Sunday, July 31, 2011


Josh is fearless. Witness my soaking wet shorts from having to jump into the pool after him today. He ran FULL SPEED into the pool without even hesitating. Everyone watching commented that he didn't even turn around, flinch, slow down, or pause as he approached the edge. In he went, under he went, and in I got to go, too. (At least it was during rec swim, so I just looked like anyone else jumping in the pool, but I really would have liked to get the shorts off first.)

Witness also the current state of his forehead:

In addition to that that massive goose egg (which I THINK he obtained jumping off a chair into the leg of the kitchen table), he's sporting 3 scabbed scratches from tumbling down a rock wall last weekend, one solid bruise from trying to carry a vacuum down our stairs, and a whole host of other bruises from daily (hourly?) crashes. We decided that we might need to start calling him Harry Potter because he's sure to have some awesome scars if he survives this childhood.

Now, I know bumps and tumbles are just a part of growing up, but these are the injuries sustained by a child that our daycare provider describes as having, "... a really solid sense of balance." Stephanie has noticed that Josh works to retain balance and stays on his feet in situations where most toddlers would fall down. In other words, Josh seems to have decided that the normal range of toddler activities are just too boring and has decided he needs to push the limits even further. Oh, and all the injuries described are just the ones on his head! The arms and legs are equally bruised, scabbed, and colorful.

And, I guess we are somewhat to blame for not stepping in faster, but this kid is QUICK - I was running after him and he he still hit the water before I could catch him!

Is there anyway to instill a healthy dose of fear in this kid?

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Little Brother

There are so many ways that Josh is clearly "the little brother," but none more so to me than in the time he already spends tagging along and waiting on the sidelines. I'm constantly thankful that Josh gets quality, age appropriate activities in his 3 days at Bloom School because his days home are decidedly geared toward the 4-year-old set.

For example, when Owen was 18 months old, he was regularly doing parent-tot swim lessons. This winter, we signed Josh up for the same class, but he first had to spend an hour waiting by the side of the pool for Owen's lessons. By the time it was Josh's turn for class, he was tired, cranky, and SO DONE with the pool that we never made it through a whole lesson. Fail.

From the moment I could get out of the house, Josh has been tagging along to our weekly playgroup. When Owen was little, Shannon set up a weekly play time with purposeful, exploration activities for the under-2-year-olds. Now, Josh just tags along on our field trips, hikes, and environmental ed lessons that are clearly structured for bigger kids. We do our best to let Josh participate in the activities (and he gets a kick out of running around as if he's playing the same games as the big kids), but I'm acutely aware that nothing we do is really FOR HIM.

This winter, he waited through weekly gymnastics (Josh climbed up and down stairs and ate copious amounts of Annie's Bunnies to pass the time), and he is spending the summer on the sidelines of swim lessons and soccer. Of course, Josh doesn't know any different, but I just can't help but observe how he is so obviously the little brother. Before Owen's soccer class, there's a class for younger kids (and parents). It's a whole class for kids Josh's age, and I never once even THOUGHT of looking into classes for him. Instead, we bring our own mini soccer ball for Josh to putter around with during Owen's class. Or, on the weeks we forget, he finds a way to entertain himself... like playing throw and fetch for a half hour with an empty Pepsi bottle. Poor second child!

I'm pretty sure watching the big kids will actually pay off in the end. Josh gets exposure to so much more than Owen did at that age. And I'm guessing he'll be more than ready to tear it up when he turns 3 and can start taking some of the big kid classes on his own. Right?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Birthday Reflections

Owen had a somewhat never-ending birthday. We started celebrating with grandma and grandpa down in Sunriver, continued with Owen's "official" party - a BBQ in the park with friends, enjoyed opening presents with Nana and Papa, and ended with a July 5th Fireworks display on the day Owen actually turned 4. Few! After all that celebrating, the presents we had purchased (other than the bike) still hadn't arrived (Mom was a little late on that order). In the end, those gifts ended up stored for Christmas instead... look, I'm early!

With Grandma and Grandpa, I managed to make the ugliest plate of cupcakes possible... from a box mix. I guess there's a reason they call for vegetable oil - butter will not substitute.

Thankfully, Owen didn't seem to mind.
Neither did Josh.
And the presents that arrived from the extended Maxwell family were a hit!

