NOW FULL – BigKidSmallCity Meet Up: HEB Tour (Yes, I said HEB Tour) – October 2, 2014 – 11:00am

HEB Montrose
**UPDATE: NOW FULL.  To get an email announcing future Meet-Ups, go HERE.***

Okay preschoolers and home schoolers, we’ve got an all new BigKidSmallCity Meet-Up scheduled.  We’ve toured fire stations, city hall, wildlife parks and even furniture stores…  Now it’s time to tour our local grocery store.  You read that right…  We are touring the Montrose HEB!

On Thursday, October 2, at 11:00am, we will meet at the Montrose HEB at  1701 W. Alabama, Houston, TX 77098.  And it’s not your average shopping trip to HEB.  Kids will get to shop and sample healthy foods from each department.

They will learn about the food groups, about good food decisions, about exercise and taking care of their bodies.  They’ll get to sample fruits and vegetables as they march through the store like they own it.

The tour aligns with STEM curriculum and will be modified to fit the age level of those that participate.

My kids have been to the grocery store about a zillion times, but they’ve never ruled the place.  On October 2 at 11:00am, they will have a chance to do just this.

If you want to join us on October 2, 2014 at 11:00am, you must:
1. Fill out the form below.
2. Be one of the first 25 to respond. Spaces are very limited and the last tours filled very quickly! You will receive an email saying you have a spot or you are on the waiting list.
3. If you get a spot, bring your shoppers to HEB on October 2, 2014 at 11:00am. (1701 W. Alabama, Houston, TX 77098)
4.  The event is FREE.
5. Make every effort to attend. Since spaces are so limited, we want as many kids to get a chance as possible. If you need to cancel, email me at Jill @

As you requested: Meet-Ups for those that are tired of missing the sign-up and the fun… Introducing BKSC Members Meet-Ups

Fire Station Tour6
Each time we venture out into Houston with our kids, we come home with wild imaginations, dinnertime conversation, ideas for our next adventure and an even greater appreciation for our city. BigKidSmallCity Meet-Ups are opportunities to explore Houston with our kids and other families. All Meet-Ups are unique to our city and all are small in scale. We have visited several fire stations, city hall, a youth theater, a couple wildlife parks and an out-of-this-world furniture store.

The Meet-Ups are designed so that instead of sitting and watching kids play, we are actively exploring with them. In addition to this, the venues we visit are something we can only experience in our great city. Because of this, the size of the Meet-Ups is always limited to what the venue can hold and what is enjoyable for the attendees supervising (chasing) young kids.

I truly love meeting the people in the BigKidSmallCity community and these Meet-Ups will continue to be scheduled. In fact, you may have noticed the frequency of Meet-Ups is increasing! We will keep up the tours and get more and more creative as we get behind the scenes looks at how Houston ticks and how local businesses/factories operate.

Many requests have been made for an opportunity to get exclusive access to the Meet-Ups. Parents are very busy people and not always around at 7:01pm to sign up for the next tour. Although we will not change our sign up procedure on the Meet-Ups as you know them today, we will offer a new service to a Members Club.

Remember, not everyone will want this and EVERYONE will still have a chance at our Houston Meet-Ups. For those people that are tired of missing out on the opportunities and want Meet-Ups added just for them, they can join the BKSC Members Club.

BKSC Members Club Opportunities:

  • 4 BKSC Members Only Meet-Ups. Including:
    • At least one “Hometown Heros” Meet Up.  This will include the popular fire station tour or EMT, fire fighter or police demonstration.
    • An opportunity for a semi-private tour. Join just a few other families for a trip on the METRORail, to the mysterious red button, to the top of the JP Morgan Chase tower or another uniquely Houston adventure!  Your suggestions will create the event.
  • Members will have the opportunity to sign up for the regular Meet-Ups as well. If you miss a spot, you will be added to the priority wait list.

In addition to this, BKSC Members will have access to:

  • One Complimentary business/blog consultation or speaking session.  This includes a 30 minute consultation on improving your blog or local business or a 60 minute speech/panel discussion to your group (church group, moms group, etc).

The Membership Term is October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015 and is $100/family.  One membership per household please.  Because of the personal attention each member will get, this group will be limited in size.  Also because of the personal attention, the price will not go down!  $100/family is an introductory rate and will go up the busier we get.

