Family pool at Esperanza, An Auberge Resort, Cabo

October 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Parents' Place, Travel Blog

Fun for All Ages

FamilyPool

Travelers of all ages love Esperanza. For families, the Villas are the place to be featuring full kitchens and private plunge pools. Your family will love the largest pool in Cabo with beach entry and swim up bars. The Villas offer partial ownership opportunities and The Residences at Esperanza offer full and partial ownership – for those of you who want to own a piece of this beautiful seaside town.

Esperanzaresort.com

MARAVILLOSO! The Water Festival

maravilloso

 

Where: Discovery Green
When: June 5 – 6, 2015
Website: http://www.discoverygreen.com/circus

Discovery Green welcomes the return of MARAVILLOSO! A contemporary circus and dance event featuring talent from all over the world and from Houston. The two-day event returns as a Water Festival on June 5-6, 2015 with a graceful performance on Kinder Lake by Belgium’s and Netherlands’ artistic company Chanson d’Eau.

Original music and art works by Chanson d’Eau in their first US appearance, the performance features floating, glowing “flowers” that open to reveal graceful dancers on Kinder Lake. The festival will also include a new commissioned dance performance, in celebration of water, byKaren Stokes Dance.

Karen Stokes Dance is a non-profit dance company that has been producing original dance-theater in Houston since 1999.  During this time, KSD has performed in New York City, Toronto, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Dallas, Kaarlstad (Sweden), and in Houston, Texas.  In 2014, Karen Stokes was named number one choreographer by the Houston Press in their Top Ten Houston Choreographers list. In 2013, Houston Press awarded Karen Stokes with a Masterminds Award, the first contemporary dance company in Houston to receive this recognition for innovation in the arts.

Check back soon for performance times.

Maurice Sendak: 50 Years; 50 Works; 50 Reasons

March 18, 2015 by  
Filed under Events, Parents' Place


“Whether child or adult, we were together invited to explore his world of magic. Maurice opened our eyes and allowed all of us to dream, discover, and imagine.” David Copperfield, Illusionist

Maurice Sendak: 50 Years; 50 Works; 50 Reasons

Collection on view at:
Central Library, Jesse H. Jones Building and the Julia Ideson Building | 500 McKinney St. and 550 McKinney St., 77002

March 21, 2015 – May 2, 2015

Maurice Sendak: 50 Years; 50 Works; 50 Reasons is the comprehensive memorial exhibition of 50 select works by the late artist supplemented with accompanying comments by celebrities, authors and noted personalities – celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publishing of the universally revered Where the Wild Things Are. Since 2013, this exhibition has toured selected venues throughout the United States featuring works in a variety of media.

Maurice Sendak: 50 Years; 50 Works; 50 Reasons is a survey of the highlights of Sendak’s career and the diverse art forms in which he was renowned. From children’s literature to Broadway and the opera, from animated to young adult textbooks — Maurice Sendak remains an iconic American illustrator and author, acclaimed around the world for his genius and insights.

Houston Kids Triathalon

TRI_About

When: April 19, 2015
Where: University of Houston 4500 University Drive Houston, TX 77004
Website: http://www.houstontexans.com/kids/triathlon/about.html

The Houston Texans and Texas Children’s Hospital, in partnership with the nonprofit organization Kids Triathlon, Inc., have partnered to bring you the 2015 Houston Texans Kids Triathlon presented by Texas Children’s Hospital. It is expected to be the largest USATriathlon sanctioned kids triathlon in the world for the second year in a row with 3,000 participants ages 6 to 15. Thousands of families will gather for the interactive triathlon expo and tons of racing fun. The Houston Texans are proud to support this PLAY 60 initiative, helping to build a generation of healthy, active and responsible kids.
Training Guide courtesy of Texas Children’s Hospital
The Houston Texans and Kids Triathlon, Inc. are proud to partner with Texas Children’s Hospital on the 2015 Houston Texans Kids Triathlon. To prepare yourself or your child for the race, Texas Children’s Hospital has put together a guide that offers nutrition advice, an endurance training plan and safety tips so all participants will train properly and perform their best on race day. This tool is FREE so make-sure to download and print today!

To download the guide, click here.

Map
The race will take place on a closed course and water stations, race volunteers, and safety personnel will be positioned throughout the race.

Click here to view race maps.

Parking
Free parking will be available to all participants, spectators, and volunteers on the campus of the University of Houston. The large surface lot at the intersection of Texas Spur 5 and University Drive provides the best access to the event. There are other surface lots in this same area that are also open and only a short walk to the race course. Exit 44C or Exit 44B off of I-45 are the best ways to reach this area of the University of Houston campus.

Click here for the parking map.

Hotels & Travel
We welcome race participants that are traveling from all over the region to be a part of the  Houston Texans Kids Triathlon. William P. Hobby Airport is less than 10 minutes from the University of Houston, and is home to hundreds of flights each day.

If you would like to stay at a hotel close to the race site, there are a number of options:

The Crown Plaza Hotel located at 1700 Smith Street in downtown Houston is offering a special race-weekend rate of $79 per room for registered participants. Contact the Crown Plaza at:

Crown Plaza Hotel – Downtown Houston
1700 Smith Street
Houston, TX   77002
(713) 739 – 8800
www.crowneplaza.com
Promo Code:  Kids Tri

Discovery Green Flea

flea

Discovery Green Flea presented by Green Mountain Energy

Where: Discovery Green
When: March 21 11am-5pm  /  April 18, 2015
Website: http://www.discoverygreen.com/flea

Treasure-hunt at this monthly, one-of-a-kind market nestled in the shady southeast end of the downtown park. The destination market features an array of artful kitsch, vintage items, mid-century modern furniture, recycled and repurposed items and collectibles.

Discovery Green Flea is irresistible to the avid shopper! Whether you are a bargain hunter or an eco-sensitive collector dedicated to repurposing and reusing, seek and find at Discovery Green Flea while enjoying light bites and local entertainment. With the planning expertise of Project for Public Spaces and our new friends at Brooklyn Flea, Discovery Green Flea is the place to see (buy and eat) and be seen.

The next Flea is scheduled for Saturday, March 21, 2015 from 11 am – 5 pm.

Get crafty in the Make It/Take It booth, hosted by The Tinderbox! This is for ages 18 years and up. The little ones can make a craft in the Kid Zone hosted by City ArtWorks!

Flea Market Vendor Rules

Mark your calendars! Future dates for the Discovery Green Flea are March 21 and April 18, 2015. As the weather warms up, the event will transition to Discovery Green Flea by Night on May 16 and June 20, 2015.

