Houston Family Magazine December Issue

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december 2020 | Vol. 32 | Issue 12







NOV 14-JAN 10 Don’t miss one of Houston’s best loved holiday traditions! Roast marshmallows at the s’mores making station, stroll through the 125-foot-long light tunnel, take a selfie on the giant ice throne, get your photo with Santa, and more! By attending TXU Energy presents Zoo Lights, you are helping save animals in the wild.

Buy early for the best price! houstonzoo.org/zoolights

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Cornerstone Partners December 2020

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GET MEMORIAL HERMANN QUALITY CARE 7 DAYS A WEEK, PLUS EXTENDED HOURS. Memorial Hermann Urgent Care is ready to help you feel better. No appointment is necessary, and our enhanced safety measures are in place to keep you protected. You’ll receive quality treatment for illnesses and minor injuries right when you need it.



December 2020

This holiday season, experience Christmas magic aboard the authentic THE POLAR EXPRESStm Train Ride, presented by the Texas State Railroad. Come dressed in your jammies and read along as the beloved children’s story comes to life. Your golden ticket includes hot chocolate, cookies E YOUR and a silver sleigh bell from Santa Claus himself. ERV SP



THE POLAR EXPRESS and all related characters and elements are trademarks of Š Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s20)

TexasS tate

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december 2020 | Vol. 32 | Issue 12







on the cover

This month we feature Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo. Pack the family up for a wild adventure as the zoo is transformed into a scene of magic and whimsy. Photo by Ouh La La Photography Facebook @ OuhLaLaPhotography

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features|in this issue 10

Lions, tigers & Lights


The science of giving



Support Local


Letter from the publisher


Book Bites


mind, body, soul


i am Houston

Holiday Reads From Blue Willow Bookshop A Different View, A Wider Lens Meet Elizabeth Bunch, actor at the Alley Theatre




Meet 12 Local Houston Businesses

the holiday guide

Find the perfect gift!


Holiday Camps


the big to-do

Winter Camp Spotlight

Activities for Families

Discover the best and brightest holiday lights this winter at the Houston Zoo, presented by TXU Energy

Learn how giving can help your kids


18 budget friendly holiday traditions


Finding a dog to fit your family's lifestyle

The holidays can be a fun and exciting time, but there is no need to stretch your pocketbook Plan ahead to reap the rewards of a loving family pet


Gifts kids can give on a small budget


Failing our Kids and a new day off

Handmade gifts are affordable, fun to make and are heartwarming to receive Stepping up and doing better for our kids

follow us on social media

Stages Theatre


Momma Strong



Incarnate Word Academy INCARNATEWORD.ORG



Meet (12) local Houston businesses. Some are entrepreneurs. Some are single moms. Some have been around for over 100 years. They are all very different.

Hypothesis Haven


What they all have in common is that they are part of our community. Your support & patronage is vital to their success. Throughout the month of December, you will hear their stories through our daily E-newsletters, Eblasts, social media and website. Be sure to follow them and show them your love & support.

Northwestern Mutual



Find out their stories online at www.houstonfamilymagazine.com/supportlocal

Challenge Island




Ashley Moore

Diya - Anita Bangale

Sweet & Sudsy




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Letter from the editor publisher/editor

Kimberly Davis Guerra kim@houstonfamilymagazine.com

associate editor

Chantal Lemieux chantal@houstonfamilymagazine.com

creative director/ production

Casey Johnson casey@houstonfamilymagazine.com

contributing authors Kimberly Blaker Michael H. Davidson Kimberly Davis Guerra Valerie Koehler Sarah Lyons

contributing photographers

Chubby Cheek Photography Jenna Duncan Photography LP Photography Ouh La La Photography

advertising sales Beverly Davis Tish Petty


Publication Printers Denver, Colorado

ABOVE// Meet HFM pup Violet, adopted from the Houston SPCA Last Decemnber.

contact us:

14123 Bluebird Lane Houston, TX 77079 (P) 713.266.1885 (F) 713.266.1915 www.HoustonFamilyMagazine.com

THE BIG TO DO Did you know our online calender is packed with even more great family friendly events? Check it out at houstonfamilymagazine.com. FIND US ON FACEBOOK @houstonfamilymagazine FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM @houstonfamilymagazine

CONTACT US Let us know how we’re doing. kim@houstonfamilymagazine.com

Houston Family is published monthly by Houston Family Magazine, LLC. Houston Family is distributed free of charge, one copy per reader. Only Houston Family authorized distributors may deliver or pick up the magazines. We reserve the right to edit, reject or comment editorially on all submitted material. We cannot be responsible for the return of any submitted material. Houston Family is ©2020 by Houston Family Magazine,LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without express permission is prohibited.

This holiday season is not quite shaping up the way that I had hoped it would earlier this year. However, in the spirit of the season, there is a silver lining. This holiday season will truly be all about appreciating what is important. Our health. Our family and friends. Our peace of mind. Our community. What can we do to acknowledge, inspire and appreciate those we love? Those in need? How can we be kind to ourselves? This issue, we focused on those very topics. Spending time with the family, outdoors, is going to be the thing to do this season. As you saw by our cover, we suggest you hit the Houston Zoo Lights! For the 7th year in a row, we were fortunate enough to visit the Zoo Lights early on to see what new features they have in store for us! It is magical and did not disappoint! I think my favorite was the Tunnel of Lights! It's completely Insta Worthy!! Check out our feature on what you need to know to make the most out of your visit! In our newly formatted “Support Local’ feature, you will find (12) local businesses that we think are special. You will be seeing more about their businesses throughout the month of December, in Eblasts, online stories and social media. We invite you to visit their websites, businesses and social media platforms to see what they are all about and show them your support. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we spend our money in our own backyard to bolster our community and families hard at work! Working with a small budget this holiday? No worries. We have 18 Great Ideas for enjoying the holiday on a budget and even Great Gift Giving Ideas for Kids on a Budget. It isn’t about the dollar amount, it’s about the thought behind the gift that counts the most! However, if money is no object, as always, our annual Holiday Guide is packed with ideas for everyone! From baby to teens, him to her, the Great Outdoors to stocking stuffers, there is something for everyone on your list. If you are looking for a new furry family member to jump out from under your tree this year, you are not the only one! In ‘Finding a dog to fit your family’s lifestyle’ we discuss all of the options to consider before heading out to find the new fur baby! If you are still on a mission, we recommend heading to Neiman Marcus at the Galleria! Neiman's is in partnership with the Houston SPCA again this year! You can check out a digital screen at Neiman's to choose your special companion then make an appointment with the SPCA to see your new furry friend in person! Speaking from personal experience (we did it last year), it is a magical thing to do with the kids! While many of us will not be with our loved ones this season, for the first time - maybe ever, we hope you find ways to find joy. Take stock in all that you have been given this year. Revel in what the true gifts in your life are. Make sure the people you love & care about know how you feel. Support those in your community, in any way you can, big or small. Know that we have made it through this year and that the New Year will be better! We are grateful to all our readers for your love & support. We hope that you continue to find the information we provide helpful in these crazy times. We are thankful to all our clients for their continued faith in us. We will strive to offer new & innovative ways for your message and voice to be heard in our community. Finally, we are so appreciative of all our staff and vendors. Their tireless commitment and hard work is truly amazing. We are blessed to have you in our lives. Be safe. Be well. And to all a good night...

A New Fitness Series and Bike Exhibit Perfect for all ages! thehealthmuseum.org/GEARUP


All of us are going through something different, but wondering the same thing: “What’s my next step?” We’re helping people get through unexpected challenges and come out the other side even stronger. Now’s the time to regain certainty and confidence. Let’s connect and start planning what’s next for you. LET’S GET STARTED Jennifer Steil, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, RICP® Wealth Management Advisor jennifersteil.nm.com 07-1011 © 2019 Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM), Milwaukee, WI (life and disability insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and its subsidiaries. Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (securities), a subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser and member FINRA and SIPC. Jennifer Steil is an Insurance Agent(s) of NM. Jennifer Steil is a Registered Representative(s) of NMIS. Jennifer Steil is a Representative of Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company®, (NMWMC) Milwaukee, WI (fiduciary and fee-based financial planning services), a subsidiary of NM and federal savings bank. All NMWMC products and services are offered only by properly credentialed Representatives who operate from agency offices of NMWAC. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™ and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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family fun | Z O O L I G H T S

Lions, Tigers & LIGHTS! TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights, Nov. 14th – Jan. 10th For the past 7 years, Houston Family Magazine has had the honor of capturing the best & brightest holiday lights at the Houston Zoo. Every year, it is such a treat to be one of the first people to get to see what is new & exciting with the installation. It is definitely something our staff and families look forward to every year.


his year, the lights kick off on November 14th and run all the way through the holidays until January 10th. Mark your calendars to enjoy the festivities with your family, friends, or make it a date night! Stroll through the beautiful Zoo grounds as you take in the sights and sounds of the season. Zoo Lights Highlights: • Stroll through a 125-footlong Infinity Tunnel of Light. Over 25 feet longer than last year! • Sip your hot chocolate as you sit by the fire toasting marshmallows at one of our s’mores making stations. • Experience the 4-D Enchanted Forest presented by King & Spalding with luminous flowers created by pure imagination and bubbles houston family magazine


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that create a 4-D sensory experience. • NEW FOR 2020: See the towering mythical dragons of the Enchanted Forest. • Get a selfie on the giant ice throne while listening to Frozen tunes and stroll through the “snow” in Winter Wonderland. • See festive trains winding through a miniature winter village at the Holiday Train Village, presented by Comcast. • Stop by Santa’s Workshop to take a holiday picture with Santa. • Say hello to Candy, the interactive talking Zebra presented by H.E.B. • While the Zoo animals are fast asleep, the life-sized animals at the Watering Hole presented by Texas Capital Bank are out late to light up the night.

• Perfect holiday photo spots can be found throughout the Zoo, like the huge 33’ tall Holiday tree presented by TC Energy adorned with colorful, custom-made decorations and 22,000 lights. Wherever you look, whenever you go, you are sure to have a magical night. Being out & about, in the fresh night air, under the stars and the beautiful lights are what the holidays are all about. Spending time together with family and making memories. Be sure to carve out some time this hectic holiday season to visit the Houston Zoo. You and your family will be glad you did. Be sure to buy early for the best price! Purchase timed tickets online at houstonzoo. org/zoolights.