Remember, the Meet-Ups will continue on for everyone. The Membership is for those that have requested to be added the exclusive Meet-Ups and not be required to jump on the sign up forms as soon as they are posted. Whether you sign up or not, I plan to see you at an event soon. If you do sign up, get ready for an insider’s view of Houston, without the pain of the sign up form!

To sign up, submit payment and fill out the BKSC Membership Form. Both forms are below:



Mandell Park (A Symbol of Community, Hardwork & Determination) – Visiting Houston’s Parks One Week at a Time

Address:  Richmond and Mandell
Cost:  Free
Appropriate Age:  Any age

With 10 years of hard labor and fundraising, one innerloop Houston neighborhood turned a wasteland into an urban oasis for all to enjoy.

Mandell Park Sign
Mandell Park is at the corner of Richmond and Mandell in the Montrose/Museum District.  In the 1980’s, the city of Houston bought the land to build a public library.  The city later decided on another location for the library and the land became an abandoned lot.

Mandell Park Path
The residents of Castle Court Neighborhood Association took the initiative to clean up the eyesore and eventually started an organic garden.  In 2004, the property was transferred from the Library Department to the Parks and Recreation Department. Due to the City’s budget constraints a citizen’s group was needed to continue the improvement and maintenance of the property so the Friends of Mandell Park was formed.

Mandell Park Shed
The Friends of Mandell Park rescued the land, and made great improvements, but had much more planned.  Ten years later, a brand new park was born.

Mandell Park Meredeth Gardens
Now reopened, this park is the perfect place for a picnic with your family.  There is no playground, but there are paths, gardens, benches and trees.  This newly renovated park is a million dollar masterpiece with raised beds that wind around the park.

Mandell Park Benches
The gardens continue to be organic and a compost collection area is open for residents to contribute and keep the garden green.

This park will host children’s events, so be looking for them on the BigKidSmallCity events calendars.  The first is pumpkin carving in October, followed by story times and activities for the youngest Houstonians.

What are the “Hot Spots for Tots” you mentioned at Bayou City Mamas Night Out? You asked us!

I had the great honor to talk to the Bayou City Mamas last week on “Hot Spots for Tots”.  Here are some of the venues and events I mentioned.  (And yes, Fire trucks seemed to just keep coming up!)

Look below for favorite:

Free Things to Do

  • Visit your local fire station.  Just stop by your local station with a box of cookies.  If the fire fighters are available, they will often let you sit in the truck!
  • Take a trip Downtown – Without a doubt, visiting Downtown is our #1 favorite thing to do. Every single day the kids ask to take METRORail to the middle of Downtown. On week days, we go to the to of the JP Morgan Chase Tower to gaze at the city from 60 stories up. Then we go down to the miles of tunnels beneath the city. Any day of the week we are delighted to push the mysterious red button on the Preston Street Bridge, to grab a picnic lunch at Phoenicia, play at Discovery Green and visit the Downtown Aquarium splashpad.

Parks, Spalshpads & Playplaces

  • Fire Truck Park – When Southside’s first fire truck was retired in 1970, it was kept in this park, making it the Fire Truck Park. This truck and the other playground equipment came into disrepair after many years of use, so in 2012, a completely renovated Fire Truck Park was opened. And it is fantastic. For kids under 5 years old, there is a new fire truck play structure. All around the new fire truck is unique equipment, for big kids, that you do not you see at every Houston park. The merry-go-round is made from a tire, there are little “flowers” where the kids sit and spin themselves and there is a very unusual rock wall for the biggest kids.
  • Ervan Chew Park – These are 2 play structures under giant oak trees, a splashpad, dog park, basketball court and baseball field. The splashpad is open year round, with a button to turn on the water.
  • Noah’s Ark is a shallow pool with great slides and water features.
  • Houston Fire Museum – Located in old Fire Station 7 on Milam in midtown, the Houston Fire Museum remembers Houston firefighting history and has the perfect room for your little firefighter to play. In the small, easy-to-supervise, air conditioned room, little firefighters will find the cab of a real firetruck with working lights and scanner. They will also find full fireman suits for dress up and a real fireman pole (and mat).  The wall of hoses and 2 story fire safety house will let the kids imagination run wild as they act as Houston’s local heros.

Houston Events

  • Toddler Tuesday – Toddler Tuesdays, presented by Amerigroup RealSolutions, is at Discovery Green September 2 – October 28, 2014. Every Tuesday at 10:30am, parents and kids enjoy a free story time and activities with their favorite characters.
  • Fire Fest – We look forward to each October and the annual Fire Fest at the Val Jahnke Training Facility. There are many fire rescue demonstrations and activities for the kids. My kids especially love to spray the fire hose and take a ride up in the basket of the ladder truck. From November to the next October, my kids ask weekly about when we can return.

