Sunday, August 26, 2012

Eugene Celebration

This is dedicated to the friends and family who still think Eugene is just a cute, green, charming little town. It definitely is all those things, but it's also quirky beyond belief. There is a general acceptance to being whatever breed of different anyone wishes to be and it has certainly enabled me to more fully embrace my natural self. Sometimes I wish it didn't. I feel so much better when I primp a little more.

I apologize right now for the numerous pictures. I just couldn't choose what to leave out. In Jim's words "This is the strangest thing I've ever experienced."

We sat with friends since finally summer vacation is ending and the families we love are coming back again. I'm sure all the husbands are less excited for summer to end and grad school to resume, but I sure do love having friends around.

The parade had it's fair share of typical entries like this high school dance team...

 This ginormous man on stilts...

Monster trucks...

and a Chinese dragon.

Interspersed with all the "normal" offerings were things that are uniquely Eugene, like the Slug Queen (whom I didn't get a picture of) riding in her "carriage" and this giant slug being mercilessly slaughtered by some crazy salt guy. I want to know how to land that job. Seriously, how cool it is to say "I was the salt shaker in the slug parade?"

This is some serious stuff. The Slug Queen's peeps were giving out crochet slug finger puppets to kids. Seriously, who doesn't want a crochet slug finger puppet? (Or a super cute model for one.)

Then there was the appearance of the USA Communist Party, which naively I didn't even know  existed. They had hoards of people shouting (and by hoards I mean about 5) "People before profits." Yes, let's take a look at history and see just how beneficial and sustainable Communism has been.

Then I had to laugh because immediately following the Communist party was this gigantic dove advertising the International Day of Peace. What a contrast.

Um. Yeah. I confess I'm not the biggest fan of Monsanto and some of their manufacturing ethics but this is beyond anything I've ever thought.

Aeryn was super happy to have little people to dote on and play big sister with. Even better, little people that are happy to let her.

What is up with this? I thought the Occupy movement was a little crazy here, but the Octopi movement was just downright hilarious.

Don't forget the Coal Train. We're very anti-pollution here in Eugene, which honestly I can understand. There is so much green and natural beauty here that the effects of non-sustainable living are more readily visible than in communities which are more urbanized.

Tie-dyed puppeteers.

And who-knows-what these things were supposed to be.

With fairies advertising the Country Fair that I hear is not necessarily appropriate for the under 18 crowd. Ok, make that definitely not appropriate at all.

Wrapped up by the local garrison. It was like we were about to be beat into submission by stormtroopers, and if that weren't enough there was Boba Fett to finish the deal (two of him, actually). I could've taken Darth Maul easily since he came without his double ended saber. What is up with that?

After hearing the stories of last year when the nudist colony walked the streets wearing cardboard boxes I was disappointed that this year they were a no-show. In the words of the Eugene Celebration website: "The Eugene Celebration Parade represents the best of Eugene in all its diversity. Not without controversy, this irreverent collection of left and right, alternative and traditional, new age and conservative never fails to delight, entertain, stimulate and provoke the dialogue and interactions that define our community. Ever on the edge of appropriately behaved, Celebration Parade participants are eager to share their own particular ideology for the enjoyment of the community and their fellow citizens."
I'd say it lived up to it's own claims. I seem to think the extreme political bias is due to the upcoming elections but really there is no way to know, it is Eugene after all. What do you think next year will bring?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Somewhat-Fearful Fish

If there is one area in which the girls are most definitely individuals, it is in their attitude about water. Aeryn likes to go swimming but with significantly less gumption than Ellie. Her first round of swimming lessons are done and went extremely well. She's gaining confidence every lesson and getting much stronger. She didn't give me quite the camera-ham show the way that Ellie did. That might be partly because of my attempt to follow her class around the pool hiding behind pillars in an attempt to be stealthy. It didn't work, btw.

In this class they introduced diving. She's been a real trooper about it, since it's something even her mom refuses to do because of a traumatic swim lesson experience somewhere around 1988.

For all the grandparents who didn't think this was a possibility, yes, she went down the water slide! I'd say she almost liked it, if it weren't for her insistence afterward that she never wanted to do it again.

Here's hoping the growing tolerance for water continues, she's got another session starting in two weeks. Looking at pictures of her swimming makes me want to hold her in my arms and apologize for giving her my ultra-fair complexion, but then I remember the kind lady in the locker room who told me how gorgeous my skin is and I take a tiny little moment to smile.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Our summer together has come to a close. Yesterday the little ladybug returned to her mom and we are feeling quite a void already. As much as I like the house being cleaner with fewer little people around, I'd rather have all the little people around. Life is just too quiet and... predictable... this way.

As we were getting packed up she and I went outside for a quick little photo op. She made a gift for her mom's upcoming birthday and we needed a picture to go with it. She was so cute for the camera.

