Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's the Summer of ... 2011

Our summer has been a very busy one (which is one of the reasons I'm STILL behind in my blog posts) but we've managed to fit in some fun!  Boy do I love summers - I love the bbq food, the late, cool nights, the water fun, etc.  Hope yours has been filled with fun too!

Cash's 5th B-day started out our summer.  This was the very first cake of the kids' that I haven't made..sniffle..sniffle. Cash's birthday was the day after we got back from our Oregon Coast vacation and between that, T-ball games the following day, etc., we had no time to make a cake. He was so pleased with his Cars cake that I don't think he cared a wit - just mom I guess...sniffle sniffle.

Of course, the kids' trampoline was their combined birthday present and then he got a camp chair, a remote control dune buggy and a scooter. He loves riding that thing! He picked up on it immediately and has come up with a few tricks already. He pops the front tire as he's riding and he also sits down on the thing while he's riding. He thinks he's pretty hot stuff - we were just surprised to see how good his balance was. 

With proof of his good balance, Ty decided to take Cash's training wheels off his bike.  He thought Cash would likely crash a couple times and want them back on but they were both excited to give it a try.  Ty got him on and started and was holding his shirt until he realized he wasn't really doing anything for Cash and let go...and Cash just took off.  He figured out how to turn and hop off his bike all by himself.  His bike is rather tall for him so I didn't think Cash was quite ready for it.  He had to practice getting on the bike by himself the next day.  It's quite the process - he has to hop up onto the seat while starting to pedal at the same time (since it's a bit too tall) but he does so good now!  Cash's so proud of himself and thinks he is so grown up.  It's one of the first things out of his mouth when ever he comes across a friend or neighbor - "I can ride my bike without any training wheels!"  

One of my favorite past times as a kid - playing on the trampoline with the sprinklers  running under it:

Cash can do flips like crazy!  Now we just have to teach him how to land them.  He has a little buddy a couple years older than him and the kid can land a flip and almost land a back flip.  Cash was just in awe as he watched him!

Cash played T-ball this summer (the month of June) and loved loved loved it!   I guess it's his sport of choice at the moment.  Any ball that was hit his direction he took off running at and dove to pick it up.  He has quite an arm on him and would often catch the little 1st baseman off guard when he'd throw it all the way and directly to him. 

Cash also has a mean swing and I always got a good chuckle at the comments of other parents when they saw such a little guy like him swing so hard at the ball.   His coach was almost afraid to pitch the ball to him for fear of a hard line drive.  He is quite the little slugger and even figured out that if he made himself be the last batter on his team, he got to run all the bases as if he had hit a home run. Then he'd always run over to me and announce, "Mom I got a home run!" 

It was just such a blast to watch Cash play.  He was so ready to do it and enjoyed it so much - I'm so glad!  He put 110% into it, throwing hard, sprinting from base to base - running with all the speed he could muster, and swinging with all his might  - it was such a hoot!

We haven't been fishing near as much as we did last summer but we have made it out once with the family and Vanna caught her first fish (end of June)!  She has own pole now (Cash got a new one from Grandma and Grandpa Mendenall for Christmas and was kind enough to retire his old one for Vanna's use :) and likes to reel in the fish, and touch and hold them.  She tries to throw them back into the water too but her arm isn't quite what Cash's is and we often have to help her.  She'll get there though.  The kids just love to get outside and explore and play in the great outdoors!  We had a good time!

Cash is currently taking his first set of swimming lessons too.  He goes each day for 1/2 hour for two weeks.  While Cash is usually Mr. Athletic/Daredevil, and while he has always loved the water and swimming in a shallow pool or the tub, he is a little nervous in deep water.   The fact that he can't touch the bottom of the pool throws him a little. So we made an effort to show how excited we were that he was going to be learning how to swim well (well enough even that he will someday be able to jump off the diving board and swim to the side of the pool all by himself - he is so ready to do that he thinks), etc.  He is being very brave and has done well to listen to his instructor.  He loves looking around under the water in his goggles and is very good and holding his breath.   I'm so confident in him and know that he'll get over his little fears become a great swimmer.  Vanna can't wait for her turn to take swimming lessons too - she's a little water baby for sure.  I think next year we'll have them both taking them and I think that will only further push Cash (he loves to out-do his sister of course) and before we know it - we'll have two little swimmers on our hands!

