Hallie

Potty training can be sressful for both parent and child alike. Most suggestions are based on speaking calm and relaxed. If it feels like it isn't working you need to be more patient, its not a race.

Speak softly and assure them it is alright. Potty training takes time and if it isn't working it might not be the right time.

Use your words like you have been.

If he's ready, he'll go. If he isn't ready, he won't. I thought my son would never potty train. Never. He insisted that his pull ups weren't diapers, he refused to wear diapers because those were for babies (he has a new little sister) and I was desperate to only have one in diapers. He was 3.5 and just not quite ready. We started doing underwear only when we were all at home for the day, and he peed himself a few times and really didn't like it, and then one day he was just like "okay, i have to go potty." and he went. we ran out of pull ups for night time and had to put him in underwear, and he's been dry at night for a few months now, almost as long as he's been potty trained. he'll be 4 in february and i'd say he's been completely potty trained since october or so.

he's used to pull ups, so just keep encouraging him to go potty in the potty, read him potty books and get him excited about going potty like a big boy.

Hallie

The extravagant bar mitzvah drives me absolutely nuts. Call me old-fashioned, but there's always the tried-and-true classic fountain pen. But since it seems to be an obligatory social custom in some circles....

Obviously Israel Bonds have been a mainstay for a long time. Judaica is a good one: mezuzahs, kiddush cup, seder plate and such. Though seder plate is usually more of a wedding gift than a bar mitzvah.

If the kid is non-Ortho he might not have tefillin. They're kind of pricy (probably starting around $400) so maybe it's for a few families to go in on together.

Not a Jewish gift at all, but I'll tell you the best gift I got: a distant cousin bought me about $200 of shares (split between two companies). The week after, he came over to my house and gave me the 101 on how the stock market works. Taught me to check it every day, keep an eye out for news about the companies and such and make decisions for myself about when to buy and sell. I followed them for over a year, selling one around 2 months and the other around 14 months - a fantastic experience that taught me financial literacy and responsibility.

I also got some lovely candles.

For a bat mitzvah candle sticks are a good bet. They probably won't have their own set and it's a nice thing to have, especially if they're pretty. Even if they don't use them, at some time in their lives they may want to light shabbat candles and some small, portable sized ones of their own is a nice option. Still I have seen some really strange bar/bat mitzvahs, and some of the invitations that get sent can be "interesting," especially some of the more decorative one, the best though had zebra print on it (reformed family).

Hallie

I don't like to read Buzz Feed, mainly because I feel their their journalists do not put a lot of effort into their work. One example is the list of 35 things that one is supposed to do in Austin. I have the sinking feeling that they were never here, since half of the list seems to be random, and when I only have the option to pick 35 things to do there are better ones to choose from.

The Austin nature & science center is awesome and so is the prehistoric garden right next door.

I take my kidsthere all the time and we never get bored. There are definitely a few other great suggestions on here( Peter Pan, Hamilton pool, Umlauf) and some no brainers.

It seems like many of these items were just picked at random. Polvos , Spiderhouse ,Whip In, and once a month hipster karaoke for goodness sake? Here ; Baby A's ,Dominican Joe's and Billy's on Burnett or Z'tejas , Epoch and Draught House. Quick some one name a Mexican restaurant, a local coffee shop with people in it and a place with good beer on tap. That's totally like sooooo Austin !

Fireworks over a body of water whilst on a boat? Totally Austin.

I like Uncommon Objects but man is it overpriced. There are so many other little places like that are way more reasonable. It's pretty obvious whoever made this list has lived here a little while but it's really just the tip of the iceberg places that a lot of people know.

Are breakfast tacos really such a big deal to anyone? I understand if you're going out for breakfast you might want some fancy peppers and eggs and all but for your everyday morning taco it's usually just a piece of bacon and an egg on a tortilla.

Get over it people. If anyone in this town could make a decent roll we would probably be eating breakfast sandwiches instead of tacos.

I can't think of any place that I would rather not be than at a UT home game. I won't even go downtown if they are playing an away game. I guess if drunken crowds of Bros and fist fights are your thing.......

