Before moving to Seattle, I don’t think I’d seen an honest-to-goodness, down-home, American parade ever. I’d like to think if there had been actual parade anywhere near where I lived that I would have gone. I like the idea of parades. I think I’m the kind of person who would enjoy parades and believes in going out and supporting the community as it marches down the street.
I went to Love Parade when I lived in Berlin (not a real parade) and demonstrations in college (parade-like but not actual parades). In high school I was on a parade float for homecoming one year but I can’t remember what the float was for – maybe Honor Society or Journalism? I have no idea and I don’t remember ever actually attending the parade other years. Once in junior high I was almost in a parade with the marching band (I played the trumpet for all of a parent-coerced year and a half) but then it rained and the parade was called off and never rescheduled.
I remember going with my mother to watch the Olympic torch run through our town as a child. That was kind of like a parade, people lined the streets. But I don’t think there was candy or a lot more to see than one guy running down Main Street Moore, Oklahoma with a torch. Sorting through all my memories of childhood, the closest thing to an actual parade that I can remember ever seeing was the nightly light parades at Disney World and even those, I feel like we just got to see the periphery because that was the best time to ride the rides, when everyone else was distracted by the parade and the lines were short.
In summation, until moving to Seattle I lived a pretty paradeless life. And was probably the better for it.
Seattleites love their parades and the kookier, the better. Living pretty central in the city we have easy access to a wide variety of parades celebrating everything from community, workers rights, pirates and the changing of the seasons, to the right to ride a bicycle naked because it feels good.
Last year we ran in to the parade of naked bicyclists on our way to a party and were able to catch just a glimpse of their full glory. This year we decided to see what all the nudey hoopla and hula hoops were about. Why would you not go? It’s people riding bikes naked six blocks from our home. We only had to walk down the street to watch the revealing excitement roll by.
The naked cyclists are a precursor to an annual Solstice parade in the neighborhood next to ours. This year an estimated 1,000 naked cyclists took part. ONE THOUSAND NAKED CYCLISTS. It takes a long time for 1,000 naked cyclists to ride by and, truth be told, after about 200, you’ve kind of seen it all.
The naked cyclists were followed by one of the better parades our summer of promenades would see. We attended six parades during the 2012-2013 marching season, including participation in our school’s neighborhood parade (complete with decorated strollers, dirndled children and candy distribution). I think the lack of parades in my childhood created an irresistible compulsion that demands I attend every parade within a 10 mile circumference of our home. In that spirit, we happily bid farewell to summer and welcome this year’s parade-free rainy season with open arms.
We’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for a year and a half and spent most of our travel time-budget on trips to Europe and Oklahoma. Not to say that 12 countries in 10 days and the honkytonk outback aren’t worthy vacation spots but this summer we’re going to become true Pacific Northwesterners in a project I’m calling “The Jentz Family Conquers Everything West of the Cascades in the State of Washington (and Beyond Depending on When My Husband Gets His Renewed Passport Back from the German Consulate Located in a Laundry Room of a Senior Citizen’s Home in Kirkland).” We’re going to wear backpacks, buy Tevas, learn the difference between all 2,367 species of salmon and pick and jam more berries than a family of four should consume in a lifetime.
We started our adventures in June with a trip to the Olympic Peninsula. Ever since Henric read the Twilight series for the fourth time, he’s been begging to explore the woods and wildlife of the vampires and tribal wolf peoples. I finally relented, but since the town of Forks is just about the most depressing, non-existent, saddest little town on the Olympic Peninsula, I chose to throw a little class into our trip with a stay at the Lake Quinault Lodge.
An old national park lodge, the whole place has a Dirty Dancing(minus the dirty dancing)-feel with lawn games, family activities, and hikes through the wilderness led by volunteer rangers. It was the perfect weekend getaway. We spent hours in Adirondacks, drinking sundowners on the lawn, looking at the mountains, and watching Anabelle play. We ate delicious meals in the Roosevelt room, where Franklin Roosevelt ate during his visit in 1937, and where everyone knows French Toast is supposed to be stuffed with cream cheese and covered in berry compote. We roasted marshmellows at a bonfire on the shores of the lake in the evening and watched the sun go down over the mountains. And I ran faster than I have in months after being told that I shouldn’t worry about bears on the trails because they only get up to around 200lbs.
