Miss Independent

This topic may be dear to you if you are a modern gal. I remember big moments
in my life where I wore my badge of independence on my sleeve – riding a bike
without training wheels and years later without hands, maintaining my first car
(filters, spark plugs, tires, fluids, and more!), holding my ground in an
argument with an elder male, and getting detailed information from someone I
didn’t know over the phone in a foreign language, to name a few. These triumphs
often came after much work, so when Kelly Clarkson came out with her edgy pop
song, Miss Independent, a few years ago, I cranked the volume of it out of
pride, as a sort of anthem, if only for the title and first verses, and Ms.
Clarkson’s uncanny ability to belt it out. (Ms. Clarkson’s style doesn’t fit my
usual “genre” of music, but I commend the TV-affiliated music industry for
finding a very talented young lady.)

Little Holly, at just 6 months is showing her independent streak already,
grunting and kicking as she insists she can crawl, and pleading in her own
primal ways for things she has just discarded, as if to say, “Oh, be a dear and
get that for me. I just want to show you how I can throw it away again. I must
show you what I can do!” Similarly, she’ll grab at her spoon to feed herself
and insist on standing, even while she couldn’t do it all quite by herself. I’m
sure she sees her parents and brother as accessories.

Brother Max insists on doing much himself, as well. Stroller Hikes has been a
huge part of allowing him more freedoms in this respect. Though we absolutely
will not let Max roam parking lots or stores alone, and even keep close watch
when he is at a playground, he is permitted “off leash” if you will, when we
enter open spaces. He is certainly not allowed to roam from sight, as we are
quite aware of hazards that might befall him (wild animals and poison oak, to
name two), but he glows when out and about, and it’s not just the healthy suntan
that he emits. Max has become a little leader and can show you trails, evidence
of animals, fungus, and plants. He can pick a time, spot, and main course for
snack time, and knows how to work his water bottle, filling it when it is empty,
and cleaning up if he spills. He’ll open and close bags and boxes, pack and
unpack, and is always ready to plan for another Stroller Hikes event. He’ll
help make educated decisions when selecting a new snack at the store – “Does it
have protein? Is there too much sugar? Which is less expensive?” And he’ll
easily pick a location for an impromptu hike – he knows so many outdoor spaces
by name.

All in all, as we begin thinking of kindergarten, I am vastly impressed with Mr.
Independent. What would he have become if I hadn’t immersed him in events to
nurture his independent streak, encouraging him to weigh options, make
decisions, be creative, meet others, and take risks? Thanks to Stroller Hikes,
he has never run out of these opportunities.

The end of the year gives us time to reflect on all that we have accomplished
and experienced together. As the year comes to a close, consider making a
tax-deductable donation to Stroller Hikes, which is a 501-c-3 tax exempt
nonprofit. None of our staff or board members are paid – we all contribute to
Stroller Hikes out of an intrinsic desire to enrich our families, communities,
and help others to do the same. You can donate through PayPal at
StrollerHikes.com (look for the orange button on the top of the webpage) or by
sending a check to Stroller Hikes at 517 Fern Ridge Court, Sunnyvale, CA 94087.
Donations will help enrich our education and community outreach tools online and
at events, pay for technical assistance and summer high school interns, help
build our lending library of baby transport tools, and more.

Here are this week’s events:

Saturday, December 11th from 10 AM to 2 PM let your imagination run wild and get
creative with pine cones, branches, leaves and more at the Presidio Habitats
Exhibition Pavilion in San Francisco. Presented by Presidio Trust’s Presidio
Habitats Program. The Pavilion at the intersection of Storey and Ralston in San
Francisco and offers a self-guided art display at the same time. For more
information, see The Presidio Trust Website and Calendar
(http://www.presidio.gov/calendar/).

