All posts filed under: Family

Blanco State Park

A quick 1-hour drive west took us out to Blanco State Park this summer. It’s a pretty small park along a bend in the Blanco River on the south edge of town. But it was a perfect spot for a swim and a picnic. My brother joined us for the outing, and we left in the morning before the park got crowded. We picked a spot under the shade of whatever huge trees were growing along the bank and set up our blanket and chairs. We really should invest in a portable tent shade because it got sunny really fast as soon as the sun moved over the trees. The people behind us had the right idea. For a while, our kids just sat and ate watermelon. My husband was the first to get into the river, and eventually, the Big Kid got brave enough to go in the shallow end. It’s a pretty slippery entry with algae and whatnot growing on the rocks. We were glad to have the foresight to bring floaty noodles …

It’s My Park Day

Now that my kids are getting a little older, we’ve been making it a point to get outdoors more. This means more visits to local, state, and national parks. More hiking, more playing, and more adventures. Every single park we’ve visited this year (I still have more I haven’t gotten around to blogging about) has been well organized and maintained in the information available, the trails, camping reservations, and so on. I know that this is possible not only by Park Rangers and staff but also by all the many volunteers who put countless hours into making our parks so great. This morning, my family went to Garrison Park in south Austin for It’s My Park Day. This is the second year in a row that the Big Kid and I have volunteered. Bear Shark wanted to help too when I told him he might be able to help plant things, so we all signed up as a family. It was cloudy and humid, but the occasional breeze helped. We were creating a wildflower garden …

Road Trip 2017: Arkansas Days 4 & 5

Our last stop on our trip was Eureka Springs. My first impression of this tiny town was how similar to Berkeley it felt, due to the many steep hills, cute little shops, and how the homes were built on multi-levels. Some buildings had a Victorian vibe while some were quirky Medieval castles and then quaint cottages. We passed a motel site with treehouses on super tall stilts. Perhaps we should’ve opted for something like that than the plain hotel we booked. When I started researching what to see and do, the Thorncrown Chapel came up as a must-visit. Tucked among tall trees, the chapel is an architectural treasure. The geometric lines, ample natural light, and tall airy space made it a quiet place for reflection. Funny enough, the host inside the chapel came from the Austin area, and he gave me recommendations for where to eat. (Side note: When my husband went to venture out for beer, he came across a little market where the cashier was also from Austin.) As we explored more of …

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 …

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