MetroFamily Magazine May June 2022

Page 1

MAY/JUNE 2022

Hello Summer!

OKC family fun + travel inspo

Feeling Overwhelmed?

5 coping strategies for stressed parents

Nature Cure-All

Time outdoors = improved mental health

Awesome Moms

Meet our inspirational contest winners


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 | PrimroseEdmond.com

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

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.



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AWESOME MOMS FINALISTS. BY FOTO ARTS PHOTOGRAPHY.

FEATURES

DEPARTMENTS

10 Education Trend How the new transfer law could benefit your family

16 Local Family Fun Make the most of summertime in OKC

12 Frugal Eats Tips to stretch your grocery budget without sacrificing healthy foods

26 Real Moms of the Metro Meet our inspiring Awesome Moms honorees

14 Nature Nurtures Spend time outdoors to improve family mental health

32 Calendar of Events Find the best in #okcfamilyfun this season!

22 Celebrating Parents Plan your perfect Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in the metro

52 Talking to Kids About Sex Explaining body parts to and supporting the curiosity of young kids

42 Great Places Discover cities, attractions and organizations that make central Oklahoma a great place to live

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54 Real Dads of the Metro Nkem House shares his full court life 56 Family Mental Wellness 5 coping strategies to reduce parent stress 58 Exploring Oklahoma with Children Plan a peaceful respite at Quartz Mountain 62 Last Look 6 local accounts to follow on ParentTok

16 ON THE COVER Hello Summer! pages 16, 32 & 58 Feeling Overwhelmed? page 56 Nature Cure-All page 14 Awesome Moms page 26


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

2021

2021

2021

2021

Publisher

Sarah Taylor

Managing Editor Erin Page

Assistant Editor Lindsay Cuomo

Contributing Writers

Lance Evans, Katrina Leggins, Ronneal Mathews, Debbie Murnan

Contributing Photographer Bridget Pipkin

Art Director Stacy Noakes

Senior Project Manager Kirsten Holder

Director of Events Casey Shupe

Editorial Assistant Emiley Bainbridge

Hello summer!

Bring on the sunshine, bare feet and #okcfamilyfun. To help your family plan the best summer ever, our team has compiled our favorite local things to do, plus ideas for exploring the state, within these pages. Besides summer fun, an alwayscherished experience for me this time of year is the opportunity to meet and share the stories of local parents. The winners of our annual Awesome Moms contest on page 26 are shining examples of women leading their children, serving our community and giving of themselves, all in an effort to make our world a better place. I hope their heartening journeys will inspire you as a parent like they have me. We are honoring dads again this year, too — share your “dad & me” selfies in our annual contest, plus treat dad to some FREE family fun over Father’s Day weekend at this year’s Kids Fest! Join us at Scissortail Park on June 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for free activities, games and great prizes. If all the summer planning, end of the school year chaos and general parenting duties have you feeling overwhelmed, local mom and licensed mental health professional Katrina Leggins shares her top five tips for managing stress on page 56. I’m using her recommended coping strategies on repeat!

MY THREE ADVENTURERS ARE READY FOR SUMMER!

As we anticipate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the return of summer, I hope you’ll also join me in celebrating and encouraging the parents around you — yourself included! With gratitude,

Erin Page Managing Editor

Account Executive Dana Price

Contact us

Mailing address: 6608 N. Western Ave., #458 Oklahoma City, OK 73116 Phone: 405-601-2081 tips@metrofamilymagazine.com www.metrofamilymagazine.com MetroFamily Magazine is published bimonthly. Copyright 2022 by MetroFamily HoldCo, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Articles and advertisements in MetroFamily do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or MetroFamily HoldCo, LLC. 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

Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce & Edmond Chamber of Commerce

On the Cover Sergio is the winner of our 2022 Cover Kids contest in the 4- to 5-year-old category! He attends Peace Preschool in Edmond where his teacher reports his favorite thing to talk about is his little sister, who calls Sergio her “superman.” Sergio began drawing when he was 2 and especially likes to sketch people. He loves to ride his scooter and bike, build with LEGOS and magnet blocks, sing, dance and swim. Compassionate and loquacious, he is quite the host and likes to makes sure his family and friends have their favorite things to eat and drink. Sergio is the son of Cheryl and Brian and big brother of Sierra, and together they love to play and learn at Science Museum Oklahoma.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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OFF THE PAGES

VOTE for your favorites! Thanks to all of you who nominated your favorite OKC businesses, attractions and organizations for MetroFamily’s annual Family Favorites awards! Now it’s time to vote to help us crown the winners – and help local parents easily locate the top metro resources. Vote daily May 4 through 18 at metrofamilymagazine.com/vote. And each time you vote, you’ll be entered to win a two-night stay for a family of four (one room) at the Gaylord Texan! The winners and finalists will be highlighted in our Everything Guide, which will be published in July.

Tell us about your rad dad! Submit your sweet or silly photos for our Dad & Me Selfie Contest! Upload pics and share a short story about why you love your dad between May 16 and June 10. Then vote for your favorites from June 11 through 17. The winner will receive incredible prizes, including a RadioFlyer Longtail Fat Tire Electric Cargo Bike with the Kid and Cargo and Thule® Yepp Maxi Seat attachments (a $2,560 retail value!). Plus, the winner and two runners up will receive prizes from Anthem Brewing and EOTE Coffee. Find out more at metrofamilymagazine.com/contests.

Sunny days ahead! Looking for super summer family fun? Find Oklahoma’s best beaches, drive-in theaters, summer reading programs, top spots for hiking, tasty summertime treats and much more in our annual Summer Fun Guides. Plan your best summer ever at metrofamilymagazine.com/ summer.

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THE MORE WE LEARN, THE BIGGER WE DREAM.

Education turns dreams into reality. Boeing is proud to support those who give others the knowledge and encouragement to pursue the life of their dreams.


Mark your calendar for

Kids Fest! Kids Fest is BACK! Join us Saturday, June 18 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Scissortail Park for this FREE family fun event. Enjoy hands-on art activities, petting zoo, family games, bounce houses, face painting and characters, plus enter to win fantastic prizes. In addition to all the hands-on fun, you’ll be able to meet dozens of businesses and nonprofits that serve families. Get more info at metrofamilymagazine.com/kids-fest. Kids Fest is generously sponsored by Dental Depot (Presenting Sponsor), Soccer City OKC (Community Sponsor), Oklahoma Hall of Fame and Chester’s Party Barn and Farm (Engagement Sponsors).

Oh, Baby! The team at MetroFamily got to “meet” more than 100 of the cutest babies in OKC through our Cutest Baby Photo Contest! Every single one captured our hearts, and it was next to impossible to select 10 winners. Over the next five issues, we’ll be introducing two winners at a time in the magazine. You can find a full list of winners at metrofamilymagazine.com/cutest-baby-contest. Thanks so much to everyone who submitted photos, and thanks to prize sponsors Green Bambino and lactation consultant Becky Drevets. Blaize Age: 24 months Favorite things: Blaize loves to eat mashed potatoes and gravy, spend time outside, sing, dance and play basketball, football and soccer. Ariana Age: 4 months Favorite things: Ariana loves her family, smiling, giggling, laughing and cuddling.

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RMHC-OKC provides a “home-away-from-home” for families with seriously ill or injured children receiving medical treatment. Walk For Kids event raises funds and awareness for our families. Donations can be mailed to: Ronald McDonald House Charities Oklahoma City P.O. Box 7979 Edmond, OK 73083

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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Choosing the Right Public School for Your Child SPONSORED BY

With summer around the corner, it is never too early to start planning and making decisions for next school year. FULL-TIME ART, MUSIC AND PE TEACHERS, COUNSELORS AND NURSES AT EVERY OKCPS SCHOOL PROVIDE STUDENTS WITH A WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE.

Some of the questions parents might be asking themselves as they prepare for the upcoming school year include: Is this the best educational experience for my kid? Is mental health as important as academics and arts at his current school or should we take advantage of the new open transfer law? Would my student thrive more in an online or in-person learning setting? Whether you are sending your child to school for the first time or thinking about transferring your student to a new school, looking at your neighborhood school is a good place to start. Great things have been happening at Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) in the past few years. From the ambitious Pathway to Greatness project — which reallocated funding to fulfill the district’s vision of providing students with equitable access to learning opportunities — to the Family Connect initiative that provides community resources to families and students, OKCPS is at the forefront of providing both quality education and mental health wellness for students, families and staff.

STUDENTS FROM OKCPS APPLICATION SCHOOL CLASSEN SCHOOL OF ADVANCED STUDIES PERFORM.

How could the new transfer law benefit my family? SB 783 took effect Jan. 1, 2022, enabling students to transfer up to two times in a school year, as long as capacity hasn’t been exceeded and the student does not have any discipline or truancy issues.

OKCPS IS AT THE FOREFRONT OF PROVIDING BOTH QUALITY EDUCATION AND MENTAL HEALTH WELLNESS FOR STUDENTS, FAMILIES AND STAFF.

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• Universal PreK available to all students Open transfer can be especially helpful for those families whose assigned districts have a lottery system for PreK. If a student does not have a seat in their district’s PreK program, they can fill out a transfer request to attend OKCPS. Unlike other school districts that use a lottery system for PreK, OKCPS offers free full day PreK to every family who lives within the district’s boundaries with a seat available for each eligible child. PreK is available for free at every elementary school in OKCPS and at three off-site locations. Children must be 4 years old by Sept. 1, 2022, to be eligible to enroll in PreK. PreK in OKCPS is free for both in and out of district students.


• Opportunities for a well-rounded, supportive education Primary and secondary students may want to transfer schools or districts for a variety of reasons, and researching the opportunities available to your child at your local public school is a great place to start. In OKCPS, full-time art, music and PE teachers, counselors and nurses at every school provide students with a well-rounded educational experience regardless of the area they live. Pathway to Greatness allowed OKCPS to provide each student with a learning device and to help with connectivity as needed. Family Connect helps entire families with everything from mental and physical health to senior citizen support and transportation. In addition to the 55 neighborhood schools, the district has three alternative education schools and five application middle and high schools — public schools with a competitive application process and criteria for selection — some of which have been ranked as top in the state of Oklahoma. For students interested in a particular area of study, OKCPS offers specific academies focused on areas of interest at each school. For example, if a student wants to pursue health sciences, there are three high schools that have health science academies: Classen School of Advanced Studies at Northeast, Northwest Classen and U.S. Grant. If a student’s assigned high school wasn’t one of these three schools, transferring would be a great option. • Commitment to diversity With more than 65 languages spoken throughout the school district, OKCPS is one of the most ethnically diverse districts in the state. The Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation helps the district ensure they are hiring teachers who look like the students they’re teaching with the Bilingual and Diversity Pipeline programs. The pipeline provides financial and academic support for paraprofessionals who are bilingual or of color who are already working in OKCPS to earn their teaching certifications. Upon successful completion, the paraprofessionals become full-time teachers in OKCPS.

OKCPS ONLINE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES INCLUDE SUPPORT FROM A TRADITIONAL SCHOOL WITHIN THE DISTRICT.

• Online education with support from a home school In addition to in-person learning, OKCPS also offers a full-time online educational experience through the e3 program. The e3 program differs from traditional online-only programs by keeping students connected to a neighborhood school and providing the option to take electives like arts and sports at the school. e3 students can also attend field trips with their home school if they choose and OKCPS provides a tablet or laptop and support with connectivity. Graduating seniors can walk with their class at graduation and transcripts will list a traditional school. Out-ofdistrict transfers to OKCPS’s e3 program are welcome.

Families interested in transferring into OKCPS should fill out a transfer request form on okcps.org/transfer. Transfers are considered in the order in which they are received and acceptance into the district will depend on school capacity, student’s behavior and attendance.

Supporting Your Local Public School Whether or not your student attends an OKCPS school, there are still many ways families can help support the district or the public school near you, such as: • Volunteer: Donate time and volunteer at your local school. From assisting teachers to reading to students and giving a hand with school events, help is always appreciated for busy teachers and staff! To sign up as a volunteer, visit okcps.org/volunteers. • DonorsChoose: If time is a constraint, consider funding an OKCPS classroom project on DonorsChoose.org/OKCPS. From STEM to arts, PE and more, choose a project you’d like to support and help your neighborhood public school! • Coat-A-Kid: Winters in Oklahoma can be brutal. Unfortunately, many students do not have the warmth of a winter coat to bundle up when the temperatures drop. With the Coat-A-Kid program, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation provides a brand new winter coat to students with only a $20 donation. Make a difference for the children in your community to stay warm during the cold months. Visit okckids.com/coat-a-kid to make a donation.

OKCPS PROVIDES RESOURCES AND CONNECTION THROUGH THE NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT.

• Vote: Showing up to the polls and making your voice heard through local elections is a great way to support public education. Board of Education members are voted in by their constituents, and new projects, programs and facilities are voted upon through bond elections. Visit your public school district’s website to learn about upcoming elections.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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Eat healthy on budget 7 ways to cut costs on your grocery bill without sacrificing nutrition BY LINDSAY CUOMO. SPONSORED BY SHAPE YOUR FUTURE OKLAHOMA.

As prices soar due to record inflation, families are feeling the pinch, especially at the grocery store. Often, the first items that don’t make the budget are the pricier items, which also tend to be healthier choices. But that doesn’t have to be the case! With these seven tips and recipes from Shape Your Future Oklahoma, you can still serve up healthy meals and stick to your budget.

1

Make a list and stick to it. This is Budgeting 101, but limiting impulse buys is essential to staying on budget. Shape Your Future’s grocery planner (shapeyourfutureok. com/individual_pdfs/grocery-list) helps you prioritize healthy foods and a balanced diet. Erin Robinson, a local mom of three young kids, says meal planning is the most important step to keep her family on budget. “Making a plan for meals and snacks each week really saves us money and makes sure that nothing goes to waste,” shared Robinson. “When prices are high, the last thing I want to do is throw something away.”

