Friday, December 09, 2011

Head to Galveston for the Holidays

GALVESTON: The Perfect Destination for the Holidays!

The Magic of the Season Returns!

Galveston Island has much more than the beach this holiday season. From traditional events to special celebrations and Santa sightings galore, the Island is filled with holiday cheer.

More than a million lights, animated displays and live entertainment adorn the pyramids of Moody Gardens along a mile-long trail during the annual Festival of Lights. Open Thursday through Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. November 24th through December 17th. Open nightly December 18th through January 1st.

Relive the story of Christ's birth through fresh eyes and recapture the wonder of God's miraculous gift during the Imagine Christmas Dinner & Show at Moody Gardens. This Imagine Christmas holiday musical combines fine dining and a unique performance for the ultimate holiday experience. Door to Imagine Christmas open daily at 6:45 p.m. from December 15th to 27th. Admission is $49 for adults and $29 for children 12 and under.
Holiday-themed films will also be featured in the Moody Gardens IMAX 3D Theater, Ridefilm Theater, and 4D Special FX Theater.

Santa Claus will make special Saturday appearances in historic downtown Galveston to take pictures with good little boys and girls next to the Downtown Christmas Tree in Saengerfest Park, 23rd St and Strand. Appearance schedule to be listed here soon.

Your favorite friends from Tuna, Texas return to The Grand 1894 Opera House for not one, but two weeks of laughter with original stars Joe Sears and Jaston Williams in A Tuna Christmas, December 13-18. Don't miss master comedians and original cast members Jaston Williams and Tony Award- nominee Joe Sears, with their deft comedic timing, trademark characterizations, and split-second costume changes, as they portray all 24 denizens of Texas' mythical third-smallest town, Tuna, and attempt to cope with the traumas and dramas of the holidays!

Just in time for the holidays comes a wonderful story about the beauty of the season and the true meaning of Christmas...Wrong! When two well-intentioned parents decide to direct the school play, they make the terrible mistake of casting the Herdman kids; probably the most inventively awful kids in history! Chaos and hilarity results as the cast and crew collide with the Christmas story head on! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will take the stage at island e.t.c. December 9, 10, 16, and 17th at 8pm, with and Sunday matinee on December 11th at 2:30pm. 

Voted the Best Indoor Waterpark in the World, Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark is a 26-acre waterpark that features the world's first indoor / outdoor 70,000 square foot heated convertible waterpark area. This climate controlled area of the park that includes a dozen heated water attractions including favorites such as the Faust & Furious speed slides and Guada-Loopy Tube Chutes. Also relax in Wasserfest Hot Tub and Kids Area. Don't miss Schlitterbahn's unforgettable heated indoor season!

The whole month of December Moody Mansion and Bishop's Palace are adorned with historic ornaments and lights from the early 1900's. Travel back to the days of elegance and class as you explore a Victorian Christmas at the Broadway Beauties.

Of course, you'll also want to Ring in 2012 in the most unforgettable way possible! And Galveston Island is the place to be with New Year's Eve Celebration hosted by The San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center and the Moody Gardens Hotel.
Galveston Island has a variety of festivities to choose from this holiday season. So head South and check out the full line up of events on

Until the next nap time...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Insperity Golf Experience & Flea Market at Discovery Green

Last weekend, Little K and I had a lot of time together since my husband was out of town. We headed down to the Insperity Golf Experience in downtown Houston. It's a 9-hole putt-putt golf course that was created by local artists. It's open through the end of November. With the weather this nice, there's no excuse not to check this out. It costs $5/adult and $3/child. Hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. I love the combination of art and sport.  

I loved all the vibrant colors with our skyscrapers as the back drop. Amazing. Little K liked the zig-zagging colorful course. We both agreed that the pin ball machine turned golf hole was the most challenging. I never could get my golf ball to go up into the hole in the pin ball machine. Then again, I wasn't much good at those machines as a kid either. :-)

 After completing the 9-hold course, we cooled off with an iced tea and a snowcone. You can guess who got which item. 

We walked around Discovery Green and absolutely LOVED the Discovery Green Flea Market. Each booth sold different vintage items made of recycled materials. Little K's favorite was the booth with the enormous hulahoops (see photo at right). She could whip that thing around like nobody. She had me laughing so hard that when you watch the video on FaceBook, you see a very shaking camera person who won't stop giggling. It was great. 

Any ways, the Flea Markets will return the 3rd Saturday of each month from noon - 6 pm. I already added the November 19 event to my calendar. It's located at 1500 McKinney so basically the area is right in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center. Expect to pay $5- $10 for parking in downtown.

I think most of all we both enjoyed being outdoors in the gorgeous weather. You just can't be in a bad mood when you're outside, soaking up a llttle sun and breathing the fresh air. Then again, maybe my good mood was due to my good company.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, October 07, 2011

Zest in the West festival in Houston, Oct. 22-23, 2011

activities including Kidz-Chen Kids Cooking Classes,
If you're wondering what to do in Houston the weekend of Oct. 22-23, look no further. As I mentioned in my October newsletter, the Zest in the West promises fun for young and old. More than 20 restaurants and food trucks will be on hand for plenty of tastings so come hungry. Plus, 19 wineries will be on hand for tastings for attendees 21 years old and over.

I'm most excited about how the zestival will incorporate children's activities including a Kidz-Chen Kids Cooking Classes, thanks to Denis Seafood. (See photo above.) So check out the Zest in the West web site and then mark your calendars for the weekend of Oct. 19-22. We hope to see you there.

When: Saturday, Oct. 22nd from 11 am - 6 pm and Sunday, Oct. 23rd, 2011, Noon - 6 pm
Where: The Great Indoors- Front Lot, 10496 Old Katy Rd, Houston, TX 77043
Cost: $15 General Admission, Kids 12 and under get in FREE

Until the next nap time...

