Thursday, May 31, 2012


We slept in this morning and then had a quick oatmeal/pastry breakfast from Starbucks. It was drizzly, but the smokers were taking up the covered outdoor space, so we found a random wall to sit on.

 We picked the hotel we're in for two reasons: #1 it has a swimming pool, and #2 it overlooks the river and is a less than five minute walk to the shore.

We spent part of the morning down by the river, enjoying the overcast day and gaggles of geese.

 A little family of baby geese.

We spent the rest of the morning in the pool playing. Luckily we had it all to ourselves. This was good because it was more fun, but also because I forgot a bathing suit and was wearing a tank-top and a horrible pair of sweat shorts that were so heavy when they got wet that it was all I could do to keep them from falling down the whole time. More white-trash moments at the Waterfront Marriott.

After we got back to the room and showered, we were ready to go out on the town.

Eating lunch at the Spicy Pickle:
 Calvin was mad the whole time because he just wanted to ride on the train. Also, he said his grilled cheese "tasted funny." I finally tried it and it was on sourdough, which does seem like an odd choice for a kid sandwich.
 He and I swapped--I ate his sandwich and he ate my soup, and then we were on our way to catch the "train" (city metro).

The train ride:
 Calvin was happy.

As we walked from the train stop to the bookstore, we saw this little park. It was a fun idea and the kids loved playing under the gigantic elephant.
But when you zoom out, you can kind of see that on all four sides of the little square park surrounding the elephant, the benches were packed with homeless people who just stared at the kids. It was slightly disconcerting, and we didn't stay long.

Next we went to Powell's. I'm sure most of you know what that is, but for those of you who don't, it's the biggest, best bookstore EVER. It has floors and floors and rooms and rooms packed with every book you can imagine. It's broken down by age and genre in different colored rooms, so everything is easy to find, but you could still spend days looking through each of the sections. Unfortunately, there's one book I've been looking for that's super hard to find, and they didn't have it, but otherwise it was magical to be there again. Andy and I traded off the kids, and during my alone time I wandered up to find the "rare book room" which said it was on a certain floor. When I got to the floor, the rare books was a tiny room in the corner, and the rest of the room was erotica, so that was my excitement for the day.

I'm sad I didn't take pictures at Powell's because it was so fun. We read in the children's section for an hour, and then we found the Dr. Seuss section, and Calvin was in heaven. He pulled book after book off the shelf and we sat on the floor and read them. We left with several books and a weird set of nesting doll robots for Calvin. Autumn picked a board set of princess books. They were both happy. 

When we were walking back to the train, we passed Seattle's Best Coffee and Andy wanted to stop because he apparently loves their parfaits. I got a hot chocolate, which they loaded with whipped cream, chocolate chips, and white chocolate shavings. Yeah, I'm a fan too.

After making it back to the hotel room, we rested for a bit while the kids watched a show, and then we headed out for dinner. I read this blog where they mentioned a Mexican restaurant that I wanted to try called por que no. We went early to beat the dinner rush, but it was packed when we got there. We realized we had come in the middle of happy hour and their half-price margaritas. By the time we left at dinner time, it was mostly empty.

Food. Was. Awesome.
 Andy had shrimp tacos.

 I had carnitas.

Kids had a quesadilla and rice and beans and a horchata. It was all divine.

Here are a few pics to capture the ambiance of the place:

Super good. I highly recommend it. Next we went to Target to get me a bathing suit, and then we went back to the hotel in time for the Gold Members' dessert bar. We spent the rest of the evening in the pool and with the strollers walking the path around the river, watching the rowing teams, and talking about which buildings we wanted to live in. It's a beautiful, quirky city, and I enjoyed it just as much as I remember.

On the Road

Dropping Grandma off today was bittersweet. Last night we packed our car full of everything we could possibly need for the next month, and then we woke up early this morning to take Grandma to the airport. We all went in while she checked in and dropped off her luggage, and we blew lots of kisses and watched her through part of the security line. The kids were so sad to see her go. But then we took a bathroom break, and by 9:30am, we were on the road and headed for Portland.

The kids were awesome. They watched movies, played games on the ipad, played with their stuffed animals, and complained VERY little. They didn't sleep at all--I have no idea how you do that on a long, boring car ride--but they were well-behaved so it all worked out.

 I read The Maze Runner (which I highly recommend), took lots of pain killers, and dozed off sporadically like an old woman in front of the tv. Andy was bored. I kept waking up to rumble strips because he would sneak his phone when I wasn't watching and try to read his work email at 80 mph. I drove some, but mostly he liked to. I felt the worst for him because the rest of us were entertained.

He kept saying things like, "How did we get in Kansas?" and quoting Dumb and Dumber:

     Harry: I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this.
     Lloyd: I was thinking the same thing. That John Denver's full of s!&*, man.

Northern Idaho and Southeastern Oregon were much flatter and much less exciting than we had anticipated.  But then toward the end of the drive, we got to scenes like this:

 And we were happy.

We pulled into the hotel at 9:30pm, which was almost exactly 13 hours after we had started. Not bad considering all of the stops you make with kids: Lots of gas stations, Subway for lunch, Wendy's for dinner, and one side of the road because the boy had to go and there wasn't a building in sight.

