Sunday, June 19, 2016

Diagnosis For Cat And International Travel

Rewind to Friday morning (Jacob's last day of school), I was still sleeping comfortably in my warm cozy bed, when Jacob pops his head into my face and asks "Hey mom, do I have a tux?"

What? I'm sorry I was just dreaming about falling down a hole. Come again.

"Do I have a tux? You know, like to wear?"

Apparently, Jacob's teacher told the kids to dress nicely out of respect for the fifth graders who were graduating. Jacob, like always, took it too far and determined he HAD to show up to school in a full-up three piece.

"Um no. We don't own things like that. Maybe you can tape a strip of construction paper to one of your shirts so people will think you have a good mom and that you own a collared shirt?"

Jacob snuck away mumbling under his breath and then I heard him rummaging around in his closet. I closed my eyes really tight to try to return to dreamland, preferably not falling down a hole, when Ryan bounded up next to my bed. His playful eyes bore holes right through my eyelids.

"What?" I asked without even opening my eyes.

"Mommy, do I have a tux?"

For FOX sake. "NO!"

I gave up on sleeping an extra ten minutes and rolled out of bed. When I found my way to the kitchen to warm up some Last Day of School cinnamon rolls (in case you think I MAKE stuff from scratch-"yay Pillsbury!"), my two oldest kids were there waiting for me. Jacob found a collar shirt and a clip on tie and looked about five years older than I last saw him. Ryan...well....he was dressed like Ryan. I was suddenly overcome by one of those emotional mommy moments and had to rush them outside under my favorite tree to snap some photos.

Last day of Preschool 3s!

 
Last day of first grade!



And from there, the ridiculousness mounted over the course of the weekend.


I left my younger two in the capable hands of their grandma (who Jon affectionately calls "Meema"). And headed to work where I spent a ridiculous number of hours cranking out briefs and gazing over at my new "Inspiration Board." My coworker and I have chosen celebrity personalities for certain people we are dealing with. It makes me erupt into giggles at random times. It's the best stress reliever ever. The fact that it's juxtaposed next to my cat calendar just makes it better. I'm 95% certain that several coworkers think I'm actually a high-schooler that was hired as a lawyer by mistake.


As my husband and I were dolling out chores for the weekend, I drew the short straw and was given the wonderful responsibility of taking our cat to the vet. He's been randomly pooping in places that are NOT his litter box (he's never had this problem in his entire 9 years of life!) and we suspected maybe something was wrong.

Have you ever taken three children PLUS a freaked out animal to a veterinary office? Imagine .... no, you cannot imagine. There are no words. On the plus side, I discovered our vet has a kennel service. So now I know where to drop off the kids when I can't get a last minute sitter.

On a related note, I also discovered a new trick for using the HOV lanes during rush hour:


So, after a long, long wait in the waiting room, and an even longer wait in the exam room. The vet asked some questions, did an exam, then gave us the news. BTW, is it really horrible that I had to thin twice when the vet asked me what our cat's name was...because we just call him Cat! I don't know what I was expecting? Maybe a bladder infection? Maybe a neurotic cat disorder. Maybe a failing butthole closing muscle? Is that a thing?

I did NOT expect what the vet laid on me, which went something like this:

"Maam, your cat has stress."

"Excuse me, what?"

"He is suffering from emotional turmoil or anxiety. He's stressed."

"My cat has stress?"

"Yes. The good news is that we don't have to give him anti-anxiety medication yet."

"Um, wha..."

"Yeah, all you have to do is hand feed him some wet cat food (no more of that dry stuff now), give him lavender oil massages, and I also recommend a catio."

"Lavender....Wha.... Hold it now.... What's a catio?"

The vet then handed me his phone, which had been bookmarked to a Pinterest page with this picture:


"A catio. It's a cat patio."

