The rain is back! Saturday looks to be the worst of it, so plan your weekend events accordingly. It should clear up Sunday, fingers crossed.
Here are some events happening this weekend (some are indoors, too, to avoid the rain):
Kidz Bop Live! You’ve heard them coming from your child’s room and in your car in the carpool lane. Now you can hear them live. 7 p.m. Friday. $30.25-$50.25. H-E-B Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars, Cedar Park. hebcenter.com
Wildflower Center. Sprouts. Hands-on preschool program. 10 a.m. Fridays. Free. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org
Thinkery. Namaste & Play: Get Into Shapes. 9:45 a.m. for 1-year-olds, 10:45 a.m. for 2-year-olds and 11:45 a.m. for 3-year-olds, Fridays. $20 per class. Parents’ Night Out, 5:30-10 p.m. Friday. Kids must be 4 or older and potty-trained. $45 first child, $25 each additional sibling. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.thinkeryaustin.org
KUTX Rock the Park. The show “Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child” curates this monthly free show. Hear Mobley and Groundwork Music Orchestra. 6:30 p.m. Friday (Sept. 28 rain date). Mueller Lake Park. kutx.org
Kidz Bop Live! You’ve heard them coming from your child’s room and in your car in the carpool lane. Now you can hear them live. 7 p.m. Friday. $30.25-$50.25. H-E-B Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars, Cedar Park. hebcenter.com
Wizard World Austin. Meet the stars of TV and movies as they talk about their roles in comic book-inspired movies or sci-fi. 4-9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. $39.95. Kids 10 and younger are admitted free with paid adult. wizardworld.com
Sweet Berry Farm. Hay rides, corn mazes, pick your own pumpkins and more. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Open Saturday-Nov. 4. Pay per activity. 1801 FM 1980, Marble Falls. sweetberryfarm.com
Third Annual Austin Skipathon. Skip around Mueller Lake Park while helping Foster Angels of Central Texas. $25 per person, $10 kids ages 4-10, free for children younger than 3. 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. Mueller Lake Park Browning Hangar, 4550 Mueller Blvd. austinskipathon.com
Smithsonian Museum Day. Explore one of the participating Austin museums by printing out a free ticket for Saturday. Some of the museums participating include South Austin Museum of Popular Culture, Neill-Cochran House Museum, Texas Military Forces Museum and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Find the museums by searching for your ZIP code at smithsonian.com/museumday.
Thinkery. Baby Bloomers for kids age birth to 3 learn about Color this month., 9 a.m. Saturdays. $5. Spark Shop Sewn Circuits for ages 4 and older. Learn to sew with conductive thread and circuits. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. Free. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.thinkeryaustin.org
Flix Jr. Flix offers $2 children’s movies. “Annie Sing Along.” 11 a.m. Saturday. 2200 S. Interstate 35, Suite B1, Round Rock. flixbrewhouse.com
Texas Book Festival Books and Breakfast. Celebrate the Texas Book Festival and hear Cate Berry read “Penguin and Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime!” at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. 8:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday. 25 percent of all breakfast sales will go to the fest. Hat Creek Burger Company, 5902 Bee Cave Road, West Lake Hills. texasbookfestival.org
Barnes & Noble events. 11 a.m. Saturday story time at all locations: “Princess Saves the World.”
Bow Wow Reading with Bonnie the Dog. 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Yarborough Branch. With Roo the Dog. 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Little Walnut Creek Branch.
BluePrint 3-D Printing and Design Bootcamp. 3 p.m. Saturday, Central Library.
Perler Bead Saturdays. Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, University Hills Branch.
Robinson Family Farm Pumpkin Patch.Wander through a corn maze, go on a hay ride, pet the goats and pick a pumpkin. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Saturday-Nov. 4. Free, but pay for each activity and pumpkins, or get a $10 wristband for everything. 3780 White Owl Lane, Temple. therobinsonfamilyfarm.com
“Tortoise and Hare” at Zach Theatre. The Aesop fable becomes a musical for ages 5 and older. 2 p.m. Sunday and Saturday. $18-$24. Kleburg Stage, 1421 W. Riverside Drive. zachtheatre.org
Austin Museum Day. Tour some of Austin’s most well-known and little-known museums for free Sunday. Museums also host special events such as fossil, bones and more identification day at Texas Memorial Museum. Get the full list at austinmuseums.org.