Photos by Ouh La La Photography www.facebook.com/OuhLaLaPhotography


See the animals at the Zoo during the day and get early access to Zoo Lights! Your VIP ticket gets you daytime Zoo admission, a complimentary meal at Cypress Circle Café, and exclusive access to Zoo Lights before the public.


On this night the Zoo will feature further reduced capacity, static lights, and reduced volume for the holiday music.

did you know... • • • •

You can recycle your old or broken lights at the Houston Zoo this holiday season. The Houston Zoo has recycled 20,019 pounds of holiday lights – that’s nearly the same weight as two male Asian elephants. Only string lights will be accepted for recycling; please do not bring other items such as flood lights, extension cords or light hooks. You can bring your holiday string lights to the main

entrance of the Houston Zoo until January 10. Simply place them in the bin that says, “Recycle your holiday lights here and help save animals in the wild!” located at the Zoo’s main entrance. The Zoo will make sure they are responsibly recycled, and you can enjoy your holidays knowing that you helped save animals in the wild!

family life | F E AT U R E

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The Science of Giving and How It Can Help Your Kids written by Sandi Schwartz

Want to really make your kids happy? Teach them the importance of giving to others. Contrary to common belief that kids need and want more “stuff” to be happy, science tells us that it is the act of giving to others that actually boosts happiness and can even improve health and other areas of their lives. CHILDREN WERE BORN TO GIVE

Believe it or not, children enter this world with a natural instinct to be compassionate to others. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute discovered that infants help others even though they are too young to have learned about being kind and polite. The children take action because of their own motivation, and not because they expect a reward. Actually, humans have evolved over time to be compassionate, and our brains are now wired to respond to those who are suffering. Kindness has become a “survival of the fittest” trait, as Charles Darwin even advised that “communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.” In other words, the better we get along and help each other out, the more successful our society will be. Do children continue to show compassion as they grow? A breakthrough study by psychologists at the University of British Columbia determined that young children are happier to give

than to receive. Toddlers who were asked to give away their own treats expressed greater happiness when they shared with others. The researchers interpreted the results of this study to mean that anytime people participate in pro-social behavior, such as volunteering and giving charitable donations, we experience an increase in happiness. Children have the foundation to be kind, but it’s our job as parents to continue to nurture this part of them as they grow. If we neglect to do so, negative life experiences can unfortunately tear down this beautiful instinct.


Numerous studies have uncovered several ways that giving enhances our children’s lives.

BOOSTS HAPPINESS When we make others happy by giving a gift or our support, we experience a physiological change called a helper’s high. It is a euphoric physical sensation resulting from our brain releasing chemicals called endorphins. According to Psychology Today, the helper’s

high is a literal “high,” similar to a drug-induced sensation. It makes us feel good naturally, giving us a rush that leaves us elated and excited. This positive energy is similar to how we feel after exercising.

IMPROVES HEALTH Research shows that giving leads to better health. In his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University, explains that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness. In addition, a 1999 study led by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley suggests that giving may improve physical health because it helps reduce stress. Finally, a 2006 joint study by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee indicated that people who helped others had lower blood pressure than participants who did not.

PROMOTES SOCIAL CONNECTION Several studies suggest that when we give, our generosity is ultimately rewarded by others. These positive actions promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens

our relationships. Moreover, we feel a bond towards those who we help. All of this is important because having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health.

ENCOURAGES AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE When we give to those in need, we feel a sense of gratitude because it puts things in perspective. Volunteer work is a great opportunity for our children to appreciate what they have and gives them a glimpse of the broader world. Meanwhile, gratitude is another very important ingredient for happiness and good health.

GIVES CHILDREN THE OPPORTUNITY TO INSPIRE OTHERS Those who are on the receiving end of a good deed typically want to pass along that positive feeling and help others. Researcher James Fowler at the University of California, San Diego found that just one act of kindness can inspire several more acts of kindness by others. In this case, children have the opportunity to be mentor to others, inspiring a chain of kindness and compassion. December 2020

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From our family to yours,

Happy Holidays! Visit us to find the perfect holiday gifts for your loved ones.


bluewillowbookshop.com (281) 497-8675



Teaching our children how to pay it forward is easier than you may think. There are endless opportunities to volunteer as a family and to give our children meaningful experiences that will enhance both their lives and the individuals they help. Here are some tips on how to incorporate giving into your children’s lives.

DISCUSS HOW THEY CAN HELP Find a few minutes during your day to ask your children who they would like to help. Provide some options like babies, animals, people without homes, children who do not have families, students who need books, or the elderly. Talk about the different types of projects you can do to help those in need. For some inspiration, read books about giving and kindness to your children.

TALK ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF CHARITABLE GIVING If you choose to start a monetary collection for charity, consider creating or buying giving boxes for each child. Ask them to set goals about how much they would like to give throughout the year and which organizations they would like to donate to. Check in weekly or monthly throughout the year to see how close they are to reaching their goal.

HELP YOUR CHILDREN DISCOVER THEIR PASSION Our passion should drive how we give because when we are excited about a project, we can put all of our heart and soul into it. Also, when we care about what we are working on, we will get more out of it and feel happier. Help your children identify their talents, skills, and interests that they can put to good use.

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GIVE AS A GROUP Volunteering during a community service event with others accentuates the happiness boost because you are also building social connections.

CHOOSE PROJECTS CLOSE TO HOME Giving to a place locally where you can actually see and experience the results is most effective. Studies have also found that we are happiest when we give to a charity through a friend, relative, or social connection rather than simply making an anonymous donation to a cause half way around the world.

FIND WAYS TO VOLUNTEER AS A FAMILY By volunteering as a family, you make giving a priority and build it into your children’s daily routine. There are so many ways that you can give together, and if you don’t find something out there that you love, create it yourself. You can find volunteer opportunities for your family by checking your local government website; searching for local charities in your area; asking friends and neighbors; or visiting sites like Idealist, VolunteerMatch, and JustServe. There is certainly no shortage of ways to help others. The next time you feel like your child’s playroom or bedroom closet is going to explode, ask them to fill a bag with items to give to kids who could really use them. By providing our children with opportunities to give, they will be happier and healthier and have the power to pass along that goodness to so many people. Sandi Schwartz is a freelance writer/blogger and mother of two. She has written extensively about parenting, wellness, and environmental issues. You can find her at www. happysciencemom.com.


HOLIDAY BREAK READS Valerie Koehler, owner of the Blue Willow Bookshops, shares her favorites, visit BlueWillowBookshops.com

A Polar Bear In The Snow

by Mac Barnett

Follow a magnificent polar bear through a fantastic world of snow, shockingly blue sea, over the ice, past Arctic animals and even a human....Where is he going?

A Long Road On A Short Day

The Joyful Book by Todd Parr

by Gary D Schmidt

Whether it’s celebrating a holiday, sharing a meal, or learning new things, The Joyful Book inspires readers of all ages to spread the joy near and far, to loved ones and friends.

On a short winter day, Samuel and his father enter into a series of trades with neighbors and strangers until they come home with a brown-eyed milk cow for Mama.

Learn How To Avoid Santa’s Naughty List!

Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Meet Myrtle Hardcastle, a wickedly smart 12-year-old with a keen interest in the new tools of criminology and a nose for murder in her Victorian English village.

The Naughty List by Michael Fry

Far From Normal

When Bobbie’s bumbling efforts to save her brother’s Christmas actually land him on Santa’s Naughty List, she travels to the North Pole to make things right again.

by Becky Wallace

Sick of living in Normal, Illinois, and being the ‘normal’ sibling of a genius brother, Maddie hopes to turn her summer job into her way out of her normal situation.

Perfect Gift For Your Favorite Cook

Great Teen Read!

The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma

The Flavor Equation demonstrates the science of flavor and how to convert approachable spices, herbs, and commonplace pantry items into tasty, simple dishes.

Wake Up Grateful by Kristi Nelson

This inspiring book illustrates the power in moving from momentary gratefulness to gratitude that becomes a whole way of life.

The Atlas of Christmas by Alex Palmer

Discover the fascinating (and sometimes downright odd!) ways that people and nations celebrate Christmas, and share their unique traditions with family and friends. December 2020

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family life | F E AT U R E

18 Budget Friendly

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS written by Sarah Lyons | photos by Chubby Cheek Photography

Tis the season for shopping for presents, cooking fancy meals, decorating our homes for the holidays, and celebrating with friends and family. The holidays are a fun and exciting time but all of that fun can start to stretch the pocketbook. No matter your budget, families can still enjoy meaningful holiday traditions.

Photographer: Chubby Cheek Photography www.chubbycheekphotography.com Instagram @ chubbycheekphotography houston family magazine


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MAKE COOKIES FOR SANTA (AND FOR OTHERS) Bake some special cookies for Santa but set aside a few dozen for local firefighters or police officers and deliver them with your kids.


HAVE A CHRISTMAS MOVIE MARATHON Watch your favorite Christmas movies as a family while enjoying some popcorn, hot cocoa, and candy canes.



Check the needs of a local food pantry and help them stock up on items that can be used for holiday dinners.

MAKE AN ORNAMENT Make a new ornament, as a family, each year. When the kids move out, they will have a box full of decorations for their own tree. Easy ideas could be salt dough ornaments or filling a plastic ball with photos, ticket stubs, or glitter and adding the date.


CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN Create a homemade advent countdown with construction or scrapbook paper.


HOLIDAY TUNES Play Christmas music each morning as you are getting ready for your day.


LIGHTS TOUR Load up the family car and go on a tour of Christmas light displays in the area.



FAMILY PAJAMAS Pick out matching pajamas for the whole family to wear on Christmas morning. For a lowcost option, use plain colored t-shirts and basic flannel pants.


BLESS OTHERS Have the kids pick out a new toy to donate to a local charity that provides gifts to children in need. Also consider sorting through old toys and clothing to donate to charity before any new gifts arrive.


VISIT SANTA Take the kids to visit Santa or write him a letter and mail it.


COAT DRIVE Start a coat drive by going

through your coat closet and donate items no longer needed with those less fortunate. Collect new socks, hats, and gloves in your community to donate as well.


GO ON A SLEIGH RIDE A sleigh ride is a great way to get in the holiday cheer. Don’t forget the hot cocoa.


CAROLING Gather friends and family together and go caroling in your neighborhood or at a local nursing home.


HOLIDAY HUNT Fill Easter eggs with Christmas candy or hide candy canes around the house and let the children find them.


