Summer Begins

In the three springs that I have spent here in Portland, OR, I have yet to experience a typical progression of weather from winter to summer. It seems that winter is sporadically blessed with summer type days and even weeks, while spring drags out with cold snaps and grey days. Does Portland ever have an even progression of miserable to nice weather in the spring?

But hey, what am I complaining about?! I’m sitting on a sheepskin covered park bench on my back porch, in shorts and t-shirt, enjoying the warmth even in the shade. Life really isn’t that bad, even if the weather is unpredictable! And Marin can’t complain, cause I take her to the park no matter what the weather is like (unless it is exceptionally miserable).

Yesterday was quite nice, and I walked the girls down to the Lippman Party Store on 2nd and Yamhill. We found a nice little face painting set for Marin, which she was super excited about. Then we stopped at Next Adventure for Seth’s lunch break, enjoying the warm day together for a half hour before he headed back inside and the we started back up the hill to home.

Back at the house, Marin dug (literally) into the paints with a great amount of gusto! I wanted to take a picture of her when she was finished, but every moment of delay in cleaning her up meant a compounded amount of time to be spent cleaning the house from all the paint tracks and trails. She had colour in her hair, down to her toes, and every surface of skin in between. Her hands had layers of paint caked on so thick it was literally pealing off. She looked like a body paint monster of the cutest order.

Sorry there are no pictures of the paint monster, but I hope you will enjoy these other photos!

4947 Tounges 5045 Elita's Bicycle Oppinion 5049 Family Repair IMG_5255 IMG_5300

Overdue Updates

I know how frustrating it can be to read someone’s blog, or follow it, looking forward to their next post, only to find that they stop posting for an indefinite amount of time. I figured I would never be that type of blog poster. But…. it has been almost a year since I last wrote. Terribly sorry!

So….. lets see…..

We became pregnant with our second child beginning of February, 2014.

I started working the register at a hardware store very end of March.

A month later we became the first renters for my brother-in-law, moving into his rental house at the end of April. I didn’t hook up the internet until September, finding that we could do all our necessary internet work while on lunch break or in a few minutes down at a coffee shop. “OMG!” you say. How could we live with less than an hour of internet a day for 5 months? Quite happily actually. We got lots of reading done, conversing, and nice quiet wind-down evenings. It was wonderful!

So, for 5 months we enjoyed sunshine, gardening, playing with Marin, going on bike adventures around town and trying not to die in the intense summer heat. As my belly got bigger, that last one became more of a focus!

Sometime at the beginning of the summer (I don’t remember exactly when) Seth switched from working for corporate Columbia Sportswear, to wild west Next Adventure. It was a wonderful move for him, relieving a lot of stress, fitting his personality a little better.  It also is on the same side of the river and only a 10 minute bike ride away!

October I quit working at the hardware store, staying home with our little 2 year old and enjoying the last month of pregnancy. I also went out for coffee and walks a lot with my Mother (who was staying with us to help out with Marin during my labour), as well as one of my brothers and one of my sisters.

On October 29th our second daughter was born. No complications. Midwives barely arrived in time, as my labour was barely 1 1/2 hours long.  Her name is Elita.

At first Marin was like most other 2 year olds who have a new sibling arrive. Indifferent or slightly hostile. But now she seems to find that having a baby around can be quite fun. Elita smiles and giggles when Marin plays with her, and gets her toys. Marin even enjoys having baths with the baby and snuggling together in bed.

Sleeping GirlsThat’s about it for the updates!

Oh, besides the fact that our wonderful room-mate that we all love and Marin especially adores, will be leaving us shortly to hike the Camino so we will now be looking for a new person to live with us. Grr…. if only we could find another person exactly like the wonderful woman with us right now!

A Continuing Cycle of Lost and Found

As I’m sure you have read in the previous two posts here, Seth’s Surly fat tire was stolen, then found and returned to us by a couple park rangers that Seth had showed a picture of his bike to! The news version of the story is here.

Having it stolen was a learning curve for us in a number of different ways. There are different things you can do to try and find your bike after it is stolen. For us, pounding the pavement, asking if people had seen it, worked out best. For other people, posting your lost bicycle on different sites and forums works best. We did both.