Monday, December 13th at 11 am join Amy B. and her wee ones for a hike and
picnic at Bol Park in Palo Alto. Meet at Bol Park near the corner of Matadero
Avenue and Laguna Avenue (on Laguna Avenue). This trail is entirely paved, so
any baby transport will work. The trail is a widely used multi-use path that was
converted from an old railroad line – a little history here! Come visit the
donkeys and chickens and see a piece of “old” Palo Alto. Bring a picnic for your
family. Meet at the playground in the middle of the park. For more information,
see The Bol Park Webpage
(http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/BolPark/BolPark.html). If you’re running
late, call Amy at 408-368-7161.

Tuesday, December 14th at 4 PM join Megan and little Vera for a Stroller Hikes
at John W Christian Greenbelt in Sunnyvale. Come enjoy a brisk walk along this
lovely wide, paved greenbelt in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara. Dogs allowed. We’ll
take a break around the halfway point for the trip, to play at the large
playground for toddlers along the greenbelt. Meet at the pedestrian bridge on
Ahwanee Avenue and San Junipero Drive (the bridge is just NW of San Junipero
Dr.). For more information about the trail, see the John W Christian Greenbelt
Webpage
(http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/GreenbeltSunnyvale/GreenbeltSunnyvale.html).
If you’re running late, call Megan at 408-409-3206.

Wednesday, December 15th at 10 am Pippa and Ruth will lead a Toddler Trek at
Ardenwood Farm, a historic farm in Fremont. We’ll do a slow-paced loop to see
the cows, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens. Toddlers will be encouraged to walk,
but if you want to bring transport, any stroller/trike/wagon will work as the
path is all paved. No dogs. There is an entry fee of $2. Bring a picnic to eat
afterwards, weather permitting. Meet just inside the gates by the entry booth:
34600 Ardenwood Blvd, Fremont, CA 94555. Call Pippa if you are running late at
510-621-7471. For more information about the farm or general directions, see The
Ardenwood Farm Webpage
(http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/Ardenwood/Ardenwood.html).

Friday, December 17th at 9:30 am Melissa and little Maxwell will lead at Rancho
San Antonio in Cupertino/Los Altos Hills. Meet at the main lower parking lot at
the water fountain in front of the bathrooms(just past the entrance, turn right,
then follow the road until it ends). For more information or directions, see the
Rancho San Antonio Page
(http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/RanchoSanAntonio/ranchoSanAntonio.html).
Sorry, dogs not allowed. The hike will be to the farm and back – about 2 miles,
with a stop at the farm for a break. This hike is at least half shaded. If
you’re running late, give Melissa a call at 650-224-5461.

Saturday, December 18th at 10:30 am join Bike Buddies for a Family Friendly Bike
Ride through downtown San Carlos. The ride will last up to an hour. For more
information, see SanCarlosGreen.org’s Website
(http://www.sancarlosgreen.org/home/bikebuddies.html).

Saturday, December 18th from 5:30 pm join Jennifer and little Kayla for a Full
Moon Hike at Harvey Bear / Coyote Lake Ranch Park near Gilroy. What a treat to
share sunset and witness some critters settling down to rest, while other
creatures come alive at night! We’ll hike Martin Murphy Trail, a 2 mile paved
loop, with excellent vantage points for seeing stars and looking for bats flying
to catch insects, while offering plenty of safe space for toddlers and children
to hike with us. Jennifer will alert you to nature at dusk and beyond, by the
light of the moon. All family members welcome! This is a Santa Clara County Play
Here activity (http://www.parkhere.org/portal/site/parks/). Register at the
Santa Clara County Website or by calling or e-mailing Carrie Grisenti at
408-355-2240 or Carrie.Grisenti@…! Registration required so the
group numbers are not overwhelming to the leaders! To get to the trailhead,
drive towards Gilroy on Highway 101. From the Highway 101 exit at San Martin
Avenue, drive East for 2 miles on San Martin Avenue. The Harvey Bear Ranch
entrance to the park is on the left, a quarter mile East of Foothill Avenue, on
San Martin Avenue. Call Jennifer at 408-470-0463 if you’re running late. The
event is free, but a parking fee may apply. Please register in advance at
www.parkhere.org through their calendar listing.

Help your child exercise his/her independence!

-Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly

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