MAKE REINDEER FOOD Mix rolled oats with red and green sugar sprinkles. Have the kids sprinkle it on the lawn before bed for the reindeer to

snack on while Santa is visiting your home.


CHRISTMAS READS Collect Christmas books, wrap them in festive paper, and have the kids open and read one each day leading up until Christmas. Consider adding one new book each year.


CAMPOUT After trimming the tree, get out the sleeping bags and “campout” under it for the night.


CHRISTMAS BREAKFAST Make a big breakfast Christmas morning. Make a breakfast casserole that can be prepared the night before, letting you enjoy the morning with your family. Sarah Lyons is a mom of six children, including six year old triplets. In her limited free time she enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time outside with her family. December 2020

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family life | F E AT U R E

Finding a Dog to Fit Your Family’s Lifestyle PLAN AHEAD TO REAP THE REWARDS OF A LOVING FAMILY PET written by Kimberly Blaker

Every year thousands of dogs are turned over to animal shelters because they were given as a gift without first consulting the gift recipient – or families discover they brought home a biter, barker, digger, or jumper. When pets are given away, the pets, their owners, and children all suffer. So before selecting your dog, do your homework. With a little pre-planning, you can find the dog that most closely fits your family’s or gift recipient’s lifestyle.

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VARIETY OF DOGS, VARIETY OF NUISANCES Dogs can create many nuisances. Some of these are more common in particular breeds. A barking dog helps protect against intruders. But excessive barking can become a problem. Some breeds known for their barking include the Alaskan Malamute, American Water Span-iel, Bassett Hound, Finnish Spitz, Fox and other Terriers, Great Pyrenees, and Miniature Schnauzer. A playful, energetic puppy can make a great playmate for your child. But as your puppy grows, that hyperactivity could become overwhelming. Highstrung dogs often jump on peo-ple and tear through the house. Certain breeds tend to maintain that high energy level well into their adult size bodies. Such breeds include Airedale Terriers, Boxer, Brittany, Cocker Spaniel, Dalmatian, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter,

Jack Russell Terrier, Labrador Retriever, Pointer, and Schnauzer. Dogs dig for many reasons—to bury a bone, to escape from a fenced yard, to keep cool, or out of boredom. A torn-up yard can be the last straw for many dog owners. The following breeds tend to be diggers: Fox Terriers, Norwich Terrier, and Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. Dogs can be aggressive for a variety of reasons. Poor breeding, physical abuse, and even disease can cause aggression in a dog. Certain dominant breeds can also tend toward ag-gressiveness if not handled by a firm and skilled handler. Choose these dogs with caution and the understanding they require strong leadership: Akita, American Pit Bull Terrier, Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Chow Chow, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, Siberian Husky, and Weimaraner. Grooming is another consideration. While it may sound painless, the upkeep of certain breeds can be overwhelming. In addition to keeping claws trimmed and an occasional bath, some dogs require lengthy daily brushing to remove

tangles or trapped fur in double coats. High maintenance breeds include the American Eskimo, Cocker Spaniel, Collie, Great Pyrenees, Lhasa Apso, Old English Sheepdog, Poodle, Schnauzer, and Terriers.

TRAITS TO LOOK FOR IN A FAMILY DOG Many unforeseen problems are avoidable by finding a dog that’ll be easy for your child to handle so your child can assist in training. Easy trainers include American Water Spaniel, Australian Shepherd, Bichon Frise, Cocker Spaniel, Irish Setter, Italian Greyhound, Maltese, and Shetland Sheepdog. Calm, gentle breeds are essential for families with small children. Keep in mind size alone doesn’t dictate these traits. Gentle breeds you might consider are Bassett Hound, Beagle, Bearded Collie, Chinese Crested, Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundland, and Mastiff. Playful and energetic puppies work well for older children

who won’t feel threatened by the dog’s full-grown size. Consider an American Eskimo, Bloodhound, Brittany, Dalmatian, Golden Retriever, Irish Wolfhound, Labrador Retriever, Pointer, Poodle, Saint Bernard, or Schnauzer. There are many other traits to consider in choosing a new dog. Before bringing home your puppy, read a book or articles about the breed that interests you to determine if it will fit your family’s lifestyle. For personalized assistance in choosing a breed, go to http:// www.selectsmart.com/DOG/ or one of the many other breed selection sites. You’ll be guided through a series of questions and receive a free personalized list of matches.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 800,000 people, mostly chil-dren, are bitten annually severely enough to require medical attention. Infants and small children

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Looking to Adopt? Check out the Houston SPCA!

Pet adoptions will take place at the Houston SPCA by appointment only. Visitation appointments can be made by calling 713.869.SPCA between 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days a week. Every adoption package at the Houston SPCA is valued at around $500 and includes the pet’s microchip, spay or neuter surgery, up-to-date vaccinations, a free wellness veterinary exam at any VCA Animal Hospital, and a free sample-sized bag of Hill’s Pet Nutrition. In addition, if an available pet is heartworm positive, the Houston SPCA and VCA will pay for the treatment. All available pets at the Houston SPCA can be found here: www.houstonspca.org/ adopt/available-pets/

shouldn’t be left alone with a dog. It may be hard to picture your lovable Fido as capable of hurting your child. But even the gentlest dogs have been known to bite. Little kids sometimes get too close to a dog while it’s eating or chewing a bone or startle a dog while it’s sleeping. Sometimes, small children hang on dogs, pull their tails, or threaten a dog’s safety. This can lead to injury to either the dog or your child. Also, dogs view their families as part of their pack. houston family magazine


December 2020

A properly trained dog should view adults and older children as alpha (top dog). But a dog isn’t likely to see a small child in this light and may wield its authority when no one’s around. Apartment living is another consideration. The size dog you choose is vital to both your dog’s well being and to maintain your sanity. High energy and medium to large breeds gen-erally need large areas to romp. Without it, your apartment could become a round-the-clock racetrack. Planning regular walks for these dogs may not be sufficient. You’ll tire long before your dog. Also, there will be occasions when you aren’t able to accommodate your dog’s need to exercise. The costs of pet ownership should also be weighed out. First, there are obvious costs, such as pet food and annual vaccinations. Other expenses include licensing, monthly heartworm pills, chew toys, damaged belongings, fencing, training, unexpected veterinary expense, grooming, kenneling, and more. If your family has members with bad allergies or asthma, check with your doctor before bring-ing any furred, feathered, or finned pet into your home. Finally, keep in mind no matter how sincere your child’s intent to care for his new pet, it’s a big responsibility. Ultimately, parents take the brunt of the work. Also, the holiday season may not be the best time of year to bring home a new dog. Families are generally too busy during the holidays to give a new pet the attention it needs. Choose a season when you’ll be able to spend plenty of time with your new dog as it adjusts to its new home.

WHERE TO FIND YOUR DOG The Humane Society, an animal shelter, or an accidental litter of pups is a great place to find your dog at an affordable price. Giving a home to a dog

that might otherwise be put to sleep or caged indefinitely, and not contributing to the overpopulation of dogs by buying from breeders, are good reasons to go this route. Most often, you’ll find mixed breeds through these methods. Mixed breeds are less likely to inherit the diseases and disabilities often common in pure breeds. Keep in mind though, sometimes these dogs are strays or weren’t properly cared for by their original owner. If a dog didn’t receive proper vaccinations, it could be at risk for disease. A dog that was abused by its previous owner could also pose risks. Ask the animal shelter what it knows about the dog’s history. Another way to find your new puppy is through a breeder. Taking home a puppy whose his-tory is known and hasn’t been exposed to a poor environment is a plus. But caution should be used even when buying from a breeder. While most are in the business for their love of the breed, there are plenty of exceptions. Some breeders are only interested in profits and have little knowledge or concern for good breeding and proper care of pups. This can lead to dogs with poor temperaments, genetic disorders, or disease. Ask plenty of questions, request references, and ask to see the pup-pies in their normal environment. According to the American Kennel Club, some things to watch for when selecting your pup-py include a runny nose, watery eyes, fever, or disease in the litter. If any of these condi-tions are present, look elsewhere. Avoid a puppy that trembles and is shy or one that shows a bad temper. Also, understand that a kennel designated “AKC Reg.” doesn’t mean it has the American Kennel Club’s stamp of approval. It merely means the dogs are registered as being purebred. Finally, keep in mind that puppies should remain with

their mother until six weeks of age, and preferably 8.

TRAINING TIPS No matter how careful you are in selecting your pet, chances are, your puppy will develop a problem or nuisance behavior. Prevention is the first step. Around six months, your puppy will be old enough for an obedience course. Teaching your puppy the basics will make it easier to manage problem behaviors. If you can’t take a class, purchase a dog-training manual and stick with it. If your dog shows signs of aggression, talk with a professional trainer or your veterinarian. Depending on the cause, there may be a simple solution. But if your child’s safety becomes an issue, your only option may be a new home for your pet. Whether your dog ends up with a new owner or in a shelter, make sure you explain the rea-son for giving your dog away, so it ends up in the proper environment. For other problem behaviors, there are several good books to help tame your dog. Decod-ing Your Dog: Explaining Common Dog Behaviors and How to Change or Prevent Unwant-ed Ones by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, provides many helpful techniques. Contrary to popular belief, never hit, kick, or swat a dog with a newspaper. This can lead to aggressiveness or increase already aggressive behavior. Most importantly, try to understand and accept your pet’s imperfections and adjust your home accordingly to reduce aggravations. In time, your dog will learn to accept the house-hold routine and become a part of it. Kimberly Blaker is a freelance lifestyle and family writer. She’s also founder and director of KB Creative Digital Services, an internet marketing agency, at kbcreativedigital.com

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Sweet & Sudsy sweetandsudsy.com




01. Terrarium Candle | Zoe Tang’s irresistible hand-poured cactus and poppy candles are meticulously detailed and smell heavenly. $25.00 • uncommongoods.com. 02. Tabasco Sauce Keychain | Perfect for the Texan who likes to add a little spice to everything they eat. $11.88 • amazon.com. 03. Constantin Brainteasers | Move the ball through Jean Claude Constantin’s laser-cut maze of tiers, corridors, gears, and more. $20.00+ • uncommongoods.com. 04. Tile Pro 2-Pack | Never lose your stuff again with the highperformance finder ideal for backpacks, keys, luggage and more. $56.00 • amazon.com. 05. Sweet & Sudsy Bath Soaps for Kids | Making bathtime a time full of of wonderment and whimsy. $5.00+ • sweetandsudsy.com.