Friday Movie Matinee. “Ferdinand.” 3:30 p.m. Friday, Old Quarry Branch.
Art Smart “We Read” Community Mural Project. . 1 p.m. Friday, Pleasant Hill Branch.
Cedar Park Rodeo comes to the H-E-B Center. See the ropers and riders inside an air-conditioned venue. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. $12-$27. H-E-B Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars, Cedar Park. hebcenter.com
Austin Bat Fest. Celebrate everything bat. Congress Avenue Bridge, 100 S. Congress Ave. 4 p.m. to midnight. Saturday. $15, kids 8 and younger free. roadwayevents.com/event/bat-fest.
Heroes in a Half Shell: A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Celebration. Mondo Gallery offers art of the cartoon. Family Day Party. Pizza, treats, face painting, photo booth and more. 10 a.m.-noon Saturday. Regular hours noon-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays Saturday-Aug. 25. Mondo Gallery is located at 4115 Guadalupe St. mondotees.com
Don’t get caught missing a vaccine or without your paperwork. Find your children’s shot records and make sure they are in compliance with the 2018-2019 school vaccination schedule:
Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: four or five doses depending on which version your kid got.
Polio: four or three doses
Measles, Mumps and Rubella: two doses
Hepatitis B: three doses
Varicella: two doses
Hepatitus A: two doses
All of the above, plus
Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: three doses of the primary series plus a booster within the last five years
Meningococcal: one dose
Eighth- throught 12-graders
All of the above, but if the diptheria/tetanus/pertussis shot has not been given in the last 10 years, a booster is needed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends these vaccines for the 11-year-old or 12-year-old check up:
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps protect against HPV infections that cause cancer. For kids age 9-14, it’s two doses, one six months to a year after the first. For kids 15 or older, it’s three doses, the second one to two months after the first; the third, six months after the first.
Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine
Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against some of the bacteria that can cause infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). These illnesses can be very serious, even fatal. It recommends one dose at 11.
Tdap vaccine provides a booster to continue protection from childhood against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also called whooping cough).
Preteens and teens should get a flu vaccine every year, by the end of October if possible. It is very important for preteens and teens with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes to get the flu shot, but the flu can be serious for even healthy kids.
Think your child doesn’t need to be vaccinated. Dr. Don Murphey, an infectious disease specialist at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, who has been treating infectious disease in Texas children for almost a quarter of a century, explained to us last school why vaccines are so important.
Last year he saw seen mumps cases, like the ones at UT, come into Dell Children’s. Last year by August, Texas had more than 200 cases. “Before 2000, we had almost no cases of mumps,” he says.
He’s also seen in recent years more measles, whooping cough, pneumococcal meningitis and Haemophilus influenzae type b meningitis.
What’s going on here?
We’re seeing what doctors have been seeing in Europe, especially France and the United Kingdom, but on a smaller scale, Murphey says. The rates of mumps and measles in particular skyrocketed there after “The Lancet” medical journal published a 1998 study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that it later had to retract. Wakefield lost his license because of it.
Wakefield’s study found a link to autism from the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Multiple studies including those funded by plantiff’s lawyers who were looking for a link found no-such link. What happens, though, is that the MMR vaccine is given around the same time — about 12 months to 15 months — as when many kids with autism start to show signs.
Yet, the misinformation and the fear of vaccines persisted. Parents in Europe stopped vaccinating and Europe no longer had the “herd” immunity that happens when at least 90 percent to 95 percent of the population are vaccinated against a disease.
Diseases like measles and mumps that we just didn’t see are happening again. We rely on the herd immunity to protect us. You see these vaccines are not fool-proof, and they have waning effects. In the case of the students at UT, even if college students have been vaccinated as children but are exposed to mumps now, they might not be fully immune and get it.
Murphey says the mumps vaccine we use “is a very safe one. It doesn’t cause any meningitis,” he says. “It works great for herd immunity, but it doesn’t work if you’re exposed.”
If you do get mumps, it isn’t the worst thing most of the time. You get a fever, you feel bad for a few days, he says. Boys can also get an infection in their testes and girls in their ovaries. What is scary is that mumps can lead to meningitis and deafness.
While mumps is not a terrible disease, we could avoid the whole thing, if people who can get immunized do get immunized, he says.
