2017 August San Antonio Zoo and Splashtown

During the month of August, San Antonio Zoo and Splashtown San Antonio are offering a double dose of summer fun with a membership swap that allows members of one attraction the opportunity to enjoy the other attraction absolutely free!

Splashtown members receive unlimited free admission to San Antonio Zoo any day of the week, while San Antonio Zoo members enjoy a free one-time Splashtown admission on weekdays. Visitors must show their Splashtown or San Antonio Zoo membership card as well as an ID. Memberships are specific to individual guests and non-transferable. San Antonio Zoo members can also purchase a 2018 Splashtown Season Pass will get $10 off.

San Antonio Zoo: Bug Mania

San Antonio Zoo: Bug Mania

Get ready to bug out! Bug Mania! is taking over the zoo through September 3rd. These huge replicas of bugs will be scattered throughout the entire zoo, inspiring our guests to appreciate the roles these creatures play in a diverse animal world. Plus, educators will give you the chance to meet some real bugs!

Bug Mania San Antonio Zoo

Catch All the Bug Action

These huge replicas of bugs will be scattered throughout the entire zoo, inspiring our guests to appreciate the roles these creatures play in a diverse animal world. Plus, educators will give you the chance to meet some real bugs!

Lots of photo opportunities to show what you’ve learned!!



Think you have what it takes to eat a roasted cricket? Take the #BugChallenge located outside Nanyuki gift shop at La Insecteria. Be sure to video your experience and post it to social media with the tag #BugChallenge and @sanantoniozoo.

Check out the posts from the other fabulous San Antonio Zoo Bloggers (each link is to their specific posts with lots of fun pictures and tips!):

Pants for the School Dance

Pants for the School Dance

This past Friday, Jaden had a school dance at her middle school.  If you have met Jaden (in-person or on the internet) you’ll know that she has her own style and she expresses herself through what she wears. She has one of the unofficially largest collections of Star Wars and science themed shirts that she wears based on the events of the day.

Her school announced a couple weeks ago that the 8th grade “Formal Dance” was coming up and her friends started to talk about if they would go and what they would wear.  Although they decided pretty quickly they all wanted to go together…they had mixed opinions on what they should wear. Many friends planned on dresses and expected Jaden to wear one as well.

Stereotypes for Girls and Boys

We interrupt this blog post to remind people that gender stereotypes are sometimes embedded very early in life.  Even before the baby is born, we are having gender reveal parties (cute idea!) with blue for boy/pink for girl colors (which makes sense because you want everyone to realize what your baby’s gender is at the same time.)  Unfortunately, this doesn’t always give girls and boys a chance to figure out what colors, style, personalities they’ll develop and like on their own.  If your daughter loves pink and dresses that twirl, more power to them!  It’s important though that along with teaching them to be confident in their own skin…to allow others to be confident too.  It can be very confusing and self-doubt inducing when everyone around you tells you you’re only supposed to wear dresses to dances.  It’s humbling to realize how much influence we have on the words our kids mimic and speak.

Fashion Forward

After being chastised at her decision to not wear a dress to the dance, Jaden went back and forth a lot about wanting to go to the dance.  She wanted to go and hang out with her friends but she did not feel like compromising and wearing a dress.  She did not want her friends to comment the entire evening and she wasn’t sure what she’d wear instead.  I know I do a lot of things well but style, fashion, and pattern matching has never been my strongest talents.  Outfits and pieces that I thought I was mimicking well did not actually translate.  I turned to my fashion expert friends on Facebook.  I posted the question, giving context of the dance, Jaden, and implored my tribe for help picking an outfit Jaden felt confident in.  I wouldn’t have even known where to start (besides Pinterest) and I wasn’t even sure what to “Google.”  My friends came through (of course!) and pulled outfits, pictures, and an arsenal of support that helped Jaden feel even better in her decision.  She started to get excited about the outfits she could wear and I realized how much practice I needed in order to find these things on my own.  Never putting too much time into my clothing ensembles, I was humbled to realize this was another thing I could learn more about, not only for myself but for Jaden too.

Pants for the School Dance Middle school outfits for girls dance

Where to Buy

  • Fitted blue, Linen-blended blazer from H&M
  • Blue Viscose shirt from H&M
  • Martie pant in bi-stretch cotton in “warm cerise” form J Crew
  • Original Penguin cloth flower lapel pin from Nordstrom Rack (Men’s Tie Accessories section – lapel pins sold individually too!)
  • Speckle jersey Authentic Lo Pro from Vans
  • Blue skinny tie (should be same width as your lapel) with white polka dots from Zara

Pants for the School Dance Middle school outfits for girls dance

Suit Tips and Tricks

Check out these infographics for tips and tricks on styling suits.  Mostly called out for Men’s Wear but the suggestions transcend gender and were quite helpful!

