TEA School Opening Guidelines for 2020-2021 – What Families Need to Know

The Texas Education Agency has officially released its re-opening guidelines for schools across Texas for the 2020-2021 school year as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic.

Moving forward under these guidelines, school districts, private schools, and public charter schools will decide policies and procedures for their students and families. Go Public has compiled resources with the area public school districts’ most current COVID-19 information. Please confirm with your school or district’s plans (which may be more details, stringent, or specific than the TEA guidelines – which are designed to be a starting point for decision making at the local level) before making any decisions for your family. ACM always strives to share the most up to date info to aid you in making decisions that are best for your family.


The TEA guidelines and supporting documents have a lot of info in them – here is some need-to-know info:

EDUCATION OPTIONS

Daily on-campus learning opportunities must be available for parents and students who wish to attend class on campus.

Per Texas Education Code (TEC), §25.092, students must attend 90% of the days a course is offered (with some exceptions) in order to be awarded credit for the course and/or to be promoted to the next grade. Student attendance may be earned through the delivery of virtual instruction

If a parent requests virtual instruction and the school does not offer it, the parent may enroll in another school that does offer it for transfer students.

Parents will have the option to choose remote learning for their child(ren) “initially, or at any point as the year progresses. Parents who choose remote instruction for their students may be asked to commit to remote instruction for a full grading period (e.g. 6 or 9 weeks), but will not have to make that commitment more than two weeks in advance, so they can make a decision based on the latest public health information.”

During a transition time of three weeks at the beginning of the school year, districts may choose to ‘ease in’ to on-campus instruction by requiring some remote learning. Families who don’t have access to the internet or devices needed for remote learning may request their students to be on campus during the transition.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Schools will be required to enforce self-screening via temperature and symptom checks by each teacher and staff member on campus.

Students will not be required to have temperature checks but they are not prohibited by the TEA guidelines.

In addition, the TEA guidelines state:

o Schools must immediately separate any student who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school until the student can be picked up by a parent or guardian.

o Schools should clean the areas used by the individual who shows COVID-19 symptoms while at school (student, teacher, or staff) as soon as is feasible.

o Students who report feeling feverish should be given an immediate temperature check to determine if they are symptomatic for COVID-19.

Parents must ensure they do not send a child to school on campus if the child has COVID-19 symptoms or is lab-confirmed with COVID-19, and instead should opt to receive remote instruction until the conditions for re-entry are met.

RESPONSE

If a COVID-19 case is suspected, the school will immediately separate the student until they can be picked up, do a temperature check, and clean and sanitize the areas that student has utilized.

If a COVID-19 case is lab-confirmed, the school must notify its local health department, close the areas frequented by the individual with the positive test until they can be cleaned, and schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a school if a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participate on any on-campus activities.

GENERAL HEALTH + HYGIENE

Schools should provide an ample number of handwashing or hand sanitizing stations so that students, teachers, staff, and visitors can frequently clean their hands.

Schools should arrange for additional cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces that are touched in common throughout the day. This would include objects such as door handles, common tables/desks, shared supplies such as art supplies, and high touch devices such as shared laptops or tablets. Additionally, schools should arrange for the cleaning of commonly touched surfaces in classrooms between different class groups, if the same room will be used by multiple class groups.

The TEA suggests involving students in the daily maintenance cleaning of their personal spaces and belongings, in developmentally appropriate ways as well as direct and explicit instruction on good health and hygiene habits for students.

MASKS

For the purposes of these guidelines, masks include non-medical grade disposable face masks, cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth), or full-face shields to protect eyes, nose, and mouth. Face shields may be superior to cloth face coverings in many circumstances, given improved ability to see mouth movements and improved air circulation.

Schools are required to comply with the governor’s executive order regarding the wearing of masks, which excludes children under the age of 10.

In addition to the executive order, school systems may require the use of masks or face shields for adults or students for whom it is developmentally appropriate.

CLASSROOM + SCHOOL LOGISTICS

Where feasible without disrupting the educational experience, encourage students to practice social distancing.

In classroom spaces that allow it, consider placing student desks a minimum of six feet apart when possible.

In classrooms where students are regularly within six feet of one another, schools should plan for more frequent hand washing and/or hand sanitizing.

When feasible and appropriate (for example, in physical education classes as weather permits), it is preferable for students to gather outside, rather than inside, because of likely reduced risk of virus spread outdoors.

Campuses must plan for entry, exit, and transition procedures that reduce large group gatherings (of students and/or adults) in close proximity. Consider staggering school start and end times, assigning students to entries to ensure even distribution of students entering/exiting at each door, providing guidance to students to enter one at a time and wait six feet apart outside the entrance, and, where appropriate, encouraging parents to remain outside during drop-off and pick-up.

The TEA recommends that schools should consider adding dividers between bathroom sinks, especially when students cannot be at least six feet apart while using the sinks.

At lunch, schools should consider practices that reduce the likelihood that students meet the close contact definition. This could include having students eat lunch at their desks, the use of seats that are spaced at least 6 feet apart, the use of dividers on cafeteria tables if they can serve the purpose of shielding the students from respiratory droplets. For meal service itself, schools should consider individually plated meals with disposable food service items for students who do not bring their own lunch.

SCHOOL VISITS

Parents and other adults can visit schools, as permitted by local school system policies.

During these visits, parents and other visitors must follow virus prevention and mitigation requirements of the school.

Schools systems should restrict visits in schools to only those essential to school operations.

SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19

The TEA is using the following list of symptoms to evaluate the likelihood of an individual possibly having the virus:

  • Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees
  • Fahrenheit
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache o Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Shaking or exaggerated shivering
  • Significant muscle pain or ache
  • Diarrhea

You can read the full document here, including details for teachers and staff members and UIL/non-UIL sports and extracurricular activities. Please remember to consult with your school or district for the most up to date information, policies, and procedures specific to your family.

My Favorite Thing About San Antonio (It’s Not What You Think!)

An old friend of mine recently hosted an exchange student from Denmark for the school year. Out of the blue, she called me to say they made plans to drive from Houston to San Antonio for a day trip – their exchange student HAD to see The Alamo. It was on the top of his bucket list for coming to the United States, and imagine his luck that he got placed in Texas. I immediately told her I would meet them there – a former Texas history teacher NEVER passes up the chance to go walk around the grounds at the Alamo

Two realizations struck me: the miracle of a high school student who has the desire to take an educational day trip to San Antonio on a day off from school, and second, realizing that a teenager from across the world knew enough Texas History to appreciate the events that took place here. “Remember the Alamo!” indeed!

And so this is the “thing” I love about San Antonio: this city is the heart of Texas History. Established in 1718, San Antonio is a relatively “new” city compared to other cities around the world, but even so, it seems there is just as much “old” here as there is “new.”

The history of San Antonio runs much deeper than the first civil settlements from the Spanish Mission System. A few years ago, I was able to accompany my father-in-law on one of his archaeological digs. After a short hike from 281, and a just a minute or two drive from Stone Oak, I found myself crouching in a small rock alcove in a ridge along the creek. My father-in-law and his two colleagues were removing the dirt layer by layer, with excruciating care. A rudimentary campsite was uncovered, used perhaps for shelter by a small family or group of hunters thousands of years ago. Many San Antonionians don’t realize these shelters are scattered across the North Side, some within walking distance of many homes. 

And that is the beautiful juxtaposition of the old and the new in San Antonio. Old missions amongst staggering hotels. A hundred year old modernized brewery revitalizes a downtown neighborhood. Families moving into neighborhoods formally used for refuge by Native Texans several thousand years ago. There is no escaping the fascinating history here. And for the most part, the new in San Antonio doesn’t outshine the old. History is celebrated here, and revered. Anyone can see it in “The Saga” show at the San Fernando Cathedral, or the week long celebration of the heroes of the Texas Revolution, our beloved Fiesta, which has morphed into an incredible celebration of the culture and diversity of San Antonio.

My grandfather and me at his property in the city – a former dairy farm that has been in the family for generations.

