Ever wonder if you’ve gone too far as a mom? Read “Mother, Can You Not?” from @CrazyJewishMom

mother can you notKate Siegel writes in “Mother, Can you Not?” ($22, Crowne Archetype) about the sometimes difficult relationships between adult daughters and their mothers. Siegel started the Instagram handle @CrazyJewishMom, which now has 811,000 followers. The Instagram account features email and text messages between Siegel and her mother. Kim Friedman. No subject is off the table, and her mother has much concern about Siegel’s private parts and how she is not using them for the ultimate goal of making her a grandchild.

Siegel’s posts to her Instagram are hysterical and the portions of the book that highlight some of those posts provide more than a few chuckles. Many of us know or have a mother that insists on sharing too much information or giving too much advice.

Siegel provides a lesson in learning when you need to let go, take the helicopter rotor blades off your back and let your child grow up.  Some of the best chapters are a cautionary tale as well of what not to do when your child goes off to college (Hint: Don’t fly across country and show up unannounced. You might not like what you find).

But the charm of Siegel’s Instagram account gets lost in the over explanation of the story behind her mother’s texts. I would have loved more of a curated version of the Instagram with a few brief sentences of explanation where needed and most of the time there’s no explaining Kim Friedman, rather than Siegel and her mother’s life story.

Why wasn’t this book available earlier? “Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids”

This week, I’m looking at fun books that celebrate motherhood in time for “Mother’s Day.” Find my reviews of more serious books at austin360.com/raisingaustin.

parent hacks“Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids” by Asha Dornfest ($12.95, Workman) is the book we all need to be given the moment we see two blue lines, a plus or whatever positive sign the pregnancy tests of choice indicates.

It really is 134 tips on how to turn everyday items into something that can work for you. For example, what do you do with the baby bathtub when the babies are ready for the real tub? Well, you turn it into a swimming pool for dolls, an ice bucket for drinks, a gardening tote, and outdoor pet washtub, a soaking pail for stained laundry, a mini sandbox, an outdoor water table and a bucket for bubbles.

Some tips you think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Sprinkle feet with baby powder to get the sand off when you’re at the beach and use Play-Doh to clean up glitter from an art project.  There’s also these great tips: use a bottle nipple upside down to give kids medicine, reuse the old training potty by a child’s bedside when they have a stomach bug and use a panty liner to turn any underwear into training pants or as nursing pads in a bra.

We’re sure you have your own parenting hacks. Feel free to share them in the comment section.

For you and fellow moms: “I Want My Epidural Back” is a great laugh for Mother’s Day

i want my epidural backThis week, I’m looking at fun books that celebrate motherhood in time for “Mother’s Day.” Find my reviews of more serious books at austin360.com/raisingaustin.

Baby Sideburns (Karen Alpert) is back with her book “I Want My Epidural Back: Adventures in Mediocre Parenting,” ($19.99, William Morrow). You will laugh out loud because she writes the things that you’ve long thought but were too scared to say. And yes, there’s much cussing to go with it, which is how many of us get through motherhood, right? We just do it under our breath.

Chapters include titles like “You might be a mediocre mom if …”; “(Expletive) I do that I know I shouldn’t do”; “Twenty-eight ways being a mom is like being in prison”; “Yo douchebags who constantly brag on Facebook, this chapter’s for you”; “Every. F’ing. Night.”; “Bedtime is for succcckers”; “All in favor of feeding rat poison to Chuck E. Cheese, say aye!!”; and “I’d totally kick your (expletive) if my toenails weren’t still drying.”

Alpert’s chapters are short and to the point, so you can pick up a chapter at a time in between changing diapers and chasing toddlers. She validates all the things you’re probably feeling about your children, love included.

One of our favorite parts is her list that starts the book.

You might be a mediocre mom, if …

You can hear the word “Mommy” 16 times before reacting.

You know the frozen pizza goes in at 400*F for 19 to 22 minutes without looking at the instructions.

You think pretty much anything your kid’s wearing is acceptable as long as it covers the genitals.

You know the best organic cleaning fluid is saliva.

You can gather lunch for your children from the contents of your car floor.

