Ever been told to slow down? Mom Brooke McAlary tells you how she did it in new book

Brooke McAlary’s young adulthood and first years of parenthood were anything but slow. She had an active career and then became a working mother.

Then, about seven years ago, she was diagnosed with postpartum depression after the birth of her second child.

“I just thought that what was what parenthood was,” she says. “I thought it was exhaustion, numbness, anger and darkness.”

She remembers a time when her son was six weeks old. “I found myself looking at my reflection in the mirror and saying over and over again, ‘I hate you. I hate you,’” she says.

Thankfully, a voice in the back of her head recognized that she didn’t really hate herself and that she needed help. She called her husband and began getting professional treatment.

Her psychiatrist mentioned that maybe she needed to slow down.

At first, she wanted to laugh. After all, she was that person who needed to seem as if she was coping and doing well. Then she Googled “slow down,” and the germ of an idea began to take hold.

“I never got to enjoy anything because I was so busy,” she says.

What would slowing down look like? Could she really do it? How would she start?

She turned her search for answers into the blog “Slow Your Home,” and the podcast “The Slow Home: Podcast.”

On Tuesday, she’ll be at BookPeople talking about her new book, “Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World” ($25.99, SourceBooks).


In the book, McAlary, 36, chronicles her journey from a fast-paced life to figuring out how to slow it down. This idea of being too busy is not just an American thing. McAlary is Australian.

Her first step was to rid her house of all the stuff that her family didn’t need. For McAlary, that seemed easier and more achievable than simply doing less.

“My head space at the time was terrible,” she says. “I was in a fragile emotional state.”

People would tell her to meditate or “do less,” but she says, “I could not meditate if I had tried to do it. My head would have exploded.”

She knew she wasn’t prepared to ask herself difficult questions, but she could focus on whether or not she needed something in her house.

She did it one small area at a time. She tried the Marie Kondo method of putting everything in a pile and then asking herself if that thing made her happy. But when she tried to declutter her entire garage at once, she left a pile of junk in the middle of the garage for a year. Instead she shifted to doing small things consistently, such as tackling clutter one drawer at a time.

Then she picked up the book, “642 Tiny Things to Write About,” hoping to spend a vacation restarting her creative writing. An assignment that appealed to her was “Write your eulogy in three sentences.”

It was a tough assignment. She thought about it and considered what she wanted her family to say about her when she was gone. None of the stuff that made her so busy seemed important.

“It was so instrumental in all the decisions I’ve made since,” she says. “It was pretty powerful.”

It’s an exercise she recommends more people do. “It gives us that idea of our central core values,” she says.

For McAlary, slowing down meant being present in her children’s lives.

“The biggest shift was that I was present for the first time, paying true attention to what I was doing, the way I was parenting them, the way I was spending time with them,” she says.

On the surface, it might not have looked much different, but it was. Her kids didn’t notice the change at first, but then one day they asked her to play hide-and-seek, and she gave her traditional response that she was busy. Then she came to them and asked them to play hide-and-seek. “I remember the look on their faces, that I was choosing to play with them,” she says.

Living “slow” doesn’t have to always be about parenting. It can be different for everyone. “We have this idea of what slow should look like,” she says. “That’s just something we’ve made up. It doesn’t have to look like other things. It’s about how it feels rather than how it looks.”

When she first started living slow, it felt like she would never be able to live as slow as others were, but then she realized that everyone starts somewhere, not where they are currently.

“Doing small things every day has such a big impact,” she says. “It always starts with one small step.”

Parents, especially, don’t need to be told what they’re doing wrong. Instead, she offers reassurance to parents: “Hey, you’re doing a good job. … You’re in the thick of it, and you’re doing a great.”

McAlary says she knows, for her, there are keys to living her life in a slow way.

She has to meditate every day, even if it’s just for five minutes before the children wake up.

She has to set boundaries when it comes to technology. If she wants to sit down and write, the phone cannot be on. She also does no screens at dinner and no screens in the bedroom.

She’s not always perfect. Some days are more slow than others. It’s about long-term balance, she says. “Over six months, do I pay attention to the things I need to pay attention to?”

At times, she’ll catch herself slipping and life suddenly feels too complicated again. “One of the most unexpected shifts was increased self-awareness,” she says. “I am able to acknowledge when I’m slipping back into fast. I’m able to put a stop to it before it becomes full-blown fast.”