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2 3

Swap your sugary drinks for water. You’ll be cutting calories, saving cash and skipping the sugar crash! Robinson invested in reusable water bottles for everyone in her family and those go with them everywhere. “We are a busy family,” said Robinson. “Having water with us means I am not spending money on juice boxes or things like that.” Create your meal plan with veggies first. When meal planning, most people first consider the protein, but Robinson has started prioritizing what vegetables she wants to serve. Health experts recommend filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, so Robinson has changed her mentality to let those foods be the star of the meal. “We have so much more variety in our meals now,” said Robinson. “Sometimes we find we don’t even need meat to have a filling, balanced meal.” Shape Your Future has dozens of quick and easy healthy recipes to fit any budget, including kid-friendly snacks that incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables. Start planning at shapeyourfutureok.com/healthy-recipes and shapeyourfutureok.com/recipe-categories/snacks.


4

Don’t skip the freezer section. Find budget-friendly fruits perfect for smoothies, plus vegetables for soup, stir fry and more in the freezer section. Frozen fruits and vegetables tend to be about half the price of the fresh varieties and have a much longer shelf life. Robinson transfers fresh fruits to her freezer at home to save money, too. “When fruits like pineapple, bananas or berries are close to going bad, I put them in the freezer to use for smoothies later,” said Robinson.

5

Find more ideas on how to cook with frozen fruits and veggies at shapeyourfutureok.com/4-reasons-frozenveggies-are-the-coolest. Get creative with staple ingredients. Buying in bulk is a tried-and-true way to stretch a budget, and simple ingredients like sweet potatoes, onions, peppers and brown rice can be used in a variety of recipes. Robinson uses this strategy for snacks, too. “My kids always seem to be hungry as soon as we get in the car,” said Robinson.

6

She buys healthy snacks like fruit, cereal and graham crackers and makes easy grab-and-go portions for the week.

“I always keep two or three quick meals on hand so we are less likely to eat out,” said Robinson.

7

Shape Your Future has 30-plus recipes that take 20 minutes or less to make including crispy oven fries and easy egg drop noodle soup. Peruse all the options at shapeyourfutureok.com/tag/20-minutes-or-less. Don’t skimp on flavor. Food is meant to be enjoyed! Incorporate variety and boost your flavors with affordable seasonings: 1. Italian seasoning: pairs well with potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini and roasted turkey or chicken 2. Chili powder: pairs well with onions, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and low-fat ground meats 3. Garlic powder: pairs well with avocado, cauliflower, asparagus, chicken and salmon

Find more great ideas to stretch your food budget without sacrificing nutrition at ShapeYourFutureOK.com. SPONSORED BY

Always have an easy backup on hand. Because life happens (like forgetting to thaw an important ingredient or someone announcing they have a big school project due the next day), stock up on simple, easy-to-make meals you can throw together in a pinch.

The dinos are here May 9 Tulsazoo.org/roar METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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Nature Nurtures

BY ERIN PAGE PHOTOS BY STACY NOAKES

Spending time outdoors improves family mental health The term “nature-deficit disorder” was coined by author and journalist Richard Louv in his 2005 New York Times bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder to describe the detrimental effects on humans as we spend less time outdoors. Nature-deficit disorder is not a medical diagnosis, but what was at first a tongue-in-cheek phrase has given parents, caregivers and researchers a way to talk about the growing disconnection between kids and nature over the last several decades.

“There are now well over 1,000 studies that point in the same direction — nature is fundamental to our humanity and to the development of children and adults over time,” said Louv.

Louv is the author of 10 books and has helped launch an international movement to connect children, their families and communities to nature. He co-founded the Children & Nature Network, which supports and mobilizes leaders, educators, activists, parents and others working to turn the trend of an indoor childhood back to the outdoors and to increase safe, equitable access to the natural world for all.

In his newest book, Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives — and Save Theirs, Louv explores the theory that society is currently plagued by a double pandemic. In addition to COVID, a second pandemic of human loneliness is on the rise. Recent science has associated human isolation with many of the same diseases caused by smoking and obesity. One of the biggest deterrents to children spending time in nature is fear, particularly fear of strangers.

As Louv was initially researching the benefits of nature to human development and health (and deficiencies without it) in preparation for Last Child in the Woods, he found only about 60 academic studies on the issue. Since the book’s release, the research has become a growth industry.

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This growing body of scientific research indicates that time spent in nature positively impacts psychological health, physical health and the ability to learn. “One series of studies showed that Attention-Deficit Disorder symptoms go down significantly in kids as young as 5, just through a walk through trees in an urban park,” said Louv. “Cognitive functioning improves; the immune system is strengthened.” Conversely, Louv says some studies on the deficits have been disturbing, showing that in neighborhoods where nature isn’t accessible to kids, the death of infants because of low birth weight is much higher, even when factoring out other causes. “Literally this is a life and death situation,” said Louv.

“As a species, we are desperate not to feel alone in the universe,” said Louv. “The more science finds out about how animals and trees and other forms of life communicate within their own species and across species, the more we recognize that there is a great conversation going on around us all the time. When we participate in that conversation, we feel less lonely. This has certainly been true during the pandemic.”


How do you get started? Louv wrote a book about that! Vitamin N: 500 Ways to Enrich the Health & Happiness of Your Family and Community shares hundreds of ideas, many from parents, that families, schools, places of worship and even whole cities can engage in together. Louv shared three of his top tips for families to prioritize time in nature this summer: • Join a Family Nature Club or start your own. In these clubs, several families make regular plans to get together at a park or outdoor location to go on a nature adventure together. The best part, says Louv, is that you don’t have to wait for a foundation or government grant or city approval; you can get started right away and tailor the activities to your group’s needs and desires. By enjoying nature with other families, parents and kids can reduce their sense of isolation, build social capital and improve mental wellness. Head to childrenandnature.org to download a free toolkit to get started. • Remember the power of simplicity. Spending time in nature doesn’t have to require big plans or extended time. Louv’s favorite example is to place a board or rock at the edge of your back yard or a green space near you at the beginning of summer. Come back toward the end of summer and turn it over to see what’s come to live there. Louv says it’s a remarkable experience for kids (and their grown ups!) to discover an entirely new civilization.

Opt Outdoors Louv has found even when families are compelled to spend more time in nature, they often don’t know how to start. He walks us through some common questions and provides encouragement:

What’s the right dose of vitamin N (or nature)? Louv says some researchers have found that when humans spend 20 minutes outdoors in a natural setting, regularly, they start to see changes in psychological health.

• Bracket screen time and nature time. Screens are a way of life for many kids, and Louv cautions parents to be careful not to demonize technology. Instead, he suggests “bookending” nature experiences and technology: allow kids their devices before a hike, then ask them to leave them in the car during the hike and, when the hike is over, they can get back to their devices. At that point, parents can even encourage them to look up various plants or animals on their devices, ones they’ve seen or ones they hope to see.

Learn more From research to how-to guides, find a wealth of information for families about spending more time in nature at childrenandnature.org. Learn more about Richard Louv and his books at richardlouv.com.

“But I’m suspicious of trying to find that answer, “said Louv. “There are so many variables in nature.” Louv’s answer: Some is better than none. More is better than some. And adults need nature, too. “One of the most important things to realize is that nature time isn’t just another list of things to do that causes you stress,” said Louv. “This isn’t the SAT test. We’re not talking about taking kids in the woods and hovering over them with nature flash cards. This is great for you — as a parent. This is a stress reducer not a stress maker.”

How can busy parents make it happen? Schedule it. “If we can put soccer on the calendar, we can put nature on the calendar,” said Louv. “We can’t take for granted that it’s going to happen.” Louv also advises that parents approach time in nature with the same wonder and awe as their children, without the pressure of knowing the names of each plant species and without a specific agenda in mind. Delighted discovery is the goal.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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Ultimate LOCAL FAMILY FUN

Summer Fun The season of sunshine, road trips, late nights and bare feet is upon us! Check out these 100 ideas to plan your family’s best summer ever. BY LINDSAY CUOMO

TODDLERS • A is for Art at this year’s Children’s Garden Festival where guests will celebrate art in literature. Myriad Gardens’ awardwinning festival, happening June 3-12, features colorful vignettes and hands-on activities inspired by four popular books: The Day the Crayons Quit, Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Dot and Aaron Slater, Illustrator. • Schedule a visit to the zoo or a local farm to hang out with some furry friends! Money-saving tip: check out Juniper’s Butterfly Garden from a participating library and get four free tickets to the OKC Zoo through the Read for Adventure program, sponsored by the OKC Zoo and OG&E. (Valid through June 30, 2022.) • Amp up water play with recycled or repurposed materials and kitchen staples. Add foam blocks or letters, measuring cups, etc. to a kiddie pool for a fun, open-ended playtime. Money-saving tip: plastic water bottles can easily be up-cycled into funnels. • Go on an alphabet hunt to find each letter in the wild! C for “caterpillar” anyone? • Too hot or too wet to play outside? Sensory bins can be your go-to answer! Keep basics on hand such as dried beans, colored rice, scoops and spoons and add in treasures. Or, get pre-made bins from Little Okie Learning Co., a metro-based, mom-owned company. • Visit your local library! Both the Metropolitan and Pioneer libraries have resumed family programming and will be hosting summer reading challenges, story times, STEAM activities and more.

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• Expend some energy to make ice cream in a bag. All you need is a few simple ingredients and some tot-powered churning.Up your bubble game with DIY wands made out of tape and straws or fill a bin with water and soap, plus toy cars, dinosaurs or your tot’s current toy obsession for an epic bubble sensory experience.Utilize found items and sidewalk chalk to craft an outdoor obstacle course. • Use shaving cream to “paint” on the windows. • Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt. Find a list of things to hunt for at metrofamilymagazine. com/outdoor-scavenger-hunt. • Get up close and personal with some fascinating vehicles at Edmond Electric’s Toucha-Truck. Bucket trucks, garbage trucks, police cars and more will be hanging out at the University of Central Oklahoma on June 4 from 9 a.m. to noon. The first hour is a quiet hour — no horns or other loud noises allowed. • Go on a Listening Walk. Read the book by Paul Showers first and then create your own Listening Walk unique to your family and neighborhood. • Stay cool at a local splash pad. Find our favorites at metrofamilymagazine.com/splashpads-pools-lakes. • Build a blanket fort! • Plan a playdate at a new-to-you park or meet new friends at a Perked Up Playdate happening monthly on the third Tuesday at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Find local favorites and hidden gems at metrofamilymagazine.com/metro-parks. • Visit a locally owned bookstore such as Nappy Roots, Full Circle, Commonplace Books or Best of Books, many of which host weekly story times.

• Hunt for your favorite animals in the colorful exhibit Nature’s Course by John Newsom at Oklahoma Contemporary. Newsom’s large-scale paintings of plants and animals are vibrant and engaging for even the youngest artists. Money-saving tip: admission is always free! • Hop aboard art in motion and ride Mo’s Carousel at Myriad Gardens. • Go on a healthy adventure! Shape Your Future, a program of TSET, has put together some summertime adventures that pair fun activities with healthy, kid-friendly recipes at shapeyourfutureok.com/ shape-future-healthyadventures. • Travel back in time to Zoorassic World, an immersive exhibit featuring more than 25 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, at Tulsa Zoo. The lifelike dinosaurs set in natural vignettes incorporate both movement and sound to give families a realistic experience. Zoorassic World is open daily through Labor Day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and admission is $6 ($5 for members) plus zoo admission. Find more info at tulsazoo.org/roar. Money-saving tip: kids under 3 get in free to the zoo and to see the dinos! • Break out the glow sticks for a twilight family walk. • See endangered animals in a whole new way in the special exhibit BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise at the OKC Zoo. The exhibit uses more than one million toy bricks to create one-of-a-kind animal statues. Admission is $5, plus zoo admission. Money-saving tip: kids 2 and under do not require tickets to see the brick creations.

SUMMER ART CAMPS AGES 5-12 Monster Makers Mixed Media Jewelry Skateboard Design Galaxy Art Adventure + much more!

• Head off the beaten path for some surprising new-to-you attractions like the Oklahoma Railway Museum or Oklahoma Firefighters Museum! Find more at metrofamilymagazine.com/lesser-knownvenues-for-family-fun-in-okc.

Learn more and register at okcontemp.org/camps

• Spend the day at Unpluggits Paint & Play, an art studio designed especially for families. Kids as young as 18 months can paint, squish playdough and more, plus play in an indoor play area equipped with a two-story play structure and a toddler treehouse.

405.951.0000 | @okcontemporary METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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11 NW 11th St, OKC, OK 73103


MIXED AGES • Giddy up cowboy and head to the Chuck Wagon Festival at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, slated for May 28 and 29. • Sign up for a local summer camp! Find options at metrofamilymagazine.com/summer-camps. • Hunt for local murals and other public art pieces and then create your own sidewalk chalk masterpiece at home. Try out our street art scavenger hunt at metrofamilymagazine.com/street-artscavenger-hunt or make your own! • Go retro and hit up a skating rink near you! Skate Galaxy offers free learn to skate lessons, fun family night packages and extended day skate sessions all summer long. Or, add some spice to a park day at Scissortail Park with a roll around the outdoor Sky Rink.

• Try frisbee tic-tac-toe! Using masking tape and your favorite frisbee, set this game up outside on a nice day.

• Enjoy the best of summer at a family-friendly festival. Find our favorites at metrofamilymagazine.com/summer-festivals.

• Enjoy the best of locally-grown produce and foods by visiting a local farmers market. Find our favorites at metrofamilymagazine. com/farmers-markets.

• Run through the sprinklers.

• Head to a local drive-in movie theater for some nostalgic family fun.

• Plan a road trip. Find dozens of Oklahoma vacation ideas at metrofamilymagazine.com/ exploring-oklahoma.

• Is it even summer without snow cones?! Check out our favorite spots serving up cool treats at metrofamilymagazine.com/cool-treats. • Plan a nature-inspired outing to commune with the outdoors and each other! Check out hot spots in OKC like Arcadia Lake or Bluff Creek Park or venture farther to one of the many state parks or wildlife preserves in Oklahoma. • Hit an Oklahoma beach! Say what?! The Sooner State offers miles and miles of lake and reservoir splashing fun. Find our favorites at metrofamilymagazine.com/best-beaches-in-oklahoma. • Chihuly returns to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in June! The Chihuly Studio welcomes back fan favorites as well as new works of art. Money-saving tip: kids always get in free to the museum.

