Category Archives: Oregon!

The Minutia Behind Unstructured Summer Adventure Days

My friend Gretchen asked how exactly we make this get-to-the-beach-with-young-kids thing happen on a regular basis.

Beach With The Boys. MomsicleBlog

First, the backstory: I worry that K-Pants is going to be depressed or possibly is depressed. He says things like “I’m a terrible, stupid idiot,” or “I’m a terrible boy,” or that thing happened “because I’m so bad”—like when he can’t pick out sugar-cereal at the store, or a drawing doesn’t look just right.* And I keep reading everywhere that more nature equals less depression.

*I don’t want any advice about how to make this black-and-white thinking stop, but thank you for your very well-intentioned help I didn’t ask for. You might be thinking, “You say that, but I have to say something because the No Drama Discipline book changed everything for us.” I understand. I do the same thing to others. But I just don’t have the mental energy to take it in right now.

*

What sealed the deal on our no-camps, get-into-nature plan was that my friend Sara shared an article that suggested that the rise in depression in kids is partially due to the fact that they don’t have unstructured play time—time without an adult nearby who will intervene to make things fair or solve problems.** The argument went something like this: People feel depressed when they feel like they have no control over their lives, and modern kids always have an adult in control.

I don’t pay much attention to the newest research, but it happened that this study came into my life when I was feeling like my kid was going to be prone to some severe depression and anxiety, and that I didn’t want to add more appointments and activities to our life because the logistics of three kids was adding to my own postpartum depression.

Here we go talking about postpartum depression, again, and I am totally off track….

*What?!? You let this Sara chick share unsubstantiated research with you and you won’t let me transform your life with No Drama Discipline? You are totally right. I have double-standards, and Sara has privileges. I’m a mess.

*

….I’m stalling because it feels awkward to share strategy and tips. I try not to be a know-it-all on the blog. Momsicle’s tagline could be, I don’t know anything, but I’m still here.

Or Everything I’d planned went totally off-course.

Or Please don’t share your “expertise.”

{Segue here, or Segway, if you’d prefer a two-wheeled tour.}

Apocalypse Mobile. MomsicleBlog

In order to be ready for adventure, here’s what I keep in my car no matter the season (photo above):

  1. Plastic tub filled with extra clothes and shoes for me and the kids—some warm stuff like fleece jackets hats and scarves, and some lightweight stuff. I don’t check forecasts, so this is crucial.
  2. Plastic pull-out drawer filled with emergency supplies and snacks. This is the bin that gave our car the nickname, “the apocalypse mobile.” This bin may at any time include first aid, water bottles, twine, granola bars, extra tooth brushes, sunscreen, jerky, plastic forks and spoons, plastic bags large and small, extra cash. Who knows what we’ll run into?
  3. Giant sun umbrella. This was a $50 investment after we were at the beach with some cousins-of-cousins who owned the beach with a sun umbrella. Now I keep it with us all the time for sports events, fall-festival downpours, and the occasional snow picnic (below).
  4. Two picnic blankets—one that folds and zips up with a carry handle and is water-resistant, and one fleece one that also doubles as a kid-warmer.
  5. A pack of diapers and wipes.

Snow beach party. MomsicleBlog

Here’s what I prep the car with for summer:

  1. Swimsuits and beach towels and additional extra clothes, because we go through more changes of clothes when sand and water are involved.
  2. Beach toys. The usual stuff plus some old gardening equipment, yogurt containers, and a Neti pot. Weird stuff make good beach toys.
  3. A giant box of granola bars and extra water bottles. Making sure the gremlins are fed and watered at all times is critical—and let’s be real: I melt down from hanger just as much as they do. We like Nature Valley crunchy honey oat bars and whatever the cheapest box of Larabars is. I found the best prices this year from jet.com.
  4. Parks passes that allow us to have parking privileges for the season without stopping at a kiosk or waiting in a line.
  5. Sand sports games like koosh tennis and a giant soft Frisbee. These are new additions this year, and are mostly aspirational. I’m still trying to find the ideal sand-tennis partner.
  6. One or two fold-out camp chairs.

Here’s what I throw in the car the morning of:

  1. A squishable cooler with a bunch of cut-up fruit and protein (mango, blueberries, watermelon, sausage, pizza, chicken and rice, etc.).
  2. A bunch of water bottles (more than the number of people in the car).
  3. The biggest game-changer this year, with me being on my own with the baby and the boys (last year my husband had time off for paternity leave), is hiring a summer nanny to come with us each time we go. Below is Tris with the baby at Cape Lookout State Park. She took the Fairy Pig on a walk down the beach to get her to take a nap, but first she got excited about the rocks from Goonies. Without help, I would have been trying to figure out how to take the boys to the state-park bathroom while the baby screamed and crawled under the bathroom stalls and the boys freaked out about mosquitoes and I yelled, “GET OVER IT AND GO TO THE BATHROOM, NOWWWW!” No longer.