It’s too much pressure. Instead, she offers her story and invites people to experiment with how they can get to the core of what’s important.

Brooke McAlary reads and signs “Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World”
7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7.
BookPeople 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Shopping for school supplies? Pick up these things for teachers

The first day of school is coming. As you’re shopping for school supplies, consider picking up a few extra things to help your children’s teachers stock their classrooms.

The National Center for Education Statistics found that 94 percent of public school teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies. The center found that they spent an average of $479 each year. Of course, that greatly depended on the income level of the students at the school where they worked and how active the Parent Teacher Association was at that school.

Especially, as the year goes on, the supplies in the classroom start to dwindle.

The school supply aisle has supplies right now that both your kids and your teachers need. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN 2016

Right now, when the price of supplies are at their lowest, consider stocking up on some common things that teachers need. You can store them in your house and give them to teachers throughout the year, or give them to the teachers on Back to School night or at Meet the Teacher.

Consider these supplies:

  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Notebook paper
  • Printer paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Crayons
  • Scotch tape
  • Paper clips
  • Staples
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Erasers
  • Dry erase markers

Once school starts, ask teachers if they have a wish list, and then pick something on that list to give.

Have a teacher that doesn’t have a list? Consider a gift card to Amazon, Walmart or an office supply store. Then when the time comes that they need something, they can use that.




A backpack inspired by Austin, plus how to choose the right one for your kids

Looking for a new backpack for school?

One backpack is inspired by an Austin treasure: Our bats.

Animal Packers’ new bat backpack is called the “Austin” and is designed for younger kids to be the right size for them and be adjustable to not drag down to their knees. It’s also light-weight and comes with a removable tag, which you’ll want for day care or school, but not when you’re out and about.

If you’re kids aren’t into bats, there’s also ducks, bears, monkeys, horse and dogs. The backpacks are $35 at animalpackers.com.

Animal Packers Austin backpack.

We’ve been shopping the backpack aisles for our back-to-school photo shoot and found some really cute ones for littles, mediums and big kids.

We found Skip Hop Zoo Pack backpacks at Carter’s for $20. We especially loved Luna Lama and Bailey Bat.


At Justice, we found sequined owl backpacks for $39.90.

At Old Navy, we found a cool space backpack for $24.99.


At Target, we found a Swiss Gear’s backpack/briefcase, $49.99, and a geometric shape iPack backpack, $22.49.

Before you pick a backpack for your kids, know this:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are more than 7,300 backpack-related injuries treated by doctors and hospitals annually.

With that in mind, how do you know which backpack is the right one for your child’s body (not for your child’s style.

Ask yourself these questions:

Is the bag lightweight?

Does it have two wide shoulder straps? Skip the cute messenger bags or laptop bags.

Is the back padded?

Does it go past your child’s waist? If so, it’s too big.

Does it have a strap that goes across the waist or across the chest? That can help get the weight off the back.

Once you have the perfect bag, ask yourself these questions:

Does everything your child is putting in there have to go in there? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a  bag should not weigh more than 20 percent of a child’s weight — and that’s still A LOT.

How much do those school supplies weight and do they have to? Think about the weight of those three-ringed binders, folders and notebooks, and if there is a lighter option, choose it.

Are they packing the bag correctly? Are they distributing items across all the compartments, and not just putting everything in the large center one?

Are they wearing it correctly? That means using both straps, Kids, and the straps should be tight against their back and allow the pack to sit 2 inches about their waist.

Are they picking it up correctly? This is a perfect time to learn to bend with the knees and use both hands, not just the thumb.

For more about picking the right bag and using it correctly, see my interview with Dr. Barbara Bergin, an orthopedic surgeon at Texas Orthopedics. 

Find more back to school tips at statesman.com/back-school-2018, including ways to save money on school supplies, our school supplies comparison shopping and the 10 things you need to do before school starts.



Back to School: What’s trending in kids’ clothes

Going back-to-school shopping for kids’ clothes soon?

We asked Carla Feely, vice president of kids at Stitch Fix, what trends to look out for in the aisles of favorite kids’ clothing stores. Stitch Fix just expanded to styling fashion for kids.

