When Virginia Woodruff’s 6-year-old son Max saw someone doing tricks on a bicycle last year, he knew what he wanted to do when he grew up.
Now, he and his parents are regulars at some of Austin’s bike parks so that he can master riding up and down obstacles in his path, such as the dirt hills at the Ninth Street BMX Park, across the street from downtown’s Duncan Park, and the concrete ramps and humps at the Austin BMX & Skate Park not too far away on Shoal Creek Boulevard. He also loves a lesser-known bike park just off the West Bouldin Creek Greenbelt.
Besides his dad, Tom Vale, Woodruff is unquestionably Max’s biggest fan, supportive of his passion for BMX biking and willing to take him to practice tricks after school. Parenting him and his 3-year-old twin sisters, Hannah and Greta, is “the most important thing” she’s ever done, Woodruff said — not that it’s always easy.
Until last year, she didn’t have an outlet to share her stories about Max’s BMX biking adventures or the twins’ Chinese classes. That’s when she thought up the concept of “Great Moments in Parenting,” a website available to all parents who need one spot to swap their experiences, the good and the bad, of raising children. It’s become so popular with other moms and dads that it’s now a finalist for the South by Southwest Interactive Awards, held this year on Tuesday at the Hilton Austin on East Fourth Street.
“It’s an opportunity to admit your less-than-perfect times. There’s no judgment and there’s no bragging,” Woodruff said. “When I started this, I wanted a community who could commiserate about how hard it is to raise kids.”
She didn’t think anything would come of submitting “Great Moments in Parenting” to SXSW, but now she is excited for the opportunity to network at many of the interactive events — finalists at the interactive awards receive a free interactive badge — and at the party thrown the night before the awards for all the finalists.
Sadly, her husband will not be able to attend the awards ceremony with her, she said, because his company is throwing an unofficial showcase the same night at Bar 96 on Rainey Street, featuring T Bird and the Breaks and other bands. He founded a music licensing company in town called Frog that helps the songs of local bands appear in television shows, a middleman between Austin and Los Angeles that she said Vale noticed didn’t exist when they moved here six years ago.
“With both of our jobs, we said, ‘How come no one is doing this?’ and we did it ourselves,” Woodruff said.
Of course, being Mom and Dad remains their No. 1 roles. They make a family affair out of going to Whole Foods on the weekends for groceries, a place Woodruff regards with particular fondness because it had been her only source of social interaction when the twins were first born. They also enjoy trips to Little Stacy Park, in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood where they live, and Deep Eddy Pool, off Lake Austin Boulevard, in the summer.
Do as the locals do!
Each week we’ll bring you recommendations from notable Austinites on what you’ve just got to check out — from insider tips on where to catch the best live music to where to find the best Tex-Mex. To recommend someone to feature, email Arianna Auber at email@example.com.