The BBQ party was a wonderful celebration of friends, summer, and the joy of being outdoors. We invited 12 of Owen's friends from school and playgroup. I figured most would be out of town for the long 4th of July weekend. (Note to self: for the 3rd year in a row, that has NOT been the case!) Instead, between friends, parents, and siblings, we ended up with nearly 40 people RSVP'd to the party! Good thing we love our friends AND planned for a BBQ in the park. It was a great evening to be out playing in the grass.
Need a sense of how these kids have grown up? check out the pic from Owen's second birthday party here. Lily is on the right in both pics.
Clearly some sort of important negotiation going on between Owen and Hazel.
Oh, and my cupcakes turned out much better this time. Made from scratch. Chocolate chip cupcakes with strawberry or mini-chip toppings.
As always, we requested no gifts. Instead, many of Owen's friends spent time making this assortment of cards. So sweet!

The final gift - the sandbox from Nana and Papa has been a daily hit in our house!
The final celebration. After all that party, we were sort of at a loss of what to do for Owen's actual birthday day. It was a work/school day, so we needed a quick evening activity. We were thinking of a family trip out for ice cream, but then Scott was able to pick-up some last minute, day after, boy are those cheap, fireworks. Winner! I think that's a new tradition - 'cause we clearly need another way to celebrate this summer birthday!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

I have a KID!

Owen turned 4 this week. F-O-U-R! I'm realizing that I have a KID. When other people see Owen running around, they don't see a toddler, or even a little boy... they see a kid. And rightfully so. He's a little person with wonderful thoughts and ideas. A silly, imaginative, exploring, energetic, passionate boy.
He can accomplish pretty much anything he puts his mind to. It's wonderful that he can now get himself dressed, make choices about his snacks, help in the kitchen, buckle himself into his car seat, gather his gear when we need to leave the house, etc. On the other hand, all those skills can sometimes be deceiving, and I often need to remind myself: "He's only 3 (now 4)" and give him some slack when he's taking forever to get a job done.

Owen is a thinker. He is always considering how things work and asking endless questions about this world of ours. As most kids this age, he is all about the exploration and figuring out how things works.
Owen is still not a big kid. He's continuing to gain (some) height, but probably just 32 pounds. It's not uncommon for his friends to outweigh him by 10 pounds. But Owen makes up for his size and takes advantage of a solid muscle/weight ratio to accomplish big things with that small body. Climbing fences, scaling boulders, leaping from platforms taller than his head, and of course, riding that bike.

Owen still has those funny kid words, like "Bref-kist" for the first meal of the day. And he uses the phrase, "Do I" or "Am I" instead of the negative. As in, "I'm a good jumper, am I?" and "I have Blue eyes, do I?" He recently lost the lisp out of "wif."

Other funnies from 4-year old Owen:

Scott: Owen, you're the strongest kid I know.
Owen: I know! That's because I get it from you. I squeeze the strong out of you and and it goes in me.

We had a long conversation the other day about the difference between "Blond" and "Bald." We were brainstorming everyone we know that is blond: Owen, Piper, Josh (but he used to be bald), Calla, Mom (but a little bit not), etc. "Do we know anybody that's bald?" Owen replies in earnest, "Yes. Kevin."

For all the running and activity, Owen is a media kid. He would watch TV or play with the iPad all day long if we didn't have screen time limits. He's not very picky about the content - the other day, he was intently watching a Rick Steves documentary about hidden restaurants in Europe.
Owen's totally potty trained and recently started staying dry overnight. Owen no longer naps at home (sigh), but still takes a short nap at school.

Owen can recognize and write all his letters and loves to write his name. He's left handed, and until recently, I thought he was always writing his name upside down. Turns out, he's just writing it from right to left, so he can see the letters as he goes. N E W O

Owen retains his sensitive nature (and a 4-year old tendency to swing between happy and frustrated tantrum at the drop of a hat). We need to be pretty careful about what he's watching on TV or the books we read, as he doesn't like to see characters in distress. I hope he keeps that empathy... and starts applying it to real people, like Josh!

Loves at Age 4:
The Color Orange
Tank Tops
Crocs (orange ones)
Sports - particularly baseball and anything Huskies
Imaginative Play
Board Games
Family and Friends!

