Sunday, August 30, 2009

Seaside




We recently returned from a trip to Seaside with my family (ok, so not too recently...like two weeks ago, but hey, if you want to come watch my kids, I'll put these out faster!). We own a timeshare, and were able to get a three day, two night stay free as long as my parents went through the presentation.
We did the same thing last year (when we announced we were pregnant with Avalee, actually!), but in Depoe Bay. We were all pretty excited about our mini vacation, even though it was only a couple weeks after we got back from camping.
We set out in the morning; Colin, Avalee and I in our car and everyone else in my parents' van. The (mandatory) presentation was at 2PM, and we figured we had plenty of time to get there. After a couple hours of driving, we realized we weren't going to make it, so my mom called and had it postponed. Wellll, after over three hours of driving (construction, an accident & a traffic jam), we finally made it to the resort!
My parents were whisked off to their presentation, while the rest of us admired the beautiful resort. The resort itself sits on the beach, so there are beautiful views of the ocean from most of the rooms. There is a wonderful outdoor pool (but very warm) and a couple hot tubs that border the beach itself. And, the rooms are just spectacular! Very spacious and comfy, with lots of extras (washer & dryer, fully stocked kitchen, BBQ grill on the deck, jetted jacuzzi tub...).
Although though we could have happily stayed in our room or by the pool all day, we decided we should try to explore Seaside a little.
The beach itself was great; perfectly fine sand, warm-ish water (hey, it is Oregon, warm-ish is the best we can do!) and lots of shells scattered about. My mom, Z and I went out early the morning after we arrived to check it out. It was gorgeous out and the temp was just right. We found lots of pretty shells, and Z found a nice big hole (dug by some previous beachgoers) to jump in.
We also did some exploring in the town, which was really lovely. Everything was within walking distance from the resort, which made it easy to get around with a couple kids (and allowed me to try out my new wrap). The shops range from quaint to higher-end retail to eateries. We stopped at a little Mexican restaurant for lunch, then dropped Colin & Z off at the arcade while we girls went shopping. Afterward, we all met up at this great little bakery to get some yummy cupcakes (for the life of me I can't recall the name, but it was on the main street, across from the arcade & shared a space with a Greek restaurant...so if anyone out there in web-land knows, let me know!). We decided to get in some more beach time, so me, Colin, the kids, my mom and Mercedes headed over. Z picked out a spot for us (actually, he picked out several, but we finally convinced him to get a little further than a few feet from the boardwalk) and we brought out our battery of 'equipment' (buckets & shovels, sand toys, etc). Z immediately got to work digging a hole, while Avalee got to work eating sand! Grandma had the great idea to distract the sand-eating monster, by giving her a shovel. Unfortunately, Miss A decided the shovel made a wonderful spoon, with witch she could just eat more sand! After Z finished digging his hole, and smashing castles and Avalee finished her sand, we decided to check out the water. It was still a good temperature and we all got in pretty far! Even Avalee got to dip her little toes in the ocean. In fact, Avalee had so much fun, she fell asleep in Daddy's arms while he was standing in the surf!
After a delicious dinner from the local pizza place, Colin and I left the kids with Grandma and Grandpa and headed to the (adults-only) last hour of hot tub time. It's nice having built-in babysitters in vacation with you! ;0)
We definitely wanted to stay in the resort longer, but resolved to return again soon. We decided to end our trip with a visit to the Tillamook Cheese Factory (and the Smokehouse outlet to stock up on the yummy jerky). Now, if you know my family, you know we LOVE cheese. And, not just any cheese, but Tillamook cheese, of course. And, not just their cheese, but the ice cream, jerky, butter, sour cream, etc (wait...are there any Tillamook execs out there reading this?? If so, you should send me some free products! Hmmm...I won't hold my breath). It's a wonder one of our kids didn't end up with Tillamook in their names somewhere (but, it's not out of the question for any future pets)! After taking far too many pictures of cheese on conveyor belts, cheese being cut, cheese being packaged and just-plain cheese, we decided it was sample time! Yup, the best part about the factory, is the free samples you get afterward. And, conveniently, the sample line leads right into the store afterward. ;0) Of course, we had to buy some of the mini bricks of cheese ('Loafy') that you can't get at the regular supermarket. Then, it was onto the ice cream! So, the second best part of visiting the factory, is the full ice cream counter (deli too!) with ALL the Tillamook ice cream flavors. You can get a dish, cone, banana split, sundae...oh my, it's just toooo good to be true! I elected for the sundae, because I figured I could get the ice cream anytime I wanted, but a sundae is special (mostly because I didn't have to prepare it...oh yea, and the extra whipped cream didn't hurt either). It was delicious, if course, and the perfect end to a fun-filled, relaxing vacation.

