Snow Birds

No matter where we go,
they just play in the dirt.
I hesitate to call this a vacation, because M was working pretty much the whole time, and the rest of us were doing pretty much what we always do...playgrounds, libraries, walking in the park, etc. But it was definitely nice to walk around in the sunshine. It was close to 80 degrees the day we hiked in Balcones Canyonlands, just northwest of Austin. We did see some of the Golden Cheeked Warblers, as well as great views of Hill Country. It was the first place where it really felt like we had come west. I wanted to keep on going through Texas into New Mexico, but we had other plans.

M and I have had to really adjust our expectations when it comes to hiking. Marko can be carried, but often doesn't want to. Laurel can really move when she wants to, but Marko's slow pace seems to sap her zest for hiking. So, we look for trails that are under 2 miles long and we take our time. The kids spend a lot of time stopping and looking at the things that we don't necessarily think are interesting and if we point out something that is rare and awesome (i.e. the endangered golden cheeked warbler) they are like, "Whatever, here is a piece of wood mulch that I found on the trail and is not even part of the native landscape, but was trucked in to keep the trail from washing away and it is way cooler than the golden cheeked warbler."

This is a fact about parenting that could really drive you crazy if you forget that (1) kids are people and are going to have their own opinions, desires and interests that may not align with yours and (2) when you go someplace it doesn't have to be all about creating magical experiences for the kids. Maybe YOU want to see the golden cheeked warbler and their lack of appreciation for the rare opportunity need not ruin your experience.

Laurel: Much happier on the
OUTSIDE of the Arch.
I think the Gateway Arch is one of the prettiest monuments in the country and I've always wanted to go up to the top. The weird, little tram cars that take you up were a unique design to accommodate the curve. The kids and I watched some videos about the design contest and the construction, before we left on our trip. Laurel recognized it as we were driving in towards St. Louis. Unfortunately, she hated going up to the top. I don't know exactly what her limit is for going off the ground, but she's always climbing to the highest point possible on the playground and giving me a heart attach by dangling upside down from it. It might actually have been the sway of the structure that freaked her out. It was built to sway up to 18 inches. While I don't think it was that windy the day we were there, it was definitely moving a little bit. 

We had to arrange our travel days to accommodate M's work schedule, which was a little challenging at times. Being in the Central Time Zone helped a bit, since he got an earlier start. But it would be one thing for him and I to hit up a Starbucks for a couple of hours. (Or 8, as it were.) Quite another to figure out what to do with a two year old and a five year old for that amount of time. Luckily we had some seriously generous family and friends to stay with for much of the time. Thank you Heather & Lisa, Joe & Donna, and Kristi-Jo and Brendan! I love getting to visit with my far-away friends and family. Email and Christmas cards are one way to stay in touch, but there's nothing like sitting around with a cup of coffee in the morning and catching up. Or driving around the city of Austin and cheering on marathon runners, including M! And we loved wandering the campus of LSU and checking out Mike. Tigers are a thing in Baton Rouge. There was even one at the gas station we stopped at. Not kidding.

Tigers. Everywhere in LA.
I had to keep the kids occupied. We brought their bikes and they rode those a lot. We hit up every playground we could. I also prepared a series of geography lessons for Laurel. Driving the route we did gave us a perfect opportunity to look at the features that give the states their borders. Particularly along the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, the land is a constantly changing thing. We read books that we brought as well as the pamphlets from the places we stopped at. We also looked at coins, restaurant menus and maps. Laurel is really driving her reading and writing development right now and has grown in leaps and bounds this month. She spends a lot of time sketching and writing sentences. I don't interfere unless she asks me a question.  One thing I am doing is helping her with penmanship practice. I also brought some recorded books, including a pretty long chapter book. Marko had Duplos and matchbox cars to play with, and he often joined in for coloring.

The best part for me has been the days - and it's been most of the them - when the kids got plenty of running around time. They are so much easier to handle when they play enough and get plenty of exercise and fresh air. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tigers really are everywhere! We loved having you and Mark, meeting the kids, and getting a chance to catch up. Anytime the winter winds are blowing, you have a warm place to stay.