Archive | August, 2012

Flying With Her Own Wings

29 Aug

Almost two years ago I wrote a blog, a blog that would mark the beginning of perhaps the grandest adventure of my life.  In the months that would follow I would pour out my raw feelings on a computer screen and hit publish.  I wrote through my ups and downs, every struggle I faced, every moment to be celebrated.  It was unedited and real and often, I’m sure, grammatically incorrect.

Through words I would find catharsis, purging the sometimes overwhelming emotions of homesickness, motherhood, and adjusting to a new place.  Today I find myself in a familiar situation: typing with held breath and tears welling up and spilling over.  And while I am excited for what the future holds for our family, today I am sad.

Newport, Oregon.

The hardest thing about putting yourself out there, letting everyone in on your experience, is that you don’t know at the time what the ending will be.  You never know how you will evolve and what turns your life will take.  So when you get to the end and it isn’t at all what you expect it’s a lot to process.

I never expected Oregon to touch my heart as much as it did.  I came here dragging my feet but what I endured and discovered has changed me forever.    It takes heart to live here, through the months and months of soggy gray and roaring winds.  I was only here for two winters but I’m proud of surviving through each one.  Your reward is living in a place whose beauty cannot be measured.  How strange it seemed to wear your fleece on the beach, to run in the rain, and to wear fall clothes all year, but now it feels right.

But the hardest part of leaving is the saying goodbye to our friends.  When I first arrived I felt like the biggest outsider.  I was awkwardly aware of my uptightness in a community that welcomed us with open arms.  It wasn’t long before I found a kindred spirit that would eventually become not just an important part of my life, but also my daughter’s, hereby proclaiming “No Pants Wednesdays” as a necessary part of the week.  Soon after I was scooped up by a story time friend who never questioned why I was there with my 6 month old – she became my rock, the person who had walked the path closest to my own.   Another friend filled rainy days with aquarium visits and baking and Chai.  A book club who had known each other for years treated me like one of the gang, no questions asked.  A beautiful mother but also a fellow girl’s girl was always up for going on an adventure, sharing a glass of wine, or gossiping about Bravo housewives.  A fun loving couple who didn’t mind a toddler running around their deck and chasing their cat during barbeques on the bayfront — all of these people saying in their own way, “come, relax, enjoy, be.”  Oregon snuck into my soul and I didn’t even notice.

Finally, there’s the ocean.  It deserves its own mention.  How very lucky we all were to experience daily something that so beautifully reminds you of the world’s vastness.  Forever now it will be the place that centers me.  It’s the first home Abigail has really known and she is alive here.  I think she loves it most of all.  It’s hard to take her away when I see how her soul dances on the sand, but I know she is about to add some new and great chapters to her story.  We will be back to visit.  I want my all of my children to know and love the Oregon coast, like we do now.  But mostly, I want Abigail to one day know the reason that the sea whispers her name.  Because for a short time, this was home.

So thank you, Oregon.  This is the place where I discovered my passion for writing.  This is the place we became a family.  This is the place I unearthed the strength I never knew I had.  And I am forever grateful.


Long Distance Friends

22 Aug

It’s been a busy week and with no signs of slowing down I thought I’d pop in for a quick update.

Heather and I during our fabulous Californian spring break. Hello, blondness! c.2007 

My friend, Heather, is here.  Well, she’s in Portland, but I get to see her tomorrow afternoon when we pick her up in the big van for Hood to Coast.  She flew all the way out here to race with Team Platypus.  I should have been packing, but instead I sifted through old photos on the computer.

In 2004 we were both brand new teachers, Heather got a job teaching 2nd grade at the school where I had just taken a job teaching 3rd.  It wasn’t until two years later when I moved to 2nd grade that we became close.  Some people you just click with and we just did.  Heather is someoen you can laugh with and cry with and spill your guts to and she never judges you.  She’s the kind of person that still sends snail mail and once had a big, dried beetle on her desk.  I also give her credit for getting me hooked on running.

Monument Avenue 10K c.2009 – I had a bum knee and I was pretty slow, but she ran with me anyway.

Heather was the person who told me I should definitely run a 5K, then 10K, then 10 miler, and last year she even encouraged me to do this crazy thing called Hood to Coast.  So it’s really special for me that she’s here.  I should also mention that she is an amazing runner!

Meeting brand new Abigail c.2010

We don’t talk that often, but it doesn’t really matter.  Our friendship has always been carved a little deeper.  We aren’t the same person, but we understand each other.  Maybe it’s from working so many hours together teaching and creating, maybe it’s because she cries over all that happy, sappy, and sad stuff just like me, or maybe it’s because we were just destined to be friends – whatever the reason I’m glad she’s a part of my life.  It’s extra sparkly when she’s around.

Heather and Gregg’s wedding c.2010


If you want to know more about Hood to Coast you can check out these posts I wrote last year.




Blackberry Summer

15 Aug

Hank tapped at the front door and not sure if he really needed to go out or if he was just sulking because he didn’t get a taco I grabbed a couple of grocery bags just in case.  Outside he pulled to the left and kept on going, not bothering to look back and seek approval as he usually does.  They say you shouldn’t let your dog be in charge of the walk.  That’s probably good advice.  But tonight I didn’t mind, I was anxious to be outside and since when is your 150 pounder not in charge anyway.