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06 07 01. Tech Chambray Shirt Jacket | Your new go-to warm and comfortable Tech Chambray Shirt Jacket for chilly fall and spring days. $129.00 • orvis.com. 02. Playbook Matte Poster | Celebrate your favorite team’s best moments. $14.00+ • playbookproducts. com. 03. Pioneer White Dial Leather Strap Bundle | Have him keep time in style. $279.00 • nordgreen.com. 04. Playbook Slate Coasters | Deck out your mancave with these playbook inspired coasters. $40 • playbookproducts.com. 05. Black Lava with Gemstone Accent | Made of genuine black lava beads. $60 • monicamauro.com. 06. Harry’s On-the-Go Gift Set | Featuring our Toiletry Bag in a seasonal green that just about matches the mistletoe. $45.00 • harrys.com. 07. Esker Parliment Wallet + Tracker Card | Protect your cards against skimming. $96.00 • ekster.com.

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05 06


Jayden Lane Boutique (Magnolia & Tomball)



The Salted Hippie Boutique (League City)

04 07 01. Deepa Lashes Duo Kit | 100% vegan lashes. $48.00 • shopdeepa.com. 02. 2021 Signature Planner | Plan the new year right with this 17 month fabric planner complete with a protective sleeve. $30.00 • hadronepoch.com. 03. Tech Chambray Shirt Jacket | Tech chambray and eco-friendly insulation make our women’s shirt jacket a cool-weather go-to. $129.00 • orvis.com. 04. Buffalo Plaid Weekender Bag | Festive for the holidays and perfect for that quick weekend getaway. $49.99 • jaydenlane.com. 05. Carol Buffalo Check Top | Look and feel great this holiday season with this soft and comfy buffalo check top with v-neck and bishop sleeves. $42.99 • jaydenlane.com. 06. Vela Lovers Set | Enjoy the entire line of Vela Negra candles. $85.00 • thevelanegra. com. 07. Feliz Navidad Tee | Celebrate Feliz Navidad with this soft grey short sleeve tee. $30.00 • thesaltedhippie.com.

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the holiday guide | S P E C I A L S E C T I O N 01




01. Side Trak Swivel | The double, portable laptop screen, take dual monitors anywhere. $324.99 • amazon.com. 02. Hybrid Smartwatch HR Charter Black Leather | Stylish and functional! This watch acts as an activity tracker and more. $195.00 • fossil.com. 03. Logitech Combo Touch | Backlit keyboard case with trackpad and smart connector for iPad. $149.99 • logitech.com. 04. Logitech Powered Stand | Wireless charging stand for phones, AirPods and more. $59.99 • logitech.com. 05. Embr Wave | The first bracelet that keeps you feeling the perfect temperature, wherever you are. $299.00 • embrlabs.com.

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01. Evereden Newborn Starter Bundle | Nontoxic, gentle skincare for your precious newborn’s needs. $67.00 • ever-eden.com. 02. Crimson Ribbed Long Sleeve Ruffled Henley Romper | Keep your baby warm and festive all winter long. $38.00 • poshpeanut. com. 03. Bodhi Diaper Changing Backpack | Equipped with an integrated changing station, this bag is designed to fold out in seconds. $129.00 • papercliplife.com. 04. W2 Multifunctional Double Stroller Wagon | Perfect for kids and parents on the go! $389.00 • wonderfoldwagon.com. 05. Little Partners Limited Edition Learning Tower | Designed to provide a secure environment for a child’s imagination to be stimulated and blossom. $239.99 • amazon.com. 06. Clatterit Wooden Clutch by HABA | This sturdy wooden clutching toy fascinates babies with its stimulating, colorful plastic rings that clatter when shaken. $12.99 • amazon.com. 07. SideKick Plus 3-in-1 Hip Seat Carrier | The adaptable SideKick™ Plus 3-in-1 Hip Seat Carrier makes carrying easier and more comfortable for both parent and child. $99.99 • chiccousa.com.


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the holiday guide | S P E C I A L S E C T I O N 01



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01. EZLY (60”) Burrito Tortilla Taco Blanket | Love Mexican food? Imagine wrapping yourself in our ultra-soft giant burrito blanket and become a tortilla, taco, tostada, quesadilla, enchilada, burrito or taquito. $26.99 • amazon.com. 02. Slackers Ninjaline 36’ Intro Kit | Play in the air and learn to train like a real ninja. $99.99 • b4adventure.com. 03. Little Partners Tri-Side Art Easel | Perfect for coloring, painting and playing. $129.99 • amazon.com. 04. myFirst Bone Conduction Wireless Headphones | Smart sounds for smart kids. $79.90 • amazon.com. 05. Lokks | Say goodbye to tying and retying shoelaces. $12.95 • lokks.co. 06. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 10 Second Challenge | This game brings all the fun from the bestselling, award-winning book series to life. $19.99 • amazon.com. 07. Hadron Epoch Face Masks | Hadron Epoch translated the fun, stylish prints of their stationery into the essential face mask. $16.00+ • hadronepoch.com. houston family magazine


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04 06 01. EOS M200 Content Creator Kit | Perfect for teens interested in taking their social media video skills to the next level. $649.99 • target.com. 02. Loog Pro VI Electric Guitar | With its slim neck and accompanying app, the Loog Pro VI Electric guitar is the perfect guitar for beginners ages 12+. $199.00 • loogguitars.com. 03. Loog Pro VI Acoustic | Perfect for kids 12+ learning to express their love of music. $149.00 • loogguitars.com. 04. Loaded BoardsCoyote | Sneak past the guards. Shred all the gnars. $199.00+ • loadedboards.com. 05. Marvel Avengers PS4 | Marvel’s Avengers is an epic, third-person, action-adventure game that combines an original, cinematic story with single-player and co-operative gameplay. $59.99 • https://store.playstation.com. 06. Wicked Dog Apparel | An assortment of stylish threads for your teens. $35.00+ • wickeddogapparel.com.

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06 01. Shark IQ Robot™ Vacuum with Self-Empty Base, Wi-Fi & Home Mapping | Forget about vacuuming for weeks. The Shark IQ Robot Self-Empty™ combines the convenience of a self-empty base with IQ Navigation™ for complete, efficient cleaning with the performance of Shark® suction and a self-cleaning brushroll. $399.99 • sharkclean.com. 02. Whiskey Leatherworks Collar & Leash | Whisky Leatherworks uses artwork to elevate the dog collar from ordinary to exceptional. $35.95 each • orvis.com. 03. Link AKC Plus Smart Dog Tracker | A built-in GPS and activity tracker pairs with your phone to ensure that your pup is safe and healthy, and the leather strap will keep him looking stylish, too. $79.99 • amazon.com. 04. Embark Breed Identification Kit | Find out what your dog’s DNA says about his or her breed, ancestry, and more. $129.00 • embarkvet.com. 05. Orvis Airfoam Bolster Dog Bed | Introducing the next generation of ultimate canine comfort. $255+ • orvis.com. 06. Wolfgang Man & Beast Dog Accessories | Take your dog out in style with collars, leashes, harnesses and more. $19.95+ • wolfgangusa.com.

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04 05

01. The Original Firedisc Portable Propane Cooker | Fire it up and gather around anywhere! Texas Founded & Based. $349.99 • firedisccookers.com. 02. Selk’bag | The original wearable sleeping bag. $169.00 • selkbagusa.com. 03. The Cozee | Battery operated heated blanket. $249.99 • life-giving-warmth.myshopify.com. 04. Kahtoola Exospikes | EXOspikes™ footwear traction sets a new standard for versatile winter traction that delivers true cross-terrain performance for trail runners and hikers. $59.95 • kahtoola.com. 05. Pioneer Inflatable Paddle Board Package | The best inflatable stand up paddle board for beginners. $595.00 • islesurfandsup.com.

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the holiday guide | S P E C I A L S E C T I O N





01. Okaysou AirMax8L Air Purifier | Keep your home’s air clean and fresh. $119.95 • okaysou.com. 02. Bose Sleepbuds II | Not only do they help block out noise, they also stream soothing noises from a library of curated sounds on the Bose sleep app. $249.00 • amazon.com. 03. Purple Royal Seat Cushion | Make sitting at work all day a more comfortable experience. $79.00 • purple. com. 04. Grade® For Kids | A Balance board for kids who need to keep moving. $79 • fluidstance.com. 05. Food Marble | Take the guesswork out of eating. Digestive science, pocket-sized. $159.00 • foodmarble.com.

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03 01 02





01. Perini Ranch Steakhouse Stories and Recipes for Real Texas Food | Bring the legendary tastes and hospitality of this quintessential Texas restaurant to your own home. $35.00 • periniranch.com. 02. Lion Tamer Cabernet Sauvignon | This Cabernet Sauvignon brings all the roar of Napa Valley. $65.00 • hesscollection.com. 03. Lone River Ranch Water | This hard seltzer beverage is the perfect drink for sipping on with family and friends during the holiday season. $8.99 six pack • loneriverbevco.com. 04. On The Rocks Premium Cocktails | All natural, ready to serve cocktails crafted for your enjoyment without the hassle. $9.99+ • ontherockscocktails.com. 05. Gardenuity Container Gardens | Grow strong where you are. $72.00+ • gardenuity.com. 06. The Unofficial Hogwarts for the Holidays Cookbook | Chocolate Frogs, Cauldron Cakes, Treacle Tarts, Butterbeer… Harry Potter’s wizarding world knows good food. $19.95 • amazon.com. 07. Wisconsin 2020 Thanks-For-Giving Gift Basket | A delicious gift for yourself or someone you love. $80.00 • fromagination.com.

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family life | F E AT U R E

Photographer: Linzy Pelt, LP Photography https://lp-photography.com/ Instagram @linzypelt

Gifts Kids Can Give on A Small Budget written by Sarah Lyons

There is nothing more heartwarming than a gift made by a child. Handmade gifts are affordable, fun to make, and can be given to parents, grandparents, teachers, and siblings. Here are some gifts that are sure to make someone special smile this holiday season. PRINTS All you need is a child’s cooperation, some paint, and a little creativity to make a gift that will be cherished for years. Handprints, fingerprints, and even footprints can be used to make a variety of crafts and art. Websites like Pinterest are full of ideas of houston family magazine


December 2020

how to make a handprint into a picture of Santa, a Christmas tree, reindeer, or snowmen. There are literally hundreds of possibilities. Try putting your child’s prints on an apron, ornament, tea towel, oven mitt, or T-shirt to give to a special someone. Make sure to follow the directions on the paint to ensure that the design lasts for

years. As a bonus, your kids will love getting messy during the process.