I laughed outrageously, packed up my cat and left the exam room, continuing to laugh outrageously. But the vet chased me down in the hallway, "maam, don't forget this!" (Also, I'm NOT EVEN a maam, thankyouverymuch.)


Yep. I just paid $150 for a photo session of my cat's bladder. For that much money, I was expecting department store quality! They didn't even show me the series of shots and let me pick the one I liked best or even try to tempt me with a collage of their chosing. At the very least I should have been allowed to pick the background. Sheesh.

But yeah. At $150, that's going into a frame. Fo' shizzle.

I came home in a cranky storm and made the kids fix their own lunches. Ryan opted for a self-inspired pepperoni, cheese, and mayo sandwich. Ok, then.


And then I caught Ryan feeding his stuffed puppy out of a baby bottle and wondered if I had stumbled upon the source of my cat's stress.

 
Other highlights of the weekend involved swinging in hammocks with my baby:


 
And getting in some trail runs at a new (to me) mountain bike park! So pretty! Inspired by the beauty around me, I squished in eight miles (I'm currently at my running goal of 7 minute miles!):


In between my running and hammocking, the cat could really learn some great de-stressing techniques from me.

I woke up Sunday morning to find that the big kids were already outside, running back and down the street "flying" kites they had each received from their schools as end of the year gifts. (Poor Ryan, I just realized that sometimes I group him as a "big kid" and sometimes as a "little kid." Such is the life of a middle child, I guess).

When I saw the kids running up and down the street giggling, kites semi-aloft, I had to run outside to watch. There's something so Quintessential Childhood about children running with kites (even if it's at 8am in the morning). I had to soak it all in in person.

Jacob has his sunglasses on :)




Back inside, Jacob handed his dad this Father's Day card, which I had not seen prior. It's....well.... It's the most phallic looking Father's Day card I've ever seen in my life. It's supposed to be a tie, obvi. But .... all I see is a big black..... (what would an inkblot counselor say about me? Yikes).



We spent Father's Day shopping and planning for our trip to the Philippines. Oh yeah, by the way, we're going to the Philippines in two days. Which involves exactly one 11 hour flight to Seoul, Korea and one four hour flight to Manila. Did I mention we will be traveling with three children? Yep. Pretty much. My father-in-law has been in charge of this whole trip. It was his idea, his plan, and his execution. Basically, we're showing up at the airport and that's about all we know. I'm told an itinerary WAS in the works but I'm not sure what happened to that idea.

I'm not going to lie, all of this not-knowing-anything about a 12 day trip overseas to a country I've never been to before is making me slightly on edge. I mean, I'm a pretty go-with-the-flow type of person. In fact, firm plans tend to make me stabby. BUT I like to know that there IS a plan, just in case, you know? (So, who's gonna give ME a lavender oil massage?)

After trying to track down an extra compact flash drive for our SLR camera (apparently they don't use them for cameras anymore) without success, we decided to get one thing on our list accomplished: haircuts for the boys.

Despite loving his long, blonde hair, I decided to give in and get him a big boy haircut. He sat perfectly still on my lap eating his lollipop while the barber lady did her thing. We walked out of the barber shop with less hair on our heads, and more hair on our suckers. And now my baby is a little man!

 
Hair cuts are serious business.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Coming Down From A Weekend High

We just had a wonderful, glorious weekend and I don't have the slightest idea how I'm going to mentally prepare myself for tomorrow which will involve spending eight hours sitting at my desk. But at least I have a new (to me) work laptop because....hey, it's the little things. Unfortunately the new laptop came with the 2013 version of Microsoft, which makes me want to stab wooden skewers through the roof of my mouth and into my brain region.

The awesomeness of the past couple days actually starting while I was still at work on Friday. I finished and filed a brief that had been a nagging sore spot on my work calendar and a stressful item on my to-do list. Not only was the brief itself stressful but it was preventing me from tackling some FUN litigation tasks that I've been excited to get started on. We have a couple new cases filed against us and I can't wait to dig in and tear them apart. (Yes, nerd, I know).

