Monday, June 29, 2015

Elk Creek

The children and I were out adventuring again on Sunday in search of a good creek for escaping Portland's heat, wading, splashing, throwing rocks, and building dams. We hit gold in the Tillamook State Forest, at Elk Creek. It's an easy drive, a short hike in, and a lovely little stream. We were the only ones out there, too, which was sweet.
 my forest bouquet

Sunday, June 28, 2015

biking on the Banks-Vernonia trail

We drove out to the Banks-Vernonia rail trail on Saturday morning for a little bike adventure. Liesl rode her own bike (!!!) and Steve and I took turns riding a bike and running alongside her. He ran the 2 miles up and I ran the 2 miles back down. :)  Liesl did a fantastic job - really wonderful to see her working hard and making those little legs go - and she was so proud. Sweet Seb rode beside me and cheered for me as I ran.
 Fields of sweet peas line the trail - they are among my favorite Oregon wildflowers.
We explored into Stub Stewart state park a little bit, looking for likely creeks in which to splash, but were sadly disappointed. The park is extremely dry - the moss is brown, the leaves have lost their bright spring green color, and the creeks have dried up. It makes me worried for the summer wildfire season.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

playdate with Frances

We invited Frances to come over on Tuesday for a summer playdate. Sebastian was so thrilled at the idea of getting to just hang out with his favorite friend for a day - so sweet.  Last summer I didn't make enough of an effort to get in touch with Seb's friends' parents and plan meetups, and I really wanted to make sure I did a better job this summer. He gets a lot of joy out of playing soccer with his friends and having them over to our house.

We picked Frances up at 9 and came back home, and predictably the children wanted to go immediately over to the school field. We took over a pair of soccer balls, a basketball, and Liesl's bicycle, along with water bottles, and they stayed there for the next three hours. Three! Happily, their friends Nathan and Wyatt also showed up at the field, and so they had a good little scrimmage going.  Liesl got bored and tired and hot, and so I set her up at the tree-shaded picnic table with some watercolor paints. She happily dabbled away, with Nathan's sister Diya for company.

We came back home for a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and apples, and then the children built some Lego structures before moving on to some very intense games of Uno and Spot It. It goes without saying that Frances brings her game face to everything she does, including card games mostly based on luck, which just killed me. It was awesome.

And then they went outside for more play - riding scooters, soccer and basketball and football and lacrosse, and baseball - combined with spraying and jumping through the sprinkler - until finally at 3 pm, I said, "You know, Frances, I think maybe it's time for you to be heading home. Maybe you could use some downtime before your flight tonight, or maybe you've got some packing to do."  It took another 45 minutes to break up the party and actually get in the car.

All in all, it was AWESOME. Seb was super happy. It was the longest playdate on record. :)  I told Frances at the beginning of the day that she could ask to go home anytime she got tired or just wanted her own space, and we'd be happy to drive her ... with most of Seb's friends, this approach means that they generally ask to go home after a few hours. Just last week, one playdate ended after two hours with the other child saying that he was tired and hot and wanted to go home and watch tv.  So it's good to know that my child isn't the only one with seemingly inexhaustible energy.  Here's to more such long, joyous, active, summer playdates.

berry picking

We returned to Columbia Farms on Sauvie Island for some more berry picking - blueberries and raspberries this time. It was cloudy in the early morning when we arrived, thank goodness! We picked probably 10 lbs of berries and ate a couple more in the fields. I was glad that my theory regarding children and fruit picking - that four is the magical age at which they become useful, and pick more than they eat - held true. My kids were troopers.

So far I've made a blueberry cake, at Seb's request, but we've mostly just been eating them fresh, in fantastic quantities.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

camp (day 2)!

Sebastian woke up this morning and said he was really excited about the day.  I asked why, wondering if he remembered what the plans were for the day, and he said: "I'm excited about camp! I'm going to make bread with raisins and cinnamon today."  Cue the cheering!!!!

The camp posts pictures and videos throughout the day onto our online account, which is super cool for us curious worker bee parents.  So far today, Seb and Liesl are checking out the style studio with the goal of making clothes for Bunny Foofoo:

And they played with the drums and keyboard in the music studio:

Some more pictures from their first camp day on Monday:


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Steve and Kate's summer camp!

Sebastian and Liesl are signed up for an extremely flexible, very cool-sounding, very kid-directed summer camp called Steve and Kate's. Once you register with them, you can bring your kid any day you want, without advance notice - five days a week, one day a week, some days one week and different days the next... It's amazing. You pay for what you use, and that's it. It's perfect for my summertime schedule, which is still half-time but even more flexible than during the academic year.  I plan to be in the office two full days a week, 9-5, and hang out with the children the other three days.

The other aspect of the camp that I really respected is that it is entirely kid-directed. There aren't set stations that you must visit at certain times of the day - everyone plays outdoor games, everyone does the craft project, etc.  Instead, each child is free to choose what to do for fun, picking amongst an amazing array of options. I thought that sounded fantastic.

Monday was their first day at camp and it went really well.  They were both a little nervous and from all reports stuck with each other all day long, but they both seemed to enjoy the activities and are excited to be returning tomorrow. They baked bread - an extremely dense baguette - went on a crazy parachute activity ride, learned about insects from the visiting Bug Chicks, played indoor soccer, ate a TON of food (mostly Seb), and made a stop-motion film together.  I love it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Father's Day

We had challah bread french toast and farmers market berries for Father's Day breakfast. It was delicious but perhaps not the best preparation for our day's planned outing. (Mid-morning sugar crash!!) 

We participated in the Portland Sunday Parkways bike ride in North Portland - the city closes down all the streets and has special events and vendors in the parks along the route - it's a great community-building event. We've done the SE and NE routes previously, so it was fun to check out a new area.
Cuong, Anne, and Camille met us at Peninsula Park at 10:30 and we played some fun hide-and-seek games in the Rose Garden before taking off.  It was a 9.5 mile loop - Liesl and Camille were both on trail-a-bikes, Sebastian rode his own bike, and we saw numerous friends along the way. It was really fun and I think the children loved it. I'd never biked along the bluffs of the Columbia River up there and was happy to find a new place for summer biking.

Unfortunately, we then had a late (enormous, delicious) lunch at Bollywood Theatre, which led to some serious crankiness on all parts in the late afternoon. Not the best conclusion to Father's Day for poor Steve - Sebastian and I decided  on Monday that we needed to have a do-over day to properly celebrate his daddy.