My 4-year-old has a quirky little habit. He takes roll call when our family is driving down the highway.
“Ma-MEE!” he will say enthusiastically. I reply, “Yes, Cade?” as if he needs something.
Then, “Da-DEE! is shouted out as promptly as I respond. Daddy says, “Yes, Cade.”
And Cade continues his roll call:
“Issie!” (which is for Kaci)
“Nanny!” (which is for his sister Katie)
If any of us say, “Here!,” like you would in an actual roll call, he protests loudly. Or, if you don’t answer right away, he continues until you acknowledge him.”
“Issie!” “Issie!” … “ISSIE!!” Please, Kaci, answer him.
So, on a recent trip to Texas, one of our oldest daughter’s friends, Alex, came with us.
After a few miles down the road, Cade began:
“Ma-MEE!” …. Yes, dear.
“Da-DEE!” … What, Cade?
“Issie!” … Yes.
“Nanny!” … Yes, Cade.
We all paused and realized he had named Alex “GAH.”
After we quickly explained to her what was happening, Alex responded, “Yes, Cade?”
– Linda Lynn
Oklahoma City Parks & Recreation Department has planned some FREE summer activities for kids. Here’s some fun you and your children can get in on:
FREE Kids’ Fishing Classes
For ages 5-15, these classes teach casting, knot-tying, fish identification, angler etiquette and fishing regulations. No license or permit required and equipment is provided. Children must be accompanied by parent or guardian.
July 25 – Dolese Youth Park Pond, NW 50 and Meridian
June 20, Aug. 22 – Crystal Lake, 6625 SW 15
July 11, Aug. 8 – Metro Tech Springlake, NW 36 and Springlake Drive
July 18, Aug. 15 – Edwards Park Lake
City Pools are now open and admission is free all summer. They include:
Northeast Pool, 1300 NE 33
Woodson Pool, 3405 S. May
Carson Pool, 8301 S. Villa
Minnis Lakeview Pool, 12518 NE 36.
Swim lessons are offered for kids and adults at all area pools for $20 per session. For more information about lessons, or to get a free parks & pools guide, call 297-2211.
Play in the Park
This annual program offers FREE supervised activities such as arts, crafts, games , reading and field trips for kids age 6 and older. 26 metro-wide locations have the program. Click here for more information.
Father’s Day Downtown
On Sunday, June 21, Dad gets in free (with a paid family member) to:
Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, 301 W. Reno
OKC Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City National Memorial, 620 N. Harvey.
So take Dad out on his special day and enjoy all downtown has to offer.
For more information about OKC Parks & Recreation’s events, go to http://www.okc.gov/Parks/index.html.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
I stumbled across a pretty valuable resource online today. COUPONS. Now, who couldn’t use a few more of those, right? But these aren’t just any coupons, this is the 2009 Exploring Oklahoma Kids Pass, which has tons of savings for Oklahoma attractions. And they’re good through the end of 2009, so you have plenty of time to start planning road trips or fun weekend outings.
Just go to exploringok.com/exploring-oklahoma-kids-pass to print off savings to these Oklahoma destinations (unless noted otherwise, attractions are in Oklahoma City):
Jump!Zone Party & Play Center
Unpluggits Playstudio, Edmond
Myriad Botanical Gardens
Oklahoma River Cruises
Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, Shawnee
Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve, Bartlesville
Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum, Seminole
Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Clinton
Andy Alligator’s Fun Park, Norman
Toy & Action Figure Museum, Pauls Valley
Museum of the Great Plains, Lawton
Harn Homestead Museum
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center, Duncan
Simmons Center, Duncan
Paint N’ Station
Bouncin Craze, Edmond
Gaylord Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum
National Rt. 66 Museum, Elk City
OKC National Memorial & Museum
HeyDay Entertainment, Norman
Double Dave’s Pizza, Norman
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, Norman
Oklahoma Aquarium, Jenks
Sooner Legends Hotel & Restaurant, Norman
Oklahoma History Center
Marland Mansion, Ponca City
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Norman
Camp McFadden, Kaw Lake/Ponca City
Orr Family Farm
Oklahoma Children’s Theatre
Stafford Air & Space Museum, Weatherford
Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse & Adventure Quest, Enid
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Oklahoma City RedHawks
Tulsa Air & Space Museum & Planetarium, Tulsa
Oklahoma Railway Museum
McFadden Cove Marina/Kaw Lake Association, Kaw Lake/Ponca City
Science Museum Oklahoma
Sheraton Oklahoma City Hotel
Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz
White Water Bay
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
This week is Playground Safety Week (April 19-25). It celebrates the 28th anniversary of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s “Handbook for Public Playground Safety” – a document many states use as the basis for the playground safety laws.
The Safe Kids Coalition (which has a chapter in Oklahoma) gives these reminders about keeping kids safe on playground equipment:
1. Make sure the equipment is inspected frequently and kept in good repair.
2. Be sure surfacing beneath equipment is safe. The ground should be covered 12 inches deep with energy-absorbing material (rubber, sand, wood chips) and not grass or soil.
