Our West Coast Adventure

Summer has ended and this year was a fantastic one. We had many adventures and so many good times with our friends and family. We traveled a lot, were up north at the cabins probably 3/4’s of the weekends, and we enjoyed the local parks and water areas many times.

Our favorite tradition (it certainly is becoming one) is taking a trip to visit my sister and brother in law in Oregon. Last year,  they lived in downtown Portland and we split up our time between waterfall adventures and exploring the city. This year, we decided to rent an Airbnb near the coast and spend our time enjoying one area for a few days.

We fell in love with the sweet little yellow beach house that had enough rooms for all of us to sleep comfortably, laundry facilities, and a clean, modern kitchen for us to cook many meals together. The hosts left us deer food and apples to disperse and enjoy the mass amounts of deer that would surround the house as a result. It was a highlight of our trip and the girls were delighted to be so close to these beautiful creatures.

We spent the days at the beach and the weather surprised us by gifting us a hot, sunny day that was ALMOST warm enough to make me go into the water. (But not really, because that ocean water….brrr…) We climbed cliffs and sand dunes, watched whales, admired the sea creatures that appear at low tide, and attempted to fly a kite in true coastal spirit.

While we saw so many beautiful areas and enjoyed all the coast has to offer, my favorite part was getting to see my sister and her husband (we only see them once a year these days). I miss our conversations and little moments that we shared. They obsess over Office quotes, just as I do, and I adore watching them love on their nieces. Being with family is so good and being with them in a beautiful and inspiring place is even better. I can’t wait to be with them again!

The girls did fantastic on the trip, although Maggie struggled with her bathroom skills and Juliet took longer than necessary to switch her sleep time to PST. All in all, they had fun, we had a fantastic time, and we continue to like traveling with each other. Ha!

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How to Enjoy Paradise When You Have Babies: Barbados with Littles

DSC_0028We recently vacationed on the beautiful island of Barbados – a place known for the bluest waters, the friendly people, and their rum industry. One of the best parts of our vacation was that we were able to take our daughters along with us.
When I was researching the island, there was a lot of info for honeymooners or couples, but not a ton of advice for children, especially young ones like ours (under three). So here are some reasons why Barbados is one of the best places to vacation with children.

  1. Friendly locals – the Bajan locals were amazingly accepting of tourists. We had so many comments and friendly gestures from locals and other tourists alike. Maggie made friends everywhere, but played the most with a local girl on the beach who was with her father. Maggie hung out with them for most of the morning; enjoying running in and out of the waves with the slightly older girl. The father was very helpful as he would stand by the girls in the water and spent time conversing with us. We didn’t meet anyone who left us with a bad impression!

2. Low crime rate – there may be different opinions on this, but have the perspective that there is no habitable place in the world with zero crime. Wherever you go, be smart and alert. The biggest issue we had was peddlers approaching us, but my sister-in-law said it was so mild compared to Jamaica. The sellers are pretty polite and will take a kind “no” very well, as far as we saw. One day we were exploring a new remote beach area and were approached by police to make sure we were safe and to give us advice about staying in safe areas. I’m sure if you go looking for danger, it’s there. The general rule is to follow the same safety guidelines we have here in America.

3. Many kid-friendly activities – even though the island is thought of as a paradise for lovers, I found it quite easy to bring the girls along on whatever activity we had planned. We did bring our own car seats and rented a car. That simplified our adventures and allowed us the flexibility of driving right to the hotel if someone was  crabby. We took the girls on a catamaran cruise for five hours and had a blast! The cruise lines are outfitted with toddler life jackets, but we brought an infant one from home. We cruised with El Tigre and had an absolute blast. The crew was so considerate and fun; the director of the cruise hung out with Maggie for a while, gave us ALL of the towels to make a bed for Juliet, and made us feel like family. Maggie got to swim in the ocean while we snorkled for a bit, so we say she swam with sea turtles even though they were hiding at the bottom. Overall, we loved everything we did with the girls and are glad that they got to experience it with us.

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As with everything in life, there is a learning curve and this trip definitely taught us a couple things.