I don't know why I thought this buzzfeed list would be any different than any other 1/2 assed "article" they post. Or any different from the other best of Austin lists for that matter.

Oh and Ben's was way better than Franklins is (and you didn't have to wait all morning to get lunch) but I doubt the person who wrote this article even knows what Ben's is.

Hallie

I know a lot of people will say a trip like this is not filled with many sights, and I would agree, there aren't a lot. But there are some and it does make it a worth seeing.

Visit the Carlsbad Caverns and make sure and make a small stop in Flagstaff as well. Both really cool places. When I went from Houston to the Grand Canyon with a church group we stayed in the following places: Fort Stockton, Albequerque, Flagstaff, Lake Powell, and then of course the Grand Canyon.

Now as a family we like to head north into New Mexico on route 285 (north out of Pecos TX at I-20, or Fort Stockton TX at I-10) to Carlsbad; zig off to the west to visit the Carlsbad Caverns, they are breathtaking, and a VERY unusual experience.

Then continue north on route 285 to Roswell, and take in the UFO madness. Very entertaining, and you can thereafter say "I've been there," with a knowing look.

Then head west on route 380 and get to Socorro; from there take the drive west on 60 to the Very Large Array, the jaw dropping array of GIANT mobile radio astronomy dishes. Worth it even if you're not a tech geek, but if you are: pure nirvana.

Then north to Albuquerque.

By the way, west of Albuquerque along I-40 are the Petrified Forest National Park, Meteor Crater (huge), Flagstaff, and of course Grand Canyon south rim!

Hallie

In my opinion strider bikes are the way to go. It teaches them the necessary balance skills faster than training wheels since they do not have to mutlitask. Training wheels are more hindrance than help in this regards because they will still feel like they are falling over.

My nephew wore the "tires" off his training wheels.

I think it might have slowed him down on switching to a real bike, and I believe he still used training wheels.

Honestly I don't think they work out to be a replacement for training wheels. But they're still awesome because the kids get to learn the feel of a two wheel vehicle with their feet barely off the ground. And they can ride a strider before they can bike with training wheels.

It's probably more of a replacement for a tricycle than training wheels.

Hallie

What makes Austin really unique is the land, and the people. Austin is at the confluence of several climates and geographic areas in one small space.

You have aspects of coastal prairies, oaks and prairies, the Edwards plateau, and South Texas brushlands all mashing together in this area.

I would recommend getting together with the Hill Country Conservancy, the LBJ Wildflower Center, and other environmentally minded organizations to plan some day hikes or educational trips.

The Texas Memorial Museum has dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, more arrowheads than you need to kill a bison herd, and meteorites. 'Nuff said.

The LBJ library is pretty cool too; very in depth exhibits there.

I recommend googling info about the local caves. The local geology is conducive to their formation. There are several that are miles long forming vast underground ecosystems; some are large enough that they are treated as roadside tourist attractions and offer guided tours.

also, (probably of more interest to a MUN) there is UT and The Capitol building. It's too bad our silly state legislature only meets once every two years and won't be back until 2013. They'd probably give ya'll a special tour of the facilities, though, should you come.

Texas is growing by leaps and bounds and from a MUN perspective, the difficulties posed by rapid growth balanced with land/water issues (oh and don't forget border issues thrown on top of that) will be much more interesting I think.

The Perry Castañeda Library at the University of Texas is one of 8 UN Repositories in the world.

Perhaps you could get a tour and learn more about the need for Repositories and the logistics of the operation from a head librarian, as librarians do love to talk about their work.

Other than that our state does have an interesting history of being part of 6 different western states(France, Spain, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederacy, and USA) not to count the the native americans who were here before it was cool. Tours of the Capital, Bob Bullock State history museum and the such would shed more light on European imperialism being supplanted by American Imperialism, oh I mean "manifest destiny".

And last but not least we have the Ransom Center collects with such a "vengeance", that they've repeatedly pissed off other archives for hoarding cultural artifacts. I'm always astounded at the lack of awareness about the Ransom Center in Austin--it being one of the largest collections of Western historical documents in the world. There's always a cool exhibition going on, I'd highly recommend it.