I regularly write about caring for seniors and senior issues as part of Raising Austin. That might sound like a weird thing, but many parents also are caring for people on the other end of the age spectrum.
Here are a couple of recent stories I’ve done on Alzheimer’s and caregivers.
There’s so many great things happening for kids during spring break, from South by Southwest events or inspired-events to inexpensive movies to special museum happenings. Check out our list of things to do and if you have another event, email me at email@example.com.
Rodeo Austin.10 a.m.-midnight Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday through March 26. Fairgrounds admission $8 adult, $5 kids, free children 2 and younger; $10 parking. Travis County Expo Center, 7311 Decker Lane. rodeoaustin.com
Mother-Son Adventure. Go kayaking on Lady Bird Lake. 10 a.m. Saturday. $15. Camacho Activity Center, 34 Robert T. Martinez Jr. St. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org
Under the Springs. Meet a mermaid, see a new exhibit, “One Square Foot of Barton Springs,” and enjoy kid-friendly activities. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. March 16. The Splash Exhibit, 2201 Barton Springs Road. austintexas.gov/splash
Flashlight Friday. Explore the Wildflower Garden at night and learn about nocturnal animals. For kids 5-12, 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m. March 18. $10 adults, $5 child. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org
Easter Eggstravaganza. 10-1 p.m. March 19 Dove Springs Recreation Center, 5801 Ainez Drive.
Search for Lost Eggs. Crafts and egg hunt. Noon March 19. Dittmar Recreation Center, 1009 W. Dittmar Road.
South by Southwest
SXSW Create. Make things and learn about the makers’ spirit. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Free. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. sxsw.com/exhibitions/sx-create
Family Music Meltdown. Hear Strumero, Gina Chavez, Red Yarn, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, Mister G, Sugar Free Allstars, the DeedleDeedle Dees, ElTule, Gina Chavez, plus science with the Thinkery and trampolines. Free. 3-7 p.m. March 16, Pan Am Park’s Hillside Theater, 2100 E. Third St.
SXSW Gaming Expo. This is one free event where you can try out all kids of games and watch people play games. Noon-8 p.m. March 17-19. Free. Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St. sxsw.com/exhibitions/gaming-expo
All The Children Boogie: A Tribute to David Bowie. Family radio show Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, LiveMom, and the Austin Scottish Rite Theater are presenting this show, which includes musicians Jon Langford, David Wax Museum, Riders Against the Storm, Nakia, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, The DeedleDeedle Dees, Rockaroni & Cheese, Joe McDermott, Groundwork Music Orchestra, Hey Lolly Band and more. 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. March 18. Free. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org
Amazon Music’s Kid’s Day. Lisa Loeb, The Pop Ups, The Not-Its! and more play all day at the Thinkery. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. The Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. RSVP: facebook.com/events/1056104811099225/
Rock + Read. At this book/music fest. Hear Lucky Diaz & the Family Jam band, Mister G, The Que Pastas, Big Don, The Not-Its!, Red Yarn, and the DeedleDeedle Dees. See Rob Harrell, Dianne Hutts Aston, Don Tate, Chris Barton, Emma Virján and Jan Bozarth read their books in the BookPeopleStorytime Tent. Free. 1-5:30 p.m. March 20, on the lawn at Domain II.
“James & the Giant Peach.” The RoaldDahl book comes to life in musical form. 11 a.m. Saturday, Sunday, March 19, 26; April 2, 9. 2 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, March 19, 20, 26, 27; April 2, 3, 9; and 4:30 p.m. April 10. $29 adults, $26 children. Zach Theatre’s Kleberg Stage, 1421 W. Riverside Drive. zachtheatre.org
Circus Chickendog’s “1001 Tricks in 1 Hour!” See the animals work their magic. 1 p.m. March 14-18, 10:30 a.m. March 19. $15. The Institution Theater, 3708 Woodbury Drive. www.chickendog.net
Screenprinting for ages 8 and up. 10:30 a.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. $29 one adult and child. Wet Weather for ages 1-2., $29 one adult and child. 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Soap Making for ages 4-7. 10:30 a.m. March 19 and 2:30 p.m. March 20. The museum is open all day on Monday, but there will be no Baby Bloomers. “Rainbow Fish” at 9 a.m. Saturday. “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” Baby Bloomers, 9 a.m. March 19. The Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org.
Spring Break at the Bullock. Each day explore different activities. March 14-18 Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com
Umlauf Sculpture Garden Family Day. Enjoy free activities including art making, stories, yoga and more. Noon-4 p.m. Sunday. Umlauf Sculpture Garden, 605 Robert E. Lee Road. umlaufsculpture.org.