*BTW...the header photo is a shot of a mass of birds converging on the ocean at once! we even caught sight of some pelicans dipping into the ocean!

A view of our resort from the beach


Avalee getting a ride from Mommy


Z playing skeet ball in the arcade


Morning beach time


Avalee & Daddy at the pool


Aaah, the Pacific Ocean


So, Avalee is eating the tag from her bucket & Z is throwing sand, but we're all together in one picture


She did a faceplant in the sand...and loved it!


Mmmmm...Grandma, thanks for the pretty pink spoon...er...shovel


Beach boy


Yup, it really is fun watching cheese being made. Really.


A very happy Avalee & Daddy

Yummy pumpkin ice cream!



Gotta get 'em started early!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Diary of Miss Avalee Apryl


Hi, everyone! Wow, so much has changed since I last updated all of you!
Lets see...where to start...?
Oh, I have my first tooth. Yup, a little chomper right in the front, on the top. Wa-hoo! It will soon be joined by a toothy friend, right next to it. I'm so excited because I can bite now! I thought you could only bite food, but as it turns out, you can bite people too. Maybe I'm not supposed to though, because people seem to get mad when I do.
I can say “Ma-ma”, “Da-da” and “Da-deeee” now. Although, if I actually want Mama, I usually say “nnnnuuuuu.” I'm thinking it must mean “Mom” because she always responds to it. Gee, maybe I know another language and didn't even know it! I always say “Da-da” though, and if I really want to make sure I have his attention, I use “Da-deeee”; he will do anything for me when I call him that. ;0)
I'm trying to say more things, but must not be making any sense, because everyone just looks at me, like they don't know what I'm saying. I am getting really good at mimicking sounds though, and sometimes it even sounds like I'm saying “I Love You” back to Mama!
I'm also working on gaining some more mobility. Everyone told me I should start crawling next, but it just seems so trivial. I mean, if the long term goal is walking, why not start there? Anyway, I tried the whole crawling thing, and it's just not all it's cracked up to be, so I decided to work on standing, which is just one step closer to walking. I have it all planned out, see. Well, I can stand up all on my own now, but I have a hard time staying up. I'm just not sure how to do the standing thing alone yet. I do really well when I'm holding onto Mama, but if she lets go I start to fall. Darn! I'm just going to keep trying though, because I know I'll get it soon! In the meantime, Mama told Daddy he needs to lower my crib. I guess she's worried since I can pull myself up to the side now.
Otherwise, I've just been keeping busy; playing with my big brother, going to the pool & park, and going on fun trips with my family!
Well, it's late and I need my beauty rest, so I'll talk to you all soon!

