Again, the months fly by and just like that, summer is over (although, we are having yet another unnatural heat wave). Milo starts kindergarten on Tuesday and Emmett preschool. The kids are more ready for this big transition than I am. Emmett has been walking around all day in his new backpack (Milo’s hand-me-down). Meanwhile I want to savior this adorable age but it feels as if there is no time! Probably because we continue to pack it in, and this summer was no exception.
In June, we flew back to DC for a cousin’s wedding. #Buimania never fails to disappoint. Despite the differences in age, distance, and personalities, I love how tight knit our family is. The Buis would be happy hanging out doing anything: playing tennis, going to the movies, picking out white hairs, or eating scallions on grilled corn. And we love weddings–any chance to take over in masses. This one in particular was really special for our family, which meant for lots of tears. And of course pictures 🙂
My parents’ house, with its new pool and recently resurfaced tennis courts, has become quite the “grandparent trap”, as they like to say. My cousins and I spent entire summers in my grandmother’s pool, so I am so grateful for my parents for giving this experience to their grandkids. It was awesome to see Milo’s swimming transform in just a matter of days. The first day, he was only comfortable swimming across the width of the pool. By the end, he had figured out how to take breaths and swam the full length starting in the deep end. After Emmett warmed up to walking on the pool steps (rather than sitting on floats), we were dragging him out of the pool nearly after dark.
July was jampacked with visitors and trips. My parents visited followed by Ben’s parents. We hosted our annual 4th of July party and when it comes to kids and fireworks, I’m holding my breath that it’s injury-free. But the kids’ reactions, especially when they get to hold sparklers, are almost better to watch than the fireworks themselves.
The following weekend we went camping with friends–I should say 45 friends–at a friend’s land in Lincoln City. It has the perfect setup for group camping: running water, n outdoor “kitchen” setup built-in counter and sink, picnic tables, a volleyball court (so sand for kids to dig in), a small river shallow enough to wade in, and enough space for that many people to camp. The best part was the kids could explore and roam off and we wouldn’t see them for hours, though we could hear them in their “forts” (the hedges around). We totally get why our friend wants to recreate his childhood of spending entire summers in this place, just a mile from the house he grew up in. We hope to make it to DCYC every year!
The next weekend was Sunriver for my tennis team sectionals. Originally the kids opted not to go and I went down on Wednesday with a teammate. But by Thursday night they had changed their mind and HUGE props to Ben for scrambling to pack up everything and drive the kids solo for four hours. He said the car ride was the easiest part–kids know when they need to be independent–and is just glad I normally do the packing. 😉 I was really happy they came because after two days on my own, I realized how perfect Sunriver is for families. Aside from the giant pool park, bouncy house, and many other fun activities, the best part is how bike-friendly it is. There is an entire navigation system just for bikes and you can go miles without worrying about cars. We never drove our car and in one day, Milo biked 15 miles back and forth to the pool and village. My tennis tournament was super fun. We didn’t advance to nationals but I loved having a weekend entirely dedicated to tennis and playing such high-level competition.
August was our big road trip. We drove down to Lake Tahoe to spend a week with my family and celebrate Cookie and Sylvain’s 40th birthdays. Though we had planned on camping on the way down, the kids fell asleep after six hours, so we powered on through and ended up doing the whole drive (9 1/2 hours) in one day. We stayed overnight in Truckee visiting some of Ben’s friends from college who used to live in Portland. They have a son a little older than Milo with very similar interests: LEGO and battle. She took us to a gem of a lake. Milo was so brave to swim out in the middle of the cold lake and even jump in via the rope swing.
Lake Tahoe was really beautiful. It was quite the trek for everyone (especially Cookie, Sylvain, and Yohan) but it was worth it. We stayed in a house on the west side, between North and South Tahoe. Each day was a different activity or spot and evenings were spent hanging out (and working on a scrapbook for Cookie). We were treated with Sylvain, who has become quite the patissier. I can’t imagine baking in a rental home in a different country. We failed to understand he needed whipping cream (not half-n-half) and powdered sugar (so he made his own), and yet the desserts still turned out amazing. Cookie, my parents, and I played tennis one day at the local high school and the 6500′ of elevation was very noticeable! The big treat was to go climbing. Chippy and Xavier brought a fresh rope and gear and took us to a spot in Emerald Bay. It’s been years since we’ve been on ropes outside. Even though we’re pathetically out of shape, it was so fun to get to spend an entire morning climbing. The rest of the family took care of the kids and met us for lunch. We found an awesome picnic spot with a giant boulder, and even the kids got into it.
