekick saw popcorn and REALLY needed some. Almost $9 later, she had a bag of popcorn & we shared a water. Glad I went to the bank first. While Little K stood up a few times in the middle of the show or crawled into my lap, she really did well. Some kids were noisier but everyone takes it in stride. "Open Season" is also playing tomorrow, Wednesday, at 10 am or check out the movies listed below that are playing over the next 2 weeks.

07/24-07/25 Rugrats: The Movie (G) and Over The Hedge (PG)
07/31-08/01 Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (G) and RV (PG)

My dad used to take me on "dates" as a child. We'd go to James Coney Island for lunch and then catch a matinee movie like ET or Disney's Song of the South. This way, I'd always be able to say that my first date was with a real gentleman. (And you better believe I told my college dates about this.) My husband is now looking forward to taking Little K on dates to the movies.

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Will You Wiggle?

Get ready to wiggle because Toyota Center is proud to welcome The Wiggles to Houston for 2 shows on Sunday, August 26th! Sam, Murray, Jeff, and Anthony will be joined by their friends Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus, and Captain Feathersword as they make children sing, laugh, and dance during their all-new Racing to the Rainbow Live tour! Need more information about The Wiggles to determine if this is right for your family? Check out http://www.thewiggles.com/us/home/.

Date: Sunday, August 26th
Time: 1:30 pm & 5 pm
Ticket Prices: $35, $28, $23, and $18
Buy tickets by phne at 1-866-4HOUTIX or online at http://www.toyotacentertix.com/.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Blue Bell Celebrates Big in Houston

Looking for something unique to do this weekend? (Yes, Amy, this is for you!) Blue Bell Ice Creamery is celebrating its 100th anniversary by visiting Houston. The Houston Chronicle has a great write-up on this in today's paper in "Blue Bell's 100th-birthday Celebration Coming to Houston."

Here's a shorter teaser from The Chronicle: "To celebrate its 100th anniversary, a chocolate-colored 18-wheeler and other vehicles have been touring the country as a mobile museum. The caravan will park at Bayou Bend Collection Saturday and Sunday.

After the lesson is done, reward yourself with a free serving of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, still the company's best-selling flavor, in a 100th-anniversary cup. If your ice cream palate runs to more gussied-up treats, celebrate with one of the two specialty flavors Blue Bell has developed to fete itself." Check out the link above to the full article & add this to your calendar.

Where: Bayou Bend Collection at 1 Westcott
When: 10 a.m.-5 pm Saturday and 1-5 pm Sunday
Why: You scream. I scream. We all scream for ice cream.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cool Off Indoors at Preschool Skate

If you're looking for something to do this Friday with preschoolers, head to the Dairy Ashford Roller Rink in west Houston for the Preschool Skate & tell Michelle "hello" for me. The Dairy Ashford Roller Rink's awesome Preschool Skate program is for children six and under (and their parents) every Friday morning from 10 am-Noon. This is a fun way to add some humor to your life. Plus, it gets you and your little ones active and out of the house.

Think your child is too young for skating? Think again. You can bring a stroller or toddler-friendly bike/skooter to help your young one roll around on the rink. Kids enjoy preschool music like the "Hokey Pokey" and "Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes" without getting run over by the big kids. The rink even puts some balls out on the rink for kids to enjoy. And parents do NOT have to wear skates to be on the rink. Enjoy! It's a blast for only $5.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Dog's Best Friend

Kylie hasn't stopped talking about Radar, the weather dog, whom she met at The Weather Museum. I was sure this was going to be over my 2-year-old's head but was pleasantly surprised that she was engaged in plenty... even besides the dog that appears on KPRC. The dog makes a special appearance at this museum on Tuesdays.
The Weather Museum at 5104 Caroline allows weather enthusiasts of all ages to learn about different types of weather conditions from tornados to ice storms. View satellite and radar images of hurricanes that have affected the Gulf Coast including Hurricanes Katrina & Rita. Deliver your weather forecast using real studio equipment. For younger audiences, there's a coloring area with weather-related coloring books. Little K was curious about the mock tornado, which she could touch. This is a small museum but a good outing when the weather is hot but you want to get out of the house.
Until the next nap time...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Have Fun Despite Probable Rain on July 4th

Every weather report seems to predict rain for this Independence Day or "Rebels Day" as my British friends call it. Well, I'm not about to let a bit of rain dampen my spirits. Here are a few fun things you can do on July 4th no matter the weather does. A special thanks to Colyn for sharing the first two ideas

  • With the kids--try out Laser Quest at 13711 Westheimer. Open Wednesday from noon to 6 pm. If you're feeling patriotic, you & the kids can dress up for the parts of Rebel and Red Coat!
  • For all ages--Alamo Draft House is located at 1000 West Oaks Mall, No. 426. Have dinner and cocktails brought to you in the movie. Ahh.
  • The YMCA will be open on July 4th. Gather the group for a friendly basket ball game.
  • The Astros play the Phillies at 1:05 pm. After all, this is the all-American sport. $1 hot dogs will be sold. The first 10,000 fans will receive a patriotic hat & the first 15,000 fans will receive a mini-American flag.
  • Rent a copy of the musical 1776. It's historical yet still funny for older audiences.
  • Pull out a blanket for an indoor July 4th picnic. My daughter loves to pretend & at least this way the mosquitos won't bite us.
Most of all, show thanks to our veterans & soldiers currently serving. They've enabled us to celebrate this Independence Day. Happy holiday!