Monday, July 29, 2013

Crater Lake Round 3

This year we asked the girls, independent of each other, if there was anywhere we could go as a family where they would like that to be. They both gave the same answer: Crater Lake. When asked if we could go two places, they both responded with the Redwoods. Needless to say, summer vacations were pretty easy to plan. They had each been to both destinations, but we had not been to either of them all together. First up was Crater Lake.

The girls had fun at the park sign, as usual.

Ellie wasn't familiar with photo bombing, so Jim took the opportunity to educate her. I'm still not sure she gets it since we haven't looked through pictures together yet.

This trip we decided to hike down to the water. We avoided it before because the park reports it as "strenuous" and we weren't sure what that would mean for the kids. Turns out, it was easy-peasy for them. We've already found that half the park service reported distances for hikes are off, and we figure they are extremely conservative in all their assessments just to be safe. It was about 2 miles round trip, and in one mile changed 800 feet in elevation. Down was a breeze.

We made it to the water and took our shoes off with very little hesitation. Boy, did that cold water feel good! Crater lake is such a dusty, dirty place to camp (darn volcanic ash) and it felt amazing.

My handsome baby daddy. We have so much fun together.

The view from the lake is far less spectacular than from the rim. Looking down you get a much better view of the stunning blue and the size of the caldera. From the lake, it just feels like another lake. We could see Wizard Island but did not mortgage our lives to pay for boat rides over. Granted, they were sold out anyway.

On the way out we let the girls go ahead of us. It turns out that elevation + pregnancy + steep grade = really, really hard for me. I felt like a wimp since I was moving pretty slow and had to stop periodically because my heart rate would be going out of control. There were a couple little boys right behind our girls and the girls were DETERMINED to beat them to the top. They did. It took 22 minutes to hike down, and about 25 minutes to hike up. They seriously rocked the trail and we are really proud of them. As we found the next day, they were not prepared for the sore glutes that hiking up a hill gave them.

One of my favorite things about camping is the way the kids have no choice but to use their imagination because we don't let them take toys. The girls built this "campfire" and spent hours pretending to run a restaurant and cook things to order.

Plus all manner of other play that I was not privy to.

We took the kids' bikes and that was the best decision ever! Ellie was so happy about her bike and even happier about the Camelbak my parents gave her last summer. She ran around wearing her helmet and the pack for hours. Jim joked about how different it was when we were kids and what it would have been like to run around in a helmet that long... ah, thank goodness for safety awareness progression through the ages.

Don't read too much into those faces: they really did love riding their bikes around camp without us by their side every second.

Crater Lake was a blast. It surprises us a little how much the girls like it because there isn't as much to do there as in other parks, but they both love it. I'm going to choose to believe it's because of the park itself and not because we buy ice cream from the campground store.

Monday, July 22, 2013


There are times I can't believe how much fun it is to live in Eugene. I mean, I don't really love sports, wear hemp, avoid showering for random periods of time, or smoke pot outside my kid's elementary school, but the track and field world completely consumes this community and brings with it an energy I really love. Jim is in heaven. Even without a huge appreciation for sports, there are times that I remember the fun of growing up in Colorado Springs with the Olympic Training Center. One summer I was able to participate in the Junior World Cycling Championship opening exercises. I was a member of the Red Cross Youth Volunteer Corps and they had us help with carrying flags and placards during the opening ceremony. It was a blast. I carried the sign for Venezuela and could not get over how cute the cyclists from Zimbabwe were. Did I mention I was 14?

Tonight the girls got to do something similar. Today was the one year kickoff party for the Junior World Track and Field Championships to be held in Eugene, you guessed it, one year from today.

The goal was to have kids from the community carry flags to represent the 212 countries that will be participating. They couldn't change into their shirts until just before walking a brief promenade as the logo debut was part of the day's festivities.

The kids did not get to select their own country flags, but with some bartering and trading on Jim's part, they ended up with flags for Trinidad and Barbados; two countries from his mission.

There were track related activities for the kids, though few actually used them. I offer the following visual comparison of our childrens' athletic ability:

Aeryn desperately wants to run hurdles, but it just isn't in her genetics. Poor kid. She is too much like her mother. I hope for Jim's sake the new little one gets his athletic ability and not mine.

Ellie seems indifferent about hurdles, but is clearly much more capable in the track department. Then again, that's in her genetics too.

We hadn't eaten in several hours and the kids were getting really antsy. I had to take this picture because it's just so classic. Jim talking to Ellie so she'll know what to expect and hopefully not have a meltdown, and her pout because she isn't hearing what she hoped for. I don't think I have any pictures of Aeryn like this because I was always the one doing the talking. It's much more fun to be the observer.

All the kids were to stand still and wave their flags during the logo reveal. I couldn't find ours in the chaotic mass.

After some dinner we were all a little happier and more energetic. We walked back through the event area after the crowds had dissipated and the girls were able to get the last two logo flags that were being handed out to kids. They had a little too much fun now having two flags each.

