Through His Eyes

There are so many posts swimming around in my head right now – rants and raves and everything in between – because our trip to California was an eventful one. Traveling with a toddler is a whole new animal for me. I’ve taken Blaine home to CA four other times, but this is the first time he’s been a walking, talking, engaging human being. Hands down, the most wonderful part of our trip was introducing Blaine to some of the things that I loved about growing up on the Central Coast. It is so amazing to see things through his eyes – everything is new and awe-inspiring…and sometimes scary. He is a brave little man when it comes to animals, new places, and new sensory experiences.

Watching street performers at the San Luis Obispo Farmer's Market

Watching street performers at the San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market

Oh, the bounty that is the California eleven-month growing season.

Oh, the bounty that is the California eleven-month growing season.

My little guy, though quick to try something new, is oftentimes nervous around crowds and lots of noise. So, I was worried that the San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market might be too much for him. But he proved me wrong and loved the street performers – even daring to get too close for my comfort, considering they were juggling machetes and riding 10-foot tall unicycles. Seriously. I loved the fresh fruits and veggies and pined for a farmers market that boasted more than just three veggie booths and a dozen craft-fair-ish booths. (Sigh. One can wish.)

At the California Mid-State Fair - the best fair ever - in Paso Robles.

At the California Mid-State Fair – the best fair ever – in Paso Robles.

Sheep and piggies and horses, oh my!

Sheep and piggies and horses, oh my!

Yes, we bought a Jamba juice and a corn dog. A little bit fair food and a little bit California food.

Yes, we bought a Jamba juice and a corn dog. A little bit fair food and a little bit California food.

My brother and I took him to the California Mid-State Fair, where I showed / sold animals for nearly 10 years, and we had a really nice time. He got to see horses, sheep, cows, more sheep, a spider monkey, carnies, and more jars of homemade jelly than even I cared to look at. All the things I loved about the fair…I got to share with him. And though we couldn’t stay nearly as long as single-not-a-mom me would previously had stayed, it was okay. That’s just what you do.

 

Chasing geese (probably the same ones that bit me when I was three) at the park in Atascadero.

Chasing geese (probably the same ones that bit me when I was three) at the park in Atascadero.

Though he was a bit clingy for most of the trip, he did manage to separate himself from my bosom long enough to chase some geese (the boy loves his animals) at the very same park that I played at when I was a little tyke-ette. Just like back then, Grampa (my dad) wasn’t far behind to make sure no Blaines were harmed in the making of this photo.

Nostalgia takes on new meaning when you see your little boy as your parents must have seen you so many years ago. I can’t wait to see what places, experiences, and activities Blaine will someday share with his children. But I’m getting ahead of myself…he needs to learn how to talk first.

 

 

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Life Lately: Cheerleading

If there’s one thing I love, it’s doing stuff. To be more specific, I love events. I love running in them, paddling in them, biking in them, and singing in them (it’s been a long time for that, though). Since I’m not of the über-mench pregnant woman variety (have you SEEN those women who run marathons while 7-months pregnant?), I haven’t been an active participant in any of the sweet events that happen in the summertime around here lately.
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But, I can volunteer and cheer. A few weeks ago, I volunteered at our town’s Whitewater Festival. Our local go-get-em adventure group – FAR –  sponsors an obstacle race and I, being the cheerleader that I am, volunteered to give directions at one particularly difficult part of the race. It was fun to see all the racers and be part of the event. Hey, I got a t-shirt. It even fits over my belly.

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And yesterday, Blaine and I came down to the river to cheer for a group of mommies in our playgroup who were participating in the second annual ‘Battle of the Bighorn’ – a combination raft trip / obstacle race that culminates at my husband’s place of work. So, we got to play in the river while we waited, see daddy, lie in a hammock, and cheer for our friends.

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(This photo aught to tell you why I never do ‘outfit’ posts. Nobody is pinning baseball caps on Polyore.) Then everyone got all loud and excited and Blaine was scared. He’s a delicate little monkey.

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So life lately (linking up with Blair from Wild and Precious) is about enjoying some time off from participating…and just enjoying being a cheerleader.

Staycation: Summit County, CO

I am fortunate to have parents who dabble in the real estate market – buying, selling, and renting properties all over the West. One particular condo is near Silverthorne, CO, which is a paltry (unless Blaine is crying, then it’s an eternity) 2.5 hour drive from our house.