~Avalee

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Camping-The Conclusion

We decided to be a bit lazy on our last day, and take our time packing up. Usually we have to be checked out by 1PM, but because this wasn't a group site, and was reserved by my cousin for another week, we had some time.
Colin made some pancakes and we all had a nice relaxing breakfast. The weather was just a tad bit cooler than it had been over the previous several days, which made packing up a teeny more bearable.
My mom had gotten a tip from a fellow camper (my mom can make friends anywhere!) about Mongold Lake, which is just past Detroit Lake. She said they had a great roped off swimming area and the lake had a nice sandy bottom—perfect for kids! So, we decided to make the extra 20 min drive there so we could get one last hurrah, before heading back to civilization (ie: unpacking, dishes, piles & piles of laundry, etc). The drive to the lake was gorgeous, because we were surrounded by mountains on one side and the lake on the other. It was truly amazing!
And, Mongold Lake did not disappoint either. It was a nice day-use site, with lots of people boating and jet skiing. The lake itself was gorgeous and framed by the majestic mountains. And, of course, the water was perfect! By the time we arrived, the air had chilled a bit, but it didn't matter because the water was so warm. Z immediately ran out to chest deep, and we had to drag him back to put on his life jacket. Once outfitted with that, he went back out as far as he could walk, then just let himself float in his lifejacket even further. He is one brave kid! And, of course Avalee loved floating around in the water and also enjoyed watching all the little ducks that seemed to live in the area.
After awhile, we decided we all were starving and decided to head to Stayton to the A&W. Unfortunately, Avalee was starving too and couldn't wait that long. After about 10 min of screaming coming from the backseat and poor Z covering his little ears, we stopped to feed the little monster. We ended up in the parking lot of a little restaurant along Highway 22; The Gingerbread House. Although I've passed this restaurant hundreds of times coming or going through the area, I've never eaten there. Right away, we noticed the delicious smell coming from inside and wondered if we should just make this our dinner stop. After a quick check of the menu, we decided to eat here, only to find out they closed in 20 minutes. My mom went in and talked to the owners, who said to “come on in!”
Well, we did and were very happy we did. The food was excellent and everything was homemade. It's a little known secret that I have tried the chicken strips from most of the restaurants in the Western Hemisphere. It used to be my safety net, as I was a very picky eater. I have since grown up, and although I can still be picky, I have expanded on my food repertoire. However, on this occasion chicken strips just sounded good. And, to be honest, they are also pretty practical when you are dining with a three year old and 7 month old. It's just sometimes easier to have easy, finger-food. Anyway, I've gotten off track...what I wanted to say is that these chicken strips were amazing! They were hand breaded and the chicken was real, not pressed. The fries were even better-also hand cut. Everything was so delicious that we vowed to make the 20 min drive just to eat there again! Of course, it also helped that the staff were 'oohing' & 'aahing' over the kids. One gal even told us we needed to enter Avalee into modeling contests because “she would win, hands down!” Awwww, thanks (and, in case you're wondering, this was said after the tip)!
So, bellies full, we headed back home. As is tradition (yup, that's what I'm calling it), we left half the stuff in the car and the other half was deposited into heaps on the floor. Aaah...home sweet home!


PS I have some great photos to share, of course, but have a really slow connection right now, hindering my photo uploads. We're on vacation in Seaside (no, the irony of updating my blog about our last vacation while on our current vacation does not escape me), and I have my phone tethered to the laptop going through the proxy server. Make sense? If not, don't ask me to explain, because I have no idea how it works! All I know is that my computer-geek hubby tells to me plug this in and push this button, and voila, I'm on the interwebs. Yea, besides being a geek, he's also pretty useful. Anyway, pictures to come. Soon. Yes, before our next vacation.

*As promised, here are the last pictures from our trip*




Not sure why he had the bag of Splenda...


Pretty girl


Z didn't want to leave, so he decided to try to re-air up the air mattress


Smooches!


Taking out some time from packing to have some fun


Us at Mongold Lake

Monday, August 10, 2009

Camping—Days Two & Three...

