Breaking the Ice with Your Little: Suggestions from a Long-Time Match

“I was pretty nervous,” says Big Sister Kathy Garin about her first meeting with 15-year-old Little Sister Rachelle three years ago. “I was looking for a way to break the ice.”

Kathy’s confidence grew, however, as she and Rachelle discovered that they shared an adventurous spirit, and both loved trying new things. Seeking out activities that were new to both soon became Kathy and Rachelle’s favorite way of spending time together.

“That’s how our relationship evolved,” says Kathy.

For their first foray into the unknown, Kathy and Rachelle decided they would seek out the best pies in Central Texas– an accolade they ultimately bestowed on the Texas Pie Company of Kyle.

Over their three years as a match, they’ve continued to discover new things together –new tastes (Korean kimchi fries), new places (Texas’ first cat cafe), new outdoor adventures (stand up paddle boarding) and much more!

Their spirit for adventure isn’t all they shared, however. Over time, they discovered a common passion for music and choral performance that provided ongoing opportunities for nurturing their relationship.

“We were paired very, very well,” says Kathy. “We’ve discovered so many common interests!”

For Kathy and Rachelle, the creative explorations that began three years ago have fostered a relationship that remains strong. Although they may share adventures less frequently now that Rachelle is planning for college and Kathy’s job often takes her out of town, Kathy feels confident that her relationship with her Little Sister will endure.

“She can’t get rid of me,” Kathy laughs. “I know we’ll be in each other’s lives for a long time!”

For new Bigs and Littles, however, who may be unsure of how to get started, Kathy enthusiastically recommends a “choose your own adventure” approach for breaking the ice. Here’s a list of some of her and Rachelle’s favorite food and drink discoveries to inspire new matches:

Texas Pie Company – Take the scenic backroads to Kyle’s Texas Pie Company, where the motto is “Life is Short, Eat More Pie.” Choose from a wide selection of 4” individual sized pies, including Buttermilk, Southern Pecan, Strawberry Peach, Peanut Butter Mousse, Key Lime, and more, or take home a 10” pie to savor all week long! Just in case pies aren’t your thing, you’ll also find a tasty selection of other fresh, handmade baked goods, casseroles, quiches and sandwiches. 202 W. Center St., Kyle. Monday-Friday: 10:30 am-6:30 pm, Saturday: 10:30 am-4 pm, closed Sunday. (512) 268-5885.

Tiny Pies – Located in north-central Austin, Tiny Pies offers up yummy bite-sized pies, including sweet and savory classics, unique combinations (like Pumpkin Chai and Blackberry Balsamic) and rotating favorites inspired by seasonal ingredients.  With this seasonal emphasis, the menu is always changing, so be sure to call ahead if there’s something special you’re looking for. 5035 Burnet Rd., Austin. Monday-Friday: 10 am-8 pm, Saturday: 9 am-7 pm, closed Sunday. (512) 916-0184.

Blue Cat Café – One of Kathy and Rachelle’s favorite and most unique destinations, Blue Cat Café is Texas’ first cat café. Bringing together adorable, adoptable kitties with delicious food and coffee, the café’s prime objective is to find forever homes for stray and shelter cats. Visitors pay a $5 cover fee for the opportunity to mingle with and pet the cats, play board games, enjoy music and art or even take part in Kitty Yoga on Sunday mornings! 95 Navasota St., Austin. Monday-Thursday: 10 am-8 pm; Friday and Saturday: 10 am-10 pm; Sunday: 11 am-7 pm. (512) 766-5003.

Summer Moon Coffee Bar – Enjoy a cup of “coffee unplugged” at Summer Moon! This family-run establishment crafts custom coffee roasts using fair-trade, organic beans in a wood-fired, brick roaster they designed and built by hand. Rachelle loves to drink Mocha Moon, while Kathy’s favorite treat is the lemon poppy seed muffin. Locations in North and South Austin, Buda, Kyle, Westlake, Cedar Valley, San Marcos and San Antonio! Hours vary by location.