TASTY TREATS Kids love to help out in the kitchen, so why not put together some tasty treats for some sweet people in your life? Get the kids involved in

the holiday baking and put together a plate of cookies the kids can help deliver to a neighbor or friend. Putting a homemade cookie mix into a mason jar also makes an easy gift that kids can help with. Finish the jar with a holiday bow and instructions and it’s ready to be delivered.



Photos make a favorite gift for any proud aunt, uncle, parent, or grandparent. Get kids involved in picking out favorite photos from the past year and putting them into a collage with handmade drawings or a poem. Try making a scrapbook page that can be framed for a special gift. Picture frames can be made with decorated popsicle sticks, clay, or an existing frame can be painted or decorated with mosaic tiles, buttons, or other craft supplies. Affordable frames can be found at local thrift stores or the dollar store.

Do you know someone who needs some rest and relaxation? Try mixing equal parts white or brown sugar and olive oil for an easy sugar scrub that is a great gift for anyone who deserves a day at the spa. There are many recipes for homemade soaps, sugar scrubs, and bath salts available online. Many can be mixed together in just minutes and cost very little to make. This luxurious gift may be quick and affordable, but it is sure to make your recipients feel loved and appreciated. There is great value in teaching kids to give gifts to others. They learn to be generous, thoughtful, and experience the joy of giving. They also learn the important lesson that gifts do not need to cost a fortune to be cherished.

PERSONALIZED GIFTS Nothing is more thoughtful than a gift made to fit the recipient’s personal tastes. Talk to your child about their favorite hobbies and tailor the gift to their interests. For example, use permanent markers to decorate golf balls for the golf lover in your life, decorate a plain coffee mug for the coffee lover in the family, have your child create a special bookmark for the bookworm you know, or use fingerprints to decorate wooden utensils for your favorite chef. Kids can also use scrapbook paper, stickers, craft supplies, and cardstock to make custom stationery. Making personalized gifts also helps teach kids to be observant of other’s interests that may be outside their own.

UTILIZE BEADS Beads are an affordable and versatile craft item that can be used for a variety of gifts. Small children can string beads on a pipe cleaner to make a candy cane or cross ornament. Older children can make personalized jewelry or key chains for loved ones. Pony beads can be melted to make into a suncatcher, mobile, or even a bowl. With beads, you can give your child some ideas and let their creativity lead them.

Sarah Lyons is a mom of six children, including six year old triplets. In her limited free time she enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time outside with her family.

PEPPERMINT SUGAR SCRUB Looking for a great gift to make with the kids for their teachers or a special family member? Check out this simple 3-Ingredient Peppermint Sugar Scrub by Rebecca Hubbell of Sugar & Soul. THINGS YOU’LL NEED FOR THIS DIY Jars with Lids, Mini Wooden Spoon or Scoop, Ribbon or Decorative Twine, Gift Tags, Peppermint Oil, Coconut Oil and Granulated Sugar. Note: There are many different types of coconut oil, you should use cold-pressed and unrefined coconut oil for this recipe.

INGREDIENTS: • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil • 1 cup Granulated Sugar • 12-15 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

Nutiva Coconut Oil $17.99 www.amazon.com

INSTRUCTIONS: • Melt coconut oil in a medium bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds and let cool for 5 minutes. • Stir in sugar and essential oil until evenly combined. • Package up into air-tight jars.

For more festive holiday inspired sugar scrubs head over to Sugar & Soul’s website at www.sugarandsoul.co

Weck 762 Jelly Jars, 6 set $23.95 www.amazon.com Holiday Desserts Good Essential Fragrance Oil Set $13.99 • www.amazon.com

30 piece Mini Wooden Bath Salt Spoons $11.88 • www.amazon.com December 2020

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family life | F E AT U R E

Failing Our Kids and A (New) Day Off written by Mike McDonell of KidVenture

There is something at stake right now that is more important than politics, policy, and who right or wrong. That something is attuned to our every action, our rhetoric, and our example we set. That something hangs on our every word, looks to us for leadership, love, and example, and will grow to emulate us. Right now, we are failing them miserably. That someone are our kids.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off | Paramount Pictures houston family magazine


December 2020

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. -ferris bueller’s day off

Without a doubt the year of 2020 has brought us more challenge, more anguish, and yes, more divisiveness than ever. Over 210,000 human beings in the United States have died of COVID-19, over 7 million have contracted the virus, and it’s not going away any time soon. On the surface one might entertain the idea that because we are faced with such a tragic challenge as Americans, we would pull together and find a path forward to help defeat this killer. But we haven’t. In fact, it’s been politicized and used to divide an already divided country that struggles over race relations, immigration, and tribalism. And while we’ve tuned in to the never-ending train wreck of rhetoric that consumes our twitter feeds, Facebook accounts, and our news source, we’ve tuned out the example and the repercussions it’s causing our kids who are not only tuned in to their feeds, but more importantly – to us.

PICTURE THIS FOR A MOMENT Most of us (adults), spent the better part of our childhood whittling our time away as youth, learning to skateboard, cruising the mall, hanging out at the movies, and doing our best to emulate the life of Ferris Beuller. Because after all, Ferris

knew how to handle himself. After Vietnam and prior to 9/11 our greatest tragedies were minimal (in comparison) and our run of life-changing events was pretty much non-existent (spare a few). Not so for our kids. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll call our ‘kids’ those 24 years old and younger. Here is only some of what they have experienced: • 1999: Columbine High School mass murder • 2001: Attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon • 2003: Iraq War • 2006: Virginia Tech Shooting • 2007: Great Recession • 2011: Death of Osama bin Laden • 2012: Sandy Hook school mass murder • 2016: Orlando night club mass murder • 2020: Covid-19 • 2020: (Likely) Coronavirus Recession

Their paradigm and world view are drastically different than ours as kids. While we were worried about getting a mullet or not, they were worried about their school being shot

up while practicing ‘Shelter In Place’ drills. If you ask someone my age what they remember seeing on tv as a kid, they might tell you The Breakfast Club or the Brady Bunch. If I ask my oldest daughter, she’ll tell you the towers falling in Manhattan. Now, layer the domination of the mobile phone and internet and the never-ending access on social media to images, video, and commentary and you begin to get a pretty good picture of what our kids have been dealing with.

NEED STATS? Prior to this pandemic, our youth were experiencing the highest rates of anxiety and clinical depression ever. According to the National Institutes of Health, anxiety disorders in adolescents increased 20 percent from 2007 to 2012. Today, 1 in 3 teens will experience an anxiety disorder. The percentage of teens who experienced at least one major depressive episode increased rapidly at about this same time. Today, 1 out of about every 5 girls reports experiencing symptoms. Startlingly, the suicide rate for young people ages 15 to 19 increased by 76 percent from 2007 to 2017 and nearly tripled for adolescents ages 10 to 14.

THE LESSON IS CLEAR So here we are in what might be considered the most stressful and divided time we have ever faced. Our kids, whose footing is already precarious, are watching us with a level of anxiety that should not be present in their young lives. So, rest assured, when we as parents buy in to the fear, participate in the divisiveness all around us, and throw civility out the door, we’re not just reacting – we’re teaching. When we let our emotions get in the way of the facts, then what we are doing is educating our kids to do likewise and preparing them to handle future challenges without confidence, maturity, and a respect for others. Recently in my own community there have been lines drawn. One side are parents that seek to get their kids back into schools at any cost. The other side wants a more cautious approach and one that takes into account the safety and wellbeing of not only the kids but teachers and staff to a much greater degree. Normally the two opposing views would be hashed out, community members would speak at school board meetings, and points would be presented on both sides in a quest to find common ground. Not today. Today, some call into question

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the character of others or ‘where they come from’. Some devise false conspiracy theories to undermine neighbors, and still others throw trash at one another rather than rely on the merits of their argument and an underlying civility with which to deliver those. The same dumpster fire that is raging on a national stage has taken up roots in our neighborhoods, in the carpool lines, and the stands of high school football stadiums. Even more now, our kids are learning.

SO, WHAT WOULD FERRIS DO? We have got to wake up (like Ferris did) with a brand-new plan for the day, one that seeks to bring others together as opposed to dividing them even more. We need to wake up and use the challenges of the day as an opportunity. That takes confidence, that takes courage, and that takes respect. But isn’t that what we should be teaching our kids? Our generation of children wakes up every morning with an uneasy uncertainty. The ground they walk on feels like thin ice, with the next shattering underfoot just around the corner. And why wouldn’t they feel like that with the tragedies that have unfolded on their Instagram and the climate of separation all around us. The only thing they can truly count on to counter

act all that uncertainty, and all that anxiety, and all that lack of hope, is you, their parent. It is time each of us start teaching our kids that no matter what the challenge that faces us, there is no reason for embracing the ‘fear’. The fear wants you to undermine your neighbor. The fear wants you to post hate behind the safety of a screen. The fear wants you to only talk and never to listen, and the fear wants you to demonstrate fear to your kid, so your kid grows up to be fearful. And who the hell wants that for their child? As parents, we’ve been given the gift of raising a child. That gift requires you to demonstrate a code of ethics, a moral compass, and a way of living that passes that on to them. So, take this great challenge we are all experiencing and use it to raise your kid to be secure, to be confident, and to do likewise for others. They need it more than you can imagine right now. Give them hope, show them kindness by showing it to others, and put solid ground back under their feet. After all, ‘life moves pretty fast’, our kids do too, and you don’t want to miss your chance. Mike McDonell is a father of three and the founder of KidVenture Camp. Learn more at www.kidventure.com

Bueller... Bueller... Bueller... houston family magazine


December 2020

mind body and soul | E D I T O R I A L

A Different View, A Wider Lens

A holiday of comfort and joy


written by Elizabeth Irvine

or years, my children and I have played a game whenever we see a FedEx truck. Imbedded in the letters of the logo there is an arrow. To see it, you have to look at the letters in a different way—soften your gaze and see past the letters to find the arrow resting inside. My kids could spot it right away, and they’d laugh, “Aw come on, Mom—you can’t see it?!” And then one day, sitting in a line of going-nowhere traffic, a FedEx truck pulled up next to me. Having nothing else to claim my attention, I relaxed and looked into the logo. The arrow emerged clear as day. Now that I know how to look, I see the arrow right away; I just had to “get it”. The day I saw the arrow so clearly it gave me a wonderful analogy, a great example to really understand how essential it is to step back each day and see myself, and my relationship to others from another perspective, a different view— a wider lens. Perhaps our children are more aware of their innate ability than us moms? Just as my kids could spot the arrow right away, it took me a few more times. Now more than ever, why not step into this holiday season with child-like wonder wearing a new pair of technicolor glasses. Through your new vision, see and feel more peace, compassion and joy. What if the more challenging the moment, the more untapped hidden opportunity lies within it. Each and every one of us holds the power to reframe our own present moment: to stay in balance and create health and happiness from the inside out.