I have lived in several different cities in Texas, traveled to many others, and still have a bucket list of places to go, but San Antonio has always felt like home – even before I lived here. Childhood visits to San Antonio, or more specifically to my grandparents house, were the trips I looked forward to all year. And maybe that is what I love most of all about this city – it holds much of my personal family history, my favorite history of all.

Five Places to Visit for National Ice Cream Month

If you’re anything like me, finding any and every reason to eat ice cream, especially during the summer, is a full-time hobby. I recently discovered that in 1984 President Ronald Reagan deemed ice cream so important he decided it needs its own month. You read that right, July is officially National Ice Cream Month, so drop all your plans and read along to decide where you’ll celebrate this joyous occasion. 

I typically frequent the Target frozen foods section in search of some type of cookie flavored pint of the good ol’ creamy goodness (mostly because it’s about a block from my house). But in the name of research and giving you some delicious ideas, I decided to venture a little further. Here are five places worth trying during National Ice Cream month.

*I made it a point to specifically focus on ice cream shops, rather than paleteria or gelato shops.

 

Boozy’s Creamery + Craft

711 S Saint Mary’s St. San Antonio, TX 78205  | 210-919-3553

Formerly known as “The House,” we discovered this little family-owned shop while it was still on South Alamo Street. While they’ve moved locations and changed names, the ice cream is still as delectable. They are officially a bar at 8pm, so only 21 and up at that point, but if you’re downtown, with your kiddos, on a Saturday afternoon it’s worth stopping by. They typically have four “infused” flavors (made with mom and dad in mind) — try the Bourbon Vanilla or Fresh Toast if they have them on hand —  and four “friendly” flavors made for everyone else, we love Cereal Milk and Cookie Monster. BONUS: you’ll also usually find at least one dairy-free option. You’ll have to eat inside if you choose a boozy option, but it’s close to Yanaguana and all the hot food spots in Southtown, so it would be a great way to cool down and end a fun-filled day downtown.

 

Churroholic

4138 S New Braunfels Ave. San Antonio, 78223 | 210-817-6206

Okay, okay, this place isn’t exactly an ice cream shop per say, but ice cream plus churros?! Ummm, yes PLEASE! Located closer to south San Antonio, even if you live on the north side, this place is worth a trip. Since we’re talking ice cream today, I suggest getting something from the “Combos” menu. I had a churro sandwich with vanilla ice cream and Fruity Pebbles and the hubs ordered the ice cream churro combo with a chocolate coconut churro and strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Both were delicious, although I suggest having some utensils on hand for that ice cream sandwich. It is melty, sugary, and delightful, but handheld is not a word I would use to describe it. Our one-year-old had his first taste of ice cream here and he approves of that strawberry cheesecake flavor.

Freshest

8053 Callaghan Rd. San Antonio, TX 78230 | 210-371-6510

If you’re in the mood for ice cream, but you’re trying your darndest to be good, then look no further than Freshest. There is truth in the name, as owners Marco and Angela pride themselves on serving ice cream made from only the freshest ingredients — artificial is not a word you’ll find on an ingredient list. All their ice creams/gelato are made using alkaline water, lactose-free milk or coconut milk, and natural ingredients, so each cup is a sweet treat you can feel good giving your kiddos. We tried the Oreo ice cream and Brazilian gelato (the family-favorite made from pineapple and mojito mint), but they serve a wide variety of options so venture out and try something new. There isn’t much room for a large group, but if you go in and need an extra seat they’ll be happy to grab one for you from the back…supporting a San Antonio family and eating a healthy treat? That’s what I call a win-win.

 

Kilwins

109 Alamo Plaza San Antonio, TX 78205 | 210-507-2100

I’ll admit, I typically avoid this part of downtown like the plague. I assume the hustle and bustle of the tourists snapping photos in front of the Alamo or walking up and down the Plaza picking up knick-knacks to take home is something I don’t want to battle. But if you’re already downtown, or feel like playing tourist for a day, this is a fun place to stop. They have a handful of unique ice cream flavors (we enjoyed the Alamo Mud and Kilwins’ Tracks) but the cherry on top (or on the bottom in this case) are the freshly-made waffle cones (as you can tell from the photo that’s not my cup of tea, but they smelled and looked delicious). We grabbed our cones and headed towards the Alamo to find a bench and enjoy the view.

*I suggest street parking (if you can find it) or parking closer to Yanaguana since the parking garage price is a bit steep. 

Kuma

6565 Babcock Rd. Suite 17 San Antonio, Texas 78249 | 210-641-2888

Since I dragged my husband around to assist in my “research” he made sure to mention, and I quote, “Even I’d drive up here to eat this again.” This place is ice cream with a Hong Kong twist. The owners focus on adding their authentic flair to this traditional treat. Your ice cream will come in a Hong Kong egg waffle cone with one scoop of ice cream, four toppings, and one sauce. Our creation, which we were quite proud of, was matcha ice cream, rainbow mochi, almonds, strawberry Pocki and sauce, and we topped it all off with Fruity Pebbles (you’ll notice a cereal theme here — I’ve concluded all ice cream is better topped with cereal). You can choose from other traditional Asian flavors such as Lychee, Ube, and Azuki or some you might be more familiar with: cookies & cream, chocolate brownie, and cheesecake. I fully believe you can’t go wrong with whatever you create, but be prepared to wait while they prepare your creation, we were surprised that this place was hoppin’ even on a Monday evening.

 

I have to admit, recapping all of these fun trips had my glands salivating so of course I had to pause to dig into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Tonight Dough. If you were able to contain yourself while reading about the sweet, creamy treats, then take your pick and go out to celebrate this month in true American style. If you want to dig into a research journey of your own these ACM articles might aid in your endeavors: Our Family’s Favorite Ice Cream Spots in San Antonio and Creating Sweet Memories: Summer Extreme Treat Bucket List.

Poison Safety 101 – Summer Tips for San Antonio Families

A collaboration with the South Texas Poison Center, UT Health San Antonio

Summer is officially here and with everyone hanging out at home more, we could all use a good refresher on how to keep our kiddos safe from common household and backyard dangers – think cleaning agents, critters, bites, and plants. As a parent who tends to way over stress the small stuff, it’s nice to know we have a free, reliable resource to empower ourselves with knowledge about all things poison control.

The South Texas Poison Center (STPC), which is housed in UT Health San Antonio’s Department of Emergency Medicine, works around the clock – yes, they have a 24-hour hotline! – to reduce the incidence and severity of poisonings with education programs, prevention, and treatment information to patients and healthcare providers. The center is staffed with nurses, pharmacists, and physicians who are all specialists in poison information and work directly under the system’s medical director. That means anytime you call their 24-hour hotline (1-800-222-1222) you’re guaranteed to speak to a licensed professional you can trust.

Knowledge is power. And, the more we can educate ourselves about common hazards at home, the more at ease we can be while wrangling the kids all summer long. STPC’s website is full of fantastic finds on preventative measures and tips, but for an overview of household and outdoor basics, we interviewed STPC’s community outreach coordinator, Mikaela R. Perez, B.S., CHW to share an overview of common concerns from parents across South Texas. Here’s what you need to know:

Soaps & Hand Sanitizers

Now more than ever, we’re constantly keeping our hands soaped and sanitized to prevent virus passing. Wash your children’s hands with soap and water – that’s the most effective way to keep clean. If you do need to use hand sanitizer, supervise children while they use it. Consuming the product is dangerous because the alcohol percentage is high and tolerance in kids is low. In extreme cases, consumption can lead to alcohol poisoning. Key takeaway: Keep hand sanitizer in a high place or somewhere the kids can’t reach it. Use as you see fit, but never leave them unsupervised with a bottle of it.

Detergent & Cleaning Supplies

Again, many of us are cleaning our households more aggressively to minimize exposure to germs – and, that’s okay! Regarding detergent, tri-pods pose double danger – they’re poisonous and a choking hazard. Keep them locked in a drawer if they’re below the sink. As for cleaning products, keep them up and away from kids. Also, never mix products you’re unsure about, as certain combinations can produce dangerous results. Generally, never mix bleach + vinegar; bleach and ammonia; bleach + rubbing alcohol; and hydrogen peroxide + vinegar. Key takeaway: Always lock-up cleaning supplies – or keep them on the top shelf – and supervise children when supplies are out.

