16 August 2005

"Walk right up to the microphone and name all the things you love"

We went to a wedding at the coast, joining our friends as they doused themselves with beer, joy and sea air. We were swept up in the revelry, Hazel and I. We danced, climbed stairs over and over again just for the thrill of it, smiled and laughed with friends, and, at one point, I strapped her into our Ergo carrier, backpack-style, and I took her for a ride on one of the old cruising bikes that was furnished along with the beach cabin. Until that moment her relationship with bicycles has been to point out every moving and stationary bike she has seen, exclaiming, "Bike". She will pet a bike if she's allowed to be close to one, and her father has taken her for short rides in the Burley trailer we bought off of a friend while I was pregnant. The rides in the Burley seem removed from bikedom for her, she just kind of sits there with her helmet obscuring most of her vision and she looks like she might fall asleep.

Our ride along the quiet beach road was slow and brief, but elicited many sounds of, "Wheeeeeee!" We stopped to look at a bunny rabbit hopping in a beach house yard and then continued on our ride.

"Do you like this," I asked. I made her repeat her reply a couple of times because I couldn't understand it.
"I wuff it!"
"You love it? You love this!"
"Yes, I wuff this!"

10 August 2005

My intelligent, talented, and warm-hearted friend Ritchey is touring, and she visited Portland a couple of days ago. Hazel loved showing off for Ritchey. After she had exhausted her usual tricks of rolling around in the grass while grabbing her toes, reciting the names of the Teletubbies, and going through the "tunnel" (running in between our legs) she groped around for inspiration and ended up grabbing a handful of grass from the ground.
My 18-month-old daughter and I have spent a lot of time in the Portland city parks this summer, mostly in the southeast neighborhoods. The wealth of parks is just one reason why I love being a parent in the city of roses. No matter where we are or what errand we are attempting, I know we are minutes away from a shady tree and a patch of grass where Hazel can run about. Every park we've been to thus far has a play structure, paths, trees, and people walking and bike riding through. A few of the parks have wading pools in operation.

The occasional drawbacks to some of our park visits include: tweaked out meth heads on the make, a play structure that is outside of Hazel's capabilities, not knowing the wading pool schedule, examples of poor parenting that make my stomach twist, and bigger kids starting shit with one another. The meth head encounters (they aren't really encounters, so much as two ships passing at the park - one ship is simply manned by a hyperparanoid, scheming central nervous system) have been infrequent, but they have mostly occured at the park closest to my house, Mt. Scott Park. The benefits of Mt. Scott Park are that the wading pool is open every weekday, the play structure is easily accessible to my daughter, the park is a nice size with lovely douglas firs all over the place, the community center is excellent and includes a great swimming pool, and I've met many nice parents there. Aside from meth freaks, I've also encountered more unattended children at that park than any other I've been to. I've also witnessed middle school kids trying to get a fight going there, and I've overheard parents encourage their own kids to fight. My feeling is that most of the crap I observe at that park could happen at any other park in town, I'm just at that particular location more frequently and therefore have more chances to witness the craziness. But keep in mind, it is 10 blocks away from 82nd Avenue (and only 3 blocks away from the G-Spot!) and even freaks need a break from the street now and then.

We also go to Mt. Tabor and Woodstock parks frequently. There is no wading pool at Mt. Tabor, but it's one of the biggest hills in town and gives a post-partum body a nice workout. I park the car at the lowest entrance to the park, put Hazel in the stroller and push her up the mountain. It's good for my butt and it's a very pleasant little hike amid a variety of shady and coniferous trees. The playground is near the top of the mountain, but is well-shaded. Hazel can tackle the play structure pretty easily. It doesn't seem to be the meth hotbed Mt. Scott is.

Woodstock park has a wading pool, but I've never seen water in it. The play structure is excellent for toddlers. At Mt. Scott and Mt. Tabor I have to shadow Hazel the entire time, but at Woodstock there are things she can do safely that don't require a spotter. I've also met many friendly families there.

Kenilworth park (34th and Holgate), has a wading pool that opens sporadically. The only time I know it is open for certain is Monday afternoons from 2 until 6 when the rec n' roll bus is there. The play structure is very nice for toddlers. There is a larger structure on the other side of the park for older kids. When the wading pool is open it is large and lovely and provides enough space for the rambunctious splashers as well as the more cautious toddlers. The toddler play structure is shady and pleasant in the morning, but is under a hot sun midday, rendering the slides a burn hazard for kids in shorts and dresses. If the wading pool isn't open it isn't worth going to the park midday.

I have more park reviews, parenting anecdotes, and other random thoughts, so I'll be back. This is my first post on blogger and I'm trying to decide if it's the right home on the web for my ramblings.