Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday Morning

Morning: It's amazing how much different you feel when you have had a good night's sleep, a two-hour nap the day before and you get your kitchen cleaned before 9:00 am.

Afternoon: It's amazing how much energy it takes to do so little... is it just being pregnant or is it just being a mom?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Morning

Do you ever have Mondays where you wake up and are just overwhelmed? When the thought of facing the dishes, the toddler chucking food from his tray onto the floor, getting showered and dressed and trying to be productive is just too much to handle? Just wondering.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oregon Coast

[Snippets from an unfinished blog draft about our trip to the Oregon Coast.]

told Jared we might be going home today. "I'm not going!" well that clinches it...

We went to the Newport aquarium, Camryn bit Michael, sat on time out. I told her "stop whining or no dessert." She didn't stop. She said "I don't want to go to the buffet"... but when we went to the buffet, Connie showed her that it had brownies. "Sorry Cam, you didn't stop whining"... then another 30 minutes of taking her out and insisting that no amount of whining or fussing was going to get her brownies.

Scooters, "Say sorry like you mean it" tantrum.. now camryn is happy as a lark...

Jared and transformers movie...

[Sorry, I don't remember what these last two sentence beginnings were all about!]

Alaska: Sunbathing

Sunbathing in Alaska. Enough said.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cloudy Weather

Last week we hit a patch of cloudy weather in the middle of August. This should have been a bit of a relief after the record-breaking hot weather at the beginning of August, but it's still a bit depressing in the middle of August and everyone's mood seemed to take a hit. It didn't help that on Wednesday when we were supposed to go to park day and play in the fountains it rained. So we spent WAY too much time cooped up in the house, the kids seemed to fight even more than normal and I was even less patient in dealing with the fighting than normal.

One night that week as I was putting Jared to bed he said, "Mom, when I grow up, I want to find someone to marry who isn't as stern as you are." Ouch. I try not to let the kids get away with fighting, but I've never really thought of myself as stern. How do you take that? Hmmm....

Alaska: Ketchikan

Our next port in Alaska was the town of Ketchikan (or maybe it wasn't the next port... it's been two months since the cruise, so the order of ports is starting to get hazy). We arrived in port at 6:00 am and had to be back on the boat by 11:30... yeah, not exactly a long time to see everything. But we did our best to cram it all in. We went on a 6:30 am shore excursion to go sea kayaking in the ocean around the Eagle Islands. We got on a bus, drove out north of the town and piled on all of the requisite gear: rain slickers, life jackets, and a spray skirt. I'm not usually a huge morning person and the weather was overcast, but the kayaking was a blast. The water (not glacier run-off this time) was actually reasonably warm, although we mostly just got it on our hands/arms from paddling.

Despite the early hour, the kayaking trip was awesome! It was low tide (which in Alaska is a difference of 20 feet) so we saw lots of sea stars, sea cucumbers and other sea life. We even saw two bald eagles fighting in mid-air. When we got back we went to look around Ketchikan and saw that there were tickets still available for the last "The Great American Logger's Show" before we had to be back on the boat, so we went. We got to see Team USA vs. Team Canada compete in log-chopping, pole-climbing, and even log rolling (where they see who can stay up on a rolling log the longest while the other tries to splash water in their face or do anything besides touch them to get them to fall down). Yo-ho! (That's what they have you yell when your team scores). Then it was back on the boat.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Alaska: Skagway

One of my very favorite parts of our Alaska trip was our stop in Skagway. A lot of this probably had to do with the fact that it was a beautiful, gorgeous, sunny day which just made the scenery all the more beautiful. In general, the color scheme of Alaska reminded me of the winters here in the Northwest- grey skys and green tree-covered hills - except that in Alaska everything is 10x bigger-- instead of hills they have huge mountains and cliffs. Alaska also shares a trait with the Northwest that while it is pretty in its usual grey/green color scheme, when the sun decides to show its face it is just breathtaking.

We walked around Skagway a little bit and passed the usual slew of jewelry stores (in a teeny 10,000 person town?). Then we went on a shore excursion on the "White Pass Scenic Railway." The train line was built to take people to the Yukon in the gold rush. It was later used for cargo and now is used for tourists. We didn't go all the way to the Yukon-- although we did cross over into Canada (but I didn't get to use my passport). The scenery was absolutely exquisite: the pictures don't even begin to do it justice. There were huge towering snow-covered mountains, waterfalls and rivers, and trees everywhere, all shimmering in the sunlight (you can tell I have lived in the Northwest long enough that sunlight is a prized commodity in my book). =]

Dave and I kept going out on the platform to enjoy the air and the view and I inadvertently discovered why you hold your breath going through a tunnel: if you are out on a train platform, you HAVE to hold your breath when you go through a tunnel if you don't want to inhale smoke and train fumes.

During the trip, they had some narration about the history of the railway and the Yukon gold rush. As we went past a rocky canyon, they explained that in order to cross the border into Canada, a miner had to have a year's worth of supplies with him, so many of them had to go up and down that rocky canyon twenty or even thirty times to transport all of their goods. After enduring horrible hardship and harrowing terrain, the lucky prospector finally made it to Yukon Territory only to find out that all the claims had been staked already. (Note to self: Don't ever join a gold rush.)