3. Don’t let kids wear helmets, necklaces, purses or clothing that has drawstrings around the neck, such as hoodies.
4. Don’t allow kids to engage in or play near, those who are pushing, shoving or crowding around the equipment.
5. Keep toddlers younger than age 5 in a separate play area, away from equipment designed for bigger kids.
6. Above all, keep your children in sight and within reach at all times. Give them your undivided attention when they’re playing on or near playground equipment.
Playgrounds are meant to be an enjoyable, fun time for children. Let’s keep them safe.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
My daughter Kaci was squatting on the ground next to my son at homeplate. She was helping her 3-year-old brother hold onto the heavy bat and swing at the soft ball perched on a batter’s tee.
It was Cade’s first time to play baseball in a real baseball diamond. Smaller in size, with soft rubber under foot, this field was just right for Cade and his teammates’ occasional spills.
After some encouragement from another mother whose daughter had played in the Anyone Can Softball league, I signed Cade up to participate.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I imagined Cade either grinning from ear to ear – or screaming and kicking. Luckily, on Sunday, Cade was all smiles as he ran after the ball that he and his sister had just hit. Then, with a little guidance, he was running to first base.
This was not only a new experience for Cade, but also one for our family. It was encouraging to sit in the bleachers with the rest of the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who were there to cheer on their Mustang or Rowdies teams.
This year, the Anyone Can group was unable to play at its previous field, but it has been embraced by The Miracle League of Edmond.
– Linda Lynn
My son’s birthday isn’t until April but I already feel behind the 8-ball on planning it. I know, I know … it isn’t like it’s a wedding, needing months of preparation. But I get anxious that my favorite venues will be booked and I’ll be left entertaining 15 toddlers and their parents in a 2-bedroom apartment. So I thought if there were other parents like me, they may find a ‘guide’ useful for everything from picking a place to party favors.
First up – picking a venue. I’ve been doing a bit of research on some neat places in the metro-area that parents can have great birthday parties for young kids. Here are a few:
1. The zoo. The Oklahoma City Zoo has indoor and outdoor facilities that can be reserved for parties and other functions. There are classrooms in the Education Center, an area in the Canopy Restaurant and outdoor picnic tables. If your child has a birthday in a warmer weather month, this is a great place to go. Kids can see the animals as a group and take rides on the train and tram. For more information go to www.okczoo.com and click on “Facility Rental.”
2. Indoor play gyms. We picked Gymboree last year and it was a blast. The staff basically does all the entertaining and toddlers have a great time participating in games and indoor gym equipment. And the best part? No cleanup. The kids get to eat their cake on the floor while sitting on a big parachute. Another place that offers indoor climbing fun is The Little Gym and for inflatable fun, try Pump it Up or Bouncin’ Craze.
3. The classic pizza-and-game spots. Who could forget Chuck E. Cheese? I remember spending a few great birthday parties there. And there are a few in the metro-area offering food, games and more. Although I think these may be more suitable for kids age 5 and older, anyone can have fun here. Another is Incredible Pizza on Northwest Expressway. They have a big buffet and different-themed eating rooms. They also have bowling, miniature golf and go-karts in addition to the many arcade games. Celebration Station and Andy Alligator’s also have indoor/outdoor fun and games, for older toddlers/kids.
4. Trains. Kids love trains. Just ask my son. There are a couple of really neat venues that offer real train rides as part of the party fun. The Oklahoma Railway Museum is open for parties from April to October. They have two packages – one with and one without a train ride (but really, what’s the fun without a ride?) And for the party, they can either seat kids in the waiting room at the depot or in a 1921 caboose. Also, just east of the metro-area, is L.O.C.O. which is a Locomotive Operators of Central Oklahoma. They operate miniature trains that kids can ride on at their park. They also give free rides the first Sunday of every month from 1-4 p.m. if you want to check them out.
5. Parks. There are a number of metro-area parks that have picnic facilities and playground equipment. Some in the summer have splash pads so kids can wear their swimsuits and stay cool. It’s an inexpensive fun alternative to other venues, and it keeps the mess out of your house. For a list of city parks and their amenities, go to http://www.okc.gov/Parks/. You’ll also find out about programs and other opportunities for fun they offer.
These are just a few suggestions to get you started. As I come across more between now and April, I’ll be posting them on this blog. And if you have any birthday party suggestions, please let me know! I’d love to list them so other parents can have it as a resource. Comment below or email me.
Not outside of course. It’s hot there! But in a tent in the middle of the living room.
My 5-year-old has been learning about camping at preschool, and so we thought it’d be fun to actually break out the tent stored in an unopened box in our attic.
Putting the thing together was fun for my husband because there were no directions. Bravely, he managed and we soon had a bigger-than-I-expected igloo-shaped domicile. My daughter collected an array of snacks for our “camping” trip and I turned on the Discovery Channel (the TV was right there) to find some scenery.
