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Category Archives: kid stuff

My Favorite San Antonio Playgrounds

Brackenridge Park

Now that it’s starting to feel like fall, or as close to “fall” as we get here in San Antonio, E. and I have been visiting our favorites parks even more often than we did over the summer. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Playscape at Brackenridge Park: Lots of swings, slides, and even a four-person see-saw. Plus, if you get bored you can always head over to the nearby zoo, Witte Museum, Japanese Tea Garden, or zoo train.

2. Stillman Park at Lackland Air Force Base: Those with a valid military i.d. will be able to enjoy this park, which features a huge play-structure full of unusual swings and slides.

3. Heritage Park and Duck Pond: Two playscapes and a pavillion are located next to a duck-inhabited pond and walking trail.

4. Playscape at La Cantera: This one isn’t great for nature-lovers, since it’s located at an outdoor shopping mall. However, it is in the shade and located right next to a Marble Slab ice cream shop. Great place to visit after it’s rained, since you don’t have to worry about mud.

5. Bonnie Conner Park: Perfect location right behind the Igo branch of the San Antonio Library. Stop by the park before or after storytime. (Check out the Igo storytime schedule.) For another park-near-the-library option, consider Nani Falcone Community Park located across the street from the Maverick library branch.

There are plenty of parks we haven’t explored yet, including Commanche Lookout, which I’ve heard is lots of fun. For a complete list of San Antonio parks and their locations, click here.

Do you have a favorite San Antonio park? Tell us about it by leaving a comment!

San Antonio Family Vacation on raveable

My Changing Thoughts on Travel

.The “me” of today is different in many ways from the “me” that lived in Dayton, Ohio with an infant. Thinking back to the three years that our family lived in Dayton, I remember feeling stuck.

I wanted to travel so badly. Yet, my husband’s work schedule, and most of all, my fear of venturing into the unfamiliar with my baby girl, made me stay close to home. I hadn’t yet discovered the joys of local-ish travel. I didn’t realize that adventures awaited us just a few hours from home. At that point in my life, the word “travel” had a much different meaning.

My daughter hasn’t celebrated a birthday recently, yet I’ve found myself thinking lately about how much she–and I–have changed during her three and a half years of life.

I used to sit around and analyze everything that could possibly go wrong. The car could break down…in the middle of nowhere. I could get lost. E. could start crying uncontrollably in public and strangers might stare at me. It seems laughable now to think that these were some of my worries when it came to day trips from Dayton.

And then one day, when E. was about 18 months old, the power went out. For NINE DAYS. Yes, you read that correctly. There were so many power outages that the power company just couldn’t keep up, and ours was one of the last homes to receive electricity again. I couldn’t handle sitting in a dark house, so I decided E. and I would venture a couple hundred miles to my hometown in Missouri.

I drove–alone–with E. for about 7 hours. Nothing catastrophic happened. That was when my thinking about travelling with a kid began to change. These days, I confidently set out on adventures with my daughter. Sure, it helps that she’s older now, but it also had a lot to do with a change in my own thinking. I began to remember the pre-mommyhood days when Nick and I ventured to Tokyo without knowing what to expect.

I’m sure there are moms reading this who have no idea what I’m talking about. They’ve always been self-assured and known how to handle unusual situations with grace. However, things can be difficult for us worriers. Nothing is simple.

P.S. I get extra points for posting a picture in which I’m not wearing any make-up, right?

Playhouses and Forts at the San Antonio Botanical Garden

El Presidio Chrysalis, SA Botanical Garden

If you haven’t done so already, you have until October 24, 2010 to check out the Playhouses and Forts exhibit at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. The purpose of these forts is to provide children a place to explore and imagine. The botanical garden is already a great place to accomplish this, but the playhouses add even more opportunity for creative fun.

Eight forts are scattered through out the garden and each is vastly different from the others. From the Water Wheel fort, which emphasizes water play and plant-life, to the Forté playhouse, which focuses on music and sound, each space is unique.

Botanical Garden, Picasso quote
Picasso quote from the En Plein Air fort

Xylophone at the Forte fort, San Antonio Botanical Garden
Playing the Xylophone at the Forté playhouse

Inside/Out Fort, SA Botanical Garden
The Inside/Out Fort, which consists of items twice their normal size

We had a wonderful time exploring the garden. Now that the temperature has cooled off (at least a little) this is a great time to visit, especially since the playhouses will be departing soon.