For parents who are considering or are using an alternative vaccine schedule and delaying vaccines, Murphey encourages them not to. “Alternative schedules have never been shown to be any safer,” he says.
By delaying vaccines, you’re not protecting the most vulnerable population, who can get the most sick from these disease — infants and small children. They end up in the hospital or worse.
“You want to start protecting those kids as soon as possible,” Murphey says.
Vaccinate, please, if not for your own child, but for the other children.
#IMomSoHard, the video podcast and Facebook page from Kristin Hensley and Jennifer Smedley, which they turned into a stage show last year, is coming back to Austin in September. Before they were here last July, we talked to them by phone about the video podcast and the stage show.
Hensley told us about the stage show: “We wanted to see our moms,” she says. “We wanted to meet them. The moms have been incredible. We’re having such a good time.”
These moms are real. They tell us they are flawed, they mess up, they are vulnerable.
“Every mom has felt the same,” Smedley says.
“It’s the universal language of being a mom,” Hensley says. “We’ve all had those great days. ‘Man I’m crushing it today.’”
“I don’t have a lot of crushing it days,” Smedley says.
The postpartum depression that can follow having a baby can catch many families off guard and become worrisome not just for the mom experiencing it, but for the baby whose mother might have excessive worries about that baby’s safety or feel a lack of connection to her baby.
That maternal bond is important in the first few years of life as babies learn that if I smile at you, you smile back. If I cry because I’m hungry, you feed me.
“When a baby is parented by a depressed or anxious mother, there is some evidence that long-term exposure can lead to a learning disability, cognitive delays or motor delays,” says Elaine Cavazos, a licensed social worker who specializes in postpartum depression. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Texas and the clinical director of the Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Alliance of Texas.
Mothers actually see their child’s pediatrician more regularly throughout that first year than their own doctors. Usually within a few days of birth, then at a month, two months, four months, six months, nine months and at one year.
“One of the critical things is we have access to the moms because we have access to the babies at a pretty high frequency,” says pediatrician Louis Appel.
Recognizing that, the 2017 Texas Legislature passed House Bill 2466 that allows pediatricians to charge Medicaid and child health plan programs for the screening of mothers for depression within the first year of a child’s life even if the mother isn’t covered by those programs but the child is. Medicaid covers mothers with low incomes while they are pregnant until 60 days after delivery, at which point they might not have the insurance to be screened for postpartum depression. Now they can still get screened after 60 days by going through the child’s pediatrician and insurance.
Once screened, pediatricians can refer mothers to mental health services.
Appel, says about seven years ago, pediatricians where he works at People’s Community Clinic began doing the screenings because they were looking at what they could do to help with early brain development.
“The thing we landed on was screening for postpartum depression,” he says. “That early bonding is so important to early brain development in children.”
People’s Community Clinic screens by having the nurse or doctor ask two questions known as the Patient Health Questionnaire 2:
1. During the past month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?
2. During the past month, have you often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure in doing things?
If they answer yes to any of those things or if there is a noticeable lack of interaction between mom or baby or an anxiousness around that interaction, the patient would be given a longer 10-question form to fill out.
Doctors and nurses then refer patients to the clinic’s social workers, sometimes in-person that day or by phone later. If Appel didn’t have those in-house resources, he says he would refer the mom to her primary care physician or to other community health resources or the national crisis line for postpartum depression. Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Alliance of Texas also keeps a list of providers and what insurance companies they take.
Cavazos says the hallmark of postpartum depression is intrusive thoughts that something awful is going to happen to the baby or they are going to do something awful to the baby or something awful to themselves and the baby. The mom becomes super vigilant about the baby’s care and won’t let anyone else care for the baby, or she is unable to engage with the baby because she’s afraid she’ll do something wrong.
Cavazos says it’s like she is thinking, “What’s the very worst thing that can happen to her?” and she’s playing it over and over again in her head, but it’s not a Child Protective Case, because it is fear-driven and anxiety-driven, not something she will actually act on, Cavazos says.
Her family will take note that she just doesn’t seem like herself.
Postpartum psychosis, though, can happen, but is very rare. That’s when she doesn’t feel fear or anxious. She feels almost like a deity or something outside herself is making her do things, Cavazos says, and that’s a psychiatric emergency. The mom needs to be separated from the baby and get help immediately.
