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.
Bass Pro Shops in Bricktown is offering all kinds of free workshops, crafts, photo opportunities and even s’mores made over a campfire this summer.
From noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, through July 11, children and adults alike can attend seminars on archery, bird watching, plants & insects, camping basics, animal identification, hiking basics, pet safety, fishing basics and shooting basics. And for every workshop you attend, you earn a pin.
There are also craft sessions for children on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 2 p.m. They include:
Paint a Wiggle Fish: June 22 and 24
Make a Camping Photo Frame: June 26-27, 29 and July 1
Paint an Animal Track: July 3-4, 6 and 8
Design Your Own Birdhouse: July 10-11
On Saturdays and Sundays, get a free photo of yourself or your kids on the cover of Field & Stream magazine.
And make some free s’mores over a campfire from 5 to 6 p.m. Yum.
Other free activities include the shooting gallery, shooting range and casting pond.
On June 26-27, the NASCAR Sprint Cup race car also will be pulling into the Bricktown Bass Pro so bring the kids out for an up-close look at a real race car.
And while you’re there, pick up a free copy of the Summer Fun 2010 guide to get tons of ideas, tips and product checklists to make the most fun out of your summer.
To find out more, check out our outdoor blogger’s post:
Sounds like a fun time!
Here’s a roundup of some interesting stories that recently have appeared in The Oklahoman and on NewsOK.com:
The Edmond Children’s Safety Village is hosting a three-day challenge next week for kids. Click here.
The Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Edmond has a really cool summer sports camp for kids. Click here.
The Missoula Children’s Theatre is coming to town to audition children for roles in “The Wizard of Oz.” Click here.
First-graders from Central Elementary School in Guthrie share their own recipes. Click here.
Our outdoor blog writer has written about the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest and why that record may stand indefinitely. Click here. He has also written about how young people are seeking adventures, but sometimes at a big cost. Click here.
Oklahoma City University to host a youth basketball camp, to teach life skills on and off the court. Click here.
Oklahoma’s oldest practicing pediatric dentist retires. Click here.
A photographer is combing the state, looking for children to photograph for a new coffee table book. Click here.
Most U.S. airlines have the following age-based unaccompanied minor qualifications (but call your airline to get all the information):
Age 5 and younger: Cannot travel alone.
Age 5 to 7: Can travel alone on nonstop and through flights.
Age 8 to 11: Can usually travel alone on any flight.
Age 12 to 17: For domestic flights, can travel alone on any flight without restrictions. For international flights, can travel alone on any flight but many carriers require unaccompanied minor procedures.
For ages 5 to 11, unaccompanied minor procedures are required on all flights.
Booking a flight
When booking flights for children, always try to book a nonstop flight, or if no nonstop flight exists, then try for a direct or “through” flight, where children won’t have to change planes.
If the flight has meal service, ask about reserving a child’s meal if available, because these have to be arranged in advance.
Ask the airline about “electronic ticketing” where no paper ticket is issued (and therefore, no ticket is lost).
Check all itinerary and ticket information to make sure names, destinations and other information are correct.
Ask the airline about getting a gate pass so that you may accompany your children through security to the departure gate.
Preparing for the flight
If your child hasn’t flown, visit the airport before the trip to have them be familiar with their surroundings. Be sure they know where assistance can be found.
Have your child dress in comfortable clothes. Put their first initial and last name on any article of clothing, like a jacket, that may be taken off during the flight.
Get to the airport at least one to two hours before departure for a domestic flight and two or more hours for an international flight. Don’t plan to just drop your child off at the entrance or ticket counter.
Bring to the airport the address and phone number of the person meeting your child. The airline will request this information.
Have your child use the bathroom in the gate area before boarding.
Stay in the gate area until the flight has taken off.
What to pack
Consider having your child bring a small carry-on bag. It could include books, small toys, games, crayons, and even a surprise or two. Also include a light snack and any essentials your child may need for the next 24 hours, in case of delays. Be sure to pack a copy of the child’s complete itinerary, including the names and cell phone numbers of the person meeting them. Make sure your child knows this is in their carry-on bag.
Things to tell your child
The most important to tell them is NOT to leave the airport unaccompanied or with a stranger.
Tell them if the flight will have a stop or connection.
Let them know there will be pressure changes in take-off and landing, that can bother their ears. Tell them they can yawn or chew gum or swallow a few times to help with this.
If it’s their first flight, explain the different sounds they’ll hear and that there may be some patches of bumpy air that pose no threat to the aircraft.
Advise your child to keep their seat belt fastened at all times.
To see all of their tips and procedures, go to http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/pubs.htm and click on “When Kids Fly Alone” under “Other Publications.”
Discovery Cove Nature Center at Lake Thunderbird State Park has many activities for children planned this month. I took my 4-year-old son to the nature center for a class on Memorial Day and he loved it. There’s plenty to see and do there, and even some trails if you want to take a stroll. The lake is right past the nature center so go have a cookout at the campground while you’re there.
