Portland (kid-free!)

John and I recently celebrated our 1o year anniversary and traveled for the first time by ourselves since having babies. Portland is one of my absolute favorite U.S. cities. If you have not been, hop on a plane right now and go! This is the perfect time to visit.

Food

One of the things John and I were most excited about was eating. Portland has some incredible restaurants and while most of them are kid-friendly, we could be a little more adventurous, wait in longer lines, and order whatever we wanted because we didn’t have to share with little people who can be picky. 🙂

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Our first stop for dinner was the recently-opened Grassa, because our friend, Ian, is the chef there! And also, because he hand-makes pasta and makes amazing food. Grassa lived up to the hype and was delicious. We loved watching the pasta being made while listening to records.

Broder for breakfast has been on our list of places to go for a long time. We tried once before, but had the girls with us and couldn’t wait in line (there almost always is a long one on the weekend). Yum!

Several friends highly recommended tapa restaurant Toro Bravo (another restaurant with a usually-lengthy wait) where the shrimp was incredible.

Luce was insanely good. This tiny restaurant was absolutely adorable and the food was divine. I felt like I was in Italy again.

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Of course, you must visit Salt and Straw – the famous ice cream shop. It was as delicious as we had heard; so good in fact that we went twice.

Coffee/Drinks

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Albina Press is a friendly grungy coffee shop that we have loved for years.

John recently went to a conference in Portland and visited Secret Society, where he couldn’t wait to take me back to on this trip.

I found a little champagne bar called Ambonnay with a friendly owner and warm space, conveniently located next to Olympic Provisions that I loved.

Fun

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We wandered the Portland Art Museum, leisurely, for hours. We were lucky enough to catch the Cyclepedia exhibit (John was so excited). I was entertained by the preschool class on field trip there (and even more so by the parent chaperones attempting to keep the preschoolers’ hands off the bikes). We also caught the Gaston Lachaise exhibit, (a French sculptor – we had the best timing!)

Of course, we wandered Powell’s for ages and found some adorable drawing books we bought the girls.

We strolled for a bit around Mt. Tabor Park (an ancient volcano right in Portland) until I got blistered too badly and had to go back to the car and change shoes for our antiquing trip through Sellwood.

 

Just a sampling of our favorites from our trip to get you started on yours! Bon Voyage!

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10 Years!

Newport Bay

Newport Bay

John and I recently celebrated our 10 year anniversary (!) by retracing our steps of our honeymoon. We both grew up in Florida and lived there until 8 years ago. Neither of us had been to Oregon, but we both had a pull toward it and decided to travel here on our honeymoon. We actually stayed a night in the town we now live in because John thought there was a chance he would apply to grad school here.

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Boiler Bay

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Bob Straub State Park

My parents came out for a couple of weeks and John and I left the girls with them – our first trip away from them – while we drove up the coast, ate our way through Portland, and spent some time in wine country. It was my first vacation away from the girls. I went away for a few days to visit friends several years ago, but I’m not sure if that counts because I was pregnant and sick the whole time. 😉

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Bob Straub State Park

Cape Lookout State Park

Cape Lookout State Park

We stopped on a whim at Cape Lookout State Park and hiked along a steep, rainforested cliff hoping for a clearing and view of the ocean. It was one of my favorite things about Oregon – the wet, green forests full of ferns and moss that open up into incredibly dramatic views of the ocean.

Cape Lookout State Park

Cape Lookout State Park

Twin Rocks

Twin Rocks

We stopped for the night in a small, loveable coastal town in a motel that looked out on the ocean. We were charmed and dreamed of having a place of our own on this coastline.

Manzanita

Manzanita

I missed the girls terribly, but enjoyed the spontaneity, leisurely pace, and ability to do things that we couldn’t have done with the girls tagging along. I’ll try to post more adventures from Portland soon. These photos were all from the first day!

Big Changes

Summer is in full-swing here. Ruby is out of school (a first-grader now!). We’ve had lots of sunny warm days and we’re all gearing up for big things to come this fall.

First day of kindergarten

First day of kindergarten

Last day of K - I think she's grown up a bit, yes?

Last day of K – I think she’s grown up a bit, yes?

This kid will be going to preschool.

IMG_2901(hopefully she won’t break too many hearts)

AND, I will be going back to teaching! A half-time kindergarten teaching position opened up in our school district, so I applied, went through an intense interview process including teaching a lesson to kindergarteners I’d never met before while the hiring committee of seven people observed (yikes!), and got the job! I’m so excited and proud.

It’s going to be a biiiig adjustment for all of us this fall and I’m a little nervous about that (moms, any advice on balancing working outside the home, taking care of your own little ones, the house, and yourself???) but in the meantime, I’m going to soak up as much of this as possible:

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Happy Summer!