The brief I filed Friday was an appellee brief. And it was filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals! At the last minute, I also filed a motion for sanctions (for a frivolous appeal) and it allowed me to get all my pent-up aggression and annoyance out onto paper in a nicely organized (and legally supported) summary of all my feelings. My supervising attorney reviewed my work and approved it without changing a thing, which always makes me feel like maybe I'm finally getting the hang of this lawyering stuff.

Friday night we biked the bike trail near our house. There's a little shopping center at the 2.5 mile mark, and I always bribe the kids to go biking with me by promising to buy them Gatorade at the Bartells there. We saw our neighbor friends at the Bartells- they had just done the same thing! We rode back home together, us moms chatting furiously about important things, like wine and how to bake sourdough bread, while the kids rushed off ahead.

Saturday the kids had their cousins over for a sleepover. We started the party early and headed to our cute little downtown for their annual maritime festival. We're still new to this town and learning about all the events and activities. Luckily we have awesome neighbors that clue us in on the exciting stuff. We live in a city that's on the end of a big peninsula. It's surrounded by water on most sides. So, fittingly, the festival is a two-day maritime festival on the historic waterfront, with a large parade, food vendors, live music, and bouncy houses. On Sunday, the priest and clergy from our church process down to the marina, step into a little boat, drive around the harbor, and perform the traditional blessing of the fishing fleet. I thought that was pretty cool!

I love this picture of Jon trying to eat a snow cone. Ha ha!

 
Maritime festival festivities!



We didn't get to see the parade but Jacob went with his best friend/the neighbor kid and came home with a giant shopping bag full of candy and treats. I'm still eating, erg SORTING, all the candy he brought home.

When we got home from the festival, I took all the kids on a bike ride down the bike path that's only .5 miles from our house. They did great! I thought a 5 mile hilly bike ride would be a little too much for Ryan so I let him ride in the bike trailer with Jon. It was sunny and I felt like one of the kids. Oh, to be a kid again! We sped down the hills with our feet off the pedals and had one-handed biking contests.

 
With a train of kids biking behind me, I felt like I was in the Sound of Music. All that was missing was clothes sewn from curtain fabric. I even started singing the "Do Rey Mi" song.


I was excited to discover that it is much easier to bike the entire hilly path towing 60-70 pounds of kid and trailer behind me now than it was even just a month ago. I can do all the hills without having to stop. I've started to supplement my running workout with HIIT training workouts and I now have the quads of a beast. That just might have something to do with it.

When we finished up our bike ride, all the kids (even Jon!) went into the backyard to play while I prepared dinner. They played on the hammock (my husband set it up just recently). They organized a game of baseball. Then they played hide and seek. And I got to prepare dinner completely uninterrupted and totally un-stressed. It was exactly how I always imagined preparing dinner with multiple kids should be like. In our old house, we had a tiny yard that the kids didn't really enjoy and my kitchen window overlooked the neighbor's dilapidated deck so I always wondered and worried about what the kids were doing.

Not so at our new place! This was my view during dinner prep:


The cousins stayed overnight and all the big kids slept downstairs in our basement. We're always getting Jacob to take his sleepovers down there but he insists it's too creepy. His older cousin must have helped pave the way and I anticipate many more crazy sleepovers down there. It was amazing to have them down there. We barely heard them and didn't have to worry about them waking Jon up. Instead of waking up to their chatter at 6am, I woke up the sun on my face at 8:30. I peered out the window and saw that they had already taken their boundless energy outside. Fenced backyards for the WIN!

This morning after church, we rushed to Jacob's final baseball game. The coaches announced all the kids' names at the beginning and had them run onto the field "just like they do in REAL baseball." Jacob was delegated to first base (his favorite position) and he made a double play and then got another kid out- to earn all of the three outs in the first inning. He scored a couple solid grounders as well. He loves playing baseball and it's been great watching him take it more seriously WHILE his love for the game grows. He LIVES for tagging people out and he is always excited to practice, knowing that's what it takes to hone this skill.