Kid-Friendly Restaurants

  • Mission Burritos – This fresh fast food restaurant serves up burritos, bowls, salads and more. They have a kids menu and a playground at the West Alabama location. The playground is enclosed and surrounded by tables for mom and dad. The kids can play and the parents can eat real food.
  • Natachees – Located on Main Street in the funky Mid Main area, this restaurant boasts live bands, a big sandbox and a great view of the passing METRORail train. The kid meals Lineare served in the old style metal lunch boxes you used as a kid. Mom and dad can enjoy dinner around the picnic tables while the kids run and play.
  • Little Matt’s – Don’t let the bland gray exterior fool you. This little restaurant is wild inside. There is good food, nice patio, iPad station, candy store, arcade AND the proceeds go to help children and families affected by cancer. Psssst – Here is a secret… you can ask for an adult beverage and get it for free
  • Mia’s Table – Mia’s is a Carrabba family restaurant and it says “family friendly” right on the logo. We love this cozy home-like restaurant because they treat us like so well here. We walk in, order at the counter and find our seats. The staff always greets us warmly and comes by our table to check on us. The interior is casual but very nice with a punched tin ceiling and big windows that open to the large porch. Ice cream is free and the managers have been known to bring around free cookies. I also think the iced tea is the best in town!

Birthday Party Locations

  • Main Street Theater – Ages 3 and up. Parties held in rehearsal classroom. Room available between 1:00 and 4:00pm Saturday show. Coordinate with theater for youth season.
  • And, like I mentioned at the event, don’t feel like you have to have a party.  If you don’t want one, celebrate another way.  You can still make the birthday special without all the pressure of the perfect party.  Of course, if you or your kids really want the party… do it!  Go HERE for ideas!

NOW FULL – BigKidSmallCity Meet Up: Fire Station 16 Tour – September 20, 2014 – 10:00am

James Spraying Fire Hose
**UPDATE: NOW FULL.  To get an email announcing future Meet-Ups, go HERE.***

Who’s ready for another Houston Fire Station Tour?  BigKidSmallCity is touring Fire Station 16, in Montrose, on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 10:00am.  On our last tour, we had the opportunity to meet the fire fighters, sit in the truck, spray the fire hose and tour the station!  Join us as we do it again!

Since this is an active station, keep in mind that: “If for any reason the assigned station is unable to participate due to an emergency response call, you may not receive advance notice of their absence. If the station receives an emergency response call during the scheduled activity, they are required to proceed to the emergency, but will make every effort to return upon completion.”

During the last tours, the trucks left and came right back. All the kids got to see the fire fighters suit up and head out! Just be ready to have the outing not go perfectly as planned!

If you want to join us on September 20, 2014 at 10:00am, you must:
1. Fill out the form below.
2. Be one of the first 25 to respond. Spaces are very limited! The last tours filled very quickly.  You will receive an email saying you have a spot or you are on the waiting list.
3. If you get a spot, bring your little fire fighters to Fire Station 16 in Montrose on September 20, 2014 at 10:00am. (at Richmond and Dunlavy, 1700 Richmond, 77098)
4.  The event is FREE. Feel free to bring a homemade card or some goodies if you want to thank the fire fighters.
5. Make every effort to attend. Since spaces are so limited, we want as many little fire fighters to get a chance as possible. If you need to cancel, email me at Jill @ right away.

1940 Air Terminal Museum is a hidden Houston gem located right by William P. Hobby Airport.

1940 Air Terminal Museum
Houston Mom, Amanda, is here to tell us all about this hidden gem, located right next to Hobby Airport!

The kids and I headed out to check out the 1940 Air Terminal Museum with friends – two moms with six children between us. Our children range from age 4.5 to 17 months old and each one had a blast!

1940 Air Terminal Museum Little Planes
We were greeted warmly by museum volunteers and given a great brief history of the building and an explanation of all there was to see. They were lovely and never made us feel like our children were too young to enjoy what the museum had to offer. On the contrary, they looked for opportunities to seek us out and tell us more about the rich history of aviation in Houston.

