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Austin Woman Magazine

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” – Martha Graham

MAY 2014

4/16/14 7:43 PM

0412Cover.indd 1


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Contents M ay


On the Cover

CHINA SMITH Moving Mountains Through Movement. By Molly McManus



Favorite Family Vacations Pack the Kids and Off You Go.

Photo by Dwayne Hills.

By Becca Hensley

Trina Turk multicolored tulip dress, $288, Nakamol turquoise and gold earrings, $68, available at Neiman Marcus, 3400 Palm Way, 512.719.1200,

Contents M AY

on the scene


on the cover

22 Around town Party Pics 26 5 things Five Music Events for Mother’s

58 Dining

28 philanthropy


Family-Friendly Cycling

64 health

Prenatal Health and Postpartum

Photo by Dwayne Hills, Styling by Ashley Hargrove, dtkaustinstyling. com. Hair by Tiffany Nicole, Bling Salon and Retail, 401 W. Pecan St., Pflugerville, 512.990.2323, Makeup by Vanessa Williams, 512.293.0802, essentialbeautymua. Shot on location at Highland Mall, 6001 Airport Blvd., 512.454.9656,

Day Weekend

Perfectly Pink Party

Susan G. Komen Austin’s

30 COMMUNITY RESOURCES Johnson Wildflower Center

Lady Bird

34 spotlight event Life Time Tri CapTex 36 horoscopes Happy Birthday, Taurus!

must list 38 MUST LOVE BABIES AW Reader Submissions 40 Must Read And Baby Makes Three

home 44 entertaining

Colored Glasses

Life Through Rose-

48 What’s in Store

World Interiors

style 52 Travel Summer Travel Essentials 54 BEAUTY Floral Scents for Spring 56 Makeover Mother’s Day Makeover 12   Austin Woman M A Y 2 0 1 4

laV Reviewed

to your health Depression

66 Nutrition

Healthy Treats

opposite sex 80 memo from JB The Things I Learned While Unemployed

82 Relationships

Dating With Kids

savvy women 84 LEADERSHIP

Be All That YOU Can Be

88 Family Values

A Day in the Life

90 You should know 92 Veterans

The Chick Ranch

Coming Home

96 Last Word

My Favorite Family Getaway

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Photo Jody Horton.



Confident Smiles

Actual Patient

AUSTIN DENTAL SPA MARK SWEENEY, D.D.S. 3305 Northland, Suite 515 Austin, Texas 78731


More Austinites than ever before can save $75 on a home composting system! Now, all Austin residents are eligible, including apartment and condo residents. To qualify, simply take a free composting class online or in the community.*

Have Visions of an Amazing Austin Summer? Volume 12, issue 9 Co-Founder and Publisher

Call Mann Eye Institute to Help Make Them a Reality

Melinda Maine Garvey vice president and Co-Publisher

Christopher Garvey associate publisher

Cynthia Guajardo Co-Founder

Samantha Stevens Editor-in-chief

Deborah Hamilton-Lynne

Summer is around the corner, and you have 4,587 (give or take) options for summertime adventures in Austin. But poor vision can cramp your summer plans. Before summer gets into full swing, call Mann Eye Institute – 800-MY-VISION.

associate editor

Molly McManus copy editor

Chantal Rice CREATIVE Director

Niki Jones art director


Nora Iglesias brand manager

Kailin Miner operations manager

Katie Paschall Account Executives

Kelly Keelan, Alex Sizemore 512.328.2421 contributors

Rudy Arocha, Bret Brookshire, Jill Case, Marina Chavez, Jacqui Devaney, Andy East, Ashley Garmon, Richard Gordy, Kaneisha Grayson, Kathryn Crisp Greenley, JB Hager, Erin Henry, Becca Hensley, Dwayne Hills, Ashley Hargrove, Jody Horton, Sam Jackson, Carol Kim, Deborah Mastelotto, Matt McGinnis, Rachel Merriman, Dustin Meyer, Tiffany Nicole, Nick Paul, Sarah Quatrano, Karlo X. Ramos, Ricky Rodriguez, Megan Russell, Haja Scott, Shelley Seale, Elizabeth Shear, Toni Speilberg, Buff Strickland, Cheri Thompson, J. Weiland, Vanessa Williams Interns

Sam Jackson, Ricky Rodriguez

AFFORDABILITY At Mann Eye Institute, we offer competitive pricing and flexible payment plans to make Blade-Free Lasik a real option for our patients. Feel like you have to choose either Blade-Free Lasik or that epic vacation with your friends? Think again. At Mann Eye Institute, we want to help you enjoy both!

OPTIONS Blade-Free Lasik isn’t all we do. We offer Active Life Lens Procedures, Family Eye Exams, Dry Eye Treatment, Glaucoma Management, Laser Cataract Surgery, Diabetic Eye Disease Treatment, Keratoconus Treatment, Contact Lens Fittings and Emergency Eye Care. If you have a problem with your eyes or your vision, call us. We want to help!

OUTCOMES Our surgeons are focused on outcomes. That’s why we offer so many different procedures and technologies – because every patient is unique. It’s also why we have thousands of patients all over the Austin area who will enjoy their summer adventures with great vision. You probably even know some of these folks!

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Austin Woman is a free monthly publication of AW Media Inc. and is available at more than 1,150 locations throughout Austin and in Lakeway, Cedar Park, Round Rock and Pflugerville. All rights reserved. For submission requirements, visit No part of the magazine may be reprinted or duplicated without permission. Visit us online at Email us at 512.328.2421 • 3921 Steck Ave., Suite A111, Austin, TX 78759


From the Editor

Creativity is the fuel of my soul. I cannot live without it, so when I read this quote, it really hit home because this is what I try to do with each issue of Austin Woman. I try to bring a little more beauty, music, poetry and dance in to your lives. This is also the mission of our cover woman, China Smith, who is bringing beauty, music and poetry in to the lives of her students through dance. The founder of Ballet Afrique is a native of Austin and followed her passion to fill a gap, creating a unique company and classes that honor her Austin roots as well as her African heritage. She is a bundle of energy who captivates with her smile and her kindness as well as her movement and creative expression. In this May issue, we also celebrate family ties and Mother’s Day. Revered travel writer Becca Hensley selects and shares her favorite family vacation spots, while Kaneisha Grayson looks at the ins and outs of dating for single mothers. Andy East explores some nutritious made-inAustin family treats, while Matt McGinnis savors French fare at laV, the latest foodie destination on the Eastside. It’s sure to please Mom—if you can get a reservation. Entrepreneur Brooke Solis

Are you our Dear Abby? We are looking for a relationship columnist who can put some humor into good advice on all types of relationships. Please send a sample column to with “Dear Abby” in the subject line.

16   Austin Woman M A Y 2 0 1 4

shares her tips for balancing a business with mothering five children, and mother-daughter duo Robin Hunt and Selena Souders share the story of the development of their dream venue, The Chick Ranch. The entire family will find something to enjoy while celebrating Mother’s Day when they explore this month’s 5 Things section. And the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is opening its new family-friendly garden just in time for summer fun. We have tips on prenatal health, as well as postpartum care and the best books for expectant and new mothers and fathers. We oohhed and aahhed over the baby photos our readers shared, and one very deserving mom, Anissa Gomez, received a day of pampering and a makeover courtesy of AW and some very generous partners. Floral fashions and scents are always in style for Mother’s Day, and we feature both in this issue. May is a month for celebrations and gatherings—graduations, bridal showers, reunions and Mother’s Day luncheons—so we share ideas for beautiful table settings and entertaining, as well as ways to spruce up your home in this month’s Home section. With Memorial Day, May also brings a time to honor our veterans and thank them for their service. In this issue, we take a look at the challenges local veterans face when they return home, as well as the ways veterans apply

Save The Date June Launch Party Tuesday, June 3, June 3, 6 – 8 p.m. The Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. Join us to celebrate the third anniversary of ATX Man, along with AW‘s April, May and June cover women.

leadership principles to their civilian lives. Sometimes, May can be overwhelming with celebrations and family commitments, so I urge you to embrace this month creatively. Add a little beauty, poetry, music and dance to your life. Give in to the spirit of spring and the abandonment of May Day. Take these words to heart: “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And live like it’s heaven on earth.” Cheers to the merry month of May. There is indeed heaven on earth and, for me, oftentimes, it is right here in Austin, Texas. Enjoy!

deborah hamilton-lynne Editor-in-Chief

Summer Fun We want to know how you spend your happiest summer days. Please send your summer-fun photos along with a caption to with “Summer Fun” in the subject line.

Photo by Korey Howell.

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” – Osho

Contributors DWAYNE HILL S


Sar ah Quatr ano


photographer, “China Smith”



Page 68

Page 68

IllustratoR, “Last Word”

Page 96

Page 74

Dwayne Hills is a self-taught photographer from New Orleans. He serves as a visual-marketing building resource for small and large businesses, design firms, magazines and authors. Dwayne has had the pleasure of working with companies such as Wells Fargo Bank, IBC Bank, University of Texas at Austin, Velocity Credit Union and Central Market, to name a few. As a member of the Professional Photographers of America, Dwayne has won several first-place awards.In his leisure time, he enjoys reading, eating out and spending time with his family.

Loving to get lost in the beauty and intricacies of people’s stories, Molly McManus has worked as the associate editor for Austin Woman and ATX Man for two years, additionally working as a freelance writer and editor. This month, she tells the story of China Smith of Ballet Afrique, inspired by China’s dedication to her students, social justice and dance. Molly was especially compelled by China’s story, due to her own history of growing up in a multi-racial home and the complexities that race can play within families, the education system and our society at large. When she’s not setting pen to paper, you can find Molly reading, eating, drinking, dancing and yogaing her way through town.

How do you capture movement?

“The key to capturing and freezing motion is light. Having enough light enables you to use a high shutter speed to freeze a dancer in mid air. For our shoot, I used a 1,600-watt strobe head inside of a 4-foot octabox.”

Why is dance so important to personal expression?

Sarah Quatrano is a proud Bostonian, and now New York City rookie. She holds a degree in communication design, specializing in illustration. She loves freelance illustrating for a variety of magazines throughout the country; it gives her new challenges and opportunities every day. What was your favorite family vacation?

“My favorite family vacation was two summers ago when we went to India. We stayed in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, seeing all of the beautiful landmarks on the way. The Taj Mahal was truly unreal. Experiencing a culture totally different from our own was a life-changing event for all of us, and I would highly recommend it to any adventure seekers out there!”

“Dance is an amazing outlet, allowing you to truly be in the present moment. It rejuvenates and cleanses, lifting the weight of the world to bring you back to yourself.”

Becca Hensley says, “A

good story won’t let you stop telling it. It stops you in your tracks and draws you in like laughter in a bar.” Austin-based, this award-winning poet, travel and lifestyle writer has what the French call “art de vivre.” Becca is published in hundreds of international, regional and national magazines, newspapers and journals, and her stories and dispatches appear frequently in National Geographic Traveler, USA Today, Austin Monthly, Toronto Star, Washington Flyer, Organic Spa, Bridal Guide and on the Travel Channel. A peripatetic global pilgrim, she agrees with Confucius, who mused, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” If you had to choose one location for an annual family vacation where would it be?

“I grew up in Boulder, Colo., and for me, this is the ultimate family destination. My children love it too. It is the tonic that binds us.”

have the last word? We love hearing your stories. Send in your submissions for our August Last Word column for a chance to be published. To be considered, email 500 words or less to by July 1. August’s topic: “Things Money Can’t Buy.”

18   Austin Woman M A Y 2 0 1 4

Spring into a Different Color...

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Win this!

Featured event Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Shakespeare in the Park. Best of all, it’s free! May 1 through 25, see the romantic comedy As You Like It in Zilker Park. Performances run Thursdays through Sundays at 8 p.m. We’ve got the details.

Cinco De Mayo! It is one of Austin’s favorite holidays, and we’ve got the five best spots to celebrate!

Tweet and let us know your favorite type of dance, and you could be dancing all day. Celebrate International Dance Day May 4 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. Choose from 14 classes with a diverse lineup, including West African, Brazilian, hula and hip-hop.

Can’t get enough of this issue?

May Challenge

Check out

➥ More close-in family getaways. ➥ More places to celebrate Mother’s Day. ➥ More events: GloPaddle, O. Henry Pun-Off,

Mother Knows Best. In celebration of Mother’s Day, join the AW staff as we post the wisdom and secrets we have learned from our moms.

and Zilker Garden Festival.

➥ More music: 18 days and nights of the Kerrville Folk Festival.

➥ Plus, Joan Rivers comes

AW’s editor-in-chief, Deborah Hamilton-Lynne, and her mom, on Christmas Day 1954.

Follow us


20   Austin Woman M A Y 2 0 1 4

to the Paramount!

like us

find us

Shakespeare in the Park photo by Bret Brookshire. Margarita photo courtesy of Star Bar. Joan Rivers photo by Charles William Bush.

A pair of all-Day Dance Passes



From India

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Use this logo for reductions only, do not print magenta. Do not reduce this logo more than 35%. Magenta indicates the clear area, nothing should print in this space. You may reduce the logo to 30% without the tag and strap lines.

on the scene /

A rou n d t ow n

ATX Man Golf Classic Rudy Belton and John Joseph.

Torrie Chavez and Kristi Swasko.

L to R: Gwen Mrva, Jackie Graves, Jed Cotner, Carrie Arsenault, Tara James.

22   Austin Woman M A Y 2 0 1 4

Photos by C. Thompson Photography.

L to R: Tracy Gibbons, Skii White, Angie McClure.

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When you’re experiencing a heart attack, time is muscle. Cedar Park Regional Heart & Vascular Center is recognized for its timely assessment and initial treatment of heart attacks. Our team’s average door-to-balloon time is 60 minutes – significantly less than the national goal of 90 minutes or less.* Door-to-balloon time is the amount of time it takes for a person experiencing a heart attack to get from the E.R. doors to the cath lab where blood flow to the heart is restored. So when your heart needs care, don’t waste time. Choose Cedar Park Regional Heart & Vascular Center. Visit for more information on heart attack treatment and door-to-balloon time.

*Comparative data for door-to-balloon times reported on by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for heart attacks requiring angioplasty. Average door-to-balloon time from March, 2013 through February, 2014. National goal is 90 minutes or less for at least 75% of patients. Additional references can be found through the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA). If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.

Jewish Federation of Austin Mosaic Luncheon

Photos by Ginny B. Photography.

Susan Dell, Susan Epstein

Tracy and Rob Solomon Ariene Miller, Valerie Newberg, Dana Baruch

Ride.Drive.Give. for the Center for Child Protection

Photos by Glen Brown Photography and Alia Michelle Photography.

Todd Dettling, Maria McDonald, Lew Boucher

Melinda and Christopher Garvey

Jeff and Mona Ridgeway 25

on the scene /

5 things 4


5 3

Five Music Events for Mother’s Day Weekend 5

Compiled by Molly McManus



Pachanga Latino Music Festival

Paramount’s and Stateside’s Anniversary Gala

May 10, Fiesta Gardens, 2100 Jesse E. Segovia St.

Pachanga Fest showcases Latin-themed music, cultural arts and food, showcasing the Latino influence on American culture today. Give Mom a day off at this family-friendly affair, with a lineup that includes rock, alternative, Tejano, mariachi, cumbia, salsa, electronic, funk, hip-hop and indie rock, featuring Julieta Venegas, El Gran Silencio, La Santa Cecilia, Gaby Moreno, La Vida Bohème, Del Castillo, DMK and more. Held at Fiesta Gardens off Lady Bird Lake, Pachanga Fest has added the Very Important Taco VIP pass, providing exclusive access to the hospitality area and a special taco tasting, with samplings from 10 restaurants that will offer a selection of signature tacos. VIP holders will vote for the ultimate official Pachanga Taco. Tickets are $33 in advance for general admission and $75 for the Very Important Taco VIP Pass. For more information, visit 26   Austin Woman M A Y 2 0 1 4

May 10, Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave.

