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How to Connect with Other Moms


How to Connect with Other Moms

HappiFamli, Senior Mom Friend Correspondent

October 28, 2019

I remember the first few months of being a stay-at-home parent. It was just me and my baby boy, all day. If the weather was nice, I would push him up and down the street in his stroller. We’d go back inside and nurse. When he was about six months old, we would go around the house and I’d let him flip the light switches on and off. This was the most exciting part of our day. All this being said, the baby and toddler stages can be incredibly boring. It wasn’t until I found my neighborhood mom’s group that I felt like I was alive again. If you’re looking for a way to connect with other moms, here are a few useful resources that can help.

MOMS Club International: Without this organization, I don’t know if I would have survived that first year of motherhood. MOMS Club allows you to find age-appropriate playdates, events, and even MOMS Night Out shenanigans with other mothers your area.  With chapters all across the world, you can use the MOMS Club International website to help you find the closest one to you.  

Peanut App: If there’s Tinder and Bumble for friends and dates, there has to be an app for mom friends right? Right. The Peanut app works in a similar way, where you upload your picture and other information and then look through other profiles to find mom friends that fit you. When your matched up with another mom, you can connect via chat in order to plan play dates and get-togethers. Take advantage of modern solutions like Peanut app to help you navigate through the hardest years of motherhood!  

Facebook: It may seem silly to post a personal ad on Facebook looking for mom friends but that’s how I found my best friend! Five years ago, she posted on our neighborhood Facebook saying that she was a stay-at-home mom with a five month-old and she was looking for friends in a similar situation. I was, in fact, in that exact situation with my five month-old. We met at the neighborhood park and we’ve been best friends ever since. Therefore, if you are tempted to post or reply to a personal ad for mom friends, go for it! Just make sure that you first meet at a safe place. 

Meetup.com: Yes, another website, but it’s 2019! It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for mom friends or an underwater basket weaving club, Meetup.com has a group for you. You can narrow your search down by your location or specific preferences (ex: moms of toddlers). Plus, joining is free and super easy. 

MOPS: MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is another worldwide organization that provides gathering opportunities with other mothers at a location near you. Even if your kids are no longer preschoolers, they now offer MOMSnext groups for mothers of school age kids. Go to their website in order to find your closest MOPS group!




Preparing for Cold & Flu Season with Elderberry Syrup


Preparing for Cold & Flu Season with Elderberry Syrup

Lyndsay McLeod, Respect Your Elderberries

August 26, 2019

Well y’all, we made it. Summertime is coming to an end and (hallelujah) the kiddos are making their way back to school. Parents rejoice as normalcy returns to schedules. Incessant snack requests have slowed down, giving our grocery bills a much needed break. But just when we
think the madness has ended, someone wakes up with a fever. It’s inevitable. Less time in the sun, resulting in less vitamin D, and closer quarters usually means equals more illnesses. Thankfully, there are things we can do to our family’s immune systems working at top performance.

Elderberry. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Referred to as “nature’s medicine chest” by Hippocrates, the elderberry plant is one of the oldest and most effective natural remedies around. Here’s the good news. You don’t have to be a hippie or a philosopher to experience the benefits of the mighty elderberry. Recently, it has earned some mainstream attention for its effect on cold and flu viruses. One double blind, placebo controlled study conducted in Norway on 60 patients (aged 18-54 years) showed impressive results for the effectiveness of elderberry’s antiviral properties. “Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.”

“What our study has shown is that the common elderberry has a potent direct antiviral effect against the flu virus.” 

-Dr. Golnoosh Torabian

A recent study conducted as part of the ARC Training Centre for the Australian Food Processing Industry showed that “compounds from elderberries can directly inhibit the virus’ entry and replication in human cells and can help strengthen a person’s immune response to the virus.” 

As you can see, the recent attention elderberry has been getting is for good reason and we so are excited to see it catch on. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, elderberry can also be helpful in reducing the symptoms of season allergies and even arthritis. 

For a local option, check out Respect Your Elderberries. Our syrup is made with the juice from the elderberries, as opposed to the dried berry. This allows all waterborne compounds to stay in tact that would typically be lost with dehydration.  We also use raw and unfiltered Round Rock Honey, which we never exposed to heat, preserving the beneficial live enzymes.  Find us every Saturday at the Round Rock Farmers Market from 10:00-2:00 and the Sunset Valley Farmers Market from 9:00-1:00. Keeping your family healthy has never been so easy or delicious. 