Day two of camping started out much better. Miss Avalee woke up with a big smile and was her usual cheerful self. Yay!
We gave her a bath in the same little boat we had on the river (Aunt CC & her boyfriend Alex lugged a bucket all the way from the showers for us!), which was perfect. She loved it and it seemed to put her in an even better mood.
With Avalee feeling much better, we felt we could get in some rafting, so we left her with Grandma and Grandpa and got ready. Colin, Liz and I loaded the raft and ourselves into the truck. Liz and I had the honors of sitting in the truck bed, holding the raft, while Colin drove. Just the drive to the drop off point was an adventure, in itself! We have to leave the campground and head into the city, a few miles away. Colin was very anxious to get to rafting that he sped off, and poor Liz and I almost flew out of the truck with the boat! After a yell to Colin to slow down, we safely made it to the boat launch area.
It was the hottest time of day when we left, so the water splashing in the raft felt so nice. Liz decided we should stop somewhere to jump in the icy water, so we found a little spot that was perfect. There was a small area that was set up as a little swimming spot, so we pulled up next to it and hopped out. Colin and Liz got right into the river, but I opted for the little swimming area instead. After much ribbing from them (hey, safety first, especially for this klutz!), I finally joined them in the river. Luckily I didn't float away, and got some much needed cooling down!
We decided to go down once more after lunch, but take Z with us this time. I was a little nervous, because I wasn't sure how he might react to some of the rougher areas (the area we raft is very mild though). He had on his life jacket and lots of sunscreen, and we went over the rules several times (always wear your life jacket, always stay in the raft and the oars are only for adults) until we were sure he had them. Well, he had a blast! He kept directing us to go over 'the big waves, the BIG waves!' He really loved in when the water splashed in, soaking Mommy! We decided to make a couple pit stops to get out and swim a little (yeah, we broke our own rule-no leaving the raft-but we were the grown-ups, so were allowed) and Z loved that. He almost didn't want to get back in the raft, until we reminded him there were more big waves coming. We didn't disappoint, because the final part of our run is the part with the most rapids. We bounced around and got splashed with water while Z yelled, “whee, whee-eeee!” As soon as we got out of the raft, he was asking to go again!
After we got back to camp, we found out Avalee had started to heat up a little again, so we cranked the AC in the car and I fed her in there. It was a win-win for both of us! ;0) She felt much better after that, and was perfect the rest of the evening.
After dinner, me Colin, Z & Avalee went to the playground, adjacent to our campsite. After we played for a bit, Z suggested we run through the sprinklers that were watering the nearby baseball field. It was still so hot out, so we thought it sounded like a pretty good idea! Well, the four of us had such a great time just running around, 'trying' to avoid the (rotating) sprinklers spraying us. Even Avalee was just giggling and kicking her little legs. What fun!
We ended the evening around the campfire, eating s'mores (of course!).
On Wednesday. We realized we had finally depleted our supply of water and ice. My mom and I decided a trip to nearby Stayton was in order. We could have just gone into the little store in town, but than we wouldn't have had as much time in the AC car. ;0) We decided to take Avalee to let her cool down a bit, and it also gave Z and Daddy some time together. As soon as we got back to camp, we had lunch than Colin Z and I headed off for a nature walk. There is a really amazing nature trail that goes through the backwoods of the campground. It's so peaceful and beautiful, and last year when we took Z, he loved it. This year, it was obviously a little warmer than last year, so we made it a much shorter walk (there are several different trails you can take). It was interesting to see the difference in Z from last year to this year; last year he was more interested in collecting rocks, twigs, moss, etc and this year he just wanted to run, climb and jump everywhere. I'm not sure how he has so much energy sometimes! We all had a lot of fun, and managed to stay hydrated enough to make it back to camp! Once we got back, we realized we needed to cool down and decided another trip to the river was in order! We decided to go back to the little swimming spot we had discovered the day before on our rafting trip. We felt it was a better area to have Avalee in the water too. It was quite a distance there so we all packed in the van (the four of us, my mom, grandma and my cousin) and headed over. It was very hot when we got there, so we all jumped right it. Even Avalee let Colin put her right in the water this time. And, when we put her in the little boat, she just loved it! It was the perfect place to let her float around, because there was no danger of getting caught in a current. Z had his life jacket on, and had so much fun just laying in the water and floating. We stayed down there until we were all sufficiently soaked, then decided dinner was quickly approaching. We decided for our last night, we would get pizza from this awesome little pizza parlor in town. Colin and I drove in and picked up pizza for everyone and took it back to camp for a big feast! The evening consisted of lots more s'mores and stories around the campfire.


