Directions to Mt. Pisgah Arboretum can be found on the Arboretum’s website. Please, please buy a parking pass. We don’t want you to pick up a $150 ticket at our birthday party.
Dress comfortably (but party attire’s always welcome, if you’d like to wear cowgirl boots and a tutu).
Contra dance music provided by Chico Schwall and friends, and the dance will be called by Woody Lane.
Hideaway Bakery is catering the pizza and salad dinner.
Please don’t bring gifts. If you can’t show up empty-handed, please consider bringing a bottle of wine or 6-pack to share.
Join us for a birthday picnic hike up Mt. Pisgah on Friday evening. Details TBA.
This is how I remember it, anyway.
Once upon a time, when my father was chronologically younger than I am now (but more mature than I am now, since he inflicted offspring, a mortgage, and a lawnmower on himself at a much younger age), he decided to check the mid-life crisis box.
Sports car? No, he had already owned a 1972 BMW 2002 (named Fritz, of course), picked up from the factory in Germany. No mere sports car was going to top that.
Trophy wife? He already had one of those, and still does.
No, my dad has always been a rational, reasonable, sensible person, even in a crisis. He went out and got one of these:
Dad has always liked a little go in his cars, so when it was station wagon time (gotta have something that can hold two kids and a bunch of trash and recycling on the way to the town dump, after all), he bought a brand new 1986 Volvo 740 Turbo wagon. That thing could GO, and it didn’t complain at all when you really pushed it. I once took it up to 90 (sorry, Dad) just for kicks while merging onto the empty D.C. Beltway late one night. I think the RPMs cracked 3500 when I did that, but they might not have. The car sure didn’t mind one bit.
I looked for the ad above for years. I finally found it a few months ago. In the meantime, I found it that Ferrari really did make a station wagon. And it was ugly. Take a look:
The last link above has the best explanation of the hideously not-as-atractive-as-it-should-be Ferrari station wagons that were built for a couple of Really Rich People. They look like a toned-down Ferrari front end mixed with a Subaru back end, resulting in an early-1990s Saturn or Honda wagon ambiance. Definitely not a Ferrari look. I’m sure they drive nicely, but blech.
And here’s a reward for those of you who read all the way to the end. Well done.
Happy birthday, DYD.
My little spitfire. I definitely wonder how Kindergarten will treat you, my little free-spirited wood sprite. You’re observant and a quick learner, and you love to be a good role model. Those qualities will treat you well as you enter school. You’re also a chatterbox and stubborn as that gluey residue left over from masking tape that’s been through the dishwasher. Kindergarten will be tough when you’re asked to zip your adorable lips.
It’s birthday party season, and at a party this past weekend, I was chatting with a mom about schools, because that’s all we can discuss when our babies are turning 5 and we want what’s best for them. I told this mom that you’d recently said you’d draw and paint all day, if given the opportunity. She said, “Yes, until college, and then she has to major in something that will make money.”
My expression must have illustrated my discomfort. Elena, you can go to college if you want. And, if you choose to go, you can major in art if you want. Or dance. Or theater. Or photography. Or religion. Or physics. Or chemistry. Or astronomy. But this you’ll never hear from me: “Consider pre-med. Doctors make more money than artists.” First of all, life’s too short to do something you think will make you money rather than something that will make you happy. Secondly, some artists actually make more money than doctors. And thirdly, it’s your life. You have this fantastic opportunity to make your own decisions. You will realize that some of them turn out to be ones you wouldn’t make again.
One of the biggest gifts my parents gave me was complete support. I was never made to feel like I wasn’t making the right decisions; they were my decisions, and I knew I was loved and that my family had my back. I should have asked for more advice, though. I still should. Like me, you are independent to a fault. You don’t have to take other people’s advice, but sometimes it’s good to hear it.
Right now, you love: pink, purple (you say it’s your favorite now), glitter, anything shiny (maybe you’re a magpie), playing with letters, drawing, collecting tiny objects (again, magpie), swinging, helping, running, dance class, saving food for later (sometimes later doesn’t come), cheek kisses, and amazing us with how big you are.
While we were sorting socks the other day, you said, “Yuck, this sock smells like rice. Italian rice.” Better get over that one, lady, because risotto’s delicioso!
I love you,
You’re 91 months old! I remember figuring out when I would be 100 months old. If you don’t bring it up first, I’ll tell you next January. You’ll ask for cinnamon rolls to celebrate, because, hey, it’s an excuse to have sugar!
Last spring, at just about this time, we met with your Kindergarten teacher, Miss Polly, who suggested that you be tested for skipping a grade. Even though you were old for your grade, we hadn’t considered this. As the evidence mounted—who you played with on the playground, your math scores, your September birthday, your reading skills—it just made sense. So, with some consideration, we decided, along with your teacher, that you should enter 2nd grade this year. It turned out to be a very good choice for you. The academics are a good fit for you, and you have a gentle, calm teacher, Miss Laura, who’s helped you become a mellower, calmer human being.
You often jump into play in the preschool classroom when we pick up Miss Elena, who is always finishing up her snack (because she’s a good eater and a good talker). The other day, while you were helping to put away some train tracks, you started to take one from a little boy, thinking he was handing it to you because you were closer to the bin. He yowled, and you just stopped, not even responding to his outburst, and continued putting other tracks and blocks away.