Outings With Your Future Architect: Beautiful Buildings in San Antonio

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Most kids go through a building/constructing phase…maybe they love building castles with legos or just stacking baby blocks. Feed their architectural instincts with these outings to beautiful buildings in San Antonio.

San Antonio Missions: Teach your kids some basic architectural terms like “arch” and “dome.” Talk about the materials used to make the buildings (stone) and marvel at the sculptures that decorate the facade of Mission San José. In addition to the Alamo, San Antonio is home to four mission churches: San José, Concepción, San Juan, and Espada.

Alamo

Bexar County Courthouse: Talk about the difference in the appearance of the stone used to create this building compared to the white stone used to construct the missions. Take a look at the courthouse’s distinctive dome and talk about the terms “asymmetrical” and “symmetrical.” Point out the building’s cornerstone and look for others as you walk around downtown.

Courthouse Dome

–San Fernando Catholic Church: Walk across the street from the courthouse to the plaza in front of the church. Is this building symmetrical or asymmetrical? How is it different from the courthouse? What are the similarities between the two?

Beautiful San Fernando

–Tower Life Building: The most fascinating aspect of this neo-gothic skyscraper? Its gargoyles! Talk about skyscrapers and ask your child why he or she thinks the architects chose to build the tower so high.

Obviously, you’ll need to adjust these exercises to suit your child’s age and personality. The main objective is to encourage your kids to look at the buildings closely and notice the similarities and differences between them. The most important thing to remember as you head out the door? Have fun!

The Witte Museum’s HEB Science Treehouse

Witte Museum, fountain

Over the weekend, we took our daughter to the Witte Museum for the first time. In the past, our concern had been that she might be too young to appreciate many of the museum’s exhibits, but we’re glad we gave it a try. Although she was scared of the animatronic dinosaurs (two of which can be seen on the main level in the room directly behind the ticket desk), she loved the museum’s HEB Science Treehouse, located behind the main building.

The first thing that caught E.’s attention was the Move It! interactive floor. Although the actual games were a little difficult for E. to understand, she loved dancing on the glowing floor…in her socks, of course!

Dancing at the Witte Museum

On the main level of the treehouse, you’ll also find a small playroom for younger kids. E. put on an impromtu puppet show and played with some legos before moving on to another exhibit.

Puppet show!

Bernoulli’s Bench was another hit with E. Here, kids can perform different science experiments. E. enjoyed making a beach ball float above a stream of air and could have sat at Bernoulli’s Bench for hours if we hadn’t eventually encouraged her to move on.

Another cool thing about the science treehouse is that it sits right next to the San Antonio River. On our way out, we stopped outside to look at the river and some of the displays about the kinds of fish that live in this habitat.

Although we had fun at the Witte Museum’s science treehouse, I definitely think this is an activity best-suited for older, school-age kids. It would be particularly useful as a field trip destination to supplement science instruction or an outing for children who are homeschooled.

We paid our own admission to the museum. All opinions are my own.

Catch a Silver Stars Game Before the Season Ends

WNBA: Silver StarsOn Friday night, we went to our first WNBA game. San Antonio’s Silver Stars play at the AT&T Center, and tickets start at just $10. This game really reminded me of the Missions game we went to earlier this summer: sports-related family fun that isn’t too expensive.

I was particularly excited to take E. to the game because she has been saying for months that she wants to be a basketball player when she grows up. She has said this despite the fact that every sporting event we’d taken her to so far had revolved around male athletes. I was thrilled to show her that YES, girls can play sports too!

You can still catch a Silver Stars game this season, although you only have three chances left: Tues August 17, Fri August 20, and Sun August 22. For a complete schedule and other information, stop by the Silver Stars website.

Family Reunion in Washington, DC

We’ve spent the last few days hanging out with family, wandering through museums, and taking pictures of monuments in Washington, DC and northern Virginia. It was defintely a whirlwind trip–we were only there for three nights, yet we visited two museums (Natural History and Air & Space), the National Archives, Arlington Cemetery, and more memorials and monuments than I can count. We also hung out at a really cute park in Fairfax, Virginia where we had a picnic lunch, played frisbee, and rode a carosel. Add to that a crazy night at an Irish pub in Alexandria, Virginia and an afternoon in Baltimore before we flew out of town, and you’ve got one busy vacation!

E. in DC (1960s effect)

As you can imagine, I’m still sifting through photos and trying to decide which activities were my favorite. E. says she liked the Natural History Museum the best, mostly due to the fact that there’s a large elephant (her favorite animal) in the museum’s rotunda.

I found Arlington Cemetery really fascinating, especially the older sections. I could have spent an entire day there, but there just wasn’t time on this trip.

