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family family a u g u s t 2 0 15 / f r e e

proudly serving parents for over 26 years


16. dealing with back-toschool jitters 20. sports less traveled


how tech stunts our kids’ social growth


after school activities directory


august twenty-fifteen

on the cover Ada H, 5. Ada loves nature and has the sweetest heart of any little girl. She is an amazing big sister and is always looking out for her friends.

24 fe atu re s

Photographed for Houston Family Magazine by Laura Chiles Photography


departments 6


FYI Facts and tips you need to know

BACK TO SCHOOL JITTERS Tips that will help kids get over their nerves by Keri Houchin

THE SPORT LESS TRAVELED It’s not just about football, baseball & basketball anymore by Marye Audet




TRAVEL Exploring Atlantis, Paradise Island by Kimberly Davis Guerra 4 . houston family magazine . august 2015



FAMILY TABLE Healthy alternatives for on-the-go eating by the editors of My Table


I AM HOUSTON Beatrice Muyah Mbai by Sara G. Stephens


FAMILY FINDS Back to school must haves


TALK TO THE DOC Cataracts, not just for adults by Dr. Kimberly Yen


FAMILY FINANCE Use those reward miles by Darryl Montgomery

real l i fe g ui d e 54 HE SAID, SHE SAID Time to buck the attendance system by Sam and Pam Middleton



BOOK BITES Recommendations from Blue Willow on books your kids will want to gobble up

on the go 42


resources 27




pg. 8

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 5

publisher’snote as the sun sets on

summer this year, we gear up for the coming school year. There is not much time before summer 2015 will be a distant memory! But, before we say goodbye to the lazy days, we have some great last minute suggestions for fun summer (or fall) family getaways! Check out our Family Finance column for clever suggestions on using credit card miles/points to help finance your next trip. While you are planning it, you may want to consider an island vacay. Say down in the beautiful Caribbean at Atlantis? This month, I recount our recent trip and review the ins and outs of Paradise Island! It is definitely worth the trip. If the kids are starting school too early for you to hit any last minute trips, we have you covered. This month’s contribution from My Table Houston offers scrumptious suggestions for families on the go! With routines back in place, this is perfect timing for your consideration. After all, the stress of the new school year always tends to get the best of some of us. If your child is one of those dealing with anxiety, we offer “Ten Tips for getting over those Back to School Jitters” from Keri Holchin. Put you mind and your child’s at ease. Overwhelmed with the sports choices for your budding athlete? Terrified of them tacking football or baseball this fall? Put your mind at rest, there are other options out there! Mary Audet dishes on the “Sports Less Traveled” and introduces us to a whole new world of athletes. Gone are the days of limited choices, open you mind to new possibilities! You may find a new passion for your child this fall! Whatever your plans are for winding down this summer, I hope that you enjoy every moment.



PUBLISHER Kimberly Davis Guerra

ART DIRECTOR Patricia M. Young


PRODUCTION Gayle Wheeler-LeSueur, Graphic Designer Laura Chiles, Photographer

MANAGING EDITOR Sara G. Stephens CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS Marye Audet, Keri Houchin Darryl Montgomery, My Table Magazine Andrea Slayden, Dr. Kimberly Yen ADVERTISING SALES Tish Petty, Karen Craft Beverly Davis

PRINTING RR Donnelley Contacts Us: 5131 Braesvalley, Houston, TX 77096 (P) 713.266.1885 (F) 713.266.1915

Houston Family is published monthly by Red Head Publishing, 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 ©2015 by Red Head Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without express permission is prohibited.

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familyfyi news, events and entertainment

harris county teens receive medals at carnegie hall

N fight freshman homesickness To help freshman college students fight homesickness,

ine of the best teen writers and artists from Harris County traveled to New York City’s Carnegie Hall in June to be honored with Scholastic Art & Writing Silver and Gold Medals. The Awards are sponsored regionally by Harris County Department of Edu-

cation. You can view a YouTube video from the evening at Carnegie Hall, including onstage recognition of national art portfolio medalist Vanessa Sosa of Pasadena Independent School District’s Sam Rayburn High School, at OLqyuHBrG-U.

WeMontage is sponsoring the “WeMontage College Homesickness Giveaway,” in which 100 lucky freshmen, nationwide, will win their own removable photo wallpaper montage. To enter students and/or parents simply upload their favorite high school moments-football games, senior trip, prom and more--to the WeMontage Facebook page or upload to Instagram using #WeMontageCollege. Deadline for entries is

recycle clothes, support your school


choola is an online shop where parents can score deep discounts (think 7590% off retail) on gently used top

label clothes for kids. What’s more, part

August 23, 2015. Randomly selected winners will be

of the proceeds of every sale goes

announced beginning August 24.

directly back to schools from where they were donated to fund important

let’s talk suicide


ore than 800 people will gather in Houston for the 11th annual Texas Suicide Prevention Symposium, August 19 at the Hilton Houston North. The symposium provides mental health professionals, educators and

programs, like art and music. Parents

those affected by suicide with the most up-to-date research and programs from leading experts across the United States. Free Registration and CEUs, first-come, first-served. Register online at

can help their kids’ school just by recycling last year’s outgrown clothes! Schoola sends the collection bag and handles all shipping for free.

houston schools turn to healthier fundraisers


ouston-area schools are exchanging sweet and salty snacks for healthier fundraisers like Boosterthon, where

students participate and learn the importance of fitness, character and leadership. In the 20142015 school year, 78 schools and more than

60,000 students in the Houston-area participated in the Boosterthon program. For more i nformation, visit

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 7

familyfinds the good stuff

Bixbee designer backpacks are customizable, oh-so-cool, and ergonomic, too, specifically designed for a kids’ unique measurements. Bixbee donates a schoolbag with supplies to a child in need for every Bixbee backpack purchased. Backpacks from $31.99. Lunchboxes from $19.99.

Go green with these fun and colorful reusable snack packs made of food-grade silicone. Fill them with delicious everyday snacks like trail mix, fruits, veggies or crackers. $13.95.

Whether it’s lunch kits featuring the shape (and sound!) of R2D2 to FUNtainers featuring beloved characters like Hello Kitty, My Little Pony and Spider-Man, send kids back to school with a favorite friend. $14.99.

back to school!

send your kids back to school looking cool and with all the right tools. check out these these smart and fun back-to-school finds!

These eco-friendly snack bags are adventurous alternatives to single-use plastic baggies. Fabric is easy-wipe and waterproof, machine washable and dishwasher-safe. $4.95.

NightFood provides a tasty, smart alternative to chips, ice cream, or other unhealthy late-night snacks. The energy derived from this healthy protein bar won’t interfere with a good night’s sleep. Plus, it has less sugar than a banana!

The tech behind the Back to Campus collection of performance mattress toppers, backrests, and pillows sets students up for nights of cool, dry sleep. PIllows offer dynamic support, while contouring for perfect spinal alignment. From $39.00 to $350.00. 8 . houston family magazine . august 2015

These handcrafted, 100% cotton kids bags are the perfect size to fit books and short lesson plans-they’re super popular with homeschool parents. Designed with positive messages, such as BE BRAVE, STAND TALL, and YES I CAN, these delightful bags set the tone for a day full of education and inspiration. $27-$32.

This alochol-free hand sanitizer not only kills 99.9% of bacteria, but also breaks down germ molecules for 90 days. It’s made with 7 moisturizers, 2 vitamins, and 6 botanical extracts, so it actually moisturizes hands. Offered in a small bottle that clips to backpacks. $15.96 for 4-pack.

Pack a little tenderness in your kids’ lunchboxes with yogurt and fruit snacks made from goat milk, which is easier to digest than cow milk. $1.79 each .$19.99 for 12-pack.

Pinch it, pack it, close it, clip it ... We love New Poucheez by PIllow Pets--the softest way to hold stuff on the go. They’re the perfect accessory for any backpack. $4.99.

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 9


The tiny Tadpole portable speaker is the ideal size to stuff into a backpack or purse, perfect for musical accompaniment when studying in the park. $19.99

The Rugged Book wireless Bluetooth tablet case and keyboard is made of tough polycarbonate and soft silicone. Its battery provides up to two years of typing between charges. Starts at $149.99.

Students gotta have tech, and it’s gotta be portable. Enter the Pocket Keyboard, which folds into an ultra-slim profile that’s compact and easy to slip into a backpack or coat pocket. It syncs up with your device, even your phone, at a moment’s notice, for easier typing, when typing can’t wait. $69.99. 10 . houston family magazine . august 2015

talktothedoc health and wellness cataracts, not just for adults dr. kimberly yen, pediatric ophthalmologist at texas children’s hospital

many parents have heard of cataracts, but don’t realize they can occur in children as well as adults. while age-related cataracts are the most common, cataracts can also affect newborns and children.

12 . houston family magazine . august 2015


cataract is a clouding or opacity in the lens of the eye. Normally, the lens is crystal clear. There are many types of cataracts in children; some are small and do not affect vision, while others are large and can cause severe vision loss. Some cataracts may be present from birth or are inherited while others develop later in childhood. Some even occur as a result of medication side effects, due to a medical condition or because of trauma. Cataracts affect vision because they stop light and images that enter the eye from reaching the retina (which is like the film of a camera in the back of the eye). In order for a child to develop good vision, the light and images that hit the retina must be clear so the brain receives a clear image from

the retina. If a cataract blurs the light and images, it can limit the development of vision because the vision centers in the brain do not develop properly; this causes a condition called amblyopia. Treatment of the cataract may be needed to prevent permanent vision loss. Cataracts in children that interfere with vision require surgery. If the cataract is not removed, it can prevent normal development of the vision centers in the brain. Tiny cataracts that do not seem likely to interfere with vision may be carefully monitored, but may need surgery if signs of a vision problem develop. If a cataract is very small or off-center, glasses and/or patching may be helpful for visual development and surgery can be delayed or avoided completely. A pediatric ophthalmologist can assess the cataract by using special lights and instruments to check the child’s eyes. Approximately three out of 10,000 children have a cataract. In children, cataracts can present in different ways. Sometimes, a cloudy or white spot can be seen in the middle of the pupil, which is the dark round circle in the center of the colored portion of the eye (iris). Some patients present with a misaligned or drifting eye (strabismus) or shaking of the eyes (nystagmus). Pediatricians will check the light reflex of children’s eyes to look for a cloud in the pupil. If any of these findings are seen in a child, then they need to see a pediatric ophthalmologist. In children, cataract surgery is performed under general anesthesia. To remove a cataract,

a few small incisions are made in the eye. An opening is made in the front of the lens capsule. The soft and cloudy inner part of the child’s lens is suctioned out of the capsule. Younger children may require an additional opening in the posterior lens capsule with some vitreous gel removal (called a vitrectomy). An intraocular lens is then sometimes placed within the empty lens capsule. Dissolvable stitches are used to close the wounds and the eye is generally patched overnight. The lens inside the eye focuses light and images so the eye can receive a clear image whether viewing something in the distance or up close. Once the lens is removed the eye can no longer focus light inside the eye the same way. There are several ways to restore this focusing ability: 1) a permanent intraocular lens implant is sometimes placed inside the eye at the time of cataract surgery, 2) a contact lens can be placed on the surface of the eye (contact lenses have to be removed and cleaned regularly), 3) glasses can be used to focus the light rays. Most children will need glasses after cataract surgery, even if an intraocular lens implant is placed, and most children will also need to wear bifocals to improve focusing up close. The method of correction required will depend on the child’s age and the type of cataract the child has.

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 13

familyfinance money matters planning a vacation? five ways to avoid a ‘break the bank’ scenario darryl montgomery, wells fargo region president, greater houston Read the terms and conditions thoroughly and understand how you can earn and redeem rewards. Some cards offer cash back while others offer points. Some credit cards allow customers to redeem for a variety of options, while other cards – such as those offered by some airlines and hotels – connect customers to reward redemptions for their specific product. Know what, if any, fees or charges occur when redeeming and whether your rewards ever expire. 2. Use rewards you’ve a lready earned.

we all want to make the most of our vacation. try using the rewards card in your wallet to make the most of a well-deserved break.


acations are good for you. They also can be expensive. For more than onethird of Americans, the cost of a vacation will be one of their largest expenses in the coming year, according to Wells Fargo’s recent “How America Buys and Borrows” survey. How can you avoid a ‘break the bank’ vacation and still make the most of your time away? One option may be sitting in your wallet: your rewards credit card. Read on for five tips to help you turn your vacation dreams into reality. 1. Understand how your rewards card works.

