May June 2021

Page 1


Sunny Days Ahead! 100 ideas for summer fun

Spectacular Staycation

OKC’s newest family fun destination

The Buzz about Bees

Creating a pollinatorfriendly yard

S u per Paret onutr s Mee nal inspiratio contest winners




June 1 - July 31 Reading Log

Each circle is worth 60 minutes of reading. 60 minutes of reading = 60 points. Color in your circles or mark off when complete.

Activity Log

Each activity is worth 5 points. Check off which activities you complete to earn extra points and reach your 600 points! q Read every day for a week. q Recommend a book you loved to a friend. q Read a book published this year. q Read a nonfiction (true) book. q Tell a friend about the library. q Read a book written before you were born. q Read a book by your favorite author. q Write a review (or draw a picture review) q Read a book outside. q Read a book that has a movie based on it. of a book! Name


Phone Number


Neighborhood Library

Metropolitan Library Card # (Required to win a drawing prize)

Earn 600 Points to Win Prizes! Two ways to earn points: reading and completing activities. Read 5 minutes or complete 1 reading activity = 5 points. Once you reach 600 points, you receive:

1. DROP OFF your log (or a copy) at any of the 19

2 – Free books* OR 1 – Metro Library tote bag* 1 – Entry to a prize drawing**

Metropolitan Library System locations. 2. MAIL your card (or a copy) to Metropolitan Library System c/o Summer Reading, 300 Park Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73102 3. EMAIL a picture of your completed log to

*While supplies and selection last **Valid library card required to be eligible Prize pickup is between Aug. 1-31.


Visit our website to learn more:

Paper Logs

Use a paper log and then let the library help you log your points

Beanstack App on mobile devices





10 Sunny Days Ahead!

24 Local Family Fun

100 ideas for summer fun

16 The Buzz about Bees

Creating a pollinator-friendly yard

20 To Moms and Dads with Love

Local, sustainable gift ideas for Mother’s Day & Father’s Day

48 Equity in Healthcare?

Addressing pre- and postnatal disparities faced by Black mothers

52 Building Family

The beauty of adoption, surrogacy and single parenthood


Plan a spectacular staycation at the new Omni OKC Hotel

28 Real Moms of the Metro

Meet our inspiring Awesome Mom honorees

35 Calendar

Find the best in #okcfamilyfun this season!

40 Real Dads of the Metro

Celebrate our Cool Pops finalists

44 Family Mental Wellness

5 common symptoms of postpartum anxiety + how to heal

58 Exploring Beyond Oklahoma

Opt outdoors in colorful Colorado

16 On the cover Sunny Days Ahead!, page 10 Spectacular Staycation, page 24 The Buzz about Bees, page 16 Super Parents, pages 28 & 40









Sarah Taylor

Managing Editor Erin Page

Assistant Editor Lindsay Cuomo

Contributing Writers Jillian Bray Chelsea Traber Burns April Deocariza Thai-An Truong, LPC

Contributing Photographer Bridget Pipkin

Art Director Stacy Noakes

Senior Project Manager Kirsten Holder

Director of Events Marissa Raglin



fter that October 2020 ice storm and February 2021 snowmageddon, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to welcome the sunny days of summer! As we celebrate the return of this season of outdoor adventure, longer days, bare feet and plenty of ideas for #okcfamilyfun in these pages, we’re also honoring metro parents who’ve been inspirational to so many in the past year. Meet our Awesome Mom finalists on page 28 to read their stories of perseverance and strength, as well as the ways they lean on and cherish their support systems. In a brand new contest, meet our Cool Pops finalists on page 40 for their best dad advice, both encouraging and hilarious. As these heartening stories remind us, navigating parenthood, much less in a pandemic, is not for the faint of heart, but it’s made easier when the challenges we face are normalized. Along those lines, several metro parents share their journeys to having children that have been construed as outside society’s norms, all in an effort to celebrate the many wonderful ways for creating family. Jillian Bray shares the realities of pre- and postnatal healthcare disparities faced by Black mothers as well as important next steps to move toward equity and away from the harm of implicit racial biases. In our family mental wellness series, Thai-An Truong, LPC, describes common symptoms of postpartum anxiety for new moms and practical ways to begin to heal.


As we ease into a new summertime normal, I hope you’ll join me in seeking to affirm and celebrate the moms, dads and families around you — yourself included! With gratitude,

Erin Page Managing Editor

Dana Price Laura Beam

Office Manager Andrea Shanks

Contact us

NEW MAILING ADDRESS: 6608 N. Western Ave., #458 Oklahoma City, OK 73116 Phone: 405-601-2081 MetroFamily Magazine is published monthly. Copyright 2021 by Inprint Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Articles and advertisements in MetroFamily do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Inprint Publishing, Inc. We do not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by MetroFamily does not constitute an endorsement of the products, services, or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service which is fraudulent or misleading in nature. Proud member of

Also a member of Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Edmond Chamber of Commerce & Moore Chamber of Commerce

This Month’s Cover Sisters Madison, 10, and Gracie, 8, have fun together making slime, dancing, swimming, playing volleyball and watching scary movies. Both attend Waylond Bonds Elementary School in Moore, Madison in the fourth grade and Gracie in third. Madison and Gracie are the daughters of Stephanie and Kris, and they are a proud U.S. Navy family who moved to the metro less than a year ago. They love to travel as a family, and the girls are enjoying exploring their new hometown, checking out local splash pads and restaurants whenever possible. The sisters are pictured in front of the mural Oklahoma’s Barite Mystery, by Matin Alavi and Haley Spradlin, at Classen Curve.






VOTE for

your Faves

Show some love to your favorite OKC businesses, attractions and organizations by voting in our annual Family Favorites Awards. Every time you vote, you’ll be entered for a chance to WIN a family vacation package from Visit Frisco in Frisco, Texas. Vote daily May 5 through 19 at

Celebrating Cool Pops ––––


The top five finalists in our Dad Advice Contest are featured on page 40, and we need YOU to vote on your favorite! The winner will receive a $250 prize package from Sun and Ski Sports!

All five finalists receive dad swag from Red Coyote, Elemental Coffee, Anthem Brewing and MetroFamily. Vote through May 31 at

–––––––––––––––––––––– If you’re expecting a baby or the parent or grandparent of a young child, join us virtually on June 5 for our annual Bump, Baby & More event. You’ll receive quality information from local medical experts and baby product specialists. PLUS you’ll learn about must-have local services and be eligible to win amazing prizes. THANK YOU TO PRESENTING SPONSOR GOLDFISH SWIM SCHOOL - EDMOND.


Attendees will enjoy informative presentations on topics such as water safety by Goldfish Swim School - Edmond and questions you didn’t know to ask your pediatrician/physician by SSM

Health Medical Group. Add to that a live Q&A session with local experts, community conversation boards, a digital goody bag, Cutest Baby Photo Contest and on-demand viewing to watch live or later at your convenience—and it’s a “can’t-miss” event! Upgrade to VIP status to receive a customized box filled with new-parent essentials such as a high-quality receiving blanket, hand purifier and essential oils, a $50 gift card to Green Bambino and more! Register at bump-baby-more-expo.


Sizzling Summer Fun DAYS OF


Our annual Summer Fun Guide is full of ideas for your family this season, including Oklahoma’s best beaches, drive-in theaters, summer reading programs, hiking excursions, readers’ favorite summertime treats, ideas to celebrate Independence Day, spots to stargaze, fun fishing holes and much more. Find our guide, plus many more resources and our searchable 100 Days of Summer list, at

Calling Kid Chefs Get cooking for great prizes! Together with Shape Your Future, we’re hosting a Healthy Kids Cooking Contest. Kids ages 14 and under can enter their culinary creations by providing a detailed recipe, which must include fruit, vegetables or whole grains, and a photo of the dish. Recipes will be judged on taste, creativity, originality and healthy

Save the Date!

ingredients. Enter between June 1 and 30 for your chance to WIN a feature story in MetroFamily with details about the kid chef and recipe, prize pack from Shape Your Future and more at


Our hugely popular Kids Fest is back in a big way this year! This event for families will be a virtual Back-to-School Bash on July 31 with incredible prizes, performances by local talent, engaging activities, digital swag bags, science experiments, art projects, coupons from local businesses and much more! Join us live on July 31 or watch back at your convenience.

Enjoy general admission for $12 per family or grab VIP tickets, which include a themed box of back-to-school essentials, coupons to local attractions and a customized Oklahoma City jigsaw puzzle and activity guide delivered to your door for $35 per family. Tickets go on sale June 5 at METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2021



Men’s peer groups

help normalize mental health supports PHOTO BY S I K E IMAGES

Seven years ago, Steve Ihekona created an informal opportunity for metro men to get together to discuss dating, life challenges and provide camaraderie, not knowing just how impactful that group would grow to be as the members navigate a pandemic. A handful of men meeting each week, discussing life through a Christian lens, has morphed into multiple groups serving a total of about 60 men from various walks of life. Men United Leadership Group now meets virtually every other week in groups of six men, and it’s free for participants. Ihekona realized that while men often have opportunities to gather at places of worship or through religious organizations, there weren’t many local opportunities for diverse men’s peer support groups outside of that. And while men often face an even greater stigma in seeking mental health supports, Ihekona says Men United Leadership Group’s format of guys getting together to share life has helped ease those obstacles and negate stereotypes surrounding therapy. “The stories that have been shared and the guys impacted through these groups have been miraculous,” shared Ihekona, who’s listened to accounts of men on the verge of divorce, struggling at work or facing eviction. “I saw that a lot of guys weren’t necessarily going to church, and while church is important, they needed a place to talk, to get their thoughts out, and that’s what made me decide to become a therapist.” Inspired by his experiences leading the men’s groups, Ihekona, who already had undergraduate and graduate degrees in business and is also an accomplished photographer, earned his master’s degree in science and counseling in 2020. He’s currently obtaining the required


3,000 hours of supervision to become a fully licensed professional counselor. He’s watched as many of the group members have gained a greater understanding of the impact therapy and mental health supports can make in their lives. “The everyday guy who may not even know they have an issue comes to [the] group and identifies that,” said Ihekona, who recalls a group member inspired to get a mental health evaluation and ask for couples therapy resources. “Being in the group allowed him to feel comfortable in asking for support and like he’s not alone.” From dads transitioning to working from home and helping kids with virtual school during the pandemic, guys who have lost their jobs and Black men facing the consistent trauma of racial injustice and navigating talking to their children about it, the conversations span tough topics and lend perspective to a diverse range of participants. “With racial tension and divide, creating diverse groups allows for healing and space to talk about it,” said Ihekona. “White men gain empathy and ask questions and Black men see they care. It’s therapeutic.” Ihekona is determined to help lift the barriers that exist for men to find and feel comfortable accessing mental health supports. Men United Leadership Group is open to all men, and it’s often personal referrals that encourage guys to try out the groups. Once they attend, they’re typically eager to return. “Most men understand the idea of being part of a team — this is men looking for a team of support,” said Ihekona. “Part of peer support is to be the best version of yourself, and it helps to have other guys to help you accomplish that.” Learn more about Men United Leadership Group at menunitedokc or on Instagram @menunited_okc.

Ages 5-12

FREE body safety program

for kids and families now offered virtually Oklahoma City’s The Care Center has long provided its free program ROAR to metro schools and organizations to teach children about personal body safety, how to speak out against abuse and identify adults who can help. In 2020, the program was provided to more than 11,000 metro kids and 132 schools and community organizations. In Oklahoma County, one in three girls and one in five boys will be victims of sexual assault by age 18, according to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Ninety percent of child sexual assault victims are perpetrated upon by someone they know, love or trust. The Care Center is now offering the ROAR program virtually, both for organizations that serve kids and to families. Designed for kids ages 4 to 8, the educational program is based on the character Rex, a lion, who along with his animal friends, takes children on a journey to find his ROAR. The letters in ROAR make up a simple and memorable acronym that teaches kids their bodies are their own and empowers them to stand up against abuse. Along with the virtual program, families can access a plethora of online resources, including listening to the book Rex Finds His ROAR, downloadable coloring sheets

and a parent guide with information on keeping kids safe and a reminder about what ROAR stands for to create ongoing opportunities for conversation with kids. Visit to register for a virtual training for your family or organization serving children and to download family resources to learn together.

Summer Camps June 1-Aug. 6 • Fun, engaging and innovative arts environment • Themes include creative robotics, DJing, ceramics, comic design and more • Socially distanced outdoor and in-studio instruction and experiences

The Care Center helps kids learn to ROAR to educate them on body safety using this acronym:

• Taught by professional teaching artists

R — Remember privates are private O — OK to say no A — Always talk about secrets R — Raise your voice and tell someone

Spots are filling fast! Register at

405.951.0000 | @okcontemporary METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2021


11 NW 11th St, OKC, OK 73103

1 Summer DAYS OF

The season of sunshine, late nights, vacations and bare feet is upon us! Whether you’re ready to explore all OKC and the surrounding areas have to offer or you’ll be sticking closer to home, we’ve got something for everyone with these 100 ideas for summer fun!


Editor’s note: Bold listings include sponsored activities from our advertising partners. 1. Check out the mural on the cover (Oklahoma’s Barite Mystery by Matin Alavi and Haley Spradlin) in person in Classen Curve! 2. Create your own sidewalk chalk masterpiece! 3. Test your survival and sleuthing skills at Science Museum Oklahoma, thanks to TWO high-profile, immersive temporary exhibits opening May 1! The Game is Afoot! Sherlock Holmes – The Exhibition and The Worst-Case Scenario: An Ultimate Survival Experience will be on display through Sept. 6. 4. Visit a locally-owned bookstore, like Nappy Roots, Full Circle, Commonplace Books or Best of Books. 5. Get prehistoric at the Sam Noble Museum to see Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice through May 16. Perfect for kids ages 3 through 10, the exhibit transports families back to the Cretaceous Period (145 – 65 million years ago), the time when large dinosaurs last roamed the earth, to meet dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes inside two distinct environments with a variety of activities. 6. Before school gets out, ask your teacher for their address so you can write letters back and forth over the summer.


7. Stroll among dinos at the OKC Zoo! Dino Safari features 15 life-size animatronic dinosaurs that demonstrate movement and sound, plus check out eight dino skeleton replicas. The experience is open May 1 through Oct. 31 (extra ticket required). 8. Vote on your favorite local businesses in MetroFamily’s Family Favorites Awards May 5 through 19 at contests. When you vote, you’ll be entered to WIN a weekend getaway to Frisco, Texas! And check out Frisco as a great place to take your family with many hands-on attractions to enjoy! 9. Attend oNE OKC’s FREE Street Festival on May 15 from noon to 4 p.m. at Booker T Washington Park to enjoy visual and performing arts, food trucks, pop-up vendors and activities for the whole family. 10. Sign up for a local summer camp! Find in-person and virtual options at 11. Hide children’s books in local parks for other kids to find through Little Read Wagon’s Look for a Book Program. 12. Practice up, then host a hula hoop-ing contest.


18. Visit the new El Mercado at Calle Dos Cinco every Saturday this summer beginning June 5. Enjoy pop-up shops by locally-owned entrepreneurs in this Latin-style farmers market. The shops are located at the corner of SW 25th Street and Robinson Avenue. 19. Make a card to thank local healthcare workers. Find out where to send them at 20. Make Mondays for movement at Metro Gymnastics! One-day instructional gymnastics classes for kids include crafts, games and gymnastics fun. 21. Create an integrated arts project, like making a sculpture to explore force or drawing a work of art with patterns. Find instructions from Oklahoma A+ Schools at 22. Get crafty at Unpluggits Paint & Play, where you can choose from a variety of ceramics and crafts, plus kids can enjoy the indoor playground, easels and paints, play dough tables and more. Or pick up a ceramics or paint and take to-go kit to enjoy the fun at home! 23. Hold a food drive with friends, family or neighbors and donate what you collect to a local nonprofit serving families, like Filling Tummies, Upward Transitions or City Care. 24. Create science experiments with items you already have on hand. Visit for instructions.

