Sunday, March 1, 2009

February update

We've been a bit absent on the blog as of late. This was supposed to go up yesterday, but yesterday got away from me and I fell asleep last night while preparing my Sunday School lesson. While I've tried to harness my somnambulism tendencies to coincide with my workaholic nature, it didn't kick in last night. Hence, the blog is being updated today.

It's amazing how priorities affect our lives, isn't it? When we started this blog, we said we would update it every week. That lasted about 4 weeks, and then it went to every month. Now it seems like a monthly update gets to be too big of a chore to tackle. And yet, really, how hard is it to type a few words on a keyboard every once in a while. All too often our priorities become out of whack and we lose sight of what's really important. So - a challenge to all my fellow bloggers: update your blog you nits! You owe it to the rest of us to let us know what you're doing!

Enough said on that topic. And now the news...

No news really. Situation is normal. We're all fine here now, everything's fine. How are you? No really, no news. We can tell you about our latest excursion to Oregon though. That sounds like a good idea. Here we go!

At the beginning of February I had an unexpected trip to go to Longview, WA for a business meeting. For those of you who don't have any concept of Washington State (and that still includes me, since I'm still a recent transplant), Longview is an hour north of Portland, Oregon and about 2 hours south of Seattle. It's a 4 hour drive from here. Anyway, since the meeting was on a Friday, Kim and I decided we would make it a weekend trip to the coast. We packed up the kids on Thursday after work and drove to Longview where we stayed the night at a hotel. The next morning I went to my meetings and Kim and the kids swam in the hotel pool. By the time I was done with my meeting Kim and the kids were plenty waterlogged, so we hopped in the van and drove to the Oregon coast.

Our first stop on the Welling Weekend Warrior tour was Astoria, Oregon. This was a very important part of our fun-filled weekend because, as many of you may not know, one of the finest motion pictures of our time was filmed in Astoria. That's right - "The Goonies". It was a star-studded film of up and coming actors who would later star in even better (but more often worse) films. Actors like Josh Brolin, Martha Plimpton, Sean Astin, Joe Pantoliano, and the ever amazing Corey Feldman. We got to drive around Astoria a bit, witness what are affectionately known as the Goondocks, and stop at the maritime museum for a couple of hours. We are very blessed that it's still cheap to go to museums since most of our kids are still 5 and under. We're planning on milking that free ride as long as we possibly can. We were, however, disappointed to find that there was no mention of The Goonies in the museum. Sad and shameful are the words that could sum it up best. I really wanted to find the restaurant and the lighthouse where much of the filming took place. Alas, it was not to be for there were more places to go.

At the museum

At the museum

At the museum

Still at the museum

We continued on our journey, pressing forward with a steadfastness that the next sojourn would be even more exciting than quaint Astoria. We were not disappointed when we came upon the Lewis and Clark Interpretive center on the Lewis and Clark trail. (Well, to be perfectly honest, everyone was disappointed but Kim. She was in history geek heaven. The rest of us merely endured out of love and respect for the bringer of life and the preparer of meals.) Insert by Kim: It was Fort Clatsop which was where Lewis & Clark wintered in 1805-1806. It was very fun and interesting & the kids LOVED it!!!! We got to walk along a few trails and see some native plants and their recreated fort, some hollowed out canoes, etc. We then watched a movie about the Native Americans that befriended Lewis and Clark while they weathered the winter and who had their food and canoes stolen by Lewis and Clark's men as repayment for their kindness. Classy stuff.

Fort Clatsop

Enjoying our fun afternoon at Fort Clatsop

We wanted to get to our hotel that night before it got dark so we left Snoozefest and went to Seaside, which is a fun little tourist trap a little further south of Astoria. We had a nice place to stay just a block off the beach. You could see the ocean from our bathroom window, which is a great place to have a view, I always say. Most people I know would kill for a bathroom view of the ocean. Nothing better for inspiring the most astounding of thoughts as a view of the ocean from the bathroom. Helps quite a bit with generating flow, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Bit expensive as cures go though, but it doesn't require a prescription like FloMax. To each his own, I always say.

We went to a pizza place that night, because it seemed the cheapest route for us. $20 for a pepperoni pizza, but it's still cheaper than paying $6.50 each for 4 grilled cheese sandwiches. Before we went back to the hotel, we took a walk down the boardwalk to the beach. As we walked out to the beach, Madeline started to freak out more than I have ever seen her freak out before in her entire life. Mind you, that's only 4 years, but it has seemed like an eternity. Whether it was the roar of the waves crashing or the thought of getting wet, she wouldn't say but as the rest of us walked up to the waves, she held back about 200 feet, not daring to get close.

Sunset at the beach in Seaside...nothing like a sunset at the ocean.

We looked for shells, sand dollars, and anything else that looked cool coming out of the ocean, filling our pockets with our findings. We went back to the hotel, popped "The Apple Dumpling Gang" into the DVD player, and I promptly fell asleep after the longest week of my life.