14 . houston family magazine . august 2015

Some consumers track rewards and redeem them regularly. Others rarely think about them. If you fall in the second category, check your rewards balance. You may have earned enough rewards to offset vacation costs like airfare, hotel stays or gift cards to merchants you plan on visiting while vacationing. Alternatively, you may prefer to redeem your rewards as an account credit and use the cash while traveling. 3. Earn rewards for the money you’ll spend on vacation.

The average vacationer spends just over $1,300 for travel, including food, lodging and transportation, estimates the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By responsibly using your rewards credit card for vacation costs, rewards can add up. You can redeem them later – perhaps, for next year’s vacation! 4. Understand travel-related benefits that come with

your credit card.

Traveling with your credit card offers a safer way to pay because if a card is lost or stolen, a quick call to your bank can stop charges to your account. In addition to rewards programs, many cards offer little known perks that may help make your travel smoother. For example, some credit cards offer 24/7 concierge services that can help you plan your trip or even make dinner reservations. Your card may also offer rental car insurance, no-fee currency conversions, competitive currency conversion rates, and travel protections like insurance for lost or damaged luggage. To learn more about these benefits, read your credit card agreement. 5. Look for special travel offers from your rewards program.

Check to see if your credit card offers special travel deals that come with additional rewards from specific retailers. To learn more about available offers, cardholders can typically check their rewards program website. To review Wells Fargo’s available offers, visit and www. As you plan to make the most of your vacation, keep budgeting and money management basics in mind. Be sure to let your bank know you’re going out of town, and consider using free tools – like online banking or your bank’s mobile app – to stay on top of your finances. That way you can kick back and enjoy your time away.

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 15


dealing with back to school jitters Tips from Houston’s top child psychologists that will get kids (and parents) over their nerves and onto a great, fresh start BY KERI HOUCHIN

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When my son Eli started first grade, he was

anxious about the things that most kids fear. What if he didn’t like his teacher? Or something was really hard? Or none of his friends were in his class? The last one was his worst-case-scenario: no friends. To ease his worries, I called a few other parents. To Eli’s disappointment – and mine a little too – it seemed as though none of his friends from kindergarten would be in his class that year. I knew that in the real worst-case scenario, he would make friends with whoever was in his class. He has an uncanny ability to be friends with literally everyone. Still, I didn’t want him to worry. Ever the optimist, I told him a little story. “I’ll bet that right now there is a kid who has just moved here. He is sitting at home, just like you, worrying that he will not have any friends.” This seemed to ease his worries, at least a little bit, and on Meet-the-Teacher Night my words came true. Like magic, a little girl entered the classroom. She was new, had just moved here from another state and was worried about making friends. Heroically, Eli took her by the hand and gave her a tour of the classroom, despite the fact that first grade was new to him too. The pair instantly hit it off and became good friends. Children naturally worry about back to school time. Parents do, too. There is something about change and the unknown that bothers everyone on some level. I’m sure both of my children will have a few back to school jitters this year and yours probably will, too. I gathered advice from child psychology experts Lisa M. Elliott, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and Clinic Manager at Cook Children’s Medical Center, a Fort Worthbased not-for-profit pediatric healthcare organization and Lou Ann Mock, Ph.D., a psychologist at Houston-based DePelchin Children’s Center. They had some great advice on how to help.

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 17

jitters 1. Know what to expect.

“Be sure to attend any type of school orientation day,” says Elliott. Most schools offer a ‘meet the teacher night’ so that students can acclimate themselves to the new environment. Spend some time talking to the teacher and familiarizing yourself with the new classroom. This will also give your child a chance to see who will be in his/her class. 2. Ease into changes.

“Beginning to ease back into a school day routine is helpful,” says Mock. Rather than making a big change all at once, move bedtime a few minutes earlier each night. Elliot also recommends going a step further. “Help your child prepare mentally for school by reading more, practicing math facts and engaging in other fun academic related games.” 3. Talk about your child’s worries.

Sometimes children are anxious about the unknown, so if you can answer questions, that can go a long way. Mock explains, “Talking about what he/she is anxious about would be a good place to start. Then you can address the specific fears. One girl was afraid to start a new school, but when questioned, it turned out she didn’t know where the restrooms were and would be too shy to ask! That was a simple fix.” 4. Involve your child in supply shopping.

Crowded stores and waiting in lines may not sound like much fun. However, letting him/her choose some of the supplies will “help them to take ownership” suggests Elliot. Even if you have a fairly specific list, your child can choose items in his/her favorite color or a lunch box with his/her favorite cartoon characters. 5. Stay positive.

Changes are stressful for adults too, but keep those concerns to yourself. Focus on what is most comforting, whether that is something new and exciting or old and reliable. “Try to be 18 . houston family magazine . august 2015

optimistic, supportive, and validating. Change is scary, but you have every confidence they will do fine.” says Mock. 6. Get organized.

Avoid rushing or forgetting anything by planning the first day. “Organization can often help ease your child’s concerns,” suggests Elliot. She recommends laying out clothes and packing lunches the night before. 7. Send a photo or notes.

For young children or those with separation anxiety, send a photo that can be kept in the locker or pencil box. Elliot recommends, “A very helpful tool is to place a family photo in a photo keychain that they can attach to their backpack.” Your child can check in with your smiling face whenever he/she is feeling anxious. A short note in the lunchbox will also brighten your child’s day. Even for those too young to read, a cute doodle or “I (heart) U” is perfect. 8. Establish a routine.

Back to school means back to homework and extracurricular activities, too. Mock suggests, “From the beginning establish a reasonable routine of snack, break, and then homework prior to television or other activities.” For kids who struggle with grades, positive habits can make a huge difference. 9. Set goals for the year.

Ask your child what he or she is looking forward to most, recommends Elliot. Create a list of things your child wants to accomplish this year, such as honor roll or a certain number of Accelerated Reader points. When the goal is met, celebrate it. 10. Don’t over-do it.

It can be tempting to fill your child’s schedule with fun extracurricular activities. “Each child is different,” warns Mock. “Your daughter/son may be capable of lots of activities when another child might be overwhelmed with the same schedule.” If your child seems anxious or tired, it may be necessary to cut back on something.

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 19


the sports less traveled

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While high school football will always rule Friday nights in Texas, increasing numbers of young people are seeking to participate in sports that traditionally have not been a part of the high school experience–and an increasing number of school districts are attempting to accommodate these wishes. Schools across the state, and across the country, are offering sports that haven’t been available in the past. Lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, water polo, fencing, and badminton are just a few of the many possibilities .


ebakey High in Houston has a gymnastics team, while Lamar boasts teams for field hockey, water polo, and lacrosse. The athletic departments at Houston high schools, and high schools in every other state, are radically different than they were even a decade ago when districts still funneled copious funds into their football programs. Administrators, coaches, parents, and students all feel that embracing other, less established sports is a move in the right direction. John Gillis, an assistant director with the National Federation of State High School Associations says of the trend, “Inclusion is what we’re all about–it is providing opportunities for everybody.” Why the Break from Tradition?

The big three sports–football, baseball, and basketball--have dominated high school sports for years. The players are often hailed as high-school royalty, and only a small percentage of students are able to participate. By introducing other sports into the schools, kids who would normally be on the sidelines can be recognized for their achievements and abilities as well. They are excelling at skateboarding, skiing, fencing, and more. Why shouldn’t they be recognized for their own accomplishments? Non-traditional sports may encourage a higher percentage of students to be involved in athletics. Participation in extracurricular activities helps to create students who become well-rounded adults. It also helps them to develop a sense of belonging to something and working within a team. With more teens dealing with feelings

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 21

sports of isolation and depression than ever before that sense of being part of something is essential. Families are more mobile, relocating more, and there is more moving from state to state. Sports that were once only popular in a certain region are being introduced across the nation by this movement. A student who has been on the lacrosse team in New York will want the same opportunities to play if his family moves to Texas, where that sport is less well known. A good example of this can be seen with ice hockey. Schools in Texas just didn’t offer ice hockey in the 1970s, but during the 1980s many families from the Northeast moved here, bringing a passion for hockey with them. Now most cities, as well as many schools, have ice hockey teams. Students who compete in BMX races or motocross outside of school hours want to get credit for their efforts, too. School districts must change the vision for their athletics department in order to stay current and to provide as many opportunities for students as possible. Not all students have the same physical abilities. A small student may not be able to play football but he may excel at downhill skiing or an equestrian event. A student who is wheelchair bound can’t play a normal game of basketball but can excel at wheelchair basketball. It’s a matter of making sports available to everyone who wants to participate. What Are the Possibilities in the Houston Area?

Students are requesting new sports be added to their high school athletics department on a regular basis. Hawaii offers high school championships in judo and canoe paddling. Georgia has a state championship in rifle. High school athletic departments are being redefined across the nation. What can you find in Houston?

• Clear Lake offers swimming, diving, water polo, and golf. 22 . houston family magazine . august 2015

• Cypress Creek High School offers swimming, water polo, dance, and wrestling. • The Kinkaid School offers lacrosse, field hockey, and golf as well as more traditional sports programs. • Houston High School offers golf and powerlifting as part of their athletics program. • Memorial High School offers field hockey, golf, lacrosse, and rugby. • Stratford High offers lacrosse, swimming, and volleyball. • Westside High School offers lacrosse, golf, water polo, and both boys and girls wrestling teams. This is, by no means, a complete listing of the sports available in Houston-area schools. Check with your child’s school, or schools you are considering, to get a list of what is available. Keep in mind that many of these sports began in the schools as a result of students’ and parents’ asking for them. If your child enjoys a particular sport, you may want to discuss adding it to your school’s athletic schedule. If enough students show an interest administrators may choose to add it to the athletic program. Schools Must Encourage a Balance

There is on disturbing pattern in all of this. Many of the schools for gifted students and those focusing on math and science have fewer available sports activities than the other high schools. Some don’t offer sports at all. For decades there were Texas high schools that focused on sports, and football in particular, while allowing academics to take a secondary role. It seems that the pendulum may have swung the opposite direction. Where the focus is now on strong academics, some schools have sports tacked on to the curriculum without much thought. There should not be a gulf between athletics and academics. Opportunities to be involved with lesser known sports may be the key to piquing these students’ interests in physical activities.