Spring Break at the Children’s Museum of Houston

springbreak2015_main

MARCH 7 – 22, 2015: AMAZINGLY IMMATURE SPRING BREAK IN HOUSTON FOR KIDS


ALL EVENTS. ALL DAY. ONE PRICE. ONLY $10.

Quirkiness and genius are taking over this Spring Break in Houston! America’s No. 1 children’s museum will roll out the antics with thrills, surprising performances and the national debut of KLUTZ® Amazingly Immature exhibit during the Amazingly Immature Spring Break, March 7 – 22, 2015. Embrace your zany side then tumble, cartwheel or unicycle to Houston’s top spring break family destination! Kids can –

  • Spin out of control in any of our two Human Hamster Balls
  • Let loose in any of our four Bungee Trampolines
  • Enjoy entertainingly immature and interactive performances
  • And so much more!

Plus, it’s ALL included with the price of admission!

DAILY SPRING BREAK ITINERARY FOR FAMILIES:

  • 10 a.m. Immature Giveaways: Leave your maturity at the door and embrace your zany side with a different giveaway every day! Limited to first 100 kids. (Sunday time: Noon) 
  • 11 a.m. & 3 p.m. Immature Happenings: Plastic fusion fashion, gooey boogers, immature makeovers and more! Clown around with a new Klutzy surprise every day. (Sunday time:  3 p.m.) Check out our daily blockbuster activities.
  • 1:30 p.m. Spotlight Performance: Enjoy entertainingly immature and interactive performances! (Sunday time: 2 p.m.) See online calendar for complete lineup.
  • 2:30 p.m. Immature Contest: Put your Amazingly Immature Spring Break experience to the test and compete for the top Immaturity spot with new contests each day!(Sunday time: 3 p.m.) 

Japan Festival Houston

logo

Now in its twenty-second year, Houston’s much beloved Japan Festival returns to Hermann Park on Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19, 2015.   One of the most attended events of its type across the entire United States, this year’s Japan Festival brings about a reaffirmation of the Festival’s commitment to Japanese and Japanese American traditions, both old and new.

This free, family-friendly event will feature the Saturday Sushi Roll-Off, (a competition among some of Houston’s best sushi chefs,) children’s activities, anime and cosplay, arts and crafts, martial arts, traditional Japanese song and dance, cutting edge technology, and of course wonderful food!

For more information: www.houstonjapanfest.org

2nd Annual Hermann Park Kite Festival

kite_photo-680x400

 

Sunday, March 29, 2015
10 am – 5 pm
Miller Hill and Jones Reflection Pool

Join us for the Second Annual Hermann Park Kite Festival on Sunday, March 29, 2015. Everyone is invited to this free festival as kites in all shapes and sizes set sail in the spring sky on Miller Hill and around the Jones Reflection Pool. There will be entertainment for kids including kite making, friendly kite flying, face painting, and more!

Throughout the Park will be performers, ribbon dancers, musicians, jugglers, and more. Pedal boats will be available on McGovern Lake and the train will run throughout the day. Food trucks will be stationed around the park with creative culinary delights for all.

Click here to join the host committee and enjoy benefits such as reserved parking and access to the VIP tent.

 

Christmas

December 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Events, Parents' Place

Here are just a few things to do around town this holiday season! We are sure these will get you into the Christmas spirit!

Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo

zoo

TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights is back and more spectacular than ever this year – now with more than 2 million lights! There are new and exciting additions around every corner at this year’s most anticipated holiday tradition. From a completely lit-up African Forest with larger-than-life, glowing, rotating ornaments to a walk-in snow globe, TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights will be sure to delight the entire family. Bring your camera to capture all the special moments!

When: Friday, November 21, 2014 to Sunday, January 4, 2015. Closed December 24 and 25.
Time: 6pm to 10pm daily; last entry at 9pm
Where: Houston Zoo, 6200 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX ‎77003
Admission: Prices range from $10.95 to $14.95
Parking: Parking is very limited at the Houston Zoo.
Website: www.houstonzoo.org/zoolights/

Houston Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker

nut

Journey with Clara as she dances on the arm of the Nutcracker Prince to the stunning Land of Snow and the delectable Kingdom of Sweets. There are so many reasons to delight in The Nutcracker: the giant Christmas tree, the dancing dolls, Mother Ginger and her adorable clowns, the lavish sets and the iconic Tchaikovsky score. Ben Stevenson’s production of The Nutcracker has entertained children and their grown-ups for more than 25 years.

When: Friday, November 28 through Sunday, December 28, 2014
Times: 2pm and 7:30pm performances on various nights. Click here to check exact times by date.
Where: Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002
Parking: Paid garage and surface lots are available to the East and South of the theater
Admission: Tickets start at $55, but you may find cheaper or better tickets on TicketNetwork’s resale site.
Click here for full price tickets.

 

A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas

Alley Carol_3_web

Houston’s seasonal favorite is described by the Houston Press as having “Spectacular London sets … the inimitable Dickens’ tale – spiced with the usual fog and an unusual twist on the ghosts past, present and future.” A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmasreturns this year with a re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic story, which follows Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey with the three ghostly spirits that visit him on Christmas Eve. A Christmas Carol instills a powerful message about redemption and the spirit of the holiday season.

When: Friday, November 21 to Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Times: Tuesdays through Fridays 7:30pm; Saturdays and Sundays 2:30pm, 7:30pm
Where: Alley Theatre @UH, Wortham Theatre, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston, 4116 Elgin Street, Houston, TX 77004
Parking: Click here for parking details at University of Houston.
Admission: Tickets range from $25 to $55.

Field of Lights at Discovery Green

lights

Discovery Green is proud to host Field of Light, a dazzling art installation by internationally-acclaimed artist Bruce Munro. The vivid, temporary, site specific installation is now on display along the Brown Promenade through Feb. 8, 2015 and it is illuminated from 3 to 11 p.m. daily. The prime viewing hours of the exhibit are after dusk.

When: Saturday, November 22, 2014 through Sunday, February 8, 2015
Times: Dusk to 11pm
Where: Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney, Houston, TX 77010
Parking: Street, surface lot and garage parking are available.
Admission: Free

Frozen Bikini Bottom in Galveston

spongebob

A skilled team of 31 internationally-acclaimed professional ice carvers from Harbin, China will dive into 900 tons of ice and transform them into majestic marvels featuring holiday scenes with the beloved Bikini Bottom inhabitants from Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants. Chilled and held at a temperature of 9 degrees, you can witness these works of art as Galveston makes its holiday transformation into a Winter Wonder Island.

