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It’s Not My Imagination

17 Dec

Rayden Sandy River Crossing 1 Five years ago I imagined taking my future son on adventures. We’d duck under mossy branches, ford streams, and embrace the rain beating on our hoods. Rain, after all, gives us rivers and rainbows. We’d meander along, steady but unhurried like the river at our side (I admit stealing this line from my award winning essay about finding a $1000). I’d point out salmon in the shallows, explain the idea of spawning, and how the circle of gravel is their nest. We’d watch the salmon jockey for position striving to create the next generation.

Smiling at his eyes full of wonder, I’d know that like the salmon–I too am creating the next generation. I’d show him how to build a lean-to in minutes so we can enjoy our fire-heated soup out of the rain. He may ask why I’m using bungie cords instead of rope for the attachment points.  

“Sometimes having things be stiff and rigid is good and sometimes you want things flexible,” I’d say.  

“Flexible like a rubber band?” he’d ask knowing the answer but just wanting approval.  

“Yup…you got it buddy.” I’d say as he dives into our shelter.  

Tucked in tight out of the rain, we’d slurp our soup and pump our fists in approval.

I no longer have to imagine.

A note on the stream crossing: I waded my pack across first and navigated the wading-line twice before taking Rayden across. Even with thousands of hours wading rivers and streams, I never underestimate the dangers of moving water. A foot entrapment with my kid floating away would have put a damper on the day. Be safe! 

 Oakiwear Kids Gear! 

Oakiwear Leaf Roll

The yellow rain suit that Rayden is wearing in the video is made by Oakiwear, a local company out of Vancouver, WA. These suits are essential for the Northwest! Whether it be protection against the rain or wind or both, the suits keep the kiddos comfortable. The neoprene wrist and ankle cuffs are a nice touch making the boys look like little boat captains. We hit the coast a few days after the Sandy River and it was 38 degrees with a below freezing windchill. The boys spent three hours rolling around on wet sand and never complained about being cold. I watched my little man take a full face plant into a shallow stream and he stayed dry. Without the suit that would have been an Everest caliber trek back to the car with a shivering 3 year old. Oakiwear has a full line of kids waders that I will eventually look into. 

Ryan Chin is the creator of, Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir about his teaching experience in New Zealand. Mr. Chin likes to call it a pet and teacher memoir sandwiched into an overseas adventure. The book is available at Amazon and locally at Powell’s Books.

 

These Aren’t the Cookies You’re Looking For…

21 Jan

Last summer I enjoyed a father-son camping trip with two of my friends. As I kicked back next to the fire tossing an occasional potato chip and jerky strip to my son, I listened to the conversation with our boys.

Do you want some pasta?

No.

Do you want some juice?

No.

Should we go check out the lake?

No.

Potty?

No.

It’s almost sleepy time. Ok?

No

My mate put it best when he said, “I’ve never been so rejected in my life.”

I’ve been a Dad for almost four years and I’m starting to understand that giving my boys too many choices or phrasing everything as a question isn’t fair to them. I’m not talking about being a military sergeant or not giving them choices. It’s just easy to be too accommodating or to have a ‘keep the peace’ attitude all the time. My boys need to know how the real world works. I don’t get an insurance bill in the mail that says, “Pay this amount when you can. Ok?” Seriously, I bet if you put a quarter in a jar every time you say ok? to your toddler that you’d have enough for a bottle of bourbon in three days.

Get in the car ok?

Here’s some toast ok?

We are leaving soon ok?

Put on your shoes ok?

It’s a proven fact that a toddler’s brain is wired to be selfish. Asking instead of telling gives them more power to be selfish. We’ve all seen it. Kids reject stuff they like because you’ve given them a choice. I think having a tone where they constantly have a choice confuses and actually overwhelms them.  Giving them power and empowering is part of our jobs as parents but sometimes it’s simply time for bed, time to eat, and time to put on their damn shoes. Last year I toned down the questions and the use of ok, and it seems to be working. I know parenting like marriage is fluid and ever-changing so who knows, a different attitude and tactic may be called upon in this next year. Maybe some Obi Wan and a little Skywalker?

You will eat this bagel. You will eat it now.

We are leaving. We are leaving now.

These aren’t the cookies you are looking for.

And if all else fails—gas ’em!

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Ryan Chin is the creator of Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir about his teaching experience in New Zealand.  The book is available on Amazon, iTunesand locally at Powell’s Books.

 

Splash Because You Can

6 May

Without Rain There Would Be No Puddles

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If you live in Portland, you better like H20.

I surf. I fish. I snowboard.

