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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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Love + Bubbles

We’ve been having a lot of cold, snowy and wet weather lately. I don’t take Chloe and Leo out into it as much as I should, but we do get out on occasion. Like this break in the weather. Chloe and I both enjoy blowing bubbles. Who would have thought that the best bubbles would come from the dollar store? Good thing, too, because Chloe still spills her bubbles a little too often (and the ones with the “spillproof” caps have too tiny of a wand to be really fun).

I love these kids so much. When I was pregnant with Leo, I couldn’t imagine loving Leo as much as I loved Chloe. She was my baby, my precious little girl, my darling first-born. She was all I knew. My whole world. Then along came Leo, and my heart swelled. I am amazed every day at how deep my love is for these two little ones.

Leo is barely over half a year and already his charming and affectionate nature is obvious, way more so than Chloe was at this age. Then again, I am not very good at remembering things, and even now I’ll have to ask David his perspective from when Chloe was a baby. Just one more reason I need to put more effort into recording the kids’ milestones. I know later that I’ll be glad I did.

 

 

 


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This thing called Sun

Yesterday I woke up to honest-to-goodness sunlight streaming through the house. What a miracle! There has hardly been even a partial day of sun since our return from the holidays, mostly just cold, rain, grey, rain, freezing, grey, overcast, rain, cloudy, dreary, rain. I’m sure it has been affecting my mood. The sun makes me happy. I like a few days of rain, okay, but weeks of it? No can do. So why do I suffer through this lousy weather here in Portland? Because the summers are phenomenal. As is autumn, and spring, too.

I ran out of the house almost immediately to snap photos of the frosty ice crystals that formed overnight on the plants and then later the three of us dressed warm and spent the afternoon along the Wilson River. David fished, Barkley explored and marked his territory, and I took photographs and read (fingers were too cold to knit, although I did bring it along). It was so good to go for a drive in the country and get out of the house.


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A Pumpkin Graveyard

pumpkin patch

From far away it doesn’t look so bad

David and I took the dog to The Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island to look for the perfect pumpkin. What we found was more like a pumpkin graveyard. I don’t know if it was because we showed up so late in the season or because they were truly having a bad pumpkin year, but what was left was an entire field full of mostly rotted pumpkins. So disappointing! The last time we were there was amazing – the excitement of criss-crossing the patch, a sharp eye out weighing all the possibilities, enjoying the crisp autumn weather and the free hay rides…

In the end, we did find two small, nicely shaped pumpkins – an orange one for David and a white one for me. We also bought lots of fresh farm produce: fall apples, turnips, cabbage, onions, shallots, hazelnuts, and brussel sprouts still on the stalk. It was also fun to see the farm animals. The goat in particular couldn’t take his eyes off of David sucking on a honey stick. My favorites were the black and pink baby pigs, the clucking chickens and the beautifully large and feminine eyes of the llama. Why wasn’t I blessed with eyelashes like that? Throw in one pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and a caramel apple and it was a worthy trip after all.

frog

David spotted a bright green frog in the field

oregon hazelnuts

Oregon is the nation’s largest producer of hazelnuts

fresh fall apples

A huge bin of fresh and crisp fall apples

pumpkins

Our final pumpkin choices – one white and one orange

Tips for picking the perfect pumpkin:

1. If you’re going to carve it, choose one to match your design – a tall oval for a vertical design or a wide rounded one for a horizontal design.

2. Make sure it can stand up by itself. A tipsy one can be a pain to brace and carve properly.

3. A decent size stalk is helpful for lifting the top off when carving and lighting.

4. Double check for any soft spots, and be sure any blemishes are around back where they won’t be seen.

Happy Halloween!

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