Houston Family Magazine January 2021

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JANUARY 2021 | Vol. 33 | Issue 1










SCHEDULE AN IN-PERSON OR VIRTUAL VISIT TODAY Routine checkups are essential to long-term health. That’s why Memorial Hermann Medical Group has put enhanced safety measures in place at all locations. Whether you opt to see your doctor in person or through a Virtual Office Visit, you can get the care you need with peace of mind. To schedule a same-day or next-day appointment, call 832.658.MHMG (6464).

Advancing health. Personalizing care. 2 | HOUSTON FAMILY MAGAZINE January 2021


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support local | H E L P I N G S M A L L B U S I N E S S

From humble beginnings at a kitchen table in Boston, MA in 1997 to over 50 locations throughout the country, Russian School of Mathematics is continuing to use a Russian solution to solve an American problem. Inessa Rifkin and Irina Khavinson came up with the idea for the school to help their own children. Today, those same principles apply to all of their locations. There are no franchises. All of the locations are led by gifted and talented teachers who are ready to lead. It is this philosophy the fosters the quality and depth of instruction that you cannot find many places. You’re probably wondering, ‘What is Russian Math?’ According to historic Russian tradition - the study of mathematics is the preeminent tool of mental development. The top academic minds of the Soviet Union were then tasked with developing a curriculum and methodology with this tenet at its core. The resulting methods and textbooks came to be used by elite schools globally including in China, India, Singapore, and Europe. The RSM program is based on this approach and adapted for the U.S. educational environment.

BRINGING TOGETHER ART, AWARENESS, AND ADVOCACY! Turtles About Town is a community art project that highlights the City of Galveston and the conservation efforts of Turtle Island Restoration Network to protect endangered sea turtles on the upper Texas coast. Turtle lovers of all ages have the opportunity to see 50 colorful Kemp’s ridley sea turtle statues that have been installed around the island since 2018. Businesses, individuals and organizations graciously sponsor the turtle statues while local artists are commissioned to give each one its own personality and meaning.

Their unique approach consists of a consistent K-12 curriculum. They use the rigorous study of mathematics to develop students’ math fluency, intellect, and character. Students are guided to think about mathematics logically and conceptually, building deep connections between concepts, all in an environment of their peers that keeps them consistently challenged. It is this foundation that truly sets them apart.

Download a FREE map and go on a tour at seaturtles.org/turtles. Be sure to tag Turtle Island Restoration Network in your images (@TIRN-Gulf on Facebook and @TIRN.Gulf on Instagram) and tag #TurtlesAboutTown!

For more information, visit www.russianschool.com.

seaturtles.org 4 | HOUSTON FAMILY MAGAZINE January 2021



Vivaldi Music Academy, bringing the love of music one lesson at a time.


What can you, as a parent, do to optimize your child’s successes in learning throughout life?


What you can do to help your child to learn the value in making mistakes.

10 14




A look at education options in the Houston area and the effects Covid-19 has had on our district.

21 WINTER GOT YOU DOWN? Got the winter blahs? Banish winter yuck with a few of these nourishing self-care tips.


Make this the year to get in control of your life, after a year spent in the throes of a pandemic and a version of the unknown none of us could have predicted.


Are we just setting ourselves up for failure? Here's some tips to help you make 2021 a little better.


For many, getting a solid night’s sleep is as elusive as winning the lottery. Here are some great tips to help you get better rest.


Left: Natalya loves gymnastics, playing piano, and art crafts. Her favorite popsinger is Dua Lipa.

As you’re planning your holiday vacation, how about doing some good while also having fun.

Right: Alex Pavlovic enjoys performing in violin and piano, and loves fencing.


Whether you’ve been assigned to another country for work or long to globetrot with your family for other reasons, you may wonder how realistic an international move is, especially with kids.

photo by Quy Tran Photography

IN EVERY ISSUE 6 PUBLISHER'S NOTE So long 2020, Hello 2021!






12 local Houston businesses with products and services worth your support.

Check out our favorite products for educational growth

Blue Willow Bookshop shares their book picks to help you start the new year


Explore all the great things happening in the Greater Houston area in January

Elizabeth Irvine talks about her latest book, Language of the Soul

Letter from the editor See ya 2020!


It’s been a year of do-overs. Every task seemed to take twice as long to get done. Two steps forward, two hundred steps back. Families have suffered financial setbacks. Kids have suffered from virtual learning. Businesses have shuttered. Loved ones have been lost. It has truly been a difficult year the likes we never seen.

Kimberly Davis Guerra kim@houstonfamilymagazine.com

associate editor

Chantal Lemieux chantal@houstonfamilymagazine.com

creative director/ production

Casey Johnson casey@houstonfamilymagazine.com

So, it is with a heartfelt glee that I close the books on 2020 and look forward to a new day and a new year! My mind is filled with ideas and intentions for the new year. How about you??

contributing authors Kimberly Blaker Kimberly Davis Guerra Christa Melnyk Hines Elizabeth Irvine Valerie Koehler Jan Pierce, M.Ed. Courtney Wyckoff

contributing photographers

Brandy Dykes Photography Ouh La La Photography Quy Tran Photography

advertising sales Beverly Davis Tish Petty


Publication Printers Denver, Colorado

contact us:

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

ABOVE// Happy New Year!

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

Many of us practice setting New Year’s Resolutions every year. Is that something you practice? Sometimes it feels like those resolutions are so grand, that we are setting ourselves up for failure. This year, we encourage you to take a new look at those resolutions. Set yourself up for success by choosing realistic intentions and break them down to achievable goals. Our tips should help you look at these goals in a new light and achieve whatever it is you are looking to accomplish in 2021! Speaking of accomplishments, many of our kids have experienced failures this past year. This may have been a first for them. Take heart. There are even lessons in failing. In Jan Pierce’s article this month, she illustrates how they can benefit from failures and the repercussions. There is a silver lining. Looking towards the positive side is a gift. Help your kids develop that ‘can do’ attitude by boosting their IQ. It’s never too early to start working with them to encourage skills that will serve them well in all areas of their lives! You may feel like you need some help in this area, too. Is the ‘winter’ getting you down. Craving a new view? A new body? Why not get with MommaStrong.com’s Courtney Wycoff and kick off the year with a new workout? It will help all those endorphins start flowing and the happiness will follow! Wellness is the foundation of everything. Start taking care of you! Whatever it is you are looking to accomplish in 2021, we are happy to put 2020 in the rearview! This issue is dedicated to you starting off the year with a clean slate, a new attitude and new goals for you and your family. Our experts offer the resources you require to get things rolling! Our New Year’s Resolution is to continue to develop editorial, events, contests and information to educate, empower and entertain you and your family. We look forward to the promise of a new year with open minds, open hearts and open arms.

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.

Bring it on 2021! We are ready! Be well. Be safe. Be smart! All the best,


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





family life | E D I T O R I A L



photo by Quy Tran Photography

West U (3914 Gramercy St, Suite B) 713-858-9617 Bellaire (5305 Bissonnet St) 832-404-2299 Memorial (9311B Katy Freeway) 713-489-3646 Sugar Land (2115 Lone Star Dr) 346-330-2646


Discover the joy of music and

DREAM BIG this new year at Vivaldi Music Academy

Largest music school in the US, Vivaldi Music Academy opened in 2013 by father and violinist, Zeljko Pavlovic when he was searching for music lessons for his children, Natalya and Alexander. Vivaldi Music Academy expands to its fourth location in Sugar Land.


etting the new standard of music education, Vivaldi Music Academy is hitting high notes with music lessons and is expanding beyond Houston. Vivaldi Music Academy opened its first Houston location in 2013. In under seven years, the company has had tremendous growth – teaching thousands of music students of all ages and levels. Today, Vivaldi Music Academy has four locations in West University, Bellaire, Memorial and Sugar Land. Vivaldi Music Academy has made an impression on students and families through its incredible standard for music education, and its unique performance opportunities. “As a musician I wanted to

provide Vivaldi students the experience of performing in renown concert halls like Carnegie Hall and in 2015 our students made their debut. Since then, we’ve made it a summer tradition to play in historic concert halls.” Noted by Founder, Zeljko Pavlovic. Vivaldi Music Academy has performed in Venice, Italy at Vivaldi’s Church (Santa Maria Della Pieta), John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington D.C., Royal Academy of Music in London and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Expanding beyond Houston, Vivaldi Music Academy’s fourth location is set to open in Sugar Land this January. Pavlovic hopes to bring music into the homes of the Sugar Land community, provide wonderful


performance opportunities to an even more vast array of students, and continue proving the powerfully positive influence of music. All locations are open 7 days a week offering private music lessons in piano, violin, guitar, voice, cello, drums, and more! Group classes for guitar, children’s choir and early childhood music classes. Vivaldi Music Academy welcomes all ages and levels. Students can discover their passion for music with customized private music lessons, and garner opportunities to perform in some of the most highly recognized music halls in the nation. Start making music at www. vivaldimusicacademy.com and discover the joy today!

family education | F E AT U R E



BOOSTING YOUR CHILD’S IQ Developing a Can-Do Attitude written by Jan Pierce, M.Ed.

Here’s a hot topic for all caring parents. What can you, as a parent, do to optimize your child’s successes in learning throughout life?


ere’s a hot topic for all caring parents. What can you, as a parent, do to optimize your child’s successes in learning throughout life? We’ve all heard of the nature/nurture arguments which say a child is born with a certain learning capability and their environment merely promotes or inhibits reaching full potential. And, that is true. However, the most recent thinking in the world of learning is that the environment a child experiences has a great deal to do with whether or not a child reaches that full potential. Further, the attitude the child takes into school and learning all of life’s lessons determines how successful he or she will be.

It’s a fact that a child’s brain has reached 90% of its adult size before entering Kindergarten. The growth in the brain from birth to age four or five is amazing and much of a child’s learning success depends on healthy, positive learning environments provided during those first years. However the brain continues to organize and restructure information all through childhood and into early adult life. So what can you do to support the highest levels of learning for your child?

