Which is more expensive the first year? A baby, a puppy or a kitten?

I bet you know the answer to this one. The folks at SafeWise, though, felt the need to calculate the costs.

The baby costs about $2,000 (breastfed) to $3,739 (formula-fed) a year (not counting day care).

RELATED: Costs of day care as much as sending a kid to college

The puppy (or adult dog that you adopted) about $1,082 and the kitten (or adult cat that you adopted) about $991.

If you have all three and then some… well, we’re rich in love and poor in the wallet, right?

Some of the things this calculation looked at:

Cost of doing its business: A dog was about $68 in poop bags, a cat was $413 for the litter box and litter, and the baby’s diapers, wipes and changing table and pat will set you back $970.

Cost of food: Free for the breastfed baby, $1,734 for the formula-fed baby; a puppy was $568 for food and treats, and the cat was only $213.

With the cat and the dog, you’re saving on clothing (unless you’re one of those owners) , but those cat beds and dog beds that apparently some people buy are as much as a bassinet (not the crib, though).

Quite frankly, SafeWise estimates are way low. Where’s the day care and doggy care? Where’s the vet bills and doctor visits? What about all those shots they all need? And $21 for clothing and $8 for socks for that baby? That’s one naked baby. My kid could ruin $29 worth of clothing each day.


How to get your teens to put down the screens and read this spring break

 Confession: My teens don’t read, or at least I didn’t think they really read until I talked to Kaye Newton, author of “How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure.” ($12.36, Linland Press)

The Brentwood, Tenn., mother of three teenagers thought the same thing about her own children. They went to a terrific elementary school that valued reading and then they went to middle school and stopped reading for fun.

Instead, they were assigned books to read, classics that they had trouble applying to their own lives. “The Scarlet Letter,” how is that relatable to a middle-school girl?

Kaye Newton wrote “How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure.”

The beginning of middle school, Newton says, is also about the time when her kids first got cellphones. They traded fiction books for friends’ texts and Snapchat messages.

“How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure” is full of ideas to get kids reading again for fun as well as lists of books they might like depending on their interests.

Here are some of those ideas that you can use. (Hint, spring break is coming up. That’s nine whole days without school assignments to spend with a great book).

1. Work with the school and teachers to encourage more reading.

Some schools, even middle and high schools, have Drop Everything And Read time during advisory periods. How can your kids’ school get that?

Are teachers willing to offer a choice in reading the classics? If “Pride and Prejudice” isn’t your daughter’s cup of tea, could she choose “Lord of the Flies” instead?

Do kids have access to the library and not just as a place to take a test or serve detention? How often do they get to go to check out a book? Are they encouraged to go there?

Ask teachers or the librarian to recommend books to your kids. Their favorite teacher telling them personally it’s a good book has more meaning than a class assignment.

Try to make the classics relevant. “The Scarlet Letter,” that’s all about sex and a society’s view of it. Help your kids understand the scandal behind it at the time. It’s a regular soap opera, or think of it as the Snapchat of the day.

2. Create a book club. Have your kids invite friends over to discuss a book they read for fun every month or every couple of months. You supply the snacks. They supply the conversation.

3. Get your kid a book buddy. Mom telling you about a new book might seem lame. A favorite cousin or uncle telling you about it might be cool.

4. Take your kid to the library or book store. Make it a family outing. Follow up with a trip to a coffeehouse for reading the books they just checked out or bought.

5. Read out loud again. It could be that you all read a book together or it could be that you read an article together. Just because they can read, doesn’t mean that you can’t have story time anymore.

6. Find books that interest them. Are they fascinated with race cars or football? Maybe they’d like to read a sports biography. It really doesn’t matter what they read, but that they are reading.

Austinite Ernest Cline’s first novel, “Ready Player One,” is now a movie by Steven Spielberg. Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2011

7. Read the book before the movie or after the movie. “Ready Player One” by Austin author Ernest Cline is coming out in movie-form at the end of March. Read it before you see it. Or, if they’ve loved a series like the “Hunger Games,” have they read the books? Champion it as “the book has a lot more to it.”

8. Read books that play off their favorite things in pop culture. Did they love the Netflix series “Stranger Things”? Maybe they’d love some Stephen King books. Or, maybe they want to get a Dungeons & Dragons manual to read.

9. Read a book together. If they are assigned one for school, pick it up, too, and talk about it on the car ride to school or while they are reading it.

10. Download audio books. Just because they aren’t actually reading the words doesn’t mean they aren’t doing some of the things a book requires: using your imagination, concentrating, analysis.

11. Download ebooks. If they are more comfortable reading a book on a screen, let them.

Noah Schnapp, from left, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb Mclaughlin star in “Stranger Things.” If your kids like this series, they might like Stephen King books. Netflix

12. Do they love anime? Reading subtitles while watching a Japanese anime is reading and shouldn’t be frowned upon.

13. Extend the book series that they love by having them read fan fiction or write their own fan fiction. Find out what other series that author has written and start those, or find out what other authors that author recommends and get one of those books. Or, read the series all over again.

