Daddy play dates

When you think of play dates do you think of moms getting together with their wee ones, sitting around the table knitting and eating scones, talking about life and what have you? Do you envision kids running around with food and drink crusted around their mouths and foul-smelling nappies in their nether regions as 18 month olds stretch and pull the toys away from one another screaming, MINE! while mommys sip green tea and talk about the economy?

When you think of play dates do you think of knitted beer hats and strong coffee while little girls play with dolls and the dads talk about bikes and wearing said knitted beer hat to festivals in order to get free beer? I know that’s what I think of. Matt has had a few stay at home dads who like to bike over to let our kids play together. I showed up yesterday and felt immediately like this was a play date of its own kind. How right I was….

Ye old Rainer Beer. Notice the fig newton next to the hat. Must have snacks

Matt. Maker of said hats. Hand knitted, yo!

Check out more of his awesome hats here:

The Can Hattery

When the kids get bored….throw them outside!

When my kids start to climb the walls inside the house, these days I have to tell them to get their shoes on and go outside before I tear my heart out. Obviously they have to get some wiggles out and they also really start to bug me when they jump on furniture and run around the house, clomping on our hardwood floors like a couple of Clydesdales.

They winge and moan being told to leave the house but I always know throwing them outside will produce something of beauty once they just engage with being out there. You have to make extra effort to get outside when you live in an urban setting, even in the lush beauty of the Pacific Northwest. So out they go….then this is usually the sort of thing that I find them making:

It's a pirate ship! Complete with oars and a flag

Apparently it's a Swiss Pirate Ship

Hilltop is getting a new sandwich shop!

This spot (a few doors down) is soon to be a Euro style breakfast spot

I couldn’t be more excited about this news. I’ve been telling people since we moved here that our main street, MLK Blvd, is ripe for more retail. This is such a ripe area and I am stoked about more development. Now all we need is:

Garden Shop, Bakery, Cafes, fruit stands, food carts and vendors in the winter (think chestnuts and hot dogs out of small carts), a few restaurants, apparel and shoes and yadda, yadda….. I could go on.

 

I remember when Sixth Ave was just a spot where you could get some of Tacoma’s ubiquitous teriyaki, some funky Winchell’s donuts and hit any number of dive bars that stretched about eight city blocks, all peppered between empty retail buildings. The ave was a pretty lame spot for a number of years. As soon as Starbucks planted their corporate arse smack in the middle of Sixth Ave business picked up and people started to open shops. Say what you will about big business but it really can help an area out when it’s in decline. Hell, I’d welcome a Starbucks here on MLK Blvd. It would do huge things to the area.

 

So back to how thrilled I am that two brothers are opening a sannie shop on the Hill; I think we should ask them to call it Sandwich Masters and the logo could be two twelve foot subs jousting each other. Who’s with me????

The things that matter to kids

Yep. He's planking

A week back Oliver won an award at school. You know those bumper stickers that say, “My Kid Is A Terrific Kid”? Well, he won one of those. They honoured some of the kids at a school assembly so Matt and I showed up and took our parent’s share of photos. He stood up there and tried his hardest not to smile. He does that when he’s in front of people and I’m not sure why. It was a lot of fun to see him receive an award.

They also announced other awards for different kids in areas of Math, great attendance….other stuff that I can’t remember. His best friend in the class won a Math award and it’s not surprising because that kid is pretty academically inclined. His teacher says Q is “the smartest kid in my class” to which I always want to chime in, “You know, there are different types of intelligences” but she’s a school teacher so I don’t get into that with her. Nonetheless, Q is a very bright kid and I think he’s going to do very well through his school years.

It’s funny how adults gage things that kids do. There is so much pressure in school to get kids up on Math and Science because we seem to be failing from the rest of the world, there’s a huge push to get the Math scores up. Also, if your kid is good at Math, well, you just know life’s doors will be opened up for them. When Oliver got the Terrific Kid award I thought it was awesome but I do know other kids will get it this year too because they want to honour all the children at some point. When Q got the Math award I knew it was because he was good at Math. Oliver is good at Math and even likes it but he’d rather draw than do homework. I don’t blame him. But I secretly hoped that some day he would get a Math award because “that proves that my kid is smart”, right?

The funny thing is, I had Q over to play with Oliver the day they won the awards and Q said, while they were making robots out of cardboard, “Oliver won the Terrific Kid award. I just won a stupid Math award”. Then later he told his dad, “The day goes slowly when Oliver isn’t at school. He’s a Terrific Kid, you know?”

The things that matter to kids aren’t being amazing at Math while in first grade. The things that matter are people recognising that they are great children and that they are really loved; that people celebrate them. The things that matter to adults are, “You think my kid is smarter than yours, right?” I have to say that listening to the boy’s comments while playing really put things into perspective for me. I’ve always believed that kids learn differently and have different strengths that need to be fostered but now that he’s in school the things that are important to his teacher (Math and Reading) have to be important to me because I have to do the work with him. We work on these subjects together but I don’t ever want to lose perspective as I help him in his academics. I mean, he is in first grade for the love of God! I have to remember that it matters to him that I think he’s terrific! He doesn’t care that I’m impressed with his reading level. It matters to him that I think he’s a great little boy who impresses me just because he’s a part of our family and because he exists.

Now I see why people put the bumper stickers on their minivans. Still, I think we’ll hang ours in our room.

Cleaning up the Hill

Photo by sleepinyourhat

Yesterday we had our neighborhood clean-up day and I’ll be damned if I missed it. I thought it was at 3pm but it was at 2pm. I was even home and occasionally peeking out the window but I didn’t see anyone. So at three I came out with my latex gloves on, ready to pick up smashed Rainer cans and empty Snickers wrappers from our gutters. Then I noticed….no one! The street also looked very clean. Finally, I saw one neighbour raking up some leaves and said, “Oh, are we ready?” Through her surprised look I could see we were indeed past ready. I had missed it. The shame of it all is that this whole neighborhood clean-up was MY IDEA!

So I basically entreated my loving neighbours to take care of our street on a brisk Sunday afternoon while I sat inside in my cozy home. I felt so embarrassed and wished someone would have knocked on my door and dragged my butt outside. Well, I redeemed myself by spending the next hour raking leaves out of our drainage and out of the street. Victory!

Through my embarrassment I will say the street looks lovely and it’s so right to come gather as a community, in the midst of a notoriously rough area that is no longer rough-just a bit unstable, and clean up the rubbish. I’m beginning to love my street and our fantastic neighbors. Here’s to helping lovely things stay lovely.