Off season adventuring in Kelly Point Park

Betcha can't do thisThis summer we hit up the park at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers a couple of times. Beating the heat with a cool swim next to ships getting loaded with cargo destined for far off places. The beaches were packed and the mood was festive. Six months later at those same beaches we found new adventures in the midst of much fewer people. This past weekend the boys and I headed down to Kelley Point Park in Portland on a cold misty day. There were a few people walking dogs but we were mostly alone in the fog and sand. We played “I betcha can’t do this” trying to find things that the others couldn’t do like walking on wet logs or jumping over sand dunes. As we walked along the Columbia river around the point where the Willamette sneaks away we found a ton of drift wood. We set about making a shelter that soon turned into a fort/food cart/castle.

beach front food cartI wasn’t sure about heading to the beach on that wet cold day but we needed to get out of the house and explore somewhere and I found myself driving that way without any real plan. After a couple hours playing on the beach I realized that this was the very thing i grew up doing farther down the Columbia towards the Pacific Ocean. We played on the river what ever the weather and knew that there was as much fun to be had in the rain as there was in the heat of summer. I’m not sure why this was such a revelation for me but I was caught off guard by the off season nature of a familiar place. A favorite summer swimming hole could also be a great winter adventure land where the fog added mystery. We worked and played on that beach until our structure was complete and ate pretend burgers from the walk up window before heading back to the car and on to find warm drinks and dry clothes.

I love living in the North West where wet days don’t always mean indoor fun. While there are many great places to play inside when it gets wet and cold there are also so many great spots to explore outside with wet hair and rosy cheeks.

My soon to be three sons

Baby on boardThere is another kid coming and it is once again a masculine child. While this is fantastic news for Godfather type families, it does mean more fart jokes for Beautiful. We were hoping for a little more balance in this family but are very excited for this latest edition. Some time in April we will no longer be able to play man to man defense on the kids and need to look into more of a match-up zone. I made that joke with Beautiful and she just looked at me like I was from another planet. She’s not big on the basketball humor which I told her was funny because it looks like she’s got a basketball…. Before I could even finish I was ducking a flying shoe.

This pregnancy means that our two bedroom house is no longer suited for our growing family. This means that some of the current occupants will need to move downstairs to the as yet unfinished basement remodel. Primo is intent on having his own room and feels like the entire basement will be his apartment, while Segundo still wants a roommate. It has been interesting watching the two boys deal with this news of a new family member. For Primo his role doesn’t really change. He’s the oldest, he will be the oldest no matter how many kids we have. For Segundo he goes from the baby to the middle child. He’s having a hard time with the transition and already wishes he was younger, or at least smaller. He loves the idea of having a younger brother but not at the expense of him losing his treasured youngest role.

For Beautiful and I the reality hasn’t exactly set in. We know there is baby coming but the reality of having a baby in the house has not fully set in. We are going to go ahead and take the full nine months here to get used to the coming changes. Every time the boys get into the car and buckle themselves I think soon I will have to go back to buckling a kid. When I hear the kids getting their own breakfast I think about the lack of sleep coming my way. The times they are a changing around here but I am excited for the change. I’m excited to get to know this new kid and see how our family changes with his presence.

The Neighborhood is the Thing

IMG_2620Last month the boys and I had to clear out of the house while Beautiful hosted her book club and well timed invitation to the neighborhood block party by our old house gave us the perfect escape. I hadn’t thought about that neighborhood right by the park for a while but when we pulled up I was brought back to just how great it was. So many kids and old trees and caring neighbors. The boys didn’t remember the kids that were now running around the blocked off street save for a couple that we have maintained relationship with. I remembered them, or rather remembered them much smaller. I was taken back to days on that street as all the kids played and well placed parents were stationed outside houses talking.

Our new neighborhood has really great neighbors that we have started to get to know, but for every friendly face there is also the somewhat sketchy neighbor who may or may not be up to no good based on who you ask. The real difference is in the number of kids though. Apart from one house on the corner, no one else has kids and the boys end up driving each other crazy. I miss that street and the safety of the environment and I miss that perceived safety that we had as kids in a much bigger environment. We all have the stories about our time as kids and the coming home at dark was all that was needed for checking in and I hope that as my boys get older they will get a little taste of that. While they are still young I want them close and that puts into contrast just how great we had it in that neighborhood.

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.

Starting Summer Off Right

adventure time

School is out and summer is a day or two old now but the boys have grabbed onto the adventure of this break with both hands. Segundo has been gone for a week now while primo only joined him this past Friday at my parents. Their cousins, my sister’s three kids, are there and my parents are pulling their typical crazy stunts like having five kids spend the week with them. So far they have spent a couple of days at house on the coast, camped in the back yard, target practiced with the BB guns, traveled to Mt. St Helens, and criss crossed the Columbia on the ferry. They are making treasure hunts for each other, cooking hotdogs on the fire, and having one the best times of their lives right now.

I remember getting to have those times with my grandparents on Mayger beach. We would spend all day in the river with our cousins and listen to crazy family stories around the camp fire until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. While my boys are getting a much safer atmosphere then I had there is no loss in adventure closeness. Our boys are lucky that way, to have grandparents on both sides that not only want to spend weeks with them, but know how to make that time magical. There are more adventures to come this summer but these boys are already off to a great start.

US Open Cup Soccer on a Tuesday Night

Learning to taunt the goalie

Learning to taunt the goalie

Devoted readers may have picked up on my slight love of soccer specifically as it relates to the greatest club in all the world, The Portland Timbers Football Club. Well Tuesday night there is an opportunity for you and your family to get in on the action when the Timbers Under 23 team plays the Charleston Battery in the second round of the US Open Cup om Tuesday May 21 at 7:30 PM at Jeld-Wen field in downtown Portland. The tickets are $10 a piece and available at the gate or online and there will be room to roam for the kids.

The Under 23, or U23, team is a collection of college kids getting some high level training and play while on summer break. A number of past U23 players have gone on to play for the Timbers Senior team later like Brent Richards, Jake Gleeson, and Ryan Kawoluk. They play in the PDL against other non-pro teams and this years team is very good.

As for the US Open Cup that is a tournament here in the US that involves teams at nearly every level and this is the 100th year that the cup has been up for grabs. It starts with smaller rec and local club teams playing for a chance to participate. Last week was the first round and the Timbers U23 team played a club team from Sacramento called California Gold. Now there are some higher level teams added and the Saplings have another home game against a  USL-Pro team. If they win they go on to play an MLS team in the 3rd round when the highest division is added to the tournament.

If you live in Portland then come out and watch these kids play in this great tournament. My kids love it at the stadium and I think your’s will too.