Monday, September 13, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

It's already the second week of school, but there's a whole pile of fun we had this summer that I never told you about. My plan is to get all caught up with a few hefty posts, then update more regularly now that I will have a few sidekick-free hours every week.

Yeah, we'll see how that goes.

Let's get started. We saw our friend Charisa (her family has been friends with Shaun's family through church from way, way back) and had her and Shaun's folks over for dinner. Because we don't make it over to Africa very often, we hadn't seen Charisa in over ten years--since before we got married. And she could not get over the fact that we had kids.

"Shaun and Gypsy with kids! I just can't believe it. Shaun and Gypsy! Kids!" Throughout the evening she periodically repeated this sentiment.

This in turn blew my mind. My sole identity has been "mom" for almost seven years now; I can hardly imagine myself apart from it. It was interesting to be reminded that it hasn't always been that way.

The takeaway from an evening spent with our family was "If Shaun and Gypsy can do it, then maybe so can I." I love that. And it was super fun to see her.


In July (I know, I told you I'm behind) the Mullins family moved to Germany. We were lucky enough to be invited over for food and good-byes on their last night in Portland. Of course it was fun because they are gracious hosts and good company.

But the fact that they were leaving their house (with its sale in limbo) and shedding all of their worldly goods (apart from a few precious items in a storage unit) imparted a devil-may-care tone to the evening that I'm not sure I've ever encountered before.

Random people kept wandering by to pick up the free items Jeff and Ariana had left outside their fence. The plan for the next morning was to drag the mattresses they'd slept on out to the curb and leave them there as well. It all seemed rather liberating, but I'm sure it's one of those things that's more fun when one is experiencing it vicariously rather than in fact.

We guests were sent home with the few items that remained in the house. I brought home a cup, a small All Clad sauté pan (I know!) and a few mostly full bottles from the liquor cabinet. They are so much more disciplined than I am. If I'd known I was leaving the country, I would have divided the amount of alcohol by the remaining days and polished it off before I left.

It seemed a particular shame that they had to abandon their garden before much of anything was ready to harvest. Ariana went around randomly pulling up puny carrots to see if there was anything to speak of. Mostly there wasn't, but there were some spectacular stalks of elephant garlic that were ready to go. We got to bring one home. It's taller than I am, with a lovely lavender pompom of a blossom, and it has taken up residence in the corner of our kitchen. It inspires shock and awe in our visitors, and all of them want to know "what is that?" I then enjoy telling the story of its origins.

Ariana has been blogging faithfully about her family's move to Germany, and it is making me "homesick" for the time I spent there (three months in college and six months in 2003.) Plus it just makes me kick myself that I wasn't blogging or writing at all during that time. My memory is totally worthless. Fortunately, we have lots and lots of pictures.


I thought we'd do a lot of camping this summer, now that the boys are both old enough to make it less of a hassle, but it was hard to find the time. We did end up going to Cove Palisades State Park with a few families from our small group at church, and that was terrific. Camping with other people who have kids is absolutely the way to go. At least until our kids can figure out how to spend more than two minutes with just each other without bickering.

Here's our communal meal site. We each took charge of one meal and then we all ate together. I've never done that before. It was slick. Special thanks go to the Stricklands for fixing BARBECUE BEEF RIBS for all of us. Turns out they like to eat just as well as I do but they are not as lazy. I don't even like to bother with ribs at home, let alone camping. The ribs were delicious.

It was really hot. Here's Nels after running around the campsite for a bit. We were on our way to the lake, where it was much cooler.

See? Cool. If you've never been to Lake Billy Chinook, you should check it out sometime. I wouldn't call it pretty, but it is striking in an alien, unearthly sort of way. (It looks normal in this picture, but trust me, it feels totally sci-fi.)

We played in the water for a long time, and then adjourned for lunch and a little baseball. Somebody should probably tell Nels that his chances of hitting the ball would be better if he opens his eyes when he swings.

Actually, he did improve and start making contact with the ball. I just couldn't resist these pictures.

Of course, no camping trip is complete without a campfire and s'mores.

And there you have some of what I did on my summer vacation. Part The Next coming soon.


Ariana said...

I love the pictures of Nels. How long did that garlic stalk last?

Gypmar said...

Ariana, it just dried perfectly and is still intact. I know I should use the garlic, but I hate to touch it. We have been using and enjoying the smaller heads that you sent home with us, though!