Last hit of the season


My four and one year olds are equally obsessed with baseball. Ryan joined a YMCA team this year and (to my amazement) is the only kid on his team who doesn't just pick grass or spin around in circles in the outfield. He's ON that ball.

And anyone who's ever been clocked in the face by a tennis ball at our house can tell you all about Jon's killer throwing arm. Jon can say a lot of words, but by far his favorite and longest is "baseball bat." He knows exactly what it is and what is means but, for some reason, just says it randomly out of the blue on the reg. I'll go into his room to pick him up from a nap and he'll look at me, smile, and exclaim, "Base. Ball. Bat!" in a sing-song voice. He says it in line at the check out stand. He says it in response to "would you like some milk?" He says it when the neighbor lady walks across the street to say hi. It totally cracks us up. Whenever we see Jon we always exclaim, "Base. Ball. Bat!" It's become his theme phrase.

Ok, back to the wonderful weekend. We came home and spent the rest of the afternoon leisurely hanging out at the house. It reached the mid-90's today, which is practically UNHEARD of for the Seattle-area in early June. It rarely gets that hot when summer is in full swing. Jacob went across the street and played in the neighbor's blow up pool-slide. Ryan spent ALL afternoon riding his bike back and forth in front of our house. Although he's been able to ride without training wheels for quite a while (he rides his friend's bike often), it was only this weekend that he let my husband take the training wheels off HIS bike. As soon as they were off, he grew bike wings and was free! He has spent every free second on his little Thomas the Train bike (a bike we got for free for Jacob long ago). So Ryan rode back and forth all day, while I sat in a lounge chair in our driveway catching some vitamin D.

My always messy third child. Because by the time you have three kids, you really stop caring if they have dirt on their clothes and food on their faces. Sorry Jon! Actually, NOT SORRY. I know you prefer it that way.


Another thing that I absolutely love about our new house is that we live on a quiet, private street that continues into two cul de sacs. It is PERFECT for bike riding. Between our fenced .3 acre lot and the private road, the kids get to be pretty independent in their activities and play while I still get to observe and be a "responsible parent." After eight years of living in a very urban setting with a small yard and busy streets, I can't even begin tell you how much joy this brings me.

Ryan's new BB8 helmet (that he picked out from Target today) is the best thing ever. Every time I see him whizzing by with a little antenna on his helmet I can't help but crack a grin at the ridiculousness.


Towards the end of the afternoon, while the kids were busy bike riding and playing with their various scooter and wagons, I brought my HIIT workout videos outside and did an hour of exercise surrounded by nature in the shade of our lovely fir trees. We live next to a heavily-trafficked bridge and a small airport (lots of small, private planes flying overhead!), but all I could hear all day was the sounds of my kids laughing (and occasionally screaming), the chirping of birds (seriously, where did all the birds come from?), and the sound of leaves and underbrush being swept aside by bunnies! I kept pinching myself and wondering what parent fantasy land I had fallen into.

When the kids went to bed, I crept outside to water my garden. From there, the hammock caught my gaze and I spent the rest of the daylight evening swinging in the hammock, watching squirrels and birds play in the yard, and getting a really intense ab workout from trying to keep the hammock in motion. Next time, I'll bring a book and a water bottle filled with wine :)


Trees! Squirrels! Nature!
 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Aniversary, Birthday, And Some Hipster Jokes

This weekend, my husband and I celebrated our nine year elopmentaversary AND I celebrated my 32nd birthday!

May 28, 2007- we ran away to Chicago and eloped without telling a single soul, except for Judge Laurie from chicagoweddingjudge.com. Then we hoped on the el with a photographer and took random pictures throughout my favorite big city.