Happy Little Miss getting morning hugs from Daddy


Avalee getting a fun, fishy bath


One of my favorite candid moments from the trip; Z feeding his sis some snacks


S'more time!


Heading out for our nature walk


Always the superhero!


Me & Z on our walk


He loved floating in his lifejacket!


I think the look on her face just says it all!


Avalee cooling off with Daddy


A rare photo of the four of us

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Camping—Arrival & Day One...

So, we embarked on another family camping trip to Fishermen's Bend, which is near Mill City, OR. This is a big group thing with (on my mom's side) extended family joining (this year, Liz joined us with Madi and her two sisters plus her sister's kids). We've been doing this for a very long time (not sure exactly how long though...anyone?), and it's a much anticipated event for all of us. Colin and I look forward to some time to get some R&R, some rafting trips down the river and maybe some drinking & S'mores by the campfire (no drinking for me for the second year in a row though... bah). Z looks forward to going completely wild. Like, he forgets he is a member of civilized society and becomes 'one' with nature (I think I actually some him conversing with a chipmunk one morning).
So, we loaded up our car (yup, we remembered to throw the kiddos in there too!), my parents van and the truck we borrowed from Colin's dad. It's truly amazing how much stuff a family of four needs to take for a 5 day camping trip, and we definitely didn't leave anything out (bug spray-check; sunscreen-check; swimsuits-check; marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate---check, check check...; quesadilla maker-check; bikes-check; basketball-check; extra EVERYTHING-check...).
Half an hour later, we arrived at our destination, and as if on cue, both kids awoke from their naps and perked right up. Z sleepily asked ,“Are we at campin' now?” I told him indeed we were, and he immediately started vibrating with excitement and chattering about all he had planned... “I'm gonna sleep in my sleepin' bag...and I'm gonna eat S'mores...and I'm goin' swimmin'......and I'm gonna PEE on bushes!” “C'mon Mom...Stop the car so I can get out! C'mon, c'mon, C'MON!!”
We were one of the last to arrive (surprise, surprise huh?), so were greeted by Grandma who released Z from the prison that was his carseat. He immediately set off, and I kept a close up to make sure he didn't make good on his last promise of peeing on bushes (let's just say, the guy has a history of just dropping trou and going when/wherever. Nope, he found dirt, rocks, sticks and lots of 'em, and was in boy heaven!
We had five days of camping planned, from Sunday through Thursday. We heard the temperatures might get kind of high during that week, but we had no idea what we were in for. Sunday wasn't too bad, but we could feel the temps creeping up on us, and unloading everything in the heat was not very pleasant. We did the best we could to keep cool by drinking copious amounts of water and hanging out in front of the box fan we hastily purchased the day before we left. Z had the best idea which was to just keep himself covered in as much dirt as possible, at all times. I guess he figured it would be more difficult for the heat to permeate through the layers of filth.
Things started out a bit more rough for Princess Avalee. Monday morning we awoke to 85 degrees by 8AM. Yikes! Avalee started getting very fussy and cranky. She felt very warm to all of us (a campground full of Mommies & Grammas!), and we had to strip her down to nothing but her birthday suit a few times. I tried getting in some extra feedings, and we gave her some sips of water in between. Colin and I finally decided the best thing for hot, cranky kids (and parents!) was a trip to the river. We loaded up the kiddos, grabbed some water, sunscreen and the little boat I bought Z, on a whim, and headed off. We went to the swimming area, (which someone sectioned off with rocks long ago) and is very popular with the kids. Usually the water is SO cold that it takes a long time to get used to it, but not this time! We all jumped right in and it felt great! Z had so much fun and even poor Avalee had a good time, even floating around in Z's boat for a bit.
After we got back to camp, Liz invited Avalee over to play in Madi's swimming pool. Poor Avalee still wasn't her normal self, and cried most of the time (which stressed poor Madi out!). We figured, if nothing else, it helped keep her cool. After we had some dinner, Avalee took a turn for the worse again. We decided we needed a temperature check, but realized we didn't have a thermometer, so Colin headed off to nearby Stayton (about 15-20 min away). After confirming she had a slightly elevated temperature, we called our nurse hotline and were told to just keep doing what we had been; keep her cool and hydrated. She had already been sleeping most of the evening, so we just let her sleep and tried keeping her comfortable. I was worried about my girl (I have a kind of reverse hypochondria for my kids!) so we put her to bed with us and hoped she would feel better in the morning.