Ruby is six!

I can hardly believe that I have been Mama for six years. I am insanely proud of this girl.

IMG_3012Ruby’s birthday fell on a school day, but John took the afternoon off to help us celebrate after she got home. We baked cupcakes and opened gifts – including the card that Gigi wrote by herself and the gift she gave Ruby – noodles. “Because I know that Ruby really loves noodles.” Ruby was gracious as she opened each gift, oohing and aahing over everything; appreciating the thought, time, and effort that went into choosing and making each special present for her.

IMG_3017The next day, we hosted a small birthday party for her – a pink and purple ice cream cone party at her request.

IMG_2703She painted ice cream cones for the invitations.

IMG_2812We hung giant ice cream cones on our front porch to greet Ruby’s friends.

IMG_2801The kids dressed up their ice cream cones with seriously delicious toppings that Ruby picked out at Trader Joe’s (easiest party idea ever).

IMG_3030Then outside to burn off some sugar and enjoy the perfect weather! The girls took turns racing each other with “waffle balls” balanced on top of ice cream cones. Ruby is concentrating very hard.

This kid is growing up way too fast for me. Ruby still loves to snuggle up and read with me, but she is somehow old enough to have two wiggly teeth too. She has taught me so much, these past six years. I’ve learned more about love and letting go than I imagined possible. She has always had a fiercely independent spirit and challenged me to honor that. Ruby observes and memorizes details, loves to play with Ginger, and speed read her chapter books. She is thoughtful and wise and my hope is that she holds on to her strong sense of self while remaining compassionate towards others.

This is one special six-year-old.

 

We made it

We’ve been in our new house for about a week. The last month has been a blur of drama, tears, anxiety, and then a flurry of packing and moving. Our poor realtor (who is amazing, by the way) made it all happen, but it was a little touchy for awhile.

I have Nikki McClure‘s calendar up on our fridge and the single word on each month has been exactly what I needed to get me through it. I used them as mantras.

May::Persist::We decided to put our house up for sale. This meant very quickly finishing some home improvement projects and forgoing all spare time.

June:: Good Luck::We listed the house. Fingers are crossed. We got an offer 8 days after we listed, but the buyer couldn’t close until mid-August. Time to start house shopping and hope we can find the right place for us.

July::Depend::We put our wished out into the universe, and had to hope that things would work. We depended upon so many people – realtors, our buyer, the sellers, lenders, inspectors, etc. to do their jobs well and timely. A lot was out of our control.

August::Steady::John went out of town on two business trips. The girls got sick. We had to pack up our entire house. Then, at the last minute, after we should have closed, we learn that the lender for our buyer may not finance the loan. S-t-e-a-d-y. This is when the tears set in. We were exhausted. We ended up closing just over a week after we originally planned. Everyone hung in there to make it happen.

Now, we’re settling in. I adored my old house and I knew that this new one wouldn’t be able to compare. It doesn’t. But we have a big backyard (with our hammock under a big tree!), we have beautiful hiking trails (see above picture) just a short drive away, John rides his bike to work in 10 minutes passing llamas, cows, and crossing a covered bridge. There is a lot to love.

And I am so grateful that we are here. Nothing like a bit of drama to give you perspective and gratitude.

summer!

Ginger is 2 months old today!

It is finally summer here and we decided to head out to the coast today to take advantage of a warm sunny day there. We checked out the sea lions at the bay, saw tons of boats on the move, and even saw a seaplane flying around. It was great fun to watch Ruby this time. She remembered being there before, but could talk about everything so much more this time. We went down the beach and let the waves chase us. Ruby noticed the lighthouse in the distance and loved walking around on all the different kinds of sand.

Ginger pretty much slept through all the good stuff. We ate at our favorite restaurant and got some treats at an incredible bakery, then packed up for our ridiculously long and several-stop (oh, the joys of car trips with an infant and a toddler who didn’t nap!) car ride home.

csa this week:

Fingerling Potatoes

Garlic Scapes

Fava Beans

Basil

Black Kale

Cucumber

Carrots

Lettuce

Walla Walla Onion

Baby Onions

Strawberries

Happy summer to you!

summer walks

Ruby and I walk everywhere in our town – to the post office, the many parks, the library, the bank, the river, the coffee shop that re-opened (hallelujah!), and the farmer’s market, and the cemetery (I love reading all the old names on the markers). I hate, hate, hate cars (with good reason) so walkability is crucial for my livability. Anyway, here are a few snapshots from our recent strolls.

3835164704_1e0c7e45ae3835164348_55ecce9e213835162534_9bce023b73P.S. I’ve added new links on the blog.