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Talking to Kids about Growing Bodies & Puberty

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Talking to Kids about Growing Bodies & Puberty

Alison Macklin, Guest Blogger

September 23, 2019

You want to know what? Being a sex educator, I had these fantasies about how I would have conversations about sex and sexuality with my kids. They would go something like this: My son and I would be reading an age-appropriate book about sex and sexuality and we would go through the book while he sat quietly in my lap asking questions and me, explaining, in my educator language, the scripted “perfect” response. He would nod in understanding and we would snuggle in and he would know everything, and I would pat myself on the back and…” then I woke up. I had my children and with all things that comes with having children, what you imagine when having children isn’t quite the reality.

Instead of my dream scenario, I’m having conversations about sex in-between ordering food at the fast-food restaurant drive-thru in-between chauffeuring my kids between after-school activities, while trying to referee a disagreement between which Pokémon would win in a battle, and instead of answering my question about whether they want combo number 1 or number 3, my 8 year old son asks me, “mom, auntie didn’t choose to be gay, right?” Now, this scenario might phase me, if I didn’t remind myself that talking about sex, especially with young kids, is actually pretty easy. 

I know, I know. You are probably thinking I am being ridiculous but stay with me here. Young children are curious and not ashamed of their bodies and they don’t pass judgement. We are teaching them all sorts of rules for how to be in the world, this is a great time to teach them some rules that have to do with sex too (in an age-appropriate way). Use simple language. Use short answers. If there are follow-up questions answer them again using short basic simple language. Once the kiddo has heard enough they are going to let you know. Here’s the thing, it’s usually us, the parents who get embarrassed. Our kids are the ones running around naked without a care in the world. If you don’t make it a thing, it’s not a thing.

So, what does that even mean? 

  • When kids ask about what their body parts are, use anatomical language. Call a vulva a vulva (or at least use the word vagina) and a penis a penis. They aren’t bad words, don’t make them bad words. If a kiddo says, “look! There is a baby in that person’s tummy!” Gently correct them and tell them it is in the person’s uterus, not the tummy. Depending on the age and the kiddo, some will take that answer and you are done. Others will want to see the organs and understand what the uterus is and how the egg grows. All of that is fine! You can say something like, the sperm come from a penis and the egg comes from the ovary. Remember, keep it basic!

  • Remind kiddos that no one can touch their private parts without their permission and this is called consent. Practice consent in your house when it comes to bodily autonomy. Did grandma come over and want a hug and your child wasn’t in the mood? Respect your child’s wishes and don’t make them give a hug if they don’t want to. They are the boss of their body and make sure they know that.

  • If there is a parent in the house who has a uterus and has a menstrual cycle, don’t hide it. It’s OK to explain that you get a period once a month and that it doesn’t mean that you are hurt, but it means that your body doesn’t need the egg anymore. Also, make sure that kids understand the blood comes out of a different hole than the pee. And here’s an idea, if you are in a heterosexual, two-parent household, push gender-roles and have dad purchase period gear for mom. 

  • If you see a same gender couple, explain how people are attracted to different kinds of people and that love is love and that’s OK and that different families look different.

  • If you see a person who is transgender, and you child asks about them, talk about how that person maybe has a penis but didn’t feel like a boy on the inside so they decided they wanted to be a girl and now they feel much better and are much happier. So, we are going to respect her and help her to be happy because we love our friends and want them to be happy.

So, Alison, what happened in the drive-thru? “We’ll take two number 3’s, Charizard will definitely beat Digglet, and yes, Auntie was born gay.” My son’s response? “I KNEW Charizard would win!”

Alison Macklin is the author of Making Sense of “It”: A Guide to Sex for Teens (and Their Parents, Too!) and has been working in sex education for over 15 years and believes that all people deserve to have honest and accurate information about their bodies and sex so that they can make the best decisions for their life. She believes that all people deserve to have healthy, consensual and pleasurable sex when they are ready free from stigmatization and shame. Alison also believes that life is best lived with sarcasm and heavy intakes of coffee.

Currently the Vice President of Education and Innovation at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Alison lives in Denver, Colorado and is the mother of two children, 3 dogs and a cat that believes he is a dog.

The Ultimate Checklist for Baby Prepping on a Budget

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The Ultimate Checklist for Baby Prepping on a Budget

Emily Graham, Mighty Moms

September 9, 2019

The baby is coming soon, and to say you have a lot on your mind is an understatement. You have checked the boxes off some of the common to-dos. The car seat is secured (studies show potentially up to 84 percent of car seats are installed incorrectly). You’re stocked up on the essentials, like diapers, baby shampoo, and formula. Your meal train is set and out-of-town visitors have made accommodations. You are almost ready, but there are other important considerations. Read on to learn more about what else you can do to complete your baby prep while sticking to a budget.

 

Try Prenatal Yoga

Not only will yoga help you build the mental strength you need to become a mother, it will also help prepare your body to manage the pain and discomfort of delivery. Taking a class is a great way to connect with other moms and be part of a support network, but you can also do prenatal yoga classes at home by using free YouTube tutorials or other free online videos.

