Remember the days of spring break? Having been a student for most of my life (and married to a grad student for the past few years), I expect a week of vacation bliss every March or April. Last year, we capitalized on what would possibly be our last spring break ever with a California road trip, hitting up Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, San Diego, and Highway 1.
This year, I got to go on a little trip to the Oregon coast with the family I used to work for back in Eugene. (For those who haven’t been following along for years, I was a nanny for the two cutest, most hilarious little girls while Eric was in grad school.) They rented a house right on the beach, and it was basically a giant culinary fiesta for a few days. It was awesome. I should mention that I worked for a family of foodies, who constantly treated me to wonderful delights in the kitchen, from pear gorgonzola pizza to homemade jam. Jenny, I will forever sing the praises of your jam, especially since some was consumed in the writing of this post.
Anywho, they happen to have a lot of really fun foodie friends who came along on this trip, which means we were eating homemade sushi, incredible breakfast bagel sandwiches, and tortilla eggs (which I have tried to recreate in my kitchen at home with limited success), among other awesome dishes. I contributed my favorite biscuits to the mix in an attempt to appear equally masterful in the kitchen.
So, obviously, the trip consisted mostly of eating, cooking, baking, and eating again. And since my two favorite kiddos were there, there was also a lot of pretending to be in the Wizard of Oz, collecting seashells on the beach, drawing, and watching Frozen. Now, it has been years and years since I’ve watched a movie with a small child. But let me tell you this: it is hilarious. Especially if you are watching an animated movie for children that also has jokes for adults. Because when you laugh at those jokes, the 2-year-old will grab your face in her hands and ask, “Why you laughing?” every time. And then you will explain that the snowman is silly. And that will get a, “Why is he silly?” And then you are just in an endless cycle of questions until the character that the 2-year-old believes is herself comes back to the screen, which elicits cries of, “That’s me!” every time. Kids are hilarious.
Aside from all the indoor fun, we took the kids to the the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. Now, I was actually pretty excited about going to the aquarium, having never been before. I haven’t done much aquarium visiting in my lifetime, so I honestly have no idea how this one compares to any other aquarium in the world, but it seemed pretty neat. There’s a huge aquarium tunnel that you can walk through and see sharks swimming all around you. And if you are a 2-year-old, apparently it is pretty fascinating to put your face directly on the glass on the floor and try to find some sort of animal in the darkness below, even though there are literally dozens of sharks swimming directly above you. You will stare into that darkness and ask, “Where’s the shark?” over and over again, as your former nanny tries to get you to look up. But the random child crouched down on the floor next to you will continue to report that there is a dead shark at the bottom of the tank, and stick her face directly on the glass to get a better view. (I never saw this dead shark, but who am I to contradict a small child?) Anywho, all was going as well as it could go with two slightly tired children at the aquarium until one said she had a stomachache. So I picked her up and started carrying her to the bathroom. And then the screaming began. As her dad ran beside me, carrying the other child, he warned me that the last time she said she had a stomachache, she threw up all over him. Literally 30 seconds later, she threw up all down my left side. You can’t say I wasn’t warned.
Having always thought of myself as a sympathetic puker, I am pleased to report that I did not throw up on Lucy in return. Instead, I think I may have actually responded like a responsible adult: rubbing her back, comforting her, and cleaning as much puke as I could off of both of us. I’ll consider this progress. And aside from how terrible we both smelled on the way home, it was pretty hilarious after she started feeling better. As the girls grow up and their memories of our years together fade, we’ll always have that time Lucy threw up on me at the aquarium.
Now, the Oregon coast is a tricky place. It can be really sunny and lovely (and still pretty chilly) in the summer, but every other season is likely to be cold and rainy. And windy. The Oregon coast might be the windiest place in all the land. But we ventured out into the wind a few times to take a little stroll on the beach. Unfortunately, the girls didn’t love the wind. See the photo below for proof:
Being at the beach for a few days when you are training for a race means running on the beach. And that’s lovely and beautiful, but also difficult. And you get an extra degree of difficulty when the morning rainstorm turns into a hailstorm, and it feels like tiny daggers are flying at your exposed skin. And then you add the element of wind, which is lovely when the wind is at your back. But when you turn around to run back to the house, that wind provided so much resistance that it was like running straight into a tornado. I don’t know how well you can tell from the photo below, but those blurry lines are clouds of sand pelting my body during the hailstorm.
Luckily, the sun did come out eventually, and we were able to enjoy a little less wind out on the gorgeous beach. The Oregon coast is spectacularly beautiful. And even on a cloudy, rainy day, it looks almost magical outside with the sky, water, and sand all mixing together in a mass of gray and blue. And sometimes those views are best enjoyed with four kids running and yelling around you in total chaos.
Long live spring break.