Jeff and I are enjoying some lovely time away from daily life with Elena and Ian this week in central Oregon. I’d like to say that we’ve been totally unplugged, but of course, we haven’t. So, like many others, we’ve both been overwhelmed with red and pink images online, other photos and news accounts of the “controversial” issue before the Supreme Court this week. To say that I’m frustrated – and dare I say, angry – about the time that we as a nation are spending on this issue is an understatement.
My son’s school district lost 300 teachers this year. He no longer has a librarian (who he talked about often) and class sizes continue to grow to absurd levels. He has PE, library, technology and music once every several days. Teachers are instructing classes and subjects in which they have no previous experience because they were needed there after teachers who were qualified in those areas – including areas like sciences, foreign languages and special education – were let go. (Actually, Ian’s former school librarian wasn’t completely let go – she now teaches second grade at his school, speaking of random teacher transfers.) This year, Ian tested into Oregon’s advanced student program, but a lack of funding and resources has made us realize that though his educators have the best of intentions, challenging him to reach his full potential is, understandably, the least of their worries. Without a key state government reform this year and voters approving a local levy to raise property taxes, there will be more bleeding next year.
We are not unique. Nationwide, our entire education system is severely broken from funding to the way we are preparing future generations to keep up with what’s required to succeed in the modern world. And we are spending precious time and money on debating whether or not everyone has the right to equal benefits in marriage? Really? Shame on us.
Last week we had a nice visit from Grandma Jeanette and Grandpa Gene from San Antonio. With one of our two largest fundraising events of the year on Friday night and a member magazine that was just going to press, the beginning of their visit was the height of what had been a slightly insane May at work. (And preceded by an insane summer.)
By Saturday morning I was breathing a million sighs of relief at the thought of having at least a few days of reprieve – made even better by the fact that they had kindly agreed to watch Ian and Elena Sunday evening to Monday while Jeff and I spent a night away in Cannon Beach.
We love Cannon Beach. It’s such a quaint and pretty little town, and the fact that it’s a mere 1.5 hours from Portland makes it that much better. Of course, as much as I love the whole Oregon coast for its sheer beauty, the one thing I’ve learned for sure that you can depend on is that you can never depend on the weather there. We’ve had days where it’s 90 in Portland and clear as a bell until the last two minutes of the drive into town and it instantly turns foggy and chilly. All you can do is accept that it’s part of the charm of living in the Pacific Northwest.
But when Jeff and I departed the house on our little beach adventure mid-Sunday afternoon, for once we had no weather expectations. It was just okay in Portland and in fact, we fully expected it to be overcast and chilly at the beach. Imagine our surprise when we rolled into town with the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky. Even the locals always seem pleasantly surprised when this happens!
Last month my boss decided to start our staff meeting by having everyone tell the best gift they had ever received or had ever given – in honor of Packy the elephant’s upcoming 50th birthday celebration at the zoo.
I immediately thought of the kaleidoscope that Jeff had given to me not long after we started dating around 13 years ago now. It was made of green stained glass welded in the shape of a triangle. At the end was a small tube with glitter-like stuff in clear liquid. The beautiful colors came from flipping it around. I thought it was a nice gift until he explained that he was giving it to me because it symbolized how I made him feel. That’s when I think it became the best gift I have ever received.
For several years, I kept that kaleidoscope front and center on the bookshelf in my little den in two different houses, until one day a couple of years ago I was moving things around and it fell, shattering everywhere. And by the way, I don’t know what kind of liquid is in those things, but it makes a mess! Needless to say, I was pretty bummed that my special gift was no longer. That is, until my next birthday when I opened a small, long white box to find the most beautiful new kaleidoscope inside. Heck, it even had its own little stand! My new kaleidoscope sits on the dresser in our room, in a place of honor along with newborn pictures of Ian and Elena, and another beautiful gift from Jeff – a handcrafted wooden jewelry box that’s as much art as jewelry holder.
Wow, what an action-packed and lovely Labor Day weekend we had. Last Wednesday, Ian and Elena’s Nana came to visit for a few days, in part so she could help us fill a childcare gap on Thursday and Friday while we were in-between schools, on daycare break, etc. Besides having the help, we were excited to have someone actually visit us when it wasn’t pouring rain and cold out. I mean, this was our opportunity to show someone that we weren’t totally crazy for moving to Oregon and we planned to take full advantage!
Enjoying the Portland Farmer's Market
Of course, the first night she was here we sprung it on her that we also happened to have a goodbye party to attend for Jeff’s boss, so not only would be gone all day, but until late that evening as well. But by Friday afternoon, Jeff was able to wrap up a bit early and the whole crew headed out on a little zoo adventure and guess who they happened to run into there? (Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a total coincidence.)
I’m writing this post from the beautiful coastal town of Yachats, Oregon. I absolutely love the Oregon coast, and I adore Yachats. It’s a tiny little town that is full of sheer beauty: one of those places that somehow makes you appreciate just being alive.
I’ve been here twice before: the first time when Jeff and I came alone a couple of years ago to celebrate our anniversary and the second time just this past March when we (meaning, all four of us) rented a house here for the weekend to get away for the first weekend that our house was up for sale.
This time, I’m here with my mom. It’s been a very long time since just the two of us have spent any time together and some circumstances told us it was time to reconnect. So, I took a couple of days off work and we met here in Yachats, staying at the Fireside Motel. It’s not the fanciest place I’ve ever stayed by far, but you know what? It’s pretty awesome in its own right. The room is a bit on the retro side, quite large (king bed, thank you very much) and has a fireplace and a balcony with an oceanfront view that is more often found in the kind of place that costs a heck of a lot more than some $100ish a night. No wonder this place gets great reviews on Trip Advisor!