Let’s start with the solar eclipse. How freaking fantastic was that?! It was last year when Brian mentioned going to Oregon to see the total solar eclipse. I was indifferent. But wow, impressive.
The eclipse made it apparent how insignificant we are. We’re these small blips of matter that happen over an extremely short period of time relative to everything space. For those two minutes, I felt how unimportant we are. And it was pretty spectacular.
I looked around at all the others sharing in the experience. Everyone is trying to live their lives whichever way they feel is best… in a way they can make themselves feel significant. And there’s no right or wrong way. Rather, what one feels is wrong is right to someone else… and who is that someone else to deicide what is best for another. And ironically, when someone’s perception of what is wrong personally affects them, then they feel it’s right. More empathy, humans. We get one shot, be nice and respectful.
And yet we’re extremely significant to those in our lives. That’s my life focus. Selfish it may sound, my priority list goes: me, Brian, the kiddos. Me first. If I’m not happy, I can’t project or promote happiness. If Brian and I aren’t happy, then we’re both moody and the kiddos are affected negatively. And since the kiddos are what we’ll leave behind, we need to be sure they are raised in a happy, loving, and supportive environment. They’ll pass that torch to their offspring. It’s a rather simplistic view. I like simple.
Blaise has become quite the photobomber. And I love how Melvin is eyeing Blaise’s snack.
SUMMER ROAD TRIP NUMBER THREE
Going to see the total eclipse kicked off our third summer road trip. We left Sunday morning for Cannon Beach, where we stayed two days before continuing on to California. Cannon Beach is where we stayed the first time we went to the Oregon Coast, and we are sticklers for routine. We even stayed at the same hotel… and we’ll stay there again. Cannon Beach will become an annual summer tradition.
Sunday we played at the beach before calling it a day. Monday morning we woke early, expecting traffic driving down to the totality band. Lincoln City was our destination, with no set place to actually watch the eclipse. Unlike me, I figured we’d wing it that morning. Winging it worked out. We settled at Regatta Park along Devils Lake, and it was perfect. There is an awesome wooden playground that occupied the kiddos, and there were several other kiddos for ours to play with. All the kiddos played while us parents settled in on the grass to view the solar eclipse… which was happening over the lake. What a beautiful setting. And bonus, there was barely any traffic getting there.
Three of our four beach kiddos.
After totality, we packed it in and headed back to Cannon Beach. It was a rocky afternoon with the kiddos… I was exhausted and the kiddos were driving me crazy. Brian took the big ones swimming while I attempted to get the little ones to nap. Naps didn’t happen. My craziness got worse. The only parenting advice my mom has ever given me—back when I was pregnant with Blaise—was to go outside if he was fussy or I was going crazy. So outside we went, to the beach. My crazy, gone. Amazing how outside cures bad moods. Which is probably why I like to take the kiddos outside all the time.
An evening on the beach. Laine found a jelly fish, held a crab, and all the kiddos marked Xs on the beach to dig for treasure. Makes me miss Pismo Beach.
All four! It only took about 16 pictures to get all four to semi-look my way.
Tuesday we planned on a quiet morning before packing up and leaving for California. Which is the complete opposite of what we usually plan. Usually we plan on packing the night before, waking up super early, and hitting the road before dawn. That never happens. And yet the one time we plan on going with the flow, we pack the night before, wake early, and hit the road by 5:30am. Perhaps I should wing things more often.
Post-beach, early morning tired kiddos. We timed the drive right, leaving so early. All the kiddos slept the first few hours.
The drive to California was mostly smooth, with heavy traffic past Redding that put us back an hour. We made it around 6:30pm in time for dinner. The kiddos opened all the gifts Papa and Wawa had awaiting them, went for a swim, and had ice cream sundaes with Aunt Genna before calling it a night. We were all exhausted.
First night at Papa and Wawa’s. Gifts and sundaes… Baby was sharing and feeding Aunt Genna whipped cream.
Saige wanted to take all the Play-Doh containers to the table… she had more containers than hands. She made it work.
Wednesday the plan was for me to go visit my mom alone while Brian and the kiddos stayed behind. I wanted to take her out and about on her errands without having to deal with the kiddos. It was a nice day. I picked her up and she was actually ready on time, which in all my years of being her daughter has never happened. Score. She needed to get a few clothing items so we went to the mall… in Stockton. I never realize how much of a bubble we live in until we leave the sucker. We survived Stockton and went back to Lodi and had lunch, followed by my mom’s last errand, Target. Really, who doesn’t have Target on their errand list? Back at Bob and Tara’s, we had a nice family dinner with Kerry, Kelly, Genna, and Courtney joining.
Neighborhood park, where Vaile guarded the rocking horse and side-eyed anyone else who rode the thing.
Thursday we planned on going to San Francisco. Laine has been wanting to see the Golden Gate Bridge for a few years now, and we never seem to make the short drive when we’re down. We didn’t make it this time, either. We were tired and wanted a day without a set plan. It ended up being a pretty great day. My sister pulled her kiddos from school—they start so early down there—and met us at the Sacramento Zoo. We did the zoo thing and left for Funderland. It was Saige and Baby’s first time on rides, and Blaise and Laine palled around with Owen and Olivia. Heat aside, it was a fun afternoon. Especially watching Saige continue going on rides despite being extremely exhausted. She and Baby were out cold within minutes once we were in the car.
Cousin time is always fun. I didn’t have that growing up; I’m ecstatic my kiddos have multiple cousins. This summer has been filled with cousins, lucky kiddos.
Funderland with cousin Olivia and Owen after the Sacramento Zoo.
Friday was a nothing day. We didn’t even leave the house. I take that back, Brian and Saige took the van to the dealership. Rewind to the week before, we had the front brakes replaced and asked if the back brakes needed replacing. They said no, not yet. They were wrong. The van was making horrific metal rubbing sounds when we braked about 30 minutes before we arrived in Sacramento on Tuesday. And when I went to drive the van Wednesday to see my mom, I decided to turn back after a few minutes and take Bob’s Suburban (we want a Suburban next so it was a nice way to test drive). The brake pads were beyond worn and the rotors were rubbing. Awesome. Between the new front brakes and replacing all the tires the week before, and now needing new rotors and back breaks, $2,000 gone. It’s always something.
The big kiddos and I decided to swim while Brian and Saige were gone, and Vaile wanted nothing to do with the pool. She played on the deck while we were in the pool. I decided to grab her and bring her in the pool… she fought me at first but ended up staying in with me for over 1.5 hours. After that, every time she walked outside, she’d try to take her clothes off to get into the pool. The rest of Friday was low-key. Swimming, a movie, more swimming, another family dinner, with Gaelan coming this time. The kiddos were exhausted.
Vaile being adorable. She was a little obsessed with this floaty. She even held onto the sucker as I was holding her in the pool.
Saturday we were up and ready to head down to Lodi. We picked up my mom, and met Lisa and the cousins at Owen’s soccer game… in the 92 degree heat. At 11am. Man, it’s hot down there. The longer I live away from there, the harder it is to be in the extreme heat. I didn’t like it growing up, I sure as hell don’t like it now. Give me a cold, cloudy, rainy day and I’m in the best mood. After the soccer game, we went to lunch and had a mini-birthday celebration for everyone. We had to pick up the van before they closed at 4pm. We left lunch with my mom in tow, and drove up to Elk Grove. The van was all fixed and Brian wanted a coffee… so we parked the van at Starbucks and drove back to Lodi in the Suburban. My mom wanted the kiddos to each pick out a birthday gift. We went to the store and of course, Blaise picked out one of the big LEGO sets (which he completed that night), Laine selected a robot kitty, Saige a Melissa & Doug house with keys (that she got for Christmas and broke so we tossed it), and Vaile ended up with a dish set. We were hoping to see cousins again after but we were all tired and just wanted to relax. Back to Bob an Tara’s we went, for more swimming before calling it a day.
Watching Owen’s soccer game. Rather, Blaise and Laine ninja warrioring while watching the soccer game. Then lunch at Habanero Hots to celebrate birthdays.
Sunday we left for home. We were going to leave Sunday afternoon, spend the night in Oregon, and finish the drive Monday. But we were on it and ended up leaving Sunday around 11am, and it was our quickest drive home (with kids) yet. We made it home in 12.5 hours. And we even remembered to fill up with gas right before the Oregon border so we didn’t have to fill up again until we were in Washington. Getting gas in Oregon is so annoying as Blaise would say.
The kiddos, minus Vaile who was running about—with Papa and Wawa—and with Aunt Courtney and Aunt Genna.
It was a really great trip, and it was really great to be home. Brian had Monday off so we took the day off and did absolutely nothing… I didn’t have much of a choice. I came down with a migraine around lunch and slept until 6pm that day. I’m pretty sure my body decided to crash after having an insanely busy summer. Brian was back at work Tuesday and the kiddos and I mostly did nothing the rest of the week. The best way to end August.
THE REST OF AUGUST
Cement boom pump truck. I know trucks now. I’ve told this story before… before we had kids, we were at a park and a little boy was playing with trucks. Brian commented, “Nice truck!” The boy looked at Brian and clarified, “It’s a bulldozer.” Specifics matter. And Blaise is no different. As soon as he started talking, we’ve called every toy and real life vehicle its proper name. I know them all. Skid-steer, yep. Excavator with a rake bucket, yep.