You make the kids sleep in their clothes if you’re going somewhere early the next morning.

You would take your coffee intravenously if it were an option. And your vodka.

You find yourself sitting at the PTO meeting wondering WTF you’ve gotten yourself into.

You can stealthily bury the kids’ artwork in the trash can while they are sitting in the same room.

You do the laundry in cold water because who the hell has time to separate whites from colors?

You sometimes eat Cheerios that fall out of your bra when you get undressed at night because it’s easier than walking allll the way to the trash can.

You lie to your children’s dentist every 6 months, 12 months, 18 months.

You’ve failed miserably at doing at least one Pintrest project.

You haven’t gotten a single photo developed in years.

You accidentally wear your slippers out of the house and realize it when you’re in the garage but don’t go back inside to change them because who gives a (expletive).

You don’t have time to take showers every day (or even every other day sometimes) and just use baby wipes on the stinky parts.

You use your microwave more than your oven.

You don’t have a 5-second rule. You have a 5,000-second rule.

You have to stack dirty dishes next to the sink because it’s already overflowing with dirty dishes.

You can pull your hair into a ponytail without a ponytail holder because it’s so greasy.

You write stuff on your to-do list that you’ve already done so you feel productive.

You cook three-course dinners, but only because no one in your family will eat the same thing.

You couldn’t braid your daughter’s hair to save your life, but you can totally braid your leg hair.

You have to ask if your kids can get a different Happy Meal toy because they already have that one.

You kick (expletive) at being a parent even though some people think you don’t. And if you’re one of those people, F off and die. No wait, don’t die. That’s totally mean. Just F off.

For every motherhood struggle there is a wine to pair it with in ”Pour Me Some (Whine) Wine!”

This week, I’m looking at fun books that celebrate motherhood in time for “Mother’s Day.” Find my reviews of more serious books at austin360.com/raisingaustin.

pour me some wine“Pour Me Some Whine Wine!: A Toast to the Mama Sisterhood!” by Trina Epp and Leah Speer ($19.99, Changing Lives Press) is a fun new book that pairs everyday occurrences in motherhood with the perfect wine for that situation. Apparently, after your child is being treated for a concussion, a good glass of Fall Creek Vinyards’ Sauvignon Blanc (for you, not your child) can ease the situation.

We especially loved their musings on these situations:

“When your offspring mutates into a wild barbarian, you might want to take a swig of Noble Savage Sauvignon Blanc.”

“Stop badgering yourself and know that you’re doing the best you possibly can. When the need arises, sip on the full-bodied Nagging Doubt Chardonnay.”

“Just as sweet as your demeanor when you smile at that newbie mom who is clearly judging you with an implied, ‘I’m not going to do that!’ Bless Your Heart wine is a light and crisp Georgia Muscadine by 12 Spies Vineyards, exploding with fruit flavors that will remind you to live and let let.”

“Motherly instinct or women’s intuition? Either way, those days when you know you need to trust in you and get it it right, reach for a bottle of Bergevin Lane Vineyards’ Intuition Reserve Red Wine.”

Not all situations are covered, especially not those that come later in a child’s life. We’d like to read which bottle of wine is needed for working on science projects, the day your daughter gets her first period and teaching your son to drive, among other situations that arise when you have kids in elementary school, middle school and high school. There may not be enough wine or whine in the world for those.

How does “Mother’s Day” stack up to real motherhood? Not well

Last night I took a fellow mom to see “Mother’s Day,” the Garry Marshall-directed film starring Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Sarah Chalke and Jason Sudeikis. You’ll have to wait until Friday to read my review in Austin360.

 Julia Roberts, left, and Jennifer Aniston in a scene from "Mother's Day." (Ron Batzdorff /Open Road Films)
Julia Roberts, left, and Jennifer Aniston in a scene from “Mother’s Day.” (Ron Batzdorff /Open Road Films)

Here are some scenes in the movie that would never happen to moms in real life:

Two moms at a park having a meaningful conversation while their children play.

Children taking a nap with no fuss, also at said park.

Moms  who have time to go running or take a yoga class.

Moms who are perfectly put-together even after going running or to a yoga class.

Children who go to school, yet never seem to have any homework.