how technology and social media are changing our kids by Andrea Slaydon When I was 12 years old, a boy named Coy gave me a golden ring out of the vending machine. Apparently, this meant he was my boyfriend. After a day’s long relationship, I decided to end it. I remember being so nervous about breaking things off. I wrote down what I was going to say and practiced it over and over. Then, it was time. 24 . houston family magazine . august 2015


y stomach was in knots. I ran up to him in front of the band hall and gave him the ring back. I remember the look on his face-sheer devastation. Poor Coy. Fast-forward to 2015. How do you think this same scenario would go down? I’m guessing a quick “I’m breaking up with you” text? Maybe. Perhaps I might snap chat a quick message, or I could always just change my relationship status on Facebook. Social media and the use of technology has changed everything from the way we order our groceries to the way we interact with our closest friends and strangers across the globe. What impact is this having on our children? How can this affect them down the road? What can

we do about it? How much are kids really using the internet? New information out from the Pew Research Center shows 92% of teens ages 13-17 go online at least one time a day. 24% of those say they are online “almost constantly.” These kids are not just browsing around. Pew says 71% use several different social media outlets, with Facebook’s being most popular, followed by Instagram then Snapchat. The result? “We are raising children who are unable to look at someone and hold a meaningful conversation. They don’t know how to handle the face to face,” said Jana McLain, Ph. D., LPC, “They are missing a huge piece of learning how to read body language and social cues from others. It’s

almost like a way of life.” As a Licensed Professional Counselor, McLain sees children who are unable to express themselves appropriately. “Many of the children I see on a daily basis cannot use feeling words to explain why they are upset. Often times, they expect their problems to be resolved without discussing what went wrong. It is sad to see basic interpersonal skills fading out and a society of one liners taking shape,” said McLain. Humans are wired to interact based on certain nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions or body language. With social media, that factor is gone. From texts and messages, everything is sugar coated with silly character faces that show emotions, or “emojis.” Stella Greer is a high-school

counselor and former teacher. Over the years, she has noticed children becoming less and less comfortable speaking to other people. “Instead of telling someone they are upset they send a face with smoke coming out of it’s nose. The lack of communication and expression is creating havoc that will follow this generation through their lives,” said Greer. “When I was in the classroom I noticed their spelling was horrific,” said Greer. “They would spell the way they text. I had students that would put IDK for an answer to a question. IDK stands for “I don’t know.” Instead of trying to answer they would put IDK down.” McLain believes the world of social media will negatively impact kids in their future professional lives as well. “As adults, we are expected to participate in meetings, conferences and social events. Many jobs require the employee to speak with customers or clients to exchange goods or services. Our children are missing out on the early stages or communication. They are not learning to listen, respond and interact,” said McLain. Greer knew she had to do something when she noticed the worrisome problem in her own house. “I began to notice my teenage son would sit on the phone and text constantly, but given the chance would not talk to the same person on the phone,” said Greer. “He became braver, too, revealing more of himself to people he barely knew. When you have a screen to look at you feel invincible, and the fear of the unknown is gone. This is putting this younger generation in danger of predators. After feeling my child was spending too much time texting instead of talking I took away that privilege.” With texting taken away, Greer’s 13 year old son was forced to talk on the phone to a friend. “I was shocked to see that my son had a hard time even working the phone. Listening to his conversation was excruciating. He had no idea how to talk

on the phone. I felt so bad for him because it was so awkward. But practice makes perfect.” Technology and social media are not going anywhere. A separate Pew study found that by 2020, members of Generation Y will “disclose a great deal of personal information in order to stay connected and take advantage of social, economic, and political opportunities. Even as they mature, have families and take on significant responsibilities their enthusiasm for widespread information sharing will carry forward.” So, what do we do about it? It needs to start with the adults. “Parents and adults need to engage children in meaningful conversation. We need to put down our phones, tablets and computers and set an example for the children at our dinner tables. Look around at restaurants, how many families are actually talking? Sadly, very few. The vast majority are on their phones or using tablets to keep their children quiet,” said McLain. “Conversation takes practice, and the overuse of social media will make it much harder for children to learn this much needed skill,” said Greer. Mom of five, Stacey Benoit recently allowed her 15 year old to set up a Facebook page, but she keeps a close eye to what’s going on. “I have the password so I can check it anytime I need to. Also, she only gets to use electronics every other day if her chores are done.” Melissa Hale’s 14 year old has a private Instagram account. “She is following only 138 people, whom I also follow,” said Hale. You can self monitor or let technology help. Avira and TeenSafe are examples of programs that allow you to link up all of your child’s social media accounts. Parents are sent social media monitoring reports via email. “The more we address and talk about this growing problem, the more likely we are to find a simple solution,” said McLain. “We are the role models for the children in our lives.” august 2015 . houston family magazine . 25

on the web.

online content


The lazy days of summer may be slipping away, but our editorial staff is raring to go!

online exclusives Blocked Out at the Block Party Eye and Sun Safety Tips Vacationing with a Nanny Weekend Getaway: Family-Fabulous Brenham!


“I’m worried about middle school: What if I don’t see my old friends?” 26 . houston family magazine . august 2015

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• 2 night stay at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX

• Family 4-pack of Passes to LegoFest in Austin: Sept 4-6, 2015 • Family 4-pack of Schlitterbahn Passes • Little Mermaid Tickets Sept 10-13, 2015

camp directory 2012



One of the hardest things about heading back to school is saying goodbye to all those long, lazy days of summer but there’s still plenty of fun to be had well past August. Our After School Directory has many exciting, enriching programs that can keep that summer spirit going all year long - as well as help your child develop new skills and friendships. However, be sure to choose your child’s extracurricular activities carefully according to her interests, abilities and available time - beware overscheduling.

Action Potential Learning 888-828-7950

Math & science doesn’t have to be difficult. We offer quality, affordable in-home tutoring from experienced math and science professionals. Math and science is what we do.

A. D. Players - Children’s Theater

A. D. Players Children’s Theater provides entertaining, educational, and value-based entertainment appropriate for all ages that provides children with an engaging, creative escape into the magical world of theater.

2710 W. Alabama Houston, TX 77098 713-526-2721,

Alliance Fencing Academy Houston: 4141 Directors Row, Ste E, Houston TX 77092 The Woodlands: 27326 Robinson Rd #110, Conroe TX 77385, 713-410-6655

Boy Scouts of America 2225 N Loop W, Houston 77008 713-659-8111

Claire School of Dance 1703 Heights Blvd, Houston 77008 713-880-5565

Discover Gymnastics 747 N. Shepherd Dr. #400 713-680-0045

Crossing Borders Camps Houston, Spring, The Woodlands, & Katy locations 281-465-0899

We’re focused on providing a rewarding experience that will build confidence, reinforce teamwork and inspire the personal growth necessary for your child to take the next step in life.

The Sam Houston Area Council is the foremost youth-serving organization in our community that develops character, citizenship and fitness for boys ages 7-20. Please visit our website for program details.

Heights studio offering classes in ballet, creative movement, tap, and Pilates for students 2 1/2 through adult, beginner to professional. ABT certified program. Performance opportunities. Technique, fun, and camaraderie.

Discover Gymnastics is Houston’s premier gymnastics facility, serving over 1,500 students in competitive and non-competitive gymnastics, tumbling, fitness, toddler, preschool, summer camps, and dance, programs. With top-notch coaches and staff, and a world-class facility Discover Gymnastics is the perfect place for you child’s athletic pursuits. Enroll your child in an immersive summer camp at Crossing Borders! Spanish, English (ESL), French, and Mandarin. Childhood is the ideal time to acquire a second or third language. With proper exposure in a controlled environment, children are like sponges, and they can absorb the sounds, words, and sentence structures of a completely foreign language with little difficulty. august 2015 . houston family magazine . 27

A F T E R S C H O O L DIRECTORY D-BAT West Houston 4310 Brittmoore Road Houston, TX 77041 713-460-3228

Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston 5601 S. Braeswood Houston, TX 77096 713-551-7223 Fun Fair Positive Soccer 22 locations offered city wide Houston Area 800-828-PLAY (7529),

Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council 3110 Southwest Freeway Houston, TX 77098 713-292-0300,

HITS Theater 311 W. 18th Street Houston 77008 713-861-7408

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At D-BAT West Houston, our Camps and Clinics provide a great opportunity for players to improve as players while having fun at the same time. Lessons are taught with the ballplayer as the focus while involving the parents during the lesson. We have great instructors who can instruct players at every level for improvement.

KidZone at the J is a popular place for kids after school. Whether it’s one or five days a week, KidZone provides snack time, homework room, gymnastics, tennis, gym time and more. Transportation is available from the following schools: Beren Academy, Beth Yeshurun, Herod, Horn, Kolter, Condit, Lovett, Parker and Shlenker. Go to

FFPS provides a positive youth sports experience for boys and girls ages 4 – 18. FFPS guarantees equal playing time, playing all positions each game, and balanced teams with positive coaching. No tryouts are required and special needs players are included on regular teams. All games are played locally. Every player receives a full uniform and trophy.

Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is a community based organization in Northwest Texas, helping to build girls of courage, confidence and character in a friendly and educational all-girl environment.

HITS Theatre offers the finest professional quality training in the performing arts for children and teens. Our classes are taught by skilled professionals specializing in the disciplines of acting, dancing and singing. Each class culminates in a full production where every student performs on stage.

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 29

A F T E R S C H O O L DIRECTORY Hannah Bacol Busch Gallery YOUNG ARTIST GROUP 6900 S. Rice Ave., Bellaire 77401 713-527-0523

iKids Inc. 3701 W. Alabama Ste. 380 Houston, TX 77027 713-665-5200,

Language Kids Various locations, schools and preschool in the Houston Metro area 281-565-1388,

The Little Gym 10 Houston area locations

Mad Science 6300 Westpark Ste. 500 Houston, TX 77057 Serving the Greater Houston Area 713-663-7623

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Tuesday-Friday 5:30PM-7PM. Saturday 11AM-3PM. Indvidual/Group. Fundamental and advanced techniques in sketching, drawing, painting & sculpting. Photography & digital art offered as well. $35/student. Private lessons available. All supplies included.

After-school programs, enrichment classes, and specialty services offered on-site at schools in the Houston area.

Give your child the gift of another language! Spanish, Mandarin Chinese & French classes for children. Music & play-based programs for young children and innovative and fun classes for school-age children.

Enroll today in one of our Parent/Child, PreK, or Grade School Gymnastics classes as well as Hip Hop, Dance, Sports Skills, or Karate classes. The Little Gym offers a variety of programs for children ages 0-12 years. Please visit our website for more details.

We spark imaginative learning after school! No boring stuff here -- our super cool topics include rocketry, magnets, polymers and even the science of toys. Children engage in exciting hands-on activities, watch spectacular demonstrations, participate in inquiry-based discussions and take home things that they have made themselves like model rockets, periscopes, Mad Science putty and more.



MFAH Glassell Junior School 5100 Montrose Boulevard Houston, Texas 77006, 713-639-7700 glassell-junior-school

Salle Mauro Fencing Academy 4007 Bellaire Blvd, Suite EE Houston 77025 832-778-8745

Sam Houston Equestrian Center 13551 Lew Briggs Rd, Houston 77047 713-433-PONY (7669)

Young Picassos Houston 4130 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. 210 Houston, Texas 77025 713-364-9214

Prelude Music Classes for Children Locations in Houston, The Woodlands & Sugar Land 832-803-7701

The Glassell Junior School is an art school for young people ages 3–18, devoted to nurturing creativity and dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the arts and an awareness of the world. Choose from drawing, painting, video, animation, ceramics, fashion design and more! Visit our website for more details about our fall art classes for kids.

Houston fencing classes available for children and adults of all ages and skill levels. Come discover the fun and excitement of learning swordplay. We strive to offer an exceptional fencing experience for the beginner through advanced fencer.

Five miles south of the Medical Center. Patient instruction on well-trained mounts. Group riding lessons at 4:30 PM Wed,Thur,Fri. Adult lessons at 6:30. Private lessons by appointment.

After school classes offered at our professional studio in the Bellaire/West U area, or call us for art classes at your school! 713-364-9214 space is limited! Students will learn art techniques, vocabulary and art history. Design fun, creative and cool art projects. Painting, drawing, sculpting, cartooning & more! All art materials included.

Prelude offers Music TogetherÂŽ classes, a research based music and movement program for children from birth to age 7, and the grown-ups who love them.

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 31

Bodhi swimming with ‘Kelly’ at Dolphin Cay.

Exploring Atlantis, Paradise Island Sayonara Summer, One Last Hurrah Before Summer Ends! By Kimberly Davis Guerra


t all started with an innocent conversation with my son earlier this year. ‘Mom, I want to go see the flying fish’. What are you talking about?? ‘The flying fish on TV’. I go in the den to view the flying fish in the commercial for Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas. And so the planning began. It turns out, United flys direct to Nassau from Houston Intercontinental. In a mere 2.5 hours, you can find yourself literally in paradise. A short, crazy, 30 minute cab ride then brings

32 . houston family magazine . august 2015

you over to the Atlantis kingdom on Paradise Island. As you zip through the colorful streets, you can’t help but notice the beautiful, blue water beckoning you just beyond the buildings. The air is a little warmer, but the constant sea breeze makes it easily bearable. As you roll up onto the island, you have 5 hotels to choose from to accommodate every price range and traveler’s interest. From family oriented at the Beach Tower to the more exclusive Reef Hotel, there truly is something for everyone.