After two days of laziness we took the long way home with stops at the biggest version of every tree native to the peninsula, RubyBeach, Kalaloch, Forks and Port Angeles, fully checking off all the Twilight hotspots on Henric’s list. The fact that we didn’t need to visit La Push probably gives some insight in to which team he bats for… We made it home via the ferry late and exhausted but super pleased with the start of our summer adventure series.
Two weekends later the adventures continued as we headed inland through the mountains to Rimrock Lake for an awesome weekend with friends. Not far from the Yakima Valley and White Pass ski resort, we met up with five other adults and two kids in a mountain lake cabin. Full of really great meals, good conversations, a super competitive late-night card game, the weekend was an important reminder of how lucky we are to have developed solid friendships with fun and awesome people in just the year and a half we’ve been here. It’s really hard being this far away from family and the last nine months has been a reminder of how hard it is going to continue to be. I’m hoping our summer of adventure will also be a reminder of how important it is to bring some vacation into the every day too.
Once again, we took the long way home, passing more big trees, scenic overlooks and a long-trek-to-nowhere attempt to see Mount St. Helens. Apparently Henric has some kind of inner-force driving him to see every “World’s Biggest…” tree in the Pacific Northwest. And there are a lot of them. This pull is similar to my need to stop at every ice cream stand we pass while the children are sleeping. It is going to be a very long summer.
A neighbor recently quipped that with one kid you still go out and about your normal pre-kid life. With two kids, you just never leave the house. On some level I would totally agree with this. The whole logistics of getting two kids in the car, getting where you want to go and then having a good time is complicated. With one kid, you go to a party and you can tag-team kid duty. One person drinks and yucks it up while the other one keeps an eye on the child and out of other adults’ hair. You can either split the party in 30 minute intervals or one person’s on-call one night and the other person the next night. With two kids, you can both very quickly end up being stuck managing kid-expectations and miss the party side of the party all together.
Up until now, though, the biggest hindrance to my reemerging partier has been the lack of anything to wear. I ate a healthy 47 pounds worth of root beer floats during this pregnancy and my body has decided to follow the nine months to gain / nine months to lose principle. I’m one size over all my pre-pregnancy clothes right now and I just can’t bring myself to go and buy party clothes one size over where I want to be and where I have tons of clothes available. The clothes that do fit are all perfect, Austin-appropriate party clothes but I’ve discovered that neither the weather nor the social mores of Seattle are conducive to my Austin slinky summer dresses. Thus when recently asked to attend a work party with my husband, the babysitter that was not available was also the last called.
But clothes or no clothes, summer has made it vividly clear that one cannot sit at home with two children for extended periods of time. This Fourth of July we decided to defy the second child adage and celebrate our nation’s freedom birthday in a super dangerous-for-kids place – a rooftop terrace in the middle of the illegal firework warzone of Seattle.
And defy we did. The party was a success. Within an hour of our arrival, Jannik fell asleep in the stroller in a bathroom far from the explosions and excitement of the evening and after several reminders and a couple of times spent thinking, Anabelle stayed away from the railings of the rooftop. I had about four glasses of wine too many, significantly decreasing my stress levels, and Henric had four glasses too few, greatly improving his helpfulness.
Around midnight, we packed up and headed home – and on to the evening’s biggest trial. We went to the same party last year and learned the hard way that leaving our neighborhood (the epicenter of Seattle’s sanctioned Fourth of July celebrations) is easy; returning home at the end of the night in a bus or car is impossible. This year I had the fantastic idea that we bus it to the party and just walk home. It’s only 1.8 miles door-to-door. Sure, it’s straight uphill pretty much the whole way and I plan all my runs to specifically avoid that hill but it’ll be fun! The crowds will make it tough to take the double Bob so we’ll just put Anabelle in the single Bob and I’ll carry Jannik in the Ergo. No problem! Hand me another glass of wine!
It was my clever idea but somewhere at the base of the steepest .65 mile last-stretch climb home, the wine combined with my sweaty Ergo chest and Henric’s sudden zest for exercise got to me. I’ve been working on my anger issues and my general pissed-off-at-life post-partum emotionality, though, and so it is with great pride that I defied all odds of the occasion and made it home in silence.