Children who are not constantly interrupting their parents or screaming at any given moment.

Parents who talk to at least one child regularly, yet have no idea that their daughters are married and have children.

The siblings who get along all the time and look after one another.

The children who get up early and make pancakes for their mother, and she’s not concerned that they used the stove or the state of her kitchen.

A trip to the grocery store that doesn’t involve children, but does include a cart that isn’t completely full. Who goes to the store and only buys three items?

The homes that are perfectly clean and don’t involve moms hunting for lost shoes, homework or that permission slip you needed.

Mom mobiles that don’t have layers of Cheerios, fries, gum and sticky liquids.

A father giving his baby to another man who is a complete stranger.

The moms who never seem to have to work, yet have cars and clothes and homes.

Julia Roberts’ wig. (What is that?)

Yet, for all of that make believe, here are some scenes that have happened to us or will soon happen to us:

The mom running after the daughter’s bus to give her her lunch.

The dad uncomfortably having to buy tampons for his teenage daughter.

Pets that you get talked into that go horribly wrong, in this case the ant farm that is now sans ants.

The dad losing it at a referee call at his daughter’s soccer game.

The dad watching through the window as his daughter comes home from a date, yet playing it cool like he never did that.

The mom having an argument loudly with herself.

The mom who is late to a meeting and is running full tilt to get to that meeting.

The mom who finds herself realizing that her bra is inside out and her shirt has a huge gash in it.


Austin’s Bernadette Noll wants families to “Look at Us Now” in new interactive book

Austin author Bernadette Noll wants families to take a look at where they are now and capture this moment in time. Her newest book is about doing just that. Noll, who previously wrote “Slow Family Living,” is releasing “Look at Us Now: A Creative Family Journal” next month with an interactive appearance at BookPeople on May 14. You’ll get to try out some of the book there.

Bernadette Noll is the author of "Look at Us Now." Katherine O'Brien
Bernadette Noll is the author of “Look at Us Now.” Katherine O’Brien

The book really is a journal that you can do as a family or just as a parent who records what’s going on with your family over a glass of wine after they kids have gone to sleep. It’s a keepsake to record what’s happening now to remember for later and can apply to families with children of any ages. It could even be done once, and then done again a few years later because the answers would change.

Pages include topics like “What gives us reason to cheer?,” “Inside jokes. Family sayings. And things only our family gets. (Spill it.),” “One crazy thing that happened this month,” and “The five favorite things to do EVER!”

Noll says the book is about “capturing the minutia and the daily happenings. We capture the big events all the time, but the little things that are the meat of family life are all those daily rituals.”

This is a book where there are no right answers, and it’s not meant to make you sweat over how much you got done. You don’t even have to do the pages in order. Just flip through, take a page that is meaningful to you at the time and fill out as much or as little as you want.

Noll, 50, who has four children ages 18 to 9, passed around the book to her kids to see which pages were meaningful to them. One page that got a lot of enthusiasm was “List your current favorites.” “I know that even six months from now that might be different,” she says.

Look at Us Now coverartWhen she did pages with kids, each kid got to write down their answers without judgment. “It doesn’t have to be voted on,” Noll says. “It can be different for each person.”

She also did pages herself to see how they felt. One page that didn’t make the cut: “What’s your favorite color?” “Who cares? … It’s of no import,” she says.

So often, we’re told that were doing things incorrectly, Noll says. This book won’t do that.

“I made it so it applied to all stages and didn’t feel like, ‘I didn’t start on this day, so now I’m behind.’ There’s no right way to do it. You can do a page a day or one page every three months. There’s no wrong way, no wrong time.”

It is definitely not like the baby books that parents increasingly neglect as their children get older and more children come into the family. You don’t have to try to re-create what happened in the last six months. It’s just about what is happening now.

The book gives you a chance to record the struggle, but also the joy, the humor and the craziness of it all.

A page from "Look at Us Now."
A page from “Look at Us Now.”

“If we can just pause for a minute, it’s a little easier to appreciate all the little, small moments,” she says. “If a kid is freaking out at bedtime and you feel like going crazy and you want to pull your hair out, realize that it’s just where we are right now and not the way we really are going to be.”