Medicine & Vitamins

We all know not to mess with medicine; however, if you accidentally give your child the wrong dose, call the hotline. Professionals can talk you through managing the situation at home and can calculate the severity of the situation. Also, keep vitamins out of reach – especially those that look like gummy candies. Specifically, the use of melatonin is on the rise, and while it helps get kids to sleep sooner, it can pose a risk if too large a dose is consumed – e.g. half the bottle. Key takeaway: Keep tempting looking medicines and vitamins in locked drawers, and if an incident arises, call the hotline for action steps.

Common Critter Bites

Spiders, bees, and scorpions, oh my! And, jellyfish, too. During the summer months, the hotline receives an increase in calls regarding critter bites. Most bites result in minor pain, skin irritation and localized swelling which can all be treated with at-home care; however, always call the hotline for peace of mind or advice on how to treat anything more serious. If you travel to the coast, beware of jellyfish. If your child is stung, keep them calm as best as possible while washing the wound – try creating a calming paste with baking soda and water. Or, meat tenderizer does the trick, too! Key takeaway: Bites are inevitable while playing outdoors. If your child gets a bite that needs attention, keep them calm, try the basics first, then call the hotline if additional care is required.

Sunscreen & Insect Repellents

Lathering our kids in sunscreen and big spray becomes routine as the warmer weather rolls in. While they both work to keep kids protected from the sun and bug bites, they can also pose health problems if not used properly. As a general rule, keep sunscreen away from kids – consuming it can be harmful. Also, avoid applying near the eyes and mouth. For babies, keep it off their hands as they tend to put everything in their mouths. For repellents, do the same – test on a small area of skin on the arm or leg before applying on larger areas of exposed skin. Never use it on cuts, as it will sting. And, avoid spraying it too close to a child’s eyes and mouth. Key takeaway: These products protect us, but they can also cause skin irritation and pose dangerous side effects if inhaled or consumed. Keep these products away from kids’ hands and use as directed. 

Outdoor Plants & Flowers

Plants are tricky – and describing them over the phone can be even trickier. That said, educate yourself about the common plants and flowers in your front and backyard. If you can, research what you have and label them with common names so they can be more easily identified should your child brush up against one or consume its leaves. Generally, remember, “leaves of three, let them be.” If your child has a reaction – itchy, red rash with bumps – don’t scratch. Alleviate with lukewarm baths and apply a cool compress and calamine lotion. If a plant is consumed, try to remove remaining pieces from a child’s mouth, then flush with water. Bottom line: Know what’s in your yard – or, call the hotline to help you identify the good versus bad options.

Biggest takeaway: Accidents happen. Keep the STBC’s number on hand and visible for easy access to on-call doctors and pharmacists in case an incident arises. Or, just call to learn more about how to keep your kiddos safe! Dial (1-800-222-1222) any time of day.

A Love Letter To Our First Family Home on Closing Day

 

house

We moved from our old house in Houston to New Braunfels six years ago and I wrote this “love letter” to the house on our final days in Houston. Over the past seven years in our new house we’ve made many wonderful memories, but they can’t compare to the memories made in that first home. 

If you’ve ever mourned leaving a place–especially a home where many milestones and memories were made–perhaps you’ll relate to this ode to my favorite house ever, written during a fit of melancholy, as the packing began. 

Family

1253 Live Oak is where all the “good stuff” (thus far) has happened. I brought my babies home to this house. Those early, bleary-eyed days and nights of trying to figure out how to care for a newborn happened here. I rocked my babies to sleep and put them down for naps in this house while the sunlight streamed in through their bedroom windows. We learned about the families of birds in our trees and watched a mother screech owl teach her little ones to fly from the safety of our fence. 

snow

We enjoyed seven Christmases here. Both kids’ first Christmases took place here–from babies who didn’t quite understand what was going on, to preschoolers who suddenly and enthusiastically grasped the magic of the season. 

We endured a Category 4 hurricane in this house. Behind the safety of our boarded up windows, I remember laying wide-eyed in bed (pregnant in my first trimester), in the middle of the night, listening to the wind howl unceasingly and unrelenting outside–as if a 747 was landing in our backyard–as my husband and toddler lay peacefully asleep next to me. 

The morning after the hurricane, we awoke to find a tangled jumble of leaves and limbs in our backyard and a fallen tree, miraculously felled away from our bedroom, yet onto the power pole, rendering us without electricity for two weeks.

I felt immensely safe in this home. Its brick walls and solid 1950’s craftsmanship wrapped around my little family, holding us tight through the eye of the storm, just as the brick walls had done for its other families in the hurricanes of the past. 

Kids

Many a meal was cooked in this kitchen and I’ll never love another kitchen as much as I love the remodeled one that my husband worked on for months. Designed and decorated by me, I’ll always feel like it was the perfect marriage of 1950’s ranch and modern charm. Crisp and clean with its white cabinets and farmhouse sink (way before Joanna Gaines made them trendy, thank you very much!), the kitchen was my favorite room in this house and the room where I logged most of my hours. 

family backyard

Our beloved backyard, was beloved by many and the location of so many playdates. Even in the dead of summer, it always feels just a little cooler back there. In the spring and fall, when we would see any Painted Lady butterflies, we always speculated on whether or not they were some of the ones that my daughter hatched and nurtured from her butterfly habitat (a birthday gift from a dear friend in 2010). Hummingbirds love the shrimp plants and the cannas and sometimes perch right outside the master bedroom window, so that you can see them in a rare, up-close position.  

The neighborhood park was an almost daily outing for us for so many years. At first, with an infant in the Baby Bjorn, strapped to me as I walked the trails, then when that baby got old enough to toddle, all she wanted to do was challenge her walking capabilities (and my nerves) by teetering on the edge of the bridge of the playscape. Over the years, the playscape there has shrunk, as my children have grown taller and more physically capable. 

This will always be the first house that my kids will remember living in. Perhaps they’ll dream of this house in the middle of the night, groggy with fleeting images of the hallway or their bedrooms. Maybe it will represent a safe haven from scary monsters or maybe it’ll always be the place that they’re seeking in their dreams. Perhaps, one day when they’re grown and purchasing a home for themselves, they’ll see a detail in another house that reminds them of this one and it will feel familiar and comforting and cause them to decide that “this house is definitely ‘The One.’”

I know many families have come and gone from this house over the years, some staying longer and some not as long as us, but this home will forever have a piece of my heart.

My family has grown a lot since we moved away (both physically and emotionally), and we certainly wouldn’t fit as easily or as comfortably in that house now as we did back in 2013, but 1253 Live Oak is where we became a family and, for that, I will always be grateful. 

 

You Are A Better Mom Than You Think, Even If Quarantine Had You Thinking Differently / Eres una mejor mamá de lo que piensas, aunque la cuarentena te haya hecho pensar lo contrario

Quarantine hasn’t been easy for most of us; we have had to balance social distancing and at the same time, distance learning, work, and household chores. We have had to ‘multiply’ our time and strength, to overcome this situation, no matter how hard it is.

Personally, there are days where I feel like a superhero, but most of the days it’s not like that. With a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old boy at home while I’m working, most of the days I feel like I’m failing and feel guilty about it.

I know I’m not the only mom going through this, most of my friends have told me that they would like for things to be different, that’s why I decided to do this list of things that we do as moms automatically, but that are more important than we realize.

If you ever judge yourself so hard or feel defeated, this article is for you, from a mom who’s going through the same thing. If you identify with one or many of these situations, you can be sure you are a great mom during this difficult time.

You are always reminding them to wash their hands, even though they don’t always listen.

If we were already after our kids to tell them they should wash their hands, we do it even more frequently now. We have told them that washing our hands is one of the main ways we have to fight the spread of COVID-19.

You were worried about being the mom and teacher your kids needed.

The distance learning was hard on most of us and even when we realize how hard and exhausting it is to be our kids’ teachers, you were worried that they didn’t fall behind and that they did their assigned activities. You were there for Zoom meetings, or at least to remind them about them. You were worried about how they felt and if something wasn’t working, you took the necessary measures to help them, even though that could have mean not joining one of their online classes.

