Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Oregon Coast: We Went There

We went on a trip!  An honest-to-goodness two-days-to-get-there road trip.  And we all survived.  In fact we had a great time and everyone did pretty well in the car, especially considering the longest they've ever sat for a drive was 3.5-4 hours (and really, they don't have much mobility, so they're pretty good sports overall).  The plan was to meet The Wife's family on the Oregon coast where a beach house had been rented, but we wanted to make the most of the drive (everyone else was flying or lives a little closer than we do) so we went a couple days early and took our time visiting the beach and doing some sightseeing.  I hadn't been to Oregon in over ten years and the kids of course had never been so we thought we would make the most of it.  It was marvelous.

Day 1: Driving.  We stopped once or twice in Idaho to stretch our legs and have lunch etc. and then made it in pretty good time to Baker City, OR, where we enjoyed the indoor pool and nice breakfast and Elena of Avalor at the local Super 8.
Some rest stops can be pretty interesting if you look around.
 Day 2: More driving, where the freeway was blocked due to fires and we ignored the gas station guy who suggested a five-hour detour and took Shelley-at-the-visitor-info-booth's advice which only cost an extra half our or so, we almost ran out of gas (I swear I had enough to make it to Portland!), did a quick drive-by of the insanely crowded Multnomah Falls, we found a funny tiny country store to get some emergency fuel (we were amazed we made it), and tried to navigate through Portland before finally arriving in Lincoln City, which was tiny and charming and our motel was a five-minute walk to the beach.
We almost left Kitty at this place.  Can you imagine the nightmare that would have been?
BEEEEACH.
 Day 3: Up to the Tillamook factory for samples and a deserted tour, further up to Cannon Beach for the most glorious time and a wonderful Goonies moment and lots of great jumping pictures (none of which I have among these), then back to Tillamook for lunch, where it was NOT deserted and we waited a long time but it was pretty good grilled cheese.
 Day 4: Exploring Lincoln City and the surrounding area of Depoe Bay etc., where we discovered an aquarium but it was way too expensive so we just had a picnic on the benches outside it instead and went exploring and met a friendly squirrel.  We did a little window shopping, and then the rest of the fam arrived and we settled in to our fun dwelling place.
O hai.
 Day 5: Beach house!  There was room to sleep all 20+ of us and we went straight to the beach, which was so close we could hear the waves through our windows.  We just relaxed and ate and played games and flew kites and dug in the sand all day.  I put on my swimsuit and intended not to remove it for three days.
Just a few minutes away from our beach house!  And the sun is out!
 Day 6: Depoe Bay!  We went to the tide pools and there was plenty of exploring to be done.  Crabs and mussels and seals (so I'm told) and lots of cool places to explore.  More food, more relaxing, more hot tub.  I took a quick morning run on the beach, which was rocky but soooo foggy and magical.
This was a really cool place.
 Day 7: Starting to wind down and preparing for our long drive home.  We went back into town for some last-minute shopping, dining and whale watching in Depoe Bay and then said our sad goodbyes as we drove back toward and through Portland (ooohhhhh, Portland... your traffic was the worst.  Thanks for adding like three hours to our drive) and made it back to Baker City where a lack of motel vacancy almost spelled disaster but a room mixup with the Super 8 management led to an upgrade and a discount.  I'll take it.
My cute girl in Depoe Bay.
 Day 8: They say getting there is half the fun but getting back blows.  We were just glad to finally roll into this valley and know we were less than an hour from getting out of the car.  But really, hardly any complaints from the back seat, they were really good for 95% of the time.
Hello, SLC.
 We were sorry to say goodbye to this cool little house, but probably even sorrier to say goodbye to this glorious (free upgrade!) rental car.  Lesson learned:  Get and use your own insurance.
We'll miss this charming seaside cottage, but we'll probably miss this luxurious RAV-4 even more...
 The Monday after, this was on my mind...
*sigh*
What a nice time to be had.  There were a few hiccups and a really unfortunate accident with a cousin involving an emergency ambulance ride for hip surgery in Portland, and The Boy is going through a weird bedtime reluctance ritual, but overall it was just nice.  It was so great to go to the beach.  The water was freezing and it was often quite windy but it was enough to see and smell and feel it.  I have come to hold the opinion that every human should see the ocean at least every other year.  It does wonders for one's perspective.  It was great to go on a real family vacation and the kids had a great time with The Wife's almost entire family, and I'm glad they've seen the big water.

Next: Disneyland?...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

15 months for Smooch

A few weeks ago we reached 15 months for our sweet little Smoochface, and yesterday we had a great checkup with only a few tears for a round of shots.  She's doing really well, eating and sleeping and learning and growing and generally being scrumptious.  She walks and climbs everywhere and is starting to be really independent (which can be a challenge, like when she was determined to toddle around on her own at the pool, which she took to right away).  She laughs and laughs at her big brother's zany antics, and at some of her own.  She squeaks and chirps and points to things that amuse her, and her little "Daddy" just melts my heart.  She loves her mommy (but also her daddy!) and is warming up to a few more of the extended family,  It's funny to watch her learn things from Big Brother, like taking it upon herself to just go right ahead and sit on the potty and demand to feed herself and sit and leaf through book after book.  She has her moments of shrieking to pretty impressive volumes and/or pitches, but she's usually not inconsolable and is generally pleasant.
Follow the trail!
Piggies!!!
Reposting because WHAT.
She loved the springtime so much.
This inclusion from a random baby supplies mailing isn't exactly her style, but she rocked it anyway.
Modeling!
That's our girl.
Auntie Amber knows ice cream is the way to this girl's heart.
Looking great in Mommy's baby clothes!
These two love a read-a-thon.
Little Girl Meets Big Elephant
What a difference a year can make!  What happened to our brunette baby??
Fun times in the water with Mommy
That hat!  That suit!  Those shades!!!
Maybe next summer, Smoochy.
Well, what can I say?  We often just stop what we're doing and gasp at how adorable she is.  We're so grateful to have her in our little family.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

3/3*

We had our two May birthdays again!  And they were closely intertwined I guess I'll just do a joint post again.