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Revisiting Old Stomping Grounds & the Yexas State Fair

With the State Fair of Texas opening in Dallas this weekend, our Houston family decided to make the drive. It's what I call a rite of passage as a Texan. Little K packed plenty of DVDs, Barbies & other dolls for the incredibly long (4-hour) drive.

Upon our arrival in Big D, we were all filled with energy. I was thrilled that our 6-year-old loved the rides & games. I was surprised with the number of activities for the very young, too. Little K was proud that she popped two balloons with a hackie-sack & won a Smurfette doll. I giggled with the sight of Big Tex, although he wasn't as tall as I remembered him.

A trip to the State Fair wouldn't be complete without a Fletcher's corn dog, followed by a funnel cake. It was calories galore! I even rode in the very tall ferris wheel but I insisted that everyone hold very still. The

view really was beautiful!

After hours at the state fair, we checked into a downtown hotel. We drove by my old Arthur Andersen office on Main Street, which brought back great memories.

Since both my husband & I attended SMU in Dallas, we had to make a few pit stops. First, dinner at Snuffer's on lower

Greenville (because we hadn't eaten enough at the fair!). The cheddar fries were impeccable as we remembered.

We drove around the SMU campus, amazed at the growth that President Turner has brought to the university. We stopped by the Delta Gamma sorority house, where Andrea politely showed us around. The decor looked great! We not only found my old composite photos but also my mother-in-law's composite! Little K grinned from ear to ear.

Next, we drove through Snyder Plaza to see which places remained from our college days. Shell's, check. Burger House, check. Kuby's (a German restaurant & grocery) was even celebrating Oktoberfest with a

live band, food & beer. We enjoyed a cold one & a few dances. Kuby's was my father-in-law's favorite so this stop made us all smile.

To end the night, we made one last stop at a wall near Hillcrest & the Umphrey Lee building.

Trent showed our daughter a brick that his parents bought him at graduation & that was incorporated into a marquee entrance wall. Inscribed on the brick was "Trent Salch -- a 2 keg brick". My husband beamed.

On Sunday, we drove to Plano to see our first house & the trees that finally grew. We stopped by our old church, St. Elizabeth Anne Seton on Spring Creek & remembered how the events of 911 unfolded. It certainly prompted our move to Houston.

On our return home, we swung by Ozona's Restaurant on Upper Greenville to pick up our to-go order.

As we struggle to get a good radio signal in the car so we can hear the Houston Texans game, I'm so thankful that we moved back to Houston. Our family is much closer & our community much tighter. Even Little K pointed out that she was glad we lived in Houston because Dallas didn't have her friend Clare. Still, it's great to go back to Dallas & Plano, relive memory lane & see how we've all grown.

We look forward to SMU's homecoming on Nov. 1 when we hope to return. We'll need to make a new list of places to visit. Here's hoping SMU wins its football game that weekend like it did this weekend.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, September 30, 2011

More Fun Things to Do in October in Houston with Kids

     Each month, I publish an email newsletter with fun ideas of things to do in Houston with kids. If you haven't yet subscribed, take just 1 minute to sign up online and tell your friends, too. 

    There are so many fun things to do in Houston in October with kids that I couldn't fit them all in my October newsletter. Here are a few more that I hope you'll try.

    1. Saturday, Oct. 8 – Sunday, Oct. 9 (10 am – 6 pm) is the Bayou City Art Festival, where you can walk through downtown to view all sorts of art from nationwide artists. Welcoming children, the Gexa Energy Creative Zone includes more than 12 activities designed specifically for young, aspiring artists. From creating custom jewelry to making mini art cars, your kids will have a blast. Parents and grandparents will enjoy strolling through booths featuring art work for sale by more than 300 artists. This is a fun way to spend the day outdoors and appreciate art. The festival is showcased in front of City Hall and around Hermann Square on the streets of Walker, Bagby and McKinney, as well as Sam Houston Park. Admission is $12/adult and children are free.

    2. We had a blast at the Scarecrow Festival in Chappel Hill, Texas last year. It’s about 1.5 hours from Houston. If you have the day free, head out of town to enjoy this outdoor event together. Aim to arrive early as the traffic on Hwy. 290 heading into Chappel Hill backs up for miles. It’s worth the wait though. I enjoyed all the festival food (yum!) and the autumn décor and early holiday shopping. The children’s area includes a small ferris wheel ($5), a train ($3), a petting zoo ($3) with the cutest pot belly pig baby & much more. Be sure to bring cash as each booth has different fees and I didn’t see a place that accepted credit cards. Check out our photos from last year. This year, the festival is Saturday, Oct. 8 (10 am – 6 pm) and Sunday, Oct. 8 (noon – 5 pm). There is no admission fee but parking is $5/car.
            3. Monday Oct. 10 is Columbus Day. Do your kids know who Christopher Columbus is? If your children span various ages, encourage your older children to read a story or make up a play about Christopher Columbus so the younger kids can learn. Teach them the “1492 Poem.”Or check out these fun ways to celebrate Columbus Day that I found online.

