Sunday, November 18, 2012

Some R&R at the beach

As a Christmas gift in 2009, Jared's super generous boss gave all of his staff members a gift certificate to go towards an overnight stay at the Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach. It only took these two staff members 2 years and 11 months to use it!

If we were going to use our gift certificate, Friday, Nov. 9th was the only available day we had before it expired. The stars aligned because Jared's mom was able to fly up for a quick weekend trip and stay with us Thursday night through Monday, and watch the kids for us while we were away. We are SO grateful for her sacrifice of time and money to do that for us.

We were unable to check in until 4pm and it's only about an hour away, but we left Friday morning and headed to the temple to do a session together. I feel extremely fortunate to be married to a man who not only took me to the temple to be married, but takes me back every month. It's our "first" date for the month. Once that has been fulfilled and there's time and resources left, then he'll take me on a "second" (temporal) date--like to a movie or dinner. I know there are men out there who don't feel that being at the temple with their wives is much of a date. But I can't think of a better way to spend time together--renewing temple covenants and partaking of the Spirit that dwells in the Lord's holy house. It's the perfect date!

Before our temple service, however, we had breakfast at Denny's. Jared was excited to learn just a few weeks prior that Denny's offers free refills on hot chocolate. :)

After our temple session, we headed to Cannon Beach via Highway 26. I don't know that I've ever taken this route to the beach before. It's usually the 6 I think, going to Tillamook--a very winding, twisty-turny drive, that I'm finding, in my old age, makes me a little sick. Even when I'm in the front seat! So highway 26 was a wonderful, wide alternative and didn't even feel like we were headed to the coast. We enjoyed seeing the beautiful fall leaves and much to our surprise...sun breaks and blue sky!

We found the hotel and even though we were a couple hours early, I went to the front desk to do as much of the check-in as I could. As it turns out, our room was almost ready. They got Jared's cell number and said they'd call when the room was done. We parked around the back where we thought our beachfront room would be and took some pictures. We were basically nextdoor to Haystack Rock.

This is a view to the right (north) from the "boardwalk" area outside the hotel. If you look closely (or click on the picture) you can see a lighthouse in the center left. That's the Tillamook Lighthouse known as "Terrible Tilly" in Ecola State Park.

This is a view straight out in front of the boardwalk. Obviously it was low tide when we arrived.

This is a little left from the boardwalk. That's not us out there walking hand in hand on the beach, but we can pretend if you'd like. I had no desire to get sand on my shoes which would then, in turn, get sand in my suburban which had just been recently detailed. It's all about the 'burb, baby.

Here's Haystack!

And a picture of me.

We wandered back to the front desk so we could use the facilities. That's when I was informed that our room was ready. Yay!

Room #1304. 2nd floor, smack dab in the middle...right above where we stood to take pictures.

Here's the room description we got in our reservation confirmation:
The beach front one bedroom suite we have reserved for you will accommodate up to 4. It has a private bedroom with a king size TempurPedic bed and flat screen LCD TV. The living room features a double size sofa sleeper, arm chair, gas fireplace, flat screen LCD TV and a courtesy center that includes a snack size refrigerator, microwave, and a coffee maker. The spacious bathroom includes a large soaking tub, step in shower and a flat screen LCD TV. From inside you have a direct ocean view and a private balcony with a panoramic view.

I promised we'd take pictures of the hotel room to show the kids. Jake heard there was a TV in the bathroom and his jaw fell to the floor. Dream on boys!

I actually used the video camera when we first got there to get shots of the hotel room. It wasn't until we were about to leave that I forgot about regular pictures. Dang it. So...I made the bed 10 minutes before check-out. Jared walked in to get our bags and he exclaimed, "You made the bed!" Yeeaah. I explained I forgot to get a picture of it the day before. He said, "Well, if you ever need a job, you could work here in Housekeeping. It looks great!" Interestingly enough, Jared has been trying to persuade me to think about a TempurPedic bed for a couple of years now. We just got a brand new mattress...5 years ago. But still...we should have a few more good years out of it before we need another. I've laid on his parents' TempurPedic bed for a couple of minutes when they lived in Illinois and it felt like I was laying on wet sand--firm with a very slight give. I wasn't impressed. So I was cautiously optimistic about the opportunity to give this mattress a test run. Survey says: I thought it was great and can see a future with TempurPedic in it! Jared, however, woke up...sore of all things! His back was sore before our trip though, so we'll let that slide.