For more information check out www.RespectYourElderberriesATX.com

5 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity This School Year


5 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity This School Year

Laura Standefer, Senior School Readiness Correspondent

August 12, 2019

As the new school year approaches, many of us set goals to get off to a great start. But how do we make sure that we stay calm and prepared throughout the school year? Creating habits and routines can allow us to stay organized and avoid future frustrations. Here are five tips for maintaining your sanity throughout the school year. 

1. Prepare as Much as Possible the Night Before 

Mornings can be so unexpected. The kid that’s usually an early riser decides he’s going not going to get out of bed unless he is dragged out. It takes you longer than normal to find everyone’s shoes. Then, all of a sudden, there’s construction on your commute. By the time you drop off the kids at school, everyone is tense and stressed and the day hasn’t even started. Packing lunches and backpacks the night before can help you get out the door quicker and make mornings a lot less hectic, because who knows what’s going to come up?  

2. Visit the Classroom or School’s Website Regularly

Fortunately, we no longer have to completely rely on our children to tell us when a project is due or when a special event is coming up. Sure, they should carry most of that responsibility, but let’s face it: kids are bad at remembering things. Visiting the classroom website regularly can help parents prepare for projects or special events and allow them to prepare ahead of time, which means less stress for everyone.

3. Amazon Prime

Is there anything that Amazon Prime can’t do? We already use it for everything from birthday presents to toilet paper, why not use it for your school year needs as well? As soon as you get word of an upcoming project, order the necessary materials and supplies off of prime ASAP. It will be at your door the next day and you get get started without running around town shopping for glue sticks and pompoms. 

“Creating habits and routines can allow us to stay organized and avoid future frustrations.”

4. Keep a Calendar on the Fridge

Sure, there are several apps and features on our phones and laptops that help us with reminders, but try keeping a good old-fashioned calendar on the fridge. This way you and your children can get a visual representation of what is due and how many days are left until the deadline. Organization and scheduling can provide kids and parents a clearer path to accomplishing tasks and, therefore, reduces stress and chaos in the future. 

5. Set up a Carpool

Multiple kids means multiple start times for school and multiple extra curricular activities. Even if you have just one kid, transportation can conflict with schedules and eventually becomes a struggle. That being said, why not find someone that you trust to help with pick ups and drop offs? If your kid’s friend’s mom can drive them to soccer after school, that’s one thing off your plate! You can also offer to pick up after practice is over, that way you’re helping another parent out as well. Setting up a good carpool plan can be beneficial for everyone involved. 

Moms, You’re More Than a Number.


Moms, You’re More Than a Number.

Whitney Otstott, Guest Blogger
May 13, 2019
When new fitness clients begin working out with me, the vast majority of whom are moms, I ask them to think through their goals. I often get “to lose X pounds” or “well, obviously I want to lose weight” or “I just need to get rid of this (belly, thighs, baby pooch).” And then I ask the *real* question: why?
Why is it important to you to lose weight? No one wants to lose weight just for the sake of losing weight. There’s always a deeper reason rooted in emotions. Maybe it’s because you’ve lost some confidence in the way you look. Or you have a high school reunion coming up and you want to look great. Or you can’t fit into your clothes and it’s bumming you out. These “why’s” are important to nail down because they represent what really matters to you.

But I want you to look past the scale when it comes to setting health and fitness goals. For one thing, your worth is defined well past that number on the scale. You are many, many things besides your weight. Second, weight loss is a long-term goal. What about right now? When it comes to incorporating a healthy lifestyle, what are the benefits you’ll start experiencing right away? Let’s take a look.

“You are many, many things besides your weight.
Immediate Benefits of a Healthier Lifestyle:

We are seekers of instant gratification and it can be hard to have the patience required to see the numbers tick down on the scale. So what are other benefits that you’ll start noticing right away?

Better sleep: Moving your body throughout the day and feeding it well will naturally result in a better night of sleep, and we could all use more sleep, am I right? You’ll fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Surprising research by Dr. Eve Van Cauter shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite regulating hormone) decrease, promoting appetite increase.

More energy: It’s funny how expending energy gives you more energy, isn’t it? But think about it, when we sit around and don’t move, we feel sluggish and tired. If we can push ourselves to get up and get going, we find we have more energy than we first thought! Maybe it’s just a trek to the playground but you’ll feel better once you start moving. Studies show that sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to groups that did not exercise.

Better mood: Have you noticed how you just feel lighter and in a better mood after a workout? It’s not your imagination! Exercise actually releases endorphins that boosts your body’s natural hormones. Not only that, but being kind to your body just makes you feel good. When we treat this “house” we live in with respect, healthy food and exercise that strengthens the heart, lungs and muscles, it will respond in kind and reward us with good health.