Atlantis Paradise Island Hotels • The Beach Tower: Value Priced Rooms • The Coral Tower: Moderately Priced Rooms • The Royal Towers: Iconic Deluxe Atlantis Experience

• The Cove: Luxury Tower with Adults Only Pool • The Reef: Luxury Residential Style Rooms & Suites At time of press, rooms range from $250-$670 a night. Call or visit the Atlantis Paradise Island web site for the most up-to-date offers and rates at .

We chose to stay at the Reef because of the kitchenettes offered in the rooms. It is a perfect set up for families with kids with special dietary needs, infants, toddlers, or just picky eaters. If you stay at the Reef, make a stop on your way from the airport to pick up your culinary essentials. You will save yourself a ton of time and money by tackling this before you make it to the hotel and are sucked in to all of the fun activities! I waited and spent over $100 on the cab and a few essentials at the local grocery store! Conversely, if eating out is part of the fun of your vacations, then Atlantis has plenty for you to choose from! Fine dining abounds at Atlantis with celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Jean George Vongerichten and nine restaurants offering various styles from Southwestern to Italian to French-Asian fusion! There are a total of 11 casual dining spots and 20 poolside or quick dining spots to fulfill those hungry appetites after swimming all day!

Let’s talk about the water adventures! After all, we we are here to soak up some sun and have some water fun! No matter what your speed, there is something for all ages and adventure styles here. All water slides and pools are included with your stay. With 11 swimming pools and 10 water slides to choose from, you can definitely stay busy. Our favorite water ride turned out to be the Lazy River, but don’t let the name fool you. There are rapids and waves that keep you engaged and awake on this Lazy River! I think we spent the better part of our time enjoying this one! A close second was the Serpent Slide that took us through a pitch black tube then dumped us in a very well lit tube that we were surrounded by sharks. Last was the Splashers Kids Fort that periodically dumps tons of water on all the participants while they slip and slide through various small slides. If you are looking for more adventure than just spending time on the slides or in the august 2015 . houston family magazine . 33

pools, you are in luck. Parasailing and wave runners are available for rent off the beach. Looking for a little more low key activity, how about a paddle bike or paddle board to tool around Paradise Lagoon? Always wanted to swim with Flipper, that can be arranged! Or, you can hang out with stingrays &/or sea lions for a while. Or cool off while you stroll through the glorious aquariums in The Dig. No matter which direction you choose, you are sure to have a great time. We chose to swim with the Dolphins in Dolphin Cay for our big adventure. This was a special rite of passage with my daughter, so it was only fitting we took the time to partake! My son was a little nervous at first, but once he was in the water and met Kelly the dolphin, it was all smiles from there. It was definitely worth it and I would highly recommend. For those of you with kids who may need a break from the sun, there is a kids club called Atlantis Kids Adventures. From 34 . houston family magazine . august 2015

the coolest gaming to the state of the art’s kids kitchen, there is ample to do for every personality. There is also a theatre with free movies and a library for those who are so inclined. We happened to luck out and take part in the Cartoon Network’s Floating obstacle course, Screen on the Green and Character parade. If any of you are fans of the station, you will be very pleased with the activities. My favorite was the floating obstacle course, but Bodhi’s was definitely the Screen on the Green. Nothing beats eating popcorn and watching Gumball on a huge outdoor screen under the stars! Cartoon Network Experience is available through August 22nd. Whatever you decide to do, one thing is abundantly clear, there is something for everyone at Atlantis Paradise Island. The best part is, that you can enjoy it as a family. Making summer vacation memories is worth every penny!

Tips for a Great Time 1. STOP ON YOUR WAY IN

If you staying at the Reef, or want snacks for your room, make a stop on your way to the hotel from the airport to the local Super Value Grocery store. It will save you the $50 cab ride to/from the hotel later in your stay


You really do not need to bring much for this vacation. A carry-on is really all you need. Pack 2 suits, 2 coverups, 3-4 pairs of shorts, 4 t shirts, 2-3 dresses/outfits for dinner, water shoes and sandals/casual shoes, lots of sunscreen, goggles/sunglasses and a great hat. That is really all you need.


If you want to visit any of the fine dining establishments and you wait until you are on the island, you will not get in! Make your plans ahead of time . You can always opt for more casual, if you are not in the mood.


So if you are planning a casual dinner by the pool, make sure you get in before the close up shop or you will be stuck with room service!

4. MAKE ADVENTURE RESERVATIONS IN ADVANCE Again, we met many families that were unable to get in for the Cartoon Network’s obstacle course r the Dolphin experience because all of the time slots were taken!


I brought my Rebel and was unable to get the really great pics I wanted when we were on the rides or in the water!


While it was great to have the Ipad when were delayed for 5 hours at the airport, it wasn’t so great when we were at the hotel. My other suggestion is to lock it in the safe until you leave! You will save yourself a ton of money on your data plan!


WiFi is available on the island, but the data you are streaming can get extremely costly. So, unless you need to be dialed in for work, I would stick all of the devices in your safe and turn them off.


You will spend a lot of money on this trip. No two ways about it, so why not get some of that money back by using a card that offers money back like Discover or Capital One.


Everything opens up at 9am. If you don’t want to fight the crowds, get out early and beat the lines on your favorite rides. You will get in a good hour’s worth of fun before the crowds start building.


Be sure to stay hydrated! It is so easy to get caught up in all the sugary drinks and delights. Be sure you & the kids bring the water bottles down from your room or keep your cups and take advantage of the free refills!

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 35

familytable houston’s best eats food on the run by the editors of my table, houston’s dining magazine dressing, already to go and in individual, controlled portions. To the right of the island are sparkling waters, root beers, juices (both fresh squeezed in bottles and pint-sized for little hands) cool, colorful, and ready to go. You needn’t stand in the main grocery check-out if you’re just running in to grab snacks before picking the kids up and taking them to the next stop: you can check-out at the coffee booth or the café cashier right there in the to-go foods area. Local Foods

One of our favorite picks at Local Foods are to select your own trio of salads or sides for $11. Unless your kids are the type to eat anything, this probably isn’t best for fussier eaters. But you’ve got to eat too – grab a trio for yourself and some hummus to-go for the children.

busy schedules demand fast meals--not necessarily fast food. houston offers a bounty of healthy alternatives for on-the-go eating. 36 . houston family magazine . august 2015


ast summer, we had a great time at My Table picking out vittles for our picnic story. We surfed around Houston reaching into prepared foods cases, testing out earth-friendly food vessels and we even dabbled in boxed wine and cans of Champagne. One of the trickiest parts of pulling together information on the editorial side wasn’t finding ideal picnic locations around town for the whole family, or how to pack best for a date night al fresco, but instead finding healthful, prepared meals for little foodies. Road trips, day camp, baseball games and soccer practice all mean that someone has to eat in a car (or with the other siblings and parents on

the bleachers) and with busy schedules of working parents making food to-go can be easily forgotten or even just not feasible. For obvious reasons, driving through for fast food is a last resort for most parents. We’ve made a list of wholesome, healthful meals to-go that you can find in your neighborhood. Perfect to throw in the cooler for a trip to Galveston, or even to catch a bite in the car. Central Market

The bulk prepared foods cases can be intimidating, but just breeze past it. To the left of the island of cases are the kids meals, sandwiches, salads, sushi, chopped fresh fruit, diced cheese and stacked crackers bundles and crudités with

Relish Fine Foods

Similar to Central Market’s prepared foods section – meaning Relish Fine Foods is predominantly a to-go joint, made for those who need to nosh on the run or just don’t feel like cooking – the options are lush in design but fewer in options. Which may be a good thing, as for many consumers the paradox of choice makes occasions like this even more stressful. We’re partial to Relish’s sticky brown butter Rice Crispy treats, and their selection of Houston Dairymaids cheeses and Grateful Bread cured meats means you can dine on charcuterie, if that is your calling. Check their menus online and call in your order 15 minutes ahead of time to make it even easier.

Instacart App allows you to order online and have food delivered!

Trader Joe’s

There are people who swear by the caprese subs that are prepared and ready-to-go in the deli case at Trader Joe’s. In our office, we can vouch for the varied prepared salads that they’ve got in the same case – they’re small and they don’t explode in your face when you open them. (We suggest the spicy ranchero egg white salad and the roasted butternut squash, red quinoa and wheatberry salad.) If you haven’t fall victim to the dried fruit and nut selection, count yourself as lucky. While the bags of dried apricots and apples, trail mix, pistachios and Brazil nuts aren’t small and snack-size, many of them are re-sealable and side into a purse without risking a peanut leakage. A word of warning, though, about the crunchy Inner Peas snack found on the chip aisle at Trader Joe’s: They are addictive. You kids will be begging for baked peas as a snack. Whole Foods

Easy enough, Whole Foods has prepared meals and snacks that are portion size appropriate and wholesome. While the spring rolls are delicious (and huge) and the pair can satisfy an adult, they’re too big and messy for back seat diners. Look for the small fruit, yogurt and granola parfait (don’t forget the spoon!) or finger foods such as the cheese cubes and fruit boxes and the kid-sized sandwiches in the same case. The ‘Family table’ column is brought to you as a collaboration between My Table and Houston Family Magazines. This column will appear monthly in print & online. For more information on great dining in and around Houston, please pick up the latest issue of My Table or visit them online at august 2015 . houston family magazine . 37

iamhouston people who represent all that is good about houston

beatrice muyah mbai teaches locally and acts globally interviewed by sara g. stephens


HFM: Tell us a little about yourself and your family. BM: I am a teacher at The Redd School here in Houston. I am 39 years old and married. I have two boys--11 and 9. We moved here in 2009 from Kenya. HFM: What grade and subject do you teach? BM: I teach kindergarten, so I teach everything. But math is one of my major strengths, and I do enjoy social studies. HFM: What made you decide to become a teacher? BM: I have always loved working with children. To see them learn. To see their eyes pop open when something has clicked. I love those moments. My father always told me education is something nobody can take away from you. When I stopped my IT career, I decided to spread the good word. HFM: Where did you live in Kenya? BM: It was a small town called Kericho. It’s a little larger and more developed than Nduriri, the village my father and grandfather grew up in.

38 . houston family magazine . august 2015

HFM: Nduriri is the village you have been working to help for the last two years. How did that happen? BM: Nduriri was my grandfather’s home. This village is in the central part of Kenya. It’s a forest and mountain area, tucked in the middle of nowhere. Everything develops around it, but the village itself is overlooked or forgotten. My dad had been a student at one of the schools I am now helping. When he grew up, he went out of the village to get a job. But when he retired, he went back to do farming. He would be on the road going to farm at 6 am, and he would notice children walking to school, sometimes in the rain, some with no shoes, walking for miles to get to school. It broke his heart. He called me and asked, “Please, how can we help?” I had to say, “I really don’t know what to do, I’m way out here. How can I possibly help?” Then, one day I saw somebody disposing books in a recycling bin. They were perfectly good books, so at the risk of being called a trash picker, I decided to take them

‘‘ when we take the world as our community, we start developing tolerance and compassion for each other.


a native of kenya, beatrice works to help schools in an impoverished village in kenya and to remind us we may live in houston, but we are also members of the world community.

and send them to those schools in Nduriri. I talked to teachers, and to Miss Ellen [Ellen LeBlanc, director of The Redd School] about getting more books. They were a tremendous help. HFM: And so that’s how the book drive started. As I understand, The Redd School students have collected over 4,000 books and other materials.

