You will find us peeing from such great heights

Such great hights

Such great heights

When you’re working from home in the summer the playdate becomes key to maintaining some sanity for the boys and I. When there is another kid there to engage them I have time to work on what I need to and they get a new perspective on tired playthings. After a fantastic time at Tumbling Camp E (the kid formally known as “The Charge”) came over to play. After going through the usual suspects: cars, cards, forts, and bikes the boys told me they were bored. Bored? How could you be bored when there is so many cool things you can do like fix the washing machine, or pull the weeds, or build a dirt track for bikes, or get the cement out of the secret weed room, climb up on the roof and pee over the crown of the house. There were other nonsensical things said to encourage the kids to think creatively but when they heard ROOF CLIMB PEE everything else became white noise. “Daddy can we?” Can you what? “Can we pee off the roof?”

Now here is where a good parent would explain that they were giving examples to get them to think outside the house. But we all know I am not a “good” parent. Instead I said the following:

Listen boys, if you can get the 10 foot ladder off the side of the garage, over the wood pile, and somehow put it up to the house and climb up than by all means pee off the roof. Good luck with that!

My thought being it was an impossible scenario that would keep them busy for a good amount of time. Since there is a picture attached to this post I’m sure you see where this is going. The ladder was already up against the back of the garage from the night before when Beautiful climbed up there to steal flowers from our neighbors tree. Not all our kids mischievous traits come from me!  After about 15 minutes my sister-in-law came in to ask if I told the boys they could pee off the roof. Well technically I did but there is no way they can get up there so …… I went outside to find one kid peeing into the neighbor’s yard, another on his way up to cross streams and a third kid talking himself into the adventure. They all had a chance to rain down from above before I helped them down and put the ladder up in its PROPER PLACE!

I know the moral of this story should be something about thinking about what you say and safety and all that but knowing what I know now I wouldn’t have done anything different. The boys had an awesome dangerous adventure and I got a good story. That’s a win-win.

That Summertime Sadness

IMG_1096This has been a summer of adventure for the boys as they have now spent more time away from home then they have sleeping in their own beds. The summer kicked off with a visit to North Carolina where we had a great time with family, I got to sample cocktails in an underground whiskey club, and the boys organized a pickup soccer game with 20 kids in the park. They then spent the next two weeks driving from Cape May, NJ all the way back to Portland with stops to see many friends and family members. They made it home just in time to head to Clatskanie for a soccer camp before finally coming home a month after school let out.

Rule breakersSummer is usually a tough time where I have to manage a full work week with the boys anxious to play and explore. But this summer has been a whirlwind of travel, camps, and family that has left me feeling a little sad about the changing landscape of our lives. There is now more work hours and less play as the boys find engagement elsewhere. As a dad that liked the idea of being primarily focused on parenting while working a little on the side I’m finding it harder to come to terms with my new role. I know that there is still a lifetime of parenting to do but part of the job is always letting go of something, be it the seat of the bike as they learn to ride or the keys to the car as they learn to drive. I guess what I’m getting at is I recognize a trajectory of growing independence in the boys that will have me letting go of more and more. As I sit here working alone in the house while they are both away at another camp at my parents house those days don’t seem years down the road. It feels like tomorrow and I’m not ready for tomorrow.

Pregnancy is a nine month process of getting us ready to be parents and I think that childhood is an even longer process of teaching us to let go. I want to be the kind of parent that knows when to hold and knows when to let go but that knowledge doesn’t come easy, and it’s not without sadness.

Portland Youth Philharmonic’s Cushion Concert for kids aged 2-8 this Sunday

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This Sunday, March 16th, take your family on a fun, musical adventure from the Portland Youth Philharmonic! Just hop on the MAX train and bring your little ones and your comfy cushions to this affordable, interactive, 45-minute concert designed for children aged 2-8.  Arrive a half-hour before each performance to experience our “instrument petting zoo” and try instruments in the string family.  Young String Ensemble conducted by Carol Sindell.  You can find more information on Facebook or by checking out the Portland Youth Harmonic Twitter feed. Hope to see you there.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION & TO PURCHASE TICKETShttp://portlandyouthphil.org/concerts/index.php