The year 2015 will mark the Paramount Theatre’s 100th anniversary, the theater having stayed open due to enthusiasm and support, and the entertainment it houses. To celebrate the success of the Paramount and Stateside, join the Anniversary Gala, featuring 10-time Grammy Award-winner Bonnie Raitt. Enjoy even more music with openers Weldon and Brooklyn Henson, in addition to a seated dinner in an air-conditioned tent on Congress Avenue with an open bar all evening, and “the best live and silent auction in town.” The funds raised from the Anniversary Gala will support the historic theaters, the continuation of their education and outreach programs and their ability to host entertainment more than 200 nights a year. Treat the mom in your life to a fun and festive night of delicious food and musical greatness. Purchase tables and tickets at or by calling 512.692.0519.

3 The Sleeping Beauty May 9 – May 11, The Long Center

The perfect event to ring in Mother’s Day weekend is Ballet Austin’s The Sleeping Beauty. It will take you to another world filled with kings, queens, fairy godmothers and the mistress of all evil, Maleficent. Set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, the show features Austin Symphony Orchestra accompanying the elaborate set and decorative costumes as dancers fly across the stage to tell Sleeping Beauty’s tragic story, complete with a happy ending, of course. Don’t be surprised when you see fairy tale favorites Puss-In-Boots, Little Red Riding Hood and more. Ballet Austin has not performed The Sleeping Beauty in its entirety since 1998. There are two showings on Friday and Saturday and a matinee on Sunday. The performance will be a Mother’s Day to remember for years to come. Tickets are $15 to $78 online at or by calling 512.476.2163.

4 Reckless Kelly’s Celebrity Softball Jam May 11, Dell Diamond

Take me out to the ball game. Take me out to Reckless Kelly! OK, so Mother’s Day should not be filled with demands, but what’s more fun than spending a day with the family at Dell Diamond listening to country legends? For the sixth year, Reckless Kelly has teamed up with Reese Ryan and his company Ryan-Sanders Entertainment, which owns and operates the Round Rock Express, to host a celebrity softball game followed by a huge postgame concert. In addition to Texas Country band Reckless Kelly, the Celebrity Softball Jam has a full lineup that includes Roger Creager, Turnpike Troubadours, Wade Bowen, Cody Canada and The Departed, Charlie Robison, Micky and the Motorcars, Uncle Lucius and more. This year, the Celebrity Softball Jam has raised $270,000 to renovate Mabson/Downs Field, a youth baseball/softball field in East Austin. For tickets and more information, visit

5 Corporate Battle of the Bands May 9, ACL Live at the Moody Theater, 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd.

For the seventh year, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) is bringing together corporate sponsors and their competing bands for a night out—without the kids. The challenging bands will feature unlikely musicians such as doctors, software engineers and other full-time employees who play music on the side. Corporate sponsors include Cirrus Logic, H-E-B, CLEAResult, HomeAway, Intel, Seton Healthcare Family and Wenzel Spine. Celebrity judges will name Best Cover Band, Best Original Band and Grand Prize Winner, while fans will decide the Fan Favorite by filling the tip jar of the band they enjoyed most. The band with the most donations will win the title, with all donations benefiting HAAM, helping to provide Austin’s musicians access to affordable health care. Tickets are $15 and are available at the door and online at

1. Photo by Karlo X. Ramos. 2. Photo by Marina Chavez. 3. Photo by Toni Spielberg. 4. Photo courtesy of Reckless Kelly. 5. Photo courtesy of HAAM.


on the scene /

phil a nth ropy

Susan G. Komen Austin The Perfectly Pink Party. By Ricky Rodriguez

Robin Thigpin, Yvonne Carroll, Delaine Ward

28   Austin Woman M A Y 2 0 1 4

Sponsored Events NFL Alumni Golf Classic – Center for Child Protection

May 2, Lakeway Resort & Spa, The Hills of Lakeway Signature Course, Heart Ball of Austin – American Heart Association

May 3, Hilton Austin, Fourth Annual Derby Day – University of Texas Polo Team

May 3, The Vineyards at Florence, Karma’s Challenge Golf Classic and Celebrity Banquet – Central Texas SPCA

May 4 – 5, River Place Country Club, Beyond 50 Conference – Texas Women in Business

May 22, Renaissance Arboretum Hotel,

Deb Hastings, Kate Walters

Photos courtesy of Susan G. Komen Austin.

For more than 15 years, Komen Austin has provided the best in breast cancer education and medical services to local women. These services have given victims and survivors of breast cancer an overwhelming amount of love and support. According to Komen Austin’s website, one out of eight women will have to fight breast cancer in her lifetime, which is why providing breast-cancer screenings and preventative education is so important to the mission of Komen Austin. Each year, 75 percent of the money raised is put toward funding these programs and services for those who are fighting the deadly disease. Since its launch in 2012, the annual Perfectly Pink Party has raised more than $448,000. Executive Director Christy Casey-Moore has seen the success that the Perfectly Pink Party has contributed in assisting the Austin community, and looks forward to this year’s event, Pink on Brazos. “Over the past two years, we have been able to engage many new advocates for our local nonprofit through the annual Perfectly Pink Party and we hope to continue this effort in our third year. Our team of dedicated staff and volunteers are working hard to make sure everyone who attends Pink on Brazos experiences a first-class event,” says Casey-Moore.  With Perfectly Pink Party now in its third year, Susan G. Komen Austin hopes to raise an additional $300,000 at Pink on Brazos, held May 31. The event will be hosted at Brazos Hall in downtown Austin, a move that Casey-Moore is especially thrilled about. “We are excited to be in a new venue for the party and have new creative ways to pamper our guests while engaging them with the mission of our work,” Casey-Moore says. Texas Oncology and Texas Breast Specialists present this year’s event. Guests will enjoy a VIPink cocktail reception sponsored by Lexus of Austin, with food and drinks provided by Sterling Affairs. Partygoers will dance the night away at the Club Pink after-party, sponsored by Four Hands with musical entertainment provided by DJ Johnny Bravo.  Guests won’t go home empty handed, with several opportunities to win coveted Pink and Pizzaz giveaways and auction items sponsored by Kendra Scott and FUNauctions. Corporate sponsors and dedicated individuals will be recognized for their contributions during the Pink Diamond Award Ceremony, sponsored by St. David’s Healthcare and St. David’s Foundation. Celebrate hope for a better future with Komen Austin at their Perfectly Pink Party, Pink on Brazos. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at 512.473.0900.

on the scene /

Comm unit y R esou rces

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Opens Luci and Ian Family Garden A dedicated space for families to play, explore and learn together this summer. As Lady Bird Johnson said, “Every living person and thing responds to beauty. We all thirst for it. We receive strength and renewal by seeing stirring and satisfying sites.” The new Luci and Ian Family Garden, located inside the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, is most certainly one of those beautiful places where children and adults alike can learn about native Texan plants and wildlife. The garden is specifically designed to be a free-for-all experience where kids can run and play, with plenty of educational opportunities set along whatever path they choose to take. “This place is not prescriptive,” says Damon Waitt, senior director and botanist of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. “It’s about exploration and discovery.” Exploration is one of the central themes that heavily influenced the garden’s design, and every feature has something for kids to discover and learn from. Wander into the Hill Country grotto, for instance, and you’ll discover pictographs of native Texas wildlife on the cave walls. The Fibonacci sequence, a numerical ratio often found in nature, is cleverly hidden in a large limestone wall decorated with colorful mosaic designs. Though the garden boasts thousands of native flowers, shrubs, trees and other plants, there’s plenty of opportunity to see some Texas wildlife too. The nectar garden, located at the entrance of the garden, contains plants and flowers that are likely to attract butterflies and other insects. At the edge of the property, kids will be able to observe larger animals from the safety of a wildlife viewing blind. In the pond near the Hill Country grotto, they’ll be able to see fish swimming with native aquatic plants. “The heart of [the garden] is nature play, getting kids back out in to nature and interacting with nature in a fun and safe environment. In Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods, he coined the phrase ‘nature deficit disorder.’ Kids aren’t spending enough time outdoors, and we’re seeing an increase in [Attention Defecit Disorder] and childhood obesity. The garden is our prescription for nature deficit disorder,” Waitt says. Like many other places in Austin, the garden is located inside the recharge zone for the Edwards Aquifer, so development on the site has been scrupulously planned to ensure it will have no negative environmental impact. Reclaimed water is used for the irrigation

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Photos courtesy of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

By Rachel Merriman




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system, and shallow rain gardens scattered throughout the site are used to combat landscape erosion. “Rain gardens are designed to capture rainwater runoff and filter it through the plants and soil before returning it to the aquifer,” Waitt explains. In an effort to be as sustainable as possible, many of the site materials have been repurposed in to some of the garden’s most stunning features. Kids will love crawling inside the huge 8-foot-wide birds’ nests made from grapevines harvested at the site. These nests hold eggs made from live oak and cedar wood. The large karst boulders dug up at the site are now part of a large water feature that demonstrates how water re-enters the Edwards Aquifer. Even the mulch for the planting beds isn’t your ordinary mulch. “We like pecan mulch because it’s really pretty,” Waitt says. “It’s the byproduct of pecan production, so something that would normally go to waste, we’re using as mulch.” Parents will delight in joining their kids in playtime, but when you need a break, there are plenty of benches and shaded areas to take respite from the Texas heat. If you’re up for it, you can even get away for a workout on the exercise equipment located in the Robb Family Pavilion. And after the kids have exhausted themselves, be sure to wind down with a stroll through the dry creek overlook, a long walkway over a creek bed surrounded by tall live oak trees and woody vegetation. “It’s like the Central Texas version of a canopy walk,” Waitt says. Just in time for summer fun, the Luci and Ian Family Garden opens May 4. The grand opening party begins at 10 a.m. and will feature live music, storytelling, food and fun activities for the whole family. Find more information at familygarden. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is located at 4801 La Crosse Ave. 33

sp o t ligh t ev ent

Life Time Tri CapTex Memorial Day, downtown Austin. Where can you go to see competitors who are a triple threat? The premier Texas triathlon, Life Time Tri CapTex. On May 26, participants will swim the south side of Lady Bird Lake and bike and run through the heart of downtown Austin. In its 26th year, the Life Time Tri CapTex is a Memorial Day tradition, offering an Olympic-distance, sprint-distance and super sprint-distance course. As the race is the second event of 12 in the 2014 Life Time Tri Series, the Austin winner will take home part of a $30,000 prize and earn points toward their overall standings as they work toward the series finale, Life Time Tri Oceanside in October. This year, the Life Time Tri will support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a leading researcher in childhood cancer and other deadly diseases. Whether you know someone competing or want to watch a spectacle of strength, head to Congress Avenue to experience athleticism at its finest. More information at B See the complete May calendar of events at

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Photo courtesy of Life Time Fitness.

on the scene /

on the scene /


Happy Birthday, Taurus! April 21–May 21 Your month: Happy birthday, Taurus! You’re a lover. Every book says so, and usually you love openly and above board. But this month, expect to be seized by an impulsive passion that longs to be independent and secretive. You demand freedom to explore, to make your own rules. You want to abandon yourself to the unknown, to be consumed. Just beware of pursuing a beautiful possibility while ignoring what’s already good about your present. Set goals and pace yourself, and you’ll achieve whatever you want, but please don’t let impulsive desires be an impediment to your future. This month, try not to give people a reason to call you, well, selfish. May is edgy and accident-prone, so tread with caution. Don’t drive ➺ recklessly or take chances with dangerous sports. Even a friendly game of touch football could cause an injury, and not just to your pride. Gemini (May 22–June 20): This year, you’re supposed to be having fun, but watch out! Don’t have so much fun and romance that you overspend a little (or a lot). And the problem is you and your significant person are on the same page, so you just might be encouraging the same financial laziness or over-indulgence in each another. Oddly enough, this is also an excellent time for simplifying and restructuring your life. This can be a time for making solid business and work plans. The only conflicts may be your urge for self-gratification versus anything that requires self-discipline. Cancer (June 21–July 22): You still feel like your home and/ or family is so demanding that it conflicts with your work. Again. Childhood issues pop up again. And again. You’re irritable and emotional for no obvious reason. Please remember, you need to be gentle and diplomatic with your family, and yourself as well. Try to process what comes up for you in conscious and healthy ways. It’s all about your home environment this year anyway, so simply consider the renovation of your family dynamic as part of improving your living environment too. Professional frustrations? When work hands you lemons, plan to make lemonade in the future. Leo (July 23–Aug. 23): Soul searching and examining your own deep inner feelings finally pays off.

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It’s been a time of healing, of solid, stable plans for your future, and now all your efforts and positive thoughts are finally rewarded. You can see light at the end of your dark tunnel. After the 15th, your career light gets brighter and you’ll be in the spotlight again, where you belong. Trust in the people who are in positions of authority; they believe in you and will help you grow. You’re confident, healthy and dynamic now. Just be sure to avoid the trap of excessive ego as a result of all this wonderful-ness. Virgo (Aug. 24–Sept. 22): It’s the lovely month of May, and everything’s coming up roses, financially at least. It’ll be fun to see your hard work tilling the soil of your career, watering your connections, yanking out the weeds of overwork and discontent. The problem is you’re surrounded by people, and they’re all just a little annoying. This summer, you’ll learn how to take a break. For now, however, expect a windfall of roses, er, money from either your partner or a close relative between the 16th and the 27th. Now try to save some for a rainy day. Libra (Sept. 23–Oct. 22): You’ve been so busy during the last year, rocking your career and making yourself indispensable in general, that you have been neglecting your love life a little. May asks you to flip those energies, please, and hurl yourself in to your love life and any and all partnerships, and back

off a little from your work. You can either take that advice to heart willingly, or you will be “encouraged” to back off from your work by conflicts and missed opportunities. You’ll find you will really enjoy the comfort of an active love life. And work? Not so much. Scorpio (Oct. 23–Nov. 21): The Great Cosmic Clock keeps you from your work in May, but it could be very good for you if you follow a few simple guidelines: Create a May budget and stick to it. Avoid throwing money at any big ideas in any direction, no matter how good they sound. Keep your eyes open for new moneymaking ideas, and store the info for working on it until July. Don’t try anyone’s patience; your temper can escalate quickly, especially with your partners, triggering disputes or break-ups. Treat all partnerships gently and with patience. And, most importantly, take care of your health. Sagittarius (Nov. 22–Dec. 21): May is especially good if you want more Twitter followers, Instagram watchers and Facebook friends. In fact, even your family likes you this month. You’ll be wonderfully creative and discover all sorts of brilliant new ideas and new projects, but before the 20th, you’re likely to have a few major arguments that won’t accomplish much and actually get in the way of your plans. Luckily, they won’t last. And if you’re looking for someone you can really like and totally rely on, you just might get it this month. And I’ll tell you something else: Things are going to get really interesting in July. Capricorn (Dec. 22–Jan. 20): Forgiveness. This one is difficult for you guys. You can hold a grudge longer than any other sign, including Scorpio. It’s especially important for you to forgive someone this month. It’s someone important to you, or was, and if you can force yourself to forgive now, they will play an important part in your future. Forgiveness is a powerful tool, so take advantage of its beneficial influence. Communication is key. With it, friendships are strengthened, and partnering runs smoothly. Your need to dominate has caused problems before, as

have ego hassles. Work on raising the level of bonding and step back to marvel at the miracle. Aquarius (Jan. 21–Feb. 19): A more creative way to earn money is peeking over the horizon this month, and soon the sun will be shining on a new day, professionally speaking. You’ll draw on talents and skills that have been latent too long, or even some you never knew you had. Monotonous and uninteresting work takes on new sparkle. Expect more recognition for your efforts too because this is a good time to get support and goodwill, especially in the first half of the month. After the 15th, your need to dominate things could cause problems. So avoid giving in to your ego. Enjoy the sunshine. Pisces (Feb. 20–March 20): You worry about things a bit too much sometimes, and this can have a damaging effect on your well-being. You probably don’t realize how important your job satisfaction is to your health, but if you look back at your life, you’ll see a pattern. Try to prevent job pressure and frustration and be cautious not to let economic worries cause problems with your wellness. It’s too easy for you Pisces to absorb the issues and dilemmas of those around you, but this month, don’t take sides; it’s a no-win situation for you and it will all change in July anyway. Aries (March 21–April 20): Real estate, home issues and finances relating to your family are the focus in May. You’ll work hard, but you’ll be rewarded for it. Expect changes in your work situation: Either you’ll get a completely new job or modify your place in your present company. There’s some cosmic uncertainty, though, so consider your options carefully before you create any precipitous career changes. If changes aren’t your idea, go with it and try to create the best possible scenario. If you are the company, wait until after the 17th to hire for any new employees. Everything explodes (wonderfully) in July, so your word for May is “patience.” By Deborah Mastelotto

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Reid Leipsner channels his inner Bugs Bunny. Kendall Baker is pretty in pink.