With postpartum depression, Cavazos will ask the mom if she’s sleeping, and that will get a laugh. She worries if women are getting less than five hours of sleep a day combined. She also wants to know about whether they have access to nutritious food and are eating. She might want them to have their vitamin D and thyroid levels checked to rule out other possibilities.
Sometimes antidepressants will be necessary. Even for moms that are nursing, “the general consensus is if the mom is depressed, the benefits far outweigh the risks of the medication,” Appel says.
Other times, the treatment is self-care and talk therapy.
Cavazos will work on what feelings the moms have about the baby, what things cause them to become overwhelmed with the baby’s care, what resources they have to get help, and also normalize what she is feeling.
Often moms don’t stay long in therapy, usually four or five visits to eight visits because of the amount of bandwidth they have. After all, they have a new baby, but sometimes they will make therapy part of their self-care regimen. Sometimes Cavazos will recommend a support group or some sort of parenting group to help the mom not feel so alone. And she’ll help reassure moms that they have good parenting skills and find ways to strengthen those skills.
Appel encourages a mom’s partner or support system to help as much as possible and to “give new moms permission to … take any help people can give,” he says. That whole “sleep when baby sleeps” is important. “You should not be doing the laundry or cleaning the house,” he says.
Fourth of July is almost upon us. This week and all summer long, we head to pools, to lakes, to any body of water we can get into with our families to cool off from the heat.
But a fun day in the water can turn tragic in a few minutes time.
Tina Van Winkle learned firsthand how quickly a child can become submerged in water June 9 while swimming with her son Teddy, 3, her baby Roger and her father at a neighborhood pool in the Wells Branch area. It was a quiet Saturday morning with two lifeguards in their stations and more in the office and about 15 people in the pool, Van Winkle says.
The Van Winkles had been swimming, and Teddy had asked to take off his Puddle Jumper flotation device so he could practice floating. Then, when they were all getting out of the pool, her father was carrying the baby and she thought he also had Teddy as well. She swam to the pool ladder to get out of the pool to follow her dad back to the picnic table.
“I had visually registered that Teddy was with my dad,” she says. She had even seen him out of the water and on the pavement next to the pool, following her dad back to their picnic table. “My dad thought I was bringing up the rear … it was a misunderstanding.”
Teddy had seen their beach ball floating in the pool and jumped in to grab it. When Van Winkle saw that Teddy wasn’t with her dad, she scanned the pool and saw him floating with just his arms above water in the shallow end, which was about 3 feet. She jumped in and pulled him out. The lifeguards had not registered yet what had happened, she says.
Teddy was limp, but hadn’t lost consciousness and he immediately started spitting out water. They walked home, thinking that everything was fine, but Teddy was lethargic and wasn’t himself.
She took him to the St. David’s Children’s Hospital in North Austin, where he stayed overnight for observation because he had fluid in his lungs.
Van Winkle and her father both had years of swimming experience, he as a lifeguard and swim instructor in his youth and she on the swim team in high school. “I know never to take my eyes off of kids,” she says. “And I did.”
“Even though I already knew a lot of the guidelines about water safety, I didn’t follow them to the letter,” she says.
The experience confirmed with her how quickly it could happen — she estimates he was out of her sight maybe two minutes — and the importance of having someone within arms’ length of a child anytime you’re around water, and the importance of verbally confirming who is watching each child. It’s also a reminder for parents and guardians to have strong swimming skills themselves, she says, because she could jump in quickly and pull him out of the pool.
Even though Teddy can talk about that day and how scared he was, it hasn’t stopped him from swimming. He has been back in the pool twice since then and will take swimming lessons next month.
“He was fearless again,” she says. “Maybe that’s a bad thing, because it led him to believe he could swim.”
Dr. Elinor Pisano, the pediatric hospitalist that saw Teddy at St. David’s, says the hospital has seen a spike in the number of drownings or near-drownings in the hospital this May and June.
“We do see a spike every spring and summertime,” she says, but this year the number of deaths seems higher. She could not give specific numbers.
Deaths can happen within five minutes she says and the likelihood of a fatality or severe brain damage goes up with each passing minute, she says.
“The key thing is supervision,” she says. “It’s not that there is a total absence of supervision; it’s a momentary lapse of supervision.”
Often it’s a case like the Van Winkles’, where there are multiple caregivers and someone assumes that someone else is watching the child.