Maybe one day my boys will want to ride a wave, carve down a mountain, and stand in a river with me.

For now, they’re content making a splash.

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Ryan Chin is the author of Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir about his teaching experience in New Zealand. He likes to call it a pet and teacher memoir sandwiched into an overseas adventure. The book is available at Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and in Portland at Powell’s Books. He considers sitting in the car for an extra five minutes by himself a legit vacation. He has mastered the 1 hour spring-break and is a 24 hour road trip Jedi.

Creating Smiles

24 Apr

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Sometimes I drive a hundred miles through snow and ice to jump into forty-five degree water with my surfboard. A wave meets me and we share some time for ten seconds. I smile.

Sometimes I drive a hundred miles, sleep in a cold van, and stand in thirty-eight degree water for hours. I cast and I cast, and sometimes I catch. The actual hooking and catching of a fish lasts a couple minutes. I smile.

Sometimes I pack the family car for days and drive two hundred miles with crying kids. They go to sleep wailing and wake up screaming at 5:00. I light a fire in the fireplace to distract the unhappy-ones, change their crappy diapers, and go-go-go for an adventure because I’m  too tired to argue with my wife about who gets to go back to sleep. We stop at a sand mound on the side of the road and my big boy scrambles up. He bags the peak and raises his arms with a snow covered volcano as his backdrop. I smile.

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Shorebreak 10:31

Ryan Chin is the author of Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir about his teaching experience in New Zealand. He likes to call it a pet and teacher memoir sandwiched into an overseas adventure. The book is available at Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and in Portland at Powell’s Books. He considers sitting in the car for an extra five minutes by himself a legit vacation. He has mastered the 1 hour spring-break and is a 24 hour road trip Jedi.

Has Been–Will Be

8 Mar

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used to have hair…
  Climbing Red Rocks, NV, 1996

I used to rattle off one-arm pull ups and climb steep rock faces. On my skateboard, I used to ollie garbage cans, slide down hand railings, and fly off loading docks. I can’t do that shit anymore because I’m grinding into the Has Been stage of my life. It bums me out, but you know the saying.

Better to have ripped than not rip at all.

Surfing helps me cope. Weekend surfers like myself can still catch the bomb—pull in—hope and believe. The big drop and monster tube is only a stroke away. I also like to test my ollie: up curbs, one eighties, and over my kid’s toys. And the last time I snowboarded with my mate, we sprayed rooster tails at forty miles an hour, split a pitcher of micro-brew, and carved some more.

Hell yeah.

So I’m not tossing in the towel or anything; I’m just not flying off loading docks. I’m also coaching some Will Bees and that helps me embrace Ripper Decline.  My oldest boy is three years and his little bro is a year old. Lori and I are everything to them as they are to us; we are their first memories. They will have many “teachers” in their life but only one Mommy, and one Daddy

So I try to keep a respectable rip going. On my 39th birthday, I ollied my son’s toy trucks of various sizes. That ollie-incident was enough for him to give me a fist bump with a little glint in his eyes. Of course toddlers gawk at anything their parents do; I think he had the same glint when I juggled garden tools for him (at a respectable distance of course). It’s no secret, kids want to be like their parents. I can only hope he remembers that ollie more than he remembers me yelling at his Mom in what can only be respectably called a marriage-growing-sleep-deprived-moment. 

Recently, we watched my 39th bday ollie video together and I pointed out  how, “I fell a lot before I DID IT!”

“You DID it Daddy, Daddy did it!” he yelled.

At that moment I realized it wasn’t about me nailing the ollie: I was modeling how to have fun–how to try, and more importantly–keep trying.

For in order to call yourself a Has Been you must first Be.

My sons Will Be.

It’s been almost a year since Rayden recieved his scooter. The two wheels in the front and locked steering wheel is more stable than the scooters with a steering wheel. The scooters with two wheels in the back tend to get in the way when they are pushing and steering wheels tend to jackknife. With this model he has to turn his hips and lean much like carving a skateboard, surboard, or snowboard. The model we have is the Kickboard Mini Scooter.

Jaxen at one year “ripping” it! The Spooner board has just enough rock to it to make it fun. He’s starting to do it without holding onto anything. Jax da Rippah!

Note: My 40th birthday ollie test ended with me breaking the stroller. It was a lame attempt; must be getting old.

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Ryan Chin is the author of Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir about his teaching experience in New Zealand. He likes to call it a pet and teacher memoir sandwiched into an overseas adventure. The book is available at Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and locally at Powell’s Books. He keeps a stack on his dashboard for random giveaways so if you see a Chinese guy driving a big white van, throw a piece of fruit (preferably something soft like a banana) at his windshield; he might stop and give you a book.