Art Free-For-All. See the Contemporary Austin’s educational offerings with an open house. Noon-4 p.m. Saturday. Free. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St. contemporaryaustin.org
Hill Country Science Mill. Celebrate spring break with Imagine Yourself on Pi Day, Monday; Imagine Yourself Blasting into Space with rocket activities, Tuesday; Imagine Yourself Creating Games and Gadgets, Wednesday; Imagine Yourself Discovering Mysteries of the Universe, Thursday; and Imagine Yourself Exploring the Living Worlds with guests Party Animals, Friday. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. during spring break. 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City.$6.50 students, $8 adults. www.sciencemill.org.
Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp. “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” 10:30 a.m. Friday-March 17, Lakeline. “Batman: The Movie,”4 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday-March 17, Village; 10:30 a.m. March 19 and March 20, 10 a.m.March 19, Lakeline. $1-$3 donation. drafthouse.com
Spring Break at FlixBrewhouse. Watch $2 movies at 10:30 a.m. each day next week. “How to Train Your Dragon,” Monday; “Spy Kids,” Tuesday; “Jumanji,” Wednesday; “Babe,” Thursday, and “The Land Before Time,” Friday. FlixBrewhouse, 2200 S. Interstate 35, Suite B1, Round Rock. flixbrewhouse.com/round-rock
“The Peanuts Movie,” 4 p.m. Tuesday, Cepeda Branch.
Cassandra Clare reads “Lady Midnight” at St. Edward’s University. 7 p.m. March 16. Zach Theatre comes for story time, 11:30 a.m. Saturday; Armstrong Community Music School story time, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Tiny Tails to You Petting Zoo story time, 10:30 a.m. March 16, and Be Yourself story time, 11:30 a.m. March 19. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com.
Barnes & Noble. 11 a.m. Saturday story times at all locations. “When Spring Comes,” March 19. Other story times: “How to Catch a Leprechaun,” 11 a.m. March 16, Lakeline; “The Most Magnificent Thing” 11 a.m. March 15 Round Rock; “Rock-A-Bye Romp,” 7 p.m. March 18, Round Rock. Batman vs. Superman Day for teens. 7 p.m. March 19, Arboretum and Round Rock.
“Literature Live! Presents: The Selfish Gardener Puppet Show,” 2 p.m. Sunday, Faulk Central Library; 6 p.m. Monday, University Hills Branch; 11:30 a.m. March 17, Ruiz Branch.
Crafternoon, 4 p.m. March 17, Cepeda Branch.
NBTween Book Club for ages 8-12. Read “ElDeafo,” 6 p.m. March 16, Yarborough Branch; “The London Eye,” 6 p.m. March 17 Twin Oaks Branch.
Art Smart, ages 5 and up, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Willie Mae Kirk Branch.
Circuit Break, for ages 10 and up. 7 p.m. Friday, Ruiz Branch.
Do you worry about taking a baby to a restaurant? Our solution was always to try to pick the restaurant and the time carefully, if we could, but also have some backup plans. Here are some more suggestions:
Look at loudness. It can be your best friend, masking the noise of your kid with the noise of all the other people. But, if you have a baby or child who is sensitive to noise, you need a quieter, calmer place.
Look at visual appeal. Some restaurants like Chuy’s can be great for some babies who can be mesmerized by all the bling to look at. Other babies would find that bling overwhelming.
Look for places that are family friendly. You’re not going to a white table cloth place with a baby; you’re just not. Some people might, but the patrons there are not going to be understanding if someone is crying. Those white table cloth places might not even own a high chair or have a kids’ menu. If in doubt, call ahead to see if they are used to having families with people that fit into the younger than 5 demographic. Save that white table cloth experience for when the kids are older and it’s a big deal.
Plan your escape plan. If the baby starts crying, who is going to get up and walk her out and where is your nearest exit? Know that you might have to take your meal to go.
Time it well. If your child has the hour of power between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. where all he wants to do is scream, that is not the time to be at the restaurant. Lunch might be a better time for you.
Plan things to do. That diaper bag should be stocked with toys and snacks. And even if you’re nursing, have a bottle in reserve in case you get seated in a place where you might not feel comfortable, even though it is your right to feed your baby wherever you want.
Work your way up slowly, but don’t wait too long. Start with going to a casual place, even a fast-food joint, and then work up to a sit-down place. Get your baby used to going places and being in a car seat in the restaurant and later the high chair. Start with times of the day when there is less stress, less people and you will not have to worry about needing to leave through a huge crowd.
