Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Third Times the Charm

Where PFPDX,POF,BBC began
I just returned from our third annual trip to the Pacific Northwest. We moved to Alameda 2.5 years ago and since we moved I have driven to Portland and Seattle to visit the week before Hood to Coast.  Jack flies up to join us mid trip. This year was special in that we all feel settled in Alameda. We love and miss Portland tremendously, and it will always have a big part of our hearts and history, but we've grown so much as a family and in creating our home where ever we "are". Cliche, I know, but it's true.

Emerson exploring the Rose Garden
Let's be real honest here...I was very resentful when we moved back to Alameda.  Portland was "our" city. It was a place that Jack and I decided to take leaps and bounds to create a new adventure in.  While living in Playa Del Rey (a small LA Beach City) when Makenzie was 3 months old we flipped a coin between Portland and New Orleans, and Portland won out.  At the time, I remember thinking Portland is a place people settle in and New Orleans was the city with the real "adventure". How wrong I was, but how unknowingly right too. The city was an open book for us, with stories yet to be created and written. We wrote big stories each year, experiencing and creating new adventures each week.  We made friends, got networked in and created our families roots in the city of green tree huggers.  Through our time, the friendships expanded to more of "family" and solidified which evolved to seeing a friend in each neighborhood of the city.  While yes it was rainy in the Winter (Spring and Summer too) it felt good.  Portland just felt, and always will feel, good to my soul.

Rose Garden Beauty Bug
We were all saddened upon leaving, honestly heartbroken to leave Portland but now, 2.5 years later, we visited with new traditions and roots in Alameda.  When we moved to Alameda, much of my resentment came from growing up in Alameda and feeling that coming home meant I had failed.  It meant I didn't have the ability to get off the "island" and live as the adventurous spirit I feel and define myself as having.  A silly thought and one that's been proven untrue, but we often hold onto notions from our childhood that keep us from being at peace with where we are.  For me it was coming "home" by default (job loss) verses choice.  Yes we made a choice to move to Alameda over other places in the Bay Area.  I had a lovely childhood growing up here, and Jack was always fond of it when visiting my family throughout the years.  Even with appreciating it's charm and being by family, the movie Hope Floats when Birdie moves from Chicago back to the small Southern town she grew up in would play in my mind...every time I ran into an old teacher in the grocery store, my orthodontist while swimming laps, or kids I babysat for who now are taller and look down to say "Hello" to me.  At first I wasn't allowing myself to truly see Alameda for the wonderful city it is, and charm it has.  In the beginning I didn't realize the incredible opportunity my own family had in living close by family while creating fun adventures of our own in the Bay Area.

Some of our favorite "gifts" from Portland!  xoxox to Sheri, Missy, Melica, Rumi, Jen & all the kidlets
Thankfully, those notions evolved and were thrown out the window.   Now, over two years later, it feels good.  This visit to Portland we had comfort, love, laughter, fun, and did a lot...but stepped back to relish being with our friends and doing nothing but laughing in their backyards.  One afternoon we even had a Shirey family afternoon of fun.  After having an afternoon playdate and picnic in our favorite park, the Castle Park, with many dear friends we took Emerson to the Rose Garden.  The girls, along with their friend Lydia, did performances on the stage.  Emerson then ran through the Rose Garden with me to smell every rose, and all of us took in people watching by one of our favorite fountains.  This time, the girls decided to dance, splash and attempt to pocket some change from it which entertained many tourists walking by.  We shared that it would ruin people's wishes, so they had to keep it put or the wish fairies would see...oy vey. We left the Rose Garden and went to our first home, neighborhood and park in NW Portland.  At Wallace Park on NW 25th the Swift Chimney stood tall in a bright blue sky.  Wandering through the "secret" paths, listening to Makenzie share with Emerson what their "favorites" were reminded me that each trip to Portland for Emerson is creating new memories of what the city was to her. Since she was shy of 2 when we moved, she doesn't remember every ounce of Portland as home. Everyone's shared stories of Portland life become her stories of the life she experienced.