14. Don’t negate the graphic novel or comic book. Just because it has a few words per page doesn’t mean your kids aren’t using all those reading skills.

15. Make bedtime reading cool again. Help them wind down their day by having bedtime reading. And, you do it, too.

16. Realize that during the school year, kids might not have time to read for fun. That’s OK. Help them find something to read during the breaks.

17. Read books about somewhere you’re going on vacation. Heading to Disney World? Read guidebooks or books inspired by Disney.

18. Pull out the WiFi. “What? It must be on the fritz again,” is what you can say when they are on hour five of watching TV or playing video games. “Guess you’ll have to read a book.”

Turns out, your kids might be reading more than you thought, but you can help encourage them to do a little more. Happy reading.

FluMist returns next flu season, but it’s not for everyone

Next flu season, most people will again have the option of getting the flu shot or the FluMist, an inhaled live virus vaccine.

This week AstraZeneca, the maker of FluMist, announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend the vaccine for the 2018-2019 season, two years after it stopped recommending it.

In this Oct. 4, 2005 file photo, a Danielle Holland reacts as she is given a FluMist influenza vaccination in St. Leonard, Md.(AP Photo/Chris Gardner, File)

The FluMist had proven ineffective for working on the H1N1 strain two years ago. This season, AstraZeneca tested a reformulation of the FluMist to see if it worked before the CDC committee approved it for next year.

The news comes after this year’s flu shot has only been about 36 percent effective on the Type A, H3N2 strain of the flu. (That’s actually up from previous reports of 10 percent to 15 percent effectiveness.) It’s been a particularly bad flu season, the worse since the swine flu (H1N1) of 2009.

RELATED: Get ready. Flu season expected to be bad

Not everyone should get the FluMist instead of the flu shot, though.

You should get a shot instead if you:

  • Are younger than 2
  • Are immune compromised
  • Have a chronic illness like asthma
  • Are older than 49
  • Are pregnant

RELATED: Should you get a flu shot if you’re pregnant?

The shot can be given to babies as young as 6 months old. The first time you get a flu shot or FluMist, you need two doses a month apart,if you are younger than 8 because you haven’t built up antibodies to the flu, yet.

People 65 and older have a higher dose vaccine they can take because we know that the regular vaccine wears off in about six months in people that are 65 and older. For children the shot works about 12 to 18 months.

Most parents and kids will be happy that the FluMist is back, says Dr. Leighton Ellis, pediatric chair at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center and a pediatrician at North Austin Pediatrics. “Everybody is going to be really happy not to get a shot,” she says.

There are some advantages that the FluMist has over the vaccine if it works. The antibodies in the FluMist live in the nose instead of being in the bloodstream as with the shot.

“Sometimes with FluMist you might fight it off in your nose and you might not even get sick,” Ellis says.

The disadvantages are that it’s a live vaccine, which means it can cause a sore throat or headache afterward.

Regardless of whether you choose the flu shot or FluMist, choose something, and try to do it before Halloween, Ellis says. That way you’ll be ready for peak flu season.

Even though some people are still getting the flu with this year’s vaccine, Ellis says, sometimes, they only have it for about a day and it might just look like a bad cold. The typical flu comes with three to four days of fever and the fever, soreness, chills, headache and cough happen all at once, rather than a slow build up to sickness that you find with a cold.

RELATED: Is it cold, flu or allergies? What does your child’s cough tell you

Like other doctors’ offices and hospitals have reported, Ellis says she isn’t even testing most kids who come in with flu symptoms. Her office is holding onto flu tests for children younger than 2 and for children with compromised immune systems — kids that would most likely require medical intervention if they had the flu.

For most people, the flu is about rest, staying hydrated and alternating Tylenol and Motrin. Ellis isn’t automatically prescribing the antiviral Tamiflu because of its side effects in kids such as vomiting and psychotic behavior. She will prescribe it if there is an infant in the house or someone for whom the flu symptoms would be dangerous.

RELATED: What if your kid has the flu?


RELATED: Can Elderberry really shorten the length of the flu?

RELATED: Austin Regional Clinic studying new anti-viral drug for the flu

While parents might be rejoicing that the FluMist will be back next year, Ellis knows her nurses won’t be. It’s harder to get a kid to agree to have something sprayed into their nose than to give them a quick shot, she says. Plus, parents then have to decide which one to choose: shot or mist.


‘Star Wars’ can teach your child math

Sometimes you just need to use the Force to get through your children’s homework assignments, right? Now the “Star Wars” universe has expanded to offer reading and writing and math workbooks from Workman Publishing.

