Santa is coming this weekend to local malls

Not only will Santa be making his way down Congress Avenue at the Chuy’s Children’s Giving to Children Parade on Saturday, but by this weekend, he’ll be at all of the malls near you.

Get your children’s picture taken with Santa. You can reserve your spot.

Santa began showing up at Simon Malls, which owns Barton Creek Square, The Domain, Lakeline Mall and Round Rock Premium Outlets, on Nov. 3 at Barton Creek Square and will finally arrive at Lakeline Mall on Saturday.

Find him through Christmas Eve:

  • By JCPenney Court at Barton Creek Square
  • Across from iPic Theaters at The Domain
  • On the lower level Dillard’s Court at Lakeline Mall
  • In the Food Court at Round Rock Premium Outlets

And if you want to avoid the rush to get your photo taken with Santa, reserve your time slot at

Pay particular attention to these events, which have to be registered for in advance:

Caring Santa, which provides an autism-friendly experience:

8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Dec. 3, Barton Creek Square

9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 3, Lakeline Mall

Pet Photo Nights — yes, you bring Fido or Fluffy for Santa to be photographed with,

7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 12, Barton Creek Square

6:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 12, Lakeline Mall

Train to be Santa’s best elf at the Elf Academy:

3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Domain

Austin’s Rooster Teeth raises $1.2 million for Dell Children’s

Austin online show production company Rooster Teeth helped raise $1.2 million for Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas through the Extra Life online gaming tournament last weekend. Through the tournament fans donated more than $770,000. Rooster Teeth provided a match as well as donated money from merchandise sales.

Rooster Teeth raised $1.2 million last for Dell Children’s.

Rooster Teeth has now donated more than $3 million in the last five years to the hospital. To honor the company, Dell Children’s is building a healing garden at is mental health wing that is being developed and naming it in honor of Rooster Teeth.


Extra Life has donated more than $30 million to children’s hospitals since 2008.


Kids have allergies? We’ve got tips from American Academy of Pediatrics

Think your child might have allergies? The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these seven tips and suggests you start with a pediatrician, who can then refer you to an allergy specialist:

If allergies seem to be happening to your kid, keep these thing sin mind. Getty Images/iStockphoto

1.       Allergies can feel like a cold, and symptoms can include runny nose, stuffy nose, itchy nose and/or eyes, and sneezing. Some children might also have headaches and/or fatigue. Allergy symptoms can get in the way of school, fun and family time. Ask your pediatrician about medications to manage allergies. Here are common treatments:

  • Antihistamines –Taken by mouth, they can help with itchy watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing, as well as itchy skin and hives. Some types cause drowsiness.
  • Nasal Corticosteroids – Highly effective for allergy symptom control and widely used to stop chronic symptoms. Safe to use in children over long periods of time. Must be used daily for maximal effectiveness.

2.       Knowing what your child is allergic to can be an important step in finding the right treatment. Allergy testing should be performed to determine whether your child is allergic to any environmental allergens. Nasal allergy symptoms can be caused by a variety of environmental allergens including indoor allergens such as dust mites, pets, and pests as well as outdoor allergens such as pollens. Molds, which can be found indoors and outdoors, can also trigger nasal allergy symptoms.

3.       An important step in managing allergy symptoms is avoidance of the allergens that trigger the symptoms. If your child is allergic to pets, the addition of pets to your family would not be recommended. If your child has allergy symptoms and is allergic to a pet that lives in your home, the only way to have a significant impact on your child’s exposure to pet allergens is to find the pet a new home.

4.       If your child is allergic to pests in the home, professional extermination, sealing holes and cracks that serve as entry points for pests, storing foods in plastic containers with lids and meticulous cleanup of food remains can help to eliminate pests and reduce allergen levels.