• Tinker in a metro makerspace! Science Museum Oklahoma has two dedicated makerspaces offering hands-on creative exploration for all ages. Find more makerspaces at metrofamilymagazine.com/ makerspaces-in-the-metro. • Visit a neighborhood block party. Districts around the metro host monthly street festivals filled with family fun! Find the scoop at metrofamilymagazine.com/street-festivals. • Create an integrated art project, like making a sculpture to explore force or drawing a work of art with patterns. Find instructions from Oklahoma A+ Schools at metrofamilymagazine. com/integrated-arts. • Learn something new at Oklahoma Hall of Fame’s Summer Thursdays. Every Thursday in June and July, enjoy story time, crafts and outdoor games, plus explore the museum to learn about influential Oklahomans. Activities begin at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Money-saving tip: museum admission is free during Summer Thursdays!

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• Enjoy summer’s tasty bounty by visiting a local PickYour-Own farm with our list at metrofamilymagazine.com/ okc-pick-your-own-farms.


• Create science experiments with items you already have on hand. Visit metrofamilymagazine.com/simplescience for instructions. • Plan a family movie night. Check out our recs of family-friendly flicks by decade at metrofamilymagazine.com/familyfriendly-flicks-by-decade. • Celebrate all the best in OKC family fun at MetroFamily’s FREE Kids Fest! You are invited to an epic park party at Scissortail Park on June 18! • Stay up late to stargaze. • Celebrate Juneteenth, marking the official end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865. Find a family event near you at metrofamilymagazine.com/celebratejuneteenth-okc. • The mother road of festivals is coming to OKC June 18 and 19. Route 66 Road Fest celebrates the iconic route with classic cars, movies, music and more. • Organize a litter pick-up day in your neighborhood or favorite local park. • Demystify an arctic legend with a visit to Sam Noble Museum. Their exhibit about Narwhals ships out June 19. • Try a new-to-you locally owned restaurant for dine-in or to-go. • Dive into the science of osteology at SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology and see skulls and skeletons from around the world. • Celebrate the Summer Solstice on June 21 at First Americans Museum where visitors can observe the solstice sun set at the tip of the FAM Mound. The free event for all ages includes singing and drumming, round dances and art and science activities relating to the change of seasons.

• Get creative at Oklahoma Contemporary’s Second Saturdays. Enjoy hands-on fun and visit the galleries. Money-saving tip: admission is always free! • Cheer on the OKC Dodgers at a game. • Make homemade slime or play dough. • 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. • Ride the streetcar downtown. • Go fishing. Kids ages 5-15 can learn basic fishing skills with OKC Parks’ Hooked on Fishing lessons happening on select Saturdays all summer long. Sign up at okc. gov/parksignup. • Experience turn-of-the-century territorial Oklahoma at the Harn Homestead. • Go bird watching at Martin Park Nature Center. Count the variety of species you see. • Listen to an audiobook as a family. • Play tourist with a ride on the Bricktown Canal boats. • Shut off the screens and play a board game together. • Visit the brand-new Oklahoma State Capitol Museum to learn about the history of our capitol and see unique artifacts about Oklahoma. • Have a hula-hooping contest. • Dedicate an afternoon to pay it forward with random acts of kindness.

JUNE 6 –10 // 9AM–3PM This creative, week-long, day camp is designed for kids who have finished 2nd-6th grade. Students explore their creativity through hands-on projects & fun games. The gallery show is at 6pm Friday! $150 • Register now!

JULY 11 –15 // 9AM–3PM This fun, week-long, day camp is created for kids who have finished 2nd-8th grade. Students will enjoy music, costumes, choreography and more. The full length musical is at 6pm on Friday! $175 • Register now! Early Bird rate: $150 ends May 1st!

Get details and register online: CROSSINGS.CHURCH/AWA

• Plan a backyard campout or go camping at a state park.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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14600 N PORTLAND, OKC, OK 73134 405.755.2227


TWEENS & TEENS • Take in some tunes at an outdoor concert. Find one near you at metrofamilymagazine. com/outdoor-movies-concerts • Volunteer as a family. Get ideas at metrofamilymagazine.com/familyvolunteer-opportunities. • Play a round of disc golf. Find courses to try at metrofamilymagazine.com/disc-golfcourses-in-the-metro. • Get prepped for a family 5k run or 10-mile bike ride. Find training tips from local experts at metrofamilymagazine.com/trainrace-ride. • Accept a summer reading challenge. Local libraries are giving away fun prizes! • Catch a flick at the deadCenter Film Festival, June 9 through 12. • Pack a picnic and revisit your favorite childhood park.

• Test your sleuthing skills and go geocaching. • Putt a round of mini golf. • Embark on a Native art-cation. Find adventure, culture and history through public Native art in Oklahoma. Plan your trip at metrofamilymagazine.com/pubicnative-art.

THE WARRIOR BY ENOCH KELLEY HANEY. COURTESY OF THE CHICKASAW NATION.

• Take a spin on the Wheeler Ferris Wheel to see the city skyline from way up high. • Then, kick back with a good book and lounge in the hammocks near the Wheeler Wheel.

• Go surfing! Yes, you can surf right here in OKC at RIVERSPORT Adventures’ newest attraction Surf OKC. • Visit a local college campus. • Make a family TikTok. • Visit the new First Americans Museum to experience history through the lens of the 39 distinct tribal nations in Oklahoma today. • Go hiking. • Brunch around town and let us know your favorite.

• Tour downtown to find your favorite selfie spot. Pencil in few of our favorites found at metrofamilymagazine.com/family-photobackdrops-okc.

• Enjoy a new immersive art experience, Synesthesia, by Factory Obscura at Fred Jones Museum of Art. Money-saving tip: museum admission is always free.

• Track down your favorite food truck for an outdoor lunch. LET’S DO GREEK FOOD TRUCK

• Dust off the bikes and enjoy a family ride. The metro boasts miles of biking trails including lakeside paths and mountain bike trails. Start planning at metrofamilymagazine.com/trail-ridingwith-kids. • Channel your inner speedster with go-cart racing. • Schedule a phone-free day to unplug together. • Host a game night to see who will be crowned family champion. Check out our list of reader recommendations at metrofamilymagazine.com/family-boardgames • Reach for new heights at a climbing gym.

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• Try out Oklahoma’s only indoor skate park, The Daily Shredd, located in Edmond. The spacious indoor park is open to skateboarders as well as roller and in-line skaters.

• Cosplay at New World Comic Con on July 30 at State Fair Park. • Visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. A new mobile app lets visitors connect with six storytellers who represent those impacted by the events of April 19, 1995. You can also find scannable augmented reality markers within the museum and more on the app. • Cool off by visiting a cave or go wild on a spelunking adventure. Find our faves at metrofamilymagazine.com/oklahomacaves-to-explore.

Find even more resources and ideas to plan your family’s best summer ever at metrofamilymagazine.com/summer.


SUMMER CAMPS/CLINICS • BIRTHDAY PARTIES • FACILITY RENTAL FOR PRIVATE EVENTS

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VISIT DAILYSHREDDOKC.COM FOR HOURS, PRICING AND SPECIAL EVENTS. PH. 940-368-4768 PRO SHOP • EQUIPMENT RENTALS • LESSONS: GROUP & PRIVATE

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For more information, call or text us at (405) 221-8300, option 2! Mon - Thu: 8am-10pm, Fri & Sat: 8am-midnight

3705 W Memorial Rd, Suite 101c, Oklahoma City, OK 73134

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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PL AN A MOTHER’S DAY OR FAT H E R ’ S DAY W E E K E N D

ALL ABOUT YOU Match your personality with OKC’s best attractions, eats & events BY KIRSTEN HOLDER. PHOTOS PROVIDED.

If you’re looking to spend your special weekend in a way that truly honors YOU, look no further. We’ve narrowed down the best spots for fun and celebration based on your personality type and interests, no “What Kind of Disney Princess Are You” tests required. No matter what you end up planning for your Mother’s Day or Father’s Day weekend, know that you are an important and special part of your family’s life and you deserve to be celebrated every day! Cheers, moms and dads!

L E I S U R E PA R E N T Do you live in athleisure wear and tennis shoes and generally use a backpack or fanny pack to cart your (and your kids’!) stuff? If so, you might be a “Leisure Parent.” The ideal day to celebrate you can (and should) include activities that feed your comfy and laid-back style. Head down to Midtown District in OKC for a delicious brunch at Neighborhood JAM (you can even get in line ahead of time via Yelp). Treat yourself to the indulgent “Looney Cakes” (carrot cake pancakes) or opt for the healthy Acai Bowl topped off with a craft latte or creative breakfast cocktail like “My Grandma’s Mug” (Maker’s Mark, drip coffee, pH toasted caramel, sweet cream and nutmeg). Afterward, stroll around and shop hop! Your sneakerloving self will drool over the stunning creations at The Laboratory. If

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you’d rather curl up with a new book, check out the charming Commonplace Books for inspiration and curated hits. Find more spots to shop at MidtownOKC.com.

Mother’s Day Weekend • Indie Trunk Show Shop local artists, crafters, makers and boutiques. May 7; 10am-5pm. State Fair Park Pavilion building, 3212 Wichita Walk • Mother’s Day Dessert Cruise Experience a river cruise and enjoy bite-sized desserts and mimosas at the cash bar with Oklahoma River Cruises. May 8; departures at 1 & 4pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Regatta Landing, 701 S Lincoln Blvd

Father’s Day Weekend • Third Saturdays in WesTen Enjoy an Open House at MadPotter and try your hand at the pottery wheel (ages 14+). Then take a tour of Castle Falls, Council Grove and many early 1900s downtown OKC artifacts. June 18; 11am-5pm. WesTen District, Northwest 10th Street Corridor • Father’s Day Cruise Experience a river cruise and enjoy snacks and the scenery with Oklahoma River Cruises. June 19; departure at 1:30pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Regatta Landing, 701 S Lincoln Blvd


S P O R T Y PA R E N T If your favorite Saturday activity includes waking up before the sun (and the kids!) to get a little sweat sesh in, you might be a “Sporty Parent.” Lace up those sneakers and load up your family for an urban adventure at RIVERSPORT! Day passes start around $40 and include activities such as the zip line, sky slides, white water rafting or kayaking, paddleboarding, biking and so much more. You can also choose singleactivity passes to go surfing (yes, really)! Once you’re all adventured out, ride the bike trail over to Wheeler Park for some lunch or dinner at

the newly opened Taco Nation. The mouth-watering Carnitas Tacos or Ancho-Lime Chicken Tacos are a must! Wash it down with an “Okie Sunset,” an aptly-named soda made with coconut, mango and grapefruit mix. End your day by watching the sunset from the top of the Wheeler Ferris Wheel, which was imported from the Santa Monica Pier (passes start at $6).

Mother’s Day Weekend • Oklahoma Bicycle Society’s Donut Ride Take a casual ride suitable for beginners and young riders at a pace of 8-10 mph for about 11 miles with a stop for refreshments at a local donut shop. May 7, 9-11am. Will Rogers Tennis Center Parking Lot, NW 36th St & Portland Ave

Father’s Day Weekend • Oklahoma Bicycle Society’s Donut Ride See above for details! June 18, 9-11am • MetroFamily Kids Fest Enjoy FREE family fun, like inflatables, family games, characters, vendor booths, crafts and a special Father’s Day activity. 10am-2pm. Scissortail Park, 300 SW 7th St

STAY IN THE GAME

Make healthy choices to keep your team together.

oklahoma.gov/health METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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PICASSO CAFE IN THE PASEO DISTRICT

MARY EDDY’S INSIDE 21C MUSEUM HOTEL

G R A N O L A PA R E N T If Birkenstocks or Chacos are your summer liveins, you might be a shoe-in as a “Granola Parent” (pun intended). Spend your special day wandering down the dreamy and colorful Paseo District, which is sure to match your vibe. Start out with some inspiration from one of many art classes available in the district, such as a down-to-earth pottery class from Paseo Pottery, stitching art from Su Casa or stained glass classes from Prairie Arts Collective. Afterward, visit a culinary favorite: Paseo Cafe. From the best vegan cuisine in town to the most mouth-watering queso, this place is sure to please. Might we suggest the Drunken Pear Salad or Lobster Risotto? Top off your experience by grabbing some dietary need-friendly donuts from Holey Rollers and strolling around shops like Betsy King Shoes, JW Jewelry and Home and the many fantastic and unique art galleries.

Mother’s Day Weekend • First Friday Gallery Walk Walk the Paseo District to enjoy galleries offering special themed exhibits, guest artists and a variety of live entertainment. May 6, 6-9pm. Paseo District, NW 30th & 27th Streets, Walker and Hudson Ave • Oklahoma City Flower & Garden Festival Enjoy perusing a variety of vendors with herbs, perennials, roses, produce, pottery, jewelry, wine, food products and food trucks. May 7, 9am-4pm. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W Reno Ave

Father’s Day Weekend • Myriad in Motion Yoga Take part in some FREE zen! Practicing yoga while connecting with nature will help relieve stress and quiet your mind. Classes are open to all levels. 9am. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W Reno Ave

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A R T S & C U LT U R E PA R E N T If you enjoy swirling a good cabernet and discussing renditions of Hamlet or the latest Sundance Film reviews, you might be an “Arts & Culture Parent.” Get your swanky self down to Film Row and enjoy all the food, drink, drama and fun historic West Sheridan Avenue has to offer. Start off with a pre-dinner drink at The Study, a cozy wine bar made for deep

conversation and lined with rich bookshelves, art and fireplaces. Afterward, walk down to the newly reopened Mary Eddy’s inside 21C Museum Hotel. Options like the Steak Tartare or Butcher Board are plenty to share, or splurge on dinner items like the Flatiron Steak or Smoked Short Ribs. Save room for dessert – you are treating yourself, after all! Cafe Disco is just a short stroll down the street and features the most adorable macaroon creations. Seasonal features are released each month, or enjoy classics like Honey Lavender or Crème Brûlée.

Mother’s Day Weekend • Into the Woods In this musical mashup of Cinderella, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood, watch the journeys unfold as each character’s wish is granted and see how the consequences of their actions affect their overall adventures. May 6, 7pm; May 7, 2 & 7pm; May 8, 2pm. Lyric Theatre, 1725 NW 16th St • oNE OKC Take part in this FREE block party celebrating NE OKC and featuring live entertainment, food trucks, vendors, kids’ activities, volunteer opportunities and more. May 7, 10am-7pm. Booker T Washington Park, NE 4th St

Father’s Day Weekend • 3rd Friday on Film Row Enjoy treats, drinks, giveaways, art, live music and more from participating businesses. June 17, 6-8pm. Film Row, California to NW 4th, Classen to Hudson Ave

Please join us at our new

Performing Arts Center! New Performing Arts Center!

