Arriving in Astoria, OR.

By the time we arrived in Astoria, Oregon, it was evening. We had wanted to squeeze in a visit to the Maritime Museum and the Lewis and Clark National Monuments, but we didn’t have time that evening. So instead we settled down in our yurt at Fort Stevens campground.

We loved our yurt! It had bunk beds for the girls and a fold-out futon for Abe and me (although we secretly moved Mary from the bottom bunk to the futon before going to bed–the bunkbeds were more comfy than the futon.) There was a heater inside so we felt cozy when the night became chilly, and best of all, there was a skylight at the top of the yurt so we could fall asleep watching the night sky.

After checking out our yurt, we met up with the Martineaus at the campground beach. There have been over two thousand shipwrecks in the past one hundred years at the mouth of the Columbia River, and one of the shipwrecks landed on the camp beach. It was the wreck of the Peter Iredale.

Here is a picture I got from Wikipedia showing the Peter Iredale in its glory days (as in, when it was still afloat).

Here is a picture of the Peter Iredale upon its immediate grounding on Clatsop Spit (the camp beach).

Here is Abe atop the current Peter Iredale.

With the jagged, rocky beach at Bainbridge fresh in his mind, Ammon was very, very tentative about walking on this beach. It took him at least a good five minutes of crying and hanging on to one of us before he realized that a sandy beach is fun (and doesn’t hurt your feet).

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Abe ran into the freezing cold ocean and took a quick swim. He is amazing.

This is Lydia upon first arriving at the beach. She loved being in the sand.

After we played on the beach, we headed to a restaurant in Astoria. We were the last people they served, and we felt so lucky! Restaurants close early in Oregon in May. Also, it is very tricky finding restaurants that feel child-friendly enough for six small children. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant where we ate, but it was great.

And then we headed back to our yurt. The Martineaus were staying in a hotel in Astoria, but they joined us for after-dinner s’mores. Candace and I had the luxury of talking by the fire while our husbands kept the kids in tow. (After s’mores, the kids wanted to all play on the bunk beds.)

Then it was time for bed…and Ammon shocked and delighted us by not only going straight to bed, but by sleeping through the night!! What a star.

Forks and the Hoh Rain Forest

On Monday morning we got up early so we could fit in everything on our itinerary. The first thing we did was head to the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park. Forks, the setting for Twilight, was literally en route. We had to drive through it in order to reach our destination. Since the town of Forks takes five minutes to see in its entirety, we did a thorough tour.

The high school came complete with snarky teenagers! We couldn’t believe our luck in discovering that this aspect of the Twilight setting was spot on.

On Bella’s truck outside of the Forks visitor center.

After driving one block off of the highway to the high school, we were convinced we had toured Forks in its entirety. The town is itty bitty.

Then we headed to the Hoh Rain Forest to stamp our National Parks passports and take a little hike around.

With these girls in tow as I headed to the visitor’s center, I garnered lots of compliments on my prolific proclivity for childbearing. I had to tell my admirers that the talents of others were also at play in creating the adorable set pictured here. 

Ammon admiring the rain forest.

There was beautiful poetry posted on the trail.

Such verdant abundance on the trail!

After our lovely little hike, we drove down the Washington Coast to Astoria, Oregon. The scenery was spectacular. We felt like we were driving through brilliant green tunnels punctuated with breathtaking views of the intensely blue Pacific Ocean. Gorgeous!

Seattle-Sol Duc

On Sunday we woke up early in the morning and tried our hardest to make it to church. First we swung by Piroshky Piroshky and bought a ton of delectable piroshkies for breakfast. I told Abe to buy enough for us and the Martineaus, and he bought so many they gave him a free tote bag. Sadly, we had zero self control and sampled them all without realizing it. By the time we met up with the Martineaus, there were almost no intact piroshkies left. Oops!

After acquiring our breakfast, we asked the internet to find a church near us. Unfortunately, the interent thought we were still in our Air BnB, and sent us back over the bridge to Bellevue. We did not realize this was happening until we were actually crossing the bridge. (That bridge, by the way, is so scary! There is just a little teensy wall between the road and the water below. Abe and I had a long discussion about what we would do if we were in an accident and flipped into the water. We decided Abe would rescue the kids, none of whom can swim, and I would drown after pushing them up through the sunroof to him. Then Abe got depressed and asked that we stop discussing it.)

When we arrived at the lovely chapel in Bellevue, we learned that the ward there starts at 9:30 instead of 9am. We were trying to meet up with the Martineaus and catch the 10:35 ferry to Bainbridge Island, so we decided to skip church and make our ferry.

