rebellious-teenager

Many parents report “strange behavior” in their teens. Their friends, clothing, and personalities may change quite frequently and unexpectedly. This is the norm for most teenagers; they are trying to figure out who they are and will distance themselves a bit to “try on” different identities. Unfortunately, teenagers are also at high-risk for alcohol and substance abuse – problems that may be masked by the “normal” milestones of adolescence.

These issues are extremely prevalent in Texas. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 23% of Texas high schoolers report binge drinking in the past month, 41% have used marijuana, 11% have used inhalants, 4% have used cocaine, and 6% have used illicit prescription painkillers. As a parent, you can help ensure your child’s health and safety by looking for warning signs of substance use.

1. Academic/Work Performance

Teens who regularly use substances may be chronically tardy and truant from both school and work. The quality of work that a teen puts forward will be decreased, which can result in lowered grades, failure to promote grade levels, postponed graduation, or termination from employment.

A major slip in academic performance could be an early indicator of drug or alcohol abuse.
A major slip in academic performance could be an early indicator of drug or alcohol abuse.

2. Peer Group

A sudden change in friends may be a sign of substance use. Teens who use substances will often gravitate to similar peers, who can provide access to substances and condone their use. Watch for friends that promote “drug culture” – this includes wearing clothing and listening to music that encourages substance abuse.

3. Personality and Behavior

While every teenager is bound to experience bouts of moodiness, this symptom of adolescence will be amplified for the substance using teen. Drug Rehab Dallas notes signs to watch for include sudden shifts in energy, unexplained angry outbursts, anxiety, and extreme isolation from loved ones.

4. Appearance

Teens that use substances may have changes in their weight, eyes that appear bloodshot, and a consistently disheveled appearance. They will often abstain from normal hygiene habits.

5. Being “Under the Influence”

This is one of the most obvious ways of knowing that your child is using alcohol or other substances. Your child may be under the influence if they are slurring their words, unable to walk, unable to make sense while communicating, or having other signs of impaired functioning.

Sudden loss of interest in a your teen's favorite hobbies and activities could also be a warning sign your teen is using drugs or alcohol.
Sudden loss of interest in a your teen’s favorite hobbies and activities could also be a warning sign your teen is using drugs or alcohol.

You can prevent substance use in your child by talking with your child early about the risks of drugs and alcohol, providing adequate supervision, and setting clear boundaries around the types of activities your child can engage in. If you are concerned that your child may already be using substances, there are resources that can help. Your teen may benefit from individual therapy, or may need a more intensive inpatient treatment program. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids offers a guide for parents who know their child is using and the steps to take in these circumstances.

Remember, you are not alone in this battle. If you talk to your child early, monitor their behavior, and intervene if necessary, you can prevent teen substance abuse in your family.

 

texas-beach

The Texas Gulf Coast is an excellent choice for families planning fall RV camping trips, offering a winning combination of accessibility, affordability, and beauty. From water sports to bird watching, Texas’ beaches are a wonderful vacation option for adventurous travelers. The moderate climate of the Texas coast attracts year-round visitors of all ages – from college students spending a weekend tent-camping to retirees glamping in their fancy Allegro motor homes. The good news is, with hundreds of miles of beach front, there’s plenty of room for everyone! Here are a few great spots sure to inspire your next vacation.

Sea Rim State Park in Port Arthur

This beautiful coastal state park has attractions for the whole family. Birdwatchers will enjoy the park’s wide variety of bird life, and people who enjoy water sports will have fun kayaking and swimming. Guests can take a leisurely stroll along the nature trail and catch fish in the marsh areas. The park offers primitive camping services on the beach for those in tents, while campsites with electric and water hookups for RVs cost $20 per night.

Matagorda Bay Nature Park

When you're not riding horses or watching the birds, you can have a lovely picnic on the white sand beaches of Matagorda Bay.
When you’re not riding horses or watching the birds, you can have a lovely picnic on the white sand beaches of Matagorda Bay.

This 1600-acre park is bustling with recreational activities and stunning nature sights. This park is a dream for horse lovers, as visitors can spend a day riding horseback along the shoreline of the bay. It’s also one of the most popular locations in the country for bird watching. It has an RV park equipped with electrical service, sewer connections, water, and picnic tables.