2241 NW 178th OKC, 405-348-3377 studiojdanceok.com

Registration now open for classes and camps!

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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REAL MOMS OF THE METRO

Awesome Moms

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, Stephanie Moore, and our two finalists, Krystle Curry and Julie Cockroft. Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations this year! Celebrate the stories of all of our nominees by visiting metrofamilymagazine.com/2022-awesome-moms. Thank you to our Awesome Mom prize sponsors: Wyndham Grand Hotel, The Spa at 10 North, Redrock Canyon Grill, Mama Roja, Hefner Grill, Upper Crust Wood Fired Pizza, Sweet Pickle, Vellabox, L’OCCITANE en Provence and Dune Jewelry & Co. BY ERIN PAGE

WINNER

Stephanie Moore As a child, Stephanie Moore remembers being taught the importance of kindness and looking for those who need help. She’s lived that lesson since. Now the mom of five teaches her kids, both through her words and her example, to treat others well because you never know what other people are going through. Stephanie served in the United States Army from 2001 to 2010, retiring as a Staff Sergeant and combat medic after being stationed in Louisiana, Korea and Colorado and serving two deployments to Iraq. “I learned I’m a lot stronger than what I may have thought,” said Stephanie. “It also made me realize how important family is.” For the first six years of her oldest son’s life, Stephanie was often away, either in the field or training. That experience strengthened her motherly resolve to be available to her kids as much as possible, encouraging them and always telling them how proud she is of them. Her time in the service taught her another valuable lesson: “It sounds selfish but sometimes you have to take care of yourself so you can be a better person for [your kids].” PHOTOS BY C. MOORE PHOTOGRAPHY AND PROVIDED

Stephanie has PTSD, and, through prioritizing her own mental and physical health, she is a shining example of a mom whose intentionality in caring for herself is making a life-long positive impact on her children. A member of the Muscogee Nation, Stephanie says she comes from strong people, but she’s realized sometimes strength means asking for help. “Sometimes it takes us [veterans] a bit to get help because there was always that saying that if you get help you aren’t as strong,” said Stephanie. “We’re finally realizing that in getting help we are stronger.”

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3 Locations to Serve You! Edmond • OKC • Yukon

(ABOVE) STEPHANIE RETIRED FROM THE ARMY AS A STAFF SERGEANT AND COMBAT MEDIC. (RIGHT) STEPHANIE MOORE AND HER FAMILY

In addition to her own therapy and care, connecting with others who’ve undergone similar trauma has been an important part of Stephanie’s life after the Army. “When I got out [of the Army] I still needed to find a way to serve,” said Stephanie. “Volunteering and giving back to others is my way of serving now.” Stephanie is a “Warrior Leader,” a peer mentor for the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps physically or mentally wounded service members, and their families, transition to civilian life and connects them to resources and support, all at no cost to them. Stephanie hosts in-person and online events to help link service members, veterans and their caregivers to resources, equipment and other needs. She has a special affinity for the Wounded Warrior Project logo, which depicts one service member carrying another. “At first, I was the service member [being carried] and now I’m able to support those who need help,” said Stephanie. “I realize that all the therapy, treatment and appointments have gotten me to this point and I’m able to use my journey to help others now.” Stephanie says it’s important for her to give back to those organizations that have supported her healing. She is also involved in Autism Oklahoma, where she and her husband, Chris, lead a assistance group, provide event support and fundraise, all inspired by their 12-year-old son, Memphis. “When we first found out our son was on the autism spectrum, we didn’t know what to do or where to turn,” said Stephanie. From providing family programs and events where Memphis has been able to interact with other kids to connecting the Moore family with speech, occupational and behavioral therapists, Stephanie says the help and support the organization has

­

provided their family has been tremendous. She’s also been able to take advantage of informational classes and opportunities for respite, self-care and connection with other parents who understand her child and the importance of creating a world that is more inclusive of those with differences. “They are all amazing kids, each one of them different and unique,” said Stephanie of children on the autism spectrum. “Be patient, be kind and try to include them as much as possible. I’ve learned a great deal from Memphis; he’s my little guy who I look up to.” Stephanie finds her hope for the future in her children, who make her proud every day. Of her three kids who currently live at home, her oldest son, Timothy, will start college in the fall, pursuing a degree in video game development, her daughter will start high school and Memphis will start junior high, where he’ll play on the soccer team. Stephanie plans to finish her master’s degree in crisis and trauma counseling so she can work closely with veterans and their families to provide a listening ear from someone who has experienced a similar life journey. In addition to serving others, she will continue to prioritize her own health. She’s made it a goal this year to attend monthly retreats for veterans with PTSD. “They have programs and treatment for mental health, plus I can decompress with outdoor activities, which I love,” said Stephanie. “It’s a way to reset and recharge and come home ready to take it all on again.” Stephanie hopes that in sharing her story other moms will understand the value in putting themselves first. “Always taking care of everyone else can be draining,” said Stephanie. “It’s important for all moms to take the time for themselves.”

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Play • Learn • Thrive Call (405) 840-1686 to schedule an evaluation!


FINALIST

Julie Cockroft Julie Cockroft remembers being pregnant at 19, unsure about the future. She feels fortunate that she had a loving support system, and that’s only grown as she’s been married to her husband, Jeff, for more than 40 years. Together they have eight children and 11 grandchildren, and it’s become their life’s work to support mothers-tobe in the community. Julie and Jeff were hired as directors just as ground was broken for Grace Home in 2014. The organization’s mission is to provide pregnant women ages 18 to 30 with housing, access to quality medical care, substance abuse recovery, as needed, and the education and skills to gain a living wage job. Two weeks after the home was finished in May 2015, it was leveled by a tornado. Grace Home was rebuilt and opened in October 2015, able to care for six pregnant women at a time. More recently, Julie and Jeff have also taken on the role of full-time house parents. “We function very much like a family,” said Julie. “For many of them, it’s their first time to be part of a structured, loving family.” About 90 percent of the women served by Grace Home are homeless. Most of the women are referred by the court system, OKDHS, churches or family members. They can stay up to one year after giving birth, and through the organization’s leveled program, they have the opportunity to transition out of survival mode and consider their hopes and dreams for the future. “They realize they are safe, they don’t have to worry about their next meal, there are people to help them get to their appointments and gain the tools they need,” said Julie. “They can slow their minds down, start planning ahead and build a future.” Julie recently spoke with a graduate who was able to reunify with and regain full custody of her children, who had been in foster care. She’s now pursuing a college degree. JULIE WITH GRACE HOME COLLIE, WILLOW. PHOTOS PROVIDED.

“This is a young lady who had lost all her children and had no dreams and no hopes when she arrived,” said Julie. “She is a different person now. I’m proud of seeing a young woman’s life changed, to where they see that they are loved, that the Lord loves them and they have a bright future.” Oftentimes, graduates fundraise and gather donations to bring back to the women at Grace Home, a visual assurance for Julie that they have “caught the vision” and realize their power to impact others in a positive way. “What we do is hard because you are becoming part of someone’s chaos or trauma — the mess of life — but it is an honor to be a piece of their journey,” said Julie. Julie relies heavily on her faith through both the challenging and upbeat times. She also makes sure to take time away from work with Jeff, her girlfriends or her family to recharge. A beautiful part of her work is that Grace Home graduates — and their

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children — become part of Julie’s life forever. She laughingly says she really has close to 60 grandchildren! One of Julie’s greatest blessings is seeing her kids, who range in age from 21 to 40, love and serve others. She relishes getting together with her children and grandchildren several times a year and attending her grandchildren’s ball games, recitals and special events as often as possible. When she thinks back to when her children were little, she marvels in the opportunities she had to support them in pursuing their passions. “We did things I would have never pursed on our own … politics, computers, music … we had fun and varied adventures,” remembers Julie.

(ABOVE) JULIE AND HER HUSBAND, JEFF, WITH THEIR GROWN CHILDREN. (BELOW) JULIE AND JEFF DELIGHT IN THEIR GRANDCHILDREN.

Julie’s priority as a mom, grandma and now house parent has always been to help her loved ones fully understand their uniqueness and how well they are loved by her and by God. “Raising your family is one of the greatest things you will ever do,” said Julie. “We all need to be reminded of that because it’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed, but taking time to talk to your child or listen or read that book — those are things that makes roots grow deep in their heart, ties them to you and gives them security.” When Julie thinks back to her 19-year-old self, she says God put the right people in her life to help her succeed. And that’s why she is determined to be that person for others. “It’s the heart of why we do what we do,” said Julie.

For Order Bes Tod t Pr ay ices !

Jurassic Adventures RC Velociraptor get yours at book for the musical by

Dennis Kelly • based on the book by Roald Dahl Tim Minchin • directed by Ashley Wells

music and lyrics by

learning tree

ONE WEEK ONLY! • JUNE 21-26 A Theatrical Homecoming Celebration Lyric Returns Indoors to the Civic Center!

The inspiring story of an extraordinary little girl who, gifted with a vivid imagination and a sharp wit, dares to prove that you can change your destiny despite all odds. Great fun for the whole family! OKLAHOMA’S PREMIERE PROFESSIONAL THEATRE

@learningtree.okc • learningtreeokc.com

7638 N. Western, OKC • 405-848-1415

(405) 524-9312 • LyricTheatreOKC.org Discounts Available for Groups of 8 or More! Email for Information: Groups@LyricTheatreOKC.org

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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FINALIST

Krystle Curry When Krystle Curry thinks back on her childhood, she remembers her mom working three jobs to make ends meet. But she also remembers a mom who planned fun trips to Six Flags, bought her a car and purchased the new shoes Krystle had hoped for. “My mom was a hard worker, she overcame obstacles and she still made things happen for us,” remembers Krystle. “I will never forget those things, and now that’s what I’m doing with my kids.” Since she was a teen, Krystle has felt her calling in life is to help and serve others, a responsibility she hopes to pass on to her sons: Lium, 14; Londan, 11; and Levi, 9. “I didn’t necessarily grow up poor, but I remember what it was to struggle and not have everything I wanted,” said Krystle. In her career and in the community, she has sought out ways to help those in need. During the day, Krystle works as a financial advisor assistant. A strong proponent of continued education, she recently earned her master’s degree in business administration and is working on her licensing to become a financial advisor. The industry appealed to her because she can help improve people’s lives. “I can help underprivileged communities learn about financial literacy and take care of my family at the same time,” said Krystle. In the evenings, she connects individuals with utilities and housing assistance through a nonprofit organization. She also volunteers for the NAACP Housing Program, doing similar work, plus helping those who have been discriminated against find resources and recourse. The need for assistance with rent and bills has increased astronomically during the pandemic. While Krystle humbly asserts she’s simply the conduit for those seeking help, she gets emotional thinking about the many messages of thanks she’s received from the people she’s been able to connect with resources that mean they can stay housed, warm and safe. “I’ve realized how fortunate I am; I don’t ever want to take anything for granted,” said Krystle. “It has made me think about times I’ve been in need. And I’ve felt responsible to follow through [with their applications] because these people have left a part of themselves in my consciousness.” PHOTOS BY FOTO ARTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Those experiences inspired her to start her own nonprofit. Virtuous Women with Hearts recently received 501(c)3 status and will help provide clothing and housewares to those in need in our community. Krystle’s giving heart extends to the ways she mothers her three sons, too. For the past six years, their family of four has bundled up on Christmas morning to travel downtown and serve meals through the Red Andrews Christmas Dinner. “I want them to understand the importance of giving back and loving others unconditionally,” said Krystle. “I teach my kids never to judge, no matter what a person’s background is or where they come from.” Krystle’s greatest hope for her sons is that they will impact the world around them in a loving, inclusive way, be that in sharing their

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resources with individuals experiencing homelessness or ensuring they respect others and address people with their preferred pronouns. “I want them to be accepting of all people and to choose love,” said Krystle. With so much of her energy focused on serving others, Krystle acknowledges the importance of taking time for herself, too. One of her favorite creative outlets is designing clothing and tackling DIY projects. As a child, she loved to draw and often dreamed she would become a famous fashion designer. Though she laughingly says she’s not famous, her kids’ and women’s clothing lines have been featured in multiple local fashion shows. Plus, she has curated showcases to provide recognition for local artists representing a variety of mediums. She also loves to surprise her boys with trips and adventures. Krystle hopes other single moms can draw strength from her story and know they, too, are capable of fulfilling their dreams. “Never, ever give up,” encourages Krystle. “I deal with daily obstacles but I work hard not to allow those things to distract me from what I’m focused on. Don’t allow your today to affect your tomorrow.” Krystle imparts that wisdom to her boys, too, and she takes great pride in watching her oldest son follow his dreams to take on leadership roles, including becoming vice president of student council at his high school. “It’s important for my boys to understand that no obstacle is too big; that they can overcome anything and not to allow anything to deter them from their goals,” said Krystle.

KRYSTLE AND HER THREE BOYS LOVE TO GO ON ADVENTURES TOGETHER.

Show some LOVE to your fave OKC area businesses, places, events & services!

