Opposites

Most of my side of the family came down from Canada during the holidays, so we got the biggest family photo taken in years! My neighbour did the honour of clicking a bunch of shots, and my little sister Maret did the photo editing.

Back Row: Seth, Everette (Dad), Anders, Mitchell, Toveli, Gaelyn, Maret, Karen (Mom), Laars Front Row: Rauchelle (Me) with Trista on back. Elita and Marin in stroller
Back Row: Seth, Everette (Dad), Anders, Mitchell, Toveli, Gaelyn, Maret, Karen (Mom), Laars.
Front Row: Rauchelle (Me) with Trista on back. Elita and Marin in stroller.

As you can see, there is a REALLY BIG van behind us. That is the 15 passenger van my folks drive around from Canada to Mexico and back, as need and/or whim dictates. My mom has a really good blog about their adventures that you should check out if large family travel interests you.

The thing I think is a little funny about this photo (besides the goofy faces) is the stroller, which is our main mode of transporting, in comparison to the van. These are two totally different, opposite, yet equally awesome family lifestyles represented here. Seth and I have a stationary family, living in one place, raising our girls with alternative means of transportation. My parents have the family of movement (which I would love to mimic when the time is right), raising their kids in alternative locations. So far, my younger siblings have an almost equal grasp on Canadian, USA and Mexican cultures. They have participated in community activities in all three countries, and they can get by in more languages than me!

Keep doing the great adventurous things you do, Mom and Dad!

P.S. I’m still car-free.

OMSI

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

For the random person who does not know, OMSI makes a grand family adventure with two wonderful children’s areas. One for the slightly older children (and adults) where you can interact with projects and experiments. The other for youngsters from newborn (okay really, what newborn is going to play?) to 8-9? year olds where they can play with balls and wind tunnels, sand and funnels, building blocks, water, puzzles and so much more!

Last year Marin seemed a little too young to benefit fully from the scientific playground, but now she is 1 1/2 and thoroughly enjoys trying to keep up with the other kids or just doing her own thing. Seth’s brother Andrew was kind enough to get us a family membership for this year, so we have tried to go a number of times already. Each attempt has been thwarted though by some means or other. Either Rinny falls asleep before we get there and I don’t have the heart to wake her up, or we just run out of time before having to pick Andrew’s daughter up from school.

Today we woke up early, had breakfast with Seth before he left for work, then I prepared Marin and I for a morning bike ride to OMSI. I thought I was doing well, but by the time we got to the museum Marin had fallen asleep again. I thought that this one time maybe I would wake her up and hope that she would nap later, but when we got to the doors I discovered that they were closed today. NO!!!!! After trying 6 or 7 times just in the last 2 weeks to get there, the one time I make it and they are closed! What a disappointment.

Try again later!

 

Us and the World Naked Bike Ride

Us and the World Naked Bike Ride!

I think I know what you’re thinking.

“WHAT???”

Every year during Portland’s Pedalpalooza, the WNBR (World Naked Bike Ride) throws an event that draws thousands of people. People line the streets cheering cyclist on and giving high-fives to the participants. Bikes and other means of human-powered transportation are lit up with regular lights and intricate, crazy, multicoloured, cool lights.

Cyclist wear shoes. That seemed to be the one and only thing that every participant agreed to wear. Police asked everyone to also wear helmets, but you know people…. some of them skipped that safety item. There were guys in top hats and vests, girls in princess and fairy costumes. Naked people in wheelchairs and on skate boards, riding on cargo bikes and just plain running.

The only down side to riding with no clothing is if on the off chance you have a spill, there is nothing to protect your skin. I saw a cyclist crash when he ran into the edge of a cement lane divider. I didn’t see the in-line skater crash, but I did watch him get back up with a purple/red bruise the size of a cantaloupe on his buttox.

Despite the risks, people were in high spirits. There is a thrill in being naked with thousands of other people, in front of thousands more fully clothed people. Exhilaration and freedom!

Seth and I stopped about 2/3 of the way through the course and just watched the other cyclist go by. Everyone so unique and different. An education to be sure!