Workman Publishing

The $8.95 workbooks include questions like these:

Luke was (unhappy) that his uncle wanted him to wait another year to join the Academy.

Was he: Anguised? Devastated? or Disappointed?

Han Solo (walked) over to Princess Leia to joke with her.

Did he: Saunter? Strode? or Trudged?

That’s from the fourth-grade reading and writing workbook.

By the way, Han Solo would never to go Leia. He would wait for her to come to him.


Now for some math …

There are 5 clone troopers outside the Jedi temple. There are 10 times as many battle droids? How many battle droids are there?

At a Wookiee banquet, 4 guests ate nuts and 6 times as many guests ate biscuits. How many guests ate biscuits?

That’s from the fourth-grade math book, but I’m still stuck on the image of a Wookiee banquet and that they eat nuts and biscuits.

13 things to do with the kids this weekend in Austin, Feb. 23-25

Duck into these family events in between the raindrops of what should be a rainy weekend.

“The Adventures of Enoughie (Las Aventuras de Enoughie).”  Kirk Tuck
  1. Barbara Jordan exhibit. See an interactive exhibit on the life of Barbara Jordan. Through Saturday. Free. Texas Capitol Rotunda, 1100 Congress Ave. barbarajordanfreedomfoundation.org.
  2. “The Wazir of Oz.” A Bollywood-style version with music by the Sacred Cowgirls. $8-$12. 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org
  3. The Kindness Campaign family event.  See Enoughie plus experience the Magic Mirror and a dance party. $20. 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday. Nordstrom at Barton Creek Square. tkckindness.org
  4. “The Adventures of Enoughie (Las Aventuras de Enoughie).” This bilingual puppet show features lessons about kindness and is a collaboration between Zach Theatre, Teatro Vivo, Glass Half Full Theatre and the Kindness Campaign. 11 a.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $14-$16. Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St. zachtheatre.org
  5. Zach Theatre presents “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Head to Narnia in the C.S. Lewis tale. 2 p.m.  Saturday and Sunday. $18-$24. Whisenhunt Stage, 1510 Toomey Road. zachtheatre.org
  6. Paint It Forward. Art auction of art from preschoolers to benefit Make a Wish, plus an open house with face painting and more. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The Learning Experience, 15542 RM 620 N. thelearningexperience.com
  7. Toybrary. Daddy and Me Playdate: Let’s go the Olympics. 10:30 a.m. Saturday, $15. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane. toybraryaustin.com
  8. Thinkery. E-Wearables workshop. Ages 4 and older. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
  9. Thinkery. Baby Bloomers: All about Senses. 9 a.m. Saturday. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
  10. Hideout Theatre Presents: Improv for Cool Kids “Stories from Around the World.” Join the cast in creating the story. 11 a.m. Sundays. $5. Hideout Theatre, 617 Congress Ave. hideouttheatre.org
  11. BookPeople 10:30 a.m. story times. Dogs vs. Cats, Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com
  12. Barnes & Noble Events: 11 a.m. Saturdays story times at all locations: Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss.
  13. Express Yourself Through Media and Technology. Ages 8 and older. 10:30 a.m. Saturday. St. John’s Branch.

Plan ahead for family fun in Austin in March, especially for spring break

You’ll find a lot of things to do with the kids this March. Expect many more activities the week of spring break — March 12-16 — to help you keep kids busy when school is out.

Check out these events:

Bullfighter Wacy Munsellbulllooks for an opportunity to distract a bull named 805 Major Malfunction As fighter Lance Brittan lands after being hooked by the bull when he was saving bull rider Reid Barker at Rodeo Austin. Mark Matson/Rodeo Austin 2014


Rodeo Austin Cowboy Breakfast. Eat breakfast like a cowboy. 6 a.m. March 2. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. rodeoaustin.com.

Texas Independence Day Parade. Celebrate the history of Texas. Free. 9:30 a.m. March 3. Congress Ave. celebratetexas.org.

Explore UT. Find activities covering all 40 acres. Free. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 3. exploreut.utexas.edu

ABC Zilker Kite Festival. Go fly a kite or watch them fly, plus a kids club of activities. Free. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 4 (rain date March 11). Zilker Park. abckitefest.org

Domain Northside Kids. Come to the lawn at the Domain Northside for activities for kids 18 months to 6 years old. Free. 10 a.m.-noon March 7. Register, domainnorthside.com.

Daniel McLean, 7, gets excited as he runs behind a kite with Julian Martinez during the 86th annual ABC Zilker Kite Festival. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2015

Rodeo Austin. Watch the pigs race, the bullriders, barrel racers and more. $5-$8 fairgrounds admission, $20-$36 rodeo seats. March 10-24. Expo Center, 9100 Decker Lake Road.

Safe Baby Academy. Learn how to care for your baby. 9 a.m. March 3, Seton Southwest, 7900 FM 1826. 1 p.m. March 3, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Round Rock, 300 University Blvd., Round Rock. 5 p.m. March 5, People’s Clinic, 1101 Camino La Costa. 9 a.m. March 10, Seton Northwest, 11113 Research Blvd. 9 a.m. March 17, Seton Medical Center Williamson, 201 Seton Parkway, Round Rock. 9 a.m. March 23, CommUnity Care Clinic, 2901 Montopolis Drive (in Spanish). 9 a.m. March 24, CommUnity Care Clinic, 2901 Montopolis Drive.

Learning Expo. SXSW Edu opens up its exhibit hall to the public. Free. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 6. Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 4, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St. sxswedu.com

Car seat check. 9 a.m. March 1, Turner Roberts Recreation Center, 7201 Colony Loop Drive. 9 a.m. March 6, Dove Springs Recreation Center, 5801 Ainez Drive. 9 a.m. March 8, Baby Earth, 106 E. Old Settles Blvd. D-100, Round Rock. 9 a.m. March 12, CommUnity Care Clinic, 211 Comal St. 9 a.m. March 21, Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane. 9 a.m. March 30, Montopolis Recreation Center, 1200 E. Montopolis Drive. austintexas.gov

Art in the Park. Explore art hands-on for kids with and without different abilities. Free. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. March 22. Fiesta Gardens, 2101 Jesse E. Segovia. www.vsatx.org.

Teen Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt. Who says Easter egg hunts are just for kids? 6:30 p.m. March 23. Dottie Jordan Recreation Center, 2803 Loyola Lane. austintexas.gov

Dance Through India. Celebrate different dances. 2-4 p.m. March 25. Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road. austintexas.gov/aarc.


Bill Childs of Spare the Rock on KUTX presents these fun music for family events:

Hello Dolly! A Tribute to Dolly Parton.Celebrate Dolly Parton’s music with Superfun Yeah yeah Rocketship, Red Yarn, Jon Langford, 1-2-3 Andres, Ms. Kat, Que Pastas, SaulPaul and more. 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. March 16. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. $3 adults, $1 children. sparetherock.com

Rock & Read at the Domain. Musicians include The Hoots, 1-2-3 Andres, The Que Pastas, Superfun Yeah Yeah west will feature children’s music between the sets each morning. Red Yam and JareBare, March 14. Ms. Kat and SaulPaul, March 1Rocketship, El Tule, Lucky Diaz & the Family Jam Band. 2-5:30 p.m. March 17. Free. Domain lawn by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Dillard’s. sparetherock.com

KUTx live broadcast kids’ music lineup. The KUTx live broadcast at the Four Seasons during South by Southwest will feature children’s music between the sets each morning. Red Yam and JareBare, March 14. Ms. Kat and SaulPaul, March 15. Laura Doherty and 1-2-3 Andres, March 16. Lucky Diaz & The Family Jam Band and Sugar Free Allstars, March 17. $5 wristband for kids shows, $15 wristband for adult shows. Four Seasons Hotel, 98 San Jacinto Blvd. fourseasons.com

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


Austin Nature & Science Center. Celebrate Urban Birds. Celebrate birds by going on a bird-watching hike, dissecting owl pellets and more. Free. 9 a.m.-noon March 31. Austin Nature & Science Center, 2389 Stratford Drive. austintexas.gov/ansc

Blanton Museum of Art. Look. Think. Make. Drop in and make art every Thursday. 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free on Thursdays. Blanton Museum of Art. 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. blantonmuseum.org.

Bullock MuseumSeveral events coming up. H-E-B Free First Sunday: Texas Heroes. Free family fun around the museum with the theme. Noon to 5 p.m. March 4. Living History Days: Re-enactors stroll through the museum. 10 a.m. March 1. Little Texans: Texas Sounds. For ages 2-5. 10 a.m. March 8. Spring Break at the Bullock. Hands-on activities. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 12-16. Science Thursdays: 10 a.m. March 8. Storytime Heroes and Heroines: 10 a.m. March 22. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com

Contemporary Austin. Art Free for All. Explore Laguna Gloria and make art at this open house. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. March 10. Free. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St. thecontemporaryaustin.org

Hill Country Science Mill. Robot Mania. Special hands-on activities. March 12-16. Homeschool Day. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 22. Hill Country Science Mill, 101 Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City. sciencemill.org

Neill-Cochran House Museum. Sunday Funday: Off the Rack: Simple Fabric Dyeing. 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. March 4. Free. Easter Egg Dye-O-Rama. Noon-4 p.m. March 30. Eggs to decorate for sale. 2310 San Gabriel St. nchmuseum.org

Thinkery. Unofficial SXSW Event: Kids’ Music Showcase. Kids’ music, plus hands-on activities. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. March 10. Free with admission. Art Start: My Many Colored Days. 9:45 a.m. Wednesdays (1-year-olds), 10:45 a.m. Wednesdays (2-year-olds), Wednesdays, March 21-May 9. $20 a class, $140 for the series. Namaste and Play: Sense-ational: 9:45 a.m. (2-year-olds), 10:45 a.m. (3-year-olds) Fridays, March 23-May 11. $20 a class, $140 for the series. Baby Bloomers: Light it Up. Learn about Light. “la9 a.m. Mondays and Saturdays, except March 12. For birth to age 3. $5. Cow Eye Dissection: Ages 4 and up. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. March 3-4, March 16-18, March 31-April 1. $8. Take Apart Art: Ages 4 and up. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. March 10-12, March 24-25, March 30. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

Toybrary Austin. Daddy and Me Playdate: Shark Saturday. 10:30 a.m. March 3. Let’s Go Fishing. 10:30 a.m. March 17. $10. Curious George Visits. 10:30 a.m. March 8. Spring Break Staycation Party with Spunky Kids. 10:30 a.m. March 15. $10. Family Concert and Picnic with Much 2 Much. 6 p.m. March 24. Free. Mini horse visit. 10:30 a.m. March 30. $12. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane. toybraryaustin.com

Umlauf Sculpture Garden Family Day. Learn different forms of exercise as a family, plus make art. Noon-4 p.m. March 11. Free. Umlauf Sculpture Garden, 605 Robert E. Lee Road. unmlaufsculture.org

Wildflower Center: Afternoon Explorers: Butterflies in the Garden. Learn about butterflies. For Ages 6-10. 3:30 p.m. March 30. $15. Egg-cellent Adventures. Decorate hardboiled eggs with items from nature, go on an egg hunt and learn about what lays eggs. 12 p.m. March 31. $20. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org

Williamson Museum. Hands on History. Learn about the founding of Williamson County as the county celebrates 170 years, plus make a craft of the county namesake. Free. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 10. Williamson Museum, 716 Austin Ave., Georgetown. williamsonmuseum.org


Zach Theatre presents “Goodnight Moon.” The classic children’s book comes to the stage. 7 p.m. March 2, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays except March 11, March 18, and May 5. 2 p.m. Sundays through May 27. Sensory friendly performance 11 a.m. March 3. $18-$24. Kleberg Stage, 1421 Riverside Drive. zachtheatre.org

Pollyanna Theatre presents “Hurry Up and Wait.” Wendy and Harry plant a garden and have to learn patience. For ages 2-4. $6.75. 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. March 22-24, March 26, March 29-31. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

Bubble Guppies Live!: “Ready to Rock.” The Nickelodeon cartoon comes to the stage. $19-$29. 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. March 11. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

“Nugget and Fang!” ArtsPower’s musical about a shark and a minnow that get along. $9-$12. Noon March 10. One World Theatre, 7701 Bee Cave Road. oneworldtheatre.org.

Cirque Éloize: “Saloon.” The circus meets an old-fashioned Western. $29-$59.7:30 p.m. March 29 and March 30. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

“Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Fox Searchlight


Alamo Drafthouse. Kids Camp: “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.” 10 a.m. March 10-15, Lakeline. 10:25 a.m. March 11, 10:30 a.m. March 12-15, Mueller. “The Iron Giant.” 12:45 p.m. March 10, 4 p.m. March 11, 7 p.m. March 13, Lakeline. 1:15 p.m. March 10, 4:15 p.m. March 11, 7:15 p.m. March 13, Slaughter Lane. Noon March 3, 6:30 p.m. March 4, 7:30 p.m. March 7, Village. “All Dogs Go to Heaven.” 10:15 a.m. March 10-15, Slaughter Lane. 9:30 a.m. March 17-18, Lakeline. “Back to the Future.” 1:15 p.m. March 17, Slaughter Lane. drafthouse.com

Movies in the Park. “Moana.” 7 p.m. March 8. Ramsey Park. Free. austinparks.org.


Asian American Resource Center. Little Seedlings Storytime. Hear Dr. Seuss’ stories in Korean, Chinese and English. 10 a.m. March 2. Indian American Children’s Literature. Celebrate Indian literature with stories, crafts and games. Free. 2-4 p.m. March 18. Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road. austintexas.gov/aarc.

BookPeople events: Story Time Pirates “Stuck in the Stone Age.” 2 p.m. March 4. Farrah Penn reads “Twelve Steps to Normal.” 7 p.m. March 20. Neal Shusterman reads “Thunderhead.” 7 p.m. March 22. Carolyn Cohagan reads “Time Next.” 2 p.m. March 24. Barbara Nye reads “Somewhere a Bell is Ringing.” 2 p.m. March 31. 10:30 a.m. story times: Susan Kralovansky reads. March 3. Women’s History. March 6. Milly McSilly. March 7. Brand New Books. March 10. Colors of Spring. March 12. Heartsong Music. March 13. Ms. Staci. March 14. Princesses and Warriors. March 15. Luchador Legends. March 16. Lucky Day. March 17. Armstrong Community Music School. March 20. Tiny Tails Petting Zoo. March 21. We Love Numbers. March 24. Elephant & Piggie. March 27. Firefighters Rock. March 28. Around the World. March 31. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com

Barnes & Noble Events: Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration. 6:30 p.m. March 2, all locations. 11 a.m. Saturdays story times at all locations: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” March 3. “The Magician’s Hat.” March 10. “The Gingerbread Man” and the “Leprechaun Loose at School.” March 17. “Little Blue Truck.” March 24. “The Duckling Gets a Cookie?” March 31.

“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.

At the library

Art Smart: Native American Celebration. 10:15 a.m. March 1, Pleasant Hill Branch.

“Anasi and the Golden Box of Stories.” For ages 5 and up. 3:30 p.m. March 2, St. John Branch. 3 p.m. March 3, Central Library. 10:15 a.m. March 22, Cepeda Branch. 2 p.m. March 24, Old Quarry Branch. 11 a.m. March 27, Terrazas Branch. 10:30 a.m. March 28, Willie Mae Kirk Branch. 3:30 p.m. March 29, Pleasant Hill Branch.

Express Yourself through Media and Technology. 1 p.m. March 3, March 24, Ruiz Branch. 10:30 a.m. March 3, 10, 17, 24, St. John Branch.

Dr. Seuss Storytime. 11 a.m. March 3, Carver Branch.

Bow Wow Reading with Bonnie the Dog. 11:30 a.m. March 3, March 10, 17, 24, March 31, Yarborough Branch. Bow Wow Reading with Aussie. 3:30 p.m. March 7, North Village Branch. Mornings with Moxie. 10 a.m. March 10, Manchaca Road Branch.

Saturday Family Movie: “Captain Underpants Movie.” 1 p.m. March 3, St. John Branch.

Crafternoon. 3 p.m. March 5, Dove Springs Recreation Center. 4:30 p.m. March 8, Twin Oaks Branch. 2 p.m. March 14, Cepeda Branch. 2:30 p.m. March 14, Carver Branch. 3 p.m. March 12, 19, 26, Dove Springs Recreation Center. 3:30 p.m. March 27, Howson Branch.

Kids’ Yoga. 3:30 p.m. March 5, 19, 26,Yarborough Branch.

Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Information Session. 5 p.m. March 5, Manchaca Road Branch. 3:30 p.m. March 8, Carver Branch.

Tabletop Tuesday. Games to play. 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Central Library.

Teen Tech Week: Coding. 3:30 p.m. March 7, Carver Branch. Robot Petting Zoo. 2 p.m. March 11, Central Library. “Ready Player One.” 2 p.m. March 12. Pi Day. 1:30 p.m. March 14, Central Library. Bristle Bots. 2:30 p.m. March 15. Stop Motion Animation. 2 p.m. March 16, Central Library.

Tech Thursday. 4:30 p.m. March 8, Ruiz Branch.

Teen Manga Book Club. 5:30 p.m. March 8, Little Walnut Creek Branch.

Teen Book Club “Caravel.” 6:30 p.m. March 8, Spicewood Springs Branch. “Bunker Diary.” 3 p.m. March 10, Central Library. “Eliza and Her Monsters.” 6:30 p.m. March 20, Howson Branch.

Night Builders: Family Lego Lab. 7:30 p.m. March 8, Hampton Branch at Oak Hill.

Music and Movement. 11 a.m. March 9, Old Quarry Branch. 11 a.m. March 12, Pleasant Hill Branch. 3:30 p.m. March 21, March 28, Ruiz Branch. 11 a.m. March 22, March 29, Howson Branch.

Friday Movie Matinee: “Wonder.” 3:30 p.m. March 9, Carver Branch. “Sing.” 3:30 p.m. March 16, Old Quarry Branch.

Perler Bead Saturdays. Noon March 10, University Hills Branch.

Saturday Movie Matinee, “Despicable Me 3.” 2 p.m. March 10, University Hills Branch.

Austin Ukestra. 1 p.m. March 11, Recycled Reads Bookstore.

Women’s History Month Film Series: “Wonder Woman.” 3:30 p.m. March 12, Old Quarry Branch.

Family Movie Night: “Jumanji.” 4 p.m. March 13, Cepeda Branch. “Robots.” 4 p.m. March 15, Cepeda Branch.

NBTween Book Club: “The Girl Who Drank the Moon.” 4 p.m. March 14, Howson Branch. “The Nest.” 6 p.m. March 15, Spicewood Springs Branch. “Pax,” 6 p.m. March 29, Twin Oaks Branch.

PAW Patrol Party. 10:15 a.m. March 16, Carver Branch.

Tween STEM Lab. Electric Sculpture with Squishy Circuits. 3 p.m. March 16, Cepeda Branch.

The Third Floor Corridor: Teen Harry Potter Club. 2 p.m. March 18, Central Library.

Pajama Storytime. 6 p.m. March 19, University Hills Branch. 6 p.m. March 22, Spicewood Springs Branch. 6 p.m .March 27, Old Quarry Branch.

Book Circle. 3:30 p.m. March 20, March 27, Twin Oaks Branch. 6 p.m. March 26, University Hills Branch.

Mother-Daughter Book Club: “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.” 6 p.m. March 21, Hampton Branch.

Family Craft Night. 6:30 p.m. March 21, Howson Branch.

Fix-It Clinic. Learn how to fix your broken stuff. Noon March 24, Austin Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Mayor’s Bookclub “Exit West.” 1 p.m. March 24, Manchaca Road Branch.

Yes, Austin kids can try a winter Olympics sport in Central Texas. Here’s how

You and your children have been watching the Olympics. Now they want to become the next Nathan Chen, Shaun White or Mikaela Shiffrin. Do you have to move to Colorado to get them involved in winter sports?

We don’t have a ski mountain in our backyard, but you can do some of the Winter Olympic sports here.

Zoe Chandler, 7, and Alexandria Ligon, 10 stretch out while practicing their skating at the Chaparral Ice skating rink. Kelly West AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2007

Here are some lessons we found:

Figure Skating

No snow needed here for this indoor sport.

Chaparral Ice is starting its next eight-week Learn to Skate session Feb. 27. Take one 25-minute class a week, plus get five free public skating sessions and unlimited additional public skating sessions for $5 each. Most classes are Tuesday or Wednesday nights or Saturdays, and the classes are $145 if you register by Feb. 25. Chaparral teaches everyone from age 3 to adult.

If your kids aren’t quite sure if they’re ready for a regular class, they can do a introductory Learn to Skate session at 2 p.m. each Saturday (register by 1:45 p.m.). They have to be 6 or older and have never taken a class before. Younger kids can take a $10 private lesson on Sundays.

Chaparral is also offering a Blizzard Blitz spring break program March 12-16. Lessons are 10 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. Monday-Friday, followed by a free skate. $120. Or you can do the more extensive Camp de Champs, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 12-16 for $295, which includes lessons, skating, art projects and more. These programs are for ages 5-13.

Once kids do the Learn to Skate program, they can start Figure Skating lessons. Chaparral Ice, 2525 W. Anderson Lane. 512-252-8500, chaparralice.com,

Hockey players work on skating drills during practice at Chaparral Ice. American-Statesman 1999


At Chaparral Ice you can start with the regular Learn to Skate session, or a Learn to Skate session that is specific to hockey. The next eight-week session begins March 4 and is held at 2:15 p.m. on Sundays. Those classes are $150, but you also need the equipment, which is about $175 for all of it once you’re learning to play and not just learning to skate. More advanced classes and adult classes also are on Sundays. If your child isn’t sure about hockey, you can schedule a free one-time Give Hockey a Try session by calling the rink.

For kids ages 4-8, The Dallas Stars and Mike Modano have started the Little Rookies Program. The four-week sessions are at 2:30 p.m. Saturdays beginning March 24 and includes all the equipment for your use and a jersey to take home. Those sessions are free. 

Chaparral Ice, 2525 W. Anderson Lane. 512-252-8500, chaparralice.com,

Nihal Kyasa, 14, and Aidan Tran, 15, try curing for the first time at Chaparral Ice on Jan. 28. Contributed by Santosh Kyasa


The Lone Star Curling Club holds $20 Learn to Curl sessions for children and adults. The current sessions are sold out, but you can go to lonestarcurlingclub.org to be notified when the next sessions open up.


OK, we don’t have snow here, but you can try out snowboarding at the Texas Ski Ranch. You can practice on an artificial half-pipe, slopes and banked turns. The lessons are $69 for an hour lesson for one person, $39 for each additional person, up to four people. You get a private lesson for an hour then an additional hour to try out what you’ve learned. Texas Ski Ranch, 6700 N. Interstate 35, New Braunfelstexasskiranch.com

Looking for a summer camp? Check out our camp guide

We’re getting excited about our summer camp guide. Find in at campguide.austin360.com.

For this year’s camp guide, we offer a choose-your-own adventure to find the choose the right camp based on your child’s personality.

We’ve been writing about camp for 25 years and have shared a lot of tips.

Jessica Gonzales, from the Oak Hill YMCA, is outnumbered as her camp kids spray her with water guns as part of the festivities in the summer camp Olympics. The YMCA of Austin hosts its Summer Camp Olympics each year. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2015

Here are some of our favorite camp tip stories:

How to pick a camp

How to find the right summer camp for your kids

The questions every parent should ask when choosing a summer camp

Know what to ask before signing kids up for camp

Let kids try something new, challenging at camps

Our to-do list

Get your camp plans made with our to-do list

Pick your camp: How to map out your summer schedule

Plan for camp Mommy or Daddy now


Get swim lessons now before kids head off to camp

Take lice precautions before sending kids off to camp

Get your physical, medical forms lined up

Who’s on the list to pick up your child from camp?

Keep kids safe around water this summer

A guide to sun screen and sun protection 

Packing tips

Find the right containers to pack for camp

Get packing for camp with these tips

Special considerations

Talk to camp early about child with different physical, emotional needs 

Tips on paying for camp

Once at camp

Letters from camp: What they say and don’t say about your child

Can Elderberry really shorten the length of your flu?

We’re hearing reports of elderberry syrup flying off the shelves as this flu season continues to do its worst. Already 38 people in Travis County have died from the flu this season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling it an epidemic and said it is the worst flu season since the swine flu of 2009.

RELATED: Get ready for a bad flu season

Does elderberry actually do anything to lessen the length of the flu?

Last January, Adrian Tadeo, 7, grimaces a little as he receives a Flu shot from LVN Tanya Roland, left, during a visit to St. John’s Clinic Shots for Tots / Big Shots. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

It might, says Dr. Barbara Kiersz Mueller, a family doctor at Austin Regional Clinic. There are some small studies — those with 25 to 50 people in them — that have shown that elderberry might decrease the duration of an upper respiratory infection, she says. Germany actually did a study about seven years ago that showed that elderberry reduced the effects of influenza A and B by 20 percent to 25 percent. “That’s better than zero,” says Kiersz Mueller.

Another supplement that Kiersz Mueller recommends if you have the flu or another virus is oregano capsules. They destroys the capsule around the virus and affect the RNA inside, causing the virus to die. Oregano has not be studied specifically for influenza, Kiersz Mueller says, but it has been shown to lessen the length of viruses like the norovirus.

Dr. Barbara Kiersz Mueller

Kiersz Mueller does have patients who are coming to see her that have been taking elderberry syrup and their symptoms aren’t getting any better, by then, they are past the two- to three-day window for taking the antiviral drug Tamiflu. You could take both Tamiflu and elderberry or oregano to lessen the flu and not miss the Tamiflu window.

RELATED: Austin Regional Clinic studying anti-flu drug in high-risk patients

Elderberry and oregano don’t prevent getting sick, though. To boost your immune system, you would want to take about 500 milligrams of Vitamin C a day. You wouldn’t want to take more than 1,000 milligrams. That could cause diarrhea.

You can find Vitamin C alone or also in over-the-counter cold prevention aids like Emergen-C or Airborne. If it has more than 500 milligrams, you can actually split the gummy or tablet so you are just taking 500 milligrams of Vitamin C, Kiersz Mueller says, to save some money.

Most of the time flu will go away on its own, she says. The danger with flu is that children or people who are older could develop something else like pneumonia, a muscle pain condition, viral meningitis or a heart attack.

It you’re coughing with the flu or have a fever, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That’s your body fighting off the infection, Kiersz Mueller says. You just want to make sure you’re not coughing to the point of vomiting or that the fever isn’t above 102 in children or seniors, she says.

RELATED: Think your child has the flu? Stay home, including from the emergency room





Austin 9-year-old asking many of the questions we all have about the school shooting in Florida

This came into my inbox this morning:

Dear Editor,

Tonight we were talking at the dinner table about what happened at the high school in Florida (probably you read about the shooting). I had many questions for my mami and daddy.  Like:

  • Why was the shooter sad or angry about something?
  • What was he having strong emotions about?
  • Why did nobody notice that he had strong emotions?
  • How come he felt like killing people would help?
  • Why did he have a fast gun that shoots many bullets?

We need to know these things so we can do something about it. I do not want to be afraid to go to school.

Alma Rodriguez, 9

It seems to me that these mainly men leaders are just giving orders, instead of making changes to make it less easy to get fast guns with a lot of bullets. I think we should balance the genders.  We should have more women leaders because they will bring newer, safer ways to solve the gun problem.

For anybody out there that knows that someone is angry, sad or lonely, talk to them about why they are having strong emotions and help them feel loved, appreciated or not mad anymore.

Yours truly,

Alma C Rodriguez, 9

Fourth-grader at Pillow Elementary School

So, how do we talk to kids about school shootings? 

In October, after the Las Vegas shooting,  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 or any of the 18 school shootings that have happened this year.

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.”

Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

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.”

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.

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

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.


What are your kids talking about when it comes to this shooting?