13. Head to southeast Oklahoma for an unforgettable family getaway at Oklahoma Awesome Adventures, where you can rent a cabin to enjoy the beauty of nature, plus visit nearby Endangered Ark Foundation to experience an educational interaction with endangered Asian elephants.

25. Take the Water Guardian pledge at Goldfish Swim School - Edmond to prioritize water safety all summer long — and receive FREE lanyards to be worn by the adult designated to watch kids in the water without distractions.

14. Go skiing and snowboarding ... in the summer? Yes! RIVERSPORT OKC opens a NEW experience this Memorial Day weekend: Ski OKC, an indoor ski slope offering infinite, articulating skiing experiences. 15. Choose your favorite kids’ books in MetroFamily’s Summer Reading Bracket Contest for a chance to WIN a local staycation at The Lodge OKC, a virtual cooking class from Sur la Table and other great prizes. Visit to participate from May 1 to 31. 16. Commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre by learning about the events as a family. Learn more at 17. If you’re expecting a baby or the parent of young kids, make plans to join MetroFamily virtually for our Bump, Baby & More expo on June 5. Hear from local medical experts, meet metro parents in the same life stage and get registered for giveaways. Plus enter your baby in our Cutest Baby Photo Contest for a chance at being featured in a special Bump, Baby & More issue. Find out more at metrofamilymagazine. com/bump-baby-more-expo.


26. Visit the Oklahoma Hall of Fame on Thursdays beginning June 5, or the second Saturday each month, to enjoy FREE admission, hightech museum exhibits, crafts and activities and more!

27. Go on an alphabet hunt to find each letter out in the wild! C for “caterpillar” anyone?



100 days of Summer 34. Eat cookies for a good cause! Purchase sweet treats from Catalyst Cookies to support the mission of local nonprofit Remerge, a diversion program for high-risk, high-need moms. 35. Visit a metro community garden to teach kids about sustainability, examine future career options and build new friendships. Find options at 36. Pack up the too-small kids’ clothing to resell (and recycle!) at Once Upon a Child. Use the cash you receive on the spot to scope out newto-you summer wear! 37. Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt. Find a list of things to hunt for at


38. Enjoy summer’s tasty bounty by visiting a local Pick-Your-Own farm with our list at

28. Head West! To the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, that is, for the Chuck Wagon Festival May 29-30. Enjoy chuck wagon and Native food samples, artisan demonstrations, live music, crafts and more. Don’t miss Liichokoshkomo’, the outdoor education experience and playscape.

29. Try frisbee tic-tac-toe! Using masking tape and your favorite frisbee, set this game up outside on a nice day. 30. Enjoy the best of locally-grown produce and foods by visiting a local farmers market. Find our favorites at metrofamilymagazine. com/farmers-markets. This list is generously sponsored by Edmond Farmers Market, where you even pre-order your items for pick-up, a parent’s literal dream!

39 39.

Is it even summer without snow cones?! Check out our favorite spots serving up cool treats at This list is generously sponsored by The Ice Shop — serving up 40+ flavors like cherry limeade and mango sorbet.

40. Soak up the sun with a walk through Scissortail Park. Then enjoy playtime on the unique playscape, pedal boat around the lake or take a spin on the roller rink. 41. Plan a nature-inspired day trip to commune with the outdoors and each other! Find four unique spots to explore at explore-nature-in-oklahoma.

31 31. Visit Oklahoma Contemporary on the second Saturday of each month for a FREE, socially distanced, family-focused day of handson art activities, performances and adventures for visitors of all ages. Timed tickets are free but must be reserved in advance. 32. Create your own fairy garden using plants, stones and other natural finds. Bonus points for added flair such as gemstones, painted signs and a fairy house! 33. Enjoy nostalgic family fun at a local drive-in movie theater.


42. Cool off by visiting a cave or go wild on a spelunking adventure. Find our faves at 43. Enjoy a truly unique immersive art experience at Factory Obscura’s Mix-Tape. 44. Hit an Oklahoma beach! Say what?! The Sooner State offers miles and miles of lake and reservoir splashing fun. Find our favorites at 45. Grab a good book and read outdoors. 46. Play disc golf. Find courses to try at


47. Make it a summer of DIY projects! Check out family-friendly, instructor-led classes at AR Workshop in Edmond, where you can create unique DIY home décor, including pillows, doormats, wooden trays and signs and so much more. Plus, check out their DIY to-go kits! 48. Meet up with a friend for an outdoor playdate. Find our favorite spots at 49. Catch the best in independent films from across the world and all over Oklahoma in the deadCenter Film Festival June 10 through 20! Opt for virtual or in-person screenings of exciting new short films, insightful documentaries, hilarious comedies, hair-raising thrillers, terrifying movies and more. 50. Play tourist with a ride on the Bricktown Canal boats. 51. Get prepped for a family 5k run or 10-mile bike ride. Find training tips from local experts at 52. Plan a family movie night with a twist. Check out our recs of familyfriendly flicks by decade at, then dress like the time period! 53. Celebrate Juneteenth, marking the official end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865. Find a family fun event near you at



Enjoy 10 days of activities, crafts and creative displays at the Myriad Garden’s Children’s Garden Festival June 11 through 20. This year’s festival brings books to life with the theme of “Tiny Gardens and Enchanted Woods” through activities and enchanting vignettes, plus enjoy FREE rides on Mo’s Carousel.



405-216-7471 and worms will be for sale at the event site. Parents must accompany children. Masks are required at the registration/awards area.



Text Metro for a special offer



100 days of Summer 70. Groove to concerts in the park every Thursday evening in Yukon’s Chisholm Trail Park, June through August. 71. Start a regular family yoga, meditation or mindfulness practice. 72. Ride the streetcar downtown. 73. Become a MetroFamily Insider to get our magazines mailed straight to your door, exclusive deals, discounts on our annual events like Kids Fest and Cover Kids, plus more! Find all the details at 74. Try a new-to-you locally owned restaurant for dine-in or to-go. 75. Festival of the Arts returns to OKC with an all-new summer experience June 22 through 27. Enjoy the community celebration of the visual, performing and culinary arts in downtown OKC’s Bicentennial Park.


Head north to enjoy the wide open spaces and plenty of family fun at the Rustic Roots Sunflower Festival on June 12! Enjoy facepainting, live music, a petting zoo, yard games, food trucks, a hot dog eating contest, a corn hole tournament, pageants for kids ages 3 to 14 and much more! $10 gate fee. The fun starts at 10 a.m.

56. Meet the amazing alpacas of Magnolia Blossom Ranch near Newcastle! 57. Plan a downtown staycation at the new Omni OKC Hotel, with plenty of family fun nearby. Get started on your itinerary with ideas on page 24. 58. Stay cool at a local splash pad. Find our favorites at 59. Care for local school gardens as a family while students are out for the summer with Restore OKC, or every second Saturday join with community members to provide home repairs for Northeast OKC neighbors. 60. Take swim lessons to learn water safety, survival skills or practice strokes. Find our guide, sponsored by Oklahoma Swim Academy, at 61. Stay up late to stargaze.

76. Take a spin on the Wheeler Ferris Wheel to see the city skyline from way up high. 77. Join OKC Pride Alliance for family-friendly events and activities during Oklahoma City’s Inaugural Downtown Pride Festival and Parade June 25 through 27. 78. Travel back in time to the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s The Painters of Pompeii: Roman Frescoes from the National Archaeological Museum exhibit. The exhibition highlights this snapshot in time through more than 80 artifacts and artworks and will be on display June 26 through Oct. 17. 79. Independence Day parades are back! Find local celebrations at Or create your own parade at home by decorating your bike, scooter or yourself! 80. Get inspired by a crafty class at Kids Inspirations in Del City with options for all ages! Plus, shop, sell or trade at their resale store specializing in kids’ toys, clothing and handcrafted items. 81. Plan a backyard campout or go camping at a state park. 82. Cheer on the OKC Dodgers at a game.

62. Dig for selenite crystals at the Great Salt Plains. Get tips on what to take with you at

83. Visit the FREE 45th Infantry Division Museum to honor the service of Oklahomans. Enjoy a stroll through Thunderbird Park, where you can see wheeled vehicles, full track vehicles, tanks, aircraft and more.

63. Go geocaching.

84. Host a family fashion show where the most creative ensemble wins!

64. Tag #okcfamilyfun in your posts of summer adventures for a chance to be featured on MetroFamily’s social media or in the magazine!

85. Go fishing.

65. Build a bee-friendly backyard, and learn why these pollinators are crucial to our ecosystem. Get tips on page 16. 66. Organize a litter pick-up day in your neighborhood or favorite local park. 67. Take a donation of prepackaged snacks and water or Gatorade bottles to your local fire station. 68. Cook up a new recipe as a family, then enter it in Shape Your Future’s Healthy Kids Cooking Contest for a chance to win great prizes from June 1 through 30. Find out more at contests. 69. Run through the sprinklers.


86. Take a road trip to the Chickasaw Recreation Area for hiking and swimming. 87. See a real spacecraft in the Oklahoma History Center’s Launch to Landing: Oklahomans and Space exhibit. In addition to the Skylab 4 Apollo Command Module, check out flight suits and other items belonging to Oklahoma astronauts. 88. Enjoy the best of summer at a family-friendly festival. Find our favorites at 89. Take a trip to Tulsa to explore The Gathering Place. Make a day or weekend of it with ideas at BOLD LISTINGS ARE FROM OUR ADVERTISING PARTNERS.

90. Experience turn-of-the-century territorial Oklahoma at the Harn Homestead. 91. Make your own ice cream sundae bar! Bonus points for the most creative toppings. 92. Go bird watching at Martin Park Nature Center. Count the variety of species you see. 93. Head north to Stillwater to visit the Oklahoma State University Botanic Garden. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy. 94. Listen to an audiobook as a family. 95. Volunteer as a family. Find ideas at 96. Shut off the screens and play a board game together. Shop locally for the best in family games and unique kids’ toys at Learning Tree Toys, Games & Books. Shop in store or call ahead to get curbside pick-up, both including excellent staff recommendations based on kids’ ages. 97. Visit the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, the largest protected remnant of tallgrass prairie on earth, near Pawhuska. Keep your eyes peeled for new bison calves. 98. Make homemade slime or play dough.

99 99.

Celebrate the end of summer with Metro Family’s Kids Fest, a virtual Back to School Bash on July 31. Enjoy incredible prizes, performances by local talent, engaging activities, digital swag bags, science experiments and art projects, coupons from local businesses and much more! Visit for more info.

100. Enter your child in MetroFamily’s Cover Kid Contest for a chance to be featured on our cover! The contest begins Aug. 1. Find out more at

ONE MONTH OF PROGRESS IN JUST ONE WEEK! Our Jump Start Clinics are a quick and easy way to get your kids swim ready or to advance to the next level, while learning how to be safer in and around the water.

WHAT? 5 consecutive 30-minute lessons, same time, same instructor, Monday - Friday WHEN? June 1 - August 6 | 9am - 12pm

COST? $111.25/members, $138.35/non-members

Safer Summer Starts NOW!

Get 25% off when you purchase 2 or more Jump Start Clinics! Offer expires 6/30

EDMOND | 405.696.7500 | |



BEE Friendly 5 tips to create a pollinator-pleasing backyard BY CHELSEA TRABER BURNS. PHOTOS BY CHET BURNS AND SWEET STINGERS HONEY AND APIARY.

Throughout the past year, when most activities and traveling were uncertain or unsafe, you, like many families, probably turned to your own backyard as a great escape. And while there may not have been too many human visitors stopping by, you might have noticed all the bugs that crawl, fly or scoot through and also call your backyard home. They all play an important role in your yard’s (and the Earth’s) ecosystem. One category of visitors that are particularly important: pollinators. By definition, according to the National Park Service, a pollinator is anything that helps carry pollen from the male part of the flower (stamen) to the female part of the same or another flower (stigma). This is crucial because a plant must be pollinated to produce fruit or seeds or to make new plants. While some plants can self-pollinate, others are pollinated by insects. Arguably the most popular and well known pollinator is, you guessed it, bees! The yellow and black insects have garnered extra buzz in recent years for some unfortunate reasons. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number of managed honeybee colonies has dropped from 6 million colonies in 1947 to


about 2.5 million today. But it’s not just honeybees that are on the decline; unfortunately bumblebees are, too. A study published by the Journal of Science in February 2020 found that areas populated by bumblebees have dropped by 47 percent in North America. So, why does this matter to your family? Let us count the ways ...

Why we need bees Simply put: We couldn’t survive without them. The USDA reports that in the United States more than one third of all crop production – 90 crops ranging from nuts to berries to flowering vegetables — require insect pollination. In fact, some crops, like almonds, can only be pollinated by honeybees. So if the number of bees keeps declining that, in turn, means less crops, resulting in a rise in price on some of your favorite fruits and veggies (or in this case, almond milk) at the grocery store. The decline also hurts the economy as the added revenue to crop production from pollinators is valued at $18 billion, according to the USDA. Pollinators also help support healthy ecosystems needed for clean air, stable soils and diverse wildlife. And if you’re a backyard gardener, inviting more pollinators to your yard will help you produce bigger, healthier and more delicious fruits and veggies.

What you can do to help Now for the good news: You can make a difference! Even if you don’t want to host a beehive in your backyard, there are lots of ways your family can help. Check out this step-by-step guide from Justin Scott, a local dad, beekeeper and founder of Sweet Stingers Honey and Apiary, to make your yard a little more buzz-worthy: 1. Choose an area to focus on. Bees are very efficient, and they’re more likely to visit a place that’s dense with pollen and nectar rather than a single flower. Look for a sunny spot to create a pollinator-friendly garden as most pollinators prefer sunshine over shade. 2. Select a variety of native plants. Choosing plants local to your area not only ensures the plants will thrive, it also helps feed and grow the population of local pollinators. Look for plants that have varying bloom times so bees and other pollinators will have a reason to visit throughout the seasons. Justin’s favorite plants for year-round blooms include milkweed, asters, bee balm, Maximilian sunflower, Indian blanket, goldenrod, Butterflyweed, Indigo (cream or yellow) Narrow Leaf Mountain mint and Celestial lily.


3. Bigger is better. A large bush or multiples of the same plant bunched together are better than a few stems of flowers. When bees go out to forage, they’re trying to work smarter, not harder, so they’re more likely to choose a spot where they can find a bunch of flowers at once. 4. Add a watering hole. Just like us, pollinators need water to survive so it’s important to help them out by providing a water source—particularly in the hot summer months when it’s hard for them to find water elsewhere. Place rocks or pebbles on a shallow dish then add water and place it near your garden. The rocks act as a landing spot for pollinators so they can get a drink without drowning. Already have a bird bath? Just place some rocks on the edges to make it pollinator-friendly. 5. Cut back on pesticides. Pesticides can be deadly to bees and other pollinators so try to refrain from using them in your yard. Plus, pollinators will love any flowering weeds you may get as a result. Editor’s note: This article is part of a collaboration with our partners at 405 Magazine and Edible OKC Magazine to collectively share editorial content on the positive power of green living and sustainability practices in Oklahoma City. Special thanks to Plenty Mercantile and Oklahoma Environmental Services who sponsored this series of articles. METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2021


4 ways to go green beyond your backyard • Make the swap to clean beauty. You’ve probably thought twice about what you put IN your body, but what about what you slather and apply onto your body? Use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database to see where your products land on the toxicity scale, then make the swap to a cleaner alternative.


