Monday, June 29, 2015

Oregon Adventures III

A new job for Ben and back to school for the Wiglets!  In Ohio, we had to stop doing school a little early to pack for our move to Oregon.  Now that we are halfway settled, we are back at it most days until we finish what we need to. 

Monday: the older ones take turns tutoring Phoebe while I work one on one with the other older one.

Tuesday, we went CHERRY PICKING with our friends, the Linds.  

The scenery by the orchard reminded me of the rolling hills of Eastern Ohio.
The cherry hoarding chipmunk
My messy Bessy.

20 pounds for $12!  We will be going back!

I'm not sure where to start with this pic.  We were shopping for a propane tank and turned around and, "Awww, it's my sweet little, propane tank?"

Wednesday, we found THE house. (We also did school, delivered cherries to our new friends and shopped at the farmer's market).
Thursday, we bid on THE house after scoping out the neighborhood a second time.

Homeschool Park Day. We are making friends, yay!

Friday, we just did school then stayed home.  Ezra likes to ride his bike down the road to the neighborhood park about a hundred times a day.  Juni and Phoebe do each other's hair and make "soup" out of flower petals and leaves from the yard.  Daddy and Mommy eat quite a bit of "soup" every day actually.

The kids like to make nests out of bedding, this is Phoebe in one of her nests after the kids destroyed our bed wrestling in it.

Saturday was Ezra's birthday and we had already planned to take him to a trampoline park when we found out Salem's annual World Beat Festival was happening the same day.  So, we went early before it got hot. The weather had been quite dreamy before this week.  It was fine in the seventies all morning, then it sprinkled for five minutes (our first rain since arriving) then it was suddenly 100 degrees!  We had a lot of hot days this past week.

Native Americans taught the crowd some dances that they eventually joined in.

Oregon State's Defense Force Pipe Band got two new students when our crew arrived.  In the Fall, Ben will fulfill one of his lifelong dreams:  To learn to play the bag pipes.  Ezra chose the drums.  That will be on Saturday mornings.

Here's Juni with her new parasol from the festival watching the pipers and drummers in action.

Thank you, Elizabeth Sebree, for offering to take our picture and for sharing part of our birthday celebration!  She knitted a really cool hat for Ezra's gift with a hole in the front that you put a head lamp through.  He's been wearing the hat to bed every night since his birthday.  :-)

The birthday boy in downtown Salem.  Now THAT is a big boy bike! :-)

We totally went home and rested before round two of birthday bonanza.  On our way to the trampoline park, the realtor texted to let us know that the sellers counter-offered our offer on their house accepting all our terms.  We decided to accept their counter offer and e-signed the paperwork at Air Salem.  It felt like a WAY grown up thing to be doing in between jumping into foam pits and sliding down trampoline walls.  

That blur our big boy nine year old!!  I had Ben do like 5 flips so I could get his picture mid-air and somehow missed everytime (still sorry about that, Honey!).  He had a headache and foam in his eyes afterwards and I felt really bad.  From now on, occasional family shots, but otherwise, candids or nothing!

My innovative hubby made a candle out of a toothpick and some paper wadded up as we hadn't unpacked the candles yet.  Happy Birthday, Buddy!!  

Our last house in Ohio was my first time living in the country.  I learned that fireflies come up out of the ground in the evening and that if you avoid the patches of clover flowers you can be barefoot in the back yard and not get stung by a bee.  This is my first time living in a bigger city and already I have learned something new!  You can turn left at a red light onto a one-way road (going left, of course).  It makes total sense, it's just new to me!  I stopped freaking out while Ben was driving after about the third time he did it and reminded me that it was ok to do.

Overall, driving in Salem has been a relief.  It's not as fun during rush hour, but most of the city has a speed limit of 35mph and it just feels like a really really big Dover or New Philadelphia, Ohio.   The amount of traffic is similar (except during rush hour) and it's been fine.  We left one lovely area for another.  We miss our friends so much, but the charm of the area is making the transition a little easier.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oregon Adventures II

Our last week to have Daddy home with us before he started his new job was jam packed full of fun!
We spent all of Monday unpacking the kitchen.  The kids played in the paper for about two hours!

