Thursday, March 31, 2011


I know you have seen a two year old in the full throws of a tantrum, fists clenched and head thrown back and that moment of silence right before a full blooded scream issues forth.........

Have you ever wished, as an adult, that you could do that very same thing?

On Sunday night and Monday morning I wished to do it (and maybe add some foot stomping) several times. I know how utterly immature/crazy/silly it would have looked but I have a feeling it would have felt GREAT for a moment or two to just let it all out! (I happened to bump into my therapist on Monday morning and he was crazy enough to ask me how I was which I have warned him not to idly ask.... when I told him I was on the verge of a meltdown.....his suggestion.... Go for it!! He is a GREAT therapist and I listen to about 75% of his advice :)

As you all know I went to Alaska for a week.....came back for a week which turned into a week from Hell at work.  SO many crazy issues to deal with and then get everything on track so I could leave again for Spring Break.  Bad timing on my part for sure but that was the way the cookie crumbled.   On top of work I have 2 conferences registering full tilt at the moment and y'all know how I feel about that (refresher here)..... and I had marking from my college teaching and student practicum reports to write and file...... so I was totally overwhelmed.... mostly of my own making!  We headed to Oregon and I was off line for a week which was great but put me so far behind.....

I had a pit in my stomach on Sunday as I scrambled to catch up on marking and registration which I managed but as I crept out of a dark house on Monday (my kids and Al are still on vacation) and it was pouring rain and I was feeling super sorry for myself..

And if my office wasn't at the front door and with a full glass wall looking into the hallway..... I may just have thrown back my head and scared my staff and some small children to death :)  

Monday, March 28, 2011

Oregon - The People

No sooner are we settled into the Embassy Suites in Portland than I head over to the elevators to go downstairs to the Business Centre.  The elevator doors open and I have one of those moments when your brain sees something, then tells you it can't be what you are seeing - it doesn't "fit" and then you overide your brain because your eyes don't lie. Are you with me???  Out of the elevator steps the Parkes Family from Richmond, our girls were in elemnetary school together and they all dance at the same studio.  They had just taken the train down (which I am going to do this Summer especially after our return journey on Saturday - all that I said about car trips being fun - hooooey!!) and were in Portland for 4 days.  We saw them 6 times both at the Hotel and in the City - we seemed to be on the same loop of things to see and do.  Small world.

And then to meet the Cousins at the Coast.  We have stayed with the Burtons at their home 3 times I think and we all stayed in Seattle together last summer but this was to be our longest time together.  Leanne is Allan's first cousin and she is married to Guy Burton who I knew through a group of mutual friends back in highschool.  They have twin boys who are 10 and Jaimie who turns 8 today.

Happy Birthday Miss Jaimie!

They have lived in Grants Pass Oregon for 6 years.  Allan's extended family is not very close so we didn't make contact with the Burton's until 3 years ago when we were driving through Grants Pass en route to LA at Spring Break.  I don't remember why we suddenly decided to call them but as Leanne and I agreed this week we are glad we did!.

From minutes after meeting for the first time our kids hit it off and are good friends.  David and Nathan are the tightest being almost the same age and with very similar interests and abilities although they are both quite intense and need breaks from one another from time to time.  Luke is an avid Wii soccer dude and David is quite content to sit and play Wii with him.  Lindsay is, of course, much older than Jaimie and the boys but she plays the big sister role pretty well.  She pairs up with Jaimie often and they shared a room this week. 

For my kids its a novelty to be in a "sibling" group with options (actually for them to be with cousins , even second cousins is a novelty).... and David particularly loves all the friends to play with but it does wear him out - the boy slept past 8:30am our first day home!  Lindsay gets to mother a brood and does so with grace most of the time.  She pulled rank on the Dune Buggy ride so she could ride up front and fair enough.... she is sometimes caught in no-person's land between the kids and adults.  But really for a gang of kids who only see each other once or twice a year they do very well together. I am personally hoping the salamander fascination is over before the next visit.... slimey little critters....UGH.

It is its own kind of relaxation to be with people who know you.... your family, all the skeletons in the closest as well as the context you grew up in. No need to repeat your words or explain your accent..... people to reminisce with that remember the same names and places you do.  Not all family get along just because they are family..... in fact the opposite can be true.... but the Burton/Byres North combo seems to work. We like the same stuff (ok the same wine and food and beer) and many of the same activities.  Leanne and I scrapbooked together happily, the boys fished and boated and braaied, we shopped, we walked along the beach, we took photos, we chatted about kids and school......and we all got along.

When you move a world away from your family and the places of your childhood/youth you come to treasure these moments as gifts - a touchstone of familiarity, a connection to a place deep in your heart that you mostly keep buried because its too hard to explain to anyone. 

So Burton's I thank you for being family, for great times and great memories and here's hoping there are more to come!

Some Burton/Byres Moments..........

3 Musketeers

First Salamander caught


There were 3 in the bed and.....

Showing us how big the crabs they were going to catch would be.... still waiting

Hot chocolate after near death on the dunes

Luke's salamander
David and Nathan strolling on the beach

All Aboard

Scrapbooking party

Ain't nothing like family.....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oregon Dunes

I'm baaaack.......