IT IS COMPLETELY POSSIBLE TO FEEL GOOD Think of a time when you feel you are at your best—plenty of energy, clarity, and just plain happy? To feel this way is your natural state. Give your power to what and who empowers you. Choose your family. Choose your experience. Choose your rituals. Every day choices create your reality. Do your best to make healthy eating choices, exercise as a stress-buster, get enough sleep and be gentle on yourself and others. These pillars of positive health allow us to feel happy more often. And, when we feel good, that feeling ripples out to our babies, our families, everyone we come in contact with. Join me, choose a new and different view for a holiday of comfort and joy.

Elizabeth Irvine: Nurse, educator and award-winning author. She is the founder and owner of Truewellbeing Inc. December 2020

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i am houston| E M P O W E R E D H O U S T O N I A N S

Chris Hutchison, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Alley Company Member for 15 years. Plays Bob Cratchit Elizabeth Bunch, Huntington West Virginia Alley Company member for 15 years. Plays Mrs. Cratchit and The Ghost of Christmas Past Mack Hutchison, 11 Houston- 6th grader at T.H.Rogers playing Tiny Tim Noble Hutchison 8, Houston- 3rd grader at T.H. Rogers playing himself in a few quick cameos

Elizabeth Bunch Alley Company member

APPEARING WITH HER FAMILY IN ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ @ ALLEY THEATRE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON This month, we have a rare opportunity to speak with a local mom whose entire family is following their passion and appearing together in the local production of ‘A Christmas Carol’. Elizabeth Bunch and Chris Hutchison have both been performing as members of the Alley Theater for the last 15 years. Now, they get to share their love of acting with their boys, Mack & Noble, who appear with them this holiday season. houston family magazine


December 2020

We caught up with Elizabeth to ask her a few questions about what this year has been like for her family, if she can offer advice for other families with kids who want to act and why they call Houston home.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW THE KIDS WANTED TO ACT? WERE YOU AND/ OR YOUR HUSBAND CHILD ACTORS? Both kids are essentially growing up in the Alley Theatre. They love being backstage and consider the staff and crew at the Alley to be their family too. It was pretty clear from an early age that Mack had no fear being in front of people. That confidence, coupled with the fact he is a natural ham, means that we really can’t keep him away from performing. He

dreams about going to HSPVA for high school. Noble is around the theater so much I think he eventually got curious about trying it out. Around our house he is the straight man most of the time. We spend dinners with the three of us trying to get him to laugh. However, he has the most amazing and vibrant imagination. It may turn out that he will be the greatest artist of all of us! Both Elizabeth and Chris started at a pretty young age in school or community theatre. In fact, my first play ever was at about age 10 playing one of the Cratchit children in a community theater production where my father, Fred Bunch, played Bob Cratchit. So, this play has really come full circle in my family!

HOW LONG HAS THE FAMILY BEEN ACTING TOGETHER? This is Mack’s fourth year doing A Christmas Carol, but last year was the first time all four of us were in the Alley’s production of A Christmas Carol together. It was Noble’s first play and he was Tiny Tim. Mack played several roles including the boy at the end of the play who goes to get the huge turkey. We are hoping that turkey prop makes it into the digital version. It has always been a favorite with the kids in the show. It has been very special to not only have our kids in the shows with us but that both of them have actually played the role of Tiny Tim while we play Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit. Almost every one of our family members travelled to Houston last year to see us all on stage in A Christmas Carol.

DURING THIS CRAZY YEAR, WHAT HAS IT MEANT TO YOU TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS PRODUCTION TOGETHER AS A FAMILY? It is pretty special for Mack since this is a new version of the show that only features one kid, him, as opposed to a big cast of kids which is what past productions have had. He feels pretty special to be just one of two people in this show who are not members of the Resident Acting Company. But in many ways, I think it means the most to us. It is incredible to get to share what

we love and are passionate about with our kids. Plus, we are so excited that we can share this with out-of-town friends and family during the holidays since most people are not traveling this year.

WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE CRAZIEST STORIES THAT HAVE COME OUT OF EVERYONE IN THE HOUSE PURSUING THIS PASSION? It was pretty wild to balance virtual school and filming in our house at the same time. Some of Mack’s scenes are in the same room where he was doing his online classes. So, we marked in tape on the floor where all the lights, camera, and sound equipment needed to be for filming. The minute school was done he would go change clothes and we would frantically set everything up so he could start to work! The house was filled with furniture and props and costumes. The kids had to live on a makeshift film set for a few weeks. Sometimes that meant turning their computer cameras off if they needed help with schoolwork because I was dressed like the Ghost of Christmas Past and they didn’t want their whole class to see me. It also meant we shouted “Rolling” and “Cut” to the entire house about 50 times a day so the kids would know not to call out for us or walk into the living room and ruin the shot.

ARE THE KIDS STUDYING VIRTUALLY OR ARE THEY GOING TO SCHOOL IN PERSON? We have opted for virtual thus far. It has been a hard decision, but it was great that Mack could finish up with his last class of the day and throw his costume on and start filming!

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO OTHER MOMS WHOSE KIDS WANT TO GET INVOLVED IN THEATER? The rewards are great, but the day to day can be hectic. Odd hours, long days during tech, making sure homework gets done. There are wonderful classes and teachers in this city that can help aspiring actors or budding theater artisans. I think the trick is keeping competitive environments to a minimum and the opportunity to see and participate in live theater at a maximum. Kids live in a digital world that can feel very judgmental these days. Live theater that encourages thought and imagination can be a huge benefit in this world.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE FAVORITE PRODUCTION YOU HAVE EVER BEEN IN? This is always such a hard question to answer. We are so lucky to have been in so many fantastic shows at the Alley Theater and many other theaters around the country too. However, this is such a scary and precarious time

for the performing arts. Our industry has been hit so hard by COVID-19 and the inability to gather safely together. I feel certain that the favorite production of my career will be the one when we can be onstage again with a real audience. That is the moment that I am dreaming of the most.

WHY DO YOU THINK HOUSTON IS A GREAT PLACE TO RAISE A FAMILY? I am so happy that our kids are growing up in a city with so many resources. Whatever interest a child develops there is always a way to foster that curiosity somewhere in the city. Between the museums, the performances, and the restaurants, our kids are exposed to so many ways to learn and grow. We are so proud of their interest and understanding of the cultures that make Houston so special.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO AS A FAMILY WHEN YOU ARE NOT WORKING? Right now, we have to get the kids out of the house and active with no school. Chris is playing a lot of frisbee with the boys and there are lots of long family bike rides. We love visiting the new Eastern Glades in Memorial Park and the fabulous trail along Allen Parkway and the Bayou. My parents recently relocated to Houston and the thing that brings me the most joy is the boys getting to have their grandparents nearby.

REGISTER HERE for the FREE viewing link www.surveymonkey.com/r/alleycarol The free virtual production of A Christmas Carol, presented by ConocoPhillips, is a gift to the entire Houston area.

A highly inventive, digital adaptation of the Dickens classic, pared down to its essential elements. A resident company of actors assemble online to perform a new production of the heartwarming Christmas story. With everyone performing from home, creating a magical world of holiday make-believe is no easy feat. The socially distanced troupe brings this holiday classic to imaginative new heights. It will be A Christmas Carol like no other. Please consider a donation to the Alley Theatre so we can continue to bring the magic of Theatre to you. December 2020

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holiday CAMP


How will you know which camp is the best fit for your child? There are a number of factors to consider. Among the most important questions to ask, however, are whether the camp will have activities that appeal to your child, and how comfortable you both are with the camp environment. When it’s the right one, kids have a great time and come home with many happy memories. Check out our holiday camp spotlight for camps offered during Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.

ALLIANCE FENCING ACADEMY Ages 5-14 Dec 21-24, 2020 Alliance Fencing Academy’s winter camps are an opportunity for your child to have fun while picking up skills that will last a lifetime. Our camps are ideal for parents looking to help their children maximize their time off during holiday breaks with different sessions for all levels.


Locations in Houston & The Woodlands www.alliance-fencing-academy.com

CAMP ALLEN Family Camp Nov 6-8, 20-22 and Dec 11-13 Camp Allen is offering (2) different camps this holiday season. Fall Stays are available two weekends in November. The family can retreat out to the Piney Woods on Camp Allen’s 1200-acre compound for a couple of days of fishing, hiking, biking, tennis and more! Or, head on out his December for Holiday in the Pines! This is one for the books! Ziplining, Rock Climbing, Archery, Sledding, Horseback Riding and more! Plan to be sipping hot chocolate around the campfire with your family under the stars in Navasota. www.campallen.org

Bring Back the Joy Thanksgiving Camp and Winter Camp

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December 2020

KIDVENTURE.COM 713.960.8989

KIDVENTURE Ages 3-11 Nov 23-24 and Dec. 21-23 and 28-30 Kidventure’s Holiday Camp is a 26 year Houston tradition. We’ve crafted two amazing Holiday Camps for kids. Each is designed to make your child’s time off extra memorable, fun, and rewarding. Kidventure will be providing both Thanksgiving Camp and Winter Camp at select Houston locations. Be a part of the magic and make your camper’s holiday one they will never forget. Numerous Houston locations www.Kidventure.com

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ACADEMY Ages 5-15 Dec. 21-24 and Dec. 28-31 TNBA Houston Holiday Basketball Camp are an excellent way for boys and girls of all ages to improve their game and have a blast at the same time. During our basketball experience, the participants will learn a variety of drills to make him or her a more complete basketball player. All aspects of the game will be covered and coached by our highly trained and qualified TNBA coaches. The kids will have a chance to use what they learned in a variety of fun competitions. We hope you join us this Holiday and take your game to the next level! https://tnbabasketball.com/rockets/#register

Join us for an action-packed, faith-filled week of summer camp! Located on 1,100 forested acres one hour north west of Houston, Camp Allen provides affordable, over night camping experiences for ages 8-18.



