Friday, July 22, 2011

More Vacation

After our aquarium visit, we went to the delightfully named Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. It was indeed outstanding. Also very windy.

Next we headed up the coast to Shaun's folks house. Shaun suggested we stop in at the Pelican Pub and Brewery in Pacific City. Do look at the photo at the link to see how it is the most amazingly situated place to drink beer. Or to eat or drink anything, for that matter. Somehow I had never heard of it.

Shaun and I split the oyster po' boy, and I'm not really sure what I was thinking. Sometimes I get clams and oysters confused. This is half of the sandwich. The batter was perfect, and I could handle the bites that had oyster parts I could chew. But the creamy center of a golf ball-sized oyster is not for me. I thought I was going to have bad dreams about it later, but I haven't so far. Maybe now I will.

This is our view from inside. Haystack Rock is right around the corner of the building. The patio just extends right out onto the beach. I wanted to take a seat and sit there for the rest of my life.

After our meal, we played on the beach a bit. Willem said, "Look at that goose raise its leg!" and Shaun said, "That's a seagull." We live way too far from the coast.

And, so, after a very full 24 hours, we headed to our home away from home for the next two nights. This is where Shaun sat with his book. If you need some peaceful downtime between jobs, it's hard to imagine a better setting for getting it than this.

And then we pried Shaun out of his chair (he really didn't want to leave) and off he went to his new job, where he just finished his second week. The office culture there is so much healthier and suited to his personality than where he came from, that it almost sounds too good to be true. (i.e. the boss cooks pancakes on Fridays, the office fridge is stocked with groceries for employees to use, and in lieu of a company picnic they will be walking across the bridge to Waterfront Park for the Oregon Brewer's Festival.)

I half expect Shaun to have a Bluebeard's wife moment and open up a storage closet only to discover a pile of dismembered junior programmers, lulled into complacency by the promise of microbrews and the smell of fried bacon from Olympic Provisions wafting throughout the hallways. But mostly I think it's great and I'm really happy for him.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Martins Afield

I could probably count on one hand the number of times our family has been out together in the middle of the day in the middle of a week. With Shaun's time off in-between jobs, we took a teeny tiny family vacation, which entailed one night at a hotel in Newport, Oregon, and two nights at Shaun's parents' house while they were in California.

Have you ever been to Newport? Oof. I am sure it is home to many nice, hardworking residents, but I found it a downer to be a tourist there. That could have been due to the fact that it's kind of like an 80's ghost town. It obviously boomed then and has been steadily declining ever since. Falling into the 80's time warp stirred up all sorts of tween weirdness for me, which is not necessarily something I look for in a vacation.

But we were all together and our (80's, of course) hotel was just fine and right on the beach and we had a lot of fun. On our first day we got there later than we planned, with just enough time to see the Visitor Center at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Admission is by donation (and they don't guilt you into giving), and the boys enjoyed it. We probably could have told them it was the Oregon Coast Aquarium (the main destination of our visit) and called it good.

We ate dinner at what seemed to be the most standard tourist joint. It sounded safer than going with any of the many newer-fangled options, most of which were just too expensive. Our food was good; Shaun and I had fish and chips, and Nels eschewed chicken fingers in favor of a big bowl of clam chowder. For some reason it seems odd to me for a seven year-old boy to love clam chowder so much, and it warms my heart to watch him eat it.

After dinner we paid a visit to the candy store. The clerk had stepped out to her car and caught someone breaking into it shortly before we got there, so we had the bonus excitement of watching the policemen take the would-be thief into custody. At bedtime Nels told me that that was his favorite part of the day.

The next day we went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The boys were engaged, but less impressed than I expected them to be. We probably should have prepped better by getting out some of our books on sea life. It's always more fun to see things when you know a bit about them. I felt a little sad that our kids won't get to grow up on the coast like I did, and therefore cannot readily identify a chiton, for instance. They had no idea what an abalone was.

But NONE of us had seen this before, and we were all impressed.

They are Japanese Spider Crabs, the largest crabs in the world, and they are crazy spooky. There is no way the pictures can convey how amazing and creepy these things were.

The jellyfish displays were spectacular.

Here, three prawns are harassing a crab. One of prawns seemed to be trying to beat the crab with its puny arms. I don't know what the deal was. It was weird.

I would like to live in a coral reef for the colors.

But not for this. Eww.

This is a sea pen. Imagine all the fancy stories you could write with it if it worked.

The seals in this tank were swimming laps around it, as seals do. I didn't notice until now that three of the girls are wearing the same sweatshirt. I guess I was too busy wishing for the seals to do something interesting.

Oh, yay, we're surrounded by water. My overactive imagination and I totally love this.

Willem is hoping to get eaten by a shark.

See? See how much I love it?

Nobody got eaten by a shark or even stabbed by a sea urchin. At the end of our visit we squashed a penny in the machine for each boy (the cheapest souvenir available) and headed out for more adventures. Or for what passes as adventures for us these days.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer is Upon Us

Summer is my nemesis. The first day or two is always fun. After that the novelty of not having to be up and anywhere wears off, and the kids are telling me they're bored, and the whining and bickering escalate into crying and fighting, and I'm ready for school to start again. Of course, just when things are at their worst, a strange calm falls over the house and I find that the two sworn enemies have taken to the yard together, where they are exploring the nine strange new planets they've discovered.

I thought all my problems were solved when I signed the boys up for the summer reading program at the library. They read like crazy (oh, the quiet!) until they each got their first prize. Then they lost their steam.

It's not like we don't go to the park, or the magic show at the library, or swimming lessons. It's just that there are so many hours in a day.

We had friends over for dinner and our kids tried to sell them water.

My mom came for a visit, which we just loved, and we all went to see Mary Poppins, which we did not just love.

Willem had a hard time staying awake for the whole thing, but he liked it apart from that. I thought the script was soulless and I wished they hadn't gutted the lyrics of the old songs. Granted, the movie version was a bit of a mess too, message-wise, but at least it had the charm of Julie Andrews's voice and her ability to give Mary Poppins a tender heart underneath all that smug self-satisfaction.

Nels loved it, of course, which just about made it all worthwhile. He was so jazzed (the ONLY word for it) afterwards that he was dancing around the lobby. He could not keep his feet still. It took a great deal of effort to keep him from bouncing off people on the way to the car.

The weather's been gloomy lately, but we did have some sun right around the holiday weekend. There weren't enough hot days in a row to warm up the water in our inflatable wading pool, though. Here are the boys post-dip.

Here they are getting warmed up for the 4th. Not sure why Willem felt compelled to stand in the thick of the smoke.

Every time.

We went out to Grandma and Grandpa's for the 4th of July. We are waiting for the Vernonia parade to start.

The folks in the parade toss candy to the crowd. They often don't toss it very far. It certainly adds to the excitement to have kids running out into the street to get it. Grandma spotted her hairdresser riding in this truck, so she ran over to tell her to throw some candy at Willem.

What's better than shooting a bb gun at Grandma and Grandpa's?


After the holiday, Shaun went back for one last day of work at his old job. Here are his feet and his bag of stuff from his desk.

Celebratory hamburger. I've noticed I like to celebrate with food. Hence the diet I started this week.

Actually, the hamburgers were fine but not nearly as good as they look in this picture.

Up next: Martin Family Staycation and Shaun Starts His New Job!