When: Saturday, November 15, 2014 through Sunday, January 4, 2015
Times: Noon to 10pm
Where: Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Blvd, Galveston, TX 77554
Parking:  Free in designated lots
Admission: $26.95; $21.95 seniors; $15.95 children
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

Other Events

  • Sand Mandala at the Menil | FREE | Thursday through Saturday – Observe Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang monastery in South India create an intricate sand mandala in the Menil foyer.
  • Alley Theatre presents A Christmas Carol at UH | Daily – Follow the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by ghosts of the past, present and future in the Alley Theatre presentation of A Christmas Carol. Tickets range from $25 to $55. 7:30pm Thursday and Friday; 2:30pm and 7:30pm Saturday and Sunday.
  • The Radio City Christmas Spectacular at the Hobby Center | Daily – Experience the Rockettes high kicks as New York City’s holiday special comes at the Hobby Center this holiday season. Tickets start at $40, but you may find cheaper or better tickets on TicketNetwork’s resale site. 7:30pm Thursday; 8pm Friday; 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm Saturday; noon, 3:30pm and 7:30pm Sunday.
  • Campfire Christmas at George Ranch | Friday and Saturday – Escape the hustle and bustle of a modern Christmas and go on a festive journey into Christmases past at the George Ranch Historical Park’s annual Campfire Christmas. $50; $45 for ages 15 and under, seniors and groups of ten or more. 6pm to 10pm both nights.
  • Tomball German Christmas Market | Friday to Sunday | FREE – Celebrate the holidays the way the Germans do – with beer! Enjoy street vendors, biergartens, Gluhwein and Dutch Santa during this family friendly market. 6pm to 10pm Friday; 10am to 10pm Saturday; 10am to 6pm Sunday.
  • Houston Symphony presents A Very Merry Pops at Jones Hall | Friday to Sunday – Enjoy a yuletide evening of traditional standards like “We Need a Little Christmas,” “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “O Holy Night. $25 to $135. 8pm Friday and Saturday; 2:30pm and 7:30pm Sunday.
  • Houston Ballet presents The Nutcracker at Wortham Theater Center | Friday to Sunday – For more than 25 years, the Houston Ballet has been telling the story of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince as they fight the Mouse King, travel to the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Tickets start at $55, but you may find cheaper or better tickets on TicketNetwork’s resale site. 7:30pm Friday; 2pm and 7:30pm Saturday and Sunday.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Kaleidoscope Theater | Friday to Sunday – Relive the classic Charlie Brown Christmas special with Snoopy, Schroeder, Linus, Sally, Lucy and, of course, Charlie Brown himself. $30; $20 ages 10 and under. 8pm Friday; 2pm and 8pm Saturday; 2pm Sunday.
  • Holiday Market at San Jacinto Mall | Saturday and Sunday | FREE to attend – Pick up some stocking stuffers at the Holiday Market booths near Santa’s Workshop at San Jacinto Mall. 10am to 9pm Saturday; 10am to 8pm Sunday.
  • Rice Village Flea | FREE – Find a unique treasure at the Rice Village Flea Holiday Market. 11am to 6pm.
  • Family Activities inside the Loop from BigKidSmallCity | Daily – Find events, recommendations and family-friendly activities from our favorite Houston mom-in-the-know Jill Jarvis of BigKidSmallCity.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lego Movie at Miller Outdoor Theatre – November 9

November 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Kid's Corner, Parents' Place

lego

 

When: November 9, 2014
Time: 6:30 pm
Where: Miller Outdoor Theatre
6000 Hermann Park Drive
Houston, Texas 77030

Join Community Health Choice for a special, one-night-only viewing of The Lego Movie. Boasting beautiful animation, a charming voice cast and laugh-a-minute gags, this 2014 smash hit is colorful fun for all ages.

FROGZ – November 8th

November 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Kid's Corner, Parents' Place

frog

When: November 8, 2014
Time: 6:30 pm
Where:  Miller Outdoor Theatre 6000 Hermann Park Drive Houston, Texas 77030

Since 1979, the wildly inventive, Oregon-based Imago Theatre has produced tantalizing, transformative theatre that crosses boundaries traditionally associated with language, age and the physical realm. Drawing inspiration from a wide variety of artistic mediums — vaudeville, comedy and illusion, to name a few — Imago is able to construct surreal landscapes through movement and sound.

The troupe’s kaleidoscopic approach to its art is unparalleled; of their work, the New York Times has stated, “Theater like this opens the eyes to the possibilities of exploration in the vast realm of imagination.”

Not easily pigeon-holed, Imago has repeatedly proven unique in its ability to create critically acclaimed, family-oriented productions — their smash hit, FROGZ, effortlessly weaves mime, dance and acrobatics into a must-see spectacle for the entire family.

This is a ticketed event for the covered seating area. Free tickets are available (4 per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30am-1pm.  If tickets remain at 1pm, the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, open seating on the hill.

The ICE on Discovery Green, November 25th – February 8th!

Image courtesy of Discovery Green

Image courtesy of Discovery Green

The ICE at Discovery Green uses recycled water from Kinder Lake to create a 7,716 square-foot ice skating surface, making it the largest outdoor skating rink in the Southwest.The rink will return for another exciting winter season on Tuesday, November 25, 2014!

Last season, The ICE hosted a variety of Winter programming and amenities for skaters and spectators including outdoor movies, skating with Santa, live music and DJs, ice carvings, art installations, snack shop serving hot cocoa and Belgian waffles, and a special, toddler-friendly rink. Stay tuned for ICE events in winter 2014! Ice Skating at Discovery Green is a ticketed event.

ICE Rink Admission

  • $13 includes skate rental and tax. Skating time limited to 1.5 hours all school holidays and weekends. A portion of tickets sales goes to support Discovery Green Conservancy’s free year-round programming. Tickets are available for purchase in-person at the ICE.

Make a donation of $50 to Discovery Green Conservancy and get a free ticket to the ICE, redeemable Monday through Thursday. To donate, please visit discoverygreen.com/donate.

Bringing a group? The ICE is perfect for church groups, daycare and school field trips, scout outings, birthdays, and company parties. Advance reservations are required. To submit your group reservation, click here.  For more information about group sales, please contactdiscoverygreen@icerinkevents.com.

Learn a lifetime sport!
One-on-one instruction is available. Advance reservations are required. To reserve a private lesson, click here.

To learn more about the ICE, click here.

Ice Rink Events

Ice Rink Events, a Houston-based designer, manufacturer, installer, and operator of ice rinks around the globe, transforms Kinder Lake’s model boat basin into a holiday skating destination each winter season at the park. The expanded rink uses equipment that runs on renewable energy and even the ice rink border is made from recycled plastic materials.

