Saturday, July 30, 2011

Guest Post: Footloose in Zilker Park

It's been three days since I attended Austin's 53rd Annual Zilker Summer Musical and I'm still singing, "Everybody cut, everybody cut!"  The energetic production of Footloose at the Sheffield Hillside Theatre in Zilker Park was so fun I had a hard time not jumping up and dancing along.  But I have that problem whenever I hear '80s music.  (When Toni Basil's "Hey Mickey" played over the speakers at intermission, I may have embarrassed myself a little, by singing too loudly).  And this musical has three great '80s tunes: "Footloose," "Let's Hear it for the Boy," and "Almost Paradise."

Every year, I think the cast and crew of Zilker Summer Musical perform better than the last.  For a play that is free to attend, the quality is amazing.  Footloose boasts a talented cast with strong vocals.  The live orchestra makes the performance even more enjoyable.  And the choreography with big musical dance numbers seals the deal.  It's a great way to spend an evening, relaxing on a blanket in the park, watching the sometimes poignant and often humorous tale of a troubled teenage boy unfold. 

There are a few things you may want to consider before taking small children to the musical:

  • The play starts at approximately 8:30 p.m. and does not end until 10:45 p.m.

  • There is some violence - the main character's uncle hits him in the face and the teenage boys are always itching for a fight.

  • There is some innuendo - the main character says, "You make her horny" and two characters talk about doing "it."

  • There is quite a bit of talk about alcohol and drugs.

  • There is minor language - "He can kiss my butt"; "Where the hell where you?"; "Can I please kick his butt?"

Footloose plays Thursday through Sunday nights at Sheffield Hillside Theatre, across the street from Barton Springs, through August 13, 2011.  The play is free but you may need $3 for parking and donations are accepted at intermission.

For more information, visit the Zilker Theatre Productions website.

Guest blogger Heidi Gollub loves exploring Austin with her four kids. You can find more of her adventures at Free Fun in Austin.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Guest Post: Top Things to Do in Austin

Hi guys! I'm J from The Bee's Knees. I blog mostly about random things, with photos of my adorable Baby Butterbean thrown in here and there.

I was so excited when B asked me to guest post for her while she's out and about, but I had no idea what to write about! And then? It hit me! Last week I started a sort of project on my blog. It's my Big Texas To Do. A Texas bucket list, if you will. I realized I've lived in this wonderful state all of my life, and have hardly experienced any of it! Anywhoodles, since B and I share a love of Austin, I thought I'd share some of my Austin to do's with y'all! I picked my top three things for parents to do with and without their kids. Alright, I'll skip the long intro, and get down to the nitty gritty!

Mom and Dad Only
1)Live Texas Music at the Nutty Brown Cafe
Great food, great music, a great time. They have live Texas music (my favorite!) every weekend, and during the summer, an Austin radio station hosts the Free Texas Music Series on Wednesday nights. It's a free concert, y'all, from some of Texas' best artists! You gotta check it out!

2)Kayaking on Town Lake
Town Lake is absolutely gorgeous! There are many hiking and biking trails to enjoy, among many other activities along the lake, but honestly, the kayaking and rowing has to be the best. I've never done either, but I've heard it's so much fun! Plus, the view is gorgeous!

3)Watch the Bats Fly From Congress Bridge
Also found on Town Lake is something truly amazing. Every summer night, the largest urban bat population in the world leave their homes from under the Congress Bridge to go out for an evening fly. Now, this is obviously something you could do with the kids in tow, but it sounds incredibly romantic to me to spend a little time watching the bats, and then mosey on down to one of the amazing restaurants downtown for dinner with your honey!

Pure Family Fun
1)Zilker Park Kite Festival
America's oldest continuous kite festival, Zilker Park Kite festival was started in 1929. It's held the first weekend in March (weather permitting) and, here's the best part, it's free! There's a kite contest, as well as a kite making workshop. There are concessions and pets are welcome too!

