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Holly Jolly Pops Hanukkah x3 WindSync Holiday Concert Heritage Society Candlelight Tour About GISH PICKS About Gish Creative Academy for Mathematics and Natural Sciences
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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!

This week I’m feeling somber because a teenager in our community took his own life last week. And it’s the holidays, which, along with all the joy, can add an extra burden for some of us. I hate to be a downer but I felt this was important enough to share with you so that we all can learn from this tragedy. Teen suicide is serious and if we can all be more vigilant and connected with the teens in our world, perhaps we can save a life. Teens are often moody and private so it’s hard to know how to help or when there is a problem, but I urge you to spend as much time paying attention to your kids as you can. Be nosy! Find out what’s on their mind and who they’re hanging out with. And -- don’t tell them I said this -- but check their rooms! You have a right to know what is being brought into your house. I recently went to a marketing presentation on “Millenials,” which are classified as people from 17-34 years old. Our teens are included in that group and they are a generation that’s plugged in almost all the time. So as another weapon in your arsenal, try to stay up-to-date on what your children are doing online and electronically. And don’t forget to say these words a lot: “I love you” and “I forgive you” and “How can I help you?” It’s that important.

On to brighter things! I’ve got four PICKS for you this week (whew!) and there is still time for you to sign up your children for my special self-portrait art workshop for kids, WONDERFUL ME!, that will be this Saturday, December 8, 10am-noon at Body Mind & Soul. It’s a great way to shop (the store is conveniently close to Highland Village) while the kids are having fun and getting to know themselves better. And if you haven’t been able to catch the “GOD” show at the Art Car Museum, head over there and you’ll see my piece entitled “Spirituality” as well as a host of other art that interprets that huge three letter word. The show is on through December 14 and the Museum is always free and it’s open Wednesdays-Sundays, 11am-6pm. And, finally, if you are looking for an excellent math and science high school for your rising 9th grader for the 2013/2014 school year, please consider the Academy for Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Applications are being accepted now and they offer financial aid.

Have a great week, be kind to others, and GO.FIND.FUN.

Picks for the Weekend of December 7, 2012

Holly Jolly Symphony Spectacular


For only the second time in 23 years, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion rings in the holidays this Friday, December 7 at 7:30pm with a heartwarming celebration that features the sounds of the season at their “Holly Jolly Symphony Spectacular.” The Pavilion will be magically transformed into a Winter Wonderland complete with snow as the evening’s musical holiday merriment features the Houston Symphony performing holiday classics and popular tunes conducted by Robert Franz. You’ll get to warm your spirit with joyful sounds of songs such as “A Christmas Festival,” Suite from “The Nutcracker,” a Christmas Pops Sing-Along, Suite from “The Snow Maiden,” “A Hanukkah Overture,” “Sleigh Ride” and more. Westside High School’s Inertia Dance Company joins the symphony performing to “Toot, Toot, Tootie, Toot” and “Sugar Rum Cherry” from “The Nutcracker,” as well as to “Dance of the Buffoons” from “The Snow Maiden.” The North Plaza will be decked out like the North Pole and starting at 6pm, guests can visit with Santa and Frosty, make arts and crafts, play in the snow, listen to carolers sing and much more. And everyone can climb aboard for a ride on the Candy Cane Express for a merry good time starting at 5:30pm in the Gold Lot.

Tickets are $15/orchestra seating. Mezzanine and lawn seating are free courtesy of Woodforest National Bank and KPMG, LLP and tickets are not required. Gates open at 6pm. The snow is sponsored by Hubbell & Hudson.