Baby Love AW readers love their babies. Allison Reese Mutchler gets “hoppy.”

Isla Conreaux is just begging to be snuggled.

Knox Bonnell hangs with his canine brother, Otis. Austin Enrique McGehee is quite the dapper “monster.”

Maverick Pendley perfects his pose.

Jaden Taylor turns on the charm.

Chloe Su is just not having it.

Hunter Puran just needs to send a quick text. Abigail Smethie may be the world’s cutest flapper.

Luke Deckard can’t tame that mane! Sammy Courtright looks very concerned about this bathtub business.

Piia Hosking works those dimples. Dillon Shafer flashes his award-winning smile. 38   Austin Woman M A Y 2 0 1 4

Jackson Curbow loves his bath time.

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M ust R E A D

And Baby Makes Three! Recommended reading for pregnancy and beyond for moms and dads. By Erin Henry

The Kind Mama – A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning By Alicia Silverstone Alicia Silverstone might be best known for her turn as the shallow but well-meaning teen who rules high school in Clueless, but she’s now a wife, mother and two-time author. Her new book, The Kind Mama, is a comprehensive guide to conquering infertility, getting pregnant, motherhood and everything in between. What’s a kind mama? As Silverstone explains, it’s a happy, healthy woman who extends kindness to others and most importantly, to herself. The book’s objective is to educate women on the action required to experience a blissful pregnancy devoid of the usual side effects like bloating and extreme weight gain that we hear so much about. Silverstone does acknowledge that pregnancy, hers included (she gave birth to son Bear Blu in 2011), is full of aches, pains and lost sleep, but she’s confident that there’s a better way to approach motherhood. After consulting everyone from midwives and pediatricians to blog readers, she’s dishing on her “cure-all solution”: food. The first subject the book tackles is infertility (currently affecting more than 6 million women), and Silverstone makes it clear that she believes the root cause is poor diet and subsequent inflammation and hormonal imbalances. As such, she largely denounces treatments with the end goal of anything other than teaching the merits of good nutrition. In a section entitled the Scary Truth About Fertility Drugs, Silverstone points out that often, in vitro fertilization results in birthing multiples, and while the technology behind these treatments is impressive, the money spent on potentially futile operations should instead be spent on health education. Now that poor diet has been established as the primary deterrent to fertility, Silverstone sets about educating readers about “kind foods.” If you’ve read The Kind Diet, Silverstone’s first book, you know that she is a hard-core vegan who espouses the benefits of trading an animal-based diet for a plant-based one. The first steps to adopting this lifestyle include “kicking the nasty

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stuff,” eliminating meat, dairy, sugar and processed foods entirely. If you’re wondering what’s left in the food pyramid that’s safe for consumption, Silverstone maps out a whole new diet, ranging from the familiar (grains and veggies) to the exotic (umeboshi plums, anyone?). Next, Silverstone addresses pregnancy, breaking it down by trimester and sharing tips and anecdotes from her own experience. In keeping with the book’s theme, “kind action” is advised, namely, getting plenty of rest and adapting healthy routines for physical and mental wellness, like taking daily walks and ignoring naysayers. Chapter 7 takes time out to build The Case for Kind Birth, and despite defining a kind birth as “one that’s in line with your deepest convictions,” Silverstone emphasizes her stance, saying you must choose between two methods: medical (scary, chaotic hospital) or holistic (calm, time-honored tradition). Whether you ultimately decide on a medical birth, The Kind Mama discourages epidurals and other opiates, as they pose potential risks to both mom and baby. Silverstone shares her own birth story later in the book (Page 154), a planned home birth that ultimately necessitated a hospital delivery. As The Kind Mama illustrates, the second trimester is often where nausea abates and aches and pains settle in, compounded by cravings for all the wrong foods. Silverstone shares plenty of healing, nutrientrich recipes to conquer cravings and keep your healthy frame of mind on track. Next, Silverstone encourages nervous moms in the throes of the third semester as their due dates

loom. She dispels common fears such as tearing and post-birth hemorrhaging, and tackles everything from length of labor to some brave options regarding placenta. Final housekeeping items of note include finding a pediatrician and selecting the consummate birth team (midwife, doctor, husband and best friend). Silverstone shares that she took the final four weeks before her due date to do yoga, garden, lunch, etc. Realizing this may not be feasible for working moms, she cautions that every possible opportunity for rest be utilized, even if that means simply napping in the car during lunch. Finally, The Kind Mama prepares mothers for life post-baby, from outfitting a safe, plastic-free nursery to breastfeeding and safe weight loss. Silverstone encourages moms to ignore some of the newer, albeit unnecessary technology available (think apps for breastfeeding schedules) and rely on the body you’ve been grooming for the past nine-plus months to tune in to your baby’s needs. The Kind Mama, though chockfull of research and prescriptions for healthy choices, reads almost as if a grown-up Cher Horowitz decided to help new moms. It’s likeable, sincere and fun, but some aspects of the lifestyle it promotes are slightly out of reach for many of us. At the same time, you can’t help but feel empowered by Silverstone’s methods for preparing yourself and your baby for a happy, healthy life together. After all, what’s kinder than that?




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Dad’s Expecting Too! By Harlan Cohen It’s no secret that expectant mothers have seemingly unlimited resources when it comes to reading material, from celebrity-penned prenatal recipes to classic medical missives. Recognizing the shortage of information geared toward new dads, Harlan Cohen, a New York Times best-selling author and syndicated advice columnist, decided to step in. A married father of three, Cohen drew on his own experiences and interviewed expectant moms and dads, medical experts and readers. His book dispenses 103 tips in simple language, supplemented with real stories from the men and women he spoke to and a summary “bottom line.” For the most part, Cohen keeps it lighthearted (“Your partner will be gassy! And cranky!”), but he also informs dads about the very real dangers of despondent partners and the fact that one in 10 men will suffer from postpartum depression. Oh, and sympathy weight gain? It’s real, and it has a name: couvade syndrome. Ladies, rest assured that Cohen preaches attentiveness and encouragement to his male audience, but he also helps men identify when they’re victims of “the pregnancy card,” so while they will learn to accommodate your cravings and keep you happy and healthy, they’ll also learn when they might be falling victim to your whims. Cohen gets it. He asks his readers how they’re doing. He sympathizes with men who struggle to find the right vocabulary as they watch their partners undergo unexpected changes. He knows the price tag on a new crib can induce hysteria. He also charges men to step up to the plate and assume their share of the responsibility. Cohen sums it up perfectly: “A man who knows his role, understands birth and is educated can be a calming influence. An uneducated expectant father can be a disruptive pain in the ass.”

The Baby Book – Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two (Revised and Updated) By William Sears, MD; Martha Sears, RN; Robert Sears, MD and James Sears, MD First published in 1993, The Baby Book is widely revered as the Holy Grail of baby wisdom. Last year’s updated version is a family effort, with Dr. Jim (of CBS’s popular show The Doctors) and Dr. Bob Sears joining parents William and Martha for 20 additional years’ worth of new knowledge. Boasting more than two decades in pediatrics and having raised eight children of their own, William and Martha are veritable experts. The first tenet The Baby Book illustrates, attachment parenting, provides the cornerstone of the Sears’ fine-tuned methodology. This practice, designed to help parents lean in to their new roles and form a mutual, lasting bond with their baby, contains seven steps culminating in becoming their baby’s best expert. Through breastfeeding, growth spurts and beyond, parents will hone their intuition and learn to correctly address their baby’s needs. What follows is an organized timeline, complete with checklists and Q&As written in straightforward language. Addressing everything from choosing a doctor to the utmost importance of taking maternity and paternity leave, The Baby Book emphasizes behaviors that promote attachment parenting. Sensitive subjects are deftly tackled, and moms and dads are sometimes separately addressed, with Martha frequently chiming in to share relevant examples from rearing her children. The Sears family concedes that no two children or sets of parents are exactly alike, and they take their research and recommendations very seriously. In an age of information overload, whether dispensed from nosy neighbors or gleaned from terrifying web searches, The Baby Book remains a tried-and-true source for generations to come. 43


E n tertai n i n g

Life Through Rose-Colored Glasses Setting the scene for an elegant and stylish spring gathering. Excerpted from The Collected Tabletop by Kathryn Crisp Greeley Photos by J. Weiland, courtesy of Greenleaf Book Group May brings myriad occasions for entertaining, celebrations and family gatherings. From Mother’s Day to graduations to wedding showers, inspiration for creative and stylish entertaining is required. Professional designer Kathryn Crisp Greeley has been creating elegant and timeless designs throughout the Southeast for more than 30 years. She is known for her expert knowledge of tabletop collections. This Study in Pink collection reflects Greeley’s design philosophy of “collected not decorated,” with its mixture of new finds and family antiques. The inspiration for this event came from the unmarked pink and white dessert set, probably of English origin, found in a North Carolina antique shop. The tabletop setting began with white linen placemats and napkins embroidered with delicate pink rosebuds. The client’s Luneville china was placed in the center of the mat, topped with the rich pink and white dessert service plates. Minton Cups and saucers with a feminine ribbon of turquoise provide an accent color, along with the antique pink etched juice glasses. Pink and white peonies and old English garden roses placed in small bud vases balanced out the tabletop.

Prior to lunch, treat your guests to an Italian aperitivo, Rossini, and the music of composer Gioachino Rossini, for whom the drink is named. Served with blue-cheese wafers, the refreshing drink is similar to a Bellini. The Rossini substitutes fresh, pureed strawberries for peach juice.

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“I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW QUICKLY AND EASILY I LOST WEIGHT!” Dr. Ruthie Harper is a medical weight loss expert who has proven that cutting calories and increasing exercise does not work for true weight loss. She offers answers to questions such as: “Why is my post-pregnancy weight so hard to get rid of?” “Why do I lose weight so slowly or not at all?” “Why am I gaining weight as I’m getting older when I’m eating less and exercising more?” Let Dr. Harper customize a weight loss program for you today! Ruthie Harper MD Nutritional Medicine Associates

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Collectors of china relish uncovering the history and origins of patterns. The Luneville china, with its bright, white porcelain and pink ribbon-like detail was made in the 19th century in Luneville, a small town in Northeastern France.

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- Kathryn Crisp Greeley 47


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The Wolf of Industrial Drive World Interiors is setting the bar for sustainable, compelling and one-of-a-kind designs. By Jacqui Devaney Photos by Dustin Meyer

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Situated in a South Austin industrial park, World Interiors is anything but industrial. The expansive showroom is home to vignettes of cozy sofas, rich mixed-media dining room sets and an eclectic mix of accent pieces. In the flickering candlelight, the space gives way to an atmosphere that melts away from the primarily concrete and metallic exterior. World Interiors pays homage to nature in its furniture collections, and many pieces are crafted from environmentally kind and sustainable materials. Designer Bernie Mack reiterated the store’s special attention to eco-friendly craftwork, saying, “Our goal for every design is that it achieves an artistic balance of portion, scale and finish that accentuates the beauty of natural materials.” World Interiors breathes life in to furniture by making it about having an experience rather than simply the product itself. Each piece is designed and constructed with a vision and ambiance that focuses on all-natural wood and metal materials. Each collection is individual and designed to stand alone. They often implement pattern, texture, color and grain based on the inspiration for the work. The designers focus on infusing life and the way it is lived in to every nail, cushion and light bulb.

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Life After Destruction The night Kerry Pickens’ apartment building burned down, she and her son lost nearly everything. Although they escaped unharmed, they had to start from scratch in their new home without any furniture. World Interiors stepped in to help Pickens and her son rebuild their lives by redecorating their interior. The store completely furnished and decorated their new living space with high-quality and tasteful furniture. Social responsibility is the backbone of World Interiors, and when a community member was in need, they took it upon themselves to help the family get back on their feet. Home Trends and Design’s video about the remodel: World Interiors: 3910 S. Industrial Dr., 512.821.1302,

An offbeat chandelier is a great way to add character to any room.

“Life After Destruction” photos by Richard Gordy.

A red arm chair is the living room version of a little black dress.

Adding eclectic accent objects throughout a room can add interest to a space.

Mix and match patterns throughout the room to provide texture. 51

style /

T ravel

Carry On! These travel essentials will make your summer trip sunnier. Photo by Rudy Arocha Ruffled travel umbrella, $9.80, available at Forever 21, 3409 Esperanza Crossing, 512.719.3988, Love-N-Listen rosetteaccented earbuds, $6.80, available at Forever 21, 3409 Esperanza Crossing, 512.719.3988, Roberto Cavalli printed silk satin scarf, $290, available at Neiman Marcus, 3400 Palm Way, 512.719.1200, Vinyl sunglasses case, $4.95, available at H&M, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, 512.873.0375, Fendi sunglasses, $350, available at Neiman Marcus, 3400 Palm Way, 512.719.1200, Hairband “lollipop,” $3.95, available at H&M, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, 512.873.0375,

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Nine West packable fedora, $34, available at Macy’s, 11701 Mopac Service Road, 512.490.3300,

Tumi Vapor “Are We There Yet?” continental carry-on by Jonathan Adler, $545, available at Neiman Marcus, 3400 Palm Way, 512.719.1200,

Time’s Arrow Ishi large snake-embossed wristlet iPad pouch, $255, available at Neiman Marcus, 3400 Palm Way, 512.719.1200,

style /


No Accident These floral scents for spring are gorgeous. Photo by Rudy Arocha 54   Austin Woman M A Y 2 0 1 4

Clockwise from top left: Van Cleef & Arpels Feerie Spring Blossom limited edition eau de parfum, $90; Jo Malone London Wisteria & Violet cologne, $120; Creed Acqua Fiorentina eau de parfum, $275; Marc Jacobs Fragrance Daisy Eau So Fresh, $97, all available at Neiman Marcus, 3400 Palm Way, 512.719.1200,; Lollia Wander eau de parfum, $50, available at Luxe Apothetique, 11501 Century Oaks Terrace, 512.346.8202,

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M ot h er ’ s Day M A K E OV E R

A Day of Beauty for a Deserving Mother AW makeover for Anissa Gomez of the Jeremiah Program. Photos by Elizabeth Shear



Anissa Gomez is one of 15,000 single mothers living in Austin. She hopes one day to enter the medical profession, but for now, she juggles her roles as a mother to 3-year-old daughter Leah, a student at Austin Community College and a part-time cashier at H-E-B trying to achieve an almost impossible balance. She is also one of the lucky participants in the Jeremiah Program, a nonprofit located in East Austin dedicated to bringing single mothers out of poverty. AW learned of Gomez’s story when she was featured in the New York Times, and we couldn’t think of a more deserving recipient of our Mother’s Day makeover. “I grew up with a mother with a drug addiction. She would disappear for days at a time, leaving my brother and me alone. When I was 17, I graduated from high school and gave birth to my daughter. I wanted a different life for both of us, but the father of my daughter became physically and emotionally abusive,” Gomez, one of the first Jeremiah Program residents in Austin, attests. But what Gomez found when she applied for public housing is that she would be number 2,000-something on the waiting list. Nearly hopeless and increasingly desperate, Gomez heard about Jeremiah Program and immediately began the application process. “Today, my daughter and I have a safe and affordable place to live and high-quality early childhood education. Jeremiah expects a lot from me: to attend life-skills classes every week, enroll in college and work toward a degree and a career,” she says. “This is exactly what I want for myself, and now I have all the support I need.” See her video profile, Balancing Act: Building the Village at

J.CoCo Salon & Day Spa gives Anissa the royal treatment...

x Stylist Temara Coggin moves on to a pro wash, cut and style.

w Anissa’s day starts off

with a fantastic facial by aesthetician Regi De Monet.