2)Deep Eddy Pool
Deep Eddy Pool is the oldest man-made swimming pool in Texas. It started as a swimming hole in the Colorado river, and then became a resort in the 1920's. The pool is fed from a hand-dug well, and the temperature varies from 65-75 degrees and is opened year round. There's a wading pool for the kids, which is open March through October. During the summer, the pool hosts Splash Party Movie Nights, and shows family films on a screen visible by swimmers and waders. Plus? It's kinda pretty!

3)The Triangle Farmer's Market
The Triangle is Austin's largest mid-week market. It's open Wednesdays from 4-8pm. Their website boasts live music and splash pads for the kids. It's a part of the SFC Farmer's Market, which is a project of Sustainable Food Center (SFC), a local non-profit that "creates opportunities for individuals to make healthy food choices and to participate in a vibrant, local food system." Live music, homegrown food, and a splash pad? Count me in.

So, that's it guys, that's a few of my Austin to do's! So, if you're I. Austin, or if you're planning a trip here, definitely check out some, if not all, of these amazing places!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guest Post: Fighting Off Your Preschoolers Summer Boredom

I've been fortunate enough to have the lovely Emily Patterson from Primrose Preschools offer to guest post for me today, while I'm off enjoying the sunny California landscape with my extended family. Thank you, Emily!

With only a month or two left of summer, you're child probably feels like they have done everything so far this summer and undoubtedly utter those words that no parent wants to here: "I'm bored!" But with some imagination and planning ahead
by parents, you can be sure to fight off boredom for the rest of the summer months…and at the same time stimulation your child's learning process so that they don't lose what they have learned.

Studies show that without stimulation, children can lose up to 60 percent of what they learned during the school year. Primrose Schools, a family of 200 accredited private preschools, suggests the key to overcoming summertime boredom and the “brain drain” effect is to encourage imaginative play and have a plan in place to keep children engaged during the
summer months.

Summer is also a great time to encourage children to let their imaginations soar. School schedules can sometimes be demanding and time for less structured, imaginative activities is often scarce. The freedom of summer gives children large blocks of uninterrupted time to create projects of their own choosing that can last several days or even longer.

Here are a few ideas parents can use to keep young minds active:

1. Beat the Boredom Jar: At the beginning of the summer, sit down with your family and brainstorm a list of activities that can be done alone or that you can enjoy doing together. Encourage your children to share their own ideas
and help you decorate and label a simple jar as the family “Boredom Buster Jar.” They’ll feel more involved in the project and more likely to think this is a “neat” idea, if they participate in the creation and idea generation. Next, write everyone’s ideas down on slips of paper and as a group decide which ones should go in the jar. Anyone in the family can pull any idea out of the jar to fight the summertime boredom blues.

2. Stories Alive: It sounds too simple, but reading is one of the most important ways to keep young minds engaged during the summer. Make reading even more fun by finding ways to bring the stories to life. Read a book with your children and have them act out their own scenes that come from the book or create the world that the book lives

3. Art Treasure Chest: You’ll need to gather basic art supplies–child safe scissors, glue, markers, tape, and construction paper. Put them in a special box along with empty oatmeal boxes and paper towel rolls, colorful magazines, and bits of aluminum foil. They’ll probably have some good ideas of other household items that can be recycled to fuel their creative energies.

4. Fort Building: Children love to build all kinds of structures--from small towns to large towers. Constructing forts or tents is an activity that can keep children focused and problem solving for hours. All the items you need can be found around the house–some chairs, cushions, blankets… and of course adult supervision.

5. Cookbook Fun: Have you ever shared your favorite cookbook with your children? Take it out and ask your children to choose a recipe to try. Measuring can be a fun and easy way to keep math skills fresh…and you can teach your children to make smart and healthy choices in the kitchen as well.

6. Listening Game: Lie down in the backyard, in the den or at the park and listen. What do you hear? Do you hear what I hear? Can you imitate the sound? This is similar to watching the clouds and naming the shapes, and it encourages everyone to slow down and focus on listening.

7. Camping Out: Pretend to campout in the backyard. Plan a meal, pack a backpack and set up a campsite. You might
even decide to spend the night!

8. Scavenger Hunt: Make a list or picture cards of common household items and have your children find the items on the list. You can do this just with your family or invite friends and neighbors to join to make it a competition.

