If you want to get involved in a cause, celebrate something or just offer recognition, there are several topics you can observe this month.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This is an effort to increase public awareness about protecting children from abuse and neglect. To learn more, go to http://www.preventchildabuse.org/publications/cap/index.shtml
April is National Volunteer Month. What a wonderful opportunity to teach your children the value of volunteering in their community.
April is National Poetry Month. It’s a good time to exercise the creative part of your mind. When I was in middle school, a visiting writer encouraged our class to go outside and explore the world around us, from a blade of grass to the clouds in the sky … and to write about what we saw, smelled and felt.
Did you know there are days within April that also commemorate food?
April 12 is National Licorice Day, as well as National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. But, I think I’ll hold out for Friday, April 13: National Peach Cobbler Day!
Your pets won’t be left out, either. April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month and National Heartworm Awareness Month.
And, though Earth Day falls on April 22, we can spend the whole month exploring the value of protecting the world where we live. Something as simple as planting a tree or flowers can be a learning experience for our children.
I hope you enjoy this month of awareness and observance.
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Playing Santa is supposed to be fun, right? I mean, it IS fun. It’s kind of a rush putting together toys at midnight because that’s when you know your 4-year-old is really really asleep. Getting all of them wrapped up, arranging them just so under the tree.
But I couldn’t help but feel a tad guilty. My son and I were getting all ready for Santa on Christmas Eve. He counted out 8 carrots for the reindeer and put them in a bowl on our porch. He picked out 3 Christmas cookies he made himself, for Santa, and put them by the fireplace. He even moved them over from their original position so Santa wouldn’t mistakenly step on them on his way out of the chimney.
The look on my boy’s face was enough to make my heart melt. His eyes were wide, his voice full of excitement and anticipation. But I couldn’t help but feel just a little guilty. I felt like I was putting all this false hope into him, almost lying to him in a way. It’s strange, because as a girl, I held on to my belief in Santa for much longer than my peers. And although I think it had a lot to do with my mom’s threat … “if you don’t believe, you don’t get presents” … I think a big part of me just didn’t want to let it go of the magic.
I asked my mom if she felt the Santa Guilt with me and my brother. She said “No way.” Maybe I’m being a little oversensitive. I mean, it was a perfect Christmas. And there is something magical about a little guy waking up and counting the carrots in the bowl and saying “I really need to thank Santa for my presents.”
What about you? Did you have a twinge of Santa guilt this season? Let me know!
As you might know, I’m a big fan of Bass Pro Shops. They always have something fun and FREE going on for the kids and I always take full advantage.
My favorite is their Christmas Wonderland. They pack December full of free crafts, fun displays, games and a FREE studio-quality 4 X 6 photo with Santa. So skip the expensive mall Santa photos and head down to Bass Pro.
Crafts are Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. (while supplies last) and include:
Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, 4 & 5: Snowman Suncatcher ornament
Dec. 7 – 9, 11 & 12: Wooden ornaments
Dec. 14 – 16, 18 & 19: Reindeer ornaments
Dec. 21-23: Cookie decorating
From now through Dec. 12, Santa photos are 5 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
From Dec. 13 to Dec. 24, photo hours are extended to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays and Christmas Eve.
All games and activities are available during store hours. These include toy trains, slot car racing, laser and soft gun arcades, remote control trucks and video games.
Also, this year, Bass Pro is giving away free “Santa Bandz” to the first 150 children on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. Bandz are different each week.
For more information about Santa’s Wonderland, click here.
With the holidays quickly approaching, and the biggest shopping day of the year this Friday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission releases its “top tips for a safer holiday toy shopping and playing experience.”
1. Always choose age-appropriate toys for children. Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
2. Include safety gear whenever shopping for sports-related gifts or ride-on toys including bicycles, skates and scooters. Helmets and other safety gear should be worn properly and be sized to fit.
3. Be aware of your child’s surroundings during play. Young children should avoid playing with ride-on toys near streets and traffic, pools or ponds. They should avoid playing in indoor areas near hazards such as kitchens, bathrooms or rooms with corded window blinds.
4. Once gifts are opened, immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging from toys.
5. Battery-charging should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose a thermal burn hazard to young children.
6. For children younger than 3, avoid toys with small parts and small balls. For Children younger than 6, avoid toys with small magnets. Keep all young children away from broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children 8 and younger. Balloons are a choking hazard.