Improved confidence: Even if the pounds don’t start falling off right away, chances are you’re going to experience an immediate boost to your confidence. And why not? You’re awesome! You’re lifting weights and sweating out the toxins and generally discovering that you’re quite strong and more than a little bad-ass. Hold your head a little higher as you walk down the street because your confidence will shine through!

One healthy habit leads to another: The great thing about treating your body well is that healthy habits are contagious! Start with baby steps: add in exercise 3 times per week. Next thing you know, you decide to have the salad for lunch instead of the cheeseburger. Now that you’ve discovered you feel and sleep so much better on the days you’re working out, you decide to take it from 3 days to 4 days. And on and on it goes…

These are just a few of the immediate benefits that you’ll start experiencing right away. The goods are there for the taking! Just remember, it’s not all about weight. You are so much more than the number on the scale.

About the Author:

Whitney Otstott owns GirlPower Fitness (www.GirlPowerAustin.com), a private, home-based studio that’s just for women, located in the southwest Austin neighborhood of Circle C Ranch. Whitney offers personal training, small group fitness classes and online nutrition coaching, and strives to offer women a better experience in fitness. Contact Whitney at 512-699-7730 or whitney@girlpoweraustin.com.

Family Wildflower Tours: Pictures, Picnics & Family Fun


Family Wildflower Tours: Pictures, Picnics & Family Fun

Laura Standefer, Senior Wildflower Correspondent

April 8, 2019

It’s spring time, y’all. It wouldn’t be very Texan of us to not discuss the most picturesque locations to see bluebonnets and other wildflowers. Whether you’re taking an excessive amount of pictures of your babies and pets, or simply enjoying the scenery, there are several places around town that are covered with iconic Texas wildflowers.

Photograph by Kat Standefer Photography

I’m a sucker for family pictures. Of course, I always pick out an outfit that looks great on me first, and then find something for my husband and son that somewhat matches. My guys moan and groan, but they eventually oblige. They may not realize it now, but they’ll be glad we have these pictures in the future. We’ll reminisce about the spring of 2019, where the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes carpeted the fields and highways, and how our four-year old threw a tantrum in front of everyone stuck in rush hour traffic. But really, it’s all worth it because,

“This Texas tradition is timeless and the memories are priceless.”

Here is a list of some of our favorite places to enjoy Texas wildflowers near and around Austin!

Brushy Creek Lake Park: Cedar Park

Here, the bluebonnets surround the small lake and the scenery is simply breathtaking. This park has ample space for everyone to enjoy the wildflowers, plus amenities such as covered picnic tables, a playscape, a splash pad, hike and bike trails, bathrooms, and more. This place is personally my favorite!

Mueller: Central Austin

I am not-so-secretly envious of my friend who lives in Mueller. That place is a one-stop-shop for EVERYTHING and if I lived there I would probably never leave. There are several reports of bluebonnet sightings in Mueller this year, especially near the Southwest Greenway area, and this makes for a perfect wildflower family outing. While the Mueller subdivision is known for its dining and entertainment, it also includes several parks, which are relatively close to each other. They have hike and bike trails, a lake, a pond, picnic areas, interactive and accessible playgrounds, the list goes on!

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: South Austin

Yes, it seems like a no-brainer to put a wildflower center on the list, but the flowers are especially abundant this year so if you haven’t been, now is the time to go! The center offers guided tours, picnic areas, natural playgrounds, a cafe, classes, and so much more. There is an entrance fee, but is free for children under five, members, and UT students, faculty, and staff.

Old Settlers Park: Round Rock 

Old Settlers really has it all. This park has 40 picnic areas, seven parks (including the updated Joanne Land Playground which is marvelous), a small lake, miles of trails, and too many more amenities to list. While the volume of flowers can vary, you should be able to find vibrant bluebonnet patches somewhere within the park’s 645 acres. Forgot to pack a picnic? Salt Lick BBQ’s Round Rock location is just a few steps away. Does it get any better?

Old Settlers Park by Kat Standefer Photography

Wildseed Farms: Fredericksburg

Honestly, you may see more bluebonnets than ever before just driving through Fredericksburg, but why not stop at one of the most bountiful wildflower displays in Texas? Wildseed Farms is open to the public and offers an unforgettable nature experience at no charge. This Hill Country gem contains walking trails, gardens, a vineyard, and their very own Brewbonnet Biergarten (how clever is that?). You can even purchase seeds to create your very own Texas garden at home. 

