Summer Bucket List #5 and #6: Brunch and Party

#5: Brunch with babies!

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So we’d had the babies with us in a couple other restaurant situations. They had sat in high chairs in a couple fast food places, and we did one fairly-quick Red Robin dinner with my dad.

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But I wanted to do a purposeful restaurant outing with just the four of us and have a bit of yummy food too. So we went to Old Wives’ Tales, which is a kid-friendly diner-type place. We’ve been there before; in fact, it was the very first restaurant we brought the babies to. They were like 4 weeks old and slept in their infant seats the whole time.

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We made sure to bring several toys to ‘entertain’ them, and to be prepared to give them sips of water from our glasses. Then we decided to let them try the orange slices that came with our dishes. It was their first citrus and they seemed to like it!

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Even more than the toys they liked looking around at the new surroundings and new people. They were kind of quiet, I think just taking it all in. Thankfully it was pretty quiet in the restaurant; I have a feeling that they might have gotten overwhelmed otherwise.

Anyway, it was definitely a success and I am excited that we know we can take them out occasionally!

#6: Host a social gathering

We’ve lived in our house for almost a year now. It was finally time to have some people over!

Last fall, I happened across a meetup group for expectant mamas in our quadrant of Portland. We met up in October and everyone seemed really nice. A few of us started getting together to craft and chat, and then in December after all of the babies were born, we would get together at different members’ houses to hang out and talk babies. It was so great. All the girls are kindred spirits and I loved every time we got to hang out.

However, I’d never had everyone over to our place. Partly because we have a small living room and until a few months ago it wasn’t set up to accommodate a group. But now it’s summer, we rearranged our living room to be more open and spacious, and we have our little front yard. So it was time to play host!

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Of course I started a pinterest board for tasty and trendy snacks…but then I decided to keep it low-key. I made these muffins–chocolate chip with a few blueberries. We made some white cheddar popcorn, got some cheese and crackers, and set out a bowl of the fresh blueberries we’d picked recently.

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Three of the families were able to make it, so there were five babies total. All of the other babies were crawling at least a little, but happily everyone stayed safe in our non-baby-proofed space. Then we got everyone into the baby pool! There was lots of fun happy splashing.

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Overall, it was great to see everyone and host them at our place. I hope that we’ll be able to see them all again soon, and sometime we’ll do another gathering.

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Summer Bucket List #4: Berry Picking!

Two summers ago, we visited Portland and did a short visit to Sauvie Island to get some fresh corn at one of the many farms, and enjoy the rural scenery. And then a year ago, we went apple picking in the Berkshires and really enjoyed it. So, since we moved here to Portland, I’ve been looking forward to getting out to Sauvie Island to pick some fruit! It was the item I was third-most excited about for our summer list. We figured that it would be a great time to go while Andy’s family was here visiting. And it was!

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As we walked back to the berry fields, we passed the flowers and then the veggies.

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Blueberries! We wanted to pick enough to make a delicious cobbler. It was quite tedious–I now really appreciate the time and effort it takes to get those neat little pints of berries!

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We also picked some raspberries quickly. I tasted one right off the vine and YUM. It practically melted in my mouth. DSC_6325-18 DSC_6326-19 DSC_6330-20

There were two rows of Early Red Haven peaches that were ready, so we trekked over and grabbed a few handfuls.

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Here is the box of berries we ended up with. Beautiful as well as extremely tasty!   DSC_6372-27

I really can’t wait to go back. Hopefully this summer for more blueberries/raspberries, and then later for apples and corn, and then next year for strawberries!

Summer Bucket List #3: the Yard!

Well, more specifically, the kiddie pool!

This was a simple one, but even so, I’m really excited I finally did it! I have a tendency to procrastinate (umm…see this post a few weeks late…)

I went to Fred Meyer one weekend and their small plastic pools were only ten bucks. I also picked up two plastic adirondack chairs and some small plastic tables.

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Our little patio now looks super cute and homey! We already spent a lovely hour reading there in the warm night air after babies’ bedtime.

Since our front yard doesn’t have any shade of its own, so we’d talked about getting a cheap standing umbrella at IKEA. Of course when we did get to IKEA a few days later, they were out of them. But then we saw a better and more expensive umbrella (the Baggon). It wasn’t that much more and it seemed like it would actually work better for us, so we got it.

The next day we set it all up and the day after that I finally got one of the babies in the pool! I just dragged it so that it matched up with the shade that the umbrella gave at that time.

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Malcolm hung out for a couple minutes before he figured out he could splash. Splash splash splash! I also lay him down (the water was only a couple inches deep) and let him kick splash kick splash kick splash. Super cute!

Splashy!

The next day, while our nanny was here, we got both babies in the pool (during Emmett’s helmet break time). Emmett also took a few minutes to get acclimated and figure out splashing. And then, splashy splashy!

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At one point, Malcolm put his arm around Emmett.

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A few moments later, Emmett pushed him away. Heh.IMG_0335

 

Summer Bucket List #2: Mt Hood!

Please make sure to visit my photography page for non-family, beautiful-scenery-only photos!

Last week we finally went to Mt Hood! I’ve been so excited to go there for months. This is one of the two outings I’ve been most looking forward to this summer, and I’m so happy we finally went! We decided to go for the Fourth of July, because we don’t care about fireworks stuff and the weather had been so gorgeous the past week or two. It was actually cloudy when we left our house, and I was really bummed about not having great weather at the mountain. But as we got closer and closer, the sky got clearer and bluer!

The drive was super easy. One hour east of us, on one road, and bam, national forest and big snowy mountain. Amazing. I was giddy. 🙂

First we came to Government Camp, which is a small strip of hotels, shops, and ski places. Timberline Lodge is only a few minutes from there.

