Tuesday, August 30, 2011

She's Blurry. So What?

Whenever I flip through photos I realize I have very few good ones of Grace. She's just not pose-able. She doesn't say cheese or look at the camera or even slow down. 

Today, I wanted a picture of her in her new favorite outfit - her Cinderella costume. I tried everything to get a cute smile. She had no interest.

So, I gave up and the boys started chasing her, and chasing each other. And she's screaching and laughing and having a great time like usual.
I decided to take a picture of that, even though she's blurry. I think maybe if I set up a tripod and used a crazy fast shutter speed, maybe she's be in focus. But even when I push it to the limit of hand-held, my kid is faster than the camera shutter. 

My kid is blurry and happy.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ridin' The Riverboat

I'm not sure what I expected from a dinner cruise aboard the Columbia Gorge sternwheeler. I think of river boats and my mind either goes to the swanky casino boats on the Travel Channel, or Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

This was definitely a middle ground - a much used space with two dining levels and an observation top deck. Most of the passengers were outside of our demographic, but there was one family celebrating a 50th anniversary that had a few people I might find at a PTA meeting.

The dinner cruise was a great way to see the gorge and learn a little about the area. The Seattle harbor cruise we did during Spring Broke was much more informative, as was the drive through the gorge during our snowshoe adventure.

Dinner was okay, you can't really expect much from a galley kitchen. I did think the cheesecake shouldn't be frozen, but what can you do?


I had fun taking pictures and watching the sternwheel spin. Things didn't really line up for the sunset shot I'd hoped for, but that didn't stop me from taking pictures until the memory card filled up!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wildlife Safari

To make the trip down to Medford more bearable, we promised our animal loving girl a ride through Wildlife Safari. She wanted to see elephants like at the zoo. We figured the place could totally deliver.

Thank goodness we had something to tempt her with. The kiddo could not understand why we wanted her to stay in her carseat, even with the boys agreed to watch Tangled on the TVs we'd strapped to the headrests. Snacks and promises to see Pop Pop just weren't cutting it.

The ostriches helped out by greeting us just inside the gate. The kids loved being able to release their seatbelts and peer out the windows at the animals. And the boys were thrilled with the ostrich peed. Grace spotted a zebra and we followed it, spying the gemsboks.

What is a gemsbok? An African antelope. Both males and females have long, straight horns that can be made into...well, a horn.

We hadn't been there in a while, and noticed a few changes, like electrical fencing at the lion and bear exhibits. It used to be that they'd just make you roll up your windows. It didn't matter much because it was hot out. The bears and lions were just lying in the shade.

The giraffe's were very friendly, and later we found out why. Wildlife Safari has a special outing where you can ride in the back of a truck and feed the giraffes! It was too late in the day for us to give it a try, but the boys want to try for an earlier start next time.

We watched a group feeding the giraffes and it was hilarious! Everyone wanted to feed the giraffe lettuce leaves, but even the brawniest guys recoiled as the long, black tongue came their way.

The Watusi cattle came into view next. It always seems strange to see cows meandering alongside exotic animals, but the cattle did originate in Africa. And their horns are in the Guiness Book of world records for girth.

After spying the rest of the zebras, rhinosm and more antelope-like African creatures, it was on to the Americas section of the park. The bison have no fear of cars, and better merging skills than most Portland drivers. They walked beside us, and then crossed the road between our van and the one behind us.

As we left the sleeping black bears and brown bears, we were suprised to find an elk standing beside the road. It was as if she were posing for pictures.

The elephants were behind fences and hard to get a good picture of, but Grace liked seeing them anyway. The same happened with the gibbon (monkey). The kids were all thrilled by the camel, and I was excited that I remember the two hump camels are Bactrian (like a B) while the one hump camel is Dromedary (like a D). No one else was impressed by this.

The boys really liked when they could see the animals poop. So...I video'd this rhea ::
Once we'd completed the circut, we explored Safari Village for a bit. Grace was pretty tired by this point, but the boys wanted to ride a camel, so off we went. We tried to put Grace on with Bayley, but she wasn't having it. This camel is Dromedary, by the way. Yeah, the family wasn't impressed either.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Kid Versus Food

On their way to Camp Hot Tub, we stopped for a quick lunch before heading to Wildlife Safari. Sadly, Jeff and I con only find Denny's in Roseburg. It's an issue we'll work on in the future.

The boys are trying to decide if they want to branch out from the kids menu. Hayden thinks there are better options, but Bayley figures there are better things on the kids menu. For example, Denny's only serves pizza to kids. Hayden opted for the Bacon Slamburger from the adult menu. It's a burger...with a grand slam breakfast on it. Egg, hashbrowns, cheese, bacon...

He made a valliant attempt, and then agreed to just add toppings to the kid sized burger from now on.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Whatever Floats Their Boat!

Summer is winding down, and I'm still determined to make this the 'Best Summer Ever'. I can't slip up now, not when I have 9 'Best Day of My Life' kudos from the boys. To keep the momentum going, we packed up the van (and the Hyppster crew) and headed to Astoria.