Ultimately, we know every child is different, with different interests and learning styles so having a variety of ideas is a great way to be prepared during the summer months. Involving children in the planning of ideas gives them an opportunity to
express their individuality and creativity.

Parents can use this list of ideas as a starting point for summer activities that offer a balance between the freedom of child-initiated play time and more structured activities.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Tutus, Headbands and Heels.

We're officially on a plane to California to see Ava's grandparents, great-grandparents (nana and papa), aunts, cousins and then some, but I've got some lovely ladies lined up to guest post for me while I'm gone. In the meantime, here's some Wordless (ish) Wednesday for you!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Zilker Zephyr - A New Favorite.

Yesterday, in a fit of pre-vacation fever, I decided to take the girls to Zilker Park to spend the morning playing on the playground. After Ava's first train ride on the 4th of July, she would wake up in the middle of the night yelling "choo choo!" excitedly, and has been obsessed with trains ever since, so we decided to take a ride on the Zilker Zephyr. It. Was. Awesome. Seriously, it goes around a lot of Zilker Park, including the Great Lawn and over Barton Springs and Town Lake, making for a fantastic view! I was worried that since the train ride is over 20 minutes that she would get antsy, but she was mesmerized:

S & P loved it also!

Sitting like a big girl!

Mama and Ava (excuse the tired-mom look I'm rockin'. It was not hair washing day lol)

Sunday, July 24, 2011


There has been an incident in my area involving a breastfeeding mother being shamed and told she had to stop nursing her baby in a public place. I could tell you all about it, but seeing as how my post would reek of my own rage and personal bias over the incident, why not go check out what went down here.

Anyone else in Austin interested in a nurse-in? If you're not, would you be willing to send in a letter? Kim gives many great addresses and suggestions for doing so in her post.

Let's please help to educate those who are of small enough mind to still think of breastfeeding as disgraceful.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011


My baby girl is practically a teenager!


And one more for the cuteness factor:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Itsy Bitsy Spider...

...bit me.

That's right, folks. I have fallen prey to a human-hungry, ferocious beast of a spider. Actually, I cannot confirm what type of spider bit me, since I didn't see or feel it, but I have the bite to prove it - not to mention the symptoms!

I noticed a little bite when changing into my swimsuit on Friday to take Ava to the Domain Splash Pad (oh yeah, there's the other embarassing thing. It's on my chest!). I noted to watch it, since I was bit by a brown recluse back in July 2007, so I am naturally nervous and overreactive about bites. Thankfully, I am, since sure enough, just like the first time, I was asymptomatic initially, with that dormant period giving way to a major migraine, fatigue, and generally not feeling well by Saturday evening. In fact, I was in bed by 7:30! That's a first!

Anyhow, despite having strange symptoms, the bite was not yet swollen or painful, so I continued to be watchful but uncertain of what was going on, at least until Sunday night when it became painful and swollen almost instantly. Off to the doctor first thing Monday I went...

It's definitely a spider bite, though he couldn't confirm that it was another brown recluse bite. Hopefully it's not, though it has definitely followed a similar trajectory to the experience I had three years ago. Fortunately and unfortunately, the doctor didn't want to beat around the bush, and cut into the bite and drained it in his office, a procedure they did the first time in a hospital emergency room in the middle of the night when my arm started to turn black around the bite site. This time, though not as severe, was still a horrible experience, as I had Ava with me and she was screaming hysterically thinking we were at the doctor for her, and I didn't get the shot of lidocaine I got the last time. For as much as I make myself out to be a giant wuss when it comes to the dentist, I'm apparently a hoss when it comes to grinning and bearing it! I was sent home with antibiotics and pain meds, and that's where we're at now.

I'd love to tell you I'm feeling better, but it looks swollen and green-ish again today, so I'm feeling a bit worried, not to mention sore and tired. Oh, and I'm at work. Duh. Hopefully these antibiotics will kick in soon!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fro Yo Cuteness.

I'm starting to think this inability to eat dairy is not something she's going to grow out of. Thankfully, she LOVES sorbet!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Birthday Party, A Craft Project & A Bout of Food Poisoning...