Halloween in Houston

October 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Holiday, Parents' Place

8th Annual Montrose Crawl

Halloween Background

Where: Montrose
When: October 31st
Times: 7pm – 2am

First get your costume on, then get your drink on as the Crawl hits 12 restaurants and bars between Dunlavy & Montrose on Westheimer, including Brasil,Poison Girl, Pistolero’s, Boondocks, Stone’s Throw, Etro Lounge, Catbirds, Royal Oak, Doc’s Motorworks, Slick Willie’s, El Real Tex-Mex, and Hay Merchant, with special appearances by Koagie Hots and The Golden Grill.

As always, there’ll be no covers & no tickets, plus drink specials all night long.  And prizes will be awarded for the best outfits at each stop, with a grand costume prize awarded by this year’s honorary Grand Crawler Chris Shepherd.  Check out the rules and last year’s grand prize recipients, the Legion of Doom, to see what it takes to win.

A portion of drink sales during the Crawl will be donated to the Houston Area Women’s Center, one of Montrose’s most important aid organizations.

The 8th Annual Montrose Crawl is brought to you by Free Press Houston, Houston’s leading independent newspaper, Santo, our official beer, Jim Beam, our official whiskey, Izkali, our official tequila, Party Boy, the ultimate Halloween costume store, and Nightmare on the Bayou, Houston’s most haunted house, with special flavors & favors provided by Red Bull and Uber.

Boo on the Boardwalk

Zombie
Where: 
701 4th Street Kemah TX 77565
When: Entire month of October
Webstite: www.kemahboardwalk.com

For the entire month of October, Kemah is hosting Boo on the Boardwalk where families can enjoy an array of Halloween themed activities. For the braver souls, face the dungeon of doom while the kids enjoy the Little Boo Haunted Fun house. Other attractions include pumpkin decorating, live entertainment and costume contests.

Food Truck Friday Nights Haunted House

Location: Xavier Educational Academy
Address: 6203 Edloe, Houston, TX 77005
Phone: 713-503-6463
Times: October 25th from 7-10 pm
Admission:
NoAdult
Admission:
$20Additional
Admission:
$8 discount if you bring a donation for the Houston Food Bank. Use discount code” foodbank”
Tickets Here

Want to be terrified? Fearless teens and brave adults alike can experience our professionally staged haunted house on Saturday, October 25th from 7-10 pm. For those less brave, never fear! You can enjoy our food truck rally along with free musical entertainment. The rally is free to enter. Thanks to Phobia Haunted Houses, you do not have to travel to the burbs to be petrified.

Galveston Ghost Tours

Haunted_Madeline's_Victorian_Wine_Bistro

Location: Ghost Tours Texas.com
Address: 911 24th St., Galveston, TX 77550
Phone: 832-224-8687Free
Website: www.ghosttourstexas.com

Step through the shadows, gather your courage and discover the chilling and ghastly tales of murder, revenge, passion, heartache and breath-taking history! This exciting Ghost Tour in Galveston takes you on a fascinating walking tour through the historic and haunted Silk Stocking district starting by the famous Broadway mansion, Ashton Villa! It is a family-friendly tour, loved by all ages!

For decades, brave travelers, paranormal enthusiasts, and those who enjoy a chill up their spine have flocked to Galveston’s historic districts to explore its rich, tantalizing and bizarre history, but this walking tour of the Silk Stocking District is a first!! Highlights include:

Step through the darkness and investigate the chilling location where a man was kept hostage for an entire night by a female ghost.

Take a chance to see the lovely red-headed, ”Miss Betty” Brown who still “lives” at the vintage 1858 Ashton Villa mansion. . she’s been photographed staring out of the second floor window through the curtains — Bring your camera!

Discover why Capt. Mott’s apparition is regularly seen in the attic…could he be hiding the horrific murders committed by his son?

Explore the vivid details of the 1900 Great Storm’s night of terror, when a brave mother selflessly dragged bodies from the savage waters over her second floor balcony..

Visit Galveston’s last bordello…why does that prominent insurance man’s spirit still lurk in the bedrooms at night?
This fascinating walking tour was designed by fifth-generation Galvestonian, Jan Johnson based on eye-witness accounts of paranormal occurrences. A talented writer and award winning tour guide, Jan published the book, “Walking Historic Galveston: A Guide to its Neighborhoods” and is currently working on her second masterpiece!

Times:  approximately at 7:30 p.m. (times are seasonal)

15th Annual Ghost Walk!

Poster, banner or background for Halloween Party Night.
Where:
 8181 Fannin St. Suite 2218, Houston, TX 77002
When: Through November 1st
Phone: 713-222-9255
Admission: $15
Website: www.brownpapertickets.com

90-minute guided walking tour through Houston’s Downtown Historic District featuring urban legends and true tales of deceased Houstonians.

Includes a stop inside the Spaghetti Warehouse.
NOT a paranormal tour.
This year’s stories include:
* Ghosts of the Spaghetti Warehouse (told outside)
* Sunken Confederate Ship
* The Barmaid’s Best Friend
* The Donnellan Crypt
* The Ghosts Behind Floyd’s Hotel

Even though this is NOT a paranormal tour, everyone will receive a copy of Sandra Lord’s Short Guide to the Paranormal and a handout with more details about the stories your ghostly guides will tell.

Please feel free to bring cameras, video equipment, and EMF meters. You may want to use a high-powered flashlight at the Donnellen Crypt. Mosquito spray is recommended, as are comfortable clothes and walking shoes.

DRESSING FOR THE HALLOWEEN SEASON IS ENCOURAGED. WE LOVE TO TAKE PICTURES!

Please arrive at least 15 minutes early and wait in the bar area for an announcement for the registration location. If you want to have dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse, please arrive at least 90 minutes to two hours early. Attendees receive a 10% discount off their dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse. Be sure to tell your waiter before you order.

Parking: Paid parking is available in adjacent lots. Free on-street parking available after 6 p.m.

Restrooms are available at the Spaghetti Warehouse and the Brewery Tap. There are no other rest stops.

Phobia

phobia
Address: 18777 Hwy 290, Houston, TX 77065
Phone: 713-526-3323
Times:  8 pm
Website:  www.darke.com

Open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in October – Experiences include the Mind Control haunt, Simon Fowler Woods, ClaustroPhobia, Darke Institute and Dawn of the Machine. This house is sure to scare Anyone!!!

Scream World

screamm

Location: 2225 North Sam Houston Pkwy West Houston, TX 77038
Hours: Sun – Thurs 7:30pm – 10pm / Fri – Sat 8pm – 12am / Halloween 7pm – 1am
TICKETS

Voted #1 Haunted House in Houston, Scream World features The Swamp, Jake’s Slaughterhouse, Edge of Darkness, Clown Asylum Maze, and the Zombie Graveyard! If this doesn’t scare you nothing will!

