Park of the Week: Donovan Park

I'll bet most of you have heard of Donovan Park - this one-of-a-kind wooden fortress is one of Houston's most popular playgrounds. If you haven't visited in a while (or ever!) now's the time to check it out, before the summer heat makes visits to this mostly-unshaded park much less pleasant. 

I'll start off with this park's biggest disadvantage: pre-walkers won't find much to entertain them here. There are several baby swings, of course, and a little boardwalk to crawl on, grassy areas to spread a blanket on, and a cute wooden train to climb in and out of (if they've mastered climbing). 


We visited just before Lana's first birthday, and she enjoyed crawling back and forth in this spot for a while.

Then it was on to the swings:


Finally, we played on the train.


We had a good time with our little climber, but overall, this playground is best for walkers, jumpers, and runners. There are multiple play structures here, and they look nothing like most other playgrounds I've been to (the most similar I've seen is the Tomball Memorial Playground). The park is fenced, which is great if you've got a little escape artist on your hands.

Because it's a) supercool and b) located in the heart of the Heights, this park does get quite crowded at peak times, but it's usually big enough for everyone.

If you go:


  • Address: 700 Heights Boulevard, Houston TX 77007
  • Parking: Free street parking on Heights Boulevard 

Parents of Sick Kiddos Take Note: Children's Memorial Hermann Launches New Pediatric House Call Service

What do you do when your child starts vomiting at 6PM on a Friday night or wakes up with a frighteningly high fever on a Sunday morning? Head to an unfamiliar urgent care to spend hours surrounded by contagious, cranky children? Leave a message with your pediatrician's office and wait for a callback from a nurse located halfway across the country reading from a script? 

In parts of Houston, parents now have a far superior option - pediatric care in the comfort of your own home, at a price comparable to your urgent care copay. Children’s Memorial Hermann, in association with Q.care, provides an affordable after-hours pediatric care service that consists of on-demand nurse triage and house calls. With the tap of a screen, parents can reach experienced nurse practitioners to discuss their child's symptoms and, if necessary, schedule a house call. Within an hour, a nurse practitioner will be at your home to diagnose and treat the issue, and if needed, prescribe medication. Q.care's providers can see all children birth-age 18.

Even better? Q.care's prices are extremely competitive. Phone calls with a nurse are totally free. For a house call, you'll likely pay your usual urgent care copay. The service accepts most major insurance providers, but if you don't have insurance or are out-of-network with the provider, there are other reasonable payment options. Click here and scroll down for payment details - Q.care is 100% transparent with what you can expect to pay. 

The Q.care service is not only convenient and affordable, but also super-easy to use. Here's how it works: 

1) Download the Q.care app, available for iPhone and Android.

2) The next time your child has an urgent medical issue outside of regular office hours, use the app to request a call from one of Q.care's local, highly trained nurse practitioners. Q.care's team is available 5:00PM-10:00PM weekdays and 8:00AM-10:00PM weekends.

3) Once a nurse practitioner accepts your request, you'll receive a call within minutes. Explain your child's symptoms to the provider. Q.care's nurse practitioners can diagnose and treat common childhood injuries and illnesses, including ear infections, fevers, stings and bites, vomiting, diarrhea, allergic reactions, and more. 

4) If he/she determines that your child needs to seen by a provider, the nurse practitioner will use the Q.care app to arrange an immediate consultation at your home. 

5) Q.care will follow up with the family’s pediatrician the following morning to provide them with the clinical notes. 

And that's it. No more crowded waiting rooms, wrestling sick toddlers into car seats, or panic attacks every time your child gets sick on a weekend. There's just one caveat: For now, the Q.care pilot program is only available to families in the Woodlands and surrounding areas (77373, 77375, 77379, 77380, 77381, 77382, 77384, 77385, 77386, 77388, 77389). If you don't see your zip code on the list, don't fret; once additional nurse practitioners are hired and the program can be expanded, Children’s Memorial Hermann has plans to roll out Q.Care in additional markets throughout Greater Houston.

Weekend Fun: Super Block Party @ Bagby Park

Looking for a family-friendly way to get in the Super Bowl spirit?  If your little ones don't mind loud music, stop by Bagby Park between 4PM-8PM today (Sat, Feb 4th) and check out the Super Weekend Block Party. There's live music, drinks and snacks, a large green area to run or crawl around, and a bean bag toss. If your toddler is anything like mine, they will be fascinated by this latter contraption and may spend close to an hour dropping bean bags in holes and then taking them out again!  


Afterward, for a sweet treat, stop by Fluff Bake Bar for Super Bowl-themed cookies - or choose from an impressive array of other freshly baked desserts! 


Free Indoor Playspace: Barnes & Noble

If you need to get out of the house but Houston's fickle weather has foiled your outdoor plans, head to Barnes & Noble for some fun with trains, books, and escalators. With several toddler-friendly activities and attractions, it's not hard to while away an hour or two here on a hot, cold, or rainy day. And, unlike many children's attractions, it's open morning to night seven days a week!

The River Oaks Barnes & Noble offers a 100% indoor experience, starting from the underground parking lot. After you park, you can walk right into the store - no need to set a foot outside. 


The children's section is located on the second floor, which you can reach by escalator or elevator. Toys and children's books cover much of the floor, and there's a great clearance rack- we bought a fun animal-themed lift-the-flap book for less than $4! 


And here's the part kiddos will enjoy most: a toddler-size train set nestled among the shelves. While they play with tunnels, bridges, and toy trains, you can grab a book and keep an eye on them from one of the chairs stationed nearby. 