4. Attend Energy Day 2011 on Saturday, October 15 from 11 am to 5 pm at Houston’s Hermann Square (downtown at Smith between Walker & McKinney. Sponsored by the City of Houston and Consumer Energy Alliance, Energy Day is a FREE family-friendly festival that will celebrate and highlight the importance of energy in our daily lives and Houston’s role as the Energy Capital. The event is designed to educate youth of all ages about the overall role all forms of energy play in meeting our current and future needs. With more than 80 kid-friendly innovative exhibits, demonstrations and booths focused on some of the coolest energy-related scientific breakthroughs, games and interactive displays, Energy Day is sure to be a can’t-miss event for the entire family. Energy Day will also feature Live Music, Food and Prizes. Free parking is available. For more information, visit

5.   On Friday, Oct. 28 at 11 am, Miller Outdoor Theatre presents “The Adventures of Tom & Huck”, an adaptation of the book by Mark Twain. Bring a picnic blanket and lunch so you can enjoy this one-hour musical with your youngster. You’re sure to laugh, too. Miller Outdoor Theatre is located in Hermann Park at 6000 Hermann Park Drive. Arrive early to find parking before the production begins. Price: no charge

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Involving Children in a Groundbreaking Ceremony


Last weekend, our church and school held a groundbreaking to expand the nursery school and the elementary school buildings. The event was very nice and most of what you'd expect from a groundbreaking ceremony. 

However, I loved how the staff included the kids in this exciting event. Each student was encouraged to where their school uniform (in exchange for an out-of-uniform pass later during the week) and were given yellow plastic hard hats. A representative from every class -- from 6 weeks old to 14 years old -- was invited to add an item to the time capsule that will bury during the building phase. Lots of photos were taken and then everyone was invited inside for lunch and a "dirt cake with worms", which was actually chocolate cake with Oreos and gummy worms. They even had a focal point of a wheel barrel holding the dirt cake.

We all enjoyed the efforts made by the team at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and School. Just thought I'd share in case any of you are planning your own groundbreaking. 

A special thanks to Dory Michels for sharing his wonderful photos.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Houston Kids and Tennis

Do you have a tennis player in the making in your home? The United States Tennis Association if making tennis available to any child under 10 years of age in the United States.If your Houston kids are interested in tennis, here's a great opportunity for them. USTA memberships for 10 and under players are free until December 31, 2011. They even have small courts and racquets for youngsters learning the game. Plus, this is a game that people can play for a lifetime. Visit for complete details. 

Thanks to Catherine Kruppa for sharing this tip!

Until the next nap time...

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Power of an Outside Voice for Parents

I subscribe to a weekly email newsletter published by motivational speaker Jon Gordon. Today's newsletter is especially relevant to parents so I'm republishing it here, thanks to I hope you enjoy it.

The Power of an Outside Voice
"Jon, never underestimate the power of an outside voice."

A CEO shared these words with me after I had just spoken to his company.

"We brought you here to reinforce our message," he said. "Our folks get tired of hearing us say it but when it comes from an outside voice it's new, fresh and exciting."

I knew exactly what he was talking about.

Even though I'm brought in to speak to some of the biggest names in sports and business my kids have little interest in hearing what I have to say. From what many parents tell me on my travels I know I'm not alone.

So, besides having my kids read my books and writing inspirational messages on whiteboards in their rooms, I've resorted to outside voices to reinforce the message and principles I want to share with them.

I have found coaches, tutors, youth pastors, mentors, experts, etc to encourage, coach, teach, push and bring out the best in my children. I bought my son a great video by Jim Loer on how to develop mental toughness during a tennis match and his tennis coach reinforces the importance of focus and practice. My friends Paul and Mindy McCord have given great advice to my daughter about being the best lacrosse player she can be.

I also give my children books to read, share inspiring Youtube videos, and we watch Joel Osteen as a family. Some of Joel's messages are similar to mine but when he says it, it's like they are hearing it for the first time. : )

There's something about the power of an outside voice and I want to encourage you to use outside voices to share and reinforce important principles and messages with your team at work and at home.
I will do all I can do to support you by continuing to write books, give talks and provide even more free resources to be an outside voice for you and others. I know its my purpose and I'm glad to be of help since no one will listen to me at my home. : )

But please know there are many outside voices out there and I encourage you to find the right people and resources to share with your work team and ask family members, neighbors, friends, teachers and mentors to encourage and teach your children and team at home.

There's the power of an outside voice and you can start tapping into one today!

... all politics aside, I have to agree with Hillary Clinton's "it takes a village to raise a child" concept. I feel like we have a wealth of great parents in our community who will watch out for my child, correct my child when needed and encourage her when possible. Looking for these "outside voices" is so important in our kids' development and I'm thankful for those special parents who continue to help us.

Do you count on other parents or adults to help positively influence your children?

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lessons in Childhood Friendships

Do you remember your first friends? How about your best friends from early elementary school? I do.
First grade brings new friends for many kids, myself included. It's amazing the lessons you learn about friendship as early as first grade. Luckily, I still keep in touch with a few of my best friends from first grade (Carrie & Cathy), although we don't chat nearly enough. Two of us still live in Houston so that makes it easier, I suppose. Many like my mom never lived long enough in one city to maintain those friendships.
C & K Prepare for Class
The situation is a bit different for the two girls pictured at left. They actually met when they were about 3 months old at nursery school. This week, they donned matching uniforms down to the white socks and white and navy saddle shoes. The grins almost match, too. First grade never felt so good.
It's interesting to watch your kids grow up, make friends, have their squabbles and then make up. It'll be a great ride watching K & C grow up. With one school that starts in nursery school and continues through middle school, it should be easier for these two to remain friends. While I encourage my daughter to make more friends and to be a good friend to everyone, I can't help but to appreciate the strong relationships she's already developed. Here's to looking back on photos like these in 20 years and talking about everything they've accomplished together.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Theater District Open House in Houston, August 28 from noon - 4 pm

I just saw this opportunity today and only wish I had seen it earlier so I could have mentioned it in my newsletter. I suppose this gives readers one more reason to come to my blog. This looks like a fun family activity.

The 18th Capital One Bank Theater District Open House is a fun-filled way to experience dance, music and theater for FREE! Bring the whole family for a day in Houston's world-renowned Theater District as the Alley Theatre, Hobby Center, Jones Hall and Wortham Theater Center swing their doors wide open. Guests can expect live performances, meet-and-greets with costumed performers, Capital One Bank trolley rides & the best ticket deals of the year on season subscriptions!

Visits with Great Grandparents are Such a Treasure

Last Thursday, Little K returned from her trip with her Grand to see her great grandparents in Ohio. It was the day before her "Meet the Teacher Day" and we jam-packed her schedule as summer came to a close.

Little K was tired but filled with stories to tell -- much like the ones I remember from similar trips when I was her age. Her suitcase also came with some interesting items like the live cicada named Emma. (I don't know how that got through security. Nor do I think Houston needs a cicada from Ohio.) Pa Pa Don is still his humorous self.  Little K made the adults laugh until their sides hurt when she claimed that the cicada slobbered on her. Cicada slobber?

The trip had barely started when Grammy served homemade biscuits and gravy. Later Pa Pa Don fixed his now famous fluffy pancakes.

Little K and her extended family found time to go fishing and actually catch something besides grief. Little K discovered a new love for worms. She played with cousin Bentley, who is older and wiser by a few years. They went for a ride in Uncle Brad's tractor and ran in the green fields (a new idea since Houston has only brown grass due to the drought.) Aunt Kenny filled her up with another tasty meal.

They picked fresh vegetables from the garden like tomatoes, potatoes and beans. They relaxed in the hot tub so Pa Pa Don could "soak his bod". From the pictures that I've included you can see that there was even time for dress up.

The only missing piece was Mommy.

I'm so bummed I couldn't make this trip. Still, I am blessed that my mom (a.k.a. Grand) was willing to take Little K to visit her great grandparents. How many adults can recall such times with their great grandparents? Some of us didn't even get much time with our grandparents. The time allowed is never enough but we continue to make the most of what we are given.

It really makes me crave more time with our family members. I encourage you to treasure your time with yours, too.

At the end of the trip, Grand took Little K's picture with her great grandparents. Snap. Then Little K looked up at her Pa Pa Don and said, "Don't worry. I'll be back."

"That's what I'm afraid of," he said laughing. Yes, we will be back. Thanks for a great time and many more memories. We can't wait to see Grammy and Pa Pa Don in Houston this November. That gives me plenty of time to come up with some pranks to play on Pa Pa Don.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, August 05, 2011

When Your Kid Takes a Trip Without You

We dropped Little K off at my parents, kissed & hugged her, & drove away. Her lip was pouting as we drove away & so was mine. I threw her my hand signal for "I love you".

Tomorrow, Little K heads to Ohio with my mom (aka Grand) to see K's great grandparents, great aunts, great uncles & cousins. I don't feel great.

The only other time I've been away from my 6-year-old daughter was 2 years ago when Trent & I took a wedding anniversary trip for 5 days. My sister pointed out that that trip was easier for me because I had a trip to look forward to. This time the roles are reversed. I didn't expect this.

Oh boy! This could be a long week. Plus, in May, I had so many plans of fun things to do over the summer with my girl. Where did the summer go? K returns on Thursday night, only to head to "Meet the Teacher Day" on Friday. What?

I'll keep myself pre-occupied with a weekend trip to Austin but I already miss my girl. Here is a photo of K this morning, counting down the days until her super fun trip to Ohio. (We've taken a photo each day this week & emailed them to PaPa Don in Ohio.) At least she is excited.

Okay, enough of my sob story. AC/DC is on the car radio singing "It's a Long Way to the Top" & we are pulling into Austin. Here's to a fun, safe weekend to all parents & their kids -- no matter the age.

- Until the next nap time...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cavities Bite

So Little K is getting her 1st filling right now. Since she is crazy scared of shots, the dentist told me not to prep her. "Just bring her in."

They gave her a sip of purple juice that K said tasted like a glove. Ten minutes later, she couldn't stand up & was giggly. Really? I thought the "juice" was just going to make her calm. At least I know what to look for in my super relaxed girl.

The staff guided her down the hall & again coached me on how not to react or grab her hand to reassure her. Apparently, parents often grasp their kids' hands right before the injection. Luckily, the team was set with cartoons on the TV & tales of alligators with wide jaws. Little K lay in the dentist's chair a bit dazed & confused but no whimpering. I don't think she felt the shot & the staff was good about sneaking
The shot in where she couldn't see it. Never having a filling myself, I'm glad I had the extra coaching.

The sedative should wear off soon & her lip will not be numb by dinner. Fingers crossed. Here's to better teeth brushing. Mommy's blood pressure is sky high soon. The dentist asked if I needed a Valium but we opted against since I'm driving home. Pictures later!

- Until the next nap time...

Visit to Houston's Cy Twombly Gallery

 Yesterday, I went to the Cy Twombly Gallery near the Menil in Houston's Museum District. My observational drawing class that started last week required the visit as we study drawing as a direct transmission between the brain and hand. If you can see it, you can draw it. Twombly, who passed away earlier this month, used numerous types of mark making to create his art. Scratching, looping, globs of paint, vibrant color, scribbles, smudges, etc. All come together to create Abstract Expressionism. While I won't pretend to be an expert on any of this, I felt like taking time to look and think about his art and really be open to it was a good exercise for this left-brained woman. At first, many think any child could create the scribble scrabble. On further examination, you see words incorporated into the piece and figures become apparent. It's interesting to say the least.

I'd recommend the Cy Twombly Gallery for middle school students and up who have a knack for art or even those who need to broaden their horizons and experience different types of art. There's no charge for entry and you could finish viewing all the art in an hour or less.

