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Greetings and welcome to GISH PICKS: A GUIDE TO CULTURAL ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES, a free weekly e-newsletter/blog I created as a service to the Houston community in 2003. Please enjoy and please share. My business grows by word-of-mouth from people like YOU!

Many students are being tested this week and throughout the year and I must say that I do not like “teaching to the test.” I have a feeling I’m not alone in that sentiment, so if you want to take action and make change about this issue, check out Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment. I especially like the “meaningful student assessment” part! They don’t have any events scheduled right now, but you can “like” them on Facebook and stay tuned that way. Speaking of schools, it’s that time of year when many of us are running around researching schools for the next school year. If you are looking for a good choice for your math- or science-oriented ninth grader, check out the Academy for Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Details are below. It’s a brand new small school that is perfect for kids wanting to be engineers, architects, mathematicians and more. The small setting ensures that learning will be focused and all graduates will receive college credits.

The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center is in full swing with their annual Jewish Book and Arts Fair and they have some special treats just for families. First up is skinned-knee guru, Dr. Wendy Mogel, who will be presenting a talk entitled The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessings of a B Minus: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Resilient Teenagers” next Tuesday, October 30 at 8pm. Her latest focus is teens – she compares their journey to the biblical one from Egypt to the Promised Land (makes sense, doesn’t it?!). See the next paragraph for deets about how to win free tickets to that event -- and for discounted tickets ($7 off!), be sure to go to the bottom of this event page and type in “gishpicks” as the discount code. The Fair is also bringing the very fun Mama Doni Band as part of their “Oliver Lapin Family Day” next Sunday, November 4. Mark your calendars now!

Congrats to new GISH PICKS Facebook page LIKE-er Brenda Boekman, who won passes for dance classes at Planet Funk Academy, which offers a lively Saturday morning’s kids’ Hip Hop class as well as a slew of other funky dance ed. As a special promo with the Jewish Book and Arts Fair, I’m giving away tickets to Wendy Mogel’s talk so get going! It’s super easy: head to Facebook land, find GISH PICKS, and hit LIKE. I’ll pick winners from my new fans so good luck! (P.S. While you’re in Facebook land, please like my page for THE SUMMER BOOK: A GUIDE TO HOUSTON DAY CAMPS AND CLASSES FOR KIDS AND TEENS. Many thanks!).

Have a great week and GO.FIND.FUN.

Picks for the Weekend of October 26, 2012



The Arboretum will host its eighth annual ArBOOretum fall celebration this Saturday, October 27 from 11am-5pm. This fantastic family event features a trick-or-treat trail where kids learn about different animals and their methods of hunting, migration, and movement while traveling along one of the Arboretum's nature trails collecting treats. It’s a great way to get outdoors and learn about nature and the world around us while celebrating one of everyone's favorite holidays - Halloween! Other activities include face painting, pumpkin decorating, carnival games, hay rides, a rock climbing wall, and visits from live owls and other critters. The Discovery Room, featuring aquariums, live animals, and microscopes will also be open for visitors. This year, refreshments will be for sale from some of Houston's most popular food trucks.

Children (and adults!) are encouraged to wear costumes. Event parking will be available in two locations this year: off of 610 at 1001 West Loop South and at the Memorial Park satellite lot; shuttles will be running throughout the day to transport ArBOOretum attendees. All proceeds for this event support the Arboretum’s wide variety of education and conservation programs.

This event is FREE for members (family level and above). General admission is $15 per person ages 3 and up.

Art-A-Peel: Pumpkin Carving Workshop


The Orange Show is celebrating Halloween with their annual pumpkin fest – this year it’s the Art-A-Peel: Pumpkin Carving Workshop which will be held this Saturday, October 27, 10:30am-1:30pm. Artist David Dorman will get kids in the spooky spirit with this hands-on Halloween workshop for kids and families in which kids will learn how to turn an ordinary pumpkin into a one-of-a-kind work of art. The Orange Show will provide all the materials, but this event is BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin)!

“Art A-Peel” is free and open to the public.


Tails will wag when the fourth annual “Barkitecture Houston Tour and Charity Auction” returns to Houston Pavilions this weekend, October 26-27. The annual event benefitting Pup Squad Animal Rescue calls on local artists, designers and architects to create stylish, yet functional, doghouses. This year, Barkitecture Houston will highlight more than 30 different entries, a record for the Houston event. The festivities kick off on Friday, October 26 with a special “Yappy Hour” in the Houston Pavilions courtyard. The public is invited to bring their pooch and enjoy drinks, raffle drawings and door prizes on the McCormick and Schmick’s patio from 5-9pm. The fun continues on Saturday with the official Barkitecture auction and Art + Bark photo exhibit. From noon-5pm, owners of the area’s most spoiled canines will have the opportunity to bid on and take home their favorite entries with all proceeds going to Pup Squad. In addition, the Barkitecture Houston Steering Committee judges will select their favorite submissions, honoring the “top dog” with the Best in Show award. Entries will also be awarded in the People’s Choice and Kid’s Choice categories.

Admission to all Barkitecture Houston events is free and open to the public. Event parking will be available at the Houston Pavilions Garage at the intersection of Clay & Fannin.

