Tag Archives: travel

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.






15 Jun

The last load of laundry is in the dryer.  The dust has been blown off of my shorts.  The list of  to do’s is slowly growing.  I should be crossing off some of those “do’s” but here I am telling you that we are headed home for a 10 day vacation in hot, humid, glorious Virginia.  We can’t wait to hug the necks of our family and friends we haven’t seen in awhile.  We can’t wait to drive on busy roads and feel the blast of air conditioning.  This time there’s even a new baby to snuggle.  Oh my, jiggity JIG!

I’m terrible at surprises so instead of sneaking a new book in her backpack for the plane we just read it over breakfast.

It’s still going in the backpack, every teacher knows the powerful benefits of rereading. *wink*

It’s just us girls traveling this time.  I know Ryan is going to miss us, but he’s not the only one.

“Miss them?  More like miss the dropped food.” Hank

Someone is feeling too big for her britches with her new backpack and her very own plane seat.

We’ll have the full report when we return – which hopefully will not involve airport sprinting and/or airplane tantrums…

Snuggle bunny always needs extra cuddling.  She’s a nervous flyer.

Father Knows Best

12 Jun

During our February trip to Paris we made a quick stop over in London. It was grey and cold, busy and gritty and totally wonderful. I need to go back.

London awesome-ness.

I’m not a big shopper while traveling. I would rather dine, sightsee, and experience — of course it’s always fun to have momentos, but it’s not my top priority. However as soon as it was certain we would be heading to London my heart was aflutter with the need to bring back a tiny, porcelin tea set for Abigail. We had such a limited time, less than 48 hours, but I knew it would become a family treasure with a story.

Tower of London.  “Tea set or off with your head!” 

Ryan is even less of a shopper than I am so upon hearing my desire to find the tea set he grumbled about it. The concierge recommended we try Hamley’s, a huge toy store much like FAO Schwarz. On the map it seemed that our hop on/hop off tour bus would pass right by it. Here’s the condensed version of what happened: Ryan did a lot of grumbling, I did a lot of getting upset and talking about the must-have tiny tea set. It was not our finest moment. Our friend, Jimmy, mediated with a very wise, “Ryan, if Sarah isn’t happy you aren’t going to be happy” mini lecture and we all stepped off the bus onto Regent Street. Two tea sets later, one for Abigail and one for baby to be Charlotte, we were strolling through Picadilly Circus while I held onto my Hamley’s bag victorious!

Dressed up guy in front of Hamley’s!  Happy kid to the right.

This isn’t a story about London or tea sets though. It’s really a story about Ryan. It was a couple of weeks after we returned home that Abigail made tea time a regular part of our evenings, but it was always with Daddy. He mentioned in passing one night after Abigail went to sleep that he was really happy we got it. “You’re really good at making things special,” he said, “She loves it.”

But the truth is. Ryan is really good at making things special, making Abigail feel special. As much as I would love to sit down for tea with Abigail, and we do occasionally, I’m happy to let it be theirs.

Ryan has always been a hands on dad. I never wanted to be the bossy wife correcting him if he did something differently than me. So what if he uses a few more wipes for every diaper change than I do or only lets her have 3 play dohs out at a time. It doesn’t matter if he wants to break her string cheese up into bites when I give it to her in strips. I don’t think she needs powdered sugar on top of french toast when she’s going to dip it in syrup but he loves to make it like his mom did. He does “Baby Drip Dry” after a bath and I let Abigail take off down the hallway, her hooded towel a billowing cape. Tomaytoes, tomahtoes.

I think Ryan looks to me sometimes for how to deal with certain things that come up; how to say no to a snack too close to dinner or how to read stories a little softer and a little calmer at bedtime. But I’m not sure he knows how much I look up to him.  As a mom who’s home all day amidst laundry and paperwork and kitchen duty it’s easy to lose perspective.

It’s the little things he does that help remind me of what really matters. The excited “hey you!” he says to her each afternoon when he walks through door. The undivided attention he gives her when they play often talking about important things, like strong foundations for block castles. The way he lets her stand on the kitchen counter, one hand at her back while she smells every spice we own, giving enthusiastic praise each time she identifies thyme or curry or cinnamon. The way he’s not too busy to let her have a few more minutes to collect pine cones or to run around the golf course.  His patience for chasing after her as she runs to the waves over and over again. I just love him and her, but what I never expected to love so much was the relationship between him and her.