May will be a busy month for Noll. In addition to launching this book, she’s leading the craft area at Maker Faire Austin on May 7-8. Kids will get to make many classic crafts including many that involve tying yarn recycled from old T-shirts. There will even be a giant 5-foot potholder loom.

She’s also working on another book. This one will be based on the babysitter class she teaches. It will be a book filled with activities that kids can take with them on their gigs.

Book giveaway

If you’d like to try out “Look at Us Now,” I’ve got two books to give away. Email me at nvillalpando@statesman.com with Look at Us Now in the subject line and your name and address in the body copy. I’ll pick two people out of a hat on Friday afternoon. Think early Mother’s Day gift.

Looking ahead: Here’s what’s happening in Austin in May for families

Here’s what’s happening in May for families. Did I miss something? Email me at nvillalpando@statesman.com. Don’t forget to read my weekly family events calendar each Sunday in the paper and on Saturday online at austin360.com/raisingaustin. There’s usually a video highlighting one event.



Ballet Austin. International Dance Day. For ages 10 and older. 1-5 p.m. May 1. $9 per class or $20 for the day. Family Stories & Music in Motion — Cinderella. For toddlers and preschoolers and their adult. 11 a.m. May 4. $15 one parent and child.Ballet Austin, 501 W. Third St. balletaustin.org.

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta! 6-8 p.m. May 4. Food, music and crafts. Montopolis Recreation Center, 1200 Montopolis Drive.

Maker Faire Austin. Make all kinds of things and watch others make things. 10-6 p.m. May 7-8. $11-$28. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. makerfaireaustin.com

Celebrasia Austin. Dance demonstrations, country experience rooms, cooking demonstrations and kids’ activities. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. May 14. Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road.

Austin Maker Faire lets you be creative with the help of artisans.
Maker Faire Austin lets you be creative with the help of artisans.

PBS Kids at the Alamo: “Thomas & Friends.” Watch six episodes on the big screen. 11 a.m. May 14. $1-$3. Slaughter Lane Alamo Drafthouse.

Zilker Botanical Garden Woodland Faerie Trail. Open May 16-June 24. Special Woodland Faerie Trail by Silver Moonlight June 17-19. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Spring Road. zilkergarden.org.

Girlstart Starry Nights. Learn about ancient Egyptian mythology. 5:30 p.m. May 5. 1400 W. Anderson Lane. girlstart.org

Wild Families: Bloom. Identify different wildflowers for ages 3-16 and their families.1-3 p.m. May 14. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org.


Mr. Johnny’s Kids Club Music Hour. Sing and dance and come early for muffins and juice. 10-11 a.m. May 1 and May 8. $3. Scottish Rite Theatre, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org


“Disney on Ice: Let’s Celebrate.” Mickey and friends celebrate all kinds of parties with folks from “Alice in wonderland,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Toy Story” and more. 7:30 p.m. May 5-7. 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. May 7; and 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. May 8. $15.75-$45.75. Cedar Park Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars, Cedar Park. cedarparkcenter.com.

“The Town Musicians of Mumbai.” Scottish Rite Theatre collaborates with Sacred Cowgirls Indian Swing Band with a Bollywood adaptation of a known tale. 1 p.m. May 1. $8-$12. Scottish Rite Theatre, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org

The Red Queen and Alice face off in "Alice in Wonderland" at Zach Theatre. Kirk Tuck
The Red Queen and Alice face off in “Alice in Wonderland” at Zach Theatre. Kirk Tuck

“Alice in Wonderland.” See Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, Caterpillar, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and more as they move throughout the Zach Theatre property. 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through May 15. 11 a.m. May 1 is a sign-interpreted performance. $23 adults, $18 children. Whisenhunt stage, 1510 Toomey Road. zachtheatre.org

Pollyanna Theatre’s “Young Bear: The Story of Frances Slocum.” The story of a young girl who is taken to an American Indian village in the 1800s.For grades 2-5. 2 p.m. May 14, 15, 21, 22 and 4 p.m. May 14 and May 21. $12. Long Center, 700 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org.