Barkitecture Houston Tour and Charity Auction


Most of us parents are in the throes of researching schools for next year, so I wanted to let you know about The Academy for Mathematics and Natural Sciences. It’s the first small school of its kind and is currently enrolling ninth graders for the 2013-2014 school year. It is the mission of The Academy for Mathematics and Natural Sciences to provide the greater Houston area with a quality high school dedicated to those students who wish to pursue careers in science, engineering, medicine, technical design and mathematics and to ensure that they are prepared for the rigors of the University experience by actually participating in University courses prior to their graduation. In fact, each student will enter college with a minimum of 15 semester hours of university credit thus reducing university costs and the experience needed to navigate the early years of university successfully. The school was founded because not only are curricula in the disciplines of mathematics and natural sciences on the decline in our society at large, but our ability to attract and maintain the attention and enthusiasm of the next generation of scientists and engineers is also waning under the current system of education. Students who are naturally drawn towards mathematics and natural sciences are often prevented from achieving their potential or, worse yet, have their interests in these areas stifled because their talents are not challenged due to the standard high school model of studies. The Academy’s curriculum and school model will address the need to engage and challenge these math- and science-oriented students, thus helping them reach their true potential not only with regards to their interests and skills but also for their careers in math or science.

The Academy’s curriculum is designed as a four-year program. Interspersed throughout the academic day, students will have study hall periods where they will have the opportunity to reflect on their lessons and work homework exercises under the guidance of their teachers and instructors. For more about the curriculum, please click here. There are two tracks for students: Track One is a half-day dedicated solely to math and science studies and is perfect for homeschoolers and the full day Track Two is designed as a full high school experience, with math and sciences courses as well as humanities courses such as Art History and English.

Tours are being scheduled now so please click here to set up an appointment or call headmaster Costa Papanicolaou at 866.338.2564. The Academy is centrally located at 2990 Richmond between Buffalo Speedway and Kirby Drive. The tuition is $12,000 for Track Two and $6,000 for Track One per year. Financial aid is available.

Crease Ranch


Crease Ranch is starting up this year’s T-ReX Lacrosse Winter Recreational League, which gives young players an opportunity to learn and compete in an age-appropriate manner over several weekends through the end of December. T-ReX LaX is dedicated to meeting the needs of developing lacrosse players with a focus on skills, drills, and having the thrills of putting them all together in games.

There is also a more competitive option - Team T-ReX Lax Tournament – which is for boys in grades 5-6 and 7-8. PRACTICES FOR THIS TEAM START THIS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28 (2-4pm; there is no practice on December 16 due to the tournament). Led by St. John’s School coaches and Maverick Varsity players, Team T-ReX players will be immersed in the complete lacrosse experience. All players will attend the league sessions starting November 4 from 2-4pm and then will have an additional hour of tactical team practice. They’ll put it all together in tournament play on December 15-16 and January 5.

Sessions take place Sunday afternoons (November 4, 11, 18, 25 and December 2, 9, and 16, 2012) from 2-4pm and are for boys K-8th grade and girls 3rd-8th grade. The League is $235 (additional $240 for the boys’ team which includes league practices, extra practices, 2 tournaments, and the uniform). All sessions are at the St. John's School fields at 2401 Claremont Drive.

GISH PICKS is a free weekly email in which I highlight family-oriented cultural events, products or services. Please note that I "highlight" events, but I don't know if they are appropriate for your particular children, so choose wisely based on age, maturity and interests. I know many of you go to events based on GISH PICKS recommendations; PLEASE remember to tell the organization that you are there because of us. Word-of-mouth like yours helps our business to grow. In the same spirit, please also feel free to share GISH PICKS with friends and families.

Do you have something you would like to promote on Gish Picks? You can promote family-friendly events, products or services to Houstonians all over the city and the surrounding area who are active parents, involved citizens and great shoppers. We love doing this community service and want to keep it free for our readers but in order to justify the hours spent researching, writing and designing this newsletter, we need advertising support. If you'd like to learn more, please click below.

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The purpose of GISH PICKS is to help parents become aware of all the fun things they can do with their children in Houston and the surrounding area, so GO FIND FUN! Please do give me feedback and ideas, as you are out there in the trenches also looking for interesting things for your family and I want to hear what you find.

If you are having trouble getting to a website listed here, try hitting the "Ctrl" button and left-clicking on the web address, which should make it "live".

For more about my personal, business, and family enrichment company, Gish Creative, and the services we offer, please click here. You are on this list because I thought this e-newsletter would be helpful to you or because you signed up for it. Please feel free to tell your friends to subscribe by clicking here.
My goal is to serve as an information resource for Houston parents through my various endeavors, including:

  • GISH PICKS, which is online and emailed out to thousands of parents and caregivers;

  • THE SUMMER BOOK®: A GUIDE TO HOUSTON DAY CAMPS AND CLASSES FOR KIDS AND TEENS which comes out annually in March and is sold at bookstores all over Houston, including Barnes and Noble; and

  • OTHER SERVICES including SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS, INTERACTIVE WORKSHOPS, PRIVATE CONSULTATIONS, and ART PROGRAMS that cover topics such as summertime fun, passion-finding (for adults, children and families), marketing, historic preservation, art classes, and activism. All of these services can be tailored for any audience and budget.

Sarah Gish
1940-A Fountainview, PMB 116
Houston, Texas 77057
phone/fax: 713.482.7065

© 2012 Sarah Gish

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