Nightmare on the Bayou

1s

Address: 1515 Studemont, Houston, TX 77007
Phone: 713-868-3344
Times: Starting: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sun. in October
Website: www.nightmareonthebayou.com
Schedule: www.nightmareonthebayou.com/schedule.htm

 

Located directly beside Houston’s oldest graveyard, Nightmare on the Bayou is the only attraction that is actually haunted by real ghosts! Monsters and mayhem are guaranteed!

Monsters’ Museum of Houston

mm

When: October 9 – November 2
Venue: Children’s Museum of Houston
Address: 1500 Binz, Houston, TX 77004
Phone: 713-522-1138
Times: Starting: 4 pm daily

Monstrous mayhem will be unleashed when the Children’s Museum of Houston is transmogrified into the Monsters’ Museum of Houston for three weeks of Halloween.  From Oct. 9 to Nov. 2, 2014, we dare you to witness how monsters have rummaged, scoured, combed and turned the Museum upside down to make room for their monster lairs.  This hair-raising experience will allow you to “catch monsters” in the act, interact with their pals, observe and comprehend their behavior, participate in monster hobbies and discover why monsters may be just simply misunderstood!

Scream on the Green

screan

Location: Discovery Green
Venue: Discovery Green
Address: 1500 McKinney Street, Houston, TX 77010
Phone: 713-400-7336
Times: 6 – 10 pm

Enjoy live music, face painting, fortune tellers and dancing, and of course this year’s feature film, Frankenweenie.

Spirits and Skeletons

spririt

Location: Houston Museum of Natural Science
Venue: Houston Museum of Natural Science
Address: 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, TX 77030
Phone: 713-639-4629
Times: 8 p.m. to Midnight

Calling all ghosts and ghouls, monsters and mummies, witches and werewolves: Houston’s favorite Halloween party — the one and only Spirits & Skeletons — is back at HMNS! With the entire museum open you can shake your stuff with a stegosaurus, grab a drink with a skink and get spellbound by bewitching gems, all to live music and your favorite hits played by DJs with fantastic food trucks parked right outside. Whether you go with scary and spooky or fab and kooky — dress up, party the night away at HMNS and we’ll put a spell on you!

Zoo Boo

zoo

When: Fridays – Oct 10, 17 & 24 / Saturdays -October 11 & 12, 18 & 19, 25 & 26
Location:
 6200 Hermann Park Drive Houston, TX 77030
Venue: Houston Zoo
Times: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Website

We’re inviting all little ghouls and goblins to celebrate Halloween at the Houston Zoo with activities that are fun for the whole family. We encourage all kids to come dressed in their spookiest or prettiest Halloween costume! They’ll love to show off their costume in our Costume Parade as well as our NEW Costume Contest and dance to the “thrilling” music with our children’s DJ.

Zoo Boo will also once again feature the Fiesta Mart Pumpkin Patch. Kids can pick out their very own child-sized pumpkin (while supplies last) and paint it into a Halloween jack-o-lantern! Overflowing with pumpkins, this is also the perfect spot for photographs.

And what’s Halloween without candy? We’ll have “Candy Corner” booths sponsored by Fiesta Mart throughout the Zoo, so bring your trick or treat bag and your sweet tooth! (Candy available while supplies last).

All this PLUS Halloween-themed Meet the Keeper Talks, the Candy Cave, Tatzoo Parlor, and more! Back by popular demand don’t forget to stop by Duck Lake and follow Zoe the Zookeeper on her Howlerween Adventure or test your bravery by reaching in our Mystery Boxes in the John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo!

MECA’s Dia de los Muertos Festival

dia

MECA proudly presents Dia De Los Muertos: Honoring our Past, Celebrating Our Future. Dia de los Muertos is a traditional Latin American holiday that honors and celebrates the lives of family and friends who have gone before us. Different countries celebrate Dia de los Muertos in their own unique way. The common theme that runs through the two-day celebration, traditionally held November 1 and 2, is the belief that the dead return home, visit loved ones, and feast on their favorite foods. A playful mockery of death and a reaffirmation of life are demonstrated through music, dance, theatre, and visual arts. MECA’s event features Dia de los Muertos celebrations from throughout Latin America, with an altar exhibit competition, foods from the Americas, vendors selling authentic Latin American Dia de los Muertos arts and crafts, and a Calavera Fashion Show. This festival is truly a community cultural event celebrating our ancestors and Latin American traditions. MECA Dia de los Muertos: Honoring Our Past, Celebrating Our Future is held at MECA’s colorful, art-filled campus located at the nationally recognized historic Dow School in Houston’s Old Sixth Ward.

The event will provide a unique opportunity for those unfamiliar with this tradition to learn how countries throughout the Latin American world celebrate this day, which is commonly known in other cultures as All Souls Day.

We invite you to join us in celebrating Dia de los Muertos with us at MECA.

Vitamin Cheat Sheet

September 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness, Parents' Place

vitamins

Extreme Bugs at the Houston Zoo

July 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Kid's Corner, Parents' Place

bugs

Giant bugs are taking over the Houston Zoo until September 1st!

For this special exhibit, you’ll walk into a backyard unlike any you’ve  seen before – this backyard is filled with giant, animatronic bugs that move, spread their wings, and even spray you with water! These bugs are up to 200 times larger than the normal size, and are made to look exactly like their smaller counterparts.  The real wonders of this backyard environment are the bugs themselves. Not just any bugs but 13 giant, animatronic bugs. You’ll see friendly ants, a ladybug, a grasshopper, a dragonfly, a beautiful Madagascar sunset moth, a beetle that sprays water, and a firefly that lights up with the turn of a handle.

Tickets Here
Per Person – $3.95  Summer Special! $2.95
(Zoo admission not included)
Children under 2 are FREE
Purchase tickets online now, at any ticket window when you arrive, or at the Extreme Bugs! exhibit. Extreme Bugs! Tickets you purchase online today are good for entry to the exhibit on any day. (Zoo admission tickets are dated).

Picking a Montessori School in Houston, Texas

July 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogs, Parents' Place

Regardless of when you decided to send your child to Montessori school happened as a result of detailed study of educational approaches or something that you always knew you wanted to do well before you became a parent, how do you actually go about choosing the right school for your and your family? Believe it or not this is a question that can sometimes be a lot like following Alice down the rabbit hole.

Enter “Montessori Houston” into a search engine and you a flooded with results for almost 100 Montessori schools just with the address being Houston, Texas. So with this in mind how do you go about finding a school that fits your needs and know it is an authentic Montessori program?     Here are several steps that will not only help save time but provide you with the questions to get details that matter most when interviewing prospective candidates.

http://www.peacefulpathwaysmontessori.com/classroom%20october.jpg

3-6 Year Old Environment

“It has Montessori in the name so it must be Montessori, right?”