This afternoon I asked my mom what the weather was doing out there.  She laughed and said it was only 88 and tomorrow only 90, “maybe fall is on the way.”  Our summer, while significantly cooler than that, seems to be just kicking into high gear.  Summer around here seems to ride in on the wheels of RV’s and hazy sunsets reaching full ripeness alongside the juicy berries that pop out to color the green.

Hank and I walked on enjoying the reprieve from the winds that blow relentlessly across the golf course for most of June and July.  It was not until we were headed back that I spotted a cluster of ripe blackberries.  I took one of the bags that was shoved into my pocket to grab a few.  But as berry pickers know, one cluster leads to another and another and before you know it, you are full on in a ditch filling up a Thriftway bag.

Blackberries are more temperamental and less forgiving than blueberries or strawberries.  You have to work a little more diligently.  Getting them means taking on the risk of a thorny vine hooking onto your jeans or snagging your shirt, getting a little scraped up is just part of it.

All of this impromptu berry picking had me thinking about seasons and what we associate with each one, images popping up of what we do and who we’re with, some things a constant and defining presence, others changing.  My idea of summer has evolved to include northwestern things now that I’m experiencing them a second time around.   The scrapes I’ve endured while acclimating myself here make this summer a little sweeter.

Once we were back home it didn’t take long for Abigail to catch on that those blackberries had come from right outside our door.  We headed out again; this time all four of us walking into our summer.

A summer that is always defined by each other, and is more recently defined by cobbler,  delicious blackberry cobbler.

Heat Wave

7 Aug

When a “Heat Advisory” for 80 degree weather is issued on a coast that rarely sees 70 you throw your to do list out of the window.  We did just that this weekend.  Living by the ocean really can be the best thing in the world and it’s even better when you wake up and have a day or two that feels like a vacation.

Our little beach town is so much different from the beaches I visited growing up.  The coastline is cut by dramatic cliffs, made only more so when the fog rolls in to wrap them up in a cloud of mystery.  But this weekend the wind slowed, the sun warmed, and the “bathing soup” came out for a glorious juxtaposition of the two kinds of beaches I love.

We pulled off 101 and made the short trek down to Moolack Beach eschewing the touristy crowds at our usual spots.  At this point allow me to make one strong recommendation for your bucket list.

Experience a beach that feels as if it’s all yours.

It’s paradise no matter the weather.

The one constant out here?  The Pacific waters where we are hover in the very crisp range of 50 and 55 degrees.  It’s wet suit mandatory kind of cold.  For me that means no water will be touching my toes.  Abigail, however, splashed until her little lips were quivering.

There was even more splashing when Olivia, Ollie, and Bella the beach dog showed up.

Thankfully this Coast Guard Helicopter was not going to rescue us or our potentially hypothermic daughter.

Thank you Coast Guard!

If that wasn’t enough of a treat, we took our weekend to hot fudge sundae proportions when a trip to the valley resulted in a get together with friends we are missing and new running shoes for me!

Wagon Rides, of course!

Guard dog, Ella.

Oh and we did some of this, too.

Is it Friday yet?

Abigail Do It!

5 Aug

My dad sent me an email last week after I wrote the Puzzling blog.  I had a few days of feeling off kilter.  My expectations were not matching up with what was going to realistically happen.  I shifted gears after reading what he wrote.  He was reminding me that it isn’t always about constantly entertaining your kids or shuttling them around to a million things.  It’s also good to just include them in that hum drum stuff that has to get done.

Trust me, Abigail will get just as much from following you as you will give her “following her”..  

We spent a lot of time doing regular stuff this week and as the days went on, “Abigail do it!” became our enthusiastic mantra.

It’s quicker and easier to just do it myself, but this week I opened up that reserve of patience that I forgot I had hanging around.  There were a few deep breath and jaw clenching moments but we made it through — and in the end?

I learned a lot about Abigail.

1.  When asked what she wants to wear?  It’ll be a toss up between something pink and a OSU “beebers” shirt.

2.  A pretty good fix for missing Nanny is making her blueberry scones.

3.  She takes her time writing thank you notes and decorating the envelopes.

4.  Abigail makes a mean PB&J dino toast.  After a few days of practice we served it up to a special breakfast guest who didn’t seem to mind pre-licked jelly.

“Oh you know I got some in the end.  I don’t practice my pathetic eyes for nothing!” – Hank

4.  If you thought she was good at vacuuming you should see her sweep.  (Don’t mind the mess.  We are spending most of our time making toast and sweeping a 1×1 square of carpet.)

5.  Even though she prefers her “gymnastics hair” I’m wondering if she’s destined to be my tiny dancer.

Mary Poppins wasn’t lying when she talked about the sugar making the medicine go down.  You bet we found some fun in the jobs to be done.

We’d like to thank our friend the step stool for making this week possible.

“Abigail doooooo it!” You sure can!  Go girl.