Ms. K, Hiking Hero, Plants Another Seed

Growing Up Austin - Austin Kids Hike - Shoal Creek

I told you about Sparkles’ recent declaration that she doesn’t like hiking and how I started planning hikes with people she likes. Last week, I planned a hike with Ms. K, Sparkles’ favorite day care teacher of all time.

Every now and then, I would need to get to work early, so I would drop off Sparkles and Buttercup early and they would eat their breakfast at the day care.

Sparkles LOVED when she got there early. There usually wasn’t another kid there, so Sparkles got to talk with Ms. K all by herself, the whole time.

Even when Sparkles moved up to an older class, she still spent her early mornings with Ms. K.

Even when we moved to a new day care, Sparkles asked for play dates with Ms. K and Ms. K asked if she could see Sparkles.

Even when Ms. K moved to another town forty minutes away, we still make play dates.

Ms. K and Sparkles have a very special connection.

When I talked about a hike the other day, Sparkles began her protest. Then I said we were meeting Ms. K and Sparkles couldn’t wait to get to the creek.

We all met at Shoal Creek and I didn’t ask Ms. K to help with the whole hiking-protest-delima, I didn’t plan that far ahead, but she helped anyway. It ends up, Ms. K LOVES hiking.

Ms. K noticed things on the ground a lot more than I do. She noticed fossils and shells and interesting trash, like pieces of glass and an old shot gun shell.

(That sounds funny, when I write it like that, as if there is drinking and hunting going on at this part of the creek where I hang out with my small kids. I do find beer bottles on the creeks sometimes, so I imagine there is drinking sometimes at night, but we stick to hiking during the day. In all my years of hiking the creeks, this is the first shot gun shell I have found. It was very old and I imagine that it was carried by the creek, after a rain, from far away.)

After our experience with Keep Austin Beautiful, I was inspired to do better at picking up trash on the creeks, so we carried out a good amount of trash that day. Then Ms. K shared stories of her favorite outdoor places like Landa Park in New Braunfels and Frio River in Concan. Sparkles listened to everything she said and one more time, Sparkles wasn’t quite ready to leave when it was time to go home. (Yes, there is a theme of protest in general, whether we are hiking or not. I will share more about this unfortunate situation in the weeks to come.)

Sometimes it is hard, like when your four-year-old never wants to go hiking again.

Sometimes it easy, like when her favorite teacher and hiking hero plants a hiking seed and you can see it start to grow.

Thanks, Ms. K.

Find more information about Shoal Creek on Austin Kids Hike, this story is from Trail Head #1.

And, in other news, this Saturday, June 2nd, is National Trails Day, sponsored by the American Hiking Society, to clean up trails across the country. Find our more and register for the Austin effort here. This is a great chance to hike and do some good at the same time!


A Subtle and Creative (or Sneaky) Hiking Approach with a Surprise Ending

Growing Up Austin ParentingMy first subtle and creative approach to Sparkles’ declaration that she didn’t like hiking was to stop using the word “hiking.” That worked for about five minutes, then she told me that she knew very well that “exploring” meant “hiking.” I would have to think of something better.

For the next few hikes, we met people she really liked at the park or creek. When she began to protest the hike, I told her that we were meeting someone there, so we definitely had to go. My first attempt with this approach was a hike at McKinney Falls State Park with Uncle C. This park is great because it is just a few miles from Austin and it has real, live waterfalls, even if someone from Portland would laugh when we say that, because the water doesn’t fall very far. (This is the Upper Falls, the Lower Falls are a bit fancier.)

Growing Up Austin Parenting

Sparkles started out pretty grumpy. We hiked along the bank of a river and she complained about her shoes and her feet and the bushes and the grass and the sun and the dirt and the trees. She also complained because I wouldn’t let her put on eighteen layers of sunscreen. (When she is grumpy, she insists on either 0 layers or 18 layers of sunscreen.)

My brother and I tried to talk with her about other things. She sort-of-liked the dramatically shaped rocks crossing the river at the falls. She sort-of-liked seeing a man catch a small fish with his fishing pole. But, after she was loosened up some, she said she really liked the Moms who were wading in the ankle-deep river with their little girls, on the other side of the falls. So, our shoes came off and in we went.

We could see dozens of tadpoles in the shallow water, along with minnows and different kinds of algae. We could feel the warmer and cooler water, depending on the water depth. She loved the cool water and her clothes got wet a little at a time, until she was soaking wet from head to toe.

When it was time to leave, you won’t believe the surprise ending for our hike. She said “I don’t want to leave!” The first picture above is her being angry with me, refusing to put her shoes back on, refusing to walk back to the car, so mad she couldn’t hike longer.

In the moment, her protest was a hassle, but inside, I smiled a little. She does like hiking. I see her face light up when she walks and explores and wonders. I might need to be subtle and creative for a while, but I trust that in time, all will be well.


Call the Moving Van, I’m Ready to Pack (Maybe)

Growing Up Austin A while back (my girls are wearing jackets, so it must have been a long while back), the girls, some friends and I started hiking on the Hamilton Greenbelt, a regular-looking neighborhood greenbelt, when we turned the corner and saw this…

Growing Up Austin This creek and waterfalls and all the trees around them were right next to a row of houses, just outside their backyards. I decided we would probably move into one of those houses.

Then we crossed the creek, walked a bit further and saw tennis courts. I decided we would definitely move into one of those houses.

I LOVE creeks and waterfalls.

Blue Eyes LOVES tennis.

I nearly had our current house for sale using an iPhone app when we walked to the end of the block and out to the street.

The houses were old, run-down duplexes, rentals for sure. Then I looked closer at the tennis/basketball court and I saw there wasn’t a basketball net, then I looked again and there wasn’t a tennis net either. Then I remembered that the Hamilton Greenbelt was in Lakeway and Blue Eyes would have to commute 2-hours-a-day.

My plans to move are on hold for now, but we will be back to this greenbelt for sure. Thanks to Brian Greenstone for the info.