Sunday, August 24, 2014


August has gone by so fast.  It is hard to believe that we have less than a week left.  We have been enjoying a little bit of a cool down here in Albany from the uncharacteristic heat wave we had in July.  The change has been very welcomed since all we have in our house is a single window AC unit.  It is still pretty warm in the day, but at least it has been cooling down at night for the past week or two.  
Some heat reprieve in the back yard
We've kept ourselves cool playing outside and eating otter pops

Enjoying the sun and an otter pop
This last weekend was the annual Air Festival in Albany.  We woke up on Friday morning and watched the hot air balloons from our front yard.  We decided to head over to the festival on Friday night for the night glow.  Ellie and Christian had so much fun watching the balloon crews set up and fill the balloons with air and heat.  It was a really fun activity for the family.

Christian called the balloons on their sides "cement mixers."  He loves his construction site trucks. 

The family enjoying the festival

Ellie loved to watch the balloons glow and was literally jumping up and down with excitement about the balloons.  She even gave her favorite balloons names like "America" "Star" "Dragon" and "Rainbow".

Ellie and me with "America" in the background

Here is the night glow.  The glow with all the different colored balloons was created a beautiful effect.  
 This morning we woke up early to make sure and catch the last launch of the festival.  We had a great view from the top of the swing set in the back yard.  I think we saw over 20 balloons pass over our house this morning.  It was so fun and the kids just loved it!
The favorite balloons by far were the family of 3 bumble bees.  I was only able to catch 2 of them in the picture today.  Ellie and Christian just thought they were so cute and silly floating in the sky.  
Cute picture of the kiddos after a walk at the Talking Waters Garden in Albany where we saw tons of frogs in the water.  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Well... We Didn't Learn the First Time

The Tail of the Winter's Epic Camp Fail 2014

It is kind of sad that we have to start dating out camping fails because we have more than one!  Some may remember our last attempt at camping.  We forgot many important items but in the end we it was a successful family trip (click for the blog post).
We have been tossing the idea of a family camping trip around this whole summer.  A few days ago we suddenly decided we were going this weekend because some of the other times on our calendar got filled up.  We borrowed a tent and some supplies from friends (thanks Bluncks!) and loaded our car for the Willamette National Forest.
Teri called ahead to a fairly useless ranger station and learned that we could not reserve a spot, but that there were plenty still available.  As fate would have it, that was not true.  We left after Brad got off work and drove 1 & 1/2 hours, only stopping twice to get items we had forgotten, to find every camping spot occupied.
Very disappointed, we turned around and went home.  The kids were sad, but we compromised with a movie in the car on the way home, camping in the living room, and a late night.  Perhaps next time we will think to plan these trips ahead with enough time to reserve the spot and prepare all of the gear we need.  Until then we will enjoy our microwave smores!

 Eating on our new camp chairs!

 Setting up our campsite.

 Mmmm, smores...

 "Your killing me Smalls"

 Kids had a late night in their rustic tent.

We no longer needed the ice for the cooler, so they decided to make an ice sculpture.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Newport with the Christensen Family

Even before we were considering the residency program in Corvallis, my parent booked a week long vacation in Newport.  It was so nice that it worked out for us to be here and enjoy some vacation time with my family.  Brad was only able to take a day off of work, but the kids and I stayed in Newport all week with my parents, my brother Nathan and his wife Lauren, and my brother Lee.
My parents came a couple days early to spend some time in Albany before going to Newport.  The kids both received a coupon a free pound of blueberries as part of the library's summer reading program, so we took Grandma and Grandpa to a U-Pick blueberry patch in Corvallis and got a little carried away.  We ended up not being able to store all the berries in the freezer, so we made blueberry syrup.

This is a picture of our home in Albany.  I've had a couple people request that I post a picture.  

I have also been searching the internet for the perfect blueberry scone recipe, and I think I found it.  We made these the morning after our blueberry picking.  We made them again for the rest of the family up in Newport because they were so tasty.  

Visiting the tide pools by Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

Ellie and Christian's favorite beach game was locking people up with a drawn circle in the sand.  Here is a picture of Lee playing the part.

We went to the beach Monday morning while others in the group went crabbing. We found a tent erected from drift wood.  The kiddos had so much fun pretending to camp.

Brad, my dad, Nate, and Lauren went crabbing in the bay on a little boat on Monday morning.  They brought in 15 good sized crabs for us to cook up and eat for dinner.

Ellie and Christian inspecting the most recent captive.

