Mud Mountain Explorers

How could you not want to go to Mud Mountain?  With elementary aged boys this had all the elements necessary for a great outing: mud, mountain, and a dam guarded by the army.  Technically Mud Mountain is managed by the US Army Corp of Engineers, but there was no explaining that to my two.

Would I make this trip back to just past Enumclaw again?  Probably not.  The dam is interesting, but you see it from far away.  All the photos I’d seen ahead of time (here, here, and here) were taken from a vantage point that we could not get to while at the dam. It looks like in Spring 2015 the short 1/2 mile path that runs from the lookout to the lower dam viewing location is closed about 1/2 way down.

That left us with the woodland trail, that walks along the rim of the valley.  It was a beautiful walk.

Gorgeous spring flowers were out in early April.
Gorgeous spring flowers were out in early April.

We walked for about 5km along the trail.  It was flat, meandering and peaceful. If I lived in the neighborhood, it would be my go to walking spot for walking the dog, but as a day trip from Seattle, there are many other paths and trails before getting all the way to Mud Mountain.

If you do visit Mud Mountain – as always the 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Seattle guide proves indispensable.  The main trailhead for walking the rim is outside the park gates.  Easy to find once you know, but not intuitive for the first time visitor.

Family Dinners?

Do you have them? Do you have them every day? Every week?

Here’s an episode of The Current on the topic from last week. The interviewee is Laurie David (Larry David’s wife) and she’s a huge advocate of family dinners and how to get your family back to the table, and why you should want to put forward the effort. No surprise she’s on the show to promote her new book: The Family Dinner: Great ways to connect with your kids one meal at a time. Laurie’s discourse on the radio reminded me of an episode of Oprah from a season or two ago in which she spent time with families to reform their dinner times. Oprah saw families that were ordering takeout and each taking their food to a separate part of the house to eat on their own with their digital device of choice (texting, TV, laptop, whatever). The Oprah episode horrified me, but even Laurie’s interview seemed to indicate that the family dinner is a challenge.

More nights than note, we have dinner as a family. My kids are 2 and 5… so I can’t really imagine how they would get fed if we didn’t sit down with them. That said, we have friends whose nanny feed the kids before the parents get home from work, or whose kids get a big snack at daycare and don’t eat dinner, or who simply don’t enjoy the toddler meal and have a husband/wife dinner after the kids go to bed. I’m inclined to think that the latter is a great idea for us to try, at least once or twice a week.

But for now, we’re still the old fashioned four of us sitting down for dinner. It might not be fancy – in fact it’s definitely not fancy, but we’re there. I’ve been warned that this will get harder and harder to do as the kids get older. We’ll see. For now, Monday’s are definitely a challenge, as both boys have classes as 6pm. So we usually have eggs and crudités at 5:15. When the boys are older, I expect they’ll have more activities, but I’m also hoping we can push our dinner time back to 6:30 or so. Now if we have dinner at 6:30 the boys are falling asleep by the time we finish at 7pm.

I would love to hear success stories of how you’ve managed family dinners? Who’s able to get their 7/9 or teenage kids to the table for dinner more nights that not and how did you do it?

Lent: A season of change for everyone?

Time for a change?
Time for a change?

Forgive what is undoubtedly a blasphemous topic for this post…

I’ve been thinking about Lent. My particular brand of church doesn’t have any strong traditions with respect to Lent as a season, apart from the sermons, the liturgy surrounding Lent is a pretty tamed affair. When I was at University, a good chunk of the student body was Catholic. At the time I became accustomed to hearing “can’t do it… I gave it up for Lent” or “no dessert for me, I gave it up for Lent.” In school the give ups were mostly: beer, cigarettes, dessert, chocolate and occasionally meat.

Long out of school, the phrase “gave up for lent” doesn’t come up very often. When a friend of family member mentions it, I assumed that: a) They were catholic, and b )more religious than I had originally realized. But other than that, I gave it not much thought. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.

In the save way I’ve adopted Chinese New Year as my own personal holiday and set of traditions (in spite of not having been to China), my friends are adopting some of the Lenten traditions, because they resonate with them. These friends view it as an opportunity to :

  • Make a break from any bad habits that have crept up over the past year (or 10!)
  • Introduce positive lifestyle change
  • Put a halt to the consumption of all baked goods… in case that didn’t end at New Year’s
  • Introduce a new habit (or kill an old one). 60 days (or there about) is plenty of time for the change to take hold
  • Even if you don’t make a permanent change, 60 days without “pick your poison” is better than 60 days with it.

