Every year, we take our summer trek north to Oregon. There is so much to discover as we visit friends and family along the way. At the close of our vacation, I often look at the kids (I can really call them that now) and notice in what ways they've grown.
From brief encounters with new children to staying with grandparents, the comfort and ease of interactions continue to increase. Each encourages the other in areas of greater confidence. What one may feel shy about is quickly forgotten when the other jumps at the opportunity.
The trip started with the Folklife Festival and we are so grateful for all the talent in Humboldt. Especially feeling gratitude towards Lyndsey Battle for providing Julian's first ukele lesson (with an appearance in the Sunday paper!) and our road-trip-sing-along-music. None of it would have been a part of our summer if it weren't for our dear, Arcata friends.
River play in Gold Hill and bonding with grandma and grandpa for a few days was a nice bridge to the next leg of the trip in Portland. Spoiled by Aunt Siri, the kids got their fill of Herbie the Lovebug, an ice cream party and Slappy Cakes. I got a bit spoiled, too with a trip to the Goodwill super store, unplanned city adventures, and the annual Portland date with Chris. Our main purpose, of course, was to visit with family, which we kept busy with on many a late night.
Seeing Chris' grandparents decline over the years has been a hard process and also one that reminds us all of the course of life. The kids happily played in the hospice rooms, observing how we interacted with these two most influential people in Chris' life. Their play would be interrupted with a newfound curiosity as they made their way in for a closer look. Studying the aged bodies, they took in what they would question later.
Tonight, our conversation at bedtime included two comments that struck me as a theme of this summer's trip.
Lulu: When I grow up, do I have to be a grown up?
Julian: Does it hurt to die? I bet it doesn't since we're born from a seed and that doesn't hurt.
Their reflections and their ways of processing such complexities revealed in the bedtime chatter that I love so much.
With all the wildfires in Oregon and California, the smoke was a bit heavy in Gold Hill. With a few days left and not as much freedom to roam outdoors, we took off with Sue to the small coastal town of Brookings. The kids were thrilled to stay in a motel. "Look, we even have closets with our own hangers...and a toaster!" Julian exclaimed, running around to inspect the rooms. Lulu unpacked and organized her clothes into the dresser drawers. When I asked her where Julian would put his clothes, she immediately reorganized the whole set up.
We found ourselves wandering the beach one afternoon, which ended with two kids chasing (and running from) waves. Back to the car, stripped and wrapped in beach towels, they were were relieved to be driving home to plunge into a warm, bubble bath. Microwavable popcorn and a movie for all was a special treat to end the day.
With all of this fun behind us now, our trip is coming to an end. Through daily life experiences with loved ones, they have gained so much. Although none of us want to return home to our 'normal' lives, we still have a couple more summer adventures ahead, so "our vacation is not over yet," Julian reminds us.