Take a Babymoon

A babymoon is your chance to enjoy your partner, take it slow, and savor this last vacation. Keep it budget-friendly by looking into vacation rentals in the Austin area. Staying in a home with plenty of amenities—like a stocked kitchen and quick access to exciting activities—can make even a staycation feel special. When taking a staycation in Austin, you can choose a vacation rental in an area that allows you to explore new neighborhoods, like trendy Rainey Street or SoCo, or you may prefer to find a home near one of Austin’s many lakes where you can enjoy swimming and boating.

Wait on the Nursery

Nesting is a big part of preparing for your baby, but there are other ways to nest outside the nursery. Most mothers-to-be put a lot of focus on decorating the nursery, but many children never sleep in there for the first three to six months—and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting even longer. By the time you start sleep training, you will have learned some of your baby’s likes and dislikes, and can decorate the nursery based on his or her personality.

Take a Birthing Class

If you want a better understanding of what labor will be like, how to get your newborn to latch properly, or how to make your own baby food, then take classes. Often your health insurance plan will cover some if not all of the costs of child prep classes. If that’s not the case, check your local libraries and hospitals. Many offer these classes at no cost as a way to improve public health.

Ask Your Mom Friends

You’d be surprised by how many people are still holding on to the clothing, toys, and accessories that belonged to their now adolescent and teen kids. Reach out to your mom’s network to see if anyone has anything they would be willing to sell or give away. Always offer to pay something for the item; chances are your friend won’t charge you much or will straight up give them to you. Hand-me-downs are a really sensible way to save costs on both small-ticket and big-ticket items. From onesies to shoes, bottles to bassinets, and strollers to cribs, you can cut a lot of costs by accepting gently loved items from people you know.

Pre-Register at the Hospital

If you plan to deliver in a hospital, find out if you can submit your admission paperwork ahead of time. This will save you ample amounts of time and stress. Instead of having to fill out these forms in the midst of painful contractions, you’ll already be on file and ready to go straight into triage or delivery. Filling out your admission scores ahead of time doesn’t typically reduce any fees—but it doesn’t add any, either. For those who want to, you can also pay a portion of your projected fees upfront. 

There are a million things on your mind right now, which is why using this checklist can help you feel less overwhelmed and more accomplished. Having a baby is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. Be patient and compassionate with yourself and stay focused on a healthy delivery.

For more parenting tips, visit www.mightymoms.net

Easy Back to School Breakfast Hacks

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Easy Back to School Breakfast Hacks

Laura Standefer, Senior Breakfast Correspondent

September 2, 2019

Hooray! The school year has begun! For many of us, this means that are lives are a little more scheduled, and that we don’t have to worry about planning every moment of every day. However, we still need to help our kids prepare and plan for the school days that lie ahead. This includes making sure they get a good breakfast, which you may have heard, is pretty important. Here are a few breakfast hacks to make your mornings a little easier. 

1. Make Ahead and Stick in the Freezer. Meal prepping isn’t the most exciting activity, but it sure pays off on weekday mornings. There are several recipes that allow you to just heat and eat after you wake up, like these breakfast sandwiches or these ham, egg, and cheese burritos. 

2. Include Protein. Adding protein to your kid’s breakfast can help their attention span and memory. There are easy ways to include protein such as these no-bake breakfast energy bites. Dairy, eggs, lean meats, and nuts are also an excellent way to fuel up before school begins. 

3. Muffin Tins Aren’t Just for Muffins Anymore. There are so many Pinterest pins that can inspire you to use your muffin tins to make some delicious recipes. Breakfast is no exception and making things like these low-carb egg muffins can really change the game. Feel free to make them beforehand and just put them in the freezer. Stick them in the microwave and they’ll be ready in just 30-45 seconds in the morning. 

4. Include Something Your Kids Will Love. My son’s Paw Patrol waffles aren’t going to win any awards for most nutritional breakfast item anytime soon. However, if I include eggs, fruit, or bacon, I can rest assured knowing that he’s full and has received adequate nutrition that morning. Carbs and sugar based breakfast items alone are not the best way to start your day, but they can definitely be included when paired up with fruits and proteins.  

5. When in Doubt, Have A Pouch or Bar. There’s no shame if you end up having to just hand your kid a pouch or a bar. Nowadays, there are several great options such as Larabars and Happy Tot pouches with plenty of fruits and veggies to start their day.  Convenience isn’t always a bad thing, what’s important is that your child is happy, healthy, and fed! 

Preparing for Cold & Flu Season with Elderberry Syrup

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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

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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. 

Using Your Local Austin Library for Summer Fun

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Using Your Local Austin Library for Summer Fun

Cecily Sailer, Guest Blogger

June 24, 2019

Summer presents a daunting childcare puzzle for parents: How do you keep kids engaged, learning, and having fun (for the whole summer!) without blowing the family budget?! For parents of toddlers and teens, the puzzle gets more puzzling, since many youth programs cater to the K-5 crowd. Look no further than the Austin Public Library, a fantastic resource for families seeking quality learning programs in various disciplines—for youth of all ages.

