Give Away: 4 Tickets to Crocodile Encounter!

Don’t you just love finding one of Houston’s hidden gems?  Somewhere away from the crowds but so cool you can’t believe you did not know about it before?

For me, one of these spots is Crocodile Encounter!

Located in Angleton (23231 CR 48, Angleton, TX 77515), Crocodile Encounter has alligators, crocodiles, tortoises and so much more. The tour guide feeds the alligators and crocodiles, but you get to feed the giant tortoises!  (Read our last post HERE!)

Tours are available year round… And one family will win four tickets to visit Crocodile Encounter!  Register to win below (or HERE).

Contest Ends:  December 22, 2017
Official Rules:

Give Away: 4 Tickets to A CHRISTMAS CAROL – A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS at Alley Theatre

A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas has returned to Alley Theatre, despite Harvey’s havoc, with a re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic story, which follows Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey with the three ghostly spirits who visit him on Christmas Eve. A Christmas Carol instills a powerful message about redemption and the spirit of the holiday season.

You can take the family to see the show now through December 30, 2017… and I have four tickets to give away to one lucky family!

To win, register below (or HERE).

Contest Ends: Monday, December 18, 2017
Official Rules:
Winner can select any available show on Wednesday, December 27 at 2:30 PM, Wednesday, December 27 at 7:30 PM, Thursday, December 28 at 7:30 PM, Friday, December 29 at 2:30 PM

Buy Glück… and support Case de Esperanza and win tickets to Ferdinand.

Have you heard of Glück?

Glück was founded in 2012 with the idea of “kids for kids”, offering treats to kids and using the profits to help kids in need. In the process, the company would inspire kids to help others. In fact, Glück means luck, happiness and fortune, and our purpose has evolved to “give luck” to orphaned and neglected kids in local communities.

Today, they offer popped corn and veggie snacks in a variety of fun flavors that serve as a healthier alternative to greasy potato chips. The snacks are non-GMO certified, gluten-free, kosher and contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

For each bag, Glück gives 5 to 10 cents kids in local communities. As a Houston resident, your purchases go to Case de Esperanza to help support kids in their protection.

AND with coupon code bigkidsmallcity, you will receive 10% off your online order, from our sponsor Glück!

Also, for those that order online with this code, five people will be randomly selected to receive an official FERDINAND poster with their purchase and one person that orders Glück snacks will be randomly selected to receive a ticket for themselves and their immediate family to the movie screening on Wednesday, December 13, 2017.

In addition, with the Kickstarter campaign, they aim to give even more. The shirt is designed to spread a positive message, playing off of our name, GLÜCK, and our purpose to “GIVE LUCK.” Each shirt is priced at $25, and $5 per shirt will go to supporting kids.

People who support the Kickstarter campaign, will get an extra submission into our sweepstakes to improve their odds of winning tickets to the screening.

Go HERE to get started!

Brunch with Santa at Phoenicia Foods Downtown on December 16, 2017, 9am-3pm + Gift Card Give Aways

Head to Phoenicia Downtown for festive family event where kids and adults alike can enjoy holiday activities and tasty seasonal brunch menu!

At our sponsor’s Brunch with Santa at Phoenicia Foods Downtown, on December 16, 2017, you can take photos with Santa and Ms. Claus, decorate Christmas cookies, enjoy classic holiday cartoons and more.  Entrance is free for all… AND 4 lucky families will win $25 Phoenicia Gift Cards!

The things you need to know are below… and scroll the bottom to enter the contest!

  • Brunch with Santa is December 16, 2017, 9am to 3pm.  Activities start at 11am.
  • The Houston Fire Department will have a truck on site for Operation Stocking Stuffer Toy Drive (new unwrapped toys encouraged)
  • Santa & Ms. Claus will be visiting with families and taking photos with the lil’ one.
  • Purchase of Yule-tide brunch specials including Gingerbread waffles with lemon curd optional
  • Children’s Holiday Cookie decorating included with the purchase of a kid’s meal
  • Enjoy Classic Holiday Cartoons and Festive Balloon Twister on-site

Get all the details about the event HERE!

To win a $25 Gift Card to Phoenicia, enter below (or HERE)…

UPDATE: Congratulations to Katie P, Carye, Jackie G, Robin M!