Cash's first diving board jump (with a little help from his instructor - Alex)!

Like I've said before, it's been a busy yet fun-filled summer so far.  Hopefully we still have time to fit a bit more in but, gosh, it seems like summer is just flying by!  Hope yours has been great as well!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wait...what was that?!

These kids are just growing up so darn fast!  It's hard to believe we have a five year old (who I can hardly pick up anymore) and a three year old (who thinks she's five and capable of doing whatever Cash is)!

Cash really is such a good big brother.  He's original in the fact that he loves to tease and torment his little sister, however, at the same time, he is wonderful to play with her and make her laugh.  Vanna will even choose Cash to tuck her in her bed at night sometimes.  Cash likes trying to help her and show her new things.  Of course he likes to out-do her with tricks that he thinks she's too clumsy to perform as well.  Anyway, the kids truly wouldn't know what to do without one another.

Vanna is a great big sister as well.....

.....wait, what was that!?

Yes.  Vanna is on her way to being big sister as well and she's great at it!  We ARE expecting baby #3 this winter and are very excited.  My actual due date is January 2nd but I'm planning on December (the closest to my due date I've ever been is three weeks early - now you understand :).  We will find out in another month or so what we're having - Cash is pulling for a boy and Vanna is pulling for a girl  - of course :). 

Vanna always asks if the baby is still in my tummy and if it's doing good.  Cash is very curious and bubbling over with excitement about the baby as well.  Each morning he asks if the baby kicked me during the night and when I'm eating a meal, he'll ask if the food I'm eating is for the baby too.  These guys are at such a fun age for this and I know they're going to be great little helpers.  In fact, just after we told the kids our news, and Ty explained that this is why mommy has been sick so often and tired all the time, Cash ran to the bathroom and brought me the garbage and said, "here you go mom, just in case" (just in case I throw up, I guess :).  Ty also gave Cash the assignment of making sure I drink plenty of water throughout the day (a habit I'm not good at and need reminding of) and boy is he on top of that.  

I'm so grateful for such great kids and we are thrilled to pieces to be blessed with another.  We will just keep praying all goes well and keep you all posted! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oregon Coast Family Vacation

The last week of May we took a family vacation and spent the entire week along the Oregon Coast.  We're so glad we did and were amazed at the unique beauty the Oregon Coast holds. 

We started out with our first night spent with wonderful friends in Eugene. We had such a good time catching up with them and are so grateful they let us stay with them.  We hope to see more of them soon!  From there, we headed toward Florence and on our way we spotted the ocean for the first time (this was literally the first time the kids and Ty had ever seen the ocean).  The kids kept yelling "the ocean, the ocean!" 
Some pix of the coast on our way to the Sea Lion Caves near Florence:

See the lighthouse behind us?  They were so beautiful.  Unfortunately we never got right up close to any on our trip because parks were closed, etc. but we got lots of pictures of them in our backgrounds.

Sea Lion Caves (Florence):

We saw tons of sea lions quite up close as they enjoyed the sun along the rocky beaches. During the winter though, the sea lions hang out in this huge sea lion cave that is just beautiful. the kids thought the sea lions and the cave was stinky and it was true - those sea lions reek. :)

This time of year there are babies out sun bathing too - do you see them?  And look at some of those huge bulls!

After we left Florence we made our way to Newport where we went to an amazing Aquarium that we all loved.  In fact, this was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip!

Oregon Coast Aquarium (Newport):

See why this was one of my favorite places - I loved that the kids could actually touch live starfish, etc. in the touch tanks. 
Look at the size of that otter - it's the size of Vanna!  It was just sleeping on it's back, all curled up and cute, right by the window for the kids to get up close and personal!
We were all quite fascinated and had to return to the touch tanks over and over!
Silly kids!