Although my sister and friend Gita were my direct fashion consultants, these charts helped me better understand matching patterns and colors in outfits, styles/trends that I didn’t know about, and more.

Gita, of Mimi and Chichi Fashion Blog, also created a Pinterest board, Tomboy Prom just for Jaden here that you can follow.  You can ask her questions and check out her great style on her very popular Instagram, @mimiandchichi, channel too!

Facebook Friends Recommendations

Thank you so much to all the people who took the time to answer my clueless questions. I think as parents we want to prevent our children all the pain in the world and embolden them with confidence.  Sometimes though, especially on topics you don’t feel strong giving an opinion on, it is great to have some extra help.  Thank you for just immediately jumping in and making us both feel ok.

  • “Janelle Monae inspired funky suit/tux”
  • “Emma Watson always wears pants in a cute and fancy way.”
  • “I would not go with a blazer bc that would be hot but I love the stuff Victoria Beckham is doing for Target…simple, stylish & definitely way less than $150.”
  • Jumpsuits are a great trend right now and very cute for girls. She could use a blazer over it with cute hills or sandal.
  • This great article, “Seven Tips for Wearing Pants to Prom
  • “Maybe breaking a little out of her comfort zone…What about something like a peplum or tunic with slacks?”
    • “Peplum is that extra piece of fabric resting on the hips”
  • Esther Quek – Check out this blogger. Love her style: http://citizencouture.com/citizen/esther-quek/
  • “If she decides she doesn’t necessarily want to go traditional dressy, what about cosplay? Could draw ideas from steam punk, historical references or fictional characters she admires.”
  • Tons of pinup inspired/reproduction- from “casual” to more formal  http://unique-vintage.com
  • “I was going to suggest a jumper, romper, or a blazer with skinny jeans/pants with heels. Sequin leggings or tuxedo pants could be a fun alternative.”
  • “Pantsuit or even dressier pants would work. Heels are ? for us tall girls. Would she do a statement necklace???? You have a ton!!!
    ALSO, I feel obligated to mention that it is called, “dress up,” for a reason. It is a chance to add on to your normal style, to step it up a notch, to go above and beyond your daily wear. Confidence comes from knowing who you are no matter what you look like or what you wear. Getting dolled up doesn’t mean you are looking for attention or unintelligent. Lastly,
    make up is for fun!!! It’s supposed to enhance beauty. It is a creative outlet. It is AMAZING. It should make you HAPPY. If not, don’t sweat it! “
  • “Other than Janelle, One of the other things that came to mind is actually one of my favorite fashion muses, Yasmin Sewell. A lot of her style co-opts menswear influence into an edgy recasting of unmistakably women’s fashion.”
  • As for hair- to me, no question Dutch braids. They work for everything. They’re fashion forward, can be edgy and tough like boxer braids, but still adorable. And her hair! Just perfect. (Not French braids- def Dutch)
  • H&M usually has some for reasonable prices! Maybe get a bigger size and have it tailored to fit her perfectly
  • Prom trends from 2016 – we can draw inspiration from everywhere!

How Did it End?

Jaden went to the dance, walking up to the school surrounded by girls in dresses, some short and fun, others long and formal, and still more a mix between both.  Apprehensive only at first, as the night went on her friends would exclaim how great she looked! Her confidence continued to build the entire night and she felt like she stepped out of a modern fashion catalog.

P.S. We didn’t get into her hair but as you can see she rocked a double crown braid.  Look for a post to come out soon on that as well!

GIVEAWAY: 2016 Christmas Light Fest at Don Strange Ranch

GIVEAWAY: 2016 Christmas Light Fest at Don Strange Ranch

Last Christmas, my husband Jonathan, Jaden, and I enjoyed getting in the holiday spirit at Christmas Light Fest (check my post from 2015 to see the spectacular lights and attractions.)  We brought our own camera and used the backdrops to create some amazing holiday cards too! ranchland. Open nightly, the light spectacular features tunnels of twinkling lights and holiday displays along a 2-mile path and Santa’s Village, a rustic barn filled with holiday flavors, fun, gifts, crafts and of course, Santa.