“The Wizard of Oz.” See it on stage. 7:30 p.m. May 27-28, 2 p.m. May 28 and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. May 29. Long Center, 700 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org.


Thinkery Workshops and events: Candlemaking. For ages 4-7. 10:30 a.m. May 7 and 2:30 p.m. May 8. $34 one adult and child. Woodworking. For ages 8 and older. 10:30 a.m. May 14 and 2:30 p.m. May 15. $34 one adult and child. Exploring Explosions. For ages 8 and older. 10:30 a.m. May 21 and 2:30 p.m. May 22. $34 one adult and child. Hydraulic Robots. For ages 4-7. 10:30 a.m. May 28 and 2:30 p.m. May 29. $29 one adult and child. Baby Bloomers for ages birth to 3 learn about famous artists. 9 a.m. Mondays and Saturdays. Little Builders play with tools. For ages 1 to 2, 9:45 May 7 and 9:45 a.m. May 9, and for ages 2-3, 10:45 a.m. May 7 and 10:45 a.m. May 9. $29 one adult and child. Spark Club. For ages 8 and older. Learn about Groovy Graphics. 3:30 p.m. May 4s. $72 per child. The Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

From top left, Jennifer and Kevin Miller react as their daughter, Laurel, 4, center, takes part in an inertia game at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
From top left, Jennifer and Kevin Miller react as their daughter, Laurel, 4, center, takes part in an inertia game at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Bullock Museum. Free First May 1: Journey into Big Bend. Enjoy hands-on activities about the park. Explore fossils, learn about the plantlife, listen to a story, learn how to take nature photography and more. Noon-5 p.m. May 1. Living History Days. Historical characters come to life. 10 a.m. May 5. Science Thursday. See the museum come to life Enjoy hands-on activities. 10 a.m. May 19. Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com

Texas Museum of Science & Technology. Star Party. Every Friday in May look at the stars in the parking lot. 8-10 p.m. May 6, 13, 20, 27. Science Saturday. Enjoy talks about science. 4-6 p.m. May 28. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park. txmost.org.

Contemporary Austin. Families Create! Recyled Robots. Make a robot and then bring it to life in the animation station. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. May 21. Free. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St. contemporaryaustin.org

Umlauf Sculpture Garden. Family Day. Do yoga, hear a story, play with clay. 1-5 p.m. May 8. Free. Kids Kraft. For grades kindergarten-2. Wired and Weird. Create abstract sculpture with wire and yarn. 10 a.m. May 14. Making Multiples. Experiment with casting techniques and colors. 10 a.m. Noon May 21. $10 members. Umlauf Sculpture Garden, 605 Robert E. Lee Road. umlaufsculpture.org.

Hill Country Science Mill. Game Worlds Game Day. Professional game developers teach about animation, illustration, programming and graphic arts. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. May 7. Free with admission. Hill Country Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City. sciencemill.org.

Ney Day. See a new sculpture and more family activities. Noon-5 p.m. May 21. Elizabet Ney Museum, 304 E. 44th St.


BookPeople events: Nanci Turner Stevenson reads “Swing Sideways.” 7 p.m. May 3. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff with Amy Tintera read and sign “Illuminae” and “Ruined.” 2 p.m. May 8. Shannon Messenger and Chris Howard read and sign “Let the Wind Rise” and “Night Speed.” 7 p.m. May 12. Jennifer Armentrout reads “The Problem with Forever.” 6 p.m. May 20. Carolyn Cohagan reads “Time Zero.” 3 p.m. May 21. Samantha Mabry and Joy Preble read and sign “A Fierce and Subtle Poison” and “It Wasn’t Always Like This.” 1 p.m. May 22. Story times: “I Love Mom,” 10:30 a.m. May 3. “Costumed Story Time with Piggie and Gerald!” 10:30 a.m. May 4. Story time with Author Brian Lies, 11:30 a.m. May 7. Eat What You Want, 10:30 a.m. May 10. Ms. Staci Story Time, 10:30 a.m. May 11. Seaside Story Time, 11:30 a.m. May 14. Tiny Tails to You Petting Zoo, 10:30 a.m. May 17. Bears, Bears, and More Bears, 11:30 a.m. May 21. Things That Go, 10:30 a.m. May 24. Bliss Kid Yoga, 10:30 a.m. May 25. Monkeys and Gorillas, 11:30 a.m. May 28. Bug Out, 10:30 a.m. May 31. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com.