WHAT HELPS AND WHAT HURTS Lots of companies have produced products designed to increase early learning. Some have claimed babies can learn to read and others promote hours of screen

time to develop language, math understandings, music appreciation and much more. Most of these products have proven to be of little value if not actually harmful to early learning. We know now that screen time for children under the age of two can be detrimental to brain development. We also know that interactions with other human beings are the best way to promote language learning, basic literacy, math understandings and so much more. There are toys and games proven educationally sound. One of the best is simple blocks or other building/ connecting materials. Time spent exploring with such open-ended materials promotes cognitive skills. Some board games build math understandings such as one


to one correspondence and patterning, while some video games build spatial skills and working memory (the ability to hold, process and manipulate information while problemsolving). Any activity that promotes critical thinking skills (logical problem-solving) is time well-spent. But in general children learn best the “old-fashioned” way: they play, create, imagine, exercise, and explore while interacting with others in safe environments. They ask questions, make predictions and try out solutions to problems. They learn as they play. In American culture children are more motivated to learn when they have some choice in the subject matter. They seem to put out more effort and are willing to work harder and longer when they study something they love.


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WHAT MATTERS MOST Perhaps the most important new understanding in early learning is the fact that children can either shut down or expand their learning successes based solely on the way they think about themselves as learners. Children who believe they can’t improve their intelligence—“get smarter”— are far less able to enter any learning activity with a positive attitude. They tend to think they will either win or lose rather learn and grow. Even if they believe they’re “smart” they fear failure and thus define mistakes as proof of their lack of ability. Every learning task is another hurdle that means risking their learning reputation. On the other hand children who believe they can learn more and improve their understandings will enter a learning activity with a can-do attitude. Mistakes are seen as landmarks along the road to better understandings, not failures. (Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success) This concept can’t be overstated. A child’s mindset for learning can either open the door to an exciting world to explore and enjoy, or become a series of tests filled with worry, tension and potential failure.


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One of the ways to free your child from becoming a fearful learner is to refrain from praising their innate abilities, saying “You’re really smart at math.” This is tough. We’re used to telling our children how smart they are and praising their performances based on their capabilities in an effort to build self-esteem. But when children come to believe they’re only smart when they “get it right,” they learn that anything other than perfection is failure. Then any mistake is counted as a lack of intelligence rather than identifying an error as


exploration leading to further understanding. Your child needs to believe he or she can learn more. Instead, we need to praise a child’s efforts, perseverance and strategies. Instead of saying, “You’re a great artist,” you could say, I like the blues and greens in this drawing. You really worked hard on this.” The focus is on the product and the effort the child made creating it. Children do need praise, but they need the kind that builds resilience and that “cando” attitude toward learning. Rather than, “You’re really smart at math” you might say, “I can see you’ve been working hard on subtraction.” Or “You found a great way to get those answers.”

FREEDOM VS. FEAR Next time your child is immersed in a creative play activity, sit back and observe. I recently watched a three and a five year old as they played with blocks and miniature animals. They built fences and roads, and kept up a running commentary on what they were doing. No one argued with them when they put the shark into the cow pen. There was no right or wrong, no winning or losing, just healthy, imaginative play. As parents we can strive to build that kind of freedom into our child’s self-concept as a learner. Yes, there is a lot to learn. Yes, there are right and wrong answers. But also yes… he or she can keep learning and be successful with hard work and that ever-soproductive can-do attitude.

Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and freelance writer. She is the author of Homegrown Readers and Homegrown Family Fun. Find Jan at www.janpierce.net

family finds | T H E G O O D S T U F F ADVOCATE LITERACY VIRTUAL LEARNING TENT BY TRAVELING STORIES Traveling Stories has created the Virtual StoryTent that has taken off among the K-2nd grade crowd, a critical age to capture readers to improve their skills and interest in reading. In this “new normal” environment, children are matched with trained reading mentors for weekly, one-onone video sessions where they read and discuss books. In turn, children earn virtual book bucks that can be redeemed to buy prizes. Cool, right?

Sign Your Child Up: www.travelingstories.org/vst/#interest Learn More: www.travelingstories.org

GIVE THE GIFT OF MUSIC LOOG GUITARS Loog is a line of guitars designed to make it fun and easy to play music. They come with an app that gets kids playing songs on day one! Loog has a guitar for every stage of learning. Loog Mini: ages 3+, Loog Pro: ages 8+ and Loog Pro IV: ages 12+. Guitars are available in acoustic or electric styles and multiple colors.


$79+ • www.loogguitars.com

REMOTE LEARNING CUBBY Available to children across the nation, Remote Learning Cubby has two major products that help kids learn the essentials, a Remote Learning Cubby for Pre-K to 2nd Grade and another Remote Learning Cubby for 3rd to 6th Grade.

$29.95+ • www.remotelearningcubby.com



PROMOTE CREATIVITY GUIDE DOTS BY ART NOOK Guide Dots allows your child the freedom to explore art in the comfort of their own home, on their own time, at their own pace. Using strategically placed dots and online video instruction, Guide Dots gives your child the map to unlock their creative ability. Two kits are offered, Level 1: Discover art for ages 4-7 and Level 2: Art Confidence for ages 8-10.

$89+ • www.guide-dots.com


family life | F E AT U R E

When Your Child Fails

The Value in Making Mistakes written by Jan Pierce, M.Ed.


Your son tried out for the junior high basketball team and didn’t make it. Your daughter wanted a part in her school play, but wasn’t chosen. Your youngest child failed an important math test. What is your response when your child goes through disappointments and outright failures? Perhaps a better question might be, “What can you teach your children through the inevitable disappointments and failures of life?”

Talk About It When the time is right, it pays to face disappointments and failures head-on. A “Here is what you wanted, but this is the reality” kind of talk. Sometimes there will be tangled feelings when a disappointment comes such as blaming others for the situation or expressing self-deprecations such as “I can’t do anything right.” It’s helpful for your child to vent frustration when the feelings are raw and painful, but then guide the discussion to a more positive place.

It Hurts Allow some time to explore the sadness and pain of a big disappointment or a performance blunder. Sometimes there is a period of “mourning the loss” when your child had his heart set on a certain task or role and failed to achieve it. If the failure was due to lack of preparation, there will also follow a period of analysis of the situation. What went wrong? Or maybe hard facts must be faced. She may never be class president or lead singer in the chorus. Maybe others are more gifted, more talented. What then? Can you be the voice of reason guiding your child to a healthy realization of his or her unique gifts? No one is good at everything. Where can she find success? What are realistic goals he can achieve?

The Role of Mistakes Beyond the disappointment of one traumatic life experience

looms a much larger truth. Making mistakes is an essential part of learning. Think of your baby learning to walk. How many bumps and falls did it take before she toddled toward you without stumbling? No one thinks of that process as a series of failures. Rather, we realize the child has to practice before attaining success. And that principle can be applied to nearly everything we learn in life. In her book, Allow Your Children to Fail if You Want Them to Succeed, Dr. Avril Beckford says, “Failure is inevitable, so what becomes important is how parents help their children to deal with it.” Every classroom teacher has students who are afraid to make a mistake. They want to be perfect the first time. But learning doesn’t happen that way. Even top students must learn to try something, check for success, learn from errors and move on to try again. Children need to learn to tolerate a level of risk that allows them to try, fail and try again. This is a learning cycle that applies to nearly every subject area and to every character-building life experience. Most errors are approximations—he tries something and it’s nearly correct, but not quite. But sometimes a science experiment fails completely. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and make a new hypothesis. But--- what has he learned from the failed experiment? That’s the key to accepting failures. Determine what has been learned from the experience. Set a new goal. Move on.

Here are some tips when walking with your child through failure: • Listen. Allow time to process what has happened and why. • Be ready to help analyze what went wrong. Talk it through. • Share anecdotes from your own life. We’ve all been there. • Make a new plan. Try a new activity, set a new goal, work harder next time. • Reinforce your absolute approval of your child as a much-loved person apart from any performance of any kind.

Lessons from Others Who Experienced Failure There are many stories of great men and women of history who failed over and over again before achieving success. Abraham Lincoln lost political elections before succeeding in becoming President. Thomas Edison is famous for saying he didn’t fail when inventing the light bulb, he just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work! Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm.” If none of those stories impress your child, try this one by basketball icon Michael Jordan who said: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, lost almost 300 games. I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot 26 times and missed. I’ve failed over


and over again and that is why I succeed.” The key to success for these great men and for your child too, is never give up. Parents are instrumental in helping their children learn the skills necessary to deal with the disappointments and failures we all experience in life. Choose the positive outlook that mistakes, errors and failures are just one part of learning any new skill. They’re just a link in the chain of achieving success. Your support and positive attitude toward this learning cycle will set the tone for your child’s future successes.

Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and specializes in parenting and family life topics. Find her at www.janpierce.net or on Facebook.

BOOKS ON SUCCESS, FAILURE AND PERSEVERANCE How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough Dealing with Disappointment: Helping Kids Cope When Things Don’t Go Their Way by Elizabeth Crary Allow Your Child to Fail if You Want Them to Succeed by Dr. Avril Beckford

education directory | S P E C I A L S E C T I O N


IN 2021 & COVID-19 Public Schools Houston is the 4th largest city in the country and Houston ISD is the 7th largest school district. Since we have so many school districts in the Greater Houston area, we will use Houston ISD facts and figures as a benchmark for how the public school system is faring during the 20-21 school year, so far. According to the Houston ISD website, the current cases from this school year have been relatively low. STUDENTS







279 (59%)

47 (10%)

121 (26%)








296 (49%)

89 (15%)

117 (19%)


I was surprised that the numbers were drastically higher in the Elementary schools for both students and staff. I figured the high schools would have higher cases. But, as you can see, that is not the case.