GIVEAWAY: 2016 Christmas Light Fest at Don Strange Ranch


  • Tickets are $27 per vehicle. Members of the military (active duty, reserves and retired) and firstresponders and their families receive a $5 discount throughout the holiday season.
  • Tickets maybe purchased in advance online and are good for any night.www.sanantoniochristmaslightfest.com.
  • Hayrides are $15 per person. Hayride reservations must be made in advance online throughwww.sanantoniochristmaslightfest.com
  • Season passes are $60 per vehicle and allow purchasers to enjoy the holiday fun of ChristmasLight Fest all season long. Season passes are available online at www.sanantoniochristmaslightfest.com.
  • Buses and large groups are welcome to enjoy Christmas Light Fest. Tickets are $27 per vehicleand $1 per person over 10 people, making Christmas Light Fest the perfect setting to celebratethe holiday season with youth groups, high school clubs or play groups.


  • Open Thanksgiving night (Nov. 24) through New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31)
  • Sundays through Thursdays, Christmas Light Fest is open 6-9 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday nights, as well as holidays, feature an extra hour, 6-10 p.m.


  • Christmas Light Fest is located at the Don Strange Ranch just 20 minutes west of San Antonio’s  La Cantera.
  • IH-10 West, exit 533, at 103 Waring Welfare Road in Boerne—just follow the signs  until you see the lights!

GIVEAWAY: 2016 Christmas Light Fest at Don Strange Ranch food

Learn More Online:

Add extra sparkle to your holiday season with the magical glow of two million lights, food, drinks and family fun.

Christmas Light Fest features all of that and more, making it a holiday must for everyone. Drive-thru or enjoy a hayride under the stars as two miles of holiday lights dazzle and entertain you, then enjoy a stop at Santa’s Village for your fill of holiday flavors and fun.

Located on a scenic, historic ranch just 20 minutes outside of San Antonio off of IH-10 West, Christmas Light Fest is sure to delight your entire family.

GIVEAWAY: 2016 Christmas Light Fest at Don Strange Ranch

Ways to Enter and Win

You could be randomly selected to win SINGLE CAR VEHICLE PASS for Christmas LightFest 2016 in multiple ways!

Hey @GeeketteBits, I want to win a carload pass to @SALightFest #ChristmasLightFest! http://bit.ly/2hh2Tum RT to Win!

GIVEAWAY: 2016 Christmas Light Fest at Don Strange Ranch

San Antonio Zoo Lights

As a part of being the San Antonio zoo’s blog troop I’m excited take advantage of these media previews but everything listed as my own opinion based on my own personal experiences. 

Last night my husband, daughter, and I enjoyed a wonderful evening at the San Antonio Zoo. Starting November 18, 2016 through January 1, 2017 zoo attendees can enjoy a night strolling through the park against a beautiful background of shimmering lights and holiday activities. My daughter and husband rode a camel for the first time ever, we roasted s’mores over a hot fire, and enjoy the specular display of a light show with fun EDM (electronic dance music) in the background. The show goes every 20 minutes or so so don’t worry if you miss it the first time. I think the best place to watch the show phone is in between the Bistro and the carousel because then you’ll get a 360 view of everything. And if you’re like my husband and didn’t eat before going and super hungry the Beastro offers this election of foods children and adults will enjoy. 

As a foodie a tip and trick for making the best s’mores is the not only roast your marsh mellow but to put your cracker and chocolate on the flat part of the prongs and now that it’s about you. Just be careful to not burn your hands the adult should probably do this part.

Since our kids are used to living in Texas without much snow enjoy several locations around the park that simulates know with different types of bubble machines. I will admit as a proud snow bunny that the fluffy bubbles in the dark look pretty realistic. 🙂 

Although it wasn’t running tonight there’s normally a zoo train that you can ride on, a carousel of animals to choose from, and holiday goodies like popcorn and hot chocolate. Did you know that you can even ice skate?! Of course were in Texas and it’s not freezing but there’s a polymer covered skating rink and you can pay a little extra to rent a pair of a skate. 

This starts at 6 PM every night and last until 10P.m. so you’ll notice of this is outside of their usual regular hours. Take into consideration though it is at night and if you’re going expecting to be able to physically see animals you might not. We did see the silhouettes of some bears but we were really there to enjoy the lights. 

Here’s a video that I took and I’ll post another one soon just to give you an idea of the fun that we had. 

I’ve also included some pictures in this post and it was well worth the visit since we also got our holiday pictures and a perfect background. 

That reminds me there’s a huge 3-D snowblower that you and your family can get professional pictures taken in and plenty of selfie stations if you want to handle them on your own. 

For kids that want to see Santa Claus before his big day you can right outside the African section it’s actually inside the building. There’s also a row of games that will probably check out next time.

And if you’re still Pokémon hunting the zoo has a ridiculous number of PokéStops with unique animals everywhere.

And thank you Mason for being the host with the most. 