BM: Yes, and other schools give books, too. But the bulk this year come from The Redd School. The students would go home and ask parents what they could give. And each classroom would collect books, almost like a competition. I would see some Redd school kids asking, “Can we send them my lunchbox, or some food, or my backpack?” and oh, my God, it touched my heart. I was really touched. Then I knew we’re teaching the right things here. It’s quite amazing. HFM: If it were possible to copy one aspect of Kenya to Houston for you and your family to enjoy here in Houston, what would it be? BM: The people in Kenya go against all odds to get what they need to get. That’s why the children walk for miles to

get an education. Because, believe me, sometimes I wonder, would I have done the same? Or would I have just said, “Forget it! I’ll do some farming.” But they do it. They go against all odds. HFM: What do you most enjoy about Houston? BM: We’ve grown to love Houston! People are very hospitable and so giving. This last Saturday, we got a bunch of families to help us pack books to send to Kenya. These people took their Saturday afternoon, and it was a very hot afternoon, and they spent it in a hot warehouse to help us. Everyone looked like they’d had a bucket of water poured over them, they were sweating so bad. But everyone was talking and making jokes, in the midst of all the sweat. Mr. LeBlanc [Will, LeBlanc, of Educational Excellence In America] would just say, “Look at me, I’m sweating like a pig!” And he’d laugh and wipe his head and go back

to work. Nobody complained. It nearly brought tears to my eyes. T.F. Hudgins, Inc. donated the use of their warehouse, too. They are going to crate the books for us. Mr. LeBlanc will later use those crating materials to build shelves for the schools. He’s going to write people’s names on the crates, so these children will know it’s not a corporation, it’s children helping other children, people helping other people. HFM: If a student from Nduriri were to spend a day in a Houston classroom, what one thing would most surprise him or her? BM: Oh, where do I begin? There’s so, so much! But, for starters, most fundamentally, the supplies would really surprise them. When these kids get a pencil, they split it in two, so they can share it. They have no books. Teachers have one class, with one textbook, and the teacher is using that textbook to teach the class.

HFM: What about Nduriri schools would surprise HISD students? BM: How happy those kids are. Even in the lack of the basics. The kids are happy. They play outside, make up games--they’re a happy bunch of people. They want to learn as much as they can. Sometimes, even with my own kids, I say, “Let’s get books to read, and they moan and groan and don’t want to read. If I said that to some of those children in Kenya they would literally eat me up! HFM: How does the book drive work? Can Houstonians still donate books? BM: The book drive continues. I hope to do this every year. My idea is to set up a library in these two Nduriri schools. The idea is for them to get a good educations, so they get better jobs and help the whole village--maybe open some industries to create jobs in the area. We talked to Miss Ellen, and we are hoping to get some

teachers sent to the village to update the teachers there. Most have a diploma or less or a certificate. If we do get enough funds, we would like to send teachers there for a week or two, and maybe bring some of the Kenya teachers here. Teachers here have so much to teach. HFM: What do you most want young people to learn from you? BM: We’re not just part of the community in Houston, we’re one big community, this whole world, regardless of where we live. When we take the world as our community, we start developing tolerance and compassion for each other, not just where we live, but in other countries and geographies. Note: A campaign has been launched on indiegogo, where people can contribute funds to help fund Beatrice’s efforts in Kenya. projects/books-to-kenya#/story

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 39

bookbites book reviews

for the love of reading valerie koehler, owner of the beloved blue willow bookshop, and her staff hand-pick the best reading selections for kids.

baby/toddler: global baby bedtimes by maya ajmera (charlesbridge books, july 2015)

The photographs of babies in their own beds worldwide will enchant both children and parents. They are all being put to sleep lovingly and gently. Sing a lullaby while you turn the pages. This sturdy book is the fifth in a multicultural collection that deserves a spot on your bookshelf.

emerging readers: happy birthday, cupcake! by terry border (philomel books, july 2015)

It’s Cupcake’s birthday. and she and her best friend Muffin are trying to plan the party. Every idea they have doesn’t work for all the guests (Hamburger might not enjoy a frosting makeover), so they don’t know what to do. Great wordplay and hilarious pictures make this a very fun read for early elementary grades. 40 . houston family magazine . august 2015

teens: the fixer by jennifer lynn barnes (bloomsbury books u.s.a. for children, august 2015) out of the woods by rebecca bond (farrar, strauss, & giroux, july 2015)

The author shares one of her grandfather’s stories of growing up in a small logging town in Canada. When a forest fire roars through the area, the humans and the animals weather the disaster together in the lake. Bond relates the story in a way that is both familiar and dreamlike. It’s a wonderful introduction to non-fiction that could encourage children to tell their own family stories. tweens: the book scavenger by jennifer chambliss bertman (square fish, july 2015)

Emily’s family has moved eight times in her twelve years. Emily struggles with making friends, but when her family moves to San Francisco, she’s delighted, because San Francisco is home to publisher Garrison Griswold.

Griswold is the creator of Book Scavenger, a game that combines online encoded clues with the physical hunt for a book, sort of like geocaching. When Griswold is attacked and seriously injured, Emily and her new friend James must solve the clues and avoid falling into danger as well. A fantastic book for book lovers and puzzle enthusiasts.

When her grandfather’s dementia takes a turn for the worse, Tess Kendrick is plucked from the family ranch in Montana to live with her sister in Washington, DC. Her sister, Ivy Kendrick, is Washington’s #1 “fixer” -- a woman who makes problems go away for a price. Soon Tess finds that she has the same skills and becomes embroiled in a political conspiracy with deadly consequences.

goodbye stranger by rebecca stead (wendy lamb books, august 2015)

Middle school can be so difficult. A trio of best friends must navigate the halls of school, the change in their bodies, and the inevitable difficulties in their relationship. Told with loving eyes by Newbery winner Stead, the reader walks with them as they learn and grow.

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 41


calendar of events

Spider Man Day at The Children’s Museum of Houston.

august 1

movie nite on the strand – the outsiders.

Moviegoers are encouraged to stop for a bite to eat at a wide variety of downtown restaurants before setting up a blanket or chair for a free movie under the stars. All ages. Free. Movie begins after dusk. Saengerfest Park. 2300 Strand, Galveston.

creation station: central asian musical instruments.

In celebration of The Roof of the World Festival, a summer folk music and dance gathering in Tajikistan, we will create instruments inspired by those played in Central Asia for generations. 42 . houston family magazine . august 2015

All ages. Free (with reservations). 1pm-3pm. Asia Society Texas. 1370 Southmore Blvd., Houston. 713-496-9901.

back to school splash bash.

All ages. Free with admission. All day. Houston Children’s Museum. 1500 Binz St., Houston.

first saturday arts market: white linen night.

Bring your family and cool off in our FREE waterslides, have fun with the hula hoop contest, food and drinks, plus fun activities and live music all day with a DJ spinning summer fun beats! All ages. Free. 12-4pm. Sugar Land Town Square. 2711 Town Center Blvd., Sugar Land. 281-276-6000.

First Saturday Arts Market is a monthly outdoor fine arts event featuring the works of dozens of visual artists and showcasing paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry and handcrafted items. All ages. Free admission. 6pm-10pm. Wind Water Gallery parking lot. 548 West 19th St., Houston. 713-802-1213 or

spider-man day.

galveston beach hike.

Enjoy a day of interactive activities, a Spider-Man appearance and a Silly String Showdown!


Theater District in Downtown Houston.



by karen neely


Houston Zoo Snow Day.

Beach hikes start at the park’s Nature Center; we’ll orient ourselves, and then move to the beach to look for

family faves august 22

snow day at the houston zoo

Kids of all ages can create their own snowman, make a snow angel or simply enjoy the cold snow on a hot summer’s day.

august 30

theater district open house

Guests enjoy activities and live performances for free at various theaters in the Theater District.

indicates family fave pick

onthego beach treasures and explore why this place is so special. All ages. Free to park visitors ($5/adult entrance fee, anyone under 13 years is free). 10am-11:15am. Galveston Island State Park. 14901 FM-3005 Galveston, TX. calendarofevents or Lisa.Reznicek@

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. 6003 Memorial Dr., Houston.

jump session for kids with special needs.

young writers workshop.

Houston’s only free writing workshop for kids, presented by HPL Express, Writers in the Schools and Discovery Green. All ages. Free. 10:30am-11:30am. Discovery Green. 1500 McKinney St., Houston. 713-400-7336 or

kayak rides on kinder lake.

Enjoy a relaxing, guided kayak ride. All ages. $5. 11am-9pm. Discovery Green. 1500 McKinney St., Houston. 713-400-7336.



live music at east beach.

Grab your beach gear and head to the island’s party beach for a free, live concert series from every Sunday throughout the summer. All ages. Free. 3pm-6pm. East Beach, Galveston.

sunday family zone + studio.

Spend some time with the friendly family educators: sit on a pillow and read, sketch a work of art and join an investigation of an artwork. All ages. $15 adult, $10 senior, $7.50 child age 13-18 (children 12 and under free). 1pm-4pm. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Beck Building, 5601 Main Street, Houston. Law Building, 1001 Bissonnet, Houston. 713-639-7300.

bayou bikers.

Bayou Bikers meet at Market Square Park on the first Sunday of the month for 25- to 40-mile bike rides exploring the bayous of Houston. All ages (mountain bikes or bikes with fat tires required). Free. 8am.

back to school splash bash. Bring your family and cool off in our FREE waterslides, have fun with the hula hoop contest, food and drinks, plus fun activities and live music all day with a DJ spinning summer fun beats! See August 1. Photo courtesy of Sugar Land Town Square. Market Square Park. 301 Milam, Houston.

kayak rides on kinder lake

See August 1, 11am-5pm.



fifth harmony’s reflection: the summer tour.

It’s an evening of music with: Fifth Harmony, Bea Miller, Debby Ryan + The Never Ending, and Natalie La Rose! All ages. $40+. 7pm. Bayou Music Center. 520 Texas St., Houston.

baby bounce.

An active storytime for infants. Ages 3-18mos. Free. 10:15am. Katy Library. 5414 Franz Rd., Katy. 281-391-3509.

baby time.

Stories, songs, and playtime for babies 6-18 months, and their caregivers. 10:30am. Free and open to the public. Central Library, 500 McKinney, 77002, 832-393-1313.

preschool storytime.

Stories, songs and crafts for children ages 3-5 years old and their caregivers. 1pm. Free and open to the public. Central Library, 500 McKinney, 77002, 832-393-1313.

toddler time.

Stories, songs, crafts and playtime for toddlers. Ages 18-36mos. Free. 11:30am. Central Library. 500 McKinney St., Houston. 832-393-1313.

creative moves for tots class.

All Tots are invited to play, dance, move, shake, and stretch in a funfilled mommy and me class. Ages 5 and under. Free. 12 pm. The Church of St. John the Divine. 2450 River Oaks Blvd., Houston.



sketching in the gardens of bayou bend.

Visit Bayou Bend during open-sketching hours, when guests are invited to draw from Bayou Bend’s natural woodlands and formal gardens. All ages. 1:30pm-4:30pm. $5.

On the first Tuesday of every month, Sky High Sports turns off the music and dials down the distractions for the comfort of special-needs kids and their families and friends. All ages. $5 (parent or guardian free). 3pm-6pm. Sky High Sports. 10510 Westview Dr., Houston. 713-464-5867 or

open door.

Open Door is an arts and crafts program offered at Crosspoint Church on Tuesday mornings. All ages. $15 registration fee. 9am-12pm. Crosspoint Church. 4601 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire. 713-668-2319 or

toddler yoga.

Toddler Yoga is a fun, active way to interact with your child as they become a lot more mobile. For children under 3 years of age. 10:30am. Free and open to the public.Central Library. 500 McKinney, Houston. 832-393-1313.

toddler time.

A fun program for younger children. Ages 18mos.-3yrs. Free. 10:15am & 11am. Katy Library. 5414 Franz Rd., Katy. 281-391-3509.

preschool story time.

Read books, sing songs and do a craft project. Ages 3-6. Free. 10:30am. Northwest Branch Library. 11355 Regency Green Dr., Cypress. 281-890-2665.



x-wing miniatures.

Featuring stunningly detailed and painted miniatures, X-Wing recreates exciting Star Wars space battles from small engagements of only a couple of crafts, to large conflicts where multiple squadrons clash. Ages 14+. 5pm-9pm. Free. august 2015 . houston family magazine . 43

Daniel Ho & Tai Wu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe at Miller Outdoor Theater.

Bad Wolf Trading Company. 16911 Old Louetta Road #3, Houston, TX 77070. 832-7174298 or

family nature night: slithery snakes.


In the marvelously funny comedy, Alley Resident Company member Jeffrey Bean leads the cast of this comic gem, set in a remote fishing lodge, where socially awkward Charlie discovers intriguing and dangerous secrets under the guise of a foreigner who speaks no English. July 8-Aug. 9, see website for showtimes Tickets: $26-$84 University of Houston. 4116 Elgin, Houston. 713-220-5700.