But don’t worry daddy, we took care of the problem

I hear you need a plumber

I hear you need a plumber

It had been a long day. Not that there was any one thing that I could point at to say this is why I needed a break, it had just been a long day. So when my sister-in-law left for the store and I was left responsible for my nephew and my two boys I took the opportunity to grab some alone time. Grabbing a change of clothes I headed into our one bathroom for a long hot shower. Knowing how the boys see shower time as the best chance to catch up on the days events while peppering me with questions I removed the door knob from the bathroom door. We didn’t have a lock at the time so to keep someone out you had to resort to more drastic measures. Simple turn of the screw and the knob was off, the door shut, and the hot water turned on.

It really was a great shower if I’m honest. Those movie scene type showers with my head hung under a stream of scalding water as the windows and mirror fogs over. I could feel the stress rise off of me carried up and away by the steam to pool in some other corner. There were faint voices outside the door, something about how daddy does this some time when he needs space. I was grateful for the way that they knew me and enjoyed the luxurious peace. After resource wasting long time I turned the shower off, and took my time to dry, dress, and fuss over things before returning the know to the door and exiting the bathroom with a whoosh as two different weather patterns collided in the hall. The boys were jumping on my bed together, happy and free.

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“I pooped my pants uncle James!”

“But Don’t worry daddy, we took care of the problem!”

Wait are you kidding, are you making a joke?

“No I pooped my pants”  “It’s OK daddy, we took care of the problem”

Over three separate explanations the story started to become clear. My nephew, who is four, started the tale off:

“I felt like I had to fart and I kept playing, then I when I farted I pooped my pants”

They tried to get into the bathroom to clean up but there was no knob on the door because some idiot took it off for his own selfish reasons. The boys sprung into action. Primo had his cousin pull down his pants so he could see what he was dealing with. They decided to bring this party out to the back yard by way of the front yard. So our little soiler waddled out the front door with his pant around his ankles and tried to navigate the step and slopped sidewalk to the side of the house. This is when our neighbor Libby looked over from her porch. “uhhh …. what are you guys doing?”

“My cousin pooped his pants and daddy won’t let us use the bathroom, he took the door knob off, but it’s ok we’re taking care of the problem”

“Sure that makes sense” and on they went. In the back yard there was the issue of removing the poo from the chonies which Segundo solved with a wiffle bat. When I asked where the poop ended up they excitedly told me it was behind the wood pile. I couldn’t imagine how they got it there and even after their explanation of using the wiffle bat to hit it away from them I am still baffled. Did they smack it golf style while my nephew stood there, did one of them pitch it while the other swung for the fences? They told me that they took his chonies off and held them up while the other one hit the poo out T-ball style. Like the worst piñata ever created i guess.

After the home run shot the boys told me they threw the dirty chonies into the laundry. This translated to throwing them half way down the basement stairs towards the washing machine. Arguing semantics at this point seemed silly so we moved on. They then got some paper towels and cleaned the little man and his littler man off, pulled his pants back up, and proceeded to have a celebratory jump on the bed.

Problem solvers, these two boys

Problem solvers, these two boys

Now I know that I come off as a pretty terrible parent in this story but I think that reading misses the point. A better view sees the problem solving and outside the box thinking these kids of mine displayed. Should I have removed the knob of the bathroom door, who’s to say for sure. But were they able to asses their situation, come up with a great plan, and execute that plan with the tools and wiffle bats available.YES they were, they indeed took care of the problem.

Simple ideas for dads in the classroom

Helping in the classroom is not just moms job

Helping in the classroom is not just mom’s job

I’ve noticed a prevalent thought among dads that education is a woman’s world. Sure we’re all for teaching our kids the practical things like changing a tire or setting your Fantasy Football lineup but when it comes to the classroom we tend to view that space as somehow less manly. I never understood this mentality and from early on I was involved in our boy’s school life as a board member of the Co-Op Preschool or a room parent for the Kindergarten class. Now that both of my boys are in school I’m the President of our school’s PTA. While I don’t think every dad needs to suffer through the meetings that decide what structure goes on the new playground, I do think there are a couple of easy ways for men to get involved in your kid’s school.