2016 San Antonio Zoo Boo!

2016 San Antonio Zoo Boo!


October and football season is well underway but starting to also finally cool off (ish.) One of the fabulous perks of being a part of the San Antonio Zoo Troop of Bloggers is getting insider tips and tricks to upcoming events. In October, the Zoon is all about Zoo Boo! I brought Jaden (now 13!) and her sister Brianna to explore the awesome events you can enjoy, every Saturday and Sunday this month. We enjoyed painting pumpkins with non-toxic paint that will be fed to animals to eat, enjoy, and even play with! We wandered around the massive park, trick or treating (more places than Poke Stops — for you Pokemon Go lovers!) We ate at the Beastro and captured all of our great times on the video below.  Even if you’re not attending for October, I made sure to include lots of can’t miss details and planning tips to feel prepared, just take a look or ask me a question in the comments or on all my social channels.

Little ghouls and goblins, ages 12 years and under, are encouraged to don their best costumes while enjoying games, costume contests, a hay maze, trick-or-treating and much more. Adults may wear family friendly costumes but are discouraged from wearing masks. The zoo will be open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and weekend activities include:

  • Hay Maze and Monster Mash begin at 9 a.m.
  • Pumpkin Painting* and Halloween games* will begin at 11 a.m.
  • Costume Contests will be held at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Trick or Treating throughout the zoo starts at 4 p.m.

NEW! Check out our video to learn all about our visit!

Stay Connected w/ Mobile App

Did you know the San Antonio Zoo has a mobile app?

UPDATED to include links to some insider tips!

And just like Levar Burton would say on Reading Rainbow…”You don’t have to take my word for it”…here are six reviews from some fabulous Zoo Troop bloggers (and my personal friends):

2015 Dragon Con Costumes

2015 Dragon Con Costumes

In the spirit of getting ready for Alamo City Comic Con check out these pictures from Hotlanta where Dragon Con is going on right now!

1987 marked the beginning of Dragon Con. John Bunnell, David Cody, Robert Dennis, Mike Helba, Pat Henry, and Ed Kramer formed the original Dragon Con Board of Directors and most remain an integral part of the convention today.

Here are some pictures my friend from Washington State, Kat Hathaway, took of her awesome time at Dragon Con this year. Here are some more hi-res photos (230+) from Redditor ScottWilkinson

Enter to Win!

If you’re in San Antonio today is the last day to enter and win two tickets to Alamo City Comic Con  


GIVEAWAY: 2015 Alamo City Comic Con

GIVEAWAY: 2015 Alamo City Comic Con

UPDATED: 9/9/2015 – I am so excited to announce the winner of a pair of tickets to the 2015 Alamo City Comic Con. I had a ton of great entries.  Take a second to subscribe to receive notifications for future giveaways by entering your email in the box.

The winner of the two tickets to 2015 Alamo City Comic Con is…Kelli B!!  If the tickets are not picked up I will try to announce an alternative winner!

After having an incredible time at the 2014 Alamo City Comic Con (check out the details from last year, costumes, pictures!!), I am very excited to share information about the 2015 ACCC event! You’ll get a chance to meet amazing comic book stars and legends like:

2015 Alamo City Comic Con

Pre-event Kick-off Party

Don’t forget the ?#?ACCC? 2015 kick off party THIS Saturday at 502 Bar!

2015 Alamo City Comic Con

Ticket Information

Ticket Sales: KISSROCKS for $5 discount! (Online through Sept. 4 @ Midnight)

*You can chance purchasing tickets in-person.

  • 3-Day Badge – $75.00
  • One Day Pass – $30-40
  • Kids Pass (Ages 3-10) – $15 good for the entire event!

2015 Alamo City Comic Con

NEW to 2015 ACCC

Lots of great things like a new area just for kids called Kidz Planet. We am have exhibits and activities scheduled from the Witte Museum, SA Zoo, SA Public Library, and more kid friendly vendors in this area.

2015 Alamo City Comic Con

 ACCC Mobile App




Search in the app store (Apple or Android!) for “Guidebook” and download the app.  Once downloaded you can search within the app for “Alamo City Comic Con” to keep track of your schedule, find out room locations, check out the vendors, and everything else you’d like to do. Click on the image below for a moving gif description.


Alamo City Comic Con Contest Giveaway

I want to win tix to from @geekettebits! #ACCC http://geekettebits.com/technology/giveaway-2015-alamo-city-comic-con/

 2015 Alamo City Comic Con 2015 Alamo City Comic Con

Here’s a picture of the message from then City Councilman Diego Bernal and the concession menu if you’d like to know what food options you have.

