The kids get along great. I mean, when Lilly's not taking Henry's firetruck and Clara's not complaining she never gets any time to herself and Henry's not trying to exercise his God-given authority over all womankind. Really, they get along great. Actually, there was this time when... oh, you get the picture.
We do lots of things as a group. We go hiking together... we... um... go fishing together. You know, a really diverse set of activities. The point is that when we go out of the house it's usually as a group.
So it's no wonder there was some consternation when it was announced that Clara and Lilly were going to a birthday party and Henry wasn't. If it had been Clara who was the odd kid out at least you can reason with her. At three ("And a half!" he would correct me if he could read this) Henry's not so reasonable. Heck, he's barely sentient. So here's how I handled the situation. Note: This clearly sets me up perfectly for Father of the Year.
So here's the deal, kiddos. YOU and YOU (pointing at the girls) are going to a birthday party today. YOU and ME (pointing at Henry and... um... myself (duh)) are NOT going to the party. (Henry grows sad, his lip quivers.) However, YOU and ME (Henry and me, again) will be going to MCDONALDS for lunch. (Henry brightens, the girls sag.) YOU and YOU (the girls) will be getting lunch at the PARTY. (Girls bounce.) YOU and ME (do I really need to keep clarifying this?) will be going to see YOUR river (the North Fork) while THEY (the girls) are NOT going to the river.
I think by the time it was over everyone was laughing, but mostly because nobody had any clear idea of what was about to happen. Least of all me.
I did my best to get the girls' hair into a state that wasn't absolutely terrible (that was primarily Lilly who got a second bath after she managed to squirt an entire Gogurt into her squeaky clean hair (strawberry flavor, my favorite)) and didn't even start driving away before I had to run back into the house to get the present. We got some lame Mr. Potato Head Halloween bucket instead of a cool toy at McDonalds and arrived at the party exactly on time. (Technically 38 seconds late, but I blame that on the overly wide time zones we're burdened with.)
Henry and I drove to the Three Forks park where the North Fork (his river) and the Middle Fork (Lilly's river) come together to sort of form the Snoqualmie River. Maybe it's just the Noddle Fork at that point, but just downstream the South Fork flows in and it's really the Snoqualmie River.
The trail winds through some lowlands that flood about once a week, but were covered in crisp brown and orange leaves on this day. We followed the main path to the beach with Henry leading the whole way. He'd run ahead, look back and giggle, than run some more. It was great to see him tearing up the trail confident of his abilities after all the hand-holding that was required the day before.
At the beach we threw some rocks into the North Fork, but there was another family there and to avoid disturbing/braining one of them I guided Henry downstream. We had to duck back into the woods again, but given it's a flood-ravaged forest the trees were all young and there was no brush so Henry weaved back and forth. We climbed over and under and through a pile of HUGE logs on the shore and finally found our way to the open gravel bar.
Blue skies, Mt. Si, and the quietly flowing river totally relaxed us. Well, me anyway. Henry enjoyed throwing rocks and threatening to throw rocks. We picked up a a couple for Mom, wandered downstream a little farther, then turned for the car. We only had an hour to spend, but it was well-spent to be sure.
I didn't bother to bring the GPS, but on the way back to pick up the girls I watched the odometer as we drove upstream. We managed to rack up a mile and I'll claim 50 feet of gain going up and down through the woods.
Amy and I have been talking about doing more things with the kids one-on-one and seeing the look on Henry's face during our time together (and Clara's when we hiked Twin Falls) it's clear we need to make this a real priority. I guess I need to figure out where Lilly and I are going to go next.