Sometimes when Ellie smiles for the camera, her teeth are showing but her face is not really smiling. Once she laid down on the grass the fake smiles started to appear so I tickled her with my foot to get her true happiness to come out. I will miss her ticklishness and laughter most of all.

It's been a great summer, and we've packed in so many good things. I can't wait to be all together again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Astoria by Instagram

What an amazing 36 hours. This was perhaps one of the best family mini-vacations ever. I decided to use Instagram instead of carrying the big camera for much of the time and still ended up taking about 200 photos on the big camera after the 35 or so on my phone. It was THAT much fun.

Riding bumper boats in Florence
Picnic lunch by the coast
Gallivanting around a playground in Lincoln City
Dinner and ice cream at the Tilamook dairy
Trying to hold our breath across the Astoria-Megler bridge
Jumping on hotel room beds
Flying gliders off the Astoria column
Truffle shuffle at the Goonies house
Getting soaked at the Peter Iredale shipwreck
Junior Ranger activities at the Lewis & Clark National Historic Park
Splashing and exploring the tide pools at Haystack rock
Driving home
The end

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weekend Update

This weekend has been quite a strange one. Aeryn was supposed to fly home on Friday. After picking her up at the airport, we were going to head straight on a camping trip to Crater Lake where Jim was going to run a half marathon on Saturday morning. She had loved Crater Lake when we went last year and was really wanting to go back. Friday was going to be a long travel day for her (7 hours on a plane + 2 hours home in the car + 2.5 hours to Crater Lake) but as it turns out she didn't travel at all. Her dad thought her flight was the following day and so she never made it onto the plane. Needless to say, I was an emotional wreck the entire day. I miss her and am ready for her to be home. Her flight has been rescheduled so if all goes well she'll be home Monday (fingers crossed).

As a result it took some effort for me to be really excited about our little trip. Jim had a meeting at work so we weren't able to leave until about 6:30 which meant we were setting camp up at 9:30. Then we got up at 6:30 to take him to the run shuttle. Jim hoped to run it under two hours so we planned to kill time until about 10 thinking that would give time for the run and shuttle. We spent the morning going back and forth between little walks/drives around the area, the campsite, and the shuttle stop wanting to be easily found when Jim was done. There was spotty cell service in the park so we had no way to get in touch with each other.

Ellie and I got ice cream at the lodge and sat waiting for the runners to be bussed back, but it was getting awfully close to the time we had to be out of camp. We went back to tear camp down and get the car loaded.

After a morning of waiting, and passing time, and more waiting, we finally found Jim having beat his hoped for time. He came in 16th overall and 4th in his division. The run was evidently full of elevation change and quite hard. He's pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

Of course we stopped at the sign, though this time it was on our way out of the park. By the time we left wind had blown in a bunch of smoke from a not too distant fire and the entire area was filled with haze. 

As Ellie and I drove around trying to kill time, she took this picture of the lake. I thought it turned out pretty good. You can see the beginning of the haze rolling in at the top right corner. By afternoon the lake was hardly visible. 

In the afternoon we hiked to Plaikni Falls. We did this hike last year and loved it. The reward is far better than the effort put in and it's a great one for the littles. There were dozens of little blue and purple moths flying around the wildflowers which Ellie found to be quite fascinating, though she was disappointed once I called them "moths" instead of "butterflies."

Ellie was also able to participate in the Junior Ranger program at Crater Lake. This makes 5 JR programs she's done thus far. We are all big fans of this program and think everyone with kids should try it out. She proudly wore her badge for the rest of the day.

After driving home later than we planned, and a quick dinner out (hallelujah), we are home and ready to crash. It's been a tiring 36 hours for all of us.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fearless Fish

Someone in our house is completely fearless. Nowhere is this more evident than in the swimming pool. A few weeks ago, we went to a swim party at a friend's house and this little one just ran and jumped straight into the middle of the water in a section way too deep for her. I wasn't in the water yet and the nearest adult in the water grabbed her arm and asked if she could swim. Her honest answer "sometimes" was both hilarious and terribly frightening. If anyone was ever a fan of the water, Ellie is.

Swim lessons ended today. We've had her in two separate sessions of the same class so she was going 4 days a week (instead of 2) for the past 4 weeks. We're still working on waiting at the edge until the teacher tells her to jump on in, but she shows some serious swimming promise, and she loves it dearly.

I'm sure you're completely surprised to see that she started posing once she saw me with the camera.

This last day she had a substitute instructor, who happened to be Aeryn's teacher from last summer. She had the kids sit on top of a foam mat and she swirled them around in a circle while they held on for dear life. Ellie giggled out of control just waiting for her turn to come.

This pool has a small water slide that the kids all had a chance to go on. Of course the instructor was prepared to ride with them or catch them at the bottom, but our little fish wanted to do it completely on her own.

Swim lessons are over for the time being. Considering she comes from a family of water polo players on her mom's side, and already has this crazy love for the water, I have a sneaking suspicion that swimming will be a part of her life for a very, very long time.