• Try meatless Mondays. Your greenhouse gas (the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat) footprint drops by 50 percent when you opt for a plant-based meal. A simple swap: PB&J! • Walk it out. Not only is it good for your body and mind, walking also cuts back on the carbon emissions released by your car.


sell. buy. repeat. 13801 N. PENNSYLVANIA AVE OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 73134 405-286-3114 | VISIT US ONLINE


• Buy local. Supporting your Oklahoma farmers and businesses helps the local economy but it also helps reduce the carbon footprint since the products didn’t have to travel far.


Sweet Stingers Honey & Apiary is a locally-owned, family-run business offering raw Oklahoma honey, pollen, beeswax, gifts and gift packages featuring other locally-owned businesses, pollination services and hive hosting. Founders Justin and Melissa Scott have a passion for beekeeping with their two kids and sharing that passion with others. Learn all about bees and beekeeping, more tips for creating a pollinator-friendly yard and get weekly recipes at or on Instagram @sweetstingersok.

The buzz about bees • A honeybee will travel more than 55,000 miles in her lifetime • Female honeybees account for approximately 95 percent of their hive’s population • During the winter, this percentage increases to 100 percent as all the males are kicked out of the hive

• The male honeybee’s main objective is to spread his hive’s DNA by mating with a queen from another hive • Only female honeybees can sting • A healthy queen honeybee can lay more than 2,000 eggs per day • One way bees communicate with each other is by doing what’s called a waggle dance


Camp Cadence (all levels): June 7 – June 11 June 14 – June 18 June 21 – June 25 July 12 – July 16 July 19 – July 23 July 26 – July 30 Aug 2 – Aug 6 Full day 9 am - 3 pm Ages 6-14 $450/week Half day 9 am - Noon Ages 5-14 $295/week

(405) 348-7469 • 14150 S Pine St, Edmond

Enroll at:

• There are more than 4,000 native bees in the United States, but surprisingly honeybees aren’t one of them • The average honeybee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime • The average American consumes about 1.5 pounds of honey each year • Bumblebees are the only effective pollinator for peppers, tomatoes and cranberries


Now enrolling for Fall 2021. Waiting lists for future years ages 2 through PreK also available.

• Music • Art • Science • Spanish • Dramatic Play • Motor Development

848-5926 • 4901 N. Penn METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2021




We’ve rounded up our favorite gifts for your partner, parent, friend or grandparent to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, with a focus on supporting local businesses, promoting sustainability and adding some summer fun to any day. Use this guide to feel good about your gifting!

Make Mom Smile Lori Belle’s Honey + Tee from Paseo Farmers Market Signature Candle by Solare This organic beeswax and pure soy blended candle is hand poured by two local mamas and co-owners of Solare. The scent is subtle, floral and unique, and it actually purifies the air (and is said to uplift the mood) by releasing negative ions. After all the past year has brought us, bring on those rosescented good moods! Order online at

The Paseo Farmers Market adapted their procedures to ensure safety while still providing local, nutritious options to the community. Preorder your goods online Monday through Thursday and pick up the following Saturday. Locally-sourced honey, like that from Lori Belle’s, has a multitude of health benefits, including allergy and sore throat relief, assistance in digestive issues, a good source of antioxidants and more. You can’t go wrong with a basket of locally-sourced kitchen staples!

Rainbow Mesh Net Reusable Bag from Plenty Mercantile Bringing your own bag never looked so fun and stylish. Perfect for keeping on-call in your purse or car, this bag is ideal for the grocery store, farmers market, the beach, playdates and more. Plus, you can’t help but see the vibrant rainbow color pattern and smile!

Composting Class from Edmond Parks and Recreation Looking for some quality time ideas? Edmond Parks and Recreation offer online and in-person classes throughout the spring and summer, with topics ranging from composting and responsible irrigation classes to Park Art and Urban Forest Stewardship. Classes are available for adults, whole families and kids of all ages. You do not have to be an Edmond resident to participate.


Gift Card to Culture Coffee If you haven’t been to Culture Coffee you are missing something special. Not only are their drink selections delicious, the shop also pays homage to the seven influential African Americans who shaped the historic Page Woodson Community. Snag a fan favorite like the house-made blueberry syrup latte for yourself (made with honey!) and a gift card for mom, too!

r e w o l f n u S l a v i t s e F 021 June 12, 2 10 am

11 am Cornhole Tournament, Winning Team $250 $25 sign up, Only 16 teams allowed, Must be 16+

4 pm Hotdog Eating Contest, Winner $100

$10 sign up , Only 15 contestants allowed , Must be 18+

6 -10 pm

Live Music & Dancing

Vendors Food Trucks Face Painting Open Mic Time Barrel Train Bounce Pad


Horse Shoes Cornhole Yard Games Petting Zoo Photo Ops Slide Fort Picnicking

12 pm Little Miss Sunflower Seed (ages 3-6) 12:30 pm Little Bitty Mr. Harvest (ages 3-6) 1 pm Little Miss Sunflower (ages 7-10) $ 1:30 pm Little Mr. Harvest (ages 7-10) 2 pm Miss Sunflower (ages 11-14) Gate Fee 2:30 pm Mr. Harvest (ages 11-14) Trophies & Agriculture Gift Baskets


Only 8 contestants allowed per group for all pageants

For more information on sign ups for pageants, tournaments, or contests call 580-716-3608. All sign ups must be in by May 25 at 5:00 pm limited contestant space. If you do sign up, there won’t be a gate fee for the contestant only. Rustic roots is not responsible for any accidents or injuries.


105340 Greer Rd., Lamont, OK 74643




Snag Swag

for Dad

Patagonia Men’s Nano Puff Jacket from Sun and Ski Sports Local retailer Sun and Ski Sports offers a variety of outerwear brands that are sure to look sharp on dad, but only Patagonia jackets can be sent out for repairs at any damage level. Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard is known for his passion for environmental responsibility and his company is committed to repairing their products rather than finding them in landfills.

Eco-Friendly Lawn Care from Apple Valley Eco Landscapes Does your dad refer to his lawn as his “pride and joy?” If so, this is the gift for him. Encourage dad to kick back and support eco-friendly products and practices while he’s at it. From lawn care and maintenance to landscapes and irrigation, Apple Valley Eco Landscapes provides sustainable, responsible impact on the environment as well as top-notch design.

Second Chance Books and Comics The easiest way to reduce waste is to not create it to begin with. Gift dad a pre-owned book or comic from Second Chance Books! They are the largest independentlyowned used book and comic book store in OKC and are sure to have something for everyone. Whether your dad loves sitting down with a good biography or catching up on Marvel classics, he’ll love this feel-good gift especially for him.

Birdseed House from Plenty Mercantile The birds will thank you for this one, and so will your favorite birdwatching dad! This birdhouse is made entirely from seeds and will attract sparrows, doves, chickadees, cardinals, titmice, finches, jays and many more kinds of birds. Hang it outside a window and cuddle up for some quality time together.


Gift Card to Republic Gastropub With more than 100 beers on tap and nearly 250 additional bottles from around the world, plus a family-friendly atmosphere and TVs always tuned to “the big game,” this contemporary ale house is a dream for any dad. Bonus: like all Good Egg Dining Group concept restaurants, Republic uses cornmade straws that are biodegradable to reduce plastic waste.


Summer Staycation

The New Omni Oklahoma City Hotel Offers the Perfect Hub for Exploring Downtown BY APRIL DEOCARIZA. PHOTOS BY APRIL DEOCARIZA AND THE OMNI.

A new high-rise graces the downtown Oklahoma City skyline and promises families a plethora of options for enjoying the perfect staycation. The Omni Oklahoma City Hotel opened its doors to guests in January with 605 guest rooms and suites, an expansive pool deck, seven dining options and a full-service spa. Beyond the hotel, the Omni’s wellappointed location means you can easily get around on foot or using the OKC streetcar (the Scissortail Park stop is located catty-corner from the property).

Local residents will be proud of Oklahoma’s rich heritage reflected throughout the 17-floor hotel. “We wanted the lobby to exude an ‘Oklahoma’s living room’-vibe,” explained Paul Kiley, director of sales and marketing for the Omni OKC. “The décor throughout the hotel is drawn from Oklahoma’s landscape with scissortail accents (the state bird) and rich dark brown and blue hues.” Paintings by local artist David Holland are featured in the hotel and Oklahoma artisans and food and beverage brands are sold in the restaurants and Red Bird retail shop. Your furry friend can also get in on the action as the Omni OKC is pet friendly and can accommodate dogs and cats 25 pounds and under (a one-time $125 pet fee is required). There is plenty of fun to be had in and around the Omni OKC Hotel to satisfy any type of traveler. Check out these ideas for planning your next family getaway, right here at home.


Where to Stay Omni Oklahoma City Hotel The Omni OKC boasts magnificent views of the downtown skyline and Scissortail Park throughout the property. Park your vehicle using the valet service for $28 per night or in the adjacent city parking garage for $10 per night. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the hotel has implemented CDCcertified enhanced cleaning procedures to ensure the health and safety of staff and guests.

What to Do Splash & Play

Kids can burn off energy at the Scissortail Park playground just across the street from the Omni. Pack the sunscreen and bathing suits so they can splash around in the Scissortail Sprayground. Also a short walk from the hotel is the Myriad Botanical Gardens, where kids can feed the ducks, ride Mo’s Carousel or play in the Children’s Garden. From June 11 through 20, the Myriad Botanical Gardens will host its annual Children’s Garden Festival. This year’s theme, “Tiny Gardens and Enchanted Woods,” will bring books to life including Unicorns are the Worst, Hilda and the Hidden People, Thumbelina, The Borrowers, Backyard Fairies and more. Kids can enjoy activities, crafts and creative displays. Myriad Botanical Gardens members get in free; nonmembers, $8.

Game On Just across the street from the Omni is the Chesapeake Energy Arena where families can typically catch the Thunder in action. Staff is working to determine how to safely reinstate inperson fans for the 2021-2022 season.

Dive In

Ride the streetcar from Scissortail Park to the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark to cheer on the OKC Dodgers. Single-game tickets are on sale for May and June, with limited capacity in the stadium and COVID safety protocols in place.

Catch some summer rays at the Omni’s outdoor pool or soak in the hot tub. Private cabanas are also available for rent. Grab food and drink from the Catbird Seat pool bar, which offers a panoramic view of the downtown skyline and Scissortail Park.

Family Fun


Take the streetcar to Bricktown to enjoy Brickopolis, which offers several options for family entertainment including 18-hole mini golf, an arcade, a climbing wall, bungee trampoline and laser tag.

Parents can take a breather and relax at the Omni’s full-service Mokara Spa, offering everything from a sauna and body treatments to facials and salon services (any guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult).

Get Artsy Have a future Picasso in your family? There are several options for enjoying art and culture a short ride away on the streetcar. Visit the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (streetcar stop: Library) or for more modern flair, check out Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center (stop: Art Park). Want something more interactive and experiential? Get off at Automobile Alley to visit Factory Obscura and immerse yourself in innovative multimedia exhibits enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Be sure to check out the museums’ websites before visiting to learn about the latest COVID safety measures and regulations.




A short drive away… While not within walking or streetcar distance, check out these other nearby sites kids will love: • The OKC Boathouse District offers several options for adventurous families including whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip lining and more. • Hop on the Ferris Wheel at the Wheeler District to enjoy views of the Oklahoma River and downtown. Single tickets are available for $6 while kids 3 and under can ride for free. Bring bikes to ride along the river trail afterward.

Where to Eat

• Seltzer’s Modern Diner, located in the Omni, brings the 1950s diner experience to OKC. • Listen to live music or watch a game on the big screens at the Omni’s OKC Tap House. The sports bar also offers fun games for kids like foosball or Skee-Ball. The vast menu features all-American favorites including pizza, burgers and buffalo wings. • For a quick and affordable bite, check out the various food trucks at Scissortail Park. Grab some lunch while you people-watch on the lawn or from the park’s picnic tables. • Ride the streetcar to Automobile Alley for delicious, family-friendly restaurants. Enjoy brunch at Hatch Early Mood Food or lunch or dinner at Hideaway Pizza. Have a sweet tooth? After your meal, walk to Katiebugs Sips & Sweets for a refreshing craft soda, cake or cookies.

The Omni Oklahoma City Hotel is located at 100 W. Oklahoma City Blvd. Find out more at hotels/oklahoma-city.

SUMMER FUN for day care groups!

Thank you to our OKC Magazine Collaborative sponsors!



Check out the entire editorial series on sustainability in current issues of these three local publications. Call today to arrange your group’s hands-on, unique field trip. Tours available Tuesday-Friday, 10am to noon. Reservations are required. 405-235-4058 1721 N. Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City




F E STI VA L MEMO RI A L D AY W E E K E N D M AY 29 – 3 0 1 0:00 A .M . – 4 : 0 0 P .M .

J o i n u s f or a f u n-filled family weekend. For m or e infor mation, v isit nati o n al c o w bo y mu se u m. or g / c h u c kw a g on

C H I L D REN 12 & UN DE R F R E E

$ 1 5 Ad m i s s i o n • C hild r e n 1 2 & Und e r Fr e e

1700 Northeast 63rd Street Oklahoma City, OK 73111 (405) 478-2250 •



s om M Awesome



More than 60 metro moms were nominated for our annual Awesome Moms contest, and we are inspired by the stories of each and every one. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Jessica Ganther, and our two finalists, Staci Howard and Gloria Palacios.


Also, read about 10 metro moms receiving honorable mention in these pages, and celebrate the stories of all of our nominees at

Ganther’s partner, Michael, was killed just days after their son turned 1, and Ganther said Michael died doing what he loved — caring for others. Michael worked for a boys group home and was trying to help resolve a dispute by visiting one of the parent’s homes when he was shot as he sat in his truck to leave.

Thank you to our Awesome Moms prize sponsors: Wyndham Grand Hotel, The Spa at 10 North, udander, The Black Scintilla, Neighborhood JAM, Redrock Canyon Grill, Hefner Grill, Upper Crust Wood Fired Pizza and Painted Door Gift Boutique.

In the 18 months since that unfathomable day, Ganther has sought to honor Michael by carrying on his legacy. She started the Michael Young Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, which provides scholarships, hosts a free basketball camp for youth and puts on a free Halloween carnival for families.




Jessica Ganther Jessica Ganther calls her 2-year-old son Michael Jr. her reason. He’s the reason she gets up every day and the reason she’s fought through unimaginable tragedy to keep moving forward.

“He had a passion for working with youth, especially troubled youth, and he wanted to open his own boys home,” said Ganther.

“It embodies who Michael was and everything he loved,” said Ganther. “We want to give back to underprivileged kids because they are our future. We want to be a positive light, not just to kids but to families who have lost a parent or a family who may not have the means to do fun activities.”

The foundation also strives to provide positive role models for kids and teach that violence is never the answer. The organization’s work is a tangible way for Ganther’s son to know his father. “I will never forget him, and I want people to feel his presence through me, through my son or through things the foundation does,” said Ganther.