Wahh

1 Feb


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I cried when I heard the heartbeat

I cried when I learned it was a boy

I cried when he entered the world and into my hands

He cried too

Softly at first

Then loudly

For 1030 days in a row he has cried

In the morning

At night

His brother came out crying too

* * *

Crying by the Numbers

In the first year, a baby cries anywhere from 1-4 hours (probably more) a day. That is 365 to 1460 hours of crying in one year.  If crying could be harnessed as an energy source, a baby could power a kegerator, a toaster oven, and a laptop all at the same time.

It is estimated that 1.3 calories are burned per minute of crying which means a one year old has burned anywhere from 28,500 to 114,000 calories wailing away in the first year of his/her life. Breast milk has roughly 20 calories per fluid ounce thus 1425 to 5700 ounces of breast milk were consumed to fuel a year of crying. Or if breast milk came in six-packs, that’s anywhere from 20 to 80 six packs.

Kids generally stop crying about “everything and anything” between the ages of two and a half to four years of age. My oldest is almost three and we haven’t had a cry-free day yet. That’s 912 to 1460 days in a row where crying is part of a parent’s daily soundtrack. If parents have two children two years apart like we did, there is the potential of half a decade or more of crying.

Wahh!

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Ryan Chin is the creator of, Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir about his teaching experience in New Zealand. Mr. Chin likes to call it a pet and teacher memoir sandwiched into an overseas adventure. The book is available at Amazon and locally at Powell’s Books. Mr. Chin keeps a stack on his dashboard for random giveaways. So if you see a Chinese guy driving a big white van with a yellow lab in the passenger seat, toss a steak in their window. He’ll give you a book and Big Head, the lab from down under, will give you a lick.

 

 

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A Home For Hermit Crab

23 Jan

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 9.00.51 PMBook by Eric Carle

Rayden has his first pets, two hermit crabs named Daddy and Baby. He named them himself: one is big and one is small. We’ve been reading Eric Carles’ book, A Home for Hermit Crab, and thought it’d be a good idea for him to have one. So off to Broadway Pets we went to get him a crab. As Rayden wandered the isles running from fish tank to fish tank, I realized that buying the tank and crabs all in one day would ruin the fun and the build up. I expressed my thoughts with Lori and we actually agreed. She immediately started rambling about ways to involve Rayden and how he should make the home for the crabs. I just nodded and smiled. We settled on buying just the terrarium–once a teacher, always a teacher.

* * *

The next morning we head into the backyard to get started. After a few handfuls of dirt and wood chips we hop in the car for a flotsam collecting expedition. Swan Island, the site of Portland’s airport from 1927-1940, is our destination. Having a beach to comb ten minutes from the house soothes my longing for the ocean. Waves lap, tides pulse, and the Williamette river slips by. Gulls, herons, cormorants and the occasional osprey dive and thrive within sight of Portland’s skyline. Adult steelhead and salmon head upstream to spawn. Their kin (smolts), swim downstream by the millions; they will return in thousands. Across the river, giant cranes twist and creak, lifting giant containers filled with cheap shit made by children in faraway places.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADeserted beach on Swan Island. A clear winter day where two Dads thought it was a good idea to have a big fire to cook hot dogs with a four year old, a two year old, and an eight month old: Total Genius.

Big Head, the lab from New Zealand scratches at old growth stumps carried from high in the mountains. Rayden begins his search, his little bro’ Jaxen snuggled tight to Mommy. The high flows of winter deposits treasures and sweeps the beaches clean of summer trash. The possibilities are endless. With each stick Rayden picks up, we reinforce our goal of building a home for Hermit Crab.

Hermit Crab might like that stick. That will make a good place for Hermit Crab to hide.

He grips a gnarled root polished by centuries and he wonders.

Crabp wherrr arrrr yooooo!?

The ultimate prize is a frayed piece of nylon rope perfect for Hermit Crab to climb. After fifteen minutes, the hands of Rayden, the mighty explorer, are too cold and Jaxen is crying. The expedition is over.

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The next weekend we were ready for the crabs. Lori brought them home and we strategically positioned them so Rayden could discover them hiding.

A video documenting the home building and crab finding…

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Ryan Chin is the author of Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir about his teaching experience in New Zealand. He likes to call it a pet and teacher memoir sandwiched into an overseas adventure. The book is available at Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and locally at Powell’s Books. He tries to keep a stack on his dashboard for random giveaways so if you see a Chinese guy driving a big white van, throw a piece of fruit (preferably something soft like a banana) at his windshield; he might stop and give you a book.