Where was Marin during this family adventure? Bundled up cozy warm and fast asleep in the front of the trike. She fell asleep right after we left the house and didn’t wake up at all until we were back home and putting her to bed.

Unicycles, tall bikes, cargo and tandems. Hispanic people, Asian, male and female. It was a night for every make, model and size, both for bicycles and people!

Proof we were there and I wasn't just making all of this up!
Proof we were there and I wasn’t just making all of this up!

Late Night Transit and Timbers Game

Letting Marin go for a couple of hours is a really hard thing for me to do. Yeah, yeah it’s something I need to get used to and blah blah blah…..

Just the other night I was busy nursing Marin when Andrew came downstairs and asked if I might be interested in going to a Timber’s game that night. He had two tickets, didn’t want to go himself, but Leah really really wanted to go, so I thought about it a minute. Thought, “Heck, how often will a chance like this come up where I can go to a soccer game?” 

Andrew was offering to look after Marin for the evening, and I know that she is good with him, so in a burst of adrenaline and adventure I agreed to go to the game with Leah!

I had no idea how we were getting there and back, but a quick internet search showed an easy route that I hoped would make sense when scrawled across a scrap of paper.

Marin was a doll and didn’t fuss too much as I ran around, trying to understand maps, get myself ready, find all of the baby stuff that I thought Andrew might need, and get Marin fed and changed before heading out. She just rode on my hip for most of my running around and watched as I threw stuff together. What a girl!

Having seen her settled and content in Andrew’s arms, Leah and I ran out the door, heading for a night of noise, bright lights and loud noise!

There were people everywhere! The stadium was crowded. The game was on.

For all you big soccer fans out there, you gotta realize that I have never been to a big game before, or even a small “community kids” game.

At first I was taken aback by all the spectators. There must have been thousands and thousands!!! All talking, chatting, yelling, chanting. So much green! So many smiles!

I looked down on the field where the game had already started and thought; people are paying to see a small white speck get bounced and chased around a grass field by men that look the size of ants, who seem to get a thrill out of bashing their heads simultaneously against a fast-moving ball and the heads of other players. Why is this a sport?

Then I got into it. I couldn’t help myself! I kept pushing thoughts of worry over my baby out of my head (mom’s can sympathize!) and just sat back and soaked up the excitement and thrill of being surrounded by thousands of people brought together for one thing. And that one thing started to get to me too! I found myself cheering wholeheartedly whenever the Timbers stole the ball from the Quakes, then stood up and gave it my all when the Timbers scored in the 78th minute.

Wow! What happened to me?

At the end of the game I steered Leah out through the tightly packed crowd and made it out onto the street. That’s when I realized that my written directions were gonna be no good, cause there weren’t any bus about to come along this road, what with all those soccer fans milling around!

On a hunch, I led us around a corner and thankfully found what I was looking for. The train heading into the city center. I don’t know this city very well, and had never ridden the public transit here before except for one stretch of the train to get out to the zoo earlier this year. Yeah I’ll admit I was a little nervous, trying to get myself and my niece back home on the other side of the river, late at night, on a system I was unfamiliar with. But we made it!

Home safe and sound.

Yeah!!!

I can’t wait till Andrew gets more Timbers tickets that he doesn’t want to use himself!

Garden Life Under the Clouds

We had an amazingly long stretch of warm weather here in Portland, especially considering how early in the year it is. We were decked out in shorts and t-shirts, running around barefooted and working on our freckles. Seeds were planted in the garden, weeds were pulled, the dog was walked and now we are living under clouds again.

Peas

The rain is good for the garden, that is sure. There are seedlings popping up in many places, though never quite fast enough for my impatience. My fear right now is that I might have inadvertently pulled up some seedlings while pulling the weeds. I guess there is no way to know for sure.

Some of my peas have come up nicely, their young tendrils making delicious accents to my salads, along with Rosemary flowers and a few kale leaves from an over-wintered plant. I am excited to eventually have my own lettuce to make my salads out of, but for now I am happy to be able to pick my own fixings.