2015 Alamo City Comic Con menu

GIVEAWAY: Win Family Tickets to ET at the Symphony

GIVEAWAY: Win Family Tickets to ET at the Symphony

Did you grow up watching E.T?  On September 11, 2015 at 8 p.m. and September 12, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre, audiences of all ages can experience E.T. The Extra Terrestrial in Concert as never before. John Williams’ Academy Award-winning score will be performed live by the San Antonio Symphony in sync with the full feature film projected on a huge HD screen. Join Elliott and E.T. as they soar past the moon and beyond, and relive the magic once more!

Learn more about the event here. Buy tickets here.

Ways to Enter and Win

You could be randomly selected to win FOUR tickets to the San Antonio Symphony performance of “E.T.: the Extra Terrestrial”.

I want to win tix to #ETinSA & the @sasym @MajesticEmpire @geekettebits! http://geekettebits.com/for-kids-parents-educators/giveaway-win-family-tickets-to-et-at-the-symphony/

More ways to win!

Follow ET at #ETinSA or #ETattheSymphony and track where ET has been visiting around the Alamo City, for a chance to win tickets to attend the concert. 

For updated news and information, visit The San Antonio Symphony on Twitter at @sasym, Instagram @sasymphony and Facebook San Antonio Symphony.

Back-to-School Parenting Hacks

Back-to-School Parenting Hacks

*Posted in partnership with 5W Public Relations. I enjoyed trying each new product and made recommendations from my experiences with them.
Check out my segment on #GreatDaySA @KENS5 for Back to School Parent Hacks!


One of the most important things about back to school is getting back into the routine of things. When I think about hacks to make my family’s life easier I’m looking for activities that are fast, easy, and cheap.

NEW T-fal Stainless Steel OptiGrill Plus

one-of-a-kind way to grill indoors, featuring a cooking sensor that guarantees a perfectly cooked meal every time. The built-in sensor automatically adapts to the thickness of your food and delivers perfect doneness from rare to well-done for six different programs (burgers, poultry, sandwiches, sausage, red meat and fish). The OptiGrill Plus’ unique temperature gauge allows the savvy home cook to have total control when cooking foods on the manual setting.

  • Beat the heat and bugs – no need to go outside in 100+ degree weather!
  • Get great grill marks on veggies, meat, and fruits!
  • Make sure you let it

Back_to_school_hacks (1)

KRUPS Egg Cooker

Boil up to 7 eggs at a time for the whole family without slaving over the stove with the KRUPS Egg Cooker, allowing users to choose from hard/soft boiled, poached or individual omelets. Simply pile the eggs into the slots and an audible signal will indicate when your eggs are done cooking.

Back_to_school_hacks (2)

IMUSA Dim Sum Steamer Set

Bamboo basket steamer set Imusa 8? Asian bamboo steamer is healthy way to retain flavor, vitamins and nutrients while cooking. The weaved bottom allows steam to pass through, while multiple layers allow you to separate and cook a variety of foods at the same time. Great for vegetables, seafood, dim sum, and more.

Back_to_school_hacks (3)

COOKINA Cuisine, a Reusable Cooking Sheet

Cut down clean-up time and calories with COOKINA Cuisine, a Reusable Cooking Sheet that makes for a non-stick, easy-clean and healthy cooking experience. Ideal for using as an alternative to aluminum foil, parchment and wax paper, users can place the sheet on a baking tray to whip up recipes without having to use oil or needing to clean the tray afterwards.

Back_to_school_hacks (4)

Viki’s Granola’s new Snack Size Packs

Back_to_school_hacks (5)

Carrington Farms Flavored Liquid Coconut Cooking Oils

Deliciously flavor your dishes, without the time consuming prep work of actually chopping your flavorings. As a fantastic alternative to traditional oils (vegetable, olive, canola, corn, etc.), this liquid coconut oil retains all of the health benefits of traditional coconut oil without the odor/flavor of coconuts and remains liquid in form.

Back_to_school_hacks (6)

Grab and Go Snacks

  • Viki’s Granola’s new Snack Size Packs – the perfect addition to your children’s lunchboxes this year. This loose granola, available in three tasty varieties, is great to eat on its own or to accompany yogurt or cereal. Packed with high-quality, non-GMO ingredients, you can be sure that you are giving your child the best possible snacks that they will also love.
  • Welch’s® Fruit Snacksperfect for easy lunchbox prep
  • Gaea’s olives snack packs – 1st olive snack in the world without preservatives and they are packed in an innovative re -sealable packaging. Liquid-free, Pitted and full of authentic Greek flavors, delicious and the perfect healthy and low calories snack for your kid’s lunchboxes! Available in three flavor options: 100% Kalamata, Green marinated with Chili & Black Peppers, Green marinated with Lemon & Oregano


And if you have some Post-It lunch notes nearby you can have an all in one lunch station.

