Thursday, September 06, 2007

Quintessentially Summer

At the end of August, my family rented a beach house for a week. My parents instigated the vacation, hoping to spend some time with their daughters, sons-in-law, and of course Ada. This is the first real stretch of time we have all spent together, the seven of us. My sister and I shared some trepidation about an unstructured week with my parents in a semi-remote location. We both love our parents, but like any parents they have the (mostly unwitting) ability to crawl under their children's skin in an not entirely pleasant way. Despite some fears, and a lingering stress-induced blue mood on my part, the week was pretty fantastic.

Ada had some firsts, like her first taste of chocolate milk:

8/19/07 First Taste

Because I am a bad mother I told her it was Tillamilk, only available in Tillamook, where we'd stopped for gasoline and snacks. The lie must have worked, because despite her keen interest in the drink at the time, she has not asked for it or wondered aloud if we could go back to the coast to get some.

This was Ada's first trip with extended time on the beach, with real building of sand castles, digging huge holes, and playing frisbee. Our two other trips to the coast this year suffered some from Oregon's unpredictable weather, but Ada's attention also ruled the day. On those other visits she seemed only mildly interested in the beach, ready within minutes to return to the house, eager to explore the inside spaces of our rented houses. This time Ada really enjoyed playing at the beach, allowing the whole family to spend good chunks of the day with sand between our toes.

admiring her work
What does this need? A stick? A rock? A crab carcass?

This trip was also the first time Ada stepped onto the sand this year without anxiously and repeatedly clarifying that we would "no go in" the water. The waves are a big concern to Ada. She got over it enough to walk near the water, but shows a healthy amount of toddler fear for what she called the "big ocean". Lucky for us (and her) she had no such concerns about going into the little ocean (a creek running out of the hills and into the ocean, bisecting the beach near our rental). The creek is filled with all manner of treasures, some of which currently reside in a large container on our front porch. The chance to dig up rocks, shells and ocean-smoothed sticks was a joy for Ada. And for me to, truth be told. Then again, I may be part magpie.

8/22/07 Diving Helmet
possibly the best part of the aquarium, which is saying a lot

Beyond my enjoyment of Ada's entertainment, this was a good trip. As a family, the vacation was successful despite my emotional state. I went into the trip feeling blue. This makes me more susceptible to annoyance, at my father in particular, though at the world in general too. After a couple of days of me sniping at him, my father told me (in the most polite and thoughtful way possible) to stop being such an asshole. I felt terrible when I realized how rude I'd been and how much I had hurt him. My father really made an extraordinary effort to be gracious and forgiving. He'd clearly thought a lot about how to most kindly tell me to shape up, which I did. I am still working out what was (and is) at the root of my crab. I think it is mostly stress-related, and ironically I found that merely leaving the stressers behind didn't manage to eliminate my bad mood. But once in a while, getting a little reminder that my bad attitude is ruining other people's good time does actually manage to shake me out of my funk. (Don't tell my Dad I wrote that, or he'll be wanting to read me the riot act every month or two.)

I love the beach
Look, I brought you some seaweed! Want to eat it?

Another highlight of the trip was spending time with my sister and brother-in-law. And by spending time with, I mean kicking their butts at Settlers of Catan. Oh, and eating my brother-in-law's fantastic cooking. To give you a sense of the wretched (and delicious) excess, I will just say that over the course of the week he made slow cooked pork ribs and butt, lamb, Mexican chicken soup, and seven or eight other things that couldn't be beat. Not to be outdone, Chris made gumbo and barbecued brisket. Plus we had champagne and pie to celebrate my parents' anniversary. Several weeks later, my mother is still thanking her lucky stars that Karen and I married good cooks. If we hadn't she might have had to cook at least once during our trip.

I am not sure exactly what to make of this video. On our last day she found a long piece of string and was suddenly a cowgirl.

So yeah, I was a jerk for a bit of the trip, but I mostly got into it and enjoyed collecting sea shells, talking to my family, reading books (entire books, read in one day!) and sifting sand looking for the perfect skipping stone. Ada had a great time, and was a blast to watch in action.

And THAT is what I did on my summer vacation.


  1. I'm sorry to hear that the aquarium wasn't particularly thrilling, but the photo with the vintage divers helmet is pretty darn cute!

    Good thinking about the chocolate milk :)

    I think that beach trips are the only time that I actually remember to read novels these days!

  2. That aquarium picture is SO excellent. As is the video. Glad you had fun.

  3. Actually, she LOVED the aquarium. So much that on this trip (her second this summer) she shuddered with joy as she sprinted to the entrance. Touch tanks, sea otters, crabs... what's not to love?

  4. Mo provides me diplomatic little reminders on a fairly regular basis. But enough about me. I am glad you enjoyed your trip.

  5. sorry to hear the trip had downs to foil the ups. but it sounds like you have a loving forgiving family that they'll treat you gently even when you don't feel you deserve it.

    great pictures. as usual.

  6. What wonderful pictures - we were in Tillamook too this weekend. I've driven through it so many times but never stopped before, so it was fun. Crowded, but fun.

  7. Nice post. It reminded me of the days when my boys were little and we went to the "river beach" to make gloppity glop in the sand near the calmer creek water.

    I'm kicking myself now for not thinking of marrying a good cook.

  8. That looks great. We had a wonderful first couple excursion to Yachats in 1991 and have being trying to get back to the Oregon seaside ever since.

    I've seen that ropin' like behaviour before... but nope I don't get it neither.

  9. Last night for some reason N. remembered the ropin' movie. I showed her just after you posted. I tried to make a movie of it tonight but it didn't hold quite the same authenticity of last nights earnest

    ropin' and a'ropin.

    I'll send it along shortly, nonetheless.