Private Schools On the other hand, from the schools that we have spoken with, cases have been almost non-existent in the private school sector. Due to smaller class size and ample room at most schools, we believe that their ability to social distance has made a huge impact on their number of cases. This is such an important fact to acknowledge since many of our kids have been severely impacted by the disruption in their day to day routines, education and social growth this past year. By maintaining the stability in the school environment and allowing them to continue on their normal path, with obvious restrictions, I feel like these students have benefitted greatly.

Home Schools Over the past 20 years, Home Schools have increased by 228% in Texas according to the Texas Homeschool Coalition (THSC). Obviously those numbers for 2020-2021 are going to bump that even higher. Many of the businesses that offer home school curriculum have experienced double the number of enrollees over past years. Which makes sense since there was a 400% withdrawal rate from public schools this past August. I personally know many families that have chosen this path, due to health concerns, and are so happy that they did. Sitting in front of a screen for 7-8 hours a day is no way to learn. Whatever path you have chosen, it is my hope that your student and your family are thriving. If not, choose a different path. Houstonians are blessed with a wealth of options in our community to serve every need. Do your research. Contact the experts. See what options are available to your family and make an educated and informed decision. These are important, formative years. Our children’s education is too important to take for granted. Time is moving fast and their little minds are eager sponges! Let’s fill them with useful knowledge! The children are our future.


HOUSTON CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL Message from the Headmaster

ARCHDIOCESE OF GALVESTON-HOUSTON CATHOLIC SCHOOLS Mission Statement Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Galveston – Houston call young people to holiness and prepare them to live and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In collaboration with families, we teach the values of our faith and tradition, serve our community, and ensure academic excellence. Our schools are committed to the evangelizing mission of the church to educate and form witnesses who transform the world. Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston serve more than 18,000 students each day and we are grateful for the opportunity to do so! Our Educators and Administrators are carrying out their Vocation in life by serving as teachers and guides who help students in achieving their potential and navigating their educational journey. We look forward to helping your student as they embark on their academic career and take on an active role in their educational development. www.choosecatholicschools.org

As the founding headmaster, it’s been a joy to watch our school transform into one of the most respected academic institutions in the state. I attribute this success to the grace of God, and the dedication of our families, faculty, and donors who have given their lives in support of Christian education. Our community is widely diverse with families representing all walks of life from Houston and surrounding areas. Despite our various backgrounds, we share a common vision to serve our city, state, and nation through impactful leadership. As home to The George and Barbara Bush Center for Scholars and Leaders, all who visit or attend Houston Christian have unparalleled access to the life and legacy of the 41st president. With established leadership courses and an integrated approach through all disciplines, Houston Christian is a center of learning like no other in the world. Our cultivation of leadership is evident in our students as they explore their interests and discover their life callings. Last year alone, I watched our students log over 2,000 hours in community service, win our first State Championship in the Southwest Preparatory Conference, earn Gold Keys from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, be named National Merit Scholars, and receive singing accolades from the Texas Music Educators Association! Our alumni community is also active with regular events in Houston and throughout the state. Our students are truly changing the world for Christ. www.houstonchristian.org


2700 W Sam Houston Pkwy N | Houston, Texas 77043 | 713-580-6000 | www.houstonchristian.org 17 | HOUSTON FAMILY MAGAZINE January 2021

education directory | S P E C I A L S E C T I O N

INCARNATE WORD ACADEMY, ALL GIRL, CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL Mission Statement Sharing His Vision. Teaching His Values.

Contact the Admissions Office Today admissions@stannecs.org or 713.526.3279


Catholic Schools Week, Jan 31 - Feb 6



Incarnate Word Academy provides young women with a Catholic college preparatory education, helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus, the Incarnate Word, and live according to His values. We employ our three cornerstones of Academics, Values, and Spirituality to educate young women in preparation for college and to assist each of them in growing in her relationship with Jesus, the Incarnate Word. Our dedicated faculty inspires our students to work hard, be creative, and continue learning outside of the curriculum. Our diverse student body cares for and supports each other on their journey through high school, making friendships that last a lifetime. www.incarnateword.org





Message from Head of School, Tara Tomicic, Ph.D. Our school is truly unique. Here, our children find a place where they thrive socially, emotionally, and academically—sometimes for the very first time in a school environment. Rainard continues to be the inspiring environment that it has been since its founding in 1986. It is a place where we are focused on the abilities and needs of gifted children. We are able to provide a place where students can learn in small classrooms, where they can play in puddles, where they can ask hard questions, where they can work with passionate teachers and where they can find joy in learning. www.rainard.org

 Rigorous curriculum  A welcoming & inclusive experience  STEM Programs, Fine & Performing Arts, Athletics & Extra Curricular Activities  An education that inspires & empowers

Join us for ‘A Pattern of Hope’ Virtual Event to celebrate & support Catholic Schools February 5 Visit ChooseCatholicSchools.org

ST. ANNE CATHOLIC SCHOOL, PREK - 8TH GRADE Message from the Principal, Dawn Martinez The Basilian Fathers’ philosophy of Teach Me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge has been an inherent part of the St. Anne culture for more than 90 years. It is instilled in our programs, cultivated in our faculty and staff, and witnessed through every student. We believe this inseparable philosophy has the power to launch promise and sustain our faith. We draw families from 56 different zip codes who have made St. Anne Catholic School their home for their children’s education. Come witness firsthand the environment where teachers love to teach, and where children love to learn. www.stannecs.org

SCHOOL OF THE WOODS, MONTESSORI PREK-12 History of School of the Woods When School of the Woods opened its doors in 1962, the Montessori method of education had been in use throughout the world for half a century. School of the Woods, the oldest continuously operating Montessori school in the Houston area, provides an educational program proven and strengthened through more than four decades of successful experience. Some people understandably think the school was named for the sylvan setting of its campus. Its name, however, honors Ernest and Hilda Wood, who inspired and guided its founding along Montessori principles. Dr. Wood, a Sanskrit and Asian scholar, introduced the Montessori philosophy to the study group who were considering establishing a new nursery school. When the school opened, he was president of the first board of trustees. School of the Woods’s first home was a classroom on then Unitarian Fellowship campus at the present school location on Wirt Road. By its second year School of the Woods had begun to move to a strongly Montessori oriented program. That movement continued with staff attendance at the 1963 Montessori national convention, staff in service and workshop training and the hiring in 1965 of its first teacher certified in the Montessori method. By 1969 enrollment had grown to 132, and by 1970, almost the entire staff was educated either in the Montessori method or a specialty area. That same year, School of the Woods inaugurated its first elementary class, 75 five to seven year olds and a team of teachers specialized in six different learning areas. In 1973, the School formalized its permanent commitment to the Montessori Method by initiating affiliation with the American Montessori Society, which continues today. www.schoolofthewoods.org


In August Rainard will offer classes in-person and online. Our On-line Classroom: • One on one virtual time daily with their teachers • Virtual platform is easy to use, even for our youngest learners • Core disciplines taught daily • At home science projects and labs • Weekly interaction with the Head of School FOR MORE INFORMATION


In-Person Classroom: • Classrooms will be live streamed through Google Meet/ Google Classroom • All classes will be recorded • Able to Triage all students before they enter the campus • More details to come before school starts August 25th

E-mail: info@rainard.org or bspringer@rainard.org Online: www.rainard.org • Phone: 713.647.7246 Address: 11059 Timberline Rd, Houston, TX 77043

education directory | S P E C I A L S E C T I O N

YORKSHIRE ACADEMY, PRIVATE ELEMENTARY & PRESCHOOL 18M-5TH GRADE Mission Statement At Yorkshire Academy, we cultivate qualities of character, citizenship, and academic curiosity in a safe, secure, and loving environment, providing personal and engaging educational opportunities in academics and the visual and performing arts.

Our Philosophy Providing Excellence in Private School Education. Yorkshire Academy is a welcoming, joyful Houston private school built and supported by students, teachers, and parents working together in a spirit of mutual trust and respect. We believe that responsibility, collaboration, and intellectual curiosity develop when students are known by their teachers and classmates and feel appreciated for what they do best. We respect each student’s individuality. We invest time and energy in helping students understand that they are worthy, have talent, and can succeed. We build confidence, encouraging students to understand that risks are worth taking and failure is a learning opportunity. We encourage students to stretch beyond their current achievements and points of view, thereby helping them build self-esteem and pride of accomplishment. We have high expectations. We welcome inquiry in academic subjects, experiences in the visual and performing arts, and participation in physical activity and community service. We provide vigorous, enjoyable programs and curriculum directed by talented, qualified, engaging, and energetic teachers. We plant, nurture, and challenge the seeds of developing educational passions, inspiring students to strive for excellence and creativity so they might know the pleasures and value of learning. We believe that intellectual development, emotional maturity, and a moral life are the hallmarks of a successful educational experience. We find that students who are supported by their parents and attend Yorkshire Academy for the duration of their primary schooling receive the greatest benefit. These graduates are mannerly, happy and kind, successful and well rounded, self-disciplined and responsible students whose firm educational foundation creates a love of learning for a lifetime. www.yorkshireacademy.com

APPLICATIONS DUE JANUARY 15, 2021 www.incarnateword.org/apply


family health | F E AT U R E

Winter Got You Down? 14 WAYS TO NOURISH YOUR SPIRIT written by Christa Melnyk Hines

Got the winter blahs? You’re not alone. With the light-hearted holidays behind us and a stretch of cold, dark days ahead, this time of year can be rough, especially for women. Banish winter yuck with a few of these nourishing self-care tips.


REST. With flu, colds and various other ailments running crazy eights through many households this time of the year, taking time to rest can help protect your health. Treat yourself to a cat nap, early bedtime, or simply rest with your eyes closed for 15 minutes. Tip: Are worries keeping you awake? Write them down in a worry journal along with three daily gratitudes. Spray lavender essential oil mixed with water on your pillow. Then, lights out.


of Sciences suggests that emotionally-charged posts on social media can also influence your mood. Notice if you feel bummed or drained after spending time on social media. Curate your feed by unfollowing consistently negative individuals or groups, disable constant news notifications, and be aware of the types of posts you click on and share. Tip: Take weekly social media sabbaths and establish daily time limits to regain control. Curb social media use by downloading an app like Space, Freedom or App Detox.