You worried that you had what your family liked in the fridge.

No matter that the circumstances caused for many stores to run out of some products, you were worried to know what you were going to find or if you were going to get your drive-through order complete. You wanted to have what your kids eat and worried about their nutrition. As things have started to get better, you have even allowed a special snack.

You do everything possible for your kids to stay connected with their friends.

We know how important it is for our kids to socialize and we try to help them stay connected with friends: FaceTime, Messenger for kids, and Zoom calls have been just some of the things we’ve tried so they don’t lose contact with them.

You encourage them to do some physical activity.

You wish they could go back to the sport that they like so much, but for now you try to encourage them to go play outside, take a walk, or ride their bikes.

You play with them.

While I was listening to one of my son’s kindergarten Zoom classes, they asked them what their moms are doing for them, and without thinking twice, he answered that I play with him. I know this is important, but for kids, it is more important than we realize.

When they finally go to bed, you find yourself talking about what they did during the day or even miss them.

I frequently tell my husband some stories or silly things they did, which is inevitable for many parents.

You are always looking to be better.

You read articles, blogs, and books, you listen to podcasts or watch videos that help you learned something new or that can give you some insight on your kids’ struggles. At the same time, you know when to ask for help from your mom, your friends, or your community.

You are worried about how the new ‘normal’ will be and how your kids are going to be affected by the coronavirus.

Since this pandemic started, we have tried to explain to them on their own level what this virus is and how it affects us. We wish our kids could have a normal childhood with everything that is happening.

Your house isn’t perfectly clean, and there is a lot of noise all the time, but your kids call it home.

Toys, laughter, or even crying, are some things we could find in a regular house with little kids; it is where they feel comfortable to be themselves. If your kids are teenagers, the things you find there are different, but your house is still the home where they have the freedom to express themselves.

**********************************

Eres una mejor mamá de lo que piensas, aunque la cuarentena te haya hecho pensar lo contrario

La cuarentena no ha sido fácil para la mayoría; hemos tenido que balancear el distanciamiento social en medio de actividades escolares, trabajo y limpieza de la casa. Hemos tenido que multiplicar nuestras fuerzas, para salir adelante sin importar lo difícil que parezca.

En lo personal, hay días que siento que traigo una capa y me creo una súper heroína, pero la mayoría de los días no es así. Con un niño de 2 y un niño de 5 años en casa, al mismo tiempo que el trabajo, la mayoría de los días hay algo que pasa que me hace sentir culpable y que me hace sentir como que no soy una buena mamá.

Sé que no soy la única mamá a la que le está pasando esto, la mayoría de mis amigas me han comentado algo que ellas quisieran fuera diferente, por eso decidí hacer esta lista de cosas que hacemos como mamás y de las que probablemente no nos damos cuenta por llevarlas a cabo en ‘automático’.

Si algún día te sentiste derrotada, si te juzgaste demasiado o fuiste muy dura contigo misma, este artículo es para ti, de parte de una mamá que está pasando por lo mismo <3 Ya sea que te identifiques con una de estas situaciones, con varias, o con todas, puedes estar segura de que eres una gran mamá en medio de estos tiempos difíciles y estás son algunas de las cosas que hemos hecho:

No te cansas de recordarles que se laven las manos, aunque no siempre te escuchen.

Si por lo regular estamos detrás de nuestros hijos diciéndoles lo importante que es lavarse las manos, ahora es para nosotros más importante que nunca. Les hemos explicado que lavándonos las manos podemos ayudar a que baje la tasa de contagio del covid-19 y les recordamos una y otra vez, que usen agua y suficiente jabón.

Te preocupaste por ser la mamá y maestra que tu hijo necesitaba, cuando no podían ir con su propia maestra.

Esta cuarentena nos obligó a realizar el ‘aprendizaje a distancia’ y aunque la mayoría nos dimos cuenta que es extremadamente difícil y cansado ser maestras de nuestros propios hijos, tú te preocupaste por que aprendieran e hicieran las actividades asignadas. Tú estabas ahí para las reuniones de zoom o por lo menos, para recordarles de ellas. Tú estuviste atenta a ver cómo se sentía tu hijo y si esto no les estaba funcionando, tomaste las medidas adecuadas, aún y si eso significó que tuvieran que dejar de hacer alguna actividad.

Te preocupas de que el refri siempre esté lleno y hasta que tus hijos tengan lo que les gusta.

Aunque las circunstancias provocaron que las tiendas muchas veces carecieran de ciertos productos, tú estabas preocupada por saber lo que ibas a encontrar y cómo le ibas a hacer para que tu pequeño comiera. Conforme las cosas se han ido regularizando, tú has encontrado lo que a ellos tanto les gusta y hasta permitido algún snack especial.

Quieres que estén siempre conectados con sus amigos.

Sabemos lo importante que es el que nuestros hijos socialicen, por lo que a pesar de que no pueden ver a sus amigos, hemos tratado de que conecten con ellos: face time, Messenger para niños, llamadas de zoom, han sido solo algunas cosas que hemos intentado para que nuestros hijos no pierdan el contacto con sus amigos.

Buscas que hagan algún tipo de actividad física.

Anhelas que puedan regresar al deporte que tanto les gusta, pero mientras tanto tratas de que vayan a caminar, andar en bicicleta o simplemente, que salgan al patio.

Juegas con ellos.

Hace poco mientras escuchaba una llamada de Zoom de mi hijo en kínder, la maestra les preguntó qué hace su mamá por ellos y él, sin dudarlo, dijo que yo jugaba con él y me di cuenta lo importante que es el que me dé tiempo para hacerlo.

Cuando por fin se van a dormir, hablas de todo lo que hicieron durante el día y hasta los extrañas.

Algunas veces me encuentro a mí misma hablando con mi esposo sobre lo que nuestros hijos hicieron o dijeron ese día, lo cual es inevitable para muchas mamás.

Siempre estás buscando ser mejor.

Lees artículos y libros, escuchas podcasts o ves algún programa en la televisión que te ayude a aprender algo nuevo o a resolver los problemas de tus hijos. A la vez, sabes cuándo pedir ayuda a tu mamá, a alguna amiga o grupo de apoyo.

Te preocupas por cómo será la nueva ‘normalidad’ para tus hijos y cómo les afectará a ellos el coronavirus.

Desde que inició la pandemia, hemos tratado de explicarles a su nivel qué es el virus y cómo nos afecta. Cuando vimos esa imagen con recomendaciones de la CDC circulando en redes (sin saber que estaba sacada de contexto), muchas nos preocupamos por cómo sería el regreso a la escuela. Anhelamos que nuestros hijos puedan vivir una niñez normal en medio de todo esto.

Tú casa no está perfectamente limpia y frecuentemente hay mucho ruido, pero para tus hijos es un hogar.

Juguetes, risas y hasta llantos, son parte común de lo que podemos encontrar en una casa con niños pequeños que se sienten cómodos para ser ellos mismos. Si tus hijos son adolescentes, las cosas que encontramos son diferentes, pero de igual manera, su casa es su hogar en donde ellos tienen la libertad de expresarse.

Mothering While Black When There Is No Hope

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how we as parents can talk to our young children, specifically, about racial injustice. I wrote the piece a few days before riots began heavily erupting across the country in response to the senseless murders of so many, with the recent death of George Floyd as the main catalyst. I’ve sat with that piece, even after it was published. I thought about that piece as my son heard a reporter talking about 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was murdered by police in her apartment, and asked if they were talking about me because we share a name. 

When I wrote that article, I was numb. I was not void of feelings about what was happening, but I tried to avoid as much news about it as I possibly could. Even as I talked to my son, explaining what happened to George Floyd and how he died, I still felt somewhat numb. Only a week or so before, I had a similar conversation with him, explaining how Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while jogging because he was also perceived as a threat. 

