Monday, July 30, 2012

Splash, Pedal, Dash

We joined Jeff and Ethel for another Pacific Crest Weekend in SunRiver.  A weekend planned long before we knew we were going to be moving.  It was a strange feeling to drive over the mountains (our slowest trip ever!), and then drive straight through Bend without stopping.  

I didn't train for a race myself this year, but it was inspiring to watch all the long course athletes (half ironman tri, marathon, half marathon) run past our rental house.  We also got a bit of exercise riding our bikes around the trails to catch J&E at least 4 different times during their half marathon walk. Oh, and it turns out I SHOULD have trained to chase Owen around the kids' splash, pedal, dash.  That kid is quick on his bike!

Josh was Owen's biggest fan, with a joyful high five before the last turn on the run and then an unprompted bear hug after Owen crossed the finish line. I guess Josh has figured out how this little brother thing works!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

At the Beach

Our annual Memorial Day Weekend trip to Manzanita did not disappoint this year.  After several years of squeezing tighter and tighter into the same rental house, we made the big jump to a larger house.  At this point, we are 6 adults and 5 kids and the added space was fantastic for everyone. Separate kids and adult tables at dinner? Check. Bunk room? Check. A well stocked kitchen with the space to store and prep food for our small army? Check. A separated sleeping space for our early risers? Check. Gorgeous views of the beach? Check. and..... a hot tub!

We always wonder how all the kids are going to get along. We only see the Owens Family during this one weekend a year. Nolan is exactly a year older than Owen and they usually take a day or two to feel each other out. Not this year! These two were like long lost BFFs joined at the hip from the moment we walked in the door. They were thrilled to share the bunk room, explored the beach together, snuggled on the same chair during movie nights, and were a united front in every decision. I felt like I hardly saw Owen all weekend. Frankly, it was awesome! (and gave me more confidence in our decision to start Owen in Kindergarten this fall)

Calla's early mornings put her on a bit of an opposite schedule from the other kids who were embracing later nights of vacation, but it was a joy hearing how Calla's speech and expression has progressed since we last saw her at Christmas. We also got some glimpses of the goofy silliness that she usually reserves for home. The weather had promised miserable northwest rain and cold, so we packed for indoor entertainment... games, play dough, movies...

And yet, our wonderful view ended up looking like this most of the weekend... overcast, but DRY and almost warm. Hardly a drop of rain all weekend, and it was warm enough that the boys (big and little) set to work creating a "sunken ship" out of collected driftwood.
Everyone needs a project...

The boys showed their true northwest roots and spent most of the weekend in salty, soggy sweats and raincoats.

The only thing Owen did without Nolan's help all weekend. Pretty impressive without a mirror...

Scott and Tim took the the boys on a "pirate adventure" to hike over the mountain at Hug Point.  I heard great tales of their adventures!

Our one great benefit on the trip this year was how incredibly CLOSE we are now to the coast.  Less than two hours with Memorial Day traffic! Hopefully that means more beach time in our future.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Big Emotions

Sometimes the goodbye is harder the second time around.

This afternoon we got an unexpected visit with the Krause family (Bloom School owners) while they were here in PDX for a swim meet. With busy family schedules, I knew better than to tell the boys about the visit until we had the logistics confirmed, so it ended up being a post nap surprise: "Let's go see Stephanie, David, Caleb, and Elijah!"

Owen was thrilled. Just the other day he said out of the blue, "Do you know who I miss more than anyone else in Bend? Caleb."

Josh wanted to make sure the details were clear. "Stephanie?" yes. "aaand Dave?" yes. "Let's go!!"

Ironically, Josh was then particularly shy in those first moments with David, but didn't hesitate to hop up on his hip for the trip inside the pool building. Afterwards we joined the swim families for pizza dinner where Caleb and Owen played at top pace and Elijah watched out for Josh among the big kids. And then... It was time to go.

Josh dispensed multiple rounds of hugs and high fives, while Caleb and Owen sulked. It seemed pretty par for the course. Owen hates goodbyes. Thankfully, Stephanie and David have a wee bit of experience with 5 year old emotions and didn't take it personally when Owen wouldn't even make eye contact. And then, the sniffling began, followed by quivering lip, crocodile tears, shaking shoulders, and devastated wail of a very, very sad boy collapsed in my arms.