Happy Birthday Kiddo!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Rest of Spring

Now that it's the middle of summer and we are basking in glorious 80+ degree days, I thought I better go back and make a few notes of some of our Spring adventures. March, April, and May generally felt like we were just WAITING. Waiting for the weather improve, waiting for the chance to plant, waiting for the snow to stop, waiting for summer. We heard that spring skiing conditions up on the mountain were fantastic, but we never made it up on the slopes because by April, you are soooo mentally done with the cold weather. When it's 34 degrees and snowing in January, I'm motivated to bundle the kids up and head outside. When it's 40 degrees in April, the last thing I want to do is break out the winter coats and mittens ONE MORE TIME.

On the other hand, when I look back through my pictures, it seems like we did have a pretty eventful spring. Rather than try and back post, I just want to get these photos uploaded, so they make it in our memory books someday!

Scott and I ran a 5K for Healthy Beginnings.
My friend Jen continued to host monthly "Environmental Ed" sessions for our kiddos. She does an amazing job putting together age appropriate lessons on each topic - reptiles, amphibians, birds, etc. - with stories, crafts, games, and outdoor explorations. This was the session the kids learned about fish.

My friend Shannon and her parents hosted an amazing Easter Egg hunt and brunch, complete with hundreds of eggs, crafts and sugar cookies galore, and the most amazing view as the backdrop for the hunt.
The boys started playing together - here they're playing "knights" riding their horses through the house. They also cranked the wrestling and terrorizing each other up a notch! Another reason warm weather and outside play could not come soon enough!

We made a short trip to Seattle to surprise Scott's parents with a joint 60th birthday celebration. An amazing dinner at Canlis with the whole family (well, minus the kids!).

While in Seattle, Aunt Kate taught Owen how to ride a scooter. And Scott, of course, had to take Josh for a ride as well!

Our friends, Jon and Jess were down for a visit from Bellingham to participate in the Pole, Pedal, Paddle. We all got to meet baby Ellie, who turns 1 in July and could easily win an "easiest baby" contest hands down.
During the race (note: miserably rainy!), we toted all three kids around the race course and laughed at how different it was than the first couple years we lived in Bend and were PARTICIPANTS in the PPP.

The boys rode their bikes in the Commute Options kids parade.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

We can do Hard Things

We spent the last weekend of June on a mini-vacation with Scott's parents. They rented a house in Sunriver during the Pacific Crest Sports Festival weekend. Only 25 minutes from home, but well worth it to spend a weekend with family and NOT have to worry about the to do list.

Pacific Crest has 10 different sports events. Running events from 5K through Marathon, Sprint and Endurance Dualathons, and Olympic and Half-Ironman Triathlons. They have two running events for bigger kids and the whole weekend kicks-off with the Kids' Splash-Pedal-Dash. The house we rented was RIGHT ON the trail where all the longer distance runs past, so after our events on Saturday, we got to watch all the crazies go by at mile 5 of their 13.1 mile run (note, that's AFTER a 1 mile swim and 58 mile bike ride!). Owen took very seriously his job to "give encouragement" and offered high fives to dozens of runners. And the longer into the day we got, the more appreciative those folks were see his smiling face alongside the trail.

Hard Thing #1: Owen - Splash-Pedal-Dash
The triathlon for kids 12 and under had 500 participants! They treat the kids just like the big time triathletes - number bibs, timing chips on their ankles, even numbers marked down the side of their leg. Owen was thrilled! We lined up his strider bike, found his buddy Evan, and then waited a FULL HOUR for our turn to start. They start twos from oldest to youngest, which makes sense so the big kids don't run over the littles, but we waited so long that half the kids around us were asleep by the time we reached the starting line. No worries, Owen and Evan were still pumped and jumping up and down for their turn. They climbed through the bouncy house, splashed through two wading pools, ran to transition, rode 1/4 mile bike loop, back to transition, and then a 1/4 mile run. About halfway through the run, Owen was breathing heavy and said, "Mom, this is a pretty far run!" but he ran every step of the way. His favorite parts:
- wearing his shoes and socks in the water.
- slapping high fives to other kids cheering along the run route, and
- getting a medal at the end!

Hard Thing #2: Jeff and Ethel - Half Marathon #3
J&E walked their 3rd (or 4th???) half marathon. This time, they SMASHED their big goal of finishing under 4 hours. The course did a full loop around Sunriver - mostly shaded and FLAT with great scenery. Scott had the kids in the bike trailer, so they tooled around most of the morning to make sure everyone was keeping pace. (Conrad and Glenna and their friends John and Elaine also walked the half).