Ahh!  The shark tank!  This place was neat too.  All around you were sharks and sting rays.  Some were even pretty big!

 For hating snakes so much Ty was pretty intrigued with this huge anaconda (even bigger than it normally is as it was pregnant and due to have her babies any day - it was said she was even agitated more than normal as she was having consistent labor pains).  Yikes - that thing could swallow me whole and that of course, is less than comforting.

Wax Works Museum (Newport):
Can't really see the kids' faces (bad pix) but they were actually so scared, at first, to sit in front of this elephant because it would move and roar at them.
Ty thought this one was pretty cool of Johnny Depp - looked just like him!

This place kind of freaked out the kids. They hardly knew what what was real and what wasn't, and if that wasn't enough - Ty would further terrify them with tricks and pranks as we went through it. He really enjoyed the Museum. We went for a short walk along the bay which was literally right across the street from the Museum, and there we saw huge fishing rigs, more sea lions and even a boat unloading it's shrimp into a huge truck to be shipped out. It was just interesting to take a peek at this way of life - I felt like we were walking along in a movie similar to "The Perfect Storm" where everyone walks along in waders and raincoats, where everyone's occupation is that of a fisherman, etc. It was neat!
Newport Bay - with all the fishing rigs.
The beach:

While traveling near Neport we took some time to just enjoy the beach.  Cash had the idea in his mind that the beach was going to be hot, with warm water and that we'd be watching surfers (too many movies I guess :) and was suprised when Ty told him how cold the water was and that he didn't see any surfers.  He was thoroughly entertained with exploring the beach, however, in search of cool rocks and seashells.  What a relaxing (and somewhat chilly :) afternoon!

On our way down a short trail to the beach - even the trail was beautiful!

Their first ocean experience!!!

It was an absolutely beautiful late afternoon to be walking, relaxing and exploring on the beach!

Ohhh - that's cold!

We came home with so many rocks and shells that the boys found so interesting!  Caught another lighthouse in the background!

Whale Watching (Depoe Bay):

Or should I say the lack thereof.  Unfortunately, we didn't see any whales when we went out in a charter boat to see those that spend their summers living right along the Oregon Coast.  A couple people on our boat saw one whale's blow at one point on our trip out (because the boat's captain knew of two whales eating right where we were watching) but we weren't so lucky.  It was a windy rainy day and the waves made it hard to see any blows.  The waves made me and Ty so sick - luckily the kids didn't get sick but were rather rocked to sleep on the boat.
Our charter boat - the Morning Star.

On the boat, making our way out of the bay and into the great big ocean!

This is the beginning of the whale watching tour - hence the smiles.  You would have seen green, sad faces if the picture would have been taken afterwards. :(
I was so disappointed we didn't see any whales - this was one of the things I was most excited to do.  Instead we paid a good chunk just to get sick, darn it.  BUT, this I think was the only disappointment of the trip so I think we were pretty fortunate really!

After Depoe Bay, we enjoyed Lincoln City (which is beautiful) and a little shopping at their huge outlet mall there.  At least me and Vanna did - Ty and Cash did more exploring at the beach.  They were actually caught in a down pour while out pretty far and had to run about a mile through the rain to get back to the car.  They were soaked to the bone when they came to pick us up.  The poor guys.  Guess I'm glad I was shopping! 

The above plants/flowers were everywhere and were so fragrant.  One thing about that area is that everything is green and the flowers are beautiful - the people there never even have to water them!

Views on the way to Tillamook along some of the Capes.  Simply beautiful!!!

After we got the boys changed and cleaned up we took a scenic drive along the Three Capes (also breathtaking) on our way to Tillamook. 

Tillamook Cheese Factory:
We took a tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory while we were in Tillamook.  I thought it was neat and so did the kids.  We learned all about the history behind the Tillamook industry as well as the process they go through in order to make/store/package their cheese. 