Here's the spacious bathroom with large soaking tub. I neglected to get a shot of the TV right above the toilet to the left there. But I assure you, it is there. Right along with the phone.

Here's the living room. That couch doesn't appear to be very comfortable, but it was suprisingly so! The entire west side of the room was ceiling-to-floor glass. One half was a large picture window and the other half was the sliding door to the balcony.

The view from the couch.

After checking in, we went to get a late lunch. I had a hankering for fish and chips. We found a delicious plate of it at Morris' Fireside. Isn't this place adorable? It's even prettier at night when it's all lit up.

We found that we were the ONLY patrons there at the time. This weekend was "WOW: Women Only Weekend" at Cannon Beach. I'm not sure that had anything to do with it, but we were fine with the entire place to ourselves. Our waiter was especially doting :) The halibut was melt in your mouth delicious and seasoned perfectly. Jared thoroughly enjoyed the pulled pork sandwich.

Even though I completely stuffed myself with fried fish, I spotted THIS place out the window nextdoor. Dessert for sure!!

Crepe Neptune. Oh my. We were full, but grabbed two to-go for a snack later. We got #13--Neptune's Daughter which has fresh lemon, butter and powdered sugar...sounded like a lighter, flatter version of our German pancakes. It was. Yummo.

The other crepe was #21--Twin Rocks and I later discovered the favorite of Mr. Crepe Neptune's wife. It is now Jenn Hough's favorite. Caramel, semi-sweet chocolate, sea salt. How can you go wrong??? It was SO divine and scrumptious that I had to get another one before we left town Saturday morning. You've GOT to try it. Or try making your own. The salt addition was absolutely PER.FECT.

We got back to the hotel lobby just in time for the Fresh Baked Cookies they offer every afternoon.  Mmmm...more warm chocolatey goodness. Twist our arms.

The sun sets early here in Oregon this time of year. We also saw clouds rolling in from the ocean that added to the seascape. We did get rain that evening, but by then it was totally dark and we were cozy inside so it didn't matter.

I decided I wanted pizza around 8:30. We ran out to get some at Pizza A Fetta. On our way back to our car, we were stunned to see several inches of SNOW on the back of a car. Huh?? That couldn't be. Could it? It was the weirdest thing. Surely if it snowed, there'd be some all over but it was JUST restricted to the back end of that one particular vehicle. Maybe we were drunk with relaxation and hallucinated the precipitation, but I'd bet my life on it.

Here are some pictures of early Saturday morning off our balcony. I love the swirling formation of the clouds in this first one.

I love the almost imperceptible tint of pink in this one.

My only "advice" for the entire weekend would be this...avoid taking your suburban, if you can. We left our van for Jared's mom because it's easier for her to get in and out of. Parking at the Surfsand Resort is a little tight, but doable. Parking at Pig N' Pancake (the BEST breakfast chain I've been to in decades!) was not. We got ourselves stuck, almost wedged at the dead end part of their lot. It was a 20 point turn (back up 1/2 an inch, turn wheel and pull up 1/2 an inch, back up 1/2 an inch, turn wheel and pull up 1/2 an inch....repeated 10 times--at least). Jared says if we were in the suburban he grew up in, we'd still be in the Pig N' Pancake parking lot. But we made it out without damage to anything, except maybe our parking pride and were happy to be seated in the very back of the restaurant. This was our view. Isn't it so cozy and quaint??

Jared and I did our own little "sweet and savory" couple's breakfast. I very confidently ordered the "award winning" sourdough pancakes. I was a little nervous when the waitress asked if I wanted 8 or 6. I opted for 6. I'm so glad I did and I'm so sad I didn't! Topped with marionberry syrup, those pancakes were thin and melt-in-your-mouth amazing! I could have eaten two more, but it's probably best that I didn't. Jared ordered the taco omelet. I'm not much of an omelet girl, but the description of that omelet was super tempting. Seasoned beef, black beans, cheese, onions, tomatoes with guacamole, salsa and sour cream. It was huge and it was delish. I SO wish there was a Pig N' Pancake closer to home. But now that I think about it, maybe it's best that they're limited to the coast...or I'd be there often and I'd surely weigh 25 pounds more than I do now.

