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Amahl and the Night Visitors Dance Winter Kaleidoscope Dance Winter Camp New York Children's Film Fest About GISH PICKS About Gish Creative Melissa Noble Hair
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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!

It’s 12.12.12. Even if you’re a skeptic, you have to admit that the numbers are REALLY COOL for this day. It’s also “Día de La Virgen de Guadalupe”, so take a moment and look for some miracles as you whiz through your day. They are plentiful in this season of joy and caring – and as hokey as it may sound, I’m with Tinkerbelle when she says “I do believe in miracles, I do, I do!” May you enjoy many.

‘Tis the season but it ain’t always easy. I hadn’t thought about what it would be like to experience the holidays with a child on the autism spectrum until I read my friend Cynthia Singleton’s piece, “Running the Christmas Gauntlet”. Reading about her family’s holiday that ranged from “exhaustion” to “magic” was touching and heartbreaking all at once and it made me very grateful for people like Cynthia and my other friend Carol Streatfeild who not only struggle through the tribulations of living with autism but who also raise awareness for it in our community and in government. The Children’s Museum of Houston is doing their part to support families with autism: they host regular “Sensory Friendly Days in which the doors are closed to the general public and the music is turned off. Brilliant!

Every year in GISH PICKS, I recommend The Children’s Museum’s annual exhibition, “Seasons of Sharing,” because it’s the best way to introduce kids to holiday traditions around the world. Be sure to check it out before January 6, 2013. Speaking of the CMH, I’m pleased as punch to announce that I’ll be celebrating TEN YEARS OF FUN with Gish Picks and The Summer Book®: A Guide to Houston Day Camps and Classes for Kids and Teens in 2013 and the Children’s Museum is helping me celebrate in a big way by opening their doors for a good-n-rowdy, DECADE-nt, kid-friendly party on Saturday, March 23. Mark your calendars now and plan to join us – we’ll have nonstop entertainment from the finest cultural orgs in the city, information for families, and lot of treats and news.

Do you like GISH PICKS? Then show your love today and you’ll win two free passes to Planet Funk Academy, which offers a lively Saturday morning kids’ Hip Hop class as well as a slew of other funky dance ed. To win these passes, head to Facebook land, find GISH PICKS, and hit LIKE. I’ll pick a winner 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!).

Enjoy the 12’s, have a great week, be kind to others, and GO.FIND.FUN.

Picks for the Weekend of December 14, 2012

Amahl and the Night Visitors


Earthen Vessels, the contemporary ballet ensemble founded by former Houston Ballet soloist Sandra Organ Solis, will present Gian-Carlo Menotti’s beloved “Amahl and the Night Visitors in the elegant Houston Ballet Center for Dance at 601 Preston Street at Smith. Perhaps Menotti’s best-known work, "Amahl and the Night Visitors" was premiered by Hallmark Television in 1951, and has been a holiday family favorite for generations. Amahl” is the tender story of a widow and her young disabled son who are visited one night by three wise men. This encounter and the mystery that occurs are at the heart of this family friendly production of this opera sung in English. The clever choreography by James Sewell seamlessly incorporates American Sign Language (ASL), making the work accessible to those with hearing loss. And, at only 45 minutes long, it is the perfect holiday introduction to ballet and opera for the season!

Performances are December 15 and 16 at 1:30 and 7pm. Tickets are $9-$18 and can be purchased by clicking here or by calling 713.701.7798.

The Gruffalo's Child by Johannes Weiland and Uwe Heidschotter


This Saturday, December 15 at 3pm, the Aurora Picture Show and the Houston Public Library presents “Best of New York International Children’s Film Festival” in the children’s reading room at the beautiful and historic Julia Ideson Library. Kids will get to enjoy a colorful collection of short films from around the world, hand-picked as audience and jury favorites from the 2012 New York International Children’s Film Festival. Included will be a collection of short films about a quirky, black and white paper cut-out car race; a film about two cute-as-buttons Japanese puppets traveling to Abbey Road to find inspiration and shoot the video for their ukulele cover version of “Twist and Shout;” and a sweet film adapted from the enormously popular Gruffalo picture books by British author Julia Donaldson. Following the screening will be a special reading of Gruffalo and related crafts.

The Julia Ideson Library is an ornate Spanish Renaissance Revival-style structure in Downtown Houston that opened in 1926 as the city’s central library, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The restored library re-opened to the general public on December 5, 2011. Although no longer the central library, the Julia Ideson Library remains a rich literary and historic resource center with plenty of special programs open to the public. In addition to being the permanent home of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center and staff members of the Houston Public Library and Houston Public Library Foundation, Houstonians and visitors alike will enjoy the new Exhibit Hall that will host rotating shows of items from the HMRC's collection and visiting exhibits, and the magnificent Reading Room.

The Julia Ideson Library is located at 550 McKinney and this event is free and open to the public. It’s recommended for kids ages 4 and up.


This Saturday, December 15 at 3pm, the United Russian-American Association and Oksana Chernyuk of the Sunrise International Dance Company present a special “Winter Kaleidoscope” dance performance at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center's Kaplan Theatre. Wonderful costumes, beautiful dances, and a special celebration of the holidays for kids is sure to please everyone!

The mission of the United Russian-American Association is to broaden the cultural and social ties of the 70,000+ members of the Russian-American community with the citizens of Houston while supporting activities and services which preserve and maintain a Slavic cultural heritage in the émigré community. The Sunrise International Dance Company was founded by Ms. Chernyuk, who was born in Odessa, Ukraine and is a graduate of Odessa’s Ballet School and the Moscow Institute of Folkdance and Art. The Company builds well-rounded dancers by incorporating the grace and beauty of ballet, the strength and emotion of modern dance, and the energy of traditional folk dancing while also focusing on a variety of dance styles such as contemporary, jazz, flamenco, ballroom, hip-hop, and break-dance. The company currently has over fifty enrolled dancers and a team of six advanced dancers.

Tickets to the show are $15/adults and $10/kids and can be purchased online or by calling 832.814.5099.

Winter Kaleidoscope
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Winter Break Camp


Yep, school is almost out and the kids are almost in. Wha’cha you gonna do? Sign them up for the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Winter Break Camp, of course!


Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
January 2-4, 2013
9am-3pm and 9am-noon
5-12 years old
$215-$265/full day; $95-$130/half day

Join Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Naturalist teachers for three fun-filled days to become an Arboretum C.S.I. - Critter Science Investigator! Using the tools of a wildlife scientist, investigate the lives of the critters hidden in our frosty forest and track elusive wildlife by discovering the clues they leave behind.


Melissa Noble has been my hair stylist for awhile now and she recently gave me another fantastic cut! She is a multi-faceted and passionate independent hairstylist and make-up artist who has built a reputation and client base in the cultural community from word of mouth by sculpting each person’s hair to its natural movement as well as adding longevity with the shape and cut. And, lucky for us, she also cuts children’s hair.

She truly understands any kind of hair - her specialty is her attention to the detail of precision cutting and “carving” each hairstyle while being sensitive to her client’s lifestyle needs as well as with color. She is always accountable and service oriented. I promise you’ll not only get full attention from her without all the noise or attitude of a large shop but you’ll also get great conversation as Melissa is actively involved in many local arts nonprofits, including KPFT-FM, DiverseWorks, and Project Row Houses.

Melissa operates in a quiet, serene, art-filled studio that overlooks a garden in the Montrose area where she was raised. For appointments, contact her at 713.520.5878, or at

(Photo credits, L-R: Two Birds Photography; Monica Kressman Photography; Only Once Images. Photos of last two clients and makeup on first and third by Melissa Noble.)

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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