Don’t bother with a stroller through security. We found out quickly that it is way easier to put both kids in carriers so we could be as hands-fee as possible. Maggie escaping from the stroller and throwing everything on the ground while trying to get through security was not fun. Honestly, if we did it again, we would not bring the stroller and probably bring a utility wagon that would work well in the sand. There aren’t many sidewalks in Barbados and even where there are, I would prefer my kids close to me.

Prepare to have your kids nap on the go. Our kids napped all places – the car, the beach, a boat…I hate wasting vacation time inside a dark hotel room waiting for my kids to wake up, so our kids were forced to nap wherever they dropped.  Bring their blanket or lovey wherever you go and they will be so tired from the water and sun, they will sleep well. Believe me, it’s worth it. They’ll get back to their regular nap schedule when you get home.

Relax. Things aren’t going to go perfectly. Kids are going to have meltdowns. Just do your best and don’t expect too much of your kids. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant one night with our friends and Maggie was screaming and trying to run away, so I took her for a short walk and distracted her. There’s only so much a toddler can handle. Bring a bag of small toys or drawing tools to occupy them during waiting periods.

Pack as little as possible. We packed four of us into two carry-ons and a backpack. We spent $10 on laundry one time at the hotel and it worked pretty well. You could also just wash your clothes in the sink. It’s hot and you’re going to be in the water most of the days anyways, so you won’t need a lot of clothes. It’s worth it to not have to lug around a ton of bags to and from the airport.

DO YOUR RESEARCH. As you should do before you travel anywhere; Barbados has some rules that aren’t common. One is that one must wear a cover-up while out in public (no walking the streets in a bikini) and another is no camouflage (I don’t know why, Ii just know it’s on a big sign in the airport). Things that may not be in the front of your mind as your thinking about vacation, but you should always be aware and respectful of the culture you’re visiting.

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That’s all I have to say about beautiful Barbados! I hope I get to visit again soon.

 

 

 

Portland Trip Pt. 2

  • Oregon Zoo
    • Be prepared for crowds. We went on a day when apparently all the schools had a field trip there. Kids were literally climbing over Maggie’s stroller and pushing her aside to get pictures on their iPads.
    • The best zoo I’ve ever been to. Hands down. We never saw the same exhibit twice on our way through. Very well designed and most of the fun creatures to see were active.
    • It was lightly raining the day we went, but there are lots of indoor areas and we toughed it out like Portlanders have to do all the time.

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Seriously the only pic I took at the zoo. But isn’t it a good one?

  • Portland Children’s Museum
    • Admission is free on the first Friday every month after 5pm, we obviously had to take advantage of this deal.
    • Lots of exhibits and it was well worth the short drive.
    • Maggie was a little young to enjoy it, but we adults liked showing her how everything worked.

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  • OMSI
    • Honestly, I was a bit disappointed and thought we had wasted our time and money until I found the little kids’ area (a huge room devoted to different exploration exhibits for kids under 5 years old.
    • This was right up Bear’s alley. He loved the “big kid” exhibits and was in awe of the expensive equipment they have there.
    • Be ready for lots of kids here too.
    • There are a ton of food trucks set up just over the river from here, so that’s where we ate afterwards.

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  • Rose Garden
    • Free! (Always a fan of free things)
    • Beautiful collection of the most varieties of roses I’ve ever seen
    • We took a stroller, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are a lot of stairs we went down and it was kind of awkward to handle in the rows of flowers. I’d take a carrier if I had to otherwise we just let Maggie roam free.
    • There’s a neat trail going behind the park if you’re up for exploring!
    • Not much parking so plan on walking a bit

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Where we ate: 

  • Tasty & Alder
    • family style meals
    • up to an hour wait on Sundays to get your name on the waitlist
  • Blue Star Donuts (because, when in Portland)
  • Pelican Brewery (as mentioned above)
  • Henry’s 12th St Tavern
    • the patio is considered a bar, so no under-agers allowed (even 18 month olds, apparently)

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  • Salt ‘n’ Straw (make sure you try as many flavors as you want, so you can make an informed decision about your choice!)

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  • 10 Barrel Brewing
    • we had a really long wait and unfortunately had to leave early because a certain toddler had jetlag and was overtired and causing a huge ruckus.
    • the waitstaff was awesome and did what they could to help entertain her while we waited.