Shakespeare in the Park Miller Outdoor Theater

Enjoy a series of Shakespearean performances staged by the University of Houston. July 31-Aug. 9, 8:30pm • Tickets: Free Miller Outdoor Theatre. 6000 Hermann Park Drive, Houston.

Daniel Ho & Tai Wu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe Miller Outdoor Theater Asia Society welcomes the return to Houston of Grammy Award-winning ukulele musician Daniel Ho.

Aug. 14, 8:30pm • Tickets: Free Miller Outdoor Theatre. 6000 Hermann Park Drive, Houston.

Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks Miller Outdoor Theater

Artistic Director Antoine Plante and Mercury perform Handel’s iconic Music for the Royal Fireworks,followed by a live fireworks display in celebration of Mercury’s fifteenth anniversary season. Aug. 29, 8pm • Tickets: Free Miller Outdoor Theatre. 6000 Hermann Park Drive, Houston.

Back to the Future The Houston Symphony

Fans old and new will experience the thrill of Back to the Future 44 . houston family magazine . august 2015

Join Eric Duran, for a fun, informative presentation about snakes of the Houston area. All ages. $10 per family. 6:30pm. Nature Discovery Center. 7112 Newcastle, Bellaire. 713-667-6550.

legos and duplos at the library.

Join our block party Wednesday and show us your creations! LEGOS and DUPLOS provided. 3pm. Free and open to the public. Central Library, 500 McKinney Houston. 832-393-1313.

mommy mingle.

Bring your little ones to Tot*Spot (the exclusive exhibit for children 35 months and under), on the first Wednesday of the month, and enjoy free coffee and snacks. Ages 35 mos and younger with adult. Free with general admission ($9, $8 senior age 65+, children under 1 free). 10am-12pm. Children’s Museum of Houston. 1500 Binz, Houston. 713-535-7238 or

teen game frenzy.

Come unwind after a long, stressful day of school. Play video games, eat snacks and have fun. Teens. Free. 4:00pm. Northwest Branch Library. 1355 Regency Green Dr., Cypress. 281-890-2665.



monster’s inc. at the museum of fine arts.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition The Shadow Monsters animated feature Monsters, Inc. tells the story of lovable Sulley (voice of John Goodman) and his wisecracking sidekick, Mike (Billy Crystal). All ages. Free. 1pm. Museum of Fine Arts. 1001 Bissonnet, Houston.

blue willow bookshop storytime.

Bring your child to Blue Willow to enjoy stories, songs and an art activity. Toddlers & preschoolers. Free. 10am. Blue Willow Bookshop. 14532 Memorial Dr., Houston. 281-497-8675.

museum free family night children’s museum of houston.

All admission fees are waived and families are able to come to the museum and experience everything it has to offer. All ages. Free ($3 parking in garage). 5pm-8pm. Children’s Museum of Houston. 1500 Binz St., Houston. 713-535-7264.

holocaust museum houston free thursdays.

Visitors to the Holocaust Museum Houston enjoy free general admission. All ages. Free. 2pm-5pm. Holocaust Museum Houston. 5401 Caroline St., Houston. 713-942-8000.

free thursday at museum of fine arts, houston.

Enjoy a full day of free activities every Thursday. All ages. Free. 10am-9pm. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. 1001 Bissonnet, Houston. 713-639-7300.

free family thursday at the health museum.

Visitors enjoy free general admission. All ages. Free. 2pm-5pm. The Health Museum. 1515 Hermann Dr., Houston. 713-521-1515.

table top game night.

This event provides children and parents an opportunity to play board games, card games, strategy games and other types of games with one another, to try out new games before they buy them, and to make lasting friendships. All ages. Free. 6pm-9pm. Bad Wolf Trading Company. 16911 Old Louetta Road #3, Houston, TX 77070. 832-7174298 or

onthego in a special event highlighting his life and career. All ages. $10. 10am-5pm. National Museum of Funeral History. 415 Barren Springs Dr., Houston. 281-876-3063.

movie under the moon.

music night on the strand. Don’t miss free live concerts in downtown Galveston’s Saengerfest Park! See August 7.



friday night flicks at five points: the lego movie.

Join us on Main Street every Friday night at Five Points this summer for a movie in the park! All ages. Free. 8pm-10pm. Five Points Plaza. 100 S Broadway St., La Porte, 77571.

cool nights at the houston zoo-fairy tales.

The Houston Zoo is once again staying open late until 8:30 p.m., so you can enjoy the animals in the cooler evening weather with the added bonus of music, and kid-friendly activities. All ages. Free with zoo admission. 5pm-8pm. The Houston Zoo. 6200 Hermann Park Dr., Houston.

kidmakers expo.

Come meet kid inventors of the future as they showcase inventions made in our Chevron Maker Annex. All ages. Free with admission. 3:30pm. Houston Children’s Museum. 1500 Binz St., Houston.

turtle patrol.

You can become a citizen scientist, and help the park to understand more about the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, an endangered species that nests Galveston Island State Park.

All ages. Free (with park entry $5). 6pm-7pm. Galveston Island State Park. 14901 FM 3005, Galveston.

baby boot camp’s freebie friday.

The first Friday of every month, Baby Boot Camp is free to moms with stroller-aged children. Free. 9:30am-10:30am. Memorial City Mall (by the entrance to Beck’s Prime) 303 Memorial City Way, Houston, TX 77024. summer.maura@



music night on the strand – cassette tape.

Don’t miss free live concerts in downtown Galveston’s Saengerfest Park! Visitors are encouraged to bring their own seating. All ages. Free. 6pm-9 pm. Saengerfest Park. 2300 Strand, Galveston.

5 seconds of summer.

Come out for a rocking evening with the band 5 Seconds of Summer. All ages. $29.50+. 7:30pm. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. 2005 Lake Robbins Dr., The Woodlands.

robin williams tribute.

Robin Williams will be remembered

Bring your family, friends and lawn chairs to the Plaza to enjoy a free Movie Under the Moon brought to you by our friends at First Colony Church of Christ! All ages. Free. 7:00pm-10pm. Sugar Land Town Square. 2711 Town Center Blvd., Sugar Land. 281-276-6000.

FUTUREVET woof shops.

This multi-part, tail wagging show-and-tell will walk you through the basics of veterinary medicine. All ages. Free with admission. 1pm. Houston Children’s Museum. 1500 Binz St., Houston.

2nd saturday at the depot.

2nd Saturday at the Depot is a free monthly, family-style event with games and activities, entertainment and a movie at dark on the giant inflatable screen. All ages. Free. All day. Tomball Downtown Depot. 201 South Elm Street, Tomball.

galveston beach hike. See August 1.

kayak rides on kinder lake. See August 1.

monster’s inc. at the museum of fine arts.

See August 6, free with museum admission.



lone star iced tea festival.

Join us in Downtown Houston to celebrate the South’s favorite summer beverage in a spacious indoor air-conditioned handicapped accessible location! All ages. $15. 11am-5pm. CWA Local 6222 Union Hall. 1730 Jefferson Street, Houston. houston-tea-festivals.

centerstage like never before—on a big screen with the Houston Symphony performing Alan Silvestri’s dazzling score live and in-sync with the film. Aug. 1, 7:30 pm. Tickets: $29-$110 Jones Hall. 615 Louisiana St., Houston. www.houston

The Houston Children’s Chorus The Grand 1894 Opera House

More than 100 children will sing and dance onstage at The Grand 1894 Opera House. Aug. 1, 4pm. Tickets: $17 The Grand 1894 Opera House. 2020 Postoffice St., Galveston. 800-821-1894.

An Evening with Patti Labelle The Grand 1894 Opera House

Classic rhythm and blues renditions plus pop standards and spiritual sonnets equals the versatile Patti LaBelle! Aug. 2, 7pm. Tickets: $48-$165 The Grand 1894 Opera House. 2020 Postoffice St., Galveston. 800-821-1894.

Pat Green Benefit Concert The Grand 1894 Opera House

Texas Country Music Star Pat Green’s concert will benefit the Gulf Coast Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids Sake. Aug. 8, 7:30pm. Tickets: $27-$87 The Grand 1894 Opera House. 2020 Postoffice St., Galveston. 800-821-1894.

Driving Miss Daisy Stages Repertory Theatre

Set against the backdrop of Civil Rights-era Atlanta, Driving Miss Daisy chronicles august 2015 . houston family magazine . 45

centerstage the unlikely bond between an aging white Southern Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur. Aug. 5-Sept. 6, see website for showtimes. Tickets: $23+ Stages Repertory Theatre. 3201 Allen Parkway, Houston. 713-527-0123.

Wendy Williams’ Sit Down The Hobby Center

Wendy Williams, modern media legend and host of her popular Emmy nominated The Wendy Williams Show, brings her singular brand of talk, “tea”, and unbridled comedic stylings to America’s stages for an unforgettable night with Wendy. Aug. 8, 8pm Tickets: $59+ The Hobby Center/Sarofim Hall. 800 Bagby, Ste. 300, Houston. 713-315-2400.

Storm Front: Experience the Elements Noble Motion Dance The evening features a storm front on stage as 33 dancers interact with wind, rain, snow, and light. Aug. 28-29, 7:30pm. Tickets: $20-$35 The Hobby Center/ Zilkha Hall. 800 Bagby, Ste. 300, Houston. 713-315-2400.

Grease Sing-A-Long Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

Grease is the word! Singalong to the tunes you love in this entertaining film musical homage to the age of rock ‘n’ roll. Aug. 15, Pre-concert activities begin at 6:30pm, performance 8pm. Tickets: $5-$15 Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. 2005 Lake Robbins Dr., The Woodlands.

little joe y la familia concert.

Little Joe, a Grammy award winner, has celebrated over 50 years in entertainment and has helped pioneer “Tejano” music. All ages. Free (parking $4). Opening act begins at 12:30pm. Trader’s Village. 7979 N. Eldridge Rd., Houston.

live music at east beach. See August 2.

sunday family zone + studio. See August 2. kayak rides on kinder lake. See August 2.



lego story starter camp.

Children will learn to construct their own stories using Legos. Children in 2nd-4th grade. Free. 4pm-5:30pm. Northwest Branch Library. 11355 Regency Green Dr., Cypress. 281-890-2665.

dec my room training.

Join a community training that will certify attendees to go into local children’s hospitals and decorate patient’s rooms. Adults. Free, registration required. 9:30am-11:30am. The Church of St. John the Divine. 2450 River Oaks Blvd., Houston.

baby bounce. See August 3. baby time. See August 3. preschool storytime. See August 3.

toddler time. See August 3.



something old, something new.

Listen to selections from an older YA title and a related new YA title while doing an activity. Teens. Free. 2:30pm-3:30pm. Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library. 16616 Diana Ln, Houston.

open door. See August 4. toddler yoga. See August 4.

46 . houston family magazine . august 2015

an evening with patti labelle at the grand 1894 opera house. Classic rhythm and blues renditions plus pop standards and spiritual sonnets equals the versatile Patti LaBelle! See Center Stage on page 44.

toddler time. See August 4. preschool story time.

x-wing miniatures. See August 5.

See August 4.


sketching in the gardens of bayou bend. See August 4.

summer sounds on the plaza: ed poullard.



alamo drafthouse’s rolling roadshow presents stand by me.

Celebrate a summer of reading and fun as we kick things off with the first “Story to Screen” event. All ages. Free. 8pm-10pm. Central Library, 500 McKinney, 77002. 832-393-1313.

close encounters with rose the skink.

Come to the library for an up-close encounter with Rose the blue-tongued skink. All ages. Free. 3:00pm-3:30 pm. Rosenberg Library. 2310 Sealy St., Galveston.

legos and duplos at the library. See August 5. teen game frenzy. See August 5.


Ed Poullard’s creole music conjures images of “faisdo dos” in Acadian sugar cane fields on humid nights. All ages. Free (suggested donation $10). 7pm. Rothko Chapel. 3900 Yupon St., Houston.

american idol live!