“We have babies that need us and we can’t afford to give up. That goes for those who’ve lost a partner, parent, grandparent — anyone important. These babies feel that loss — they might not be able to communicate it but they can feel it, and it’s our job to make sure they are the happiest kids they can possibly be.” Jessica Ganther

In addition to managing the foundation, Ganther works full time at Tinker Air Force Base managing contracts and says her team there is like extended family. She’s been with the organization for four years but started a new position just before the pandemic and then had to work from home while learning her new job and being a mom. “Everyone on my team is a parent and they welcomed me with open arms,” said Ganther, grateful for the support especially during a difficult year. Ganther also launched her own business just months before the pandemic hit, Party With Jess, through which she plans and styles unique, inventive parties in the evenings and on weekends. Using her creative eye to transform spaces that capture a child’s favorite character or personality is extremely fulfilling, and she most enjoys watching kids’ eyes light up when they see her creations.


Her work, her family and friends have been constant sources of support, and Ganther also credits counseling with helping her move through the stages of grief and challenges of working and parenting during a pandemic. In addition to a handful of supporters who nominated Ganther for Awesome Moms, she regularly hears from strangers who say she is an inspiration and motivation.

up,” said Ganther. “That goes for those who’ve lost a partner, parent, grandparent — anyone important. These babies feel that loss — they might not be able to communicate it but they can feel it, and it’s our job to make sure they are the happiest kids they can possibly be.”

“People say how strong I am, even when I don’t feel like it,” said Ganther. “I hate that it has to be like this; I never thought I would be a motivation for other people because of this, but maybe this is my purpose.”

“I want to make sure the only void my child has is the loss of his father,” said Ganther. “I can’t change that, but I don’t want him to want for anything else.”

Even in Michael’s absence, Ganther says she doesn’t want to disappoint him and she constantly hears his voice in her head, saying ‘get up, Jessica’ when her strength is failing. She knows many parents can relate to some form of loss over the last year and that oftentimes there is no choice but to keep pushing forward. “We have babies that need us and we can’t afford to give

It’s Michael Jr.’s sweet smile, his excitement to play and his joy in looking at photos of his daddy that motivate Ganther to be an intentional mom.

The lessons she most hopes to convey to her son are those her late partner and Michael Jr.’s dad taught her: love hard, forgive quickly, be a hard worker and treat others well. “I don’t care if he is a doctor or manager at Chik Fil A or the next Lebron James,” said Ganther of her son. “Success doesn’t matter if you have an ugly heart. I want him to be a good person.” Visit to learn about opportunities to volunteer with or support the Michael Young Foundation.





Staci Howard Over the past year, Staci Howard has helped both her special education students and her six kids navigate a global pandemic, new ways of doing things and fear of the unknown. Finding space for her kids to complete schoolwork on virtual days while also teaching students virtually has been difficult. But Howard has long been equipped to deal with hard things. In her fifth year of teaching special education with EPIC Charter School, Howard says flexibility and consistency are key to relationship development and finding what works best for each student to individualize their experiences. With her children, ranging in age from 10 to 17, her biggest challenge has been creating a sense of normalcy over the past year. Even with the best laid plans and supports, frustration levels have been high, particularly when coupled with a divisive election season and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. “We’re very open with them and give them the facts they need to know but we’ve tried not to let the stress of the unknown get to the kids,” said Howard, who’s been intent upon infusing fun and connection into their days through family dinners and projects. Those strategies are similar to what Staci and husband Keith employed as they fostered four of their children, beginning in 2012, with a focus on being open with them about the facts of their case to give them a sense of control and understanding. That open communication from the beginning has led to a home where the Howard kids ask questions and no discussion topics are off limits. Now president of Circle of Care, Keith has managed foster care agencies and overseen shelters, adoption and transitional living programs throughout his career, but fostering their kids, a sibling set of four, was their first experience as a foster family. At the time, the



family lived in Amarillo, next to the emergency shelter Keith managed that primarily housed teens and sibling sets, often difficult to keep together in foster care placements. The Howards developed a bond with the sibling set, and their 4-year-old daughter, who loved visiting children at the shelter, asked why their family wasn’t fostering, sparking a determination in all of them.

“When the kids first arrived, with their belongings in black trash bags and their fear and stress and anxiety, my heart just broke for them. We decided those four siblings needed a home — together — while their parents worked things out.” Staci Howard “When the kids first arrived, with their belongings in black trash bags and their fear and stress and anxiety, my heart just broke for them,” said Staci Howard. “We decided those four siblings needed a home — together — while their parents worked things out.” Keith had often been a first-hand witness to

sibling groups being split apart in foster care. When they’ve already lost nearly everything familiar in their lives — their parents, their home, their school and friends — taking them away from their siblings removes the one thing they have left. Staci Howard says older siblings are often very worried about younger siblings who they’ve been responsible for. The Howards weren’t initially intending to adopt; they supported the kids’ biological parents and reunification efforts wholeheartedly, but it was not successful, and the Howards adopted the children in 2015. The kids see their biological parents several times a year, typically in person though during the pandemic visits have occurred via Zoom. Knowing their biological parents are safe and that they haven’t forgotten them is healing for the Howard kids. “No matter what kids went through, that bond is still very strong and their bio parents are a part of them,” said Staci Howard. The family had an opportunity to share their story on Good Morning America in 2019, in hopes that viewers would see that fostering or adopting a sibling group is feasible for anyone and that while big families can be chaotic, it’s a lot of fun, too. “It’s not easy all the time but it’s not hard all the time either,” said Staci Howard. “We’ve had to adjust some things to make their lives

better [because] you can’t expect them to adapt to our life. Fostering really isn’t as scary as it sounds.” The same lessons Staci Howard has learned as a foster mom and as a special education teacher have proven vital during the pandemic, most importantly that quality time with and positive affirmation of her kids matter most and to give herself grace and lean on her support systems. “There’s so much pressure on moms to look and be a certain way, and moms can be really bad at judging each other, but I think we all just need to understand that whatever we are doing is OK,” said Staci Howard. “We are surviving and thriving.” THE HOWARD FAMILY CAPTURES PANDEMIC LIFE! PAIGE RAINS PHOTOGRAPHY.

ONE TICKET - TWO EXHIBITS See The Worst-Case Scenario: An Ultimate Survival Experience AND Sherlock Holmes The Exhibition! Tickets are in addition to general admission and are available at the box office and at the entrance to each exhibit.

May 1 - Sept. 6




“Forget about a clean house; you can do that later. You don’t need fancy meals. Do the best you can. Love your babies and give them hugs. Tell them and yourself that things are going to be OK.” Gloria Palacios



Gloria Palacios Gloria Palacios vividly remembers sitting at her kitchen table, surrounded by homework for nursing school after a full day of work, class and caring for her seven children. Exasperated and overwhelmed, she looked at husband Rito and said, “I can’t do this. I need to quit.” Before Rito could open his mouth, their young son Roger quipped, “Good. If you can quit, that means I can quit, too.” Palacios laughs at the memory now and says that conversation comes back to her whenever she feels like quitting anything. “I am my own worst critic, but you just have to do the best you can do,” said Palacios. “Our kids are watching everything we do.” Palacios didn’t quit and has long been a much-revered VA nurse in south Oklahoma City. She also hasn’t given up on her patients or profession during the most frightening year of her career. She’s been afraid she would contract the virus and pass it on to those she loved, especially her daughter Mia who is pregnant. But she’s also been afraid for her patients, with whom she’s known for creating special bonds by truly seeing them and giving her undivided attention. And that dedication to her job and the veterans she serves hasn’t wavered, even through her masks and layers of protection. “I pray with my patients and they pray for me,” said Palacios. “You never know what anyone is going through and the smile you


give could truly save someone.” Worse than the fear for her family, worse than changing clothes in the garage and immediately showering so as not to bring germs into her home, worse than when she contracted COVID herself, have been the times patients died alone. “People need people,” Palacios said tearfully. “No one should have to die alone.” The value and power of familial support is palpable for the Palacioses, even when they had to gather virtually instead of hosting their typical big Sunday dinners. “Glam-ma” to 23 grandkids (with one on the way!) and four great-grandkids, Palacios is a hands-on grandmother known for baking, crafting and encouraging mess-making. As her grandkids have gotten older, she’s also a trusted adviser. Palacios is called “Glam-ma” because her motto is that she always feels better when she puts on mascara and lipstick. That mantra was passed down from her own mom and visually represents the importance of taking time to care for herself and summoning her inner strength against life’s most challenging days. Remembering son Roger’s quip about quitting is bittersweet. Twenty-three years ago, he was killed in a car accident before he turned 16. Two years ago the family created the Roger Palacios Memorial Scholarship in his honor, raising nearly $20,000 in 2021 to provide 10 scholarships for high school seniors and anonymously help community members who need groceries, clothing or assistance paying bills. The 2021 fundraiser will be held July 31. “He helped people all the time,” remembers Palacios. “He had a tender heart, would rally against bullying, give lunch to someone who

didn’t have it, sit by people who didn’t have anyone, saved our neighbor’s daughter from choking … we’re carrying on his legacy.” In addition to her faith, Palacios says it’s her 47-year marriage to Rito that bolsters her. Rito is her best friend who helps remind her who she is, supports her in every way and provides calm to counteract her tendency to worry. Palacios says the secret to a long marriage is to pick your battles, remember why you chose each other and make time for each other with regular date nights. When Palacios considers her most important values as a mother and grandmother, she says she believes firmly in the value of kindness, not judging others and being respectful. Conversations always have been and still are very open in their family, and Palacios advises parents to consistently ask kids openended questions to engage with them, and while they’re living at home, require more time spent together than each retreating to their own spaces. Especially when she speaks with female veterans who are overwhelmed with motherhood, particularly during the pandemic, Palacios first tells them to keep up the good work and then offers advice that’s been helpful in her journey. “Forget about a clean house; you can do that later,” said Palacios. “You don’t need fancy meals. Do the best you can. Love your babies and give them hugs. Tell them and yourself that things are going to be OK.” Learn more about the Roger J. Palacios Memorial Scholarship at

Honorable Mention We received so many beautiful nominations for our Awesome Moms contest this year. Here’s a look at 10 “honorable mention” Awesome Moms, each of whom will receive a FREE MetroFamily Insiders subscription. View the full list of nominees, all of whom deserve celebrating, at

Sarah Garcia “Sarah is a hardworking single mother of two boys who works full time and picks up extra time when it’s needed to get the bills paid. After dealing with severe depression, she is a role model for me and many women who deal with postpartum because you never give up trying to get out of that dark place.” — Melanie Cabrera

Juanita Green “It was really hard on me being almost two hours away from my family. I got a job working at OU and that’s where I met Mama Nita. She retired from OU and kept my daughter while I worked. Mama Nita, her late husband, two sons and daughter-in-law took me in and made me feel like I was part of the family. She has helped raise my children.” — Antonia Smith

Stephanie “She has worked through the pandemic, leads our youngest daughter’s Girl Scout Troop, helps our oldest who is a senior in college and tries to do something for all five kids at home to make sure they feel special. My wife cares for her parents, who live on our farm in their tiny house, and picks up groceries or whatever they need.” — Kendra

Carri Hicks “Carri Hicks is a dynamic mother of three who advocates for all Oklahoma’s children in the State Senate. She has championed safety for babies and children, better resources for public education and stronger laws protecting breastfeeding. Her fight for better healthcare also targets helping individuals with diabetes get appropriate and affordable care. She has initiated much of this work from her personal experience as a mom [because] her 6-yearold Sawyer has Type 1 diabetes.” — Julia Kirt

3 Locations to Serve You!

Mautra Jones “She has spent the last 20 years investing in children, youth and teens from underserved communities, treating them like her very own. Mautra’s children are her pride and joy and inspire all she does.” — Charifa Smith

Edmond • OKC • Yukon

Physical Therapy • Occupational Therapy • Speech Language Therapy

Shirri Jones “She has been raising six of her grandchildren for almost five years. She works nights so that in the morning she can do everything that needs to be done for those kids. My mom always has a smile on her face. I am so proud of her and hope to one day live up to a fraction of all the people she helps and cares for.” — Krystan Turner

Karis Long “This mom, my wife, was dealt a rough hand. After having a child with Down syndrome at the age of 15 due to sexual assault, she stepped up, dropped out of high school to get her GED quicker and worked full time caring for my now stepson. She has been the world’s largest advocate for our boy.” — Jack Long

Chelsea Palmer “Chelsea lost her 5-year-old daughter Paisley in a car accident in November 2019. She has started The Paisley Project, a nonprofit that helps bereaved families emotionally and financially. She put her own pain aside to help others to honor her only child.” — Kim Hamilton

Judy Roubert “She came here from Puerto Rico for a good life and every choice she has ever made was with her four children in mind. When money was tight, I vividly remember my mother serving us dinner first and eating what little remained. What I love most is my mother has always loved without judgment, and she’ll love others until they understand they are worthy of being loved.” — Eva Aranda

Our therapists provide fun, inventive and playful interventions that address your child's specific needs. We offer physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language therapy.

Play • Learn • Thrive

Victoria Still “She has been a patient and loving mom to our daughter who had colic, reflux and severe food allergies. She has had to save our daughter’s life twice with an EpiPen. She advocates for food allergy awareness online and met with legislators at the Capitol.” — Carter Still

Call (405) 840-1686 to schedule an evaluation!



Edmond - 14715 Bristol Park Blvd. OKC - 5701 SE 74th St. Yukon - 1445 Health Center Pkwy

Integrated Arts

Thanks to our friends at Oklahoma A+ Schools, we’re continuing a 6-month series of easy, fun and engaging arts integration activities that kids and families can enjoy together. For this fifth installment we’re exploring cause and effect. Bonus: integrating the arts with students’ everyday academics is proven to increase comprehension and retention!

Cause and Effect:

Thermal Absorption

Water’s states of matter are likely a familiar concept for our children. Frozen water becomes solid ice and will melt as it warms up. Is there something we can do to affect the rate at which that ice melts? Heat soak or thermal absorption is the idea that the surface that absorbs the most heat will get hotter in a shorter amount of time. Therefore, the objects that absorb more heat will melt ice more quickly. Use the experiment below to see this concept in action!

Melting Ice Experiment Take this STEAM project outside to observe the cause and effect of the sun on an ice cube. Take it further by placing ice cubes on different materials to see how the melting process is changed. 1. Gather your materials: • Ice cubes (all the same size) • Timer or stopwatch • A variety of surfaces to set your ice cubes on: • Aluminum foil • White paper • Dark colored paper • Plastic bag • Piece of wood • Another material you want to test. • Paper and pencil to record your experiment results 2. Turn your piece of paper to landscape and fold it in half. Fold that into thirds and then open. You should have 6 even boxes for recording your results. 3. Write the names of your surfaces, each at the top of one of the boxes. 4. Make a prediction: how will the surface affect the way your ice cube melts? Write a prediction for the length of time you think the ice will take to melt on each surface. Optional: place one ice cube on a neutral surface before beginning to provide context for how long an ice cube typically melts. 5. Place each surface outside with one ice cube on top. Start your timer or your stopwatch.