“Someone turns their back for just a minute, and they later realized that child is underwater,” she says.
Make sure that there is a designated adult watching the child and that that adult is within arms’ length. If you’re that adult and you have to step away, confirm with someone else that they are watching the child, Pisano says.
If a child does become submerged, pull them out as quickly as possible, ask someone else to call 9-1-1 and start CPR. Make sure the child is seen by either an emergency medical technician or in the emergency room to confirm that their oxygen level is normal and that there are no lasting effects.
Other things you can do to prevent drownings include making sure you have a four-sided fence around your backyard pool with a locked gate that closes behind you; and giving kids swim lessons beginning at age 1. Pisano says there was some old thinking that it would give kids a sense of bravery that they could swim before they really could, but now there’s some evidence that it does provide some level of protection. She does warn, “There’s no way to drown-proof your child.”
While drowning is most common in children 4 and younger, it also is common in teenage boys and when there is alcohol or substances involved.
It also doesn’t always happen in in-ground pools. Wading pools, above-ground pools, lakes, hot tubs and bathtubs all can be dangerous.
Don’t forget that even if the pool is safe, water can be a very unsafe place. Keep these things in mind when you head to the pool, lake or beach this weekend.
Before you dip your toes into whatever body of water you choose, practice these rules for water safety we compiled using experts from the YMCA, City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department, Colin’s Hope, Safe Kids Austin, the Lower Colorado River Authority and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What does drowning look like?
Unlike what we see in the movies, “drowning is a silent thing. There’s no splashing, yelling or choking,” says Stephanie Hebert, the injury prevention coordinator at Dell Children’s Medical Center and the Safe Kids Austin coordinator. “They go under and when they are under, you don’t hear them, you don’t see anything.”
Drowning also doesn’t take long. Irreversible brain damage happens in as little as four minutes. Children who drown are usually missing for less than five minutes and usually are in the presence of at least one parent.
For children younger than 15, it’s the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths, behind motor vehicle accidents. Children younger than 5 are more at risk. Boys also are more susceptible because they tend to take more risks.
It can happen anywhere. Pools with lifeguards, natural bodies of water, bathtubs and toilets.
As of mid-May this year, 16 children already have drowned in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
It’s also preventable, so let’s focus on that.
Watch the water
The No. 1 thing parents can do to prevent a child from drowning is supervise their children.
For young children, that means getting in the water and having hands-on contact or being within arm’s length.
For older children, that means watching them in the water at all times. Reading a book in a lounge chair or talking to a fellow parent or texting isn’t supervising.
The Austin-based drowning prevention nonprofit group Colin’s Hope distributes 75,000 water safety packets every year that include a Water Guardian bracelet. The bracelet slips on and signifies that you are the designated adult watching the children in your group. If you need to take a break, you hand it to another adult, whose sole job is watching the water.
The City of Austin ordinance requires that kids 9 and younger have an adult with them to be in a city pool and that kids ages 10 to 14 can be by themselves if they pass a swim test, but why chance it? Supervise everyone in your group.
Vacation is also no time to let your guard down. Kids can drown in cruise ships and hotel pools.
Always have a phone nearby and learn CPR. A water safety class is also a great idea.
Good swimmers drown, too
Even kids who know how to swim can drown, says Alissa Magrum, executive director of Colin’s Hope, which was started by the parents of Colin Holst, a 4-year-old who drowned in an Austin pool in 2008. Colin had had swim lessons and was at a life-guarded pool with his family and friends watching.
“A lot of families think, ‘My kids are decent swimmers; they’ve had swim lessons, they are fine,’ ” Hebert says.
But things happen. Children accidentally swallow water. Or they hit their heads. Or they misjudge their abilities. Or they get tired or dehydrated or hungry.
Donita Grinde-Houtman, the aquatic supervisor for Austin Parks and Recreation, says lifeguards respond most often between 2 and 6 p.m. because kids get tired. “Kiddos have been at the pool all day long, they’re getting tired, and they don’t recognize that they don’t have the energy to swim as far as they need to.”
Take frequent breaks. End earlier than you think you should. Rehydrate and refuel throughout the day.
Not-so-good swimmers need more help
That doesn’t mean water wings, pool noodles and other pool toys to stay afloat. Put a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on your budding swimmer. They have to have one on for getting in a boat, so why not extend that to any body of water?
