Sunday, August 30, 2015

Goodbye Summer

This was our last week of summer vacation and let's just say we sent summer out with a bang.  I am sure we could have crammed more into this week if we had really tried, but we would have been hard pressed, so let me sum up our week for you.

This week Merrick finished a three week trial of tae kwan do.  Overall he enjoyed it, but for me it was a mixed bag.  I liked that they teach respect and believing in yourself.  I also enjoyed finding out what rubbed off on CC from the class (like hearing her count like they did in class,"one Sir, two Sir, etc.")  Really the only thing I didn't like is that while Merrick was the youngest member of the class, he was the second tallest.  That meant that the vast majority of the time when they were partnered, he was partnered with the tallest and oldest boy (9) who really didn't have a lot of patience for a 5 year-old struggling to figure it out.  I am sure this is not going to be the last time we struggle with unfair expectations due to his height.

Also this week soccer started.  Merrick had his first practice and since his team is all kindergarten boys it was nice to see him with others at the same skill level (even if he did tower over them).  I am sure I will have lots more to report about soccer practices and games over the coming weeks.

On Wednesday Becca and I decided we were really brave and despite the almost 90 degree heat, we were going to take all 6 children to Oaks Amusement Park.  It was hot and crowded and the kids played hard.  At about 4pm we decided to leave the park and go cool off and get ice cream.  At that point I was about ready to call it a day, but Becca wanted to stick it out and I knew my kids would mutiny if we went home and cousins got to stay.  So, we headed back to the park with a plan to have our husbands come join us when they got off work (and Jeremy even brought pizza).  With pizza and husband reinforcements we all got a second wind.  The weather cooled and the crowds thinned to almost non-existent and the kids ran from ride to ride until the park closed at 9pm.  It was a day that will not soon be forgotten.

Thursday was much more low key.  The main focus of the day was our meet the teacher ice cream social.  Merrick had gotten his teacher assignment on Monday and not only did he get the teacher I was hoping for, but he also got all his friends in his class too.  With school staring tomorrow I am excited for him and sad for me.

A few weeks ago Becca and I had a conversation about our priorities of activities we wanted to get done before the summer was over.  One of the things was Oaks Amusement Park, but two other things were the Children's Museum and the zoo, which happen to share a parking lot.  Becca had this crazy idea that maybe we could pay for all day parking and visit both in one day.  It turns out that this is an ambitious idea, but doable if the stars align.  We started the day on Friday at the Children's Museum.  We have been here a lot in the 4+ years we have lived here, but this place never disappoints.  The highlight for me this time was my kid's love of the face painting.  Merrick turned himself into a green ninja and CC went to town with the the black paint resulting in what looked like a nice beard.  I couldn't help myself when the opportunity presented to take her picture by the bearded lady poster.

At this point our day was only half over.  We swung by the car for a few minutes to have a little break and eat some lunch and then headed to the zoo.  Not many pictures from the zoo.  While it was fun for sure, it was the end of a busy day at the end of a busy week and we were more focused on keeping everyone together and happy than on taking pictures.

I am really not ready for tomorrow to come.  I am not ready to send my baby to kindergarten ALL day, but what I can say is that we milked every last drop of fun from this summer and I have no regrets about that.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lessons From Babes

I have been a little tender-hearted this week.  Over the last week and a half or so several of those that I know and care about have experienced loss, loss of a husband, loss of a mother, loss of a son, loss of a marriage.  I have been struck by the fragility of life and struggled to know how to support those around me.  The answer was explained to me loud and clear today  by my 5-year-old son.  He came out of church with a picture that he had drawn for his papa who has been very sick.  It is a picture of the two of them and Merrick is kneeling and praying for his papa to get better.  And just like that, there is the answer, prayer and love, the kind of love that drives you to sincerely pray for another.  I am so blessed to be that little boy's mother and for all of you who love me with that kind of love.  So thank you and love to you all.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Summer Passport Adventures

A few weeks back I mentioned the summer passport program that we were doing this summer with the kids.  I didn't give many details on it so I think I will take a few minutes to do that now.  This year West Linn started a new program for families to get to know the city's parks a bit better (there are about 20 of them).  You started by picking up your passport at city hall.  Inside it listed all the parks in the city, as well as all the library events and all the parks and rec events that would be taking place over the course of the summer.  Your mission (should you choose to accept it) was to find a hidden stamp at at least 15 of the parks and attend and get stamps at 2 library events and 2 park and rec events.  If you were able to accomplish all this you were promised some sort of prize at the end.

This has been such a fun activity for our family this summer and has consumed much of our down time.  We have lived in West Linn for over four years now and I thought I was well aware of all the amazing parks our city had to offer.  It turns out I was wrong.  Over the course of the summer we found some new gems that will likely become favorites.  We also have had some unexpected adventures.  We have been on hikes.  We have waded through a river.  We have dipped our toes in streams. We have taken rides on a wild slide. We have accomplished the quintessential Oregon summer task of picking wild blackberries (we did this at most of the parks).  We listened to music in the park and Merrick won Taekwondo lessons.  We read books together as a family.  We had picnics.  The list could go on and on.  In the end what we really accomplished was an amazing summer of spending time together and all that was left was to collect our prize.

All summer long whenever I would talk to someone about the program inevitability the subject of the prize would come up.  Everyone was curious about what the prize would be and in the back of my head I would think that they are going to have to supply prizes to lots of people and I should temper expectations with my kids.  Well, this week we went to collect our prize and I have to say I was blown away by the way that this city stepped up.  Each kid got a soccer ball and a water bottle filled with toys and trinkets.  After a summer of tempering expectations we were all pleasantly surprised.  Just in case you aren't already aware, my city is better than your city.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

10 years and more

Certainly the highlight this week (at least for me) was Jeremy's and my 10th anniversary, so the reason for this week's blog title is two fold.  First, as our anniversary was on Wednesday, we are now more than ten years together.  Secondly, while this post was originally just going to be about our anniversary, more happened this week that I would be remiss if I didn't talk about.

First up, though, our anniversary...

When you have kids and your anniversary falls on a Wednesday, it takes some serious planning to celebrate in any kind of special way.  Our main celebration actually happened about a  month ago when my mom was in town.  We had planned a weekend getaway to Bend when she first arrived so she could help with the kids, but then there was a complication with scheduling and she ended up having cataract surgery just days before our non-refundable trip.  Thankfully Brendon and Rachel graciously agreed to help and all was not lost.

The trip itself was short, but perfect.  We went white water rafting, shopped, ate yummy food, played miniature golf, swam, visited an natural rock water slide, watched movies, stayed up late, and slept in.  It was a great way to recharge and reconnect.

Fast forward to this week and we could not let our actual anniversary slip by without some additional celebrating.  Again, scheduling was an issue so we ended up  going out to dinner on Tuesday.  We went to a restaurant called Oswego Grill.  We had never been there, but it did not disappoint.  The food was fantastic!  Not only that, but when we sat down our waitress asked us if we were celebrating something and at the end of the meal the manager came over and not only brought us a huge banana split, but also a card signed by all the staff.  I thought it was above and beyond and it really impressed me.

I am so grateful for these ten (now more) years of having the perfect companion and partner by my side.  I really hit the marriage jackpot.

And now for the more...

The first more is soccer camp.  Merrick was in soccer camp all week.  When I first signed him up he was a little nervous about going.  He was not sure if he liked the idea of being away from me all day when he didn't know anyone (foreshadowing to the first day of kindergarten perhaps).  He was so cute the first day picking out his most soccery outfit to wear, but you can see his nervousness in his refusal to smile in his first day picture.  By the end, though, he did not want camp to come to an end.  He liked playing so much that we have signed him up to play rec soccer in the fall.

The second more is that last week it was just a possibility, but this week we heard for sure that my parents are coming home.  Due to my dad's health, they are letting him out of his contract early and they should be home by mid-September.  If you are interested in more details, my parents wrote about it on their blog this week.  We can't wait to have them home!


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Saturday Adventures

When Jeremy was in law school Saturdays were an interesting thing.  Most people really look forward to the weekend as a time to relax and do something you enjoy, but while he was in school, the weekend was a time to cram and catch-up (and once in a blue moon, get a jump on the next week).  Since he graduated that is one thing I have really enjoyed, and no longer taken for granted, having Saturdays together.

Yesterday was no exception and despite the hot weather we continue to have, we were determined to still have a great day as a family.  I had read about this activity online in Oregon City, the next town over.  It was a scavenger hunt where you visited spots downtown, learned about the history and first settlers and eventually found gold.  I will say that the description online was a little misleading, the prizes along the way turned out to be stamps (is it just me or is that not a prize????).  Anyway, it was still fun and Merrick was seriously impressed by the little glass bottle of Gold he got at the very end.  For my part I really enjoyed learning about some of Oregon's history and when I complained about some of the "prizes" Jeremy reminded me that knowledge is the best prize I could have gotten.  It is lucky for me I have him around to remind me of such things.

After the scavenger hunt we had lunch and went to the farmer's market before ending up at a park to get our passport stamp.  I don't think I have talked about our city's summer passport activity yet, but that is a subject for another day.  In the meantime you will just have to settle for a picture of Jeremy and CC on the trail in search of the illusive (and by that I mean we never found it) stamp.

And just like, another fun-filled Oregon summer day was in the books.  Have I mentioned yet how much I love it here (like a million times).