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x Temara brings out Anissa’s great features. About Jeremiah Program Jeremiah Program is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization using a holistic approach to transform families from poverty to prosperity two generations at a time. Through safe and affordable housing, quality early childhood education, life-skills training and support for career-track education, Jeremiah Program prepares determined single mothers to succeed in the workforce, readies their children to succeed in school and reduces generational dependence on public assistance. There are more than 15,000 singlemother families in Austin, with 56,000 children younger than the age of 18 living in poverty. They face significant barriers to breaking the cycle of poverty. Through partnerships with Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation and Open Door Preschool, Jeremiah moved four families, including Anissa’s, in to the first phase of the project in September 2013. Jeremiah currently is raising funds for a 47,000-square-foot, multipurpose facility that will house 35 families and an accredited child-development center to serve 60 children.

w A fter! Anissa models a top, necklace and purse from The Lash Lounge, and skirt and shoes from Target.

w T o end a great day, Anissa and

Leah enjoy a delicious gourmet meal at Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill.

q J .Coco presented Anissa with a goodie bag full of great products PLUS a gift certificate for another facial!

J.CoCo Salon & Day Spa 5400 Brodie Lane, 512.891.0420, The Lash Lounge 10601 RM 2222, 512 346.5274, Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill 303 Red River St., 512.236.9599, 57

gourmet /

F in e din ing

laV Simple and elegant French dining comes to East Austin. By Matt McGinnis One of the most hotly anticipated new restaurants of 2014, laV Restaurant & Wine Bar, has opened on E. Seventh Street, bringing a second upscale dining location to a neighborhood that is already accustomed to the fantastic cuisine of Qui, located a stone’s throw away. laV is born of talent. Three women bring impressive restaurant pedigrees to this new chic restaurant. Managing partner Vilma Mazaite cut her culinary teeth at several top restaurants throughout the country, including Michael Mina’s Las Vegas restaurant, Corsa Cucina, Mario Batali’s Babbo and The Little Nell. Executive Chef Allison Jenkins is a graduate of Culinary Institute of America and previously served as executive chef at the Ajax Tavern in Aspen. Executive Pastry Chef Janina O’Leary, a graduate of The French Culinary Institute with a Grand Diploma in Pastry Arts, joined laV from Trace at the W Austin. The creation of laV didn’t happen overnight. Mazaite shares the inspiration for laV. “My business partner, Ralph Eads, was a regular guest of mine at The Little Nell in Aspen,” she says. “We decided to start a business with the original idea [being] to open a wine bar in East Austin. After many conversations, that concept developed in to a French bistro and then to laV.” The result is a refined restaurant that is more gracious than a bistro yet more casual than fine dining, with a stellar wine program. Mazaite describes laV as warm and casual. “We want it to be approachable, so we skipped the table cloths and fancy table settings,” she says. “We are not compromising fine-dining standards. We provide excellent service, but not in a stiff way. It is the kind of place where you can order a small plate along with a bottle of first-growth Bordeaux.”

Graceful Atmosphere

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fennel-cured steelhead or the salt cod and chickpea fritters with a frothy glass of Val de Mer Crémant de Bourgogne sparkling rosé.

Unparalleled Wine List Sometimes simple is really hard to pull off when elegance rules. (Case in point, laV has an impressive wine list of more than 1,200 labels and more than 7,000 bottles.) The restaurant managed to do both with this incredible wine list. That’s quite an accomplishment. laV raised the bar for wine programs in Austin to have the largest selection of wines in town. To simplify the wine-selection process, laV has organized the list in to sections, starting with two groupings of moderately priced wines: Tour de France and Tour de Monde. The Tour de France section has 25 French labels categorized in sparkling, white and red that are chosen to be affordable and food-friendly. The Tour de Monde section is similar, but is made up of charming bottles from the U.S., Austria, Corsica, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. If you don’t have the time or

Photo by Jody Horton.

Simplicity and elegance rule the design inside and out. The converted brick warehouse has been refurbished to bring it new life without making it look out of place in the neighborhood. The architecture and design team of McAlpine Tankersley Architecture and McAlpine Booth & Ferrier Interiors created a space that is both grand and unassuming at the same time. Comforting and inspiring, the interior is impressive. The soaring ceilings, the gorgeous light fixtures, large paintings of the French countryside and huge, bright windows give laV a grand feel. The fabric-covered seating and velvet drapery add to the grandeur while absorbing sounds to reduce the din to a murmur. Towering wine racks grace the walls as a constant reminder that a luscious bottle is always at the ready. “The restaurant surprised all of us with how beautiful it is,” Mazaite says. “The architect and designers’ background is residential and this is their first restaurant that they have done. That comes through with laV. It feels like home.” Guests are greeted with five distinct, cozy seating areas, starting with pergola-covered seating in the outdoor garden. Once inside, reservation-free seating in the tasting bar and adjacent bar and lounge lets guests pop in for a glass of wine or cocktail in a communal-seating setting to inspire conversations. The dining room and great table in the enclosed wine cellar offer more intimate seating available by reservation. Guests can order from the full menu no matter which room they choose, but there is also a bar menu with delightful nibbles. From the bar menu, try the



Finn & Porter is fresh and modern. Locally sourced and exquisitely presented. Known for the freshest seafood, steaks, sushi and produce the state of Texas has to offer. Prepared by Chef Peter Maffei, with his talent for selecting the best of the season and allowing its flavor to shine. SERVING DINNER MONDAY-SATURDAY | HALF PRICE WINE FRIDAYS* *50% Discount to all bottles menu priced at $100 or more

500 east 4th street | austin, tx 78701

60   Austin Woman M A Y 2 0 1 4

Photos by Buff Strickland and Jody Horton.

desire to thumb through an encyclopedia of French Fare with wine, you don’t need to go further than the Mediterranean Flair first few pages of the list. “People rave about the décor of laV, which Oh, but you should dig deeper. There are sets the expectation that the food has to be more than 20 wines by the glass. This spring, as good as the place is beautiful,” Mazaite there are more than two dozen dry rosé says. “We have to deliver excellence every wines, perfect to dissolve away the heat and step of the way. That’s why we brought in an stress of any day. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find the most excellent chef. Allison and I worked side by side at Little Nell in Aspen. She is a soulful extensive collection of Burgundy wines in cook who likes to put her touch on traditown. These food-friendly wines, made of tional French dishes. She also pays a lot of either chardonnay or pinot noir, make up attention to how food and wine go together the bulk of the menu. There are some droolhand in hand.” worthy gems like three well-aged vintages From the house-made breads through the of Domaine Leroy, “Clos de Vougeot,” small plates and entrees to Grand Cru and an exthe desserts, laV presents tremely rare 1976 Jayer, solid French dishes that Henri, “Les Meurgers,” There is always an extra Premier Cru. each have a surprising little touch, an unexpected The Bordeaux section twist. The presentation ingredient that takes the is enough to make a wine may seem straightforward simple and elegant to lover downright weepy, and gorgeous, but there unassumingly complex with selections from is always an extra touch, and really interesting. every one of the region’s an unexpected ingredient first-growth châteaux. that takes the simple and The list also features a elegant to unassumingly strong lineup of California cabernets from complex and really interesting. venerable producers like Dominus, Caymus It would be easy to make a full meal out Vineyards, Opus One and Silver Oak. of the scrumptious hors d’œuvre, grouped as While French wines dominate the list, appetizers and small plates on the menu. It’s there is also a solid selection of Italian, Gerhard to choose between appetizers like black man and Austrian wines to suit a variety of bass crudo and the grilled spring asparatastes. Yes, there are many wines to make gus wrapped in smoked prosciutto, but it’s collectors giddy, but there are also more than impossible to pass up the chicken liver pâté, 250 labels that sell for less than $100. It’s particularly when the pâté is a flagship dish hard not to find a wine for any palate. made from Chef Jenkins’ mom’s recipe using The sheer breadth of the list—the Tour shallots reduced in an interesting way with a selections not withstanding—can be daunting. mix of bourbon, port, madeira and a healthy To simplify the selection process, laV has three dose of butter. talented sommeliers on staff. Mazaite is an adA must-have small plate is the surf-andvanced sommelier leading the wine program, turf pairing of diver scallops and veal sweetand she has brought Sommelier Darren Scott breads served with a surprisingly vibrant from Mario Batali’s Babbo Ristorante in New leek spaetzle in a rich red-wine sauce. Our York City and Sommelier Rania Zayyat from server gleefully told us, “People go nuts for Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Houston. this dish.” It’s fantastic with a glass of lush “Our job is to break down that big, fat wine and mineraly Vincent Careme, Vouvray, book and find wines that make sense for everyfrom the Loire Valley. one,” Mazaite says. “We are here to make wine For a truly French experience, don’t miss fun and approachable.” the escargot served in tomato butter. These little guys feasted on a diet of basil leaves in the Sierra Nevada Mountains before being shipped fresh to laV. Pair them with a crisp, refreshing, bubbly glass of Jean-Louis Trocard Sémillon Cremant de Bordeaux. The entrees present the next challenge in decision-making. For groups or couples, there is a 24-ounce bone-in strip steak to share or a wood-fired, oven-roasted chicken for two to tuck in to. Standout dishes include the wood-oven L to R: Managing partner Vilma Mazaite, bouillabaisse with squid, clams, blue prawn Executive Chef Allison Jenkins and and rouille and the grilled lamb T-bones Executive Pastry Chef Janina O’Leary.

a crowd pleaser. Their cloud fluffy, buttery sweetness pairs incredibly well with the bold flavors of the Donkey & Goat “Wayward” late-harvest chardonnay. Yum! Hot nights call for a cool treat. The house-made salted caramel and pistachio ice cream fits the bill and is even better with a splash of La Spinetta Moscato d’Asti with a light fizz to excite the creaminess. laV serves Blue Bottle Coffee from Oakland and Tealeaves Tea from Vancouver for the perfect amount of caffeine to ease the digestion. Simplicity and elegance are the driving principles in the design, the wine list and the menu. This makes for a unique and satisfying dining experience on Austin’s Eastside.

Austin Woman’s Red Wine Picks Everyday Showstoppers h 2011 Zweigelt, Claus Preisinger, Burgenland, Austria, $49

h 2012 Cousin Leduc, “Pur Breton,” Anjou Cabernet Franc, $56

h 2010 Château La Croix de Moines, Bordeaux, $66

h 2011 Croatina Riserva, Osvaldo Verdi, “Buttafuoco,” Oltrepo Pavese, Italy, $58

Collectors’ Dreams Where: 1501 E. Seventh St., across from the state cemetery

h 1947 half bottle Château Cheval Blanc,

When: laV accepts reservations and walk-ins Tuesday through Saturday for dinner, beginning at 5 p.m. Brunch is served Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

h 1961 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti,

How: Reservations can be made by email at or by phone at 512.391.1888.

h 1945 Château Latour, $20,500

Complimentary valet parking is available.

h 1945 Château Mouton-Rothschild, $12,500

Saint-Émilion, $3,998 “Grands-Echézeaux,” Grand Cru, $3,864

Photo by Buff Strickland.

with warm spring farrow salad and fava-bean hummus. The lamb is cut thick and delicately tender. The surprisingly savory taste of pickled fiddleheads combined with the pesto gives it a Southern French feel with a big Mediterranean kiss. Any of the pinot noirs from the huge selection will pair well with the fresh herbs and slight gaminess of the lamb, but the Croatina Riserva, Osvaldo Verdi, “Buttafuoco,” Oltrepo Pavese is an affordable, fruity and fun choice with it. Elements of the menu will change often to ensure seasonally appropriate ingredients are available. It’s a shame that dessert comes late in the meal because Chef O’Leary creates enticing sweets that shouldn’t be missed, no matter how deflated your appetite may be. And laV serves nine dessert wines by the glass and has a selection of more than 30 by the bottle. Maybe dessert and dessert wine should be an entire meal. The Meyer lemon cream served with mascarpone and maldon salt shortbread is as lovely as it is delicious. The rich nuttiness and sweet tartness are enhanced by a glass of Ratafia de Champagne “Solera” that has a sweet almond flavor. The chef’s much-admired brioche doughnut holes are 61

to your health /


Family-Friendly Cycling Pedal your way to family fitness. By Sam Jackson escape from clogged traffic jams and aiding the environment against pollution. In December 2013, a bike-sharing program called B-Cycle was implemented in Austin, and this year’s South By Southwest festival turned out an incredible amount of both users and logged miles on the program’s bikes, breaking the national record for such a system. The Public Works Department has also been working on ways to make the city safer for bikers to flourish by adding more bike lanes to roads with a program known as Your Path to Austin. It’s influenced by the Eight to 80 plan other cities have adopted, meaning that children and the elderly will eventually be able to cruise down Congress Avenue on a 10-speed without getting T-boned by a Hummer. “The mayor of Bogota, Columbia, started the Eight to 80 cities for a variety of reasons,” Luciano says. “To bring the streets to the people, to bring better health to the community and to make accessible parks and places to people who may not have a car.” Local bike shops and groups have stepped up their methods to get children and teenagers

more interested in cycling too. BikeTexas runs its KidsKup events throughout the state, and Austin’s own Bicycle Sport Shop hosts family-friendly events, including Take a Kid Mountain Biking Rides, one of which will be held June 7. But how do parents get their kids to join in? “I would recommend they introduce them to cycling at a very young age, that they make it the norm,” Luciano says. Of course, they may not have to since Austin schools like Doss and Bryker Woods Elementary are also getting in on the action. “[The two schools] implemented a commuting program that’s a way of tagging your trips, how many trips and a reward system. What Bryker also did, which was super cool, was include it in to a world-education piece,” Luciano explains. “It’s done a tremendous job, and because of the many kids cycling, the city infrastructure changes to respond to that.” In Luciano’s mind, a new infrastructure is the key to a future of bike riding in Austin. Fortunately, it seems like Austin will be pedaling its way to utopia at the rate we’re embracing bikes. Grab your family and join in this summer.

Photo courtesy of BikeTexas.

As the summer begins and the kids escape from school, parents have to come up with some new ways to entertain that don’t involve vegetating before a lit screen. If you’re reading this and have that problem, you’re in luck. We’ve got suggestions to take your kid out for the hottest summer trend: bicycling. It hasn’t always been a popular attraction. More hardcore, grown-up enthusiasts have dominated biking in Austin for years, and the popular places to cycle have reflected that, consisting almost exclusively of heavy traffic areas in the city and stamina-draining mountain-bike trails. “Unfortunately, the 70 percent [of people] who are interested are concerned about safety. It sort of inhibits the growth of family activity in cycling because you’re limited to where you can cycle,” says Leslie Luciano, director of membership and community relations for BikeTexas. But thanks to the efforts by both the City and advocacy groups like BikeTexas, cycling has started to become a much more accessible and less risky activity for Austin citizens. It’s also opening up

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to your health /

Caring for Mom is Caring for Baby Prenatal health and postpartum depression. By Jill Case When you fly, flight attendants tell you to put on your oxygen mask first so you can then care for your child. It’s good advice! Taking care of yourself is always beneficial for your child, but never more so than before, during and after your pregnancy. Austin Woman spoke with Kimberly Petrilli, executive director of the March of Dimes Austin Division, about prenatal health. Austin Woman: What does the March of Dimes recommend that mothers do before they even get pregnant to help ensure a healthy baby? Kimberly Petrilli: First, we recommend that women take a multivitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. Folic acid is a really important component of development for the baby. If a woman is taking folic acid prior to pregnancy and during pregnancy, she will have less chance of having a baby with neural tube defects. We also recommend a preconception checkup, which is not something a lot of women really think to do. Have the checkup to make sure that everything is going well, assess your weight, your blood pressure, your risk for diabetes. … Check all of those things so that you know you’re going in to the pregnancy as healthy as you possibly can. It also allows you to have a connection to an ob/gyn provider so that when you do get pregnant, you already have someone you can go to for prenatal care. We also recommend that if you are using alcohol, smoking or taking any illegal drugs, go ahead and stop doing those things because they do impact the health of the baby, as well as the mom. Also, you should have a conversation with your provider about prescription drugs and whether they are healthy to take during pregnancy. AW: What kind of diet do you recommend for women before and during pregnancy? KP: We recommend that they eat a variety of healthy foods—all of the food groups, not limiting themselves, but eating a healthy variety of foods. Stay away from foods that might be harmful to the

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baby like raw fish or meat and fish high in mercury. They can have a little bit of that but they need to be cautious about how much tuna they’re eating. Sharks can also be high in mercury. Also, stay away from things that are unpasteurized, like certain milk and cheese. Be thoughtful about whether or not you are eating unpasteurized foods. Earlier, I mentioned taking folic acid before you get pregnant, but during your pregnancy, you should take a prenatal vitamin with at least 600 micrograms of folic acid every day. AW: What are your recommendations for healthy weight gain? KP: First, it’s important to recognize that every woman is unique, and we’re all starting from a different place. On average, a woman only needs an extra 300 calories a day to support the baby’s growth, so if you’re a healthy weight when you get pregnant, that equals out to an average weight gain of about 25 to 35 pounds during your pregnancy. Since we start out at different points, it’s important to talk to your doctor prior to getting pregnant or as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant. They can tell you exactly how much weight you should be gaining. You tend to gain more with twins, but if you were overweight prior to getting pregnant, they are going to recommend that you don’t gain as much weight. AW: What does the March of Dimes recommend about alcohol, drug and tobacco use? KP: Don’t use any of these substances during pregnancy! Remember, no amount of alcohol has been proven safe during pregnancy. Any of these things can cause harm to your baby. AW: Are there environmental hazards pregnant women should avoid?

