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Bits and Joy

This past Saturday we took a little diversion from our usual routine and wandered to the North Side North Shore (Gah!) for our little family biking adventure. There's a very long bike trail that runs all along the rivers. Along the way, I figured we would do something that I've been meaning to do for well over a year and stop at the fountains between the stadiums to let Alexis play. These fountains:

In all honesty, I was expecting that Alexis would see a lot of water, hear a lot of noise, and sense a whole lot of strangers and freak the heck out. After all, we are talking about a kid who hides her face all the way up my butt any time someone she doesn't know so much as glances at her.

I was wrong.

Miss Thing love-love-LOVED playing in the water. What started as a brief stop to get our feet wet turned into this:

The only way we could drag her away from The Beach (her name for the fountains) was to promise her we would return the next day. OF COURSE she woke up at 2:00 in the morning and asked if, "We go to da beach?" Obviously toddlers are just elephants in disguise because they never forget anything.

Twelve hours later we headed off to The Beach, this time armed with a swimsuit, towel, and change of clothes for Alexis. Preparation is everything, after all. When we landed at The Beach, it was pretty obvious that of the 248 kids there, only about 5 of them showed up prepared. The others had wandered over from the Mets game (Mets gear outnumbered Pirates gear 10 to 1 everywhere we looked, so it was the Mets game) and were getting a little impromptu bath time.

I will forever have two very vivid memories from the hour we spent at The Beach on Sunday.

For one, Alexis was joy epitomized as she splashed around in the water. Her smiles and giggles and glee were intoxicating. She has a habit of refusing to look a the camera when she's having fun, so I wasn't able to capture her glee digitally, but I'm pretty sure I actually touched happiness that day. It's warmth enveloped me, leaving me breathless and in awe of how a child can find such pleasure in something so simple.

My other distinct memory is one that I've been trying to shake, but there it sits, hovering in my mind's eye. Among the unprepared water dwellers was a maybe 5-year old little boy whose Grandmother (I assume) decided she didn't want him to get his shorts wet. Or his underwear. So there he sat, wearing a bright red polo shirt that fell to his waist and -nothing- else. Um, yeah. I want the image of boy bits hanging out on the perimeter of my circle of Toddler happiness to go away, but it's not. It just sits there, hanging out. Not leaving.

Please tell me time will fix that memory, banishing the boy bits and leaving me with just the joyous Toddler. Please? PLEASE!


Justifying a Future Purchase FOR REALS

As many astute people noticed yesterday, bike time for Alexis is a bit like the Princess going for a leisurely ride in her chariot. As her trusty steed Mr. Husband drags her around, she puts her feet up, sips a little premium beverage, reads a book or two or ten, and is always accompanied by at least one of her best friends. Of course Alexis is a demanding Princess and requires just the right books, just the right water vessel, and as a safety-minded sort of Toddler, she insists that Baby Shell not just accompany her, but that she do so while seat-belted into the chariot. It is The Law.

This evening was no different. As we rolled down the bike trail, Alexis jibber-jabbered to her Baby Shell, all comfy and cozy in her chariot. As we hit the home stretch, nearly back to the car, Mr. Husband and his Princess were well in front of me as my bike has suddenly caught a case of The Stupids. I don't really know what its major malfunction was, but the chain kept slipping causing my feet to suddenly lunge off the pedals. Since I don't really think a face plant into concrete would improve my appearance, I opted to slow down and try to be careful.

I am officially extremely grateful that my bike caught The Stupids. If it hadn't? I totally would have missed an exchange by two people who were lounging around on the trail (OF COURSE they weren't walking. Why would anyone WALK on a bike/hike trail?). As I slowly rolled past them, I heard the two women disagreeing.

"Did you see those two babies in that cart?" one woman asked.

Her companion replied, "That wasn't two babies, that was a baby and a doll."

"No, that was two babies."

It was the Toddler and her doll, but you just KNOW I was totally laughing that somebody thought Baby Shell was a real kid. That, my friends, is absolute proof that I need to buy a scary doll.


Nothing Here to See, Feel Free to Move

For as long as Alexis can possibly remember, we have made it a habit to go for a nice long (as in 9 miles) bike ride. Three times a week whenever the weather permits, we load up the truck and drive over to a bike trail for a little "family time." Except, it's not so much "family time" as it is an exercise in how differently Mr. Husband and I view exercise.

Mr. Husband is hard-core when it comes to working out. He works out at least five days per week and very truly believes in the mantra No Pain, No Gain. So his idea of a bike ride is to pedal as fast as possible in hopes of feeling the burn.

I am very hard-core when it comes to avoiding working out. Sure, I love playing sports, but if I'm not having fun, I just ain't doing it. You will never catch me running a marathon because I see nothing fun about running when a car can get me there much faster thankyouverymuch.

Somehow we both manage to get our way, thanks to the giant signs that hangs at each entrance to the trail. they says, "Stupid People Congregate Here." No really, IT MUST. I don't understand the phenomenon, but dozens and dozens of Pittsburgh's dumbest drive to that trail and then stand around chatting with one another. We've already established that I'm not the biggest fan of exercise, but I do believe that if I'm going to take the time to drive to a trail that is specifically for walking and bike riding, I sure as heck am going to do one of those two things.

The good news about the fact that people stand around all over the trail like a bunch of pins just waiting to be bowled over is that Mr. Husband gets slowed down. The bad news is that one of these days, one of us really is going to score that strike and somebody is going to get bowled over. I can't even begin to count the number of times that someone has suddenly stepped in front of my bike and nearly killed us both. Under most circumstances I'm more of a "Save yourself, I'll be OK" kind of person, but if you step out in front of my very fast moving bike? I'm totally taking you out with me. No. doubt. about. it.

The biggest challenge in the whole thing is making sure that the Toddler walks away having learned the right lessons. We hope that she will learn to love outdoor activities, will see exercise as fun, and won't learn too many cusses. Unless, of course, she wants to start screaming, "Get the (*&^ out of the way, you (^*&%&#$%& &^% %^&*$ %&**." I fully support her in any such endeavors.