5.       Dust mites congregate where moisture is retained, and food for them (human skin scales) is plentiful. They are especially numerous in bedding, upholstered furniture, and rugs. Padded furnishings such as mattresses, box springs, and pillows should be encased in allergen-proof, zip-up covers, which are available through catalogs and specialized retailers. Wash linens weekly and other bedding, such as blankets, every 1 to 2 weeks in hot water. (The minimum temperature to kill mites is 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If you set your water heater higher than 120 degrees, the recommended temperature to avoid accidental scald burns, take care if young children are present in the home.)

6.       If your child is allergic to outdoor allergens, it can be helpful to use air conditioners when possible. Showering or bathing at the end of the day to remove allergens from body surfaces and hair can also be helpful. For patients with grass pollen allergy, remaining indoors when grass is mowed and avoiding playing in fields of tall grass may be helpful during grass pollen season. Children with allergies to molds should avoid playing in piles of dead leaves in the fall. Pets tracking in and out of the house can also bring pollen and mold indoors.

7.       Ask your pediatrician about allergy immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be recommended to reduce your child’s allergy symptoms. Allergy shots are prescribed only for patients with confirmed allergy. If allergen avoidance and medications are not successful, allergy shots for treatment of respiratory allergies to pollens, dust mites, cat and dog dander, and molds can help decrease the need for daily medication.

15 things to do with the family this weekend, Nov. 10-12

It should be a beautiful weekend Friday and Saturday with a chance of showers on Sunday.

Pollyanna Theatre Company’s “Chicken Story Time.”

Here are 15 family-friendly events to check out:

  1. Veterans Day Parade. Celebrate veterans while the parade goes down Congress Avenue downtown. 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
  2. Contemporary Austin. Families Create: Action Painting. Learn how to make art by throwing paper pulp. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. Free. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St.
  3. Jack Hanna’s “Into the Wild Live!” America’s zookeeper 2 p.m. Sunday. $30-$57. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. See our interview with Jack Hanna. 
  4. ATX Think Bilingual Fair. Learn about programs and resources for bilingual education. 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road.
  5. Harry Potter Fest. Friday see “Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Chamber of Secrets.” Saturday see “Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Goblet of Fire.” Various prices. Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In. 12419 Lowden Lane, Manchaca.
  6. Alamo Drafthouse has a double shot of cartoons: PBS Kids “Wild Kratts.” 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Lakeline. Cartoon Network Presents “Ben 10: Omni-Tricked.” 10:30 a.m. Saturday,  Slaughter Lane.
  7. Ballet Austin’s Creative Movement free classes. 2:45 p.m. Saturday, ages 18 months to 2; 3:30 p.m. Saturday, age 3; 4:15 p.m. Saturday, ages 4-5. Ballet Austin Studio Theater, 501 W. Third St.
  8. Storytelling with Ozobots. Make your own costume. For ages 4 and up. $8. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.
  9. Pollyanna Theatre Company presents “Chicken Story Time.” Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to story time. Hear stories with a lot of chickens. For ages 2-4. 9:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday. $6.75. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive.
  10. Zach Theatre presents “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.” Head to Narnia in the C.S. Lewis tale. 11 a.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $18-$24. Whisenhunt Stage, 1510 Toomey Road.
  11. Hideout Theatre Presents: “Block Heads,” improv based on Minecraft. 2 p.m. Sundays. $5. Hideout Theatre, 617 Congress Ave. 
  12. “The Diary of Anne Frank.” 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 2 p.m. Sunday. $18-$10. EmilyAnn Theatre 1101 Ranch Road 2325, Wimberley.
  13. BookPeople events. Paramount Theatre: “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” 11:30 a.m. Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.
  14. Barnes & Noble Events: Mini Maker Faire. Noon, Saturday and Sunday, Arboretum. As well: Paramount Theatre story time. 11 a.m. Saturday, Arboretum and 11 a.m. Saturdays story times at all locations: “A Loud Winter’s Nap.” Saturday.
  15. “The Elves and the Shoemaker.” For ages 5 and up. 6:30 p.m. Friday, Manchaca Road Branch.




What? Chuy’s Christmas parade is before Thanksgiving?

