Whew, we had a really busy July! I decided I'd better get over her and document it before I forgot all the fun stuff we did!
Earlier in the month we took our long awaited summer vacation to Oregon. We've been planning to take the kids to the Oregon coast for years, and for one reason or another it just never works out. Every summer we say that next summer will be the year, and it never is. But finally this summer we decided that it was time. I started to realize how few summers we have left with all three kids at home, and now that I know that I'll probably be in school for the next several summers, our window of being able to take a big family vacation with all of us is quickly closing.
So we packed up the car and made the trek on an epic vacation. I kind of wish I would have blogged as it was happening, because recapping all of the things we did would take forever! I will try my best to recap!
The first day we visited Multnomah Falls, which is an absolutely gorgeous waterfall on the way to Portland. We took a short hike up to a bridge to get a better view of it. It's beautiful! I absolutely love Oregon. I've been to lots of different states and two other countries, and I still think Oregon is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
The Oregon coast is about and 8-9 hour drive from our house, so it's doable to drive the whole thing in a day, but we like to take it slow, so we spent the first night in Troutdale, which is just outside of Portland. The next morning we got up and went to the Portland Zoo.
Here's what hit me as soon as we walked into the zoo. Remember in 2009 when we took our vacation to Oregon and I got the call from the adoption agency that we had been matched with a baby at the beginning of the trip? That was the last time we went to Portland. If you were reading my blog back then (or want to go back to the posts from June 2009), that trip was pretty memorable! We were just planning to take a little weekend getaway to Portland and it ended up being a life changing moment when we got our referral call and our first photo of Clarissa, and then I spent the whole trip obsessing over the photo of the beautiful baby girl on my cellphone! We went to the Portland zoo on that trip in 2009 and I spent the whole day staring at Clarissa's baby photo. I wanted to see her in person so badly! I could hardly stand to be on that vacation, I just wanted to go home and get the paperwork started so we could go to Korea and get Clarissa.
So on this trip, the second we walked into the zoo, that memory hit me of carrying that photo around all day and starting at it, trying to imagine what that baby was going to be like when she joined our family. So to be there again this year, with our sweet Clarissa with us, was kind of awesome. I enjoyed her so much the whole time we were at the zoo because I just kept thinking of the last time and how much I wished she were with us, and now she is. Getting to go back there with her was kind of awesome for me. It just make me think about how far we've come. I'm so incredibly grateful for how everything worked out. We had a really great time at the zoo and I just had a peace in my heart all day and an extra appreciation for my kids and that we were all there together as a complete family. It was a great day.
And after a fun day at the zoo we continued on to the coast. We rented a beach house in Oceanside for the week and we were really excited to get there and get settled. My boys haven't been to the ocean since they were little and Clarissa has never seen the ocean, so we were excited for them to see it. There's just something so majestic about seeing an ocean. It reminds you of how big the world is.
The one thing about the Oregon coast is that it's not very warm. Which actually is one reason I like it. It's been over 100 degrees all summer in Boise, so escaping the heat and going somewhere in the 60's is awesome for me. I prefer cool weather. But it makes playing in the ocean sort of tricky. The kids were excited to get in the water, but the quickly discovered how cold it is! It didn't deter them though. We played in the water every single day of our vacation. It was cold, but we were having too much fun to care. The first day we got there we didn't put bathing suits because I thought we were just going to look at the beach, but the kids ran in, clothes and all!
The place we stayed was great, the ocean was beautiful and we had so much fun taking day trips to tourist spots along the coast.
One day drove up to Seaside to visit a little aquarium. The aquarium actually isn't all that impressive, but we remembered from a vacation many years ago that they have a tank with seals in it that you can feed, and that's what we wanted to go back to do. It was as fun as I remembered it! You can buy some disgusting fish parts for $1 and then toss them into the tank for the seals. The seals get very excited about that and will do little tricks and try to get your attention. I kept sending Shawn back for more fish parts because we were having so much fun to wanted to keep doing it.
After that fun we stopped at a restaurant in Seaside for lunch. It's funny as a mom which parts of the vacation were most fun for me. We did a lot of big fun activities, but for some reason that lunch stands out to me as one of the best parts of the trip. It wasn't a special restaurant or anything, but as we sat there eating we were all laughing and joking and talking about our favorite parts of the trip and things we still wanted to do before we went home, I just had one of those moments where I looked around at my husband and kids and I wanted to save that memory forever. Everyone together and laughing and happy. That's all I want in life. Just those four people around me, laughing and enjoying our time together. It was perfect.
On a different day we drove to Newport, which is a great town to visit in Oregon. On the way we stopped at the Yaquina Head lighthouse, which is absolutely gorgeous. You can walk down a bunch of stairs to the beach and there are tide pools, seals and sea lions in the water, and it's just an absolutely gorgeous view. We had a really great time there. That is a place we've never been before and I will definitely go back the next time we're in Oregon.