I've never actually driven to Astoria. I let Jeff handle that, but since this was a weekday trip...I handled it with a minimum of 'interesting incidents' which shall never be discussed.

The Columbia River Maritime Museum was our first stop. The boys were having a good time before we even made it inside. They took one look at the giant anchor and propeller and thought...I can climb that.

Inside, they started some crafts, but once Bayley had a macaroni crown and Hayden a macaroni necklace (which he ate...uncooked wagon wheels...really) we set off to explore. They had little interest in the history exhibits, but when things were hands on, they were all about it. I tried to work in a few educational facts...here's hoping they were paying attention.

Then we were off to the Lightship Columbia, a decomissioned, well, lightship. It now serves as a floating museum to let us all peek inside what it's like to live and work on a boat. The kids really liked the bunks and the kitchen. I liked watching them stare blankly at the ancient TV!

We hustled our hungry brood across the street to Bowpicker Fish & Chips...where they fry up tuna and steak fries from a gilnet boat! There was a line, but it was worth the wait, even waiting with 2 preschoolers and 3 hungry boys!
It was so good in fact, even this dragonfly heard the buzz about the place.

With our bellies full, we set off to find the shipwreck of Peter Iredale. It's kind of eerie how it surges up from the sand, but the kids love to see it and play in the waves around it.

The boys hit the water as soon as we found sand. The girls...took a bit longer to get used to the frigid temperature. Once Grace got a feel for it, she wanted to be right there, holding Bayley's hand. He was so sweet, he gave up his own play time to be with Grace so she could enjoy the waves.


The weather was perfect, and aside from backseat antics during the drive, it was a wonderful day. (Are we there yet? He scratched me? He took my shoe! Stop touching me! Hi Ava! Hi Grace! Mom. Mom. Mom. I want to go to the beach. He took my hat! Don't punch me! Don't push me.)

No trip to the coast is complete without ice cream...so Miss Tina treated the kids to Dairy Queen. Grace was quite excited for her strawberry shake!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

OMSI :: Game On Exhibit

OMSI's latest rotating exhibit - Game On - showcases the history and evolution of computer gaming. There's lots to learn, but even more to play! There are more video games in the exhibit than you could ever play in a day. Though, trying woudl be Bayley's perfect way to spend the day.
They had some truly antique pinball machines. I was impressed they worked at all. I also showed the kids the video game system I had at their age - PONG. They seemed completely unimpressed as I told them I was lucky to have pong, most kids in my elementary school didn't have a VCR, let alone a video game. Bayley knew some Pong history, which impressed me...and went right over my head. Something about coding.

They really liked the classic arcade games, and I realized after three years of Wii, I can't handle a regular controller anymore. They had a showcase of games by type, another by country, then by theme... There is even a kids game area that has some of my fave games from when I was a kid -- Simon Says and Speak & Spell. I always wanted a Speak and Spell.

There was a section of newer arcade games and then the virtual reality stuff. A little tip, you have to wear closed toed shoes to get in the giant sphere, and that's all I'm sayin! The boys weren't impressed wth the Kinnect, but loved games in 3-D.

As you can imagine, Grace was not at all interested. I think she could have been if the Simon had batteries or she could hear the Speak and Spell...but it was up to the Science Playground for art & sand, her two favorite things. The boys even have a good time in there - maybe because we always seem to hit them on spin art days.

We walked through the Narnia exhibit, and it's gorgeous. Bayley dislikes the Narnia books, so he thought the whole thing was ridiculous until he got to touch the frozen waterfall and set off the trebuchet. Alas, there are no pictures...I wasn't supposed to take pictures in Game On either, but I didn't see the sign until half way through!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer is for Pillow Forts

Bayley's latest 'palace' had interior lighting, a bedroom and a hallway. Grace opted to sleep in the hallway.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Supper

Whenever it is not raining (and by that I mean raining by Oregon standards, which means you'll be soaked walking through a parking lot, not refeshingly misted) the first thing Grace says when we arrive for our weekly visit to Grandma & Grandpa's is "I need to see my horses now."

Cute, except she repeats this until someone takes her to see 'her' horses. They seem to like seeing her as much as she enjoys seeing them. She's always concerned they are hungry, which is funny since Grandpa has usually just fed them. She likes to rip grass from the ground and have Daddy feed them.

We head inside after Grace gets her horse fix, and the boys have canvased the yard to make sure nothing has changed (which it usually has, but they're not looking for the flowers Grandma moved, they're interested in mole holes and garter snakes). Something occupies us until dinner - cards, chinese checkers, mancala, drawing, wrestling...this weekend it was piggy back rides.

The boys have realized they can carry each other on their backs (Bayley more effeciently than Hayden, obviously) so they try it whenever there is a bench or chair to sit on and lift your rider. Grace has no concept of holding on, so carrying her around on your back can be a challenge. Uncle Tim even got in one the piggy back action...of course, Hayden opted to ride on his shoulders!