We went to the Aquarium on Tuesday with out Brad.  I haven't been to the new aquarium in Utah, but this place was so so so much more fun in comparison to the old aquarium in Utah.  When we walked into the first room with a fish tank, Christian just stopped in amazement and whispered "fishies like at Grandpa's house!"  He really loved the fish.

Ellie has always had a thing for crabs.  She was so excited about these giant spider crabs.  They just creeped me out. 

enjoying a tank full of fish.

Jelly fish

Ellie also loves seals. We made sure to catch the seals and sea lions at feeding time where they did tricks for a fish treat.  Ellie was pretty mesmerized.   

A "must see" for Ellie was also the octopus.

Silly Lauren and Christian

a walrus friend

the kiddos and me

a group photo in front of the shark's teeth

We also visited a couple light houses along the coast.  This is the fam after touring one of the houses.

Ellie loves the ocean.  She had so much fun wading in the cold, cold water.  She wasn't afraid to go out deeper and deeper even after she got pretty wet.  
We had so much fun with my family while they were here. We also enjoyed a day trip to the Tillamook Cheese factory in Tillamook, OR and then to Portland to see the rose gardens and eat out of food carts for lunch.  Grandma and Grandpa stood in line for 30 minutes or so to get everyone Voodoo donuts.  We also enjoyed eating at Mo's, "the" seafood restaurant in Newport.  It was so good to see so much of my family.  As silly as it seems, the almost 2 months that we have been in Oregon has been the longest stint away from my family in my whole life, so it was sure nice to fill my bucket up while they were here.  We probably wont have any more visits until baby comes in November, so I  was glad for the visit.

Fourth of July

The fourth was our first holiday here in Oregon.  We had a pancake breakfast with the ward in the morning, and an invitation from some ward members to go to Foster Lake for the afternoon.  Unfortunately, because of a flat tire the day before, and no new tire on our wheel, we stayed close to home.  We did have a picnic  in North Albany and went for a little hike along the Willamette River.  In the evening, we did a few sparklers.  We had an enjoyable day.

The family on our 4th of July Hike

Having fun with sparklers.  Were sparklers always so smokey?  Or did we just buy cheap ones?
The day after Independence Day, we decided to go explore Silver Falls.  It is a temperate Rain Forest near Salem.  There is a loop hike that takes you to 10 different water falls.  Unfortunately, the hike is probably over 10 miles, so we just enjoyed the first fall and called it good.  The kids had so much fun on the hike.  It was short with lots to look at and discover.  Under the falls were some narrow crevices and shallow caves that Ellie and Christian couldn't resist exploring.  It was a fun day activity, and I hope we can maybe go back again sometime when it isn't a holiday weekend.  

Ellie and Christian touching the ceiling

More exploring

The falls

Ellie saw this tree off of the trail and had to sit in the swing tree.  She just though it was so silly.

Christian's turn on the swing tree.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014


We have now hit the three week mark of our time in Albany.  We have had many adventures as a family, and a few adventures without dad (silly adventures like me locking us out of the house without a phone or keys, and changing my first flat tire without Brad).  We have enjoyed exploring lots of different areas of Oregon.  This weekend we went to Newport.  Newport is an ocean side city about an hour away.  We went there with the hopes of seeing a crab for Ellie's birthday, but we got stuck having too much fun at the beach so we didn't have time to explore any tide pools.  We did see some crab shells and legs left along the beach by the seagulls who must have had a delicious lunch.

Ellie and Christian's first experience with the ocean

Ellie's quote "I love to see the ocean! I hope I can see it again another time some day"

Christian's favored activity on the beach was picking up sand and rocks and plopping them in the ocean.  He could have been occupied for hours.

Ellie's favorite activity was using drift wood as a drawing stick to draw pictures in the sand.  She can't wait to go back to the beach have more fun decorating the beach with her drawings.    

Dipping toes in the ocean.  

the family on Moolack Beach 

The ease of flying a kite on a windy beach was pretty amazing.
We also celebrated Ellie's birthday this week.  We enjoyed a nice day just sticking it close to home.  During the day we went to the park and fed ducks with a friend from Ellie's primary class.  We decorated a cake during Christian's nap time, then opened presents and had cake when Daddy got home.  Ellie had a super fun birthday and has really enjoyed all of her gifts.
Ellie has always loved parrots, but with having recently fed and held parrots at the zoo, she had to have nothing but a parrot cake for her birthday.  

A ballerina umbrella Ellie got for her birthday so she can better enjoy the Oregon weather.  She has used it to set up a beach in the front room this week since there has been a lack of rain.