LISTEN. Dial up your favorite tunes by creating music playlists that either soothe or energize you. Also, try a guided meditation. Even a few minutes a day can help you interrupt the loop of negative, anxiety-provoking thoughts. Tip: Check out the many mindfulness apps available like Insight Timer, Calm, Headspace and Stop Panic and Anxiety.

GET AWAY. Escape winter by traveling to a warm, sunny spot for a few days. Can’t leave right away?

File away feel-good comments people share with you and read them when you’re down. Make a Pinterest board with items that raise your spirits like inspiring quotes, pretty homes, or comforting recipes. Tip: Start a Joy Jar. Include notes from friends, photos that lift your spirits, enlightening quotes, small trinkets, funny quips from your kids or daily gratitudes.

MAKE LISTS. No, not to-do lists which can only serve to overwhelm a tired, tender spirit. Instead make lists that answer questions like: Wouldn’t it be amazing if…? What are my dreams? What do I need less of in order to get more of what I want in my life? What am I grateful for? Who am I grateful for? What did I notice today? Or simply list your favorite books, movies, people, music, etc. Tip: Decorate a special notebook just for your dream lists.

DISCONNECT. Just as you can catch feelings of sadness, anger or happiness from people you interact with face-to-face, a study published in the journal Proceedings in the National Academy 22 | HOUSTON FAMILY MAGAZINE January 2021

Planning an upcoming getaway can still buoy low spirits. Tip: If you don’t have time for an extended trip, schedule an overnight retreat somewhere to recharge.

READ. From inspiring memoirs, humorous essays to pageturning novels, curl up with a book and a warm beverage. Share your love of reading by starting a book club with other enthusiastic bibliophiles. Tip: Follow your favorite authors online for quick hits of inspiration.




Are you someone like me who has trouble warming up on a cold day? On days like that, my go-to is a warm, soothing bath. Candles and lavender epsom salts are inexpensive ways to make bath time even more special.

Big or small, doing something kind for someone is uplifting times two! Surprise an acquaintance with a thoughtful note, mail a funny card to a friend, or post a positive review for a local business. Volunteer an hour of your time for an organization that you admire or deliver a dessert to a new neighbor.

Tip: Schedule a massage, hot stone treatment, manicure or pedicure. Or, forget scheduling and visit a walk-in spa.

SEEK DEEPER CONVERSATION. Remember how good you feel after you’ve spent time laughing or discussing meaningful topics with close friends? Good conversation that goes deeper than small talk helps us feel a strong sense of connection with others. And, it’s good for you. Time with friends helps boost our immune systems and decreases our stress levels. Tip: Phone, email or text a friend today and schedule a coffee, breakfast or lunch. Even an hour will make a significant difference in your outlook.

Tip: Pay for the customer behind you in the drive-thru at your favorite coffee shop. Baristas say they get inspired by this practice too!

EXERCISE. If weather permits, bundle up and take a walk. The fresh air, the bright light of the sun on your face and time spent in nature can effectively lift an otherwise damp mood. If you can’t get outside, any kind of regular exercise can boost the feel-good endorphins in your body. Ask a friend to join you for additional motivation. Tip: Part of healthy living includes feeding your body well. Choose colorful berries,

winter vegetables and comforting soups.

PLAY. We aren’t designed to work, work, work all of the time. Even animals play! Play with paint, turn on the tunes for an impromptu dance party with your kids, or try a Pinterest project just for fun. Tip: Get your family playing by scheduling a game night or goofing off outside together.

DECLUTTER. Feeling stuck and bogged down? Begin decluttering your home, and you’ll immediately feel lighter. Start with things that are broken, damaged, no longer fit or no longer bring you joy. Tip: Grab a bag or box and go around your house, picking up something from each room that you are ready to give away or discard. For additional tips, check out the book Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver.


LAUGH. With all of the chatter, vitriolic opinions, depressing news and chaos in the world right now, it’s easy to get mired in everything that isn’t going right. Sharing silly memes and videos on social media, spending time with friends who make you laugh, and watching laugh out loud sitcoms helps. Tip: Set your DVR to record reruns of your favorite sitcoms or funny movies and watch when you need a break. **Note: Depression and anxiety are serious health conditions. Please consult your physician if you continue to struggle.**

Christa Melnyk Hines is an internationally published freelance writer. She believes nourishing self-care is key to winter time sanity. She resides with her family, which includes her husband, their sons and a menagerie of pets

family wellness | F E AT U R E

Courtney Wyckoff is the founder of Momma Strong, an online fitness program developed for all stages of motherhood. Learn more at MommaStrong.com 24 | HOUSTON FAMILY MAGAZINE January 2021

GOOD ENOUGH HEALTH making 2021 count for something written by Courtney Wyckoff of Momma Strong

‘Tis the season in which we get bombarded with messaging and marketing about becoming our best selves. Some of the messages we see are direct: Lose weight, be happy. Some of the messages are more coded: It’s finally time to make yourself a priority. At the end of the day, though, both avenues to your fragile post-holiday brain are focused on selling you the idea that this is going to be the year to get shiny and in shape. Maybe it’s even the year to get in control of your life, after a year spent in the throes of a pandemic and a version of the unknown none of us could have predicted.

I’ve been in the fitness industry for over two decades and I can tell you that those ideas are not worth pursuing, not now and not ever. I can also predict that this year will be a very lucrative year for wellness companies, as every single person I know including myself - wants to be shiny and in control of their life in 2021. This may be the year that even the skeptical among us take the bait and hyperfocus on a diet, a new trendy fitness program, a juice cleanse, or an expensive vitamin regimen. When I dial back this urge, even in myself, I discover that underneath it all is a simple desire to be healthy or, to be more fancy about that word, it is a simple desire to be in a

state of congruency with my insides and my outsides. If I want to be shiny and in shape, the truth is that I want the simple state of good enough health. I want good enough digestion, good enough sleep, stable blood sugar, lack of illness, good enough mental health, and good enough connection with other humans. The hard reality is that none of us have had Good Enough of any of that this year. And that is what makes us so vulnerable. Our standard of self care has slipped to extremely low levels out of a duty to make all the impossible things work. And we all want to reverse this quickly, don’t we? And we all believe that with a little bit of

elbow grease and will power, we can change the course of our lives. The reality is that this is not the case. No one could have done this year better. No one could have resisted the urge of the sweat pants, I promise. We’ve all just stayed above water and this is not the time to wish we had looked more graceful while flailing. Instead, what if it is the year to re-anchor ourselves to the basics of good enough health and surrender the outcomes of what that might look like for each of us? For me, personally, this means that I am going to take stock of what Good Enough Health means and I am going


to claim it without taking the bait that means I need to diet, tone up, or buy tons of skincare products. And I’ll admit there will be some grief in this process. I want to believe forcing myself into a container where sweaty, toned, smiling, tanned humans live will scratch the itch I feel. I want to believe that I can pummel myself into superhero behavior, which would mean that the difficulties of last year were my fault, which is oddly comforting. I don’t want to face the underbelly that we, as tender humans, are tasked with living in unpredictability every single day. I don’t want to face that reality because then it means that it could happen again and

it also means that my job is to find joy/health/peace/ security even when it does. So, what is the way forward then? I have chosen to greet this grief by doing basic things that serve my true wellness and declaring them nonnegotiables: • Doctor’s appointments that I have been avoiding • Better sleep rules and regulations in my household • Attempting stillness, instead of scrolling • Daily movement for at least 5 minutes • Fun, stupid pointless fun My suggestion to you, as both a fellow human and as a fitness professional, is to declare your own short list of

The beautiful thing is that any movement is the right movement, which means that you get to choose how you want to move for a short period of time every day. non-negotiables and re-anchor yourself there. Resist the urge to co-sign an agreement with any product or company that wants you to work on yourself in superhero ways or unsustainable ways. When you feel the ping of the draw

to their promises, free yourself instead. Remember that your container of Good Enough Health is yours. As for the daily movement component of your nonnegotiables, I can assure you that this aspect of your declarations is essential and feasible. Finding a way to fit a small amount of exercise in every day has been proven for years and years and years to be a key factor in longevity and overall good enough health. The beautiful thing is that any movement is the right movement, which means that you get to choose how you want to move for a short period of time every day. Let me repeat: There’s no right way, except the thing you can do regularly. It takes courage to believe this and it takes a teensy bit of messy, imperfect willingness

to give it a shot. But I have to believe that when I’m old and I’ve earned my wrinkles, I will be proud of myself that this is the container I chose in 2021. PS: Here’s a link to 30 days of 5 minute movement hacks that very much might qualify as enough movement. Disclaimer: If you prefer fitness instructors with brushed hair and good moods and matching outfits, this may not be your speed. Scan the QR Code to access the videos.




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.


family life | E D I T O R I A L

New Year’s Resolutions

Are we just setting ourselves up for failure?


Hello 2021, We are expecting a lot from you!! written by Kimberly Davis Guerra

After the year that we have had. I think we can all agree. We are looking for a new start. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our minds, bodies & spirit. I do not know many who have not faced a breakdown of sorts, financial or emotional, over the past year. So, we are eagerly anticipating the beginning of the new year to get things back on track.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our minds, bodies & spirit. I do not know many who have not faced a breakdown of sorts, financial or emotional, over the past year. So, we are eagerly anticipating the beginning of the new year to get things back on track. But, hold the phone. We all realize that life is not going to go back to normal overnight, if ever. So, the best thing to do is assess where you are at today, with what is going on in your world, and make some new plans. The New Year is always a great time to put some resolutions in place and kick the year off with a bang. To avoid setting yourself up for failure, experts agree, you need to set manageable goals or intentions for yourself and your family. Make them easy to attain and keep yourself on track.



