Summer Postcard: The Summer of Soccer

To say the boys became more interested in Soccer over the Summer would be an understatement. I’d say obsessed is a more accurate description. They spent every waking non-camp moment outside kicking the soccer ball to each other, stopping only to argue over a play (“That WASN”T a goal!” “Foul”). On the rare occasion that they came inside, you could find them arranging their World Cup soccer cards in the middle of the living room floor. I’m amazed at how those cards seemed to multiply over the Summer.

The cause of this latest obsession can likely be traced back to the World Cup. While they’ve always enjoyed playing the game, having the opportunity to see it played on a world stage was inspiring and opened their eyes to a whole new group of soccer heroes – Messi! Neymar! Ronaldo! Suarez!

It didn’t hurt that Soccer also took over the city of Portland for All Star week in August providing us with the opportunity to catch some of these world class players in action – in a Bayern-Munich practice session, anyway. I earned my Soccer Mum stripes by using a week off work to take them to some of the World Cup activities downtown. Tickets to the game were sold out months in advance but I think we successfully immersed ourselves in the vibe.

We also managed to catch a Portland Thorns Women’s soccer game at Providence park – our first pro soccer experience. Despite the stifling heat, both Thomas and Samuel watched every minute and we discovered a new family activity that we hope to re-live over and over again with future Thorns and Timbers games.

Here are just a few of the photographic highlights from our Summer of Soccer. I have a feeling that this is an obsession that, unlike Pokemon, will remain with us for many years.

Summer Postcard: Sand in The City

A few weeks ago (oh gosh, it was probably months ago now), I took the kids downtown to check out the annual Sand in the City contest. I love our city and will pretty much look for any opportunity to catch the train downtown (or drive if we’re lazy) to visit Powells or check out a photo gallery or just to see what’s going on. There’s an energetic vibe in the city during the Summer time that’s only beaten by the vibe at Christmas (I LOVE Christmas in Portland).

Although I have lived here for more than 10 years, this was my first visit to Sand in the City.

At first the kids weren’t overly impressed but then they started to spot some of their favorite characters from the Lego movie…

and Star Wars…

…and, of course, once they started they couldn’t stop pointing out their favorite sand sculptures. I wonder what drew them to this one?

You can’t beat a little family-friendly fun in Portland.

Summer Postcard: Camp Palooza

Summer 2014 will be remembered as the one where we stayed home. We’re taking a big vacation later in the year so, in an effort to save vacation time at work and some money, we opted to spend most of the Summer enjoying our backyard. Which, I have to admit, was a nice, relaxing change. 

At least it was until the kids went back to school. Now, suddenly, I seem to be suffering the after effects of not having a break from work and life. While our vacation seemed to be approaching quickly over the Summer, it now seems painfully far away.

So, in an effort to extend the feeling of a Summer break just a few weeks longer, I’ll share some of the highlights from our three month stay-at-home adventure.

2014 was the first year that I was forced to sit down and fill an entire 3 months with Summer camps for the kids. In past years we’ve filled at least some of the time with travel, so the idea of finding something to occupy two active boys for an entire summer so I could continue to do my day job was a little daunting. Still, I think I managed to find opportunities that exercised their brains as well as their bodies and, most importantly, ensured they had no trouble getting to sleep each night even when the sun refused to set until 9pm.

They built rafts, swam in rivers, played soccer at Providence park, visited farm animals, created art, joined a rock band, whittled sticks in the forest, explored the zoo, learned stealth and survival skills, pounded Taiko drums and sang Let it Go from Frozen in Japanese.

Now that I list it all out, it sounds exhausting. When I asked them what they enjoyed the most, Rock Band camp topped the list followed by any camp that gave them the opportunity to play soccer. One of the cheapest camps was a favorite because they were afforded a lot of free play time. I’ll definitely need to sign them up for more of that next year. Activities are great but free play was an important part of Summer break that we were lacking this year. Oh, and soccer, more soccer.

I wasn’t able to capture photos at every camp, but here is a small taste of what they experienced. 

Cheers to Summer adventures and also the ability to once again settle into the routine of school and life. Now, if I could just take a nice long nap…

He’s Nine

From this…

To this…

My baby, my child, my firstborn turned nine years old today. We only have a party on even year birthdays so his wish this year was just to have a soccer game with some friends at the park. Portland delivered some amazing weather, our local park kindly provided live reggae music thanks to an event that was happening at the same time, and I provided cupcakes and drinks for the thirsty players. They played non-stop for two hours. It was perfect (despite the fact that I put the wrong date on the invitation and had to do some last minute scrambling to make sure everyone turned up).

Other highlights of the day included french toast for breakfast (made by daddy), a trip to Toys R Us to use his $5 birthday coupon and some of his own money to buys some new lego (of course) and pizza for dinner which we ate in front of the TV while we watched a soccer-themed movie. The kids enjoyed the movie but I was distracted by the fact that one of the lead characters once played a creepy vampire in an episode of the X Files and the lead female was Kevin Arnold’s sister but, this time, spoke in her native British accent. Oh, and Steve Guttenberg. Still, it was a fun and relaxing way to end a great day of celebration.

At nine, Thomas is:

  • Sensitive and sweet, often surprising me with little acts of thoughtfulness like offering to check to see if all the lights are off upstairs or helping his brother with something when he can see I have my hands full. 
  • Responsible and clever. The hardest thing for me right now is giving him a little more freedom. It took everything I had just to ask him walk up to his classroom by himself today. It helped that we were running late and I had no other choice, but it hurt.
  • Obsessed with soccer. It’s all he wants to do and all he wants to talk about. The four games he played over the weekend kicked off his ninth year perfectly.
  • A voracious reader. I can’t believe I was worried about his reading a couple of years ago. A friend gave him a book yesterday and he read it cover to cover before going to sleep. It was a graphic novel, but it wasn’t a short book. 
  • Curious, smart, funny, cuddly and simply a great kid.

Happy ninth birthday, Thomas. We are so proud of you.

Wordless Wednesday: A New School Year

First grade and third grade. They refused to take a photo outside the school but I was lucky enough to catch them before we left the house. They had their arms around each other in every single photo.

And a wide view so you can appreciate the care Samuel took to match his shorts to his new sneakers. That kid’s not afraid to make an impression. Even his T-shirt glows in the dark.

It’s going to be a great year, I can feel it.