Printable Post-It Lunch Notes

Printable Post-It Lunch Notes

So I am always experimenting with paper craft ideas, and I’ve always wanted to try printing on Post-It notes. I love the idea of customizing Post-It notes to my daughter to add to her school lunches.  In addition to the lunch note printables you can find on Pinterest, I wanted to add some special ones for the super hero, Star Wars loving Jedis in your life.

First download the printable blank template printable_post_it_template so you know where to place Post-It notes on computer paper. Place your post it notes in the six squares.


Next, download the printable lunch note template post_it_school_notes.

Ensure that you’re feeding the paper into the printer the correct direction by following the letter printing instructions on your printer. Enjoy! 

Preparing for the Back to School

Preparing for the Back to School

*I’ll be updating as I learn more too!

As I get my 12 year old ready for her 7th grade year to start I realized there are so many things to do in order to “be prepared’. This blog post will be loaded like a baked potato with everything you need for your student (and yourself) to be fully prepared for a great year of learning, hard work, and partnership with your student’s teachers.


Thoughtful Ideas for Students

Consider these ideas to kick your kid’s day up a notch:

  • Surprise them with lunch…and eat it with them! Some of Jaden’s favorite memories (and pleas!) was bringing lunch and eating it together in her elementary school cafeteria. Although I only went a couple of times each year (I wish now of course I had gone more regularly…) Jaden would love it when I surprised her with lunch (whether it was fast food or a sushi surprise.) They don’t really let you come come (teachers or your student) in middle school so take advantage while you can.
  • Surprise them with a note. Whenever we had open house in elementary school I would bring along paper (or pre-printed notes) and hide them in Jaden’s desk, cubby, or other areas.
  • Surprise them with a note in their lunch boxWhenever you pack a lunch surprise them with a note in their lunchbox. I can’t find any studies to actually cite but word of mouth told me that kids that receive love notes with their lunch each better. Don’t know if its actually true but who wouldn’t feel good with a little surprise? Don’t worry you don’t have to start from scratch if you’re exhausted and print out Pinterest Lunch Notes.

Helpful Tips from Real Teachers

I asked many teacher friends for what they wished parents knew and here are some great nuggets of information!

“Bringing supplies, actually meeting the teacher,offer to help!” – Becky S.

“Need school supplies, need a daily routine.  Every morning bags are packed, every afternoon with homework and a set bedtime. Kids love schedules and routines.”

“Check up via email [or Parent Portals] to check on the progress of students after a few weeks. School supplies are important too.” – Cedrik S.

“Come to school the first few days and be on time. Every year, I have have so many parents extend their summer a few more days because “I’m sure you’re not starting instruction yet.” It is true, we spend the first few days on routines and procedures, but when you bring your kid in a few days late, they still need that information and it disrupts everyone else.” – Dawn C.

For the little ones, label jackets, sweaters, and backpacks. Some kids don’t remember which was theirs. Ask as many questions, the teacher is there to work with you and the student. Express any questions or concerns.” – Valerie D.

Encourage Kids Equally

Jaden loves math and science because I didn’t give her any other option. She loves paper crafts, DIY, reading but she also understands the importance of math and science.

At the college level, men earn 82 percent of engineering degrees, 82 percent of computer science degrees and 81 percent of physics degrees.

Women make up 47 percent of the overall workforce and constitute only 27 percent of the science and engineering workforce.

Kids (not just boys, not just girls) need to have well rounded educations. Make sure you check out this blog post by my favorite cognitive scientist, Dr. Art Markman, “What you do affects what you learn“:

A traditional way to teach people about new objects (like the fish in the ocean) is to have them learn to classify different objects.  I remember having to do a leaf collection in 7th grade, in order to learn to classify the various trees in my neighborhood.  In classification, you see the various properties of objects (like sharks, fish, and plants) and you learn to identify the category that they come from.

Additional Resources and Reads

Here are some great articles that I have read in the past or recently and wanted to share:

Learn to SwimToday with Dara Torres

Learn to SwimToday with Dara Torres

*This post is sponsored by MomTrends and SwimToday.

I had the incredible opportunity to spend the afternoon at Northside Swim Center, with SwimToday ambassador, Dara Torres, five-time Olympic  swimming champion.

Through SwimToday, teams nationwide are inviting new swimmers and families to experience the sport with incentives such as free swim team trial periods, customized swim caps and promotional materials from kits sent to 1,500 swim teams to use locally. Parents can learn more about participating teams and find those nearest them by searching their zip code at www.SwimToday.org.

43 tips, tricks, cheers, & hacks
Click on the image to download the PDF!