Barnes & Noble story times.

11 a.m. Saturday story times at all locations: Mother’s Day Story Time, May 7; “If you Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don’t!” May 14; ThankoRama Story Time, May 21; and “Our Great Big Backyard,” May 28. Other story times: “The Book with No Pictures,” 11 a.m. May 4, Lakeline; “Pig in a Wig,” 11 a.m. May 25, Lakeline; “Naughty Mabel,” 11 a.m. Tuesday, Round Rock; “Silly Wonderful You,” 7 p.m. May 6, Round Rock; “Mamasaurus,” 11 a.m. May 10, Round Rock; “I’ll Catch You if You Fall,” 7 p.m. May 13; “The Grumpy Pets,” 11 a.m. May 17, Round Rock; “Bug Zoo,” 7 p.m. May 16, Round Rock; “Let’s Go for a Drive!” 11 a.m. May 24, Round Rock; “Chicken Lily,” 7 p.m. May 27, Round Rock; and “Don’t Touch This Book!” 11 a.m. May 31, Round Rock. “Star-Wars” X-Wing Event. Celebrate May the 4th Be With You and learn to play the “Star Wars” X-Wing game. 7 p.m. May 4, Sunset Valley, Round Rock and Lakeline; 6:30 p.m. May 4, Arboretum and Hill Country Galleria.; Corduroy visits, noon May 21, Hill Country Galleria. Dr. Seuss Day, 11 a.m. May 18, Lakeline.


"This one blows up and this one inflates itself!" Seth and Evelyn Ledezma, 9 and 7 year-old, recreate Angry Birds characters "Bomb Bird" and "Atomic Bird" among other creatures at Crafternoon at the Manchaca Branch of Austin Public Library on Monday, July 21, 2014. The Manchaca Branch Crafternoon meets every Monday this summer from 2-4pm while other branches of the Austin Public Library hold their own versions on different days and at different times.
“This one blows up and this one inflates itself!” Seth and Evelyn Ledezma, 9 and 7 year-old, re-create Angry Birds characters at Crafternoon at the Manchaca Road Branch.

Crafternoon. 3:30 p.m. May 3, Terrazas; 4 p.m. May 6, Spicewood Springs Branch; 3:30 p.m. May 9, Manchaca Road Branch; 4 p.m. May 12, Twin Oaks Branch; 3:30 p.m. May 17, Terrazas Branch; 3:30 p.m. May 23, Manchaca Road Branch; 3:30 p.m. May 24, Howson Branch.

Sew Happy. For ages 10 and up. 5 p.m. May 3, Manchaca Road Branch.

“Star Wars” Jedi Training Camp. For ages 5-12. 3:30 pm. May 4, Yarborough Branch.

May the 4th Be With You — “Star Wars” Puppets. For ages 5 and up. 3:30 p.m. May 4, Manchaca Road Branch.

Little Builders with Tents and Tunnels and Blocks. For ages 15 months to 5. 10:30 a.m. May 5, Yarborugh Branch.

Book Circle: Screen-Free Week: Reader’s Theater and Puppets. 3:30 p.m. May 5, Yarborough branch.

“Star Wars” vs. “Star Trek” — Night to Nerd Out. 6 p.m. May 6, Windsor Park Branch.

Roller Derby Day. Noon, May 7, Manchaca Road Branch.

Family Movie Matinee: “The Peanuts Movie.” 2 p.m. May 7, Windsor Park Branch.

StoryBook Dance Making. 2 p.m. May 8, Recycled Reads BookStore.

Free Comic Book Day. Get a free comic book, 3 p.m. May 9, all branches.

Family Movie Night: “The Good Dinosaur.” 6:30 p.m., May 10, Twin Oaks Branch; 4 p.m. May 17, Cepeda Branch.

Felt Friends World Tour. Make a tiny cat. 4:30 p.m. May 11, Spicewood Springs Branch.