Contest Ends:  Monday, December 11, 2017
Official Rules:

Create a Play Each Day at Main Street Theater’s Winter Break Camp!

The kids will soon be out for winter break… for HoustonISD, the last day of school is December 21, 2017!

If you do not have the full 2 weeks off of work, or if your kids want to have some extra fun over the holiday, Main Street Theater has a Winter Break Camp for you…  kids get to create a play in a day… so sign up for one day or all the days!

Ages: 6 – 11
Days: Dec. 18, 19, 20, 21 & 22, Dec. 27, 28 & 29, Jan. 3, 4 & 5
Hours: 9:00am – 3:30pm
Location: MST – Rice Village
Daily Fee: $65/day

Get all the details HERE!

Houston Grand Opera’s The House Without a Christmas Tree at Resilience Theater

I never would have thought the Houston Grand Opera was for families.  In fact, I never would have thought the Houston Grand Opera was for me.

There was no way we were fancy enough for the opera… or could follow the story and enjoy the show.  But I was wrong.  A couple of years ago the Houston Grand Opera invited us to The Little Prince and we had a really good time.

We dressed up, walked through downtown with the holiday crowds headed to the theaters, took our seats and really felt like it was Christmas.  Before the lights went down we read through the story so we knew what to expect… and when the show began, the words were projected over the screen so my readers could follow along.

This year the Houston Grand Opera had us out to the dress rehearsal of The House Without a Christmas Tree.

Photo: Lynn Lane

The Wortham Theater was damaged by Harvey… but the show is going on at the Resilience Theater in the George R. Brown Convention Center, through December 17, 2017!

So this year we headed to the George R. Brown by Discovery Green.  We stopped by Hello, Trees! and the Giant Gingerbread House and made our way through the hustle and bustle to Resilience Theater.  (It is in Hall A3 of the George R. Brown.  The entrance is across from the Marriott Marquis and Biggios Sportsbar.  You enter the big red doors and go up to the 3rd floor.)

The temporary theater has been built in the exhibit hall… but once the show started, you wouldn’t know it.  The performance is just as beautiful as it was at Wortham Theater.

Once again the synopsis was handed out so I could read to the kids… and during the show, the words were projected over the screen.  My 8 year old probably liked the show the very best… she could read the words and really appreciate that the main character gets picked on by the boy she “hates”.

In total, the show is about an hour and a half.  There is no age requirement for entering the theater… but your kids should be able to sit and watch for over an hour.  Also, I think that if they can read, the show is more enjoyable!

If you want to try a family friendly opera this holiday season, find your own tickets HERE!  (And for everything to do around Resilience Theater for the holidays, go HERE!)



Photo: Lynn Lane

Texas Outdoor Family: Camping with Toyota at Brazos Bend State Park

I have done my best to avoid camping for most of my life.  I like showers and bathrooms and beds.

But now, with 4 kids, I have a confession… I love camping.  I like how we work together to set up the tent, how we prepare meals together, how we sit around the fire and tell stories and how we are right next to each other for the whole weekend, with no distractions.

So more and more, I’ve found myself planning camping trips… which is still a little intimidating because I’m a parent preparing to take 4 little kids out in the woods and I have very little experience.

I do have a Cub Scout and an Eagle Scout in the family, but I’m the one that makes all the plans and packs all the bags and coordinates all the activities.  This is why I jumped at the chance to participate in the Texas Outdoor Family program at the Texas State Parks.

When our sponsor, Toyota, invited us to the program at Brazos Bend State Park, I replied “yes” immediately.

This program is designed to help families discover the joys of camping and Texas State Parks.  All camping gear required for a stay in the park is provided and several rangers stay with the group for the trip.

And friends, Texas Outdoor Family was amazing.

Not only did we set up tents, make meals and build campfires but we went fishing and hiking, learned to geocache and made nature watercolors!  Even my Eagle Scout husband said it was a great refresher on what you need to take kids camping.

We packed up our Toyota on Saturday morning, drove out to Brazos Bend State Park and checked in with the rangers.  They gave us lessons on setting up our tents and using our stoves and taught the kids about playing in nature and leaving no trace.