Just returned from a week in the lovely state of Oregon USA!  To be honest going to Oregon for Spring Break is a crap shoot weather-wise.  We've done it before and been very lucky but the forecast for last week was grim.  So like the Norwegians we decided there is no bad weather only bad clothing so we packed the gortex and headed south.  And as the photographs will show..... we had more sun than rain!!!  It was quite stormy with bands of showers that would move in, dump down and then the sun would break through and the clouds would pass and we'd be back on the deck or in the boats or on the beach! 

We had never been this far south on the Oregon Coast and we loved the dunes in Florence - they really are an amazing topographic anomaly  and amazing to see them tower just inland for miles and miles to the north and south.....  We did the Dune Buggy Tour (which is akin to a wild Disney ride that lasts for 30 minutes and during which one has no comfort that Disney engineers are in control - rather a madman at the wheel making a vehicle do very unnatural things while you are strapped helplessly in place as sand finds its way into every part of your body..... ) and also walked up and down dunes and along the flat beaches.

The lake we stayed on was lovely too - and we tootled around it on canoes, kayaks and speedboat.  It was a lovely spot now but in the summer would be amazing.... we may return.....

So here a few photos of the places of our Spring Break..... tomorrow more on the people.......

Early Morning Paddle

View from "our" deck

Wild Ocean

The waves are good for my soul

Cleawox Lake and Dunes

Our boathouse  - late afternoon

Sunset from the deck

Dunes and Tree Islands

Dunes with tracks from suicidal drivers


Dunes Dunes Dunes

The lovely Oregon Coast

Monday, March 21, 2011

Portland Oregon

Kids chillin' in the suite

Beautiful Hotel

Stumptown Coffee for the parents!

SO MANY donuts to choose from......

And David chose Maple Bacon..... He rated it 10 out of 10!

   A few facts about the powells City of Books:

 • 68,000 square feet packed with books.
 • We buy 3,000 used books over the counter every day.
 • Approximately 3,000 people walk in and buy something every day.
 • Another 3,000 people just browse and drink coffee.
 • We stock 122 major subject areas and more than 3,500 subsections.
 • You'll find more than 1,000,000 volumes on our shelves.
 • Approximately 80,000 book lovers browse the City's shelves every day in Portland and via the Internet.

So is our mother ship the world's largest bookstore? Heck, it may be bigger than your whole town.

I spent most of my time in the Rose Room with brief forays into the Orange, Green and Purple rooms..... They page other people in your party if you get separated....... AMAZING PLACE! (Mom - you won't believe what I found for you!)

Street Food Vendors EVERYWHERE - the smells were amazing

River Walk in sunshine!!

City of Bridges
Wonderful day that checked most of the things we wanted to do.... now to retrieve the truck from Valet Parking and head out to Trader Joes for dinner fixin's.......

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Road Trip

There is nothing like packing up and setting out early in the morning on a Road Trip.

We didn't really need to leave early as we were only going 5 hours to Portland Oregon but we were awake early and so we got up and went..... with the truck packed with the boats on the roof.  Lindsay reminded me that people would not be staring at me but at the boats ( I sometimes forget and get a bit offended at all the strange looks we get when the boats are on the roof).

It was a surprisingly gorgeous morning and Mount Baker was clear on the horizon.
We had great weather until a few miles north of Portland where we had some showers.

 We stopped at Cabela's - the worlds foremost outfitters..... apparently!  We had heard it was quite something and..... it was.  As one would only find in the US of A!!  It has this HUGE installation in the middle with all manner of "stuffed" animals and a Piper Cub hanging from the roof .   It has SO MUCH stuff for Hunting / Fishing / Camping / Boating / RV'ing / Decor / Clothes....... and SO MUCH  more....
David tried on the Davy Crockett hat - I did NOT buy it!

 Only in America..... SO many guns
Does this seem like a good idea??? What makes it clearance???

David doing art in the car.....

And now we are happily in our hotel in Portland, bumped into Richmond friends within minutes (they came by train:)  and are off to have a glass of wine at the Managers Reception before wandering the neighbourhood for dinner!

GREAT Day 1 of Spring Break 2011.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I might have got away with making no lists when it was just me going to Anchorage but traveling with all 4 of us for a week especially when 5 of those days involve self-catering for 9 of us, there is no way it can be done without lists. (In my world at least!)

And really, what is more satisfying than crossing things off the list.  Sometime I do something, add it to the list and then cross it off... I know this sounds a bit ridiculous but it makes me happy.

We have actually had a fairly slow and quiet family day getting ready which is nice but is now making me wonder what we have forgotten to do or get??

The washing machine and dryer have been working overtime and there are more clean clothes in this house at this moment than for the last several weeks I am sure!

We managed to get all the recycling done and taken to the depot.  David did all the work and so he negotiated with his Dad to keep the money.  I am just happy it is out of the laundry room!

We also all went to the Library where Allan and Lindsay paid their late fines and we all got books.  My mom took the kids book shopping yesterday but they felt they needed a more plentiful supply with long car rides and rainy weather ahead. And really can you ever have too many books?

We failed in our attempt to get and install a new stereo system in the Truck.  We spent our Christmas Best Buy cards on the stereo but no one in Richmond had the dash kit and harness to install it so we'll take it with us and hope that we can get one in Portland.   We'll just have to sing all the way there....... just kidding!!

So while its tempting to sit and watch the Vancouver WhiteCaps win their first MLS game (in the sunshine!!) I best get back to the lists.

Happy Spring Break my blog friends......... my posts will be intermittent for a week or so.