Before you go to a pool, define where the shallow end is, especially for not-so-good swimmers. One of the most common reasons lifeguards make a water rescue, says Bret Kiester, the executive director of the Hays Communities YMCA and the aquatic directors liaison for all the Austin-area YMCAs, is when kids who aren’t good swimmers find the deep end. Sometimes they’ve monkey-crawled along the side of the pool to that end; other times they’re following an older sibling or they don’t know where the deep end starts.
Lifeguards are great but not a guarantee
Be hesitant to swim in a place without a lifeguard because they add a layer of protection. However, they’re not insurance.
One lifeguard Magrum was working with put it this way: “We are not baby-sitters. We are here in an emergency.”
Lifeguards have a lot of people to watch, not just your child. Their job gets even more difficult the more people are in the pool and the less-clear the water is. They also get distracted by children horsing around (i.e. running around the pool) and other emergencies not in the pool.
Lifeguards, who go through similar training programs, are supposed to scan 180 degrees every 10 seconds from top to bottom, from right to left. If you see a lifeguard who isn’t doing that or you notice that lifeguards aren’t getting frequent breaks and rotating out, alert a supervisor.
Swim lessons statistically have been shown to reduce a child’s chances of drowning, but it’s not a magic shield.
The YMCA and the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department start swim lessons as parent-and-child classes at age 6 months, old enough for a child to have good head control.
Those early classes are about familiarizing the baby with water and teaching parents good water safety with their children.
By age 3 or 4, children can take solo lessons, but if you’ve missed that age, don’t worry. “It’s never too late to learn how to swim,” Kiester says. He’s had students as old as 92 learn to swim.
Kids are grouped by age, then by ability, and there are adult classes, too — something parents who don’t know how to swim should consider in order to be able to save a child in danger.
Swim lessons are not just about learning strokes. They teach about being comfortable and water safety.
Sometimes kids will have a bad reaction to swimming lessons. It might be the time of day or it might be the coolness of the water, Grinde-Houtman says.
If your child is truly afraid of the water, Grinde-Houtman says, you might have to take a step back and start with something like sitting at the side of the pool and putting her feet in the water.
Free swim lessons are available from the Austin American-Statesman’s Swim Safe program, which provides lessons at YMCA locations and City of Austin pools.
A great time to do swim lessons is in the winter, Kiester says. They tend to be less crowded and when summer starts, kids won’t have to re-learn to be comfortable in the water again.
Natural bodies of water
Rivers, lakes, springs and oceans get tricky. The surface is uneven. “You might be wading in waist-deep water and the next step you’re in 16 feet of water,” says Clara Tuma of the LCRA.
You also can’t see the bottom to know if someone has fallen in.
It’s also hard to judge distances. People often get in trouble because they pick a point to swim to and underestimate how far it is. “They run out of energy halfway there,” Tuma says. “They can’t just stop and sit under a tree.”
Wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket allows them to rest and float if they need to.
And often people get confused as to where they are to report an emergency.
Swimming on natural bodies also means you’re not the only thing out there. Keep a look out for boats and personal water crafts that might not be able to see you.
In oceans, teach kids how to deal with rip currents that push swimmers away from the shore.
Never swim alone no matter what type of water you are in.
Keep safe at home
Each year many kids drown at home. Kids can drown in as little as 1 inch of water.
Never walk away from a young child in a bathtub, not even to answer the phone or grab a towel.
Keep locks on toilets if you have infants and toddlers. Keep plastic kiddie pools empty as well as mop buckets.
If you have a backyard pool, install a locking gate system on all four-sides of the pool. If a child goes missing, check the pool or hot tub first before looking inside the house.
Teach baby-sitters about pool safety.
Don’t forget to wear your sunscreen and bug spray, too.
Well, for the more than 40 kids from Austin, it’s taking lessons from Orpheus Academy of Music and lining up to get one of the slots in Orpheus’ first Carnegie Hall concert. The classical music school is celebrating its 15th anniversary in a big way with this concert on Friday at the famed New York City venue.
Klondike Steadman director of musical arts at Orpheus, said the music school allowed students to secure their spot by registering in person at 8 a.m. on a Saturday months ago. People started lining up, sitting in their lawn chairs outside the school, at 10 p.m. the night before.
“What we go for is how dedicated will you be,” Steadman says, of how students got picked for the concert.