VOTE daily: May 4 - 18 And with each day's voting, you'll be entered to win a two-night stay at the Gaylord Texan!

www.metrofamilymagazine.com/vote METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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CALENDAR #OKCFAMILYFUN

Top Events in May & June May 6

FREE Dancing in the Gardens: Salsa at Myriad Gardens Seasonal Plaza (301 W Reno Ave) features an evening of dancing with a live DJ, a dance demonstration and a dance lesson. All ages welcome. Food and drink specials available. 7-10pm. Also held: June 17 - 90s Hip Hop. myriadgardens.org

May 7

Operation School Bell 5k at Andrews Park (201 W Daws St, Norman) features a 5k race benefiting Assistance League Norman Operation School Bell program, which provides kids with clothes, shoes, coats and more. All ages welcome. $30$35. assistanceleague.org/norman/osb5k Kids Take Over the Cowboy at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features traditional Native games, giant horseshoes and La Loteria. Attendees can make their own traditional games to take home. Free with admission while supplies last. 10am-noon. Also held: June 4. nationalcowboymuseum.org

May 6-8

Into the Woods at Lyric Theatre’s Thelma Gaylord Academy (1725 NW 16th St) features a musical mashup of Cinderella, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood. $15. Friday, 7pm; Saturday, 2 & 7pm; Sunday, 2pm. thelmagaylordacademy.com Norman Pride Festival (various locations) features a kick-off party on Friday in downtown Norman and a family-friendly festival with live music and activities for kids on Saturday at Andrews Park, plus a 5k at Ruby Grant Park and a parade down Main Street on Sunday. See website for schedule. normanokpride.org

May 7-Oct. 30

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BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise at the OKC Zoo (2000 Remington Pl) features endangered animal statues made with more than one million toy bricks. The one-of-a-kind exhibit, located within the zoo’s butterfly garden area, is designed to connect wildlife fans to many of the planet’s endangered species. $5 plus zoo admission; kids (2 & under), free. 9am-4:30pm. okczoo.org

DANCING IN THE GARDENS AT MYRIAD GARDENS

May 9-Sept. 5

Zoorassic World at Tulsa Zoo (6421 E 36th St N, Tulsa) features an immersive, temporary exhibit featuring more than 25 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, plus an archeological dig for fossil casts. $6 plus zoo admission; members, $5; kids (2 & under), free. 9am-4:30pm. tulsazoo.org/roar


May 11-29

Disney’s The Lion King at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features visual artistry, unforgettable music and uniquely theatrical storytelling. Best suited for ages 6 & up. $36 & up. Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2 & 8 pm; Sunday, 1 & 6:30pm. okcbroadway.com

May 13

FREE Movie in the Park at Moore’s Central Park Amphitheater (700 S Broadway Ave, Moore) features a screening of Men in Black (the original). Movie begins at sundown. Concessions available. cityofmoore.com

May 14

FREE VDubs on Auto Alley (NW 8th St, Robinson & Oklahoma Ave) features a family- and pet-friendly street festival and a car show with classic, vintage and new Volkswagens as well as live entertainment, pop-up shops and more. 8am-3:30pm. vwclubokc.org FREE See You Saturdays at Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1400 Classen Dr) features free family fun at the museum. Create a craft in the Makerspace area, explore exhibits, get your selfie in “Picture Yourself” and see new art and history exhibits. Guests can take part in a sensoryfriendly experience from 9-10am. All ages welcome. 9am-1pm. Also held: June 11. oklahomahof.com/see-you-Saturdays

FREE Stickball Game at the First Americans Museum (659 First Americans Blvd) features a hands-on stickball demonstration followed by a game to watch. All ages welcome. 1-4pm. famok.org FREE Second Saturday at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) focuses on the artwork of Off the Wall artist Sarah Ahmad. Create abstract sculptures, collaborate on a community art piece and take interactive tours of the exhibitions. 1-4pm. Also held: June 11 featuring supersized artmaking. oklahomacontemporary.org Late Night at the Museum: Cowboy Clue at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St). Play the popular board game Clue in real life in Prosperity Junction, go on a flashlight tour of Liichokoshkomo’, then watch Muppets: Most Wanted. Popcorn provided. Best suited for ages 4 & up. $30$35. 6-11pm. nationalcowboymuseum.org

May 21

FREE Kids Day at the Park at Moore’s Central Park (700 S Broadway Ave, Moore) features inflatables, a food truck, yard games and free snow cones. All ages welcome. 10am-1pm. cityofmoore.com FREE Night Hike at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features a hike to learn, hear and possibly see some nocturnal animals. Preregister.

FREE Butterfly Hike at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features a hike to find and learn about as many of the 170+ butterfly species that live in Oklahoma as possible. Preregister. All ages welcome. 11am12:30pm okc.gov/ parksignup

All ages welcome. 7:30-9pm. Also held: June 18. okc.gov/parksignup

May 27

FREE 4th Friday Films at Charles J Johnson Central Park (Mid-America Blvd, Midwest City) features games, live entertainment, food trucks, a screening of Jurassic Park and a bone dig with Skeletons: Museum of Osteology. 7pm; movie begins at dusk. midwestcityok.org

June 4

FREE Kids Fishing Derby at Arcadia Lake’s Spring Creek Park (SE 15th St, Edmond) features a fishing derby for young anglers ages 5-15. Preregister. Children must be accompanied by an adult. 7:30am-noon. arcadialakeok.com Edmond Electric Touch-a-Truck at UCO (Main & Hurd on Baumann, Edmond) features life-sized vehicles and community representatives like police officers, fire fighters, construction workers and more. There will be a quiet hour (9-10am) to accommodate those sensitive to loud noises. Benefits the Edmond Hope Center. $2 suggested donation. 9amnoon. edmondelectric.com/touchatruck VIBES Artwalk in Downtown Edmond (Broadway, 2nd to Edwards St, Edmond) features a monthly art walk with local artists, business-sponsored art activities, live entertainment and more. 5-9pm. edmondvibes.org

FREE Armed Forces Day Parade in Del City (Sunnylane from SE 15th to SE 29th St, Del City) features one of the largest parades of its kind in Oklahoma with a military color guard, decorated floats, vintage cars, Shriners and more. 10am. cityofdelcity. com/armed-forces-day-parade VIBES ARTWALK

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CALENDAR #OKCFAMILYFUN

Autism Oklahoma PieceWalk & 5k at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features an awareness walk, kids’ zone, food trucks and a resource fair benefiting Autism Oklahoma. Preregister. Free to attend; participation prices vary. 6:30-8:30pm. piecewalk.org

June 9-12

FREE Endeavor Games at the University of Central Oklahoma (100 N University Dr, Edmond) features a variety of sporting competitions for athletes of all ages and abilities. The games include 10 sports: archery, cycling, para-triathlon, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, shooting, swimming, table tennis, track and field and wheelchair basketball. See website for schedule. endeavorgames.org

June 16-19

James and the Giant Peach Jr at Oklahoma Children’s Theatre (2501 N Blackwelder Ave) features one of Roald Dahl’s most poignantly quirky stories in a musical about courage and selfdiscovery. Best suited for ages 5 & up. Adults, $11; kids (2-12), $9. See website for schedule. oklahomachildrenstheatre.org

June 18

June 11

Walk for Kids at Scissortail Park – Robinson Lawn (801 S Robinson Ave) features a family-friendly walk benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities Oklahoma City. Virtual and in-person options available. Preregister. Free to attend; fundraising encouraged. 8:30amnoon. rmhc-okc.org/walk-for-kids

June 14

Full Moon Bike Ride at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave). Celebrate the Strawberry Moon with a leisurely bike ride through downtown. Lights and helmets are required. All ages welcome. $5 suggested donation. 8:30pm. myriadgardens.org

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June 21

Summer Solstice Celebration at First Americans Museum (659 First Americans Blvd). Observe the solstice sun set at the tip of the FAM Mound, plus enjoy singing and drumming, round dances and art and science activities relating to the change of seasons. Free to attend. 5-8:30pm. famok.org

June 21-26

Roald Dahl’s Matilda at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features the inspiring story of an extraordinary little girl who, gifted with a vivid imagination and a sharp wit, dares to prove you can change your destiny despite all the odds. $38 & up. Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2 & 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. lyrictheatreokc.com

June 24-26

FREE Kids Fest at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features hands-on crafts, family games, bounce houses, face painting, character meet and greets, petting zoos, plus fantastic prizes! There will also be special Father’s Day weekend activities. All ages welcome. 10am2pm. metrofamilymagazine.com/kidsfest

OKC Pridefest & Parade at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features a three-day festival with art, music, a parade and more. The Family Zone at the festival includes community resources, face painting, games and more. All ages welcome. Free to attend. See website for schedule. okcpridealliance.org

June 25

Picnic on the Prairie at Harn Homestead (1721 N Lincoln Blvd) features tours of historic buildings and the grounds. Families can bring their own picnic lunch or purchase from onsite food trucks. $5. 10am-2pm. harnhomestead.com


ANNUAL

F E S T I VA L

M EM ORIAL DAY WEEKEND MAY 28 & 29 • 10:00 A.M. – 4:00 P .M. CH ILDREN 12 & UNDER ARE FREE! NAT IO NAL COWBOYMUSEUM.ORG/CHUCKWAGON Presented by


CALENDAR #OKCFAMILYFUN

Celebrate Mom May 7

Oklahoma City Flower and Garden Festival at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a variety of vendors with herbs, perennials, roses, produce, pottery, jewelry, wine, food products and food trucks. Free to attend. 9am-4pm. myriadgardens. org/okcflowerandgardenfest Indie Trunk Show at State Fair Park Pavilion (3212 Wichita Walk) features local artists, crafters, makers and boutiques from Oklahoma. $7; kids (12 & under), free. 10am5pm. indietrunkshowokc.com Norman Mother Son Dance at Embassy Suites (2501 Conference Dr, Norman) features a dance for sons of all ages and the special ladies in their lives. The dance will be simulcast on KREF. A ticket is required for each person attending the in-person dance. $15-$20. 6:308pm. facebook.com/normanokparks

JAZZ IN JUNE MUSIC FESTIVAL AT ANDREWS PARK IN NORMAN

June 16-18

FREE Jazz in June Music Festival at Andrews Park (201 W Daws St, Norman) features a 3-day music festival with a long list of popular jazz musicians including Mark Lettieri, Marquis Hill and more. See website for the full schedule. jazzinjune.org

Oklahoma Rodeo Opry Saturday Concerts at the Stockyards Central Event Center (2312 Exchange Ave) features family-friendly live music by local and regional talent. All ages welcome. $20. 7-9pm. ohfo.org

June 17

Daddy Daughter Luau at Pelican Bay Aquatic Center (1034 S Bryant Ave, Edmond) features a fun luau for dads and daughters in honor of Father’s Day. $10. 7-9pm. pelicanbayaquatics.com

May 8

Mother’s Day Dessert Cruise at Regatta Landing (701 S Lincoln Blvd) features bite-sized desserts and mimosas on an Oklahoma River Cruise. Advanced ticket purchase required. $30. 1 & 4pm. okrivercruises.com FREE Concert at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features a live, outdoor concert by Amythyst Kiah. Held on the Love’s Travel Stops Stage & Great Lawn. Families are encouraged to bring picnics, blankets and lawn chairs. 7pm. Also held: May 21 – LeAnn Rimes. scissortailpark.org

Celebrate Dad

OKLAHOMA CITY FLOWER AND GARDEN FESTIVAL AT MYRIAD GARDENS

May 14

Mom and Me Outdoor Games at Lake Overholser RIVERPSPORT Boathouse (3115 E Overholser Dr) features kayaking, archery, rock climbing, outdoor field games and an outdoor-themed craft. Best suited for ages 8 & up. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Preregister. $20 per couple; $10 for each additional participant. 9am-1pm. okc.gov/parksignup

Daddy Daughter Dance & Dive at The Station at Central Park (700 S Broadway Ave, Moore) features an under-the-sea-themed dance with a glow party, swimming, refreshments and door prizes. $10 in advance; $15 at the door. 6-8pm. cityofmoore.com

June 18

FREE Heard on Hurd Street Festival in Edmond (N Broadway Ave, W Hurd to 1st St, Edmond) features local food, unique shopping and live music. 6-10pm. facebook.com/heardonhurd

June 19

Find additional Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and more events at metrofamilymagazine.com/calendar.

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Father’s Day Cruise at Regatta Landing (701 S Lincoln Blvd) features a fun river cruise celebrating dads with snacks and a cash bar. Tickets must be purchased in advance. $30. 1:30pm. okrivercruises.com


skate galaxy okc SUMMER SKATE PASS

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MAY 25-AUG 5

Sign up today for YMCA swim lessons. Classes range from ages 6-months to adults, with private and group options available. All levels – from water discovery, to stroke development and mechanics. Sign up today! ymcaokc.org

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METROFAMILY'S

Summer Fun Guides From "beat the heat" tips to screen-free and budgetfriendly fun ideas, this guide provides summer family fun all season long!

metrofamilymagazine.com/summer METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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CALENDAR #OKCFAMILYFUN

Can’t-Miss Festivals May 6-8

Rose Rock Music Festival in downtown Noble (304 S Main St, Noble) features live music, a carnival, arts & crafts vendors, festival foods and more. Free to attend. Friday, 5:30-10pm; Saturday, 10am11pm; Sunday, 10:30am-3pm. nobleok. org/rose-rock-music-festival FREE oNE OKC Weekend at Booker T Washington Park & the Market at EastPoint (NE 4th St & 1708 NE 23rd St) features a reception on Friday at the Market at EastPoint, a block party at the park on Saturday with live entertainment, food trucks, pop-up shops, children’s activities and more, plus a community day on Sunday that includes a park cleanup and Mother’s Day brunch. All ages welcome. Free to attend. See website for schedule. neokcr.org/oneokc

May 7

Festival of the Child at Yukon City Park (2200 S Holly Ave, Yukon) features a family-friendly festival with more than 50 areas of fun including kayaking, pony rides, painting, inflatables, crafts and more. Best suited for ages 12 & under. $5 in advance; $7 day of; adults, free. 10am-4pm. yukonok.gov Fried Onion Burger Day Festival in Downtown El Reno (119 S Rock Island Ave, El Reno) features the creation of the world’s largest onion burger, pop-up shops, live music, food trucks,

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CHILDREN’S GARDEN FESTIVAL AT MYRIAD GARDENS

car show, kids’ activities and more. All ages welcome. Free to attend. 10am-10pm. elrenoburgerday.com

May 14

Stillwell Strawberry Festival in downtown Stillwell (Division St & Hwy 59, Stillwell) features a talent contest, carnival, parade, car show, kids’ zone and more. Free to attend. See website for schedule. strawberrycapital.com

May 28

Bethany 66 Festival (36th St & 39th Expressway, Peniel & Asbury, Bethany) features live entertainment, arts & crafts booths, children’s activities (including a princess and action hero parade beginning at 11am) and a car, motorcycle and truck show. Free to attend. 9am3pm. bethanyimprovementfoundation.com

May 28-29

Chuck Wagon Festival at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features a celebration of Western and Native American history, art and cuisine with artisan demonstrations, Native and chuck wagon food samples, Western re-enactors, archery, craft stations, country and western dancing, live music performed by Rodeo Opry and more. $15; kids (12 & under) & museum members, free. 10am-4pm. nationalcowboymuseum.org