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Something’s different about Smokey the Bear…

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(Slightly blurry) stats about Timberline:

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We got there right around the babies’ lunchtime, so we set up in the lobby to feed them on one of the couches. Of course they were very interested in looking around at all the new stuff and hearing all those new noises.

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While they were eating, a small tour group came through right behind us, led by what was easily the dumbest guide ranger I’ve ever encountered. I hope for everyone’s sake that either it was her first day on the job or she was filling in for someone else at the last minute. She was reading from some papers, peppered her sentences with “ummm…” and “sooo…” and “….yeah.” She had a couple ‘facts’ to share, but they were incomplete. She tried talking about the stone structure in the middle of the lodge and one of her audience members had to tell her the term ‘mason.’ She also was trying to explain the phenomenon of the timberline–‘if you look up the mountain, you don’t see any trees, and if you look down, you see lots of trees. So trees don’t grow past here’–without actually using the term timberline. Which, I might suppose, is probably where the name of the lodge actually came from. Just a guess. Anyway. Andy and I kept giving each other looks like, “Really?!!!”

Anyway, we didn’t have time to walk around or anything, but of course I set up a family photo:

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Huge cougar carving–out here was a balcony with a southern view of the foothills and Mt Jefferson.

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We were starving and had a quick lunch in Government Camp, at one of the hotel ‘restaurants’ (really more of an overpriced diner). The babies sat in those wooden high chairs for the first time. So cute! They were VERY interested in our water and our food too (but we only gave them sips of the water).

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Our final stop was a short hike along Little Zigzag River to a small waterfall.

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Walking through the woods and listening to the running water was so beautiful and peaceful!

The falls were small but lovely nonetheless.

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We finally headed home after that, and the babies dozed in the car. I also fed them there, in the backseat. It worked really well and I am so glad to have that option in our pocket for future outings!

Headed back to civilization:

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It was a really great day. I can’t wait to bring the babies back next summer when they’re toddling around!

Summer Bucket List #1: the Falls!

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This was a great first outing for our summer ‘bucket list’ because it was so easy! (More info on the 2013 Summer Bucket List Challenge here)

Multnomah Falls is a popular sight in the Portland area–and it’s only half an hour east on the freeway!

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The freeway (I-84) cruises between the Columbia River to the north and thickly forested foothills to the south. Then suddenly, bam, a big waterfall!

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It’s actually two levels, an upper falls and then a near-immediate lower falls, but my 50mm lens wasn’t wide enough to get it all in one shot. 🙂

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Including the distance from the parking lot, it takes maybe five minutes to get to the viewing area at the base of the falls. There’s a trail that goes uphill to that higher viewing bridge, but we were not up for that with our baby carriers.

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We looked around the gift shop and informational area and then we were basically done. It was a very quick activity (and free!!), so we decided to drive the scenic byway part of the way back. On that road, we passed by two more falls before detouring again to the freeway.

We stopped for a break at a rest stop to try to feed the babies. Of course with all the noise and new things to see, they were very distracted and not interested in eating. So we got back in the car, I sat in the back between the car seats, and helped them finish their bottles. Happily that worked pretty well. 🙂

A companion outing on our list is to go back and drive more of the Scenic Byway, visit more of the waterfalls, and visit Vista House. I think that should be an easy and fun daytrip!

We did another short activity the following weekend, to the Grotto. Wasn’t on the list, but it was a good family outing. It’s close to us, and very nature-y.

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It’s basically an outdoor Catholic sanctuary. We are not at all religious, but we thought it would be nice to stroll around the peaceful gardens.

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It’s actually in two parts; most of it is on top of this cliff here. You buy a ticket for the elevator and then you follow the path around and through trees and gardens, passing statuary and plaques along the way.

Emmett volunteered to digest the information in the brochure for us. Heh.

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I was expecting manicured gardens, and there are some, but most of the time you’re winding through tracts of forest! It’s quite beautiful.

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And what a neat surprise to find that there is a labyrinth there! (For one of my AmeriCorps NCCC projects back in 2002, my team and I built one at a park in Wallingford, Connecticut. Ever since then I’m always delighted to find them when I’m out and about. For instance, there’s a ‘secret’ one in Battery Park in NYC!)

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We didn’t spend a ton of time there, but it was really nice to walk around such a lovely, quiet place, right in the city! And the best part was that we hit up the Burgerville drive-thru on the way home for some fries and an Oregon strawberry shake. 🙂

Summer Bucket List

Francesca posted recently about the Summer Bucket List Challenge and I thought to myself, Ooh ooh! Yes, let’s!

Now, I’m kind of cheating, since I already had most of this list in my head as part of my goals for the summer/year. But it’s a good excuse to be part of a bigger community of fun-having, plus it should help keep me accountable. And of course it will make for lots of fun blog posts! 🙂

Here’s what we want to do this summer! I can’t wait.

–visit Mt Hood: check! 7/4/13

–visit the coast: check! 8/27/13

–pick fruit at one of the u-pick farms (Sauvie Island or Hood River Valley Fruit Loop): check! 7/12/13

–visit Multnomah Falls: check! 6/15/13

–visit some other falls in the area/Vista House/Scenic Byway: check! 9/7/13

–go to the beach at Sauvie Island

–explore downtown with babies

–host a party for mamas group: check! 8/18/13

–go out for brunch with the babies: check! 8/17/13

–get a kiddie pool for the front lawn, and do lots of splashing with babies: check! 6/30/13

–continue our monthly dinner dates (just the grownups): check!

–organize the linen closet