Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday morning bike ride...

I think it started way back in my childhood viewings of the Sound of Music - the scene where Maria and the children are riding down the road on their bicycles wearing their new playclothes made of draperies. No, I don't have a dream of my kids running around in curtain knickers (although I'm not afraid to recycle old fabric).  But leisurely weekend bike rides as a family?  It's just one of those things I have always pictured doing with my family.

Now, I have to admit this "goal" was a little funny.  Two months ago, Max had a 12 inch bike with no training wheels and Luke had a 10 inch with training wheels.  That was it.  Not the equipment of quality family rides.  And for those of you who don't live in the PNW, you may not realize just how crazy and sacrilegious this was. So we've worked to remedy this - we've geared up.  Dan and I each bought a bike, Max has moved up to a 16 inch, and we found a tag-along on craigslist for Luke. We even picked up a bike rack so we can haul our bikes around to some of the great paths in the area.

We took our inaugural ride a couple of weeks ago - 6 miles on the Springwater trail.  We only planned on going 4, but I missed our turn to our midpoint stop, so we went out an extra mile before heading back.  With a bagel stop to refuel at the city park, and lots of greetings from other riders and runners along the path, it was the perfect start to our rides.

Today we decided to take another ride - a little shorter this time, since Max was pretty worn out after the first one.  (After all - the goal is to get them to love riding so they want to do it more often.) But the weather?  Not exactly cooperative.  It was sprinkling as we headed out of the driveway, and both boys were pretty resistant to the whole idea.  And as we unloaded the bikes, it really started to rain. We decided to give it a shot, anyway.

Within 2 minutes, it was pouring.  The boys were quickly getting soaked, and I could sense we were close to mutiny.  Time to pump it up - I was going to take a lesson from my dear friend, Beth, and we were going to "fake it till we make it."  So I started laughing and shouting about how much fun it was to ride in the rain.  I drove us through a big puddle and acted my silliest.  Dan saw where I was headed with this, and played along.  And after 30 seconds?  Both boys were giggling and talking about how much fun riding in the rain was. We ended up doing a 5 mile ride, soaking wet, with the trail almost to ourselves, and plenty of slugs to dodge.  And back at the car, both boys piped up to thank us for a "great ride in the rain".

We weren't exactly singing Do-Re-Mi, and the sun wasn't beating down on our flowing golden hair.  But it was wonderful, just the same.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rodeo Fun...

It's a little funny.  I grew up on 40 acres, with cows, horses, and pigs.  We moved irrigation pipe twice daily in the summers and cleaned stalls in the winter.  My dad does his fair share of hauling hay, and my childhood was filled with playing in ditches and attending 4-H meetings. And as soon as I could, I moved to the city.  My husband also has a small town background, yet we've chosen to live a urban/suburban life. But my boys?  They have a deep LOVE with all things country.

Besides riding the ATVs and feeding animals, one of their favorite things to do is go to the rodeo.  They get all "cowboy-ed up" in their western shirts, boots, and hats, and then prepare to hoot and holler their heads off for a good two hours. Neither really has a favorite event yet - but if pressed, they usually say that the clown is their favorite. But saddle broncs, barrel racing, team roping, it doesn't matter - they love the rodeo.

Last weekend we headed to the Molalla Buckeroo for the Sunday night show.  (We really need to take better advantage of the daytime shows - the 8:00 pm start time is already past when they usually head to bed.  But with a late nap and some kettle corn, they are good to go!) The weather was beautiful, the crowd was great, and there were some fun rides to watch. There were even daredevil riders - acrobats on horseback that ranged in age from 12-18. And afterwards?  Fireworks. 

I never expected my two city boys to be so country at heart, but I'm happy to help them cheer on those bull riders every time. Well, until one of them decides that he wants to take a shot at those magic 8 seconds, that is...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

It's late, dark, and the echoes of fireworks still sound like popcorn coming from the valley floor below us. My oldest son has just hung up his corduroy jacket and headed back to bed, but not before a big giant hug and sparking eyes, and the comment, "This was the best fireworks year ever..."

For the last 10 years, Dan and I have gone to the fireworks display in our old town.  There is lots of space to lay out in the field at the school and watch the personal fireworks from the homes on the surrounding hills and then the community fireworks display at the park. It's fairly impressive for the small area, and I love the "hometown" feel of it. And two days ago, we still planned on maintaining our tradition.

Then last night we decided to go to a rodeo, and knew that it would be a late night for the boys (3-4 hours past their usual bedtime).  We were more than a little nervous about two late nights in a row.  So, we decided to stay and watch the fireworks that directly followed the last rodeo event, with the understanding that we would just stay home tonight. The fireworks were great, and it felt oh-so-patriotic to be watching our Independence Day fireworks from a rodeo, while "God Bless the USA" plays over the loudspeaker. Our  little one held his hands over his ears, and waited for it to be over.  But the big one?  He was in love.

Tonight, in keeping with the adjusted plan, we had some friends over for dinner and playtime.  After all the running and building and bike riding, I expected that the boys would crash within moments of going to bed, and be asleep long before fireworks around the neighborhood began.  It didn't exactly work like that.

An hour and a half later, the boys were still up and giggling, and the fireworks began to go off.  I went outside to find that the view from our street allowed us to see not only Mt. St. Helens, but also large sections of our town and the town across the river. And everywhere I looked, there were huge, giant fireworks going off.  It was pretty cool.  And, well, the boys were still awake.  And I didn't want them to miss any of it. So I went and got them out of bed.

The little one watched for about 5 minutes before he and Daddy went back in to help him fall asleep. The big one and I?  We stayed outside for another hour. We walked around the neighborhood in bare feet to see what was being lit right around the corner.  We checked out the view from every vantage point in our empty cul-de-sac. And he talked almost the entire time.  His eyes sparkled brightly, the grin never left his face.  And at one point he said, "Mama, I could just stay out here with you forever." That alone made all my weak attempts at getting him back to bed feel like a huge, wasted opportunity. So we sat in the grass, watched the bright lights overhead, and talked.

I know it's silly, but I have always found fireworks to be romantic.  It's that whole "at the county fair with a cowboy on the ferris wheel" Americana thing.  But tonight there was a whole other kind of love there.  I never want to forget those moments with my big kid, oohing and ahhing over explosions and finding a kindred spirit who loves fireworks as much as I do. Especially in these years before it becomes about the fire and danger and excitement - because tonight, it was still all about magic and beauty.

It's nights like this when every fiber in my being sighs, relaxes, and knows that all is very right in my world.  Fireworks and magic and little boys and their mamas. Doesn't get much better.