We were on our standard morning walk when the truck stopped at the stop sign. Blaise wanted his picture with it in the background. Which meant Laine wanted her picture with it in the background.
Art their way. I have no idea what was going on here but both were happy and going along with things. I took a few pictures and let them be. Knock on wood but we’ve yet to have any kiddo fall off the art tables.
Movie days. We subjected the kiddos to random movies over the summer, mostly pre-smartphone movies. Laine’s new favorite movie is Clockstoppers. I’m pretty sure she’s watched it about six times by now. That’s probably what they’re watching here.
Saige dressed herself. Love the look!
Redmond Watershed. It had been a few years since we hit up the Watershed. We were meeting a friend there and were early. Shocker. Late is 10 minutes early in my world. I blame my mom, haha. She forgot me on the first day of kindergarten. By two hours. It’s stuck with me. Clearly. The kiddos ran around and climbed a tree while we waited. I showed Brian the picture of Laine up in the tree and he flipped… apparently I let her climb too high. Looking back at the pictures, he’s right. Eh, I make parenting mistakes sometimes. Like my mom.
When our friend arrived, we set out for our old standard loop. Blaise and Laine remembered accidentally finding a geocache the last time we were there and asked if we could find more. We selected a geocache that was along the trail we were walking on. It took some time but we found the sucker about 30 feet off the main trail. Success!
This is cool. There were two men who volunteer their time removing invasive plants from the Watershed. We were about 10 minutes out from the trailhead when they came walking by. Our kiddos were nosing about under a walking bridge, looking at slugs. One of the men asked the kiddos if they knew what a plant was. To which my kiddos and our friend both answered, “Skunk cabbage.” I think the guy was slightly impressed. He asked about a few other plants and our kiddos knew them all. That’s what you get when you have nature-loving kids!
The men were great and walked with us to the trailhead. Our kiddos took to the men, walking with them and asking questions, the men offering fun facts. They’d occasionally stop and pull invasive plants together. It was really great. And I love how all of our kiddos had no fear talking with adults, asking questions, and carrying on conversations as if they were all equal. There was a mutual respect and an enjoyment sharing knowledge. It made me smile. How cool would it be if we lived in a more communal environment these days? Then again, I say that, and then I want to quickly enter our house without having to talk with anyone. I want it both ways.
Gamers. We went from the morning at the Watershed to an afternoon of Minecraft and water play. We full-on summered this day.
Everyone eventually got in on the action. We spent most of August outside with the sprinkler under the trampoline.
Another morning walk, another geocache. And a beehive.
Picking. Blackberry, apple, blueberry, and raspberry picking. I’m a stickler for routine. I go to the same pumpkin patch every year, Christmas tree farm, blueberry farm, trail to pick blackberries… even driving to California, we stop at the same places every.single.time. I like the unexpected. I decided to live on the edge and we went to a new farm I’ve been following on Facebook for a while. They happened to have apples ready, which was super early compared to my normal apple picking farm. And they were pretty good. It was a nice morning. The kiddos had a great time and we ended up with close to $50 of pickings.
Morning walk deviation. Blaise and Laine had swimming lessons. Which meant we couldn’t do our standard morning walk. But we can walk to swimming lessons… love small town living. Lessons were Monday-Thursday mornings for two weeks. For those two weeks, when we walked, we walked Blaise and Laine to swimming and then continued to the trail where we’d walk until it was time to pick them up. And since there were swimming lessons, Saige had to wear her swimsuit for the walk. She actually wore her swimsuit for about three weeks there. She’d go to bed in pajamas and wake up with her swimsuit on.
Saige was ready for anything.
Baby took off running. Saige probably would have also if she hadn’t been bogged down with all her stuff.
Date night. Haha. More like what should we do with ourselves?! We had Lisa for a few hours and decided not to see a movie like we had planned. We went to dinner and then decided to head back to Carnation and nose around Tolt MacDonald. I absolutely love where we live.
iPaders. We may have relied on iPads more than planned this summer. We’re back on track now, so there’s that. We have three designated kiddo iPads so someone always has to share. Unless Blaise wants to play Minecraft, then we’re all set.
Laine’s well-check. I’ve always taken all four out and about. Sometimes there’s no choice. And I have things figured out. Costco, easy. The cart seats two. Target, if timed right, I can get the twosie cart (as we call it) and shopping is easy. Trader Joe’s, no way. The carts are tiny, and all the kiddos always want the kiddo-sized carts. And let’s face it, Trader Joe’s customers don’t really like kids around. Anything outside, never really a problem. I do tend to go to outdoor places with wide-open spaces away from parking lots or avoid parks where there is a beach. I like to make life easy.
