All posts filed under: Family

Road Trip 2017: Arkansas Day 3

They don’t call Scenic Byways “scenic” for no reason. From Hot Springs, the drive through Ouchita National Forest was spectacular. The road would wind around sharp turns or long swooping curves. We experienced some really steep inclines for miles at a time. Maybe it would’ve been more fun to drive in my old GTI, but my family-friendly Outback was still a smooth ride. We booked a night at the Lodge atop Mount Magazine. As we approached the state park, we could already see sweeping views of the Petit Jean Valley below. There are signs everywhere, warning about the high cliff drops. I’m not usually scared of heights, but I kept a safe distance from the edge. When you go to visit the highest point in a state, you are obligated to hike to that exact point. So we walked the moderate trail up Signal Hill to where they have the point marked. Along the way, we noted the tiny spring flowers that were blooming, interesting fungi growing on fallen logs and (ack!) tons of poison …

Road Trip 2017: Arkansas (Days 1 & 2)

Last year, we headed west to New Mexico and Colorado for our first family road trip. So this year, we decided to head northeast to Arkansas and see what The Natural State had to offer. Even though we didn’t have to drive through desolate parts of Texas to get there, it still took us quite a bit of time to get out of the state. The best laid plans can be foiled by Mother Nature. She dropped 8 inches of rainfall the night before our trip and continued to pour down as we left early in the morning. It was coming down so hard that part of I-35 was closed due to flooding. We sat in a parking lot trying to get out of Austin metro to wait for blinding rain to ease up before we even had the chance to sit in the massive backup from the flood. It took us over 5 hours to get up to Dallas, where the rain seemed to clear. Of course, the delay in getting out of Dallas …

Lost in Transition

I am struggling so hard with this parenting thing right now. Bear Shark is fully in his 3’s, and other parents who have gone through the 3’s know that every day is a battle that tries to destroy our will to live. We went through some tough 3’s with the Big Kid. The range of emotions that happens within a 2-minute time span is extreme. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I remember there being so many tears (mine out of exhaustion and frustration, his out of… I dunno… his sandwich was cut wrong???). But I also remember how my husband took on a bigger role in parenting because I was tending to Bear Shark as a baby. He took the hard blows while I cuddled and nursed. I was able to hide from the 3’s. There’s no hiding now. And Bear Shark is a completely different person than his brother in personality, energy level and demeanor. He is brash and explosive, expressive and experimental, loud and so very physical. He’s a …

Inks Lake State Park

We visited Inks Lake State Park at the peak of wildflower and bluebonnet season. With our State Parks Pass in hand, we wanted to find a park that was within a short drive (in case there was a freak-out moment) so the boys could have their first camping experience. Inks Lake has waterfront cabins in addition to tent camping, and that worked out perfectly for our family. Heads up that Central Texas campsites at many state parks fill up FAST in the spring. We booked this trip a month ahead to get a Friday night spot. It only got more crowded by Saturday. Checking other parks’ availability nearby, many were booked up on weekends almost 2 months ahead. Besides our Parks Pass, the best investment we made was picking up a Chillax Hammock from Costco. They normally retail for $70, and Costco was selling them for $35. The Big Kid spent the entire afternoon and early evening, lounging in the hammock. If the night hadn’t gotten chilly, he probably would’ve slept in it too. Thankfully, my husband …

Pedernales Falls State Park

The last time my husband and I went out to Pedernales Falls State Park, we had our old dog Boo Boo with us. To get to the falls, you have to scale some pretty large boulders, and I kind of forgot how much effort it took, especially when you’re trying to get a 65-lb dog who isn’t a jumper up and over. Eight years later, no dog but two kids… same huge boulders. It took some effort between my husband and I to pass kids over crevices to make sure no one fell into holes or moving water. It also took quite a bit of effort to keep Bear Shark from trying to jump off of boulders that were taller than him! On our way to Twin Falls, we accidentally took a more scenic trail down the hill to the river that’s part of Trammell’s Crossing Trail. It was a fun little detour, climbing over rocks and following the natural “stairs” that led downhill, but it also meant we needed to make the hike back …

McKinney Falls State Park

Ever since we bought a State Parks Pass ($70 for an entire year), we have been trying to make the most of it to see the natural beauties in Texas. The closest to us in Austin is McKinney Falls State Park, a quick 20 minutes from downtown. I’ve been there a handful of times, but there was recent rain that made the waterfalls a little more exciting than our visit last year. We got there in the morning around 10 and brought lunch in a cooler. The kids were very excited about carrying trail maps, as if we were hunting for treasure. Our first stop was toward the Lower Falls. The last time we visited, we told the Big Kid about how he lost a shoe as a baby, and it bounced on the rocks and landed in the creek below. He found the same spot we pointed out to him of the lost shoe and gave us a pose – both shoes firmly on his feet. The Lower Falls don’t look like much when you first …

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