Hard Thing #3: Alissa - Half Marathon
This time, I felt like I got the right amount of training in for my second half marathon. I did almost all the runs on my schedule (3 times/week) and even some cross training on the bike. My goal was to get under 2 hours, and I felt really good running most of the race, but when I got through mile 10, I hit a major mental wall. I realized that to get under 2 hours, I would have to run the last 3 miles in 24 minutes and there's NO WAY that was going to happen. After dragging through mile 11, I rallied and was able to cross the finish line in 2:06. I do think getting under 2 hours is attainable, but I realized that I need to get STRONGER in order to get faster. My lungs felt great (even at 4200 feet), but I just couldn't get my legs to move.

Hard Think #4: Owen - Ride a Bike
We didn't really know this was going to be part of the weekend. Since Owen turned 2, he's had a Strider Balance Bike. We've always told him that he would get a pedal bike when he's 5, but he's gotten so good on the balance bike, that we decided to surprise him with a pedal bike for his 4th birthday. We decided to give it to him in Sunriver, along with his birthday celebration with Grandma and Grandpa.
At the last minute, Scott decided to pull the training wheels off the bike... The whole point of a balance bike is that kids are supposed to be able to transition to a real bike without trainers, but we were skeptical that a 32 pound Owen would be able to lift and steady a 25 pound bike and get it started. Owen took about 22 seconds to prove us wrong and start pedaling the bike on his own. 15 minutes later, he was riding up and down the street. 30 minutes later, Scott got on his own bike, so they two of them could go for a legitimate ride, and the next morning ALL of us rode bikes to a nearby park.

Owen still needs some practice learning how to use the brake (and consequently is a little afraid of going downhill), but we're in pretty major shock that he learned to ride a bike before turning 4. I guess I better get stronger and faster - next year he's doing to be twice as fast during the Splash-Pedal-Dash!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Crush Continues

The other day, we were driving home from school and Owen spontaneously says from the back seat:
“Mom, when I get to be and adult, I’m going to have a nice lady that I love. And I’m going to love her very much that I marry her.”
“That sounds nice honey. I think you should find someone you love to marry.”
“Yes. And it’s going to be Lily!”
“Oh really? Well, we’ll have to see what happens when you are an adult.”
“Yea. But it’s going to be Lily because I love Lily the best!”

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Day it was Spring

We've had a rough few months here in Central Oregon. We always say that we go straight from Winter to Summer, but this year was especially brutal. Our "Sprin-ter" kept the temperatures near 50 degrees well through May, and then summer arrived in full force. But, on May 20, we had one, glorious, Spring Day.

We were lucky enough to be spending that Friday with our play group out in the Metolious Preserve. My friend Sarah works for the Land Trust and was able to arrange an amazing morning for us to get out in the trees, along the creek, engrossed in nature, and simply absorbing the warmth of sunshine we'd been missing after a zillion months of winter. We caravanned out through Sisters (with a crucial stop for yummy scones and coffee), pulled into the preserve, and stepped into the quiet of towering trees. I took a huge breath and knew this day was going to be a success.

We started with a little hike. Big kids running and climbing over stumps, littles in backpacks, a couple dogs thrown in the mix. At one point, I had to laugh - here I am, walking through the forest with a baby on my back, holding a dog leash in one hand, small fingers in another... the kicker being that neither the child or the dog are mine! And that seems like a pretty perfect summary of what it means to be raising children in community, don't you think? What a blessing to have these sweet friends to just LIVE LIFE with.

The kids had bug nets and magnifying boxes to explore the creepers and crawlers. The littles had a footbridge that kept Josh and his buddies (Calvin and Jett) occupied while the older kids waded in the creek. We had a picnic lunch in the clearing. And then the clothes started coming off and we had 8-10 kids splashing through the snow-melt creek in only their underwear.

A short while later, after dragging my kids back to the car, I pulled onto the highway, grinning from ear to ear, buoyed by the shrieks of joy, inquisitive eyes, and skipping feet that had filled our morning. And then I heard another beautiful sound… two sighing snores from the backseat that continued all the way home. Bliss.