There are all kinds of Montessori schools that make up a number totaling over 4,000 in the United States alone.   These more than 4,000 schools are made from a mixture of private and public schools, some offer programs for kindergarten and others are as extensive as beginning from birth and end when a child graduates high school.   In Houston a school can be as small as a single classroom in a registered family home* or as big as a multi-building campus with upward of 800 students.

However the first thing that needs to be kept in mind is that any school can put Montessori on the building or claim that they offer a Montessori program because the word “Montessori” is not trademarked and therefore unable to be formally regulated.

“Anyone can call themselves a Montessori school?  How do I know if a Montessori school is Authentic?”

First there are two organizations in the United States that set the standards which classroom, teacher education, and schools must subscribe to in order to ensure the integrity of Dr. Montessori’s educational principals are upheld.   They are independent from one another and are Association Montessori International and the American Montessori Society, respectively knows as AMI and AMS.   Though AMI schools are less common and AMS more prevalent both hold the following four items essential in order to provide a quality Montessori program.

www.amshq.org

The Montessori Classroom

  • Each classroom has an AMS or AMI teacher certified for the age group that they are teaching.
  • Classes are made up of multiple age groups where the older children sever as role models and the helper.
  • An appropriate number of children making up the group in each classroom to ensure proper social development.
  • A daily set period of uninterrupted work time for the children.
  • The classroom offers a hands on educational experience through wide range of Montessori materials that are age appropriate materials.
  • The teachers follow the Montessori instructional philosophy and acts as a guide instead of a provider of information.

Both the American Montessori Society and Association Montessori International have webpages dedicated to helping you find as authentic of a program as possible or less ideological classroom setting to meet your needs.   Once you have gone through these two resources you will still have some work ahead of you but I have complied a list of hopefully helpful checks and balances to make the overwhelming process of choosing a school easier and less time consuming as possible.

This can all be broken down into five steps that will make compiling all the information and your opinions filter down into a decision.     These steps involve a short phone interview, tour of the school, classroom observation, teacher conference, as well as your general thoughts and feelings about your experiences there.

“Good Morning, Thank you for calling…”

The first item of business is the phone interview.  This is a short introduction to the school and to get the basic information you need to see if they even provide a program that suits your needs.   I’ve even provided a little form for parents to use to help them keep track of what questions to ask and their answers.  Take into consideration that depending on the time of day you call you might reach someone that is not capable of answering all of your questions because they work in the classrooms instead of being administrators trained to answer all of your questions.   Just because a school asks to take your name number in order for someone to call you back does not mean that the school isn’t on top of their game.   In fact it usually means just the opposite and that there are specific people in administration dedicated to prospective parents and parents issues.

Also, if the person answering the phone is indeed doing their job they are going to want you to come in for a tour.   That is why sticking to the basic in a phone interview will help you cut down on time running around and possibly touring schools that don’t even offer a program you need while still getting a narrow enough picture to know if a school is worth you visiting or more!

Here are the basic questions you will need to ask because remember Montessori is not childcare but many Montessori schools offer childcare.   Meaning many schools are only open during the academic school year and for the regular school day.    If you are needing full time care year round then one of these schools will not be for you.

I created a form that you may either print out and write or edit online to use specifically for Montessori School Phone Interviews.  Remember you don’t have to schedule a tour until you have finished with all of your phone interviews either.  I promise, they will still be more than happy to introduce you to their school. Once you have completed your phone interviews go ahead and make a keep and delete pile.

  • Hour of operation
  • Year round program or academic program only?
  • Is before and after care offered?
  • Are there current openings for your child’s/children’s age groups and if not how long is the waiting list?
  • Are there AMS or AMI certified teachers in every classroom and are they certified for that specific age group?
  • Do they offer tours and will you be able to enter the classrooms during the tours?
  • Do they offer classroom observations and/or teacher conferences before enrollment?

“Welcome to the wonderful world of Oz…”

Hollis_Montessori_School-y32457

Children working in a Montessori environment with beautiful natural light.

Often that is what it feels like when you first walk into some of the more profound Montessori schools and quite honestly they deserve the dropped jaws and wonderment struck faces.  However it is easy to get wrapped up into the moment and forget why you are really there.   I have been there as a student, parent, and as a teacher but it has left me remembering an old lady from the 80’s holding open a hamburger bun, pointing,  and loudly questioning where the meat in dinner is.

That is why I have compiled a checklist for parents to use when visiting a school for the first time based on recommendations from the American Montessori Society, Association Montessori International, National Association for the Education of Young Children, Collaboration for Children, Texas Department of Childcare Licensing, as well as my experiences as a teacher, administrator, but most of all a parent.  I’ve broke this down into a fields in order for the checklist to be used as a single survey or as a three part survey depending on your individual needs.   But there are a few things I’m not going to put on the list that parents just need to know and understand while going on a tour.

  1. Don’t bring your child to a school tour.   This is not going to give you’re a clearer picture of if your child is going to like their new classroom or not.  What is it is going to do is make it more difficult for you to communicate with the person giving you the tour.  Your stress level and there is going to be higher, you are less able to soundly judge responses to questions you ask and are more likely to forget important information.  Even if you have to schedule one tour for yourself and separate one for your significant other… it is okay.
  1. Be considerate when touring classrooms. Redeemer that if you are allowed to go into the environments while children are in them that in Montessori even diaper changes and lunch/snack time is considered an important learning experience and the teachers want to shake your hand and introduce themselves to you because it is what adults find as polite but their attention needs to be on the children.  If you want to speak to a specific teacher you are more than welcome to schedule a one on one conference either face to face or over the phone.   You will have a much more productive conversation I promise.
  1. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK ANYTHING!!!!!! ANYTHING!!!!   Specifically regarding a teacher’s CERTIFICATION! I am going to pull a few pages from my own book here that are a bit alarming and in one case was enough for me to call and report a school I ran and have them shut down.    I have had the experience of schools not only lying about teachers certifications by saying that they were AMS certified teachers, certified teachers for the age group that they were teaching but even while I was in school getting my certification the administration told parents I was already AMS certified and told me I had to tell them the same thing.   I refused!

But let me please state that an AMI/AMS intern are sometimes the best teachers because they are excited and on fire about Montessori and still full of new ideas an ideologies.  A teacher currently getting certified through AMS will have an adult learned certificate/card that is issued by the American Montessori Society.   So that this not go unnoticed let me separate it from the rest…..

  • YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEE YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER’S MONTESSORI CERTIFICATION/ADULT LEARNER CERTIFICATE
  • YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK TO SEE THE LAST INSPECTION CONDUCTION BY CHILD CARE LICENSING
  • YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEE THE FIRE/HEALTH/BUILDING/PEST CONTROL REPORTS

Yes I might seem overly protective of your children but that is because they are the ones that need the most protecting.   All of these documents are required to be on site and accessible at all times.