We set up our camp and made our lunch before rejoining the group at the nature center.  After learning about snakes and alligators and fishing and more, we went for a hike and went back to our campsite to build a fire and make dinner.

With this Texas Outdoor Family, you can participate in as much or as little as you want.  We did a lot of group activities… but even if we just did our own thing, it is nice to know the rangers are close by to help.

If you are thinking of heading out to the Texas State Parks, here is what you need to know:

  • Check for Texas Outdoor Family Programs HERE!  (More are coming after the holidays!)
  • You don’t have to participate in Texas Outdoor Family to enjoy the park!  Anyone can visit Brazos Bend State Park for the day or the night!
  • The park entrance fee is $7/person over 12, regardless if you are staying the night or not.  Entrance is free for Texas State Parks Pass Holder.
  • To camp, you can reserve a spot for $12… or pay as much as nearly $65.  There are campsites, screened shelters and a primitive shelters.  The Texas Outdoor Family fee included the campsite fee.
  • There are restrooms and showers near the campsites.  (And ours was very clean.)
  • Whether you spend the night or not, you can visit the park, take guided nature hikes and visit the nature center.
    • The Nature Center has exhibits on the three ecosystems in the park, as well as on reptiles that live there.
    • The George Observatory is open on Saturdays from 3 to 10 p.m. The observatory is part of the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
    • The park has 37 miles of trails, some of which are stroller and wheelchair friendly.
    • There are alligators in some areas of the park.  Be smart around them!
  • Gathering firewood is not allowed, but it can be purchased at the front of the park.
  • This park is not very far from downtown Houston.  It seems like another world, but really, you could drive home and come back if you forgot something big.
  • It was hot on Saturday and very chilly Sunday morning.  Be sure to pack for both!
  • Texas Outdoor Family loaned us some equipment and I packed up everything else I thought we might need… and listed it below.  If you have essentials you pack on your trips, tell me and I’ll add it!
    • What was provided with the program:
      • Tent for 6 people (This was a very nice REI tent.)
      • Lantern (But we still used our own flashlights and lanterns to see a little better.)
      • Stoves and fuel
      • Pots, fry pan, and cooking utensils
      • Equipment necessary for all activities (Like bikes and fishing poles.)
      • 2 Cots and 4 foam pads (Our cots happened to be brand new.)
    • What we packed: affiliate links included
      • For the Campsite:
      • For the Fire:
        • Firewood (bought at the entrance of the park)
        • Lighter/Matches
        • Lighter Fluid
        • Leather Gloves
      • For Us:
      • Groceries
        • Bread
        • Peanut Butter
        • Marshmallows
        • Graham Crackers
        • Chocolate
        • Water
        • Eggs
        • Turkey Bacon
        • Pre-cut Veggies
        • Snacks (Granola Bars, Trail Mix)
        • Supplies for Foil Dinners
          • Foil
          • Tongs (for taking them off the fire)
          • Vegetables
          • Hot Dogs
          • Butter
          • Salt
        • Cooking Supplies:
          • Knife
          • Marshmallow skewers
          • Veggie Peeler
          • Cutting Board
          • Paper Towels
          • Paper Plates
          • Sporks
          • Cups/Water Bottles
          • Plastic Bags (for storing food)
          • Cooler
        • More Supplies:
          • Biodegradable Soap (because we have a faucet)
          • Lantern/Flash Lights
          • Duct Tape
          • Pocket Knife
          • Hand Sanitizer
          • Trash Bags
          • Deck of Cards
          • Phone/Charger
        • Cold Weather Supplies:
        • I Wish I Had:
          • A glow stick for the toddler.  I’m serious.  It was so dark by dinner that it would have been nice to have a glow stick on her back.

If you also want to work together, cook together, tell stories together and try something new together, check out Brazos Bend State Park or any of the Texas State Parks.  And if you want some help getting started, check out the Texas Outdoor Family program!

Thank you Toyota for tell us about the program!
















Over 100 Events for the Whole Family from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day… at The Woodlands Resort!

Usually we celebrate the holidays at my parents’s house… but it flooded during Harvey. They don’t have floors, appliances or furniture… so this year we are celebrating out around Houston.