It is amazing how fast the weeds grow though! It seems that I pull handfuls every time I step outside! If only they were all edible, then I could eat them as I pulled and they would not go to waste. Mind you, having them added to the compost pile keeps them in the garden cycle and so they are not wasted.

And the rain? Fortunately the days are still fairly warm, so getting wet is not completely miserable, and it means I do not have to drag the hose around to water the garden! There are always good ways to look at things. Yesterday when I got drenched while out on a walk with Marin and the dog, I was still grateful for the rain, as it brought the city streets a little bit closer to smelling clean. There still was not the fresh clean aroma of dripping moss-covered trees, salal and soggy pine needle strewn earth, but at least there were a few negative ions in the air and the smell of asphalt was subdued.

Goodwill Bins

The Bins

Ask someone from around here if they have ever been to the bins and you might get a horrified look. Or on the other hand depending on who you ask, you might receive a big grin, a small chuckle and a question aimed right back at you; “Why? Have you been there yet?”

You certainly don’t go there for a picnic!  It is a place of adventure and discovery though. Long bins on wheels set end to end and two wide. Dust and dirt collecting on the floor and in your nostrils. Friends calling out to each other, babies crying, Goodwill workers demanding your attention as they pull half empty bins off the floor and push full ones back on.

Seth had already spent a couple of hours there some time ago in the winter, so he explained some of the workings of the place to me as I spun in slow circles, trying to take in everything at once. As he wrapped up his explanation, his gloves got put on and he dove into the mayhem of people scrounging for good deals. A few minutes later I joined him with my own pair of gloves donned and a wary eye kept trained on the well-being of Marin, looking wide-eyed out of her car seat atop a buggy.

There is never any telling what you might find in one of the bins. A ball gown, portable toilet, bikinis, skis, dart board or underwear. We found some nice looking clothes for Marin, a bike rack, shirts for myself and a toy for Lorax.

The best part is the end, when your buggy gets weighed with all your treasures piled high within. There are a few items that gets sold with a price tag, but the vast majority is all priced by weight. Have a buggy with less than ten pounds in it? Pay X. Over 20 lbs? Wow you pay less then $1.00/lbs!

With a load that would have racked up $50 or more at a regular thrift store, we walked out having spent less that $25.

I know this is going to sound really crazy, but next time my sister comes to visit, I am definitely taking her to The Bins!

A Day At The Zoo

You know how sometimes there is a serious aspect to your life in the moment and it seems to consume you and tint every part of your day, even if you are not directly trying to deal with it at that point in time? An issue is big and menacing and it starts to get you down over time. That’s not a good thing. It happens, and is quite normal, but it drains you and leaves you feeling tired and weary. That’s when you go out and have a day of fun!

We were getting pretty quiet and focused on what we needed to get done, but Seth in his wonderful way insisted on a day off. So we went to the zoo.

Of course it wasn’t quite such a simple matter of packing up the baby, hopping in the van and driving out to the zoo. No, we packed up the baby, straddled our bicycles, rode downtown to Pioneer Square, locked the bikes, jumped on the train and rode it out to the zoo. We almost never do things the simple way!

For most of our wanderings through the green bordered paths between the animals, Marin sat quietly on my hip, looking at everything, being especially intrigued by the other humans wandering past. She gazed for mere moments at the animals, becoming fascinated with the waterfalls. Finally near the end of our time there, we found some animals that caught her interest. The first was the Arctic Terns, as they splashed in the water right in front of her, they took flight in grand swoops around their aviary, with Marin twisting her head, trying to keep them in view. She smiled big every time they flew close. She was also quite taken later with the little parakeets as they nibbled on her finger tips.

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At the end we found a river otter playing by himself, doing backflips off the plexiglass observation wall, twirls in the current and dives from the shore into the swift creek flowing through it’s small home. Seth held Marin up for her to watch the otter, following as it swam back and forth, bringing Marin to giggle and laugh and it’s antics.

When the day was done, we all were happy and tired, glad to have had a day of fun, leaving all worries behind.

Days like tthis are what keeps us going. They remind us that life is worth living and loved ones are worth doing whatever it takes to keep them beside us.