First, as always, came The Wife's:
McD's!
I took the day off so we could have fun times together and make a long weekend of it.  We surprised the birthday girl with breakfast burritos and a free morning to do whatsoever she wished!  Mom came over during nap while we had a little date for Indian food and a couple of kid-free errands, and then we went to our alma mater to check out some favorite museums and fight some crazy wind and beat some crazy rain.  After putting the kids to bed we had Taco Friend nachos and watched The Big Year and readied ourselves for the big fun to follow...
Ganesh!
This picture is so much.
 

A delicious birthday cupcake...
... which was approved of by all.
Of course this boy had no problem helping out with unwrapping presents (it was good practice for the next day).
Because then, of course, came The Boy's:
Finally hitting up the Natural Curiosity Museum!
... Which it turns out is pretty awesome.  Thanks for getting us in, Nana and Papa!
We just had never been to the Natural Curiosity Museum because we didn't think The Boy would be really into it yet, but we needn't have worried, because even Baby was thrilled with the baby play areas and all the things to see and do.  We were worried it would be really crowded on a rainy Saturday but it was just perfect (though it started to pick up as we were leaving) and having seasoned cousin Brady along to show us around was really fun.
Presents and dinner and...
We were worried that no naps would be had by anyone after the exciting morning, but apparently the excitement wore them right out and a great nap was had by all (well, by both), after which of course came the presents and the dinner and the cake!!!  He loved his giant firetruck puzzle and the megablock play table, and he had a great time making his own little pizza, and visits from Nana and Papa and Matt and Jack are always lots of fun, but the biggest hit by far was the construction site cake.  He has hardly let the diggers out of his sight since, and of course it was delicious.
That cake!!!  It was a HUGE hit.
(And then later that evening the parents of the household took turns sprawled out on the bathroom floor, most likely thanks to Arby's drive-through for lunch, which isn't how we wanted to end the day, but at least it wasn't during the day, and that's all I'll say about that.)

And that means our little man is 3.
I can't get over this shot still.
He's so smart and big and independent and funny, his sense of humor is really showing these days.  He repeats phrases and tones that he hears us say when we're talking to each other and they sound hilarious in his little voice.  Along with this independence comes the very occasional mini-tantrum (or not so mini... he can make his voice heard if he's in the mood and something triggers him).  He loves music and is really into a growing handful of Disney songs (Perpunzel, Baby Lion, Mermaid and Crab, Tiana), which I'm slowly expanding so as to not kill some favorites by overplay.  He's still totally into anything with wheels and is really starting to get the hang of his balance bike.  He loves books and reading and always looks forward to the library, which often results in him staying up way too late reading in his bed (in the dark) but at least he's quiet and relaxing.
Playing with a variety of toys at Barnes & Noble.
Snow buddy!
He loves a sheet wrap.
Riding roller coaster skates!  Just like in his beloved Richard Scarry books.
As The Wife says, shades of Ramona.
Long shot of new Christmas jammies from Nana (which are still a popular choice).
That high-pitched-echoing bear is still hilarious.
Repost of him figuring out how stockings work.
I love days off work.
We finally just replaced that beloved and long-lost Yoda hat.  I love to hear him say, "yyeeEEEEees."
He aaaalways wants to go outside first thing when I come home from work. Pajamas are his favorite clothes and he'll change them several times a day. It would be nice if he were a little more forthcoming with the whole potty training thing, but he's getting there.
He figured out how to hold the pen perfectly all on his own.  O, my son!
Same smiles a couple years apart!

He's still that baby boy.
He loves to get out his own tools whenever I'm working on something.

But he loves Kitty best of all.

Such a good helper with yard work.  He insisted he use the big shovel and I use the little one.

Mooooovie night!  He really liked Perpunzel.

Entertaining himself while we wait a thousand lifetimes of woe and bewilderment in the post office.

Surprise Valentine's Day snow!  Kitty has proper footwear.

A simple place setting for a tea party at Chez Charles.

Bonny Bobby Shafto.  He's such a little mimic these days, especially of the ever so populated Busy Town books.

An exciting discovery while visiting Nana and Papa.
So glad to have a visit from Grandma!  They loved taking her outside to look at all the green things starting to appear.
Fezes are cool.

Dogsitting a mission friend's lab for a day turned out to be the best thing ever.

Always glad to visit Papa and immediately ask to watch Monster Trucks.

He's on track with his teeth-replacement, and nothing can be wrong when you get prizes after seeing the dentist. 
Helping with the refreshments at my cousin's wedding reception.  You turn around for 30 seconds...
"I sit like Mommy!"

Of late he likes to give birth to Kitty...
He's such a sweet big brother and sometimes he's rough and playful (which makes her laugh like crazy times) and then sometimes he's so gentle and leading her by the end and asking if she's okay when she might be sleepy or crying in the car that it just melts us parents into puddles.
He also likes to emulate the birds he loves watching by finding little nests wherever he goes, even if it's just a manhole cover.
What a sweet, funny, bright and vibrant boy we have.  I cried just a little bit the night before his birthday when I suddenly realized he would never be 2 again.  But we're so happy to have him and so looking forward to what 3 brings.