Tuesday, we went with our realtor to look at several homes and we found a good contender.

Wednesday was Farmer's Market Day (so is Monday, Friday and Saturday).
We bought some berries (recognize them all?) Answers at the bottom. :-)

Our new friends, Esteban and Samuel and sweet little Ines dropped by for a visit.  They are from Switzerland and challenge our German, French and Spanish skills.  They know all those AND English.  They are just here for one month for the adoption of Ines who had a surrogate mom.  She is only two weeks old and is positively precious!

Thursday we actually visited THREE water pad parks.  We went to one with the homeschoolers in the morning and I forgot to take pictures.  Then later that evening we drove 10 minutes to down town Salem to play in front of the state capital building...but realized that the fountains were too big and scary for Phoebe....

...not Juni and Ezra though.

So, we went to the city park 5 minutes away and played in those for a while, but Phoebe still didn't want to  play in them and she wasn't even sick.  The ones here are intermittent and keep the kids hopping.  We had to pry E & J away.

Friday, we celebrated the birthday of our good friend's son.  They're the ones who live in Portland.  We went South to Eugene to a Fiber Festival.  Not the kind of fiber that makes you poop.  The kind that makes its own poop!

There was a huge convention area dedicated to spinning, selling wool from sheep, alpacas and goats as well as products made from the wool.  I could have spent a lot of money there.

Just about any evening that we are not shopping for houses, we bike/walk to the park nearby.  It's been so fun, we have decided our new home has to have this potential too.

Saturday, we wanted to investigate something we had seen in town: a pedestrian's bridge (formerly for trains) and a sand bar/beach area beside the Willamette River (Note the lack of a second 'i' in the name.  The locals pronounce this with the emphasis on "am" - I think it should be on the "ette", but whatever).

The  Willamette Riverboat Queen was happening by as we were crossing the pedestrian bridge.  This was taken about a second before the lens cap from my camera blew out of my hand and down to the sand bar below (seen in the above picture).

We were not able to find my lens cap, but still had fun.  The water was so shallow it was half warm.  On our tour of Salem last week, we learned that previous governor, Tom McCall, proclaimed all water ways and beaches (river and ocean) to be public property.  So, you can walk the entire length of the Oregon coastline uninhibited - except by maybe the weather.

We looked at many houses this past week and it seemed each time we went out we would see a better house than the last trip (not that all were winners).  We have not found THE one, but I suspect when that happens we will have to jump on it.  The market here is wild.  There's tons of houses constantly going up for sale each day, and tons more people after them.  So, houses aren't staying on the market for more than a few days it seems.  If we look at something that has been on the market for two weeks we wonder what's wrong with it.  Also, though the prices are higher than in Ohio (almost double), there's no sales tax.  The mortgage on a house 50% more expensive than our old house has the same mortgage price for the same loan terms.  We are looking for a simple ranch, 3-4 bedroom with about 1500 square feet, a small yard (but not too small) near Ben's work and a park. 

We are completely exhausted by all the big decisions, combined with so much newness.  Personally, I am a bit overwhelmed with all the social opportunities.  It's nice, in a way, to be anonymous and free, but I'm looking forward to knowing more people here - where to begin!?  Week three will bring about yet more change with Ben going to work and the rest of us resuming school to catch up what we didn't finish from last year due to the move.  We have really enjoyed having Ben with us for three weeks, but I think he's ready to get to his new job and we are all ready for some predictability.

Berry answers: From top middle - Blueberries, Blackberries, Tayberries (combination of blackberries and raspberries) and Raspberries  
Interesting fact: Our county has it's own berry!  The Marion County Marionberry.  It's pretty sour, I hear it makes good jam.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Oregon Adventures

A Full First Week
Sunday  was our first full day in Oregon and we filled it full!  We attended church first thing, it felt almost necessary after surviving a week travelling so far.  It was a lovely church that reminded us very much of our church in Ohio.  The girls got to help take change for a "Penny Power" which is a ministry that helps provide water accessibility to people in third world countries.