Padre Island National Seashore

For splendid sights, take a trip to the Padre Island National Seashore. This park, which is located between the Laguna Madre and the Gulf of Mexico, is one of the world’s only hypersaline lagoons. It is home to nearly 400 bird species and the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. This park is great for fishing and windsurfing.

While there are no RV hookups within the park, the park does offer a dump station and a water filling station for the convenience of campers. Additionally, there are RV hookups available at the local visitor center, and South Beach is open for primitive camping. Primitive camping is free as long as visitors pay the park entrance fee, but visitors will need to obtain a free camping permit before staying overnight. Visitors are allowed to remain in the camping areas no longer than 14 days. Thanks to moderate weather, camping is available year-round.

Mustang Island State Park

Early risers can catch magnificent views of the sun rising over the Gulf at Mustang Island.
Early risers can catch magnificent views of the sun rising over the Gulf at Mustang Island.

This state park offers a number of exciting activities. Spend a quiet evening huddled around a beach-side campfire, and then get up early the next morning to go paddling. Beachcombers will find plenty of seashells and fossils for their efforts, and bird watchers will have over 400 species of birds to observe. Mustang Island is also a breeding ground for Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, and people visiting the beach during the months of April to July might catch a glimpse of the turtles laying their eggs on the beach.

The park offers two camping options. There are drive up campsites without amenities, and drive up campsites with water and electric amenities. The primitive campsites are $10 per night and the water and electric campsites cost $20 per night. Visitors who prefer to be charged on a weekly basis can pay a weekly fee of $120.
 

What to Know About the 5 Biggest Cities in Texas

Texas has a long and rich history – The Alamo, Jim Bowie and the Civil War have all played a part in making Texas what it is today. A great place to live, work, and raise a family, people from all over the U.S. are moving here in droves. Thanks to the population influx, Texas boasts three of the 10 largest cities in the U.S. In case you’re contemplating a move to Texas, here’s what to know about the 5 biggest cities in Texas:

1. Houston

The largest city in Texas, more than 2 million residents call Houston home. The city was named after the former US Senator and Governor of Tennessee, Sam Houston, who is a central figure in the history of the state. Houston caused more than his share of dissent among locals – a rebellious streak that led to the epic Battle of the Alamo and, eventually, to the independence of Texas. Houston is in Harris County and its location along the muggy Gulf Coast leaves many a Houstonian wondering how to tame their hair. In addition to being a major hub for oil & gas, shipping transport, and exceptional medical care, this busy city is also home to MLB’s Houston Astros and the NFL’s Houston Texans.

Houston is the most populous city in Texas, and the 3rd largest city nationwide.
Houston is the most populous city in Texas, and the 4th largest city nationwide.

2. San Antonio

The home of the Alamo is the second largest city in the state. Here, you can visit the site where locals faced off against Santa Anna’s troops in the pivotal battle for independence, or take a stroll on the famed River Walk. San Antonio is shopper’s heaven, with some incredible shopping and entertainment. You can also catch the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs playing here.

3. Dallas

With more than a million residents, Dallas is considered one of the fastest growing cities in the US. Even though the city is still young compared to some other North American cities, it has already marked its place in the history books. Dallas was the location of one of the saddest moments in modern US history, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. On a much lighter note, Dallas natives are BIG sports fans and the city plays home to both the Dallas Cowboys, the Mavericks, and the Stars.

4. Austin

Founded in 1839 as the capital of the Texas Republic, the city was named after founder Stephen F. Austin. The capital city sits at 4th place with almost 800,000 residents, and that number is growing daily. Austin really stands alone among the cities in Texas. This left-leaning city lives by the motto “Keep Austin Weird” and it as a thriving arts and culture community. Music is also dear to the heart of the residents of Austin, and the city sees so many musical acts come through every year, that it is known as the Live Music Capital of the World. The city has also been dubbed the Silicon Valley of the South because of its thriving technology and entrepreneurial scene. Austin wears many hats and wears them proudly.

Austin's skyline seems to have a new building every week, growing as the city swells with new residents.
Austin’s skyline seems to have a new building every week, growing as the city swells with new residents.

5. Fort Worth

Forth Worth holds the title of the fifth largest city in the state and it is located in Tarrant County. The more than 700,000 residents are divided up into three districts… the cultural, stockyard and Sundance square. Fort Worth is the place to be if you’re a country music fan and want to see the world’s biggest honky tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas. It’s like a Texas cliché come to life.