6. Observe the ice cubes. While you watch: Notice: • What is happening to the ice cubes? • Which material is accelerating the melting? Which one is decelerating? Why do you think that may be happening? • What effect does the melting ice have on the surface it is sitting on? Illustrate: • Choose one of the surfaces and ice to write about or draw. • Make multiple drawings of the ice as it melts or take your time to draw a single “frame” of that surface and the ice melting, taking special note of shapes you find interesting. 7. As soon as an ice cube has melted completely, note the time. Write it in the box under your time prediction. Add any additional notes or drawings of what you saw. 8. When every ice cube has melted, cut the paper into six squares. Organize them from shortest to longest melting times. What do you notice? Integrated arts activities are created by certified teachers and provided by Oklahoma A+ Schools to meet the Oklahoma Academic Standards across multiple content areas. Find more activities at


Top events

May 14

May 7

FREE Movie in the Park at Moore’s Central Park (700 S Broadway, Moore) features a screening of Sandlot (PG). Concessions available for purchase. Movie begins at sundown.

May 8

FREE OKC Parks Spring Fishing Derby at Route 66 Park (9901 NW 23rd St). Kids can learn about fishing by visiting educational booths and receive a FREE fishing rod while supplies last. No state fishing license or city fishing permit required during the event. All ages welcome. 10am-2pm. FREE Second Saturday at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) features a Reprint Frenzy with artist demos by a cookie design artist and experimental printmaker who will be printing on food items. Attendees can take part in collaborative art activities and printmaking projects. Preregister, space is limited. Noon-3pm.

FREE Outdoor Movie Series at Lions Park (450 S Flood Ave, Norman) features an outdoor screening of Woman Woman: 1984. Activities begin at 7pm. The movie will begin at sundown. Masks required. 7-10pm.

May 14-16

Fairies & Toadstools at Scissortail Park (655 S Robinson Ave) features a create-your-own fairy garden activity, themed crafts, fairies wandering the park, a scavenger hunt and more. All ages welcome. $7; members & kids (2 & under), free. Thursday & Friday, 10am-7pm & Saturday, 10am-4pm.

May 15

FREE Armed Forces Day & Shriners Parade in Del City (SE 15th & Sunnylane, Del City) features a military color guard, decorated floats, vintage cars, Shriners and more. 10am. FREE oNE OKC Street Festival at Booker T. Washington Park (NE 4th St) features a family-friendly street festival with live music, games, inflatables,

food trucks and more. Free to attend. Noon-4pm.

May 22

FREE Butterfly Hike at Will Rogers Gardens (3400 NW 36th St) features a hike through the gardens to learn about many of the 170+ different butterfly species that live in Oklahoma. All ages welcome. Preregister. 10-11:30am.

FREE Night Hike at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features a guided hike to learn about nocturnal animals and witness how the park comes to life after the lights go out. All ages welcome. Preregister. 7:30-9pm.

May 23

OKC Philharmonic Discovery Family Series Concert: Peter and the Wolf and More at the Zoo Amphitheatre (2101 NE 50th St) features a one-hour, familyfriendly concert designed to entertain and educate youngsters 13 years & under. The performance will include a special visit from a zoo animal ambassador. Tickets are limited. $5; kids (5 & under), free. 2pm; gates open at 1pm.

Pediatric Occupational Therapy SPECIALIST “Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well.” Steve Jobs

We regret to inform you that due to BCBS

Interactive Literacy Camp for kids! Hone research & writing skills

denying cost of business rate increases for 11 years, we will no

Learn from local STEAM professionals Investigative, project-based activities

longer be in their networks effective late summer 2021.

1309 E. Danforth Rd. Edmond, OK 73034 Est. 2019

Gather. Create. Learn.


405-285-1828 TOTALPOSS-ABILITIES.COM 2917 NW 156th St., Edmond, OK



CALENDAR #OKCFAMILYFUN a car, motorcycle & truck show; arts & crafts booths and children’s activities including a Princess & Action Hero Parade. Free to attend. 10am-4pm. bethanyimprovementfoundation. com/bethany-66-festival

May 26

#FullMoonOKC Bike Ride at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a onehour leisurely ride through the downtown OKC area under the light of the full moon. May’s ride celebrates the Flower Moon. Decorate your bike with flowers and you could win a prize. Lights and helmets required. $5 suggested donation. 8:30pm. Also held: June 24.

May 29-30

Chuck Wagon Festival at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features a two-day, fun-filled family weekend with chuck wagon and Native food samples, artisan demonstrations, live music, western reenactors and photos with a longhorn. Stop by socially-distanced craft stations to pick up take-and-make activities and explore Liichokoshkomoʹ, the Museum’s premier outdoor educational playscape. Masks required; enhanced sanitation and social distancing will be in place. All ages welcome. $15; kids (12 & under) & museum members, free. 10am4pm.

May 27

Sky Rink Opening Day at Scissortail Park (801 S Robinson Ave) features an outdoor skating surface for traditional quad and inline skates. Music, demonstrations, lessons and roller derby performers will be onsite. All ages welcome. $10, includes skates. 10am-10pm.

May 28-29

Summer Lock-in Skate at SkateGalaxyOKC (5800 NW 36th St) features skating and an all-night stay at Skate Galaxy. Preregister. $25 in advance, $50 day of. 8pm-8am.

June 5

May 29

Bethany 66 Festival (38th St, Bethany)PP_PrintAds_MFM.pdf features live entertainment; 1 4/1/21


FREE Kids Fishing Derby at Arcadia Lake’s Spring Creek Park (SE 15th St, Edmond) features a derby for kids ages AM5-15. Bring bait, fishing equipment, hat,

sunscreen, sunglasses and a lawn chair. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Registration, 7:30am; derby, 8am; weighin, 11am; prizes, noon. Kids Take Over The Cowboy at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features a variety of themed, hands-on activities for kids to explore the history of the American West. Kids can follow animal tracks through Liichokoshkomoʹ and make tracks of their own. Free with admission. 10am-noon. FREE Edmond Community Fair at New Covenant Church (2700 S Boulevard, Edmond) features community organizations and fun for families including 50 free bikes given away on a first-come, first-served basis and a bicycle safety course by the Edmond Fire Department. All ages welcome. 10am-2pm. Bump, Baby & More Virtual Expo (online) is MetroFamily’s interactive event for new and expecting parents and grandparents. Features local experts, baby product specialists, local services, giveaways and more. VIP guests receive

The Painters of Pompeii Roman Frescoes from the National Archaeological Museum, Naples




Opening June 26




Reserve your timed ticket today.



This exhibiton is organized by the National Archaeological Museum, Naples and MondoMostre.


Kids 17 and under are always FREE.

a customized box filled with local coupons, promotional items and new baby essentials. VIP, $35; general admission, $10. MetroFamily Insiders get $5 off VIP admission or free general admission. 10am-5pm. metrofamilymagazine. com/bump-baby-more-expo

June 10-20

deadCENTER Film Festival (in-person & online) features new short films, documentaries, comedies, scary monster movies and some of the best independent films from around the world and all over Oklahoma. This year’s festival will be held mostly online with a few in-person screenings. See website for films and schedule. $10 & up.

June 11-20

Children’s Garden Festival at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features enchanting vignettes and themed activities inspired by popular children’s books. The 2021 theme is Tiny Gardens and Enchanted Woods. Nonmembers, $8; members & kids (2 & under), free.

June 12

Autism Oklahoma A Dash Thru Oz PieceWalk at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features a PieceWalk, Toto Trot, kids’ zone, food trucks and a resource fair benefiting Autism Oklahoma. All ages welcome. Free to attend, fundraising encouraged. 6:30-8:30pm.

June 22-27

Festival of the Arts at Bicentennial Park (500 Couch Dr) features more than 200 artists, food, entertainment and more. Changes to this year’s event include expansion of the festival grounds, food trucks instead of tents and fewer performing artists. However, familiar festival favorites such as Pottery Place, Children’s Art Field, Sculpture Park and artist tents will return. Free to attend. Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-9pm; Sunday, 11am-6pm.

June 25-27

OKC Pride Festival & Parade at Scissortail Park (300 SW 7th St) features a parade and an inaugural downtown festival highlighting film, music and art in a new way. The festival will have a kids’ zone, vendor marketplace, roller rink and dance floor. Elements of the festival will also be presented in a virtual format. All ages welcome. Free to attend. See website for schedule.



• 4 pounds of chicken (legs, thighs, wings or breast) with the skin on • 1 cup of BBQ sauce • Salt • Olive oil

1. Prepare grill* — one side on high heat, one side on low. 2. Coat chicken in olive oil and sprinkle with salt on all sides. 3. Sear both sides of chicken on hot side of grill for 10-12 minutes. 4. Move chicken to other side. If you are using a gas grill, turn to low heat. 5. Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes. 6. Brush meat with barbecue sauce on all sides and continue to cook until juices run clear. 7. Add remainder of barbecue sauce to serve. *If you do not have a grill, you can cook chicken in a skillet on medium-high heat

until done and juices run clear. Looking for healthy twists on classic side dishes? has them all — and so much more! Get tons of healthy tips, including fun exercise ideas for the whole family!


June 26

Autism Oklahoma A Dash Thru Oz 5k at Stars and Stripes Park (3701 S Lake Hefner Dr) features a 5k run or walk benefiting Autism Oklahoma. There is also a virtual race option. $35 & up; 8am. Mommy Son Field Day at Joe B. Barnes Regional Park (8700 E Reno Ave, Midwest City) features an afternoon of limbo, dancing and other fun field day games, followed by swimming at Reno Swim & Slide. Limited to the first 200 individuals. No children outside ages 3-14. $10. 4:30-7:30pm.

Ongoing Events Through Sept. 6

The Game is Afoot! Sherlock Holmes - The Exhibition at Science Museum Oklahoma (2020 Remington Pl) features an interactive experience that combines science with history and culture to bring to life the historic underpinnings of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Guests will be transported into Sherlock Holmes’ London to solve a crime in a world filled with innovation and experimentation. Tickets must be purchased in addition to general admission. Adults, $9.95; kids & seniors, $7.95 (includes both current special exhibitions). Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm; Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, 11am-6pm. The Worst-Case Scenario: An Ultimate Survival Experience at Science Museum Oklahoma (2020 Remington Pl) features a full-body physical and minds-on exhibition where guests encounter real-life scenarios in a “survival challenge” training facility. Tickets must be purchased in addition to general admission. Adults, $9.95; kids & seniors, $7.95 (includes both current special exhibitions). Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm; Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, 11am-6pm.

Through Oct. 31

Dino Safari at the Oklahoma City Zoo (2000 Remington Pl) features a new immersive experience with more than 20 life-sized dinosaur fossils and animatronic models that demonstrate movement and sounds like prehistoric creatures. Learn how dinosaurs evolved over time, where they roamed and what the OKC Zoo is doing to fight the extinction of Oklahoma’s beloved lizard, the horny toad. Tickets


include admission to the zoo, plus other attractions. Adults, $31; seniors (65 & up) & kids (3-11), $28. 9am-5pm.

Thursdays, June 3-Aug. 5

FREE Concerts in the Park at Chisholm Trail Park (500 W Vandament, Yukon) features a series of concerts by local and regional artists performing a variety of musical genres. 7-8:30pm.

June 15-27

Grease at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School’s Pribil Football Stadium (900 N Francis Ave) features an outdoor performance of the hit musical about a secret summer romance. Lyric Theatre’s production will include all of the most popular songs from the stage production and the movie. $25. See website for showtimes.

Opening June 26

The Painters of Pompeii: Roman Frescoes from the National Archaeological Museum, Naples at Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr) features more than 80 artifacts and artworks that were buried and preserved during the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Adults, $12; kids (17 & under), free. Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm.


Worth the Drive May 7-9

Oklahoma Steam Show at Steam Engine Park (409 E Beck Dr, Pawnee) features steam engines, a steam-powered sawmill, an operating blacksmith shop, daily parades and live music. In the evening hours, the steam engines put on a spark show, blowing burning cinders 50 to 60 feet into the air. Adults, $10; kids (12 & under), free. Friday & Saturday, 8am, spark show at dark; Sunday, 8am-3pm.

May 15

Twister 25th Anniversary Festival at the Twister the Movie Museum (101 W Main St, Wakita) features an open house at the museum with an autograph party, live music, storm chaser car show, kids’ games, food and vendors. Free to attend. 10am-3pm. facebook. com/twisterthemoviemuseum

June 4-6

Sunfest in Bartlesville’s Sooner Park (420 SE Madison Blvd, Bartlesville) is known as Oklahoma’s biggest outdoor picnic with live musical entertainment, arts and crafts, children’s games, a stunt dog show, Inspyral Circus show and more. Free to attend. Friday, 3-10pm; Saturday, 10am-10pm; Sunday, 11am-5pm.

June 12

Sunflower Festival at Rustic Roots (105340 Greer Rd, Lamont) features live music, yard games, photo ops, picnicking, an “agripageant,” petting zoo, sunflowers and more. In the agripageant, kids ages 3-14 can compete in agedivided categories for Miss Sunflower and Mr. Harvest. $10. 10am-10pm.

Mother’s Day Weekend Fun May 8

Stillwell Strawberry Festival at Adair Park (Division St & Hwy 59, Stillwell) features a carnival, live entertainment, parade, car show, contests, free strawberries & ice cream, rodeo and more. Free to attend. 8am8pm. Oklahoma City Flower & Garden Festival at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a variety of vendors with herbs, perennials, roses, produce, pottery, jewelry, wineries, food products and food trucks. Free to attend. 9am4pm. FREE Migratory Bird Hike at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features a guided hike on Migratory Bird Day to find as many of the park’s migrant species as possible and learn more about migration and bird conservation. All ages welcome. Preregister. 1011:30am. Covered in Color Art Fest at Charles J. Johnson Central Park (SE 29th St & Mid-America Blvd, Midwest City) features a sidewalk chalk competition, live entertainment, art & crafts, fine art displays and more. Free to attend. 11am-4pm.


Father’s Day Weekend Fun

Independence Day Fun

June 12-20

June 25-July 4

Virtual Walk for Kids: Celebrating Fathers (virtual) features a familyfriendly, virtual walk benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities Oklahoma City. You pick where and when and who you walk with. Fundraising encouraged.

LibertyFest in Edmond (various locations) features a rodeo, KiteFest, car show, Road Rally, Parkfest, parade and fireworks. Prices vary (many events are free). See website for schedule.

June 26

June 17-19

Stars & Stripes River Festival at RIVERSPORT Adventures (800 Riversport Dr) features a 4th-of-Julythemed festival combining on-the-water fun with food trucks, live music, racing throughout the day and fireworks to end the evening. Free to attend; parking, $10. 10am-10pm.

FREE Jazz in June at Brookhaven Village & Andrews Park (3700 W Robinson St & 201 W Daws St, Norman) features a three-day music festival with a long list of jazz musicians. See website for schedule.

June 20

FREE Father’s Day Festival at Scissortail Park (300 SW 7th St) features a free family event with games, food, music, vendors and more. 11am-3pm.

July 3 & 4

Yukon Freedom Fest at Yukon City Park & Chisholm Trail Park (2200 S Holly & 500 W Vandament, Yukon) features live music, kids’

activities, contests, food trucks, fireworks and more. Free to attend. Saturday, 8am-10pm; Sunday, 5-10pm.

July 4

Celebration in the Heartland at Buck Thomas Park (1903 NE 12th St, Moore) features food, music, vendors, local shopping and fireworks choreographed to music. 2-10pm; fireworks, 9:45pm.

For a full, up-todate list of events in the OKC metro, visit metrofamilymagazine. com/calendar.