1940 Air Terminal Museum Video
The museum itself is housed in the original art deco Houston Municipal Airport building and includes many of the original fixtures. Inside you will find several galleries displaying aviation memorabilia from various airlines that have graced our skies. There is a timeline of the history of the building itself and several photographs of movie stars who came through the building including Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean when they were filming “Giant” in 1956. They also have a fair amount of Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) materials, as they did two training practices at Houston Municipal Airport Building.

1940 Air Terminal Museum Eating a Picnic1
After a stroll through the galleries, we headed outside to enjoy our pre-packed picnic lunch in the shade of the building to take advantage of front row seats for prime plane watching at Hobby. We saw a fair amount of activity with planes landing and taking off. We also witnessed one of the helicopters from a private hangar next-door take off. Nothing can blow a little kids mind like watching planes take off!

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FUNdamentally Toys: A toy store with great products and fun events!

Fundamentally Toys Circle Time1
If you haven’t yet been to FUNdamentally Toys in Rice Village, you should go! This locally owned toy shop was started because Debbie Scholl, the owner, became frustrated looking for good quality toys that were also fun and educational. And that is just what this toy store provides!

Not only does FUNdamentally Toys have great products, they also host great, free events! Some of the ones that will be happening soon are Crafternoon Activities (for ages 8 & up); a Frozen Meet & Greet with Elsa, Anna, and Olaf ; a Prelude Music Class; and a Pirate Night Magic Show. Visit the store’s website for dates, times and to RSVP for these events. They can fill up fast, so RSVP soon! As a bonus, while your kids are fully engaged in the activities you can probably take a look around the store without the kids clamoring for you to buy everything they see!

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Roberts Elementary Spark Park – Visiting Houston’s Parks, One Week at a Time

Roberts Spark Park Stepping Stones
Address:  6000 Greenbriar Dr, Houston, TX 77030
Appropriate Age: Any Age
Cost: Free

Roberts Elementary has a giant, fenced in playground that is open to the public when school is not in session.  There is a basketball court, bike riding loop, frisbee golf course, several shaded play structures and a funny little octagon that resembles an indoor soccer field.

Roberts Spark Park Playground
The Spark Park Program develops school parks into neighborhood parks as a way to increase green space in Houston.  Roberts Elementary opens the gates for the community during the summer, after school hours and on the weekends.

Roberts Spark Park Swings
The park is right on busy Greenbriar, but is surrounded by a tall fence and there is no risk of kids running out.  Street parking is available around the back of the school, on School Street.  Be sure to check the signs because much of the neighborhood, which is full of picture-perfect houses by Rice University and the Medical Center, has permit parking only.

Roberts Spark Park Basketbal Court
We visited on a Sunday afternoon and there were several families riding bikes, playing ball and swinging.  It seemed like a lot of the kids went to Roberts Elementary, but they were very welcoming and invited my kids to play ball.

Roberts Spark Park Ball Octigon
There is a little octagon with turf carpet and short walls where the kids played a mini version of indoor soccer.  When I first saw this “play pen” I had no idea what it was for, but the kids figured it out quickly and the ball game was tons of fun with 3-4 players on each team.

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Super Saturdays in September, Buy One Get One Free Admission to Downtown Aquarium

Fish at Downtown Aquarium
Super Saturdays are back at the Downtown Aquarium in September! You can print a coupon to get Buy-One-Get-One-Free Admission on Saturdays in the month of September! Print a coupon for every 4 people in your group… and print a few extra for friends you meet in line.


You don’t have to be a die-hard sports fan to absolutely love games at Minute Maid Park…

Astros Game
There is no better afternoon than one spent at Minute Maid Park.  My kids, who never once showed an interest in baseball, now beg to go to the Astros games.

And why not?  Who doesn’t love to drive through the skyscrapers, walk on the busy city streets, show their very own tickets at the gate, watch baseball in the air conditioning, eat ballpark food and play at the stadium playground?

Tickets to the games are reasonable, the stadium is not too packed and the roof keeps everyone cool in the Houston summer.

Astros games have proven to be a great way to fall in love with baseball.  It’s easy for me, because nearby street parking is always available and the stadium is not a complete madhouse.  It’s fun for the kids because of the beautiful, covered stadium, with a train that heads down the tracks with homeruns and a giant playground.

Go for one game, or get season tickets.  The best part about season tickets is that you can pick which ever section you want (even the cheap seats that we get!) and when you pick them out, you can ask Gordon for a personal VIP tour of the stadium… including the exclusive diamond club, dugout and field!

To learn more, contact Gordon Bowen, Houston Astros.  713.259.8788,