The next morning, we went out for breakfast to the Pig and Pancake. It was fantastic fare, I must say. Most of the kids had sand dollar pancakes. I splurged a bit for the Dungeness crab omelet. It was quite good. After breakfast, we took off for the beach to play in the ocean. Now, to be quite honest, I don't recommend going to the beach in February, unless of course you live in the Southern Hemisphere which we obviously do not. But it was advantageous for us to go simply because we were in the general vicinity. So, we told the kids they could take off their shoes and socks and go play in the waves. For some reason, the kids didn't take to this idea quickly enough for Kim, so she decided that she was going to show them how it was done. So she took off her shoes, rolled up her pants, and took Gabriela, Everett, and Daniel to frolic in the foam. Madeline and I stayed up on the beach, far, far away from the scariness of the sea. Yep, Madeline was just as terrified as the night before, no matter how much fun we said it was.

A strange thing happens when you're playing in the ocean. You can sit and watch the waves as they come crashing in. They crash on the beach and then the water moves up a little bit and you playfully run in front of the wave as it approaches your heels. The kids and Kim were having lots of fun doing this. Everett was getting quite good at outrunning the waves. But somehow, the ocean knows this game. It's bee playing it for years. It lulls you into this false sense of security that you're always going to win. And then it proves you terribly, horribly wrong. Then it laughs in your face. This was the case today. Kim was out playing a little bit with Daniel and Gabriela. They were out ankle deep, because the water was cold, and why get any wetter than that, right? Needless to say, when they least expected it, The Wave came. And Kim, in her ultimate wisdom, decided not to let go of the Gabriela's and Daniel's hands and let them run up the beach on their own power. Instead, she decided that she could outrun the wave and that the kids would run as fast as her. You can guess how that one turned out. She started running, didn't warn them that she was doing so, and they promptly fell as Kim attempted to lift / drag them out of the water. Unfortunately, I wasn't fast enough with the camera to document the event. I was able to live through the aftermath as 2 of our kids cried and complained because they were cold, with their pants wet up to their knees and sand in their shoes. Needless to say, our outing at the beach was done.

The water was really,really cold.....

We went back to the hotel, changed clothes, and then went back for a walk on the boardwalk. We went to the local aquarium which was actually much cooler than I thought it would have been. They had about 8 seals in a big tank that you could feed fish and they were splashing around a bunch in their tank. They had tanks full of fish (of course), but they also had some open tanks with things you could touch: anemones, sea urchins, and starfish. I thought that was pretty cool. But the most amazing thing was an octopus in a big open tank. You weren't allowed to touch it, but it would sit on the side of the tank and reach out its tentacles outside the tank. It was a very fun place and the kids loved it.

Look at the cool octopus....

Touch Tank.....

It was early afternoon by that time and we decided that we needed to head out for the long drive home. We packed up the van and headed out. We decided that we wanted to see Cannon Beach though, since we had heard a lot of good things about it. We got there and decided that the town was definitely out of our class - way too posh. It didn't even have a McDonald's. However, the beach was absolutely amazing. It has some really cool rocks jutting right out of the ocean, which I think they actually used in "The Goonies" (remember the holes in the doubloon for the rocks as a marker?). Well, we played on the beach for a while and, you guessed it, the ocean decided to play back. This time it was Everett that had all the "fun". He and I were out playing near the waves and I saw "The Wave" coming at us. I told him to run now instead of letting the waves lick at his heels like he had been doing. But, 5 year olds are smarter than dads, so while I ran quickly far ahead of the wave, Everett waited. When he realized this wave was too quick for him, it was too late. As I turned around to see how he was doing, I noticed the water was up to his ankles already and still coming in fast. The next thing I knew, Kim was yelling at me to help Everett. I turned around and there was Everett, belly down, feet and head up, looking like a beached seal. I started to laugh, which is always my reaction to others' misfortune, and Kim scolded me for not helping him. I wanted to mention something about "helping" our other kids like she had done earlier in the day, but I fortunately held my tongue. I waited for the wave to recede, then went to help. Better one person wet than two, I always say. So, as you can imagine, we were done playing at the beach again. Everett was sopping wet, we had to strip him down and change his clothes at the car, and then we left.

We got home that evening in time to put everyone to bed and Kim and I put the finishing touches on our lessons for Sunday. It was a great weekend, and I'm sure none of us will forget it. I tried to reinforce one lesson that everybody could remember for the trip: you can't run faster than water.

Valentine's day was spent remembering all the fun we had in Seaside. That was our present to each other. The rest of the month went well. I spent a few days in Chicago running some focus groups for my current project which will be wrapping up in a couple of weeks.

Otherwise, everyone is in good health, happy, and enjoying thoughts of spring. Hope you are too.

Daniel with his two front teeth absent. No corn on the cob for you!

That's it. No more. Thanks for the memories, even though they weren't so great.