My mom and the kids, reading stories while I cleaned and packed up at the last place. Mom was able to come over a few times and really helped me get tons more done. She's amazing . . . can you see how she effortlessly handles four active munchkins plus a newborn?
One of the last evenings on the back porch.
A sweet baby with an even sweeter dad.
The things you find in the back of the freezer when you clean it out. (That's 25 frozen bananas of varying vintage, in case you were wondering.)
Vega, in his traveling digs. The rest of the fish went back to our favorite aquarium shop to find new homes.
The truck, empty. (Family included for scale. ;o)
The driveway, mid-move. Vern saw this photo when I transferred it to the laptop, and walked away, shuddering. Moving is just plain lousy.
Halfway there . . . those boys are the Nelson twins, who honestly did about 80% of the lifting. They're incredibly strong, showed up early, and left at the bitter end. Hallelujah for helpful teenagers (and their mother, who knew what we were up against)!
Our good neighbor, Jim, who also helped us unload and assemble furniture when we got here.
Fred and Larry (left to right), asserting their value in the moving effort, despite their lengthy breathers. ;o) They're both good men, with hearts of gold, and I'll miss them.
Little Miss L, finally just hit the couch and zonked out on moving day.
Nancy, one of my dearest friends, and also a brand-spaking-new grandma. She held BabyB and let him sleep while I kept busy.
The first flush of this year's bloom on my Bridal Wreath Spirea. I had so hoped that I would get to see it in full bloom. It's my favorite shrub ever, and the first of my very own spireas. It grew by leaps and bounds in that spot, along with the bleeding heart, which threatened to take over the entire bed.
Little Miss L and her Great-Grandma during our nearly week-long stay at Mom's. They are great friends, and Grandma will miss the munchkins so much. She really enjoyed their weekly visits while I shopped.
The munchkin troupe with their Uncle Dave, my youngest brother and one of their favorite uncles ever. (Isn't he handsome? He's 26 and rather un-married right now, in case you were wondering, and he'll probably kill me for saying that. ;o) The kids love him because he plays with them, and when he tosses them in the air, they fly well over eight feet. (He's a tall guy.) He was also a big help with the kids for the two days our visits at Mom's overlapped. Hooray for Uncle Dave, who also makes a mean batch of late-night popcorn.
And here we go, on our way West across Washington. I watched those kayaks like a hawk the whole time, as the wind was nearly gale-force, and they kept shifting about. There was one point where, just before going into the Columbia River Gorge, the 4Runner simultaneously hit a bump in the road and came out from behind a small bluff. The combination of the sudden blast of wind and the bump jerked both kayaks frighteningly. I honked, but Vern couldn't hear me over the wind, and it took nearly 30 nerve-wracking seconds to get him on the cell. It all turned out alright, but I can assure you it was really nice to take the lead on the next leg of our trip, and not have to worry about the boats and the wind!
Storytime with cousins, at Vern's cousin Miriam's house. Our week with Miriam and her family was simply wonderful.
Miriam's husband, Nick, used to work for Edward Jones. When I saw Nick pull this out of a drawer in her kitchen, I burst out laughing. "Have you seen UHF?" I asked him. The Spatula City theme was his response, in mock-rock-star-style. Miriam later told me that she's had it for long enough that it's just part of the kitchen scenery: "What, you mean you don't have an Edward Jones spatula in your kitchen?" ;o)
Can you see the Spruce Goose?
There it is, about 200 feet behind us, if you can believe it. That itty bitty bump at the very top near the nose is the cockpit. The thing is monstrous. Vern and MrC went a while back, and the museum was a lot better then. Since Vern and MrC went, they've built a second building, taken half of the stuff out of the first building, and now charge just as much to get into each building to see half as much stuff as they charged to get into the single building before. Half the exhibits at full price. In addition, I was really looking forward to getting the tour of the Spruce Goose, which V & C had gone on last time. Now it's $20 to have your photo taken in the pilot's seat, and a whopping $50 bucks for the "VIP Tour", which was free before. So, really, less than half the bang for the same $23 per person aged 5 & over. Yep . . . we paid $98 so our kids could play on the couple of little toys in the children's area. Most of the simluators were broken, though, so they mostly rode the little wooden plane toys (think toddler ride-on style things), and I took pictures while Vern wished we had bought tickets for the other museum, which is where they put all of their space-related exhibits that he was really excited to see (the SR-71, a huge rocket, the Sputnik replica, etc). So, if you're thinking of buying tickets to the Air & Space museums in Evergreen Washington, don't bother. It's not child-friendly, and it's horrifyingly expensive. If Grandpa took little Johnny to both museums, it would be the same $98, and the Space building has even fewer things in it than the Spruce Goose building does. However, if you want to stop by and wander around outside, I highly recommend it. You can see the Spruce Goose pretty well from the outside, and most of the really interesting jet planes are outside as well (including a Blue Angel, which my kids were fascinated by). And if you go into the gift shop to the Space Museum, you can get a really good look at some of the best stuff in there, without buying a ticket.