The weekend celebrating started Saturday when we loaded up the van with bikes, kids, carseats, and overnight bags for everyone and drove out to Bainbridge Island where we dropped our kids off at my parents' house for the night. My husband and I rushed to catch the ferry to Seattle and then drove out to Bothel where we checked into the McMenamin's Anderson School hotel. Basically, its an old high school that they renovated into a hotel. And it's AWESOME!

At first I had my doubts. When I heard "renovated school" and "hotel," I pictured a college dorm room with shared bathrooms (barf!). I have this little obsession with hotels. They are my favorite thing in the entire world. I love everything about them- bleach scented bed sheets, crisp white pillows, the sound that the blackout curtains make when you draw them shut for bedtime (or "bedtime" wink, wink), room service that's too expensive to actually use, individual soaps that you get to open new each day(!!!), little notecards with hotel logos on them, even those pathetic mini hairdryers that are attached to the wall and only have one blow dry speed- "slow AF." See, I told you I'm obsessed.

Given my love for all things hotel, I was concerned that staying in a renovated school would turn my "trapped in a school overnight with nothing to eat but cafeteria ketchup packets" nightmare into a reality simply not live up to my love-for-hotel expectations. I was beyond pleasantly surprised. I was wowed! First of all, the rooms are adorable! The ceilings have all kinds of cool, funky chandeliers (not that I ever had an occasion to be looking up at the ceiling on my anniversary night, psssh!). The bathrooms are fancy and modern. Just two doors down from us was the "Principle's Office" where hot tea and coffee was served almost around the clock. There was an indoor heated (and I mean REALLY heated, not like the "heated" gym pool that is practically inviting you to pee down your own leg for warmth -- oh is that only me then?) saltwater pool. The old cafeteria was remodeled into a restaurant. There was also a funky bar with pool tables and outdoor seating and food service underneath heat lamps. They seriously thought of everything. The place was perfect!

Sadly, I didn't snap a SINGLE picture of the hotel or it's amazing accommodations (but if you're ever near Seattle- look it up!) except for this picture of me using the door post thingy as an impromptu stripper pole. Because I'm classy like that. And because I'm a super mature, 30+ year old ATTORNEY and mother of three. Duh, peeps.


After we checked into our room (and after I did my obligatory DIVE onto the hotel bed to inhale all that wondrous bleachy-sheet smells), we grabbed our bikes and headed out for the Sammamish River Trail, which conveniently enough leads straight to Red Hook Brewery, a whisky distillery, Chateu St. Michelle, Columbia Winery, and numerous cellars and tasting rooms. It was the perfect northwest anniversary date adventure! Renovated school. Bikes along a river trail. Breweries. My skinny jeans. We were just two flannel shirts and one wax mustache short of achieving Hipster Level. Gross.


We rode the pleasant 4 miles into Woodinville, which was accessible entirely by river trail, wearing our trusty rain jackets like good Seattlites and ducked into Red Hook Brewery just in time for some rain drops to fall from the sky. We ordered our first of many rounds of alcoholic beverages and then set out to plan our winery-hopping adventure. Except. EXCEPT! ALL the wineries were closed. ALL of them. They had all closed at 5pm. WHAT? 5pm on a SATURDAY? Our library is open later than that. What the HUH?! (Yes, I have memorized our library hours. No, I swear on my ironic, kitten face purse that I'm not a hipster!).