Summer Camps “Monday’s @ Metro”

Gymnastics Classes and Clinics Your child's gym for summer camps, clinics and classes. • Parent-Tot Classes • Preschool Gymnastics • Recreational Classes • Tumbling Classes • Competitive Team • Youth & Adult Aerial Silks • Private Lessons • Birthday Parties • Easy online enrollment

Family Favorites 2020 Winner

848-5308 7420 Broadway Ext. OKC, OK 73116

Recreational Class Facility (Metro West), AAU Competitive Team Training Center & Aerial Silks Studio (Metro East) email:

It Takes all kinds . . . Why not YOU? The Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) program assists children and youth who have unique life experiences that require understanding of each child’s individual needs. There are not currently enough TFC homes available in Oklahoma for the children who need it most. To apply to become a certified TFC foster family, call 1-800-376-9729 or visit




–– Cool Pops –– Congratulations to the top five finalists in our Best Dad Advice contest! Learn more about these Cool Pops here, then head to metrofamilymagazine. com/contests to vote for your favorite story by May 31. We’ll announce the reader-voted winner on Father’s Day, and he’ll receive a $250 prize package

from Sun and Ski Sports! All five finalists receive dad swag from Red Coyote, Elemental Coffee, Anthem Brewing and MetroFamily. Thank you to each of these prize sponsors and to everyone who nominated a Cool Pop!

Dr. Dale Cabiness

Chris and Lance Evans

“My dad was a quiet and well-educated person. If he spoke, you should listen. His favorite advice if you were having a bad day was: ‘Go find a smashed toad in the road and eat it. Nothing else the rest of your day could be any worse!’ We lost my dad to cancer in 2017 at the age of 80. We should have eaten a toad that day.”

“I’m nominating two cool dads. They are the parents of the beautiful Chrystian Lauren. What makes them ‘cool dads’ is that they are the definition of love conquers all! Both of these cool dads have overcome every obstacle and storm in their path. They consistently defy all odds and prove daily to the world that love overcomes hate, has no color and no sexual orientation. Chris and Lance are love! What’s cooler than that?!” Nominated by Princess Easter

Nominated by LaDawna Frasier


Alireza Shahkarami “My candidate is the best father I can think of. A graduate of West Virginia University with a PhD in petroleum engineering, this father calls rural America his home despite having been born elsewhere. His expertise in data science does not prevent him from dedicating time to his family and his 1-year-old son. From playing hide and seek with his son to building him a set of shelves or fixing dinner, this man is well-rounded in life and what’s important. He is the most giving, honest and kind person I know. Despite his science background, he is an avid reader of literature, and he is his wife’s


first reader (a published poet). So gently he cradles his son to help him fall asleep and so lively he lifts him up in an embrace as he teaches him traditional dances from his part of the world that any heart will instantly melt if witnessing these abundant moments. This man volunteered to help when a terrible earthquake destroyed his hometown, buying refuge homes for families without any shelter. He wakes up everyday in gratitude for his life. How extraordinarily lucky I am that this man chose to spend his life with us!” Nominated by Roxana Cazan

Michael Inge

Roger Cole “As memory serves, I walked in on my exasperated mother taking the vacuum cleaner from my father after his attempt at housework did not live up to her standards. He looked a little chagrined as he walked away. Once my mom was out of hearing range, he quietly leaned down to me and said with a twinkle in his eye: ‘You know, if you do a job badly enough you won’t be asked to do it again!’ I think this advice stands up to a lot of other circumstances in life as well.” Nominated by Jennifer Bradford

“From going from no kids to having two bonus kids, then shortly later one of his own on the way, this dad stepped up to the plate and has knocked it out of this world! From playing with the boys, teaching them important values, showing them how humans, not just women, should be treated and just being there for them, Michael supports the family financially, too, but no matter how tired he is, he still has their best interest in mind.” Nominated by Kimberly Inge

Vote for your favorite Cool Pop at by May 31!




June 5, 2021 10am-5pm Also available for on-demand viewing

Whether a newbie or experienced, OKC parents need a place to go for help and community. This event is designed to connect parents to quality medical information from local experts, baby product specialists, local services and shopping, giveaways and FUN, all in one spot!

Tickets and pricing:

VIP Box Admission

$35 (VIP tickets available until May 20)





General Admission $10

MetroFamily Insiders

$5 off VIP or FREE General Admission Only 100 VIP Box Admission tickets are available. Secure yours today to have a box of deluxe goodies sent straight to your home, including items such as a high-quality receiving blanket, hand purifier and essential oils, a $50 gift card to Green Bambino and more!


Oh Baby

To celebrate MetroFamily’s upcoming Bump, Baby and More event, we’ve included three articles pertinent to new and expecting parents. In the following pages find: 44: Tips to recognize and heal from postpartum anxiety 48: Pre- and postnatal disparities faced by Black moms (and how to advocate for better care) 52: 3 local families share their unique paths to parenthood

Cutest Baby Contest Enter the Cutest Baby Photo Contest by June 3 to have a chance to win prizes such as $50 gift cards from Commonplace Books, photo packages from contest sponsor J. Holland Photography ($100$160 value) and a MetroFamily Insider subscription. One winner and nine runners-up will be announced live during Bump, Baby and More on June 5, and all 10 winners will be featured in the special Bump, Baby & More flipbook. THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS




POSTPARTUM ANXIETY 5 common symptoms + practical ways to begin to heal BY THAI-AN TRUONG, LPC

Thai-An Truong, LPC, LADC is a postpartum therapist and mother of two who is passionate about helping pregnant and postpartum women overcome depression and anxiety. She has overcome her own battle with postpartum depression and anxiety and loves helping moms feel like themselves again so they can enjoy life with their baby and family. To learn more about her, visit


We often hear about postpartum depression, but did you know anxiety is actually the most common symptom in postpartum women? Symptoms of postpartum anxiety include:


Anxiety. My clients talk about struggling with feeling anxious throughout the day and overwhelmed about everyday life after having their baby. Things that used to be easy often start to feel suffocating and exhausting, including getting dinner ready, doing chores, managing finances, etc. Add the many layers and challenges of caring for a baby, and it can start to feel like too much.



Fear. The women I’ve treated often have intrusive thoughts about their baby being harmed. According to postpartum expert Karen Kleinman in her book Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts, 91 percent of postpartum women struggle with these kinds of thoughts. Intrusive thoughts often include baby dying from suffocation, accidents, contamination, thoughts of intentional harm, unacceptable sexual thoughts, etc. These thoughts often bring on high anxiety and panic but actually pose no true danger to the baby, even though they feel really scary.


Worry and nervousness. Women with postpartum anxiety share that they worry about every little thing, including baby’s health, balancing work, time with older children and their spouse, etc. They worry about not being good enough and sometimes worry they have made a big mistake in bringing a baby into the world.

4 5

Tension. Women often talk about physically feeling tense. It’s hard for them to relax and enjoy the present moment with their baby and other loved ones. They are on edge, often hyper-vigilant about something bad happening. Irritation and anger. When you’re anxious, overwhelmed and tired, it doesn’t take much to trigger anger. Every little thing can start to annoy and irritate – baby’s cries, toddler’s demands, partner’s needs and desire to keep up the home and life in general all may start to grate on nerves.

The good news is while these symptoms are really hard and often feel unbearable, they are all completely treatable. My treatment approach for postpartum anxiety includes four models, based on TEAM-CBT, created by Dr. David Burns. Rate your anxiety from 0-100 (with 100 being most intense) before and after each exercise to see if it was effective in helping you feel better.


Consider the positives. Before we use tools to get rid of anxious symptoms, it is helpful to see why the anxiety is there first and what motivates it to stay around. It is counterintuitive, but the more we try to suppress anxiety, the louder it gets. Instead, we can honor it and see that it’s here for a reason. Write down 1) the benefits of your anxiety and 2) what your anxiety shows about you and your values that’s positive. For example, anxiety shows I really care about my baby’s well-being. It drives me to do research and seek advice so I can give my baby the best care possible. It shows I care about balancing time between my children and partner. I really care about doing a good job with this most important work. Even the intrusive thoughts drive me to see the worst case scenario so I can really prevent harm from happening to my child.


The double standard. Write out your thoughts in a moment when you’re feeling anxious (for example, others are judging me and think I’m a bad mom). Then imagine you have a dear friend who is sharing with you her current struggles and her negative


at our new Performing Arts Center!

New Performing Arts Center! 2241 NW 178th OKC 405-348-3377

Register now for Summer class and camps!




anxious thoughts and asking you if you think her negative thoughts are true. Write down what you’d say back to her. We’re often more likely to give grace, affirmation and validation to others than ourselves. It is important to remember to not use the cognitive model to seek certainty with intrusive thoughts, since 100 percent certainty is often not attainable regarding anything in life. Continuing to engage or argue with the content of the intrusive thoughts often keeps it around longer and makes the anxiety worse.


Face the anxiety head on. Avoidance is the food that continues to feed the anxiety monster. Ask yourself what it is that you’re avoiding and begin to face it. Exposure and facing your fears will take some courage but will allow you to see that anxiety can be defeated. If you’re afraid of contamination, exposure may include refraining from washing your hands; if you’ve been avoiding the baby, you would start interacting with your baby alone starting at 30 minutes then increasing the length of time. If you’re having intrusive thoughts, instead of pushing them away or seeking reassurance from others, you’d sit with the thoughts and just let them be there. You could even write out a script of the worst case scenario and read it twice a day. While you’re facing your fears, it is important to sit with the anxiety instead of trying to suppress it. This may include facing sensations of anxiety where you allow your body to feel symptoms like your heart racing, sweating, discomfort, etc. You notice

Unplug and Play! Easel Paint and Play Indoor Playground Paint & Take Crafts Birthday Parties Grown-ups paint nights Ceramics

these sensations as if you’re observing your body from outside of yourself, you let time pass and then proceed with life.


Examine underlying emotions. When you’re anxious, there may actually be something that’s bothering you in the here-andnow that you’re sweeping under the rug. You’re often not dealing with it because you want to be nice or not rock the boat. There are two steps to this method: First, figure out what is bothering you. Look for patterns of increasing anxiety (for example, you have panic attacks or over-worry at night when you’re actually upset with your spouse for not helping out more with the bedtime routine). Second, you have to take action before the anxiety can get better (like having a healthy and open conversation with your partner and coming to a balanced solution that feels fair for both of you).

If you or someone you love is dealing with postpartum anxiety, identifying symptoms and considering these methods to move toward healing are great starting points. Seek the help of a professional if you find yourself needing additional guidance and support. Editor’s note: This column is the seventh in a year-long series on family mental wellness, written by local experts on topics pertinent to parents and children. Columnists include Truong, Jeanae Neal, registered behavior therapist and mom of one; Dr. Erica Faulconer, pediatrician at Northwest Pediatrics and mom of three; Stacey Johnson, LPC, (@staceyjlife) in private practice at The Purple Couch and mom of eight; and Dr. Lisa Marotta, a psychologist, writer, speaker and mom in private practice in Edmond.

MEMBERS GET MORE • Free Developmental Youth Sports with Household Memberships • Free Child Watch childcare, up to 2 hours, while you workout • Reduced rates for Y programming, including Summer Day Camp, Camp Classen, Before & After School Care, and more!

MONTHLY RATES Adult - $40 Household - $65 Youth & Teen memberships available. Financial Assistance available.

Join the Y to save on programs and activities for the whole family.

Visit to learn more.

Gated Toddler Play Area

405-340-PLUG •


Check our website for details and enrollment or call TODAY!


Summer Camps! Multiple weekly camps for ages 4-16 held June-August. $95 for half-day camp; $150 for all day

Mention this ad to receive two free Lil’ Kicker classes*! * Available upon registration

Lil’ Kickers program Start anytime! Ages 18 months-9 years learn soccer skills at their age-appropriate level, all with an emphasis on fun.

405-748-3888 4520 Old Farm Road, OKC

(west of Meridian, south of 122nd)

Pre- and postnatal

Healthcare Disparities faced by Black mothers

Learning you are pregnant comes with a roller coaster of emotions. Worrying whether you will live or die during or after childbirth should not be a concern at the forefront of your mind. But for the Black community, this is the reality. Black women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Even more shocking: these deaths are almost entirely preventable. BY JILLIAN BRAY


Why the discrepancies?

There is not a clear reason or concrete answer as to why Black women are dying at a higher rate from pregnancy-related causes, but research on a national level suggests that institutional racism among society and Black women’s increased susceptibility to certain health conditions, like obesity and hypertension, are contributing factors. Also, quality prenatal care is not easily accessible for many Black women. Locally, the statistics for Black mothers in Oklahoma are even more alarming. Local pediatrician, mom and owner of Peace of Mind Pediatrics Dr. Noor Jihan Abdul-Haqq says in Oklahoma, Black women make up more than 22 percent of pregnancy-related deaths, despite being responsible for only 10 percent of births. While there are varied approaches to decrease disparities, unfortunately there are many obstacles as well. Medicaid expansion plays a huge role in giving women access to

healthcare before, during and after giving birth. Dr. Abdul-Haqq says improving access to quality care is another issue, especially in rural areas. “As a pediatrician, I often am diagnosing postpartum depression and have even discovered mothers on the brink of selfharm,” said Abdul-Haqq. “Mothers need more support.” Local doula and mom Raniesha Franklin says there is a lack of education from, access to and diversity in healthcare professionals who will listen to Black moms and support them in making informed decisions about their bodies and their babies’ bodies. “So many Black women I encounter are not aware of the agency they have when it comes to their birthing process,” said Franklin. “I am most passionate about pre- and postnatal support, care and advocacy so that these new moms can feel empowered as they journey through spaces that are historically laced with systematic racism and biases.”

The impact of racial biases Racial bias in the medical community could be contributing to Black women dying at a more alarming rate. It is vital for Black moms to steadily advocate for themselves or have someone advocate for them, like a doula. When Black moms’ concerns are not taken seriously, it could be a matter of life and death. Unfortunately, that was the reality for famed Judge Glenda Hatchett’s daughter-in-law Kyira Dixon Johnson. She died from blood loss 12 hours after giving birth. After her scheduled cesarean section, nurses allegedly first noticed blood in her urine catheter. According to the lawsuit Johnson’s family filed, follow-up care was not adequately handled. A doctor ordered CT scans of her abdomen and pelvis due to her abdominal pain and blood loss, but the lawsuit states the scans were never carried out. A study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found nearly half of first and second year medical students believe Black people have thicker skin than white people

Time to tryout out for Shouter Cheer!

and perceived Black people experience less pain than white people. This ingrained and systemic idea stems from 19th century experiments that were performed by a doctor named Thomas Hamilton, a plantation owner who regularly tortured an enslaved Black man, creating blisters all over his body, in an attempt to prove Black skin was thicker than white skin. Another study published by The American Journal of Emergency Medicine found Black patients were 40 percent less likely to be prescribed medication for pain compared to their white counterparts, also underlining the racial bias that Black men and women do not feel pain as much as white people. This same bias, unfortunately, carries over in the preand postpartum world. Local mom Courtney Peyketewa said for her second pregnancy she noticed she had to be more adamant in speaking up for herself and being unwavering about her concerns during her pregnancy and after delivery. “I feel somewhat slighted because if I didn’t advocate or speak up, I would have been bullied into something I didn’t want,” said Peyketewa.

While Black moms and moms-to-be may be more comfortable seeking medical care from Black healthcare professionals, there are nonBlack professionals who are also very much aware of and actively working against racial biases. Metro mom Taryn Sledge is expecting baby number three, and she says her medical care during her first two pregnancies was “horrible.” With her third pregnancy, she found a white doctor who has been vocal about her awareness of the statistics and biases Black women face. Her doctor wants to make sure she is taken care of throughout the entirety of her current pregnancy and after delivery.