Start early in their education but showing up to read. Every school I have been involved with has spots open to read to the kids. It gives the teachers a break and it’s something I know you can do if your reading this post. Whether you bring in your child’s favorite book or grab one off the school shelf, taking 15 minutes to stop in and read to the class will allow you to see who your kids interact with, what the classroom atmosphere is like, and show your child that you value education. Once or twice a year on a lunch break is all it takes and you have built a connection.

Help Chaperone a field trip. This may take a little more time and more of a commitment but the time is very valuable. You can help provide a safe environment as the kids leave the school and explore the local Children’s Museum or Zoo. There are multiple adults that sign up so you are only responsible for your own kids and a couple of their friends but again you see a side of the kids that you don’t get anywhere else. Listening to my first grade son trying to make a couple of second graders laugh on the way to the Pumpkin Patch last year is one of my favorite memories.

These are two simple ways to get involved with your child’s class that don’t require a lot of time or effort but that make a huge difference in how your child sees your role in education. By taking an active role you are showing that you value school and want your kids to succeed. By spending a little time in the hallways and classrooms you will have a better understanding for the education your children are receiving and find new ways to engage in the process of learning. Our kids learn from watching us more than they do from listening to us and by showing up in their schools we are teaching them that education is important to us, and that they are important to us. How are you getting involved?

What do school kids, supporters, and the homeless have in common?

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Earlier this week I attended a training for manning the warming shelters that we are opening in St. Johns this week. With temperatures holding below freezing and snow on the ground as I type this there is a huge need for warm places to sleep for the homeless community in Portland. One of the things that struck me at the training was how similar the language was to other areas of my life. Settling disputes between folks at the shelter was oddly reminiscent of dealing with disagreements on the playground at the boys school. When it came to mediating arguments over stolen gear the same steps were ones I learned when dealing with drunk supporters in the Timbers Army. It seems that where ever i spend my time lately I am working with same mentality. A grade school playground is the same as a rabid supporters section is the same as a homeless shelter working with the chronic homeless.

Now I know that much of these tips for settling disputes are universally true and that common sense and a level head will get you far, i still thought it was funny how a like these seemingly different groups are. On the last game of the season I had to try to help a guy who was pushed by an older woman for not singing for the full 90. He was drunk and unreasonable and wanted her thrown out. It reminded me of the first graders that had taken all they could from an unreasonable kindergartener. In both instances I had to listen to the whole story, without interrupting so they could feel heard and vent a little. I found places to agree and connect before trying to find a middle ground. These were all the tips on the slides of the warming shelter training.

I guess the lesson is that people are people are people right. We all need the same thing when we are frustrated: someone to hear us, someone to help us make it right. I do find it funny painting all three groups with the same brush though. The timbers Army IS just like a school playground most of the time, and disagreements of the shelter are the same ones I hear at recess. We are all just frustrated little kids looking for our own justice.

Instajunction gift ideas from Instagram photos

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I have started to amass quite a collection of photos on instagram, some of them even pretty good. I was talking to a friend about this box at my parents house that holds all of these family photographs and how I love going through that box to find old pictures and letters. Holding the photos and shuffling through the stacks always last longer than you intended but is a such a rich experience. We don’t have that anymore with our traveling photo galleries on our phone and digital storages in the cloud. While we can share those great photos much easier I think something is lost in the handling and the story telling that comes from the box. While I am not going to start printing out all of my pictures anytime soon I was glad to get an opportunity to check out some options to have my instagram photos be a little more tangible. Enter the site Instajunction and their collection of products.

Instajunction is a site that allows you to turn your digital instagram photos into things like photo books, calendars, magnets, or Polaroid style cards. I had a calendar made as a gift to Beautiful’s dad for his birthday and it turned out great. The picture above shows Primo checking out the final product. The website was easy to navigate and connect to my pictures. Because I have a lot of photos it took some time to go through and pick the pictures I wanted, but that was a limitation of my indecision not the site. Shipping was quick and the calendar looked great.

When looking for gift ideas check out Instajunction and this weekend you can get 25% off your order with the following Promo Code: FRIEND25EZ