The tea pot has a chip in it now. I won’t lie, I was a little devastated so I took it away. I put it on top of the refrigerator hoping she would forget about it for a while. The other day she told Ryan, “Tea Party, Daddy!” “Is that okay?” he asked me. “It has a chip in it. I don’t want it to get messed up.” I said. “That’s okay,” he said with his mega smile, “It’s just like Chip!” Unbeknownst to him teaching me another lesson: relax and enjoy.

She’s a lucky girl. And so am I. Happy Early Father’s Day, Ryan. XO

Bend/Redmond: A Love Story

2 Jun

Disclaimer:  If you are my mother, you will love the obnoxious amount of pictures.  If not, I apologize in advance.

We’d been looking forward to our Bend/Redmond getaway since Reisha had suggested that we join them a few months ago. I counted down the weeks until Memorial Day weekend like a kid rips off links from a paper chain announcing Christmas. We talked plans over wagon rides, BBQ’s, and Bravo TV until finally the weekend came.

Not packing a minute too soon and almost a minute too late we loaded up the van with the whole family, including Hank-a-rooni, and headed “Over the river and through the woods” to the high desert of central Oregon.

It took about a nanosecond for me to fall in love with the place. Seriously perfect.

“You’re a desert person, huh?” Ryan said to me.

“I think I just might be. 300 days of sunshine!”

After Ryan stopped laughing, “Newport do that to you?” Probably.

We ate at Diego’s Spirited Kitchen for dinner while Scott, Reisha, and Kaylyn headed to a concert. We went back the next day for lunch because one can never have too much tableside-prepared guacamole and pork carnitas tacos. (Reisha, Scott, and Kaylyn went back again after we left on Tuesday to complete a trifecta of fine Mexican meals.)

We hiked around Smith Rock Park, alternatingly carrying the girls in their packs, letting them walk, and laughing as the guys had to tough it out back up the trail. I didn’t even think about cougars or the introduction of rattlesnakes to the mix. The sky was blue, the mood and elevation at an all time high.

Rattlesnakes, schmattlesnakes…might have freaked out a little at this point.  It was okay.  We had a doctor with us.

We made the mistake of thinking we could check out some of the scenery along the Cascade Lakes Highway, but it turns out we would have needed a snowmobile. Whoops. The views of Mt. Bachelor were amazing regardless and every good trip needs a travel story involving flying sea bands, anxiety over a potential car sick toddler, and a round of Baby Beluga.

Truth be told. We’ve had a lot thrown at us in the past couple of weeks and it was good to leave — to do something where there was nothing to think about except what kind of beer was the best at Deschutes or which pool would be the best for swimming.

Ryan, beyond proud.  Girl loves a growler…uh oh.

And as much as I love going home to see our family, I must admit I loved this, too. There weren’t time zones to cross and TSA approved ziplocs to worry about. The company was easy and enjoyable: shared excitment over locating illusive Amstel Lights, sweet sounds of toddler friends enjoying almost sleep overs, cooking thrown together meals prepared with meager condo supplies.

So it was good, really good — a breath of fresh air, if you will.

I can’t say the same for the air in the Market of Choice grocery store that Abigail chose as a great place for throwing up on the way home.

And our covered wagon, er, minivan, rolled on home to fevers and coughing and snot – and most importantly sweet dreams where the memories from a fantastic trip played on.

Yeah, I’d marry the place, but I’m already taken.

Leaping & Twirling

22 Apr

A lot of what I write about is based on my experiences of being a mother and surviving a big move. It gets pretty reflective sometimes because, as my dad says, I need to “give it away.” I write it, it’s out there, I move on for the time being.  Sometimes I take baby steps that make me feel like progress is never being made and other times I am leaping and twirling to new territory.

I did a little leaping and twirling this weekend. But before we explore that embarrassing mental image let me just put out a general disclaimer about our life here. We are happy. That’s the bottom line.

Sometimes I’m sad and emotional, sometimes I feel like Abigail is growing up unbelievably fast, lots of times I still call my girlfriends back home because I miss our easy friendships, and I still text my family “I miss you” messages on the regular. But everyone has their stuff to deal with, geography is just ours.

And our geography could be a lot worse.  I pedaled my bike along the water relishing in my total solitude thinking of absolutely nothing except.  I am not on vacation.  I live here.

We earn weekends like this one.  We endure months of total crap weather.  And when the sky clears and the air warms slightly you better believe Oregonians everywhere are out smiling and celebrating their good fortune.  

I rode my bike like a fool, smiling, stopping, backpedaling to snap photos.