Well, there went our ENTIRE evening of anniversary plans. But I was too buzzed off my one glass of pinot grigio  (pronounced: pin-aut grig-gee-oo) and too excited to be out with my favorite person doing random stuff on bikes to even care. So we stumbled (for me that would be literally) into a tasting room and ordered the fanciest sounding thing on the menu, Melange Blanc, which actually happened to be everyone's white wine leftovers mixed together in a fancy bottle (think: mixing all the soda fountain drinks at the McDonalds, except with white wine). But it still contained alcohol so it was still highly acceptable to me. So good, we took some for the road:

OMG. Who's the wino? [laughs nervously and backs away]


Our next stop was Purple CafĂ© in Woodinville, selected because it was the closest thing that was both open AND served real food. We laughed and reminisced over an avocado BLT and bacon-cheeseburger. And more wine, of course. Then we mounted our bikes again and road back to the hotel in a gloriously satisfied, beaming stupor, amid the beauty of the nature unraveling before us. Or at least before me (wink, wink):


Amazingly, I felt great the next morning. We must have biked off all our alcohol. And were reunited with our kids. I always feel a mixture of anxious excitement and wistful reluctance whenever we return to the land of parenthood after a really fun date night. It's a confusing but, I guess, appropriate mix of feelings.

We had all Sunday to recover (and do ten loads of children's laundry) and then had more exciting biking plans for Monday, which was both memorial day holiday AND my 32nd birthday. This time, we loaded up the two youngest in the bike trailer, with Jacob riding between us, and headed south to Tacoma for birthday breakfast donuts at Pao's Donut and Coffee Shop.



This, of course, required biking over the steep Tacoma Narrows Bridge. And lots of water brakes.


The ride would have been a little bit nicer if I hadn't been pulling 60 pounds of toddler and preschooler behind me. My husband rode behind and gave me supportive pushes every now and then. He offered to pull the boys, but I really wanted to earn my donuts. Especially after all the wine I consumed on Saturday. Eventually I had to give up and give him a turn up one of the steep parts. As much as I like earning my donuts, I like having my legs attached to my body just as much.

Man pulling bike trailer with 2 kids. Is there ANYTHING sexier?! [The answer is Batman. Always Batman.]


We rode through a little memorial celebration at one of the parks and then, huffing and puffing and beginning to question whether donuts were worth 4 miles of uphill biking, we arrived at Pao's donut shop! Only to find that it was..... CLOSED. Ha ha! What did we learn? No one has any consideration for the drinking or eating needs of bikers.


Luckily Safeway was only three blocks away and carried a variety of (what I chose to believe to be) just as yummy donuts. The kids were satisfied. And I was happy to be basking in everyone's company. There's nothing I love more than family outings. Even though our family outings are full of screaming, and crying, and yelling, and swearing, and shouting "shut up and have fun DAMMIT."



Happy Birthday to me! I survived another year!

Donut-dribble anyone?

 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Adventures Along I-90

Last week I took the kids on a mini road trip to Spokane to attend my Opa's funeral. My husband had a presentation he couldn't get out of. Like the crazy person that I am, I decided a road trip with three kids on my own would be a fantastic idea. I decided to take the opportunity to turn the road trip into an adventure. I wasn't sure how the kids would feel, but decided that I didn't particularly care and that we were going to HAVE SOME FUN DAMMIT!

I have amazing memories of traveling to Spokane. Growing up, we made the trip on numerous occasions to visit either my grandparents (who moved there later in my "childhood") or to visit some of our favorite cousins. The trip itself was never fun. Never mind, I take that back. The first HOUR of the trip was always fun. Our snack containers were still full of yummy treats, our backpacks were filled with fun activities (coloring books, reading books, car games), we were freshly burrowed into little nests made of our blankets and pillows, and we were excited to be on the road and on the way to visit the best cousins ever. That part was THE BEST. It was the next four hours that killed us (the fighting, the numb limbs from being contorted into weird sleeping positions, the depressingly empty snack containers, the numerous potty breaks, the car sickness, the bickering parents, and the boredom). My parents were always in a rush to get to the destination as soon as possible. There were very little stops along the way.

I decided I wanted to do car trips differently. We weren't going to rush through. We were going to stop for all the adventures along the way. I love sightseeing and exploring and walking and hiking and just generally being out in the world and seeing new things (no matter how mundane) even if it means wandering without purpose. For me, the wandering IS the purpose. I hope I can instill a love for whimsical exploring in my children. Don't get me wrong. My intentions are purely selfish. I need some exploring buddies!