Happy to be on the ferry.

Waiting for the ferry to arrive.

Mary does the craziest poses. We don't know where she learned them.

Mary does the craziest poses. We don’t know where she learned them, although this one looks distantly related to a plie?

The dads with the kiddos.

The dads with most of the kiddos.

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When we got to Bainbridge Island, we headed to a nearby beach and let the kids explore and get their wiggles out.

On the way to the beach, all of the girls held hands. This turned out to be a theme for the whole trip. They loved linking up en route to our destinations.

On the way to the beach, all of the girls held hands. This turned out to be a theme for the whole trip. They loved linking up en route to our destinations.

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At the beach Ammon enjoyed learning how to throw rocks.

At the beach Ammon enjoyed learning how to throw rocks.

Mary loves to give us flowers, especially dandelions.

Mary loves to give us flowers, especially dandelions.

Here's Abe being contemplative and decompressing from work stress.

Here’s Abe being contemplative and decompressing from work stress.

Candace and company helped bury Lydia in the sand.

Candace and company helped bury Lydia in the sand.

Abe enjoyed cleaning Ammon off in the grass after the beach.

Abe enjoyed cleaning Ammon off in the grass after the beach.

Then we all headed to a crepe place to eat delicious crepes for lunch.

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Then it was time to drive the gorgeous drive to Olympic National Park. We stayed the night in a cabin at Sol Duc hot springs. The first thing we did after a peremptory unpacking is head for the Sol Duc waterfall hike. The Martineaus stayed behind in Bainbridge for some extra sightseeing, so we had a head start on them. We honestly thought they would miss the hike, but they were so fast and we were soooooooo slow (mostly my fault!) that by the time we reached the waterfall, they caught up! I saw a family with three kids heading toward us and thought, “We’re obviously not crazy to be doing this hike because look! Here comes another family with three little kids!” …And then I realized, with great delight, that they were our friends and had unexpectedly caught up with us!

At the beginning of the hike. We saw a sign at the lodge saying there had been an increase in cougar sightings to to keep kids close on hikes. I told the girls the reason why I wanted them to stay close, and my very safety-conscious kids stayed close the whole hike. Mary kept asking if they were going to get eaten by "OOgers."

At the beginning of the hike. We saw a sign at the lodge saying there had been an increase in cougar sightings to to keep kids close on hikes. I told the girls the reason why I wanted them to stay close, and my very safety-conscious kids stayed close the whole hike. Mary kept asking if they were going to get eaten by “OOgers.”

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Pointing out fungi.

Pointing out fungi.

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Mossy falls early in the hike to Sol Duc Falls.

Mossy falls early in the hike to Sol Duc Falls.

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Sol Duc Falls.

Sol Duc Falls.

I took this right after realizing the approaching family was...the Martineaus! I was so happy they caught up with us.

I took this right after realizing the approaching family was…the Martineaus! I was so happy they caught up with us.

Bentley looking at the waterfall.

Bentley looking at the waterfall.

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At the waterfall.

At the waterfall.

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More pictures of the Falls.

More pictures of the Falls.

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Then on our way back to the cabin, we saw a black bear by the side of the road!

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After that excitement, we ended up by relaxing in Sol Duc Hot Springs. The kids loved playing in them, and the adults enjoyed the rest. I didn’t take any pictures because I feared my phone would get soaked.

Then we went back to our cabin. I headed to the lodge and ordered some food for Abe and me while he fed the kids Trader Joe’s corn dogs that we had brought from home, bathed the kids, and cleaned the entire cabin. I came back with delicious chowder for Abe and me and discovered a sparkling clean cabin, clean and tired kids, and my amazing husband. It was a great day.

I had been terrified that Ammon would not go to sleep in the same room with us because the last time we tried that, he screamed all night. However, he thrilled us all by compliantly falling asleep and sleeping all the night through–every single night of the trip!! What a star.

 

Seattle

Yesterday afternoon we left for our West Coast trip. We first stopped in Boise to stay with our dear friends, the Martineaus. They are caravaning with us for the first part of our trip. We pulled up to their gorgeous home late last night and had a very refreshing (albeit extremely short) sleep before hitting the road together this morning.

Abe took this picture en route to Boise. Lydia is very appreciative of nature and loved watching the last lights sink below the horizon.

Abe took this picture en route to Boise. Lydia is very appreciative of nature and loved watching the last lights sink below the horizon.

Because we all got up at 5:30 am, we arrived in Seattle in time to see a lot. We started at Pike’s Place Market which Abe has always wanted to see in person.