Finding support

Every mother should have her own coach and cheerleader during pregnancy, delivery and upon arriving home. Pre- and postnatal doula care has been shown to improve health outcomes in women who utilize this service. A prenatal doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before,

2021-2022 Cheer team tryouts start in May!

Sign up today!



50-90% OFF RETAIL!

#1 RANKED CHEER & TUMBLE GYM IN OK! WORLD & NATIONAL CHEER AND POWERTUMBLING CHAMPIONS! Programs offered: • Competitive & Non-Competitive Cheer and Tumble classes and teams!


on everything you need for kids!

NEXT SALE • Age 4 & Up All levels • Birthday Parties • Summer & Holiday Camps

Edmond 405-775-9491 • Norman 405-573-9974 • Tulsa 918-622-5867

August 22-28 OKC fairgrounds @jbfokc

GET IN FREE WITH THIS AD! Not valid for Pre-Sale Days

Sell items too! All items from local families—details online.



during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible. A postpartum doula provides evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, mother–baby bonding, infant soothing and basic newborn care. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, studies have found labor support from someone like a doula can help improve labor and delivery. A doula can also provide education and support with breastfeeding. In addition to high mortality rates, Black women have the lowest initiation and duration rates of breastfeeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Those statistics can again be attributed to racial biases. Research from the CDC shows hospitals that serve Black populations are less likely to assist Black women with initiating breastfeeding after birth or to offer lactation support. Black women also are more likely to go back to work earlier than 12 weeks and have to navigate dealing with an employer who is not accommodating to mom’s pumping schedule or expressing milk needs. Local mom, doula and breastfeeding specialist Bethany Erby says women, but more specifically Black women, are often not able to find the support needed to reach their breastfeeding goals. Breastfeeding benefits go beyond nutrition, including lowering the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) for babies and the amount of postpartum bleeding, reducing the risk of hemorrhaging in mom. And the risk of hemorrhaging is more common than many might think. Local new mom Norchelle Hamilton completely understands how Black women die at a disturbing and disproportionate rate after her own experience. After Hamilton had given birth to her son, healthcare professionals casually told her she had lost more blood after the delivery than during. Nurses were not eager to offer help or assist her when she wanted to take a shower. After Hamilton’s discharge from the hospital, she was not sent home with any special instructions on how to care for the continuous bleeding or informed on what to expect. She wasn’t given any proper sanitary napkins, underwear or gowns to deal with the excess bleeding. Luckily for Hamilton, she had her own personal healthcare professional contacts she reached out to once she was home to inquire about how to tend to excess bleeding.


Next steps

Healthcare professionals acknowledging these statistics and stereotypes is a first step in eliminating disparities for Black moms. First and foremost, examining why these biases exist, and the history of those biases, is critical, as is listening to Black moms who have experienced disparities firsthand. Policy and legislation change in Oklahoma could make a widespread impact, like California’s Senate Bill 464, requiring hospitals to train maternity care staff about implicit bias. In Oklahoma, legislation was filed in January 2020 requiring complete, detailed documentation of maternal mortality. Senate Bill 1238 would require that if a woman dies in the hospital, the chief medical examiner would have to report the death to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) after delivery or within 42 days after delivery from any cause related to the pregnancy. The medical examiner would also be required to indicate if the death was related to maternal mortality on the death certificate. The bill also directs the OSDH to maintain and report data on maternal mortality, including the number of deaths reported by county and race, which author Sen. George Young says is a first step in addressing and reversing maternal mortality.

According to a study by Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, expanding Medicaid coverage has been significantly associated with lower maternal mortality in participating states compared to nonexpansion states. Extending Medicaid coverage for at least one year in every state would also help with postpartum care. The epidemic of Black maternal mortality and healthcare disparities is one the community and nation must rally together to overcome because addressing them only improves care for all of us. Editor’s note: Jillian Bray is a news reporter for Better Black News, a media outlet highlighting positive African American news and bringing awareness about issues within the African American community. She is also an advocate for mothers and their well-being, prenatal and postpartum. Most importantly, Jillian is wife to Michael and mama to son Janori. Follow Jillian and her news team on all social media platforms @betterblacknews or visit Find Better Black News’ healthcare directory listing local Black nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals at betterblacknews. com/directory.

Their first years. Our first priority. A child’s natural curiosity is boundless. By nurturing that with a thoughtful balance of play and structure, we spark lightbulb moments every day. Learn how our approach inspires a lifelong love of discovery.

Primrose School of Edmond 15000 N Western Oklahoma City, OK 73013 405.285.6787 |

Primrose School of SW Oklahoma City 1520 SW 119th Street Oklahoma City, OK 73170 405.793.6000 |

Call to set up a tour today. Each Primrose School is a privately owned and operated franchise. Primrose Schools is a registered trademark of Primrose School Franchising SPE, LLC. ©2021 Primrose School Franchising SPE, LLC. All rights reserved.





Society’s norms about having a baby are in fact not typical for many families. From the 10 percent of women in the United States who have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, to samesex couples and single would-be parents who seek children, the struggle and misunderstanding that surround their desire for children can feel defeating and heartbreaking. In an effort to educate about, normalize and celebrate the many options for building a family, three metro parents share their inspirational stories.

Fathering through foster care

Brett and Heath Holt Hayes have always wanted a family but couldn’t agree about when, or how, to have to children. Early in their relationship, the two cared for Heath’s nephew and sister fleeing domestic violence, keeping the 5-year-old out of the foster care system and helping raise him until the two were back on their feet. That was their first taste of fatherhood as a couple, but it wasn’t until a few years later that they began to explore their options in earnest. They initially considered surrogacy and private adoption but kept being drawn back to foster care. With Brett’s background as a child welfare specialist and now director of behavioral health integration for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and Heath’s as senior director of communications and strategic engagement for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, caring for vulnerable populations is a family priority and lifelong value for them both. “How could we go any other route when we know there are so many kids who need love and support, and we’re asking so much of others who are serving as foster parents?” said Heath. “We decided to become foster parents as an entryway into fatherhood.” Heath and Brett were intent upon bridging with a biological family with the ultimate goal of the child reuniting with that family, seeing themselves as the “cool uncles” who could remain in various families’ lives to support and care for them throughout their parenthood journeys. “A lot of people say, ‘I don’t know how you do it’ because your heart is broken when you give them back,” said Heath. “You have to think of it as an opportunity to change the trajectory of another person’s life. That is always worth it, and you can help a lot more people that way.” The dads fostered through the Choctaw Nation. Brett is a tribal member and while he wasn’t raised traditionally Native, the couple were compelled to give back to a tribe that has supported them in various ways. In addition to their required training hours to become foster parents, they were grateful for the opportunity to complete an additional 10 hours in tribal knowledge, getting to attend healing circles and learn about tribal traditions. “In Brett’s experience, there is a lack of tribal foster homes, and we saw this as our contribution to the recruitment of tribal homes,” said Heath. While the two carefully prepared for their

foster care journey, not much of it went according to plan. Heath and Brett initially received a placement call for twins. They had agreed to foster a maximum of two children but were also asked to provide temporary respite care for the twins’ baby brother. The baby ended up staying when his other foster placement fell through and Brett voiced the compelling research about the benefits for siblings who stay together in foster care. Heath says the dads tried to achieve the gold standard in bridging, inviting the kids’ mom to come to their home to help with dinner and bedtime and remain a regular fixture in their lives. “It was magical for awhile, but addiction is a beast and she wasn’t ready,” remembers Heath. “I was so certain that if anyone could help her it would be me, given my career, but it’s not about me, it’s about her and her readiness to engage in services. It just wasn’t the right time.” The case eventually moved to default termination for the mom, and Heath and Brett began to move toward unexpected, but incredibly welcome, adoption of their first set of foster children. While the twins’ father was unknown, the baby’s father was in prison and wanted to fight the adoption process. In quite an unconventional move, Brett and Heath requested a meeting with the dad so the toddler could see him and they could talk face-to-face. “He hugged his child, acknowledged we were doing a great job and said he wouldn’t fight the adoption,” said Heath. “He asked if we could send photos once in awhile.” The dads are very intentional about staying connected with all three of their kids’ immediate and extended families, sharing photos through social media, FaceTiming with an older brother in Texas and inviting an uncle for the holidays. While their home is closed for foster children now, Heath and Brett have ramped up efforts in recruiting friends to become foster parents. And their three beautiful kids, with whom they share an even deeper connection through shared Choctaw heritage, are flourishing. The dads are in the throes of potty training their 3-year-old and navigating school during a pandemic with their 5-yearold twins. Though the Hayes’ journey to fatherhood wasn’t what they would have predicted, Heath knows it unfolded exactly as it was supposed to. “I 100 percent feel they are my own kids; they are the family we choose,” said Heath. “And there are so many kids out there waiting to be chosen, waiting to be part of someone’s family.”



July 31, 2021 10am - 2pm And Available on-demand

Join us at Oklahoma City’s premier fun event and connect with your community, learning about a variety of businesses that serve local families! In addition, your family will enjoy local performances plus fun simple science experiments, art tutorials, tons of giveaway prizes and more! Presenting Sponsor

tickets go on sale June 5

Admission: VIP Box: $35 General Admission: $12

metrofamilymagazine .com/kids-fest

Choosing single motherhood

As college students, Kay Robinson and her friend Kurt joked that if they were single at age 30, they’d marry each other. When they hit that milestone, they knew marriage to each other wasn’t in the cards, but Kay vocalized that she wanted to have a baby and Kurt offered to be the sperm donor. Kay was intrigued by the idea but took some time to think about it. Watch at /raising-okc-kids or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

“I prayed for a husband and wanted to get married, but even more than that, I’ve wanted to be a mom my whole life,” said Kay. “At age 10, I created a babysitter’s club and made business cards out of notebook paper.” Kay decided at 35 she’d start the process to have a baby on her own. She met with a local reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, who at the time was one of two doctors in Oklahoma who would perform artificial insemination by sperm other than that of a woman’s husband. Oklahoma law only provides for artificial insemination of married couples. Kay’s doctor had never performed AI with donor sperm from a friend of the mom-to-be, typically using sperm from anonymous sperm bank donors, but it just so happened one of the two banks in the country the doctor accepts donations from was located in the same town as Kurt. As required by the AI process, Kay attended several counseling sessions, and she also saved money even more intentionally than before and met with her boss to request a raise. “I didn’t make enough money to have a baby,” said Kay. “I made a spreadsheet of potential costs and my salary and asked for more responsibilities and a raise. I did good work and knew there was room [for a raise] but I was willing to leave if I had to to get financially stable.” She earned a promotion at the University of Central Oklahoma and a raise from her supportive boss. Kurt had made his donation two years previously, waiting for when Kay was ready. The two employed professionals to draw up contracts detailing their agreement, ensuring all parties were legally protected. Kay wanted Kurt listed as the father on the birth certificate, but the two agreed he would have no rights or responsibilities as a father. “We were very black and white about it,” said Kay. “It was just like if he was a surrogate. He is the donor, not the dad.”


Kay’s dreams of becoming a mom were solidified when her pregnancy was confirmed and fully came to fruition when her son Rex was born six years ago. As she planned to become a single mom, she knew she had a supportive village surrounding her, but she has been caught off guard by how many people have invested in their lives. “I say Rex is the people’s kid because so many have invested in him, prayed for him and cared for him,” said Kay. That village became even more important as she and Rex became a foster family more than a year ago. Though Kurt offered to donate again if Kay wanted to have more biological children, she didn’t want to chance a potential high-risk pregnancy. “There are other ways to become a parent, and thanks to my village and flexible job, I knew we could be successful with foster care,” said Kay, who has cherished opportunities to develop relationships with biological parents and become a support system as her foster kids have been able to return home. Kay shares her story often, including in the classes she teaches at UCO, where she has witnessed female students in particular feel reassured that they could explore the same path when they’re ready to become moms. “There’s a stigma, but showing that women or men can support a child by ourselves and that kids can be successful from single-parent households is important and helps society evolve,” said Kay. “I feel the pressure and I have high expectations for Rex because I refuse for him to be a statistic being raised by a single Black mom. There will always be those residual things in the back of my mind, but I also know that Rex will be who he is going to be.” At the end of the day, Kay sticks to the greatest truth she’s learned in motherhood and as a foster mom: what a child needs most is to know he is loved. She and Rex experience that exponentially from family and friends, including from the donor who made her dreams of becoming a mom possible. “We see Kurt and his husband when we go to Ohio, and his parents send Rex Christmas and birthday gifts, but he has no more relationship with Rex than any of my other friends,” said Kay. “We have agreed that Rex will know Kurt was the donor when it’s appropriate.”

Kay is grateful for the support and positivity that have surrounded her journey to becoming a mom and wishes the same for other single would-be parents, too. “I have never regretted becoming a mom, even in the hardest moments,” said Kay. “This is a role that I was meant to play; this is my calling. If you are financially and mentally prepared to raise a child on your own, you can do it.” KAY AND REX ROBINSON. PHOTO BY JAMIE COBB WITH PHOTOVILLE.


Cool Pop Contest We've received some awesome "Cool Pop" stories but there can only be one winner! Vote daily from May 1 - 31 on your favorite and the winner will be announced on Father's Day (June 20). METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM/CONTESTS

Thank you to our prize sponsors:



Texas was a more surrogate-friendly state in regards to supportive legislation, so Stephanie researched several Texas agencies and before she knew it was receiving surrogate profiles to review. “It was the strangest thing to go through,” laughs Stephanie, equating it to online dating.


Understanding secondary infertility

June 5, 2021 10am-5pm Also available for on-demand viewing

Get your tickets today! VIP Box Admission: $35 (VIP Tickets available until May 20, 2021) General Admission: $10 MetroFamily Insiders: $5 Off VIP or FREE General Admission Only 100 VIP Box Admission tickets are available. Secure yours today and have a box of deluxe goodies sent straight to your home, including items such as a board book, an essential oil sample, an Inchbug Orbit silicone cup label, AND a $50 gift certificate to Green Bambino to name a few!

