Mommy & Me Class Spotlight: Make Some Music at Crescendo Family Music

Looking for a fun activity to do with your little one? Registration is now open for Crescendo Family Music’s spring session, starting April 1! With developmentally appropriate activities including singing, dancing, and playing with instruments, these 45-minute classes are the perfect opportunity to make music and bond with your child.


Crescendo Family Music classes are open to kids age birth-age 5. This mixed-age approach allows the smallest music makers to learn from older children, while the older toddlers and preschoolers enjoy sharing their wisdom with the little ones. All classes follow the research-based, internationally-renowned Music Together® philosophy.

Crescendo Family Music also offers a one-of-a-kind Generations class, held at The Village of The Heights retirement community. This is a regular family class with a twist - the residents of The Village of The Heights are invited to join kids and parents in making music. You do not have to have a family member living at The Village to sign up for this class.

You can sign up for Crescendo Family Music classes online. Tuition is $175 for your first child, and just $125 for siblings (siblings under 8 months can join free!) Tuition includes the full session (8 classes), a CD and digital music download with the music you’ll be hearing in class, a songbook, a family sing-along/concert with musicians, two makeup classes, and a musical instrument making workshop! With classes available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, including both morning and afternoon slots, you’re sure to find a time that works for your schedule.

Click here to register for a class! Class sizes are limited, so sign up now to reserve your spot. If you’d like to learn more about Crescendo Family Music, check out their website and Facebook page.




Park of the Week: Houston Arboretum

This week, we're toddling around another nature preserve, the Houston Arboretum. Much like last week's park, Edith Moore Nature Sanctuary, the Arboretum features a large, criss-crossing network of shaded trails - though this one is a bit closer to central Houston. There are long trails, medium trails, and super-short trails your toddler can walk all on her own. There are trails that will work for jogging strollers and regular strollers. In short, it's a pick-your-own-adventure of the best kind, and you can keep coming back again and again without losing interest. 


Along the way, you might spot all sorts of cool plants and critters. We found these colorful berries on our last visit: 


And the trails are only part of the fun. At the very entrance is an indoor area with discovery rooms to interact with nature in an air-conditioned setting. Right outside, there is a large nature play area with sand and stumps and tunnels and shovels:


Around this time of year, many of our favorite playgrounds start getting too hot and sunny, so it's awesome to have a shaded refuge to explore instead! Plus, for kiddos 18mos-3 years old, you can check out the weekly Tyke Hikes scheduled for most Mondays in the spring! These hikes include a storytime, activity, and a stroller-friendly hike. They're free for arboretum members and $7 for non-members. 


If You Go:

  • Address: 4501 Woodway Drive Houston, TX 77024-7708
  • Hours: 7 days a week, 7:00AM-7:30PM. Indoor discovery room is open 10:00AM-4:00PM every day except Mondays. Tyke Hikes are scheduled 9:30AM and 10:30AM most Mondays (check website for details)
  • Parking: On weekdays, you can generally find parking on the Arboretum grounds, but the lot is small and does fill up. From Arboretum website: "Additional parking is available in a satellite lot at the Running Center, just east of the Arboretum’s entrance on Woodway Drive. It is a pleasant quarter mile hike under the Memorial Park Living Bridge to the park’s entrance."

Park of the Week: Edith Moore Nature Sanctuary

This week, we are exploring beautiful Edith Moore Nature Sanctuary in West Houston. Lana, who's almost two, is largely over playgrounds these days. Instead, she prefers to roam parks and green spaces, getting up close and personal with nature. So, the winding trails at Edith Moore were a toddler dream come true:

We explored most of the trails and found them to be flat, largely shaded, and even partially paved. There is also a little cabin to explore, as well as a set of stairsteps down to a creek, where rain boot-wearing toddlers can stomp in the water.


"Horseback" riding also available on request!


And just look at that sky.







If You Go:

  • Address: 440 Wilchester Blvd. Houston, TX 77079
  • Hours: 7AM-7PM, 7 days a week
  • Parking: It's easiest to find parking at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, and there is actually a gate leading into the sanctuary right off the church parking lot. Church address: 12955 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079

Park of the Week: Japanese Garden

I'm always surprised by how many visitors to Hermann Park walk right past this secret garden without even realizing its there. If you're one of them, here's what you've been missing: little paths for toddlers to explore, mini fountains and waterfalls, bridges overlooking golden koi fish, towering pine trees, and cute gazebos. And, at this time of year, gorgeous blooms of flowers. 

One of my favorite things to do in Hermann Park these days is to take Lana to the Japanese Garden and just let her loose. It's fenced, so I know she'll stay inside. (Of course, I still follow close behind to make sure she doesn't fall into any of the ponds and streams!) Here's a peek of some of the spots she's led me to: 

The pines at sunset: 


A peaceful oasis:


View from a bridge: (you can't see the koi, but they're there!)


Wishing well: 



Gorgeous flowers:



Even more flowers: (See them while you still can!)


Little shrine: 

Shrine #2: 



The whole is nicely shaded, so it's a good refuge from the sun on hot days. Parking is the only challenge - it is a ~10 minute walk from either of the major Hermann Park lots. But, the paths in Hermann Park are stroller-friendly, and you can uses your stroller on most of the Japanese Garden paths as well.

If You Go: 

  • Hours: 9:00AM-6:00PM.
  • Public Transit: The garden is very close to the Rice U light rail stop if you're in the mood to take public transit.
  • Parking: I recommend parking at the Centennial Gardens lot (put in 1700 Hermann Drive on your GPS). 
  • How to get there: From the Centennial Gardens lot, walk north past Centennial Gardens, across the street and train tracks, past Miller Outdoor Theatre, and past the plaza with the obelisk and the fountains. Look for the entrance to the garden just to your right after you cross the plaza. If you park elsewhere, use this park map to figure out your way to the garden!

