Labyrinth at Faith Lutheran – Visiting Houston’s Parks (& Labyrinths!), One Week at a Time

Faith Lutheran Labyrinth Bellaire
Address: Avenue B and Cedar Street in Bellaire

This week’s Houston park of the week isn’t a playground park. It’s not even a trail or tree climbing park. It’s a maze made from rocks, designed to clear your mind for meditation. It’s a labyrinth!

I’ve been walking by Faith Lutheran for years and this small green lot north of the church has been empty.  There were a few benches but it was not a place to spend time.  That’s changed with the addition of the labyrinth!

Faith Lutheran Labyrinth
Made from rocks, the labyrinth is a maze for people to wonder and clear their minds.  Or, if you are like my 2 year old, it’s a place to play with rocks.

Wondering through the maze won’t take long, but it is an unusual destination.  Stop by the labyrinth and then visit the nearby Feld Park, Evergreen Park or Nature Discovery Center!

Go HERE to find more labyrinths in Houston!



What is your favorite fall farm activity? Where do you like to pick pumpkins, take hayrides & walk through corn mazes? You asked us!

Pedal Cars at Dewberry Farm
The weather is cooling off, Fall is on it’s way, and BigKidSmallCity readers are asking where to find some farm fun! I had a few ideas, but went to the panel or Houston’s best advisers for things to do in Houston with kids… the BigKidSmallCity community!

I asked, and this is what you told me what YOUR favorite things to do in Houston!  Click the links before you go for open dates, hours and prices!

  • Dewberry Farm (Brookshire)- Corn Maze, Pumpkins, Train Ride, Slide Mountain, Zip Lines, Pedal Cars and so much more!
  • Blessington Farm (Simonton)- Pumpkin Patch & Fall Harvest Festival
  • Old MacDonalds Farm (Humble) – Year round outdoor fun!
  • Oil Ranch (Hockley) – All activities are included with admission price… milk a cow, ride a horse, climb the hay bales and so much more.  Free pumpkins for kids.
  • Froberg Farms (Alvin) – Corn Maze and Hayride.  Follow with a trip to Bayou Wildlife Park!
  • P-6 Farms (Montgomery) – Pumpkin patch and fall festival.  Follow with a visit to the Brazos Valley MAiZE amd with a treat from the Blue Bell Ice Cream!
  • TGR Exotics (Spring) – 100 animals representing over 25 species.
  • Matt Family Orchard (Tomball) – Pumpkins, Hay Ride & Actives
  • Spring Creek Growers (Magnolia) – Watch for updates on the website.  Currently it says: “Due to construction delays, we are temporarily suspending our annual Pumpkin Patch this year in order to prepare for a fantastic 2014 Christmas season.”.
  • Berryland (Winnie) -
  • Old Time Christmas Time Farm (Spring) – Pumpkin Patch and Activities (Followed by Christmas tree cutting in the winter).
  • 7 Acrewood (Conroe) – Pumpkins, petting zoo, mini golf, pony rides and play town.
  • Caninos Market (Houston) – Pick out pumpkins and ghords and go inside to get veggies for the week.


Paul Carr Jogging Trail on Heights Boulevard – Visiting Houston’s Parks, One Week at a Time

James on Heights Blvd Path
Location:  Heights Boulevard, I10 to 20th Street

The Houston park of the week doesn’t have a playground.  It has a path, trees and lots of quirky art.  Grab your sneakers and jog stroller, and head out to Heights Boulevard!

Starting just north of I10, and running almost 2 miles to 20th Street, is the Paul Carr Jogging Trail in the middle of Heights Boulevard.  Park anywhere along Heights Boulevard, for free, and see what you might find on the trail.

Chairs on Heights Blvd Path
You can make this exercise for you, or just a little adventure for everyone. Whatever your speed, you will find a lot of fun along the trail.

Paper Airplane
Find the giant paper airplane, the big chairs, the emerging church, gazebos, benches, WWII monument and more.  You need to cross a street a few times on your trip, but there are stop signs and usually there is not too much traffic.  As an added bonus, there are grand Victorian houses up and down Heights Boulevard for you to gaze at on your adventure.

World War Memorial
There is a lot of shade, several water fountains and many little shops that would probably trade the use of a restroom for the purchase of a cup of coffee.  The trail is well used, but not usually crowded, and the cars on Heights Boulevard help to watch over the park.

