Saturday, June 23, 2012

Oregon Coast at Summer Solstice

Ring around the rosy
Our co-op does a trip somewhere fun and educational at the end of each school year.  This year we all camped right across from Fort Stevens, a former military base that protected the harbor at the mouth of the Columbia river.  We arrived late in the afternoon to our campground, so we didn't get to see the ocean that day.  By the end of the second day after touring downtown Astoria, I was going insane not being able to see it!  I mean, Lewis and Clark crossed the entire continent to be able to see it, and we were a five minute drive away!

Finally, I convinced some of my friends and 2 of my girls to venture across the road to Ft. Stevens.  My boys must be slightly jaded of the wonders of the ocean because of our trips to Hawaii, but they sure missed out that first day.  They were happy to join us later.  The beaches of a continent are vastly different from those of a tropical island.  They seem endless.  They are so massive and wide that you are suddenly and startlingly aware of the bigness of this world we live in.

Happily, the weather was warm most of the time were in Oregon.  I'm told this is not a common thing.  The sands felt tropical and sparkled in the sunshine.  The roar of the ocean was such that you had to shout to talk to someone 15 feet away.  The waves came in endless succession, rising like the tide does and surprising us with very wet jeans!

The next day, after traveling to Tillamook for various field trips, we stopped in cannon beach.  We had put "Haystack Rock" into my gps navigator, and it had plunked our destination right in the ocean next to the giant rock.  We ended up using a public access to the beach that was tucked in a little neighborhood!  Haystack rock lives up to its namesake, and is alive with flocks of terns and puffins.  The sand near it was the closest I've seen to Hawaiian sand in the Pacific's white and soft.  The waters were filled with plankton and shrimp and Saraiah had fun catching them in her bucket.    She decided to free them into the hot, dry sand when she was finished.  The boys had fun taking turns burying one another, and then we were off to find a potty!

Later that night, our group decided to venture at sunset back to Shipwreck beach at Fort Stevens to enjoy the sunset on the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year.  These pictures can't even begin to convey the beauty of it combined with the sound of the waves, the laughter of children and the sweetness of witnessing hundreds of people drawn like a sunflower toward the last rays of the setting sun.

Maia got wet as soon as we got to the beach.  My friend Carol is comforting her.
peering out of the shipwreck

The grassy dunes are beautiful at shipwreck beach

the tiny access to haystack rock
me and a cold maia

Levi is frozen
carrying her bucket 'o shrimp

sand angel

goodbye to Haystack rock
Sunset on the Summer Solstice

finding little jellyfish
total bliss

me and a happier maia

because Tillamook cows belong on beaches

My sons and their buddies.  They are crazy.

Saraiah and her sweet friend.
Isaac's buddy runs back from the water

these birds dove up and down behind the waves

the sun through the shipwreck

waiting for the green flash...

The sun has gone to bed and so must I....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

To the Moon!

My husband Brandon and Saraiah
As a kid, whenever we asked where we were going, dad would say, "To the moon!"  A good father is like a solid launchpad for a strong start in life.  When a child has a good relationship with a caring father, he knows that if he chooses to make the moon his goal, his dad will be among the first to encourage him to reach it.

I think one of the greatest jobs of a dad is to inspire imagination. The ability to step outside of the daily grind that is every day life and to joke about it is an important skill.  It helps us to not take ourselves too seriously, and I'd even venture to say that it can prevent wars.

Most daddies aren't afraid to turn kids upside down, tickle them mercilessly, tease them with fake bugs or buy them treats.  After many hours spent working at whatever they do,  I think they earn this privilege and that it helps their minds to switch gears to family life.  This kind of behavior speaks straight to a kid's heart because this is their language: fun, craziness and energetic activity.  Though dads may have had to grow up, in these moments, it seems they become Peter Pan, just for a bit, and children are reminded that their dad was once a kid, just like them.  A deep connection of trust and mutual understanding is thus formed.  

The dads I most admire, like my husband Brandon, my daddy Steve and my father in law, Rod, all a possess another special quality.  Without even trying, they make children feel safe and protected, so much so that a child can fall deeply asleep right on their chest or climb all over their heads, just like they're a jungle gym.

This sort of dad will wake from a deep sleep when he hears a strange noise, immediately at full attention.  He will be the first to respond when sounds of crying or shouting resound, quickly scooping up the injured or diffusing the battles.  He is calm and logical, yet firm.  He is compassionate and generous, saying "no" only when it is completely necessary.  He inspires his children with his work ethic and integrity.  His kids want to do what he does and be where he is.

The dads in my life are a tangible, every day reminder of the way my Heavenly Father loves and cares for me and family and I am grateful.  Their sacrifice, wisdom and love mirror His.  We are inspired, filled with knowledge and comforted.  And we know that with this kind of backing, we can reach the moon...and beyond.

My father in law, Rod
My daddy Steve