Friday, July 2, 2010

Wazza your a mad dude! (3 year olds at the skate park.)

A few days ago I took Wren (3) and Leo (smaller 3) to the park with their scooters. They both wanted to scoot the skate park so we spent 45 minutes with them going back and forth taking various lines and routes.

In the beginning, they were alone. Since the first time at the skate-park, Wren has been anxious about going up and down the slopes at the end. He has had a serious concern that he would roll "up the wall" if he scooted near it so it was very reassuring for him to see Leo go up ramps and up the wall a bit and not fall over or roll up it to the sky. After a few minutes he was doing it himself for the first time.

Wren and Leo scoot like dudes

Feel the attitude, dude!

Pretty soon, a small boy arrived with his skateboard. I thought he was 5 years old but he told me he was almost 7 years. He was amazing. He could do tricks, flick the board and jump on it, make curves up the wall, go down stairs and various other impressive feats. I asked him whether his Mom or Dad skated and he said no, he had two Moms and neither skated but he had got his first board when he was "4 or something." I need to get Wren started soon if he is going to be like 'Sammy' but I am not sure it would be quite good for him - since Sammy had many bruises on his knees and had a daredevil attitude.

After Sammy, a boy who looked about 11 years old came up on his bicycle. It was one of those BMX style bikes that can turn on a dime. He obviously didn't approve of the little boys scooting around since they were often in his way. I told him they would not be much longer but it wasn't entirely the truth.

Between Sammy, the BMX and another skateboarding tween, Leo and Wren started to witness a few falls. After seeing the falls they decided that it was a necessary part of the scoot/skate arena and began to stage their own dramatic crashes. At first, I was afraid, and kept running up saying "are you all right?" They would like in a frozen tableau, face down or carelessly strewn against a ramp or wall (where the other boys had fallen). Then, after being noticed, they would stand up and say "I hurt my knee" or something similar. Leo gave me a particular fright because I thought he had blood on his knee. He told me it was "just raspberries".

A dramatic (faux) accident.

Leo carefully stages a high impact head plant

A speedy race to the next ramp (accident zone).

I hope to take Frost along with the skateboard some morning before the bigger boys arrive. He is quite cautious and has had barely any practice with the skateboard. He needs some time when he is not under observation / feeling competitive to play around on the skate park and get a feel for the board. I bet that Wren will want one if that happens.

If a crow licked Red dye #40 it might DIE

This afternoon I took the boys, and our friend Alex, to the TNT Fireworks tent at Lynnwood. It was very hard to hold them to our $40 budget and there was lots of discussion about the effects, implications, necessity and desire for various fireworks. We ended up with tanks, a command vehicle, 6 laying chickens, some shooting balls, a whizzing UFO, a flying panda and various green smoke bombs.

We were well satisfied but Alex says he is coming back to buy 5 smoke grenades and Frost wants to return with the coupon (which we left) and his allowance (which he left).

On the way home the boys asked for Gatorade. We only have Gatorade because Frost learned some facts about sports drinks at soccer camp and I promised to buy him one at Safeway. The wise marketers only sell them in packs of 8 so I have 7 bottles of Gatorade in the fridge. I said they could share one, suffered insane nagging and guilting and said again they could share one. They acquiesced and then had this conversation:

Alex: I hope its not red Gatorade. That stuff kills you. It has Red Dye Number 40.

Frost: No, its Orange. It has natural flavor in the orange.

Alex: But even if its orange it can have red dye number 40 IN IT for the color!

Frost: Yeah, the color.

Alex: Red dye number 40 is really poisonous!

Frost: Yeah, all dyes over #30 are really toxic!

Alex: Well, #40 is the worst! It can kill .... like, small animals. Like animals that shouldn't eat it.

Frost: If they licked some Red Dye #40...

Alex: Woah, you can't get just pure Red Dye #40! Its in stuff... if it was pure!

Frost: If it WAS though..

Alex: If an animal tasted it... like, if a crow licked it it would get very very sick. It might die!

Frost: If Pablo [Alex's dog] tasted it he could die.


Frost: You could sue the Red Dye #40 company.

Alex: No, you could sue Gatorade.

Frost: But they shouldn't use it. Its not made for human consumption!

Alex: It is! They USE it.

Frost: Well... who INVENTED it.

Alex: Thomas Edison :) Elvis Presley?


Alex: My sister once said "Who invented the light bulb" and I said Elvis Presley!

Frost: Maby like, Elvis died of Red Dye #40 because he was addicted to junk food and when he died his waist was like

Alex: And he drank alcohol too and drugs. Like drugs that make you sick.

Frost: Hey, want to drink a glass of Red Dye #40?

Alex: Want a glass of gasoline? Want a glass of M1H1?

Frost: No, its M1N1.

Alex: N1H1?

Me: What are you talking about?

Frost: You know, swine flu.

Me: Oh, N1H1.

Alex: Yeah, I have a joke about that. "people in the city said that pigs can't fly but a few years later, swine flu!"

Frost and me: HAHAHAH

Monday, June 28, 2010

Camping at Lake Chelan State Park

It takes my family at least a week of 'civilization' to recover from camping. They want to stay up until the stars come out (10pm anyone?), eat pickles for breakfast, walk barefoot and have playdates every day. Meanwhile, everything smells of woodsmoke, the younger child thinks its alright to sleep in your bed, the elder one likes to sleep in his clothes and there is a sense that bathing is optional (because surely the clean-wild-air has washed our skin with its vapors?).