If you’re a sort-of country dweller like me, you don’t really have a good reliable neighborhood to trick-or-treat in this year. So how do you make the most of Halloween when you can’t do the traditional door-to-door candy quest? Here are some really great (and I’ve been to most of these) activities in the metro you can do with your kids this week to get in the spooky spirit:
Haunt the Zoo: We go every year. You can’t beat the Oklahoma City Zoo for Halloween. You won’t see animals, but you will see folks standing along a pumpkin-lined path handing out some yummy treats. Neat displays are set up along the way, perfect for pictures. Haunt the Zoo is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. starting tonight and ending Sunday. Tickets are only necessary for the kids, and they’re $7 each. Click here for more information.
Storybook Forest: Spring Creek Park at Edmond’s Arcadia Lake turns into a book of fairytales as kids can walk through a forest of stories. Characters and scenes from children’s favorite books are brought to life, along with treats, hayrides, carnival games and a campfire for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Storybook Forest is open 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. daily through Sunday. Admission is $5 per child during the week, $7 on the weekend. Adults are free. Click here for more information.
Halloween Train Ride at the Oklahoma Railway Museum is a real train ride for kids wearing their costumes. Departure times Saturday are 10 and 11 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for age 15 and older, $5 for ages 3 to 14, and kids younger than 3 are free. Click here for more information.
Haunt the Harn at the Harn Homestead. Includes trick-or-treating, hayrides and more. Event is Thursday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for nonmembers, free for members. Click here for more information.
The Metropolitan Library System also has a list of free events this week:
- Bethany Library: 10 to 10:45 a.m. on Thursday is ”Halloween Fun for Little Ones” for ages 3 to 6. From 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, it’s hosting “Spooky Spook Halloween” for grades 1 to 5.
- Capitol Hill Library: From 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday is “Halloween @ the Haunted Hill” for all ages.
- Downtown Library: From 1:30 to 5:40 p.m. Sunday is the “Classic Horror Film Marathon” for all ages.
- Ralph Ellison Library: “Pumpkin Carving for Teens” is 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday. The library’s fall festival is noon to 4 p.m. Saturday for all ages.
- Warr Acres Library: “Dress Up Party for Preschoolers” is tonight from 6:30 to 7:30. Kids should be in costume.
Be sure to check wimgo.com for more Halloween event listings and have a great, safe week!
But a few reminders could never hurt.
Here’s some tips from Safe Kids USA (which includes Safe Kids Oklahoma):
- Encourage children not to trick-or-treat alone. They should go in groups or with a trusted adult.
- Place reflective tape on their costumes or on their treat bags so they are visible to drivers.
- Examine all candy thoroughly. Check for any signs of tampering.
- All children should have their own flashlight so they can see and be seen.
- Emphasize to your children the importance of looking both ways when crossing a street. Tell them to use crosswalks, if possible.
- Be sure costumes fit well, to prevent trips and falls.
- Let children know they are NEVER to enter a person’s home unless they are with a trusted adult.
- Try to purchase flame-retardant costumes and keep away from open flames.
Have a very SAFE and HAPPY Halloween!
Looking for one more weekend of lake fun with the kids before summer is officially over? Then head down to the Discovery Cove Nature Center at Lake Thunderbird State Park. They have packed the long holiday weekend full of activities. Classes are:
Saturday, Sept. 4
9:00 a.m. - Bird Walk. Call 321-4633 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details or to sign up.
11:00 a.m. -Birds of Lake Thunderbird. Enjoy a slide presentation of birds that live around the lake.
1:00 p.m. - Animal Clay Sculpture. Sculpt an animal out of clay. Ages 4 and older. $1.00 fee. Call or e-mail for a reservation.
2:30 p.m. -Oklahoma Reptiles: Snakes and Lizards. Learn about these reptile groups and meet the nature center’s “resident representatives.” All ages.
3:30 p.m. - Oklahoma Turtles. Meet seven kinds of turtles and watch some of them being fed.
Sunday, Sept. 5
1:00 p.m. - Aquatic Insects. Learn all about what these insects eat, how they breathe, and other facts, at this special presentation.
2:00 p.m. - Plaster Casts. Make plaster of Paris casts of animal footprints. Ages 2 and older. Fee is 50 cents. Casts require one hour to set. (This is my son’s personal favorite!)
3:00 p.m. - Aquatic Insects. Repeat of 1:00 p.m. program.
Monday, Sept. 6 (aka Bug Day)
10:00 a.m. - What did that? Kids can become nature detectives and look for clues that insects and small animals leave behind. Ages 5 and older.
11:00 a.m. - Oklahoma Insects. Learn about insects and see many of the kinds found in our state. Ages 4 and older.