After breakfast, we went back to the hotel room with our full bellies and read our ebooks and napped until it was time to check-out. It was divine. Then we hit the shops. We were looking for a gift for Jared's mom. I have to say, as far as my financial demographic goes...these shops are waaaaay out of my league and don't really appeal to me at all. They were fun to walk through since I'd never consider buying anything there. I was actually starting to think we'd never find anything reasonable and practical to get Karole to show our gratitude for watching the kids. Fortunately, near the end, we were able to purchase some marionberry jam and a Santa ornament that was handcarved by a woman who actually lives in Cannon Beach and uses the wood from her yard. I actually wanted one myself! Very cool.

The weather on Saturday was even MORE glorious than on Friday. I cannot believe our good fortune. I mean, what are the odds of seeing the sun in Oregon in November and at the COAST no less. For those who are from Alaska, it's right up there with the odds of seeing all of Mt. McKinley from Anchorage.

Before we left the beach for good...we made an imperative stop at Crepe Neptune. Too bad my 2nd Twin Rocks crepe was gone before we got two blocks down the road. And too bad it was only about an hour drive home before we hit reality again. However, we were happy to see that Karole wasn't tied up and all was relatively well. Saturdays are a busy day for us though as we prepare for Sunday, so it was "back to the salt mines" pretty darn quick without any slow transition. Oh well.

Today in Relief Society, my friend Elissa asked me how our weekend at the beach was. I told her it was incredible in every way and that Jared and I are going to make a goal to do something like that once a year. Another friend on the other side of Elissa, leaned forward and asked incredulously, "Once a year?? Really??" She then advised, "Honey, you need to go more than that or you ain't gonna survive!"

Wouldn't that be great? I'm just not sure it's practical. We didn't forget about this gift certificate. It seriously took us this long to find time in our schedules to make it work. Let alone, to find a sitter and the finances.

With that said, I can't believe how much difference just ONE night away from the craziness of life (even the things you the little kiddies) can do for a couple. I seriously wish every couple could get away like this. And I think I'd totally advise it to newlyweds. Just be creative and make it work. And when the grandkids come...I hope I can be in a position to do the same for our kids and their spouses.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Yesterday was the long awaited presidential election. I can only say that I'm grateful I at least have the opportunity to voice my opinion. Other than that, I'm going to exercise self-mastery and keep my mouth closed.

Tuesday was also a very special Veteran's Day Assembly at our elementary school. The music teacher, Mrs. Stuve, who helps to coordinate parts of assemblies asked our cub scout pack if they would assist in doing a flag ceremony as they've done a few times in the past.

Our Cubmaster made the arrangements and Cooper, a very new Webelos scout, was given the assignment of the "caller".

He practiced calling in Family Home Evening on Monday to make sure it was fresh in his mind. He was solid! When he came home from school yesterday, I asked him how the assembly went. He said his legs were shaking but he thought he did okay.

I went to the school this morning to do my usual weekly volunteering. When I was signing in at the office, Mrs. Creek, the office manager, asked me if I had made it to the assembly the day before. I said no and was bracing myself for something unpleasant. She shook her head and said that Cooper is so great, such a good boy. She said he did a fantastic job with the flag ceremony. I told her he had reported he was nervous and his legs were shaking. Mrs. Creek responded he didn't look one bit uneasy and was very controlled. Apparently he confidently took total command of the room and was so respectful and patriotic. Mrs. Creek said it moved her to tears (and others, too). I could tell she was fighting back the emotion just recalling the moment.

I was so touched! It was so kind of her to share that with me.

She said there was a picture of him and brought it up on her computer.

When I went to Cooper's classroom to get the bucket of jobs to work on, there was an 8x10 color copy of the picture above, mounted and laminated as a gift from his teacher, Mrs. Stewart. She thought I might like to have it. I thanked her profusely and said Mrs. Creek had just told me about the assembly. Mrs. Stewart said Cooper did an amazing job--that he was "so cute".

Love those little cub scouts AND the cub scouting program!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A parent's worst nightmare...almost

Last night was Family Home Evening which meant a slightly later bedtime for the little kids. Karcyn and Calvin headed to bed just before 8pm instead of their usual 7:30.

Karcyn is really good about going to bed, saying her prayers and tucking herself in. I just have to go kiss her goodnight. Calvin, on the other hand, has been a little resistent lately. They share a room with JJ and sleep on a bunk bed. Karcyn's on the bottom, Calvin sleeps on the top.