Let's start with yesterday first, since that's more fun!

Yesterday was P's eighth birthday party at the super awesome, throwback-to-my-childhood Skate Center! Woot! Despite it coming on the heels of one lonnnnnng day, we went and took A with us, and I'm so glad we did! She obviously couldn't skate - they didn't even have skates in her size - but she had a great time making us chase her all over the rink, playing defense to her desire to skate. Fail. Other than that, though, she was great! And who could blame her for wanting to skate? I spent half the party in flashbacks to my childhood of backwards couple skating to Mariah Carey. Ahh, memories.

The rest of the day was pretty eventful as well, with Ava having gymnastics, me having to work, and a bunch of errands in store. Oh, and a meetup with my mom's group. Here was the fruit of our errand-running labors:

One of the cool things about being a nanny is that while most people are saying, "I wish they'd had that when I was a kid," I'm out there taking full advantage of these new ideas for kids. Case in point: Ceramics Bayou (a name it took me three full trips to finally get...oops!). It's one of those paint-your-own-pottery places that has popped up all around Austin in recent years, and I love it! Ava always lends me a hand (literally) for my projects, since that's about as creative as I get. I highly suggest checking out Ceramics Bayou if you're in the Austin area!

Now for the less fun news. Sunday night, we decided to use our Groupon to The Melting Pot. NIGHTMARE. Though the fact that my toddler was running amok the entire time (I didn't realize the meal would take HOURS!) had nothing to do with the restaurant - my bad - I did, unfortunately, get some pretty serious food poisoning. We're talking, I was sick before we even got home :((( Super sick. Ugh. I'm only just now feeling more like myself and less like a wisp of a person. To make matters worse, we didn't even get to eat together, since one of us was busy taking Ava outside to play while the other ate, AND we accidentally ran off without A's babydoll, Baby Sophie. Thankfully, D played the part of the White Knight and rescued her post-birthday party!

As to the food poisoning, I hate to sound bitter, but I don't think I can ever set food inside there again. I adhered strictly to the cooking times, and yet still ended up as sick as I'd ever been, and I'm guessing it was the shrimp. In that way, it was actually a blessing in disguise that Ava was being Satan's toddler, since she normally eats off of my plate. The only thing worse than a violently ill mommy would have been a violently ill Ava. It pains me to even think about it!

Either way, it's passed now. I'm feeling well enough to drink coffee (thank God, since I could've used it yesterday!), so that's a big plus, and today is a new day!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Travel Tips for Toddlers?

It's that time of year again. It's shaping up to be an annual tradition for us to take a quick summer vacation out to California to see my family each summer, and that trip will be taking place in just over two weeks. As such, I'm interested in any and all tips that may come in handy when traveling with a toddler, especially given that she will NOT have her own seat. Not to out myself as the cheapest person alive, but I just couldn't spare the extra $350 when she could technically still fly for free. Ask me how I feel about that decision after the trip, though.

Anyhow, I know I saw somewhere a great toy that clipped or suctioned to the airplane seat back trays and gave someone's child hours of fun. If the mama that posted that great invention is reading this (I cannot for the life of me remember who it was - sorry!), can you please let me in on the secret?

Other than that, what should I pack to take on the plane with me? What are things you packed that you didn't actually need, or things you wished you had? Any anyone with successful ideas on how to keep my extremely energetic and rambunctious toddler from going berserk will be handsomely rewarded...not sure with what yet, but I'll keep thinking on it ;)

Two weeks until vacation leaves just enough time to make a zillion Target trips and turn to Amazon for anything I can't find! Thanks, ladies!

Friday, July 8, 2011

An Impromptu Visit to the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort.

Yesterday, we had the great fortune to have a chance to visit with our friend that was visiting from Los Angeles and was nearby Austin with his family! It was an impromptu meetup, which - if you ask me - is the absolute best kind :) Anyhow, the girls and I piled in the car and drove the 45 minutes outside of Austin to the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines to spend the day floating the lazy river, playing on the waterslide and just basically relaxing. And, as impossible as it sounds to relax while in charge of three energetic girls around water, relax we did - it was AMAZING!