Some other activities to try while you're here: 
  • With so many colorful books and pictures all around, B&N is a great place to play I Spy and look for familiar colors, pictures, and objects. 
  • If you visit on a Thursday or Saturday morning, you can participate in special read-alouds and kids' activities. Check the storytime calendar here.
  • If your child is as obsessed with escalators as mine, you might find yourself riding up and down from the children's area and back again and again. 
  • If you get hungry from all that playing and exploring, you can grab a snack at the in-store cafe. 


If You Go: 
  • Address: 2030 W. Gray Street  Houston, TX 77019 
  • Hours: Mon-Thu 9AM-10PM, Fri & Sat 9AM-11PM, Sun 10AM-9PM
  • Parking: Free parking in front of store or in underground garage

Park of the Week: Green Space at the Hanover Rice Village

This little park in Rice Village is so well-hidden that you could walk right by without realizing it's there. And that would be a shame, because this is the perfect area to relax with your little crawler, walker or runner.

This green space is in the courtyard of the Hanover Rice Village apartment building. (Don't worry, you don't need to live in the building to play here!) The entrance is on Morningside Drive, between Rice Boulevard and Dunstan Road. Inside is a little oasis from the hustle and bustle of Rice Village, with astroturf grass, a few benches, tables, and chairs, a little fountain, and little to no danger of your child running out onto the street. (And here, you will need to use your imagination, because I've failed miserably at getting photos for y'all...we were just having so much fun that we forgot to document our adventure!)


This isn't a playground, so you'll need to provide your own toys. But, as I can attest, a ball, a few toy cars, and a friend will take you a long way here. This is also a great place for a little picnic - and with over a dozen restaurants just minutes away, you're spoiled for choice here. Grab take-out at Caffe Fellini, Benjy's or Cyclone Anaya's. Or, for a sweet treat, stop by Cloud 10 Creamery for ice cream. Or, opt for a sit-down meal at Punk's Simple Southern Food, where you can choose an outside table so you can keep an eye on the kids while they run around.

Parking is probably the biggest challenge here, as is typical of Rice Village. Your best bet for free or cheap parking is to circle around the nearby streets for a bit and look for a spot! It also sounds like a new parking plan is coming to the Village soon with free garage spaces becoming available.

If You Go:

  • Address: 2455 Dunstan Rd, Houston, TX 77005
  • Parking: See above! Free street parking if you can find it, or paid garage parking 

Happy Birthday Houston New Moms!

Exactly one year ago, I published my little directory of Houston resources and sent it out into the world. I had no experience in design, mommy blogging, running a website, marketing, or PR. All I had was a vision - creating Houston's only website for parents of babies and toddlers - and a strong desire to help other parents avoid the struggle I'd gone through as a new mom trying to find parent groups, lactation support, places to play, and much more.

In the early days of Houston New Moms, I cold called dozens of people and businesses to ask for help promoting my site. I drove to almost every public library in Houston to put up flyers (It's true - I am a veritable expert on the Houston libraries thanks to my boots-on-the-ground marketing effort!) I wrote and coded and researched and called and emailed and, at times, almost-but-not-quite gave up.

Today, Houston New Moms reaches thousands of parents and has been able to contribute thousands of dollars in cash and in kind to children's charities in Houston and beyond. I am so proud of how far this project has come and how many families it has helped.

If you'd like to join me in celebrating Houston New Moms' first birthday, here's what you can do: Please SHARE this free community resource with all of the parents of babies and toddlers you know. Despite all the work we've done, there are so many more moms and dads we can reach. Tell your church community, your preschool or MDO, your pediatrician, the places you take your kids for classes, your neighbors or your colleagues. Put up one of our flyers or post our link in a Facebook group. If you get a newsletter from a church, preschool, etc, ask them to post a blurb about us. And if you have any ideas for people or organizations I can work with to spread the word about Houston New Moms, email me at info@houstonnewmoms.com and let me know. Thank you for helping me help Houston's families! 

Park of the Week: Karl Young Park

I loved two things about Karl Young Park when Lana and I visited for the first time this weekend: the playground and the stroller trail.

Let's start with the playground. You'll find the typical big-kid and toddler areas, nicely separated to keep the little ones safe (unless your little ones are rebels who only want to play where the big kids are!)


In the play area, there's a play structure with some steps, slides, and a bridge, several swings, a see-saw, and two ride-ons (Lana has been obsessed with these lately, so we spent much of our time here. There's also a pretty cool tunnel:


Oh, and...there's a sandbox, outfitted with a pile of shovels, trucks, buckets, and other toys for everyone to share!


Overall, it's a great playground, with enough activities to keep little ones busy. However, if your kiddo is too young for playgrounds or has grown tired of running around, you can amble over to the walking trail and do a few circles with your stroller.

This short trail loops around the entire park, covering the playground areas, fields, tennis courts, etc. Lana took a short nap here while I got some exercise in. I have a regular stroller and had no problem using it on this trail. There was one large puddle in my way, but I found it easy enough to walk around it.


There was a fair amount of shade here and the park wasn't at all crowded on a Sunday afternoon (though that may have had something to do with the insanely strong wind that day!) Next time we're in Bellaire, we will definitely check this place out again. Karl Young Park is just down the block from The Little Gym, so if you're going to a class or birthday party there, this is a great place to hang out before or after!

If You Go: 

  • Address: 7800 Stella Link Rd, Houston, TX 77025
  • Parking: Free street parking