 

sunset-over-killeen

The last few years since I’ve retired, I’ve been wandering around the state looking for a second home inland so I can be closer to relatives in Dallas and Austin. I think I may have finally found the perfect spot: Killeen. This town doesn’t conjure up images of particular quaintness or beauty, but I think it could just be the perfect spot for me. It’s in a fabulous location, just an hour outside of bustling Austin and 2 hours away from Dallas. Though best known as a military town because of its proximity to the army base of Fort Hood, Killeen actually has a lot going for it. Here are some reasons that moving to Killeen is a great idea for me and may be for you as well!:

1. Low Cost of Living

For me, living in Austin isn’t really an option, because rents and homes there over the last 5 years have climbed sky high. In Killeen, however, the cost of living is quite low, on average falling 13 percent below the national rate. Purchasing a house here is feasible because the housing costs are 22 percent lower than the average American city! The median home price is just $116,400.

Killeen is also home to Fort Hood, one of the largest military bases in the world.
Killeen is also home to Fort Hood, one of the largest military bases in the world.

2. Great School Options

Parents are often concerned what kind of education they can expect for their children when they move to a new city. I’m primarily concerned with a quality school system for resale value. Killeen doesn’t lack when it comes to schools; the Killeen Independent School District has 33 elementary schools, 13 middle schools, and 12 high schools. Additionally, there are over 20 well-respected private schools for families who prefer going that route.

3. Close to Many Hospitals

Health is important and access to medical care increasingly important as I continue to age. Killeen has over 20 hospitals nearby, including the top-notch Scott & White Memorial Hospital in nearby Temple and Veteran’s Affairs Hospitals in Temple and Waco. Here, there is no reason to worry about finding adequate healthcare.

4. Mild Climate

If you aren’t a fan of the snow and ice, Killeen may be the perfect spot for you. With a year-round average temperature of 65 degrees, it rarely dips below freezing in this Central Texas town. While there have been some extreme record highs peaking in the 100s, on average summer temperatures spike in the upper 90s, while in winter months the temperatures hover in the 40s and 50s.

Killeen, like the rest of Central Texas, has warm temperatures most of the year, making it a great place to spend time outside.
Killeen, like the rest of Central Texas, has warm temperatures most of the year, making it a great place to spend time outside.

5. Lots to Do

Besides the great climate and good schools, there is lots to do in this city. Killeen movers, Apple Moving (find on Facebook or Twitter) has a whole list of fun ideas for affordable entertainment in the Killeen area. They’ve compiled this list as part of a welcome package for the many families they help relocate to the nearby base at Fort Hood. Here are a few of the highlights:

6. Outdoor Fun

For those like me who enjoy time outdoors, the area has two lakes, Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Lake, both of which offer some of the finest spots to cast a line. Visitors can also boat, swim, or camp around the two lakes. Adventurous types enjoy Killeen’s 3-mile bike path or go hiking on one of the many area trails. Golfers will be happy to know there are two 18-hole courses in-town to keep their golf skills sharp.

If you find yourself moving to Killeen, there are many reasons to love your new home. No matter if you’re completing a military move or just retiring to a new place, Killeen, Texas, is a great fit for people of all ages and interests.

 

 

What You Should Know Before Moving to Texas

Texas is an amazing place to live: it has incredible food, friendly people, a low cost of living, no income taxes, lots of jobs, and affords a great quality of life. It’s no wonder, then, that people are moving here at a rapid pace. Between the summers of 2014 and 2015, more than half a million people moved to Texas, a record high for the Lone Star State. Great Guys Moving, a moving long distance company, has noted a marked uptick in the number of moves to Texas’ large metro areas. Statistics posted by another major carrier, Stevens Van Lines, shows that during the 2015 moving season two of the five most popular long distance moving routes were destined for Texas (California to Texas & New York to Texas). In fact, Texas is home to 5 of the 11 fastest growing cities in the nation, according to data gathered by the US Census Bureau. One things for certain, more and more people are realizing the perks of living in this great state.

If you, like so many others in recent years, are considering a move here, there are a few things to consider before you put down Texas roots:

Texas Has Incredible Cuisine

There are plenty of opportunities here to have your steak and eat it too.
There are plenty of opportunities here to have your steak and eat it too.