After our excursion we walked around Skagway a bit more and bought some souvenirs, fudge and ice cream cones (Isn't it funny how every single tourist site in the universe has a place to buy fudge and ice cream cones? There must be some sight-seeing reflex that triggers a "need fudge... need ice cream" response.). We enjoyed the sun, took some pictures and then went back to the dock.

I took a picture of the ship docked to try to capture how enormous it really is. It holds 2500 people (and kind of looks kind of like the starship Enterprise to me). This picture isn't actually isn't our cruise ship -ours was docked behind it-, but it's one that is the exact same size/model. There were 3 or 4 cruise ships docked in Skagway while we are there... it probably doubled the population. Then it was back to our boat, to enjoy the endless supply of food and activities.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Alaska: Juneau

So now that it is almost two months after the fact, I'm going to finally get around to writing about our cruise. In June, while the kids were at my parents house, I flew from CA to Seattle and Dave drove to Seattle. We met up and boarded the "Golden Princess," a gargantuan cruise ship that was going to take us through the Alaska inside passage.

We were planning on getting lunch in Seattle, but we were late and had to head straight to the dock. We were worried about whether we would be able to last until dinner with no lunch. We needn't have worried: we were an a cruise ship... your source for non-stop 24/7 food. We started by hitting the buffet for some lunch, which was only the first in a nonstop onslaught of dining choices. For some reason I had pictured it that you show up, slide your card through, you get to pick 1 from the selection of entrees... no, no, no. Basically anywhere and everywhere there is food. And when you go to the dining room you can order whatever you want, as many as you want. I could tell this was going to be dangerous... especially for a pregnant woman.

The first two days I managed to have only 3 bites of dessert. But then I gave up and just enjoyed myself the rest of the trip. Our first full day on the ship was at sea. It was formal night, so I got to pull out the AWESOME maternity formal that my mom whipped up for me while I was in California. Between shows and dance clubs and a GREAT comedian, there was plenty to do on board.

Our first port was Juneau, Alaska. For some reason, I had pictured the capital of Alaska as... bigger. It is only about 30,000 people and cannot be reached by road from the mainland. The scenery is breathtaking-- the town has the backdrop of huge snow-covered green mountains and cliffs with waterfalls. However, the cultural and architectural attractions of the city were... more sparse. Let's just say, that if the 3rd item on the list of recommended "Things to Do in Juneau" from the cruise ship is to "see the famous statue of a deaf dog," you're not exactly an up-and-happening place. But the attraction in Alaska is definitely the scenery-- which is breathtaking.

The actual towns (or what you can see with them in walking distance from a cruise ship) that we stopped at in Alaska were pretty similar. There are bunches of souvenir shops close to the dock and each town has a historic saloon (typically with "red" in the name: "The Red Onion," "The Red Garter," etc.). Some of the towns even have a historic brothel (now defunct, of course). I'm not sure why, but every single town we went to was overflowing with jewelry stores. Apparently we were the only people who didn't get the memo that people go to Alaska not to see glaciers or nature, but to BUY JEWELRY. Oops.

We pretty much stuck to the nature sight-seeing. In Juneau we did a whitewater rafting float from Mendenhall Glacier back to Juneau. Water activities in Alaska entail full-fledged chest-boots and rain slickers (given that the water was glacier runoff and around 35 degrees). The glacier was beautiful and we even got a few real rapids going down the river.

After our river-rafting, we walked around Juneau and went to an old Russian Orthodox church (built in Russia, shipped here and re-assembled). We even found a store selling Russian candy and treats. Dave got to chat with the owner in her native tongue. Then it was back to the ship for more food, fun and relaxation.

California Catch-Up Part IV: The Final Chapter

After about 3 weeks in California it was almost time to go home. Dave flew out to CA two days before the Fourth of July so he could spend the break with us and then drive with the kids and I back home.

Jared and Camryn had happily spent days on end picking fruit from Grandpa's trees in the backyard and playing with Marty. Jackson became addicted to clementine oranges ("Ownge! Ownge!") --he could reach himself from Grandma's fruit basket-- and would eat 5 or so a day. He also happily spent his days dumping stuff and terrorizing Marty. But all good things must come to an end.

The day before the 4th, we all went to Great America for a last hurrah (thanks to free tickets procured from my mom's friend Terry). Jared was tall enough to go on all of the rides in the park, so Dave took him on pretty much every single one. Jared loved it! Camryn was almost tall enough to go on all of the rides, but could still go on most of them. The older kids had a ball with daddy, Alisa and Grandma. I on the other hand... am pregnant. So no roller coasters for me. "That's fine," I thought, "I'll just take Jackson around and do some of the kiddie rides. It will still be fun." I went to go on the putt-putt cars (that go about 5 miles per hour on a track) and the sign said, "This attraction is not recommended for park patrons who are pregnant." The putt-putt cars? Is it just me or is this the fruit of a litigation-happy society where people want to protect themselves from liability. (I went on the putt-putt cars anyway... I guess I just tried to pass for fat. I know... I'm bad, risking the life of my unborn child by riding the putt-putt cars.)

