Even as we sit, making plans for New Year’s, it’s hard to believe that 2014 is drawing to a close. There have been plenty of articles circulating summing up the year, and it seemed like a good time to reflect on our 2014 Austin Bucket Lists. The idea was to get out there and do one thing we’ve always wanted to do in Austin…about one per month. It might be with kids, might be without. Just like with anything in life, some were successes and some weren’t. Some didn’t even happen at all, for various reasons.
We were lucky to have two other Austin mama bloggers join us in our quest: Skye Kilean of Planet Jinxatron and Traci Shannon of A Star in My Own Universe. Here are our lists and links to the articles we wrote about our adventures — and our reflections about the challenge itself.
Skye’s Bucket List for 2014
- Canoe or kayak on Town Lake
- Go back to the Quarry Splash Pad in Leander AND finally make it to the Ricky Guerrero splash pad close to home – ✓
- Climb to the top of Mt. Bonnell for the FIRST time – ✓
- Roller skating (not sure where yet!)
- Hot Lava Obstacle Course - ✓
- Visit the Mexic-Arte Museum & The Jones Center – ✓
- Create at Craft on South First – ✓
- Two family photo walks – one nature, one urban – ✓
- Volunteer with at least two Austin organizations, using Little Helping Hands to find opportunities
- Attend a Lone Star Jedi event
- Hopdoddy (we WILL find a time there’s not a long line!)
- Renew quest to find good Chinese food in Austin – next stop, Asia Cafe
- Find a seriously good vanilla cupcake from a local bakery! –> Coolhaus – ✓
- Check out the Thinkery’s new exhibit, Junk City – ✓
I joined the Austin Bucket List project to combat my stay-at-home tendencies. I didn’t realize how bored I was until we started doing something different. It also reinforced for me that Austin is the right city for us. When I moved back here from Boston, I was afraid there wouldn’t be enough to do. Ha! We’ve barely gotten started with all the fun in Austin. We have several pieces of paper on our kitchen wall covered with ideas for what we’re going to do next. The biggest limit this year was being proactive, so I’m getting out the 2015 calendar soon to start laying out a plan.
I also learned (or re-learned) a few lessons about raising a kid in Austin. The three most important:
- Water, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen, jacket! No one is happy if anyone is hungry, thirsty, squinting, burned, or freezing (outdoors or inside!)
- Some of the best places for kids in Austin don’t label themselves as being for kids, so don’t limit yourself or your kiddo to just “children’s” activities. Both kids and grownups benefit from a wide variety of fun.
- Our city has so many creative, energetic entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations, and it feels great to support and recommend them.
Our biggest hit was probably C.R.A.F.T. Months after our Bucket List visit, we ended up calling there when Boy Detective’s outdoor birthday party plan was sabotaged by rain. With an hour and a half notice, they made space for us to bring half a dozen kids and their parents for an evening of glue, glitter, paint, beads, pipe cleaners, and more. Everyone loved it. I was so glad that I had that Austin resource in my back pocket for emergencies.
Traci’s Bucket List for 2014
- Swim in Barton Springs – ✓
- Do a Food Trailer Hop – ✓
- Deep Eddy Movie Night – ✓
- Walk Austin’s Trail of Lights (not just drive by)
- Run the Turkey Trot
- See the bats under the bridge – ✓
- SXSW- ✓
- Fly a kite at the Kite Festival
- Canoe Lady Bird Lake – ✓
- Eeyore’s Birthday – ✓
The year is coming to a close and what a year! Part of me is at a complete loss at how we have come to the end and part of me is amazed at all that has happened. This is especially true as I review my Bucket List. Looking at the list, there are not checks next to every item, but I really feel good about what we did.
I was looking forward to starting the year with the Kite Festival in Zilker Park. I remember attending when I was a child and wanted very much to share that experience with my children. Unfortunately for the festival but fortunately for Austin’s drought, the kites were rained out. So I’m keeping that on the list for next year.
In March, I checked my first box and in a big way. My husband and I finally made it to a South by Southwest event. After years of living in Austin and frankly avoiding the entire region during SXSW, we made our way around traffic and expensive parking to a fabulous evening. We attended the Jimmy Kimmel show, which ended in an impromptu concert by Willie Nelson. It might even have been enough to consider returning next year for the concerts!
