Give Away: Family Four-Pack of Thanksgiving week tickets to Mr. Popper’s Penguins at Main Street Theater

Main Street Theater is giving away a Family Four-Pack of tickets to Mr. Popper’s Penguins good for any weekday performance of Thanksgiving week! That’s 11/19, 11/20, 11/21, or 11/23 at either 11am or 2pm.

You don’t want to miss this delightful family musical about Mr. Popper, his talented penguins, and their traveling vaudeville act! It’s a holiday treat for the whole family!

Recommended for Kindergarten and up (children under 3 and sleeping babies not allowed in the theater).

Register to win below (or HERE).

Contest Ends: November 14, 2018
Official Rules:

Texas Outdoor Family at Brazos Bend State Park… with Toyota!

On Friday morning, I actually said to my husband, “I will meet you at the campground after work.”.

Those are words I would not have said 10 years ago. Not 5 years ago. Not even 3 years ago.  But my kids begged to go camping… so, off we went to figure out how to survive in the wilderness.

This is still intimidating because I’m a mom, with very little camping experience, taking four little kids out in the woods.

That’s why Texas Outdoor Family is so cool. They provide the equipment, show you how to camp… and then they help you hike, bike, paint and play in the woods.

We just got back from Brazos Bend State Park and had the BEST time.

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, the Texas Outdoor Family program is amazing.  We set up tents, made meals and built campfires… and we rode bikes, went fishing and hiking, learned to geocache and made nature watercolors!

We have now been on one night and two night Texas Outdoor Family weekends. Last year we went for one night, and this was nice because all the camp set up was done in the daylight.

This year we went for two nights. The cool thing is that we had more time at the park. The downside is having to fight Friday traffic to get to the park… and having to do some set up in the dark. (I recommend coming a little early to get a head start!)

On both trips, the park rangers gave us lessons on setting up our tents and using our stoves and taught the kids about playing in nature and leaving no trace.

The rangers also went campsite to campsite to make sure everything was safe and the food was packed up tight each night.

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.

My little girl has been talking about the camping trip to Brazos Bend State Park, all week long. The birds were noisy and she touched a baby alligator and she slept in tent and…

My big kids liked the hikes and loved the bikes the park provided. They road around and around all day long… waving as they passed by the tent.

They all liked visiting the George Observatory (run by the Houston Museum of Natural Science) on Saturday night.  The trail to get there was lined by alligators during the day… and we had to cross it at night!

And as for me, I just liked camping with my family.  We worked together, cooked together, told stories together and tried something new together.

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 on your own, you can reserve a spot for $12… or pay as much as nearly $65.  There are campsites, screened shelters and 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 around the park.
  • Ice is availalbe for purchase at the front of the park.
  • It was cold on Friday night and hot on Saturday night.  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:
        • Bug Spray with DEET
        • Sun Screen
        • Water
        • Camp Towels
        • Clothes/Toiletries
        • A glow stick for the toddler.  It was so dark by dinner that it was nice to have a glow stick on her back.
        • First Aid Kit (Band aids, Ointment, Anti-Itch for Bug bites)
      • Groceries
        • Ice (Freeze a gallon of water for the cooler.  It stays cold longer than just a bag of ice!)
        • Bread
        • Peanut Butter, Jelly
        • Marshmallows
        • Graham Crackers
        • Chocolate
        • Water
        • 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:
        • Cold Weather Supplies:
        • I Wish I Had:
          • More batteries.  (Half of our flashlights were dead!)

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 Texas Outdoor Family!

Thank you Toyota for telling us about the program!










Sign Up Now for the Thanksgiving Break Camp at Main Street Theater!

Schools are out for a whole week for Thanksgiving… but not all parents are off for the full week!

Main Street Theater is offering camps on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Sign up fo one, two or three days!

In these turbo camps, you will create a play in a day! Starting at 9:00am with their best brainstorming, students will create an original play (plus all their props and costumes) to share with their classmates before carpool.

Ages: 7 – 12
Days: November 19, 20 & 21, 2018
Hours: 9:00am – 3:30pm
Location: MST – Rice Village
Daily Fee: $70/day

Get all the details HERE!

Thanksgiving Break Turbo Camp at Main Street Theater

Schools are out for a whole week for Thanksgiving… but are you off for a full week?

Main Street Theater is offering camps on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Sign up fo one, two or three days!

