Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bike Camping at Dodge Park

Hello! As usual, we've been so busy doing fun summertime stuff that I haven't been writing about it. I'm not letting that bother me too much this year.

Thirty-Eight Months Old

Three continues to be a rocky age for Arlo. His main source of angst is, of course, sweet little brother Felix. Arlo frequently says, "No, Felix, don't be here!" and tells us that he wants Felix to live in a tree house (today he told us that we should sell Felix at our neighbors' yard sale--harsh!). When Arlo gets upset about something, his first reaction is frequently to hit or push Felix, even if Felix had nothing to do with upsetting Arlo. It's so aggravating.

Brothers

They do have their sweet moments though--Arlo will "read" books to Felix during diaper changes, and they enjoy splashing each other in the tub. Arlo likes picking grapes from our vines, and he'll share them with Felix of his own free will. When there's an empty laundry basket handy, they'll play a game where Felix throws things into the basket, and Arlo throws them back out (right at Felix's face, of course, but Felix doesn't mind). I hope we'll have more nice moments and fewer angry moments as they get older.

Gathering Grapes

New Game

Arlo has also decided that he doesn't like preschool. When I pick him up at lunchtime, he'll usually say it wasn't that bad, but he's back to complaining about it by the next morning, saying he wants to be with his mom and dad instead. He's always sitting by himself in the play area looking sad when I come to pick him up. Hopefully he'll feel more comfortable there with time.

Although he's not a big fan of preschool, he does seem to be learning things there. He frequently sings songs about the days of the week and months of the year, and he got to meet a ferret during their animal-themed week!

When he's calm and happy, Arlo is so much fun to be around. He's a sweet, curious, articulate little boy. I love watching him grow.

Lit Up

Felix is coming up on sixteen months--such a fun age!

Fourteen Months Old

Fifteen Months Old

He's a happy little guy, and he has a good sense of humor. When we're eating breakfast, he likes to pretend that there's a dog in our backyard, and then he laughs when I feign amazement. When he's happy, he hums little songs to himself (mostly "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star").

He's still going through a hitting phase. He occasionally tries to bite us on the shoulder when we're holding him, but luckily that's pretty rare. I don't remember baby Arlo doing either of these things, but I guess every baby is different (another way in which they are different: Arlo figured out how to eat grapes off the stem right away, while Felix just crams the whole bunch of grapes in his mouth and tries to chew up the stems with the grapes).

One Of Those Days

Felix has picked up a few new words recently--"hat," "cheese," and "teacher" (those last two both sound like "chee"). He continues to use "bus" and "dog" frequently--anything with four wheels counts as a bus, and anything with four legs is a dog.

Felix still isn't walking, but I think he's getting close. He crab walks around the house, and he can walk from one room to the next while holding onto a parent's hand.

So, on to our summer adventures! Last time I posted, we were going on weekend bike rides to prepare for our upcoming bike camping trip. Our last training ride was a 21-mile round-trip visit to the Kenton neighborhood in North Portland. I'd never been there--their little downtown area is cute! We picked up baked goods at Posies Bakery and biked over to Columbia Park, which has a great play area surrounded by big tall trees. Such a nice way to spend the morning!

The next weekend was our bike camping trip to Dodge Park, organized by Kidical Mass PDX. Ten other families went on the trip--Felix was the youngest child, but only by a couple days. Here's part of the group milling around at Woodstock Park while everybody gathered before the ride:

Ready for Family Bike Camping with Kidical Mass

The route we took was just over 21 miles long, but for some reason it felt much longer to me than our ride to Kenton and back the previous weekend. It was still manageable though, and we took a good number of breaks along the way. We stopped at Gresham City Park for lunch. We had skipped Felix's morning nap, and he was so sleepy at this stop that he picked up somebody's discarded banana peel and cuddled it like his blankie while sucking his thumb. Poor guy! He fell asleep on the bike after we got back underway, but it wasn't a very long nap.

Bike camping!

Felix rode on the Edgerunner with me the whole way, while Arlo rode with Patrick on the Big Dummy. I loved having a little passenger, though Felix's habit of resting his feet on my butt was not super comfortable. Much of the ride was on the Springwater Corridor, which was great. I had a chance to chat with many of the people in our group as we rode along, and a lot of people on the trail smiled at us and asked where we were going. What a nice way to get around! Things got less pleasant once we exited the Springwater Corridor and rode along Palmquist Dr. and Orient Dr. in Gresham. This part was on busy streets with fast auto traffic. At the most stressful intersection, a guy in a car yelled at our group, telling us we were stupid for taking our kids on this road. Granted, that particular part of the route wasn't bike-friendly, but it would have been better if he'd focused on driving safely next to us, rather than sticking his head out the window and yelling insults. Sigh.

Orient Drive also involved some uphill portions, made worse by the busy traffic whizzing by us. I was really glad to be riding this portion of the route with a group. This was the only part of the ride that makes me unsure whether I'd bike to Dodge Park again. I just didn't feel safe taking our little guys on those busy roads. Once we made it onto Dodge Park Blvd., things were much better. I was still tired, but at least the road was calm and I could take my time.