Last year around Thanksgiving, Seth was out for an early morning neighborhood walk with the dog and found a bicycle abandoned at the skate park. The brakes were so loose they were practically undone, the handle bars were twisted around and the tires were flat. It was most certainly and definitely an abandoned “free for the taking” bike. So Seth dragged it home and wrote down the serial number, then did a search on all the local and semi-local stolen bike sites. According to his search (and I searched for it myself as well) the bicycle was not stolen, simply abandoned. So Seth fixed it up and got it in nice working condition, then used it as his commuter bike for work.

Once our Fat Tire was stolen and we posted on Bike Portland and Stolen Bike Registry, Seth thought again of his commuter bike and started doing a search for it once more. This time, using a different search technique, he found the bike, and yes it had been stolen as we had first suspected.

Contact was made with the original owners, and delivery back into their hands was made within the week. They of course were absolutely thrilled to get it back, as it had been stolen months before Seth had found it and they had given up hope on ever getting it back.

It was a good week that found our stolen bike getting returned to us and our being able to return a bike that we had found back to it’s owner!

Then, just last Sunday, while Seth and I were at the gym rock climbing together, our bicycle lights were stolen. They were nice lights, and we probably would have been pretty pissed if it were not for  the fact that our bicycles were still locked up and waiting for us to ride them. It put things in perspective for us, and though we shook our heads, we laughed and smacked ourselves in the forehead, saying “why did we leave our lights on our bikes?”   

 

 

Return of the Fat Tire

When the Portland Police take a stolen bike report, they don’t give you much optimism as to ever expecting to find it again. That’s just the way it is. Bikes are a big thing in Portland, and just as it is the choice of transportation for many commuters, so is it the premium choice for the homeless community who neither have space under their chosen bridge to park a car, nor do they have the money to put any gas into it.

While Seth was out riding around on Thursday asking people if they had seen a bike with bad-ass tires, one fellow of a shifty character explained it to Seth in a simple way that made a lot of sense. “If you live in a city, you never actually own your bike. You just get to use it for a while before it’s someone else’s turn.”

After talking with and showing a picture of the bicycle to a Parks and Recreation ranger, Seth felt that for his own safety it was time to head. The threats were starting to get forceful and there is no reason to risk your well-being for any type of bike. He continued on home while the ranger got picked up by his partner in a pickup and they headed through the downtown area of Portland. Shortly after crossing the bridge, the ranger spotted a bicycle matching the description and pulled over to ask a few questions of the shifty looking rider. The fellow got off the bike right away, leaned it against a wall and took a step away. It was his brother’s bike he said as he took another step away. With further questioning he just turned on his heel and walked from the scene. 

The funny thing? He was caught with the bike barely 200 feet from where it was stolen!

The rangers confiscated the bike and contacted Seth. Over the phone they asked him to describe the bike, specifically the reflective (Seth puts reflective tape in strange places on all his bikes). He passed the quiz with flying colours and was able to quickly cinch proving he was the owner by producing a key and unlocking the u-lock that was still securing the seat to the frame. 

Then the real questions started! Why are the tires so big? What is the purpose of such a fat tired bike? Where do you get them? etc.

The rangers even got a group picture taken of themselves with Seth and his bad-ass fat tire Surly Pugsley bike. 

Seth was quite the happy camper that day, but it wasn’t over yet. He had ridden his cargo bike to pick up the fat tire on his was in to work, but they were too big and bulky to fit through the narrow staff door, so he had to pull it in through the front doors and move everything one at a time through the store to the back for safe keeping. The morning staff got the whole story at that point, then at the end of the day the evening staff got the story as well as he pulled everything back out of the staff room and back to the front where he strapped the frame and tires of the Surly into the cargo bay of his load pusher. Customers thought it was pretty awesome too, and one asked if he could take a picture of the “Fat Tire in a Cargo Bike” and send it to Bike Snob in NYC. Seth refused, saying it was enough of a day to have gotten his beloved bicycle back after having it stolen, and putting it in his cargo bike was the only way he was able to manage picking it up and getting to and from work all at the same time. He didn’t want to deal with the Bike Snob using it as ammunition against Portland on top of everything else! Fair enough. 

Loss of a Fat Tire

This week has had some ups and down. Seth’s Surly Pugsley Fat Tire bike was stolen on Monday from in front of his work at Mountain Hardwear in downtown Portland.

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As you can see from these pictures, the bike has insanely HUGE tires on it! Bigger than most people have ever seen on a bicycle. In fact, the Surly frame had to be built special for the big tires.