The Cy Twombly Gallery at 1501 Branard in Houston is open 11 am - 7 pm Wednesday - Sunday. As my drawing instructor suggested, the lighting is best at this gallery in mid- to late-afternoon.

Until the next nap time...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Really Good Punishment

Little K was dragging her feet yesterday about brushing her teeth. It was one of those days when she just didn't want to do anything that we asked her to do. In complete aggravation, Trent finally barked back at her: "Go brush your teeth or.... or we're going to do something really mean."

I looked at him and just cracked up.

"I couldn't think of anything to say," Trent told me. He just shook his head.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Even With the Best Intentions, Parents Need Help Guiding Kids Online

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with two leaders from Nominum, which is focused on "an internet to match your lifestyle." The company is now promoting and soon to be selling a technology called myi, which helps parents with an application center that controls all computers and mobile devices in your home. Parents, I think this is genius. Myi allows you to choose from a variety of apps, similar in look & feel to Apple's apps, that provide Internet security, better communication within your family and a mix of fun, too.

John Arledge presented live examples of using myi. For instance, he wants to maintain a close relationship with his family members and be able to discipline his kids with his wife, despite his heavy travel schedule. When one of his children broke a rule (didn't complete his homework, I think), John & his wife talked by phone. So that mom isn't always the "heavy" in disciplining, John who was traveling in Texas, logged into myi and used the Grounded(TM) app to take away access to the son's favorite site when he broke the rule in California. No matter which device his son tried to use in the house, he couldn't access that favorite site. Plus, all of this was done remotely from the dad's iPhone. (Yes, other mobile devices will work, too.) Awesome.

Here are a few highlights of some other apps that they offer. 
House Rules allows parents to set ground rules for the type of Internet sites that are permissible in their home. It uses a filter to block common categories such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs and adult content sites but the parent chooses which content to block, using simple check boxes. If a babysitter or other adult friend visits your home and tries to view something online that falls within the blocked content list, a message appears explaining that this particular web site does not meet the house rules but please try again.

Our Time helps parents schedule time for non-screen use with a drop-down menu and calendaring options. No Internet access would be available during the set time(s) except for tools like NetFlix or streaming video. This is neat in that parents can set dedicated times each day/week just to have time to talk with family members, whether that's conversation between the parents or amongst all family members. With more and more families being "connected" via online tools, I believe there's a growing need to dedicate time to time together offline. Anyone up for a game of Scrabble?

Bedtime will be especially useful for kids in middle school and older. It turns the Internet off throughout the house during times when folks should be "in bed". Instead of your teenager sneaking a computer or mobile device into his/her bedroom to chat with friends after the parents have gone to bed, the Internet is shut down so the option for late night FaceBook discussions just aren't an option. I'm not saying any of your kids would sneak a mobile device into their bedroom but avoid the temptation. Help your kids get a good night's rest.

Wink is super cute. If, for instance,  your husband likes to surf on or download more and more Angry Birds games at night, every time he tries to visit that particular web site, you can re-route him to, say, or a web site about the vacation you keep asking for.

Crunch Time can be used by parents and kids, allowing you to block a certain web site during a time period when you need to stay focused. I could really use this to keep me off of Hotmail and FaceBook when I need to wrap up some work but would rather socialize. Think about how useful this could be for kids during homework time.

Study Hall sets rules for when kids should be doing homework. It uses filters to allow students to only access education related sites doing the set hours.

There's no hardware to buy or software to install. Everything is maintained on Nominum's servers. Phew! Best of all, you can buy one app at a time ($1.99 - $2.99 each) or get full access to all the apps they offer (a growing list) for $25.99 a year. I also like the fact that I can have all of my myi apps managed on my iPhone and if a friend is interested, I can share my apps and settings with them from my iPhone. My friend would be charged directly for the apps that I'm sharing and all my settings are immediately applied to my friend's home.. with the ability to adjust those settings at any time. It gets my friend up and running super fast.

Schools can use this to share recommended resources like books, art exhibits or web sites that are directly related to the content being studied in class.

Daniel Blasingame of Nominum likes to explain myi not as a lock down tool, but rather as a way to facilitate conversations between parents and kids. Parents choose which content, which hours and which apps to use. Myi is simply the tool. "Myi gives you a palet or tool set to choose your own settings," Blasingame said. "It's not heavy handed."

Arledge laughed, saying "It won't solve marital problems but it's a great digital assist." I agree and am really looking forward to testing myi out, hopefully, later this month when it launches officially.

Check back here for more details or visit for updates later this month. Post your questions or comments to this blog about myI. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Last Day of School Presents Exciting Opportunities for Summer

Little K finished swim lessons on Wednesday and her teacher sent me this photo of Little K swimming under water. Ah.... thank goodness summer is here. Our daughter also finished her last day of kindergarten today and says she's glad not to have homework for a while. Well, me too.

Happy Memorial Day weekend to you all!

Until the next nap time...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

July 4th Fireworks Around Town

Fireworks displays abound around town. Here are some fabulous ones, plus I’ve noted some celebrations without the sparks. Before the fireworks shows, reassure your children and let kids know that the fireworks are loud but safe.

West University’s July 4th Bike Parade starts at West U Elementary at 10 am Friday and concludes at Colonial Park with food, fun, and festivities until 2 pm.

Bellaire’s July 4th Parade begins at 9:30 am at the Bellaire Triangle with the Festival lasting until 1 pm at the Bellaire-Zindler Park.

Don’t forget the Villages Independence Parade starting at 9 am at Memorial High School with a free Festival at Memorial Drive Baptist Church until 1 pm.

The Tanglewood 4th of July Parade and Carnival is 10 am until noon at 5200 San Felipe with clowns, face painting, bounce houses and more. Call 713-552-0505 for details.