After a bit more riding, we coasted down a big hill, shaded by trees, to the campsite. Once we arrived, Patrick set up camp, and I got to relax (as much as one can when camping with small children). Felix enjoyed examining our bikes, but of course he went for the bike chains, which were covered in bike grease. Camping!

Campsite at Dodge Park

Little Bike Mechanic

After dinner, I tried to put the boys to bed in the tent together, but as I had feared, it didn't work at all. They were both too excited to sleep, and without a crib to keep them apart, they kept messing with each other. At one point, I peeked in, and Arlo was dragging Felix around the tent by the front of his pajamas, Felix laughing nervously. Uh-uh. I tried getting in there with them to keep them apart and calm things down, but it didn't work. In the end, I sent Arlo out to stay up late with Patrick, and I laid down in the tent next to Felix to make sure he didn't get into trouble (it was early, but I was really tired from the ride, so I didn't mind too much). Arlo came to bed when he was all tired out, and he fell asleep quickly. Lesson learned: when camping, let Arlo stay up late and/or put the boys in separate tents.

It got cold at night, and I slept fitfully, worrying that Felix was too cold without a sleeping bag. I ended up snuggling up next to him and covering him with my sleeping bag, which must have done the trick, as he and Arlo both slept through the night.

Still mastering Thermarest skills

Kidical Mass PDX Campout

In the morning, we ate breakfast, Patrick packed up our stuff, and people started riding home in dribs and drabs. The hill out of camp was way too steep for me to ride up, so I strapped Felix to my back in the carrier and walked the bike up. It was hard work, and I got bruises on my shins from the pedals bumping into my legs, but we made it to the top. On the bright side, there were plenty of trees, so it was nice and cool in the shade. Soon after, Patrick and Arlo came cruising up the hill, and we stopped for a snack. Felix and I tackled the next hill (which wasn't quite as steep as the first one) on the bike. I just shifted into a low gear and pedaled until I got to the top. There were hardly any cars on this part of the ride, and we stopped to pick blackberries along the side of the road. It was nice!

We met up with part of the group at a convenience store and braved Orient and Palmquist together before getting back on the Springwater Corridor and going at our own speed again. We stopped again for some blackberry picking along the trail, and then we met up with the group at Cartlandia (a food cart pod at 82nd along the Springwater) for lunch. I was super tired and hot at this point and eager to get home. We finally made it back, and we all collapsed in bed and on couches and napped. Ahhh!

Overall, I was really happy that I went along on this trip. We met some great bikey families on the ride, enjoyed nature, and had a fun summer adventure together. Although I didn't enjoy the portion of the ride on Gresham roads, I think I'd be willing to do this ride again next year (if it happens again), since I'd know what to expect a little better. I'd definitely like to go on more bike rides with other families--what a fun way to get around and make friends!

A few weeks later, we went on our big summer adventure--a train trip to Glacier National Park--but I'll give that its own post. Let's wrap this one up with a few crafty updates and some recent meals.

I went on a little freezer paper stenciling jag this month and made a few vehicle-related shirts for the boys. It started with a fire truck shirt for Arlo, design copied shamelessly from a shirt I saw his second cousin wearing on Facebook. Next, I made Felix an ice cream truck shirt, and then I made Arlo a shirt paying homage to his favorite yellow delivery truck at the farmers' market (not pictured). Freezer paper stenciling is such a fun, quick craft. Almost instant gratification--I love it!

Fire Truck Shirt

Ice Cream Truck Onesie

I don't have much motivation to knit in the summer, but I picked up my needles for my friend Lee's Adventure Knit-along. I couldn't resist the little tent motif on the hat, and I was intrigued by the adventure knitting concept--a "choose your own adventure"-inspired pattern. So cool! And since it seemed appropriate, I used some of Lee's handspun yarn for the hat. I'm happy with how it turned out--we'll see if Arlo will wear it this winter, seeing as how it has no vehicles and is not the right shade of blue or yellow. Maybe I need to make one for myself too...

Leethal Adventure KAL Hat for Arlo

And a few good meals:

  • Artichoke-heart-stuffed shells and kale salad with (fresh) cherries and pecans (both from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook) - The stuffed shells were labor-intensive but good. The kale salad was tasty and a nice departure from our default kale and ricotta salata salad
  • Tomato scallion shortcakes with whipped goat cheese (another recipe from the SK Cookbook), roasted sausages and zucchini - This was yummy at dinnertime, but the shortcakes were dry and tasted strongly of baking powder the next day (I think this may just be the nature of shortcakes). I would make this again but adjust the shortcake recipe to only make as many as we needed for dinner.
  • Three salads plus bread: Tuna and white bean salad, broccoli slaw (yet another recipe from the SK Cookbook), and leftover tomato salad with whipped goat cheese from the shortcake recipe mentioned above - Great for hot summer nights; all keepers!