Small Hands in the Big World

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Wisdom of Daddy: Building Confidence

On a recent play date, my friend (a Dad) and I took the kids to Duthie Hill Park, known for a remarkable mountain bike trail system. The 6-year-old “big kids” (my son and his daughter) hit the trail on bikes with him while our younger ones (girls ages 3 ½ and 4) walked with me. Our plan wasn’t specific but he mentioned there was a big open space with a BMX track “in the middle” and they planned to ride there a bit.
My "Dad Friend" with his youngest at the skate park, another exciting place he introduced us to
The girls and I decided we would be “on the creature trail” (both are fans of the PBS Kids show “Wild Kratts”) spotting slugs, fuzzy caterpillars, and even tadpoles. We had fun shaking “snow” from the Cottonwood Tree seed pods that littered part of the trail and pretending the dogs we passed with mountain bikers were actually wolves. Then we became a wolf pack ourselves, all the while picking and eating ripe salmon berries. It was lovely.

Lovely, that is, until we came to a fork in the trail and I was unsure of directions. Straight ahead seemed the obvious answer but there was a massive wooden bike ramp/jump built off to the side (“is that part of the BMX track?” I wondered). We had been walking for a while and enjoying ourselves along the way but there were no obvious signs that we were getting close to anything… I started wondering if we were lost and I didn’t want to wear the girls out trekking along in the wrong direction. Unsure of myself and completely unfamiliar with the location (no map at the entry to the trail system so I didn’t even know if we were on a loop or not), I wasn’t willing to risk getting lost (that was highly unlikely, actually, but I admit it crossed my mind). Plus, I didn’t want cranky kids begging to be carried as they dragged their feet back to the car if they became too tired on the trail. All of these concerns were just banter in my mind… the girls were getting along beautifully without a complaint in the world, I simply couldn’t stop pondering the “what ifs,” so we turned around.

Meanwhile, at the “so cool” (direct quote from my son, by the way) BMX track that we never made it to, my son, his friend, and her Dad were happily zipping around the track, catching air on jumps, banking corners and even falling sometimes but getting right back up and having a blast. Do you think my Dad friend was out there fretting about “what ifs” at the time? Um no, I don’t think so either… and that, my friends, is the wisdom of Daddies.  

There is a HUGE gap between my idea of what it means to take risks and a Dad’s idea. My idea of “risky” activities with my kids is taking them kayaking (in a tandem kayak with me and wearing a life vest, of course), letting them use a sharp knife in the kitchen while I supervise, or rocking out with them to heavy metal from the ‘80s (hey, some of those lyrics are dicey… and for the record, it’s “Highway to Help” if my kids ask).

This biking experience reminded me of the time my husband finally took me to Red Top Lookout with him and the kids. He had taken the kids there a few times before so I had heard a lot about this incredibly scenic fire lookout station set high in the Cascades. First of all, let me tell you that the view from there is absolutely breathtaking, but second of all, let me tell you… Holy Flaming Treetops, this lookout is literally perched on a mountaintop with perilous cliffs all around!
See? I wasn't exaggerating
Personally, I wouldn’t have considered this a kid-friendly destination if I hadn’t experienced it with my own kids myself… and to think that their Dad brought them here a couple times on his own (gulp).
Taking a little break on the way up

Almost there

Feeling on top of the world
Yes, a lot of supervision was required and it took great coaxing to get our youngest to walk herself up the trail but they both did it and they both absolutely love that place, no doubt proud of themselves for hiking a tough trail and exhilarated to experience the fresh cold air and amazing views all around. Ask either of them about their favorite hike and they’ll proudly tell you, “Red Top Lookout.”

So on this Father’s Day I’d like to officially thank my dear Husband, my “Dad-Friend” Brad, and all Dads out there for all that you bring to the table but particularly for the fun and exciting challenges you present to our kids. The confidence you’re instilling in them will last a lifetime. Hopefully the air-guitar skills I'm teaching won't sink in so much.

Happy Father’s Day!
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fantastic Friday

Tomorrow is a big day. It's the last day of Kindergarten for my big kid ("graduation" is Monday), we go back to Jubilee Farm for our first Summer CSA pick-up, and (I saved the best for last)... it is my beloved Mother-In-Law's birthday!

Here is Baby Ellen with her Mom, she was sweet from day one!
I couldn't have asked for a better "second Mom" in my life. She is loving and supportive in more ways than I can count and not only do I love her as a Mom, she has become a dear friend. My kids are really close to their sweet "Grammy" thanks to all the time she has spent with each of them from the day they were born.

Another thing I love about my darling Mother-in-Law is how wonderfully gracious she is. She doesn't care that I'm often still in pajamas when she visits in the morning, she doesn't expect me to be "perfect," she doesn't give guilt trips. Thankfully I also think she will forgive that a) I copied her idea for her birthday gift gift (she made a Shutterfly shopping bag for her Mom and it is receiving rave reviews whenever Great Grandma uses it) and b) I waited until the last minute to place my order. Sorry, dear Ellen, please see your "gift preview" below. I hope you know how much I appreciate you and how much we all love you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Reusable Shopping Bag
View the entire collection of cards.
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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lava Lamp Fireworks

We've gone from doing art projects when our lovely friends visit to doing science experiments. These young scientists still love to paint but chemical reactions get them even more excited--can you tell?
How I wish the lovely blogging Rashmie from Mommy Labs was my neighbor. I’d be knocking on her door for play dates all the time… for the kids and for me. Besides her incredibly creative ideas and inspiring stories, she makes every activity seem like a complete joy. Alas, she lives half a world away, in India so I can’t just drop by but I’m grateful for the brilliance she generously shares online.

Mesmerized by the photos and description of her Diwali Homemade Fireworks Display and thinking of 4th of July coming up, I finally picked up some Alka-Seltzer and decided to give this experiment a try. No, I didn’t have heartburn or acid reflux to take care of before doing a science experiment with four kids ages 3 to 6, Alka-Seltzer is the “activator” necessary to make this magic happen.
In addition to those magic fizzy tabs (any brand will do), all you need is some clear glass or plastic bottles, oil (the type is up to you but the cheaper the better since it won’t be usable after this), food coloring, and water. A funnel is helpful too. Use approximately one part water to two parts oil (look at Rashmie's post for the right ratio, not mine, I was cheap with the oil) and anywhere from 3 to 5 drops of food coloring (more is fine… and actually a must if you are 6 or younger so I learned).

Setting things up was half the fun. Watching how the water plunged into the oil, creating golden bubbles of all sizes was thrilling before it separated then settled at the bottom. Droplets of food coloring were equally interesting to watch suspended in the oil and eventually sinking and dispersing into and coloring the water. It was hard impossible to get the kids to only add a couple drops and once they got the idea to mix colors, the food coloring was flowing freely. Oh well... another variable to experiment with. I tried to teach them about the Scientific Method along the way (Remember? Hypothesis... Experimentation... etc.) but was only able to get the most focused girl to write "Hypothe..." then it was all about the Alka-Seltzer or "Alka-Sod" as my dear William kept calling it.
 I had envisioned starting with a small piece of tablet then increasing the amount to observe the reaction as it changed... um, yeah right. It doesn't work like that when you're 6 or younger. "More Alka-Sod! More Alka-Sod!" they yelled. I could hardly open the packets quickly enough for their ravenous scientific hunger.

This is the color you get with a LOT of blue and a LOT of green food coloring
This is the color you get when you add a LOT of red drops and a LOT of blue drops when Mom isn't looking
I doubt any of them could tell you about the Scientific Method but they can certainly explain the exciting fizz of "Alka-Sod." Pin It
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