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Where to Play Indoors

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Where to Play Indoors

Laura Standefer, Senior Fun Correspondent

July 29, 2019

The weather this summer has been hotter and wetter than ever, but we’re only halfway through summer break and the kids may be getting restless. If you and your kiddos need to get out and play, there are several places in the area where you can burn that energy while staying dry and cool. Here are some awesome Austin area hangout spots so that everyone can play indoors.

Catch Air is the perfect place for kids burn off energy. There are tons of things to jump, climb, and slide off of at both Catch Air locations in Round Rock and north Austin. Instead of them bouncing off the walls at home, have them bounce here! 

Splash Shack is the first indoor waterpark in the Austin area and it’s perfect for days where the weather just won’t cooperate. With multiple slides and water features, both kids and parents are going to have a splashin’ good time.

 

Thinkery is one of the most innovative and creative places to play in Austin. It’s easy to spend hours playing here, and there’s something for kids of all ages. 

Urban Air is an airconditioned oasis of fun. Whether you decide to sit back or jump in on the fun with the kids, you are guaranteed to walk out feeling like parent-of-the-year. Plus, they have locations in north AND south Austin.

Kid Spa has your back if you need to run to an appointment or a meeting. With locations in north and south Austin, Kid Spa’s drop-in care is highly recommended by many ATX moms.  

Almost Grown Play Cafe is perfect for the little ones while you work. There are tons of toys and costumes for them to try on. Even my extremely clingy four year-old left me alone for a few minutes because he was having so much fun playing. 

Almost Grown Cafe provides an experience that is truly out of this world.

Wanna Play Playcare also has multiple locations for your drop-in needs. Let those kids burn off some energy while you get stuff done! (Or while you do nothing at all, we don’t judge).  

Mt. Playmore: Enjoy the largest indoor playscape in central Texas! Mt. Playmore offers food, a special reptile program on Wednesdays, and hours upon hours of fun for kids of all ages. 

Little Land Play Gym isn’t like other play places. It’s not as overstimulating and it is very innovative. With toys, swings, and unique playing tools, Little Land is our go-to location for learning and fun.

Pinballz Arcade has several locations from north Austin to Buda. Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, Pinballz has arcade games for everyone. Their northernmost location even has extra fun indoor attractions such as go karts, laser tags, multiple bars, and more.

Go Kart racing at Pinballz Arcade

How to Raise a Foodie

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How to Raise a Foodie

Krista Anderson-Hill, Senior Food Correspondent

July 29, 2019

When I chat with friends about family mealtimes, some describe the experience as a joy of connection and exploration or a battlefield of frustration and power struggles. Some eating preferences are hardwired like some sleep habits. But just like children’s sleep habits, eating habits can be changed, learned and shaped. The goal to creating positive food habits is not to have a child who likes everything; no one likes everything. But the aim is to raise an eater who enjoys eating, like a variety of food and is willing to try foods outside of his/her comfort zone. Here are some proven tips to raising a foodie and setting the foundation for many enjoyable
family meals.

1. Mom Has Serious Influence

Food preferences start even before your child is born and when he/she is breast feeding. Babies become acclimated to diverse flavors and spices in the womb and through breast milk. If mom is eating a wide variety of foods while pregnant and breastfeeding there is a strong likelihood that her child will be open to a wide spectrum of foods and flavors.

2. Try, Try and Try a Lot More

Research proves that it takes about ten exposures to a new food before a child is willing to eat it. That means the child sees the food on the plate ten times, sees the parents eat the food ten times and tries the food ten times. That is a lot of trying. Stay consistent and don’t give up if your child does not like a certain food. And, take the emotion out of a rejection by saying something along the lines of “ that’s okay, we will try another time”.

3. Involve Your Kids in Preparing Food and Cooking Meals

There are so many ways you can open the door for your kids to experience food beyond just eating. They can help start a vegetable/herb garden. Caring for a garden and harvesting vegetables, helps children feel a sense of investment in the food and fosters a desire to experiment and learn about food. Children also love to help pick out vegetables and fruits at the grocery store. Scroll through online recipes or look through cookbooks with your child and ask them what looks good to them. Involve your child in preparing and cooking meals. Even at a young age, children can stand on a chair, next to the counter and slice, dice and mix: children can use a serrated butter knife to cut vegetables, they can snap green beans, peel garlic, mix a cake and crack an egg. Allowing children to be involved in the cooking can take some of the mystery out of new foods and foster excitement and curiosity about meal time.

Allowing children to be involved in the cooking can take some of the mystery out of new foods and foster excitement and curiosity about meal time.”

 

4. Be a Model Foodie

Children learn by imitation, by watching you. If you try new foods often and talk about your experience, your child will most likely want to try new foods. In my family we have the Adventurous Eater Badge: the motto is that in our family we try things, and if you don’t like it, you do not have to eat the whole thing. The trying extends to mom, dad and kids. And, on the healthy eating note, parents need to eat what they want their children to eat. If you want your child to eat a variety of healthy foods, you need to be eating those foods too.

