Friday, March 31, 2017

a bike adventure and the Chinese garden

Today's adventure was a waterfront bike ride, which proved surprisingly difficult to pull off. For starters, I couldn't get air into the bike tires, which were sadly flat after a winter of disuse. For whatever reason, our bike pump seemed to be sucking the air out rather than pumping it in. After 40 minutes of frustration, I gave up and loaded the bikes onto the car rack. We arrived at REI and I had the bike technicians there help me out. It would be embarrassing to be so incompetent, except I have no pride when it comes to fixing things.

But with air in our tires, we were ready to go. Onwards! We started biking toward the waterfront and the day, which had been moderate and sunny, suddenly turned cold and rainy. Really rainy, with a good brisk wind. We got soaked; the troops revolted. We turned back and found Bowery Bagels, where toasted bagels with cream cheese and lox warmed up our bodies and souls enough to venture out once more. It was once again sunny, so we made it to the Japanese cherry trees - gorgeous and in full bloom! We headed across the Steel Bridge, intending to go south along the Eastbank Esplanade, but it turned out that the river's edge trail was flooded and the trail was closed. Eep! Back again to the north side, to bike along the more crowded Waterfront park. We managed to eke out a solid ride, enough for the first one of the season, but it was at times a real struggle.
The children were, to be frank, more than ready to go home and get cozy reading their piles of books, but I was still interested in city adventures. We went to the Lan Su Chinese Garden and wandered around for an hour, enjoying the flowers and structures, the carp, and the special exhibit of botanical art. Liesl became very interested, helped along by the scavenger hunt the garden provided, and looked at everything with me. Sebastian sat in the sun on a bench and read his book (spot him in the red hoodie below!). You win some, you lose some... maybe next time he'll be more in the mood.
We were finally ready to head home after the garden - back to the books, and playing at the field, and a chance for me to make a lemon blueberry cake.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

games, art projects, and books

After our very active Tuesday, we were more indoorsy on Wednesday. Sebastian set up a whole bunch of our games across the living room floor before the rest of us even woke up. So we played! Chess, Uno, Forbidden Island, Connect Four, Max, Ducks in a Row. We didn't even get to Scrabble, Magic Labyrinth, Sherlock, the memory game, Blokus, Spot it, or Apples to Apples.
I did a little bit of work while Sebastian played outside and Liesl drew a picture of the basketball hoop, and herself dunking. Amazing.
Then we went to the Cedar Mill branch of the Beaverton library system, got Liesl her first library card, and checked out 85 books! They have an amazing selection of children's books, including many series that I haven't seen in the Portland library system. It was great. This library is closer to our home, without the backup of traffic to get over the hill, and has parking. It's also next door to one of our favorite bakeries. I don't know why we haven't joined sooner.

Liesl had her usual gymnastics class; Sebastian and I traded in some lacrosse balls for cash (50 cents a ball) and then walked along the Fanno Creek trail, tossing a tennis ball back and forth and catching up on school gossip and inside info. It's good to have one-on-one time with my boy, without friends and Liesl and Steve around.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

bouldering at Circuit; exploring at Arboretum

On Tuesday, I took the kids with me to my physical therapy appointment - Liesl was of course very curious and stood next to the treatment table the whole time asking questions and chattering to the PT and the aide. Sebastian read a book and remarked that it looked boring. :) Then we stopped by Steve's office to check out his new digs - he's on the 26th floor and has an amazing view of the city and the West Hills. From there, on to a toy store! Our stated mission was to find a new family puzzle, which we accomplished, but we also left Finnegan's with a dress-up veterinarian costume, art supplies, birthday presents, and a foam bow and arrow kit. What was I thinking????
Next, bouldering at the Circuit NE! This definitely fell into the category of adding a little salt to my own wounds, since I'm still not able to climb - but I was delighted to see Liesl really getting into it. She's fearless and strong and flexible, and is able to think creatively about moving around on the wall to move upwards. If she wasn't so into gymnastics, I'd enroll her in climbing classes. Sebastian struggles with both his strength and his comfort level, but he did well in pushing through both of those and trying his best.
We came home for lunch and lazing around, but in the late afternoon headed back out to Hoyt Arboretum. It was a bit of a struggle to convince Sebastian to go, but he ended up recovering and joining in the hiking/exploring with good cheer and enthusiasm. They investigated the acoustic qualities of a water drainpipe, leaped over a stream, went off-trail to find adventures, threw a baseball down a hill in order to chase it, and were in general delightful company. I was most proud that at the end, Sebastian acknowledged that he'd been wrong - said he'd had a really fun time and gave the experience an 8/10. I think it's a huge step for him.
We had great fun with this water drainage pipe - it opened on either side of the trail, and if you spoke softly into one side, your voice came booming out the other. It was awesome.
 Down to the water's edge they go, to jump across once and then back again, over and over.
 A boost by a big brother to climb up a slippery tree branch.
 We found your favorite, a skunk cabbage, dad!!
Last but not least, some post-dinner baseball on the street. It came to our attention that Liesl doesn't really know how to throw and is afraid of catching. Since she's starting T-ball this weekend, we need to work on those skills so she has a better time. I remembered how successfully Sebastian taught Liesl how to tie her shoes and decided that he needed to be her baseball coach. They were out there for an hour and she's already much better - starting to put her whole arm into the throw and connecting better with the hitting. Seb was patient and clear and Liesl was super focused and enthusiastic - yay!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

spring break

It's spring break this week for the children and me, and as usual we've struggled a little to find our rhythm together. I want to go on far-away adventures, mostly outdoors and out of town; Sebastian wants to stay home and play at the field or read books; Liesl can go either way, or she can have her own strong opinions about finding artsy/active activities in town.

On Monday we tried to go to OMSI, against Sebastian's wishes, but upon arrival found an enormous line of people snaking out the door. At 9:45, 15 minutes after opening! We couldn't handle the wait or the expected crowds inside and gave up, which led to a Liesl meltdown. Instead we headed for Westmoreland Park. At first, Sebastian ignored the playground entirely and threw his baseball against a tree trunk - very satisfying thunk every time he connected - but then he and Liesl started collaborating on a game that involved large branches and a large puddle. They constructed various bridges across the water to a bench and were at it for an hour, which delighted me.

We went to Jade Bistro for pork buns, beef pho, and green curry with tofu -- yummy! And then ran a couple of errands before returning home. Sebastian got to play sports at the field for a few hours and Liesl and I redecorated her room and cleaned out her clothes drawers and closet. It was surprisingly satisfying... we moved around the furniture, which reminded me of my own childhood, and then sorted out the too-small and too-old clothes in advance of summertime. The carrot for her? New clothes to come, now that there's space!