You’ve reached a point in your evolution as a human that, when you are a bit wronged, you brush it off. I especially appreciate this in your interactions with your sister. When you step back and don’t escalate a tense situation, I want to hug you (but if I did, you’d make a noise like this: whiny “ehhhhr,” and pull away). In fact, I want to hug you a lot, but that’s not your preferred intimate gesture; you prefer a back-scratch.
You love: laser tag, chess, Stratego, facts, pretending to be different Harry Potter characters/rainforest animals /Bearbarians warriors, playing in the waves, downhill skiing.
You are good at: being yourself without being at all concerned about what others think, spelling, math, reading long and complicated books (You just finished The Hobbit by yourself on the way back from Hawai’i; I still haven’t read it because it’s so long and complicated.), and chess (You’re playing in tournaments, and your goal for the last one was to gain a higher point value—based on wins, losses, and draws—than your last tourney. You did it!).
You are nervous about: team sports (but you play football with the boys every day at lunch), some other athletic endeavors where you feel your peers are bigger and better, and I don’t know what else. I know you have concerns and anxieties that I don’t hear about. As you slowly climb toward middle school, you will share with me less and less. I think this is why I need to stop, slow down, and just listen to you. We need to chat about nothing that matters so that we can chat about what does matter when you want to share it.
I love you,
Update 15 April: You were very fun to watch in your soccer game yesterday. You went directly to the ball and were scrappy. If the ball was anywhere near your section of the field, that ball touched your foot. You had some great steals yesterday, and you smiled the entire time. It was very joyful.
And the two lasting verbal kid mis-speaks that I still love to hear you say are “pacific” for “specific” and “care-UC-ter” for “character.”
I met the bearded man just after I’d skied over the bridge, topped with about three feet of snow, piled to the top of the bridge’s railing (I didn’t do the math, but I wondered how much extra weight was just sitting on that bridge all winter long). I planned to explore a new ski trail for me, along the north side of Gold Lake. As a Backcountry Ski Patroller, a large part of my “job” is connecting with the public and helping them have great, snowy, winter experiences, so I stopped to chat as this man awaited his companion.
As I figured out how many miles they had already snowshoed that morning (about 5, down from the South Waldo Lake Shelter), then found out what they were training for (hiking the Continental Divide Trail), it suddenly dawned on me that I’d met Sunshine and her Dad (trail name: Balls). I first read about the duo on the Backpacking Light website in 2011, when they were completing their Pacific Crest Trail journey. Last year, they hiked the Appalachian Trail. So, this year, they’re going for the Triple Crown with their CDT hike, completing all three long hikes by the time Sunshine is 13. This 12-year-old has more experience with bear hanging, sleeping on the ground, trail food, and pushing herself through challenges than most people will ever have. As I considered the school that Sunshine has missed in the past three years, I kept coming back to what she’s gained in self-confidence and outdoor skills from her experiences.
Earlier that morning, I’d talked with my friend Walter about adventures with kids: living abroad, rock climbing, and, yes, even through-hiking. A couple of things have been pointing me toward more serious adventures with my kids. First, I just started a book, Before They’re Gone by Michael Lanza, about a family’s year-long quest to visit National Parks imperiled by climate change. Although I’ve only just begun reading it, it’s easy to see that this family had what most people would consider “grown-up-sized” adventures. In the first chapter, they’re heading out for an early spring, 4-day, 29-mile backpack with a 7- and 9-year-old on icy Grand Canyon trails. That’s believing in your kids and their abilities!
After meeting Monkey, who turned nine while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail last summer, I’ve been considering how feasible it might be to complete a long hike with one or both of my children. The PCT was Monkey’s idea, by the way. She wasn’t coerced. Last summer, when we gave Monkey and her Mom a ride to their campsite after they’d inhaled 1200-calorie meals of pizza and milkshakes, I asked Sylvan if he’d like to try a long-distance hike with me. He balked. The little one, though, seemed interested. With her constant singing and smiley demeanor, she’d be the perfect companion, too! Sunshine to balance my native grumbles. I asked her yesterday if she’d like to try some backpacking this summer. Without looking up from her art project, she said, “Yes.” As she shapes up as a hiker, we’ll see if she enjoys pulling off long days (with enough Jelly Bellies) and is driven by the challenge of a good, long-term goal. I hope so!
While Sylvan was losing his fifth tooth and picking an Army duck from the secretary’s supply for birthday and missing tooth kids, Leslie and I ventured up to Marys Peak, the highest mountain in Oregon’s Coast Range.
We’ve been busy this month. Here’s a sampling:
Hmmm, I can’t put captions on the photos anymore. But please do notice:
- that Elena wore cowgirl boots and Sylvan wore shorts to see Santa (who’s growing up in Oregon?).
- that Sylvan was very excited to get a tree, and they were both very excited to read next to it the day we put it up. You should note that we cut this gorgeous Grand fir for a grand total of $14 (including two hot chocolates). Again, that’s Oregon.
- that Elena is going to be so happy when she can read so she can sing Christmas songs by reading the lyrics. She is trying very hard in this photo.
- that we just spend the last two days in the Winter Wonderland of the Oregon Cascades. Unbelievably powdery piles of snow! (For birders, we saw many mountain chickadees, some flittery wrens, a northern flicker, mergansers, a hairy woodpecker, an osprey, and we heard a bald eagle.)
“I’m almost 40. I have no idea what I’m talking about.” – Julie, 12 Dec 2012, age 39