  1. Surveillance does NOT ensure safety. Video cameras in the environments do not make your children any safer than they are without them.   Yes we live in a time and age where digital owns but our society.   When it comes down to surveillance I personally feel that it stifles the Montessori way of diapering, toileting, caring for one’s own body, and a child’s privacy in general.   I don’t want to have to worry about my child being watched all day long by someone who has hacked one of the same servers I use to peek in on my child’s day.   I however do respect that this can be a highly personal decision for parents.  There are times when video cameras can rule out abuse and protect children… but as a compromise I suggest considering a video monitoring system that is closed to the public but backed up on a hard drive for up to a month (or longer) and viewable by administration.
  1. SCHOOLS COME WITH RULES ….   There are some strange rules at some schools but seemingly even more strange at Montessori Schools.   Just because a rule strikes you as unacceptable at first doesn’t mean you need to discount a school as a possibility before you take a breath and as about the rules purpose.   Don’t be surprised if you aren’t allowed to enter the classroom after the bell rings, pull on diapers aren’t allowed, certain clothes are discouraged or required…. There are reasons for each and every rule and most of them are to the benefit of your child and their development.   Remember that they are going to school for themselves not for you.  Just because something seems strange and different doesn’t mean that it isn’t tested and tried.  Figure out what you can accept and what you can’t.

Now that you have the tour out of the way you should have a better idea of which schools are still in the running or you may have even fell in love and gone ahead and started the enrollment process for your child.   If you haven’t yet settled on a school this might be a good time for you to schedule a classroom observation and a parent-teacher conference.    More information regarding, “Observing a Montessori Classroom” and “A Montessori Parent Teacher Conference,” can be found by visiting the upcoming links below!

Things to do With Kids During the Heat of the Summer

June 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Kid's Corner, Parents' Place

One thing is for sure – summer is here! So. What do you do with the kids when its either too hot to play outside or they need a little quiet time to let mommy and daddy take a break  finish chores.

Here is a quick list of fun websites that will help keep the little one’s busy:

  • Smithsonian Institute: Learn about art, history, science, and more! : www.si.edu/kids
  • hotNational Geographic for Kids: Activities and experiments, cartoon factory, games, and more!: www.nationalgeographic.com/kids
  • FirstGovForKids: For older kids to sites about fighting crime, computers, space, careers, and more: www.kids.gov
  • Official NFL Football site for kids. Fun football facts, game highlights, games, be a play, sound off, and more! : www.playfootball.com
  • Time Magazine for Kids: Bringing the latest news to kids, poll zone, kids scoops, research tools, and more! www.timeforkids.com
  • Sports Illustrated for Kids: Top stories, contests, videos, news and blogs, league standings, games, and more! www.sikids.com
  • United States Mint: Fun and education tool that teaches kids about coins, the Mint, and US history. www.usmint.gov/kids
  • Ask for Kids: A search engine that is easy to use and with answers geared towards children. www.askkids.com
  • PBS Kids: A safe place for kids to explore and play hundreds of fun educational games with their favorite characters! www.pbskids.org
  • Brain POP: Animated science, health, technology, math, social studies, arts, quizzes with help for k – 12 kids.  www.brainpop.com
  • 3 – D Virtual World: Kid fun zone learning through play-access activities , video games, mobile apps, and more. www.jumpstart.com
  • Yahoo for Kids: Busy site with games, videos, movie trailers, jokes, sports, ecards, and more. www.kids.yahoo.com
  • Crayola Fun:  Have a creative type? Find coloring activities, arts and crafts, card creator, lesson plans, and so much more. www.crayola.com
  • Last but not least….www.funology.com

 

How to Find the Right School or Daycare

August 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Parents' Place

By Christina Moreland

The first day of school for most students in the Houston area, including those in Houston ISD, Fort Bend ISD and Cy-Fair ISD, is Monday, August 22. For children and parents alike, this day often conjures feelings of anxiety, stress and excitement. As a parent, you worry if your child will socialize and perform well, if he or she will feel comfortable in the new setting and make friends easily. And for children, well, that’s obvious! The first day can be terrifying! Even if you enroll into a private institution beginning at the daycare level, finding the right school for your child can be one of the most stressful tasks in early parenting. If you are required to go back to work, many daycares have a year-long wait list, not to mention the high cost and fees associated with new admissions. How do you navigate the timing properly so you can return to work knowing your child made it in and you chose the right option? And more importantly, how do you finally settle on your school of choice feeling confident about your decision?

 

To help, here is a list of questions you can use at the daycare and elementary levels to interview administration and staff before making your final decision.

 

Questions for Infant and Toddler Levels

What training or certification is required for your teachers?

 

How does your school measure its students’ progress? (Keep in mind this is also important at the infant and toddler levels, when gross motor skills and early socialization need to be nurtured.)

 

May I see what your typical day calendar looks like for my child’s age group?

 

May we walk to that classroom and meet the teacher(s)?

(When you walk around, notice if the children appear engaged and happy.)

 

Why is it this school’s opinion that having a curriculum at the infant level is important? What is the infant/toddler curriculum?

(Typically for this age group it involves working with infants on their gross motor skills, playing music and engaging them, reading, and stroller rides through the school hallways.)

 

Will I receive regular progress reports and direct feedback from my child’s teacher? How frequently? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?

(Compare this to other schools you’re interviewing.)

 

What is your teacher-to-child ratio and how does this compare to the state requirements?

 

Are all teachers infant- and child-CPR trained?

 

How are teachers and upper level administrative staff trained to handle a crisis? For example, how do they notify parents when a child is injured at school? How does the school assess whether or not emergency personnel need to be called and then parent notified? How often do you run mock fire drills?

 

As a parent, do I have the ability to show up at school at any time and monitor how my child is doing?

 

What kind of security does the school offer to protect the children? (Ask about drop-off and pick-up procedures, how other family members may or may not participate, etc.)

 

What is your student retention rate from year to year? What about teacher retention?

 

Questions for Pre-K – Elementary Levels

What is the difference between Vanguard and Magnet? If we are not zoned to your school, what ways might we transfer into it?

 

What do most people do here in this area for schools? Private? Public? Combination?

 

Do you provide education for parents to get their children into a good program, such as advanced placement classes? What is the first step?

 

Typically, is this a paid program, or are you grandfathered in based on test scores?

 

How are children measured once it is determined they want to be placed into a magnet or Vanguard program?

 

How does this school measure its students’ performance outside of the state requirements and how are parents periodically notified about their children’s performance levels?

