When I last wrote, the summer seemed full of possibilities yet, and now it is winding down. Only two weeks until the start of another school year. As we all expected, summer’s heat has turned up the dial and we are all sweltering. However, it hasn’t really stopped us from playing outside, because we are crazy like that.
Perhaps in a different year, we would have lost all interest in outdoor activities, but three current activities are keeping us motivated: a step challenge at my work, my goal to get to 4000 geocache finds by my 41st birthday (31 finds/37 days left), and the advent of Pokemon Go. I realize that Pokemon Go is one of those things that you either love, hate, or laugh at, but it is a perfect way to inspire my ten year old who really needs more exercise (and can’t stand geocaching anymore) to get out of the house and be active. It is a lure, to borrow a term from the game, to encourage him to go for a walk around the neighborhood, at a local park, or even our nearby malls on particularly hot days, so I can still get my steps in for the step challenge but yet not feel guilty about leaving my children to work on it.
These are our top ten places we have discovering and playing at this summer since I last wrote (not an all-inclusive list, and besides the places I mentioned last time):
- McClendon Park: I have decided this is one of my favorite finds of the summer. It has a nice playground for all ages, a splashpad, geocaches, pokestops and gyms for PG, and also it is right next to a rookery where tons of birds have made their roost, making for exciting bird watching as well.
- Pine Mill Ranch: this is a neighborhood near my house that I have been geocaching in by bike, sometimes alone and sometimes with my friend and her kids. One day, we were really hot towards the end and found the splashpad. Playing in it really cooled us down, and later I planned a Hike It Baby walk there, but was disappointed that only one other person showed up. This seems to be my fate with planning Hike It Baby walks, so I have kind of given up on that myself, although Jason has been taking the kids on tons of Hike It Baby walks since he has been spending the summer as a stay-at-home dad.
- Katy Mills Mall: the mall is not new to us, but we rediscovered how much we enjoyed it after Pokemon Go. It has a ton of pokemon stuff going on, but also it is a nice air-conditioned venue to get some exercise, and someday we plan to spend a whole day there, perhaps paying to ride the train and the giant robotic stuffed animals, to sample all the foods and check out all the stores. For now, we mostly play and window-shop. We also had a good time re-exploring Memorial City Mall, although the play area was very crowded. There was this special thing going on while we were there in which we found this giant Pokemon exhibit and had to take a pic of the real-life pokeball.
- Fort Bend Discovery Center: This is the new branch of the Houston Children’s Museum, and it is much closer and much less crowded. We decided to buy a family membership after a nice visit there last weekend with our friends (that I met online last year, through a baby app and then via Facebook and Hike It Baby). These pics are the kids having fun discovering all the exhibits. The Tot Spot was awesome – a safe, air conditioned place with all kinds of toddler friendly activities. When I was in there, I felt like I was really doing something good for my kids. Jason will probably take Sebastian back there regularly during the week now that we have a membership and until he starts working again.
- Rick Rice Park: lots of pokemon activity
- Westgreen Park: I discovered this little gem when we were going back and forth to Rick Rice Park in the past few weeks. It has a playground and a splash pad, and Sebastian really enjoyed playing there. There is no playground at Rick Rice, so this is a good way to reward him for being a good boy and putting up with being pushed around in the stroller or driving around looking for imaginary monsters
- Quillian Center (Noah’s Ark Pool): I took these younger guys there on a day around Fourth of July weekend, during a time when Jason was taking AJ to urgent care to look at the full body rash he had acquired. We had a lot of fun and I would take the kids back, but probably not until next year when Sebastian is a little more able to keep up with the bigger kids.
- Ervan Chew Park: On the surface, this park is pretty basic, but we had a good time here playing on the playground, in the splashpad, catching Pokemon, and watching the dogs in the dog park next door. Plus there was this water fountain incident that made us laugh:
- Houston Zoo: although I will say, I am not going back here until it cools down, because I almost died when we went in the middle of the day on a July Saturday. I sweated so much. The splash pad was fun, though, and we have free admission (membership) until November. We’ll be back, just not until temps are below 90.
- The elementary school: the school Kaleb goes to is not that far from our house, and it has a really nice playground for Sebastian to play on in the evenings (particularly summer evenings). He is obsessed with playing ball right now, so this is a good place to take him in the evenings to let him chase soccer balls around in the grass, or learn how to bounce basketballs.