St. Edward’s University: Downtown Austin

Even if you’re not a St. Ed’s mountain goat, you have to admit that they have one beautiful campus! Located just south of downtown, bluebonnets have faithfully bloomed on the university’s lawn and it has become one of the most talked-about locations for stunning photos. Stop by St. Ed’s the next time you’re out exploring our famously weird downtown Austin. 

Balcones District Park: North Austin

If you’re looking for something closer to the Domain area, Balcones District Park is the perfect location for bluebonnet pictures. After you capture your instagram-worthy pictures, keep the fun going by taking advantage of the playscape and other amenities this park has to offer. Its walking trails will allow you to explore the running waters and peaceful scenery nestled within our busy city. 

Volunteering with Kids


Volunteering with Kids

Lyndsay McLeodSenior Pro Tips Correspondent

March 18, 2019 

Austin has a plethora of wonderful volunteer opportunities that you can participate in with your kids. Volunteering is beneficial to all parties involved, but especially children.

“Studies have shown that volunteering helps you to develop patience, compassion, empathy, leadership, and communication.”

And you know what else? Volunteering just makes you feel good!
There’s really nothing better than that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you see your kiddos making a difference in someone else’s life. We’ve put it the legwork for you and compiled a list of the many magnificent opportunities around our beautiful city that will not only enhance your own life but the lives of others as well.

All of these agencies offer you and your family the opportunity to serve and give back to your community. Many of them rely on volunteers to continue their work our community. By getting yourself and your family involved you have the ability to have a positive impact on somebody’s life. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Austin Child Guidance Center:

This agency helps to improve the mental health of children and their families through early intervention, diagnosis, and treatment to help develop the emotional skills to face life’s challenges. Volunteer opportunitiesrange from playing with children as they wait for their appointment to providing special event support.

Click here for more information on the Austin Child Guidance Center. 

Mobile Loaves & Fishes:

Mobile Loaves & Fishes volunteers hit the streets 7 nights a week, 365 days a year to provide food, clothing, hygiene products and other life-sustaining items to our homeless neighbors who are struggling to survive.  There are several different areas of opportunity to volunteer such as Truck Ministry or their Community First! Village.

Click here for more information on Mobile Loaves & Fishes.

Central Texas Food Bank:

This is a great opportunity to bring the whole family along and help fight food insecurity.

Click here for more information on the Central Texas Food Bank. 

Partners in Hope:

Partners in Hope is a Lake Travis ministry that connects people who desire physical, emotional, and spiritual help with people who will help.  Unlike ministries that organize a crisis response to a housing emergency, Partners in Hope helps families by working to improve living conditions, walking through a season of life, and empowering them to transform over time.

Click here for more information on Partners in Hope.

Generation Serve:

This program offers a variety of volunteer options for both young children as well as teens. Several of the opportunities are done alongside their peers without the supervision of a parent or guardian.

Click here for more information on Generation Serve. 

Fig Leaf Clothing Program:

Micah 6 of Austin offers street dependent youth a place to come for a snack or meal as well as take advantage of programmatic resources such as jobs club, expressions through art and occasionally guest speakers. 

Click here for more information the Fig Leaf Clothing Program. 

Sunday Supper:

Micah 6 Youth Center provides a safe environment for youth to relax and enjoy a hot, home cooked meal, something they may not otherwise have access to.

Click here for more information on Sunday Supper. 

Miracle League:

This is a baseball league for individuals between the ages of 4 and 19 that don’t fit into “regular” recreational leagues. Volunteers are needed for “buddies” and coaches.

Click here for more information on the Miracle League. 


STARRY nurtures children, strengthens families, and restores hope through counseling, family support, foster care, and adoption.

Click here for more information on STARRY.  

Urban Roots:

This organization offers individual volunteering or can help organize a group volunteer event. Urban Roots works to provide struggling families with fresh produce grown on their farm.

Click here for more information on Urban Roots. 

Meals on Wheels:

Meals on Wheels offers more than just meal delivery service! They have several active programs such as HOPE, a collaboration between Meals on Wheels and the Central Texas Food Bank, PALS, a program providing assistance in caring for the pets of elderly and disabled homebound clients, and Groceries To Go, which provides grocery delivery to clients who can cook for themselves but have no reliable or consistent help with grocery shopping.

Click here for more information on Meals on Wheels.

Brown Santa:  

This program provides assistance to underprivileged children and their families in Travis County and senior residents of local retirement centers in Travis County.

Click here for more information on Brown Santa.