During the last weeks of summer we got to experience KUT and KUTX the way we had never experienced before! We went behind the scenes and met the people that make this amazing radio station possible. We learned how programs are made and how many people you need to create thousands of hours of programming.
KUT is the news side of the radio station. They hire journalists that do what any other journalist would: research the most updated and true information. Then they sit down in meetings to decide what the most relevant information is for Austin and most of Texas. Finally they write down their pitches and record them after careful editing. They have TVs on all day so they don't miss a thing!
KUTX is the music section of the radio station. They hire DJs that handpick music. They have a digital library but they also have a physical one full of CDs and LPs. We were lucky enough to see a band setting up at the studio so they could record a live session. We also met Laurie Gallardo one of KUTX DJs. She writes down a draft of her program and chooses the songs before going live, but she also leaves time in case anyone calls with comments or requests. Her radio cabin is sound proof, as is the rest of the building. Even the floor is made of a material which prevents vibrations to interfere with the sound! This is especially important since they are located at the corner of Guadalupe and Dean Keaton.
Much like ATX Kids Club, these two radio stations are non profits. This means they are supported by sponsors and individuals who love what they do, but also it means they are commercial free! They offer volunteer and internship opportunities and other ways to support them. Catch them at KUTX 98.9 and KUT 90.5.
This is one of our absolute favorite van day adventures! It is the legacy of Lady Bird, LBJ's wife. It wasn't always where it is now. It used to be located on East Austin until it moved south in 1995. It is the best place to learn about plant conservation and sustainability in our city. Kids learn about flowers, plants and their importance while enjoying a hike and lots of interactive places to play around! The center is open year round and the bright colors will definitely change depending on what is in season.
Our kids have a blast going through the tree stumps, taking photos near the waterfall and visiting the teepees. They also love when we are allowed to help water the plants!
While you can take a self guided tour, they also offer some guided tours. They are open daily from 9am to 5pm. Make sure to visit their site to check what's in season, and reserve your guided tour if that is what you like!
Hidden in the middle of the Clarksville neighborhood youo can find several houses with historical markers on them. One of them, located behind a big house at the corner of 9th and Oakland is the Museum of Collectibles and Curiosities. Even though it is small, it is packed with tiny little treasures that kids love to investigate. The whole collection belonged to Patricia Duncan Brown, an avid collector of curiosities. Some of the collections' categories are christmas ornaments, cats, circus, mexican and indian.
The volunteers that work there are very knowledgeable of the items and offered us a fun activity for the kids. They gave us a quick tour to look around the categories. Then the kids were given pieces of paper to draw their favorite pieces.
Their policy is that we can't post photos of the pieces, but they have some in their web page. Our kids kept the memories in their awesome drawings! Here is a gallery of what you can find inside.
Exploring our city also means exploring the people that make our city safe. Last week we talked about the Austin Emergency Center, this week it's the Firefighters turn. We get to learn all about their work through the Austin Fire Museum. It is located right downtown!
Kids learn all about the history of firefighters which were initially volunteers. They also learn about the dangers of fire and how to prevent them. Bonus points for some amazing photos with their equipment and trucks. They make us feel like real firefighters!
The museum is located in the Central Fire Station No.1 and it is full of photos, and memorabilia from firefighters of Austin. All of it is very interactive. Our favorite part is trying on the uniforms and getting close to the firetruck. You can visit during the weekends from noon to 5 and by appointment any other day.
Nobody likes to go to an emergency room, unless it's for a tour! Austin Emergency Center offers family-friendly events at their three locations. We like to go to the one in South Lamar. Our kids learn about the importance of ER in our community. They learn about X-Rays and CAT scans as well as stings and bites.
Exposing them to an ER in a non threatening situation might help them to relax next time they are in. Especially since they know that the people inside are as nice and helpful as we found out! Some of our kids were interested in health careers. This is a great place to come and ask about them.
Explore the Texas Military History in this museum. It covers both peace and war. Take a look at jet fighters, helicopters and tanks. Take photos in them. Wear a helmet and put on your warrior face!
We enjoy the battle dioramas. We learn about World Wars and the War on Terror. The best part is it's free. Museum opens from 10am to 4pm every day except Mondays. It's very hard to reach on public transportation so we usually take our 15 passenger van.
These past two weeks have shown us that rain doesn't have to ruin everything! Kids love being out in the rain and Austin offers plenty of things to do indoors. Even though we love to explore nature and be out, we pack our weeks with plenty of things that either hide us from the sun for a couple of hours or shield us from inclement weather. We even got a mention on the news! So if the sky is looking gray, don't worry! We have got you covered!
Did you know some movie theaters such as Alamo Drafthouse and Regal have a summer program? It is aimed at children and they feature children's blockbusters and classics. Our kids love going to the movies and every week we see something different.
Public libraries are another great place to go when the weather is not cooperating. We specially love the Austin Central Library. They have tons of books for every taste but they also have a huge selection of board games!
Step inside many of the largest museums of our city. The Texas State Capitol, the LBJ Museum and the Texas State History Museum offer many hours of indoor fun. Take a self guided tour through the capitol, meet LBJ and his family and walk through Texas history. All of them are located downtown, just a quick bus ride away!
The Texas Memorial Stadium offers public and private tours which our kids love! We visited just last week and it was a huge success. The tour began at the lobby where we were introduced to the history of the stadium and its recent expansion. Then we got to enjoy the view.
Our next stop was the game day press box where we pretended to narrate a game, and give a press conference afterwards. The view towards the field was closed but we got to use our imagination.
After that we visited the exclusive suites. Each one is different and offers many amenities as well as catering. We learned they are expensive but you can pay for three to five years. We also learned that the official mascot is a longhorn called Bevo. We got to go into the field but not before we did the traditional Hook'em horns sign!
Our last stop lead us to the stark center. It is the longhorns hall of fame. Overall we really enjoyed this tour!!
After visiting the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired our kids change. They start noticing things that have always been there. They see the ramps and elevators meant for people in wheelchairs. They see some buildings and bus stops offer voice commands and braille signs. They also start noticing the things that we as a community lack. How do the blind go shopping if they can’t see the labels? That was one of the best questions we had last week.
We are grateful that the School offers a small glimpse at the lives of thousands of students of all ages right here in our city. We learned that if you have an issue with your sight you can study there and even live there! The kids are always amazed when they learn that Louie Braille was also a kid, and became accidentally blind at a very young age, and went on to invent the code (Braille) which is now used universally by the blind to read.
The information we get is nicely paired with interactive activities. Children learn how to write their own names on a braille typewriter. They also experience some modifications in day to day objects such as a globe, a clock, and books. Some of them even dare to try to guess the letter by touching the braille code.
As part of our giving back to the community plan we love to take kids to the Central Texas Food Bank. This year they surprised us with an updated children’s tour that included visits to more of their spaces as well as stickers and activities. They also added a community garden. The part we loved the most was the “pizza garden”. It is named so because it contains all of the ingredients necessary to build a pizza (except perhaps the cheese). It is pizza shaped too!
Our children learned about the situation of many kids around them. Now they know that not only the homeless need help getting food, but children with a home that go to schools may not be getting the nutrients they need everyday. They also learned that there is much they can do. They can volunteer at the Central Texas Food Bank or create a food or fund raiser with people around them.
The food bank needs volunteers year round and all of our kids wished they could go and help. They allow children 8 years and older to join. It is a wonderful activity to do as a family. They have a great environment enhanced with hard working people, great music and air conditioning.