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Monday, August 27, 2012

Togetherness

This is not a word that has applied to my family in quite sometime. As the family grows and becomes involved in outside interests the more everyone is going in separate directions.  Sometimes it is exhausting to look at our schedules on one calendar. Busy lives usually equal very little togetherness as a family and before you know it the kids are grown, go off to college, marry and move half way around the country. Okay, that happened to me.  With the school year in session we are now down to one child in the house, of an age to drive, so he is somewhat independent of us.

Having so little togetherness makes you plan time together and this year the family flew to Portland, Oregon to visit my eldest daughter and her husband.  It took me weeks to find a time where we could all be together for a full week.  I was wondering if it would be accomplished and there are only six of us.  We did not even fly together. My middle child had to take care of last minute college things and took a later flight and because that was rescheduled, she was alone when she flew home too. How sad is that?



I was so set on being together as much as possible that I arranged for a van so all of us could be in one vehicle together during this great week filled with adventure.  This must have been the time to visit Portland because look at the line outside of Budget.  My husband is the one in the middle in shorts by the tall brown suitcase.  My son found a shady spot to wait.

And, you can't visit Portland without going to VooDoo Doughnuts. If you have never been there, you must go whenever you are in area.  They have the oddest and best doughnuts. I got the one shaped like a VooDoo doll, filled with red jelly and a pretzel that you can use to stick it. Not that I thought of anyone in particular when I stabbed my little pretzel into the doughnut doll.  How could I feel animosity toward anyone? I was on vacation :).

This trip was filled with fun adventures and experiences and I had to take the tour of the Portland Underground (I previously wrote a post about shanghiing).  This was not what I expected, at all. But, fascinating.  Portland was not always an upstanding community and in 1851 men outnumbered women 14 - 1 and the main drag through town housed saloons and bordellos.  One of the largest saloon was Erickson's who had an all female orchestra. We learned of the Madame who had her brothel on a boat and would go from one side of the river to the other.  And a prostitute would be called a "seamstress". Sailors after long voyages would "need a button sewn on" and "go find a seamstress" to take care of it (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).  I learned about the famous crimps and the ways they used to get sailors onto ships - "shanghiing", which usually involved lots and lots of alcoho). The stories I heard about Portland in the 1800s had my mind spinning with story ideas.  I just hope I can read all the notes I took while walking and writing.

And speaking of alcohol, our visit to Portland also happened to fall during the Oregon Brewers Festival.  I am not a beer drinker, but I sampled a few and have the souvenier mug to prove it.  This was more of an outing for my husband and children (except the youngest of course).  But, there was free root beer for the underage and designated drivers, plus all kinds of food, so he wasn't overly bored.  See how thrilled he is (the one in the white shirt).

And, one cannot got to Portland without going to Powell's bookstore.  I won't mention what I spent in the history section, but this is a very dangerous store for me to be in. Very, very dangerous.  After making my purchases, they boxed the books up and they arrived home about 2 days after I did.  They are still stacked by my desk ready to be read.

But, I would have to say there were three highlights of the trip, besides the togetherness with my family. The first was a trip to Cannon Beach.  The day was overcast, but it was still beautiful.  After walking the beach (free pedicure), we strolled along the main street and visited several shops.  I loved this town. Yes, it is touristy, but I loved it anyway and had the best pizza.  By the way, we ate a lot. I mean, a LOT.  My daughter had a list of restaurants and we hit all but one of them. It is a wonder I still fit into my clothes.


The next would be our trip to Multnomah Falls.  I did not climb to the top.  It isn't that I am that out of shape (even if I am) but my husband and son were ahead of us on the trail.  I had to hang back with one daughter who was once again on the phone clearing up an issue with the university and we were going to catch up. When hubby called and said that there was a drop off on one side of the trail he knew I would freak.  Okay, maybe not that bad, but I do not handle heights well at all.  He knows me and probably feared having to carry me back down.  On his advice, I climbed only as far as my nerves allowed while the rest of my family made the mile high trek to the top.


My eldest had the camera and took this picture. Isn't it gorgeous?

But lastly, the most memorable was rafting down the Clackamas River.  Even though the family on any normal day is going in all kinds of directions, it is nice to know that when necessary, we still work together, as a team. When our guide told us to row, we did, in sync with one another.  And, I am so using this experience in a novel.  In fact, a series came to me while I was out there, beginning that first day when we learned about crimps, saloons and bordellos, and I can't wait to begin writing it.