Thank you to our Bump, Baby & More Sponsors: Platinum Sponsor

Gold Sponsor

Silver Sponsors

Stephanie and Dirk O’Hara always dreamed of having a big family. Almost 13 years ago Stephanie joyfully gave birth to their son Aidan but not long after began her nearly 6-year battle with secondary infertility. The inability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy after previously delivering a child affects approximately 3 million women in the United States, according to The University of Wisconsin Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. Stephanie traveled to the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine to undergo IVF treatments, and it was after her seventh miscarriage that she was stopped in her tracks while watching her young son jumping in puddles on a rainy day. “I had put my body through so much, each pregnancy getting more and more dangerous, and I was already a mommy to Aidan, so I knew I needed to hang up the dream of ever being pregnant again,” said Stephanie. “But my husband and I have found through the years to look for loopholes.” Stephanie’s best friend offered to become their gestational carrier with their frozen embryos. “We had never thought about that option,” said Stephanie. “It wasn’t our plan B or even plan F.” Their friend traveled to the center in Colorado and for months took fertility medicines, but her body did not progress as doctors had hoped. That experience became a stepping stone, though, broadening the O’Haras’ perspective to what alternatives were available. They decided to explore hiring a gestational carrier, or surrogate, using their frozen embryos. At the time surrogacy was not legal in Oklahoma and


When Stephanie came across Tiffany’s profile, she had a feeling she’d found their surrogate. The mom who had previously served as a surrogate had much in common with Stephanie, and upon meeting in person, Stephanie felt that though surrogates are compensated, Tiffany had a true passion for helping others. After 18 months of contractual agreements, insurance investigations, fertility treatments for Tiffany and doctor’s appointments, Tiffany gave birth to the O’Haras’ miracle twins. While the long and complicated journey was worth the end result, it was not without extensive pain and heartbreak. Stephanie employed a counselor for several years to help her cope with feelings of despair, failure, depression and isolation. She dealt with feelings of jealousy and disappointment, and then shame, when women around her became pregnant. Stephanie placed significant pressure on herself to get pregnant and yet every time she did she lived in extreme fear of losing the baby, all of which she says wreaked havoc on her marriage. Stephanie relied heavily on her faith, friends, online support groups and eventually a life coach to change her perspective from failure to feeling worthy as a woman and mom. Now Stephanie spends time talking with and encouraging other moms dealing with infertility, imploring them to hang on to hope and explore all the options science and medicine have made available. She wrote a book about her experience, Angel Wings, to spread awareness about the need for advocacy for reproductive assistance. “If you look at surrogacy laws across the nation, legislation has not caught up with technology,” said Stephanie. “House Bill 2468 just made surrogacy in Oklahoma legal in 2019, allowing courts to approve surrogacy contracts. But there is so much work to be done. Whether infertile couples or single people or same-sex couples, if you wish to be a parent, you should be allowed that opportunity.” In addition to the need for legislation for assisted reproductive technology, Stephanie hopes to lobby for insurance companies to pay for fertility treatments and surrogacy in

Oklahoma. She also wants to bring to light the very real and often misunderstood plight surrounding secondary infertility. “People around me would say ‘sorry you had a miscarriage but at least you have Aidan,’” said Stephanie. “I was deeply grateful for Aidan but that did not make my desire for more kids any less valid. We often find ourselves unable to talk about secondary infertility because we’re supposed to just be thankful for the child we have.” Stephanie and surrogate Tiffany remain close friends, and together they started a nonprofit for those struggling with miscarriage, infertility and difficult pregnancies. A portion of her book proceeds supports the organization, and she and her husband have also raised funds to provide five $5,000 scholarships to families or individuals who need financial assistance to bring their dreams of a family to fruition. “There are so many paths to parenthood and we need to support the infertile in every way,” said Stephanie. “It’s such a taboo subject, and it’s been that way for far too long.”


Get ready for Summer

Is your child fascinated by astronauts and space missions?

Bowling Strike Zone Water Slide!

This is a must see exhibit! Launch to Landing: Oklahomans in Space

with the NEW

learning tree

Come see the actual Skylab 4 Apollo Command Module (CM-118) and space suits among many other items from real space missions. 7638 N. Western, OKC • 405-848-1415

(405) 522-0765

800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr./OKC





utdoor adventures provide a magical combination of elements for my family that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere. Whether it’s exploring our home state or planning a vacation in a locale full of fresh air, the beauty of nature and (let’s be real) plenty of snacks, my fab five becomes our best selves when we’re disconnected from the outside world and highly tuned in to each other. Because of the pandemic, our recent getaways have, by necessity, prioritized outdoor fun and socially distant spots. Our family vacation to southern Colorado gave us the perfect opportunity to commune with nature and each other. Check out our five day itinerary full of outdoor adventure!

Where to start

Opt Outdoors in

Colorful Colorado

The Colorado outdoors are stunning statewide, so it can be overwhelming to choose which part (and in which season) to visit. For our summertime trip to colorful Colorado, we chose to explore the southern part of the state with a home base close to outdoor activities suitable for our young kids, ages 9, 6 and 4. Both Pagosa Springs and Durango are resort towns offering plenty of family fun, popular both during the winter ski season and the summer months. We opted to stay in the smaller town of Bayfield, about equidistant between the two, which offered lower lodging prices with the same vibrant vistas. We often find renting a home through VRBO or AirBnB to be a cheaper lodging choice for our family of five, with the added bonuses of a full kitchen for breakfast and evening meals and washer and dryer (outdoor fun = messy kids and clothes!). From Durango to Pagosa, the area is full of vacation rentals, cabins, hotels, resorts and even ranches, with options to fit every family’s needs and budget.


Day 1

It’s a long drive to Colorado, y’all — about 11.5 hours from Oklahoma City to Bayfield. In addition to packing plenty of activities, books and car snacks, we planned stops with interesting sights and opportunities to stretch our legs along the way. Don’t miss Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, where the hulls of old cars are sunk into the ground and are constantly being spray painted by amateurs and artists alike. A few hours later, a drive through Santa Fe, N.M., provides an opportunity to marvel at the architecture and, in non-pandemic times, a walk through the historic Plaza area, full of local music, artisans, museums and restaurants. Loretto Chapel is home to a historic phenomenon: a miraculous staircase STOP BY CADILLAC RANCH IN AMARILLO ON YOUR WAY TO COLORADO.


with no visible means of support. For older kids, the Meow Wolf Art Complex invites families to explore the fantasy world of this immersive art experience while younger children can get the wiggles out in Santa Fe Children’s Museum’s interactive exhibits. We stopped in Pagosa Springs for an afternoon treat at PS FroYo, where specialty flavors and wild toppings are always on tap. A stroll to enjoy the sights or shopping in the quaint resort town is a welcome opportunity to stretch those legs after being cooped up in the car. After a long day of travel, our family was eager to enjoy the breathtaking views in our Bayfield rental over dinner outdoors, followed quickly by bedtime.

Day 2

Knowing we’d be adjusting to the altitude, we opted for an easy morning hike on our first full day in Colorado at Church Camp Meadow Trail just north of Durango. The first section of the 3.5 mile trail meanders through a beautiful meadow of wildflowers, with a mild climb leading to gorgeous vista views. In hiking with kids, I’ve learned to pack more water than you think you’ll need, no matter the temps outdoors, and pack extra in the car for a cold drink when you’re through. Hiking snacks are always a must! We also travel with plenty of sunscreen, insect repellent, antibacterial wipes and Band-aids. After working up an appetite, we made our way to our favorite eatery of the trip, James Ranch Grill. The 400 acre working ranch in the Animas Valley includes a sprawling lawn with three terraces dotted with picnic tables, all surrounded by red rock cliffs and big

blue sky. The “table on the farm” menu is most known for their juicy, grass-fed beef burgers, like the Signature with Belford cheeses, caramelized onions and rosemary garlic mayo or the Green Chili Pico with fresh and spicy pico de gallo, avocado and lime crema. You can pick up James Ranch and other locally-grown and made products at The Market, with tempting fare like artisan cheeses, vibrant fresh flowers, skin-care products, organic meats and fish, sweet treats and much more. Nearby Santa Rita Park proved a pretty stop to walk off lunch. With plenty of parking, pathways for walking or biking and a playground for the kids, the park is nestled along the Animas River, and there are several spots to wade in the refreshing water. Water shoes are recommended as the bottom is rocky and slippery.



Concerts in the Park

Thursday Nights this Summer!

Free Admission 7:00 p.m. | Jun. 3 - Aug. 5

Obedience classes • Boarding school • Private lessons •

Help is here!

Concessions Available!

June 3

Mountain Smoke

10 Core Country 17 Steve Crossley & Jerry Wilson

500 W. Vandament

24 Irv Wagner’s Jazz Combo July 3

Veteran’s Tribute Hifi Hillbillies Irv Wagner’s Concert Band

K9 University 405-231-4335


Freedom Fest 395th Army Band, Ronnie Kaye Super Freak, OKC Philharmonic


395th Army Band

OKC's premier dog (and dog owner) trainers.

15 Mystery Dates


9217 NW Expressway, OKC, Twitter: @K9University, YouTube: K9University

Chisholm Trail Park Gazebo

22 OKC Concert Band 29 Smilin’ Vic & the Soul Monkeys 5

Champ Devere

Bring lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy all the evening’s activities.

Information 405.350.8937 cityofyukonokgov @cityofyukonok @cityofyukonokgov




Day 3

One of the top reasons we selected the Durango area was the kid-friendly whitewater rafting available in the summer months, a bucket-list adventure for us. Because the water levels are down, the rapids are less intimidating and the ride is a bit slower and smoother. The family rafting trips include Class I, II and III level rapids, with a squeal-inducing run through multiple rapids in the Whitewater Park. An expert guide ensures safety and plenty of fun on each raft, and ours was excellent with our kids, eager to answer endless questions and empower them to participate in steering the raft. The scenery is breathtaking, and we enjoyed learning about the history of the area along the way. While our youngest was a bit apprehensive in the high class waters, afterward he declared himself very brave. We appreciated the safety precautions of helmets and life jackets for everyone, thorough cleaning of all gear, masks and social distancing required at all times when not on

Day 4

Our fourth day in the mountains happened to be our daughter’s birthday, so we gave her decision-making power in selecting the days’ activities. Horseback riding was top priority, and based on stellar reviews and horses and staff equipped for kid riders, we

the water and the ability to travel with just our group in our raft. Durango’s 11th Street Station makes a perfect stop for lunch with a variety of food trucks on site sure to please everyone’s taste buds and providing carry-out or dine-in. From poke bowls with fresh, vibrant flavors to al pastor tacos served with peppers and pineapple, we refueled, relived our favorite whitewater moments and refreshed for an afternoon hike. Back toward Bayfield, Vallecito Creek Trail provided spectacular views of Vallecito Lake and surrounding mountain ranges, shady spots to rest, waterfalls and water wading and a few steep drop-offs that made my mama heart race but my kids loved conquering. In truth, the 12.7 mile trail is wide and easy to moderate in difficulty level. We made our way about 2 miles in before turning around. Another key to our family’s hiking with young children is to head back before the whining about being tired, hungry or bored


begins! We typically plan together how far we want to trek on each particular hike, depending on how much time we have, how everyone is feeling and the terrain. It helps to have a goal in mind but I’ve found it’s also wise to be flexible.

chose Backcountry Outfitters outside Pagosa Springs for our morning ride. Winding through the Piedra Valley, the trails offer dazzling panoramas of the surrounding mountains and nearby Chimney Rock National Monument, towering twin rocky spires for which the monument is named. While we didn’t spot any wildlife on our trek, elk, deer and even skunk spottings are commonplace! Giving the hard-working horses some extra pats and treats afterward made our kids’ day. The birthday girl opted for a pizza lunch, picnic style, in Durango before heading for an afternoon hike near Purgatory Resort base. Purgatory Trail is a 10.3 mile out and back hike (we opted for much less!) that leads down to a lake with creek and water crossings along the way. The hike is mostly downhill on the way in, which means a lot of uphill on the way back. Several open spots make for perfect places to rest (and snack) while enjoying the gorgeous valley and mountain landscape, lush forests and small waterfalls.



We worked hard on this hike, and the birthday girl wanted ice cream, so we made our way over to Purgatory Resort to grab a cool treat and sit at the base to watch the mountain bikers quite impressively flying down what are ski slopes in the winter months.


Purgatory also offers a number of summertime family-friendly activities, including mountain biking, a mountain roller coaster, alpine slide, chairlift rides, paddleboard, kayak and canoe rentals and panning for gemstones.

Day 5

We (unintentionally!) saved the best hiking for last. After seeing Chimney Rock National Monument from horseback, we decided we needed an up-close view on a hiking tour. The archeological site shares the history and heritage of the ancestral Puebloans of the Chaco Canyon. The remains of ancient homes and ceremonial buildings, coupled with informative volunteers, signage and a map of facts and descriptions of places to stop along the trails, tell the story of the people who once made the area home and help visitors imagine what it might have been like to live there a thousand years ago. The pinnacles for which the monument is named frame multiple astronomical alignments and are a nod to the ways in which the Ancestral Puebloans incorporated astronomy into their community. Two trails, each less than a mile, can be enjoyed with or without a guide. Along the first paved trail, we learned about the everyday lives of the Puebloan people, like what they ate, how they built their homes and why they settled in the area. The second trail is not paved and is moderate to difficult, and it’s best enjoyed in the morning hours before

the heat of the day. The top of the trail offers 360 degree views of the San Juan Mountains and even New Mexico. Self-guided tours are $12 for adults and $6 for children. Located north of nearby Pagosa Springs, the lush Piedra River Trail made for a fun contrast to our morning hike. We hiked 4 miles roundtrip of the 7.3 mile out-and-back trail along a winding river, with plenty of opportunities for wading. Along part of the trail, we were enveloped by towering canyon walls and enjoyed watching several groups rappel. Occasionally hopping along rocks in the river and dipping our toes in the cold, clear water made for picture perfect breaks along our trip’s final trek. The long car ride home the following day was fairly quiet as we rested tired legs from more than 14 miles hiked in four days! Through photos and stories, we constantly relive this family vacation as a favorite and marvel at all the fun and connection we had by simply enjoying the outdoors, fresh air, beautiful scenery and each other.


Thank You! During a difficult year, your donations to United Way of Central Oklahoma provided much-needed help, and hope, to thousands of Oklahomans. In 2020, more than 19,000 donors and nearly 700 workplace campaigns generously contributed to the United Way Campaign. Thanks to each and every donor, United Way can ensure our 56 Partner Agencies continue providing life-changing help to those in our community who need it most.





to our sibling Cover Kid finalists! For the first time, YOU our readers and parent community voted on our 2021 Cover Kid finalists. Your chosen finalists were each interviewed by a panel of local leaders. Madison and Gracie on this month’s cover were the winners, but we were so impressed with all of our sibling finalists that we wanted to introduce them to you here.

Avery, 12 and Olivia, 7 These Edmond sisters enjoy playing soccer, crafting, making movies, drawing and being silly together. Avery loves the OKC Thunder, reading and sewing. Olivia loves learning about outer space and playing with Barbies and LEGOS.

Lydia, 11 and Josiah, 7

Theatre is a favorite activity for the Edmond siblings, who both love to perform. Lydia enjoys art and creating with LEGOs. Josiah loves playing basketball and t-ball. Their favorite place to visit in OKC is the Myriad Gardens.

Auburn, 13 Oaks, 8 Armor, 2

Together, this Norman trio loves to ride bikes, explore Scissortail Park and visit Oklahoma Railway Museum. Auburn plays basketball, volleyball and soccer and enjoys painting and ceramics. Oaks plays football and baseball and enjoys track and chess club. Armor loves tractors, trains and candy!

Aailiyah, 5 Kellyn, 2

These active Moore siblings love to explore the OKC Zoo, walk the trails at the Arbor Gardens Park and visit Blue Zoo. Aailiyah participates in dance and gymnastics and Kellyn loves throwing balls in the basketball hoop and watching football.

Elizabeth, 4 Renee, 4

Dancing, swimming, soccer, reading, playing with their dog Sage and cuddling are priorities for these Moore twins. The girls love to visit Science Museum Oklahoma, the OKC Zoo and Scissortail Park.


At Gaylord Texan Resort, the summer fun is endless. Become an honorary pirate or princess for the day; make a splash at our exclusive 10-acre Paradise Springs


water park; explore our four-and-a-half acres of airy indoor atriums, luxury guest rooms, award-winning restaurants, and world-class spa; or even do it all!



Kids in the Kitchen Kids today are home alone after school and some evenings, what are they going to eat? Do they know their way around the kitchen? This course teaches children the basics in the kitchen. Children will learn how to properly use kitchen utensils and heat. How to prepare simple meals on their own from items in the pantry. Ages: 6–17 | Mondays Session 1 | May 3–24 5:30–7:30 p.m. | $85 Session 2 | June 7–28 5:30–7:30 p.m. | $85 Session 3 | Aug. 2–23 5:30–7:30 p.m. | $85

Follow us on

405.359.4630 EDMONDPARKS.COM

Follow us on