The hotel only had valet parking, so we felt like white-trash as the bellboy stood there and watched us unload 2 disheveled kids, 4 large suitcases, 1 pack of diapers, 1 pack of pull-ups, 2 Tupperwares of toiletries, 3 backpacks full of electronics that Andy didn't want stolen, and 1 each Rapunzel and Mario pillow, plus a big bag where I threw in a few plush toys, half empty containers of chocolate milk, my books, and whatever else caught my eye in the mad rush to load the luggage cart. I felt like a leper as we walked through the big lobby with all of the fancy people. Next time I'll insist on a Motel 6 where WE can look down on people.

Kids took baths. We took showers. Four of us piled into the king-sized bed. I'm pretty sure the kids were asleep in 10 seconds flat.

We're happy to be in Portland!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When Grandma Came to Play

This time we had Grandma for two full weeks. It was wonderful for me--she played with the kids full time and picked up all of the toys 200 times a day so that I didn't have to--it was wonderful for the kids--they adore her and she indulges their every whim--and hopefully it was fun for her too. Here are some of the highlights of her trip:

The kids were thrilled to pick her up at the airport. Andy was out of town, and Calvin was asking every 2 seconds when we would leave, so we left pretty early. We're lucky we did, because Grandma's flight landed almost 30 minutes before it was scheduled. We played on the escalators, cheered when she came through the exit, and then ate at In-n-Out on the way home. All in all, a successful pickup.

They spent countless hours each day playing "Mario Softies," Candy Land, Hungry Hippos, and running around outside. Grandma even came up with an ingenious way to ferry them around: 

She weeded my gardens, planted some flowers, and made my yard look beautiful:

She was able to go with us to Calvin's end of year preschool zoo program:

Last year during the program he screamed and shouted and left the building alone, so this year when he stood there covering his ears, we considered it an improvement. At least he left his animal hat on this time:

He has THE BEST teachers ever. Except that I hate that they're always so adorable:
Miss Nicole, Calvin, Miss Meghan. He adores them.

One day we decided to get out of the house, so Hazel and I took the kids to the Provo Beach Resort where we had a lot of fun.

We rode the carousel:

Autumn did some type of dance game where she didn't follow the beat, but she moved so fast that I couldn't get a decent picture:

Calvin won purple vampire fangs in a claw prize game:
Grandma and I shot basketballs, we all ate ice cream, we played on the indoor playground, and tried all kinds of arcade games.  We were happy and tired when we left. Calvin kept wanting to play the claw games to win a stuffed animal, but I wouldn't let them because they're a waste of time and money (Ack. I'm turning into my parents). So instead we went to Blickenstaff's so that they could pick a small toy. They both ended up with a set of critters. Calvin got mice, and Autumn got elephants. I tell this because I thought Calvin was asleep in his room for hours that night before I went to bed at 1am and found him in MY bed with his mice lined up behind his head. I thought it was the cutest thing ever that he just sneaked into my room, arranged his pets, and went to sleep without anyone in there.
We played at lots of different parks:

My mom and Andy's mom hung out a couple of times. They went to lunch and a movie by themselves, and then later in the week they took Calvin and Autumn to see the Lorax. It always makes me nervous when the two of them hang out. You never know what secrets they're sharing. But I'm also glad they like each other so much. On Grandma's last Sunday in town, we went to my parents' house for dinner with the entire family. Grandpa showed us his new pets:
 Calvin and Autumn were in love. There are 20 of them, and they're seriously some of the cutest chicks ever. (5/27)

On Memorial Day our good friends invited us over for a french toast breakfast (suddenly french toast doesn't seem entirely appropriate for a holiday memorializing American veterans) that was delicious. They had homemade buttermilk syrup and it was all I could do to maintain some decorum and not lick my plate. The kids didn't eat at all--they were too excited about the 5 kids and 1 adorable kitten vying for their attention. 

After breakfast we all went together to the city park for a memorial service that the town puts together. It was actually really neat, and we were glad we went:

Our friends, Derrin and Nicole Hill and clan.

Andy's shadow looming over me and Autumn.

Grandma Hazel played so much that by the time she left, she had done what I didn't think was possible: She exhausted the kids.

We're so glad she came to visit and we're so glad that she's always a good sport. She babysat for me to go to lots of doctor's appointments and to have a cavity filled, she babysat while I took half a dozen trips to campus to finalize my thesis submission, she played Mario and hide-and-seek more than any person should ever have to, she played princesses and changed Autumn's dresses dozens of times each day, jumped on trampolines, pushed swings, and I can't think of everything else. We love that she's easy-going and fun to have around.

Thanks for coming to stay, Grandma, and thanks for staying so long! We love you and hope to see you again soon!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Trip to the Dentist

Today we took a trip to the dentist. The kids thought it was a party.

First we had x-rays (I forgot to take a picture of Calvin's because I thought he was going to choke to death on those plastic strips they put in his mouth):
Then the cleaning. They got to watch Finding Nemo on the tv on the ceiling while wearing headphones. They did great:

They both got great feedback. The doctor said that Calvin's teeth are great, but we'll have to watch Autumn's a little more closely because some of them are really close together. They both earned a certificate for a free ice cream cone for having no cavities!

The best part about the dentists' office is that once you're done with your check-up, they give you a token that you can use in quarter machines for a prize or you can use it to take a ride on the galloping horse. I always bring a few extra quarters so that they can do both.

As soon as we saw the prize machines, Calvin HAD to have the mustache. He fell in love with it. Autumn wanted a little beaded bracelet. And then we enjoyed the best part ever: The horse ride!

Any other day this would have been the absolute highlight, but not today. Today we are going to the airport to get White Grandma who is coming to visit from Pennsylvania. The kids are ecstatic. Especially Calvin, who can't wait to show her his new facial hair.