And of course, since this was a family reunion, E. got to see her beloved cousins, grandparents, and aunt and uncle. Plus, she was able to make a few new friends along the way.

In the coming days, I’ll be writing more about our trip. But I want to hear from you…what are your favorite things to do in Washington, DC?

A Visit to the Frontier Times Museum

Frontier Times Museum Parenthood is full of surprises. Sometimes they’re of the unpleasant variety: you plan a fun day, but things don’t work out liked you’d hoped. Other times, it’s the exact opposite. You’re not entirely sure where you’re going or what you’ll do when you get there, but everyone has a blast anyway!

Our day at the Frontier Times Museum in Bandera was a pleasant surprise. To be honest, I thought E. would be bored. However, she loved it.

The Frontier Times Museum may appear small, but it contains 40,000 artifacts from the old west. As you can imagine, there isn’t a lot of room to run around in the museum, so watch those little ones closely!

You’ll find everything from old pianos and typewriters to elaborately-decorated saddles. One of my favorite items was an old dentist’s chair and equipment from the 1800’s.

E. particularly enjoyed looking at some seashells which were brought back to Texas from the Phillipines during the 19th century. We had fun looking at the old household items and comparing them to the kinds of things we use today. I was truly surprised that E. found the museum so fascinating, since she’s only 3 years old. Just goes to show you: it doesn’t hurt to try something new once in awhile.

The museum is located in the small town of Bandera, which is a very easy drive from San Antonio. Once you get into town, you’ll see signs for the Frontier Times Museum. If you lose your way, just look for the county courthouse; the museum is located a block behind it. Admission is reasonable: $5 for adults and free for children under 6. Kids over 6 pay $2, Seniors $3.

Frontier Times piano
E. really wanted to play the piano, but of course I didn’t let her.

Frontier Times, dentist chair
Dental equipment from the old days…Yikes!

Meeting Other Bloggers: Guess What? We Actually Had Stuff to Talk About!

Prior to this summer, I’d never met any of my blogging friends. The authors of all of those great posts and hilarious tweets seemed a little unreal to me. There are real people behind those words, right? I’m pleased to say that the answer is yes! And they’re just as nice in-person as they are online.

First, I met Jen from Two Kids and a Map. She and her family were visiting San Antonio, so we decided to hang out at the Guenther House. We talked about blogs, kids, and travel. I had a great time chatting with her and hope to see her again soon!

Then I met a flurry of Texas bloggers at SeaWorld’s #wildside event. Not only was this a wonderful way for me to meet other bloggers, E. got to do some pretty cool stuff too. She saw the dolphins up-close and had the opportunity to pet a wallaby. She even danced in a conga line with two of SeaWorld’s mascots, Pete and Penny.

For me, the best part about #wildside was meeting a few of my favorite San Antonio bloggers, Stacy of Kids Stuff World, Colleen of Baby Potential, and Debi from San Antonio Busy Kids. They are so nice. Seriously. And smart. Now, hurry up and visit their blogs!

There are so many bloggers out there who I’d love to meet. You know who you are. If you’re ever in San Antonio, let me know!

E and wallaby
Evie meets a wallaby at SeaWorld San Antonio

Disclaimer: SeaWorld invited me to the #wildside event, and I received free admission to SeaWorld and some free food. All opinions are my own, and SeaWorld did not ask me to write this post.

Unique in the World: The First Dance Class

Dance Shoes Today, E. attended her first of four summer dance classes. I had forgotten that they started today, so last night I had to make a very late run to Walmart (the only place still open) to purchase a leotard, tights, and soft-soled dance shoes. I got E. dressed in her gear this morning and told her how pretty she looked. We took pictures, of course, and then it was off to dance class.

I arrived to see a rather horrifying sight. Three-year-olds in make-up. Expensive dance skirts and tap shoes. Critical glances at E. instead of warm smiles.

I reminded E. that she looked very pretty and that her tights had hearts on them and were extra-special, and then I escorted her back to the studio. She loved the class. I watched through a window as the tapped and twirled her way through the hour-long session. I also listened as another mom murmured, “Well, it’s hard to tap when you don’t have tap shoes,” as E. paraded across the floor.

My daughter is three. She is beautiful, smart, observant, creative, and happy. She doesn’t need make-up or bows in her hair. I know all of this, and yet I worry that she might look at her classmates and doubt herself. I’ll continue to take her to dance class, but I’ll also continue to remind her that she is a wonderful kid. Unique. And of course, an excellent dancer.

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