Monday, July 30, 2012

Vacation Part 7: Hanging in Beaverton

During our second full-day in Oregon, we stuck closer to home.  In the morning we took a little nature walk through a near-by local park.  The kids loved exploring and looking at all the different plants.  It was a challenge for me to remember the names of all the plants of the Pacific Northwest, but I had a blast snapping away with my camera.  Some of my favorite pictures of this trip came from this little jaunt in the woods!

Then after some naps, we went to their local community center and enjoyed the spray group park.  The hot sunny days seemed to follow us on this trip, and this day was no exception.  It was hot!  So the kids were particularly happy to enjoy the water!

Then back at home, Christie whipped up yet another fabulous meal and we celebrated Molly and Hailey's 6th birthday.  This was Molly's fourth (and thankfully last) birthday celebration.  Christy made the most unreal Oreo cookie cupcakes that were out of this world!

Then it was time to open gifts.  Here's Molly with her gift card from Grandpa Belknap, and her Barbie from the Savages.  And I love this picture of Hailey and her gift!

Steve also enjoyed some cuddles with some completely sugar-high preschoolers!

And then we finished off the day with baths and bed.  Here's the three littlest cousins in the bath together.  I'm sure it's a picture we can use for blackmail on their wedding days...

And that signals the end of a fabulous vacation.  We put about 2100 miles on the van.  And I give my kids two thumbs up because they are amazing road warriors!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Vacation Part 6: OMSI

I've always wanted to check out the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in Portland.  And on our visit with Scott and Christie on the way back home, we made that happen!  It's such an amazing place for kids and I'm so glad we made that particular visit.  It was completely hands on and interactive.  Here's the physics and chemistry labs, where they learned about things like magnetism, static electricity and the chemical properties of sun screen!

There were also a couple of forays in Civil Engineering... how do you get the water to where you want it to go?  Molly seemed particularly interested in these displays.  Perhaps we have a future civil engineer on our hands.

The little ones particularly loved the nature area, where they got to dress up like chipmunks and hide giant acorns in a mock tree stump.  Cutest little chipmunks ever...

We only had time to see a small part of the museum and we will definitely have to go there for a future visit.  I highly recommend OMSI for kids (and adults) of all ages.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Vacation Part 5: Hanging with family

Obviously the main point of our annual trek to Canada is to see family.  My mom and dad are always so hospitable, and this was no exception.  And of course, it was Molly's ACTUAL birthday while we were up there, so they made sure she was completely celebrated!

They also have a fabulous heated community pool up the street from them and the kids took full advantage of it.  Molly is completely comfortable in the pool now and swimming like a fish, and the twins go everywhere with their floaties.

We also made a special trip to Nanaimo to visit my aunt, uncle and grandparents.  We had a fabulous visit, but it made me sad that we get to see them so infrequently.  It's hard being away from family.

My Grandpa turned 99 years old this month!  I guess we'd better start planning for the massive birthday party we'll have to have NEXT year!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vacation Part 4: Beaches

Vancouver Island has every kind of beach you can imagine... from huge expanses of sand to rocky tidepools.  We hit two different beaches while we were there, both of which were ones we used to frequent when I was a kid.  It's always fun to share places that you enjoyed as a child with your own children!  First we hit Parksville Beach, which is famous for it's amazing sand and international sand castle competition.  It also happens to host an amazing playground and water spray ground for the kids!

But as cool as the playground was, the real hit was the beach and unending sand.  The kids spent HOURS collecting shells and building sand castles.  Garrett pretty much spent his entire time jumping waves.  And there was even a mermaid sighting!

The second beach that we went to was Transfer Beach.  Steve had to stay at home and work that day, but the kids enjoyed their time with Nani and Papa, and exploring the shores.

It really made me miss the beauty of Vancouver Island.  It truly is a gorgeous place to live!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vacation Part 3: Goldstream Park

One of the fun things about a trip to British Columbia is getting to see family!  And we spent a fabulous day with Michelle and Todd while going on a hike at Goldstream Park.  It was a hot day and what better way to beat the heat than enjoying the shade of the huge bigleaf maple trees!

The hike itself is pretty cool because there's a mix of forest and meadow areas.  We saw a really nice buck deer that didn't seem very phased by our presence and the kids thought that was pretty cool to see.

There's also a neat little nature interpretation center at the park and the kids got right into all the hands on learning experiences.  Here's my own little deer...

Then we crossed under the highway and hiked up a dry streambed to a waterfall.  It was a super short hike... perfect for the kids.  And they were so excited to see the waterfall at the end!

Then we went back to Shell and Todd's for lunch.  It was a fabulous day!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vacation Part 2: Victoria

On our first full day in British Columbia, we decided to do something touristy and take the kiddos on the harbor ferry and see if the seals were around Fisherman's Wharf.  Being that we don't live on the ocean, just going on the ferry ride was such a great treat for the kids!  These little passenger ferries go all over the Victoria Harbor, which also doubles as a landing strip for the sea planes.  And although the planes were exciting, the kids were just happy to be hanging out with Nani and Papa!

The harbor is also home to several communities of house boats... which are more "house" than "boat".

At Fisherman's Wharf we bought some lunch and some treats for the seals (read: dead fish) and waited to see if they would show their cute little faces.

We didn't have to wait long, because for as fat as those seals are... apparently they are always hungry! 

After that it was back on the ferry and a quick walk around the waterfront before heading home.  It never ceases to amaze me at what a beautiful city Victoria is!