5. One Meal for All

I have saved the most heated tip for last. Cooking one family meal helps to create adventurous eaters. Many child experts, pediatricians and parents take a firm stance on this one and research supports the one meal for all practice. One meal means that mom or dad make one meal and it is your child’s freedom to choose what he/she does or does not eat. Parents set the expectations and then do not make a big deal of it when food is not eaten. Children do a really good job of eating when they are hungry and not eating when they are not’ so your child is not going to starve. Here is the more challenging part, deciding what your child will eat an hour or so after the meal, when he/she has not eaten the food on their plate and is hungry. Many parents put the leftover food from the meal in the refrigerator and then offer that. Others, have a very short list of nutritious but not too exciting foods that can be eaten, if the child is hungry. In most cultures around the world, children eat what their parents eat and there are no other options. Stay strong and give it a go.

One way to lean into this concept of one meal for all is to deconstruct a dish. Especially when kids are little composed dishes like sandwiches, pasta, salads, lasagna, enchiladas can be intimidating. An easy trick is to deconstruct the dish. For example if the dish is a taco, put the cheese, lettuce, tomato, meat and shell all on the plate but separate it. Or if it is spaghetti and meatballs, put the sauce, spaghetti and meatballs all in individual bowls.

Best Austin Area Swimming Holes

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Best Austin Area

Swimming Holes  

Laura Standefer, Senior Summer Correspondent 

July 15, 2019

I was born on an island and being in the water is where I’m the happiest. Having lived in Central Texas for almost my whole life, I know the importance of our lakes, creeks, swimming holes, and even that neighborhood pond that people can’t seem to stay out of during summertime. If you and your family are looking to cool off sometime this summer (I mean, who isn’t?), there are several Austin area swimming holes that everyone can enjoy!

Blue Hole in Georgetown

Blue Hole in Georgetown

I particularly enjoy going to Blue Hole because of how kid-friendly it is. You can find free public parking at the corner of 3rd and Rock Street in the parking lot or the parking garage, then make the short hike down to the clean, refreshing water. Bathrooms and picnic benches are available and, while glass is not permitted, coolers are definitely allowed.

Deep Eddy Pool

Looks like a pool, but it’s actually a man-made swimming hole. Located downtown and basically on the river, Deep Eddy Pool is what locals are calling, “The Best Way to Spend a Hot Summer Day in Austin.” There is an admissions fee during the summer, but discounts are offered to residents.

Pedernales Falls

Located southwest of Austin in Johnson city, Pedernales Falls is the perfect place for hiking, kayaking, swimming, tubing, fishing, and even horseback riding. The best part? Free admission for children under 12! This swimming hole is beautiful and the drive out there will remind you of what Texas has to offer. Check out their website for more information and fun events, including their Junior Ranger program.

 

 Blue Hole in Wimberley 

Photo by: Kat Standefer Photography

Blue Hole in Wimberley

Can you keep a secret? Blue Hole in Georgetown is perfect for swimming and is typically not crowded, unlike everywhere else in the Austin area. Online reservations are mandatory and picnic tables can be reserved. Wimberley is one of my favorite get-away cities in Texas and its Blue Hole is just another reason to go back this summer.

Krause Springs

Krause Springs is the perfect place for a family day trip. Pack a cooler and enjoy the nature garden at the entrance, then jump into the refreshing waters via rope swing. If you’re having so much fun that you don’t want to go home, Krause Springs has an amazing on-site campground. Many memories have been made here, now it’s time for you to make some too!

Hamilton Pool

It feels weird to list swimming holes without mentioning Hamilton Pool. It’s probably the most popular swimming hole in central Texas and reservations are now required, but it’s is a strikingly beautiful place to spend the day. Located in Spicewood Springs, Hamilton Pool is a must see for visitors and locals alike. Please check the website to make sure that it’s open for swimming at the time of your visit.

How Your Kid’s Sleep Habits Are Affecting You

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How Your Kid’s Sleep Habits Are Affecting You

Ellie Porter, Sleep Help Institute

July 8th, 2019

We all expect newborns to affect our sleep, but there’s no limit on when your kids will stop impacting your sleep habits and health. From the instant they’re born, kids change everything about our lives. Here are just a few of the ways that kids make it harder for you to get a full night’s sleep, and how you can make efforts to finally get some rest. 

Disturbing Your Sleep

  • Climbing into bed with you
  • Crying throughout the night
  • Coming home past curfew
  • Dealing with illness

If you find that your kids are constantly coming to sleep in bed with you, or on the couch, it might be because they aren’t comfortable in their own room. Make sure that their mattress isn’t damaged or uncomfortable for them to sleep on. If they are, you might want to look into replacing the mattress with a new one. You may need to help them figure out why they don’t want to sleep in their own rooms. It’s an important step for younger kids to figure out.