PINECOVE CHRISTIAN WINTERFEST Grades 1-12 Dec 18-20 What better way to celebrate Christmas than by decking the halls with friends, old and new, all weekend? Use code HFM2020 to receive 15% off the price! 2 Locations – East or Central Texas www.pinecove.com/winterfest/

YMCA GREATER HOUSTON Ages 5-12 Thanksgiving and Winter break camps Beyond the bell! School breaks will be here before you know it! Join us for our YMCA Holiday Camps where your child will have a blast participating in a wide-array of enrichment activities, fun and games. Camp at the Y is about discovery. Kids will find unknown talents, try new activities and make lasting friendships and memories. Space is limited, so register in advance! 26 locations – Check for specific dates & times www.ymcahouston.org



Enroll Today For Boys & Girls Ages 5 and Up • Teenagers & Adults Home of 4 World Champions, 2 Olympic Medalists and over 30 US National Champions


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the big to do

TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo Photo by Ouh La La Photography www.facebook.com/OuhLaLaPhotography

If you’re lucky enough to be in Houston in December, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most magical events of the year. The city sparkles with a million fairy lights, and hundreds of decorated trees line our neighborhoods for a magical atmosphere you won’t want to miss!

All events listed are FREE unless otherwise noted.

DECEMBER 1 Teach you Tuesdays: DIY your own mesh wreath Are you looking for classes that inspire, motivate, and teach you? Midtown Houston is partnering with Pop Shop America to teach us how to DIY your own vision board. facebook.com/midtownHOU Virtual 5:30pm. All ages

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December 2020

Choose-n-Cut Christmas Trees at Dewberry Farm (through Dec.13) The Christmas tree forest awaits — it’s a short wagon ride away! Come out to choose-n-cut a tree that we’ve been growing just for you. Several varieties! dewberryfarm.com Dewberry Farm Various times. All ages. Heights and prices vary.

DECEMBER 2 Movie under the stars: The Night Before Forget about trekking to the theater for your movie fix, head to Market Square Park for a free outdoor screening. marketsquarepark.com Market Square Park 7pm. All ages

DECEMBER 3 Blue Willow Storytime Join us each Thursday virtually as we read stories, sing songs, and do an art activity. The themes change weekly. www.bluewillowbookshop.com

10am. Age: toddlers and preschoolers.

D ec emb e r 2 02 0 Moody Mansion (through Dec.31)

Holiday Market (Dec.4-6)

To help children learning from home this year, students in 4th and 7th grades, are invited to study Texas history other social studies – along with subjects like architecture and decorative arts – in a safe, no-touch environment. www.moodymansion.org

Levy Park’s Holiday Market will kick-off December with three days of outdoor cheer. Levyparkhouston.org

Moody Mansion, Galveston 9am-5pm. Last tour is at 4pm. All ages. Free admission limited to students accompanied by a paying adult.


Levy Park 3-8pm. All ages

Fill Santa’s Sleigh Christmas Parade Decorate your vehicle and drive by for a festive good time to ring in the holiday season. Cookie decorating kits will be passed out in exchange for a donation. Limit one cookie per person in attendance. hcp4.net

DECEMBER 7 Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary Escape to this small but enchanting nature sanctuary for a reprieve from the city. Within its 17.5 acres of hardwood and pine forest and freshwater habitats, the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary provides an important home for native wildlife. houstonaudubon.org Edith Moore Nature Sanctuary 7am-7pm. All ages

Big Stone Lodge, 709 Riley Fuzzel Rd., Spring 1-3pm. All ages

Constellation Field, Sugarland Every day. Opening/closing times vary All ages. Adult tickets starting at $15, senior $12 and youth $12.

Santa decided t give his reindeer some rest and asked if he could borrow our PT17 Stearman for a Houston visit! Guests will be able to take photos with Santa and our Stearman, make ornaments and coloring pages. lonestarflight.org Lone Star Flight Museum Activities and events are at various times, check the website for details. All ages. Admission ticket is required.

A Baroque Christmas (Dec.4-6) The Symphony and guest vocalists present famous arias from Handel’s Messiah, music from Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, and more in this special holiday performance. houstonsymphony.org Jones Hall or Livestream at home 8pm or 2:30pm All ages. Ticket prices vary

DECEMBER 9 Nature Story Time and Discovery Center Deck the Trees (through January 3, 2021) The spectacularly decorated trees will be on display so Houstonians can continue to enjoy this joyful holiday tradition. The stunning Signature Tree will captivate Houstonians with its gorgeous Frozeninspired decorations. alleytheatre.org

Enjoy storytime on the front lawn of the nature discovery center. Please bring your own blanket. naturediscoverycenter.org Nature Discovery Center 4pm. Age: 0-5


Levy Park 1pm. All ages

Alley will provide a free gift to the city of Houston by producing a digital production of A Christmas Carol. alleytheatre.org Live stream Various times. All ages

Reflecting on some of the most pressing topics facing American democracy, States of Mind: Art and American Democracy encourages dialogue around current social and political issues. Discoverygreen.com Discovery Green All day. All ages

Holiday in the Gardens through Jan. 2, 2021

Stroll through Festival of Lights, a milelong trail of illuminated holiday displays, live music, festive food and more. Other attractions include an Arctic Ice Slide, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4D experience, Holiday 3D films and train rides. Moodygardens.org

Gaylord Texan’s Lone Star Christmas through January 3, 2021

Enjoy the magic at Gaylord’s winter wonderland with 2 million lights, a 54foot-tall Christmas tree, family events of snow tubing, gingerbread decorating corner and build-a-bear workshop. Christmasatgaylordtexan.com

Sip hot chocolate as you stroll through the beautiful Houston Zoo. Interact with Candy the Zoo Lights Zebra presented by HEB, take a selfie on a giant ice throne, and take a socially distanced photo with Santa in his workshop. Houstonzoo.org

Tap your toes as you travel through the rhythms of the holidays. Levyparkhouston.org

States of Mind: Art and American Democracy (until Dec. 19)

Visitors will have the opportunity to get a socially distanced photo with Santa as Mr. Claus. On Fridays and Saturdays, guests can enjoy Movies at the Museum in the courtyard. galvestonrrmuseum.org

through January 10, 2021

Holiday concert in the park: Blue Gnus

A Christmas Carol by by Alley Theatre (Dec. 4 to Dec.27)

The magical story comes to life the minute the train departs the Palestine Depot for the journey to the North Pole on select days in November and in December. texasstaterailroad.net/events/ polarexpress/

Zoo Lights

George R. Brown Convention Center All day. All ages


through Dec. 27

through Dec. 23 Stearman Santa at the Lone Star Flight Museum!

Celebrate the season in the most magical way at the 7th annual Sugarland Holiday Lights cooled by Just Fix It! This sparkling wonderland features more than 3 million lights and numerous themed displays. sugarlandholidaylights.com

The Polar Express

A Railroad Christmas


Sugarland Holiday Lights (through Jan. 3, 2021)

Our Favorite Holiday Family Events

Dew The Lights!

Happy Hanukkah Blue Willow Storytime Join us each Thursday virtually as we read stories, sing songs, and do an art activity. The themes change weekly. www.bluewillowbookshop.com

through December 27 Cut-your-own Christmas tree! Enjoy a whimsical Christmas Village with twinkling lights, garlands, ribbons and tinsel! Hop on a wagon for a ride through the woods to see a spectacular Christmas lights show — the magical Trail of Lights! dewberryfarm.com

10am. Age: toddlers and preschoolers.

December 2020

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the big to do | C A L E N D A R O F E V E N T S DECEMBER 11


Very Merry POPS (Dec. 11 – 20)

The Menil Collection

This year, we need a little holiday cheer more than ever, and the Houston Symphony’s Very Merry POPS is the perfect way to get in the spirit of the season! Michael Krajewski leads treasured carols and fun-filled favorites that will have you humming along. houstonsymphony.org

Take a walk around the cluster of buildings that make up the museum art which spans over 30 acres in the heart of Houston. Between the various buildings that hold art collections, there are several green spaces beautified by contemporary sculptures. menil.org

Jones Hall or Livestreamed from your home 8pm or 2:30pm. All ages. Ticket prices vary

DECEMBER 12 Holiday with the Cranes Bird lovers can learn about them and see them up close. A presentation and selfguided field trips on the island’s West End is included. galvestonnaturetourism.org

DECEMBER 16 Nature Story Time and Discovery Center Enjoy storytime on the front lawn of the nature discovery center. Please bring your own blanket. naturediscoverycenter.org Nature Discovery Center 4pm. Age: 0-5


Trains Over Texas at the HMNS (through Jan.3, 2021)

Duke Family Christmas Light Show (through Dec.25)

Create holiday memories by travelling across Texas by model railroad in this scratch- built O-scale model. Destinations include oil country salt domes, prairies and wetlands of the Texas coast and state and national monuments. hmns.org

Head to the Duke Family Christmas Light Show for a special evening of 60+K lights all synchronized to music! dukefamilychristmas.com/index.html

Take a serene walk with the kids through the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park to chill out on a sunny afternoon. It’s stone paths, waterfalls, bridges and sculptures make for a nice stroll. hermannpark.org Japanese Garden in Hermann Park All day. All ages

DECEMBER 15 VIRTUAL Children’s Story Time

Sugarland Town square 6:30pm. All ages

Family Day at the Ocean Star: An Offshore Holiday The term “Christmas Tree” means something very different in the Oil and Gas Industry. Come find out what it is while learning about polymer chains. Create a model of a simple carbon chain, using red and green construction paper—fit for your very own holiday tree! www.oceanstaroec.com Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum 10am-3pm. All ages. Children have free admission every second Saturday

Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Clear Lake The parade features more than 60 brightly decorated power and sailboats that will traverse the Clear Lake channel. galveston.com Kemah 6pm. All ages

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December 2020

Try a virtual Family Capoeira class, a unique Afro-Brazilian martial art that develops discipline, coordination, strength, and rhythm. Instruction is provided by the Brazilian Cultural Institute and is open to family of all sizes and skill levels. facebook.com/midtownHOU


Houston Japanese Garden

It’s a holiday tradition! Bring your family, friends and lawn chairs to the Plaza to enjoy a holiday favorite and animated classic. sugarlandtownsquare.com

VIRTUAL Family Capoeira

Virtual 10am. All ages

The Menil collection All day. every day. All ages.