BE PRACTICAL AND SPECIFIC For example, if you tell the family, “We are going to eat healthier in 2021”. That’s a GREAT resolution, but what does that mean in reality? Be clear. It may simply mean the family will not eat anymore fast food. Or, we are going to have fish for dinner twice a week. Whatever ‘healthy’ means to you, break it down into practical goals that are easy to fold into your life and everyone can understand.

SET A TIME LIMIT If eating healthier is your goal, and you break it down into simple specifics of how you are going to eat healthier, go a step further and give yourself a time limit. It may just be for the month of January and you

will assess how you feel at the end of the month. It may be until Spring Break or just for a week. Whatever you decide, again be realistic.

REWARD YOURSELF Once you have your goal(s) in place, with your time limit, then what is your reward going to be? Choose something that you normally would not do for yourself or your family. Something that will be significant enough to keep you motivated! It will help keep you on track.

DO NOT KEEP IT A SECRET Tell your mom, your neighbor, your Facebook group. Whoever holds you to task and keeps you motivated, be sure they are on board with you. This is

especially helpful if they want to achieve the same goals. The buddy system has always helped me stay on track and workout on those days that I was not feeling especially motivated to exercise!

CHOOSE WISELY While there are many things that I would like to improve upon in my life, I know that there are only so many hours in a day. There is only one me and I do not want to stress myself out about keeping my New Year’s resolutions that are supposed to make me a better version of myself! Be kind. Choose resolutions that are really attainable, manageable and something that you will be very happy to have accomplished in 2021!



Start recycling – build a family garden – start composting

Cooking, singing, drawing – there is a you tube video for just about everything. Pick something to master.

2. FAMILY DINNERS Have different members of the family in charge of dinner one night; they will learn to cook and mom will get a break!

3. GET OUTDOORS Take a walk, a bike ride, go for a swim or play a game outside at least 3 nights a week


5. BE OF SERVICE Once a month or once a week, find a way to be of service. Cook a meal for an elderly neighbor. Walk a single mom’s dog for them. Donate time at church. Wash mom’s car. Whatever you can do to help someone out in your community.

family wellness | E D I T O R I A L


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written by Kimberly Blaker

For many, getting a solid night’s sleep is as elusive as winning the lottery. Getting too little sleep is so common that it’s become almost a badge of honor to get through each day with sleep deprivation. Even if you feel like you can function on little sleep, it’s actually debilitating, if not dangerous, to a person’s health and mental faculties. Not getting enough sleep increases the risk of obesity, memory impairment, illness, and even hallucinations or death. Falling asleep is a common problem. But sleep quality is also crucial for optimum brain function and recovery. Fortunately, there are many ways to train your body and mind to fall asleep more quickly and improve your sleep quality.

CREATE A RELAXING NIGHTTIME RITUAL. Starting a routine to wind down every night creates an association between nighttime habits and sleep, preparing your body to relax and fall asleep more quickly. Try drinking a soothing tea like chamomile. Or use aromatherapy with scents such as lavender that promote relaxation.

GO TO SLEEP AND WAKE UP AT THE SAME TIME EVERY DAY. This gets your body into a regular sleep-wake pattern, which regulates your circadian rhythm and makes falling and staying asleep easier. It may be tempting to sleep in on the weekends to make up for lost sleep. But this may actually hurt you in the long term.

TRACK YOUR SLEEP. Different technologies are available to track your sleeping patterns, including restlessness, awake and sleep times, and even how long you’re in each part of the sleep cycle. This can help you find how many hours you individually need for optimal function.

PRACTICE MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS. Regularly practicing these can help calm your mind and body. Progressive relaxation is one technique. Through it, you slowly focus on each part of your body, moving from head to feet, while releasing tension and consciously relaxing your muscles.


Though it may help you fall asleep, drinking alcohol before bed significantly reduces your sleep quality.

Looking at the bright light is stimulating. Likewise, so is much of the content on the screens. If you use screens at night, glasses are available to filter out the blue light to prevent eye strain.



A long afternoon nap can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. So keep naps short and as early in the day as possible.

One popular method to fall asleep is known as 4-7-8. First, breathe in through your nose for a count of four. Then hold your breath for 7, and exhale out your mouth for 8.


LISTEN TO SOOTHING WHITE NOISE, MUSIC, OR PODCASTS. Many of these audio productions are designed to help put you to sleep.

STOP DRINKING CAFFEINE AFTER MIDDAY. Caffeine is a stimulant, which can affect your mind and body hours after consumption.

BALANCE LIGHT AND DARK. Make sure your room is dark for sleep and that you get natural light during the day. This regulates your circadian rhythm and provides external cues for your body.

EXERCISE IN THE MORNING. Being physically active, especially early in the day, is associated with better sleep.

JOURNAL OR KEEP PAPER BY YOUR BED. Do you have a hard time falling asleep because your mind is racing? Writing down your thoughts can help to keep them from swirling incessantly through your brain so you can relax.


USE YOUR BED AND BEDROOM FOR SLEEP ONLY. This creates a specific association, so your body and mind know it’s time to rest. Also, keep electronics out of the bedroom.

TRY A NATURAL SUPPLEMENT. Melatonin, magnesium, and CBD are some of the options touted as supporting relaxation and sleep. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any supplements to ensure you do so safely.

IF BEHAVIORAL CHANGES AREN’T WORKING, DISCUSS YOUR SLEEP CONCERNS WITH YOUR DOCTOR. You may have an undiagnosed sleeping disorder that requires medical intervention. Depending on your doctor’s findings, medications and breathing treatments may help improve your sleep.

family life | F E AT U R E

Family Volunteer VACATIONS written by Tanni Haas, Ph.D.


As you’re planning your holiday vacation, how about doing some good while also having fun. Sound intriguing? It’s called a “family volunteer vacation,” and thousands of people across the country are doing it every year. The trips can last for a few days or several weeks, but they all have one thing in common: your family will spend some time helping out people or animals in need.


hy do so many families choose to go on such vacations? According to Nancy Schretter, the founder of Together For Good, a nonprofit organization that organizes family volunteer vacations, “families really want to give back and make the world a better place. They want to find meaningful trips where they can make a difference.” Experts note that family volunteer vacations are beneficial not only to the communities that are served but also to the families themselves. “Helping others while traveling,” says Charis Atlas Heelan, a writer for Frommer’s Travel Guides, “can instill a greater understanding of the world and teach your children about the importance of community, compassion, and consideration for others.” Indeed, says Ms. Heelan, “a volunteer vacation that your whole family can participate in may just be one of the most rewarding experiences that you will share together.” If family volunteer vacations are so good for all involved, how do you decide where to go? To make the trip as successful as possible, says Laura Eickhoff, an expert on family volunteer vacations and author of The Abroad

Guide, a well-known travel blog, it’s important to find a destination that’s aligned with everyone’s interests: “If everybody’s not onboard from the start, you may find yourself with some less-than-eager participants.” Amy Whitley, a travel reporter with a lot of experience in family volunteer vacations agrees, saying it’s particularly important to follow the passions or interests of your kids: “Pursue a volunteer vacation that’s in line with your children’s interests. For instance, if your child loves animals, consider a trip aiding marine mammal rescue, or if your kids have a passion for the outdoors, get your feet wet with a trip maintaining trails or landmarks with your local state park system.” There are many organizations that can help you organize your family volunteer vacation to suit your particular interests. These include Give A Day Global, the Global Citizens Network, Global Volunteers, Globe Aware, Habitat For Humanity, Love Volunteers, Me to We, the Nature Corps, the Sierra Club, and Wilderness Volunteers.

Tanni Haas, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences and Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College.


www.giveadayglobal.org Mission: To empower travelers to make a difference, to support communities creating change, and to connect people as global citizens, one day at a time.

the Global Citizens Network

www.centerforcitizendiplomacy.org Mission: The Center for Citizen Diplomacy promotes, expands, and celebrates opportunities for all individuals to be exemplary citizen diplomats and affirms the indispensable value of purposeful global engagement.

Global Volunteers

https://globalvolunteers.org One-to-three-week opportunities to create, nurture and sustain the well-being of the world’s children and their families. You’re welcomed into homes, classrooms, clinics, community centers, hospitals, orphanages, childcare centers, libraries, government offices, farm fields and more on exceptional international servicelearning programs.

Globe Aware

https://globeaware.org/ Leading tax-deductible one week service & exploration experiences in locations around the world. Explore the world, Serve others, Change lives.

Habitat For Humanity www.habitat.org

Mission: Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.

Love Volunteers

www.lovevolunteers.org Love Volunteers provides fun, rewarding, safe and affordable volunteering opportunities in needy communities around the world.

Me to We

www.metowe.com ME to WE is an innovative social enterprise that provides products that make an impact, empowering people to change the world with their everyday consumer choices.

The Nature Corps

www.facebook.com/NatureCorps/ Since 1987 Nature Corps volunteers have worked to preserve California’s natural heritage in our State & National Parks.

The Sierra Club

www.sierraclub.org The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone’s right to a healthy world.

Wilderness Volunteers

www.wildernessvolunteers.org Our mission is providing opportunities for everyone to participate in the handson stewardship of public lands. Working in cooperation with the National Forest and Park Service, the BLM and the US Fish & Wildlife Agency, you’ll be inspired and invigorated when you see how much a group can accomplish in a few days.


family life | F E AT U R E



WE GO written by Christa Melnyk Hines

Whether you’ve been assigned to another country for work or long to globetrot with your family for other reasons, you may wonder how realistic an international move is, especially with kids.

The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it may seem. According to four-time expat Jessica Drucker, an expat coach and author of How to Move Abroad and Why It’s the Best Thing You’ll Do, nearly nine million Americans have made the leap to live in another country. “American expats would make up the 12th largest state in the United States if counted together,” Drucker says.

KNOW YOUR “WHY.” Before pulling up stakes and moving your family abroad, consider the reasons why you want to relocate to another part of the globe. Perhaps you’d like to introduce your children to another culture or language.