IMNotHO, they should have dropped the admission price by 40% for each building, and then offered a combination ticket that was 30% more than a single admission for one building. (e.g.. a $14 adult ticket for one building, or ~$18 for both.) On top of that, they should have made the children's tickets less than adult tickets, since it's the adults that are paying for them anyway, and have a family ticket package that would allow more families to actually go and see their museums. Right now the museums are havens for wealthy retirees and vineyard visitors (Evergreen Vineyards owns the place). Most of the people at the museums were men in their 50's or older, in groups of two or three. We were the only full family there.
What is the purpose of a museum, if not to inspire the rising generation, and to pass on the wealth of a part of history to them?
So, I've changed my mind. Do go. Wander around outside, look through the huge glass fronts of the buildings, and tell them that a hundred bucks just isn't worth it.
Don't get me wrong, the kids really did love the children's area . . .
They had a tiny plane to climb into, and a pocket-sized helicopter.
The munchkins took turns over and over in the little plane (can't remember the name).
Little Miss L during her turn.
But the children's area wasn't worth $98. Not even close.
But, on to more interesting things. The next day, we went out to the Oregon coast to play in the sand and let Vern get his long-overdue dose of oceanside air and sea sights.
The Anderman had a ball playing in the sand, as you can see. He's earnestly explaining to me how his hands became as you see them above. (Doesn't he have the best face? lol)
Vern and the mobile munchkins, coming back from a walk over to the waves.
I have soooo many photos of the kids and their dad against a backdrop of sand and sea, taken from a distance. That's usually as close as I get to the water (it's dang cold!), and I love playing with the camera far more than I do the waves.
Much exfoliative fun was had by all . . .
Big C and his obligatory sand well. He loves to strike water when he digs, and find sand beetles. Unfortunately, no beetles were forthcoming this time.
Little Miss L had a great time, even though it was pretty cold, and she was dressed in shorts for the day.
The view southward, down the beach, past Proposal Rock toward Cascade Head.
After playing at the museum and the beach, we had a few days left before heading out to our new digs in Bellingham. Saturday was my birthday (we always seem to be out of town on my birthday), and it was a good one. The day before, Miriam had cut some gorgeous roses from her hedge, and a few of them found their way into the guest bathroom. I also discovered a tube of lip gloss tied with pretty ribbon placed on my kit in the bathroom that morning. Such a small thing, but it meant a lot that Miriam had thought of it. It has been a long time since I've had lip gloss, and this stuff is minty and shiny and
Vern and I went out to lunch (fabulous Thai food at Thai Dish) and wandered around in a historic shopping district for a while with only BabyB in tow. Then, I went out to the Olive Garden with all of the girls that night, Miriam, her sisters Liz and Bethany, her SIL Kathryn, and their mom Linnell. BabyB wasn't cooperating, so after ordering I hitched him up on my shoulder and went outside to walk him for a while. I spied an Old Navy across the vast parking lot, so we struck out in that direction, and he was asleep before I got to the store. I shopped and picked up a couple of things he really needed, (Old Navy baby clothes are SO SOFT) and then went back and got to eat my dinner (seafood linguine, which was very, very good).
Here's BabyB in some of his new togs the next morning. Doesn't he look relaxed?
The next day was a family dinner after church at Aunt Linnell's house. Speaking of Linnell, here she is with two of her grand-babies (ages four and two), reading stories on the hammock out front, snuggled underneath a furry, warm blanket.
Most of Linnell's children were there, which meant lots of munchkins, and two of her three youngest boys. Here's Pug, (can't believe he's well into his teens already!), with the Anderman.
These two became fast friends, and Pug honestly enjoyed playing with my little guy. (What a huges compliment to pay to a mother!) The Anderman thought he had died and gone to heaven, what with getting to play frisbee, catch (complete with ball gloves), and who knows what else with Pug, who was pretty impressed with Anderman's frisbee skillz. (He's pretty darn good for a four-year-old.)
After dinner, we all had ice cream cones. (Well, some of us had soy-cream cones, but it all looks the same.) I couldn't resist this photo of most of the little ones as they chattered and licked and smiled and laughed.
Here is Miriam's Nick, with their youngest. Isn't it great when your family are some of your best friends, too?
The visit ended too soon . . . Vern and I learned a few very important life lessons, and it was really good to just spend time with some of our most favorite people in the whole world.
And then, it was North on I-5 towards our new home.
There, off in the distance, is a mountain. Nothing spectacular, but it's the mountain behind which Bellingham lay. Once we got to the other side, we'd be there!
After some prejudicial treatment at the property management company, we were able to sign the lease, get the keys, and then head off toward the rental. It took more than an hour to find it (gotta love the streets in our neighborhood, and a wrongly-labeled street in Google Earth), but we finally did. I got to it first, mostly by just remembering the landmarks and topography from Google Maps, and wending my way there.
The homecoming wasn't exactly thrilling, but the views from the front windows definitely are:
And that, my friends, is a wrap.
More to come later on our adventures in Bellingham.