Andy’s Frozen Custard – One of Rachelle and Kathy’s first discoveries, Andy’s Frozen Custard in Round Rock, remains one of their favorite places to share desserts and catch up on life. They both enjoy frozen custard’s thick, creamy texture and smoother consistency than traditional ice cream and Andy’s abundant menu offerings. 1700 E. Palm Valley Blvd. #800, Round Rock. Open daily, 11 am-11 pm. (512) 687-2786.

Enjoy!

Hobie Day 2018

It was a beautiful day on the water as Bigs and Littles got to exercise their “sea-legs” at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas’ 2018 Hobie Day. Approximately 100 matches showed up at Bob Wentz Park on Lake Travis to experience the unique adventure that is catamaran sailing courtesy of the Austin Cats, a group of sailing enthusiasts who have hosted the event for close to 40 years.

Big Brother Jeff and his Little Brother Caden had a great time at the event. “We enjoy just being out on the lake, learning more about the Hobie Cats, and sailing in general,” said Jeff. “And Jim, our guide, did an awesome job of explaining everything. Caden even got to do some trampolining, where you hang over the side of the Hobie Cat. It was amazing.”

Many of the matches just enjoyed having a chance to be outdoors and enjoy the water. “Caden is really a gamer kid. He likes video games. So, any time we can get outside, we want to take advantage of it,” said Jeff. “We appreciate BBBS having this event, and the Austin Yacht Club, and the Austin Cats crew, that puts it on. We’ll be back every year that we don’t have a conflict.”

Other Bigs and Littles, like Christina and her Little Sister Isis, saw the day as an opportunity to have an adventure. “It’s our first time to be at Hobie Day,” said Christina. “It’s just nice to have this event and to have it on these boats. We’re excited to have the opportunity to go on an adventure like this together.”

It was an adventure Isis wasn’t totally sure about at the beginning. “I’ve never been on a boat before,” she said, “but I think it is going to be cool and I’m only a little bit scared.”

Following the ride, Isis was all smiles as she struck a victory pose when she got off the boat. She couldn’t stop talking about how fun and relaxing it was riding across the lake, and how much she enjoyed using a squirt gun to shoot water at her brother who was in another boat.

The Austin Cats supplied five catamarans for the rides throughout the afternoon. They also spent time preparing for, and hosting, the event.  In addition to the boat crews, the Young Men’s Service League Westlake Chapter and Cavalier’s Chapter provided volunteers who helped with tasks like equipping attendees with life jackets, assisting people as they got onto the boats, and cleaning up after the event.

“This is my first time volunteering with BBBS and already, in just the 1 ½ hours I’ve been here, what I’ve seen of the Bigs’ and Littles’ relationships is precious, more than precious,” said Michelle Hogan, of the YMSL Westlake.  “It is special to see all these Bigs spending time with children who need an extra loved one in their lives.”

For one match, Hobie Day 2018 marked the ten-year anniversary of their match relationship. Tom and his Little Brother Jordan spent their first outing as a Big and a Little at a Hobie Day event 10 years ago. “When we were first matched Jordan was 6-years-old and he was a tiny, little guy,” said Tom. “In the picture I have from that time, I had to bend down to be beside him in the shot. Now, ten years later, he’s about to be taller than me.”

“I used to be scared of the water,” said Jordan. “but I’m not scared any more, so today will be fun.”

Tom said that, early on, he tried to take Jordan swimming for some of their outings, but that he wouldn’t swim. “In year two I could see that he had decided, ‘I’m going to do this,’ and now he’s a great swimmer,” said Tom. “I don’t think we’ve missed many Hobie Days.”

Hobie Day is a BBBS event where Bigs and Littles get to spend time with the Little’s family members as well. In addition to sailing, attendees enjoyed swimming, eating pizza, playing games and lounging along the shoreline.

Special thanks to our great event partners – the Austin Cats, the Young Men’s Service League Cavaliers, the Young Men’s Service League Westlake, Domino’s Store #6384, and Howard Barnett with Zilker Park Boat Rentals – for their support and involvement. Thanks, too, to our staff, Bigs, Littles and their families for making Hobie Day 2018 such a special day.

See photos from the day in our 2018 Flickr album here