Or, maybe you’d like to “find somewhere with a slower pace of life where you actually have time to see each other; where a student having weapons at school is unheard of; or where you can travel to cities and countries nearby that would have been impossible to find time to visit while based in the States,” Drucker says. Emily Maher, an author coach, teacher and a mom of a six-year-old, has lived in Bogota, Colombia for the past 10 years. She says she dreamed of living in a place that was “stimulating and exciting” ever since she was a child. “When I was in my 20s, I moved around a lot within the United States and other countries, but never quite felt at home until I met my husband and we fell in love in Bogota,”

Maher says. “I loved how the culture was warm and caring on the one hand and yet it was urban and stimulating at the same time.”

CONSIDER YOUR CHILD’S AGE AND TEMPERAMENT. To determine how well your child might adjust to an international move consider their age and stage of development. A teenager who is centered in their peer relationships may have a harder time adjusting to a new country compared to a young child whose parents are the center of their universe. If your child is more of an introvert, research suggests they may struggle with more


nervousness or anxiety in the midst of a major change. “But there are also surprises,” says Katia Vlachos, an expat transition coach currently based in Switzerland and the author of A Great Move: Surviving and Thriving in Your Expat Assignment. “Perhaps the introverted child will be better able than the extroverted one to deal with the unavoidable loneliness of the first few weeks after the move. You know your child best.”

PLANNING ESSENTIALS. Whether you’ve been gifted time to plan your move or if your move is immediately pending, it’s crucial to get your paperwork and finances in order before you go.

Reach out early to other expats in the country or city where you are headed. Expat groups in specific cities and countries can be found across Facebook and are excellent resources as you research housing, schools, typical transition issues, cost of living, climate and social norms.


learn about the school system “This may include residence and work permits, financial and tax matters, medical matters, other kinds of insurance, bank accounts,” Vlachos says. The amount of paperwork and the timing to process that paperwork can vary by country. Break up big priorities into smaller tasks and create a timeline for yourself with what needs to be done when and by whom. “If your move is sponsored, it’s important to be proactive— pay attention early to what kind of support your employer is providing or could potentially provide,” Vlachos says.

SCHOOLING. As you research your new destination, learn about the school system to determine what will be the best fit for your child or teen. Many American, British and International schools follow a similar curriculum to the U.S. and can make your child’s adjustment easier, while also teaching the local language. But these private schools can be expensive, especially in large urban areas where the cost of living is higher. “You will also land in more of an expat bubble, whereby you are meeting families of fellow expats more than locals,” Drucker says. “This can feel great to have friends who understand your difficulties but can be harder to fully integrate over time.” If you and your family don’t speak the local language, consider hiring a tutor. And keep in mind, younger kids generally learn other languages easily and are likely to adjust quickly in a local school system. “If you are moving to a country where you know that the level of public school education is similar (or better!) to what you expect back home, then consider enrolling

them in public school,” Drucker advises.

EXPECT A FEW BUMPS IN THE ROAD. Transitions are challenging no matter the circumstances, but culture shock, language barriers and general uncertainty around the unknown may have you second-guessing your decision. “The adjustment phase can be hard. It can be hard when your kids look to you for answers and you don’t have them or if you are going through culture shock and they are not. You can feel a little left behind, like why can’t you adjust, and they can?” Drucker says. “It is a lumpy, uneven process with ups and downs and there will definitely be times where you doubt why you ever did this to your family in the first place. That is why it is very important to know your ‘why’.” To help your kids adjust, get them involved in activities they already enjoy in your new home. If they love soccer, for example, explore options for a soccer program. Not only will this help them connect with new friends, you’ll also begin to meet other families. “Parents are often surprised at how much more quickly their kids integrate than they do. They are in school, so you meet other families. They learn the language faster than you do, consume pop culture more quickly and just generally integrate much more easily,” Drucker says.

BRIDGE THE GAP. “Something that’s critically important, but most people don’t think about when they move, is reflecting on how to make sure the family will feel at home,” Vlachos says. Thoroughly research your

destination to get a sense of what daily life is like where you are headed, including the climate, people, history, social norms and values. “Building this familiarity helps create a sense of home much faster,” Vlachos says. “As you research your new home, think of the elements of your current life that you would like to include into your new life. What will you miss the most? Your house, your rituals, the food, the music? Research will help you identify the best ways to maintain a connection to the elements of home that mean the most to you.” Beware of getting too attached to your way of seeing or doing things which can make you feel isolated in your new location. “If you hold too tightly to the perspective of where you came from, you may always feel awkward,” Maher warns. “Question your beliefs and know your real values. People will accept you for who you are if you’re confident in who that is. Then you can choose what you like from both cultures.” As the mom of a son, Maher says she particularly embraces the family-centered nature of her adopted country and the tight bonds typically formed between mothers and their sons in the Latino culture. “But I also like being casual and authentic about the way I look and express myself, which is far more American—blue jeans and sitcom sarcasm,” she says.

ACKNOWLEDGE THE SACRIFICES. You and your children will likely feel the pain of saying goodbye to close friends, family and familiar routines. You may miss out on major celebrations and life events like funerals, weddings or anniversaries that you otherwise would


have attended. Vlachos recommends acknowledging and allowing yourselves to grieve these losses.

TAP RESOURCES. Gather as much information as possible through books, magazines and online resources. “Remember, millions of people have gone before you and many have created content to help you follow in their footsteps. The resources are out there for you to find,” Drucker says. Reach out early to other expats in the country or city where you are headed. Expat groups in specific cities and countries can be found across Facebook and are excellent resources as you research housing, schools, typical transition issues, cost of living, climate and social norms. Follow local bloggers to discover as much as you can about your destination.You might also consider hiring an expat transition coach, who can share their experiences, while delivering timely, expert advice. They can answer your questions, address specific challenges and ease the stress and uncertainty surrounding a move abroad.

CELEBRATE THE REWARDS. “The world is only going to be more and more connected,” Drucker says. “Giving your kids the gift of being global citizens with global connections and an ability to operate in a global environment is only setting them up for the kind of success the future requires.” Freelance writer and former military brat Christa Melnyk Hines lived in Germany as a child and remembers those four years as some of the happiest of her life.



Valerie Koehler, owner of the Blue Willow Bookshops, shares some of her favorite self improvement books, visit BlueWillowBookshops.com

Be You

by Peter H. Reynolds (Orchard Books)

Reynolds reminds readers to be their own works of art in this joyful reminder of the ways that every child is unique and special.

Unplugged Play Toddler and Unplugged Preschool by Bobbi Conner (Workman Publishing)

These lively and easy games and activities (all kid-tested!) for toddlers and preschoolers will foster kids’ creativity and pull them away from screens to PLAY!

Y Is For Yoga

by Greg Paprocki (Gibbs Smith Publishing)

Mindful Bea and The Worry Tree

An engaging collection of 26 illustrations featuring yoga poses, terms, and techniques from downward dog and visualize to yoga mat and warrior pose.

by Gail Silver (Magination Press)

When Bea’s worries start to grow around her like tree branches, she uses breathing exercises and visualization techniques to calm herself down.

Kid Food

by Bettina Siegel (Oxford University Press)

Houstonian Siegel explores one of the fundamental challenges of modern parenting: trying to raise healthy eaters in a society intent on pushing children in the opposite direction.

There’s a Doctor For You by Scarlett Wing (Cottage Door Press)

When your little one has an appointment for a checkup, a dental cleaning, or an eye exam, this encouraging, reassuring board book will help inspire confidence.

Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore our Radical Anatomy

Beneath The Surface: A Teen’s Guide To Reaching Out When You Or Your Friend Is In Crisis by Kristi Hugstad (New World Library)

Strategies for managing teenage depression and related issues such as self-esteem, eating disorders, PTSD, anxiety, bullying, and substance abuse; includes helpful testimonials from teens.

edited by Kelly Jensen (Algonquin Books)

Thirty-seven writers, models, actors, musicians, and artists share essays, lists, comics, and illustrations about their own bodies and how they move through the world.


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

the big to do

Pick up some bargains, enjoy winter activities and make the most of Houston’s free attractions in January.

TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo Photo by Ouh La La Photography

All events listed are FREE unless otherwise noted. Don’t forget to check out our online calendar at www.houstonfamilymagazine.com/event-directory/ for even more family friendly activities.

JANUARY 1 Happy New Year! HFM sends you and your family wishes of love, health and good fortune for 2021.

JANUARY 2 Observational Movement Drawing a Virtual Drop-In Experience

Start the new year by reflecting on your body in motion as a tool for drawing. Using simple, improvised movements to explore pattern, rhythm, and shape. camh.org 1-4pm. All ages

Youth Tennis Program The Houston Parks and Recreation Department offers free recreational sports programs that incorporates developmental skills, tennis instruction and educational opportunities.

houstontx.gov/parks/ youthsports.html

Various locations and times after school or homeschool program Age: 6+ registration is required online or onsite. Winter session starts January 25th, 2021.