A Perfect Weekend Morning at Surfside Beach

A morning at the beach with a toddler: would it be worth the hourlong drive, or too exhausting to bother with? When I set out to Surfside Beach with a very antsy Lana, I wasn't sure how our morning would go. But, I ended up absolutely loving this beach and highly recommend checking it out!

One of my favorite things about this beach: you can drive right onto the sand, avoiding the unpleasant ritual of lugging 20 million beach items for half a mile from a distant parking lot. This made it very easy to unload our sand toys, towels, and the like. 

Also, on a weekend morning in February, the beach was nearly deserted (at least at the entrance we used on Yucca Avenue). It seemed that we were the only people for miles around. 


The water here is perfect for a toddler. It was extremely shallow, so Lana could run and run and run without getting in too deep. The waves were gentle, and the sand was clean. It was also very wet - perfect for building sandcastles and sand sculptures. 



About halfway through our beach adventure, we had a pleasant surprise. A couple passed by on horseback, and Lana got to see a real live horse for the first time ever. She's a fan of her wooden rocking horse, so she was simply amazed by the real thing!


I know the beach is usually a summertime destination, but for us, visiting in winter or spring is much calmer and more pleasant - less heat, fewer people, and, since we're in Houston, the water's still warm enough to play in! We'll be back again soon, this time with food so we can have a picnic on the beach! 

If You Go: 
  • Address: Yucca Avenue, Freeport TX 77541
  • Parking: Free parking on the beach. In season, you do need to get a pass. 
  • Restrooms: We only found Portapotties, so beware!

The Best Baby & Kid Deals: Just Between Friends Consignment Sale!

Mark your calendars, mamas -- one of Houston's most popular shopping events of the year is coming up in a few weeks! The Just Between Friends Children's Consignment Sale is scheduled for March 23-25.



If you've never attended a consignment sale before, here's a quick rundown. JBF's twice-yearly events are like local Facebook trading groups, but with exponentially more availability and convenience. The event organizers pull together thousands of kid and baby items all in one place, offered to you at 50-90% off retail prices. (And another 50% off on the last day of the sale!) No need to drive all over town to pick up each item, no wasting hours on Facebook looking for what you need, and, best of all, no paying full price for something your kiddo will outgrow in two months!

Some of the products you'll find on offer include:
  • Children's Clothing (infant through teen sizes)
  • Maternity Clothing
  • Infant Care Items (diaper pails, bottles, nursing items)
  • Kid Furnishings (room decor, furniture, pack-n-play)
  • Toys & Play Equipment (large, small, indoor, outdoor)
  • Books, DVDs, Games, Video Games & Systems
  • Arts & Crafts (party supplies, arts/crafts)
  • Strollers & Car Seats
  • Sporting Goods

If you're worried about buying a crib or car seat secondhand, don't be - JBF is currently the only children's and maternity resale franchise in the industry to employ a safety and recall expert, monitoring sales to remove recalled items. 

The only thing you should be worried about? Not getting there early enough to nab the biggest deals! If you want to shop before all the best stuff is gone, get a pass for Weds, March 22, for prime time shopping before the sale opens to the public. For just $10, you can have your pick of the event's hottest items. First time parents can also shop early for free - reserve your spot here

Oh, and if you've got some baby loot to offload, click here to learn about consigning it. JBF makes the consignment process super-easy, so you can get rid of unnecessary items and make money. 


See below for the event location and schedule. More questions? Check out the event website or email Meghan Peterson at meghanpeterson@jbfsale.com!

Address:
Northbrook Center (next to Randall's)
5280 West 34th St
Houston, TX 77004

Schedule:

Weds, March 22
  • 6:00PM-9:00PM Prime time presale - be the first to shop! $10 admission - tickets here.
  • 7:00PM-9:00PM FREE presale for new parents! Reserve a spot here.
  • No strollers and no children except infants under the age of 1 in a carrier
Thurs, March 23
  • Open to the public 10:00AM-6:00PM 
  • $2 admission (for adults) 
Friday, March 24 
  • New inventory!
  • Open to the public 10:00AM-6:00PM 
  • $2 admission (for adults) 
Saturday, March 25
  • 8:00AM-9:00AM Presale Shopping ($5 admission)
  • 9:00AM-4:00PM 50% off Sale - Free Admission

Park of the Week: Willow Park

If you've got a playground-loving toddler, check out Willow Park, located just outside the Loop in Southwest Houston. We visited after a recommendation from a reader, and found plenty to entertain us in this cute neighborhood park.

First, there's the large play-ground structure (meant for bigger kids, but worked just fine for 1.5-year-old Lana):


Then, there are ride-ons aplenty - Lana tried every single one during our morning there and gave them all her seal of approval!


 There's this cute little tunnel, which is low enough for a toddler to clamber through on her own:


Here's a shot of the entire "little kid" area. In addition to the ride-ons and the tunnel, there's a seesaw and a little slide just for toddlers. Lana got really into it and kept going down it over and over again :)

There were also plenty of big-kid and little-kid swings, and ample room to run around at a safe distance from the street. While this park isn't fully fenced, it's far enough away from cars that I felt comfortable letting Lana wander around without staying on her tail! 

The one downside here is a near-total lack of shade. Not a problem on the cloudy morning we were there, but probably not too pleasant in the summer. So, go check out Willow Park now while the weather is nice!

If You Go: 

  • Address: 10457 Cliffwood Drive, Houston, TX 77035
  • Tip: Willow Park is right next to a fenced-off school playground that is closed to the public. So, if you can't get in, you're at the wrong park - drive a bit further to get to the right place! 
  • Parking: Free parking lot