Archive for October, 2014

Best. Summer. Ever. – Episode 2: Nine

We’re off and running in our recap of the Best. Summer. Ever. Click here for the preamble and Episode 1.

Mara Turns Nine

About every other year we have a big birthday party and invite lots of kids, and in the off years we do smaller things. This year we had a small family do at our house for Mara’s birthday, and considering it was the day after the anniversary of my sister’s death, we all did pretty well and enjoyed each other with laughter and food, the way we traditionally do. I had worried that we would all be somber, but Jeni was all about life and hadn’t a morose bone in her body (unlike kid brother the first), and none of us her survivors wanted to let our renewed feelings of loss spoil a little kid’s birthday. We may have taken a family photo, and if I can scrape it up I’ll post it. Mara has a buddy named Jimena, who came from Costa Rica with very little English and started school in the middle of the year like Mara did. They became friends and even though eventually Jimena moved to the school where her mother teaches, she and Mara have continued their friendship. Jimena gets Mara, and she seems to love Millie like a little sister. It’s a sweet thing that we hope will grow. Sometimes we take Jimena with us to dinner after playdates, and Jimena’s mom and step-dad do the same with Mara when the girls are at Jimena’s house. We celebrated Mara’s birthday again at the kids’ favorite place — the Old Spaghetti Factory — and got to dine in the trolley.

Celebrating Mara.

Celebrating Mara.

Jimena and Mara study the illustrations on the box of the Lego Friends set that Mara got for her birthday.

Jimena and Mara study the illustrations on the box of the Lego Friends set that Mara got for her birthday.

Birthday larks in the trolley.

Birthday larks in the trolley.

Best. Summer. Ever. – Episode 1: The Ocean

One of the reasons I have posted so infrequently this year is that my little nuclear unit have been busy adventuring and having fun every weekend for as long as I can remember. Millie’s developmental leap out of diapers and her ability to travel further by car without getting crabby (I actually have trouble with this myself) — along with our dedication to living life NOW in light of unsolicited reminders from the universe in the past two years that life is shockingly short and precious — resulted in a spring, summer and fall in which we seemed to spend every free moment doing something fun, new, or family-centric or all three.

It’s too much for the full Just Wondering narrative treatment, but it all strikes me as worth recapping, and because I know that even as a recap it will be a monster by the time I’m done with it, we’re going to take it one adventure at a time and it will take as long as it takes. So here’s the first installment:

Long Beach

We used to go to Oregon to visit the Pacific Coast, but it proved to be too long a drive with infants, so we started looking at beaches closer to home and found that Washington beaches have their charm, even if it’s not particularly sophisticated charm (like other rural areas Long Beach is a bit depressed, and the city of Long Beach has had a lot of high profile methamphetamine and other drug arrests in recent years, though we didn’t see any overt signs of that), and folks was mighty friendly. We’ve now been to Long Beach a number of times. This was a spur of the moment trip that Angela cooked up in March. No one is better than she at short-notice logistics. I had just started a new job and was not yet eligible for vacation, so my boss and I feigned my illness. We stayed in a cute rustic motel just a short walk from the beach. Mara rode a horse — Cisco — without being led by a biped for the very first time, and I put my foot in the stirrup for the first time since I left the ranch in Ohio 22 years ago. 

Our year of adventures started in mid-March at Long Beach, Washington.

Our year of adventures started in mid-March at Long Beach, Washington.

Pedaling around the old neighborhood.

Pedaling around the old neighborhood.

We didn't hurry in this surrey...and it had no fringe on the top.

We didn’t hurry in this surrey…and it had no fringe on the top.

The Magnificent Four. I'm on Brassy, Mara Cisco, and Angela and Millie Doogan (sp?).

The Magnificent Four. I’m on Brassy, Mara’s on Cisco, and Angela and Millie are on Doogan (sp?).


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