The performance will be extra special for 12-year-old Casey Irwin and her mom Julie. On Friday, Casey will be singing “My Funny Valentine.” She likes the song for its humor and because it fits with her voice and her range.
Casey began voice lessons when she was 7 as a way to help her talk again after she had a stroke when she was 5.
“She couldn’t talk at all,” Julie Irwin says of her daughter when she first had the stroke. “She couldn’t read, she couldn’t make a word.”
Yet, at Casey’s first singing lesson, the teacher told her to take a pencil, read the lyrics and make notes in the sheet music.
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Irwin says she didn’t think Casey could do that and wanted to jump in and try to explain the limitations Casey faced, but she didn’t. “The teacher was nonplussed by it,” Julie Irwin says of the stroke.
Irwin walked away and let the lesson happen, and Casey, who has lasting damage to her right hand from the stroke and had to learn how to write with her left, sat down and made notes on the sheet music.
“She was so motivated to do it,” Irwin says.
Casey’s musical ability was part of her even before the stroke, her mom says. As a preschooler, she had a male music teacher and she would sing exactly an octave up from what he was singing. That’s rare, Steadman says.
Everyone had told Irwin that some kind of music would be helpful for Casey to regain language. Music and singing use a different part of Casey’s brain, and singing could form the bridge between.
“Music really helped me,” Casey says. She was motivated to learn how to read by reading the lyrics.
“It helped her healing,” Julie Irwin says.
The stroke happend July 11, 2011, the summer after Casey’s kindergarten year. She was in the pool at Reed Neighborhood Park.
Luckily, Julie Irwin was right there when Casey came up out of the water. Casey couldn’t walk or talk. “Her whole face was drooping,” Julie Irwin says. Casey started crying, but she couldn’t make a sound.
“I knew it was extremely serious,” Irwin says.
Irwin was screaming for people around her to call 911.
Casey says the stroke didn’t really hurt, but she remembers thinking, “I’m going to die,” she says. “It was very scary, but then my mom was right there, and I knew I was going to be OK.”
They went by ambulance to Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and Casey stopped breathing along the way. Doctors got Casey stabilized and the recovery began.
Casey couldn’t make any sounds at first, but then a week later, she made a grunt while playing with a balloon with her grandparents. Then with more therapy and time, and she learned how to point with her left hand to get what she wanted. Then in another month, she could say 10 to 15 words.
Julie Irwin likened it to her daughter suddenly being an infant again and learning to talk: first grunts and babble, then pointing, then a few words. “She had a fairly strong accent,” Irwin says, like she was drunk, for a very long time.
Casey was in therapy constantly, first at Dell Children’s, then at a specialized rehab center in Dallas, then outpatient therapy back home.
She relearned how to walk, first with six people helping her, then on her own with a specialized electronic boot to stimulate the nerves.
Her speech began to come along, but she would mix up words or be searching for a word, which still sometimes happens. She’ll be talking about Niagara Falls when she meant Neanderthals.
And she still has weakness in her right hand, which she holds in a fist close to her chest.
“Doctors said it was going to get better,” Casey says of her hand. “They don’t really know,” Julie Irwin says.
In addition to taking voice lessons and music theory at Orpheus, Casey has now started taking piano. Her teacher gives her music that is written for or arranged for people with the use of only one hand. Again, like that first voice lesson, Julie Irwin walked out of the room and let the lesson happen. Casey was able to play with her teacher. “It’s helpful to have a place that didn’t make (the effects of her stroke) a thing,” Julie Irwin says. “They aimed a little higher,” she says.
Steadman says he has learned a lot from his wife, Wendy, who is also a music teacher, and got her start teaching adult with disabilities. Now 50 percent of his wife’s students would be considered on the autism spectrum or having another disability. “Everybody is special needs,” Steadman says. “Every single student has areas where they excel and areas where they need to learn,” he says.
Casey is now playing Bach on the piano, about a year after starting lessons, and it has helped strengthen her right hand.
“It shows what I can do in a different way,” she says. “I tried it out and I really liked it,” she says of piano. Julie Irwin says Casey already plays better with one hand than she did with two hands when she took lessons as a child.
Casey is a bit nervous to play at Carnegie Hall. “Am I sure I want to do this?” she’s been asking herself.