14014 Hartford Heights Way, Rosharon 6pm. All ages

Santa Hustle Half Marathon & 5K

Museum of Natural Science All day. Every day. All ages

Holiday Movie Under the Moon: The Grinch


Enjoy a virtual sing-a-long and reading and a special reading from iWrite Literacy Foundation. midtownhouston.com Virtual 11:30am. All ages

Woodforest presents Merry & Bright Tour of Lights (through Dec. 31) Bring the family out to see three miles of shimmering holiday displays. From Christine Allen Nature Park to “Santa’s Workshop” where on Saturdays there will be take-home cookie decorating kits, jingle bells, hot cocoa and reindeer food. woodforesttx.com/merryandbright 251 Central Pine St., Montgomery 6-8pm. All ages

A Railroad Christmas with Rosenberg Library Enjoy night of Christmas magic as you stroll through the walk-through storybook ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas created by GISD Texas ACE students & hop aboard a real train for a ride. rosenberg-library.org Rosenberg Library, Galveston 5pm. All day

The Muppet Christmas Carol Bring your blankets and get into the holiday spirit with the Muppets take on the classic Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge with appearances from your favorites including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Fozzie the Bear. marketsquarepark.com Market Square Park

DECEMBER 17 Blue Willow Storytime Join us each Thursday virtually as we read stories, sing songs, and do an art activity. The themes change weekly. www.bluewillowbookshop.com

It’s not just a race. It’s a magical experience. With festive music, outrageous holiday decorations, and thousands of runners dressed like Santa, come join the race. santahustle.com/galveston/ Virtual Anytime. Any age.

DECEMBER 21 White Christmas at the Cockrell Butterfly Center The Butterfly Center is undergoing a winter wonderland transformation just in time for the holiday season! hmns.org Museum of Natural Science All day. Every day. All ages. Admission ticket starts at $12.

10am. Age: toddlers and preschoolers.

DECEMBER 18 Craft: Holiday Wishes With Christmas around the corner, it’s time to get those wish lists started! Come by Big Stone Lodge to pick up a new do-at-home craft. hcp4.net Big Stone Lodge, 709 Riley Fuzzel Rd, Spring 2:30pm. All ages

Looking for even more fun things to do during the holidays? Check out our



D ec emb e r 2 02 0 DECEMBER 22 Women’s Restorative Hike This beginner-friendly, one-hour hike through Mercer’s gardens and forest is for those who believe in the restorative power that nature has on the mind, body, and spirit. Mercer Botanic Gardens hcp4.net/parks/mercer 8-9am. Age: 18+

DECEMBER 23 43rd annual Prestonwood Forest’s Nite of Lights (through Dec.27) Prestonwood Forest invites you to judge which streets and houses have the best and most award-worthy holiday decorations. prestonwoodforestonline.com Prestonwood forest neighborhood 6pm. All ages


Christmas Eve Ideas for Family Time

• Read The Night Before Christmas together as a family • Bake Cookies for Santa • Live stream your favorite Holiday Concert Series • Have a Holiday Movie Night • Drive around to see Holiday Lights in surrounding neighborhoods • Enjoy a Bonfire, roast some marshmallows and make s’mores


Houston Museum of Natural Science at the Park Investigate Texas Wildlife and see how animals have adapted to survive in our diverse state! Discover the unique features of each land region – from the humidity of the Gulf Coast, to the arid mountains of West Texas, to the flat plains of Central Texas between. Levyparkhouston.org Levy Park 2pm. All ages

DECEMBER 27 Garden Railroad Run Days at Rosenberg Railroad Museum Thomas the Tank Engine is chugging through Garden Railroad Run Days on the fourth Sunday of the month at the Rosenberg Railroad Museum. rosenbergrrmuseum.org Rosenberg Museum 1-4pm. All ages

DECEMBER 28 The Reading Circle Our read-a-loud book club meets twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays and features the book club Narrator reading a chapter or two from the current selection. houstonlibrary.org Virtual 4:30pm. Age: 8+

DECEMBER 29 Space Age Christmas Trees Visit over 100 vintage aluminum Christmas trees been showcased under one roof in all of their gleaming and glimmering glory. 1940airterminal.org 1940 Air Terminal Museum, 8325 Travelair Blvd. All day. All ages

DECEMBER 30 There is still time to head out to zoo lights at the houston zoo!

Merry Christmas





Santa’s Village at Dewberry Farm HOLIDAY LIGHTS Winter Lights Event Get into the holiday cheer at The Marriott Marquis for their Texas Winter Lights Event, an interactive walk-through or float-under light experience available on the 60,000 square-foot Parkview Terrace. marriott.com/hotels/travel/houmqmarriott-marquis-houston/ Marriott Marquis Houston Monday-Thursday for non-registered guests, 5:00 - 10:00pm. All ages. Tickets are $5 for children age 2-6 and $15 for ages 7 and up.

Annual Nite of Lites in Prestonwood Forest (Dec.12-27) Drive through subdivision in NW Houston for the annual Nite of Lites event. Visitors can drive through the community weekdays till 10 pm and weekends till 11 pm to view Christmas lights with themed streets. www.prestonwoodforestonline.com

River Oaks Christmas Lights and Santa Sightings Enter River Oaks from Kirby at Shephard or Westheimer and wind your way through the neighborhood to marvel at enclaves of shimmering wrapped trees, glowing deer, and stunning landscapes. River Oaks Country Club, Willowick, and Del Monte. www.facebook.com/ RiverOaksChristmasLights/

Christmas lights in The Woodlands Most neighborhoods in this area will have decorated homes and streets that are show-stoppers but start at the Panther Creek and Alden Bridge neighborhoods for over-the-top Christmas light displays set to music. www.hellowoodlands.com/guide-tochristmas-lights-in-the-woodlands/

Christmas Katy

New Year’s Eve Happy Kwanzaa

Located at 24603 Stoughton Court off I-10 and Pin Oak in West Houston. It features more than 50,000 LED lights, a 32-foot tree, 10-foot Nutcrackers, and a Christmas show with 17 synchronized songs broadcast on 89.9 FM. The whole street is lit up and beautiful as neighbors are also a part of the show.

Pecan Grove Lights in Richmond This Fort Bend neighborhood is known for its Christmas lights. Kids often get to see the lights on hayrides through the streets. Plantation Drive is the main thoroughfare through the community.

Spring Shadows Another popular destination for Houstonites looking for Christmas lights, Spring Shadows on Quincannon Lane features its’ annual Candy Wonderland light display.

Tanglewood Neighborhood (Galleria area) Enjoy an evening out with family and friends as you take a walk on the pedestrian path that starts on Sage Rd. and San Felipe to view the neighborhood homes light up with twinkling Holiday lights.

CHRISTMAS TREE FARMS Dewberry Farm dewberryfarm.com

7705 FM 362, Brookshire

Spring Creek Growers springcreekgrowers.com

23803 Decker Prairie-Rosehill Road, Magnolia

Red Caboose Christmas Tree Farm

14558 Tree Farm Road, Magnolia redcaboosetrees.com

Holiday Acres


9029 Mustang Bayou Road, Manvel

High Star Christmas Tree Farm highstarfarm.com

19020 Becker Road, Hockley

Old Time Christmas Tree Farm oldtimechristmastree.com

7632 Spring Cypress Rd. Spring

Double Creek Farm


1288 Oakdale Loop, Livingston December 2020

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the big to do | C A L E N DA R O F E V E N T S N O W E X H I B I T I N G | M U S E U M C A L E N DA R


e d u t i grat thank you to all of our colleagues,clients, readers, family and friends for all that you do to make us who we are.

s ’ n o s a se s g n i greet

r a e y new AND A HAPPY

from all of us at


Houston Museum of Natural Science photo: Brandy Dykes photography



Temporary Hours of Operation

Wednesday 11am-5pm, Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday & Saturday 11am6pm, Sunday 12:30pm- 6pm Monday- closed except selected holidays, Tuesday – closed

Inaugural Installations: Kinder Building The Nancy and Rich Kinder Building is dedicated to the Museum’s international collections of modern and contemporary art. Through December 31, 2021

Glory of Spain: Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library The collections of the New York–based Hispanic Society Museum & Library focus on the art and culture of Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and the Philippines, from antiquity to the early 20th century. Through January 3, 2021



Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm., Sat. 10am5pm., Sun. 12-5pm

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom The U.S. premiere of Mandela: Struggle for Freedom, a rich sensory experience of imagery, soundscape, digital media and objects, explores the earthshaking fight for justice and human dignity in South Africa – and its relevance to issues of today. Through January 3, 2021

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December 2020



9am-5pm Mon-Sun

Cockrell Butterfly Center Embark on a tropical adventure in a living butterfly habitat! The rainforest conservatory, complete with thousands of live butterflies, tropical plants and a zen waterfall is enjoyed by guests of all ages.

Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life The exhibit delivers a breathtaking encounter with the inner workings of the human body and shows the effects of poor health, good health and lifestyle choices. October 17 – May 31, 2021


www.thehealthmuseum.org Hours: Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm., Thurs. 9am-7pm., Sun. 12-5pm

Admission: $10 adult, $8 senior 65+, free for children under 2 FREE on Thursdays 2-7pm

GEAR UP: The Science of Bikes This interactive exhibition tells the story of the bicycle from inception to present day. Visitors learn how bikes work; what the history/evolution of the bike is; the science and technology behind the machine; and how bikes have impacted our culture. Through May 21, 2021



iLoveChristmasMoviesDallas.com NOW - JANUARY 3 A CHRISTMAS STORY, NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS and all related characters and elements © & ™ Turner Entertainment Co. (s20) ELF and all related characters and elements © & ™ New Line Productions, Inc. (s20) THE POLAR EXPRESS and all related characters and elements © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s20)

December 2020

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For everything from annual checkups to managing chronic conditions, taking care of your health should always be a priority. Houston Methodist primary care doctors are still available to provide personalized care for you and your family — safely. We offer a variety of convenient ways to get care from us, from same-day sick visits to extended hours at select locations. And, you can be confident that we are taking every necessary precaution to keep you safe during your visit, including: Screening all patients, and seeing COVID-19 patients virtually only — allowing us to treat everyone safely

Ensuring social distancing in waiting rooms

Wearing masks while providing care

Offering video visits with your doctor

Enhanced cleaning of equipment and surfaces

Adding evening and Saturday hours to space out appointments

houstonmethodist.org/pcg Call or text: 713.394.6724 houston family magazine


December 2020

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