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Showing posts from 2014

Language Boom 2

When we first brought Travis home from China, he made rapid gains in language, learning the sign for just about every object he could see.  He learned a few basic concepts such as "soon" and "want." Later, he began retelling stories or books we signed to him.  For a while, he plateaued with his expressive language.  He would only answer questions if we prompted his answers or gave him choices.  He was understanding everything signed to him, but seemed to struggle to know how to answer.
Then, earlier this year, we saw a language boom.  He started telling us things that had happened in the past.  If he had a cut or bruise on his arm, he could explain what happened.  He began understanding that an event would happen so many days into the future and he enjoyed counting down the "sleeps." Because he was still catching up his expressive language, we chose to keep him in Kindergarten for one more year.  He and Tian are in class together and it has been a great y…

Austin Summer's End

I posted a blog covering our June summer fun in and around Austin. We ended up repeating some of those activities during July and August, then added a few new activities, including our day trip to San Marcos.

If you're looking for more ways to beat the heat in the sweltering Austin July and August, here are some ways we found and enjoyed:

Omni Barton Creek Resort
Look for a good deal on an overnight stay and enjoy a quick getaway.  If you're fortunate enough to have friends or family visiting town and staying here, you can make a fun day of visiting! Swimming, putt-putt, and a treasure-hunt inside the hotel.
Barton Springs Pool at Zilker Park
The area surrounding Barton Springs was recently renovated.  Barton is always a good plan on a hot summer day.  The only thing that prevents us from going more often is the rule about kids wearing "floaties."  Floats of any kind, including the wearable vests, are not allowed on the west side.  This means at least one parent has t…

A Day in San Marcos

Recently, we visited the day in San Marcos, Texas.  We were going to visit some of the seniors at La Vista Independent Community.  Since we were driving 45 minutes south and since this was our last week of no-school-freedom, we decided to make a day of it!  We had two challenges:
1. We're on a tight budget. 2. It's stinkin' hot outside.
First stop: Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.  As much as we swam in the cold, crystal-clear springs in Austin, we figured we would pay homage to the source of all of our cool summer fun. The Groupon for the boat tour made it a perfect option for us. 
We arrived at the sweeping property of The Meadows Center and pulled up to the building advertising the glass-bottom boat.  We were able to hop on the very next boat with a 10:00 launch time.  It was breezy and cool enough at 10:00 that we were very comfortable throughout the 30-minute tour.  My kids, ages 5 to 14, totally enjoyed it as much as I did.

After the boat tour and walk, i…

Walking Through Darkness With Your Teen - Part 3

A few things we've learned and what we would like others to understand:

This happens to normal families.  I don't know what I was expecting, but the families in our Intensive Outpatient Program were normal, caring, intact families.  Through this process, I've become less judgmental of parents who have what appears to be a difficult teen.  I'll add that these were all families willing to put in some serious time commitment and work to help their teens and themselves heal and improve.  This DBT group was not court-mandated, but completely voluntary. We were honored to share life with these families during the 7-week program.
Parents can't discipline or force their kids into mental health.  We as parents have had to become very aware of behaviors that are simply typical teenage rebellion, which result in discipline, or behaviors that occur because our teen truly does not know how to respond appropriately or how to manage a particular emotion she's having.  For examp…

Walking Through Darkness With Your Teen - Part 2

Since the first week in April when our teen went to an inpatient hospital, we've set up regular visits with a psychiatrist and therapist. We learned of and used an excellent service here in Austin, the Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, who will come out to the house to check on a patient. What an amazing service.  After a second hospitalization in May, we learned that not all hospitals are created equal.  While Shoal Creek doesn't look like much at first glance, they provide excellent care. Due to a lack of beds available in May, we were forced to send our teen to another, newer, seemingly nicer, inpatient facility in town.  Just two-and-a-half days there led us to get her out and file a formal complaint with the state.  Fortunately, she was able to get a bed a Shoal Creek fairly quickly and got the care she needed.

This time, upon discharge, we were set up with IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) in a group called "DBT." Thursday was our last night of the 7-week, 3-time-pe…

Walking Through Darkness With Your Teen - Part 1

I’ll never forget the moment my teen first came to me and showed me the cuts on her arms.  I said the first thing that came into my head.  Big mistake.  I rolled my eyes, “Really?  That is SO stupid.” I wish I could take it back.  I’ve learned a lot since that August afternoon; one of those things being to bite my tongue and look for a way to validate what she’s experiencing.  The first thought in my head is most often not the appropriate response.  A better response would have been,  “Thank you for coming to me. Can we talk about it?” or “Wow…I’m not sure what to say right now,” or "I'm sorry I didn't realize how bad you were feeling." I simply could have hugged her.  But in that moment, I was angry.  I was instantly hearing criticism in my own head, “If you were a better mom, she never would have done this.”  “That family member was right. You couldn’t even manage 3 kids, so why would you have 2 more?”  I also heard, “Don't reward her behavior by giving her th…

Austin June Summer Fun

A few months ago, the older 3 Brownies and I made a summer bucket list.  Much of that list consisted of some of Texas' best swimming holes.  We made it to 3 of the places on this list, plus a few more to boot.

In the Texas summer heat, staying cool in the springs is one of the only ways we can enjoy the outdoors, although finding some nice shade in the awesome parks around here will also do, especially in the hours before noon or just before dusk.

Our Austin June Fun
We kicked off June by celebrating Austin's own celebrity dog, Sid's recovery from an unfortunate accident.  We had been following Sid on Instagram and Facebook for over a year and were happy to finally meet him and under such celebratory circumstances.  As the sun set, we were treated to a show by talented performers, Tian and Travis.

Our first swimming hole of the summer was Jacob's Well.  We were drawn to this location because of the gorgeous photos we had seen online. We went on a weekday just before sc…

Austin Hikes - Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls Swimming Holes

Sculpture Falls

Over the past couple of weeks, so many friends have been asking about these two swimming holes, I decided to post a blog complete with maps and tips.  Sculpture Falls is our favorite swimming hole so far, and we've been to many in the area: Jacob's Well, Twin Falls, Barton Springs, Deep Eddy, San Marcos' Rio Vista Dam.
Sculpture Falls is our favorite for several reasons: crystal clear water, a couple of diving spots, wading in the shallow pools, sitting under the falls, and great snorkeling.

The first map shows the two possible ways in to Sculpture Falls.  The purple route is what I like to call the Hell Hike.  I'll review that hike first:

HELL HIKE - Purple trail
You'll park in a residental area, so be kind and mindful of driveways and parking signs.  The trailhead is Scottish Woods Trail, named for one of the streets leading to the trailhead.
You'll immediately walk in to some beautiful views of the greenbelt, so enjoy and prepare for the wobb…