Here's Why We're Surviving. MomsicleBlog

Then we all get in the car.

I like to leave by 9 a.m., because every minute after 9 a.m. is like telling the entropy gods that we are easy bait they should destroy us. So I yell “GET IN THE CAR” a few times.

No He Doesn't Use This Seat. MomsicleBlog

I tell the boys they can have a granola bar when they’re buckled in. Boy Woww, the three-toed sloth, gets the phone for screen time until we start driving. Suddenly he’s very fast. I have no idea why K-Pants hasn’t figured out that this is wildly unfair, and I don’t care. Hopefully it will last.

We're There. MomsicleBlog

Here’s what happens when we get there:

  1. Everyone helps carry something (we do it all in one trip—that’s a must). [I just wanted to say “that’s a must,” because it sounds so blog-expert.]
  2. I get 15 minutes of set-up time when the kids can’t ask me questions or talk to me. I like to have the umbrella set up, the cooler under it, the picnic blankets out, and the bag with towels and clothes somewhere safe from getting splashed or sandy.

Then we chill out on the sand. The kids play and build stuff. They fight less at the beach. I shove food at them. When they do fight I tell them to figure it out—and it’s much easier for them to solve problems or get distracted at the beach than at home. I’m tired of solving their problems, and the beach is the place where they do it themselves, sort of.

Beach Problems. MomsicleBlog

Here’s what happens when we leave:

  1. An hour before we go I warn the boys, in the vain hope that they won’t melt down. But they always melt down when we leave. I don’t care anymore. Not caring has been a nice game-changer.
  2. I pack up our stuff while our nanny takes care of the baby and helps me if the baby isn’t too fussy. The boys don’t really have jobs at the end of the day. People look over and think, “Kids these days are so spoiled. Look at that mom! She’s picking up everything!” Once again, I don’t care. What do I have to prove? K-Pants and Boy Woww have been out in the sun all day without a rest or nap break and if you poke them just right they’ll turn into psychotic spawn of Satan. I would rather clean up and work on their entitlement issues another day.

Here’s what happens when we get home:

  1. The boys watch shows basically until bedtime. We stop to feed them leftovers. They do bedtime routine stuff. They melt down in blazing balls of fire.
  2. I unpack the cooler and refill it with clean cloth napkins, silverware, and plastic trash bags, so we’re ready.

It all sounds like a lot, I guess, but really all I need to do the day-of is pack the cooler and the water bottles. And I am so happy when we go to the water; and the boys are so happy; and the baby gets to explore instead of wandering the house looking for me like a forlorn puppy.

I will do anything to get to the beach.

And then all of the other days, when we’re not at the beach, I can look at the car and think “If we needed to have a beach party right now, we could.”

Beach Time. MomsicleBlog

 

 

Oregon Explored: Astoria and the Columbia River Basin (Wordless Wednesday)

Hammond Marina, Columbia River. MomsicleBlog

Peter Iredale Shipwreck, Sunset Beach. MomsicleBlog

Cargo Ships Near Astoria, Oregon. MomsicleBlog

Astoria, Salmon-gutting. MomsicleBlog

Hammond, Oregon, Columbia River. MomsicleBlog

Fishing Boat Headed to Pacific Ocean via Columbia River. MomsicleBlog

Portland Restaurant Review: The Magical, Whimsical MÅURICE

Maurice Portland Pastry Luncheonette

I should just point you to MÅURICE’s website, and not even write this review. It’s the most charming and beautiful restaurant website I’ve seen, and on a day when I need to be cared for and can’t get downtown, I may spend ten minutes jumping in to Kristen D. Murray’s online universe.

I went to MÅURICE on a Saturday afternoon-evening, overstimulated from a week of gremlin-keeping. Being in charge was corroding my soul. Family-boss-duty has its perks, but it can also destroy you from within, so be careful.

MÅURICE is the antidote. The whitewashed walls, the bleached chevron tiles climbing up the open kitchen, the white wooden tables and chairs: they will scrub your tight-woundedness away like a palate-cleanser for the soul.

And then there’s a hand-written menu, which begs you to order the oysters because the raw fish warning is so sweetly scrawled at the bottom.

MÅURICE Portland Pastry Luncheonette

Yes, I’ll have one of each variety. And then the tastes of the ocean, powerful, wind-whipping my taste buds, whisk me away to the ocean–as easy as I always think it should be to arrive there, until I start packing the car and putting socks and shoes on small people.

