Reuse, Reduce, Recycle for fun

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One of the covered Parios at the new house was a bit too low and presented a problem unique to parents of young boys. All of the metal bars supporting the cover were low enough for the boys to hang on and the suggestion from our realtor to just tell them not to  was comical and unrealistic. One does not just tell a little boy not to hang on a metal bar that he can reach. So the awning had to come out but it was too cool to throw away and needed another use. First we set awning to the side of the driveway and the boys turned it into a slide and perch to look into the neighbor’s yard like little nosey busy bodies. They would get a running start and climb to the top. Then the game was jumping up so that their hands were just holding the top and yelling for their brother or friend to help them climb the rest of the way. They could all get up themselves but the fun was in the teamwork. Soon the game became keeping the other from running up the slide by body checking them off and it became apparent that this slide was no longer safe in the driveway. Plus those neighbors were getting a little tired of little boys watching over the fence as the gardened on a Saturday afternoon.

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So we turned the awning around and found that it was a great shape for a soccer goal. We  took turns taking shots and playing goalie. The height was perfect for Primo to tip shots over the bar like a young Troy Perkins minus the full back tattoo and I got to practice placing balls into the upper corner. As Primo blocked more and more shots I started kicking the ball harder and harder until the game ended in tears and wicked welt on my tiny keeper’s belly.

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Yet another use was found for the former Pario cover as we flipped it back over and ran the hose over the top of one end for a super steep water slide. The weather has been warm here in Portland and the water features in the local parks haven’t been turned on yet so we madee our own water park in the backyard. The boys used a stool to climb up one side and then after checking out the other neighbors back yard slid down into a growing pool. Though it was too slippery to run up, the boys tried again and again only to slip and smash their faces into the cascading water. They would crack up and do it all over again.

There are more uses to come for this once Pario cover but we are getting a lot of mileage already. I think an elaborate fort is in the not to distant future, as well as a ball return for some solo baseball toss. What are some of the ordinary things your family has found new fun uses for?

He writes adventure on his chest

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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.

Looking back on a busy summer: The great road trip of 2012

Right after our stay at The Great Wolf Lodge we dropped the boys at my parents for Soccer camp and our first week of kidless time. The next Saturday we brought them up to Gig Harbor, along with the RV that had been living in our driveway for the last year. The boys were heading East in that RV with Grammie and Tom Tom and most of their cousins. Five kids and three adults in a small space for 2300 miles sounds like a nightmare I had, but for the boys it was a dream come true. Two weeks without mom and dad, on the road with their grandparents. They had talked about it all spring, counted down the days on their calendar in their room.

They all piled into the RV on Sunday morning and headed towards Uncle Dan’s house in Colorado. They wouldn’t make it there on the first night but that was the first known stop in the cross-country trek. They had to make stops every now and then to run the boys to burn off that extra energy. Tom Tom would line them up and the races would be on. There were movies to watch and books to read and plenty of snacks to keep the boys occupied. They took naps all together on the folded down dinette and we followed along through Aunt Meg’s tweets. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Finn:some bad guys in our world are called robbers. Don’t know what the others are, but don’t worry, my dad and your dad {SCuda} are stronger.

 

Entered Nebraska. One boy sleeping, one baby in midst or epic nap, two boys sharing an ipod, one boy chatting with Grammie.

 

Henry: will a bear hit us {talking about hitting animals on the rd}? Grammie: no, they stay in the wilderness. Henry: but they would eat us.

 

Milo: Grammie, get me out! Grammie: no, you’re a sitting duck! (As she pelts him with a grape in his car seat :)

 

There was a stop in Idaho, one in Colorado, another in Nebraska, and there was meant to be one in Iowa but it was hot and there were sick folks that needed to get home so Tom Tom drove through the night to get home to Indiana. If not for colds they say they would have loved a longer trip but I don’t believe them. Both Beautiful and I grew up on road trips and family vacations and I know that my boys are good travelers but five kids in that space would get old pretty quickly.

Once in Indiana the boys got to spend some quality time with Aunt Heather and her pirate adventures. Their cousins left and Primo and Segundo got Grammie and Tom Tom all to their selves for the first time since we left Indiana, the first time for Segundo. They swam everyday and lived in Grammie rules for two weeks before Beautiful met them in Iowa to fly home. We all agree this is something that needs to happen often and the boys are already wondering what day on their calendar they can circle and start the countdown towards.

Adventures in Public Transit

Primo does not like being picked up late

Segundo wanted to go on an adventure. “Let’s take the bus daddy, when we go pick up Primo let’s take the bus!” He was excited and it was raining so why not. We could ride the bike and he could sit in his warm trailer dry and happy as a clam while I pedaled into the blustery mist of swirling seas, or something like that. No taking the bus sounded great so I checked in with the trip planner and found our best route. A simple matter of taking the 4 bus to the train and the train to the school, we can do this.

Step one, get on the right number bus going in the wrong direction. At first I was mad that Tri-met’s trip planner lead me astray but after thinking about it for a bit I realized my error. Getting on the bus that was going in the wrong direction from where I wanted to go should have been my first clue but I just thought it looped around.

Step two, Choose another bus that will get you there on time. The 75 bus would still get us where we needed to go and might even get us to the train on time. The bus was early picking us up but the driver waited at the next stop for 2 minutes because she was ahead of schedule. We made it to the train just as the max was pulling away. That train would have put us right in front of the school just as Primo was done but instead we waited another 15 minutes for the next train.

Step Three, get off the train one stop too early. Flustered and a little wet I thought we were at the school but we weren’t. We had to walk 8 more blocks to get to the stop we should have gotten off at and at this point we were 20 minutes late picking up the boy. He was not happy but at least I wasn’t the last parent there. His teacher had a good laugh at my retelling of the story and Primo soon warmed to the idea of a trip back home on the bus. We stopped for some lunch and by the time we were walking the last bit to our house we were all soaked but enjoying the adventure we had originally set out on.

Sunny day activities on Rainy Day afternoons

Frank has had a good effect on all of us early in the New year. We have been getting out and exercising a bit more that we normally do in the dead of Portland winter. That may have more to do with the unseasonably sunny days than his relentless passion for lifting things over his head and chanting at us, but either way it has been a nice winter. I write this  sitting in a coffee shop with a miserable cold sideways rain that makes umbrellas and previous plans silly, but the last week has been lovely. We have done the bike rides to the library, the play dates outside at friend’s houses, and explored some parks off the beaten trail while bundled against the cold but dry. It is almost disorienting how nice it has been here in Portland this winter. I feel like I don’t enough seasonal reasoning for my mild depression and might have to look into the issue as personal thing and not a reaction to outside forces. That’s just silly, we all know I’m the picture of confidence and mental health so it must be the boys that are causing it.

Now that the weather looks to be returning to normal I wondering how well our goal to get out and about is going to go. We have rain gear and the mud puddles have their own allure so it’s just a matter of overcoming the initial inertia and getting out of the house. These things seem to go much better when planned instead of being left to day of decision-making. Making plans with others make the problem of getting started a bit easier since it is harder to let someone else down then it is for me to just spin it with the boys. So anyone in Portland want to schedule a play date next week where we explore a trail or jump in some puddles?