I had Calvin go potty and we went through our little routine. As I said, he wasn't being very cooperative, so I told him if he didn't choose to be obedient, I would have to turn off the hall light or he wouldn't be able to listen to the "Scripture Scouts" music. He didn't like either of those options, so he complied, albeit begrudgingly. I tucked him in and actually didn't kiss him goodnight. He was too far for me to reach on my tiptoes, and it took SO long for me to get him to actually lie down that, instead of asking for a kiss, which would require him to sit up and stretch in my direction, I figured my loving stroke of his hair was good enough.

Cooper had already put himself to bed and I went to rejoin Jared and Jake in the family room and kitchen. Jake was finishing up the dishes and Jared was rocking with JJ, watching updates on FOX News. I checked Jake's work on kitchen duty and then started to make and pack Tuesday's lunches. Jake got on the computer for a little bit and I read an article or two on Jared's iPad.

Then I remembered I needed to fill out some paperwork for Jake and started working on that when Jared decided it was safe to lay JJ down in his crib. "Safe" meaning: Calvin and Karcyn are asleep and won't wake up JJ by their talking or playing around. All was quiet in the bedroom wing of the house.

As I was working on the papers for Jake, Jared came back into the kitchen with JJ still in his arms and asked, "Where's Calvin?"

"Whatdaya mean?"

"He's not in his bed."

I put my pen down, happened to glance at the microwave clock that showed 8:47 and walked authoritatively past Jared telling him, "Don't worry, he does this from time to time." Sometimes, especially when he has no interest in sleeping, Calvin sneaks down from his bed and sleeps with Karcyn.

I walked into their bedroom. Karcyn was asleep. Jared was hot on my heels and loudly whispered, "I already checked their room."

No offense Jared, but I know how the male species looks for things, so don't take it personally while I go back and check for no other reason than for my own peace of mind. I had to squint as my eyes adjusted to the dark and using the light from the hallway, bent over and reached around on Karcyn's bed. The only thing sleeping with Karcyn was the cat. There was, however, a big mound by the foot of her bed. Sometimes those kids build little forts of pillows and blankets around themselves before falling asleep. I patted around the bulky mass, but all I felt was a bunch of artificial stuffing.

I stood upright and checked the top bunk. I pulled all of Calvin's blankets back and made sure he wasn't tucked down in a corner. Calvin's bed was empty.

At this point, I was running out of ideas. I quickly turned on the overhead bedroom light and checked all of those places again in case I had missed something in the darkness. I looked in their closet, I looked under the crib and under the bunk bed. No Calvin. How is it that of all her kids, the one that was missing was the one this mommy neglected to kiss goodnight?

I turned off the light and we left the room. I went into Jake and Cooper's room. Cooper was stirring and he groggily said, "I already told you Calvin isn't in here." Jared obviously looked in there before coming to find me. But I checked the beds and under their bunkbed and closets anyway.

I left that room and we started calling for Calvin throughout the house. Jared had looked in the living room behind the couches and in corners. I looked under the dining room table. As I surveyed the area, I took note that the front door was still bolted shut. Calvin's been known to leave the house without our knowledge, but usually when the big kids are out front or he sees someone he knows. We looked in the family room. Jared, with JJ still in his arms, opened up the door to the garage. Calvin also likes to go out to the garage and play. It's a place we usually find him during the day when he's not in the house.

Jared exclaimed, "Ohhh!" I thought Jared had found Calvin and that his exclamation was because Calvin was making a mess by intentionally mixing the cat food in the water dish or adding water to the litter box and smearing the clumps all over---speaking, sadly, from experience. What he found, however, was that the garage light was on and the garage door was open!

This was extremely concerning because it just so happens that after dinner, when we were getting ready for family night, Jared had gone out to the garage for something and noticed I had forgotten to close the garage door when I came home earlier. When he brought this to my attention, I looked over in his direction and asked, "Did I?" I saw that it was dark in the garage and then heard Jared click the button and the garage door close for the night.

Jared just stood on the landing for a second while the weight of what we just realized washed over us. He handed JJ over to me and without saying a word, immediately left the house and started calling for Calvin as he quickly walked into the darkness across the street and down the path to the nearby playground.