May 28-30

Paseo Arts Festival in the Paseo Arts District (3022 Paseo St) features visual artists selling original artwork in a variety of mediums, live entertainment, children’s activities, food vendors and more. Free to attend. Saturday & Sunday, 10am-8pm, music until 10pm; Monday, 10am-5pm. thepaseo.org

June 3-5

Small Town Weekend in El Reno’s Adams Park (2001 Park Dr, El Reno) features a car show, Hot Wheels races, drag races, burnouts, antique car cruise, kids’ games and more. Free to attend. See website for schedule. facebook.com/ercruisers

June 3-12

Children’s Garden Festival at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features activities, crafts and creative displays inspired by a selection of popular children’s books. All ages welcome. Nonmembers, $8; members & kids (2 & under), free. 10am-5pm. myriadgardens.org

June 9-12

deadCenter Film Festival (various locations) features new short films, documentaries, comedies, scary monster movies and some of the best independent films from around the world and all over Oklahoma. The festival will be in person with a select virtual library. See website for schedule. deadcenterfilm.org


June 18

FREE Route 66 Triple Tour in Warr Acres, Bethany and Yukon (various locations) features car shows, Touch-a-Truck, live entertainment and concludes with a concert by Dale Watson and Jimmy Dale Richardson. 10am-8:30pm yukonok.gov

June 18 & 19

Route 66 Road Fest at State Fair Park Bennett Event Center (3101 Gordon Cooper Blvd) features an immersive historical journey through the decades, allowing visitors to travel through time from the 1920s to futuristic visions of the Great American Road Trip, plus food, games, live music, a car show and more. Adults, $20; teens (12-17), $10; kids (5-11), $5; kids (4 & under), free. Saturday, 9am-10pm; Sunday, 9am-7pm. route66roadfest.com

July 1-2

Red Earth Festival at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features artistic creations by some of America’s most celebrated Native artists. Liichokoshkomo’, The Cowboy’s interactive outdoor venue, will showcase the diversity of the West with inter-tribal native dwellings serving as a backdrop for hands-on arts & crafts stations, artist demonstrations, live music and special presentations of tribal dance. All ages welcome. Adults, $15-$25; kids (5 & under), free with paid adult. 9am-5pm. redearth.org

July 8-9

Blackberry Festival at McLoud Veterans Memorial Park (600 E Park St, McLoud) features all kinds of blackberry-themed items from fresh blackberries to blackberry cobbler, sodas and teas as well as live music, a parade, food and fireworks. After the parade, kids can enjoy a carnival and games including turtle races. Free to attend; participation prices vary. Friday, 5-10pm; Saturday, 9am-11pm. mcloudchamber.com

July 14-16

Porter Peach Festival in downtown Porter (Main Street, Porter) features live music, a parade, food trucks, arts & crafts vendors, a culinary contest, tractor pulls, free peaches and ice cream (while supplies last on Saturday). Free to attend. See website for schedule. porterpeachfestivals.com

METROFAMILY'S

Awesome Moms Contest CHECK OUT PAGE 26 TO MEET THE WINNERS!

THANK YOU TO OUR PRIZE SPONSORS:

Find additional summer fun, Independence Day events and more at metrofamilymagazine. com/calendar.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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We're having a FREE, family-friendly party and you're invited!

Join us for Kids Fest at Scissortail Park Saturday, June 18, 10am-2pm

Come to Kids Fest to enjoy family fun, make memories & discover a variety of family-friendly local businesses and organizations! Presenting Sponsor

Kids Fest at the Park June 18 • 10am-2pm Free Admission metrofamilymagazine.com/kids-fest


Come to Kids Fest and enter to win one of these great prizes: • A summer getaway package to the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX • A backyard fire pit by Dyno-Glo • ESPRO Ultralight Travel French Press

Find us at the Scissortail Park Pavilion & Robinson Lawn for: • character meet & greets • inflatables • hands-on crafts • petting zoos • family games • face painting

And more! Be sure to check out the Scissortail farmers market, splash pad and playgrounds to add even more FREE fun to your Kids Fest day!

Community Sponsor

Engagement Sponsors


GREAT PLACES What are the three top reasons the Oklahoma City area is a top choice for raising a family? We posed that question to OKC Mayor David Holt, father of two, for his perspective: “The number one reason OKC is a great place to raise a family is that you can actually be with your family! Thanks to a family-first local culture and relatively low traffic for a large city, the city’s work-life balance favors family. Our cost of living allows families to live a higher quality of life at home and enjoy more attractions and dining around the city. And OKC is a great place to raise a family because of the evergrowing number of family-friendly attractions. The Oklahoma City Zoo, RIVERSPORT, Scissortail Park, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, First Americans Museum, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma Contemporary and Science Museum Oklahoma are just a few examples of a city that families can enjoy year after year.” At MetroFamily, we know families are the backbone of our community — and that by developing strong families, we in turn create a strong, resilient community. In addition to providing local parents helpful resources around education, mental and physical health, child development and community engagement, we’re also committed to highlighting the best the metro has to offer in family fun because joyful play is a crucial element of family wellness. In our first Great Places Guide, you’ll be introduced to our favorite area municipalities, attractions and organizations that make Oklahoma City “great!” We encourage you to learn more and take advantage of experiencing and exploring these places with your family.

The City of El Reno offers a small town community feel with big amenities such as a historic downtown with a trolley, fun family events, historic homes and large new housing developments, all located close to OKC. Their upcoming Fried Onion Burger Day event on May 7 is a great opportunity to get to know El Reno. elrenook.gov

Midwest City is full of athletic opportunities, trails to explore, spacious parks and fun events year-round! This summer, splash around at the Reno Swim & Slide or enjoy music and movies in the park. Find more family-friendly fun at MidwestCityOK.org

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The City of Yukon is known for its wonderful family events, including the upcoming Festival of the Child on May 7 and Freedom Fest on July 3 & 4. The active parks department, vibrant downtown and highranking schools make Yukon a great place to live, play and shop. yukonok.gov

Edmond Parks and Recreation not only offers an extensive array of outdoor fun opportunities through their 26 city parks, they also host farmers markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the spring and summer; skill-building classes for kids and adults; and other family fun events such as movie nights and outdoor skill classes. edmondparks.com

Edmond’s Arcadia Lake provides water recreation fun, fishing, disk golf, pavilions, beaches, miles of walking, biking and equestrian trails, camping, picnic areas and more. Events such as their Storybook Forest trick-or-treat trail in October and Eagle Watch in January give families many reasons to enjoy this lake area. edmondok.gov/338/Arcadia-Lake

Family fun abounds through the City of OKC Parks Department with their extensive park system, 100 miles of trails, nine recreation centers, nature preserve, five pools and/or aquatic centers, 17 spray grounds and numerous events and activities offered for kids and youth. okc.gov/departments/parksrecreation

With several branches in the metro area and Chickasha, Guthrie and Stillwater, YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City creates community around helping people of all ages enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Among their offerings are before- and after-school care for kids, summer day camps, sports leagues, swim lessons and Miracle League baseball for kids with special needs. ymcaokc.org

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION


The two library systems in our area enhance families’ lives with quality programming, the encouragement of reading and learning and much more. Pioneer Library System serves Cleveland, McClain and Pottawatomie county residents through their 12 branch libraries and other amenities. The Maker Mobile provides hands-on STEAM instruction to all ages, plus classes and story times are held often for all ages at no cost. pioneerlibrarysystem.org

Metropolitan Library System connects the diverse communities of Oklahoma County with resources and experiences to educate and enrich the lives of its residents. Visit any of the 19 library locations or 24/7 kiosks to browse books and other materials and attend programs such as story times and book clubs. The Belle Isle Library at 5501 N. Villa Ave. has recently reopened after an extensive remodel and upgrade, including the addition of a makerspace. metrolibrary.org

The central Oklahoma area is fortunate to have many cultural and arts attractions that enrich families’ lives — and we know our readers appreciate the value they provide. The award-winning Myriad Botanical Gardens is a beautiful place for families to enjoy nature. In addition to exploring the grounds of this urban park, check out their many seasonal events. The popular Children’s Garden Festival will be held June 3-12 with the theme A is for Art celebrating the books The Day the Crayons Quit, Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Dot and Aaron Slater, Illustrator. myriadgardens.org

Oklahoma Hall of Fame not only helps kids and parents learn about the Oklahomans who have shaped our state through their leadership, it also provides many free family-friendly events that provide additional hands-on learning and fun. Enjoy games, crafts and storytelling at Summer Thursdays, to be held through June and July starting at 10am. oklahomahof.com

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum provides world-class Western and Native American art, history exhibits and even active learning fun for kids through their outdoor kids’ area, Liichokoshkomó (Let’s Play), and events such as the Annual Chuck Wagon Festival scheduled for May 28-29. nationalcowboymuseum.org

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art hosts special exhibitions throughout the year, including Chihuly Then and Now: The Collection at Twenty, set to open on June 18. The museum is always free for kids ages 17 and younger. okcmoa.com

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

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Research shows that high-quality summer programs can make a difference in preventing learning loss.


Close to you, far from ordinary!

EL RENO

Only 20 minutes west of OKC! BEAUTiFUL LAKE EL RENO 18 HOLE GOLF COURSE HiSTORiC HOMES NEW HOUSiNG ADDiTiONS FESTiVALS, FOOD & FUN!

ELRENOOK.GOV FRiED ONiON BURGER DAY

May 7 - World’s Largest Fried Onion Burger! - Free Entry - Live Music - Car/Motorcycle Show - Games - Rides - Food - Beer & Wine - More! - ElRenoBurgerDay.com

A SMALL TOWN WEEKEND

June 3, 4 & 5 - Classic Car Shows - Poker run - Route 66 Cruises - Golf Tournament - food & more - ERCruisers.com

SMOKE ON THE WATER

July 22, 23 & 24 - Drag Boat Races! - Gates Open at 9am - 2 Day Pass $25 - 1 Day Pass $15 - 2 Day Kid Pass $10 (7-12 yrs)- Kids 6 and under get in FREE - Pit Pass $25

Historic Downtown Boutique shops Fried Onion Hamburgers Trolley Rides Museum & More!


FISHING • camping • k ayaking hiking • MOUNTAIN biking campfire cooking CHOOSE YOU ADVENTURE TODAY @ edmondparks.com

Online personal training led by certified personal trainers. Enroll today.

WORKOUT WHENEVER.WHEREVER. FOR EVERY FITNESS LEVEL. YOUR PACE YOUR WORKOUT YOUR SCHEDULE

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WHERE TO PLAY IN MIDWEST CITY! For more information, locations, & events, visit

MidwestCityOK.org

RENO SWIM & SLIDE 101 S Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, OK 73130

OPENS SATURDAY, MAY 28 Daily Admission Ages 2 & under = FREE! Ages 3-18 = $5.00 Ages 18-54 = $7.00 Ages 55+ = $4.00

Open Monday & Wednesday- Saturday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday 1-6 p.m.

CRUISE IN FOR COFFEE

FOURTH FRIDAY FILMS

TRIBUTE TO LIBERTY

Apr. - Oct. | 8 to 11 a.m. Santa Fe Cattle Co.

May - Aug. |7 to 11 p.m. Charles J. Johnson Central Park

July 4 | 6 to 10 p.m. Joe B. Barnes Regional Park

Get Social!

mwc.parksandrec

mwcparksrec


Have fun at the Lake

Mark your calendars for June 18th! Celebrate Route 66 in Three Oklahoma Cities

ethany res • B c A rr a W

• Yukon

Reserve a pavilion at Arcadia Lake for your next birthday celebration or family reunion. You deserve to enjoy the wonderful venues and activities that Edmond has to offer.

Warr Acres - 10:00 a.m. | Bethany - 10:00 a.m. Downtown Yukon - Concert Starts 5:30 p.m. Car Cruise - 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

www.yukonok.gov cityofyukonokgov

@cityofyukonok

@cityofyukonokgov

arcadialakeok.com 405.216.7470

We Have fun, You should too.

$8 per person. Free for ages 2 & Under. Free for members. Become a member & save. Visit myriadgardens.org/membership Admission includes free unlimited rides on Mo’s Carousel during the festival.

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Summer Reading is for ALL Ages (yes, even you!)

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 Read a nonfiction (true) book. q Read a book by your favorite author. q Read a book that has a movie based on it.

q Recommend a book you loved to a friend. q Tell a friend about the library. q Write a review (or draw a picture review) of a book!

q Read a book published this year. q Read a book written before you were born. q Read a book outside.

Name

Email

Phone Number

Address

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 your choce between: Q 1 Adult book Q 2 Children’s books Q Navy blue sunglasses Q 2 Teen books Plus an entry to a prize drawing* Prizes available while supplies last. Selection and availability vary by location. *Valid library card required to be eligible. Last day for prize pick up is August 14.

Online metrolibrary.org/summerreading Beanstack App on Mobile Devices Paper Logs Use the log above, then let the library help you log your reading & activities to claim your prizes.

Once you reach 600 points, submit your completed log (with your name & contact information) the following ways: 1. DROP OFF your log (or a copy) at any of the 19 Metropolitan Library System Locations. 2. MAIL your card (or a copy) to Metropolitan Library System c/o Summer Reading, 300 Park Ave., OKC, OK 73102 3. EMAIL a picture of your completed log to summer.reading@metrolibrary.org



FREE CRAFTS, GAMES, STORYTIME & fun for the whole family! every Thursday in June & July

Visit OklahomaHOF.com for more info.

1400 Classen Drive, Oklahoma City 405.235.4458


Kids Take Over the Cowboy 10:00 a.m. – Noon May 7 • Western Games | June 4 • Communication Free for members or with Museum admission. Available while supplies last.

Western Explorers Summer Camps Tuesday – Friday, June 28 – July 22, 9:00 a.m. – Noon

Campers explore the Museum’s collections, exhibitions, gardens and trails to inspire their imaginations and provide the foundation for fun-filled, creative self-expression. Reservations required. For pricing and other details, visit nationalcowboymuseum.org/westernexplorerssummercamp

1700 Northeast 63rd Street Oklahoma City, OK 73111 (405) 478-2250 • nationalcowboymuseum.org/kids

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Ta It’s never too early to start building the foundation for sexual health – even when your children are in preschool. Children as young as 3 years old are ready to begin learning about their bodies, their feelings and how to treat others. Learning the correct names for body parts, how to express themselves and how to be considerate of others are key to setting up your little ones for success in the future.