Book Circle: Legos and Duplos. 3:30 p.m. May 12, Yarborough Branch.

Maker Mania: Meet a Scientists and Make Something. For ages 5-12. Faulk Central Library.

Art Lab for the Littles. For ages 3 to 6. 11 a.m. May 19, Terrazas Branch.

Zach Theatre’s family shows next year: “Charlotte’s Web,” “Elephant and Piggie” and bilingual play with Teatro Vivo

charlotteZach Theatre announces its 2016-17 family theater lineup and there’s much to be excited about.

First up: “Charlotte’s Web,” Oct. 14-Dec. 3. This version will feature bluegrass music and aerial artists from Sky Candy. It’s for ages 3 and up.

Then the Christmas sing-along tradition “Holiday Heroes” returns on Dec. 17. It’s for ages 3 and up.

Feb. 17-29, Mo Willems’ creation “Elephant and Piggie: We are in a Play” comes to life as a musical with backup singers the Squirrelles. It’s designed for ages 3 and up.

April 14-May 7, you’ll find Zach at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican-American Cultural Center for a bilingual play that is being co-produced with Teatro Vivo. “JJ’s Arcade” is based on the YouTube “Caine’s Arcade,” and tells the story of a boy who builds an arcade out of cardboard in his father’s garage after his mother dies. This play is for ages 7 and older.

In addition to the public shows, Zach brings school groups to these shows at a reduced rate. Find out more information at zachtheatre.org.


Parents of girls read “Girls & Sex” even if it makes you uncomfortable

girls and sexPeggy Orenstein’s “Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape” ($26.99, Harper) sure made me queasy. It’s hard for parents of girls (and boys, too) to think about what they might be doing with their private parts.

Yet, this book is a necessary wake up call to what our daughters are exposed to and experience out there. And what our boys might be experiencing as well as the objects of their affection as well as their potential abusers. So, let’s get our heads out of the sand and start reading.

Orenstein gives us these facts:

On porn: More than 40 percent of children ages 10 to 17 have been exposed to porn online.

On the rise of oral sex: “Nearly every girl I spoke with had at least one experience with a boy who had tried, despite her clear refusal, to coerce or force her into oral sex: verbally, via repeated texts, or by physically planting his hands on her shoulders and pushing downward.”

On losing their virginity: “Nearly two-thirds of teenagers have intercourse at least once before college — the average age of virginity loss in this country, as I’ve said is 17 — and while most do so with a romantic partner, a sizable number of girls cash in what they call their V card with a friend or a guy they’ve only just met. Over half … were drunk for the occasion. Most say they regret their experience ans wish they’d waited.”

On sexual assault in college: A third of female undergraduates who responded to a 2015 survey had been victims of nonconsensual sexual contact.

How to deal with your little negotiators: Try “The Game Theorist’s Guide to Parenting”

Kids are masters at negotiation, and we as parents need to be up to the task of negotiating with them. That’s the theory behind Paul Raeburn and Kevin Zollman’s “The Game Theorist’s Guide to Parenting: How the Science of Strategic Thinking Can Help You Deal with the Toughest Negotiators You Know — Your Kids,” ($25, Scientific American).

game theoristEach chapter, Raeburn and Zollman give you another game to help solve your kids’ problems, usually having kids negotiate among themselves to settle on a solution. Some of it makes total sense. A friend of mine had two children. One child got to make decisions for the family such as where to eat or what fun thing to do on even numbered days as well as do the chores; the other child took the odd numbered days. On months when there was a 31st of the month, it was Mom’s day.

Some are more complicated. Both kids need to clean up the playroom. The kid that does the most work gets the biggest reward. The kids the does the least amount of work gets the biggest punishment. In theory, they both pitch in to get the reward.

There’s also a guide in when to vote and how to vote when solving a family problem like where to go on vacation.

Some of it, feels really complicated and I’m not so sure that my children would come up with the same results. Many “games” require for each child to bend a little to be able to benefit from the awards. In theory it all works, but sometimes family dynamics or children’s personalities mean that one child will almost always give in and another child will almost always not.

And some of it, without parental supervision could turn into a re-enactment of “Lord of the Flies.”