Galveston celebrates July 4th, starting with a parade at 10 am at the Railroad Museum (25th and Santa Fe Place). From there, the parade will wind its way through historic downtown Galveston from Strand to 21st; south on 21st to Postoffice; west on Postoffice to 24th, and finally south on 24th to Sealy. Following the parade, there will be a 4th of July celebration at Sealy Pavilion (24th and Sealy) with patriotic entertainment, free hot dogs and lemonade, and free American flags for the children. There will also be musical entertainment. The 20-minute fireworks show begins at 9:15 pm and will last about 25 minutes. The setting is at 37th and Seawall but the fireworks can be seen as far west as 81st and Seawall, and as far east as 14th and Seawall.
Physical location: 37th Street and Seawall Blvd. in Galveston 888-425-4752

Pearland's Celebration of Freedom is an all-out family festival with craft booths and carnival rides. Admission is FREE, but bring your wallet for all the food, music and rides. Bring school supplies to donate to the city’s drive for needy students.
Time: Noon-11 pm
Physical location: Pearland High School Football Stadium at 3775 South Main

Chevy’s Freedom over Texas celebration with Fireworks is presented at Eleanor Tinsley Park along Buffalo Bayou near downtown Houston. This features a concert with several Sara Evans, Miranda Lambert & Jo Dee Messina. The concerts are followed by a huge fireworks show. Plenty of children's activities will also be available. This is the largest land-based fireworks display in the nation!
Admission: $8 per person, Kids 10 and under are FREE
Time: 4-10 pm
Physical location: Eleanor Tinsley Park at Buffalo Bayou near downtown

Rosenberg’s signature July 4th event includes a concert, an inflatable carnival, KidZone, horseshoes and washer tournaments, food and refreshment vendors, hayrides through Seabourne Creek Park, and a great fireworks show. Guests are asked to bring their lawn chairs, their family and all their friends, but to please leave the pets and alcoholic refreshments at home.

General event parking will be available immediately south of the event site. Event Partner parking and handicapped parking will be available at the Rosenberg Civic and Convention Center at 3825 Highway 36 South.
Time: 5-10 pm
Physical location: Seabourne Creek Park located at 3831 Highway 36 South 832-595-3520

Sugarland's annual Red, White and Bluefest will be held in Sugarland at Oyster Creek and Lost Creek parks. If you stay for the fireworks, it's a long evening but a fun one. The holiday activities include jugglers, magicians, parade, music and fireworks.
Time: 4:30-11 pm
Physical location: Oyster Creek and Lost Creek parks but take the shuttle from Mercer Stadium at 16403 Lexington Blvd 281-275-2885

Houston Symphony's Star Spangled Salute: Enjoy beautiful American tunes synchronized to the annual celebration at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park in the museum district. Thousands flock to this event site and it remains a great family outing. Bring a large blanket to lie on the hill so your family can lean back, relaxing to the sights and sounds. Music plays until dark when the music is then accompanied by wonderful fireworks.
Admission: FREE
Time: 8-10:30 pm
Physical location: Hermann Park

11th Annual Red, Hot and Blue Festival and Fireworks Extravaganza is a
23-minute fireworks show at Waterway Square. This is the second largest in the greater Houston region, second only to downtown Houston’s show. The soundtrack for The Red, Hot & Blue Festival Fireworks is simulcast on Houston’s Sunny 99.1 radio station.
Admission: FREE
Time: 11 am-8 pm
Physical location: Waterway Square in The Woodlands

Kemah Fireworks: If you have older kids, this is a fun outing. Stroll through the shops on the Kemah Boardwalk, enjoy a tasty dinner overlooking the water and then watch the fireworks show. This is the same show seen each Friday and Saturday throughout June and July but gives the family plenty to do, including amusement park rides and shopping. Enjoy the fireworks show shot over Galveston Bay at 9:30 pm.
Admission: FREE
Time: dinner - 9:30 pm
Physical location: Bradford and 2nd Street in Kemah 877-AT-KEMAH (887-285-3624)

Be safe! Until the next nap time...
After an eventful Grandparents Day on Friday, we headed to the ranch for a little R&R. I love it this of year because yes, the weather is cooler, some of the leaves actually change colors in Navasota, TX. and we get to take hay rides.

After lunch, my dad, hubby, Little K & I ran a few errands, including making a stop at a tractor shop. I know, how glamorous. But Dad had to pick up something so Little K illustrated her back-hoe skills by using the "digger for kids" in the store. It was the same one that Dewberry Farm has so Little K was prepared. When my Dad saw her, he promised to take her on the real back-hoes just like he did with me and my sister when we were young. Fond memories.

On our way out of the store, we stopped at the entrance display and took this picture. I absolutely love Thanksgiving -- in large part because my birthday is that time of year and because it's often seems to me like the forgotten holiday. The stores go directly from Halloween to Christmas. Hay! Don't you remember how the United States of America got started? Okay, I also like American Indians but enough of that soap box.

This evening, Little K and her cousin Claire piled into the John Deere ranch buggy/ATV. I insisted on riding with the cool kids in the back while my parents drove up front. We sported a blanket since my sister threatened us with releasing stories bettter left untold if we didn't cover up her daughter when outside. (If Claire gets sick again, it's not my fault.) As we drove, our 9-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback dog hauled it, about one inch from the side of the vehicle. Mom and I were so worried that we'd run over his leg at some point. Potential ightmares ran through my head. Apparently, my mothering "worry" skills also apply to the dog. Finally, Dad stopped the vehicle and I somehow lifted the 73-pound dog into the back with the cool kids. At last, he was cool, too, and enjoyed the rest of the ride.