I hurt watching my son hurt. The heartaches are definitely worse than the physical bumps and bruises. Obviously some of the emotion was driven by the general excitement/exhaustion cycle of the day, but I also know that Owen does feel loss from our move and watching the Krause Family walk away reaffirmed that loss in that moment.

On the other hand, I would not trade these chances to reconnect with our Bend people when they are in Portland. PEOPLE are the reason we were so sad to leave and PEOPLE are what keeps drawing us back.

So, I hugged my kids a little closer tonight, reassured them that it's okay to feel sad, and promised that we will have more fun afternoons with old friends before the summer is over. We'll make sure a visit to Bloom school is on top of the list our next time back in Bend.

First Words

In April, Owen asked me when he would be able to start reading.  Awesome!  We've taken the "go at your own pace" approach, choosing to let the kids discover letters and words on their own rather than learning through direct instruction. (Our preschools do art and exploration rather than "letters of the week" and worksheets.)  But, as is natural, Owen has learned his letters just from general exposure and us talking about what we see.  He's been able to pick out recognizable words and kids names by reading the first letter for a while, so I thought he could try sounding out a word or two. Sure enough, he was able to sound out a few Dr Suess words in a book we hadn't read before.

It was one of the coolest moments of being a parent to listen to him sound out those first few words and then turn to me in wonder and declare, "Mom... I'm reading!"

Enter the Bob books!  I vaguely remember those books (or something remarkably similar) from when we were little, but they are just awesome sets of 10-12 very short books.  About 12 pages in each book, each with just one sentence.  (Pat was a dog. Pat was Sid's pal. etc) For the next few days, Owen was asking to read Bob books to anyone that would listen. As luck would have it, Grandma and Grandpa were visiting the next weekend, so Owen had lots of captive audiences. 

I love listening to Owen read. It's fascinating to watch him - reading is exhausting work and you can tell he is using all his brain power to decipher the words (probably doesn't help that he seems to be ready for a pair of glasses.)   I love the observation (by Bev Bos) that the best thing we can do to help kids become confident readers is to help them learn to take risks and have the confidence to make mistakes. Learning to read requires a lot of risk - you do it wrong over and over and over and have to keep trying in the midst of mistakes.  Owen is stubborn and determined, but he is also quickly discouraged and I feel like we are learning right along with him the types of strategies that work best to encourage him toward challenging goals.

We're not pushing the reading and realize that this is just the very beginning of reading, but I love it when Owen asks to read his own bedtime story.  Like all developmental milestones, he was motivated for a week or so and then moved on to new interests. He cycles back to reading every couple weeks.  Of course, it took him about one pass through to memorize all the Bob books and most of the "Step Into Reading" type books at the library are still beyond his focus level. So we're on to Bob series #3 and looking forward to the next year(s) as Owen continues to grow into a more and more confident and adventurous reader!

(Side note: This new reading milestone has also caused me to observe our world in a new light.  Oh, the questions that are going to come when Owen realizes he can read the names on buildings and the words on billboards.  How lucky that we get to drive past a particularly seedy section of 99W on our way on and off the freeway.  Can't wait until I get to answer questions about La Reve, The Pussycat, and Fantasy Video.  Urgh.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cleaning House

I've never been accused of keeping a spotless house. I blame it on the kids and the shedding animals, but lack of motivation is probably the more likely cause. This house is certainly in need of some TLC, and while I would love to be using "green" and environmentally friendly cleaning products, sometimes the chemicals are required.

Or... Sometimes you just gotta replace and start over, which so far has been the case with the carpet, kitchen appliances, and bathroom fixtures. It's a wonder how much cleaner a bathroom feels with a new faucet and shower head.

My cleaning history was brought to the surface early in our move when Owen wandered into the too where my mom was washing windows. She was wearing the rubber gloves I use to clean bathrooms and he said, utterly perplexed, "Nana, what are those?!" embarrassing? Yup. But not quite as bad as when Josh walked in 5 minutes later and asked the exact.same.question.

Tonight I pulled another quality move: the housework has accumulated since we have been out of town or hosting guests for the last 3 weekends. I was determined to make some headway during my Friday home. Swept floor? Check. Shaken rugs? Check. Vacuum carpets? Check. Mopped floor? Check. Things are starting to look great. And THEN I decide to make pizza for dinner... From scratch... With the kids helping.

As they say, "cleaning house while raising kids is like shoveling snow in a blizzard."