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The kids have known each other almost since babyhood, but they haven't seen each other in a couple years. They reconnected right away and had the best time together.

The kids have known each other almost since babyhood, but they haven’t seen each other in a couple years. They reconnected right away and had the best time together.

Watching street performers in Pike Place.

Watching street performers in Pike Place.

After Pike Place, we headed to the Seattle Center Playground, fountain, and Chihuly Garden.

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Candace is so playful (the most playful mom I have ver met) and suggested that the girls polish the rock with their bums.

Candace is so playful (the most playful mom I have ever met) and suggested that the girls polish the rock with their bums.

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Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

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After the gardens, we spent some time trying to figure out where to eat dinner with six kids age six and younger. We finally settled on a Thai restaurant close to the city center. There was a fountain in front where the kids raced around while the food was prepared.

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After such a big day, we loaded everyone into the car and drove to our AirBnB in Bellevue. The kids fell asleep in five minutes, and hopefully they will sleep straight through until morning!

Lydia-isms

While we were listening to NPR this morning, Lydia said, “Mom, why can’t we move to that other country in the United States?”

“You mean the other country in North America? Canada?”

“Yeah, Canada! Why can’t we move to Canada while Donald Trump is our president?”

I laughed and then explained why it would be logistically difficult to pull of such a move. But I was so amused that Lydia should independently think up the de facto escape fantasy of all other Americans who are less-than-pleased with our current political landscape.

Another Lydiaism: When we were returning from Colorado, Lydia piped up and said, “I keep all of our trips in a treasure box in my mind.” That melted my heart.

Good thing we are going on another trip tomorrow. Bad thing that I haven’t even had the energy to pack.

Mary’s tray of food

Today I was lying in bed during Ammon’s nap, and Mary entered the room with a tray of food. She said she had heard me coughing and wanted to help me. I can not think of any way to write down how much I love this sweet, adorable, cute-cute-cute child. She is a joy.

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Actually, all of my children were joys today. I had a really happy day, in spite of the fact that I feel like a whale and pant when I walk. I felt very blessed and peaceful all day long.

Mother’s Day

What I love about Mother’s Day: I LOVED Abe’s amazing breakfast (which included the best French toast I have ever had in my whole life), spending a lovely morning with Karin, Jay, and Jere, the cards from the girls, and reflecting on what a great mom and grandma I have been blessed with. Oh, and this song:

Abe and the girls were up until 10pm the night before having the time of their lives preparing for this performance. They had giggle fits for a solid hour, and afterward Abe told me he can’t remember having that much fun in…years? He’s pretty fun, so this practice was VERY fun for them.

What I did not love about Mother’s Day: I did not love the gender typing that went on in the Mother’s Day church talks, which I find depressing and unhelpful. It actually took me two days to recover from the self-flagellation these talks inspired, not to mention the FB rabbit hole which I should have wisely avoided. After church we all went to the Miners and had a good time, but I also sometimes get stressed at certain family gatherings because of past events (most of them my own fault). Between all of these things, by Monday I was a melty mess and Abe had to stay up until midnight scraping me off the floor with one of his incredible, revelatory, amazing, wise, loving, ever-kind pep talks. I could not get by without him.

David and Olivia’s wedding

On Saturday morning we headed to Red Butte Gardens for Abe’s brother’s wedding. David and Olivia made a gorgeous couple, and their wedding was perfect. I should have taken more pictures, but we have a TON of the girls, who were flower girls.

Lydia very solemnly performed her duties and when she reached the end of the aisle, she realized she still had most of her petals in her basket. With her solemn, Lydia-serious face, she looked around and then threw the rest of her petals in the air. Everyone broke out into laughter. Meanwhile, Mary was very focused on distributing her petals on the ground one by one and had fallen far behind her sister. 🙂

Abe was a groomsman and so was able to observe all of this hilarity from a great spot.

I was carrying Ammon, who was (in theory) the ringbearer. He looked very cute and was utterly incapable of performing his wedding duties. I handed over his little pillow to David before corralling Ammon into our seats. We lasted five minutes before he was off exploring. During David’s vows, I let Ammon play on a little garden tram and took my eyes off of him for no more than thirty seconds so I could back up and try to listen to David. During that time, Ammon almost started the tram and practically drove off. That child is shaving years off of my life on a daily basis.

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Isn't this darling? These cousins have MATCHING GLASSES! This is Abe's Uncle Victor and his daughter with Mary. I could not get over their matching glasses.

Isn’t this darling? These cousins have MATCHING GLASSES! This is Abe’s Uncle Victor and his daughter with Mary. I could not get over their matching glasses.