(ABOUT SEX)

s

t o g K n i id lk The Early Years BY RONNEAL MATHEWS, THRIVE OKC

Is it too early? During this critical period of development, your child is learning to communicate more effectively. They are beginning to speak in more complex sentences and are also learning to talk through situations and feelings. Consistent conversation and interaction with their caregivers help with social-emotional development and build the foundation for healthy relationships and communication. Kids are also learning how to play with and interact with their peers. When it comes to sexual health, this means the preschool years are a good time to: • Consider how you learned about your body. What values did you learn? What values do you want to teach your children? Did you learn to be ashamed or embarrassed to talk or learn about sexual health? If so, find ways to work through these feelings by watching videos, reading books or attending parent support groups. Prepare yourself to have open and honest communication about sexual health with your child now and throughout every phase of their life.

• Teach your kids the proper names for their body parts. Bath time is ideal for these conversations. If children ask about their bodies, try not to giggle or act embarrassed. Instead of using nicknames like “pee-pee” or “va-jay-jay,” use “penis” and “vulva.” This teaches children that their bodies are nothing to be ashamed of and that their external reproductive organs are normal and natural parts of their body. It also helps to protect them from predators who may take advantage of your child not knowing about their body. • Teach your kids that their bodies are private. Only trusted adults should touch their private parts during bath time or for medical reasons. They should not show others their private parts or touch their private parts in public. Let them know that if someone touches their penis or vulva, they should immediately tell their parent or another trusted adult and that it’s never their fault.

Let’s Talk About... HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS • Model healthy communication and respect for others. Kids at this age are watching you for cues on how to behave and treat others. Play games that teach cooperation, kindness and sharing with them. • Teach your kids to use their words and express their feelings – even negative emotions. Be there to comfort them and do not shame them for being sad or angry. Provide them with tools to process their emotions such as taking deep breaths, taking time alone or talking to you or another trusted adult about how they are feeling. • Teach them that name-calling, teasing and bullying are not OK. Help them learn to have empathy for others by making sure they understand how their actions can hurt others. Teach them that everyone deserves love and respect.

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• Children at this age are beginning to play and socialize with other children. Help your kids learn how to have good relationships with their peers. This means learning to share toys, asking for consent to hug or hold hands with their friends, not hitting and being kind.

CONSENT • Teach kids they’re not obligated to hug, kiss or show affection to anyone. If they don’t feel comfortable kissing, hugging, being picked up, held or sitting on someone’s lap, their feelings should be respected and reinforced by you and the trusted adults in their lives. Don’t punish or shame your children for not wanting to give physical affection to others – even family members.


• Teach kids to respect others’ wishes by asking permission to touch, hug, kiss or hold their hand. Use specific language to teach your kids about consent. Say, “don’t touch someone if they ask you not to” or “your friend said they don’t want a hug right now, so you shouldn’t hug them.”

CURIOSITY • Children at this age may be curious about their bodies. They will probably have questions about their body parts and the body parts of others. They may see the private parts of other children, like siblings during bath time or diaper changing, and have questions. Be open and honest with them and answer their questions clearly. If you are having trouble, check out the resource list to the right for reading material that can help. • Children this age may touch their private parts. It is important for parents to understand that this is perfectly normal. Kids are curious about their penises and vulvas the same way they are curious about other parts of their body. Self-touch at this age is not sexual. If you see your child touching themselves, don’t yell at them or

make them feel ashamed. This builds the foundation for feeling shame about their bodies and sex in the future. Instead, teach them that it is not OK for them to touch themselves in front of others or in public. • Kids might be curious about where babies come from, especially if you or someone close to them is pregnant or has a baby. Explain to your child in the simplest way possible how babies are made and born. Again, check out the resource list to the right for reading material that can help. Editor’s note: This column is the final in a series of four by the experts at local nonprofit Thrive OKC to empower families and caregivers to talk to their kids, in developmentally-appropriate ways, about sexual health. Each column focuses on a different age range of child and provides ideas of topics to cover, conversation starters and resources. Find the full series of Talking to Kids About Sex articles, plus a podcast with expert advice on how to handle topics like consent, puberty and pornography, at metrofamilymagazine.com/talking-to-kidsabout-sex. Find additional resources for parents and caregivers at thriveokc.org.

Resources for Parents of Preschoolers Books: 1. Who Has What? All About Girls’ Bodies and Boys’ Bodies (Let’s Talk about You and Me) by Robie Harris 2. NO Trespassing: This Is My Body! by Pattie Fitzgerald 3. When You Were Inside Mommy by Joanna Cole 4. When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Spelman Websites and Videos: 1. Sex Positive Families: sexpositivefamilies.com 2. Amaze Junior: amaze.org/jr 3. Thrive, Inc. Resources for Trusted Adults: thriveokc.org/resources/ trusted-adults

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METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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REAL DADS OF THE METRO

Nkem House Full Court Life BY LANCE EVANS. PHOTOS BY ALANA HOUSE.

Nkem House is running. It’s a little after 9 a.m., and his oldest son, Nkem Jr., just finished a piano audition at Southern Nazarene University for the Oklahoma Music Teacher Association. It’s a busy day for the House family. Madi, Nkem Jr.’s adorable nickname, has a basketball game in Norman almost immediately following his piano achievement audition. His brother, Jonas Paul, is playing basketball at Northwest Classen and will meet the rest of the family in Norman where the brothers will be playing in separate games. Instead of analyzing the chaotic day ahead of him, Nkem patiently waits for Madi to leave the audition and is hoping all went well. This moment is Nkem’s only concern. As Madi walks up to his father, a huge smile fills his face, revealing his bright braces and highlighting the brown hue in his eyes. He hands his father a paper with the first line: “Wow, excellent work,” big, bold and centered on the score sheet. This moment is full of Black boy joy, but the celebration is far from over. Nkem embraces his son and quickly moves on to the next quarter.

When the reel is real Celebrations are happening all around the House family. They say to never really look at someone’s social media pages if you want to know the real. You’re only taking in the user’s reels. The images, posts and quotes that fill timelines are just the highlights – celebratory moments trapped in time. They represent the best part of the day, the happiest of times and the fleeting moments we want to remember forever. But for Nkem, his reel is his real life. He’s more than just a dad — he’s a real member of the community. Nkem House is a successful attorney who manages his own private practice, House Law Firm. He is also the coach of Chaos, a 3rd grade

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basketball team, and Oklahoma Power, a 16U team. Nkem does not make a move without saying hello, shaking a hand or sharing a laugh. He seems to know everyone and their love for him is palpable. Nkem is just mirroring behavior he witnessed as a child. “When I introduce myself to someone in Oklahoma City, they will always bring up my grandfather’s name, JC House,” said Nkem. “He was one of the first Black Muslims in Oklahoma and was very active in his community.”

The gift of family Nkem grew up in Atlanta, Ga., and experienced a tough upbringing that differs starkly from that of his children. “It was much different,” said Nkem. “It was poor and Blacker. I didn’t have white classmates or teachers until I came to Oklahoma. I grew up in a very poor area and lived in the projects. I learned to be in survival mode early.” Nkem took refuge in his family, taking solace in the comfort offered by his grandparents and influence given by his successful aunts and uncles who showed him a life outside his neighborhood. Nkem started the seventh grade in Oklahoma City with his family unit. “My grandmother felt like it was time to get me out of Atlanta,” said Nkem. “My maternal grandmother was like my mother. My mother was not able to fully take care of me. My paternal grandfather is like my father.” Nkem found success in Oklahoma where he excelled as a student at Northwest Classen. He graduated and began his collegiate career at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. After working for an insurance company, Oklahoma called again. This time, he would pass on the knowledge and core values learned from his grandparents to care for his younger brother Emmitt. “My grandfather had a heart attack, so I

NKEM HOUSE REMINDS HIS BOYS AND THE KIDS HE’S COACHED THAT HE’S SOMEONE THEY CAN COUNT ON FOR LIFE.

moved back to take care of my little brother,” said Nkem. While in Oklahoma, Nkem graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law and worked as a lawyer for Oklahoma City law firm Crowe & Dunlevy. After joining the Oklahoma City Association of Black Lawyers, Nkem would have a chance meeting at the office of then-attorney Aletia Timmons. There, nestled in her mom’s office, was Alana. The two met in 2006 and began a romance that would lead to three sons and a full court life filled with piano, basketball and melanin magic.

Dad life Nkem plays many roles in his sons’ lives. Not only is he dad, but for a period of time, he was also coach. Life lessons that started on the court would inevitably infiltrate the home. Nkem would find himself consistently juggling a full schedule on and off the court. “I really try to show my boys how hard this is,” said Nkem. “I don’t want them to think life is easy. Growing up, I did not have a lot. So much goes into how money is made. I try to be really intentional in everything.” As the conversation shifts to his boys, Nkem’s demeanor also changes, resembling the same enthusiasm displayed during his oldest son’s piano audition. “My boys are three completely different people,” said Nkem. “I am definitely firm.


I believe in tough consequences because for Black boys, it doesn’t matter what your socioeconomic background is. The consequences for us are just greater. I want them to understand that.”

“Charles is Charles — he’s the baby,” said Nkem. “Athletically [because of his height], he stands apart from any kid in his age group. He’s also smart. He’s gifted and talented. His teacher just raves about how kind he is.”

Madi, the oldest of the House boys, is an 8th grader at Classen School of Advanced Studies. Madi has his father’s charm and style, or as the charismatic pre-teen would say, he’s “pushing pressure” like his dad.

Nkem is hoping that the end of the day’s activities that began with that piano audition will also be kind to him. JP’s team is down, but the proud dad is still in the game with his son, cheering and uplifting him as his team drags behind. The scoreboard does not end in JP’s favor, but the lessons learned on the court will follow him for a lifetime. The family rallies around their star player, congratulating him on a job well done. The game is over, but the coaching session is still in play.

“He’s a social butterfly and a smart kid,” said Nkem proudly. “He’s got my name and he spends every day trying to emulate what he sees from me. I try to encourage him to be his own person.” Ten-year-old Jonas Paul is named after his great-grandfather. JP got more than just his name from his great-grandfather; he also received his kind heart and caring spirit.

THE HOUSE FAMILY LIFE IS FILLED WITH PIANO, BASKETBALL AND MELANIN MAGIC.

“He loves the arts,” said Nkem. “Like his brother, he plays piano and basketball and enjoys both. He’s super caring. When they’re all grown, JP is the one I am going to be able to count on. He’ll take care of his old dad!” Holding up the rear is the baby of the family, Charles.

“I tell my kids [and the children I coach] all the time, ‘I’m your coach for life. I’m somebody you can count on for life,’” said Nkem. “I think that’s something our community needs more of – people who care about more than just their nuclear family.” Editor’s note: This article is the third is a year-long series celebrating local dads. Author Lance Evans and husband Chris are fathers of Chrystian and were voted MetroFamily’s 2021 Cool Pops.

MetroFamily Insiders You asked, we listened

In a time where convenience is key, let us deliver straight to your doorstep! Become a MetroFamily Insider and receive a mailed subscription to MetroFamily Magazine, discounted and early bird tickets to annual MetroFamily events (such as Kids Fest, Cover Kids, Geekapalooza and more), special downloadable activities and other perks. At just $25, the MetroFamily Insider subscription package is a fantastic gift idea for any mom, dad, grandparent or caretaker in your life.

metrofamilymagazine.com/insider METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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FAMILY MENTAL WELLNESS

Stressed?

5 coping strategies for overwhelmed parents BY KATRINA LEGGINS, LCSW

Are you a parent feeling stressed, anxious, burned out or overwhelmed (or all of the above)? You aren’t alone. A 2022 WalletHub study named Oklahoma the seventh “most stressed” state. And, as confirmed by the American Psychological Association, we all know that since March 2020, life has changed radically for parents with children under 18. Given the past two years, it’s understandable and normal for parents to experience these feelings. Being a parent is a demanding job, and parents have more on their plates than ever before. For some parents, trying to create a worklife balance can be a challenge. Focusing on accomplishing to-do lists, work demands and even finances can begin to take a toll emotionally and physically. If you’re feeling drained or like you have no control over your life, that is normal, especially if something happening in your life now reminds you of something traumatic you experienced in the past. The good news: as a parent you have control over your approach to stress or anxiety and the ways you choose to cope and work through these feelings.

Stress vs. Anxiety Many people experience stress and anxiety at some point in their lives. These are normal human reactions to threatening or worrying situations. They are part of the fight or flight response that keeps us safe by preparing the body to deal with danger. Depending on the level of severity, both can negatively impact one’s quality of life. Stress and anxiety share many of the same emotional and physical symptoms but have very different origins. Let’s break down what stress is and how it can manifest. Stress is a response to a threat in any given situation, and it’s a response to an external cause, such as a tight deadline at work or school or arguing with a loved one. Stress subsides once the situation has been resolved. We also experience “good stress,”

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like trying something exciting for the first time or planning a fun trip. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a person’s specific reaction to stress. Anxiety is defined by persistent, excessive worries that don’t go away even in the absence of a stressor or in situations that aren’t threatening. For some, this can turn into an anxiety disorder, which is one of the most common mental health diagnoses in the United States.

5 Ways to Manage Stress and Anxiety As a parent, your mental and physical health matter not only for you but also for your children, and your stress levels and how you respond can have a direct impact on them. Before jumping in to managing stress and anxiety, it’s important to recognize that it takes time to understand your patterns of experiencing stress and anxiety. A key to managing stress or anxiety is understanding what either looks like for you and what selfcare practice(s) you can implement to help you reduce the day-to-day pressure you may be experiencing. To begin to better manage overwhelming stress and anxiety, reflect on and implement self-care practices that resonate with you. Start here:

1. Be honest about how you feel. Acknowledge how you feel rather than hiding those feelings. Putting on a “brave face” only lasts for so long. Your feelings are valid and they matter. Recognizing how you feel also is a helpful way to model to your children the importance of mental health.