I’m not sure when the numbness wore off, but it very quickly did. I began holding onto my son tighter, all while thinking of my very own words: “How to talk to our children about racial injustice.” Was I really writing that article for a mom like me, with kids that look like mine, with their beautiful, deep brown skin? The truth is that I’ve been having these conversations with my son well before he turned six. I’ll be having these conversations all over again with my daughter as she grows, too. 

I’ve dealt with him being called “aggressive” in preschool. I’ve dealt with him being sent home multiple times in daycare and the staff being surprised when my husband and I requested a meeting to discuss what was politely not being called a suspension. When he was about 3 or 4, he told me that his classmates touched his hair multiple times and that he didn’t like it. Whether I realized it or not, I’ve been having these conversations with him and even if he can’t name it just yet, he’s been experiencing racism. 

He recently celebrated his 6th birthday, and my heart did the jump it does with each birthday. On the one hand, I am excited to see how much he has grown and all the new and exciting things he can do. He is maturing. This would seem like a good thing, except I’ve always held this deep fear of the day when he’s not “cute” anymore. I’ve held my breath for the moment when he is seen as a threat. At some point, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor were all 6. When did it change for them? What did their parents say to them? What can I say to my son as the world seems to crumble around him every day? 

Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. It is also defined as a feeling of trust. Both of these definitions seem so far away from how I am currently feeling. I’ve felt these feelings before. This isn’t new. This unrest and tension and protests and riots are not new. My son was born a few months before Ferguson teenager Michael Brown was murdered, and he was only an infant as I held him tightly while watching the verdict of not guilty roll in. I remember clutching him as tightly as possible as I watched the riots erupt then, too, and then again, and again, and again, over the course of his life so far, as so many people scream and fight for Black lives to matter. 

But in the middle of all this, is still hope. That small sliver of hope never leaves me. I am raising two beautiful Black children who are living in a time where real change is happening and will continue to happen. My hope is to parent freely, meaning that I can raise my children to be happy, proud and free while being able to parent without fear. I do not want them to be stifled by expectations or racism or any other forms of oppression. This does not mean keeping them ignorant of the magnitude of these things, because the day will come when they encounter oppression and inequality and will ask tough questions of me, and I will have to respond with tough answers. My hope for my children is that the work that is happening now will not be in vain, and that they will understand the struggle, work to be part of the movement to make the world a more just place and bask in joy while doing it. All hope is not lost. They will be alright, and so will I. 

So to the parents who struggle with finding hope or joy right now, know that our babies are growing up in a world filled with so many lessons, so many truths, and yes, so much pain. But we also have the ability to teach them to find joy in the radical power that love, hope and possibilities bring. 

Summer Reading Program 2020: Revamped for Our New Normal

Ice cream, staying up late, drives at dusk, watermelon, and the Summer Reading Program are my family’s summer staples. The Summer Reading Program has been part of my summer experiences since I was a kid and even as a teen volunteer. I’ve also always made sure that it has been part of my own children’s summer. COVID-19 is not stopping us now! It certainly may be different this summer, but the power of pleasure reading and the fun of interactive activities and programs is still a great summer treat!

San Antonio Public Library 

The theme for SAPL’s 2020 Mayor’s Summer Reading Program is Imagine a World of Possibilities. There is something for kids, teens, and adults. You can register and print out a reading log at home. Kids programming includes our local Dinosaur George who will be doing a few fun, informative presentations about dinos. There will be a puppet show with some familiar librarian faces. There is a simple cooking session with a chef from the SA Food Bank. And there is so much more. So what’s the difference? No driving: YouTube and Zoom will bring these programs directly into your home.

Teen programming includes Instagram cooking/craft demos, challenges, and more. Teens can also sign up to join in on virtual hang out times on SAPL’s Discord server with additional programming. There are even weekly “Take and Make” crafts that can be picked up curbside from branch libraries. Crafts range from origami to scratch art.

We adults can get in on the fun with classes on yoga, meditation, nutrition, gaming, trivia, composting, and more. There are even online puzzles and virtual field trips for adults. Some activities require an additional free sign up online to get the Zoom code or link.

Boerne Patrick Heath Public Library

The theme is Around the World in 60 Days. Every week children can get a taste of different cultures as they travel from Israel to Greece and beyond. It can all be found on PHPL’s Facebook page where there will be some live events and some interactive activities including dancing, crafts, recipes and so much more! They are providing a few virtual author visits as well. Thought you couldn’t travel this summer? Well, here’s one way to see different parts of the world! The schedule can be found on this printable brochure.

There are also several activities for adults and teens that are either on that Facebook page or that you can call the library to reserve your spot and get the Zoom code for. In addition, this library is still providing some limited in-person activities. Every Thursday during this summer there is a musical performance at the library amphitheater. Families are encouraged to attend and remain together to allow for social distancing. Keep checking that Facebook page for updates if weather becomes an issue.

Joint Base San Antonio Libraries

If you are part of the military community, the JBSA Libraries Summer Reading Program will be virtual. The theme is Dig Deeper: Read, Investigate, Discover! There will be crafts, virtual field trips, and activities. Registration will give you additional information on how to earn virtual badges and at the end of summer there will be a free T-shirt giveaway. There are also Make and Take crafts provided at each base library location each week that can be picked up.

Universal City Library 

This city library has the theme Imagine Your Story. While this library is open, the Summer Reading Program is being done through adventure packets that can be picked up at the library and done at home. These contain family challenges, Lego challenges, crafts, and virtual performers. In addition, there is a partnership with a local walking group, Randolph Roadrunners, that provides ideas for family walks and journaling to go along with this. Registration can be done by emailing the number of children to [email protected] and adventure packets can be picked up curbside or inside. All patrons must wear a mask to enter the library.

Converse Public Library

This city library’s theme is also Imagine Your Story. This library is open with limited capacity. However, the library’s Summer Reading Program is being done through summer activity kits. These are passed out either curbside or can be picked up inside the library. They contain three weeks of crafts, reading logs, and an activity sheet. These are limited so make sure to have your library card or proof of residence of zip code 78109. This library has a great Facebook page that also does giveaways, crafts, and has great information. If you miss out on the activity kit, this Facebook page gives you so much of the information, activities, etc.

Schertz Public Library

You can register and print out your Experience Card at home. These cards provide spaces to mark your experiences and be entered for prizes. There is also virtual programming for children, teens, and adults. The event calendar is for all age events and sign-up is required for some virtual events. Virtual events include family game nights, storytelling, improv and more. Zoom and Go Meet will be utilized for virtual events.

New Braunfels Public Library

All activities are virtual and require pre-registration. This library is focusing on fairy tales and folktales with their Imagine Your Story theme. The calendar for their virtual events has events for children, teens, and adults. There is also a printable log for children and tweens/teens and a separate adult printable log. Take and Make activity bags are available each week for pre-K children, elementary-aged kids, tweens, or teens. These include crafts or stem activities and can be picked up inside the library or requested curbside.

Leon Valley Public Library

Keep checking their Facebook page for details! The library has virtual programming and reading logs to win prizes. By the way, the library staff does a great job of creating their own videos!

Garden Ridge Public Library

This library has moved from a paper reading log to using the app Reading Zone. Children can log their reading and visit the library on Thursdays to pick up prizes. There will be in-person activities on Thursdays as well. Parents are encouraged to call ahead and reserve a time slot for Thursday activities in order to comply with limited capacity in the library.

I must say that each library is doing a great job providing so much online and virtual resources for children and adults. Beyond the Summer Reading Program materials and activities, I can get lost in all the wonderfulness that library staff has compiled to keep us reading, learning, and entertained while we spend more time at home. I’m content in knowing that at least my family’s summer staple of library fun is still available and awesome as always!

The Craziest Things We Did For Our Kids During Quarantine, A Poem

As we come out of isolation, there are hero interim-teachers, aka parents, the world over, who have done everything in their hands to keep their children entertained in the confinements of their home.

During the first few weeks of quarantine, our family walked and rode bikes around the neighborhood, followed by crafts galore in the kitchen and my house would inevitably grow into a stuffed animal jungle. I thought that between the loosening of our bedtime schedule, the all-day pajama wardrobe and a multitude of other unexpected activities that would happen, things could not go crazier. Then one day, parked outside a wholesale club, we joined the “crazy quarantine club.”