Quick Tour of Swimming with Dara Torres

Reasons to SwimToday

Swim meets can be great family experiences. Each child gets to showcase and celebrate their skills and hard work. If your child can:

  • Has your child completed the highest level of their learn-to-swim program?
  • Is your child at ease and able to swim in deep water for extended periods of time?
  • Can he or she swim at least one length of the pool (25 yards) using side-breathing freestyle and/or backstroke?

Then your child is probably ready to join a competitive swim team!


photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence

Part of the message Dara is trying to spread is the benefits about swimming with a team. Gear recommendations from a star studded Olympic athlete include:

  1. Girl or boy practice suit – used during workouts and made of strong material for durability
  2. Goggles – protect your babies’ eyes from chlorine and ensure they have a clear view of the pool
  3. Swim Cap – designed to keep the swimmer’s hair out of their face

Learn all about it in SwimToday’s Parent Guide.

photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence

Both Dara and Michael Phelps (interview here) could not believe what an incredibly swimming facility for Northside students (and the neighboring community, learn about the “Open Swim” hours here.) The facility was built using funds from School Bond 2001 and opened to the public in 2006. The facility has a 50 meter by 25 yard competitive pool, and also hosts public programs like fitness swim and swim lessons. There’s also an indoor practice and warm up pool. I was also surprised to see such an amazing facility. Make time to go the next time the swimming nationals are in time, like the Phillips 66 National Championships.

photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence

SwimToday provided all the bloggers with a great list of reasons kids should learn to swim and be encouraged by their parents:

  • It’s closer than you think – 62 percent of families live within 10 minutes of a pool; 52 percent of households with combined income of $50,000 or less report they have access to a pool nearby
  • Everyone participates – Swimming is inclusive, there are no benchwarmers (nor benches)
  • Swimming is a team sport – Only 16 percent of non-swimming parents view swimming as a team sport but parents of swimmers associate the sport with teamwork more than any other sport
  • Suit up and go – Only a swimsuit, cap and goggles are necessary to get started
  • Life skills – Swimming increases self-confidence, self-esteem, time management, goal-setting and social development
  • Easy to learn – 76 percent of parents said the ease of learning to swim was high
  • Low risk of injuryNo contact makes for a safer environment
  • Swimming = total body fitness – Burn 650 calories in an hour – more than walking, biking or team sports
  • Sport for life – Once you learn to swim, you can enjoy no matter your age
  • Swimming is FUN – Parents confirm that swimming is the #FunnestSport[i]

[i] 2014 State of the Competitive & Fitness Swimming Industry Report by Sports Marketing Surveys

photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence


Learn more:

SwimToday Facebook and Twitter pages and view original content including videos, blog posts and celebrity Q&A’s on www.usaswimming.org/swimtoday.

Additional Local San Antonio Blogger Coverage

photo credit: Mario Cantu

photo credit: Mario Cantu

Ever notice how people can attend the same event and learn completely different ideas, tips, and experiences?  Check out blog posts from my friends and fellow San Antonio bloggers including:

2015 Cardboard Kids Campaign

Today and tomorrow ChildSafe will be out in the public handing out thousands of Cardboard Kids! Send your friends, family, and co-workers to visit us this Friday, March 13th from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM and Saturday, March 14th from 10:00 AM to 6:00PM at North Star, Rolling Oaks, Shops at La Cantera, or Ingram Park Mall to pick up a Cardboard Kids that you, your children, friends, or co – workers can decorate. The first 350 people to make a donation to ChildSafe for $20 or more at any of the mentioned locations will receive a FIRST EDITION CARDBOARD KIDS FIESTA MEDAL!

Cardboard Kids Is a Child Abuse Prevention Campaign Happening in San Antonio

April 9th is reveal day; leave your Cardboard Kids in public places: office lobbies, in a car, at school or a place of worship or as a group along a fence at school or a hallway at work, and blast it on social media using #cardboardkidsSA


Institute for Women’s Health SuperMom Contest

Institute for Women’s Health SuperMom Contest

The Institute for Women’s Health has announced a social media contest to recognize great moms who do so much to nurture the next generation of San Antonio leaders. Launched during Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, San Antonio’s largest OB/GYN practice is inviting area mothers to participate in the “What’s Your SuperMom Name?” contest.

Institute for Women’s Health SuperMom Contest

One lucky San Antonio SuperMom can enter for a chance to win a $250 night out on the town, which includes dinner at Dough Pizzeria and Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club

Want to win $250 worth of prizes!? The contest is simple and free to enter.

  • Visit http://www.ifwh.org/supermom/ to enter to win.
  • Fill out the form
  • Include the mother’s and a child’s name
  • The SuperMom name is created using the first initial of the mother’s name and the first initial of the child’s name.