When I asked my dear sweet husband if we could please get out of town for a day or so to avoid one or more of us going stir crazy, he consented to drive up to Summit County to stay for two (what? unheard of!) nights. So we did a little budget vacationing like rich people. Staycation!

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We stayed in my parents’ condo overlooking Lake Dillon. The wildflowers were unbelievable! Our dogs were so happy to be outside when it wasn’t 98 degrees – such is life in the higher altitudes.

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We rode the (free!) gondola up to Breckenridge’s Peak 8 fun park. (“Fun” is reserved for the non-pregnant and over-five crowd, so we made our own amusement.)

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Blaine played in the little creeks and got suitably muddy. As usual. I did impress my husband, though, by whipping out a new pair of shorts and a diaper, stripping Blaine down, and having him dressed and refreshed in under 40 seconds. (Yes, I timed it in my head. I’m competitive like that.)

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We also took him to the worlds most amazing playground in Silverthorne. It is big and colorful and he just wanted to play in the wood shavings. Go figure.

I’m not going to lie, though, vacationing with a little one is a whole different ball game. The sleeping / napping scenario can get ugly. “What do you want to do now?” my husband would ask innocently. “Um, drive back to the condo so the Captain can get a good nap in…not in the stroller,” I would reply tersely as if any idiot would know that a 20-minute nap in the stroller on the streets of Breckenridge would be detrimental to any possible good mood later in the day. (Poor husband.)  So back up the hill (a good 20 minute drive) we would go. And then there was the night he was scared by something at 2:00 in the morning and we had to regress six months and sleep in the same twin bed for the rest of the (sleepless) night. Ah, such is life on the road. It was a beautiful trip, but it was honestly nice to get back to our routine after two days. I am such a wimp.

It’s What We Do

I love parks. Playdates are fun. But the only place that offers true respite from the 90-degree heat (aside from standing in front of my swamp cooler), is the river. We are fortunate to live about 7 blocks from the Arkansas river, which is running low and cool and just about perfect these days. (When it is high and muddy, I can’t stop thinking about how quickly Blaine could disappear under the surface if he ever wormed out of my hand and managed to long-jump three feet from the shore. Such are the fears of mothers.)

Happy dude.

Happy dude.

We go just about every day, and Blaine loves to play in the water, throw rocks (a habit that is translating into some difficult social situations), and dig in the sand. It was my husband’s day off today, so I managed to snap a few photos without endangering Blaine’s life by letting go of his nimble little hand. When it comes to taking blogging pictures, I put the priority level at just below ‘safety of child for which blog is named’.

Neverending source of fun.

Neverending source of fun.

I feel that the river is also a perfect substitute for all of those “sensory” bin activities that I see on Pinterest and can’t be bothered to put together. (Lazy mommy.) At the river, we play in the water, pick leaves, play with grass, run our fingers through sand, and stack pebbles. That’s a lot of sensory business going on, and I call it good.  It’s also good for me to get out and walk the nearly 2 miles to and from the park. Mommy needs some sensory stimulation, too. Not that Curious George isn’t engaging…

The mighty Arkansas River.

The mighty Arkansas River.

The Important Things

There are so many Pinterest Boards / websites dedicated to helping moms to engage in meaningful play with their children. I just read a post (which I originally dismissed but then saw the value of) called ‘Meaningful Block Play’ , which reminds mothers and fathers that kids need help discovering which tactile toys can best help them express their creativity. If kids don’t know about a particular medium, they won’t be able to utilize it. And let’s face it, when it comes to knowing a lot about the world, toddlers are at the bottom of the smartie-pants scale. They know nothing! We have to teach them the basics of play and life. (I don’t even want to discuss the joys of potty training that will be coming up in the next year.)

So when we went up to visit Daddy yesterday to have lunch and spend precious daylight hours with him, it made me feel good to know that, although he can’t put his shoes on by himself or say the word “Mommy” (sigh)… my little man can dip a French fry into ketchup. Repeatedly. With style.

Priorities, people.

Doing what we call "dip, dip".

Doing what we call the “dip, dip”.

 

He's surprisingly neat about it, too.

He’s surprisingly neat about it, too.