But that was one of the few rides that I actually went on. We decided to split up and Dave took the older kids to the thrill rides while I went to ride kiddie rides with Jackson. We came to all the Nickelodeon rides and I went to take Jackson on "Dora's Dune Buggies." Guess what? There was a sign that said, "Not recommended for park patrons who are pregnant." Really??? You mean it is safe to take my not-quite-two-year-old on this ride, but I can't go on a little car that goes in circles at 1/2 a mile per hour? So, again I threw caution to the wind and risked everything by riding Dora's Dune Buggies with Jackson. Later we went to the water park and, shockingly, the lazy river wasn't off limits for pregnant women! (Maybe they figure that we get the whole lazy thing pretty well.)

The highlight of the day for me was when Jared and Camryn went on the bumper cars for the first time. We ran into a friend of ours (from our ward growing up) who was there with his boy. Everyone (except Jackson and I) went on the bumper cars together. It was Jared and Camryn's first time to ride bumper cars and steering was a little bit harder than expected, especially for Camryn. Camryn could not get her car to go more than a few inches before it spun and stopped. She and Jared ran into each other and they could not get untangled. The more they tried to separate, the more they kept running into each other. Meanwhile they were blocking almost the entire lane and pretty much the entire room of bumper cars was stopped in a traffic jam behind them. Poor Camryn was upset and in tears, but I couldn't stop laughing. How the kids had managed to make a traffic jam that stopped the entire ride was beyond me. Auntie Alisa made Jared and Camryn's day by buying them stuffed snakes. We finished the day by riding the famous double-decker carousel (hooray, they let me on!).

On the 4th we had an amazing barbecue. We gorged ourselves on Dave's grilled steaks and mom and dad's friend Dan's AMAZING ribs. We had tons of yummy side dishes and stuffed ourselves silly. Mom and I took Jared and Cam to watch fireworks while the PARTY POOPERS of the family (i.e. Dave, Dad and Alisa) stayed home to work. Sheesh. What are they trying to be? Responsible? But Dave made up for it by doing sparklers with Jared and Camryn when they got back from fireworks.

The next morning right after church, we headed back to Oregon. The 3 weeks just flew by. And now you won't have to read any more California Catch-Up posts.

California Catch-Up Part III: Mamble the Dog

One of the major attractions at Grandma's house in California is Marty the dog. Between that and the fruit trees in her backyard that the kids get to pick from, she has a pretty sweet set-up.

However, this was Jackson's first time to go to Grandma's house, so for a couple of hours he wasn't sure about Marty and this whole dog thing. After a couple of hours of having a relationship of mutual distrust, Jackson decided that Marty was his new best friend and became practically inseparable from him. I don't know if Marty was quite as attached to Jackson, but he happily tolerated the relationship once he figured out how much of Jackson's meals end up on the floor. Jackson kept saying a new word at Grandma's house: "Mamble, Mamble!!" We finally figured out that it was his word for "Marty."

California Catch-Up Part II

After the aforementioned beach excursion, we ventured to Gayle's Bakery in Capitola, the home of fabulous baked everything. I had the very dumb idea of taking the kids to eat dinner there. The older kids loved the mac and cheese (which is some of the best around, after the stuff at Beecher's Handmade Cheese at Pike's Place Market in Seattle) and their kids meal. Jackson, on the other hand, screamed at Grandma and threw a huge fit while I ordered our food. Not one of the most enjoyable dinner conversations ever, although the food was yummy.

Then we were off to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for their 1907 nights, where you can get on any ride for 1 ticket and they have hot dogs, soda and cotton candy for the price of 1 ticket. I remember going as a kid it was only 25 cents a ticket or something like that. Now it is 75 cents per ticket, but it's still lots of fun.

Jared and Camryn went on their first grown-up roller coaster, The Hurricane (a.k.a. "The Jet Star" back in the olden days), with Grandma. I couldn't go because I was pregnant... only kiddie rides for me. Hooray. :p Camryn actually surprised me with how brave she was. She went on some pretty scary rides, including a drop zone-like ride that Jared wouldn't go on. (Actually, he said he just didn't feel like going on it. It wasn't because he was too scared.) =]

California Summary Part I

I am falling into the "must catch up on old stuff before I can post new stuff" trap lately on my blog. As a result, I have been avoiding my blog entirely because it makes me feel overwhelmed. I'm going to try to give a quick catch-up on some of the stuff that I've been putting off forever so I can move on with my life... and my blog.

Our Trip to California: Yes, this trip was in June. Yes it is now August. But could you really live without seeing pictures of:

The kids and I at our favorite beach with Grandma. We love this beach because the parking is free and it has a little "river" that the smaller kids can play in without waves. Jared and Camryn laid down in the shallow water and waited for waves to go over them, never-mind the chilly water temperature (they get their tolerance of cold from their Dad, not me).