Location: Oregon, United States

Friday, May 19, 2006

Week 2

Monday, April 10th. Today is Thomas' birthday and he has decided he would like to go to the zoo. The zoo is located in the same park as the Arboretum, a Children's Museum, a World Forestry Center, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, etc. etc. We decide to take the MAX, the local light rail, since it is right outside our door at the temp housing and delivers us right to the zoo.

We buy tickets on the platform and no one ever checks for them. When I rode the MAX in December, no one checked either. Weird. Maybe I'm missing something here, but why do we buy the tickets again?

The zoo is nice. Not as big as the MN Zoo, but cool animals and they seem happy. The polar bears here are MUCH happier than the pitiful, obsessive compulsive one that swims in circles at Como Zoo. There is a whole exibit of very active bats as well - flying around, eating fruit, flipping over to hang from their "hands" to poop. Really. We are fascinated and can't wait to go back and watch them some more. Even the plants are exciting for me as I notice that bamboo and fan-shaped palms are all just growing out of the ground here. Oooh, the possibilities!

Thomas wants to eat at Jack in the Box, a fast food place. Their "mascot" is this guy in a suit with a huge Mr. Bill-looking clay head. Weird again. The dog has been cooped up in the apartment by herself while we were at the zoo, so we drop off Paul and William to deal with her and I take Thomas and Stephen to the restaurant. We stand there like idiots reading the entire menu before we can order. Duh. This is a feeling I will be getting used to. We get our food and it is a hit. Rats. Why couldn't they hate it and beg for a sit-down restaurant with linen table cloths and no mascots?

Tuesday. Paul goes to work today and is surprised to find out that he is the "go-to" person for his team while his boss is out of town. The guy doesn't even know where his desk is for crying out loud. So it was a stressful way to begin, but he made it.

I bring the kids to their respective schools to register them and get a pile of paperwork. Thomas and Stephen will attend the same school and William will go the Middle School. A woman shows us around Thomas and Stephen's school. It is a 70's brick building with an open area in the middle that contains the library and some "offices" (cubicles). The classrooms are all along the outside edges of this open area. There are two classrooms for each grade level. This causes my brain to freeze - I can't imagine that small of a community.

William's school looks like a prison painted off-white. He immediately hates it and I don't blame him. We go inside and are shuffled around to the counselor's room. It has paneling on half the walls, brown linoleum on the floor and light blue paint on the cement walls. It is ugly and William says they need to redecorate. This would normally be funny but I can see he is shutting down so it isn't. There is a yawning gap in the ceiling with piles of cords coming through it. Must be the computer lab above us. At least they have a computer lab (?). I get more paperwork and William is supposed to choose an elective. He is hunched into a ball in the chair and in no mood to talk, so we decide to discuss it at home.

Wednesday. I finish the paperwork and we bring it back to the schools. I already hate the drive from the temporary housing to the schools as it takes about a half an hour one way in stop and go traffic. The drive is on a road they call the Tualatin Valley Highway (Too-Aah-Lah-Tin), or TV Hwy. It is not a highway. There are stop lights every half mile or mile and signage and buildings all along the way that just make it feel chaotic. If you are from Mpls., think of it like Excelsior Blvd. used to be, only 20 miles long. Our "favorite" landmark is Harvey's Boat Works. It is a complex of large, old bright blue buildings that look like they belong on the wharf, with a GIANT statue of a rabbit out front. Get it? Harvey the rabbit? Anyway, we entertain ourselves by thinking of ways to "eliminate" Harvey. Ugh. The good news is, the Middle School wants some time to get their act together for William, so he will have some time to get used to the idea.

Thursday. I bring Thomas and Stephen for their first day of school. They are excited to start and ready to meet some new friends. I pray that they have a good experience. At the end of their day, I go to pick them up and they are ecstatic! They loved it! Lunch was AWESOME! (They had Italian Ice, which I later found out was "Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum" flavored. Call me a snob, but that is NOT Italian Ice). They had each made two or three friends. On one of my walks with the dog, she gets wrapped around a telephone pole then lunges at a biker who swerves and nearly gets hit by a car. I am appalled, knowing it would have been my fault and thanking God that I got a warning instead of a crisis. I vow to make her heel and obey and get back in the habit of being on the leash again. This is new for her and she hates it, but picks up her manners quickly again. Whew.

Friday. School again for Thomas and Stephen, another good day for them and two more friends apiece. God is good. (Say it with me! "All the time!") William's school calls and they will be ready for him Monday.

Saturday. We go to Cannon Beach! It is cold and rainy (has been all week), but we decide we are "real" Oregonians and go anyway. Note to self, next time bring those water shoes or sandals. We had a blast, the wind nearly took us away, Stephen and Thomas played "chicken" with the waves, the dog thought she had died and gone to heaven - so many smells! So many birds to chase! (I kept her on her leash here as well, although many people had their dogs loose. Not ready to trust her again yet.) The haystack rocks are really amazing and there were great shops to bring family and friends to "next time". We stopped to see the Sitka Spruce on the way home (Largest Spruce in Oregon) and ate at an old Logging place where Lydia had a whole pile of fresh Crab Legs and Paul had steak. It snows as we pass through the Coastal Mountains on the way home, then rains.

Sunday. It is Easter, and we have been invited to Paul's childhood friend Jeff Marti's home for dinner. We pile in the car again and drive north to Olympia. On the way up, we come to a complete stop on the Interstate before we enter the state of Washington. At first, we thought it was an accident, but realize that the bridge crossing over the Columbia is a lift bridge. Who ever heard of such a thing on the Interstate? Later, there is a Nuclear tower thing (think Three Mile Island) in full view of the road, jutting out into another river. Yuck, it just feels creepy. Once we get to Jeff's house, we enjoy good conversation and the sense of belonging with Jeff and his family. We also ate really good food! The dog has a back yard to run loose in, which is great until she discovers a pile of raccoon poo and rolls in it. Crimony. It stinks and now she needs a bath. I hose her down instead and wash my hands every time I touch her. Gross.


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