Monday, May 26, 2014


After a week away from normal life, constant emails, Instagram and Pinterest, and the craziness that comes from being the mother of 4, wife to 1, I feel like I have been reset.  Refreshed.  Restored.

Jeff and I made a last minute decision (well, as last minute as a week away can be) to take the kids to the Oregon coast for a family vacation.  We headquartered just outside of Tillamook in a charming little house a short drive up the canyon.  I seriously think this was the kids favorite part of our trip.  Living in a little home, just for us, with room to play, to spread out, to cook regular food, to NOT have to share a room with 5 other people.  (Ok.  That may have been my favorite part.)

We spent hours at the beach every day, playing in the sand, teasing the waves.  Sometimes we won.  Sometimes the waves won.  Our first beach (Rockaway), the kids acted as if they were greeting an old, long lost, very special friend.  There was no warming up.  They picked up right where we left off, nearly 5 years ago.  Chloe was a little shy of the water, but adored the sand and all the pretty rocks and seashells and drift wood.

One of the days we decided to drive the hour and 45 minutes south to Newport to visit the Yaquina lighthouse and a few other favorites.  We passed through some of the most beautiful farm country I've seen.  Every time we saw a for sale sign, we dreamed of what it might be like owning a little place on the coast.  The country, the mountains, and the beach.  How much better could life get?!

The light house was a definite highlight as we were able to watch a seal playing in a beautiful little cove.  Later, hiking down to the beach on the opposite side we were privileged to see a mama seal and her pup lounging in the sun.

We hit up Mo's in the historic bay front area of Newport for some famous clam chowder (which was REALLY good)  followed by a walk to the waterfront to see the sea lions.  Chloe thought all their barking and bachelor antics were hilarious.  Definitely her favorite part of the trip.  The most amazing thing is you are only 5 vertical feet (give or take a little) from these beautiful creatures.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium was next on our Newport agenda.  I remembered it being really cool last time but was a little disappointed.  Still, there are always wonderful things to see when it comes to God's creations.  We watched a little program with the sea birds.  Chloe was thrilled to be splashed by a tufted puffin.  ("Griddled puffin?  On a Friday?" name that movie and we can be best friends. ;) Not a trained bird, just a silly one. :)  McKay spotted a snake slithering across the nature trail.  You can bet your life we took a picture and sent it to my mom.  Haha.

McKay's favorite was the Tillamook Air Museum.  It's small but awe-inspiring.  There were two naval air hangars built in Tillamook during World War II to house blimps and other naval aircraft.  The larger of the two burned down 20 years ago, but the second one is still standing.  They house over 30 different airplanes and tons of memorabilia.  I thought a lot about my Grandpa Marchant and his years as an airplane mechanic in the war.

We couldn't stay in Tillamook without a visit (or two) to the famous Tillamook Cheese factory.  We feasted twice on their heavenly ice cream and felt no guilt.  ;)

I was surprised at how many churches were in such a small town.  I got curious about my own church so we looked up the closest LDS meeting house. Surprise! There was one right in town.  We drove by and watched a cub scout den having their den meeting and the activity day group having theirs.  I think it was good for the kids to see the church is essentially the same everywhere and kids their age doing the same things they do.

One other place we visited was out on Cape Meares.  They have a cool light house and we were able to take the kids in this one (without a prearranged tour time!).  When you are up by the light (called a Fresnel) it is hot.  We were starting to sweat within a matter of seconds.  Still.  It's so cool to be up in the light.  What these light keepers had to do is incredible and it involved their whole families.  I can barely manage to keep my bathroom mirrors clean, let alone hot, high-up, life-saving glass!

We also walked to a tree in the same area called the Octopus tree.  Very cool.

This was such an amazing trip.  Our kids have become fantastic road trips.  I was shocked at the lack of arguing and fighting in the car.  They got along.  They never complained about being bored and rarely complained about being carsick.  For me, I came home refreshed and like my internal ... something... was reset.  Habits that I'd had a hard time breaking before haven't been nearly the same struggle and good habits are coming easier.  I feel more relaxed and ready to live than I have in a long time.  I've noticed a difference in my kids, too.  They've been kinder to one another and have complained less and procrastinated less when it comes to chores and responsibilities.

Jeff and I have talked about this before and I feel even more strongly now, vacations are essential to a healthy family.  They don't have to be expensive for long or far away.  Just time with mom, dad, and kids minus the rest of the world and technology.  But if you can get to the beach...