Postpartum Depression Austin Woman spoke with Dr. Tara Mills about the “baby blues” and postpartum depression. Austin Woman: What are the most common symptoms of the baby blues? Tara Mills: Forty to 80 percent of postpartum women will have these mood changes. Typically, they are going to start within two to three days of delivery, and it typically resolves by two weeks. Common symptoms are mild mood swings, emotional instability (going from being really happy to sad), increased anxiety, tearfulness, crying spells and irritability. AW: What are the more serious symptoms of postpartum depression?

KP: I think just being conscious about staying away from strong chemicals like cleaning products, bug spray, which we don’t think of, paint, any of the lawn chemicals. If you do have to use them, wear gloves or a facemask while you’re doing it or find someone else who might be able to take care of that for you.

TM: You would have the symptoms listed above, but lasting longer, and you might also have worsening anxiety, insomnia, sleeping too much and/or not really finding any joy in the activity surrounding the baby and feelings of isolation.

AW: What is your best advice for pregnant moms?

AW: What are the symptoms of postpartum psychosis, which is extremely rare?

KP: The first thing we would recommend is to please get in to see your provider, and go to all your prenatal-care appointments. Prenatal care is intended to identify any risks or any issues that mom may be having during the pregnancy, so that’s the best bet to make sure you have a healthy pregnancy. Secondly, manage your stress. Pregnancy can be a really stressful time for families, and for the woman in particular, so just taking some time for yourself, taking a moment out, doing some selfcare can really help you manage all the stress that comes along with this life-changing event. For more information about having healthy babies, go to

TM: In addition to symptoms of postpartum depression, psychosis would include delusions (fixed beliefs that are false) or hallucinations, either visual or auditory. There also may be bi-polar symptoms included in that, like episodes of mania or severe depression. Anything occurring in the first year after having a baby could be related to postpartum psychosis, but obviously, one has to distinguish between new onset of schizophrenia and other psychological illnesses and postpartum psychosis. 12005 Bee Cave Rd #2A Austin, TX 78738 512-225-0766 AW: What increases your risk of developing postpartum depression? TM: A huge risk factor would be a prior history of depression or anxiety or a family history. Social stressors—a lack of social support, financial stress, marital conflict, issues with child care—would also be risks, as well as any complication or illness with the baby. AW: When should patients call their doctor? TM: We try to educate women about postpartum blues and how very common it is. Again, up to 80 percent of women may experience symptoms, but the symptoms should be getting better after two weeks. Any continuation of those symptoms—depressed moods, significant anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, still not being able to care for the baby or feeling that they don’t have the desire to care for the baby, not sleeping—we would definitely encourage them to call. The biggest reason to call would be any thoughts of harming themselves, someone else or the baby. AW: How do you treat postpartum depression? TM: The patient comes in for a visit and goes through a screening for depression to determine if this is a mild, moderate or severe case. Obviously, thoughts of harming someone else, themselves or the baby would be a severe case that would warrant hospitalization, but for patients with mild postpartum depression, often we will get them to establish care with a mental-health provider, a psychiatrist or psychologist, for some individual therapy. If we feel like it’s a more moderate case, we typically recommend instituting medication treatment in addition to therapy. We also follow up with the patient, calling them the next day to be certain that they made the appointment with the psychiatrist or psychologist, setting up a two-week follow-up visit in the office to see how things are going, to see if they are feeling better and, if they started on medication, to see if they are having any improved symptoms. Usually two to four weeks after starting medication, we start seeing some improvement.

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AW: Are there any lifestyle changes that are helpful? TM: Don’t become isolated. Use your support system, get adequate sleep and make sure you are eating. Take time for yourself if you are feeling overwhelmed with taking care of the baby. Get out on your own. Getting out to clear your mind is often helpful. AW: What are the dangers of ignoring postpartum depression? TM: Women often try to get through it on their own, but if they ignore it, depression can worsen. It can also lead to issues with caring for and bonding with the child. AW: What are your final thoughts on postpartum depression? TM: A lot of women feel embarrassed, and they think this is just part of being a new mom and often, they don’t want to reach out to people. It’s hard to admit that you are feeling overwhelmed and that you’re feeling like you may not be able to take care of your baby. I want to educate women so they know that this is something to talk about and to seek help if needed. Having a good support system is also really important. Dr. Tara Mills is a board certified ob/gyn with Renaissance Women’s Group. For more information, go to

Let’s work together to create the kind of life you deserve to live.

Help the March of Dimes by participating in their March for Babies: May 10, 8 a.m., 5K run, 9:30 a.m., 5K walk Old Settler’s Park, Round Rock, Texas Sign up at

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to your health /

Snack Attack Healthy treats for you and your family. By Andy East

n u t r ition

People say everything is bigger in Texas, but unfortunately, the old adage also describes Texans’ waistlines. According to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future, as of 2013, nearly 7.8 million Texans were clinically obese, meaning they sported a Body Mass Index of at least 30. While dieting may not be the only factor contributing to Texas’ obesity epidemic, healthy eating habits can go a long way to improving our well-being. And what better way to inject some extra nutrients in to your family’s diet than with a healthy snack? Saddle up as Austin Woman helps you stave off temptation with some delectable, healthy snacks done Austin-style.


Kale Chips

Nuts have fat written all over them, and that is often why people steer clear of them. But these fats are not your ordinary fats. Nuts contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are actually good for you. When eaten in moderation, these so-called “good fats” can lower LDL, “bad” cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease. Nuts are also teeming with fiber, which makes you feel full, so you eat less. In addition, nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin E and L-arginine, both helping to keep your arteries in pristine condition. However, beware that some nut mixes may not be as healthy as advertised, often throwing in sugar-infused dried fruits, chocolate and loads of salt. Six ounces of some mixes can contain nearly 1,000 calories. When choosing a nut mix, be sure to pay close attention to the nutritional label and look for combinations without a lot of added sugar or salt. For a local nut mix, check out AustiNuts, an Austin-based nut roaster. From peanuts and almonds to cashews and pecans, AustiNuts offers a wide variety of nut combinations. Visit for more information.

While kale may not be everyone’s cup of tea, by adding a pinch of zest to this nutrient-rich green, kale chips could do the trick. One cup of kale contains enough vitamins and nutrients to put the entire food pyramid to shame. Just one cup of kale is loaded with more than 200 percent of the daily value of vitamin A and more than 600 percent of vitamin K, the latter of which can safeguard you from several different cancers. Kale is also high in calcium, iron, vitamin C and potent antioxidants. In recent years, companies like Austin’s Rhythm Superfoods have begun to produce kale chips, available in an assortment of flavors such as pineapple coconut, zesty nacho and Texas BBQ. When eaten in moderation, kale chips can be a nice alternative to fried potato chips. Visit rhythmsuperfoods. com for more information.

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Coconut Milk Ice Cream Even though you may be 30 times more likely to die from a falling coconut than from a shark attack, coconut milk ice cream could offer an alternative treat for those looking for respite from the blistering Texas heat. Coconut milk contains vitamins C, E and B, is lactose-free and has less sugar than dairy milk. In addition, coconut milk is rife with magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and iron. However, coconut milk also contains fat, meaning you should enjoy it in moderation. You also need to pay extra attention to the nutrition labels and serving sizes to avoid fat and sugar-laden varieties. But not all fats in coconut milk are bad, especially lauric acid. Lauric acid is often transformed in to monolaurin by the body, which has antiviral and antibacterial properties and is thought to boost the immune system. For those needing to satiate a sweet tooth, be sure to check out Austin-based coconut milk ice cream producer NadaMoo! NadaMoo! offers a wide range of flavors that are vegan, gluten-free, organic and fair-trade certified. Visit for more information.

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china smith

Moving Mountains Through Movement

Styling by Ashley Hargrove, Hair by Tiffany Nicole, Makeup by Vanessa Williams, Shot on location 68   Austin WomanatMBallet A Y 2 0Afrique, 14

by Molly McManus | photos by Dwayne Hills

Ballet Afrique’s fearless leader creates a space to dance, release, build self-confidence and appreciate Austin’s African heritage and cultural connections. “People underestimate the power of dance,” declares China Smith, a fire blazing behind her sharp brown eyes. Smith lives and breathes dance, bringing its boundless benefits to the people of Austin. As founder and artistic director of Ballet Afrique, Smith has been able to fuse her love of ballet, modern and African dance to provide a space to express, release and unite as a community. Above all, Smith’s company centers on the children she teaches, the students she empowers and the community she has cultivated through Ballet Afrique. “OK, chickadees!” yells Smith in her energetically high-pitch voice. Her 8- to 11-year-olds are practicing modern dance, their individuality shining through. However, it is the African dance class that follows where the students seem to awaken, coming alive with expressively mesmerizing movement. Many moms line the walls, watching their children, some dancing along to the African beat. During a break, a larger girl holds her leg up straight above her head. The crowd around her goes wild, with one exclaiming, “She’s so lucky!” A mom across the room eyes a student’s snack of grapes and oranges. She points to it and tells her daughter, “Healthy! See, that’s what you’re going to be eating instead of french fries.” Through Ballet Afrique, Smith transcends the boundaries of race, gender and class, and the confines of physical and mental challenges. For the child who may not have the typical dancer physique, Smith aims to build self-confidence to prove that not only can she dance, she can do anything and go anywhere. Beyond body image, Smith shapes self-confidence and understanding among her students through education, appreciation and awareness of different cultures, experiences and backgrounds. “With dance, you’re so vulnerable,” she says. “It’s a way for people to understand my story. Every human needs a platform to tell their story and share our experiences.” At the foundational level, dance is the glue that seals the Ballet Afrique community together. As the company’s fearless director, Smith recalls dance being an integral part of her life, interwoven between hardship and her desire to lead from a very young age. “When I was little, my family would have parties. There would be a circle in the middle of the living room and people would pick up buckets, cans, spoons,” she describes as she dances in her chair, imitating her best banging-on-a-pot rendition. Smith’s storytelling is as much verbal as it is physical, as she paints a picture of the path she has taken to arrive at her destination through words mingled with movement. Smith has always been exposed to the power of dance as a means 69

at Austin, Smith began studying dance. She found the Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Company, studying under Artistic Director Ana María Tekina-eirú Maynard, who gave Smith an opportunity to travel to the Caribbean to train in dance. Once she returned, she took classes from local modern dance legend Katherine Dunn Hamrick. “[Hamrick] opened my mind to the possibilities of dance. ... It blew my mind with how you could use space and time, and there were levels and dimensions to it. I fell in love,” Smith gushes. With her fire ignited, Smith studied wherever and whenever she could, her background mainly focused in Afro-Latin and Folk dance, and she trained with renowned Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Alvin Ailey, Milton Myers, Boyd “It blew my mind with how Vance and other incredyou could use space and time” ible artists from throughout the world, taking an untraditional route to becoming a well-rounded instructor. serving as student council president Now, after more than 15 years of and the president of future teaching dance, Smith evokes her educators in high school. transition to focus on African culture. Spending her high-school years “The more I learned about at Austin High School, Smith saw [African culture], the more I wanted some of the terrible situations many to know about it,” she explains. of her classmates found themselves Beginning her teaching career in in, whether it was living in poverty, schools throughout Austin, Smith experiencing violence or a lack of worked in predominantly black support from their families and schools, which reinforced her deeducators. sire to incorporate African culture In order to get out of these situawith dance. tions and in to college, a huge em“I decided to have this project phasis was placed on athletics, not that tracked the African diasonly for Smith, but also for many in pora through America. ... I started the African-American community. with the question to my students, “It’s sad when you tell a child that ‘When I say “black,” what comes your way in to college is not just to your mind?’ ” she explains. The your mind; that the only way you’re response was overwhelming, as going to get there is to be some negative words flew out, “stupid” kind of athletic superstar,” she says. and “ignorant” among them. “It’s so So when she broke her ankle her heartbreaking. How can you exist senior year, she had to re-think her in the world if that’s what you think sports career, thrilled at the opporof yourself? How can you apprecitunity to be freed from the expectaate anyone else’s culture when you tion of athletic greatness. don’t know about yourself?” While at the University of Texas to express individuality and bring people together. In addition to family gatherings that were centered on dance and music, Smith would create entire musicals and shows as a child, composing original scores and choreography. “My dad had this great album collection, and because I was home by myself, I would play this music. ... I thought if I could share this with people, it would change their lives,” she remembers. Growing up in East Austin, Smith was born to be an entrepreneur, beginning a newsletter at her elementary school, starting the GA (Girls Association), which fed homeless cats in her neighborhood in exchange for a Saturday breakfast at one of her girlfriend’s houses, and

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Music to Live By My Father’s Albums Choreographing and directing from a young age, China Smith says these albums shaped her childhood, that they fueled her desire to create other worlds through music.