We headed back to the car with a stop at a local chocolatier for hand-dipped ice cream bars, then headed home fat and happy.

I think Jim is really excited for next year. It will be a fun time. Every time we attend a track meet at Hayward Field there are new world records being set. I don't know how the human body can move like some of these athletes can, but it sure is exciting to watch.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


The Fourth began as many holidays seem to: Jim ran a race. I really enjoyed it when I ran last year, and I think it's safe to say he enjoyed it this year. Several local friends also run the Butte to Butte here in Eugene, so it is pretty fun to see who passes you by. Ellie and I met up with some friends whose dad/husband was also running and hung out around the midpoint of the 10k to cheer on our runners.

I got this face a lot while we waited:

Our friends had some cowbells and the kids had a great time taking turns ringing them. What age is it when the constant ringing becomes less enjoyable? We did end up asking them to only ring the bells when there were really large crowds, the first male/female runner, and other such times. It helped, a little.

Jim came about when we expected, of course I had used the Find my Friends app to keep tabs on him.

After the dads came by, Ellie and the friends decided this clapping for good luck thing was pretty fun and kept it up. It started out pretty slow-going, but once the ultra-competitive runners had all passed, the average-Joe runners were pretty supportive of their efforts. Several people went out of their way to come clap hands with the kids.

They loved it.

Then Lady Liberty made her appearance, which was pretty awesome, even though I can't imagine running in that getup.

She stopped and let Ellie and Page hold the torch while she lit it before heading on her way. How many of you can say you saw Lady Liberty running down the street with a burning torch on the Fourth?

Actually, I'm sure quite a few of you did with all the parades, races, and other festivities going on.

Soon after that the girls tired of standing there and we all headed to our respectful abodes to await the return of our sweaty runners. On the way, there were enormous squeals of excitement over this duck and her chicks making their way up the creek near our apartment.

We spent the evening in a pretty typical fashion, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and fireworks with friends. 

The only thing Ellie claimed to want was sparklers, until other things entered the picture and then she wanted a turn with everything. Sometimes she really struggles to realize she's not an adult yet. When Jim lit this one she took off running straight for him yelling "I want a turn, I want a turn!!"

It was a really fun evening. We had so much fun visiting with our friends and seeing their new home. At one point I mentioned that the fourth had been my least favorite holiday for years and then found myself having to explain why... when I delved into pollution and carelessnes and just plain environmental impact, Jim replied "You really are a hippie, aren't you?" Why yes, yes I am, or was. I'm really not a hippie at all compared to what I've seen here in Oregon.

It was a fantastic day. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sometime a Week or so Ago

After getting back from our little excursion, we spent some time in Utah with Jim's family. The kids' cousins were there and they had been having an amazing time. On our last day, the kids got to go to Thanksgiving Point to ride ponies and take a carriage ride. It was the last hurrah before Jim and I packed all 5 kids into a suburban to head back to the Northwest.

It was really cute to see the cousins all waiting patiently for their turn on the ponies, though Ellie got off easy and didn't have to stand in line because Jim took her to look for her buddy Chief. He wasn't hooked up for the pony rides and she has quite a little attachment to that little pony.

My favorite thing about this picture is how clearly it shows that Aeryn and Nicole decided to do each other's hair that morning. They were really happy with it but I still giggle at the squiggly parts. My OCD self would not have been able to let that fly if we'd been at home.

I had to get pics of each of them, because it was just so fun to be all together and they were all so happy. Nicole kept waving her arm in circles and being a cowgirl.

I have no idea what Tori was doing but this face just kills me.

Ellie is getting used to smiling for me every time her pony passes by.

Aeryn however is numb to my presence and this is the only photo where she actually looked my direction.

Tyler is just so sweet, calm, and composed. What a good kid.

When we took the carriage ride (that sounds way more glamorous than it is, I just can't think of another word), the kids had finished two pony rides and we were getting ready to head out for lunch, but they were not too hungry to enjoy it!

This little lady is all girl. It never ceases to amaze me how feminine she is and the way she was sitting just killed me. She looked far too grown up.

After some lunch and requisite pre-airport waffles at Bruges, we headed to send Aeryn off to visit her dad. Jim and the kids drove around and went to In-n-Out while we lingered in an airport with a really bad selection of kids stuff in the stores. Her plane had an hour and a half delay, which was not a lot of fun for anyone. I was actually looking forward to hanging out with her during that time but all she wanted to do was play games on her phone. Last Christmas she got embarrassed when I hugged her before she boarded, this summer she didn't even look back or say goodbye. It's hard to realize I'm not the most important thing in her life every second of the day :)

After seeing her off, I crawled back into the car and we drove all night to get back to Washington. It was a long day but these cute kids were delightful. It's amazing how portable electronics and some bags of treats can make a road trip with kids rather easy. I'd be willing to do it again, just maybe not for another month or two.