Heritage Society’s 50th Anniversary Candlelight Tour


This Friday, December 7, Honorary Chair Mayor Annise D. Parker, along with Event Chairman Shawn Stephens, will kick off the three nights of the Heritage Society’s 50th Anniversary Candlelight Tour! Friday, December 7 through Sunday, December 9, The Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park will host its wonderful holiday tradition – celebrating Christmas in an historic setting. This year’s Candlelight Tour will have decorated buildings, historic characters relating stories of the past, carolers, Houston Boychoir in St. John Church, Santa Claus and his Workshop, HGOco at the Baker Playhouse, family musical and magical entertainment, and holiday fare to eat at the Candlelight Café (cash only). While enjoying the scenery, kids can have their photo taken with Santa and play in Santa’s workshop all three days. On Saturday and Sunday, kids can enjoy real snow as part of the Snowflakes winter wonderland performance and on Sunday, they can visit with Bert and his horse Ol’ Trouble who will perform lasso tricks and other fun things.

The tours are Friday and Saturday from 6:30−9:30pm and Sunday from 5−8pm. Advance tickets are offered at a discounted rate here or by calling 713.655.1912. Tickets at the gate are $15/adults (ages 19–64); $12/seniors (ages 65+); $8 for students (ages 6–18); and are free for children 5 years old and younger.


The Evelyn Rubenstein JCC kicks it up for Hanukkah thrice with their Hanukkah x3 events for kids of all ages this Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9. The first of the three events is a Special Hanukkah Kids Nite Out,” taking place Saturday evening from 6:30-10:30pm. For grades K-5, kids will get to enjoy the first night of Hanukkah and Havdalla with the amazing and spunky storyteller Jordan Hill. Kids Nite Out will also feature sports on the basketball courts, arts and crafts, a special Hanukkah goodie, movies, and much more! Advanced registration is required by Dec 7 at 4pm; click here for reservations. The cost is $20/one child and $30/two children.

Number two Hanukkah x3 event features fun with jammies! Hip Hip Hooray – Hanukkah with PJ!” is a free event that takes place in the ERJCC on Sunday, December 9 at 10am. Kids infant to five years old are welcome and there will be plenty of hoppin’ boppin’ good times as everyone chants, moves, and plays along with the talented Jordan Hill. Hanukkah crafts and snacks will close out the program.

A special “Hanukkah Hunt!” wraps up the “Hanukkah x3” celebration on Sunday, December 9 at 2pm. For ages 6-11 years old, this event is for serious and curious Hanukkah adventurers who will participate in and advance a Hanukkah tale with fun challenges and surprises along the trail! The Evelyn Rubenstein JCC is looking for as many brave, smart and creative Maccabis as they can gather! The event is $5/child and you can register in advance here.

Happy Hanukkah!

Jordan Hill
The Nutcracker and Other Bon Bons


Here’s a twist on a holiday classic: This Friday, December 7 at 7:30pm, WindSync celebrates the winter season with “The Nutcracker and Other Bon Bons,” a concert of holiday favorites and an original retelling of Tchaikovsky’s classic story, “The Nutcracker.” Complete with unique and innovative choreography and costuming, this concert event will entertain and inspire children, families, and community members and is a perfect way to slide into the season. WindSync is thrilling audiences with their unique approach to classical music – they specialize in creative, engaging, and interactive concerts that incorporate elements of theatre to inspire audiences of all ages. Recognized for their adventurous programming, WindSync was named the 2011-2012 Ensemble in Residence for the Da Camera of Houston Young Artist Program and was invited to perform at the 34th Annual Chamber Music America Conference in New York City in January 2012. Strongly committed to educational enrichment and promoting arts engagement, WindSync has performed for communities all over North America since the ensemble began in 2009. In Houston and southeastern Texas, WindSync has frequently performed in schools representing Da Camera of Houston and Young Audiences of Houston, an arts program that applauded WindSync for their “extraordinary ability to connect with students, educators, administrators and parents in a powerful and meaningful way.” Master classes and lecture recitals given at Drexel University, CSU Long Beach, and Stanford University and at high schools such as Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and California’s Idyllwild Arts Academy have received similar acclaim. WindSync has also been presented by Music for Autism in five cities across the United States with performances for audiences with special needs.

“The Nutcracker and Other Bon Bons” is pay-what-you-can both online and at the door. The show will take place at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston at 5200 Fannin Street.

The Academy for Mathematics and Natural Sciences


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.

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.

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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.

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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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