My name + my daughter’s name generated: Holistic Jumper

*The contest runs through Feb. 15. There’s only one entry allowed per household. The winner will be chosen at random from the online entries.

Want to win more prizes?? Win a $50 VISA gift card!Multiple ways to win!

Institute for Women’s Health SuperMom Contest


About Institute for Women’s Health

The Institute For Women’s Health was formed on May 1,1996. Since then, they have continued to expand the practice to become one of the largest OB/GYN and fertility practices in the region. Institute For Women’s Health currently has nine medical offices strategically located around San Antonio. Clinically, they are privileged to have more than 30 physicians, a nurse practitioner and eight sonographers.

The Marshmallow Test of Success

The Marshmallow Test of Success

The Marshmallow Test of Success

While I was picking up Jaden from my parent’s house, my dad showed me a clip from PBS that he saved on DVR for me to watch. A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy TWO marshmallows later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life? Although I love (safely) to do these kinds of social experiments on Jaden, I didn’t know about this study when she was 4. There is no doubt in my mind though that her deliberate, thoughtful, purposeful preschool self would have resisted temptation, especially when double the reward was offered. Learn below how researchers followed these kids for over 40 years and how there is a direct correlation between resisting temptation at four years old and finding success along life later on. SPOILER ALERT: There’s hope for the kids that ate the marshmallow too.

The Test

In the past, the kids were individually left in a room with a door, ages 4-6 years old at the table, on a chair, with a marshmallow on a plate.

  • Let him/her sit in the chair.
  • Tell them, “You can eat the marshmallow now but if you wait, when I come back you can have two marshmallows.”
  • Once you know they understand the message, leave the room (setup a video camera to watch what they do! …and leave a comment with details because I want to know too!)

As it turns out, the two out of three kids, will eat the marshmallow before 15 minutes is up and the adult returns with the promised marshmallow. One out of three kids will wait for the adult to return and be handsomely rewarded with the second marshmallow. The kids that wait are obviously exhibiting more self-control and able to delay gratitude. A lot of times they also demonstrated creative ways to prevent themselves from eating said sugar like:

  • Turning around in their chair, covering their eyes so they wouldn’t have to see the marshmallow
  • Pushing the plate further away from them so that temptation wouldn’t be within arms reach.

What’s interesting is that the scientists followed the children for many years, some for 50 years! The first check in, 12 years later, surprised the researchers. 100% of one and three kids that resisted the urge to eat the marshmallow and held out for the better prize were:

  • They scored 210 points higher in the SAT
  • Had higher confidence, concentration, and reliability

Those that didn’t wait:

  • Were found to be more easily frustrated, indecisive, disorganized.

And this makes sense. If you kid is able to delay gratification and demonstrate will-power, they might be better at pushing along a hard math problem without giving up the second it gets hard. They might not want to clean up, but they can push through the undesirable cleaning to become organized.

The test has been replicated with kids in Colombia and South Korea. Two in three kids eat the marshmallow. One in three kids resist.

Good News

Let’s say you have the kid the eats the marshmallow. Or you were that kid (or still are.) Researcher and autho Walter Mischel says there’s hope! Although the four year old toddlers, early on, were able to resist temptation for something more valuable, anyone can be taught the ability to delay gratification.

The hot system is the limbic system in the brain. And it is reflexive, immediate, emotional. So, in order to slow that hot system, you have to activate the cool system, the prefrontal cortex. The problem is that the hot system goes up when stress goes up. And when people are living under conditions of toxic poverty, those are conditions that create huge stress levels. And they make the hot system keep getting hot. – Walter Mischel

The earlier self-control is taught, the better. “Me want it but me wait”, said Cookie Monsters. Cookie Monster worked with Mischel to create a video “as the poster-child for someone needing to master self-regulation skills, attempts to explain these concepts while devising personal strategies on waiting to eat a cookie.” Huffington Post goes into more detail in their article as well.

Additional reading:

The Marshmallow Test: The Book

The book, by the world’s leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life.

The Marshmallow Test of Success

Publishing House book website here.

In his groundbreaking new book, Dr. Mischel draws on decades of compelling research and life examples to explore the nature of willpower, identifying the cognitive skills and mental mechanisms that enable it and showing how these can be applied to challenges in everyday life–from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement.

The Marshmallow Test in a Digital World:

The Marshmallow Test of Success

(Credit: Dana Nelson)

I will add to this section as I go through more research material. If you don’t want to wait for the succinct summary, here are some articles I am currently reading on the same subject:

The Marshmallow Test of Success

Final note, watch these kids struggle through the test!