Avalee checking out the tent


Z showing off his muscles (and war 'paint!')


Avalee isn't really excited about the cold river water!


Z, after a recent 'dirt shower'


Avalee & Madisen playing in the pool

Sunday, August 2, 2009

July

So, I realized I kind of slacked on the blogs for last month. I had a few, but not much about what was going on with us...


So, the first couple weeks of July were pretty much consumed by our family reunion (on my mom's side.) We have a one day reunion/potluck and my mom has been organizing/planning them since before I was born. Once I turned about 10, I started helping too, and from them on it's pretty much been Mom and I planning them (with help from Mercedes, Colin, my dad & even Z too, of course). It takes a lot of work putting it together (besides the potluck we also have carnival games for the kids, a raffle, piƱatas for all ages & bingo) and we kept ourselves pretty busy getting ready for it on the 12th. It was an unusually rainy, overcast day, but we still had lots of fun! Avalee got to meets lots of news Aunts, Uncles and cousins and was held by someone all day. She also received lots of compliments about how cute she is and how happy she is all the time. Of course, she thanked everyone by giving them lots of smiles and raspberries. ;0)

Z going fishing at one of the carnival games


Z's going after the pinata!



Avalee 'helping' Grandpa sell raffle tickets




The day after the reunion (everyone usually takes the day off to recuperate!) we went to Enchanted Forest, which is a great local theme park in a storybook style. I loved going there when I was a kid and much of it is still the same. It was Z's first time going and he loved it! Some of his favorite attractions were also mine as a child; the 'Old Lady Who Lived In A Shoe' slide and the rabbit hole. Avalee enjoyed looking at some of the storybook figures, but was happy to just being riding around in her stroller. I know she'll come to enjoy it just as much as Z did as she gets older.

Not the best pic, but the three of us had a blast going down the slide!


Z going in the rabbit hole with Dad


We also had the county fair, which we took the kids too. We entered Avalee into the 'Pretty Baby' contest for fun, and she 'won' second prize for darkest eyes. :0) Z had participated in the same contest as a baby too, and won first prize for prettiest smile. Avalee couldn't care less that she won; she just had a great time interacting with all the other babies (and adults)! We definitely have a couple social kiddos! We also checked out all the animals and Z spent some time in the petting zoo, which he loves. He begged to ride the ferris wheel, so I decided to ride it with him (I wanted to ride with him so bad last year, but couldn't because I was pregnant) and we had so much fun! He says Daddy is coming with us to ride it during the state fair. And, I got my curly fry brick and ice cream cone (well, to be fair-I shared the brick & everyone got a cone), so it was a great day. ;0)


Luckily, we have enjoyed some amazing weather this month (ok, so the last week was a little too amazing), so we've had lots of time at the park and in the water fountains.

Z having fun in the fountains at the Riverfront Park


Enjoying his 'firecracker' popsicle




Z taking a fountain break ;0)


We also became reacquainted with the Burkland Pool, in Turner. This is a great little outdoor pool that I frequented a lot when I was a kid. When Z asked to go to a pool one hot day, I decided to go check it out. He loved it, of course, but so did Avalee! She is a little water-baby and even 'swam' and dunked her head in several times. We've since been three times, and I know there will be more trips!

How stinkin' cute are these two?!





Miss Avalee licking the water





My little water baby!
video

And, the month ended with a bang when we spent five days camping by the river, I think I'll dedicate a whole blog just to our camping trip, so stay tuned! :0)
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