Texas sits in the heart of cattle country (a title its claimed since its cattle-driving days the 1860s), so the excellent steakhouses and BBQ joints the state is known for might be expected. However, in addition to its prolific beef production and consumption, Texas also has lots of regular farms with fruits and vegetables. Peaches, pecans, corn, berries, wheat, peanuts, rice, and soybeans are grown commercially, while smaller local gardens provide plenty of other fresh ingredients for farm-to-table restaurants that have popped up all over the state. Additionally, seafood lovers will be pleased to know that the Texas Gulf Coast offers an abundant catch of fish and shrimp.

Things Here Are Pretty High Tech

While the assumed Texan stereotype might be a gun-toting, horse-riding, boot-wearing rancher, Texas also has plenty of tech nerds. The Austin-area, in Central Texas, is home to big names like 3M, Apple, Dell, Oracle, Intel, Facebook, and dozens of other tech companies. In fact, there are so many tech start-ups in the capital city that it’s been referred to as the Silicon Valley of the South. Austin is the place to be for many entrepreneurs and start-ups, and it also consistently ranks among the best cities in the US. If you compare the price of real estate here to

In and around Austin is where you want to be if you’re pursuing a high tech career.  You should note that Austin is pretty affordable and is consistently ranked among the best cities to live in the US.  If you compare the cost of real estate in this hipster city to that of Silicon Valley and the San Francisco metro area, Texas starts to look mighty fine.

There’s More Than Just Country Music

Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, but just because it’s Texas doesn’t mean genres are limited to just country. Every October, thousands of people descend on Austin to attend the two-weekend Austin City Limits festival which features live music from hundreds of musical acts from around the world. Past headliners include musical acts as varied as The Civil Wars, the Foo Fighters, and the Eagles. If you move to Texas, expect to have plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in some of the world’s best music.

Texas Has a Rich History

In Texas, history is a pretty big deal, which helps explain why residents of Huntsville erected this 67-foot tall statue of Sam Houston.
In Texas, history is a pretty big deal, which helps explain why residents of Huntsville erected this 67-foot tall statue of Sam Houston.

To Texans, six flags is not just a theme park, it’s the number of different flags that have been flown here over the course of the state’s storied history. First settled by Spaniards back in the 1500s, the area was also ruled by France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and finally the United States. Texans are extremely proud of their past, and particularly of the independent spirit that led to Texas winning its independence from Mexico. They like to remind the rest of America that Texas is the only state to have been its own nation, and some are even behind a movement to secede from the U.S. There’s so much history in this great state that students at Texas public schools take two entire years Texas history over their K-12 career.

You’ll Have to Learn Texan

While not all Texans speak with a thick accent, they do have a vocabulary that may not be entirely familiar to outsiders moving here. Here are some of the key words and phrases you should know:

  • “Y’all”: short for “you all”, is the South’s more charming way of referring to a group of people and is equivalent to “you guys” in the North.
  • Drop the “g”: We tend to drop the “g” of most of our verbs. In example:
    • “Going to” becomes “gonna”
    • “Fishing” becomes “fishin’”
    • “Hunting” becomes “huntin’”
  • Do not use the words “pop” or “soda” when referring to carbonated beverages – it makes Texans cringe. Here, everything carbonated is a coke. If you’re at a restaurant and order a “coke”, the waitress will likely ask what kind – Sprite, Dr. Pepper, etc.
  • “Fixin to” means that you are about to do something. If you are about to mow the lawn, you might say “I’m fixin’ to mow the lawn”.

 

To learn additional Texan terms, please refer to the Glossary of Texan.

Texans Are a Friendly Bunch

Texas likes to remind out of state drivers to drive friendly.
Texas likes to remind out of state drivers to drive friendly.

All points of entry into the state remind drivers to “Drive Friendly, the Texas Way”. While city drivers are still pretty aggressive, drive any of the back roads and you’ll find that most people wave at passing cars. But, friendliness isn’t just limited to driving. In general, Native Texans are extremely approachable and aren’t afraid to strike up conversation with strangers. You’ll find that most are eager to help and happy to answer questions. With the potential for so many friendly neighbors, it’s no wonder that so many people move here every year.