That's when my heart stopped beating and plummeted to the floor. Refusing to believe my baby was out there, alone and in the dark, I countered, "Calvin can't reach the button to open the garage." Jake corrected me and said, "Yeah he can. I've seen him do it." What? He can? It still didn't make sense. How could Calvin have gotten out there without any of the three of us seeing him? He can be super sneaky and we can be distracted, but I'm confident I would have noticed him. We were all in the family room area after the kids went to bed. Calvin would have had to walk through the narrow path through the kitchen and the family room and in his bright yellow t-shirt and athletic shorts no less, to get to the garage. It wasn't adding up. I couldn't get my mind to accept that Calvin left our home undetected. At night. In the cold. But stranger things have happened and the heavier truth was that we couldn't find Calvin anywhere. And the possibility of Calvin leaving our house on his own was certainly more believable than someone taking him from our home. But once he was out there all by himself...all it would take is "opportunity" for this situation to go from bad to horrific. I shook my head in determination. I couldn't let my mind go there.

I passed JJ to Jake and hustled to the backyard barefoot and in my jammies. I started hollering for Calvin. Surely he would answer if he was out there, right? Nothing.

This wasn't good. I ran back inside and headed to my room. If Jared didn't find Calvin, we were going to have to get help. What do we do first? Call the cops? Tell our neighbors? If we got others involved that would make this real. I threw some socks on. While I was in my room, I searched it also. I looked in our bathroom, the shower stall. I looked under our bed and in our two closets. No Calvin.

I left my room and met up with Jake in the hallway, who was holding JJ. Jake said he was starting to get really worried. Not really acknowledging him, I instructed Jake to please put JJ in bed and told him we were really close to leaving to get help and I would need him to stay here at the house. I also asked him to start looking in all the cupboards and any other small space he could think of.

Coming back in from his search outside, Jared found us in the hallway only to report that Calvin wasn't at the playground. I didn't know what to do next and I don't really remember what happened next. I just remember Jared opening the small hall closet where we were standing, the door opening towards me, blocking my view and I heard a very relieved, "CAL-VIN!!" I think it was actually Jake whose voice I heard.

I pulled the door out of my way and saw Jared squat down and fish out Calvin from beneath the heap of coats and backpacks. I'm surprised he even saw him.

Jared said, "Calvin? Calvin, what were you doing, Buddy?" Calvin was limp with sleep, his hair matted with sweat. He laid his head instinctively on Jared's shoulder and remained asleep. We weren't going to be getting any answers out of him tonight. Jared and I locked our eyes which both reflected relief and love for the little boy he was holding in his arms. Once I knew he was safe, I smiled, shook my head and through gritted teeth said, "I'm gonna kill that kid." That was when I started to actually feel my heart, pounding in my chest as I considered a handful of "what ifs?"

It sure is hard not to overreact when it comes to the safety of your kids. We would have turned the house and yard completely upside down before calling the police. But we were pretty darn close. I had even checked the dryer. That closet--was one of the few places we hadn't looked yet.

This morning, Calvin didn't say a word about waking up in his bed as opposed to the hall closet. And when we asked him, nonchalantly, why he went to the closet last night, he said he didn't feel like sleeping in his bed. Of course.

As for the mystery of the garage door....we concluded that the light must have been turned on when Cooper went to get the broom to sweep after dinner. As for the open garage door, the only thing we can deduce is that when Jared closed it, the cat must have walked under it, activating the safety sensor that made the garage door pop back up. Those two things combined to create a very scary possibility for us last night. I made note of the microwave clock after Jared put Calvin in bed for the second time. 8:53. This ordeal lasted only six minutes.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for our happy ending!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cooper's solution

While Jared and Jake were on a cold and wet scout camp out last night at Silver Falls, the other kids had fun playing in every room of the house. Counter to my usual OCD nature, I actually ignored the mess when we went to bed and left it for the next morning.

After the kids got dressed and had breakfast, I asked all three of them (Cooper, Karcyn and Calvin) to please clean the living room mess which consisted of mostly big duplo legos and stacking blocks as well as the decorative couch pillows, strewn all over the floor. I had to remind them a few times to clean up.

Finally, on my way to the other end of the house, I walked past the living room to see Cooper kicked back, lounging on the couch, typing in an exaggerated fashion on a calculator in his hand. At the same time, Karcyn and Calvin were working together to clean up the mess in stiff, jerky movements.

I stopped midstride as I assessed the situation. I narrowed my eyes and peered at Cooper.

He responded with melodramatic innocence and smiled knowingly. "What?? They're my robots and I've programmed them to clean up the mess."

I decided not to dignify the situation with a response and proceeded to leave the room.

I don't know what disturbs me more. The fact that Cooper would take advantage of his siblings and concoct such a scheme. Or that it worked.