Next came Eeyore’s Birthday. I had heard about the event from several friends and decided that it was an Austin staple that needed to be experienced. Now I know that the festival has a mixed reputation and I questioned whether it would be family friendly. We went early in the day and my daughter had a ball. There was an entire section dedicated to younger children and we took full advantage. We left after lunch and I hear that it became a little less G-rated then but our experience was a good one.
The next month, I decided to conquer my fear of cold water and ventured into the Barton Springs Pool. I did not feel I could call myself an Austinite without having done that. I was surprised to find it cool but pleasant (not nearly as cold as I feared!) and I was very glad to have crossed that one off my list. I now officially live in Austin!
In July, I continued enjoying that lakes surround our city. One of my best pals and I rented a canoe and headed out on Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake). It was a good workout and a bit hot but it provided some of the best views I have ever seen of downtown. It was also a terrific moment of community as we passed others on the water. Not a soul went without a hello, a smile, or a wave. It made me love Austin all the more.
Having conquered my fear of cold water, we chose a movie night at the Deep Eddy Pool. How fun to see “The Lego Movie” while floating on the water. As the movie cannot begin before sunset, it creates a late evening but that is one of the benefits of summer nights. I did learn to come early, however, if you want to stay on dry ground and be able to see your kiddos. The spots around the pool fill up quickly!
I was on a roll and checking boxes every month. But then we tried Trailer Food Tuesdays. This was not a complete success. We came unprepared for the wait with two hungry children. Lots of lessons learned from that occasion and we will try again with blanket, games, and tummies that are not totally empty!
The next challenge was to see the bats under the Congress Bridge. Things did not look good as one kid was sick and one had an injury. I chose to take this one on alone and while it was touch and go for a bit, it all turned out. It truly is awe-inspiring to see thousands of bats take flight simultaneously. There is a reason that people travel to see those bats. I’m glad that I stuck around for it all.
The last two items – The Turkey Trot and Trail of Lights – were centered on holidays. And anytime holidays are involved there can be bumps in the road. We decided to spend Thanksgiving with my mother-in-law in Houston this year. She wanted to cook this year and so we chose to celebrate with her. So, no Turkey Trot. We did intend on walking the Trail of Lights, but my children ping-ponged illnesses all season and I couldn’t imagine walking in large crowds with my little petri dishes. So, no Trail. We did see the giant tree from Mopac, however, and my daughter said, “Look Mommy, the tree! This is almost as good!” Almost.
I am glad that I made a Bucket List for 2014. Austin has so many things that make it special. Making a list helped me remember to take time out to enjoy the city where I live. I definitely would have missed out if I hadn’t taken the challenge. And the great part about living in Austin? There is still so much to discover in 2015!
Nicole’s Bucket List for 2014
- Chicken S%^t Bingo - ✓
- Family carriage ride – ✓
- Zip lining – ✓
- Jacob’s Well – ✓
- Flying Theater Machine – ✓
- Stand-up paddleboarding – ✓
- Take a bluebonnet photo with my boy – ✓
- Viva la Vida Parade – ✓
- Hip hop night at Nasty’s
- Listening to live music once a month
Even as a native Austinite, I found plenty to do this year that I hadn’t yet. Living in a house with two introverts, I really appreciated having an excuse to get them out of the house and exploring things (or even leaving them at home and crossing off items with friends). I’m not one for resolutions, but the idea of having a list of items to check off each month really appealed to me. I seem to keep lists everywhere, but one per month seemed so much more manageable. I’m already looking forward to the next items on my list!
Of the items on the list that I checked off with the family, the carriage ride was probably my favorite. My mom read my post about giving gifts of experiences during the holidays, so I was excited to do this together. In terms of the items-with-friends, I really had fun doing stand-up paddleboarding with a friend, especially since I thought I wouldn’t be capable of it. I wasn’t able to do the hip hop night, mostly because I balked at asking friends to something on a Monday night that gets going after 10pm. I was able to see lots of live music in the past year, but I’ll leave that for my Austin Music Mama wrap-up post on New Year’s Eve. Mostly, this exercise kept me appreciating my hometown even more!
In the new year, we will be rolling out brand-new lists and crossing items off. Stay tuned for more on that in January!
What do you want to do which you haven’t in Austin?