So I packed up the kids and we filled our snack containers (!) and we headed out to explore all the things that I had never seen before (or had only seen once) despite the fact that I had travelled the route more times than I can even count. I was at the helm and that meant we were doing things my way, the best way (i.e.- stopping at every roadside attraction and to refill our snack containers at every opportunity).

Although all the stops added about two hours to our travel time, the trip went by fast and was fun in itself. Breaking the distance into little legs made all the difference.

Our first stop was the Ginkgo Petrified Forest. Ok, I lied. Our actual first stop was Ellensburg for a Dairy Queen lunch. At the door of the DQ, Jacob started to take off his pants. When I asked what he was doing, he pointed to a sign that said "Shirts and shoes required" and informed me that he obviously didn't have to wear pants. Dear DQ, some friendly and free legal advice: you might want to clarify your sign for your very literal costumers.

Back to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest. Once upon a time, roughly a bajillion years ago, some forest was covered in volcano shit. The volcano shit hardened, covered a bunch of trees, and turned them to stone. The stones were hidden for millions of years. Then a big ol' glacier sweated all over the place, exposing the rocky trees. The rocky trees were discovered in the 1930s, commoditized, and turned into little pieces of tree rock that you can conveniently purchase at a Gem Shop right next to little bottles of shark teeth during hour three of your five (or seven) hour road trip to Spokane. But you can't buy the petrified wood souvenirs until you pose next to random (and slightly creepy) statutes of dinosaurs. Or so I told my children.


Dinosaur statutes are totally the most natural thing to see at a petrified wood Gem Shop. Amirite? For documentation sake, I bribed the big kids into doing dinosaur poses. Jon, on the other hand, was no fool. No amount of dum dum sucker promises could convince him to look like a complete idiot.


 
In the parking lot, we saw these animals that Ryan declared to be cows.

 
And then I made everyone pose near a bluff overlooking the Columbia River. You know, the Columbia River. It's the one named after Columbia Crest wine.

 
Jon's face kills me in this picture.

 
We found some legit petroglyphs carved by the Wanapum Indians. You know, petroglyphs. The great-great-great-great (x10) ancestor of the emoji. How did the Wanapum people even communicate without a smiling poop emoji?!

 
Yay! Seeing ancient stuff!


Our next stop (my personal favorite!) was the Wild Horse Monument. This is a sculpture of 15 teeny tiny horses charging a bluff, which is conveniently located on a.... (drumroll)....bluff! From the road, they do not look very impressive and the kids were NOT excited to stop here. Especially when they saw that this attraction would require hiking. I parked the party van, strapped Jon to my back, and marched adventurously forward with Jacob and Ryan underfoot.


Until I had a stranger take our picture about 100 feet later and realized mid-pose that my van trunk was wide open and that I had to lumber all the way back to the van to close it. After I closed the trunk door (literally a minute later), I turned around and saw that the kids were here:


There were two paths up the bluff. One was a short, steep path. The other was a long, zig-zagging path. All the other adventurers recommended that I take the longer path, especially since I had a 27 pound baby on my back. But, thanks to my children, I didn't have to sit and make a decision. They were already nearly halfway up the steep bluff. The other adventurers looked on in doubt and horror as I raced forward to join them in my skinny jeans and boatshoes. My scared-of-everything four year old not only climbed up the steep path, he did it all by himself!

 
Well....mostly.


I was so proud of him when we got to the top. And he had the biggest smile on his face. He marched proudly onward with a new sense of courage and invincibility. Go Ryan! Wait. No. Stop. Stop Ryan! You can't conquer the world just yet. I need you to be my little Ryan. Come back and cling to my legs one more time.