Teach table manners at home, so you’re not asking for a kid to suddenly do something that is foreign to him. If she throws food off the high chair at home, you can’t expect her not to do it at a restaurant.
Dine with people who love you and won’t pass judgement if junior melts down. That might mean that you start by dining with good friends and not your parents or in-laws. Save that for after you’ve tested the waters.
If your kid does have a complete meltdown, realize that many people in the room have been right where you are. Address it quickly, but know that most of the diners aren’t angry at you, they’re sympathetic. They are thinking back on their own kids’ meltdowns. And just like them, you’ll one day have a great story to tell your child’s future love interests.
This story out of France, where officials are warning parents that their children could sue them for violating their privacy over Facebook posts.
So, parents, should we be rethinking what we’re posting? We love the naked baby in the bathtub, the child smearing poop all over their room, the messy first birthday cake photos, but …
When that kid is a teenager, how will he or she feel about those posts.
Lately, my own 12-year-old daughter Googled herself and found plenty of photos, stories and blog posts about her. When she was in elementary school, she loved that I had a job writing about her and would even tell me that I wrote about her brother too much and not enough about her.
Now that has changed. She wants her privacy back. She’s horrified that I posted a letter she wrote from camp… and now thinking back, I do wonder if will her letter trying to shake me down for money might be something a future employer will look at. Will it reflect badly on her 10 years later?
We warn our kids that anything they post as teenagers or in college will have lasting impact on them with future employers who now Google potential hires as well as search for them on social media sites. Perhaps we should be warning ourselves.
Zach Theatre’s “James and the Giant Peach” brings the classic book by Roald Dahl to life through April 10. The musical plays right to elementary schoolers’ love for physical humor.
The aunts, Spiker (Amber Quick) and Sponge (Kim Stacy), in particular, supply much of the humor, as well as the fear. They see the orphan James (played by young actors Chris Carpenter and Diego Rodriguez) as a commodity to work for them. They make their living as both pick pockets and con artists. And, of course, when a magic giant peach grows on their property, they see it as another way to make money. They have gotten rich selling the rights to the peach in advance.
One night, they banish James from the house and he find his way into the peach, where insects have grown magically to the size of humans.
Soon the peach, escapes the tree and rolls off the cliffs of Dover, making its way to the Atlantic Ocean and eventually to New York City. Still scheming, the aunts, have taken all their money and booked a cruise. Of course, from their deck chairs, they see the peach floating on the water and vow to get it back.
The insects — Ladybug (Jessica O’Brien), Spider (Megan Wright), Centipede (Russel Taylor), Grasshopper (Michael Marchese) and Earthworm (Gustavo Gomez) — and James form a family on their journey and they protect one another and the peach.
One of the strongest elements of this play is this question of what is a family? James has lost his only to be plopped into life with two aunts who are less-than hospitable. The insects have all lost their families to pesticide sprayed by the aunts. Yet, together, James and the insects overcome their differences and create a lasting bond.
Like a family, the cast works well together. Harmonies are particularly tight in the large musical numbers. It is a true ensemble cast. Each character is given a chance to shine with unique characteristics and costuming, but also opportunities to take a back seat and support another character. It’s a good lesson in working together for young kids.
There are a few scary parts — James’ dream about his parents’ death by a runaway rhinoceros, in particular, but the musical quickly moves along. For that reason, the musical is better suited for elementary school-age kids rather than preschoolers.
The costumes, which were originally designed for Alliance Theatre by Sydney Lenior, are particularly smart. How do you make a man look like an earthworm? Salmon-colored fabric that is given thick rings nested together, just as an earthworm’s body does. How do you make a centipede’s many legs? Fabric belts coming off of the shirt and boots. It’s all very smart.
At an hour and 15 minutes, this is one of Zach Theatre’s longest musicals for family audiences. Some members of the audiences squirmed a bit in the middle, and we saw a couple trips to the bathroom in our elementary school student audience.
Some of the biggest laughs come from Sponge, the aunt who will never be called skinny. Many of her jokes are about her love of food and her figure. In this age of worrying about girl’s body image and obesity, it was just too much. One or two jokes, maybe, but constant jokes on this line becomes unsettling.
Still “James and the Giant Peach” is worth seeing. Kids will love all the insects and love to hate the aunts. Sometimes Zach Theatre opts to use adults in their 20s to play young children. In this case, it opted to use an actual boy. In our performance, Diego Rodriguez was particularly strong with a beautiful voice. His age makes him even more identifiable to a young audience.
“James and the Giant Peach.”
