Thursday, July 17, 2014

Three Years and Five-ish Hours Ago....

I got to meet this guy for the first time:

I never doubted wanting to have kids, and I always wanted to have a daughter.  But I'm so glad now, too, to have the experience of having a son.

And not just any son, but this boy in particular.  He is:

And, as this *series* will show, apparently quite the dapper man:
Otto was so pleased to have this fancy outfit for a wedding that he insisted on trying it on in another store when he saw that Stella was getting to try her dress on.
In a snazzy hat like Dad.
 In the new orange vest he picked out by himself.

He's also reinforced what I learned about nature versus nurture with Stella.  While he has his evolved, feminine side due to having a big sister, he's also naturally into cars, trucks, balls, trains, guns, physical play and the like:

 A truck--woohoo!
 A natural-born Seahawks fan--"They run and catch and crash!"  This picture doesn't show it, but I think Otto was still the happiest I have ever seen him when we came home with the jersey for him (that he still wears at least twice a week).  Tyler often jokes that his natural sports ability/motor skills are a bit wasted on Otto with him as his father.

Otto's also affectionate, kind, thoughtful and loving.  When we were hiking last week, he was riding on my shoulders (like he did last year in the picture below) and said to me, "Mommy, I wish I could be with you always."  And it's not uncommon to have a conversation that goes something like this:  "Mommy, I love your earrings.  Mommy, I love your hair.  Mommy, I love everything about you!"  He's going to be the best husband ever.

  Tuckered out after a two mile.

On the Hanalei Pier in Kauai, just over a year old. 
 A pretty recent shot and one of my personal favorites.  His favorite pants.  His favorite shirt.  His special friend, Pig.  One of my dearest loves in life.

Happy birthday, Otto.  I'm so glad you are part of our lives.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Magical Thinking

Earlier this spring I was poking around facebook and came across this post of a mother's rant that she was done making childhood magical.  Childhood is magical enough, she argued.

Provocative, yes.   And, I, for one, don't believe my parents the same pressure to have perfectly plotted, accessorized and managed experiences for kids.

Thought-provoking, too. It got me thinking and talking with Tyler about what moments in our childhood felt magical and what that would mean for what for Stella and Otto.  I was surprised to realize that most of my best memories of childhood involved being outside.  Spending lazy summer days at a lake.  Going to parks.  Playing in the backyard.  Hiking.  Canoeing.  Camping.  Riding my bike and rollerskates.  Pretty simple stuff.  So I quickly dubbed this summer the "Summer of Hiking and Camping."  (Plus we're saving up money and time off to go to Ireland next Spring....)

I had some evidence this would work out.  Last year we managed to get in a couple hikes, even when Otto was just two.   And Tyler and I love camping, though we'd just managed one trip a year out of the last three (including one when I was eight-months pregnant).  Our hope is to get three camping trips in this summer. 

Trip number one happened this past weekend over the Fourth of July.  Serendipitously, someone Tyler works with who also has a two-year-old was camping, too, so we ended up camping together in an awesome primitive spot off the Mountain Loop Highway.  Three nights out on a river, in old forest, with lots of time to relax, play All-Terrain bocce, hike, toast marshmallows, and be outside.

View on the way to our campsite.  It would be awfully hard for me to ever move away from this.

Our home away from home.  Thanks, Dad, for the big tent that fits four people far better than my backpacking tent!

All-Terrain Bocce--a last-minute purchase by Tyler that was a major hit for kids and adults alike!

A little bit of quiet time in the sun while the younger kids napped

The kids' first "backwater baptisms" in some impressively ice cold water.  Stella went back for more about four times....

The first full day we hit up the Big Four Ice Caves a second time this year, which is a ridiculously gorgeous (and kid-friendly) trip--one mile in, one mile out, flat (a mere 200 feet elevation gain) with smooth trail to walk along. 

Holding hands to help the younger friends, courtesy of Althea Pomerleau

The pay off at the end--not the greatest shot, but you can get a sense of the grandeur

And snow and ice at the end for the kids to muck around in, not to mention wildflowers, waterfalls and a stream to splash cold water on your face as a reward for all that good walking.

The second day we hiked Heather Lake.  We'd hiked it once before, with the reward of lots of salmon berries.  Of all our hikes with the kids, this was the most ambitious--four-miles round trip, 1100' elevation gain, and not an easy path--lots of roots, rocks, mud, and climbing.  And we didn't luck out with the best conditions--it got drizzly partway up, and I hadn't packed raincoats in our daypack.  Worse yet, the salmon berries had been eaten or picked already, so the pay-off hoped for by Stella didn't quite come to fruition.  But it did lend itself to a good chance to practice "making the best of it", which Stella did (ultimately) with gusto.

 At the lake.  The last half mile got a bit maudlin, and given the conditions, we didn't get to hang out as long as maybe we would have otherwise, but gorgeous.  Someday we'll backpack up here and spend some nights at the lake and really soak it all in.
So a good time in the end.  Stella hiked all but maybe 100 yards of it.  Otto, in sandals, probably did 1.5 miles up, and maybe .5-.75 miles down.  Not too shabby.
 Happier times on the hike back down from Heather Lake, also thanks to Althea.  It's not terrible to have a professional photographer as a camping companion!

So beyond the camping plans, this epiphany about the outdoors also means that we let ourselves off the hook in general and spend more weekend time just hanging out in our backyard.  Or our friend's backyards.  Or checking out low tide.

A new beach we discovered in West Seattle--crabs, jellyfish, anemones and more

Perfectly plotted?  Almost never.  Magical?  Time will tell.
Early morning snuggles
Playing "Papa Bear" and "Baby Bear"
Snacking on the beach after a few dips

And it's not too shabby for some good adult bonding time, either: