This month, Aut finished a volleyball season and celebrated the last day of school/her birthday with one night at the GWL with two friends and her cousin. She also did a cheerleading/dance camp at Daddy's high school because she was out of school a week before we were. We also met my best friend, Andrea, at California's last Rainforest Cafe.
The school year ended and the very next day, the kids and I were on a flight to Oregon (OregonGlen, as Cha calls it). A few days later, Dad made the sacrifice of a 16 hour drive to bring up all of the dogs. Normally, they run all over off leash, but there are four baby swans, so we needed to keep the golden girls leashed up, much to Anna's dismay. They were my running buddies, sticking by me as I ran down to the Y most days, sometimes twice for a six mile run.
I love being in Oregon for many reasons, one of the top ones being that time slows down here. Of course a large part of that slowing down is due to the fact that we are on vacation, with no agenda at all. But it's different than a vacation in another country, with sites to see, or being off of work and still being at home. As much as I love commitments with friends, there is something to be said for a completely clear calendar. Up here, there is no one to meet up with, no doctor's appointments, birthday parties, sports practices, etc. I love Oregon for many reasons, but part of the relaxation comes from the fact that it is not my home and so there is nothing I "should" be doing, like decluttering or cleaning out the spare room. Free time is truly that: free. Each day tends to blend into the next and I love not knowing the date, day of the week or time of day! I'm like a retired person up here. It's not unusual for me to get caught up in doing yardwork and oops- look at the time, it's almost 1pm and time to make the kids something to eat!
We have tons of unstructured time for the kids to get "bored" and then come up with something creative to do, like take the kayak out or run through the sprinklers. Aut has her summer bridge activity book, 20 minutes of reading each day, plus helping Grandma with gardening a little every day but other than that, her days are free. Sometimes, she's able to play with the renter's daughter AJ or neighbor girl Charolette.
I had fun helping my mother-in-law with her fern garden, raking, weeding and planting new ferns that she purchased and transplanting some from across the lake. I suggested hydrangeas and later that week, she came back from town with two. Daddy tackled a huge project with the kids: building their first tree house!
Seeing the kids having fun here and getting lost in an activity like building blocks, running through sprinklers or helping Dad with the treehouse brings me my own joy just by watching them.
We also did some cooking, making the recipes from the cooking class we took in Rome, like tiramisu and spaghetti from scratch. Grandma bought a children's kayak, and the kids had so much fun tooling around on it. We also went swimming, and I enjoyed floating on a raft in the shade. The water is still cold but is noticeably warmer toward the surface and super refreshing after a run. Aut loved driving the Gator all by herself.
As the month came to a close, my Mom's 72nd Heavenly Birthday was approaching. Birthdays, Mother's Day, and the Anniversary of her death can all be tough. So, on her birthday, the kids and I woke up a little early and set off for Grant's Pass to go on a speedboat adventure down the Rogue River. Because you can't be sad when you're on a speed boat, right? And, it worked! Not only did the boat race down the river, but there were a ton of 360-degree turns designed to get us all a little wet. We had so much fun and silliness, and it really was the best day! And that's how Mom would want it. But we weren't done!
On the way back, we found a wildlife safari park where we spent the rest of the afternoon. The kids were so excited to ride a camel, and it was neat to be able to drive through the safari park with our windows rolled down. We listened to some great country songs on the drive home, including the Dixie Chicks, which Mom loved. The winding, shady roads had the best country feel, and almost on cue, we had to stop while some wild turkey chicks slowly followed their Mom across the road.