Not wasting any time at all, Ben found a car on Craigslist so he will have transportation (outside of a bicycle or dirt bike) to get to work, which is a good idea because it supposedly rains a lot here.  It's a clean '91 Honda Accord with only 90K miles on it and cost less than $2K.We are very happy with it.

End of the day swimming was an almost nightly occurrence for the first half of this week.

Later that day, Phoebe and Daddy came down with whatever I had the two days before.  :-(

We were enjoying the local warnings that it was expected to be unseasonably hot (high 80s and low 90s).  "Drink lots of water and don't overdo it," one radio announcer warned.  So, Monday, we went to the beach.

Turns out, the beach is pretty chilly, all the time.  It was windy, the water was cold and the temperature had gone from 90 in Salem to 62 in the town by the water.  With the gusts, and the cold water (which we had to touch), it felt much colder.  

We did find a bluff to hide behind and enjoy the hot sand (the only thing that was warm there).

Tuesday, we had some angels visit us and bring us cookies and cleaning supplies.  A couple from the church we visited on Sunday gave us their phone number in case we needed anything.  Monday, I called to ask for local credit union and insurance recommendations and realized that Tuesday we had all day to clean at the new rental home and no cleaning supplies (until Wednesday when everything would be delivered).  They not only loaned us what we needed, they delivered them and helped us clean for a while!   That afternoon, I went to a local curriculum swap for homeschoolers.  It was swarming with over 200 people and was just in a church's gymnasium. I couldn't believe the number of people there! 

 Later that night, that sweet couple insisted on having us over for dinner too.  The kids found a cherry tree in their back yard and were shrieking with joy, "CHERRIES!!!"  I don't think they have ever seen a cherry tree before.  :-)

Our angels, Phyllis and Norm Lind...and my handsome man holding cherries.

Wednesday, our household goods arrived from storage, where they had sat for a week, while we travelled across the country.  It was humbling to see how very much stuff we have.  Going from a 3000 square foot house to a 1000 square foot house is a good way to see first hand that you have too much stuff.  We filled the house and 3/4ths of the two car garage.  It was a bit sickening.

Thursday, the kids and I attended a park day with some other homeschoolers.  I forgot to take pictures, but it was lovely.  The kids connected with other kids and I definitely connected with other moms...though they might think me odd that I had pen and paper interviewing them about where to get groceries and when the farmer's markets are, etc.  This is serious business!

On the way home we picked up some local berries at a road side stand.  They were awesome!!

That evening we walked to the park down the road from our house.  The trees here are so wonderful.

Friday, we popped up to Portland (my first time!) to see our good friends, Matt and Elizabeth.  Matt was roommates with Ben in college. They have been living here for about nine months.   We had a picnic at one of their favorite parks.

Later, we went to some food trucks for dinner.  They cluster in flocks all over the city.  This particular flock of food trucks is all South American food from different regions.  We had some super affordable ($5) dinner from Colombia and Mexico.

While we were in Portland, poor Juni came down with an ear infection from the bug that we all had (besides our door knob licker, Ezra).  We cancelled all Saturday and Sunday plans and decided to just be home and let the kids rest.  So, on Saturday, the kids rested while the parents took everything out of the garage and took five car loads of furniture and junk to a resale shop, then lugged the big stuff to the curb for passers by to take.  We ended up getting rid of enough to be able to fit our '67 Plymouth Fury (that Ben restored in 2004) in the garage, where it belongs.  We can't have it getting rained on, now, can we?  :-)  So, the house is a mess, but the garage looks awesome!  

Sunday: We really did rest today, it's been a great first week in Oregon, but I neglected to mention how much we have all missed Ohio. Each child has had their meltdowns and moments of over-tired and overwhelmed temper tantrums.  Tuesday, in particular, I was really overwhelmed by the bigness of the city and the anonymity I felt.  Learning new roads is not my favorite past time either.  In Portland, I kept seeing faces of people that reminded me of friends in Ohio.  We are homesick, but in the midst of that, we continue to gain hope that we will find community here and that this new land will feel like home soon.