I could go on and on about how lovely it was, but instead, check out these pics:

Ava and her Uncle Tyler:

Putting on her "makeup" (facial sunscreen stick):

"want mama"

My baby's pigtails!

Love this picture of my three girls more than anything!

Me & A (ruined by my cheesy smile!):

We took a quick break for some lunch, and Ava even let someone aside from me hold her hand - wowsa!

And for some lounge time on the grass, overlooking the Colorado River:

And, of course, we had some fun out in the water!

There was even an Ava-sized tube!:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

18 Months!

Yeah, I'm running a bit behind schedule ;)

So, Ava turned 18 months last Tuesday, an age I've been super looking forward to! Not that the rest of the months and milestones haven't been wonderful, but when I've nannied, I've found that 18 mos - 3 yrs is such an amazing age. They're getting increasingly verbal and interactive, and they start to engage in pretend play, which is one of my favorites.

Anyhow, we had A's 18 month appointment Tuesday morning, and all is well. And by well, I mean aside from the fact that she screamed through the entire appointment. For as chill a kid as Ava is, she goes rogue at the doctor, I tell ya. In fact, as soon as we crossed the threshold of the building and the automatic doors slid open, she hightailed back towards the car - haha!

Here are her 18 month stats:
33.5" tall (90%)
26 lbs. (50-75%)

Tall and lean, that's my lady! Unfortunately, she had to get five vaccinations (three actual pricks), and that didn't go over too well, especially seeing as how she was already giving Dr. H the point-at-the-door-and-say-bye-bye routine. Aww, like I said. Such a cute age.

Also, A's vocab has exploded. She can say upwards of 60 words, including "octopus" and "hippo" (wth? she won't say dog or cat - she makes the noises instead - but she'll say oc-pus on a regular basis?!) She also says "thank you" and "welcome" regularly, including to Dr. H when he gave her her post-vaccine balloon and sticker. She may have been telling him to get the f out of the office, but she darn sure was going to thank him like a little lady for her treats.

Hmm...what else? She can jump with both feet off the ground, and likes to pull some dance moves out, ballet style, like balancing with her hands on the table and standing with one leg behind her. She can also somersault completely on her own, and walk across a thick balance beam without holding hands! Such a little gymnast :)

Happy 18 months, my love! I adore you beyond words, and have never found anything in my life as fulfilling and worthwhile as being your mother. I love you, baby bear.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Free Fun in Austin!

Sure, you may have seen me talk about a couple of these things before, but even so, hop on over to my gal Heidi's amazing site, Free Fun in Austin, to see a couple of my guest posts this week :D

I promise, you won't regret it. This is a PHENOMENAL resource for Austin mamas (and anyone who ever plans to visit, has an interest in living well for less, etc!)

Here's a link to one of my posts. You'll have to find the other by browsing around :)

Wordless Wednesday - Random Edition.

Somebody LOVES the itsy-bitsy spider!

Practicing her dance moves:

Climbing up the stairs, rockin' her ponytail!

Drama Queen:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Today has seriously been the best day, and we haven't even grilled or indulged in any drinks yet! We read on Free Fun in Austin about a celebration nearby, and so off we went to Wells Branch Neighborhood's Katherine Fleischer Park to attend Fourth Fest. It was AMAZING! Seriously, between the free watermelon and popcorn, the amazing (and cheap) concessions featuring BBQ, fajitas, snow cones and a bake sale (that had dairy-free PB cookies!!), and the pool and free train rides, we celebrated for HOURS! SO fun!

Taking it all in when we first arrived (and with an awesome pebbles ponytail!):

Pretty sure this picture melts my heart!

On top of the world:


Using her spoon skills on the snow cone (didn't last long before she used her hands!)

Splashing around at the Wells Branch Pool with mommy and daddy:

Ava's first train ride (and mommy sans makeup and with gross hair courtesy the pool - don't judge!):

Not to brag, but my kid was a natural at washers! Haha!

Now, off to grill and have a Sam Adams Summer Ale - yes, please! Happy 4th of July from our family to yours!
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