In the busy world we live in it is hard to have that family togetherness.  And it just isn't when the kids get older, I think it begins when they are young and start doing sports, or taking dance lessons, or whatever your child develops a passion for.  For our family it was double difficult since my husband and I worked different shifts for years.

How do you plan family togetherness? When my kids were younger, and not able to drive, we used to have family game nights. Those went away with driver's licenses and football, basketball, plays, concerts, art shows, etc.  Do you make it a point to schedule family vacations that take you away from the house, television and all those distractions that are coming at us 24/7?  Did you take a family vacation this year?  Tell me about it.

Amy De Trempe
Duchess of Decency


14 comments:

  1. We did the same thing, Amy! Gathered up the kids and flew out to California to visit family. It's true as they get older we cling to those memories of great camping trips when the kids were young and excited about going . . . anywhere! Now it's hard to relax and enjoy the moment without the outside world interfering. Next time I kidnap them I'm going to go somewhere that doesn't have cell reception! ;D Love your Oregon pics. I so miss the West Coast!

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    1. I agree on the cell phones. Despite being together there was still a lot of texting going on.

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  2. Amy ~ It looks like you had a wonderful vacation and your pics are fabulous! *I* took a family vacation this year. My son and I took the scientist out west to meet my family a few weeks ago. I will spare you the gory details (and won't mention the two family members I'm currently not speaking to. Though if you follow me on Twitter, you have a pretty good idea who those people are). The good news, the scientist and I got to spend 10 straight days together and we are happier than ever.

    I can't see the three of us taking that trip again anytime soon (or ever). But I do suddenly have airline credit and a couple free tickets in my hot little hands, so... I'm wondering where we might go in the future. Portland looks wonderful, but I'm thinking the Caribbean. :)

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    1. At least your vacation as "memorable". The Caribbean does sound nice. I've never been and I should rectify that soon. I do have research that needs to be done in that part of the world ;).

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  3. My mom has made it a point to have all of us over a few times a year for a meal...and board games. Now, my brothers don't always stay to play, but my sisters and I do. We always have a good time with that. It'll be more difficult now, with me in NC and the rest of the family in TX, but I'm sure we'll figure out a way to do it sometimes.

    And I LOVE Portland. It is a beautiful city. And they have Powell's. I'm so glad you went to Powell's! I could live there. Seriously. Well, if they would put in showers, at least, and not kick me out. LOL.

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    1. This was my third visit to Powells. I went twice last year when we were apartment hunting for my daughter. This year it was scheduled, but I went in when I had unexpected free time. Thank goodness because we ran behind the day we were scheduled to go and I didn't get back. I agree, I could live in Powell's. For my next visit I am blocking out an entire day for Powell's.

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  4. Sounds like an amazing trip! I've planned for years to visit the Pacific northwest, but so far haven't made it happen. One of these days! After all, I plan to see all 50 states by the time I'm 50 :)

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    1. An excellent goal. I need to make a list of the ones I've at least been though, and the ones I haven't. I just saw two more new-to-me states on my drive between Texas and North Carolina!

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    2. Oregon is gorgeous, Erin. You should really move this area of the country closer to the top of your list. Great goal about seeing all 50 states!

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  5. Amy,
    Looks like you had a wonderful vacation! Great pics. We travel twice a year to Indiana to visit our families as well, but it's no vacation. Indiana isn't exactly a tourist spot and frankly, three kids (ages 9, 8 & 6)in the car is more of a nightmare than a vacation. We are talking about taking them on a *real* vacation next summer--no clue where. However, I don't think the destination matters as long as we're all together! Glad you got all that time with your family. :)

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    1. Andris,

      I remember vacationing with my kids when they were that little and sometimes it did seem like so much more aggravation than it was worth. It was much simpler to take vacation time from work and go to the pool or water park as a family. We did a lot of that while the kids were younger and it was a lot of fun and nice to be able to go home and sleep in our own beds at night. It is a much more relaxing to travel on vacation when the kids are older.

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  6. It sounds like a great vacation! Even our family vacation was wonky this year. We had a few days together and with my dh's family, then youngest went to gymnastics camp while the rest of us went on to a visit more family. I'm hoping to make up for it with some fun weekend jaunts this fall!

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    1. Wonky is how we usually roll - lol. Hope you have some great weekend family trips.

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  7. What great pictures, Amy! We go to the beach every year with the kids. And last year, after C-mas, we took them to disney world. THEY LOVED IT. As did we. So many great memories! The next place I'd like to go with the fam is The Great Wolf Lodge. Indoor waterpark in the winter sounds like a blast! :)

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