All activites are FREE unless otherwise noted.
10 a.m. – Tree Walk. Learn what kinds of trees grow around the Nature Center. Ages 4 and older.
11 a.m. – Trees Through the Year. Learn about seasonal changes in the lives of trees. Ages 4 and older.
1 p.m. – Paint a Rock. Kids make their very own pet rock. This activity is 50 cents. Ages 4 and older.
10 a.m. – What’s a Solstice, Anyway? Learn about the solstice and how some celebrate it. Ages 5 and older. This program is also on June 21 at 1:00 p.m.
11 a.m. – Aliens Among Us. Check out small animals and plants under a microscope. Ages 6 and older.
7:30 p.m. – Summer Solstice Celebration at the Park. Hear about solstice observances around the world, past and present. Watch the sun to set over the lake on the (almost) longest day of the year.
2 p.m. – Oklahoma Insects. Learn about insects and see many of the kinds found in Oklahoma. Ages 4 and older.
3:30 p.m. – How Many Legs? Get to Know Arthropods. Learn about the other “bugs” besides insects. Ages 4 and older.
Discovery Cove Nature Center is located off State Highway 9, almost a mile down Clear Bay Ave. For more information, call 321-4633 or e-mail email@example.com.
For more information about happenings at Lake Thunderbird, go to http://friendsoflakethunderbird.org/.
For all workshops, pre-register by calling 425-4412.
Unless otherwise noted, all sessions are for parents and caregivers of young children.
Here’s what’s in store for this summer:
Terrific Two’s: Learn about your 2-year-old. Focus is on their developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 1, Choctaw Library
June 16, Midwest City Library
June 22, Southern Oaks Library
June 19, The Village Library
Sibling Struggles: Learn methods to prepare children for the arrival of a new sibling and how to deal with sibling squabbles. Find out about sibling rivalry and what normal behavior is. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 2, Midwest City
June 30, The Village
Just for Fun: Games People Play(for children ages 8-12): Includes active games, quiet games and brain teasers. Kids will play games from the past and games from other cultures. Both are 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
June 14, Southern Oaks
June 21, The Village
Toileting Triumph: Toileting doesn’t have to be a major challenge. Focus is on signs of readiness, why it can be frustrating and much more. All are from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 16, Edmond Library
June 29, Warr Acres Library
July 20, Ralph Ellison Library
Making Your Morning Manageable: Time to eliminate chaos and come up with a routine. Focus is what parents can do to make this part of the day more calm and enjoyable.
June 25, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
Lullaby & Goodnight: Find a routine that includes reading to your child, to ease bedtime and naptime challenges. Sleep challenges will also be discussed. Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 30, Edmond
August 17, Ralph Ellison
Look Out, I’m Three!: Learn more about your 3-year-old. Focus is on developmental milestones. All are from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 7, Southern Oaks
July 8, Midwest City
July 13, The Village
July 20, Choctaw
Toddlers at the Table: Turn common concerns about toddler’s eating habits into opportunities to teach healthy habits. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 12, Midwest City
July 21, The Village
Those Playful Preschoolers:Focus is behavioral characteristics and developmental milestones of 3- and 4-year-olds. Activity ideas will be shared to keep little ones busy. Learn it’s OK for your preschooler to be “out of bounds.” Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
July 27, Warr Acres
Aug. 25, Edmond
Baby Basics: Main focus is typical concerns of parents. Colic/crying, separation anxiety, sleeping through the night and other issues will be discussed.
July 28, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Reading Readiness: Workshop will explore the necessary reading readiness building blocks and parents’ roles in helping children become readers. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 9, The Village
Fun to be Four: Learn about your fascinating 4-year-old. Workshop focuses on developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 3, Southern Oaks
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 10, The Village
Aug. 12, Choctaw
School Readiness: Facilitators will talk about support, encouragement and opportunity all children need for school success.
Aug. 10, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Warr Acres
Tripping Through Toddlerhood: Topics include, tantrums, biting, sharing and other common toddler challenges. Parents will learn how to minimize frustrations.
Aug. 11, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Teaching Children to be More Cooperative: Focus is on when to discipline or ignore unwanted behaviors. Learn guidance techniques used by experts.
Aug. 27, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
To see the Oklahoma City-County Health Departments newsletters, including schedules for upcoming play groups, workshops, and health and child guidance screenings, click here .
Yep, that’s right! For just one day, Sonic is giving away free ice cream cones to all kids from kindergarten through fifth grade, to help celebrate their achievements this past school year and what’s to come.
Sonic has partnered with Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan to help celebrate these students’ successes on what better date than 5/29, of course!
To download the coupon, click here.
Just let them know you have the coupon when you’re ordering.
Now go out and celebrate your child’s great school year!