Our Very Own Personalized Summer Camp in Houston

It’s been  a trying summer for all of us.  Last Summer in 2010, by this time, we were wrapping up everything here in Houston to head out on our road trip like we did in 2009.

This summer, due to unexpected discoveries with our current tenants, we’re waiting to find and lease out our home to new tenants.  It’s nerve-wracking since traffic to the house has been quite slow.  This just means one of us needs to be here in Houston until the house is leased.  Hoping we find new tenants by the end of July! Sigh…..

J travels back and forth between Arlington and Houston.  He’s spending time with his parents and extended family in Arlington and returns to Houston to spend time with us and to take care of things for our rental house.

Also, M is not enrolled in a summer program here in Houston.  That means I needed to get creative with how I’m going to keep this 8yo busy and active when she is awake.   If you’re a Mom reading this, you know this is no easy task. So we got strict with how we’re spending our time on a daily basis.  Instead of having her in front of the TV and the computer all the time.  which is inevitable on some days, I had to come up with a plan.  I’m writing this post on Saturday and let me tell you, I’m exhausted.

I did a lot of research on what’s available out there as far as summer camps. And wowza!  Everything is sky-high.  So here’s what I came up with and you’ll see why I’m so exhausted by Friday.  The good thing about this plan is that I’m spending a lot of time with M this summer (just the two of us)  and we’re getting to know each other REAL well!

Monday (6/13)  (10:30 – 4 = 6 hrs)

  • Free Yoga at Doss Park Community Center – M does coloring and drawing while we participate in Yoga.
  • Playground at Doss Park
  • Shopping at Costco.  Might as well eat lunch there too.  M wanted a hot dog.  It’s not often we eat hot dogs so I let her have them at $1.50
  • Computer time and TV time until 8pm.

Good night!

Tuesday (6/14)  (8:00 – 8:00 = 12 hrs)

  • Nia (I got back into doing NIA as Desk Guide so I get my classes for FREE.  I usually take M with me to my classes and she enjoys dancing also).
  • For lunch we usually end up at a small sandwich cafe that has been around Houston since the 90’s serving great Vietnamese food.  So today, we got spring rolls and noodle soup for $10.
  • When in doubt, we go to Discovery Green. There’s so much to do here. We usually bring M’s swimsuite and a towel so she can run around in the fountains. And it WAS hot that day.  While I baked in the shade, M ran around in the water cooling off. Of course, the ice cream guy was lurking around too. Yes, I bought her an ice cream bar for $1.75  I was told, the money goes directly back to the park!

  • Next?  The Houston Museum of Natural Science It’s  FREE every Tuesday from 2-5 pm. We took advantage of this time to explore it together. M’s been to this museum many times as a toddler (she even saw the famous Body Worlds exhibits with us here). We may return here for IMAX and Planetarium shows before we leave Texas.
  • Back to Discovery Green park for more playing after the museum!  Yes, by the time we got home around 8pm, I was exhausted.

Parking (1.00)

Good night!

Wednesday (6/15) (10 –  8:30 = 12.5 hrs)

  • Teach Burmese (8 – 9)
  • I brought M with me to do a showing at the townhouse that morning and to water the plants, etc.  She was super well-behaved the whole time.
  • M agreed that she misses going to the playground at Memorial Mall so off we went.  Quite a long time was spent at the playground.  We walked around the mall a bit and ate our lunch we brought with us in the food court.  Memorial is a really nice mall and every time I saw a comfy couch, I kept thinking to myself, ‘a nice nap would be so nice right now!’ But I must move along with my 8 yo  energy-bunny because she wanted to ride the Carousel which lasted only like 5 minutes.  Oh how I wished that ride lasted longer than 5 minutes.   (Ride:$1.00)
  • After the playground we head back to Discovery Green Park to meet up with M’s elementary friends (from her previous Montessori schools when we were living here).  She played in the water fountain, of course, and also joined us to do FREE Zumba that evening. This is quite a popular class in Houston with like 300 people.  When we were here last year, it was more like 100.  Dump the workout, join the party! That’s Zumba!
  • We got home late that evening.  M skyped w J for a few minutes and went to bed after she wrote her journal on how she spent her day!

Parking (2.00)

Good night!