Karin is great at corn hole. Jere painted those beautiful corn hole sets, BTW.

Karin is great at corn hole. Jere painted those beautiful corn hole sets, BTW.

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The Vegan Donut Wedding Cake.

The Vegan Donut Wedding Cake, and two birthday cakes (one for Tom and one for Olivia’s grandpa).

After the beautiful wedding we went home and all slept for..four hours. Lydia had a fever of 102 degrees from being outside in the cold without a coat, and the rest of us were tired from the trip.

As soon as I have more pictures of the wedding, I will fill out this post. It really was so beautiful, and David and Olivia were such a charming and sweet couple. We are so thrilled for them!

Missed flight and Denver explore

On Friday we opted to eat breakfast at the hotel…and missed our flight by five minutes. We should have taken my mom’s advice and gotten to the airport much earlier, but God looked after us and there were–amazingly!–six seats on the next flight. Since we had six hours until that time, we left our luggage with my mom at the airport and headed to downtown Denver on the airport train.

In Denver we had lunch at Modern Market, which we later learned is a chain.

IMG_2862It was fabulous though, and it made me think I should be cooking like that at home more often. Then we walked back down the 16th Street Mall. The girls stopped and played all of the fun pianos in the mall.

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Then we paid a quick visit to the Tattered Cover. I have always wanted to visit the Tattered Cover, and despite having made numerous trips to Denver in the past–and even living there for a bit on my mission!–I have never been. It was delightful, and I got some great ideas for books I want to read next.

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Then we all went to the ice cream shop (might have been called “The Milkbox” or something like that) in Union Station and opted for the exact same flavor of ice cream: black raspberry brownie. We ate our cones on the train back to the airport, and a sweet man across the aisle handed me some much-needed wipes.

Then we breezed through security sans luggage and caught our flight home. After landing in Salt Lake, we hand just enough time to race to Nordstrom before it closed to buy Ammon his wedding clothes for David and Olivia’s wedding the next morning. Not that I ever procrastinate at all.

Boulder and grandparents

On Thursday we said goodbye to Clark, Swathi, Sruthi and Soren and then headed to Boulder for the early afternoon. It wasn’t raining on Thursday, so we got a much better chance to actually experience the city. First we headed to the National Center for Atmospheric Research and learned all about weather.

Cloud machine.

Cloud machine.

This photo is ironic. The sign talks about spotting tornados, and our own little smiling tornado is pointing right to it!

This photo is ironic. The sign talks about spotting tornados, and our own little smiling tornado is pointing right to it!

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We are not an energy-efficient family, according to this test. We need to improve.

We are not an energy-efficient family, according to this test. We need to improve.

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The center.

The center.

Then we headed to Pearl Street and at lunch at some yummy Boulder sandwich shop. I think it was called Organic Sandwiches, but I could be wrong. Whatever it was, we were pleased.

Then we went to Rocket Fizz where Lydia spent the two dollar bill the tooth fairy gave her the night before. (She lost a tooth on our trip!) She and Mary had $2 each to buy a treat for the plane. I also got a bag of the most incredible taffy in the craziest flavors. Then the kids spent time on Pearl Street playing in the kid areas.

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My mom took these sweet pictures while I was studying the tourist guide. I have such a sweet husband.

My mom took these sweet pictures while I was studying the tourist guide. I have such a sweet husband.

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Suitably impressed with Boulder, we then drove to Denver to visit both sets of Abe’s maternal grandparents (who are divorced). First we visited Grandpa Edmondson. I was so sad that we didn’t get a picture with him, but we did get one of his porch!

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After our visit, Abe kept exclaiming how mellow his grandpa had become. He mentioned it again to his aunt and uncle during David’s wedding the following weekend, and they told him that the reason his grandpa seemed mellow was because their son had just delivered him a load of weed. 🙂

Then we went to see Abe’s Grandma Forsythe, whom I adore. She told us a story about how God told her to get up and walk. She had not walked in NINE YEARS. When she informed her physical therapist that she intended to walk, they said nobody does that after not walking for nine years. She replied that her physician (the Great Physician) had advised her to try. The therapist consented, and she walked!!! Now she can walk thirty steps!!! We are so proud of her and love her so much.

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Then it was off to the 16th Street Mall in Denver for dinner. By then it was almost 9pm, so we just walked a couple blocks before heading into Maggiano’s, which happened to be close and open. Ammon ate an entire bowl of mussels, among many other things. We all ate too much and then headed to our hotel to collapse for the night. Ammon finally slept through the night that night!