Thanksgiving and Christmas at restaurants and hotels is not our tradition, but I do think our holidays will be ones we remember!

Each summer we go to The Woodlands Resort for the pools… but this winter we are going for their holiday events!  Our sponsor will have over 100 events for the whole family from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day such as brunches, Grand Illumination Tree Lighting Ceremony, Breakfast with Santa, gingerbread house making, Movie Pajamarama, Storytime with Santa and a Gatsby style New Year’s Eve bash.  Find them all HERE!

The Woodlands Resort also has a Holiday Traditions Treat and Retreat package.  The package includes deluxe overnight accommodations for one night, a $50 gift card for a return visit at a $179 rate.

So if you are a looking for some new traditions this holiday season… or for some great holiday events, look at what’s happening at The Woodlands Resort!


Houston Grand Opera… for the Family! The House Without a Christmas Tree at Resilience Theater.

“You do not know how lucky you are! It has taken me over 30 years to go to an opera… you guys are only 4, 6 and 8!”

Two years ago the Houston Grand Opera invited us to see the family friendly “The Little Prince“, and this is what I said over and over in the car. The kids were not so sure.

We walked through the bustling theater district, full of dressed up families and couples heading to shows all over Downtown Houston. As we walked in to the Wortham Theater and went up the giant escalators towards the brightly lit Christmas tree and wreath, I could see my kids get a little giddy about the opera…

We took our seats, flipped through our program, started our scavenger hunts and smiled as the lights went down.

The program had a picture description of the story, so it was pretty easy to follow along. Also, the words were projected at the top of the stage, so my readers could read along.

During the show, my 8 year old laughed and read along with the songs.  My 6 year old fell fast asleep. Not because she did not like it, but because the music was calm and beautiful in the dark theater.

My 4 year old, who could not read the words across the screen, but is very used to sitting in theaters and taking in the shows. He did not fully understand the story, but he always always preferred to come with us than to stay at home.

And they all liked the opera.

Now, two years later, we are heading to “The House Without a Christmas Tree”.  The Wortham Theater was damaged by Harvey… but the show will go on at the Resilience Theater in the George R. Brown Convention Center, November 30-December 17, 2017!

If you want to try a family friendly opera this holiday season, find your own tickets HERE!


Magical Winter Lights in La Marque… Now through January 2, 2018!

The giant lantern festival is back for the holidays!  Magical Winter Lights invited us out again this year and we made the drive south to La Marque… and you should see the pictures!

We walked around Magical Winter Lights, we looked at the Houston Waterwall, the pyramid in Egypt, the Eiffel Tower in France and more… plus the Christmas Village and Dinosaur Land and more.

This festival is in the parking lot of the stadium (much like the rodeo takes over the NRG parking lot)… and it’s very big.  Half of it is a lantern festival with world landmarks you will recognize, mysteries of the east, dinosaurs and much much more.

New this year was the very cool light up checker board dance floor… that changes colors as you walk on it.

This is not an underwhelming display of lights, that is for sure!  We rushed through the lights once… and then did a second lap because there was something new each time we turned.

In addition to the lights, dinosaurland has motorized dinosaurs that swing their tails and make noise.  (We arrived right at opening and it was still light out… so this was a great place to explore while the lanterns were waiting for dark.)

See all the lanterns HERE.

In addition to the lanterns, there is a carnival, live entertainment and food stations.

The carnival rides are extra… and the admission is already high, so be prepared. Either get ready to buy a $25 (or $20 online) all you can ride wristband or tell the kids you are only doing the lights and entertainment.

General admission is $20+ for adults, $13+ for kids and free for kids under 4. Parking is $5 (cash only onsite). Get all the prices HERE. Magical Winter Lights is open daily through January 2, 2018, including holidays.

Strollers are okay… and there is room for pushing them. Outside food is not allowed.

Magical Winter Lights was a bit of a drive from Houston… but my kids really really liked it and there are SO many lights.

I’d say that Houston Zoo Lights is cool because of the venue and getting to see the Zoo at night.  Magical Winter Lights just has a parking lot, but the lanterns are really elaborate and there are a lot of them.  Plus, the live entertainment is good too!

So, if you really like holiday lights, learn more HERE!






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