Get up close and personal with the Top 5 Idols from Season 14. All ages. $50+. 7:30pm. Bayou Music Center. 520 Texas St., Houston.

katy gardening club.

On the 2nd Thursday of the month, join other gardeners in your area to learn new ways to grow. Free. 11am. Katy Library. 5414 Franz Rd., Katy.

free family thursday at the health museum. See August 6.


Shakespeare in the Park


ach summer, the Houston Shakespeare Festival produces a season of two Shakespeare plays in repertory. Since its inception in 1975, HSF has entertained nearly a half million theatergoers with free performances in Hermann Park’s Miller Outdoor Theatre. Festival audiences are as diverse as Houston itself, with many people experiencing live theatre for the first time. The Houston Shakespeare Festival has grown into one of the major events on Houston’s summer entertainment calendar. HSF is a recognized Equity theatre. Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park offers the most diverse season of professional entertainment of any Houston performance venue, and it’s all FREE! Classical music, jazz, ethnic music and dance, ballet, Shakespeare, musical theatre, classic films, and much more are included in this year’s outstanding line-up. Relax in the covered seating area or enjoy a pre-performance picnic on the hillside. All performances at Miller are family-friendly!


July 31, Aug. 2, 4, 6, 8, 2015 at 8:30 p.m.

Three mysterious witches promise a great future to a worthy soldier, firing his ambition. His power-hungry wife urges him to shape his fate, no matter the cost. But what price must a man of conscience pay to pursue his hungriest ambitions? This is a ticketed event for the covered seating area. Free tickets are available (4 per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30am-1pm. If tickets remain at 1pm, the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, open seating on the hill. Produced by University of Houston.

The Merchants of Venice Aug. 1, 5, 7, 9, 2015 at 8:30 p.m.

In the City of Commerce, Antonio’s business thrives, yet he finds himself strapped for cash. In the City of Glamour, Portia’s romantic suitors must submit to a lottery for a chance at winning her hand. At the crossroads of these two plots stands Shylock, whose novel way of securing interest sets them all on a path that will force choices between justice and mercy. You can find more information about the performances by calling 281-FREE-FUN (281-373-3386) or visiting

august 2015 . houston family magazine . 47

22nd annual theater district open house

tai chi by the reflecting pool. See August 6.

1st Street, Katy. 281-391-4840.

blue willow bookshop storytime. See August 6.

friday night flicks at five points: tangled.

free thursday at museum of fine arts, houston. See August 6.

museum free family night children’s museum of houston. See August 6. holocaust museum family free thursdays. See August 6. table top game night. See August 6.



dancing under the stars.


t’s the 22nd Annual Theater District Open House! The Houston Theater District will celebrate its annual Open House event Sunday, August 30 from noon - 4 p.m.

An event that Houstonians look forward to at the beginning of each fall, this FREE, family-friendly event will take place in the heart of the Theater District at the Alley Theatre Production Center (500 Louisiana), Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (800 Bagby), Wortham Theater Center (501 Texas Ave.) and Jones Hall (615 Louisiana Ave.). Theater District Open House is a fun-filled, family day of learning more about Houston’s nine major performing arts organizations, including the Alley Theatre, Gexa Energy Broadway at the Hobby Center, Da Camera of Houston, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, Society for the Performing Arts, Theatre Under The Stars and Uniquely Houston. Guests will enjoy activities and live performances by each of the Theater District’s groups, including musical theater shows, behind-the-scenes backstage tours, interactive instrument petting zoo, costume trunk, meet-and-greets with costumed performers, complimentary trolley rides between venues, a photo booth experience at the Wortham Theater Center and a Houston Symphony concert at Jones Hall starting at 4 p.m. More than two million people visit Houston’s Theater District annually. Houston is one of only five cities in the U.S. that boasts permanent professional resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines of opera, ballet, music and theater, and is the only city in America that has a collective Open House involving all of these groups and their multiple venues. For more information, visit

48 . houston family magazine . august 2015

Break out your dancing shoes and join us in the Plaza for a night of Dancing Under The Stars with Fred Astaire Dance Studio instructors. Adults. Free. 7:30pm-9:30pm. Sugar Land Town Square. 2711 Town Center Blvd., Sugar Land. 281-276-6000.

14th annual precinct 4 opry in humble.

The Hometown Opry Band, area entertainers, and a raffle are featured at this fun, musical event. All ages. $12 adults, $7 for children 12 and under. 7pm-10pm. Humble Civic Center. 8233 Will Clayton Parkway, Humble.

usborne book fair.

Embark on a literary journey with Usborne books, which was started in 1973 by Peter Usborne who pioneered a completely new generation of entertaining, colorful and friendly non-fiction books. All ages. Free with admission. 10am-5pm. Woodlands Children’s Museum. 4775 W. Panther Creek Dr., Ste. 280, The Woodlands. www.woodlands

katy tailgate.

This is an end of summer bash with an old school street dance and pep rally flair. All ages. Entry fees are school supplies or a backpack. 4pm-10pm.

See August 7.

cool nights at the houston zoo-under the sea. See August 7.

turtle patrol. See August 7.



para los ninos storytime.

The Youth Services Department of Fort Bend County Libraries’ Sugar Land Branch Library will present a special bilingual (English/Spanish) Para los Niños Family Story Time, with various stations with interactive activities that make learning fun for the children. Ages 3-8. Free. 2:30pm. Sugar Land Branch Library. 550 Eldridge Rd., Sugar Land. 281-238-2140.

sugar land superstar finale.

Tonight’s Superstar is the Finale and one lucky winner will be named the 2015 Sugar Land Superstar! All ages. Free. 7pm-9pm. Sugar Land Town Square. 2711 Town Center Blvd., Sugar Land. 281-276-6000.

galveston heritage festival.

Enjoy the music, food and entertainment from numerous cultural groups and associations throughout the day while learning more about the early days of Galveston’s immigration movement. All ages. $10 adults, $5 (ages 6-12). 10am. Kempner Park. 2700 Ave. O, Galveston.

kayak rides on kinder lake. See August 1.

young writers workshop. See August 1.

galveston beach hike. See August 1.

usborne book fair.

See August 14, 10am-4pm.

onthego 16


tai chi by the reflecting pool. See August 6.

incredible india-dashavatar.

Dashavatar melds ancient Indian mythology and modern technology in a spectacular display of dance, theater and martial arts, highlighting Vishnu’s ten different avatars (incarnations), the destruction of evil forces that threatened man and nature, and the establishment of peace on Earth. All ages. Free. 8pm. Miller Outdoor Theatre. 6000 Hermann Park Drive, Houston. www.milleroutdoor

blue willow bookshop storytime. See August 6.

eric johnson.

See August 6.

Eric Johnson’s stature as one of the premier guitar players in contemporary music is his artistic trump card. Adults. $22.50-$37.50. 7:30pm. House of Blues. 1204 Caroline, Houston. houston.

live music at east beach. See August 2.

kayak rides on kinder lake. See August 2.

free thursday at museum of fine arts, houston. See August 6.

museum free family night children’s museum of houston. See August 6. holocaust museum family free thursdays. See August 6. table top game night.


galveston heritage festival. Enjoy the music, food and entertainment from numerous cultural groups and associations throughout the day while learning more about the early days of Galveston’s immigration movement. See August 14.

sunday family zone + studio. See August 2.



creating comics-basics.

If you’ve ever thought of making your own comic, come out and learn some of the basics and how to make your own. All ages. Free. 2:30pm-3:30pm. Parker Williams Branch Library. 10851 Scarsdale Boulevard, Ste. #510, Houston.

creative moves for tots class. See August 3. baby bounce. See August 3. baby time. See August 3. preschool storytime.

critical thinking and analytical skills. 2nd-8th grade students. Free. 2-3 pm. IKEA. 7810 Katy Freeway. Houston.

open door. See August 4. toddler yoga. See August 4. toddler time. See August 4. preschool story time.

toddler time. See August 3.

culinary book club: ”5 ingredients or less”.


free writing workshopback to school.

Helps students develop their

the third man.

See August 5.

27th annual houston press music awards ceremony.


Whether you’re someone who is just starting out as an at-home cook or someone who would love to share their cooking experience, there is something for everyone.

shake your summer sillies out.

x-wing miniatures.

teen game frenzy.

sketching in the gardens of bayou bend.


Come and enjoy an outdoor screening of the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon and wear your favorite costume inspired by the film for the chance to win a prize! All ages (film is rated R). Free. 8pm. Asia Society Texas. 1370 Southmore Blvd., Houston. 713-496-9901.

See August 5.

legos and duplos at the library. See August 5.


See August 4.

screen asia: enter the dragon and costume contest.

Celebrate going back to school – with one last, big summertime bash! Children 7 years old and under. $5. 10am. The Woodlands Children’s Museum. 4775 W. Panther Creek Drive, Suite 280, The Woodlands. www.woodlands

See August 4.

See August 3.


Adults. Free. 1:30pm-3pm. University Branch Library. 14010 University Blvd., Sugar Land.



Houston Press will host its 27th annual Music Awards Ceremony, with a free concert immediately following featuring Hayes Carll. Adults. Free. 7pm. Warehouse Live. 813 St. Emanuel St., Houston.

free family thursday at the health museum. See August 6.

Often listed among the greatest movies of all time, director Carol Reed’s film noir set in postWorld War II Vienna is a moody, atmospheric triumph filled with magnificent performances. Adults. $9. 7-8:35pm. Museum of Fine Arts. 1001 Bissonnet, Houston.

cool nights at the houston zoo-super summer send-off! See August 7.

turtle patrol. See August 7. august 2015 . houston family magazine . 49

Shadow Monsters at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.



snow day at the houston zoo.

Kids of all ages can create their own snowman, make a snow angel or simply enjoy the cold snow on a hot summer’s day. All ages. Free with zoo admission. 9am-noon (or until the snow melts!). Houston Zoo. 6200 Hermann Park Dr., Houston.


Houston Museum of Natural Science Shark!

See what it’s like to get up close and personal with sharks at the live shark touch tank, track great white sharks swimming in the Gulf of Mexico in real time, and see what’s happening with sharks all over the world through amazing conservation efforts led by top marine biologists. Aug. 29, 2014-Sept. 7 Tickets: $25 adult, $20 child and senior 62+ Museum Hours: Mon.-Sun. 9am-5pm Admission: $20 adult, $15 child (3-11), senior (62+) and college students Houston Museum of Natural Science. 5555 Hermann Park Dr., Houston. 713-639-4629.

Houston Museum of Natural Science – Sugar Land Treehouses-Look Who’s Living in the Trees!

Explore our summer exhibit to uncover fascinating facts about who actually lives in trees, what kinds of animal clues to look and listen for in the forest, and how people use trees for their homes. May 22-Sept. 5 Museum Hours: Thurs. & Fri. 9am-3pm, Sat. 9am-5pm and Sun. 12pm-5pm Admission: $12 adult, $9 child and senior (62+) Houston Museum of Natural Science – Sugar Land. 13016 University Blvd., Sugar Land. 281-313-2277.

The Health Museum Eat Well, Play Well

Eat Well, Play Well encourages healthy living by teaching the science of making healthy food choices and helping children and adults discover there are many fun and interesting ways to stay active.

50 . houston family magazine . august 2015

def leppard with styx and tesla.

Classic rockers Def Leppard will headline a concert at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion full of ‘80s nostalgia, with Styx and Tesla as the opening acts. All ages. $25+. 8pm. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. 2005 Lake Robbins Dr., The Woodlands.

13th annual fall home and garden show.

The 13th Annual Fall Home and Garden Show in The Woodlands is a great way to welcome the cooler weather and Fall season! All ages. $9 adult, children 12 and under are free. 9am-7pm. The Woodlands Waterway Marriott. 1601 Lake Robbins Dr., The Woodlands.

13th annual fall home and garden show. See August 22, 10am-6pm.

kayak rides on kinder lake. See August 2.

live music at east beach. See August 2.

sunday family zone + studio. See August 2.



pajama storytime.

Put on your PJ’s, load the family in the car and join us at our Pajama Story-time. All ages. Free. 7pm-8pm. Aldine Branch Library. 11331 Airline Dr, Houston.

baby bounce. See August 3.

baby time. See August 3. preschool storytime. See August 3.

toddler time. See August 3.



yes and toto in concert.