Girls box from Stitch Fix.

The big trend is deep woods: That’s cozy, comfortable fabric in an earth-tone palette. Even with girls, it’s soft pinks and creams, mixed with some forest green.

Feely pictures the clothes as like the woobie from “Mr. Mom” — that comforting blanket with which a little kid doesn’t want to part ways.

Sometimes the woobie texture is hidden in the lining, like a secret that only they can feel, sometimes it’s on the outside.

A boys box from Stitch Fix Kids.

Also look for these trends:

  • Kids’ lines are playing up the athleisure look. One boy told Stitch Fix that the clothes made him feel fast when he wore them. These are clothes that can go to class and then outside to skateboard or play soccer.
  • Expect to see a lot of hoodies and joggers, and shirt jackets that have a skater vibe.
  • Jeans also have an update: They’re made more comfortable. They look like jeans but feel like sweatpants.
  • Jeans also are starting to move away from the skinny-jean look. You’ll start seeing boot-cut or a straight leg.
  • Leggings are still very popular, and look for more fun patterns to them.
  • Little details such as ruffles and lace, embroidery and mesh are still popular, as are adding stripes on the side of the pants and shirts that have sparkly glitter or sequins.
  • Popular patterns for girls are multiple vertical stripes or swirls.
  • Look for shirts with interesting sleeves and cold shoulders for girls.
  • Graphic T-shirts are still popular, particularly ones that reflect the 1980s and ’90s. These often are the opposite of the deep woods trend, in that they offer vibrant colors and hints of neon.
  • Character T-shirts from television and movies, as well as superheroes, still are popular, but so are T-shirts with science themes.
  • Dresses are still doing well, but they have an athleisure look of comfort and might include a belt.
  • Expect for skirts to be making a comeback, especially shorter skirts and jean skirts.
  • And the tutu is very much a thing.


Back to school: Sign up for free heart screenings

University of North Texas cheerleader Skyler Sanders, 21, was a junior at Hays High School when doctors discovered that she had a hole in her heart: officially an atrial septal defect.

She had started having heart palpitations in middle school. She would get short of breath and feel like she needed to sit down. At first she was having one episode every six months; then by high school, she was having about one a month. “They were very random,” Sanders says.

Skyler Sanders has won numerous awards for cheerleading.

Sometimes palpitations would happen in cheerleading practice, but sometimes they happened when she wasn’t exercising.

She thought she was having anxiety, but her primary care doctor directed her to a cardiologist as soon as she mentioned the shortness of breath.

The cardiologist did an echocardiogram and ultrasound and saw the hole. The defect was enlarging her heart slightly, she says. She also had a leaky mitral valve.

Doctors told her that it wasn’t something she had to fix right away, but she says, she was told she needed to get it fixed before she turned 24 because that would be when problems would start arising. If left untreated, it could have caused a stroke or congestive heart failure.

Sanders decided to have surgery in May 2017 and was back cheering again two months later. Doctors were able to minimize scarring and shorten recovery time by making incisions in between her ribs instead of cracking her chest open.

Sanders’ heart problem is one of the problems that doctors can detect through screening. On Aug. 4, Heart Hospital of Austin will be offering free screenings for teens age 14-18. During the screening, technicians will do an echocardiogram and an EKG to look for heart defects such as atrial and ventricular septal defects and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy — that’s the one you sometimes hear about in seemingly healthy athletes. It can lead to a dangerous arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death.

The screenings are a great resource to the community, says Dr. Faraz Kerendi, surgical director of the Heart Valve Clinic at Heart Hospital of Austin and cardiothoracic surgeon at Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons. “It allows young student athletes, young students in general, to find conditions that may otherwise be totally asymptomatic that could be life threatening. This allows them to get an echocardiogram, and an EKG, basically at no cost to them, to detect things that could otherwise show up in a bad way.”

The Heart Hospital does screenings two times a year, typically before school starts and in February. Out of those screenings, a few kids get diagnosed with one of these conditions. “For those few, it could be devastating if not discovered,” Kerendi says.

The screenings are for any teenager age 14-18, but it’s especially important for student athletes because of the exertion their hearts go through. Sometimes, if something is found, teenagers can continue doing their sport, like Sanders did. Sometimes, though, they might need to switch to a less-strenuous sport.

