Monday, August 22, 2016

Retirement Location, Check!

Ben and I are so, so blessed sometimes.  Yes, "sometimes."  I mean, breast cancer.  Children with mental illness.  Me with mental illness.  Job issues.  'Nuf said.

But then, sometimes, something amazing happens:
(Ugh, I'm using Ben's work computer, which is an Apple, and it took like ten minutes for me to figure out how to put this picture here.  Me no likey.)

I guess one of the "perks" of Ben's job is that he has a few clients with a few properties.  And these clients really are just so nice.  We went to Hawaii last year and stayed at a client's rental in Oahu, free of charge - we just had to get there, entertain ourselves, and get home.  Amazing!

And then these clients, at whose place in Portland my mom and I stayed after surgery (Ben calls it "surgerrhea," and now I mentally say that every time I say "surgery"), have a place on the Oregon coast, Cannon Beach to be exact.  They're all, "Go stay at our beach house, free!"  The nicest people EVER!!

Because of some weirdness in scheduling with a checkup appointment for me in Portland and dropping the kids off at Camp Kesem, or, as I like to call it, Free Camp for the Rest of Your Life for the Price of a Parent Having Had Cancer, we came to the coast last weekend, dropped the kids off at camp yesterday, then Ben and I came back to the coast for the entire week!!  Then we'll grab the kids and come back to the coast this weekend, and then home.

I quite honestly think that this is our first family vacation since...Dylan was a baby?  Usually, if Ben and I are able to scrape together enough money, we just go by ourselves - vacationing a family of six is really spendy.  But having the kids with us is actually pretty fun!!  Even though we forgot Dylan's ADHD meds.  That makes things pretty tough.  But he had lots of places to gallop around like a little colt.  That boy is all limbs right now.  And almost as tall as me.  It's so weird to give him a hug, and he's, like, my size. With bigger feet than me.  And he could probably beat me up, if he wanted to. Which he wouldn't. He thinks I am the BEST.  The feeling is mutual.

Haha!  He asked to be buried in the sand, and Gage kept just kind of throwing sand in the general direction of Dylan's face.  He kept having to spit it out of his mouth.  And Sadie garnished Dylan's head with a sprig of some nearby bush.  Haha!  When we checked the kids in at camp yesterday, they did a lice check, and this girl is like, "Whoa, I'm seeing a ton of black dots on this kid's hair; can you come over here, Sass?"  (They go by nicknames at Camp Kesem.  One of the nurse's names is Sass.) I was like, "Um, well, we did bury him in sand yesterday..."  They determined that yes, indeed, the black dots are sand and not lice babies.

So.  Cannon Beach is a really small little town - it does have a small grocery store, but it's really overpriced, so you have to drive down the road to Seaside to get food for a decent price.  Depending on the time of day you go, it could take you five minutes or an hour.  We ended up going over there twice on Saturday to get supplies, and I'm pretty sure half of Portland was clogging Highway 101, desperate to get out of the heat.  We've been mainly staying put, but I'm begging Ben for a little detour to Tillamook (Cheese!!!  My obsession!) and a Geek Out Trip to Astoria to see the places they filmed Goonies.  We'll see how the week goes.  We have to be judicious in our spending.  August is an expensive month, what with Gage's and Sadie's birthdays.

When we got here on Friday, we made a beeline for the shore - just a short walk from the house.  I dropped all my stuff and walked straight to the water.  There is just something about the ocean.  I LOVE the beach.  It's just so healing.  Huge.  Majestic.  I don't ever do a ton of swimming in it - saltwater makes me yak - but I appreciate it so much.  I got a little weepy, standing there.  It had been...9 years?  Since I had seen the ocean.  Far too long.

We all attempted to wade in the water, but it just, um, HURT.  There are a select few of you that will understand this comparison, but here's the best way I can think to describe it:  When I was a young woman, we went to camp every year at Camp Darby.  Running through camp is a creek.  With the COLDEST water.  Snow runoff.  Straight from ice form to water form.  You can earn a bead for your camp necklace by doing a thing called The Polar Bear - I think you have to sit to waist-deep in this creek minute?  Five?  I can't remember.  I just remember sobbing from the pain.  Everyone sobbing and screaming.  Haha!  I have pictures.  Proof!  They're at home.  I'll have to put some on here.  It's intense.  But then you get this really awesome bead for your necklace.  And bragging rights.

So yeah, this water is painful to stand in.
So I just parked my bumb in a chair 'neath an umbrella and watched the ninos attempt to make sandcastles sans sand toys.

Yep, we forgot to pack them, along with Dyl's meds, AND Micah's meds. Sigh...  I was wondering why Micah had been so very emotional the past few days, and had been complaining of stomach pain.  Duhhhhh.  I hadn't refilled his meds, and he hadn't told me he was out.  And I was on hydrocodones.  I was doing well if I was able to just keep my eyes from crossing.  I had to literally concentrate to keep them from just....woop!....meeting each other at my nose.  My poor son has been going through withdrawals from going without anxiety medication.  Trust me, that is no picnic. Luckily, Sass has my back and was able to pick them up from a local Walgreens today.  My son will be back to his usual sullen self, rather than his Actor-in-a-Melodrama Self.