It’s worth noting that the Austin Public Library hosts a robust Summer Reading Program for children, teens, and adults—one that ventures light years beyond reading to encompass astronomy, theater, opera, film, nature, gaming, pop culture, and more. Anyone can attend Austin Public Library programs for free, though popular programs require advanced ticketing. You do not have to be an Austin Public Library card-holder to attend a program. (But if you live within the city limits, there’s truly no good reason not to have a library card.)

Library Programs for Toddlers

Kick off the summer with a parent-toddler dance party! Latin Grammy winners 123 Andrés will perform at the Central Branch on Sunday, June 9, at 1pm in the special events center. Enjoy beats and rhythms from all over Latin America!

https://www.123andres.com and http://library.austintexas.gov/event/123-andr-s-590417

The library’s Toddler Storytime series includes performative readings of favorite children’s books and early readers, but also songs, finger plays, and games for ages 18 months to 2 years. These programs can fill up, so it’s best to arrive early. Storytimes happen regularly at branches across Austin. Here’s the full schedule: http://library.austintexas.gov/event-tags/toddler-storytime Also check out Books and Babies, which meets June 4 and July 2 at 2pm at Milwood Branch.

If you have bilingual dreams for your little one, check out the library’s Dual Language Storytime in Spanish and English. This program isn’t specifically for toddlers, but caters to the 5 and under crowd. Storytellers speak in Spanish and English, and these events happen throughout the summer in branches across Austin. Here’s the full schedule: http://library.austintexas.gov/event-tags/spanish-dual-language-storytime

APL Studios helps teens learn how to write a screenplay, produce, film, edit, and market a movie. Led by Austin Film Society experts and guest instructors.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/apl-studios-594250

The Super Smash Bros. Wii U Tournament invites gamers to throw down in a summer-long seeded tournament that culminates with championship finals at the Central Library on August 14. Definitely pay attention to sign-up instructions if your teen wants to compete.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/super-smash-bros-wii-u-tournament-591520

K-Pop fans will go bonkers for the library’s K-Pop Idol Parties this summer. Learn dance moves, make K-Pop inspired crafts, and enjoy Korean snacks.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/k-pop-idol-party-594260

Cooking for the Cosmos allows teens to learn a simple dish and taste-test their creations.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/cooking-cosmos-594269

Problem-solvers and puzzle-lovers should grab tickets early to Library Escape Room: Return of the Demogorgon. Players must stop the Upside Down from spreading in pressurized game inspired by Stranger Things!

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/library-escape-room-594279

At the library’s Silent Rave, teens can slip on headphones and transform the quietest space in town into their own unique dance party—and switch between multiple DJs to create the perfect, personalized musical vibe.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/silent-rave-594283

Teens can also begin prepping for their future as a Twitch-streaming celebrity! (Look out, moms and dads!) Twitch Lab helps teens think about their online persona, build an audience, and develop a personal style.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/twitch-lab-594285

And don’t forget: Your Austin Public Library hosts an incredible number of programs that serve all of us in so many ways—whether we’re small business owners, kiddos seeking the perfect book, or parents wanting to expand our child’s experience of the world. If you want to learn it, the library probably can show you how!

Cecily Sailer is the programs and events director for The Library Foundation, which supports the Austin Public Library by raising money and awareness, and by offering unique programs within the library. The Library Foundation also hosts the Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp, which serves rising 3rd through 12th-graders.

APL Studios helps teens learn how to write a screenplay, produce, film, edit, and market a movie. Led by Austin Film Society experts and guest instructors.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/apl-studios-594250

The Super Smash Bros. Wii U Tournament invites gamers to throw down in a summer-long seeded tournament that culminates with championship finals at the Central Library on August 14. Definitely pay attention to sign-up instructions if your teen wants to compete.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/super-smash-bros-wii-u-tournament-591520

K-Pop fans will go bonkers for the library’s K-Pop Idol Parties this summer. Learn dance moves, make K-Pop inspired crafts, and enjoy Korean snacks.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/k-pop-idol-party-594260

Cooking for the Cosmos allows teens to learn a simple dish and taste-test their creations.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/cooking-cosmos-594269

Problem-solvers and puzzle-lovers should grab tickets early to Library Escape Room: Return of the Demogorgon. Players must stop the Upside Down from spreading in pressurized game inspired by Stranger Things!

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/library-escape-room-594279

At the library’s Silent Rave, teens can slip on headphones and transform the quietest space in town into their own unique dance party—and switch between multiple DJs to create the perfect, personalized musical vibe.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/silent-rave-594283

Teens can also begin prepping for their future as a Twitch-streaming celebrity! (Look out, moms and dads!) Twitch Lab helps teens think about their online persona, build an audience, and develop a personal style.

http://library.austintexas.gov/event/twitch-lab-594285

And don’t forget: Your Austin Public Library hosts an incredible number of programs that serve all of us in so many ways—whether we’re small business owners, kiddos seeking the perfect book, or parents wanting to expand our child’s experience of the world. If you want to learn it, the library probably can show you how!

Cecily Sailer is the programs and events director for The Library Foundation, which supports the Austin Public Library by raising money and awareness, and by offering unique programs within the library. The Library Foundation also hosts the Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp, which serves rising 3rd through 12th-graders.