Second-day hike Start the New Year off with a second-day hike along the picturesque Spring Creek Greenway. Face coverings are required. hcp4.net

Pundt Park 4129 Spring Creek Dr., Spring 9:30-11:30am. All ages


JANUARY 3 Explore Nature A great place to explore the great outdoors! Bring the whole family and enjoy a fun educational adventure with hikes and fishing. baytownnaturecenter.org Baytown Nature Center 6am-8pm Daily. All ages

Ja n u a ry 20 21 JANUARY 4

uprooted when their father brings his new wife and her young daughters to live in The Dutch House, the family estate in the suburbs of Phildelphia. When their father dies, the siblings are exiled from the home they love. Bluewillowbookshop.com 7pm. Age: 16+

JANUARY 6 Nature Walking Tour Warbird Rides Experience the sights and sounds of American airpower aboard one of the historic aircrafts.Take advantage of this bucket-list level adrenaline rush on select days throughout the month. lonestarflight.org/warbird-rides/ Lone Star Flight Museum Various times. Age: adult

Find Houston’s history at Glenwood Cemetery Situated on 84 acres along the Washington Corridor, Glenwood Cemetery serves as a serene resting place for some of Houston’s most iconic residents. Among the ornate headstones are those of more than 20 mayors, past governors, oil tycoons and Howard Hughes-the famous aviator, engineer and movie director. glenwoodcemetery.org Daily. All ages


Enjoy a free walking tour in Buffalo Bayou Park highlighting the landscape and ecology of 19th century Texas that created Houston. buffalobayou.org Buffalo Bayou Water Works 10:30-noon. All ages

Nature Discovery Center & Story time Visit the discovery rooms and enjoy the outdoor trails and play area. Plan to stay for nature story time which can include live animal encounters and a simple craft. naturediscoverycenter.org Nature Discover Center Tues.-Fri. Noon-5:30pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am530pm, story time Wednesday at 4pm. All ages

Park after Dark: Owl Prowl Discover which owls are local to the Spring Creek Greenway and learn about their habitat and prey. hcp4.net 738 Huffsmith Rd., Tomball 5:30pm. All ages

JANUARY 7 Blue Willow Bookshop Story Time Enjoy Blue Willow’s virtual storytime, songs and an art activity every Thursday. bluewillowbookshop.com Blue Willow Bookshop 10am. Age: Toddlers and preschoolers

JANUARY 8 The Menil Collection Located in the heart of Houston, this impressive collection is located in several buildings nestled between pocket parks and outdoor sculptures, a perfect setting for picnic lunch. Menil.org Menil Collection 11am-7pm. All ages. Stroller friendly.

A winter wonder garden Winter gardens are colorful and structurally intriguing. Stroll through the gardens with Mercer staff to learn which plants add life to a winter garden, including winter flowering and fruiting plants, evergreen trees, and garden hardscapes. hcp4.net Mercer Botanic Gardens 10am. Age: 12+ Registration required. Call 713-274-4160

JANUARY 9 Open hangar at Houston wing World War II Aircraft museum The Commemorative Air Force maintains WW II airplanes in flying condition and invites the public to tour inside and out the static display planes. Family friendly tours on the First & Third Saturday of the month. houstonwing.org West Houston Airport, 18000 Groschke Road 10-4pm. All ages

Baytown Snow Day Get ready for 30 tons of snow fun at the Town Square. Play on giant snow slides with snow discs and toboggans, large snow play areas, photo opportunities for the kids, and more. visitbaytown.com/baytown-holidays

Baytown Town Square on Texas Avenue All day. Visit the website for exact times for activities. All ages

Tuesday afternoon at the zoo

Family Day: Islands of Life

Enjoy a fun filled family afternoon learning and viewing all of these amazing creatures. houstonzoo.org

Learn about the many kinds of offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and how they provide habitats for many different types of marine animals. Discover the various levels of the food chain and find out what’s for dinner! oceanstaroec.com

Houston Zoo 12:00pm until closing. All ages

Teach You Tuesday: Create Floral Hoops Are you looking for classes that inspire, motivate, and teach you? Join us virtually to learn a new craft, skill, or technique. We partnered with Picked Flower Co. to create beautiful floral hoops that can be given as gifts or used for decoration, photo backdrops, or wedding bouquets! Midtownhouston.com Virtual. 5:30-7:30pm. All ages

Book Reading and Signing: Ann Patchett - The Dutch House Maeve and Danny Conroy’s lives are

Free Museum Thursdays at Houston Museum District Gather friends and the family and head to the museum district to enjoy several of Houston’s Museums every Thursday.

Youth Self-Defense Class Youth Krav Maga by Krav Maga teaches your child self-defense techniques and de-escalating verbal techniques that will protect your child’s personal space. Levypark.org Levy Park 6pm. Age: 5-15

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, 20th St & Harborside Dr., Galveston 10am-3pm. All ages

JANUARY 10 Detective Days There’s mystery afoot at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. Detective Days are self-guided activity sheets for both the house and the gardens that provide a focused activity, challenging a child’s observational skills and critical thinking. mfah.org Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens Every day. Age: 6+


Houston Zoo Lights Last chance to check them out! Houstonzoo.org Houston Zoo. All ages

JANUARY 11 Explore the Houston Arboretum Enjoy the great outdoors in the heart of the city. houstonarboretum.org

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center Daily. All ages

JANUARY 12 Book Reading and discussion: Kimberly Willis Holt - The Ambassador of Nowhere Texas Enjoy a lively discussion and a reading from the author. bluewillowbookshop.com Virtual. 5pm. All ages

Book Reading and Signing: Melinda Gates - The Moment of Lift How Empowering Women Changes the World Melinda Gates has been on a mission. Her goal, as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been to find solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live. Throughout this journey, one thing has become increasingly clear to her: If you want to lift a society up, invest in women. Bluewillowbookshop.com Blue willow Bookshop 7pm. All ages

JANUARY 13 Nature Discovery Center & Story time Visit the discovery rooms and enjoy the outdoor trails and play area. Plan to stay for nature story time which can include live animal encounters and a simple craft. naturediscoverycenter.org Nature Discover Center Tues.-Fri. Noon-5:30pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am530pm, story time Wednesday at 4pm. All ages

Homestead Open House Discover the Redbud Hill Homestead and Akokisa Indian Village. Self-guided interpretive brochures are available in the Nature Center. hcp4.net Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center 1-4pm. All ages

the big to do | C A L E N D A R O F E V E N T S Book Reading and discussion: Sarwat Chadda - City of the Plague God Thirteen-year-old Sik wants a simple life going to school and helping at his parents’ deli in the evenings. But all that is blown to smithereens when Nergal comes looking for him, thinking that Sik holds the secret to eternal life. bluewillowbookshop.com Virtual. 4pm. Age: 11+

JANUARY 14 Youth Self-Defense Class Youth Krav Maga by Krav Maga teaches your child self-defense techniques and de-escalating verbal techniques that will protect your child’s personal space. Levypark.org Levy Park 6pm. Age: 5-15

Book reading and Signing: Angie Thomas - Concrete Rose Join in the lively discussion with the author and personalized book signing. Bluewillow bookshop

JANUARY 16 VIRTUAL Family Capoeira Join 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. midtownhouston.com Virtual 10am. All ages

Arbor Day Celebration (Jan 16 & 17) Enjoy nature walks, take home a free tree sapling and be sure to stop by the Family Tree craft table where kids can participate in face painting, make beautiful leaf rubbings, and even build their own family tree. hcp4.net/parks/jjp/ J

esse H. Jones Park and Nature Center 10am-4pm. All ages.


Virtual. 7pm. Age: adult

Pundt Park. 4129 Spring Creek Dr., Spring 9am. Age: 5+


Houston Symphony: celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday (Jan. 15-17) Last Chance to celebrate the composer with the World-renowned Houston Symphony. houstonsymphony.org

The Reading Circle

Daily. All ages. An admission ticket to the battleship is required.

Houston Symphony: celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday (Jan. 15-17) World-renowned Houston symphony will celebrate the genius of this composer. houstonsymphony.org livestreamed 8pm. All ages

Nature Discover Center Tues.-Fri. Noon-5:30pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am and 530pm, story time Wednesday at 4pm. All ages

Coffee Cake Book Club Join a book club which meets every third Wednesday of each month to discuss opinions, views and laugh. bluewillowbookshop.com Blue Willow Bookshop 11am. Age: Adult

JANUARY 21 Youth Self-Defense Class Youth Krav Maga by Krav Maga teaches your child self-defense techniques and de-escalating verbal techniques that will protect your child’s personal space. Levypark.org

West Houston Airport, 18000 Groschke Road 10-4pm. All ages

Plant it for the planet Make a positive environmental impact by helping plant native trees and riparian plants along the Spring Creek Greenway. Bring a shovel, work gloves, and a refillable water bottle and get ready to make a difference! hcp4.net Dennis Johnston Park, 709 Riley Fuzzel Rd., Spring 9am. All ages

45th Annual Arbor Day Tree Giveaway: Drive -Through Since 1977 more than 1.5 million seedlings have been given to attendees to plant in their yards, nearby green spaces and area preserves. Participate in one of The Woodlands longest standing traditions and help plant trees today for our community to enjoy for years to come. thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov Sawdust Park and Ride, 701 Westridge Road 9am-noon. All ages


Display your favorite snapshot in this homemade magnetic photo frame. With a frosty snowflake design, this project is a perfect activity for a cold winter day. hcp4.net Mercer Botanic Gardens 11am-1pm. All ages

JANUARY 22 Craft Time


For a Texas history outing with the kids, unveil the stories of Mexican Texas, the Texas Revolution, and the Republic of Texas. sanJancinto-museum.org San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Park

Visit the discovery rooms and enjoy the outdoor trails and play area. Plan to stay for nature story time which can include live animal encounters and a simple craft. naturediscoverycenter.org

the month. houstonwing.org

Craft pick up: winter snowflake memories

livestreamed 8pm. All ages

Texas History and battleground

Nature Discovery Center & Story time

Levy Park 6pm. Age: 5-15

Lil” youth hike: have shell, will travel Families enjoy a hike with their small children to explore nature. Registration required. www.hcp4.net/tap/events


You’re never too old to listen to a story! Our read-a-loud book club meets twice a week (Mondays & Thursdays) and features the book club Narrator reading a chapter or two from the current selection. Check the website for the book selection houstonlibrary.org 4:30pm. All ages

JANUARY 19 VIRTUAL Children’s Story Time Have a Children’s Storytime with music from AndyRoo & the AndyRooniverse along with a special puppet show and book reading from The Ensemble Theatre Houston actor Crystal Rae. midtownhouston.com Virtual 11:30am-1:30pm. Age: 0-6

What would you do with a plastic juice or soda bottle? Throw them? Recycle? You can, of course but find out how to turn plastic bottles into flowers. houstonlibrary.org Virtual. 2pm. All ages

JANUARY 23 Arbor Day at the Houston Arboretum Join a fun, free celebration of trees! Enjoy informative booths and tree hikes on Houston Arboretum trails, grab a tree craft to make at home, visit the Discovery Room to learn how trees help humans, and learn about local tree species from the Botany Display. houstonarboretum.org/ 10am-4pm. All ages

Open hangar at Houston wing World War II Aircraft museum The Commemorative Air Force maintains WW II airplanes in flying condition and invites the public to tour inside and out the static display planes. Family friendly tours on the First & Third Saturday of


See Nature at the Sea Center Get a small group together and take a short drive out to see a little nature center, aquarium and fish hatchery. tpwd.state.tx.us Sea Center Texas, Lake Jackson 9am-5pm. All ages

JANUARY 25 The Reading Circle You’re never too old to listen to a story! Our read-a-loud book club meets twice a week (Mondays & Thursdays) and features the book club Narrator reading a chapter or two from the current selection. Check the website for the book selection houstonlibrary.org 4:30pm. All ages

JANUARY 26 2021 Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest (thru January 31) Last chance to participate in the art contest. Youth, ages 4-15, can submit drawings of dream cars. Multiple art submissions accepted. What imaginative vehicle will your kids dream up? toyotadreamcarusa.com art submission. All ages

Ja n u a ry 20 21 JANUARY 27 JANUARY 23- 11:00 AM

Nature Discovery Center & Story time

Catch the Houston Symphony’s performance of Wild Symphony during the livestream Family Series concert on January 23! Visit houstonsymphony.org for more information.