Equally, it takes me at least a week to recover any sense of urgency about the mess, the (surely) rotting teeth, the need for good boundaries and adult intervention in matters of dispute. I want it all to flow as seamlessly as mobs of children running from tent, to table, to playground, to beach. Messy, carefree, brutish ...and outdoors.

We have been camping at Lake Chelan State Park for 3 nights. It was great.

Thus, you find me with a mountain of laundry downstairs, somewhere. I don't care exactly at what stage it is. There is some kind of sticky substance adhering my right forearm to the desk. I can imagine it is old hot chocolate, melted marshmallow or perhaps simply glue from the pasting of Frost's 9th birthday invitations. I have not wiped it up. There are bags of strange camping implements that are surely essential to something. I have not inquired. Finally, I have not been organized enough to take pictures, retrieve them and make a blog. I have had to call my mother and have a long telephone debrief about our trip to assure her we are alive. I have had to impart news verbally - you know spoken words, on a landline, to Australia!

The horror.

So, in case I haven't called you yet. Here is where we went (courtesy of Google):

You can see from the blue line on the map that we drove from Seattle through the mountains (Stephens Pass) and down to Wenatchee. Even on the satellite image the color of the land tells its story - the mountains are a deep wet green but as you descend into Eastern Washington the earth becomes brown and then ochre and then the color of ash. The pale hills are broken with patches of brilliant green irrigation - the orchards and vineyards of the region. Where it isn't farmed there is scrubland with deep carved rivers and canyon-like valleys from the passage of old glaciers. The evergreens are dark like iron and in some parts it reminds me of South African inland landscape - hot dry hills under bright blue skies.

Road Trip: Lake Entiat below Chelan

For the first night I was alone with the boys. The campsite was near a grassy clearing and they were both very helpful then played lego while I set up camp. Yes, we took the Lego minifigs with us.

To show that we were on vacation, they ate candy after dinner and had hot chocolate. Frost was very impressed with the blueness of his tongue. You can see our tent in the background. It is a 4 person tent and barely fits all four of us with rolling around room. I fear that we will need to have two tents in a few years or go all-in for the huge tent like Trina.

The next day, the nerf gun, Josh and our friends arrived: Tara, Alex, Phoebe, Fred and Pablo (the pug), Trina, Trey, Ezra, Isaac, Joe and Julianna and also my neighbors Lauren and Elias. It was a lovely group of friends, especially happy for the five boys who are of a similar age and for Wren who thinks he is 8, almost.

Of course, Wren had to possess the nerf gun which shot bullets about 15 feet with the correct action. He managed to get his hands on it when the boys went to play putt-putt with Fred. I think this picture is hilarious. If only I had an American flag and a dead deer next to him you'd think I had gone all survivalist. Interestingly, Wren did tell me that he wants to eat dead chickens again. I said we are not going to eat them because they live very badly but he said that our chickens do not live badly. I am not sure whether he wanted to go and eat our chickens or if it was just the next train of thought but he did insist on eating Trina's salami even knowing it was a dead pig. The child has conviction.

"Do I have to be a vegetarian if I kill me a deer?"

Wren loved the tent. Whenever he felt anxious due to rain, dogs, weariness - he went into the tent to snuggle. He slept very well - waking at about 7.30am each morning despite the 5.30am sunrise, Frost's proximate peeing, and the dawn cacophony of birds and squirrels. Note the dirt on Wren's face. Fred kept trying to wipe him down but only succeeded at Slide Waters the next day.

The lake was icy and it wasn't very hot (high 70s) for much of the time. Still, the bigger boys did a lot of swimming - the wetsuits helped. We bought an inflatable boat and raft which added to the excitement for them and helped them keep out of the water and still be on it which was only partially successful. At the end of one afternoon swim the boys lips were blue.

Tara at the swimming beach in the park.

Wren, disguised so the gigantar zombie can't find him.

Wren is at a stage of talking ALL THE TIME. Its enough to make my head spin around and around to the sounds of a creepy orchestra. His major theme is to imagine an epic battle in which he defeats something huge and evil. In this picture (above) he was defeating Gigantar Zombies from Plants versus. This morning he imagined a quest involving the "Destiny Sword to kill the Goblin Boss." I believe he won. His weapon was a sword made out of tinkertoy, in fact he has been shooting dogs with it all day. He says it is "Imagination shooting not real."

Back to Chelan - one day we went to the nearby waterpark called Slide Waters. Here is a classic shot of Fred with the NY Times Magazine on the lawn.

Applets and Cotlets
On the way home from Chelan (a 4 hour trip) we took a Factory Tour at the Applets and Cotlets factory in Cashmere. It was 91 degrees under brilliant blue so it was a relief to enter the air conditioned store and taste the samples. Tara and I were thrilled to discover that the founders were actually Turkish and still sell the original (classic) Turkish Delight. We both bought a few boxes as well as some curiosities like popping corn on the cob, sour applets and cotlets and long stretched taffy.

Alex and Frost go undercover as tourists

Wren peek-a-boos Tara with his hairnet

Overall, we had a wonderful vacation and hope to do it again next year. Lake Chelan State Park is not a backwoods place. Josh found it a bit tiresome (preferring mountain retreats with few people) not surprising since I have described the camp site as the Disney Version of car camping. Fred said "This is like camping in your back yard". For $6 per day you can even get wifi in your tent and I saw some people sitting on the back side of the store toilet block powering up their laptops from some exposed power points.

Be that as it may, its not bad to have a easy camping trip. Its in a new area (for us) and the kids had a great time. Wren and Frost both want to repeat the visit and I hope to do it again too.