Block by Block & Park by Park

photoSummer time arrives and my walking comes to an abrupt halt. I don’t know why, but my feeling is it’s the kids fault. With my husband working from home it’s my summer time job to keep the kids quiet and out of his hair so he can work. This means if I want to take a walk for this project I must take the kids with me. I have found the best way to accomplish this is with bribery. Last year my carrot on the stick was ice cream from McDonalds. After the ice cream was consumed a whole 5 minutes into the walk I spent the next 55 minutes listening to them complain about how hot it was, how tired they were and how boring walking is. You’d think I was torturing them. I watched in frustration as the previously almost comatose, arms dangling, feet dragging children would somehow find the most unbelievable second wind as we approached a park. Off they shot like lightning bolts at the sight of slides and swings.

Again this year I found myself rounding a second month of no walking and knew I couldn’t bear leaving the month of June without a walk. Remembering the exhilaration of last’s year’s park phenomenon I decided that I would begin our journey with the wonderland of Lansing parks. I even had the brilliant idea to let each of the twins compare and scrutinize each of the parks as evaluators, judge and jury. And it worked, almost.

cs_IMG_3226Since I was running some errands in the Old Town area I decided our first park would be Comstock Park. We’d made a stop once at this park before but I only walked a few streets on the east side of it. We parked, the kids see the slide and off they go running. I couldn’t keep them in the car! By the time I get to them they’ve tried the monkey bars, swings and are onto the merry go round. On my notebook I write a few survey questions; on a scale of 1-10 rate its likeability, cleanliness and fun.

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For likeability they each gave pretty high marks (that slide/swing + kids thing. It’s like a dog with a fire hydrant) with Evan giving it a 7 and Ellie an 8. Cleanliness it got a 3 from Evan and Ellie upped it to a 4 because there were flowers. They each gave it a 5 for fun. Some other things we noticed were that there was a lot of weeds growing through the wood chips. There is lots of street parking. It also sat on a very large field. A robust game of football, soccer or kickball could be had at this park with room to spare. Lastly, at the time of the survey there were no other kids here. But just as I wrote that down three neighborhood boys wandered onto the playground and immediately began playing with the twins.

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After a good 45 minutes of playing I decided it was time to do the walking. They were getting tired, I could tell, but I really needed to walk! So I used my guilt tactic; “I got you popcorn from Cravings and let you play at the park, now I just need you to walk a little with me”. This worked well with Ellie; she’s a girl and even at this young age understands the manipulations/guilt method. However, Evan was not so easily swayed. He fused and dragged his feet the whole time. He was thirsty, he was tired, he had a sore throat (from walking) and he wanted to go back to the car; on and on the whole 1.47 miles. He didn’t stop until he could once again see the park (I swear it’s like some calming mechanism; a soothing salve for his over exercised little being). With the park in sight they both chose to run through the fields back to the car; their exhaustion evaporated instantaneously.

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Back in the car we refreshed with some popcorn and water. Ellie really wanted to try another park, while Evan wanted to return home. Ellie won and we drove over to Bassett Park west of MLK and north of Willow. Pulling up again the parking was road side and it had many of the same styled play equipment. The second the twins saw the tire swing we decided to definitely make the stop. We parked and out they ran; same imagery as above. This time we met up with a young grandma and her little grandson. She was in town for her daughter’s baby shower (the little boy was going to be a big brother and he had the shirt to prove it) and the grandson had insisted on having a picnic at the park. I greatly enjoyed speaking with her as we watched our three little ones play together.  Other people wandered in and around this park. It had a friendly, used feel about it; almost too used as there was trash everywhere. Here are the twins’ rankings for this park:

Evan                    Ellie

Like                       5                            10

Clean                    1                            1

Fun                        5                            10

They noticed the trash too. It is such a shame that a nice asset to a neighborhood can’t be kept clean. I picked up a few things while I walked around the streets that bordered the park but it could definitely use a good clean-up crew.

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I have a few other parks I can take the twins to with this method but I think they’re picking up on my schemes. I might have to start getting more creative to finish out the summer. Do you have ideas to get my kids to walk with me? Send them out, I’d love to hear them.

Our walks today

Comstock Park area

Bassett Park area

I also walked 2 blocks on Tisdale yesterday because I was in the neighborhood. Block by Block!

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