 

Will I know how my child is performing compared to other students his age? How will you update me and how frequently?

 

What are some things that I can be doing at home to complement your current curriculum for my child’s age group?

 

Do you have this month’s curriculum calendar for my child’s class that I can take with me?

 

On a personal level, after having received several parent recommendations for my son’s school and answering all of our questions satisfactorily, our final decision for his school came when we saw the children who attended there. We walked into several classrooms and the children were engaged and active, from the infant level to the Pre-K students. And when we looked at the bulletin board of school classroom photos, almost every single child in every single photo was smiling and happy. This gave us a tremendous amount of comfort. And while no place can be perfect or administer care quite like you can as a parent, there are definite signs to put you in a positive mindset for your child’s school.

 

Ongoing communication with teachers and administrators is important, so keep in mind the school cannot do its job if you do not voice concerns and work to resolve them as soon as they come up (and they will). Finally, after you have done all the research and cross-referencing in the world, your mom instincts will ultimately be the decision maker, and most likely, they will be right!

 

 

Christina Moreland Bio:

Christina Moreland, an H Texas Magazine contributor, is the mom of a growing infant and a bright, spunky 4-year-old. She is passionate about all sorts of parenting and childcare issues. Her goal with this column is to equip families with good, sound information so they can be well informed and create healthy homes. Her writing has been featured in numerous Houston publications. Contact Christina at ctmoreland@sbcglobal.net.

 

Technology Gives New Meaning to How Moms Communicate

March 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Parents' Place

By Christina Moreland

Technology and moms are quickly becoming best friends. In the Information Age, where 100,000,000 new Twitter accounts were opened in 2010 and there was a 14 percent increase in the number of internet users last year, and Facebook riveted the world with unique user accounts estimated at more than 500 million, the way moms interact with technology today – and even the reasons why they choose certain gadgets – really sets a profound landscape for how they communicate with and on behalf of their children.

With the introduction of new tech gadgets, such as SmartPhones, the ipod and ipad, and now ipad2, moms, an extremely powerful consumer group, are opting to purchase many of these gadgets and use them as tools to interact, entertain and communicate with their children – often in lieu of purchasing toys, entertainment and educational tools specifically designed for children.

For example, Emma Prettejohn purchased the original Apple ipad last June in an effort to entertain her then 22-month-old over 40 hours of travel from Houston to Canberra, Australia. Now her son is two and a half years old, and apps on her gadget include, ABC Phonics, Preschool Counting, Flashcards, story books, Sprout and Kideos, which is an app that offers online videos that have been vetted to ensure age-appropriate content. Think of it as a kid-friendly alternative to YouTube. Prettejohn says her initial motive in the ipad purchase was purely centered on her son’s entertainment and education. The adult content she enjoys, such as the Weather Channel and Huffington Post, came later.

“We find that people aren’t very tolerant of children during international flights, so we try to keep him focused and quiet wherever possible,” she says. Unlike some children his age, Prettejohn’s son is not in a Mother’s Day Out or preschool program, so he goes everywhere with her, including doctor appointments, eyebrow waxing, and the grocery store. “Having him calm down and focused while using the ipad is really helpful.”

Another local mom, Eva Pappas, whose son is 3, uses educational toddler apps, such as Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, The Wheels on the Bus, and Feed Me!

Although she uses the apps primarily for entertainment purposes for her son, Pappas still purchased the Leapster reading pen for him at Christmas.

Anna Jones uses her iphone and ipad as entertainment devices for all three of her children, ages 2 to 12. She uses the technology while waiting in a doctor’s office, at restaurants and at home on occasion.

“I don’t regularly carry the ipad with me, but I always have my phone which carries the same technology,” she says. “The kids routinely ask to play on my phone.”

Jones agrees with so many apps available and at no cost or for very little cost, the ipad, tablets and SmartPhones are having an impact on how parents spend their technology resource dollars on their children.

“[Parents] used to try and keep our children busy with DVD players, games, Leapsters, paper and colors, but now there seems to be an app for everything with access to movies and television all on one machine.”

It appears Jones and Prettejohn are right on trend with a late 2009 Google Analytics study which revealed some of Google’s own statistics regarding moms online: The study said out of 34 million moms online, their top three purchase categories were apparel and accessories (36%), books, music and video (31%), and toys and games (24%). Additionally, moms today are using social media more than ever, and BabyCenter, LLC, the leading online global resource for expectant and new moms, revealed moms’ use of social media is up 462 percent within the last three years.

Natalie Johnston, whose daughter is 21 months old, agrees social media is connecting moms, with accessing resources to answer their child-related questions.

“I think parents see all that technology has to offer and are willing to spend a bit more on it if it will benefit their kids,” Johnston says. Her initial motivation in purchasing the iphone 4 was to get a handy mobile camera with good image quality so she could use to take snapshots of her two little girls.

“I upgraded from the 3G because I wanted a faster phone and better camera quality,” says Johnston. “I had not initially thought of my phone as something for my older daughter to use, but she loves to watch videos on it, and sometimes when she is super fussy or we go somewhere and I need her to sit still, I’ll let her use my phone. She loves scrolling through all of the pictures I have on it.”

Despite the many benefits and conveniences updated technology allows, a cautionary tone emits from the very moms who embrace it:
“Technology is great, but our kids still need to be kids,” says Jones. “Kids need to turn off their computers and go outside and run and play. I didn’t grow up in a texting world and I worry that our children are not learning enough about how to really develop relationships since they prefer to text instead of having a real conversation most of the time.”

Johnston agrees. “I don’t mind TV and technology to an extent, but you can’t beat playing in a park or running around with your own imagination. Those cannot be replaced.”

According to DidYouKnow.org, a nonprofit organization that provides public data statistics, (http://didyouknow.org/fastfacts/technology/), here are some technology stats that will have your head spinning:

• There are an estimated 1 billion computers in use.
• There are an estimated 2 billion TV sets in use.
• There are more than 4 billion cell phones in use; about 3 million cell phones are sold every day.
• Google handles about 1 billion search queries per day.
• About 20 percent of videos on YouTube are music related.
• 24 hours of video viewing is uploaded every single minute to YouTube.
• People view an estimated 15 billion videos online every month.
• Flickr hosts about 5 billion photographs; Facebook hosts more than 15 billion.

Christina Moreland Bio:
Christina Moreland, an H Texas Magazine contributor, is the mom of a growing newborn and a bright, spunky 4-year-old. She is passionate about all sorts of parenting and childcare issues. Her goal with this column is to equip families with good, sound information so they can be well informed and create healthy homes. Her writing has been featured in numerous Houston publications. Contact Christina at ctmoreland@sbcglobal.net.