After Tahoe, the rest of the family went to visit Chippy and Xavier’s place in Oakland and tour San Francisco while we made our way back up to Sunriver to spend a week with Ben’s parents and his brother Mark to celebrate his mom’s 75th birthday. And to watch the eclipse!
First we had two days in between and decided to camp one more night in Tahoe. Since the kids liked the climbing so much, we stayed at a campsite next to some bouldering in Bliss. As usual, it was impossible to interpret the guidebooks but we did find a few things to play on with the kids.
The next day we made our way to Lava Beds National Monument, which we had visited on our road trip last year and discovered caving. But when we rolled in around, oh, 7pm, ALL the campsites were taken! Our hearts sank. This place doesn’t take reservations and never fills up, but it did because of the eclipse! We were hours from the next campsite, with no map (whoops) or cell service, and it was getting dark. Desperate, I noticed two RV campers sharing a campsite and the other one unused. I asked if we could pitch tents and they didn’t even hesitate to say yes. Another lady even walked up after and said she noticed us searching and was going to offer her campsite too (which she ended up doing anyway to a Belgian family, also here just for the eclipse, who arrived even later than us because of a flat tire). Everyone was so nice! It made us hopeful that even though there would be too many people to see the eclipse, everyone will be friendly. It’s the Oregon way 🙂
The next day we hit some traffic on our way to Sunriver. We stocked up on groceries further south, away from the path of totality, and there definitely was a lot of commotion and chatter about the eclipse. Rumors of towns running out of gas and it was only Friday (the eclipse was Monday). We had two days in Sunriver to hang out before camping for the eclipse. Camping actually wasn’t our original plan. We were going to drive early Monday morning before the eclipse (at 10:18am) to Madras, which had two minutes of totality, where we had reserved a space in a grass parking lot. But even only an hour away, we were scared of the traffic, and the thought of trying to get the whole family to leave at 5am only to be stuck on the highway and potentially miss the eclipse made us too nervous. Fortunately, we were so lucky that our dear friends had space for us at their campsite and that Ben’s parents were willing to camp. So Sunday afternoon we drove to Suttle Lake, which had 90 seconds of totality. The camping was great. Again we were with many friends, there was more than enough space, the kids played together, and we got to use paddle boards on the lake. Since I miss dragon boat and paddling so much, I’m trying to justify buying one.
But the eclipse experience–that was unbelievable. It was better than we could have ever imagined and totally worth all the stress leading up to it. We are so grateful for our friends Aimee and Preston. They had done so much work and research six months ago, and it turns out, they found the perfect spot. First, there were NO crowds. In fact, our crew (granted, we were about 25 with kids) had the entire boat dock to ourselves. I can’t really explain the transformation of the lighting, the temperature, or why the total eclipse is so different than in pictures. It was exciting to watch starting at 9am the moon gradually move over into the sun, but when totality happened and you could see the corona, that was a moment I’ll remember forever. I teared up. Even Milo cried at the end, unprepared for it to be over (I think 90 seconds sounded really long to him). Emmett still exclaims, “The moon was blocking the sun!”. I totally understand eclipse chasers now. Ben and I are contemplating whether we want to visit Texas on April 8, 2024.
The rest of the time at Sunriver flew by. One of the highlights was discovering kid-made forts along one of the bike paths. We even met the kids who first made them three years ago, and continue the tradition each year by enhancing or building new ones. Milo of course was thrilled when they let him build with them, and took his role of finding logs very seriously. The kids also wanted to climb anything they could find, which excites us to no end.
We got back to Portland the day before Milo’s preschool graduation and two days before Emmett’s third birthday. Ben and Milo just got back from a backpacking trip. It’s been a whirlwind. I’m going to write separate blogs on those two kids who are growing up too fast.