In Jannik’s first four months of life, we spent 44 days out of town. That’s an average of 11 days per month. He has been to Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Germany and the Olympic Peninsula. Were he not flying for free, he would have already accumulated 20,218 frequent flyer miles and a gold medal in carseat riding.
Jannik kicked off his globe trotting adventures with a trip to Oklahoma and Texas for my Grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary celebration at five weeks old. This was also the inauguration of my spring odyssey of traveling alone with two children. The first trip I had a backpack, two rollers and a stroller as carry-ons with three hour connections. By our final adventure I was down to just a backpack and the ergo and had braved a 45 minute connection.
Traveling with a five week old gives people in airports the opportunity to show how bad they are at filtering their opinions through their facial expressions. After receiving a stern non-verbal talking-to of disapproving glances and whispers from an elderly woman who asked how old my baby was, I began lying and telling people he was two months old. Certain traveling fathers paying for a seat for their one-year-old because everyone knows it’s not safe to fly with a lap child, still felt this was too young to be out amongst the germs of the world. I took the high road and did not tell him that in the event of a fire on the plane, he and his child would probably die while wrestling with their five-point-safety belt while my kids and I would be gliding down the evacuation slide.
We returned toSeattlefor two weeks before setting out for 16 days in Germany. Nine weeks and four-years-old are by far the best ages to travel with children. The baby slept and Anabelle was finally at the age that she understands the concept of having to go to bed and is totally susceptible to the effects of Benadryl.
We came home for three weeks and then the kids and I headed back to Oklahoma for a family reunion inIowa one weekend and another on Lake Texoma the next. We met my sister on the way up to Iowa and piled the older kids in a car with my parents and the dvd player while us girls traveled virtually whine-free with the baby in the other car. Somewhere on the way back from Germany, Jannik went from sleeping seven hours a night to waking up every two, demanding attention in the form of liquid nutrition. Unfortunately the cohabitation of this trip further fed Jannik’s night-nursing addiction and kicked our sleep training routine back another month.
I have a sneaking suspicion that all these travels may have contributed to the feeling of out-of-control spinning the last four months have had. Going 8 ½ weeks without sleeping for more than two hours at a time may have further fueled this downward spiral. With summer now rearing its gorgeous, sunny head in Seattle, we have called upon the name of the almighty Dr. Ferber to anoint our home in deep slumber and dreamy bliss and declared a moratorium on movement for June, July and August. The doors are open and beds are made for a gauntlet of planned guests but our bags are not packed and the suitcases are staying closed for at least the next ninety days – except of course for trips every weekend this month and my itchy booking finger that keeps checking plane ticket prices for the fall.
This whole mother-of-two thing is totally overwhelming. Whoever thought this was a good idea was crazy. The topic of exactly whose idea this was has come up several times over the last four months in our house. Apparently the person with the bright idea no longer lives here. They’re off somewhere else – along with all the laughter and sleep they sucked into their suitcase on their way out the door.
In my haze of sleeplessness and dirty laundry I keep hearing the repeated warnings of one of our Bradley friends who, following the birth of their second child, every time his wife was out of the room, would spin cautionary tales about the trials of having two children. His wife was pushing for baby #3, though, so I never took him seriously. Oh how wrong I was…
In the black hole of month two post-babypocalypse another friend told me it takes four months. Four months until you feel like you can finally get out the door in a reasonable amount of time and get to the place you need to be roughly around the time you wanted to be there. I think that’s probably about right. We have hit the four month mark and this week we actually showed up somewhere early. Not my pre-baby-two required fifteen minutes early but like, three minutes early. It’s the small victories we now celebrate. The days where we only change clothes twice! The blocks of 2 ½ hours of sleep instead of the usual two! The 15 minute nap stolen in the afternoon before the four year old comes in the room yelling that now is not the time to sleep!
In the midst of all this tired chaos, though, the fog clears to the sunshine of a thousand smiles every day. I do not know what this baby is so happy about but apparently he likes being surrounded by people at their tired and hungry worst. Anabelle cried for pretty much the first ten months of life. She was not happy to be out in the world. There was not separation anxiety when I returned to work. I practically threw her at her new caretakers, shouting “see you at 6!” on my way out the door.
Jannik, though. Jannik smiles and laughs ALL DAY LONG. I have no idea what he is so happy about but his happiness is probably the only thing that has kept us maintaining some semblance of functioning the last four months. That and a crazy amount of coffee.