2. Identify what stress and/or anxiety look like for you. Symptoms can look different for each person. When you’re having a tough day, stop to assess yourself by asking questions like: • How am I feeling? Have I experienced this feeling before? • How does my body feel? Does anything hurt; do I feel tense; am I experiencing any pain? • What’s the biggest difference about this day compared to a typical good day?

3. Remember the concept “less is more.” Choosing to do “less,” or even nothing at all, is a form of self-care and, perhaps counter-intuitively, will help you be more productive in the long term. Hardworking parents may find this difficult to do, especially if you have a busy lifestyle. Find moments throughout your day to do nothing, even if it’s for 10 minutes, to help you begin to incorporate this practice. When you find that your plate is full, consider asking yourself these questions: • What can I take off my to-do list and tend to later that will help free up more time for me? • In observing my current schedule, have I overbooked or overextended myself? Have I carved out any time for me?

4. Practice more positive self-talk and affirmations. Self-talk, or your internal dialogue, can have a major impact on your self-esteem


and self-value. When practiced routinely, affirmations can have a positive impact on your mental, emotional and physical health. Positive self-talk is centered on uplifting ourselves, being understanding and having kind thoughts. It comes from a place of self-compassion and self-love. Engage in positive self-talk by using affirmations or mantras, for example:

• Today I did my best and that is enough. • I am proud of myself. • I am in charge of how I feel. • I am grateful for (fill in the blank). 5. Seek out social support when needed. Strong social support can help you work through stress and anxiety. Having a trusted family member, friend, coworker or neighbor you feel comfortable contacting who you can talk to or simply hang out with can be the remedy needed to uplift you, keep you going and positively impact your mental, emotional and even physical health. When you are struggling, try not to isolate yourself.

You’ve got this! Learning to cope with stress or anxiety can require some trial and error. It’s important to identify your triggers and responses and find strategies that work for you.

If your stress or anxiety does not respond well to self-care techniques or coping strategies or if you feel that stress or anxiety is affecting your day-to-day functioning or mood, please consider talking to a licensed mental health professional who can help you understand what you are experiencing and provide you with additional support. This is a decision to be proud of, not ashamed of. Your seeking help is also a powerful reminder to your children that it’s OK for them to ask for help so they don’t have to navigate their struggles alone. Caring for your children is an important job, but caring for yourself is a key part of parenting, too. Self-care practices can help reduce your anxiety, relieve stress and improve your mood. Be intentional in giving self-care the time needed to become a routine that fits into your lifestyle. Start small, and take your time developing a routine that meets your specific needs. Editor’s note: Katrina Leggins is a licensed mental health therapist, owner of private practice Elevate Mental Wellness, LLC, selfcare educator, writer and public speaker. She is an Oklahoma native who is the owner and founder of K. Nicole Writing LLC, an informational and inspirational platform that helps motivate individuals through mental health education, empowerment and inspiration. Katrina also runs a t-shirt apparel line and provides mental health products that focus on raising awareness for self-care and mental health. Katrina can be found on all social media platforms @knicolewriting and at her website knicolewriting.com.

Join us at Scissortail Park Saturday, June 18 10am-2pm Free Admission!!! • Petting Zoo • Inflatables • Face Painting • Character Meet & Greet • Crafts & Games • Discover family-friendly businesses AND MORE!

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Oklahoma Hall of Fame Chester's Party Barn & Farm


EXPLORING OKLAHOMA WITH CHILDREN

THE MURNAN BOYS HIKE BALDY POINT LOOP AT QUARTZ MOUNTAIN STATE PARK. ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY DEBBIE MURNAN

Quartz Mountain State Park 2.0 Southwest Oklahoma should be at the top of every family’s list of road trips this year after the recent unveiling of Quartz Mountain State Park’s newly renovated lodge and grounds. This $10.5 million project has already become a captivating gem for Oklahoma, offering visitors a more luxurious experience while they enjoy the endless outdoor recreation this area has to offer.

MEDICINE PARK BLACK LOOP TRAIL OFFERS STUNNING VIEWS OF LAKE LAWTONKA.

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Our family loves to visit the area in early to mid-May so we can appreciate all the wildflowers in full bloom across the park’s gently rolling hills and grasslands. From boating to bouldering or just relaxing on the shores of Lake Altus, Quartz Mountain State Park is a wonderful weekend getaway for the entire family.


History Quartz Mountain State Park was built under the guidance of the National Park Service, utilizing the manpower of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and was completed in 1937 to become one of Oklahoma’s seven original state parks. In the 1970s, a partnership was formed with the Oklahoma Arts Institute, leading to the addition of an outdoor amphitheater, a performance hall and art studios that have collectively become our state’s premiere artistic epicenter for talented Oklahoma students each summer. Unfortunately, a tragic fire destroyed the lodge in 1995, but it was rebuilt and reopened in 2001 when the park was transferred to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Nearly two decades later, management of the park was turned back over to the Oklahoma State Parks in 2020 and Quartz Mountain is ready to be rediscovered after the grand opening of the park’s new lodge.

Hit the Road! Quartz Mountain State Park is located in Lone Wolf, about two and a half hours from the OKC metro. I recommend taking the route through the charming town of Medicine Park since it provides a perfect halfway point along the drive where families can take a break from the car to dine, shop and hike. The main road through the heart of town is lined with restaurants and shops, so it’s a great place to grab a bite to eat and stroll alongside the cascading waterfalls of Medicine Creek. Wander over to Discovery Outpost, a quaint cobblestone cabin, for an incredible selection of retro toys and gadgets, imaginative books and unique gifts. Let kids stretch their legs on the Medicine Park Black Loop Trail for a hike along wildflower-lined paths and outstanding views overlooking Lake Lawtonka. As you make your way toward Quartz Mountain, your family will be rewarded with a scenic drive through the Wichita Wildlife Refuge, complete with opportunities to view bison, prairie dogs and longhorn cattle among expansive grass prairies. If you have time, take the 3-mile drive up to the top of Mount Scott for breathtaking summit views.

(ABOVE) ENJOY THE LATESPRING WILDFLOWERS ON THE NEW HORIZON TRAIL AT QUARTZ MOUNTAIN STATE PARK. (RIGHT) EXPLORE THE UNIQUE COLLECTION OF RETRO TOYS, GADGETS AND GIFTS AT DISCOVERY OUTPOST IN MEDICINE PARK. (BELOW) RECENTLY RENOVATED QUARTZ MOUNTAIN LODGE OFFERS MORE THAN 100 ROOMS AND SUITES, MANY WITH BEAUTIFUL LAKE OR MOUNTAIN VIEWS.

Lodging Quartz Mountain State Park offers five separate camping areas with nearly 100 primitive and RV camp sites. Eight fully-equipped cabins are available just steps away from Lake Altus. For a more opulent vacation experience, book a stay in one of more than 100 rooms and suites at the newly restored Quartz Mountain Lodge, where a grand lobby welcomes visitors with original woodwork showcasing high ceilings, exposed trusses and art-covered walls. Thanks to recent renovations, modern updates, new carpet and contemporary furniture can be found throughout the facility. Don’t miss the newly improved indoor swimming pool! Many of the rooms have beautiful lake or mountain views and each of the suites is outfitted with a kitchen, fireplace and living area. The lodge’s new courtyard invites families to gather outdoors around one of many fire pits, join in a game of shuffleboard or let the kids play in a shallow stream that runs through the attractively landscaped grounds.

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Dining While dining options are a bit limited in the area, the Quartz Mountain Lodge conveniently offers guests a new on-site restaurant, Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen, now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant is recognized for delicious comfort foods like burgers, nachos and sandwiches, along with local brews from Stonecloud Brewing. They also have an extensive breakfast menu to get you fueled and ready for a busy day of exploring. If you’re looking to dine outside of the park, check out McCollom Market, located in the town of Hobart, just 25 minutes northeast of the Quartz Mountain Lodge. This fun little sandwich shop also serves up hearty baked potatoes for a nutritious lunch or you can satisfy your sweet tooth with ice cream to go. Hobart also has a rave-worthy donut shop, Molly’s Donut’s, impressing guests with a wide selection of donuts, cinnamon rolls and savory croissants. If your family needs to load up on any other supplies or snacks, there is a Walmart in Hobart for any lastminute needs.

Hiking The park lies in a “buffer zone” between dry, western climates and wetter, eastern climates, lending to its diverse range of habitats, plants and animals. Flowers, like Indian Blanket, coreopsis, prairie larkspur, sunflower, milkweed and spiderwort, cover the grassy plains in the spring. Keep your eyes peeled for eastern bullfrogs and narrow-mouthed salamanders near the lake. Bobcats, cottontail rabbits, deer mice, coyote and beavers also make their home here. When out hiking, wear sturdy hiking or tennis shoes since the terrain can be rocky and several species of snakes, including rattlesnakes, can be found in this part of the state. Also, watch for cactus needles as they are commonly encountered on the park’s trails. Always pack plenty of water and snacks before starting a hike to stay safe and keep kids happy on the trail. Our family’s favorite hike in the park is Baldy Point Loop, a gorgeous 2-mile trail with sweeping views of the flower-covered hills in the spring and opportunities to watch climbers scale massive rocks in this granite paradise. New Horizon Trail is only a half-mile roundtrip hike, but be prepared for a fairly steep climb with a bit of rock scrambling leading up to the summit of Quartz Mountain. The climb will be worth it, though, as hikers are rewarded with incredible views of the surrounding lakes and mountains. A few other trails start near the lodge, including Cave Trail, a 10-minute walk from the Great Plains Amphitheater leading up to a small cave that children delight in exploring. Twin Peaks Trail is a paved, 1-mile roundtrip path that starts near the bridge on the south side of the lodge and winds around the lake’s cove to a surprisingly stunning view of Lake Altus. Sunrise Trail is a quarter-mile moderate climb beginning at the Great Plains Amphitheater and leading hikers up Quartz Mountain for new perspectives of the ancient mountain range.

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(LEFT) GRAB A TASTY, FILLING LUNCH AT MCCOLLUM MARKET IN HOBART. (MIDDLE) HIKING CAVE TRAIL IS A KID FAVORITE. (BOTTOM) QUARTZ MOUNTAIN STATE PARK IS HOME TO ONE OF OKLAHOMA’S MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES.


Water Play and Family Fun The backdrop of the Wichita Mountains against the shores of Lake Altus are some of the finest beach views Oklahoma has to offer. In addition to a swim beach area, the resort offers paddle boat and canoe rentals. There is also a mini-golf course nearby for families to practice their putting skills. Anglers can fish for trout, largemouth bass, walleye and catfish in this serene lake setting. Take the kids to the park’s nature center for some interesting exhibits and hands-on learning. It’s a wonderful resource to gather more information about native plants and animals commonly found in the park, plus your family can pick up maps and hiking checklists. If you own an all-terrain vehicle, the park has its own designated ATV riding area with 2 miles of trails open from April through October each year. Families can also enjoy go-karts, a Ferris wheel, bumper cars and water slides at Quartz Mountain Fun Park, a nearby seasonal amusement park. The fun park usually opens in March or April, weather-permitting, so it’s best to call in advance to confirm their hours of operation. Quartz Mountain State Park is Oklahoma’s newest revamped destination worth visiting in 2022. This gateway to the Wichita Mountains has always been a wonderful spot to unplug and enjoy the tranquil surroundings, but the new resort sets the tone for an even more relaxing trip. The rugged beauty of the Quartz and Wichita Mountains are truly an Oklahoma treasure and sure to leave lasting memories with your family for years to come.

(ABOVE) AIDEN ENJOYS THE MINI-GOLF COURSE AT QUARTZ MOUNTAIN STATE PARK. (RIGHT) SUNNY DAYS CALL FOR WATER PLAY AT LAKE ALTUS.

Dad & Me Selfie Contest Do you have a special dad or father figure in your life? Submit a selfie of you and your special dad between May 16 and June 10 and tell us why he’s the best! Then the public will vote to choose the best entry from June 11 through 17. One winner and two runners up will be announced on Father’s Day. Prizes include items such as the Radio Flyers “FLYER™ L885 Longtail Fat Tire Electric Cargo Bike, gift card to EOTE Coffee and a 6-pack from Anthem Brewery.

metrofamilymagazine.com/contests METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2022

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LAST LOOK

6 local accounts to follow on #ParentTok More and more 30 to 40 year olds are joining TikTok these days (21% and 20% of users, respectively), and for good reason. You can laugh a little, learn a little and take a break from the more prominent discord of other social media platforms. Bonus tip from one “geriatric millennial” to another: You don’t actually have to have a TikTok account to enjoy the quick, raw masterpieces from our six favorite local content creators! BY KIRSTEN HOLDER. PHOTOS PROVIDED.

Editor’s note: While these accounts are entertaining and well-loved by the MetroFamily team, they are not meant to be representative of our brand. Please watch and follow at your own discretion.

@faith_in_ok If you are a born and raised Oklahoman but still like to poke a little fun at “Okieisms,” this account is for you. Faith shares clever videos on everything from “Oklahoma cities as cars” to quips on all Oklahomans being humble and kind. Beware: you may snort your morning coffee while howling with laughter (like we did!).

@nicekidd Much like the first account, this one will have you giggling at the relatability of the “Okie-isms” in your life. Enjoy hilarious takes on tornado watching, construction on I-35 and a healthy dose of Denzel voice-overs! @nicekidd brings a creative and hilarious take on everyday experiences in the Sooner State.

@ruralgoneurban @edgarthestormchaser Speaking of tornado watching, this Oklahoman takes it to the extreme! If you are the type who hears the sirens and runs outdoors, do yourself a favor: take shelter, then watch this account instead.

Brooke has had a rough road, delivering a baby and receiving a cancer diagnosis on the same day. She came through with dignified grace, raw honesty and a ton of humor. Just when we thought moms couldn’t be more “superhero status,” we met this mama. Plus, her baby (now a toddler!) is adorable and clearly inherited her mom’s ornery wit.

@oklahomabackroadexplorer

@mvskok3

You thought Oklahoma couldn’t be more beautiful if it tried ... then you looked up this account. This photographer and videographer captures the best scenes of our red dirt state. Added bonus: his sidekick dachshund makes frequent cameos and is about the best farm dog we’ve ever seen (ha!).

”Self-proclaimed comedian” is the label on his bio, and we agree! His quirky and hilarious cuts range from @NativeTok content to music cover parodies, and we are here for it!

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