Tomorrow, we'll return to Houston. Despite the rainy weather, it's been a fun trip to the ranch. I've truly enjoyed spending the weekend with my niece especially. She's just over a year old and clues me into what it would be like to have a second child under foot. (This is not a wish, just an observation! Smile.) How quickly we forget that while toddlers don't have our verbal skills, they definitely understand what we're saying. She's even making me brush up on my sign language talents and Little K is learning how much you have to share with a youngster. I haven't heard her ask for a younger sibling this whole weekend. How interesting.

In advance, Happy Thanksgiving to all. Until the next nap time...

Children's Christmas TV Programming 2010

Here is a line up of the Christmas TV programming for children this year. Hope you and yours enjoy this.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the 1966 animated holiday story loved by all tall and small, airs TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30 (8:00-8:30 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

If you're trying to squeeze in some fun, yet educational opportunities for your kids this summer, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston just made it easier. Check out these events and start penciling in activities on your calendar.

All Summer Long Breakfasts and Boxed Lunches, MFAH-Style
Bring the kids and enjoy a meal in the museum’s Cafe Express, located in the MFAH Beck Building, Lower Level, or enjoy a picnic in the sculpture garden with its delightful café seating.

MFAH Family Packs (MFAH Law and Beck Buildings)
Family Packs are filled with hands-on activities, looking games, and books. These interactive resources are available at the Membership Services desks in the Beck and Law buildings during museum hours and at the Kinder Foundation Education Center Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Borrow them free of charge during your museum visit.

o Buildings and Beyond Family Pack: Explore your inner architect with this blue pack. Use the laminated guide that’s designed like a blueprint to guide your visit throughout the museum. Recommended for children ages 4+

o People and Personalities Family Pack: Meet a variety of people that are featured in paintings and sculptures at the museum using the family guide in the green pack to guide your visit. Recommended for children ages 4+

o Let’s Play! Gallery Games with Mwamba and Naki Family Pack: This purple pack is filled with puzzles, sketching activities, and looking games that will help everyone have fun while learning about art from all over the world. Recommended for children ages 4+

o Five Paintings to See With Your Little One: Designed just for the younger child, with an emphasis on colors and shapes, this resource helps families have great experiences with little ones in the galleries. Recommended for children ages 2+

Kick-off and Finale Events FREE Summer Programs Kickoff Performance at the MFAH (MFAH Beck Building)
Thursday, June 9:  Kick off the summer on Thursday, June 9 at 2 p.m. in Gallery 214. No admission for Free Thursdays. Experience the original performance by Houston’s most unusual string ensemble, Two Star Symphony. The group aims to create new and diverse music that speaks to the collective conscience of a broad audience offering a unique and powerful sound, as each instrument reverberates off the others and fills the audio spectrum with a deep, dark, melodic blend.

Thursday, August 11 FREE Summer Programs Finale Performance (MFAH Beck Building)
A chamber group from the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra will fill the museum with beautiful music during a concert in the galleries that will delight guests, Thursday, August 11 at 2:00 p.m. in the Beck Building.

Tuesdays-Saturdays Detective Days at Bayou Bend
May 31- August 26: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. There’s mystery afoot at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens this summer! Located a few blocks away from Memorial Park, Bayou Bend has 14 acres of woodlands and gardens for summer sleuths age 6 and older to explore. Beginning May 31, go on a self-guided outdoor detective adventure. Educational themes range from plants and trees to sculpture and architecture. And, starting August 2, you can also go on an indoor detective adventure. Tour the historic mansion which is filled with antique treasures from the 18th and 19th centuries. Every Bayou Bend detective gets an “Investigator’s Kit” to help them with their sleuthing, and a bottle of water to keep cool during the hunt. Children 12 and under are free; $5 for everyone else. Ages 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Bayou Bend Collections and Gardens is located at 6003 Memorial Drive @ Westcott St.
Beginning May 31, 2011:
  • The Case of the Missing Trees – Searching for 10 special trees hiding amidst a thousand is kind of like trying to find a needle in a haystack! Locate and identify the trees using special clues we will provide the detective--images of their leaves and rhyming clues. Recommended for children ages 6+
  • On the Trail of the Evolving Plant – Take a trip through time as you track woodland and garden vegetation back to the age of the dinosaurs! One problem – those pesky plants are masters of disguise and adaptability, so you’ll have to use your top-notch detective skills to keep up with them. Recommended for children ages 10+
Beginning July 12, 2011:
  • The Architect’s Evidence – The 1920s era mansion at Bayou Bend was carefully planned and thought out – clearly, this was no accident. Explore all of the details of the house’s exterior and sort out the rhyme and reason behind its design and construction. Recommended for children ages 10+
  • Mysterious Messages – The statues located throughout the gardens have messages for you – but what are they trying to say? Using informational clues, our summer sleuths will learn how to interpret art through history. Recommended for children ages 7+
Beginning August 2, 2011:
  • By the Numbers – A riddle has been discovered in the gardens this morning, and the secret to solving it lies within the two-story historic mansion, filled with antique treasures from the 18th and 19th centuries. You’ll have to have a pretty sharp eye to find all of the clues, but we are counting on you to figure it out! Recommended for children ages 10+
Wednesdays (June & July) from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m: Storytime Tours at Rienzi
Summer time is story time at Rienzi every Wednesday in June and July. Introduce children to the magic of art and literature in an intimate house museum setting. Rienzi’s Storytime Tour is a fun and interactive activity featuring stories related to themes highlighted in Rienzi’s collection. Admission is free. Reservations are suggested and space is limited, please call (713) 639-7800 for reservations. Recommended for children ages 3+ Rienzi is located at 1406 Kirby Drive.

