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 cafĂ© 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...

Monday, May 16, 2011

How Do You Keep Kids Safe Online?

With summer around the corner, parents like me are planning for ways to entertain the students in our lives. Unlike when I was young, kids love being on the computer and have computers or handheld devices literally at their fingertips. So how do you control which web sites they are visiting? Kids could be sitting in the same room as you but reading web sites that are too mature for them. Can people spend too much time on FaceBook?

Alex Williams wrote about this conundrum & more in the New York Times article "Quality Time Redefined". The articles states: "Nearly 60 percent of American families with children own two or more computers, and more than 60 percent of those have either a wired or wireless network to connect to the Internet, according to studies by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. A third of all Americans log on from home multiple times a day, nearly twice the number that did so in 2004."

So what's the effect on today's children and developing family relationshipos? There are a lot of opinions about whether technology and wireless strengthen or pull apart families. Williams' article covers both sides of this debate. I still think making rules to limit the time on TV and computers is important. Then having time to read stories aloud to each other, color or play games can be allowed so kids get personal interaction with their parents but also enjoy the time online, improving typing or interactive skills.

My concern still is around controlling the content of what's being viewed on your kids computer or mobile device. I've recently learned about a soon-to-launch tool that helps parents manage who's viewing which sites, create no online time, and much more. The price is super affordable too. Check back here for more information as it becomes available and I'll share my thoughts on it. Be sure to add your comments, too. Surely I'm not the only parent wondering how to manage my daughter and the virtual realities that loom.

Until the next nap time...

Free Summer Movies & Cheap Summer Movies in Houston for Kids

Looking to escape the summer heat? There are numerous movie theaters throughout Houston offering discounted or no fees for kid-friendly movies. Here are six different locations offering little to no charge for great movies all summer long. Find one by you and check out a flick.

- Studio Movie Grill at City Centre hosts children every weekend at 11 am with rated-G Kid Toons (cartoons like Olivia) for just $2. Additionally, Studio Movie Grill offers free movies for families raising children with special needs. The lights are dimmed and the volume is softer to help accommodate these children. The next opportunity is on Saturday, June 4 at 11 am when Kung Fu Panda 2 will be showing. Lastly, Studio Movie Grill kicks off the 2011Summer Series with 11 movies played over three months of summer for $1 per child and $2 per adult. Check out the schedule of upcoming movies and start planning.

- Cinemark Tinseltown (in Houston on Hwy. 290 and in The Woodlands) debut the Summer Movie Clubhouse with 10 movies shown throughout the summer for only $5 in advance or $1 at the door. A different movie will be played each week and all movies are rated either G or PG. All shows start at 10 am. Check online for the Houston schedule and The Woodlands schedule.

- For older kids, head downtown to Market Square Park to watch Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade on June 18 at 8 pm. There is no charge to attend.

- Rave Motion Pictures launches its Family Film Fest at Yorktown Crossing in Houston. Each Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 am a rated G or PG movie will be played at no charge. Check out the Rave web site for updates on the schedule.

- The Houston Silverado IMAX on Hwy. 249 in Tomball welcomes families for Family Film Festival every Saturday at 10 am. Just $3.99 provides kids with "all you can eat pancakes" as well.

- Enjoy $1 movies throughout summer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 am at The Marquee on I-10. Choose from two movies each time. The show line-up is available at The Marquee and offers a coupon to the Red Robin Restaurant in the same complex.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

What Are You Telling Your Kids about Osama Bin Laden?

My husband and I were thrilled and relieved to hear the news about Osama Bin Laden on Sunday. Not that I'm celebrating his death, but I'm glad he's .... well, out of the way. I tried to explain to my 6-year-old that all our prayers for our soldiers came to fruition. How do you explain that to a child? History was made this week but I couldn't bring myself to tell her that in 2001 a horrible man orchestrated two planes to be flown into sky scrapers in New York, killing innocent people... lots of innocent people.

No, instead, we told Little K that our soldiers captured Osama Bin Laden, putting that evil man where he could hurt people no more. Our daughter asked what Osama did and I delicately told her that he didn't like Americans (or a lot of other people for that matter) because so many of us believe in Jesus Christ. That's hard for me to understand so I wasn't surprised as the wheels in her head spun.

Since then, I've talked to a few parents and they've carefully dodged the bullet on discussing this with their children. It's critical that our children feel safe so I can't blame them. Still, I was happy to show Little K the TV when Americans danced and chanted in front of the White House and in New York. "They are glad to be American, baby" I told Little K. "Thank God you live in America"

This morning, I continued to think about the recent events & wonder if the terrorists will strike back. For a moment, I worried. Then, I decided that Americans can be nervous or we can be thankful. We can be anxious or we can be prayerful. I choose to relish in being blessed. And I continue to ask my family and friends to pray for our armed forces and for peace. May this be the beginning to a more peaceful time in history. Here's hoping... and praying for our families.

What are you telling your kids?

Until the next nap time...