See August 1.

Yes will be appearing in support of a new live album, Like It Is, while Toto recently released their first new album in 10 years, Toto XIV. All ages. $39.50+. 7:30pm. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. 2005 Lake Robbins Dr., The Woodlands.

galveston beach hike.

open door. See August 4.

kayak rides on kinder lake. See August 1. young writers workshop.

See August 1.



josh & the jamtones.

Josh & the Jamtones’ will take the audience on a musical “Jewish Holiday WorldTour” with a special emphasis on the Jewish New Year and stops along the way at Chanukah, Passover, Purim, Tu B’Shvat, and Shabbat. All ages. $12, $8 member. 10am-11am. Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston. 5601 S. Braeswood, Houston.

toddler yoga. See August 4. toddler time. See August 4. preschool story time. See August 4.

sketching in the gardens of bayou bend. See August 4.



homestead open house.

Enjoy a look around the Redbud Hill Homestead and

onthego admission. 10:30am-11:30am. Museum of Fine Arts Visitors Center. 5600 Fannin St., Houston. turtle patrol. See August 7.



repticon houston.

snow day at the houston zoo. Kids of all ages can create their own snowman, make a snow angel or simply enjoy the cold snow on a hot summer’s day. See August 22. Akokisa Indian Village. Self-guided interpretive brochures are available in the Nature Center. All ages. Free. 1pm-4pm. Jesse H. Jones Park. 20634 Kenswick Dr., Houston.

legos and duplos at the library. See August 5. teen game frenzy. See August 5.

x-wing miniatures. See August 5.



G.O.A.T.: gaming on a table.

Do you love table-top games? Join us for an evening of G.O.A.T.: Gaming On A Table. Young adults/teens. Free. 6:30pm-7:45pm. Atascocita Branch Library. 19520 Pinehurst Trail Dr., Humble.

free family thursday at the health museum. See August 6.

tai chi by the reflecting pool. See August 6.

blue willow bookshop storytime. See August 6. free thursday at museum of fine arts, houston. See August 6.

museum free family night children’s museum of houston. See August 6. holocaust museum family free thursdays. See August 6. table top game night. See August 6.



chubby checker and the wildcats.

The legendary Chubby Checker storms the Miller stage with his signature blend of boisterous rock ‘n’ roll. All ages. Free. 8pm. Miller Outdoor Theatre. 6000 Hermann Park Drive, Houston. www.milleroutdoor

little art adventures.

You’re invited to come and learn about different elements of art such as shape, color, and line. 3-5 years old with adult companion. Free with general

Join the experts at Repticon to learn more about reptiles and amphibians in live animal encounters and to buy reptiles and exotic pets direct from the experts. All ages. $12 adult, $5 child age 5-12 (children 4 and under free). 10am-5pm. Pasadena Convention Center and Fairgrounds. 7902 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena. 863-268-4273.

zumba for kids.

A group-fitness instructor and certified personal trainer will present a basic introduction and demonstration of this popular Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that can be enjoyed by kids just as much as by adults. Intended for children in pre-K to grade 5, but all ages are welcome. Free. 1:30pm. Sugar Land Branch Library. 550 Eldridge Rd., Sugar Land. 281-238-2140.

houston afrifest.

The festival will showcase the rich and diverse cultures of African countries and will feature live music and entertainment, lots of food -particularly cuisine from different African countries, cultural displays, artwork, fashion shows, games, kids’ activities and a lot more. All ages. $5 (children and students free). 11am-6pm. Houston Baptist University. 7502 Fondren Rd., Houston. 281-660-9328.

tomball texas music festival.

A live music fest celebrating some of Texas’ bests performers. All ages. Free. 12-6pm. Tomball Downtown Depot. 201 South Elm Street, Tomball.

nowexhibiting May 16-Sept. 7 Museum Hours: Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm, Sun. 12pm-5pm Admission: $9, $7 child and senior (65+), children under 2 are free The Health Museum. 1515 Hermann Dr., Houston. www.thehealth

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Shadow Monsters

Shadow Monsters, an interactive installation by New York-based British artist Philip Worthington, invites Museum visitors to take part in a fully immersive art experience. May 23-Sept. 20 Tickets: $23 adult, $18 child (13-18), senior (65+) and student (19+) (children 12 and younger free); $5 audio tour Museum Hours: Tues.-Wed. 10am-5pm, Thurs. 10am-9pm, Fri.-Sat. 10am-7pm and Sun. 12:15pm-7pm Admission: $15 adult; $10 senior (65+), $7.50 child (13-18) and student (19+) (children 12 and under free); discounted tickets may be purchased online The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Beck Building, 5601 Main St., Houston, and Law Building, 1001 Bissonnet, Houston. 713-639-7300.

Children’s Museum of Houston Amazingly Immature

Based on KLUTZ® Encyclopedia of Immaturity Vol. 1 and 2, KLUTZ® Amazingly Immature will offer you the opportunity to embrace your inner ingenious zaniness while exploring what these behaviors can teach you about

kayak rides on kinder lake. See August 1. august 2015 . houston family magazine . 51


nowexhibiting science, engineering, math, and literacy. Mar. 7-Jan. 5, 2016

young writers workshop. See August 1.

galveston beach hike. Summer Of Epic Adventure: Forces Unite Gear up, train up and put your powers to the test!

May 23-Sept. 7 Museum Hours: Tues.-Sat. 10am-6pm, Sun. 12pm-6pm, Thurs. 10am-8pm Admission: $10 (adults and children 1+), $9 seniors 65+ Children’s Museum of Houston. 1500 Binz, Houston. 713-522-1138.

Houston Museum of African American Culture Works on Paper by Benito Huerta

With images appropriated from popular culture and art history, Benito Huerta’s art addresses politics, money, war, the environment and Mexican culture. May 15-Aug. 16 Museum Hours: Wed., Fri., Sat. 11am-6pm, Thurs. 11am-8pm, Sun. 12pm-6pm Admission: Free Houston Museum of African American Culture. 4807 Caroline, Houston.

Galveston Arts Center Connections/Edmonton and Houston Prints by 12 artists from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and 12 artists from Houston presented in conjunction with Print Houston. July 11-Aug. 16 Museum Hours: Tues.-Sat. 11am-5pm, Sun. 12pm-5pm, closed Monday. Admission: Free Galveston Arts Center. 2501 Market Street, Galveston. www.galvestonart

52 . houston family magazine . august 2015

See August 1.



theater district open house.

Guests enjoy activities and live performances by each of the Theater District’s groups, including: musical theater shows, behind-the-scenes backstage tours, interactive instrument petting zoo, meet-and-greets with costumed performers, and a free Houston Symphony concert at Jones Hall. All ages. Free. 12pm-4pm. Alley Theatre (615 Texas Ave.), Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (800 Bagby St.), Jones Hall (615 Louisiana St.) and Wortham Theater Center (501 Texas Ave.), Houston.

michael bolton in concert.

Michael Bolton, best known for songs like “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” and “When a Man Loves a Woman,” will come to Houston to present a retrospective of his long and storied career. Adults. $50.50+. 9pm. Arena Theatre. 7326 Southwest Freeway, Houston.

congregation beth yeshurun open house.

Come find out what we love about Congregation Beth Yeshurun at this year’s Open House! All ages. Free. 10am-12:30pm. Congregation Beth Yeshurun. 4525 Beechnut St., Houston.

repticon houston.

See August 29, 10am-4pm.

kayak rides on kinder lake. See August 2.

live music at east beach. See August 2.

sunday family zone + studio. See August 2.

eat well, play well at the health museum. Eat Well, Play Well encourages healthy living by teaching the science of making healthy food choices and helping children and adults discover there are many fun and interesting ways to stay active. See Now Exhibiting on page 50. 31


mac barnett and christian robinson discuss and sign their new picture book.

Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson will discuss and sign their new book: Leo: A Ghost Story. Free. 5pm. Blue Willow Bookshop. 14532 Memorial Dr.,

Houston. 281-497-8675 or

baby bounce. See August 3. baby time. See August 3. preschool storytime. See August 3.

toddler time. See August 3.


To submit calendar listings, send information to calendar@ houstonfamilymagazine. com (no attachments please). Listings can also be mailed to Calendar, 5131 Braesvalley, Houston TX 77096; or faxed to 713-266-1915. Include the name of the event, date and time, venue address, short discription, appropriate age range, fee, phone number and web site address. Submissions are listed on a space-available basis. We’d love to include high-resolution photos, as well; please submit 300dpi-minimum, color jpegs (we cannot return). Deadline for the calendar is two months in advance of issue date.


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august 2015 . houston family magazine . 53

hesaidshesaid the last word time to buck the attendance system by sam and pam middleton


it’s the 11th hour of summer, and the middleton’s have yet to take their summer vacation. should they squeeze a getaway into the final weeks, or try to shake up the school’s attendance policy?


54 . houston family magazine . auguast 2015

TO: Pam FROM: Sam SUBJECT: School Vacation Pam, I know you wanted to cement our plans for an August family vacation, and that we have precious little time to make that happen before school starts. But the more I think about it, the more irritated I get. I am frankly frustrated with the school’s policy on students’ missing days. I can count on one hand the number of days I missed throughout my school career, and I honestly don’t feel I’m the better for it. What do students miss, really, especially during those lazy days near the end of school and near breaks where “educational movies” are on the agenda, or busy work is administered just to run down the clock? It’s almost as if the real lesson being taught is, “Just phone it in, kids. You’re not accountable for deliverables, just for showing up.” What a horrible lesson. Why can’t schools build out an annual vacation earning plan with points given to

students per each assignment and with specific goals to be met? Each year, my organization puts together an annual budget and a three-year plan. We have immediate goals and more strategic longer-term goals so we can move in a positive direction--not just stagnate and call 2,000 hours clocked a successful work year. Can you even imagine an organization where success were based on 2,000 hours a year on the clock? Crazy. This clumsy system turns annual vacations into an unpleasant and contrived circus, where families everywhere are desperately crammed through the vacation sausage grinder in 90 days. What a waste of experiences and resources. Resorts have to gouge vacationing families during the 90 days a year the school system paroles our children back to us, and then lay people off and otherwise scramble to temper operational costs the other nine months of the year. It just astonishes me that our education system would be designed around building a capacity-constraint problem. As a firm believer in voting with my dollars, I say we skip the summer vacation this year and instead take a vacation in October. Who knows, if we start a movement maybe it’ll be enough to influence the system. TO: Sam FROM: Pam SUBJECT: School Vacation Hold on, Sam. Before I climb on your Peace Train and start a revolution against the establishment, let’s consider the consequences of your vacation protest. First, and most uncomfortable for me (as the parent who gets to bear the news of our mid-term vacation), are the

scalding looks of contempt I will endure from every admin and teacher I notify. This may sound trivial to you, and given it’s a fleeting moment, should not weigh heavily into our plans. But the shame of the moment is nothing short of a Klingon rite of passage, and I’m back in third grade, reporting that the dog ate my homework. I do understand the school’s hostility. They receive funding based on daily attendance. Every family who bounces off on a cruise in September is taking money from the school, making it harder for staff and faculty to maintain or beef up their standards of education. Another consequence, a point that will be firmly delivered to me with pursed lips and a cocked brow, is that these absences will be considered unexcused, meaning our kids will not be given the opportunity to make up missed homework or even tests. Apparently, teachers are reluctant to add to their already hefty workloads by having to stay on top of last week’s assignments for kids who spent that week careening down a waterslide in Jamaica. Finally, a consideration I’m surprised to hear you overlook: the value of learning time. Kids aren’t showing up to school to serve drinks pool-side to teachers. Students’ presence in school benefits only them, and their absence hurts only them. Sure, the kids will have a great time on vacation, but soon after they’ll be fretting about how far behind they’ve fallen. I’m the first to say that there’s no better teacher than travel. But given the consequences, I suggest we just throw some swimsuits and fresh underwear in an overnight bag, hop in car, and see wherethe road takes us.

Houston Family Magazine August 2015  
Houston Family Magazine August 2015