Visit the discovery rooms and enjoy the outdoor trails and play area. Plan to stay for nature story time which can include live animal encounters and a simple craft. naturediscoverycenter.org Nature Discover Center Tues.-Fri. Noon-5:30pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am and 5:30pm, story time Wednesday at 4pm. All ages

JANUARY 28 Craft: Hang your Heart Wreath A great addition to your Valentine’s Day décor, this crafty wreath is adorned with tiny conversation hearts featuring the classic fun sayings. hcp4.net

Mangum-Howell Center, 2500 Frick Rd, Houston 11am-1pm. All ages

JANUARY 29 Mother Son Date Night Moms, bring your sons out to the second annual putt-putt themed date night! This event will be a wonderful opportunity to bond and create special memories that will last a lifetime with your sons. https://hellowoodlands.com/ Rob Fleming Recreation Center

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill Opening Night! Don’t miss this exhilarating Tony Award-winning play set in 1959 in a rundown bar in Philadelphia, and legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday is giving one of her final performances. stagestheatre.com Gordy Theatre Matinees and evening performances are available. Age: adult

JANUARY 30 Tomball’s Farmer’s Market Stroll through the market and purchase produce, there are always plenty of free samples to try. tomballfarmersmarket.org

Located at 205 W. Main St. on the corner of Main Street (FM 2920) and Walnut Street in Downtown Tomball two blocks west of the railroad tracks. 9am-1pm. All ages

JANUARY 31 The Snow Queen: An At Home Theatre Experience A powerful friendship is put to the test as four narrators bring to life the story of Gerda and Kai, life-long best friends whose relationship is broken by the unfeeling Snow Queen. Can Gerda save Kai before his heart is frozen solid? imaginationstage.org Virtual. All ages

Q & A W I TH AU T H O R DA N B ROW N COMING FROM WRITING A MAINSTREAM BLOCKBUSTER HIT LIKE THE DA VINCI CODE, WHAT MADE YOU WRITE A CHILDREN’S BOOK? When I was a child, my parents chose not to have a television and instead encouraged us read books and practice music. My mom was a professional classical musician and had a big classical music collection, which I listened to as I read. I loved the picture books of Dr. Seuss with their zany creatures and silly poetry. With Wild Symphony, I wanted to create a similar magical world of pictures and poetry aimed at a new generation of young people, and I also hoped to take it one step further. Wild Symphony is very much a read-aloud picture book, but it also contains a surprising musical twist. For each of the animals in the story, I composed a unique piece of modern classical music—a short, fun composition that reflects that animal’s special personality—and through an exciting new technology, each animal’s music accompanies the illustrations and poems to create a fully-immersive storytelling experience.

WHAT INSPIRED THE STORY? I have always enjoyed playing and composing music. Some time ago, I was out walking near a marsh and heard many different kinds of frogs all singing together—croakers, peepers, bullfrogs—and it sounded like a classical fugue to me. When I got home, I composed a little piece called Happy Frogs and wrote a poem to go with it. I loved that creative process so much that I just kept going. Twenty animals later, Wild Symphony was born!

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN A FAN OF THE SYMPHONY? Absolutely. I grew up with classical music. My parents were trained musicians who chose not to have a TV, so instead I played piano, sang in choirs and went to lots and lots of concerts. Music was a secret sanctuary for me as a child. It calmed me when I felt frustrated, was a trusted friend when I felt lonely, helped me express my joy when I was happy, and, best of all, sparked my creativity and imagination. One of the most magical places on earth for me as a child was Boston’s Symphony Hall—especially for the


holiday pops concert. My mom was a church organist, and on Sunday mornings I sat beside her on the organ bench and turned pages for her. I remember feeling a wonderful connection with her as I followed the printed music, waiting for just the right moment to turn the page. My father sang tenor in a close-harmony quartet, and I remember listening to them rehearse, amazed that four voices could create such complicated and beautiful harmonies. Over the course of my life, I’ve learned that music truly is a universal language; rhythms and melodies affect all of us in very similar ways, regardless of our nationality, gender, culture, or even our age.

DO YOU PLAY ANY INSTRUMENTS? Yes. I’ve played piano since I was very young, and even now, I play every day—usually after I finish a long day of writing.

WILL THERE BE MORE CHILDREN’S BOOKS IN THE FUTURE? I’ll never say never, but at the moment I’m fully engrossed in researching and writing a new Robert Langdon thriller.

the big to do | C A L E N D A 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 t gree

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

Carmen Herrera: Structuring Surfaces Carmen Herrera has built a prolific career spanning nine decades, dedicated to expanding the boundaries of geometric abstraction. Carmen Herrera: Structuring Surfaces is the first MFAH exhibition devoted exclusively to the internationally celebrated Cuban American artist, who turned 105 in May.

complementary written pieces – original poetry, essays, short stories and plays. Through January 31, 2021



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.

Through April 25, 2021

Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life

Between Sea and Sky: Blue and White Ceramics from Persia and Beyond

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.

The enduring appeal of blue and white ceramics stretches across the centuries and around the world. This exhibition tells the story through the lens of the exceptional Hossein Afshar Collection of Persian ceramics, on long-term loan to the MFAH.

Through May 31, 2021

Through May 31, 2021




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

Compassion - A Virtual Exhibition Explore the meaning and manifestation of compassion in today’s world through vivid, colorful paintings, sculptures and other visual works of art paired with


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

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


SOUL A Q&A with Author Elizabeth Irvine visit www.elizabethirvine.com to order your copy. the clutter of our life and focus our mind on one essential truth at a time. To live more authentically and to discern what brings us meaning and joy.


his gentle, powerful guide from awardwinning author Elizabeth Irvine teaches the language of affirmations, inviting you to speak from your soul and step forward into your meaningful beautiful new life, the one that has always been there, awaiting you. Soul Language is all about saying more with less. An important part of learning to speak in this new way is using the power of affirmations. These short, clear, positive statements ask you to cut through the clutter of your life and focus your mind on one essential truth at a time. You will begin to speak a different language and have a fresh way of living. Here you are your best self—your true self. In this book, you will find fifty-two affirmations with accompanying inspirations. Begin your journey by taking a quiet moment each morning to consider a single page. This small but focused time will teach you much more than making declarations. You will learn how to redirect your energies, discern what’s important to you, and form a

AN AFFIRMATION SEEMS LIKE A GOOD IDEA, BUT DO THEY REALLY WORK? commitment to yourself—to weave the language of your soul into your every day.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO WRITE THIS BOOK? Decades of habit have helped me learn how to create an energetic vibration at the very center of my daily life. Over the past twenty-five years I have developed an intimacy with my practice of meditation and affirmation work. This book formed from applying affirmations into my life. The process of writing this book developed over many years with the intention to create a sacred book to use as a daily guide.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THE LANGUAGE OF THE SOUL? I hold the strong belief that we are all intuitive and can learn how to develop a relationship with our soul. The title, Language of the Soul references how to re-direct our energy, to gain clarity of who we are and what we want-- and to speak in a new way, to tap into our deeper self, our soul. Affirmations help to clear out

Using affirmations is much more than making declarations. You will learn how to redirect your energies, discern what’s important to you, and form a commitment to yourself—to weave the language of your soul into your every day.

CAN YOU GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO USE AN AFFIRMATION? To use an affirmation is about supporting your positive statements through your conscious energy. Here’s an example: The desired change of wanting to lose ten pounds would become the affirmation “I am healthy and vibrantly alive; I eat only nutritious food.” You would then channel the feeling of what it’s like to be healthier, be lighter in weight, and have focused energy. Tap into the power of your imagination and visualize being healthy and feeling vibrantly alive. See yourself choosing a green juice or healthy smoothie for breakfast, instead of a heavier bacon, egg, and cheese croissant. Can you sense the shift—feeling lighter, more satisfied, and happy with your choice? If this


is an affirmation that resonates with you, take this choice into action: Choose something healthy for breakfast tomorrow, and physically notice how you feel. Small steps add up. Soul work must be grounded in action to bring about consistent change.

HOW HAVE AFFIRMATIONS WORKED FOR YOU? Through diligence and decades of practice, affirmations have led me to a new way of life. A life that feels— more meaningful and holds a sense of ease and grace throughout the day. Using these short positive resolves has really taught me how to be more awake, to notice. To honestly think and speak differently. To bring my awareness to where I am putting my energy. To become comfortable and confident with my choices from deep within. In this place I feel more whole and happier more often.

Elizabeth Irvine: Nurse, educator and awardwinning author. She is the founder and owner of Truewellbeing Inc.

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