It wasn’t until this summer that I became super comfortable taking them all anywhere. I still have requirements but for the most part, they’re at ages where I get by fine under any circumstance (except Trader Joe’s, I still avoid there with kiddos). This was the first time I took all four to one kiddos’ doctor appointment, without Brian. And without a stroller or carrier. The kiddos were awesome. They all walked in and sat in the waiting area and read books. If we had to wait a long time things could have gone bad, who knows. Our doctor is always on time… I think I had to wait once back when I was pregnant with Blaise.
Laine as all good. On track with her growth. I’ve stopped retaining percentages for any kiddo. No shots were needed, although Saige said, “I need shots,” to our doctor. Probably the only kid who asks for shots. I want to give a shout out to our doctor. I seriously love the man. We all see him, and he’s been with the kiddos since each pregnancy. We don’t do the pediatrician thing. Nothing wrong with that, I just like having one doctor dedicated to our entire family. And he’s an excellent doctor. A nice balance of wait-and-see versus let’s test for things, not a pill-pusher, and trusting enough that I can email him a picture of one of our kiddos’ pinkeye and he’ll send a prescription without having to see her in office. We found him through our old doctor who took a position where he wouldn’t see patients any longer. He asked me if I wanted a doctor close by or a good doctor. I went with good. And there’s a reason we drive to West Seattle to see him. We’re not big go to the doctor for everything people so it works out for us.
Evans Creek. Man, I miss the gnomes. It was a much better place back in the gnome days. I still love it and all, it’s just another great place instead of being a notch above. We met up with long-time friends whom we hadn’t seen all summer and went to town playing. There was tree climbing, trail running, blackberry picking, and geocaching. Good times, as usual.
Telling time. Blaise is all about learning how to tell time. He’s mastered the digital clocks, and is close to mastering analog clocks. Which reminds me, I need to get him an old school watch.
Tour of Redmond. The van needed new tires before we drove to California. We learned this three days before we were set to leave. Costco had one opening before we left, and we managed to make it work. Brian was going to deal with it and then his work got busy. And since he was about to be gone for over a week, I said I’d deal with the van so he could focus on leaving work in a good place. Which meant I’d be without the van for over an hour with all four kiddos.
We dropped the van off at Costco and set out on foot to hit Target. That was the original plan. We ended up meeting Katherine and decided we’d grab lunch. Walking to lunch, we passed a cemetery. How amazingly fun. They were digging a grave and preparing it for a burial that Saturday, and we were able to watch. The kiddos were really interested in looking at all the dates people were born and when they died, and doing the math together to figure out how old they were when they died. We found graves were families we buried next to each other, others where one spouse had died and there was a blank spot on the shared headstone for when the other dies. All sorts of fun stuff to check out.
I remember going to the cemetery on a field trip in elementary school. We took large paper and rubbed gravestones with crayons. Our school was named after a prominent woman from our town, and we found her headstone to rub. This had to have been second grade or so and I still remember. Fun times.
I’m cool with death. I actually think it’s quite beautiful… sad and beautiful. When Leilah died in my arms I flipped, but it was this peaceful moment we had together. And I knew she held on long enough to have that moment. Same with Mayah. She died in my arms also, and it was a very powerful, beautiful moment. I’ve always been drawn to death in some capacity… I was way into serial murderers in high school, reading biographies about each of the famous ones. In college, I took a psychology of death and dying course. And on the rare occasions I turn the television on, I automatically put it on the ID Network, watching shows that detail murders. Maybe it’s morbid. It interests me… I just don’t want to see any blood or gory details.
Speaking of the ID Network, in all the shows I watch, everyone who has been murdered is always described as the most lovely person, nobody would ever want to hurt them, and whatnot. Except once. I watched an episode about a 60-something-year-old man who was murdered, and everyone they interviewed who knew him said they weren’t surprised he was dead, he had several enemies.
After the cemetery, we ate lunch; picked blackberries; went to Target where the big kiddos picked out backpacks, Saige a tea set, and Baby a box of Scooby Snacks (she’s easy); and then back to Costco to pick up the van. It was a successful outing and we took the afternoon off.
Snugs approves. I think the backpack was home about five minutes before she sat on the thing.
Baby was missing. I found her. She was happily playing in Sammy’s crate (it was unlocked).
Post-California sleepiness. Everyone slept long and hard after we made it home from California. I didn’t even know there was a kid in our bed until I saw a foot sticking out from the covers.
Last days of August. We took it easy after getting home from California. We did some bike riding and scooting; the last of blackberry picking; walking to the Little Free Library, where Blaise thought it was funny to read a fly fishing book; and many hours of playing out back. Baby climbs now. She thinks she’s hot stuff… she is.
August is over. Thank freaking goodness. Not because of the fun we had, because of the summer thing. I want fall and winter, and we’re on the right path now.