Church
 So go for a little jog, take the kids on a little “hike”, or just drive around and around Heights Boulevard until the kids have seen all the art!

Dog
 

Heights Blvd Gazibo
 



NOW FULL – BigKidSmallCity Meet Up: HPD Mounted Patrol Stables – 10:00am or 12:00pm – October 3, 2014

Horse
We’ve seen the Houston Fire Stations… We’ve seen City Hall… Now we get to see the Houston Police Departments Mounted Patrol Stables!  Bring your carrots, apples and peppermints and join us as we talk to Houston’s Mounted Patrol Officers, feed the horses and learn about their jobs!

There will be 2 tours on Friday, October 3, 2014 at 10:00am and 12:00pm.  October 3 may be a school holiday for your big kids, so check the calendar and sign up if you want to attend!

Wear your horse barn trekking shoes and be ready to learn about the Houston Mounted Patrol!  The stables are at 5005 Little York Rd. Houston,Tx. 77016 (off of I59, NOT off of 290).

If you want to join us on October 3, 2014 at 10:00am or 12:00pm, you must:

1. There are TWO forms below.  Fill out ONE for either the 10:00am tour or the 12:00pm tour.  (When one tour is full, I will close the form.)
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 kids to the Houston Mounted Patrol Stables on October 3 at 10:00am OR 12:00pm. (5005 Little York Rd. Houston,Tx. 77016)
4.  The tour will be about 1 hour.
5.  The event is FREE. Feel free to bring carrots, apples or peppermints for the horses.  Apples need to be quartered (but seeds are fine).
6. Make every effort to attend. Since spaces are so limited, we want as many little police men and women to get a chance as possible. If you need to cancel, email me at Jill @ BigKidSmallCity.com right away.

UPDATE:  October 3, 10:00am Tour is NOW FULL.  To get an email announcing future Meet-Ups, go HERE.

UPDATE:  October 3, 12:00pm Tour is NOW FULL.  To get an email announcing future Meet-Ups, go HERE.



NOW FULL – For the kids that keep asking for it…. Come see the monkeys, birds, horse, beads, crowns and slides at the next Gallery Furniture Meet-Up! September 19, 2014, 5:00pm

Gallery Furniture Bird on Heads

Just before school started, I sent my kids off to grandma’s house.  When I picked them up from the airport, I got a hug and 1 request from my daughter:  “Can we go to Gallery Furniture on the way home?”.  This is how much fun our meet ups are at this out-of-this-world Houston institution.

Have your kids been asking to go back to Gallery Furniture?  Do you want to check it out for the first time?  Then, you are in luck!

On September 19 at 5:00pm, we will have the opportunity to rule the store!  We will see the monkeys, birds and horse, make crafts, slide, climb and jump in the playroom and eat pizza, cookies and ice cream for dinner!  And it’s FREE!

BigKidSmallCity and HoustonMothersBlog invite you to join us at Mattress Mack’s I45 Gallery Furniture location, at 6006 North Fwy, Houston, TX 77076, on Tuesday, September 19, 2014 at 5:00pm.  Families with a confirmed spot will get to:

1.  Meet the famous Gallery Furniture monkeys and their keeper!
2.  Meet the many exotic birds and their keeper!
3.  Ride in an Amish buggy behind Fraenzy the horse!
4.  Play on the giant indoor playground with a mini-rock wall, twisting tubes and slides for racing!
5.  Get their hands dirty at the craft station!
6.  Show us their best pose at the Gallery Furniture Selfie Wall!
7.  Eat as much dinner, ice cream and cookies as their parents allow!
8.  Meet the man they’ve seen on TV and heard on the radio: Mattress Mack!

If you want to join us on September 19, 2014 at 5:00pm, you must:

1. Fill out the form below.
2. Be one of the first 100 to respond. Spaces are limited! 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 kids to Gallery Furniture on Friday, September 19, 2014, at 5:00pm. Gallery Furniture is at 6006 North Fwy, Houston, TX 77076.   The event is FREE.
4. Make every effort to attend. Since spaces are limited and we want as many kids to get a chance as possible. If you need to cancel, email me at Jill @ BigKidSmallCity.com.

UPDATE:  Meet Up is now full.  To get an email announcing future Meet-Ups, go HERE.



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 @ BigKidSmallCity.com.



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!

JamesTube
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 @ BigKidSmallCity.com right away.