Performing regularly is part of Orpheus’ curriculum. Students play for one another regularly as part of music theory class and in regular recitals. It’s all about confronting stage fright, and as Steadman says, being a part of something bigger than yourself. “Together we inspire,” he says the school’s philosophy is. “Casey’s been such a big part of it.”
It’s going to be hot, hot, hot this weekend as June turns into July. Find these fun family events in and around Austin:
Blanton Museum. Each summer, the Blanton brings creative programs for different age groups that have you learning about art as well as making it: Deeper Dives for ages 8-10, 10 a.m. Fridays; Free Diving for ages 11-14, 1 p.m. Fridays. Blanton Museum. 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. blantonmuseum.org
“Peter Rabbit,” 3:30 p.m. Friday, Carver Branch.
Teen Videogame Free Play. 2 p.m. Fridays, Central Library.
”MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers.” More than 300 young performers celebrate the 100 years of Leonard Bernstein. $29-$254. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org
Zilker Botanical Garden opens its Woodland Faerie Trail now through Aug. 10. The trail is full of homes people have created for the fairies. Maybe you’ll see a fairy. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road. zilkergarden.org
Alamo Drafthouse Kids Club. “The Land Before Time,” 10 a.m. Friday-Sunday, Lakeline. “Sing,” 10:30 a.m. Friday-Sunday, Mueller. 10 a.m. Friday, 9:55 a.m. Saturday, 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Slaughter Lane. drafthouse.com
Thinkery. Baby Bloomers for children younger than 3. Learn about the sea this month. 9 a.m. Saturdays. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.thinkeryaustin.org
Book People 10:30 a.m. story time, “Pete the Kitty,” Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com
Barnes & Noble story times. Each Saturday all Barnes & Noble locations offer 11 a.m. story times. “Pete the Kitty,” Saturday. barnesandnoble.com
Literature Live Presents “King Midas.” 2 p.m. Wednesday, Little Walnut Creek Branch; 2 p.m. Saturday, Manchaca Road Branch.
“Black Panther,” 2 p.m. Saturday, University Hills Branch.
Keep Austin Playing. Enjoy fun and games for all ages, including rock walls, obstacles courses and more. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Free. Palmer Auditorium, 900 Barton Springs Road. austintexas.gov
Instant Ice Cream workshop, for ages 4 and up. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.thinkeryaustin.org
Pollyanna Theatre Company’s “If Wishes Were Fishes.” 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. $10.50-$13.50. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org
Spoonful of Sugar Improv for Families with Hideout Theatre. 11 a.m. Sunday and Saturday. $12-$8. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org
Bullock Museum.Free First Sunday with the theme Stars & Stripes, noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. You’ll hear from the author of the book “W is for Weird: An Austin Alphabet,” learn about voting from the League of Women Voters, make a patriotic hat and join a parade, and add to a mural with a local artist. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com
Paramount Summer Movie Classics. Show your kids all the great films you or your parents grew up on. “Mary Poppins” 1 p.m. Sunday; $6-$12. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org
Girl Scouts of Central Texas is getting a new chief executive officer starting July 2. It had previously announced that CEO Lynelle McKay, who joined the council in 2013, would be leaving at the end of this Girl Scout year, which ends June 30.
Patricia Ferguson Coy, board chair and corporate president and board chair, sent this announcement to Girl Scouts of Central Texas members Friday:
Girl Scouts of Central Texas Board of Directors has selected Paula Bookidis as the new CEO for our council!
Paula brings extensive professional experience, superior leadership skills, and a passionate commitment to our mission. She has seen firsthand the positive impact Girl Scouts has on girls’ lives, as she has served as a Troop Leader for 4 years. She is looking forward to serving all the girls of Central Texas and to working with the staff and volunteers to further our efforts in building the next generation of girl leaders. We are confident that she will be an excellent leader and advocate for GSCTX and an exemplary role model for our girls.
Paula has been a partner in a management consulting firm, Sense Corp, for almost 20 years. At Sense Corp, she built a multi-million-dollar telecom practice that provided analytics and operational consulting to Fortune 500 companies. In addition, Paula helped guide Sense Corp’s corporate strategy, growing the firm from 30 to 200 employees. Paula is a founding member of Sense Corp’s Outreach program which has provided over $4 million of pro-bono services to St. Louis and Texas non-profit organizations. Through her Outreach work, Paula has helped multiple non-profit organizations build capacity and transform.