1:00 p.m. - Bug Bookmarks. Decorate a one-of-a-kind bookmark. Fee is 50 cents. Ages 3 and older.
2:00 p.m. - Aquatic Insects. See above for description.
3:30 p.m. - How many legs? Get to Know the Arthropods. Learn about other “bugs” besides insects. Ages 4 and older.
Discovery Cove Nature Center is located off State Highway 9, almost one mile down Clear Bay Avenue, almost to the boat ramp, across from Turkey Pass Campground For more information, call 321-4633 or e-mail email@example.com.
It’s been 4 years since I’ve been home. Why 4 years, you ask? Because this blogger doesn’t fly.
I know, I know. It’s the safest form of travel. You can spout off statistics all day long and I still won’t board a plane. Call me crazy. Especially when you hear that I drove, (yes, drove) to Connecticut, which is about 1600 miles from Oklahoma City … with a 4-year-old. Yep, that’s me, the crazy lady.
But to be honest, it was amazing. The drive was long, but my son was terrific on the drive up and back. Thank goodness for car DVD players! It took us about 2 1/2 days each way and we were able to stop at some fun spots along the way, such as the Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo., and the Ohio State Fair on the way back. The Great American Road Trip. That’s what we were on.
The best part, though, was going home. Seeing all my family, some dear friends, including a girl I’ve known since I was 5, and even Simba the family cat. It was a two-week whirlwind. Trips to museums, the beaches, and of course, New York City. My son was in heaven when he stepped foot into the largest Toys R Us – the one in Times Square. He got to meet his heroes, Iron Man and Spider-Man. It doesn’t get any better than that for a 4-year-old boy. And the train ride back to Connecticut to boot. He was in awe.
Seeing his Gwennie (his grandma) and grandpa, his Uncle Will and great-grandparents was such a treat. They spoil him and he knows it. Family friends were calling day and night, wanting to catch a visit with us. With some, we could fit it in, with others, we just couldn’t make it this trip.
Now, I’m back in Oklahoma and find myself missing home. I may sound like Dorothy, but there really is no place like home and no one like family and lifelong friends. I know I won’t be able to wait another 4 years to go back, airplane or not.
Thomas the Tank Engine is chugging into Oklahoma City and tickets are on sale for this very fun event. According to the event website, Day Out with Thomas is in its 15th year, and as always, the Oklahoma Railway Museum will be hosting Thomas’ arrival.
Besides getting a train ride with Thomas, children can enjoy other activities such as arts and crafts, storytelling, playing with toy trains, meeting characters and getting a look at the history of Thomas, who is turning 65 this year.
Get tickets soon, as this tends to sell out. Dates of the event are Sept. 24-26 and Oct. 1-3. Tickets cost $14 to $18 each. When you order tickets online, you can choose which train you’d like to sit in. Pay extra attention to which train car you choose. Some are air conditioned, some only have sliding windows, and others are completely open. Also, I suggest picking an early morning ride to avoid high temperatures.
Two years ago, I mistakenly chose the 2 p.m. time slot and the car with only the sliding windows. Since some of the cars are so old, some windows won’t open. That was our window. September was especially hot that year, and my then-2-year-old son was completely decked out in his Thomas overalls, Thomas polo shirt, Thomas conductor hat, socks and shoes. We couldn’t bring our drinks on board, but it’s a 30-minute ride. No big deal.
About two minutes after we pull out of the station, my son starts screaming and crying. He’s sweating, he’s red in the face, he’s hot as can be. I didn’t know what to do and we couldn’t get off the train. We were starting to get some mean looks from other paying passengers. He cried the entire ride. People were upset with us, asking employees for their money back and just generally being more than annoyed.
About a year later, I was talking to some parents at my son’s day care about how Thomas the Train was back in town. All of a sudden, one parent starts talking about this screaming child on her train car last year … decked out in Thomas overalls, polo and conductor cap. She described my son to a T - an entire year later. She was on that car. She was one of the parents demanding a refund. Yikes.
Me: ”Oh, we didn’t get to go last year … how awful … why would his mom dress him in such hot clothes in the middle of summer? … “
So please take my advice. Choose the air conditioned car. Get an early time and don’t dress your child like a conductor. After all, it’s September in Oklahoma.
For a schedule and tickets, click here.
Here’s another chance for families to get out of town for a day or two and enjoy some of Oklahoma’s natural beauty …
I think this might be something I’d consider taking my son to this summer. Any chance to expose kids to nature is a chance every parent should take. If you go, tell me all about it here or by e-mail.