Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's a day of remembrance and hope. It's a time to observe the life of a man who wholly devoted himself to the ideals of peace and quality and, in the end, had to sacrifice his life for his glorious dream.
There's another translation of MLK Day for all of us, especially we who have munchkins at home: It's a three-day weekend for the kiddos. Problem is, many of us don't get to sit this holiday out from work.
If this is you, get with Tulsa-based Seeking Sitters. There's a reason you hear nothing but good about this babysitting company - it's because they're the best, and the range of their offerings, whether it's in-home babysitting or sitters available to come into your office on these days when all the kids are out of school, can't be beat. Here's how to get set up.
Another option is the Sea Camp at Oklahoma Aquarium, 300 Aquarium Drive in Jenks. If your kids are in grades between kindergarten and fifth, pack 'em up and send them off to play games and learn about aquatic life all the live-long day. The cost is $50, but this ain't daycare, folks. The kids will be engaged, stimulated and challenged. And who knows, maybe your little person will make a new friend or two. Before and after care is available. Call 918.528-1508 or e-mail the Aquarium to register.
For those of us who don't have the option of respite from children plotting against us all day from their playroom lairs, I have a few ideas.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade
Where: Starting at Pine Street and Cincinnati Avenue in downtown Tulsa
This annual parade - the theme of which for this year is "Dream It, Plan It, Do It: Yes We Can!" - will proceed from Pine and Greenwood through what was once known throughout the U.S. as Black Wall Street, ending at Archer Street.
Scout Day at Oklahoma Aquarium
Where: Oklahoma Aquarium, 300 Aquarium Drive
The Oklahoma Aquarium hosts quarterly Scout Days to honor youth organizations like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire, 4-H and FFA and their members. Members in uniform or carrying a membership card and one accompanying adult can be admitted to the Aquarium at the discounted rate of $7 per youth and $10 per adult. They can also earn the Oklahoma Aquarium’s own Junior Biologist Badge. It's so fun that it won't feel like education, but it is.
Where: 3303 S. Peoria Ave. and 6528 E. 91st Street
What's more fun than making a mess with your kids? Making a mess with your kids that you don't have to clean up, duh. Head to Purple Glaze to pick out your favorite ceramic. Spend the afternoon painting or tiling it, just the way you like. Leave it behind for a few days for glazing and firing, voila, a one-of-a-kind commemoration of MLK Day 2010. Bonus: There's no studio fee on Mondays.
Where: 8229 S. Memorial Drive
Create the best nap time ever with a warehouse full of inflatable playground equipment. Reservations (and extra socks!) are needed for all events. Call (918) 249-0900 or e-mail the folks at Bounce U Tulsa.
Kaleidoscope Children's Museum
Where: 6202 S. Sheridan Road
If you couldn't get your kids not to touch delicate pieces of art to save your life, Kaleidoscope just might be the place for you. It's a hands-on kind of museum, with plenty of encouragement for your kids to do some learning about art and science. Who said a day off from school has to mean a day off from learning? Hours are extended to 10am-5pm for MLK Day. Admission is $5, and kids under 2 get in free.
Gardner's Used Books
Where: 4221 S. Mingo Road
Have I mentioned that I love this place? Yes? Well, I'm going to say it again. There's plenty of space for young kids to toddle, tons of books, music, comics and toys to keep older kids busy, and no one really cares if your brood gets a little rambunctious. Plus, there are two great restaurants right next door, including Gatsby's Grill. Yum. See how many books on MLK Jr. and the civil rights movement you can find - my guess is that, at Gardner's, it's in the hundreds. Pick out one or two, fork over the few bucks that they'll cost and look/talk 'em over with your kids.
If while you're out and about when little tummies start to growl, feel free to use my short list of indie lunch spots that are welcoming to young kids and their families (several of these even offer toys to keep the kids happy while the food's a cookin'): Joe Mommas downtown (complete with old-school video games); Cosmo Cafe on Brookside; Elote Cafe & Catering; Brewburger (kids eat for a buck on Mondays); Crusty Croissant; Dilly Deli; Kupcakz (maybe for dessert - or, if you're like me, maybe for lunch); The Brook (both Midtown and South); and Hideaway Pizza.
What are you and the kids planning to do together on MLK Day?