Jun 29, 2015

Summer: Day 18

Since the kids are down in California doing Camp Aunty, Matt and I took advantage of a kid-free weekend and took a road trip.  We drove down to Oregon, stopped off in Eugene, Corvallis, Salem and Portland.  Pretty much the only four cities anyone really needs to know about in Oregon.  Ouch - that may have been too harsh.
Eugene is home to the mighty Oregon Ducks, a funky bustling little city with the university, a cool downtown vibe, and all the typical suburbia amenities nearby.  While, Corvallis is a mere hour or so away it has an entirely different vibe to it.  We loved it.  Right on the river, this town is small, adorable, clean, and farmy.  Well, the town doesn't have farms but it is surrounded by them.  It is an absolute gem in the middle of seemingly nowhere.  Home to the Oregon State Beavers, this college town was adorable and definitely on my list of potential places to visit again.  If one of the boys decides that agriculture, earth sciences, forestry or other farmy stuff is their cup o tea...OSU is where its at!
I don't have much to say about Salem.  It is pretty big and I haven't really had a chance to explore the downtown area much.  By the time we made it to Salem we were tired and embraced the awesome air-conditioned room and memory foam mattress of the Hampton Inn.
Next up....Portland!  We've been to Portland a handful of times and each time we see a different corner of this crazy eclectic town.  Portland is like 30 cities in one.  Each area is so vastly different and yet they are all within a few blocks of each other.  Our trip here this time was less about the city and more about soccer.
A month ago on our last getaway Matt and I went to a Sounders game against the Whitecaps in Vancouver.  We had so much fun as a Sounder supporter in a visiting stadium.  There was something electrifying about being a Sounder in enemy territory.  I think that fueled Matt's decision to join the ECS (Emerald City Supporters) club and buy tickets to the Sounders vs Timbers match in Portland.  Now this may not mean anything to people not conveniently located in the Great Pacific Northwest, but up here...this is rivalry at its finest.  The Sounders' have been huge rivals agains the Timbers for decades.  Any time these teams play, it may as well be a cup match.  It's serious.  Game on.
The ECS is the insanely rowdy supporters group that travels with the Sounders wherever they go.  They stand the entire 90 minutes, they chant the entire 90 minutes, they wave flags, they have a song for everything, and they bleed Sounders blue and green.
So it follows that we would join them and fight agains the Timber Army in Portland.
We arrive in Portland and are given instructions on where to meet to get into the match.  This strikes me as odd.  We have a ticket.  Why would I need a special secret meeting place to get in to the match?  There is fear in the hearts of Portlandia police that the sheer numbers and enthusiasm of the Sounders fans will cause a ruckus so we were corralled into a special Sounders tunnel in order to enter into the stadium.  Once inside the stadium there were barricades set up that define the Sounders section and security standing along the barricades to ensure no mixing of Sounders and Timbers fans take place. It was a little amusing.
The match begins, the chanting starts and a whole year of my ability to hear was deducted from my lifespan of hearing.  It was exciting and fun, and I needed a handful of Tylenol to recover from the headache.
The Sounders got destroyed.  It was heart breaking.
We made our way back to the car and back home....sad little Sounders fans turning a wild chant into more of a blues song "Build a bonfire,  build a bonfire put the Timbers on the top, throw the Whitecaps in the middle and burn the whole lot!"