If I would have been shouting it would have been something to the dorky effect of:

“Oh hello stinky fish cleaning station.  I love that I have a public fish de-gutting spot in my town!”

Or “I am afraid of cougars and I don’t care who knows it! But they won’t keep me from enjoying this trail!”

Or “Why yes I do know the answer to that!  Thank you, jetty, for changing the shoreline so I can ride my bike on land and not underwater.”

I’m not going to lie to you.  Our life is pretty incredible here.

I love that this morning when the guys went golfing, I got to have an impromptu play date at the beach.  I love that Hank’s floof smells like salty sea air long after we leave.  I love unrolling my jeans and having sand pour out onto freshly vacuumed floors.  Yes.  We are happy.  And I like to give that away, too.

Hope you had a great weekend!  I’m off to leap, twirl, ride my bike, and maybe even shout a little.


18 Mar

I don’t know how many generations we’d be – this special friendship between the women in two families.  It doesn’t really matter though.  More generations wouldn’t it make it any more fantastic than it already is.

There’s my mom with her nieces, Kathy & Becky, the best example I’ve ever had of friendship between women.  It’s supportive, honest when needed, and always kind and loving.  When I personally faced a rough friendship patch early in my teens it was Becky who picked up my bruised soul, bandaged my wings, and helped me fly again.  Becky and Kathy both have daughters that my sisters and I watched grow up, love to pieces, and are now at the point where every time I see them they are less like kids and more like friends.

Last week, two people in this friendship family tree came out to see us, which resulted in a double whammy of happiness.  My sister and Becky’s baby, Laura, flew out.

We curled up on the couch when it was rainy and talked girl talk.

We ate around our table family style.

We played in rain and snow.  So much snow.  So much rain.

We chased a very spoiled toddler.

And I got to see our beautiful Oregon coast in my very favorite way – through the eyes of a newbie.

And when they were gone I wasn’t the only one in tears.  Abigail cried too.  “Ehmy!  Waura!”

We cried big, fat alligator tears together and we were sad.  But I was happy, too.  Another generation, another blessed girl was being taken by the arms of many down a beautiful road of friendship.

The Gift

30 Jul

There’s a story that hasn’t been told. One that centers around a friend, a necklace, and a plane ride. Today is the right time to tell it.

The moving truck was filling up fast. The rooms empty except for a few cardboard boxes. I got a phone call from a friend saying she wanted to stop by. I dreaded this moment. When she arrived we chatted until it was time to say goodbye. She handed me a card and a silver padded envelope. I didn’t want to cry so I waited to open it after she left.

Inside the envelope was a necklace. A lotus flower fashioned on a silver circle. “New Beginnings” the card read, “wear your necklace daily as a reminder to embrace new experiences and opportunities…just like the lotus, rising from muddy beginnings into something beautiful and celebrated.”

And I did wear it. Everyday. It helped me walk around the block. Unpack a box. Get a library card. Sleep at night. Meet a friend.

It became a habit to wear it. Like brushing my teeth. I felt that by wearing it, my dear friend, who I was used to talking to almost daily on the phone was right there with me.

She did stay with me. (And still does.) A phone call from her makes my day. We always chat easily. She’s honest and real and funny as hell. She’s also a very experienced traveller (with and without babies). Naturally she was the first person I called after booking my sans Ryan trip back East. She was confident I could handle it.

The morning of the trip arrived. My bags were packed. I got dressed and put on my necklace. I can travel by myself, across the country, on a plane, with a baby (a very squirmy baby).

We went through security. A lady folded my stroller for me. We boarded the first leg of our flight. I was seated next to a man who had twins, twice. He had nothing under his seat so he gave me his extra room. We arrived in Dallas. We had lunch. We survived our 3 hour layover. We had our last bathroom stop before boarding. I pushed Abigail into the bathroom. She was playing with my water bottle and lost her grip. I quickly reached down to grab it before it fell on the floor. When I stood up I felt a tug. My hand went to my neck. The necklace had been caught on the handle of the stroller and was now broken.
My eyes were filling up fast. I didn’t have time to cry. Our flight was boarding. I put the necklace into my backpack and headed out of the bathroom. A few hours later we landed in Richmond. I had done it.

I couldn’t believe the timing of the necklace breaking. In the past few months I had grown so much. I was stronger and braver. It wasn’t just the necklace that helped me adjust. It was the thought behind it. A friend I never wanted to leave unselfishly gave me all the support in the world. Every call, every text, every note she continues to bless me with makes it a little easier to be away. It isn’t surprising that her name is Joy.