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Out with the Kids: Into the Woods

I can’t believe it’s almost the weekend again! I got so much accomplished last weekend, including spray painting some kid furniture, organizing my craft drawers and purging a ton of stuff. For whatever reason I was highly motivated, and hope that some of that motivation will carry over into this weekend as well. We also had a day of fun family adventure, too! David decided we’d take the kids fishing, and despite the cold Pacific Northwest weather, that is what we did!

It isn’t always easy taking kids this young somewhere this remote. In fact, sometimes it is really hard. You can’t let them out of your sight for a minute. But it’s always worth it. The kids see and find all kinds of things, and I want them to have these experiences in nature, with no house for miles and miles. Of course, I would never take them out this far by myself, but with two parents (or people) its fine. It does take a bit of planning though.

For us, planning usually falls into three categories:

1. Food & Snacks.
2. Entertainment
3. Clothing & Gear

Food & Snacks are a given, especially on long trips. It is so much cheaper to bring food, and often the next town is too far away to bother. Also, snacks can work wonders on long car rides, so they really double as entertainment.

While we try to have the kids just look out the windows and talk about what we see (including songs, i spy, etc), sometimes its easier after a while to just hand Chloe her ipad and headphones. At twenty-months, Leo is a pretty good traveler. Sometimes he’ll nap or be content to snack on something. When that doesn’t work we’ll hand him back various toys (cars, little animals, small board books) and as a last resort sometimes we’ll hand him an iphone. Unfortunately, he isn’t into shows like Chloe is, but he has a few apps that interest him right now like Peekaboo Wild, Where’s Gumbo, Wheels on the Bus and Itsy Bitsy Spider (the two latter by Duck Duck Moose). When we get where we’re going there always seems to be plenty to do – in this case, collecting rocks, seeing waterfalls, and discussing how a beaver gnaws down trees with his teeth to make his home.

Lastly there is Clothing & Gear. If there is mud, the kids will fall in it. If there is water, the kids will splash in it. That is life. I know this and always bring a full change of clothes and shoes. One thing I always make sure the kids have is quality long-underwear, usually purchased on deep discount from REI outlet. Chloe’s old ones get handed down to Leo (which is why his current bottoms are pink, but now I am buying them in neutral colors). Diapers and wipes are also necessities. Gear depends on where we go, but I always bring our becco baby carrier and sometimes we’ll bring our Kelty backpack carrier as well. For this trip, David also brought our pop-up shelter, which works as a “base” and makes a nice covered place to share a meal or hang out.

Like I mentioned earlier, it isn’t always easy. But easy isn’t always as meaningful, either, is it? So the kids get dirty and wet and I let them, knowing we’re prepared to clean them up once we get back to the car. We also try and listen and let the kids tell us when they’ve had enough. If they are too cold or uncomfortable, then no fun will be had and that isn’t the point.

And then we arrive back home to our cozy house and warm beds and all is right with the world…

 


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Molalla River

We haven’t gone fishing with David since way before Leo was born. It just got too difficult – being pregnant, dealing with Chloe on the long car rides (usually 2.5+ hours each way), keeping her from getting hurt, or falling in, dealing with the consequences of an absent nap, packing everything we might need and then un-packing/washing/putting it away… it just got to be too much. These aren’t friendly, easy to manage areas with picnic tables or park-like settings either. They are out-there, and miles and miles from “civilization,” not that I ever minded before. And now there are two little ones with very different needs to consider.

Anyway, we tried it on Sunday. Both kids were asleep in their car seats at the first spot, so I stayed in the car with them. It was a lovely, picturesque spot, too. I think I was the one who accidentally woke them up, trying to get my camera and things I’d want to have if we stayed there. David came back up the path right as we were all about to emerge and we decided to try another spot. The next one was bad. We should never have stopped there. It was down an extremely steep embankment and into a large but shallow section of running water with lots of rocks, but no place to actually stand, or sit without getting wet. Chloe fell several times and got her shoes and pants wet almost instantly. Did I mention the weather was cold and rainy? It turned particularly miserable while we were there. I was also worried. If something happened, I would only be able to take one kid up the steep embankment back to the car at a time, which means one would have to wait by himself/herself while I locked the other in the car, neither a good choice to be alone next to a rushing river.

We finally moved to a third spot. By this time I knew what we needed to look for, and I got out first to give the place a looking over before agreeing. Still not ideal, but less water flow with a dirt/rock section to pitch our pop-up shelter. While here, I wrote down the two things I felt I needed for safety and sanity:

1. To be close enough to the car that I could take both kids back to it at the same time, by myself, if we needed something. That means leaving the keys with me, too. (I didn’t have them at the previous spot, and David was beyond yelling distance and couldn’t hear me, so we couldn’t have gone back to the car anyway).