There is a reward for getting the bike back. So far what is known, is that a guy and girl who are known drug addicts were seen dragging it (the wheels were locked to the frame) looking to sell it cheap. Any further information is appreciated. 

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Snow!!!

We just got back from a wonderful 1 1/2 hours out playing in the snow. There is at least 4 inches on the ground!

While trying to get Marin all set for going outside, she fought against putting her equipment on and refused the jacket. So got finished getting myself all ready, then plopped the two of us out on the back deck where Marin was then quite willing to get another layer on!
She didn’t seem very excited about the snow. Just stood there. Then we got the dog and a sled and I pulled her down the street to 36th where there is a nice grade hill. Other people had thought the same thing, as there were at least 20 people (adults and kids) already using the hill. We went down a couple times while Lorax wandered along the edge of the road smelling stuff. Marin had a snow cold face on and I couldn’t tell if she was having any fun at all! Then a little kid who is scared of big dogs came around so I then held onto Lorax’s leash as we went down the hill again. He thought it was great fun running beside us, trying to bite my gloves and jacket. Marin totally cracked up laughing at it too! So then we went down another dozen times or so with Lorax chasing after us and Marin giggling away!  One lady there said we were the cutest trio ever! The mail carrier (Jeffrey) got a kick out of watching Lorax chase us down the hill (he likes Lorax) and wished that he could take the day off to join us all on the hill. We have such nice neighborhood people!
After a while Marin wanted out of the sled and just stood around watching all the other kids. I got bored and put her back in the sled, pulled her home and got her undressed. Then she nursed and she fell asleep right away!
The Olympics start tonight, so Seth had previously asked to get out of work early today. Works out great, as he will be home with plenty of daylight to take Marin outside again for some snowy fun!  As it is, he already got to have a bit of fun this morning as he rode his big fat-tire through the snow to work.
That’s our little adventure this morning. Oh the joys of life!

Snow Day

Today is Seth’s regularly scheduled day to go help out his friend Tom building cargo bikes. Usually I drive him there and enjoy some conversation with the two men, learning what I can about the bikes they build, then drive home for the day and then pick Seth up in the evening. But today has not turned out to be your typical day.

Only a minute out in the snow, but now she wants to play longer out there!
Only a minute out in the snow, but now she wants to play longer out there!

It is snowing here in Portland and by the wonderfully slow moving traffic on the roads, everybody is heading home and it’s just after lunch! Honestly I wish I could have stayed home all day after dropping Seth off, but schools got out early today due to the weather, so after a short break at home I headed back out into the weather to pick up my niece. Truly the roads are not very friendly right now compared to yesterday! The snow had gone from drifting across the pavement, to sticking and getting packed down hard. The van was having trouble starting up from stops, but thankfully braked perfectly every time.

One thing I am exceptionally grateful for, is the caution that other road users were employing. It’s the scariest thing to be driving through less than prime conditions and see other drivers going along as though it were the middle of summer! But today there was none of that. Caution was the name of the game and for that I thank all the drivers here in Portland!

As for Seth over at Tom’s bike building garage, we already agreed that he would take transit. Safest, keeps one more vehicle off the roads.

Exercising as a Mom

Pretty much all through my teen years I was slightly obsessed with staying fit. Truth is, I wanted 6-pack abs, but quickly came to the conclusion that unless I became a body builder, that just wasn’t going to happen. I think it all really started when I watched “Braveheart” and saw the scene where William Wallace is running along the mountain ridges of Scotland. Pretty much from then on I started running and worked up to about 26 km every week, split into two sprint days and one stamina. Along with that were some hiking and backpacking trips with my dad (he’s a wonderful fellow), which always spurred me on to keep working out. Then I discovered an Oya women’s kickboxing group just a couple minutes down the road and started going. I loved the full body workout that kickboxing gave me, along with skills in balance. My coach was pretty awesome too, pushing us all hard and encouraging us to do our best, but tailoring things slightly to accommodate each of our strengths and weaknesses. After that, I moved across the country (I was living in Canada) to help my aunt and uncle build their house. Even without doing any of the framing, I put on 10 lbs of muscle working around their property. Next came my attempt to thru hike the Appalachian Trail (2,176 miles) which I was only able to complete 600+, and then I bicycle toured with my now husband along the coast of California.

That all sounds like a great tradition in exercise and how could someone with that background ever stop working out?!

The answer is “mom-hood”.

My husband and I had a baby. Even though I tried to stay fit throughout the pregnancy, it was just too easy to relax and let everyone else do stuff. After Marin was born, Seth was a huge encouragement to get me outside for long walks, but the sore hips and pelvis were depressing, so I settled down to just going for shorter walks with the dog.

Now Marin is a 17 months, my hips are perfectly fine (unless I walk all the way downtown and back) and I have no excuse to not exercise. But Marin takes up a lot of time and it is nearly impossible to work out with her around as she climbs all over me. Running on these streets is hard with a stroller trying to maneuver all the curbs. Nap time is the only time of the day that I can really focus on projects that I want to get done, and don’t want to waste that precious time on working out. And… truth be told…. I don’t really want to work out. I’d much rather curl up on the couch and get lost in a good book with cup of chocolate ice-cream in hand. Besides, doesn’t housework count as working out?

Oh, what is a mother to do?!!!

I have not come up with the answer yet. a couple weeks ago I decided that I would take a rock climbing course at the local rock gym and start going early in the mornings before Marin wakes up and Seth has to go to work, but I still haven’t organised that yet. I think I’ll just have to force myself to go for a run in the mornings or evenings when Seth is around to watch the little one.

Today I got lucky as it is Seth’s day off and he took little Rinny down to OMSI for a couple hours, leaving me to do whatever I wanted. I knew I needed to get out and burn some steam, so it worked out great to allow me to take the dog for a run and do some extra workouts at home. Just as a side note, Lorax (the dog) was much slower than myself. I had to keep encouraging him to come along! Yay for me running faster than a pit-rhodesian cross!

I’m sorry, I’m sure you thought there was going to be a great grand and glorious answer to the mother’s exercise problem, but there isn’t. I’m in the same boat as everyone else, with just a wafting memory of the wonderful days of perpetual energy and a love to push my body.

 

What a Zoo Trip!

Excited to see fish!
Excited to see fish!

Living in such a prime location in SE Portland, we have a very easy time getting across town for a visit to the zoo. Simply walk a couple blocks to the bus stop, ride it downtown and catch the train right to the zoo!

Second Tuesday of every month is discount day. Simply $4 for one adult and the little girl is free. $5 gives a day pass for public transit, so I spent the $9 total for the day and had a grand adventure with my little girl. It really can’t get any cheaper or better than that!

The last time we took Marin to the zoo, she was under a year old and slept through most of it. Her favorite animals (when awake) were the arctic terns and the river otter. Both of them made her crack up laughing.

Now Marin is 16 months old and she had such a grand time looking at all the animals. She walked most of the zoo, periodically catching a ride up on my shoulders, but staying awake well past her regular nap time to see all the varying residents. At the very end we stopped in a quiet spot to nurse and she promptly fell asleep. I moved her to her stroller where she didn’t stir at all as we walked past the last two animals in the zoo (tiger and leopards), caught the train back downtown and  met up with Seth as he got off work. Eventually after a couple hours of wandering through random stores that I had never ventured into while she was awake, we decided to wake her up. The tuckered little girl had no interest in waking up at that point, but her parents are admittedly slightly selfish and didn’t want her late nap to run too long and cause an interruption in their own sleep later that night.

We have now scheduled Tuesdays off as our family adventure day and I even marked the second Tuesdays as zoo days on the calendar for the next couple months. I think with Marin’s love of animals it is well worth making a day trip out of the zoo every month when possible.

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Pettal Works

Well, I accidentally pushed a button while working on getting info put into my shop on Etsy, and now it is a live shop! Didn’t mean it to be so soon, but hey, when the baby is fussing and you’re just trying to finish up some stuff, sometimes a button or two gets pushed without really meaning to.

Anyway, Seth’s and my shop is open for business!

The funny thing is that of course it is recommended for you to have a fair number of items to sell right away when opening up a shop. We do have more coming up. I just have to take better photos and list them. But right now there is a tantalization of 2 listings. Yes that is right. Two.

BIG CHEER!!!!

For those of you who would like to take a look, (remember, there’s only two listings so it shouldn’t take you more than a minute!) our shop can be found at pettalworks.etsy.com

Enjoy!

 

All constructive comments are welcome. Please feel free to add your opinion about things.

Remember that this shop is still an adventure under construction. Things will change hopefully on a daily basis. More items are planned to be added by the end of the weekend.

This really is an education for me, and I would like to thank my daughter for still taking naps so I can have a chance to work on the shop for an hour every day. I would also like to thank my husband Seth for his encouragement.