11 a.m. REEL Kids Summer Movies (Brown Theater Auditorium, MFAH Law Building)
Free Summer Movie Matinees with paid museum admission are fun for the entire family. This incredible line up of films, several with Oscar® connections, screen on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. in the Brown Theater Auditorium and are free with museum admission and free to members of the museum’s Film Buffs patron group. And here's the line-up:
  • June 1 The Karate Kid* (Directed by John Avildsen, USA, 1984, 126 min)
  • June 8 The Kid (Directed by Charlie Chaplin, USA, 1928, 72 min., silent with musical soundtrack)
  • June 15 The Parent Trap* (Directed by David Swift, USA, 1961, 129 min.)
  • June 22 Bugsy Malone* (Directed by Alan Parker, UK, 1976, 93 min.)
  • June 29 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial** (Directed by Steven Spielberg, USA, 1982, 115 min.)
  • July 6 My Bodyguard (Directed by Tony Bill, USA, 1980, 96 min.)
  • July 13 It Came from Outer Space 3D (Directed by Jack Arnold, USA, 1953, 81 min.)
  • July 20 Howl’s Moving Castle* (Director by Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2004, 119 min.)
  • July 27 Secret of the Kells* (Directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, France/Belgium/Ireland, 2009 75 min.)
  • August 3 National Velvet** (Directed by Clarence Brown, USA, 1944, 123 min.)
  • August 10 Fantastic Mr. Fox * (Directed by Wes Anderson, USA, 2009, 87 min.)
Thursdays Creation Station (Beck Building): (June, July & August) 11a.m. – 2 p.m. Guests are invited to create art with an MFAH teaching artist and explore the galleries. Each week, explore a different work of art and learn a new art-making technique. Recommended for children ages 4+

Gallery Investigations (MFAH Law and Beck Buildings)
This summer, kids and families can become Art Detectives, investigating a new work of art each week in the galleries—looking carefully, uncovering details, and thinking about the intriguing things discovered. As each case is completed, investigators will earn a clue for their “Clue Book,” which will be used to guess the mystery work of art to be unveiled at the end of the summer. There are two chances to participate each week – Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. All Art Detectives are eligible for a special prize-drawing at the end of the summer. Participation in the MFAH Art Detectives program is free with admission. Recommended for children ages 4+

A Book and a Look (Kinder Foundation Education Center, Law Building)
NEW PROGRAM! At this storybook check-out program, families can check out a storybook and take it into the galleries to read together in front of a work of art that that they will also “read” with the help of hands-on materials and looking questions. MFAH staff will match up each family’s interests and favorite things with a storybook and art pairing. Recommended for children ages 2+

Artful Thursdays (MFAH Brown Theater Auditorium)
Explore the museum June 16th, July 14nd and August 18th beginning at 6:30 p.m. for a themed evening with the MFAH. Mythological Subjects and Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting in June, The Music of Cole Porter; Presented by Michael Lasser in July and Aesthetics of the Everyday Presented by Tacey Rosolowski in August.

Sketching in the Galleries (MFAH Law and Beck Buildings) Sundays in June - August
An MFAH teaching artist guides adults and children of all drawing levels during sketching
1 p.m. – 4 p.m. in the galleries. Sundays from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Recommended for children ages 4+

Creation Station (MFAH Law and Beck Buildings)
Guests are invited to create art with an MFAH teaching artist and explore the galleries. Each week, explore a different work of art and learn a new art-making technique. Recommended for children ages 4+

July Family Art Workshops at Rienzi
Family Art Workshops encourage families to come together to create art, write stories and poems, and watch performances inspired by Rienzi’s collection. Admission is free. Reservations are suggested and space is limited, please call (713) 639-7800 for reservations. Recommended for children ages 4+ Rienzi is located at 1406 Kirby Drive.
  • Sunday, July 10, 2011: Cinderella Stories from Around the World -- Instructions from the Rice Literacy and Culture Project will explore the many Cinderella stories written from the point of view of different cultures and countries. Families will enjoy hearing these international tales, write their own Cinderella story, and have the opportunity to make puppets for an impromptu performance.
  • Sunday, July 17, 2011: Portrait Miniatures; Love Tokens before the Digital Age -- Discover what was used before photography to represent portraits. Learn about Rienzi’s Caroline A. Ross Collection, which includes portrait miniatures by European and American artists between c. 1710 and 1900. Families will explore this unique artistic tradition and create their own version for family and friends.
  • Sunday, July 24, 2011: “The Fantastic Fables of La Fontaine”, a musical recital for children -- Early Music Southwest presents “The Fantastic Fables of La Fontaine,” a musical tale of wise and foolish animals from 17th century France. The narration with accompanying chamber ensemble will delight kids of all ages. The musical recital will be followed by a cookies and lemonade reception. The recital will begin promptly at 1:15pm.
1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. Sunday Storytime (MFAH Law and Beck Buildings)
Family-friendly Sunday Storytime introduces young learners to the world of art through hands-on gallery activities, close looking, and the reading of a storybook in MFAH galleries. Recommended for children ages 2+

2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Gallery Investigations (MFAH Law and Beck Buildings)
Join the MFAH Art Detective program. Each Art Detective case takes kids into the galleries to investigate a work of art. Each investigation is different, but all ask Art Detectives to look carefully, uncover details, and think about what cool stuff can be discovered. Recommended for children ages 4+

Locations: Caroline Wiess Law Building, 1001 Bissonnet, Houston, TX 77005
Audrey Jones Beck Building, 5601 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 6003 Westcott @ Memorial, Houston, TX 77007
Rienzi, 1406 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX 77019

MFAH Parking: All-day parking is only $6.00 at the Visitor Center Garage or free across the street from the Caroline Wiess Law Building.

For m
Until the next nap time...