Friday was just perfect.  In fact, it was just plain old hot.  I have been assured that this is weird for the Oregon coast.  Ben, having had melanoma, doesn't take any chances in the sun anymore:
Micah is on a quest to find seashells.  He made quite the haul of broken ones.  Danged seagulls.
Cannon Beach has this huge rock outcropping called Haystack.  You can see it in the background. Gorgeous!  So that's the view to the left.  The view to the right:

And, you know, sunset.  I can't get enough of sunset on the coast:

Saturday was reeeeeeally cold and foggy.  We spent most of the morning indoors.  Which was an interessant situation, because cable is currently not installed.  So no TV.  No electronics.  Just us and some puzzles and games.  And can I just say that it was so much fun???

Do kids ever play dominoes like they're meant to be played?  Haha!  Actually, Sadie and I had a rousing game of Mexican Train after the boys got tired of standing them up and knocking them down. In Dylan's case.  In Micah's case, they kept falling before he got them all ready, and he would break down sobbing.  Or Gage would come over and mischievously knock them over.  And Micah would break down sobbing.  Or he didn't feel like the dominoes were divided equally among the brothers. And he would break down sobbing.  Poor kid.  Anxiety is a beast.

It was a blast.  It reminded me of staying at my grandparents' cabin at Palisades Lake.  Playing Blackjack and betting with Skittles, packing all our food there and eating in every night...  such good memories.

Oh, and Dylan was introduced to the VHS tape.  Haha!  The owners of the beach house have a VHS player and a bunch of tapes, so he and Sades watched Back to the Future and E.T.  A sample from a conversation between Dylan and Ben:

Dylan:  Dad, why won't this play?
Ben:  Um, it looks like you need to rewind the tape.
Dylan:  Re....wind??
Ben:  Yeah.
Dylan:  What does..."rewind" mean?
Ben:  Oh!  Um, you push this button right here to make the tape wind backwards to the beginning. See this brown tape stuff here through the clear plastic window on this tape?  The images are on the brown tape stuff.  And it slowly winds onto this spindle as you watch the movie.  So you need to wind it the other way in order for it to play from the beginning.
Dylan:  Whoa.
Ben:  And don't forget to rewind it again after you're done!
Dylan:  Why?  Can't the next when they're ready to watch it?
Ben:  It's just a courtesy.  Be kind, rewind!
Dylan:  Huh?

Haha!  Priceless.

Even though it was still butt cold, the kids wanted to play on the beach again that afternoon:
You can't even see haystack!  It was so foggy, all day.  Sadie is also all arms and legs - did you notice?  I have gangly kids.  She'd better get a volleyball scholarship.

The two older boys and Dad took a little trip down to the shore at night, during low tides, to check out the tidal pools and now-bare outcroppings:

The green things in the below picture are anemones.  And you can see the starfish in the above picture.  On the way home, Dylan told Micah a scary ghost story that he learned at Camp Caldera, where he was last week, or, as I like to call it, Two Years Ago a Boy Bullied Me and I Overreacted and Made Threats and Was Suspended for Two Weeks and Invited to This Club for Troubled Teens Which They Call Camp Caldera But Nobody Ever Really Says that It's for Troubled Teens Camp.

So then Micah comes into the house just fa-reaking out, refusing to stay in the cute little room that he had decided was his room to sleep in for the weekend...  Poor little anxious kid.  He did NOT need to hear ghost stories.  He's going through anxiety pill withdrawals, for heck's sake.

Then, of course, Gage fed off of Micah's freaking out and freaked out himself, and then HE decided not to sleep in the little room that he had decided was his for the weekend, so he and Sadie squished on a floor mattress, and Micah, uncharacteristically, ASKED to share with Dylan (those two rarely get along), so he slept on a couch and Dylan slept on a hideaway bed, and Micah, having Anxiety Bladder, peed on his couch as he slept.

Poor kid.

Don't worry.  I cleaned it really good.  It's not like the pee couch in Seinfeld.

Yesterday, we took the kids to Camp Kesem.  I didn't take any pictures - I should have.  But we got them all squared away.  We had really prepared the people in charge for Gage and his needs, and he has his very own counselor!  The counselor's name is Brick.  He has a family member with autism and knows his stuff.  He seems really compassionate and awesome.  Another counselor helping Gage is named Sports.  Gage picked his bunk bed and unpacked his little toothbrush and everything, and I talked to Sports and Brick about some good strategies to help Gage deal with transitions, his sensory issues, etc.  I had prepped Gage all week by making a Social Story for him - ideally, a social story is a little book with pictures to show where he would stay, what it would look like, where he would eat, etc.  I was lazy and just showed him all the pictures on the computer.  Which worked just as well.  He did great when we dropped him off.  No tears.  The kids will have a great week.

We're back at the coast today, and it is quiiiiiet.  Ben has to work 8 hours a day from here, still.  I'm making sure the house is spic and span and cooking for us two.  And....putting together a lot of puzzles.  And doing a ton of reading.  Haha!  It's a little weird.  But lovely.  I'm healing wonderfully, standing up a little straighter, able to do more, totally off hydrocodones (but still relying heavily on ibuprofen and Tylenol), etc.  This is a great place to heal.

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