Jun 26, 2015

Summer: Day 15

After a long red-eye flight we all arrived in Orlando a little sleepy and very excited to be on vacation. We made our way to Cocoa Beach, grabbed a bite to eat and hit the beach!  The waves were fun to play in and were slightly refreshing (Florida is hot and so is the water)!
Top of the next morning we were off to the port.  We didn't realize it until we got there, but we were early bird boarders.  Huh?  Essentially, because we had our suits in our backpacks and were ready to rock n roll at 11:30am....we managed to sneak in an extra half day of awesomeness on the ship!
Matt and I found prime real-estate on the pool deck with a nice giant umbrella all to ourselves and a convenient view of the general pool while remaining exceptionally close to the adult pool.  Cruise goers will understand how awesome this find was!
For the next 36 hours we were on the ship.  Matt and I pretty much camped out in those same two chairs for most of that time.  On the first sea day I ate breakfast and lunch in that same spot, took a nap, read my book, people watched, and made myself available to the kids for hourly check-ins.  By "made myself available" I mean, I woke up when they tapped me on the shoulder.
The Bahamas proved to be every bit as, if not more beautiful, than I hoped.  The waters were clear, beautiful, and the perfect temperature to cool us down but not freeze us when going for a swim.  The boys had a blast on the cruise ship.  Eli found a group of other kids his age to hang out with and Gabe  balanced hanging out with us, watching movies on the big screen on the pool deck at night, finding pals to golf with, ride on the water slides, go swimming, and hang out in the kids club.  Matt and I enjoyed some time just the two of us lounging on the deck, in addition to family dinners, and a few comedy shows.  The cruise was a perfect mix of activities on the islands and relaxing on the ship.  We loved it!
Part two of the trip would lead us down the road to Disney World.  We got off the ship and were greeted by a giant smack to the face of 100 degree temps with some insane amount of humidity.  Getting from the ship to the car rental place seemed to take forever.  Partially, because it took longer than we expected and partially because when it is that hot 5 minutes seems like 5 hours.
We fueled up on some chick-fil-a (yay!) and then headed to our resort, grabbed 20 gallons of water and hit the ground running.
First stop was Hollywood Studios, next day was Magic Kingdom, day 3 was Animal Kingdom during the day and Magic Kingdom again at night, and the last day was Epcot by day and Hollywood Studios at night.  I was not looking forward to this leg of the trip.  I knew it would be hot and tiring and I feared it would be overly crowded, the lines would be painfully long, and the kids would be impatient and therefore annoying.  However, I was so wrong.  Magic Kingdom is in fact magical.  I loved it.  It didn't feel crowded at all, we rode our favorite rides over and over again, we only waited more than 30 minutes for a ride ONE  time in 4 days.  That is incredible!  The kids were patient and had a blast.  We did a lot of walking, and it was so hot, but thankfully we could get free large cups of ice water any time we wanted throughout the day, so we were able to stay hydrated, and all the stores and restaurants are blasting air conditioning.  It is entirely possible to get down main street by making your way in and out of every store along the route and it feels as if you were in an air-conditioned tunnel. We came back to the hotel each day about halfway through to swim, nap, and give our feet a break.
We were gone for 11 days.  The days were full of sun and heat, the nights were late, the days were busy with swimming, snorkeling, touring, reading, relaxing, scream inducing rides, walking 40 miles in 4 days at Disney World, lots of laughter, smiles, a few tears, and great memories.
We got home at 1am on June 24....the boys left at 10am for the next leg of their summer adventure.
I spent the past three days doing laundry, and recovering!

Jun 12, 2015

Summer: Day 1

Today was the last day of school for the boys and I.
I stood in the hall as students filtered out of the building to today.  Most had smiles, a few had tears.  After they were loaded on the buses I joined most of the school staff for the annual bus parade.  The kids load up, bus horns are honked, and the busses filter out of the parking lot....and then back on in to make another go around.  It is a mix of noisy chaos, and somber spirits.  Most kids are happy to be out of school, others will truly miss the friendships, consistency, and joy that school brings.

As I look back over this school year it is hard to believe everything that happened in the last 9+ months.  September seems so very long ago.  It was a packed school year, full of highs and lows at school and at home, and I'm glad it is over!

I have great plans for changing the way we do things next year.  I'm realizing that as the workload gets heavier and the homework more challenging, I need to have a more active role in the kids' work. I am used to them getting all A's, finishing their homework on time, studying for tests and being successful students.  Well, turns out those days have now passed.  They need me to push them a little harder, help them organize their time, and strongly encourage them to do their very best work.

We are wasting no time getting our summer vacation off to a start.  Make way Bahamas, we are coming!