Thursday, July 27, 2017

summer camps, continued

Sebastian and Liesl are having two straight weeks of summer camp programs with their friends - they have been having good experiences (mostly), and seem to be exhausted at the ends of their days. They come home at 4 and collapse onto the couch for a few hours, content to read their books and eat popsicles.

Liesl was at Trackers Earth camp last week, with Nora, and is at a combination Zoo/Children's museum camp this week, with her preschool friend Nina and a solid contingent of Forest Park friends.

Some of my notes from Liesl's Trackers experience: Sprig Sparrow told them stories about Greek gods - she learned about immortality - Hades, Poseidon, Zeus, Aphrodite; they learned to turn water into ice with magic wands that they carved themselves; one day was spent making and drinking a potion (with flowers and plants gathered during their hikes); they traveled every day to various places, including Sauvie Island, Stub Stewart, Latourelle Falls; Liesl was excited to share her newfound knowledge about port-a-potties: "just keep the lid closed = no smell!" I think she had a good time, but it was mostly because she got to spend the day with Nora. She liked playing in the various bodies of water - streams, lakes - and invariably came home soaking wet.

Sebastian was at Sports Plus camp last week with his friends Nathan, Jack, and Nate - there were sports, sports, games, recess (sports), more sports. It's run by a local Catholic school and had terrific, friendly counselors that Sebastian really liked. He loved playing dodgeball, team handball, soccer, basketball - he even learned some volleyball skills. The camp counselors made up some fun new games involving scooters and team relay racing, and another one with complicated rules that involved throwing balls at cones and running around. The highlight for Seb was clearly the Thursday Olympics: he won the silver medal in his age group and was thrilled with his shiny medal. I was most happy that by the end of the week he had made a new friend, Sawyer.

This week, Sebastian has been at Trackers, and that's been a less successful experience. He's with three of his best friends, which is great, but I have been less than impressed by his counselors, who appear to be overgrown children, full of their own macho wilderness pride. They are not terribly kind, or patient, and they assume the boys already know all the basics about plants and wood carving and building a fire, and then ridicule them if they do not or show any reluctance. It's been tough; the only good thing I can say is that Sebastian has in fact learned a lot, and he's had to demonstrate some resilience to keep showing up. They've learned about edible plants and poisonous plants; they've practiced how to build and start a fire with matches and kindling; they practiced woodcarving and learned some great rules for knife safety; and they got to throw knives at a target. (!!) On Tuesday, Sebastian was really upset that there was a lot of terrifying peer/teacher pressure to light a match and start the fire. He's never been all that keen on fire and was terrified of embarrassing himself. So on Wednesday at 6:30 am, we practiced lighting matches on the stoop outside our townhouse - we lit a couple dozen matches and ground them out in the dirt. Quite the scene, but by 7:15 he was confident that he could strike a match, light it, and hold it long enough to light the kindling. Phew! I'm glad he's learned the skills, but I wish the experience had been better - I doubt he'll want to return.

Liesl has been at the Children's Museum in the mornings and at the Zoo in the afternoons: she has enjoyed seeing the animals - a baby giraffe and gazelle, naked mole rats burrowing, the lions, sea otters and penguins, flamingos and other birds. She made a paint brush out of twigs and a stamp. They have learned about and seen up close scorpions, turtles, ducks; they watched the weekly bird show, featuring a soaring golden eagle. I think the highlight has been reconnecting with Nina, and getting to ride the Zoo train.When I picked her up today, she and Nina were singing a crazy insect song at the top of their lungs, and giggling madly.

Next week they're home with a babysitter again, and I'm expecting they'll want to collapse and read and play in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ape Canyon hike

Adrienne, Anne, and I escaped our jobs and children for the day and went for an 11-mile hike up Mount St. Helens, on the Ape Canyon trail. We left Portland at 6 and were back by 4 - it was so fun to be out on a long hike together. The first part of the hike was in a gorgeous old-growth forest - huge firs and cedars and vine maples, and wildflowers.
a froggy friend!
two huge mushrooms
Our first glimps of Mount St. Helens, through the trees, looking up through the blast zone.
Mt. Adams (I think)
We came out onto a plateau, from which we could see Rainier, Adams, and Mt. Hood at various points, with St. Helens towering above us. There were lava rocks and huge boulders, and very little vegetation growing.
In this photo, you can see the trail winding its away along the side of the mountain ahead of us.
purple lupines, one of my favorites
It's hard to see, but Mt. Hood is behind Anne, to the left. This was a seismic monitoring station.
Our lunch spot.
This v-shaped canyon surprised us - we'd been standing on top of it as we came around the bend, not realizing that the ground dropped so abruptly away from us until we kept going and looked back.

More flowers - Indian paintbrush and then a field of something purple I didn't recognize.
The mountain looks like it's floating out there.

We had a scare on this part of the trail. Just as we had walked past and under that huge rock, we heard rumblings and some smaller rocks started to tumble down the hillside towards us. We hustled a few more steps ahead and watched a cascade of rocks hit the trail where we had just been. Eep! Good timing!!
Adrienne in mid-air! Always the best.
In every season but summer, there would be a cascading waterfall gushing over this cliff - we saw the merest trickle of a stream now.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Liesl loses a tooth

Liesl has been yearning to lose another tooth all year - she has been distraught that all of her friends have lost multiple baby teeth (one girl has lost 10 already!) and she has only had one tooth come out. We tell her it's okay and that it will happen when it happens, but she has been very focused on the unfairness of the situation and the inequities of the world. It was particularly heart-breaking when her best friend, Nora, lost a tooth last week.

But finally, finally! A second tooth has come out - on Sunday, in the car, while eating a plum. Phew.
The before....

Liesl's note to the tooth fairy read "Dear tooth fairy. I like to jump and sleep. I love snow. Love Liesl. PS what is your house made out of. What do you look like. I look like this."
 Fortunately, our tooth fairy was more than up to the challenge of answering Liesl's questions.
 The after. Happy girl.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Saddle Mountain and Cannon Beach

I went with some friends today on a mama hike up Saddle Mountain - 5.5 miles round trip, straight up and down on gravelly rock. There were still wildflowers along the whole length of the trail, a great diversity of orange, purple, white, yellow, and red. Unlike my last trip here, there were no views out to the coast (you can see Astoria and the mouth of the Columbia on a clear day), but there was a magical, fluffy pillow of clouds in every direction, blowing wisps all about. The day was gorgeous and the company lovely - so good.
Meanwhile, Anja's husband Luna picked up Steve, Seb, Liesl, and Camille, and drove everyone out to Cannon Beach. The children dug and piled and created a moat and retaining wall, keeping the ocean at bay. Anne, Anja, and I finished up the hike and then met them for lunch at Tom's Fish and Chips, and then returned to the beach for a while before driving home to Portland.