Another St. Honore pastry please!
All four of us were swinging high just taking in the afternoon.  Makenzie pointed out a castle house in the NW hills, which made my tummy lump since it was her favorite house to walk by as a toddler and she didn't remember that.  While all of us were swinging in Wallace Park, Jack and I looked at each other and both said, "This feels good.  We could easily moved back sometime, which feels good deep in our core. Especially since our life in Alameda is great too."  We were embracing the happiness roaming through the four of us.  The afternoon continued for the four of us enjoying St. Honore, DragonFly and other favorites.  We drove by our old house in NE Portland and the rose bush we planted was still blooming.  Our hearts felt content, while all of us shared funny stories of our life before.

Time flies and we all evolve and move on, but expect some things to forever be the same.  We visit places we used to live and hold them close to our heart, or sometimes try to leave them far away in the past.  Regardless, the time spent remembering is always sweet to visit, to feel the love of a heart city again.  Portland is our "heart city". It has a big place in our heart, and holds some of our most cherished friends. But this visit to our heart city allowed us to embrace what we love about it while spending time with our forever friends.  We could do this on a deeper level since we feel grateful to now call Alameda our home.  The feeling is good. It feels good to leave Portland after the 3rd Summer visit knowing that each visit back to our heart city allows for new memories to be made and  friendships deepened before we drive back to our home...wherever it may be.
Portland, Oregon - forever our Heart City

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer time, and the living is easy

There are 8 more weekdays of Summer Vacation for the Shirey Family.  To say that is has flown by is an understatement.  Summer feels like Christmas Day to me. There are so many plans, so much excitement and build up and then poof! Summer is almost over and you still have things you didn't do...but so much that you did.

This Summer I chose not to stress.  Yes there are times when I did over logistics with work, and not having set childcare, but I chose to step back and not worry about what didn't get done come the beginning of the School year.  As a family, it was to be a fun easy Summer. No rush to get anywhere, and no exhaustion from being away from home every weekend, verses sleeping in and enjoying wonderful days in the Bay Area.  I see that happening everywhere, when kids are booked every day throughout Summer that they didn't get lazy mornings to sleep in and wear PJ's on bicycles.  Mind you, I know it is work logistics for many families, but even a week of staycation can give you that easy Summer vibe.

1,2,3 jump! 
We did it though. Each girl had a few special weeks of camp they adored.  They sang songs, learned archery, did ballet, made new friends, and developed mentorships with new favorite camp counselors. They both rode their bikes daily, developing strong muscles in their legs and confidence in their skill. They stayed in pajamas 'till noon, somedays wearing them to play all day.  They felt relaxed and I felt lighter.

We created and Adventure Box and in it we all got to add what we wanted to do. From Stand Up Paddleboarding, Monterey Bay Aquarium, bike riding to San Francisco, Trail Running dates, see Brave, road trip to Portland, Tahoe, and much more.  Each week we would pick from the box and add it to the calendar.  Thus, at Summer's end, every adventure we wanted to conquer was brought to fruition.  We always look forward to finishing with our cherished trip to Portland and Seattle, finishing the trip at the Oregon Coast with Hood to Coast. The best way to make the last moments of Summer linger on.

Norah and Emerson at Tenderfoot Camp

Camp Kids- Makenzie, Cami, Romey

Emerson riding strong
Even if I love Summer, right and left I hear Moms saying they can't wait for school to start so they can have their days back.  Honestly, I am the opposite(mostly).  I am relishing the days with the girls.  I want each Summer day to extend by a few hours for more time on our bikes, more time doing underwater tea parties, more time racing across the pool, more time just "being".  I know that my own Summer Time with them is getting shorter and shorter, as they get older and older.  They're gradually going to have more desires to be with their friends, verses hanging with their Mom doing CannonBalls at the pool.  I don't want to face that reality so I hold on. I have put aside many work projects and feel "ok" with it. I allowed myself to be ok with not completing my entire Summer "To Do" list, since I was  honoring my Mom "To Do" list.

Makenzie riding strong- Bridge is up!

I let myself "be" with both girls.  I have the images imprinted in my mind of their smiles, Lego castles, Barbie scenarios, strong running bodies, bubble butts in swimsuits, tan lines, swimmer's bleached out hair, ice cream faces, sleeping heads on my chest and hands intertwined with mine as we walked everywhere.  I will catch up when school starts, cram in my own work, and be fine with the Summer days of past. I hope you enjoyed Summer as much as I did, and have images etched in your mind that make you appreciate simply "being" as the season changes again all to soon.