When in Doubt … … Dance it Out! It wouldn’t be a Ballet Afrique class without these two influential artists, China Smith’s daily dance inspiration:

Zap Mama Erykah Badu

Dance outfit provided and designed by Haja Scott, Toombas Jeans & Denim Wear, 512.626.7764,

These are the seeds from which Ballet Afrique was sown. Smith wanted to create a place to appreciate and admire African culture to establish more of a positive representation of African-Americans away from the historical depiction: a history of slavery, discrimination, exclusion and violence. After teaching in schools for 10 years, Smith took an opportunity to pursue her passion and make Ballet Afrique a reality, teaching and presenting dance her way. The company started out with one (yes, just one) large community dance class, in which people would gather at her home or in a library. Now in a space within Highland Mall, Ballet Afrique has two professional dance companies and is able to offer preschool, elementary, middle school, high school and adult classes in ballet, modern,

jazz, tap and African throughout the week. Combining these dance forms allows students of Ballet Afrique to articulate the human condition and spirit through dance, and nurture the artist within while going beyond race, gender and socioeconomic backgrounds. In its sixth year, Ballet Afrique has provided dance lessons and performance opportunities to hundreds of families, aiming to explore cultural connection, self-confidence and artistic expression to create understanding, awareness and appreciation for not only African culture, but other forms of dance that stem from a variety of cultures throughout the world. “I don’t look at us as a dance company; it’s an experience. It’s human condition and being able to express that,” Smith says. “You don’t see color and social class

in art; you just see the person and who they are. “A baby can only do so many things. They cry, they sleep, they eat, they laugh and they dance. Before my daughter could talk, she would hear music and start moving her body. That is one of the first things we do in life. Before we even walk, we are dancing. That is so incredible. If we can understand that about us as human beings, if more people would dance, it would solve a lot,” she says. In addition to articulating the human condition, Ballet Afrique reaches families who typically do not have access to the arts, whether that boundary is financial, language-based, physical or mental. It teaches children to create something out of nothing, to use their bodies to create stories, feelings and liberation. 71

“African dance is all about release. Ballet is all about the meditation and stillness,” Smith explains about her multi-faceted teaching and the benefits of each style to a child. Fitness, health and wellness play a major role in Smith’s life and how she runs Ballet Afrique. Smith started to educate her students about making healthy choices, finding that she needed to take a look at the families as well. While she was hounding her students about needing lots of water, vegetables and protein, she discovered they were going home and those options would not be in their refrigerators. “Most of my families don’t cook. They eat fast food every single night. And then [the students] are dancing so hard at practice—they’re 8, 6—and their little bodies just cannot survive. “A lot of my moms have unhealthy lifestyles. They just do. As a mom, we sort of put ourselves on the back burner,” Smith explains, a mother to a 7-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. “Being a mom is hard. It’s the most stressful thing I’ve ever done in my life. Your kids can drive you crazy. I want to make sure that those kids have a healthy environment. That means they’re eating healthy, that their parents feel good about themselves and they have a release, as opposed to letting it out on their kids—whether it’s physical or verbal. Both of those are damaging to children.” Smith meets regularly “I don’t look at us as with her dance moms, a danc company; it’s an expe e implementing a diet and rience.” exercise plan to promote feeling good to make life more manageable. She is shifting the unhealthy normalcies for her families, and providing opportunity and awareness of how to eat healthy and exercise without breaking the bank. This desire to improve the lives of the community of Ballet Afrique stems from Smith’s overwhelming passion for children, clearly evident with each vehement breath she takes. “I’m the kind of person who would move heaven and earth for a child,” she says. “I tell [my students], ‘If you’re ever in a situation, I don’t care what it is, call me and I will be there.’ Every show I do, if there is a situation at home I know about, I talk about it and put it out there, make the parents see it,” she says, gathering support and bringing attention to issues facing the Ballet Afrique family. “If you ever want to know what’s going on in a child’s life, get them in a dance class or an art class. They will dance about it, they will write about it and they will draw about it,” she says, emphasizing the influence the arts can have on a child. Not only is it a way to express your innermost feelings, Smith is also using dance to provide opportunities to students who might not have them otherwise. “I am a master planner,” Smith says. She utilizes the resources around her and shows by example, working out trades so her students can train with the best instructors, and asking for help when it’s needed. By doing so, she has been able to take students out of state to train, giving them endless opportunities, Smith’s main goal for her students. Most recently, Smith gave her Umoja Dance Company students the opportunity to produce their own show, which they had to choreograph and plan from scratch. This process allowed them to learn how

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to work with a theater for lighting and sound, raise money to pay for the space, to essentially learn all aspects of the performance business. This project was recently featured in a documentary on KLRU, the local PBS affiliate, as part of their Arts in Context series. A Reason to Dance highlighted Smith, as well the students who inspire her to do what she does day in and day out. As the owner of Ballet Afrique, Smith serves as business administrator, brand manager, accountant, choreographer and support system. “The whole inspiration and driving force behind this are the kids. They think I’m a hero. No. They are my heroes,” she affirms. With all this wonderful outpour of Smith’s time and energy, and the recent successes of being featured on KLRU—not to mention an article in O, The Oprah Magazine—it’s surprising to hear that Ballet Afrique is in trouble. Because the school has been operating out of the mall, which was recently bought by Austin Community College, the future of Ballet Afrique is unclear. Smith does not want to have to go back to teaching in the schools, having worked hard to create this space and community, and support students past and present. “I love being at the mall. People can find me there,” she says about being available to students to catch up, offer advice or just talk. The plans ACC has for the space are unclear. There are plans to turn it in to commercial spaces mixed in with shopping spots, operating as a multi-use building. Ballet Afrique could get the boot in the next two to three years. “A great success story for our company would be making this transition to our own space. There’s great potential,” she says, explaining the blueprint design. It is only a matter of finding the right funding and right building to make the transition. “I’m missing that person or company to say, ‘We want to back you,’ ” she says. With the prospect of a new building in the works, Smith is continuing to develop and grow her company. Her next projects include creating a boys scholarship program to encourage more males in her classes, as well as starting an orchestra made up entirely of African instruments. “China is very headstrong. If she wants to do something, she’s going to do it,” says Vanessa Williams, a Ballet Afrique mom, makeup artist and friend to Smith. While Smith continues to push her company to the next level, her students and parents have found an invaluable resource that hopefully will not be going anywhere anytime soon. She’s an advocate for her students, showing them through her own experiences that you don’t quit when you want something, and when someone tells you that you can’t do something, to challenge and fight on. Before every class, Smith huddles around with her students to offer insight, education and encouragement so that no matter what they are going through, they have a place to come together, to release, to learn, to dance.

Afrique Naturals In true entrepreneurial fashion, there’s never only one business. In addition to Ballet Afrique, China Smith has a natural beauty line made specifically with AfricanAmerican skin and hair type in mind. Fed up with the harsh chemicals contained in most beauty products and the effects they were having on her skin, Smith began experimenting with natural products and homemade remedies about three years ago, which prompted her to make her own hair and skincare products after seeing how great they made her skin feel and look. “The whole point of the line is to introduce people to natural products and promote natural, healthy care of their skin and body,” Smith says. Another major focus of Afrique Naturals falls in line with one of Ballet Afrique’s efforts: to promote self-confidence, which oftentimes starts with loving the skin and body you are in. “I want little girls to feel pretty in their skin…to appreciate who they are and what they have,” she says. Utilizing raw African black soap, coconut oil and other natural ingredients, Smith’s line is not just for little girls, producing scrubs, creams designed for curly hair and moisturizers. The line includes younger, feminine scents like cotton candy and classic versatile scents like peppermint. Smith continues to impress with one entrepreneurial endeavor at a time. Afrique Naturals products are available at Black Butterfly Bath & Body, 811 E. 13th St., 512.673.3126, 73

Pack the

Kids and Off You Go Favorite family vacations ~ by ~

Becca Hensley

Does the phrase “family vacation” cause you to shudder with fear? It shouldn’t. Think of it as a play date with your brood, a simple far-flung foray for folks who live most of their days in urbanity’s fast lane. To embark on a jaunt with kids in tow cements bonds and promotes teambuilding. It spikes curiosity, opens hearts and broadens minds. Getaways with the gang incite laughter, increase confidence and build memories. Like a laboratory, family holidays provide a safe place for experimentation, research and inquiry. Thankfully, they vanquish the stress and stolidness of those pesky daily routines. We all need that, right? So, grab the mob and trudge the road with gusto. Throw in a third generation, and the party only increases in value.



Safari Thompson gazelle spin like ballet dancers in Safari, Micato personalizes itineraries, delivera pas de deux above the earth. ing families only to lodges approved and While exploring the open-fenced ranch tested by their own kin. While there’s no age reserve of Ol Donyo Resort, a Relais Charequirement for a safari, children who wish to teaux 20-bed lodge pinched in to the slopes go on game drives should be old enough to of the mountains, I also walk through the sit still and stay quiet (if animals are spotted) bush with a guide, ending my hike with a on the two- to four-hour ventures. white-tablecloth picnic breakfast beneath “That depends from child to child,” says Acacia trees, and ride horses across the Denis Simi, a Micato guide, “but, generally, we bush. When not traversing the bush, I take a feel 7 is a great age to begin.” seat in Ol Donyo’s branch-covered hide, poKids disinterested in the sometimes ardusitioned just feet from an elephant watering ous and occasionally unfruitful car outings hole. Families love sitting here for hours to can remain back at the lodges, rooting in to glimpse giraffes, warthogs and the parades their surroundings. Micato’s family safaris of elephants in attendance. Kids learn about encompass pastimes such as junior guide local culture with an immersion visit to the training, African crafts, storytelling, local local Maasai village located nearby, learning music lessons and to sing, dance and make stargazing. Some of local bead crafts. It’s the sort of trip that touches the lodges on Micato’s While some might fear people way down to their core family-sanctioned list bringing children to Afeven offer elephantand bores in to their souls. rica, a variety of outfitters and camel-riding safawill put those anxieties to ris—the ultimate way to spy lions, cheetahs, rest with well-laid plans, bespoke services and leopards and other wildlife. But when the sun 24/7 attentiveness. Micato Safaris, a familysets, its sundowner time, and the whole family owned and -operated outfitter based in convenes to share stories and salute their day Kenya, has tested their family safaris on their well spent in Africa. own grandchildren. Instituting an all-encomFor more information, visit passing adventure called Family-to-Family

Photos courtesy of Micato Safaris.

Cheetahs. Topi. Hyena. Oh my! Step in to the pages of a storybook when you take your kids to Africa on a safari. It’s the sort of trip that touches people way down to their core and bores in to their souls. Ernest Hemingway put it like this: “I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up and I was not happy.” It has that effect on travelers. And kids, the tabula rasa that they are, feel its ancient majesty most of all. Whether you tread to East, South or Central Africa, you’ll be rooted in to something more profound than yourself. For families, this ultimate trip offers something for everyone. “Pedal faster,” says Kone, my Maasai guide. He dons a red plaid blanket, wound around his torso to create a kilt-like garment. I’m not sure I comprehend how he can pedal his bike through the black volcanic sand mounds that carpet the road we ride through the Chyulu Hills of Eastern Kenya wearing that. I sport shorts, and still, I struggle to cycle through the morass. But effort’s not an issue when the bush offers so much distraction. I crank it up just to not be ensconced amid a flock of ostriches hoofing it past me as if a farmer’s ringing a cow bell to call them for dinner. Moments later, a tower of giraffes galumph by and light-as-air 75

By the time my oldest child was 12, he’d been to Europe every year of his life. But one day, after a three-week driving-trip marathon that resembled a marriage between National Lampoon’s European Vacation and Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad, he balked. “Mom,” he asked, “next trip, can we please go somewhere where girls wear bikinis?” And so our annual pilgrimage to Hawaii as a family began. This was a place I had lived for a few years as a child and knew to be a rich amalgam of culture. And though part of the United States, Hawaii is a locale rooted in its own Polynesian sense of place. Enough of a romp in a foreign setting, yet recognizable enough to make parents feel secure, Hawaii is a paradise that surpasses the visions conjured by your imagination. This mid-Pacific state of seven unique islands offers abundant diversions borne from land and sea. Which island? That’s the question most first-timers ask. The correct answer depends on the travelers because every island embodies a distinct version of that picture-postcard stereotype of hula dancers, coconut palms, pineapple groves, ukulele music and surfer dudes aplenty. Take Oahu, the state’s first tourist hub, which boasts the bustling city of Honolulu and the legendary playground of Waikiki Beach. A stellar starter island for its Asian-fusion food scene, iconic hotels, urban hiking paths and renowned beach boys who can guarantee you successfully Enough of a romp in a foreign catch a wave with setting, yet recognizable enough the prowess of Duke to make parents feel secure Kahanamoku after just one lesson, Oahu also has more tranquil settings. Don’t miss Hanauma Bay near the city, but consider basing at the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina Resort & Spa, a lagoon-fronted retreat on Oahu’s sun-dappled Western shore. Kid activities range from scavenger hunts, to volcano making, and the water’s limpid stillness ensures safe swim outings. With good reason, many families pick Maui. Sunrise atop dormant Haleakala volcano, a drive along the Hana Road, splashing in the sea at Ho’okipa Beach Park, whale and dolphin cruises and top-notch resorts comprise the agenda. At Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea, families delve in to Hawaii’s heritage with an early morning outrigger canoe lesson. They’ll paddle out to a spot where turtles glide beneath the water’s surface and have a chance to snorkel among them before riding the wave back to shore, chanting Hawaiian-style as they go. Stay at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui’s Northwest side, and sign the kids up as budding oceanographers at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Oceans Futures Society, a program bent on teaching the ancient Hawaiian penchant for responsible interactions in nature. On verdant Kauai, the mood takes a mellow turn. Pack your athletic gear, though, as some of the island’s must-do activities include kayaking down the breathtaking Na Pali Coast and trekking the trails of Waimea Canyon. The Big Island, my favorite, stands alone. Awash in black lava fields, it might be the undiscovered outer-space planet. With an active volcano that spews fiery lava and blows smoke, waterfalls and mountains galore, the Big Island vaunts tony resorts like the Four Seasons Hualalai, which proffers complimentary all-day kids programs, including hula and language lessons. Dip into any of its seven pools, but plan to wear your flippers in King’s Pond, which stocks 3,500 fish for fool-proof snorkeling. For more information, visit,, and 76   Austin Woman M A Y 2 0 1 4

Photos courtesy of Ritz Carlton - Rouse Photography, Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau/Hawaii Tourism Authority.


With British Airways’ daily non-stop

Broadway in the theater department, and adults and children alike cheer through these flights from Austin to London, our dream whimsical musicals. for a magic carpet ride across the pond at Next, face your fears when you ogle the last comes true. Now it’s easier than ever to mummies at the British Museum. There’re pack a bag, grab the tots and take off for a lots of other distractions there too, like Celtic, weekend on Portobello Road. Abundant with farmer-found jewels and the wizened medipersonality and cachet, London appeals to eval man recovered from a bog. Like to fly? everybody’s inner Sherlock Holmes—or, if Board the London Eye, a not that, your internal slow-moving but towerPeter Pan or mental London’s a magic wardrobe ing ferris wheel set on the Austin Powers. Trendy, stuffed with fantastical hotels. bank of the Thames. Make historical, sophistilike oarsmen of yore and cated and sometimes tour the river by mini-cruise. You’ll pass under bawdy, London entertains on a host of levels. a bevy of bridges—maybe even one you’ve Kids will love how those British drive on the heard about in a nursery rhyme. At Shake“wrong side” of the street in funky London speare’s Globe, rebuilt on the legendary thecabs and red double-decker buses. Since ater’s original site, kids can pose and posture the British speak our mother tongue and as a Shakespearean character while recording understand our Texas accent, a journey here their theatrical debut for posterity. breaks the ice for first-timers abroad. It’s like Need to get active? Run, walk, rollerblade this: You could make the kids do all the stuff or ride horses in Hyde Park, Regent’s Park you want to do, or you could let them drive or Green Park. You can feed the ducks there the show. Do the latter and you’ll find your too. Hungry? Load up on picnic supplies at interests intersect. And, as the child in you reBorough Market, which offers some of the best awakens in ways you never thought possible, whole-grain bread and house-made charcuteso too will your children mature and develop rie on earth. Hit the toy department in Harrods, before your eyes. and then retire to the food floor. To re-enerThough myriad activities await, and each gize, we love to take a sack of Harrods-made London trip could be as rich as its own layer goodies back to the hotel for casual in-room in a prodigious mille-feulle pastry bought at dining. Need a babysitter? Let the kids watch a bakeshop in Southwark’s Burough Mara movie at Notting Hill’s Electric Cinema on ket, I have a black-book list of kid-pleasing Portobello Road while you shop the outdoor experiences collected by my own wee clan. trinkets and antique market. At the National First off, enjoy a West End show. Both The History Museum, be awed as the dinosaurs Lion King and Charlie and the Chocolate roar and the bug collection makes you feel Factory are playing right now. London rivals

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itchy just looking at it. Envy the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, watch silly men in wigs argue at Parliament and hoot and holler at the fairy-tale dressed guards at Buckingham Palace. Tennis buffs will want to take the train to Wimbledon for a tour, and soccer players may want to catch a match (Just be attentive to what colors you wear!). Noshers, don’t leave without gulping down a pub lunch, a full English breakfast and a sandwich and sweets during afternoon tea. For more information, visit and London’s a magic wardrobe stuffed with fantastical hotels. Check in to The Grosvenor House Apartments by Jumeirah in Mayfair for an extended stay in an apartment-style room. Your kids receive “Busy Bee” packs loaded with puzzles and activities, and closets come outfitted with toys and surprises for bambinos. At stylish Jumeirah Carlton Tower in Knightsbridge, take advantage of family packages, which offer amenities from cookies and complimentary goggles for the pool to kid-sized bathrobes. A fixture for families for more than a century, The Goring in Belgravia welcomes babes with a passport, a BaaBaa sheep toy and a goodies pack. Their Bedtime Story Library suits Wendy reading to the Lost Boys, and culinary-minded kiddos get invited in to the kitchen to decorate cookies and cakes. While Mom and Dad imbibe at the bar, underagers can tipple a mocktail that they’ve helped the bartender create. For more information, visit and

Photos courtesy of VisitBritain.