At least I still have Jon (who will wear diapers and sleep in a crib until he's seven because I'll be in denial)

 
As we climbed the bluff, the teeny tiny horses grew and grew until they were life-sized monuments covered in bad-ass, bored teenage, road-tripper graffiti. So bad-ass, right?

 
The view was incredible!

 
And I would have enjoyed it had I not been mourning the fact that I just did a steep hike and it didn't even get recorded on my Fitbit because my Fitbit had lost its charge. So basically, it didn't even happen. So what was the whole point anyway? Pure tragedy.

 
I had to snap this lovely picture of my oldest son doing a booty dance on the cliff's edge. Which pretty much eradicated any doubts I had that he was really mine.

 
Babies- nature's strength training weights since the beginning of time.
 
 
On the way back down the bluff we did take the long, gradual path because I'm not a fan of face plants. I walked behind Ryan who stopped every five feet to pick up a rock for his (until today, non-existent) rock collection and then requested that I carry all his "treasures" for him. Because, you know, he was tired from being so brave and all that. Sure kid. It's not like I already have a small child on my back or anything. Go ahead and fill my pockets with useless rocks why don't you?

 
One last view!


That was it for our adventures on the way TO Spokane. Jon screamed the final hour of our trip for no apparent reason. I kept reaching one hand back to hand him snacks over his car seat in an effort to appease or quiet him. It wasn't until we arrived at our hotel and I found that his entire car seat was filled to the brim with cheese puff crumbs, broken goldfish, and smashed granola bars that I realized he hadn't eaten a single morsel. Lo and behold, two days of crying and an urgent care trip later, we learned that he had an ear infection.

The kids cleaned up pretty nicely for the funeral. Then there was a whirlwind of pool swimming, procuring meals for boys who are hungry every 2 hours, visiting family, visiting urgent care, and making (unintentionally) barefoot trips to Rite Aid for swim diapers and chocolate. Then we set back out for the road.


On the trip home, our first destination was another scenic bluff overlooking the Columbia River.

Here are the boys and Jon's beloved Blankie. Blankie was dragged against every bit of surface on which Jon walked and was so covered in dirt by the time we got home that it was a completely different color.


 
Brave explorers!

 
 My littlest dude was trying so hard to keep up with his big bros but his little legs just kept conspiring against him. It's hard to be the baby sometimes.
 
Hair!

 
Boy Totem Pole

 
And our final stop (aside from the many gas stations for pee breaks and Diet Dr. Pepper refills), was back at the Ginkgo state park where we bypassed the Gem Shop and actually hiked the remnants of the forest. Although there was a rattlesnake sign and a chance we would not get back to the car before dark, I was most terrified about the fact that I had parked without the appropriate state park pass, thereby living each moment in the suffocating throes of panic over the possibility of getting a parking ticket. What can I say. I live for danger!
 
Hiking, and hunting for petrified tree stumps (omg, tree rock stumps....SO EXCITING!). The boys ran ahead while I scanned the road below for perilous parking enforcement officers.

 
Jon helped me scout from the backpack.

 
LOOK GUYS! A TREE STUMP! SO EXCITING!

 
We hiked for about 40 minutes over the lush, green landscape:

 
Sidenote: Jacob is wearing headphones. No, they are not plugged into anything. He said they made his ears feel comfortable. Yes, he is awesome.
 
We headed rattlesnakes warning signs.
 

 
And saw a vicious, ferocious gardner snake of some sort. Can you spot the terrible creature hiding in the rocks? No? EXACTLY! That's exactly my point! That's why they are so scary!


We continued to hike until the fear of a parking ticket grew so great that I could no longer live under the weight of its clutches. We walked back to the car 20 pounds of random rock "treasures" heavier and ready to finally set sail for home so we could give stench-emitting Blankie a good wash.

 
P.S. My Fitbit was fully charged this time! And I surpassed my daily step goal. Therefore I actually EARNED the three handfuls of cheese puffs that I consumed on the ride home (and was likely going to consume anyway).