Yet another variation on this same theme is to not only “give up” something for Lent, but also to “add” something positive. This is akin to the Oprah style of management – if you want to bring something new into your house, you have to give up something. Now the big question is what to pick:

Give Up Add
  • Meat
  • Whites (flour, sugar, salt)
  • Wine (that wouldn’t be much fun)
  • TV
  • Bad TV
  • Dessert
  • Starbucks
  • Takeout
  • On-line shopping
  • Saunas
  • Yoga
  • Early bed time
  • Packing my lunch
  • Meditation
  • Supper prep (this has lapsed of late)
  • Exercise (daily, not ad hoc)

Good Ideas |Weekend without the kids

Most of our friends seem to fall into one of two categories:  “OMG I would never leave my baby alone over night”… or “Three is the perfect age to start leaving kids at home while I go on a real vacation”.  We’re falling somewhere in the middle.  I wouldn’t want to leave my kids for a whole week, I do enough of that traveling for work.  But a weekend?  That’s a different story.  We just came back (I say just, becuase it’s Thursday and I haven’t had a chance to do laundry since we got home on Sunday) from a weekend in NYC.

New York is fun with kids, but it’s great without them.  We went to see a play (together).  Last time we staggered our shows ~ one of us went out and the other stayed at the hotel with sleeping baby.  We shopped in real stores, and even managed to get out of FAO Schwartz without too much damage. The other great benefit of being away for 4 days, was being called by my first name.  Strange how even those little things make a difference.  Big things help too, my early birthday present was a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes.  They are beautiful and are currently sitting on our dresser so I can look at them.

It will likely be another year or two before we head out on our own like that, but I’ll be looking forward to it.

This time I think it is only me

Whether you’re a parent or a soon to be parent, one of the lessons you learn is that no matter how bizarre the situation may seem to you, you are not the only one out there going through that experience.  There are likely whole face book communities devoted to what ever your issue/challenge/concern might happen to be. 

 

Usually I find this a comforting thought.  But now, I think I’m out on my own limb.  I find myself saying the following at the dinner table:  you must eat something besides vegetables;  vegetables are good for you, but you need to have something else; no you cannot have dessert, you need to eat something besides vegetables for supper.

 

I am not a mom who makes two meals.  I am a mom who’s one year old picked out his beets and swiss chard out of supper and the yelled because there was no more.  I am a mom who’s three year old eats eat broccoli, peppers and tomatoes like hand fruit.  I am also a mom who is not complaining about the situation.  I just think we’re all a little weird.

Sticks, Guns with a Side of Meat Eating Animals

We are fortunate that our kids get to spend some time with their grandparents.  After a visit we usually get an update: he ate, he did (not) sleep, he was (not) well behaved.  Sometimes we even get a handful of pictures from the day.

After today’s visit with my dad, I received the following update:

Scorecard:

Unprompted references to:

  • Meat-eating animals ~ 4
  • Meat-eating coyotes ~ 2 (included above)
  • Soldiers ~ 8
  • Weapons
    • Sticks ~ 2
    • Guns ~ 10  (more or less)
  • Bad guys ~ 10 (more or less)
  • The Living Christ ~ 0
  • Dead Jesus ~ 1

I laughed, and laughed, and laughed until my sides hurt when I read this.  My older guy, the one who’s about to start school, is having a bit of a love affair with all things church/God/Jesus at the moment.  While it can be a bit annoying to have a three year old proselytize you, he has a frame of reference that cracks me up.  When he wants to know how old something is, he asks:

Is it before grandpa, but after Jesus?
Or, is it before Jesus and after the dinosaurs?

 

Wanderlust and Lipstick

My new favorite travel blog.  These ladies quit their jobs, sold there stuff and started to travel.  Now it looks like they’ve figured out a way to pay for their adventures – through their web site, books and product sales. 

But that’s not why I love their site.  First of all, I love the name.  But more than that their focus on women travellers, travelling with kids is written in real time:  “I’m doing this and this didn’t work out as planned”, or I went about it this way, and am I ever glad I did.”  I’m also getting a ckick out of “Wanderfood Wednesday“.  The later is a collection of world food related posts from many different bloggers.

Never have I wanted a camera more

This... only in my front yart
This... only in my front yart

Usually we’re pretty good about bringing the camera with us where ever we go.  However the nightly family walk around the block is usually occasion to leave it at home. Not any more.  After tonight’s trip it’s going to be part of the check list:  two kids, dog, dog leash, dog bag, toy, shoes for everyone, keys and camera.

 

Just as we arrived home, we stopped to talk to a neighbor in the street.  As usual, adult chit chat is not terribly interesting to a three year old.  So he walked the rest of the way to our front yard.  Found his way into the middle of the garden, pulled down his pants and started to pee, facing the street.