If you are sleep training your kids or dealing with illnesses in the middle of the night, I wish you luck. It can be a strenuous time in your life. Make sure to lean on your partner while you do this. You’re a team and they should be losing just as much sleep as you do.

 

Delaying Your Sleep

  • Helping kids with projects
  • Late night activities
  • Waiting up for kids to come home
  • Stress

Kids bring with them a lot of responsibilities, no matter how old they are. There are all kinds of ways that kids will keep you up at night, from helping them with school projects to stressing about their well-being to waiting for them to come home from their activities.

Setting a strict bedtime is important for your kids’ sleep health, and it’s also important for you. Make sure that you’re taking care of your own sleep habits the way you do for your kids. It might be better for you, in the long run, to go to sleep while you’re waiting on them rather than waiting up forever. You’ll figure out the right path for yourself eventually.

 

Make sure that you’re taking care of your own sleep habits the way you do for your kids.

Disrupting Your Routine

If there’s one thing that kids are really good at, it’s disrupting whatever you are trying to do. no matter how vigilant you are about your bedtime routine for yourself, it’s inevitable that kids are going to disrupt it whenever you need the routine the most.

One way that you can avoid the disruptions is by working your kids’ routine into your own bedtime routine. If there are things that you can do together, like yoga, try adding that to the routine. otherwise, it might be best to finish your routine after your kids have gone to bed.

If you are struggling to sleep well, you might want to talk to your doctor about getting some additional help with your sleep. There might be a medical reason for your struggles and it’s important to get that checked out.

Sleep Help is an independently owned and operated, unbiased sleep-health education site dedicated to bettering your waking life by improving your sleep.

Fourth of July in Austin

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Fourth of July in Austin

Laura Standefer, Senior Independence Day Correspondent

July 1, 2019

Austin is know for its three Fs: food, fun, and festivals. Independence Day is one of the most monumental moments in history and it’s no surprise that Austin knows how to celebrate. No matter where you live in the city, there are some amazing Fourth of July activities and festivals nearby. Check out these top July 4th event picks! 

H-E-B July 4th Concert & Fireworks
This is probably Austin’s most popular fourth of July event. Thousands of families gather downtown at Auditorium Shores to enjoy one of the most spectacular fireworks displays in Central Texas, accompanied by the majestic sounds of the The Austin Symphony. Transportation and parking is tricky, but you can find suggestions and more information on the festival here

4th of July Parade & Celebration at Milburn Park
This one is my personal favorite! I’ve been going to the fourth of July festival at Milburn park since I was seven years old! The festival has grown so much and now includes live music, food trucks, carnival games and rides, and an amazing fireworks show. For more information, click here

“Independence Day is one of the most monumental moments in history and it’s no surprise that Austin knows how to celebrate.”

Hutto 4th of July Celebration
On the other side of Wilco, the city of Hutto will host their second annual 4th of July celebration at Hutto Park at Brushy Creek. Their entertainment line up includes popular local bands such as Blue Water Highway, American Gypsy Band, and Treble Soul. Come before the fireworks show to enjoy kids activities and food trucks. The celebration starts at 5pm and you can find more information here

First Annual July 4th Festival at Doc’s Drive In
If you live further south, you may want to check out Doc’s first Annual July 4th Festival in Buda. They will have live music, kids activities, arts and crafts, BBQ, plus games and drinks from local wineries and breweries for grown ups. They also claim to have Buda’s best firework show, so I’m sure it’ll be worth checking out! The fun starts at 2pm and you can find more information here

2019 July 4th Fireworks Paddle
If you don’t want to deal with the crowds at Auditorium shores, make your way over to the Rowing Dock and you can see the fireworks show from your kayak on Lady Bird Lake. There are options for adults and children of all ages (no infants or dogs, though). They have a limited amount of kayaks get your tickets here today! 

Independence Day Festival at Hill Country Galleria
If you’re looking for some Independence Day fun in the Bee Cave area, the Hill Country Galleria will be holding a festival that will surely be a hit. Admission and parking is free, it’s dog friendly, and their music line up is looking pretty impressive. There will be rides, games, food, vendors, art, and, of course, fireworks! Click here for more info! 

Sertoma’s 36th Annual 4th of July Family Celebration in San Gabriel Park
This is one of the Austin area’s longest running Independence Day festivals and there will be plenty of activities for your family to enjoy starting at 11am. A few of the activities include bounce houses, a petting zoo, live music all day, plus plenty of food and drink options so you can keep the fun going. Make sure everyone can make it until 9:30 to witness the sensational “Fireworks Finale” provided by GWPyro. Here is all of the additional information you need!