Oysters MÅURICE Portland Pastry Luncheonette

I generally eat gluten-free, and this was no problem at all at MÅURICE, even though it’s a pastry luncheonette. My tomato, cucumber, fennel, and edible flower salad seemed bathed in lemony sunshine.

MÅURICE Portland Pastry Luncheonette

A macaroon is a must-order for me anywhere I see one, and the coffee and almond flavors in their mini-macaroons (bottom left) were quite nice.

MÅURICE Portland Pastry Luncheonette

I ordered the lapsang souchong­–tea truffle (bottom right), as well, even though I was skeptical it could beat out the simple, hoi polloi–pleasing chocolate bombs I get at Trader Joe’s (I’m a low-brow truffle-eater), but it had a luscious earthiness that made me feel like I was at a French farm picnic.

The pine-nut, white-chocolate truffles (top) I ordered once, and then once-tried, ordered again to share back at home. I’ve never had a nutty truffle cluster quite like this one. It was oddly-shaped like a trail-mix bite, but soft and buttery and delicately knit together: hazelnuts and walnuts, and perhaps a pistachio, pinned with ganache.

At home, I want my family to know that they are well-cared-for. When I’m out on my own, I want to happen upon the same in return.

Many of the fika, or little treats, in MÅURICE’s lovely glass case at the front are $.75 each. I will stop in and pick up a few whenever I’m in the neighborhood, which will probably be more often now. The pureness of MÅURICE’s blanched decor and the richness of the seasonal flavors made me feel renewed. I want that feeling again.

Nobody’s Leaving This Fun Family Vacation

Oregon Coast. MomsicleBlog

I have romantic images of family beach vacations swimming in my head. My siblings and I would play pretend in the dune grasses and find sand dollars at low tide. We would ride our bikes down to the village for ice cream, and at least once every trip we would go in to the city to buy saltwater taffy and seafoam—that crackling, airy, sugary delight—dipped in chocolate.

The Instagram filter of my childhood ocean vacations is sutro, that one where the colors are faded but deepened, brightest in the middle and soft around the edges.

Now it’s my turn to immerse my children in the salt-water sweetness of the Oregon Coast.

I had images of the boys in bathing suits with ice cream melting down their faces in my mind as I loaded up the car with our supplies and the used bike-trailer-stroller that would wheel everything down to the sand for 4th of July week.

But, as many of you already know, gremlins may turn psychotic when removed from their normal routines and surroundings. They snatch candy from holiday parades and hide it in secret corners of hotel rooms. They scream and yell and claw at you when you are helping them make memories, and instead of napping they may rearrange furniture to create launch pads to hurtle themselves onto beds.

Once after college I spent a summer in Houston and went to the beach at Galveston for the day with friends. I looked on derisively as beat-up minivans backed onto the sand close to the water, then unlatched their trunks–giant coolers, cases of soda, children, and boom boxes tumbling out.

This was not the classy, eclectic magic of the Pacific. This was an anarchist explosion on the shore. I was happy to leave those trashy images behind.

Oh karma, you beautiful beast.

Ten years later I am unlatching the Velcro of my hand-me-down bike-trailer-stroller and letting coolers filled with pepperoni and beer tumble out, setting up a Bedouin tent city for our assault on the beach, camp chairs and a giant shade umbrella anchoring the set-up, a $19.99 blow-up boat and a garage-sale kite keeping company nearby.

Each day we would shove our bike-buggy near the freshwater creek heading to the ocean, just far enough off the beach path so that others could get by on their way to long, romantic walks. We weren’t ambitious enough to turn the corner to where we could see the waves. Instead we looked across at our hotel, where we could run to when we had forgotten a bottle opener, or a gremlin needed to use the bathroom.

Fun Family Vacation. MomsicleBlog

And the ice cream.

By the time we remembered the ice cream, the gremlins had been banned from sugar for the rest of the trip. So my mom and I snuck off during nap time and she bought cones for the two of us. We ate them on the ledge of a planter by the general store, hidden from passersby, lest our secret be exposed by a wandering family member.

The next day, it was my husband’s turn. He left to get a scoop of Tillamook marionberry pie ice cream while I stood guard back at the room.

And those were the best ice cream cones we’ve ever eaten.

I don’t mean to leave you thinking there wasn’t magic in this trip. There was. It’s just that the image I often have in my head about what something should be like is just that. It’s an image reflecting a set of expectations that may not be realistic.

I always think of Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, as his romanticized holiday is going up in flames and the family is starting to jump ship: “Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together… We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f*cking Kaye.”

Sauvie Island, Portland, Oregon (Summer Wordless Wednesday)

 

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

 

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

Endorsing Greg Malinowski, Elizabeth Furse, and Allen Amabisca for Washington County Board of Commissioners

Washington County, Oregon. MomsicleBlog.com

I get real sad driving around Washington County, looking at the beautiful open spaces, thinking, You too shall be turned into a parking lot or haphazard commuter housing development soon. 

I’m usually thinking this while on my way to a strip mall, which is as imaginative as Washington County gets when it comes to commerce.

And don’t even try walking from one strip mall to the next: It’s unpleasant and the sidewalks are illogical. Do you own a bike? Great! Put it in your car and take it somewhere with bike paths that connect to each other.

I’m tired of the development entropy that I see around us, so I’m endorsing Greg Malinowski, Elizabeth Furse, and Allen Amabisca for the Washington County Board of Commissioners. (Can a little blog endorse people? Why not!?) If Malinowski, Furse, and Amabisca are elected, the five-member board will no longer be ruled by developer interests.

Don’t get me wrong–development is critical for Washington County. We’re getting more residents and more jobs in the coming years: good things. But citizens should be instrumental in helping to set the county’s vision, and the current board doesn’t see citizen involvement as a true priority.

We’re a well-educated, invested population in Washington County. We deserve a county develop that has the growth and amenities we want: walkable town centers, safe sidewalks, smart traffic infrastructure, and viable bike paths.

No matter which way you vote, make sure to vote all the way down to the county commissioners section, and send in your ballot by the May 20 election deadline. If you haven’t received a ballot, contact information for the Washington County elections division is here

AND, if you are miraculously still interested and want to go further down the local-politics rabbit hole, here’s an op-ed I submitted to the Hillsboro Argus in favor of Greg Malinowski. (Greg is the incumbent commissioner for our area. He worked in the technology sector and now runs his family’s organic farm.)

In Favor of Greg Malinowski for Smart Growth in Washington County

By Evelyn Shoop, Washington County resident

Greg and Jonella Malinowski

Washington County has it all: premier, large businesses, vibrant, thriving small businesses, beautiful open spaces, safe neighborhoods, pristine farmland, amazing community recreation options, and great schools.

But we’ve left the vision for our county up to developers and large landowners who seem to work from the lowest common denominator. We’ve centered development in malls and strip malls, built everything to car-scale around large parking lots, and created suburban developments that have difficult access to services.

I’m tired of Washington County being known for its strip malls and five-lane roads. I’m tired of unpleasant and illogical walking and bike routes. I’m tired of not being able to let my kids walk safely to the park or school because there aren’t safe routes.

My fellow residents and I want walkable town centers that are designed to pedestrian- and bike-scale. We want wide sidewalks and bike paths that connect schools, neighborhoods, and community services. We want Washington County to be a place that’s known for business, beauty, and livability.

Development is critical for Washington County as our population continues to grow, but developers don’t need to be in charge of the county’s vision. We residents do. We’re smart, educated, and spend most of our time working in Washington County and paying for Washington County housing, be it mortgage or rent. My husband and I both work in Washington County—he works for a large corporation and I’m a self-employed freelancer. We chose Washington County to raise our family because of its great schools, proximity to work, and safe neighborhoods.

We need the Washington County board of commissioners to represent what we want for the future.

That’s why I’m supporting Greg Malinowski for re-election to the Washington County Board of Commissioners, representing District 2. Greg believes that the residents and stakeholders who live and work here are investors whose voices should be taken seriously.

Greg’s not afraid to talk about the real, substantive problems in the county—for example, the fact that we sit through traffic snarls on highways and county roads because of billions of dollars of delayed infrastructure; or the fact that we live in some of the best farmland in the world, and it’s getting paved over while dilapidated and run-down areas are ignored for re-development.

We’ve had plenty of years of bland, suburban development. It’s time to make sure Washington County moves into a livable, resident-centered future.

***

Are you STILL interested, you crazy, crazy person?!? Well then come on over on Wednesday, May 14th, 6–7 pm, to have spaghetti dinner with Greg and other Washington County political types at Leedy Grange in Cedar Mill. You know you’ve been wanting to hang out at a legit grange hall. Find out more here.

***
Photo of Greg and Jonella Malinowski courtesy of GregMalinowski.com. 

 

Breaking Our Ski Virginity (Wordless Wednesday)

Ski Lesson Mt Hood. MomsicleBlog

Ski Lesson Mt Hood. MomsicleBlog

Ski Lesson Mt Hood. MomsicleBlogLast photo credit CarmenRose Fiallo 🙂