Photos courtesy of Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Did you know it takes more than 400 yards of linen to wrap a mummy?

Try getting Mom to do that for your next Halloween costume! But maybe if you take her along to the Houston Museum of Natural Science to glimpse (and shiver at) a real mummy—not to mention ogle a plethora of artifacts that date back more than 5,000 years—you’ll be able to convince her that mummification has its virtues. In a complex that holds the Wortham Giant Screen Theater, the Burke Baker Planetarium, the Cockrell Butterfly Center and various permanent exhibition galleries, the new Hall of Ancient Egypt awakens your inner archeologist. Set within the Morian Paleontology Hall, it spans the length of a football field, and recounts the politics, religion and mummy rituals of ancient Egypt. If mummies don’t appeal, Houston’s Museum District brims with possibilities. For kids younger than 12, The Children’s Museum of Houston proves that learning and playing go hand in hand. Garnering best-in-the-U.S. status from Parents Magazine in 2011, this immense indoor playground encompasses 90,000 feet of interactive, innovative, bilingual exhibits—all Houston’s Museum District housed in a fairytale-like strucbrims with possibilities ture by Robert Venturi. Play make-believe mayor, grocer or accountant at Kidtropolis, a tot-friendly city that recreates the mommy and daddy world of work and play. Or dabble with electricity, build pretend buildings, dance or explore Dragons & Fairies, a special exhibit (through November 2014), which intermingles modern-day life in Vietnam and centuries-old myths and tall tales from the region. Note: both museums offer free admission on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. Other ideas: The Houston Zoo and the Museum of Fine Arts both offer a bevy of family programs. Feeling antsy? Work off the fidgets trekking Houston’s 11-mile labyrinth of subterranean tunnels. In the spirit of Indiana Jones, Houston Urban Adventures leads a tour that rambles beneath the earth ( Conversely, take to the stars at Houston Space Center, where future astronauts can delve in to a trove of space buff-approved activities. Intergalactic arenas and “that giant leap for mankind” take on new meaning with the VIP Level 9 Tour, a reservation-only, half-day expedition that goes behind the scenes of Mission Control ( 79

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memo from jb

Because I’m Happy to Go Back to Work Or, the things I learned while unemployed. By JB Hager, Photo by Rudy Arocha I’m not one to write about myself in a totally selfish way. I’m a bit of a Flaubert, fumbling through life, but I’m always observing and learning. In November of last year, I parted ways with my 18-year job on the radio at—um…(not sure if they will still be around when this runs). Yes, I’m admittedly passive aggressive. By the time this is published, I should be a couple weeks in to my new radio job at 105.3 The Fringe, a new station run by local guys taking on the big corporate machine. I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I had always fancied a time in between stations when I could take a breather, relax and focus. I envisioned a couple months knocking around Europe, taking the time to focus on fitness, getting lost in novels. It wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and didn’t go exactly as I imagined. As much as we all hate “working,” going without it is odd. Here are some things I learned, in no particular order or priority, in the five months of not working on the radio in Austin, Texas: 1. Sleeping four extra hours is wonderful. Getting the chance to dream and remembering them when you wake up is as entertaining as going to the movies. 2. Always being told by management “talent is quickly forgotten” is not true. Times have changed, social media has changed things and online reminders are like a shoebox full of candid photos with an ex. 3. G  oing to the mailbox at 2 p.m. in your jammies as your neighbors drive by is wonderful. 4. S  taying up past midnight watching Tosh.0 and drinking beer does not impress the Mrs. 5. G  etting to see your 12-year-old leave for school for the first time in her life is wonderful. Dropping her off at school is even better. Making a surprise stop for Taco Deli or doughnuts is the best.

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6. W  hen the dogs wake up and want to start their day before you, well, it sucks. Trying to reason with a dog as to why they should go back to sleep is pointless. 7. I envisioned my wife and me sipping margaritas and flirting in the sun all afternoon. Little did I know, life goes on as usual for her. She didn’t lose her job and still has things to do that don’t involve me. 8. I had no idea how often I would be referred to as a slob. Apparently, my going to a place of employment affords the opportunity for the house to be clean at least one fleeting moment daily. 9. S  igning up for Amazon prime (free two-day shipping) gave me the confidence to not feel the need to go outside or get dressed.

10.W  hen there is no money coming in, the concept of traveling or doing anything fun goes out the window. 11. M  y beard achieved thickness that would immediately qualify me to tend bar in East Austin. 12. M  y family didn’t enjoy having me around nearly as much as I thought they would.

Overall, I’m excited to get back to work. As much as I hated that 4:30 a.m. alarm, I never thought I would look so forward to that awful buzz and the kick in the ribs from my wife. Even though I was here walking among you, I missed you guys, and by the time you read this, I will be back on the air—bright and early. At 105.3 on your radio dial.




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DWK (Dating With Kids) Dating can be difficult for single moms. We’re here to help. By Kaneisha Grayson Question: I’m a recently divorced mother of two children under age 6. I haven’t dated since I was in college (more than 10 years ago). I have no idea how to get started or what the world of dating will be like now that I’m 35 with kids. What advice do you have for me as a single mother ready to fall in love again—in a way that works for my children and me, and could eventually lead to a happy, lasting marriage?

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Decide on your game plan for introducing men to your children. There are at least two schools of thought on when men should be introduced to your children. Some people insist that you not introduce men in to your children’s lives until things are put-a-ring-on-it serious. However, other people point out that if you wait until you feel highly committed to introduce a man to your children, you risk finding out too late in the game that your man and your kids despise each other. Of course, most children are going to have a difficult time adjusting to a new man in their mother’s life, so some dismay and ire is to be expected. The question is whether the initial discomfort will eventually give way to acceptance and, hopefully, familial love. You know yourself and your children best, so think about which way would work best for you and your family. Put yourself out there. I advocate a multipronged strategy for meeting men. Join an online dating site and get a trusted male friend to help you pick out your best photos. (Be sure to be upfront on your profile that you have children.) Find a meet-up group for single parents for a low-pressure way to meet some dads ready for dating.

If you feel too strapped for time to add special dating-related activities to your schedule, you can do something as simple as smile back at the man at the grocery store grinning at you and your raucous children in the checkout line. Eventually, you will want to carve out time that can be dedicated to dating if you really want to get remarried. Every happy couple has a different story of how they met, so keep your mind and your eyes wide open. By reaching out for advice, you’ve already taken an important step to adding your happily-ever-after story to the annals of joyfully (re)married mamas.

Kaneisha Grayson is the author of the recently published book Be Your Own Boyfriend: Decide to Be Happy, Unleash Your Sexy, and Change Your Life. She runs MBA & MPP admissions consulting firm The Art of Applying and blogs about life, love and happiness at her blog, She lives, plays and eats tacos in her hometown of Austin.

Grayson photo by Nick Paul.

Answer: While I’m neither married nor a mom, I have some encouragement and advice that will get you started on your journey to a happy, lasting union. Get clear on your deal breakers and dealmakers. You’re in serious grown-woman territory now. You’ve experienced the joys and challenges of marriage, the devastation (and possible relief ) of divorce and the life-changing experience of motherhood. You also mentioned wanting to eventually get married again, so all of these factors together make it clear that you aren’t dating just for fun. That said, while you’re single and clear of mind, it’s imperative that you determine the qualities you seek in a mate and what you just won’t deal with. I suggest you keep the list clear and short on each accord. What are the three to five values that matter most to you? For example, perhaps you seek a mate who is generous, adventurous, reliable, deeply spiritual and whose parenting style includes a healthy dose of light-hearted humor. By knowing the core qualities that matter most to you in a mate, you can give a chance to those men who may not traditionally be your type. Additionally, it’s important to get clear on your three to five deal breakers. Perhaps you know that smoking, frequent travel for work, desire for additional children and a criminal record are absolute no-goes for you. That way, if you meet a child-loving hottie recently released for a whitecollar crime, you won’t trick yourself in to “just seeing where things go.”


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Be All That YOU Can Be 24/7 The First Person You Must Lead Is YOU takes leadership principles of the military and applies them to the civilian world.

to lay out all the reasons she should get a second To say that Becky Halstead has achieved a command that her request was granted. lot of success in life is an understatement. “He looked at me as a leader, not just a female Through her many career advances, she leader,” she says fondly of her superior. has become someone that not only female This story brings up an often-overlooked part of soldiers can aspire to be, but someone being promoted to a leadership position. any and every solider aspires to be. Of her “Working smart is important,” Halstead says. successes, she was the first woman who She didn’t just get the second company comgraduated from West Point to be promoted mand because she was prepared and asked for it, to general officer, the first female in U.S. she also knew who to ask. At that particular time history to command in combat at the strain the military, women weren’t always welcome. tegic level and the first woman to be chief Knowing who her allies were, those who supof ordnances and commanding general of ported her and were grateful for her presence, the Army’s Ordnance Center and Schools, was an important part of Halstead’s ascension in the ranks. which basically means if the Army was a Her leadership book, 24/7 The First Person You university, Halstead was its president. Must Lead Is YOU, was spawned from her experiShe joined the Army in 1976 on the suggestion ence in the civilian world after the Army. of her mother, who had heard West Point was “In the military, on a daily basis, we have an opening up to women and thought her daughter extra opportunity to be in a laboratory of leaderwould get a lot out of the experience. ship,” says Halstead, who found that many of the “I did not think I’d stay more than five years,” principles she learned as a soldier could easily be Halstead says, recalling the warm encouragement transferred to the corporate world. from her parents during the years she grew up in She started STEADFAST Leadership and her tiny no-stoplight hometown. After more than 30 years of service, she was honorably discharged from the Army "He looked at me as a leader, in 2008 due to chronic fibromyalgia. “If I had not been ill, I would probably not just as a female leader. ... still be in uniform today,” Halstead admits. In the military, on a daily basis, So what are Halstead’s secrets to success and what made her stand out from we have an extra opportunity to not only other women in the Army, but be in a laboratory of leadership." other soldiers in general? It all began with a simple request. quickly began booking speaking engagements. “What set me apart was that I was in company The successes of these engagements led to the command and I decided I wanted a second comdemand of her leadership book. The stories in the pany command,” she says. book bring Halstead’s leadership principles to life. A company command consists of 100 to 250 “My stories prove why and how the principles soldiers, which means Halstead was in charge of should be applied,” she says, noting that the book all those people. She wanted more and she got it not only addresses her triumphs as a leader, but by simply asking for it. Her boss was so amazed also her failures. It’s those failures that make she had the courage to ask and the preparedness

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Halstead real, rather than the unattainable super woman her credentials would suggest. It’s this touch of reality that connects author to reader, something she was very aware of while writing, making sure anyone could grasp her principles. “I am just a normal person and we are just having a conversation on leadership.” Halstead wanted to write a book that would connect with people preparing to be leaders in the corporate world, in addition to connecting with those who seek it in their daily lives. “I really wanted it to transcend age and gender,” she explains, mentioning that her book and speaking engagements have been used to inspire high school girls throughout the country. 24/7 The First Person You Must Lead Is YOU uses humor as well as honesty to explain Halstead’s five leadership truths and subsequent 30 leadership principles. While she puts many different leadership theories to the test, the overarching concept of both the book and Halstead’s life is that of discipline. “If you can get that right, all the other principles start to unfold,” she says. For the average person, however, discipline is often the most difficult concept to put in to place. “Assess your strengths and weaknesses critically to figure out what is keeping you from being disciplined,” Halstead suggests. The problem with discipline is that people don’t take the time to stop and really look at themselves and figure out what it is they’re doing or not

Photos by Major Jim Scaperotto.

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The 14th annual Texas Conference for Women will be held

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The Texas Conference for Women offers the community and connection, the information and inspiration, the motivation and momentum to help you discover what you want—and go get it! The Conference features nationally recognized speakers who share their wisdom and expertise on a wide range of personal and professional development topics, helping you find clarity on your goals and what you need to accomplish them.


doing that’s preventing them from moving forward and attaining their goals. “What I enjoy about a disciplined life is that I get so much more out of my life because of what I put in to it,” Halstead says. If you want to succeed, be a good leader, move up in your career, be an A student, run a mile or whatever your goal may be, you have to have the discipline to follow through with all the steps that will help you reach that goal. Don’t cut corners. When you’re disciplined enough to put in all the time to work or practice or study, then you will reap the benefits. Along with discipline, Halstead offers many other principles that will not only help you be an effective leader, but will also make you an outstanding human being.

On Accountability

On Emotions

“It’s so easy to look at others as the problem and forget to look at ourselves. Each of us, however, is either part of the problem or part of the solution. To be part of the solution means we need to be in a constant state of preparation. By doing so, we will be able to seize opportunities, shape success and provide much better responses to whatever comes our way.”

“Emotions are essential for a leader, but warning lights must go off when having emotions switches to becoming emotional. Emotions allow you to be a passionate leader, but being an emotional leader often leads to becoming a defensive, argumentative leader. True leaders learn to balance the intellectual response with the emotions appropriate to the situation.”

On Trust “Yes, I was mentored, as well as tormented, by some of the Army’s greatest. I learned from all of them—the good, the bad and the ugly. From the few who were toxic, I learned how to identify toxicity in those who worked for me, and there were a few of those along the way too. Rarely do we get to choose our bosses. Regardless of whether we like or trust them, we have an obligation to respect their position and be professional. I tried to look at those perplexing experiences as opportunities to lead up. When there is a lack of trust, there is a greater burden to buffer the people who work for you. You must default to trusting yourself. Lead yourself and lead your team through the challenging environment without undermining the one in charge.”

On Leading Yourself “As cadets at West Point, we were taught to never ask of our soldiers that which we weren’t willing to do ourselves. If you want to achieve excellence personally and professionally, you must be disciplined and demand excellence of yourself first and foremost.”

“Few leadership principles stand alone or apply to only one area of your life; most are used in concert with each other, like the instruments in an orchestra. To be the standard you want to see in others and to always hold yourself accountable requires discipline, desire, obedience and commitment. Your character will reflect in the standards you practice and uphold. When I was a junior officer, I would hear senior leaders say, ‘As you climb up that flagpole, remember, the higher you go, the further up your skirt everyone can see.’ … This means to be careful what you do, because everyone is watching.”

On Preparation

On Chaos “A calming attitude in a storm of activity eases the situation for all involved. It leads to a higher level of productivity by helping people to work through the challenge rather than letting them run in circles trying to figure out what to do. A calm response to chaos results in the best solutions being developed in a professional, responsive manner. But it doesn’t just happen. It must start with you, as the leader, being the calm in the chaos.”