In these turbo camps, you will create a play in a day! Starting at 9:00am with their best brainstorming, students will create an original play (plus all their props and costumes) to share with their classmates before carpool.

Ages: 7 – 12
Days: November 19, 20 & 21, 2018
Hours: 9:00am – 3:30pm
Location: MST – Rice Village
Daily Fee: $70/day

Get all the details HERE!

Trick, Treat, Win Give Away: $25 McDonald’s gift card, $50 Best Buy gift card, Roku TV stick & Trick, Treat, Win t-shirt

Trick, Treat and Win at McDonald’s Houston!

Just peel game pieces on select McDonald’s packaging and win prizes.  AND to celebrate, we have a BIG give away!

You can win one $25 McDonald’s gift card, $50 Best Buy gift card, Roku TV stick (valued at $50) and a Trick, Treat, Win t-shirt.

Sign up below (or HERE).

Update:  Congratulations to Loni M!

Contest Ends: Monday, October 29, 2018
Official Rules:

Tumble & Play at H-Town Elite Gymnastics… for FREE

During the school day, take your little ones to tumble, play and stretch at H-Town Elite Gymnastics.  And next week, do it for FREE and be entered to win a month of free preschool classes.

Preschool programs are available to boys and girls ages 2 plus and are taught by a patient and understanding Coach. Classes range from 30 – 50 minutes long and meet once a week.

Your child will learn important lessons such as how to coexist in a class setting with other children, how to take and wait for their turns and get stronger and more confident at the same time. Students will use scaled down versions of Olympic Gymnastics equipment, and learn basic versions of skills learned by the best gymnasts in the world with the flexibility in curriculum to allow each student to progress at their own pace.

If you have a preschooler, sign up here for a FREE class the week of October 29, 2018. AND, for those that register will also be entered to win a month of free classes!

Sign up for your free class below (or HERE!).

Not far from Houston… but away from it all… Thousand Trails Colorado River in Columbus, Texas!

We were celebrating something BIG in our little Petite Retreat cabin at Thousand Trails Colorado River. We had TWO birthdays last week!

We got to do all the fun camping things… but we got to come home to beds and plumbing.

We’ve now been on several camping (and glamping) trips, and this is what I’ve discovered about campgrounds:

  1.  No one looks at you like you sideways when you say you have four kids.  They are not really surprised and they don’t think you should pay for two hotel rooms.
  2. Campgrounds are generally more reasonably priced than hotels, but with a lot of things to do.
  3. Camping (and glamping) is a great way to connect.  Even with the cabin amenities, everyone is within arms reach and everyone is working together on dinner and campfires and hiking and fun.
  4.  Cabins let us do all the fun outdoor camping activities, but come home to showers and beds.

Thousand Trails invited us out and we found it right on the Colorado River… and with trails, a pool, fishing, mini golf, playground, basketball, volleyball, activity center and more.  Not only this, but there are deer everywhere and armadillos roaming around.

The activity center might have been the kids favorite spot.  It’s old and a lot like the activity centers at state parks or like grandma’s house… it needs an update but is incredibly clean and tidy.

We played a dozen games of pool, table tennis and air hockey.  In the kids room, there are games, toys and dozens of DVDs and VHS tapes.  My 9 year old was fascinated by the VCR (with tracking and rewinding and all things VHS) and watched old Disney movies.

The activity center is also where we found a little library, exercise center and staff.  The staff was very friendly and  helpful and happy to see us when we ran in during the rain storms.

The kids and I also went swimming at the pool, played mini golf went for a hike, played basketball and pickle ball and surveyed the old damage from Harvey.  (The water covered the buildings in the back half of the campground!)

At Thousand Trails, some people stay for the season and some people stay for a few nights.  The cabins are all clustered together with a common firepit and we quickly made friends with the kids next door.

(Also, there was a wood fire burn ban when we visited, but the cabin had a propane grill for our dinner.