Dr. Faraz Kerendi

One of the people who will be doing a screening on Aug. 4 is Sanders’ sister Ryan, who plays volleyball. Even though Sanders’ condition is not genetic, Ryan still wanted to get screened and Sanders’ helped Ryan by signing her up.

Sanders wishes that she had taken advantage of the screening program when she was in high school. She might have chosen to do her surgery in high school instead of waiting. “That would have been easier,” she says.

Kerendi wants to remind teens and their parents that you don’t have to think something could be wrong to do a screening.

“There are conditions that are unknown and asymptomatic, and people shouldn’t assume that everything is fine,” he says. “You never know when one of these things could cause a problem until it does.”

Free heart screenings

8 a.m. to noon Aug. 4

Heart Hospital of Austin, 3801 N. Lamar Blvd.

Call ahead at 512-478-3627, or visit stdavids.com/youngheart to schedule your screening.


Shark Week, African safaris and more family adventures in Austin, July 27-29

With temps hovering around 100 this weekend, it might feel like a break from the 108 earlier this week. What will you do with the kids this weekend?

Check out our list:


Teen Turn Up. Teens ages 11-17 enjoy teen parties all summer long at Austin’s recreation centers. Pool Palooza, 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dittmar Recreation Center, 1009 W. Dittmar Road. austintexas.gov

Elizabeth Kahura will be at the Toybrary Austin for an African Safari program. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Toybrary Austin African Safari Programs. Folk tales, drumming, dancing, singing and more. 10:30 p.m. Friday, $12 per child. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane. toybraryaustin.com

Blanton Museum. This is the final week for the Blanton’s children’s programs. Deeper Dives for ages 8-10, 10 a.m. Friday; Free Diving for ages 11-14, 1 p.m. Friday. Blanton Museum. 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. blantonmuseum.org

Music at the Austin Public Library. The Telephone Company. 2 p.m. Friday, Yarborough Branch.

Teen Videogame Free Play. 2 p.m. Fridays, Central Library.

Lego Lab. 3 p.m. Friday, Cepeda Branch.

Art Smart “We Read” Community Mural Project. 1 p.m. Friday, Pleasant Hill Branch.

It’s Shark Week next week at the Science Mill. Discovery Channel


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

Science Mill. Shark Week. Celebrate all things shark with movies, a fossil dig for teeth and more. Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City. sciencemill.org

Zilker Summer Musical “All Shook Up.” Zilker Summer Musical returns with the music of Elvis. 8:15 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Free, but donations are welcome. Zilker Hillside Theatre, 2206 William Barton Drive. zilker.org

Summer Stock Austin’s “The Music Man.” 2 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Friday-Saturday. $26-$33-$26. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

Summer Stock Austin “Rob1n.” This modern retelling of the Robin Hood tale puts a girl in the starring role in this musical by Allen Robertson and Damon Brown. 11 a.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Saturday. $9-$18. thelongcenter.org

“Beauty and the Beast.” The Disney movie comes to the stage. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $25-$150. Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org

Alamo Drafthouse Kids Club.  “Sing,” 10:15 a.m. Friday-Saturday, Mueller. 10:15 a.m. Friday-Saturday, Slaughter Lane. $1-$5 donation to benefit local charities. “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” Family Party. 9:15 a.m. Saturday, Slaughter Lane. Teen Titans Go to the Movies,” Family Party. 9:45 a.m. Sunday, Lakeline. drafthouse.com

Try a dance class at Ballet Austin on National Dance Day. Contributed by Ballet Austin


National Dance Day. Ballet Austin offers $10 classes all day Saturday, to benefit Ballet Austin’s Pink Pilates program for breast cancer survivors. Classes are available for people ate 10 and up. 9:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 501 W. Third St. Sign up at BalletAustin.org

National Geographic’s “Symphony for Our World.” Hear music by the Austin Symphony Orchestra while watching scenes from nature. 8 p.m. Saturday. $29-$59. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

Gustafer Yellowgold. 11 a.m. Saturday. $10-$6. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org

Bullock Museum. Yippee Yay! The rodeo exhibit comes to life with trick roping. 2 p.m. Saturday. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com

Thinkery. Baby Bloomers for children younger than 3. Learn all about Animals. 9 a.m. Saturday. $5.  Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

Book People events. Samantha M. Clark reads “The Boy, the Boat and the Beasts,” 2 p.m. Saturday. 10:30 a.m. story time Saturday. Spread the Joy, Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com

Barnes & Noble events. Kids Book Hangout. Meet other avid young readers. 2 p.m. Saturday, all locations. Story times. Each Saturday all Barnes & Noble locations offer 11 a.m. story times. This week: “Doll-E 1.0.” barnesandnoble.com

Pollyanna Theatre Company’s “If Wishes Were Fishes.” 2 p.m. Saturday, Manchaca Road Branch.


Thinkery. Tinkering Take Homes: Scribble Bots, for ages 4 and up. 10 a.m. Saturday-Sunday. $6. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

Robin Hood.” The children’s version of the classic story. 10 a.m. Saturday. 2 p.m. Sunday. $10-$8. EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens, 1101 FM 2325, Wimberley. emilyann.org

Small ensembles from the Austin Symphony Orchestra perform free, casual concerts on the Long Center City Terrace for the Hartman Concerts in the Park series.


Austin Symphony Hartman Concerts in the Park. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Free. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

BackYard at Waller Creek Sunday Funday. Games, face-painting, bounce house and more. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Free for kids younger than 12, $5 adults. 701 E. 11th St. backyardbaraustin.com

Paramount Classic Summer Movies. See “Superman.” 1 p.m. Sunday. $6-$12. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org

How to raise a ‘Tech Generation’ kid when his head is in the cell phone

The new movie “Eighth Grade” is a realistic portrayal of what it’s like to be an eighth-grader in 2018. Kids have trouble talking to one another. They live one life online on their social media accounts and another life in the real world.

The movie shows Kayla trying to navigate these two different worlds and her father trying to navigate what’s going on with her.

Elsie Fisher in “Eighth Grade.” (A24)

Many parents are father Mark Day: wanting to have real conversations, wanting for their kids to put down the phone at dinner, and still wanting to be cool in their daughter’s eyes.

Many of their kids are like Kayla: not sure of how to have meaningful relationships with people in real life, but finding comfort in the world of their phones.

Jon Lasser is a professor at Texas State University.

Austin psychologists Mike Brooks and Jon Lasser try to explain to parents what’s going on with their children and technology (and what’s going on with their own use of technology) in the new book “Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World.” ($24.95, Oxford University Press). They’ll be at BookPeople Aug. 2 reading and signing the book.

Brooks, who has always loved video games and did his dissertation on video game violence, works in private practice at the APA Center. Lasser was once a school psychologist and now supervises students in the master’s program for school psychology at Texas State University and is the associate dean for research at the college of education there. Both Brooks and Lasser noticed in their private practices that parents and kids were coming to them with conflicts around technology. Often, it was the kids complaining about their parents’ seemingly inability to put down the phone, as much as the parents being concerned about their children’s use of technology.

“The problem is pervasive,” Lasser says. Yet, he says, “Kids’ basic needs haven’t changed. They need face-to-face communication; they need to feel loved; they need to be connected.”

Psychologist Mike Brooks is the director of the of the Apa Center,

Both Lasser and Brooks are parents. Brooks’ three boys are still in school; Lasser’s two daughters are now in their 20s.

Brooks and Lasser met in graduate school and were jogging together when they came up with the idea for writing a common-sense approach to using technology that also looked at the neuroscience and evolutionary psychology behind it.

The book offers parents a lot of science such as research that shows that cognitive ability is reduced just by the presence of a cell phone. It doesn’t have to be on, just in the room. “It’s quietly leeching away our happiness and productivity through constantly checking it. Our eyes are more on it than on each other,” Brooks says.

They wanted it to be grounded in research, but also offer parents relatable anecdotes and solutions that would work for them.

Mike Brooks and Jon Lasser wrote “Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World.” $24.95, Oxford University Press

If you’re looking for the quick-fix book, this isn’t it, “It’s nuanced and complicated and changing as we speak,” Lasser says. “It gives parents some strategies they can try.”

The book doesn’t advocate for doing away with technology because that’s not realistic. Nor does it believe that monitoring your child’s use of technology through apps will solve the problem.

“If you try to overly manage your child through apps, it becomes a cat-and-mouse game,” Lasser says. Kids figure out how to work around the app or how to find the game controller that you’ve hidden, he says.

Instead, Lasser and Brooks talk a lot about building up the parent-child relationship and making children part of solving the technology problem.

“Instead of having a power struggle, you want the parent and child to collaborate and mutually agree on some limits,” Lasser says. It could be that you all agree no phone during homework or at dinner.

That doesn’t mean that there are no limits in the Lasser and Brooks style. “We don’t believe kids should run amok,” Lasser says, “but (parents are) more likely to get the results they want by sitting down with kids and collaborating on problem solving.”

Brooks likes parents to think about the long-run, not just the current battle. “The ultimate goal is self-regulation,” he says. “If you over-control kids, they don’t have the chance to develop the skills to self-regulate.

“What sets our book apart is it’s prevention-oriented,” Lasser says. That doesn’t mean that if you have children who are already out of control with their use of technology, it’s not a book for you.

The book uses a stoplight’s color scheme as being symptomatic of how technology is interfering with your family’s life. Is the situation green (managed well), yellow (giving you pause for concern) or red (out of control)? It offers different techniques for parents to use based on whether you’re in a green, yellow or red situation. Even though Brooks and Lesser are strong believers in involving children in the solution, at the red level, you might have to just take away the technology for a bit to reset the dynamic.

It also talks about different parenting styles and which one works better to create order in the universe (or at least your home).

Their No. 1 recommendation is for parents to spend more time with their kids without technology. It reminds them that they have value, that they have worth.

“Our interaction is nourishing,” Brooks says. “The more time we spend with kids in that capacity, it feeds that part of their soul that is going to be happy, healthy, and they will have that in them that is it’s valuable to be in relationship.”

Of course, “change always starts with parents having to be mindful of our own patterns and behaviors,” Brooks says.

This means we have to role model what we want. “We have to lift our own heads up on our own devices,” Brooks says. “We’re trying to instill the values of the importance of the relationship through modeling and interacting with them.”

Think of it like healthy eating, Brooks says. We can’t force them to eat healthier foods, but if we model eating healthfully, they might do it.


Reading and Signing

“Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World,” by Jon Lasser and Mike Brooks

$24.95, Oxford University Press

7 p.m. Aug. 2

BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.


Back to school: Where to donate school supplies, how to receive donated supplies

As you head up and down the school supply aisles in the coming weeks, consider teaching your children a valuable lesson: The joy of helping others.

Each year, thousands of kids in Central Texas show up without any school supplies. Their teachers often end up donating out of their own pockets or kids just do without, making their school day much tougher than their peers.

Here are a few places that would love to have your supplies or monetary donation. For organizations that just want a monetary donation, consider doing a neighborhood lemonade stand, bake sale or using some allowance to make the act of giving more personal.

As you hit the school supply aisle, think about donating supplies  to other kids. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN

Cover 3 School Supply Drive for Partnerships for Children 

About: Cover 3 and Cover 2 restaurants are collecting supplies for Partnerships for Children’s Rainbow Room.

How to donate: Drop off backpacks, folders, binders, notebook paper, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors, dividers, glue and glue sticks, and composition notebooks at any of these restaurant locations: 1717 W. Sixth St.; 2700 W. Anderson Lane, Suite 202; 2800 N. Interstate 35, Suite 200, Round Rock; and 13701 Research Blvd. The downtown location will also be holding a car wash to benefit the teen program 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 11.

How to get supplies: Be served by Partnerships for Children

Information: www.COVER-3.com

For the Children Inc.

About: For the Children Inc. provides basic school supplies to children that qualify for the federal free and reduced price lunch program with the goal to reach all elementary school children in more than 10 school districts in Central Texas.

How to donate: Make a monetary donation at schoolsuppliesforthechildren.org/donate/.   $25 will support seven students, $50 will support 14 students, $100 will support 28 students. A $10 recurring monthly gift will help 40 students. Now through Aug. 14, H-E-B will have tear-off coupons at the register as well. On Aug. 8 from 6-9 a.m., Rudy’s Barbecue & Country Store at 11570 Research Blvd. will give free breakfast tacos to the first 150 people. You can drop off your donation there.

How to get supplies: Apply with your school’s counselor or principal. The supplies get delivered to the school.

Information: schoolsuppliesforthechildren.org

Foundation Communities

About: Foundation Communities provides housing assistance, tax preparation, English as a second language and more help. It’s looking to give its 1,100 kids who live at its properties school supplies.

How to donate: You can make a monetary donation at foundcom.org but you also can drop off all kinds of school supplies and backpacks at the Community Financial Center at 2600 W. Stassney Lane, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 27.

How to get supplies: You have to live in Foundation Communities’  apartments.

Information: foundcom.org

Manos de Cristo 

About: Manos de Cristo helps people with low incomes in a variety of way. For its school supply drives it provides a backpack, school supplies, two sets of clothing, socks and underwear to more than 2,000 students.

How to donate: Make a donation at manosdecristo.org/BTS2017  A $60 donation helps one child.

How to get supplies: Supplies are given away at the IDEA Montopolis School, 1701 Vargas Road,. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. July 30-Aug. 2 and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Aug. 3, while supplies last. The supplies are for children Pre-K through fifth grade.

Information: manosdecristo.org/BTS2018

Communities in Schools

About: This organization in schools helps the 120,000 children in Central Texas who have family challenges such as poverty and hunger. It supplies students it serves with backpacks and supplies, hygiene kits and socks and underwear.

How to donate: Donate online at ciscentraltexas.org/supplydrive/.  There are a couple of levels: $18.20 for a backpack and all the supplies for one kid; $28 for a backpack, supplies, socks, underwear and hygiene kit for one kid; $40 for a new uniform or school logo and shoes for one kid; and $68 for a backpack, supplies, new shirt and shoes for one kid.

How to get supplies: Supplies are given to the children Communities in School serves. Ask your school if it is served by them and how to enroll in its program.

Information: ciscentraltexas.org/supplydrive/

Salvation Army Back to School Drive

About: The Salvation Army houses families including 100 children in its emergency shelters.

How to donate: The Salvation Army is looking for monetary donations as well as these supplies: tissue, colored paper, blue and black pens, rulers, glue, scissors, combination locks, gallon zip-top bags, hand-sanitizer, binders, backpacks, crayons, composition books, markers, spiral notebooks, flash drives as well as clothing. You also can organize a group drive as well. The administration office is at 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 231, or you can drop it off at Spirit 105.9 Radio Station at 3600 N. Capital of Texas Highway. You can also shop Salvation Army’s Walmart and Amazon online wish list.

How to get supplies: You have to be housed in the emergency shelters.

Information: salvationarmyaustin.org/get-involved/back-to-school-drive/


About: SafePlace and Austin Children’s Shelter need help with the children it houses in its shelters.

How to donate: SAFE Austin is looking for pencil pouches, wide-ruled composition books, construction paper, folders, large pink erasers, handwriting paper, watercolors, colored pencils, glue sticks, scissors, highlighters, plastic supply boxes, dividers, calculators, tissues, hand sanitizer, gallon-sized zip-top bags. Drop off supplies at SafePlace’s warehouse, 1401 Grover Ave. during warehouse hours, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, or you can pick from its Amazon wish list.

How to get supplies: You have to be housed by SAFE

Information: safeaustin.org

Build a Backpack for City of Austin employees

About: City employees can build a backpack by going to austintexas.gov/buildabackpack and following the instructions. Drop off backpacks 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 27 at City Hall.

How to get supplies: The backpacks get distributed to AISD schools. Last year, employees donated 1,418 backpacks.

Information: austintexas.gov/buildabackpack


Last year Bryan Mondragon, 7, yells for his mother and siblings to wait up as he packs his new backpack with more school supplies during the Austin Independent School District’s Back to School Bash 2015 held at the Palmer Events Center. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

TruWest Credit Union Backpack Drive

About: Through Aug. 17, TruWest Credit Union’s four Austin locations are collecting backpacks for sixth- through 12th-graders.

How to donate: Drop off at any TruWest branch.

How to get supplies: The drive benefits children served by Con Mi Madre.

Information: truwest.org

AISD Back to School Bash

About: Get free backpacks and supplies, medical screenings and vaccinations with shot record, and haircuts and more. Noon to 3 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 4. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. Buses leave from Guerrero Thompson and Summitt elementary schools; Bedichek, Martin, Mendez and Covington middle schools; and Lanier and Reagan high schools.  austinisd.org/bash

Bastrop Back to School Bash

About: 1,600 students in the Bastrop ISD will receive supplies through this program.

How to get supplies: Backpacks filled with supplies will be given out at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 28 before Back to School Bash,  8:30-10:30 a.m. at the Bastrop ISD Memorial Stadium in Cedar Creek.

Information: bisdtx.org

Round Rock ISD Partners in Education Foundation Back to School Celebration

About: Donate supplies for about 8,000 students served last year at this supply Round Rock school district supply drive.

How to donate: The foundation is looking for school supplies, but also monetary donations to buy supplies in bulk at rrisdeducationfoundation.org/school-supplies

How to get supplies: Come to Supplies Sunday, Aug. 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Dell Diamond, 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock.

Information: rrisdeducationfoundation.org/school-supplies

Hindu Charities for America & Jewish Federation of Greater Austin

About: The two groups come together to donate supplies for 1,500 homeless children in Austin, Manor Del Valle and Pflugerville school districts.

How to donate: More than $27,000 was raised last spring. You can volunteer to pack supplies 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Dell Jewish Community Center, 7300 Hart Lane.

Information: HC4A.org

Travis County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Service Department No. 5 Back to School Supply Drive

About: Through Aug. 2, the sheriff’s office and ESD No. 5 will be collecting supplies and then distributing them on Aug. 4.

How to donate: Drop off crayons, pencils, markers, pens, highlighters, erasers, scissors, glue, rulers, notebook paper, construction paper, notebooks, folders and backpacks at Keith G. Ruiz Building, 5555 Airport Blvd.; East Command, 7811 Burleson Manor Road; West Command, 3800 Hudson Bend Road; Travis County Tax Office / County Clerk, 5501 Airport Blvd.; Travis County Correctional Complex, 3614 Bill Price Road., Del Valle; Blackwell – Thurman Criminal Justice Center, 509 W. 11th St.; Blackwell – Thurman Criminal Justice Center, 509 W. 11th St.

How to get supplies: Supplies are given first-come, first-served 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 4, at Travis County ESD #5 / Manchaca Fire Rescue, 665 FM 1626.

Information: traviscountytx.gov


Is gluten free a healthier choice for kids? New study sheds some light

Are gluten-free foods for kids more healthy than products with gluten in them? That might be a question that has crossed your mind as more and more manufacturers are offering a gluten-free option.

A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday proved that gluten-free doesn’t mean healthy. 

It looked at 350 products in two grocery store chains in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. What it found was that 80 percent of the products had high sugar levels and 88 percent had poor nutritional quality because of high the levels of sugar, sodium and saturated fate. Many of them also had less protein. They had a similar percentage of calories from sugar as their gluten counterparts.

Gluten-free waffles aren’t necessarily better than the full gluten kind.

Gluten-free products are great for kids with a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, but for your average kids, they won’t save anything by choosing the gluten-free alternative.

RELATED: How to handle a gluten intolerance at school, camp

Back to school: Do you know when school starts?

[cmg_anvato video=4302628 autoplay=”true”]

Only four more weeks of summer vacation for many local students? How did that happen?

We know you’re not in the back-to-school frame of mind yet, but mark your calendar for the first day of school. Even if you think you when your district starts, you might be surprised. Many school districts moved their start date around by a lot from last year or the year before that.

Are you ready to get on the school bus again? DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2017

Check our list:

Aug. 13

Fredericksburg ISD

Aug. 15

Lockhart ISD

Lake Travis ISD

Bastrop ISD

Coupland ISD

Wimberley ISD

Liberty Hill ISD

Lago Vista ISD

Giddings ISD

McDade ISD

Aug. 16

Georgetown ISD

Round Rock ISD

Pflugerville ISD

Leander ISD

Aug. 20

Austin ISD

Taylor ISD

Manor ISD

Burnet CISD

Thrall ISD

Johnson City ISD

Aug. 21

Dripping Springs ISD

Hutto ISD

Smithville ISD

Aug. 22

Eanes ISD

Elgin ISD

Marble Falls ISD

Aug. 27

Hays Consolidated ISD

Del Valle ISD

San Marcos Consolidated ISD

Granger ISD