 

There’s not much I would do differently next time – I would probably try to get a room with a little more space (fitting a pack n play and stroller in the room was a tight squeeze), I would schedule a day to find an awesome park (Portland really lacks for good kid-focused parks, in my opinion. At least in the downtown area, but maybe that’s normal for a city). We took a flimsy umbrella stroller which did the job until we found my dream double stroller off Craigslist to take home, it was actually nice to have a really small stroller because our room was tiny. I took a bunch of small toy animals and puzzle toys and they worked really well to occupy Maggie most of the trip. We used public transit most of the time, walked, or hitched a ride with my sister, only renting a car for our solo waterfall road trip. It worked out pretty well and we got around a lot.

If you’ve done Portland with kids, feel free to comment with some helpful tips or fun areas you’ve explored!

Portland Trip Pt. 1

About a month ago, we visited my sister and brother in law in Portland, OR. We went for 8 days and made use of all of our precious minutes there.
We got to do so much fun stuff and the weather was unusually warm and sunny for the area, so it was very pleasant.

We did have Maggie along, as we always do, because I believe traveling with kids is one of the best gifts to give them. My sister hadn’t seen Maggie since she was four months old, so it was also a bonding experience. Every time I see my family members loving on my daughter, my heart feels like it’s going to burst from happiness.

Anyways, here is a little bit about our trip, what we did, where we went, and what I’d do differently. I split the info into two posts, so the next post will focus on activities to do with a toddler and where we ate.

Places we went: 

  • Cannon Beach
    • Rented recumbent bikes at low tide from Family FUNCycles – they were wonderfully accommodating and we had a FANTASTIC experience with these bikes. A trailer was an extra like $5, I think, but well worth it because Maggie had a great time too.
    • It was really windy and cold and even though we were warned, not at all like any beach day I’ve ever had before. It was extremely foggy and made for a great view.
    • Ate at the Pelican Brewery – everyone else enjoyed flights of local brews.

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  • Waterfall Tour
    • Drive down the Historic Columbia River Highway starting at the Vista House
    • A great FREE activity (besides gas)
    • Go over toll bride to WA side if you have time
    • We did a bit of exploring (all Ryan’s idea) and ended up in the mountains with incredible views and high blood pressure.

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  • Mt. Hood & Trillium Lake
    • My sister called an audible from our plans and we drove to Mt. Hood on the clearest day of our visit. The view was just amazing and the weather was perfect.
    • We went at about 10am on a Saturday and the park area was pretty empty still. We were able to claim a picnic table with probably the best view in the place. By the time we left (around 1pm), there were tons of people around and it would’ve been more difficult to find a good spot.
    • They don’t open the road to the lake until Memorial Day, so we had to hike about 2 miles, but it was so worth it.

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  • Council Crest
    • A little park high on a hill with a great view of the city and mountains.
    • It was always busy when we were there so it must be a popular spot! I did see a hiking path, but we didn’t explore it
    • A quaint space to hang out near my sister’s place with area for play and picnics

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  • YoYo Yogi
    • My sister and I went on a date for an intimate prenatal yoga session (we ended up being the only ones at class on the holiday weekend).
    • They had an awesome deal where new members get a free class, so I got to enjoy some me time for nothing!

 

  • Brewcades (Ground Kontrol)
    • It’s really strange to be in a city that caters to the young generation.
    • Bear and my brother in law explored a brewcade one night with unlimited play on vintage arcade games for a $5 cover fee.

 

We stayed downtown at the Hotel DeLuxe which ended up being within walking distance of my sister’s apartment. We liked to pretend that we actually lived that close for the week. It was so sweet to see them so often during out trip. We loved being able to just run over for breakfast or dinner.

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We also were able to nab a high quality used double stroller off Craigslist and fly it home for free, so we had lots of success on the trip!

 

 

 

Stay tuned for another post on Portland with kids activities!

 

 

Thanks to my sister and brother in law for taking pictures and also sharing their camera so I didn’t have to pack mine. Be sure to check out their pictures of adventures in the PNW on houseoffigs.co