On Diversity “I think the best solutions come from the bottom up, from the people who actually do the work. Unfortunately, too many leaders think they are fully capable of coming up with all the answers, or they are driven by a need to control the entire process. The first step in creating a functionally diverse environment is purposefully bringing together individuals with varied backgrounds and perspectives. The second step is creating ways to positively leverage the differences. The next important aspect is inviting the right people to the table. To do so, you can’t surround yourself with people who think the same way you do.” 87

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Fa m i ly va l u e s

A Day in the Life Entrepreneur Brooke Solis on balancing business and family. By Shelley Seale, Photos by Dustin Meyer Having a full life of work, family and personal fulfillment is a major balancing act for any woman. When you’re an entrepreneur with your own business to run, it ups the game even more. It seems like there is always something that has to be given up. In Brooke Solis’ case, she has given up her nighttime slumber. The CEO of JustGoGirl (JGG), an athletic pad for women, and mother of five, says she doesn’t sleep very much. “I’ve decided to just sleep a little bit later in life so I can get almost everything on my list done every day,” Solis says. And what a day that is. Solis is one active woman who also seems very happy in the life she has built with her husband of 22 years, Renato. Her typical day looks like this: r5  a.m.: Wake up. Walk the dog. Catch up on emails and phone calls to manufacturing partner in Asia. Pack children’s lunches and snacks for the day. r 6:30 a.m.: Start waking up everyone else. Get the children ready for school. r 8:30 a.m.: All children dropped off at school. Head to the gym for first workout of the day. r 9:30 a.m.: Back home for workday. r 3 p.m.: Pick up children at school and begin afternoon activity dropoffs. Work between drop-offs and while kids are doing activities. r 6 p.m.: Second workout of the day. r 7 p.m.: Back home to make dinner. Pick up any kids still at activities and help with homework. r 9:30 p.m.: Try to have everyone in bed to work for a few more hours. Fold laundry and plan for the next day.

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“Early morning is my favorite time of day,” Solis says. “I adore my family and really try to organize my day so I can give them the time they need while getting my work done.” Solis is the first to admit she’s not sure she balances all her identities that well, but says having such a great partner is what makes it all possible. “He is my head of operations, keeping everything on the manufacturing and fulfillment front running on time. We truly parent together. He has always allowed my career to be a priority and now that I’m running JGG, he supports my crazy work and workout schedule. I really couldn’t do everything I do each day without him.” A Yale-educated lawyer and self-professed fitness nut, Solis was working a 9-to-5 job providing outside legal counsel when the idea for her JustGo Pad invention hit. Like so many other women, after having children, Solis experienced embarrassing leaking when doing high-impact exercise. She was inspired to come up with a better solution than bulky pads. “I started talking to the women in my fitness world about the issue and the solution that I was developing,” Solis says. “Every single one of them told me that they had the [same] issue and they all wanted samples. Once I was sure that we were solving a huge problem with a unique solution, I knew that I wanted to spend all of my time working on getting the product ready to market. I knew that if I didn’t devote the time necessary to make it a success, it would fail, so it was easy to leave my job to pursue what has become my passion.” That pursuit of her entrepreneurial passion, along with the demands of a family, means Solis doesn’t have much extra time for socializing or community involvement. “We do go out and spend time with friends, but not that often be-

IT’S YOur NIghT OuT at the Austin Symphony

cause our schedules are nuts,” she says. “My husband works out with me every day, so that has become our ‘date’ time.” Solis is, however, very involved in her daughters’ dance studio and their competitions and is on the board of the Westlake High School girls lacrosse program. “I would like to do more in the community, but right now my plate is as full as it has ever been,” she says. But she clearly loves every minute of it. “I get emails every day from customers who love the pads and have been able to return to activities that they thought they would never do again,” she says. “I feel incredibly blessed to be running JGG. I work really hard but the job that matters most to me is being a devoted wife and mother.”

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The Chick Ranch Mother-daughter duo joins forces to create a dream venue in the heart of East Austin. Mother-daughter duo Robin Hunt and Selena Souders are the proud creators of the newly renovated event space known as The Chick Ranch Austin. Located in the heart of East Austin, the beautiful venue space, created by landscape artist Souders, is where she hopes guests will feel relaxed and inspired by their surroundings. With a brand-new name and method of operation, The Chick Ranch has become the crowning jewel of a landscape domain established by the talented Souders. For more than 20 years, Souders has made a name for herself as an innovative landscape artist, adorning Austin terrain with her signature style and use of sustainable practices. Her innovative work can be seen at the legendary Hotel San Jose and the popular restaurant Uchi. Many of her designs have been featured in national publications such as Garden Design magazine, Martha Stewart Living and the Los Angeles Times, which named her one of the designers to watch in 2006. A true Austinite at heart, Souders has created beautiful works of living art inspired by Austin’s native vegetation, eclectic culture and livemusic scene. “I’ve been inspired by music my whole life, and some of that fantasy created in songs translates in to how I compose a garden or a space,” Souders says. As a young girl, Souders was surrounded by generations of women who possessed an inherent green thumb; she often accompanied her mother in the garden and was exposed to various forms of art at a young age. “I grew up antiquing, going to stone yards and salvage yards with my mom,” she says with a nostalgic tone to her voice. Souders began her college education at the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied botany as an undergraduate. After receiving her degree, she got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move to New York City and intern at the New York Botanical Garden. Her time spent there was crucial for her career, laying the foundation for her love of landscape design. “I got the opportunity and I went for it! I was in college at UT and I felt a little disconnected with the science of botany and what exactly I wanted to do with it,” Souders says. “I wanted to intern

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somewhere and I had been to New York the summer before and fell in love with it, particularly the botanical gardens.” After two years living in New York City and working at the botanical gardens, Souders moved back to Austin hoping to establish her own landscaping company. In 1994, she founded Big Red Sun as a full-service design studio specializing in landscape and garden design located on East Cesar Chavez Street, on what is now The Chick Ranch property. In 2004, the company expanded Big Red Sun to Venice Beach, Calif., while the Austin location was franchised to a close friend of Souders’ who moved the business to a different location. The building and grounds were leased to CTC International for the past two years until the lease ended in February. Mother and daughter joined forces to realize their dream of reopening the original Big Red Sun location as a “unique, eclectic space for having a party.” “Its sole function will be as an event center that caters to music, festivals, weddings, auctions, filmindustry events and anything else that is looking for the original Austin vibe,” says Hunt, Souders’ mother. Her role has been crucial throughout the transition, as she has been working as site manager to make sure all aspects of the construction run smoothly while Souders lives in California. When a guiding parent has their child’s best interest at heart, the possibilities and opportunities become endless. There is no doubt that Hunt has had a great influence on her daughter’s successes, sowing the seeds for a successful career. Both of Souders’ parents have supported her in all of her endeavors, hoping that everything would come in to place. “My parents did their very best to understand and support what I was doing moving across the country, living in a shoe box,” Souders says. When asked how her mother inspired her, Souders replies, “My mother has inspired me to be a great mother to my daughter and let her see me follow my dreams and work to actualize them.” During South By Southwest, The Chick Ranch officially opened for business, hosting a party for Rachael Ray. The venue is currently taking reservations for events. For more information, call 310.433.5216.

Selena Souders and daughter, Ruby.

Photos by Ashley Garmon and Selena Souders.

By Ricky Rodriguez


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Coming Home After loving the close-knit family the military offers, these veterans return home only to feel like strangers to their children and isolated from their country. By Megan Russell For veterans, returning home from the military can be a stressful experience. They have to go from being a part of a tight-knit community back to a civilian world with family and friends who may love them, but suddenly seem distant and, at times, even like strangers. Try as family and friends might to give their loved ones a warm welcome and make them feel back at home, sometimes a soldier just can’t shake the feelCarolina Dilger ing that these people, who they truly love, have no idea what they’ve experienced and what they’re going through now. “The hardest time I had was when I was The two military veterans featured in this away from my kids and they were both little, article have different stories and military backreally little. My oldest was a little over 3 and my grounds and experiences, but what they have in youngest was still a baby. She was almost 2 years common is feeling the struggle to reintegrate in old,” she says. to a society that at times makes them wonder Becky Halstead, author of 24/7 The First why they made the sacrifice in the first place. Person You Must Lead Is YOU, points out that Carolina Dilger joined the military as a senior military mothers are often worried about being in high school. For her, the military was a way judged because somebody else is taking care of to pay for college when neither she nor her partheir children. But she is quick to extinguish ents could afford it. She hadn’t planned on staythis fear, saying these women should not feel ing for 13 years, but she enjoyed military life, regret or guilt for their sacrifice. While they’re the family feeling and the purpose it gave her. protecting their country, they’re also protecting Upon returning home, she began to realize the their children. civilian world lacks the companionship she fell But it was returning home to her children in love with while deployed. that was the most trying “I’ve never felt that experience for Dilger. camaraderie that I have "You feel like society “When I came back, I in the military,” she says, does not understand had to basically reconnect reflecting on the many what you’re going through." with my kids. They hadn’t men and women she’s seen me in a year and worked with throughout it was hard because my the years. ex-husband had remarried and they had really Dilger’s military experience began on a day in bonded with his new wife,” she says. “And seeAmerican history that set the tone for the rest ing how much they connected with her, where of her career, Sept. 11, 2001. She and her first I felt like I had this huge gap with my own chilhusband deployed together, but due to health dren, that was definitely very painful.” concerns, he had to return home early. When he Not only did she have to reconnect with her was sent home, Dilger finally began to realize children, but for her youngest daughter, it was how stressful the military could be, feeling as almost like meeting her mother for the first time. though she was on her own in Iraq. And while “She had never known me before because trust issues did occur while they were separated when I left she was too young to really underand a divorce subsequently followed, it wasn’t stand that I was going away for a long time or until her second deployment that she really bethat I’d be back.” gan to struggle.

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Beatrice Burr experienced a similar stress being away from her family while deployed. The Italian transplant moved to the United States in 2007. Her first experience with the U.S. military came from her husband, who had been in the Army. “I enlisted in 2010 and I loved it. I loved it every day until I got sick,” she says. Burr was diagnosed with a severe neurological condition that still is yet to be determined, something that saddens her on a daily basis. “Now I’m struggling in my life, but I know I always have something which I can rely on, which is The Wounded Warrior Project.” The Wounded Warrior Project is an organization that seeks to honor and empower wounded warriors. They accomplish this by raising awareness in the public of the needs of injured service members, helping injured soldiers assist each other and providing programs that meet the needs of the injured soldiers. One program Burr was able to take advantage of was the project’s Soldier Ride, which sent her to Washington, D.C. There, she met many more injured men and women in the military who were all experiencing the same feelings she was, a feeling of alienation from not only their friends and family, but also the military. After the trip, Burr realized how alive she felt riding, saying, “bicycling and the little bit of running that I do keeps my sanity.” But the biggest benefit Burr receives from the Wounded Warrior Project is that it has helped her to navigate through the complicated VA system. “It’s not very easy for a person with PTSD


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to ask for help. It doesn’t happen. It has to be their family that sees it because a person with PTSD is not going to say, ‘Hey I have PTSD. Can you help me?’ They’re too proud,” she says. Burr didn’t leave the Army with just a neurological problem. “After the Army, I struggled with a lot of issues besides my health,” she recalls. “I struggled with my PTSD. I struggled with my depression. I struggled with my illness. You feel like society does not understand what you’re going through. You wake up in the morning and you say, ‘What am I going to do today? Who is going to be there if I need to talk?’ It’s hard.” It was so hard, in fact, Burr’s mother and father had to move from Italy to help take care of her family. She explains that when you’re in the military as a soldier, you’re taken care of, you have people to rely on, a support system and you feel like you’re part of a family. The same goes for military spouses and children. It’s when a family leaves the military that the hardships can really begin. As Burr puts it, “The family struggles to rebuild, to find housing, to build relationships with other people, you name it. If I had to choose a life for my children, I would choose the life in the Army because, no matter what, they would be there, somebody is going to be there to help you. Now I’m here by myself and there’s the shame of it, but I’m proud of what I did and I know that my children are proud.” For Burr, something more needs to be done about the system to help disabled veterans like her. “We need more medical support. The VA in Texas is bad. They need to do something. Whoever out there has the power needs to help the veterans who go through struggles in their daily life,” she says. Halstead, who is also a board member for Grace After Fire, the Dallas-based organization dedicated to helping women veterans help themselves, agrees that something needs to be done in the system. “We are not where we need to be because families have had to take care of so much in terms of their wounded soldiers,” she says. But Halstead is quick to point out that veterans have benefits that they may not know about. “Don’t feel ashamed that you have benefits. Use them,” Halstead says. “You would be surprised at the number of women who don’t know what they are.” In Burr’s case, however, it’s not the benefits that are the problem, but the backlog in the VA. “It’s a big step for a person who was in the Army

to see a psych doctor,” Burr says. “In this society, it is a stigma. And it’s hard to see it because the VA is so backed up that the first appointment that you need, like me, is 75 days from now. OK, then what am I going to do now? I mean, right in this moment when I need to talk with somebody, what am I going to do? It’s hard. You feel like you’re trapped.”

Hardship at Home When asked what one thing they want our readers to know, both Dilger and Burr have the same response: The military is just as stressful for the family as it is for the deployed soldier. “I’ve been on both sides. I was an Army wife and I was a soldier, and I know what that means. The family, once the soldier is deployed, has as much stress as the person in combat because they always worry [and] they have to deal with the children,” Burr says. “I think any woman that is affiliated with the military, be it soldiers, airmen, marines or sailors, or if they’re a spouse, a sibling, a daughter, mother, any woman that has a connection to the military is stronger for that connection than they would be otherwise because with that relationship comes a lot of challenges. The family members sacrifice and work just as hard as we do because when we’re deployed, we have a job, we know what we have to do and we go out and we do it, and, yeah, there’s a lot of risks and there’s a lot of long hours, it’s a lot of hard work and separation from the family. But on the other side of the coin, the people who worry about us while we’re over there have to struggle through that just as much as we do. If not for them holding the line at home, we couldn’t successfully do our jobs in the field,” Dilger says.

Beatrice Burr

Modest Needs For Wendy Mangan, a single mother in Cedar Park, returning from Iraq in 2011 was particularly difficult. She struggled with raising her three children financially on her own while at the same time trying to find a full-time job. Her at-home battle was the daunting experience many people face on a daily basis. The car breaks down, making rent, feeding the kids and all with no family or friends able to help. She finally found assistance by applying to the Modest Needs Self-Sufficiency Grant Program. They also have a Homecoming Heroes Grant Program and both have been able to help 100 percent of all veterans who have qualified. 95

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My Favorite Family Getaway Redefining vacation magic. Some may think our favorite family getaway destination can’t possibly compete with such hubs of entertainment as the Magic Kingdom or other popular resorts. There are no waterslides, hair-raising roller coasters, swimming with dolphins or fine-dining establishments. In fact, the atmosphere of our annual spring-break vacation spot is downright sedate. But that’s precisely why our family has returned to Roddy Tree Ranch in the Texas Hill Country time and time again. Because after months of sprinting from one after-school activity to another, the stresses of deadlines and work, school and homework, RTR offers the perfect setting for decompression and reconnection. Throughout the years, this peaceful resort has become a safe haven for us. It provides a sanctuary where, now that my girls are in the throes of the emotional and drama-filled tween and teen years, my children can retreat to the comfort of simple pleasures. RTR offers a break from the pressure cooker of academics and peer pressure, far removed from alarm clocks, standardized tests and trying to fit in. Our children have grown up here—one week at a time—every year for the past seven years. I’ve watched my oldest grow from a little girl to a young woman on the cusp of adulthood. My youngest has graduated from listening to charming picture books to reading lengthy novels by J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins. RTR is where my girls threw their first horseshoes, learned how to ride a bicycle, practiced layups and roasted literally hundreds of marshmallows. They have learned patience (from fishing), independence (exploring the grounds on their own), an appreciation for nature and the joy of simply sitting on the porch and watching the birds and occasional deer go by.

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In a world dominated by virtual relationships, we crave the authentic connections we re-establish here every year. There is something about helping your child hook slimy, squirming worms onto hooks (and then removing those same hooks from countless caught fish so they can be caught again) that creates a steadfast bond capable of overcoming the pull of even the most sophisticated electronic device. Every year, my husband and I would question whether this was the year one of our children would request a trip to a more exotic or exciting locale. And every year, one or both of the girls would ask, “Are we going to Roddy Tree this year?” And that was enough to prompt him to reserve, yet again, the same cabin for another spring-break week. Except for next year. For the first time in seven years, we will be taking a different spring-break trip, having managed to secure a prized spot in the lodge at Big Bend National Park. But when we informed our children of our decision to not return, our 13-year-old insisted we at least make plans for a weekend visit next year. And for me, that is clear evidence of true magic at work.

—Carol Kim August’s Last Word topic will be “Things Money Can’t Buy.” To be considered, email a 500-word submission by July 1 to Illustration by Sarah Quatrano.

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