If you want to rent the cabins, more tips are below:

  • There are two sizes.  One sleeps 4 and another sleeps 6.  Ours was the small cabin and we were cozy… but the point of the trip was to be outside anyway!
  • The mattresses and pillows are covered in a slick cleanable cover and linens are provided.
  • The cabins are air conditioned and heated with a kitchenette, bathroom and satellite TV.  A propane grill is outside.
  • Thousand Trails also has spaces for tents and RVs.
  • Soap and shampoo is provided.
  • Towels are provided.
  • The kitchen is fully stocked with pots and plates and silverware… but you need to wash and return everything you use!
  • The campgrounds have a lot of things to do!  Hiking, fishing, playgrounds, games in the activity center, basketball, volleyball, pickleball, mini golf and more!
  • If you have room in your car, bring bikes and balls so you have even more to do!
  • The really cool campers seem to bring rope lights to decorate their cabins, RVs, golf carts and bikes… and one of these days we’ll be the cool campers!
  • The campgrounds are pretty close to I10, so you can get groceries/gear if you forget anything.
  • See the video of the cabin:

If you need a list of things to bring, here’s what we packed:

[Read more…]

Sign Up Now… Fall Classes at Main Street Theater!

Calling all good team players, movie fans, avid readers, sports fans, brainiacs, shy kids, pirates, princesses and born performers… anyone and everyone who has ever imagined their own adventure!

Bring your body, your voice, and your imagination to our partner, Main Street Theater, fall classes!

These classes draw on students’ strengths and abilities for every aspect of the final production. Students will focus on bringing characters to life through creative movement, improvisation and text.

They will explore dramatic structure as they write their own play to perform for families and friends on the last day of class. They will also create most costumes, props or set pieces they might need.

Get all the details HERE!


Eat at the Fresh Café at the Children’s Museum of Houston

Address: 1500 Binz St, Houston, TX 77004

Here’s the truth… we haven’t spent much time at the Fresh Café at the Children’s Museum of Houston.  We are at the museum all the time, but despite the cafe’s name, I did not realize you could get anything fresh or healthy.

The Children’s Museum of Houston invited us out to prove us wrong… and they did.

Located right in the main hallway, the cafe is open almost all day.  You order at the counter, take your seat and the food comes to you.

There are hamburgers, veggie burgers, chicken tenders and fries… but there are also items like salads, sandwiches and wraps.

I had the red quinoa spinach salad and the kids had a little of everything… including some ice cream.

The food was all very good, the service was fast and the restaurant was clean.  The restaurant was very busy but service was quick and the guests all seemed happy.  And, this was probably the easiest museum district lunch we’ve had.

It turns out that the Fresh Café does have fresh and healthy (and vegetarian and kid friendly and…) options!



Find more Houston area restaurants:

Your S.E.C.R.E.T. Mission Awaits at the Children’s Museum of Houston

Address:  1500 Binz, Houston, Texas 77004

Can you spot the S.E.C.R.E.T. Agent?

We were saving the Children’s Museum of Houston by picking  up codes and restoring order to the Children’s Museum!

Use critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity to uncover clues and solve puzzles… as a Secret Agent on a mission! The museum “hired” my secret agents to defeat the evil scientist Vex… and we completed the S.E.C.R.E.T. Mission last week.

The Museum was under siege and R.I.V.A.L. was attempting to steal the power from our crystals.  The kids took on the challenge and uncovered clues, cracked codes and outsmarted the villains!

If your kids want to be secret agents, here is what you need to know:

  • You can learn about the museum-wide “exhibit” HERE.
  • S.E.C.R.E.T. is designed for kids 8 and older.
  • You need to wear comfortable shoes.  These missions take you all over the museum!
  • We’ve now done three missions… and they seem to change a little each year.  There were new problems to solve this summer.
  • The Children’s Museum is INSANELY busy over the summer.  The cool thing about the Mission is that it’s a good way to visit the museum and to BEAT THE BUSY.  The mission control headquarters is only open to the Secret Agents, so it is not crowded.  Also, as you run around the museum collecting clues, you have very specific tasks and are not trying to compete with the other visitors and field trips in Kidtropolous, the rock wall or the other exhibits.
  • There are several different missions, so even if there are lots of secret agents at the museum, you do not bump into too many of them.
  • Each mission comes with book, museum map and gear.  The kids really do feel like spies, with a special wrist codex that unlock doors and log the agents into computers… plus other gear depending on the mission.
  • The missions are a good way to get the big kids interested in the museum again.
  • Each mission takes about one hour to complete.  We stopped for $1 ice cream bars, by the playground, so it took us a little longer!
  • General museum admission is $12 and free for members.  The first time you do a mission, it costs $20 to get the gear and do the mission.  If you go back for more, the new mission is $10 if you reuse your wrist codex.

If you have a secret agent that wants to uncover clues, crack codes and outsmart the villains, check out S.E.C.R.E.T.!


Find more things to do around Houston, with kids: