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.

He writes adventure on his chest

wild_man_henry

Segundo has a clothes problem at preschool. This manifests itself in a number of ways from getting his regular clothes wet or dirty, to struggling with his pants during emergencies. Lately he has managed to keep most of the clothes on that he shows up to school in. Most but not all. When I show up at 3 to pick him up he is usually missing his shirt and socks. “I get hot daddy, and I need to get some freeze on me!” His teachers have been keeping track of when his shirt comes off and the nicer the day the earlier it happens. Here is one of the many reasons I love Trillium Preschool, their willingness to let Segundo be himself. They make sure he is safe but allow tons of space for him to navigate safety and danger on his own terms.

Yesterday when I rounded the corner into the school grounds I could see in the window of the preschool where the kids were getting one last story before heading home. there was Segundo in his bright yellow pants, no shirt, no socks, and covered in dirt. His pants were rolled up just below his knee and he looked like some hipster hillbilly wild man. A modern-day lord of the flies in skinny jeans. I just smiled as I walked past to pick Primo up first. I knew that this was a great day, that there was a story written in all that dirt on his chest and back. I knew I would get versions from each of the teachers and some impromptu reenactment  from Segundo and his friends. He is the Oscar to Primo’s Felix and I am so thankful that he has the space to himself.

The not so secret Chinese garden

This past weekend we braved the cold mist and walked the Chinese Gardens in downtown Portland. I tried to get the boys to move slow, to take in the quiet, and contemplate the beauty but they had a scavenger hunt and everyone knows you can’t half ass a scavenger hunt. That is the way my boys see moving slowly and contemplating, the way Chip Kelly see’s punting on 4th down. That’s just for quitters. So we moved through the gardens not like pilgrims seeking peace but as Spanish Conquistadores in search of gold. What we found was a great time in a special place in the heart of the city. The truth is there are many places like this in Portland but I love the juxtaposition of the cars in trains just outside the ornate windows of the garden. I think the boys liked walking through the gates into a different world. But that is the business of the children isn’t it. Finding other worlds in the heart of their ordinary cities. I just had an easier time of tracking with them this time.

Playdate Christmas Tree Farm

We set out in search of a Christmas tree and found a fresh smelling playground. Well we found a tree too because we’re good at that sort of thing here in the North West. South of town, with a coupon for a free tree in hand, we found the tree farm in a neighborhood of tree farms. All we had to do was find our perfect tree, wave down a lumberjack and watch as they cut down and loaded the tree on their 4-wheeler to deliver to our car. Instead of looking for the tree, like Beautiful wanted, the boys and I set out trying to get lost in the rows and rows of trees. First bolted off from Primo and Segundo as they squealed in laughter and tried to keep up. It was harder than I thought to break away in heavy growth, but I soon figured that weaving and doubling back was my best move.

The boys were harder to find when it was my turn to track them down. They could get under the bigger trees and stay surprisingly quiet once they gained some space. Beautiful shook her head at our complete disregard for tree hunting and found the tree her self. Once I located both boys we had to find Beautiful and then get the attention of one of the tree farm workers. We had ventured far off the path in search of just the right tall skinny tree and the game of bringing in the tree cutters took on the feel of Evergreen Marco polo. Primo found the path, Segundo the worker, and it was up to me to get us back through the thicket to Beautiful and the tree.

The tree was cut and dragged out while Primo held up his log slice overhead in celebration. Hot Chocolate and the task of tying the tree to the top of the van while six old timers sat around the fire making fun of me was our reward for a good hunt. The rain held off for our playdate in the forest but picked up on the drive home. It was a good day for bringing home a Christmas tree, and now our living room is more the festive.

A respite from the rain in Arizona

We are back home from thanksgiving in Arizona and we were met with the kiss of cold rain. Gone are the 80 degree days by the pool, or the walks through the beautiful neighborhoods of a model community. We had a great time catching up with old friends and new family members, especially that lovely little girl int he picture above. That is my brother and his wife’s daughter Faith whom Primo is feeding and sharing family secrets. A good portion of the trip was spent laying on the couch while she slept on my shoulder. I took one for the team every now and then, allowing myself to be taken out of the game so I could make sure she had a warm place to nap. I may have fallen asleep to but that was only in solidarity.

Along with our family, my parents made the trip South and we met up with my sister and her kids, marking the first time our whole family has been together in 3 years. It was odd to see all the Christmas decorations popping up in the palm trees and cacti around Phoenix but the warm weather and lots of hikes, basketball games, BBQs, and swimming helped us enjoy our Thanksgiving vacation. Again I got the chance to watch my kids play with other kids of people I grew up with. There was even a little crush between the grand kids of the 2 friends that have known each other for 50 years. They were close friends, their kids are close friends, and now their grand kids playing together marking generations of a family formed from a grade school classroom in Santa Barbara all those years ago.

A great vacation for sure, but I’m glad to be back home where I don’t have to drive 40 miles to find the best restaurant, or spend 20 minutes in the car between record stores on opposite sides of the valley. I will keep Phoenix for winter and Spring breaks and the Rose City for everything else. hopefully we can lure a few of those close friends here for good some day, but until then thanks for the good time and the much-needed vitamin D.

Harper’s Playground, North Portland’s living room

Arbor Lodge Park has seen a big change with the addition of Harper’s Playground and so far the boys can’t stay away. Harper’s Playground is an inclusive playground built through donations from a number of Portland Organizations including the Timbers Army. It all started with making one playground ( Arbor Lodge Park) more accessible for one little girl (Harper) who uses a walker to get around. The park is now finished and it is pretty amazing.

We first went to the opening of the playground with most of North Portland and despite the madhouse scene, or because of it, the kids had a great time. We have been back four times and each time there are tons of families there playing all over the place. The two climbing walls, or accessible swing sets, or merry-go-round with seats, or the big hill with a ramp leading up to the slide. The boys run all over the place finding new adventures and using the park in different ways each time. The crowning piece for my boys is the sand area with working water feature. The boys can dig river and pump water down through the paths they have created with other kids. I have had so much fun watching all the kids work together to make lakes and cities in the sand pit.

Rain or shine the park is packed and one family’s hope to have a park that their daughter could play at has turned into a community building place that has brought North Portland together.