Yes, it’s true. The annual Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade is a weekend earlier. Instead of being the Saturday after Thanksgiving, it’s Nov. 18, the Saturday before.

Jasper Czysz, 4, holds onto his Hot Wheels toy he is ready to donate, but first watches the annual Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade.

We know you won’t want to miss the holiday tradition, so set your calendar now.

You know what this means. This means you’ll have to hit the stores before Black Friday to pick up a new toy to give to Operation Blue Santa during the parade. Remember to keep the present unwrapped to make it easier for volunteers to sort the present by age and gender.

The parade heads straight down Congress Avenue from 11th Street to Cesar Chavez Street beginning at 11 a.m. It lasts about an hour.

This year, you can reserve a parking spot through the parade website’s link to SpotHero, and some of the fees will go back to the parade.

Looking for kids’ pajamas for Christmas? Try local brand PJ Obsession

If you’re the family that always gives your kids new pajamas for Christmas or Hanukkah, you might want to take a look at local brand PJ Obsession. Austinite and University of Texas graduate Amy Brown has created pajamas in fun geometric patterns that focus on comfort and work for both boys and girls.

PJ Obsession is a unisex brand of comfortable kids pajamas for Austin mom Amy Brown.

Brown wanted her pjs to be made with soft materials and be designed in ways that wouldn’t have those annoying tags and seams. The pants are loose fitting with stretchy waistbands. They come in sizes small, medium, large and extra large and are designed to fit kids ages 5 to 12.

Find them for $49 a set at

New Central Texas quintuplets on TLC’s in “Hodges Half Dozen” Tuesday night

Will you watch “Hodges Half Dozen” on TLC Tuesday night at 9 p.m.? The new show features Liz and Daniel Hodges, who this March had quintuplets Teagan, Connell, Liam, Nolan and Dillon. They also have older brother Rowan. The family lives in Temple, but the babies were born in Austin at Seton Medical Center.

Daniel and Liz Hodges, of Temple, along with their two-year-old son Rowan, hold their quintuplets, from left, Nolan, Liam, Connell, Teagan and Dillon, at Seton Medical Center Austin on Sunday July 23, 2017. Dillon was the last of the five babies to go home Sunday after spending four months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Central Texas quintuplets have found their way onto reality shows before. “Quints by Surprise” featured the Jones family — parents Casey and Ethan Jones and quintuplets Brooklyn, Britton, Jack, Lila and Ryan and their older sister Eliot.

The Wilkinson quints — Kyndall, Ryder, Rustin, Kaydence and Kassidy — and their parents Jayson and Rachelle and older brother Riley and sister Kaiya were part of a TLC special “Texas Quints.”


Thinking about preserving baby’s cord blood? American Academy of Pediatrics has new recommendations

New parents immediately get to make a potentially life-changing decision within the first moments of birth: to bank or not bank their cord blood. Cord blood is the blood in the umbilical cord contains stem cells that can later be used to treat certain cancers, immune deficiencies, metabolic diseases and more.

Typically what happens to the cord blood is it gets thrown out as medical waste, but if parents elect to keep it, it can later be used in the future.

What’s feeding your baby while in the womb can later help save a life.

This week the American Academy of Pediatrics made some recommendations on how to do it. In the U.S., you have the choice of saving the cord blood in a private bank, where it can be used at your discretion later in life (i.e. your friends and families), or you can offer it up to a public bank. There it can be accessed to anyone who is a match. It’s like the blood bank or the bone marrow registry.

The Academy wants parents to consider more seriously the public banks over the private banks.

It gives these reasons:

  • Cord blood in private banks is underused because families are waiting for their family members to use it and if you have a disease like a blood cancer, you might not be able to use your own or a relative’s cord blood because it might contain the genetic code to form that cancer.
  • Private cord blood banks are not subject to strict regulatory oversight.
  • Private banks are expensive for the family. Usually there’s an upfront fee as well as an annual fee.
  • Private banks also may be storing blood that is a lesser quality than what’s available in the public banks.
  • Public banks, though, are heavily regulated.
  • The blood at public banks is more likely to be used because anyone who is a match can use it.
  • The downside, of course, is that if your family member needs the cord blood, you would have to wait for a match like everyone else, versus having your own cord blood.