My in-laws are dairy farmers and much of their milk goes toward making cheese so it was interesting for the kids to learn that this was the process that maybe Grandma and Grandpa's milk goes through.

We enjoyed samples of their cheese and topped the tour off with yummy Tillamook Ice Cream cones!

Then we were off to Cannon Beach where we stayed at a beautiful resort located right on the beach.  It was absolutely beautiful and so relaxing.  Of the whole trip, this was mine and Ty's favorite location.  It held it's own beauty that is for sure and we just so enjoyed the laid back, small tourist town atmosphere (something I'm well accustomed to - felt like home :)!

This was practically our view from our resort patio - ahhh, the sounds, the view from our place - just heavenly!  It was a beautifully secluded area that was so fun to be.  And of course, the resort treated us like kings and queens - we loved it (and the kids loved all their free popcorn and cookies and sand bucket/kit:)!

Our best attempt at a sand castle.

Notice the kids are wearing their winter coats - it was chilly day!
The next morning we traveled up to Seaside and spent some time walking their boardwalk and seeing the sights. They have a huge beach between where the town and boardwalk end and the water begins. There were swing sets there the kids just couldn't resist trying. There were lots of people flying kites (because it's always a bit chilly and windy along Oregon's coast) and just taking it easy.

Just outside Seaside was this great place to walk and play along the beach - so we did! 

Braving the cold water!

The kids loved following the tide out and then running from the incoming waves.  At one point, Vanna and Cash were both out awaiting the incoming wave when she got distracted by watching Cash excitedly running from the wave and was suprised when the water hit her legs.  She tried then to run away from the wave and got tripped up - she face planted it.  The water was very very shallow so she was alright but was all wet adn a bit scared.  Afterward she said, "ocean get me" and "me eat little bit ocean" because a little seawater got in her mouth when she first tripped.  Although it was a bit comical we felt so bad for our little girl!:)

The kids were playing right by a ship-wreck that has dissinigrated (sp?) over time and I just thought it was so neat!

Then we made our way to Astoria which we liked even more than Seaside.  It sits back a ways from the Coast and is actually located along the Columbia River.  We went across the bridge from Astoria to Washington and realized that the River is approximately 3 miles wide.  It is amazing.  Our hotel was located right alongside the River so we had front row seats to see the tug boats, the Coast Guard boats and all the huge ships/barges that come in.  That River really has a lot of traffic and it was just all so neat to see. 
The walkway between our hotel and the river with the beautiful bridge behind it!

An example of all the barges/ships we saw coming up the river.

As we walked along the Astoria Riverwalk we came upon a small harbor where many sea lions hang out - they were so close and I couldn't help wondering what the fisherman do when they come upon the sea lions as they try to board their boats - I imagined they shoo them away like we would a cat or something. 

We went to the Maritime Museum there in Astoria and that was such an interesting and educational place to visit.  I absolutely loved it with all it's history it told of that area and all the information and hands on learning they had there.   Another one of my favorite parts of the trip!

We spent our nights in Astoria (and at most every location we stayed) swimming in the hotel pools.  I think the swimming pools and the hotel elevators were among the kids' most favorite things of the entire trip!  So funny (yet classic right?)! 

We ended our trip with a day and night in Portland where we took the kids to the Portland Zoo. It's a pretty big zoo where we saw lots of animals we wouldn't see in our more local zoos:

We all had a good time and were thoroughly worn out by the end of the day.  

The next morning we drove all the way home and boy did it feel good to get home.  Now we feel like we know everything there is to do from Oregon's central coast all the way north and what we would or wouldn't do again should we ever make our way back.  We had such a great time and I felt especially spoiled where I didn't have to cook any meals, make beds, etc. but there truly is no place like home right?  More than anything I just looked forward to spending time together with the family - doing something out of the usual and making plenty of memories.  We certainly accomplished that and now I just can't wait to start scrapbooking it all!