Despite the whirl of the ceiling fan, it was fun to imagine we were actually on a great adventure. Our dogs became “bears” prowling for snacks. We made fire-free S’mores with chocolate marshmallows and Ritz crackers.
But did we sleep there? Of course not, the floor is hard after all.
Next my daughter wants to go fishing. Maybe we’ll turn the bathtub into a “pond.” Do goldfish crackers float?
Susan”Scared of Mosquitoes” Simpson
My son just got a dirt bike. He’s 15.
Apparently, my husband and I lost our minds at the exact same moment. I knew we were slowly driving each other crazy over the years, but I never thought we’d simultaneously snap.
Because of our mental lapses, our son now has a shiny new dirt bike. Well, it was shiny for the trip home and for a brief time in the garage. Then, he rode it. Now, it has a nice scrape along the side, and both signal lights have been demolished. Oh, and he’s proudly sporting a skinned elbow and knee.
We live in the country which gives my son plenty of grass to ride on, and for that, I’m grateful. Of course, when he crashed the first time, he was turning around on the concrete driveway. Funny how that works.
I had a flashback to my own childhood as I watched him tearing across the yard a few days ago. I was raised on a farm and we were around dangerous equipment all the time. I was a kid when seatbelts didn’t exist unless you had one of those “fancy” cars, and even then they were usually buckled and stuffed between the seat cushions. We rode in backs of pickup trucks and sitting on sides of a tractor. We stood on the running board of the big grain trucks as we bumped and jostled our way down to the grain bins or out to the cattle pasture. When the family drove to the swimming hole (yes, that’s what we called it), my dad would put a board across the bed of his truck for kids to sit on. And, the day it hailed on us … well, we just held up the big towel Mom threw back there for us to use as shelter.
Which makes me wonder? How did we survive?
Believe me, I’m not advocating riding in a car with no seat belt or putting kids in the back of a truck. It’s a different time. Things are faster and there are more cars on the roads. The world seems more stressed. The only road rage I ever knew about in my childhood was when you were driving down a dirt road and the car coming toward you didn’t ease over enough and give you both room to pass. And, even then, the road rage manifested itself with only a curt nod to the other person … no smile, no howdy.
Believe me, I’m as cautious as the next parent. When my son was growing up, I dutifully put him in a car seat. I walked him to school to protect him from strangers and I didn’t turn him loose to play in the neighborhood sight unseen. I don’t believe it takes a village to raise a child, I believe it takes parents.
But, now he’s a teenager and has a dirt bike. There’s no car seat on that thing. He is required to wear a helmet, not only be me, but by state law. Thank goodness.
Like it or not, I see that he’s growing up. He’s taller than my husband, wears a bigger shoe, and he’s shaving. I can’t always protect him. He has to be given responsibility to make wise decisions. All I can do is keep medical supplies handy … and pray.
Any parents out there who’ve been down the dirt bike trail with their kids? I could use some advice.
- Guest contributor, Judy Hooper, The Oklahoman
As a mom, I often feel guilty about things that are probably not as bad as I make them out to be.
I’ve already written about the struggles of getting a toddler to eat. So of course comes the guilt of “is he getting enough veggies? ” or “am I a bad mom for taking my kid to McDonald’s in Wal-Mart when I know he won’t make it through a 2-hour shopping trip without a Happy Meal?”
Along with these guilts, I have many more, as I’m sure other parents do, especially single parents who can’t do it all.
1. Reading. Everywhere you look and listen, it is the same message. “Read to your child 20 minutes a day.” I’m actually better about getting this done than other things. But I do have the occasional day where there aren’t those 20 minutes. Will my child then be behind his classmates in junior high or not get into college?
2. Playtime, or lack of. We are enrolled in the READY! For Kindergarten classes offered by Putnam City School District (which I highly recommend to parents in that district). One of the things they emphasize is to set aside “educational play time” each day with your child. This seems easy enough, right? Wrong. How do you know if you are playing “educationally” enough? What if you’re attention is divided between helping solve a puzzle and dinner burning on the stove? What if you’re just too tired? Usually I make up for any missed playtime on the weekends with a trip to the park or zoo or something else fun. But is this enough?
3. Screen time. Something else you hear about everywhere. “Limit your child’s screen time (i.e. TV, computer) to 3o minutes a day.” Well if that’s the case, my boy has used up his daily limit before we even head out the door in the morning. Between Sesame Street and the Today show, he has had his fill. But as single parents, sometimes we have to use the TV as a tool to get other things done around the house. Should I just disconnect the television altogether? Because as long as it’s there, I’m bound to veg out on the couch and enjoy a healthy dose of reality television after a day at work. Does this mean my child will turn into a slacking couch potato?
Ahhh, the guilts of motherhood. Is there any escape? My mom sent me a wonderful book about moms for Mother’s Day. Inside the cover she wrote, “Good job, Erica.”
That’s the greatest compliment a mom could hear.