Thursday (6/16)  (8:30 – 7:30 = 11 hrs)

  • Nia (Free class as a desk guide and M dances along with all of us!  Such a fun class).
  • We had an early lunch at Spec’s $10.00. There was so much food we had enough to share again at dinner time when we were at the Children’s Museum.
  • I’m very impressed with Museum of Fine Arts and its activities for kids. It is FREE every Thursday from 10-5.  The children’s activities like “A book and a look,” “Art detectives,” and “Art Creation.”  This week we were in the African Gallery!
  • Next, we head to the Health Museum.It is FREE on Thursdays as well from 2-5.  After June 23rd, they are FREE from 2-7. Here we also saw The Planet You, an educational video.  Tickets were $3 each for a total of $6.00.
  • Children’s Museum was next on the agenda.  We got there early and decided I’ll go ahead and purchase the Membership for $75. The good thing about this investment for the summer is that I don’t have to wait until Thursdays 2-5 when it is FREE to bring M here.   It is also FREE on 1st Sunday of the month. I’m certain we’ll get our dollars worth this summer because when in doubt during the day, I’m taking here to the Children’s Museum.  Regular fee per entry for an adult is $8.  M was all over that museum.  We did come home early as there were so many families and well, I was exhausted!

After we got home, M took a shower, wrote her journal for the day and went to bed.  Oh we did have a big argument because even after a long day full of activities, she wanted to go swimming.  This is when I LOST it.

Parking ($2.00)

Friday (3 – 7:30 = 4.5 hrs)

  • Teach Burmese (8-9)
  • TV time for M in the morning.  I was sooo exhausted, I didn’t want to move an inch.  Finally, I knew that if I didn’t take her out of the house for at least a few hours, I will regret it later.  Besides, we paid for Children’s Museum.  M got to explore many parts of the museum and she was a happy camper.   We ate Vietnamese sandwiches again at GIvrals for dinner for $8.61 (bought one for my Mom also!)
  • We wrapped up the evening with Garfield, skype with cousins in Arlington and her journal.

Oh brother, have I told you?  I’m so exhausted!


Play time and a lot of TV shows!  Finally, my Mom is taking M to the mall for a few hours before we meet with my friends Grace and Nancy for dinner at 5:30 pm to feast on some Japanese food at Tokyo One.  That buffet was $26 per person.  M got to eat for only $13!  Woo hoo!


We will likely have a Father’s Day lunch at a restaurant in Houston.  J will be here later in the evening and hopefully, we’ll be at the Miller Outdoor Theater to see Spike’s movie “When the levees broke!” for FREE, of course, with a picnic basket on the lawn. 🙂



Time spent out of the house = Nearly 50 hours

Hours spent on the road in crazy Houston traffic = Nearly 12 hrs ( depending on traffic, our commute takes 45 min to one hour each way from my parent’s home to the museum district/downtown Houston area).

Miles driven: close to 250 miles

Gasoline:  $42.00

No easy task weaving my way around with drivers like these in Houston!

Total:                     $85.86 for the week and  A LOT of my time.

Grand Total:        $160.86 ($75 of Children’s Museum Membership!)


Since I’m not working and have the time, it makes sense to pay myself.  So instead of paying a school to watch M, plan activities for my child, I did all the work myself.  We took advantage of air-conditioned public spaces for FREE.  The summer camp at the Y would have cost me $80/mo for membership and $160/week for camp totaling to $240 a week, $960 a month. Some camps are as high as up to $300 a week.

This is my Full-time job for the rest of the summer.  I’m saving us about $600 a month for doing the work myself and spending time with M.

And TRUST ME this is more tiring than all office jobs I’ve ever had in my life.  BUT time well spent for sure and I don’t regret it for one minute!

Message to M:  You’re one active kid, M! Love you all the same!


We Say NO to the Status Quo.

Live Small.  Live Green.  Give Large.  Take Little.

Take Notice.  Take Action


4 thoughts on “Our Very Own Personalized Summer Camp in Houston

  1. Its amazing to see how much you have to do for free in Houston. Of course its great if you have time to go to them but working 40+ hours ends up meaning the kids have to be in some type of camp and they dont come cheap here in south florida.

  2. Wow, I can’t believe how many things are on offer for free! That is one of the disadvantages for us in living in a very small rural community. There is just not too much to do!

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