Monsters Under Bridges

There’s this amazing book called “Monsters Under Bridges” by Rachel Roellke Coddington, about some of the resident monsters here in the Pacific Northwest. Our favourite monster from the book is Louis, who lives on the St. Johns Bridge in northern Portland and likes to travel a lot, just like one of our awesome neighbours.

Portland is an amazing place to live, because we also have the Fremont Flixies on…. you guessed it! the Fremont Bridge!

Just a little while ago, on one of the amazingly nice days that we get sporadically here between douses of rain, we as a family went on a trip to see if we could find Louis and the Flixies. Of course, we went by bike. All the way from here in the inner SE, up to and across the St. John’s Bridge, then down the west side to cross back over on the Hawthorne, making stops along the way to play, eat, read the map, smell the roses, look at the view and discuss what our odds were to actually be able to spot the monsters. Marin was pretty sure that we would find the monsters’ homes (the bridges) and that we would find the monsters themselves.

Seth, Girls, Fountain
The fountain at a rose garden.

 

Family Fountain
A family photo!

 

Bikes Fountain
A view of our rigs. That’s Elita in her carseat in the front of Seth’s front loading roll-caged cargo bike. Marin sits in the kid seat on the back of my Big Bunny. (for Surly snobs, that’s a Big Dummy)

 

The St. John’s Bridge felt very BIG, going across on bicycles. I think it is the second largest I’ve ridden across. Surprised we forgot to take any pictures.

We didn’t see Louis, so he must have been visiting friends. Probably Ronoh, who lives in the water under the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge in Vancouver, BC. Louis does love to travel!

Having had no luck finding Louis, we continued to Portland’s down town area for dinner, then passed a ton of bridges and underpasses, looking for the Fremont Flixies and any other monsters that might have come visiting the bridges of Portland that day. Alas, we had no luck.

Family Ferris Wheel
Us! On a bridge in front of a Ferris wheel.

 

After a long day of cycling, we headed home, crossing on the Hawthorne Bridge, with eyes pealed for any sign of monsters. On our ride up SE Stark St, Marin kept telling me that we didn’t find the monsters, so we needed to go back to the bridge, to see the monster’s home and find the monster. With sweat dripping down my neck, and fire burning in my thighs, I had to tell her that finding the monsters would have to wait for another trip, at which time we might be more fortunate in finding them.

Elita Fountain

Visit from the GUYS

Earlier this month my dad and oldest brother flew into town for a visit on their way back to Canada for work. I didn’t tell Marin about their coming until the day of, as she does not yet get the concept of “in a couple days”. But, that morning I told her they were coming, and her confident reply was, “and Ret come!” (Ret is her nickname for my sister Maret, whom she absolutely adores)

Despite it just being the guys and no Maret, she was still SUPER excited to go for a truck ride to pick them up at the airport, where my brother Mitch had to wedge himself in the back between the two car-seats.

After the excitement of the truck ride, Marin still managed to make every moment of their visit exciting. I don’t think Mitch woke up in the mornings by himself. He usually was pounced on by Marin and pulled into her games before he could get a drink or breakfast. Grandpa wasn’t much better off, being another source of fun for my toddler, and a great baby tender for Elita when I needed to get stuff done. He did get breaks though! Both of them did. It was called “nap time”, and all of them participated in it.

Mitch and Marin Asleep
Reading books at the end of a long day will knock anyone out!

 

Mitch and Marin Smile
Mitch and Marin were almost inseparable.

Their “long” visit of 4 1/2 days was short, but I think we got a fair amount done. Doughnuts, bubble tea, yard work, playground, long walks for cart food, more doughnuts, short strolls for more cart food….. the list goes on. Some of it can be seen here at my mom’s blog.

 

Mitch and Marin Tongues

These guys come through every couple of weeks or months, so I’m sure you will see more of them!

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!

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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