Instead of panic shopping for potty paper or stocking up on canned goods, my husband emerged from the big retail store with a huge box and a massive smile. We secret coded with winks and stares, and despite our clumsy attempt to hide the large package in our family ride (Queen Pacifica), we somehow managed to pull off the surprise for our kids. A big, colorful bouncy house with an integrated hoop and slide unfolded in my living room, and as it inflated, so did my kids’ amazement and their high pitch squeals. The look on their faces was as joyous as that of Christmas morning!

Since then, the bouncy house has worked its magic: Keeping my kids off the couches and providing hours of entertainment. It may look ridiculous but at this point, who cares.

Certainly, my household was far from alone in making extreme, or “less normal” decisions or purchases for that matter during this time!

So, when I asked around, I got a list of wonderful and hilarious things that would make any kid feel the way those baseball playing kiddos in the movie Richie Rich felt when they were invited to Richie’s house.

This poem is based on all the very true, very fun, very crazy things they shared with me. Thank you, Patti, Brenda, Tony, Caro, Yvonne, Melissa, Lore, Tarah, Shanti, Amanda, Jill, Alejandra, Anastasia, Brittnie, Nicole, Anna, Kathleen and Cara for the stories!

 

This is the tale,

Of the very crazy things,

That a lot of parents did,

In the name of quarantine.

 

Our vacations got extended,

But our friends, we could not see.

Stay at home, they recommended,

It’s because COVID-19.

 

Keep the scary world outside,

Thought us parents nationwide.

In these walls there’s room to play,

Why not bowl in the hallway!

 

Magnificent forts emerged,

As our sofas disappeared.

I will help you! said one dad,

I will build this fort with you!

With twinkle lights and blankets,

So you can even sleep here too.

 

Can we camp here in our living room?

And have goldfish for a snack?

I believe that that’s quite opportune,

Since you found your sleeping bags.

 

It’s getting hot!

Let’s get a pool!

Even a sprinkler party will do.

15 feet high, and is inflatable.

Dear! Amazon says it’s available!

How about a water slide? I know it fits.

Or should we get that on week six?

 

And soon our backyard,

Once full of weeds,

Became an oasis,

For our summer needs.

A sea, a beach!

And on many occasions too,

An outdoor shower, with a little bit of shampoo.

 

Mommy, will you cut my hair. – My kid said.

Sure! But I decided to give him a mullet instead,

He was happy, so was I.

Which color would you like your hair to dye?

 

Don’t cut your bangs!

I said too late.

Now all she wants is mermaid hair!

Pink or blue or both, I dare.

I’m all in, it’s on, I swear.

 

Buy a puppy!

Buy a horse!

Do it quickly,

And without remorse!

Chickens, turtles, all the pets.

And remember, no regrets!

 

Hop on our bed, you are all invited.

It’s movie night, it’s been decided!

We’ll let you choose, I know it’s Monday,

It’s before nine, pretend it’s Sunday!

 

If we dress up and imagine,

that this house is a fine diner.

We can have a feast ourselves,

I can even wear eyeliner!

 

All these things we parents did,

In the name of quarantine.

Made us see just how spontaneous,

And how fun we could all be.

 

The wall projector, the bouncy house,

the swing, the scepter, the new playground.

It’s more than things, it’s the surprise,

I yearn to see, now in their eyes.

 

It’s very easy, we realized,

to bring joy to little ones.

It just takes ice cream on the side,

It’s having mocktails Friday night!

 

This time with them will soon expire,

It’s not big things that they desire;

It’s you they want, you they admire,

It’s pushing bedtime half an hour.

 

I hope that all this craziness that we let in, stays with us forever.

I hope that we fill our lives with a little crazy and a lot of joy.

And that if anything, this quarantine, brings us closer to our kids.

One crazy act at a time.

 

 

 

 

It’s Harry Potter Day! Revisit 10 of the Most Magical Moments

On June 26, 1997, the first Harry Potter book quietly hit bookshelves in the UK with only 500 copies printed. Despite its small beginnings, the series took off and our ordinary muggle world hasn’t been the same since. The series has spellbound both adults and children alike, and understandably so with its themes of love, friendship, and good triumphing evil. Plus, who wouldn’t want to attend school at Hogwarts? 

I was eleven years old when I read the first Harry Potter book – the same age as Harry when he attends his first year at Hogwarts. In many ways, I feel like I grew up alongside Harry, as the final chapter of the series was published while I was in college. To this day, I enjoy re-reading the series for the sense of nostalgia and comfort the books bring me. And in honor of Harry Potter Day, I conjured up some of the best moments of the series for you.

So pour a glass of pumpkin juice (or firewhiskey if that’s your preference), grab your favorite squashy armchair by the crackling fire, and let’s revisit the magic. (Warning: spoilers ahead!)

THE MOMENTS THAT MADE US LAUGH:

1. Pretty much every time Fred and George didn’t take Percy seriously…

Percy, however, held out his hand solemnly as though he and Harry had never met and said, “Harry. How nice to see you.”
“Hello, Percy,” said Harry, trying not to laugh.
“I hope you’re well?” said Percy pompously, shaking hands. It was rather like being introduced to the mayor.
“Very well, thanks -”
“Harry!” said Fred, elbowing Percy out of the way and bowing deeply. “Simply splendid to see you, old boy -”
“Marvelous,” said George, pushing Fred aside and seizing Harry’s hand in turn. “Absolutely spiffing.”
Percy scowled.
“That’s enough, now,” said Mrs. Weasley.
“Mum!” said Fred as though he’d only just spotted her and seizing her hand too. “How really corking to see you -“

– Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by JK Rowling

2. Or when Ron didn’t do so well on his Divination Exam… 

“Well, we were always going to fail that one,’ said Ron gloomily as they ascended the marble staircase. He had just made Harry feel rather better by telling him how he told the examiner in detail about the ugly man with a wart on his nose in his crystal ball, only to look up and realize he had been describing his examiner’s reflection.”

– Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by JK Rowling

3. And who could forget when the Weasley twins taunted Voldemort like this… 

“The right-hand window was covered with a gigantic poster, purple like those of the Ministry, but emblazoned with flashing yellow letters:

WHY ARE YOU WORRYING ABOUT YOU-KNOW-WHO?

YOU SHOULD BE WORRYING ABOUT U-NO-POO – 

THE CONSTIPATION SENSATION THAT’S GRIPPING THE NATION!

Harry started to laugh. He heard a weak sort of moan beside him and looked around to see Mrs. Weasley gazing, dumbfounded, at the poster. Her lips moved silently, mouthing the name “U-No-Poo.”

– Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by JK Rowling

4. But imagining Snape’s face when Harry tells him his “nickname” is pretty priceless, too… 

“This is the copy of Advanced Potion-Making that you purchased from Flourish and Blotts?”
“Yes,” said Harry firmly.
“Then why,” asked Snape, “does it have the name ‘Roonil Wazlib’ written inside the front cover?”
Harry’s heart missed a beat. “That’s my nickname,” he said.
“Your nickname,” repeated Snape.
“Yeah… that’s what my friends call me,” said Harry. 

– Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by JK Rowling

THE MOMENTS THAT MADE US CHEER: 

5. Like when our hearts burst for Neville’s act of bravery… 

They had tied for the House Cup – if only Dumbledore had given Harry just one more point.
Dumbledore raised his hand. The room fell gradually silent.
“There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom.”
Someone standing outside the Great Hall might well have thought some sort of explosion had taken place, so loud was the noise that erupted from the Gryffindor table. 

– Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by JK Rowling

6. And when a newly freed Dobby stood up against Mr. Malfoy…

“What’s that?” spat Mr. Malfoy. “What did you say?”
“Got a sock,” said Dobby in disbelief. “Master threw it, and Dobby caught it, and Dobby – Dobby is free.”
Lucius Malfoy stood frozen, staring at the elf. Then he lunged at Harry.
“You’ve lost me my servant, boy!”
But Dobby shouted, “You shall not harm Harry Potter!”
There was a loud bang, and Mr. Malfoy was thrown backward. He crashed down the stairs, three at a time, landing in a crumpled heap on the landing below. 

– Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by JK Rowling

7. Or the time when Harry and Ginny finally… 

“We won!” yelled Ron, bounding into sight and brandishing the silver Cup at Harry. “We won! Four hundred and fifty to a hundred and forty! We won!”
Harry Looked around; there was Ginny running toward him; she had a hard, blazing look in her face as she threw her arms around him. And without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that fifty people were watching, Harry kissed her. 

– Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, by JK Rowling

8. And of course we all wanted to give Harry a high five after this interaction… 

“Do you remember me telling you we were practicing nonverbal spells, Potter?”
“Yes,” said Harry stiffly.
“Yes, sir.
“There’s no need to call me ‘sir,’ Professor.”
The words escaped him before he knew what he was saying. Several people gasped, including Hermione. Behind Snape, however, Ron, Dean, and Seamus grinned appreciatively. 

– Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, by JK Rowling

AND THE MOMENTS THAT INSPIRED US:

9. Basically everything Dumbledore said, but especially the following two quotes:

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” 

 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by JK Rowling

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” 

– Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by JK Rowling

10. And the important reminder from Hagrid about being true to yourself always…  

“I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed. ‘Never be ashamed,’ my ol’ dad used ter say, ‘there’s some who’ll hold it against you, but they’re not worth botherin’ with.’ An’ he was right.”

– Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by JK Rowling

Whew! Does anyone else feel like they dunked their head in a pensieve??

Whether you are a “Potterhead” or not, I think we can all agree finding a book series that enchants you until the very end is magical indeed. Some stories are so powerful that when you read the last line, it feels like losing a friend… until you read it again of course!  

Father’s Day Printable (for Grandpa, Papa and Granddad, too!)

0

Let the kids tell Dad he’s the best in their own words! This simple, directed Father’s Day Printable is the perfect activity or gift. We’ve added versions for Papa, Granddad and Grandpa, too! 
Tap and hold the image below and save to your phone to print OR click the name/link below the image to open and save a .pdf to your computer to print.


Father’s Day Printable – Grandpa

 

 

Father’s Day Printable – Papa 

Father’s Day Printable – Granddad 

 

Father’s Day Printable – Dad

Celebrating Juneteenth

I’ve wanted to celebrate Juneteenth for awhile. I didn’t grow up knowing much about the holiday, and it wasn’t something that we celebrated in my family. I’ve been to numerous Fourth of July celebrations, cookouts, etc., but I don’t remember any of them centering what was actually being celebrated: America’s independence. We were just getting together as a family, which we never really needed an excuse to do. Food played a big part in that, so the Fourth of July was yet another holiday for different family members to bring their best dish and to break bread together. Once we moved to Texas, I became even more interested in learning about the holiday, especially when I learned that Galveston was only a few hours away. 

The Fourth of July marks the day, in 1776, that America’s 13 colonies became free from rule by Britain. However, the enslavement of (most) Black people did not formally end until the Emancipation Proclamation became official in 1873. The caveat or asterisk to this statement is that there were enslaved people living in Galveston, TX who had no idea that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed. In fact, it wasn’t until two years later on June 19 (hence “Juneteenth”) that word reached the enslaved in Galveston that they had, in fact, been freed two years prior. The celebrations that assuredly occurred that day laid the foundation for generations to come. 

Due to the recent uprisings after several strings of police brutality, there is an urgent incentive to celebrate the holiday across the country. Companies like Amazon and Nike have declared Juneteenth a paid holiday for employees. This year, my husband took the day off (and will be doing so from now on), and we are taking a trip to the beach with our children to celebrate. Here are some things that you can do with your family to celebrate if it is your first-time celebrating the holiday: 

-Learn about Juneteenth’s history and significance.

Read books about the holiday. I’m a firm believer in the power of books, especially for explaining new information to young people. There are a plethora of children’s books about Juneteenth. Some options are: –All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson –Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper -Freedom’s Gifts by Valerie Wesley 

Enjoy a meal with your family.

Food brings people together, so fire up the grill or oven and cut up some summer fruit. Remember that Juneteenth was a day of celebration, so keep this at the center of your feast. Use this as a time to connect and spend time with loved ones in honor of meals that those brave formerly enslaved folks cooked together to recognize their freedom and dignity. 

-Have a family discussion (freedom, justice, family values).

During this time, we are all spending a lot more of it together. This is a great time to have discussions together (especially with the youngest members of the family) about your family values. What is important to your family? Why? You could even draw up a family mission statement. Within these conversations, you can provide a layered discussion by thinking through freedom and justice. Start by looking up the definitions of these words, and then discussing their meaning together. This is definitely a conversation to revisit each year, and you can deepen the conversation as your children get older. 

-Sprinklers and fireworks.

Much like Fourth of July celebrations, bring out the fireworks (if it is legal in your area), sparklers, noisemakers, etc. This can be whatever you wish to mark a special occasion. Juneteenth should be a day of celebration, so make it one to remember for your children with these fun extras. 

-Donate to an organization.

Expand the conversation on your family values by choosing an organization to donate to. Research together different organizations that align with your values, and choose one that centers and prioritizes Black folks. No amount is too small. 

Here is a list of local events happening this weekend: 

Friday, June 19 

Growing Your Roots During a Global Pandemic Using Genealogy as a Progressive Tool, 10am-12pm, hosted by Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, TX 

Juneteenth Celebrate Liberation, 11am, hosted by UTSA Student Union in collaboration with the African American Studies and Multicultural Student Center for Equity and Justice via Zoom 

Juneteenth Vesper Celebration, hosted by First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio at 6pm, hosted online 

Austin’s Juneteenth Celebration: Stay Black and Live, 6-10pm on various platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitch and Youtube) 

Saturday, June 20

Black Girls Do Bike San Antonio Juneteenth Ride at 9:30am Meet at Jack White Trailhead, San Antonio, TX (3803 Seguin Road, across from Splashtown). The ride will begin at 10am. It is beginner friendly. The path will head south to Comanche Park, and is 6 miles each way. 

In Celebration of Freedom: A Pflugervillle Juneteenth, 11am-6pm at Lake Pflugerville Pflugerville, TX (outside of Austin) 

Juneteenth Car Parade, Celebration and Memorial, 6:30pm-9:30pm, Hill Country Bible Church Pflugerville, 303 E Pflugerville Parkway, Pflugerville, TX (outside of Austin) 

2020 Texas Freedom Festival, San Antonio’s official Juneteenth festival, has been postponed.

Vacation Bible School in San Antonio 2020

Summertime is here, and along with a number of summer camps being offered in the Alamo City, Vacation Bible School is a favorite summer activity for many local families. Though some may look different than in years past, many programs are striving to bring the VBS experience to your children in creative and innovative ways. Vacation Bible School offers children a chance to immerse themselves in a week-long camp with a biblical theme. Crafts, games, songs, and fun are common threads in VBS programs.

While we’ve made every effort to keep this list updated and current, please don’t forget to check directly with the church to confirm times, dates, and details.

Let us know if there are any we need to add by clicking on the button at the end of this guide.

Alamo Heights United Methodist Church

Dates: August 3-6 (Virtual)
Times: Kicks off at 9 A.M. with online morning worship
Ages: Kinder–5th grade
Theme: Knights of North Castle
Cost: $10 per child
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

Bracken United Methodist Church

Dates: July 27-31 (Virtual)
Times: TBD
Ages: All Ages
Theme: Knights of North Castle
Cost: FREE
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

Bulverde UMC

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

Churchill Baptist Church

Dates: July 27-31 (Virtual)
Times: TBD
Ages: Four years–5th grade
Theme: Rocky Railway: Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through
Cost: FREE
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

Coker United Methodist Church

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

Colonial Hills United Methodist Church

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

Community Bible Church

Dates: July 20-23
Times: TBD
Ages: Four years–5th grade
Theme: TBD
Cost: TBD
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

Concordia Lutheran Church

Dates: June 15-19 (Virtual)
Times: Begins at 9:00 A.M. daily
Ages: Four years–5th grade (Can be adapted for all ages!)
Theme: Kingdom Rock
Cost: FREE
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

Crossroads Baptist Church

Dates: August 10-14
Times: 6:00 P.M. – 8:30 P.M.
Ages: Four years–5th grade
Theme: Concrete & Cranes: Building On the Love of Jesus
Cost: TBD
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

Crown of Life Lutheran Church

Dates: All Summer!
Times: Anytime
Ages: Four years–6th grade
Theme: Lord, Teach Us To Pray
Cost: FREE
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

First Baptist Church Helotes

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

First Baptist Church Universal City

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Kids Ministry Info

First Presbyterian Church

Dates: July 27-31 (Virtual)
Times: 9:00 A.M.–12:00 P.M.
Ages: Four years–5th grade (Fall 2019)
Theme: Rocky Railway
Cost: $10 per child
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

First United Methodist Church New Braunfels

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

Holy Trinity Catholic Church

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

Hope Center Church

Dates: TBD
Times: TBD
Ages: Four years–5th grade
Theme: TBD
Cost: TBD
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

Huisache Avenue Baptist Church

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

Laurel Heights United Methodist Church

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Dates: June 29-July 2 (Virtual)
Times: Anytime!
Ages: K-6th Grade
Theme: Throwback VBS
Cost: FREE
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

Parkhills Baptist Church

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

Redeemer Presbyterian Church

Canceled for 2020 (Backyard Bible Clubs tentatively planned for July)
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

Resurrection UMC

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

St. Anthony de Padua

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

St. Brigid Catholic Church

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

St. David’s Episcopal Church

Dates: July 13-17
Sessions: Pre K 4-Kinder 8:30 A.M. – 11 A.M. & 1st-5th Grade 12 P.M. – 2:30 P.M.
Ages: Four years–5th grade
Theme: Rocky Railway: Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through
Cost: $40 per child
Email [email protected] for registration information.

St. John’s Lutheran Church & Academy

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

Dates: June 29 – July3 (Virtual)
Times: 9:00 A.M.–11:30 A.M.
Ages: Four years–5th grade
Theme: The Way of Love: Stay-cation Bible School
Cost: Suggested donation of $15 per child and $30 for 2+ children
Email [email protected] for registration information.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

Dates: June 29 – July3 (Virtual)
Times: 9:00 A.M.–11:30 A.M.
Ages: Four years–5th grade
Theme: The Way of Love: Stay-cation Bible School
Cost: Suggested donation of $15 per child and $30 for 2+ children
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

St. Paul Lutheran Church

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

San Pedro Presbyterian Church

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

Spring Creek United Methodist Church

Dates: July 13–17 (Virtual)
Times: 10:00 A.M.
Ages: Four years–5th grade
Theme: Knights of North Castle
Cost: FREE
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

Triumphant Lutheran Church

Dates: July 26–30
Times: 5:15 P.M.–8:00 P.M.
Ages: Four years–5th grade
Theme: Knights of North Castle
Cost: $10-15 per child
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

University Baptist Church

Dates: June 27–29 (Virtual)
Times: TBD
Ages: Four years–5th grade (Fall 2019)
Theme: Concrete & Cranes: Building On the Love of Jesus
Cost: FREE
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

University United Methodist Church

Canceled for 2020
Click here for more Children’s Ministry Info

Wayside Chapel

Dates: Anytime!
Times: Anytime!
Ages: All ages
Theme: Rocky Railway: Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through
Cost: FREE
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

Woodlake Baptist Church

Dates: July 13-17
Times: 6:00 P.M.–9:15 P.M.
Ages: Four years–6th grade
Theme: Rocky Railway: Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through
Cost: FREE
Click here for more Vacation Bible School Info

Would you like to see your VBS program included? Please email us with details and weblink and we’ll add it ASAP. Programs may also be added to our Free Activities Calendar

Summertime Blues

It’s summertime in San Antonio and I have the blues. Coronavirus is still prevalent. The germs are still at large. And, normal still seems so far out of reach.

Logically, I understand that by taking precautions – like wearing a mask and keeping appropriate distances – I can keep myself and my family safe. Emotionally though, I feel all the feels, grounded in very little logic. And for better or worse, my thoughts determine my mood each day.

For me, it’s the fear of the unknown that instills a little bit of panic and the feeling that time is slipping away that instills a little bit of sadness. I’m a people person and I miss people. I miss seeing my parents every weekend and meeting up with my girlfriends for lunch. I miss stopping for a neighborly chat on my morning walks, and I hate that I feel compelled to scurry away from a crowd instead of approaching one.

Most days, I can see clearly enough to know that I am blessed, with more reasons to be happy than sad.

I have my health, my family, my job, and my home – I have everything I need and want. But that acknowledgment of my blessings doesn’t mean sadness can’t spill over every now and again. I’ve accepted that sadness helps me process the reality of what’s going on in life with more ease. Processing has led me to seek out the good, get over the bad and look for more easy moments of just being happy.

I’m sad for missed moments, but happy for the gift of time.

I have an infant at home, and I’m sad about missing special moments with him – the moments I took for granted with my first born. Mommy and me workouts, music time at Landa Library and impromptu play dates at the Pearl splash pad – not this summer. We’ll lay low and continue walking our neighborhood, but the outings will mostly have to wait.

But on the flip side, we have nothing but time this summer. Time to spend together at home, enjoying our backyard. Time to witness milestones – my husband and I were both home when our little man crawled across his nursery for the first time. And the chance to focus on what really matters most – spending quality time with each other. I know we’ll never get this special, albeit slow, time back with our baby, and for that I am grateful. Our baby is home, he is healthy and he is loved. And heck, he has no sense of this strange and very slow time. For that I am happy.

I’m sad for halted progress, but happy to watch him grow.

In the midst of the pandemic, I’m also raising a very nervous toddler – 3.5 years old, to be exact. My sweet mannered first born was excelling at pre-school, really coming out of his shell and finding confidence in his little voice. He was on the brink of overcoming the fear to approach a new friend and introduce himself. I encouraged him to walk over to new friends on the playground to ask them to play. But now, that encouragement has come to a halt.

We’ve had to talk to him about germs and keeping a safe distance from others, which is not an easy concept for him to understand, especially since we’ve spent the last year teaching him to do just the opposite. But he’s very bright and very obedient, and he now shies away when we see a non-familiar face on our daily walks. I feel confident he can keep himself safe, but I feel sad that he has to shy away – taking a few steps backward from where we worked so hard to be.

In the midst of this tiny setback, though, we’ve had so much time to watch him grow – even outside of school. He’s grown into the best big brother, truly, his sibling skills are second to none. He loves to build train tracks and Hot Wheels loops and his focus is intense and impressive. He finds joy in the smallest of moments – like playing in our inflatable baby pool with his “diving” toys and chasing his dog around in the sprinklers. He finds joy in everything and shares that joy with all of us when we need it most. For that I am happy.

I’m sad for this summer, but happy for what’s next.

Let’s face it: this summer will be strange. This is just the beginning of what everyone is calling our “new normal.” No more hustle and bustle – no camps or play dates. We’re home. We’ve slowed down. We’re together. We’re together a lot, actually. And just like everyone else, we’re itching to get out and be social.

But maybe this slowness is for the best. Maybe we’ve been gifted this time to re-evaluate what matters most. Maybe we’ve been gifted this time to help us realize that there’s value in slowness, value in the stillness of just being.  Eventually, we’ll create a new way of being, a new way of finding happy.

Sure, I’m sad for the missed moments. I’m sad for halted progress. And, I’m sad for what this summer “could have” been. But, I’m not sad about getting more time with my two boys. And, I’m not sad about taking time to see the good around me.

I may have the summertime blues, but I won’t be sad for long. People can wait. Outings can wait. The sun will shine again next summer. Things will calm down. Things will smooth over. And, the blues will fade away to make room for a new year, and a new season to make new memories.

GET TO KNOW SAN ANTONIO

TEA School Opening Guidelines for 2020-2021 – What Families Need to...

0
The Texas Education Agency has officially released its re-opening guidelines for schools across Texas for the 2020-2021 school year as it relates to the...

Celebrating Juneteenth