When: 11 a.m. Saturday, March, 12, 19, 26; April 2, 9. 2 p.m. Sunday, Saturday, March 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27; April 2, 3, 9; and 4:30 p.m. April 10
Where: Zach Theatre’s Kleberg Stage, 1421 W. Riverside Drive
Their faces can’t lie. They are teenagers. Walk through any middle school or high school, and you will see teens who are struggling horribly with acne as well as those teens who seem relatively unscathed. Blame it on hormones and genetics if your kids fall in the first category.
Even those in the second category probably need a lesson in good skin care. “If you can teach your child to start cleansing their face, they will be way of peers,” says dermatologist Dr. Ted Lain. He advises teens to clean their faces at the end of the day so they can get rid off the built-up gunk in their pores before going to sleep.
Lain and aesthetician Tracy Bethel of Aloe Skin + Body have two very different views of where to start kids in their cleansing regimen. Bethel uses natural things you find at the grocery store. Lain advises starting with over-the-counter acne-control products to start.
The key with teens is making sure that once they actually start cleaning their face (a big hurdle), they are not over scrubbing. Cleaning their face, means using a cleanser that has an exfoliant, not just soap, Lain says, because soap doesn’t get rid of the dead skin that is clogging the pores.’
Teens often don’t have patience to wait for their skin to clear up, and they will over clean to try to get rid of the acne and actually do additional damage. Lain doesn’t like cleansers that have beads or rough particles because they can cause tears in the skin and permanently scar the face.
After using a cleanser, the skin should feel soft, the oil should be gone, but it shouldn’t be dry.
Lain suggests starting with an over-the-counter product that has alpha or beta hydroxyl acids or salicylic acid, which help to exfoliate. If those don’t work, you would move up to an over-the-counter product that has Benzoyl peroxide or sulfur. Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that causes the acne as well as removes excess oil and dead skin. Sulfur is usually used in combination with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, and removes the dead skin cells and helps remove excess oil.
Lain says you don’t have to worry too much about the over-the counter products being too harsh because they are regulated about how strong they can be.
If none of that works, Lain says, it’s time to see a dermatologist. Usually you’ll also see an aesthetician who will remove blackheads. He usually starts teens on a cream medication, but if it’s a particularly severe case, he’ll prescribe antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria that is causing the acne flare up.
Sometimes in girls when the flare up is hormonal, he’ll talk about controlling the hormones, which might mean a birth control pills.
The biggest issue he sees with teens and medication or medicated creams is compliance. He’s recommended apps to remind them, but the bottom line is they have to be willing to spend the time following instructions to get clearer skin. And again, they have to be patient. Sometimes, in the first two or three weeks, the skin might actually get worse before it gets better.
If parents don’t want to put their kids on medications, there are other options. Lain uses a facial system called hydrafacial, which use a hand-held device to vacuum out pores and he uses the Isolaz, which uses a laser to kill the bacteria and a vacuum to suck up the gunk in the pores.
Bethel warns about using a lot of over-the-counter products. “What happens is, you start treating one problem and you’re creating another problem,” she says. She points to salicylic acid, which can irritate skin.
Instead, she uses aspirin, mushed into a powder, then made into a paste to put on a pimple to reduce the inflammation. She also recommends using honey mixed with a little bit of water and coconut oil or grape seed oil to use as a cleanser or a masque. Honey is a natural antibacterial, anifungal and anti-inflammatory
She also uses a paste of oatmeal to be a gentle exfoliant and an oil remover. If the oatmeal is too chunky on the skin, put it in a coffee grinder before making the paste. Sometimes she mixes the oatmeal with a little tea tree oil, but warns against using just tea tree oil on your skin. It has to be mixed with something, like the oatmeal or a coconut oil or grape seed oil as a buffer.
One of the biggest things she teaches teens is that their skin is an essential element of their body. If you’re allergic to eating an ingredient like almonds, it shouldn’t be used on your skin.
“Skin really starts to tell us things about our body,” she says. It tells you if you’re stressed or if hormones are on overdrive. It’s also a reminder of their bad diet. Bethel warns against diets high in sugar because sugar is a natural inflammatory.
Lain also talks to teens about their diet. Everyone has individual foods that might be an acne trigger. Common ones are milk and peanut butter. One thing is universal: saturated fats do help feed the oil content of your skin.
Bethel starts seeing kids for facials as preteens — ages 11 and 12. She’ll teach them about the importance of sunscreen, do a quick facial and teach them about cleaning their face. The teen facial usually happens a little older, but includes an extraction.
Bethel is not against seeing a dermatologist when the acne is severe or her clients have tried the natural remedies and they are not working. Sometimes a round of antibiotics is what’s needed during a flare up to get the skin back in check.