I remember as kid dreaming about my birthday weeks in advance. What would I get, would it be cool, could it be a new bike? A new bike was the holy grail of birthday gifts and as I’ve gotten older things have changed. After 39 years a great birthday gift is a bottle of some great liquor or some vinyl from that new hipster americana band with 37 members. For my birthday last weekend I was brought back to that wonderful childhood feeling when Beautiful and Primo brought home my present after a first grade campout. Primo ruined the surprise by telling me that they picked up a Cargo bike but I didn’t believe him. It was true though, I got a brand new bike for my birthday, and an amazing cargo bike at that.
My new bike can carry our whole family, and we have made a couple of rides around the block to prove it. 440 pounds of cargo + the rider. Essentially I will give out before this bike does. In the past few days I have taken Beautiful and Segundo to the park, both boys to and from school, and Beautiful has even carted the boys across town for Saturday night ride to dinner. I love this bike! I love having the boys on the back as we ride home from school and the tell me about their day. I love strapping and tieing and bungying stuff that I need to carry. I love getting to have that magic of being a kid again and getting that birthday bike.
This is really the right window, the others were just guesses
these are holy rocks
a spaceship, or lantern, one can never be sure
Through the looking glass
This one looks like my brother
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.
Last month Segundo and I chatted with a journalist about being an at home dad in Portland and this month that story is in Metro Parent magazine. If you live in the Portland area head over to your local Fred Meyer and pick up a free copy of the story or head over to their website andview the article on-line. It even has a picture of the boys and I in our best supporters scarfs.
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.
Here in Portland we have some great musicians making music for kids and the young at heart. One of our favorites is Mo Phillips and his perpetual Support Your Local Dad Tour. Mo is releasing a new album, called Monster Suit, this April and some friends are joining him for the release party at McMenamins Kennedy School. 5:00 PM Saturday April 14th Mo will be joined by Portland musical luminaries Lori Henriques, Little Sue, Lincoln Crockett, and Johnny Keener for the release of Monster Suit. If you live in the Portland Area you need to get this show on you calendar and head on down to the Kennedy School for what promises to be a fun show. While you’re at it head over to the great blog Out With The Kids and grab the new podcast that Jeff Bogle is doing highlighting great Kids music each month. The song “Big Red Truck” off Phillips new album is featured on the podcast as well as other fun songs that parents will love.
MO PHILLIPS’ MONSTER SUIT FAMILY CD RELEASE CELEBRATION! with special guest band mates Lori Henriques, Little Sue, Lincoln Crockett, and Johnny Keener
Tower built with kids on my helper day at pre-school
I am on the board of Segundo’s Co-Op Preschool and one of my jobs is being the schools representative to the PCPO ( Parent Child Preschool of Oregon). The PCPO is a non-profit umbrella organization for more than 65 Co-operative Preschools in the North West and every year they have a conference for parents and teachers with workshops like Early Math Concepts, Positive discipline, and Enhance you Marriage, Improve you Parenting. You can see a full list of the workshops available this year by checking out the Conference Brochure.
This years conference is Saturday March 3, 2012 at Athey Creek Middle School in West Linn, OR. The day is broken down into three workshops, two in the morning and then one after lunch. For each of the workshop times there are a number of options to choose from and something there for everyone. The goal is to build lifelong learners with us as parents and with our kids. The Co-op model works on the principle that we learn as much as the kids do by participating in the class room and taking that out into our days.
If you are a parent or teacher with preschool to first grade age kids in the Portland area then I highly recommend this conference. The price of $50 if registered by February 24, or $60 at the door is an incredible deal for the wealth of knowledge in each of the workshops. Modeling lifelong learning starts with us as parents, and the opportunity to tap into all of these great sessions will keep us on that journey.
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?