On that day we also visited the Newport Aquarium, which is really big and nice. We had a great day there! OH!! And I have a funny story! Remember the story of the snow globes in Mexico? Clarissa wanted a snow globe and we broke the first one so we bought another one and it got taken away at the airport, so we bought a third one and almost got that one taken away?
We told the kids that they each had $20 to spend on souvenirs on the trip. Clarissa said that she wanted to add to her snow globe collection. We found her a snow globe at the gift shop at the aquarium. We carried it around in a bag for 20 minutes before it got dropped and broke. At which point I looked at Shawn and said "SERIOUSLY?!!" We went back to the gift shop to buy another one. They took pity on us and let us exchange it. They wrapped the second one in several layers of bubble wrap. We are not responsible snow globe owners.
Another day on the trip we visited the Tillamook Cheese factory. We learned how cheese is made, had cheese samples and ate ice cream. The entire week we were in Oregon, I think the cheese factory was the most crowded place we went. There were long lines everywhere! In the line for ice cream there was literally a sign like at Disney World that said 'from this point your wait is 12 minutes" or something. Of all the amazing and beautiful things to do on the Oregon Coast, the cheese factory had the most people. The cheese factory. I think that says something about Americans, lol. Get out of the cheese factory and go take a walk on the beach. Says the woman who waited 20 minutes in line at the cheese factory for ice cream. Hey, no one was handing out free cheese at the beach. :)
The rest of the week we played on the beach, we had movie nights and games at the beach house, we took a train ride by the bay in Garibaldi, we laughed, we bonded, we ate salt water taffy and I bought fudge...twice, we took a beautiful nature walk to Cape Mears lighthouse, and we just enjoyed a glorious, amazing, beautiful week together.
On the way home we stopped in Portland again and visited OMSI, which is a really cool science center. We watched a 3D documentary about the ocean, we did some science experiments, we walked through Ripleys Believe it or Not exhibits, and had a great day. Also, we ate pizza at the restaurant there and Matthew declared in the best pizza he's ever eaten.
On our way out of town we stopped at Voodoo donut, just because it's one of those famous Portland places we've heard about and needed to find out what the fuss was about. Weird place, good donuts. There's my review. :)
And then we said goodbye to our vacation and made the journey home. We had an absolutely amazing week, but everyone was happy to sleep in their own beds again.
I am SO glad we finally took that vacation. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. It might be the last big vacation we take for a bit, so I'm glad that we did it. Next summer I'm going to be taking college classes, Josh will probably be taking some classes and will likely have a job, so I don't see us fitting in another big trip for a bit. We are planning to do a couple of small ones, I think we're planning to go to Utah for Spring break next year for a few days and I want to take a trip to my hometown for the 4th of July next summer, but with college to pay for and everyone so busy, this might be our last big adventure for a few years.
The rest of the month has been just as busy! As soon as we got back from Oregon, we got the boys packed up and they went on a pioneer trek with our church. Every four years they do a really fun pioneer reenactment. The kids dress up like pioneers and they pull handcarts through the wilderness for a few days. It's a big event and the kids had a really great time. It's kind of fun to look at the pictures and see hundreds of kids dressed up like pioneers pulling handcarts. Maybe that sounds miserable, but the kids came home happy with lots of fun stories to tell!
Last week Josh and I carried on our family book club tradition and we read Paper Towns and went and saw the movie. It was cute, I had a fun time bonding with Josh. There haven't been as many book to movies this year, so I was excited to have one we could read and watch together.
Then last night we had a really exciting event! For Josh's birthday in May we gave him four tickets to see Imagine Dragons in concert and last night was finally the big night! We bought the tickets in February and then kept them a secret from Josh until May, so this has been a long time coming!
So we arranged for Clarissa to spend the night at a friends house and Shawn and I took the boys to the concert last night. This is the first time the kids have been to a real concert, so they were really excited. We made it a big night out and took them to dinner beforehand. The concert was amazing! We all had such a great time, but didn't get home until almost midnight and we were exhausted. It's been too long since I've been to a concert. We had so much fun that now I want to see what other concerts we might be able to go to. I forgot how fun they are!
So there is our busy July! Now we're into August and it's going to be just as busy with back to school stuff. Clarissa starts school in a week, so I have a lot to do to get her ready for that, and then the boys go back later this month.
I'm anxious to get them back to school because once they're all settled, I start college in September! I'm really nervous, but really excited! I haven't talked a lot about college or the strange circumstances that led to it, but maybe I will next month when it gets going. This is going to be a good thing for me.
Also, as long as I'm sharing pictures, here are a few I took of Matthew and Clarissa in the backyard the other day.
Ok, so now that I've caught my blog up on our recent adventures, I'm going to go enjoy a quiet Sunday afternoon before a busy week ahead! :)