Once more into the breach

Let the routine spinOn the eve of the end of the our vacation I feel like I’m staring at a merry-go-round that’s spinning a little more quickly than I’m comfortable with and I have to jump back into the swirling vortex. It isn’t like the time off of our regular routine was restful or stress free, quite the contrary. But some how diving back into the work, school, community schedule feels daunting. I feel like some of the balls I was trying to keep in the air are no longer spinning, wait those are the plates aren’t they. The balls have rolled down the hill and into the creek that I am now up. See I can’t even get my metaphors straight enough to make sense of these feelings, how am I going to get this schedule back on track.

I think the boys feel the same way they just don’t know it yet. While I’m easing my hand into the spinning bars of the merry-go-round they are still happily playing with the slides. Soon we will fling ourselves into the mix and hold on for dear life. The transition will be rough but it’s a short week. The weekend will be here again and we can get the timing down, learning from our jarring plunge back into the great spin. Routine will be good for all of us, once we find it again, it’s just the finding that I am worrying about this eve.

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.

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.

Looking back on a busy Summer: Great Wolf Lodge

School starts tomorrow for both of the boys and I can’t believe I’ve made it through this summer working full-time from home while having two young kids under foot. It has been a fun and frustrating time but as the end nears I can’t help but remember all the great things we did this summer. Back at the beginning of August, before soccer camp and the great road trip of 2012, before the Montana caravan and all the back to school prep work of the last couple of weeks we got the chance to spend a night at The Great Wolf Lodge.

A hundred mile north of Portland, midway between the Rose City and fishy smelling city on the sound lies The Great Wolf Lodge. A water park, hotel, and all around family fun palace that the boys thought was the greatest place they had ever been. I stood in a short line to get checked in while Beautiful and the boys explored the lodge themed grounds and it didn’t take long for Primo to realize this place was special. “Everything here is Magic!” he exclaimed while in the kid sized bath room with automatic everything. He may be little to easily impressed but we all came around to the same point of view over time.

We checked in to our room and headed to the water park where there were areas for every level of swimmer. A shallow toddler area with short slides and knobs and buttons to push and spray parents was the early favorite but as the boys became more comfortable the waded into the large wave pool and splashed around like crazy. Seeing their joy brought Beautiful and I around from being a little to cool for this school, to abandoning all pretense and just being kids ourselves.

Not happy about leaving the water slides, but treats help!

There will water slides and deep pools with basketball hoops and even a crazy tube slide that made its way in and out of the building. Having smaller kids we were relegated to the areas they felt comfortable with but that was plenty for us. The rest of the resort had a couple restaurants, a Starbucks, and all sorts of gift stores. There was an arcade, a teenager room with video games consoles, and a Magic Quest throughout the property where kids used their wands to solve a mystery. We went down to the story time before bed and watched animatronic animals tell us about protecting the forest before the boys got their picture taken with a raccoon. We only stayed one night but we had such a great time, even better than we expected. Like I said I wanted to think I was too hip for this Suburban wonderland but nothing kills my pretentious attitude like seeing the boys laugh like crazy when they conqueror their fears and go down the bigger water slide. We will go back, the boys will make sure of it and I’m good with that.

A Mancation in the desert

For the past week I have been in Arizona getting to know the folks I work with. As a contractor working from home I came on board quickly and feel like I am just now getting my feet underneath me and a trip out to the home office was a good idea. Not only would I put a face to the folks that don’t return my emails, but I would also get a chance to get away on my own for the first time in a long time. The fact that the trip is Phoenix Arizona in the spring is not a bad thing either.

Along with my time in the office I’ve also made a spring training game, played poker with the Bros, had some of the best BBQ I’ve ever eaten courtesy of old friend and new boss Kyle. It’s been a nice manly retreat, some would even call it a man-treat, wait no they wouldn’t because that sounds disgusting. What ever you call it the trip has been big lift for me and I’m very thankful for Grammie coming from Indiana to stay with Beautiful and the boys so I could get away.

Coastal Characters

Spelling ROHL on the dunes

Over Christmas break my brother, his wife, and their two-year old were up from Arizona for some holiday time in the NorthWest. When ever we get folks in from out-of-town we get to head out to all sight-seeing spots and remember why we love our region. The day after Christmas we headed out to the coast to get some time on the beach despite the 30 degree temps and heavy mist.

Most of our group had lunch in the car as we parked by the sea, while my brother and I climbed the cliff above the shore and listened to the thunder cracks of waves breaking about 200 yards out in the ocean. We walked around Seaside, where we lived before moving to California when I was 12, and spent too much money at the arcade. My dad, Brother, and I had a couple shoot outs at the basketball game and we all collected tickets playing skeet ball with the little boys. Turning in tickets for candy we took a ride on the carousel before heading to the long stretch of beach where you can drive your car.

Primo got behind the wheel and ping ponged us from shore to dunes always threatening to get us stuck in one or the other. We stopped and ran around like crazy people and generally had a silly time acting like kids. After a couple of pictures we loaded everyone back up in the car sans wet clothes and trekked the hour drive back to my parents house. It was a great time at the coast and quiet car ride home as sleepy folks cozied up to each other and napped solidly. While the surroundings were lovely it was really the people who made the trip so great. We all forgot about the cold wet weather and just found the adventure in each stop, and experienced the trip like our kids did. We ran around the beach, chased birds, and drove like drunken weebles laughing all the time. For me the best part is that look in Primo’s eyes as I got out and chased him down the beach while the car was still moving. His pure joy and wonder was all pouring out of him and looked at me like he couldn’t believe that was really happening. I often feel like I don’t go all in like that with the boys so it’s nice to let loose and be goofy when I can.