2. A spot near the river that gently slopes into it so Chloe can splash (there would be no keeping her out of it), and possibly fall in (which she did, of course), but far enough from the fast water that I could fish her out with plenty of time to spare. Plus a place for me to sit and safetley put Leo down.

The other thing would be to have more time to pack. By the time I realized David was serious about going and taking us with him I was rushing around trying to get everything I thought we’d need. The two things I had forgotten were a good pair of trail shoes for me and Leo’s bouncy seat (it was too muddy to just put him down on a blanket). That meant leaving him in his car seat when I wasn’t holding him, and what baby wants to spend that much time in his car seat?

So anyway, the trip wasn’t the perfect family outting we had all hoped for, but it was a very good learning experience. I really miss photographing nature like I used to, but I realized it was not easy while being responsible for my children. All in its time, I guess. One day they’ll be big enough to know the dangers, and by then be joining their father fishing, like I’d be doing. Then maybe I can spend more time with my camera. I did get this photo though… priceless.


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The neglected toddler

These photos were taken at Rainbow Trout Farm a few weeks ago where Chloe got her first “real” fishing experience. David insists that Chloe will be a champion fly-fisher one day, so he is starting her down the path to success. Leo was only 2 weeks old then. He mostly slept through the whole experience.

***

In the case of a toddler versus newborn scenario, it is almost certain to be the toddler who gets shafted. I feel like I’m always asking Chloe to “hold on” while I see to Leo’s needs first (feeding, diaper changing, whatever) before I can get Chloe what she wants (anything from setting her up with a project, getting her a snack or putting on a video). Very rarely do I let Leo really cry while I see to Chloe’s needs, although sometimes there has been no choice in the matter.

One of the reasons I am grateful for David’s paternity leave is the time he’s been able to devote to Chloe. Yes, I’ve needed a little help with the newborn, but at this point I have the skills to take care of him on my own. Knowing Chloe is getting attention from Daddy (and grandma while she was here) really helps assuage the guilt I feel for not spending more quality time with her. It also leaves me more free time to focus on Leo. This newborn period flies by, and I am trying to savor it the best I can, knowing it will be gone all too soon.


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My husband is a genius!


A shameless shout out for my husband’s fly fishing blog

After searching around the Paperseed database, David was able to somehow repair the comments file, so at least that’s resolved. It doesn’t explain the missing blog posts, though, and my email problems. One thing at a time, I guess. Luckily, I was able to go back and find the missing posts (via this method), and have re-posted them (with fingers crossed that they won’t disappear for a second time!)


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The Deschutes & White River Falls

deschutes river

David and I went flyfishing on the Deschutes. It was so nice to drive out of the grey and see some sunshine and blue sky for a change. This is the third time I’ve been fishing and still no luck. I’m trying not to be disheartened about the whole thing, because I know that David really wants me to like it. I certainly don’t mind going, but I think taking pictures of the surrounding areas is more fun, at least at this point.

near maupin

sage

desert flower seeds

blue desert flower

yellow desert flowers

sun flare deshutes

The Deschutes River is located in dry, rocky gorge surrounded by a high plains-like desert, filled with yellowed prairie grasses and sage growing all over. The landscape changes dramatically in the mere 2.5 hours east of Portland. I really like it. I think that some people find it boring and desolate, but I like its ruggedness, and the little surprises of natural beauty in small things. I also like how you can see for miles and how it feels so open and free.

We stayed on the Deschutes the whole afternoon trying different flies – blue wing olive parachutes, a cripple wing, and several patterns of stoneflies. Although the fish were scarce, we did see lots of other wildlife. I spotted 3 mule deer when we first arrived, as well as a blue heron and several other large birds of prey. David was even lucky enough to be surprised by a river otter.

deschutes river

By the time we reached White River Falls State Park it was almost dark and closing time. I was disappointed not to have enough light for any really good photos, nor time to walk down the steep and winding path for a closer look. There were two main legs of the falls where the water thundered down over an approx. 90ft high basalt shelf. David said there was twice as much water flowing over than he’s ever seen. Incredible.

white river falls

Tired and hungry from our day’s adventure we returned to the tiny town of Maupin for dinner at the Oasis Cafe for a good burger and hard ice-cream chocolate malt. It was a long drive home in the dark, interspersed with more deer on the road than I have ever encountered. Luckily, there were hardly any cars for miles so I could slow-down as needed to avoid an accident. It was almost as if some were simply lying in wait. David says I’m amazing at spotting deer. Must be because my Dad was always pointing to hidden animals when we went for drives when I was little. Glad to know I picked up some of that.

See more photos from this trip here.

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