The Austin Diagnostic Clinic has a good breakdown of the options, including a designated cord blood donation, if you already know you have a relative that needs it.

If you want to give cord blood, has the how-tos  or ask your ob-gyn how to do it.

Jack Hanna brings his wild life (and animals) to Austin Sunday

You know zoologist Jack Hanna for his appearances on David Letterman’s TV shows. While Letterman was reacting with fear or annoyance to whatever animal Hanna brought on the show, there was Hanna, delivering information about the animal.

It was all part of Hanna’s ultimate goal of educating people about animals to help them develop a lifelong love of them and want to practice conservation.

The director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium comes to Austin Sunday, bringing his live show to the Paramount Theatre. During the show, he’ll show video clips of animals in the wild as well as bring out animals for the audience to see.

Jack Hanna will bring at least one kind of big cat to the Paramount Theatre on Sunday.

What kind of animals? He jokes, “I’ll probably bring my wife.” Of course, Suzi, who he’s been married to since 1968, isn’t the animal he’s known for, but she and their three daughters and now grandchildren have been part of various versions of his TV show, including the current “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown,” which airs on Saturday mornings on ABC.

On Sunday in Austin, though, you can expect to see a cheetah, a sloth and a penguin, as well as two you might not have seen before: the echidna, which is one of only two egg-laying mammals, and the seriema, a bird that eats lizards by smashing them using a rock.

The show is for anyone from age 3 to 100. It’s family fun while being educational, he says. And yes, he now has grandparents who remember watching him on TV bringing their grandchildren. It could make the 70-year-old feel old, but then he thinks of all the cool things he gets to do and bring to audiences.

Recently, after a 30 year quest, he finally was able to film the Great Migration, that three-day-period each year when 3 million animals in Kenya walk in single file to find water.

Jack Hanna has been at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for 39 years.

Hanna grew up wanting to be a zookeeper. By age 11 he was cleaning out cages in a veterinary office. By age 15, he was working at a local zoo in Knoxville, Tenn., where he grew up. He followed that a path after college and military service to first owning a pet shop and then working at a zoo in Florida.

His daughter Julie’s cancer diagnosis brought the family to Columbus, Ohio, to visit with doctors there. He’s been head of the Columbus Zoo since 1978, but became the director emeritus since 1992, to accommodate the 200 days a year of travel he does.

“I never wavered from my dream,” he says.

The TV shows and appearances, though, that wasn’t in his plan. He tries to make those shows, those appearances about respecting the animals. He trains everyone who works on the show that respect for the animals come first. That’s why you won’t see his crew get too close to an elephant to make it charge. “It’s not fair to the animal,” Hanna says.

Filming animals in the wild teaches you patience. Sometimes people will want to come to the wild with Hanna and his crew to watch a taping, but the sun up to sundown filming isn’t as exciting as you might think. “It’s like watching paint dry,” he says. Within an hour, the visitors will move on to see other animals while the crew is still filming the same one, waiting for something to happen.

If Hanna does get hurt, it’s never the animal’s fault. It’s something he did. Once an anaconda grabbed his finger and then couldn’t let go for 20 minutes, but he doesn’t brag about his near misses and he doesn’t try to make an animal bite him. “It’s like a race car driver doesn’t brag about the time he crashed the car,” he says.

With as many animals as he has seen in nature, he still gets inspired by them. He remembers well the first time he saw a lion in the wild on his first trip to Africa in 1979. “Oh my gosh, lions.” That followed by elephants and giraffes and hippos then to koalas in Australia, polar bears in Canada. He’s been to every continent to see animals. “I’m fascinated by just about everything.”

But the wild is not the wild that we think of, he says. Because of humans, most animals in nature don’t live in the wild. They live in vast nature preserves or parks where they are monitored and protected by rangers.

