I recently had a birthday and you know how kids are … birthdays are the COOLEST thing since sliced bread. They don’t quite understand how adults just don’t count down the days to their next mid-30s birthday.
My 4-year-old son on Thursday morning greeted me with a “Happy Birthday, Mommy!!” and it really was the cutest thing. He even thought we were going to my “birthday party” and when he saw me pulling into the school parking lot instead, he let out the most heart-wrenching “Noooooo!” and the tears started flowing. I felt awful. What kind of mid-30s mother doesn’t throw a party for herself? So I promised him just that. A party.
So here I am, picking him up from school and ready to keep this promise. “Where should we have Mom’s party?” I should have expected his response. “Chuck E. Cheeeeeeese!!” Sigh. OK. We can do this. We invite his best friend and his friend’s mom and headed on down to see the big mouse.
To be honest, the next couple of hours were the most fun I’ve had in a while. Our “host” greeted me with a big sticker and a handful of free tokens. Score! Then we scarfed down a pizza and got ready to play some skee ball. It was great. Even Chuck E. came out to take a picture with me. I felt like I was a kid again. Which was appropriate, because if you ask my son how old I am, he’ll say “5″ with absolute certainty.
Take my advice … You’re never too old to be 5 again.
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
Last night, I took my son to see “Walking with Dinosaurs-The Arena Spectacular” at the Ford Center. I was hesitant about taking him at first, because I was worried he would get scared, since he’s only 2. But he loves dinosaurs so I gave in and bought tickets.
We were not disappointed. The show was phenomenal. The dinosaurs were very realistic and their movements and sounds were quite believable. A paleontologist guided the show, narrating what was going on during the different periods dinosaurs existed, how they fended for themselves, fought off prey and eventually became extinct.
My son was in complete awe through the entire show. I purposefully chose seats that were high up so that he’d be looking down at the dinosaurs and not up at them, which turned out to be a good idea. The dinosaurs can get close to those sitting in the lower section and they can get very loud when they roar.
The show is appropriate for young children through adults. It is about 2 hours long with a 20-minute intermission. It runs through Sunday at the Ford Center. You can get tickets online at ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.
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.