He’s seen what that protection and working with local governments has done for species. The mountain gorillas of Rwanda went from 250 and near extinction to more than 900 since the early 1980s. He still gets moved every time he sees one. Because of strict protections the Rwanda government has put into place, you have to have a permit to see them and there are strict rules about how to act and what you can bring with you. Though he’s seen them more than 70 times, “Every time I do it, I don’t believe we’re doing it,” he says. It’s a bucket-list item. “Some people cry like crazy.”

The gorillas and the people of Rwanda keep him coming back. The Hannas now have a house in Rwanda, and they’ve built a school there for children with disabilities.

While the mountain gorillas only exist in that small part of Africa, other species have come to rely on the work that zoos are doing. In addition to the Columbus Zoo, which has a rich mating program and a committment to more natural enclosures, Hanna helped start The Wilds, a 10,000 acre animal park in Southeastern Ohio for animals that are endangered or extinct in the wild. While the Columbus Zoo might get 30,000 to 40,000 visitors a day, The Wilds only allows 500 people a day to visit the grounds by Jeep.

Hanna says he loves to stay busy. “I love what I do so much,” he says, but there are grandchildren to see. He’s beginning to cut back on his appearances. “I choose where I want to go now.”

He will continue to do charity events for St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital and the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which saved his daughter’s life decades ago, as well as the school in Rwanda. And he’ll head up to Montana in the summers to his house outside Glacier National Park to go hiking.
“It’s what I do to relax,” he says.

Through the power of TV and syndication, he’ll continue to do what he does best: Make us care about animals.


Jack Hanna’s “Into the Wild Live!”

2 p.m. Sunday

Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave.


How to once again explain gun violence to kids after Sutherland Springs shooting

On Oct. 2, just a little more than a month ago, I was writing about how to explain the Las Vegas shooting to kids. Now, we have another shooting to talk about. This one at  First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs feels much closer to home. It’s just outside of San Antonio, just a little more than an hour away. And it’s in a house of worship, a place many of us go to seek comfort, where we bring our children to help them develop a moral compass.


Mona Rodriguez holds her 12-year-old son, J Anthony Hernandez, during a candlelight vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Last month, Jane Ripperger-Suhler, a child psychiatrist at Seton’s Texas Child Study Center, had this advice for parents about how much we should say about a shooting such as the one in Las Vegas or the one in Sutherland Springs.

We need to be careful about who is watching with TV with us and how we explain it.

“It really depends on the developmental level of the kids,” she says. Consider how you think your child will take what they see on TV, she says. “I wouldn’t watch a lot with preschooler.”

For kids already in school, you can watch some with them, but be prepared to talk about it and answer their questions. You can ask things like: “What do you think about this?” “What questions do you have?” Gage if they want to talk about it, but, she says, “I wouldn’t force them to talk about this.”

Dr. Jane Ripperger-Suhler is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Texas Child Study Center.

Explain things in the simplest yet factual way you can. You could say “A man shot some people at a concert. I guess he was upset about something,” she says. Or in this case: “A man walked into a church and shot people.”

You can focus on how you are feeling, that you’re upset and that you also don’t understand why this happened, but be careful about how you are reacting. “If a parent swoons or becomes frantic, a child is going to do likewise.”

Most importantly, remind kids that they are safe; that you will keep them safe, and when they are at school, their teachers will keep them safe.

If your child seems to be fixated on what happened in these shootings, you could encourage them to draw, build something or act something out, if they don’t want to talk about it.

If they don’t seem to be able to move on after a few days, are afraid to go to school, are too scared to go to bed, are having physical symptoms of stress or behavior problems, get them help sooner rather than later, Ripperger-Suhler says.

Be especially aware if a child has experience a trauma before. Watching this scene on TV will not cause post-traumatic stress disorder, she says, but it can be more traumatic and disturbing to some kids.

Ripperger-Suhler says it’s important to go about normal life. And that normal life means going to church on a Sunday.

If your child expresses some fear about it, reassure them that you will keep them safe.