I grew up going to the beach every 4th of July. We'd go for a whole week. We'd play in the sand, go crabbing, explore at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, do bonfires, see the fireworks, do puzzles, play in the canal, capturing starfish and sand dollars, and playing with the sea anenomes. I loved the 4th of July.

Fast forward 11 years. I see my kids growing up without that tradition, and it kills me. Last year on Shads fifth mancation of the year, wonderful fishing trip he got to go on to Alaska, we made a deal that if he went, he would to go to Oregon with me for a whole week for the 4th of July. Not a "I'll fly up and drop you and the kids off and then fly back to work. I'll pick you up a week later".


I wanted him in attendance during the family trip.

So we did it.

It was a blast. I'm not sure how else to put it. I loved every single minute of it. My parents were amazing. My Mom had an activity planned for every single day and she was always "on". If there was a lull, she'd be found playing crazy eights or go fish with Tanner and Kate.

My normal morning routine at home, is Tanner coming in at 5:30am. Us trying to distract him in some way so we can keep sleeping. At 6:30am he's done. He's "starving to death". By then he's on my side of the bed begging for pancakes, German pancakes, French toast, waffles etc. Heaven forbid he should like cereal.

Well, at my Moms, I'd mozy on out of bed whenever Elle woke up and come upstairs to freshly made breakfast and Tanner and Kate eating at the table, happily. And not just any breakfast. Pancakes made with CARS molds or princess molds, waffles shaped like animals, etc. And then she'd ask me, "Do you want some oatmeal with berries? I'm going to make some for myself." It was AMAZING.

And then Shad and I took a nap every single day when Elle would nap. I felt so spoiled.

The beach is their backyard. You walk down this beautiful path that's covered in greenery and moss ( I LOVE moss....I didn't realize how much I took it for granted growing up. It's so beautiful. And it makes me feel at home) down to the beach. And the beach is vacant. You don't see anyone on it. Which is wonderful. I love the California beaches too. For a lot of different reasons (you don't have to be bundled up, can actually go in the water without your body literally numbing up). But I love the Oregon Coast.

Here are the pictures. I had to do collages. There were way to many pictures.

The Newport Lighthouse and tidepools.

Tanner got to go fishing with the "men". He absolutely loved it. Still talks about it to this day. He had to get up at 3:45am (right Shad? I was asleep, so I don't remember), to make it out while the ocean was still calm. He got to be with Dad and Grandpa for hours, fishing, crabbing and eating oreos and chocolate milk. = )

And of course the benefit for me was eating as much crab as I could stuff in when they returned. I could eat Dungeness crab every day of my life and be so happy.

The many activites my Mom did with the kids....crafts, play-doh, decorating cupcakes, visiting the pirate shops, the aquarium, dress up, hot dog roast with s'mores, and fireworks.

My Dad is the king of making hot cocoa from scratch. I don't think he can cook any thing else, but this one thing in the kitchen, he's very good at.

*once my sister Danielle, asked him for his recipe, and this was their exact conversation (I took it from her blog):

Me: So dad, I was hoping you could tell me how you make your hot chocolate.

Dad: Oh really...

Me: Yeah- do you have like specific measurements?

Dad: *laughs* Uh...no just a little here...a little there...

Me: So how do you do it?

Dad: Well, first I warm up the milk...you can't put the cocoa in before it's warmed...then you put the cocoa in...

Me: About how much?

Dad: Until it is the color of what hot chocolate looks like.

Me: So you go by color?

Dad: Yes, I go by color. You know, I think I'm going to write that out on paper and patent it.

Me: That's a good idea. So you go by color...and then...

Dad: And then I put a LOT of sugar in. I mean...a LOT of sugar. You really can't have too much sugar.

Me: Okay...a lot...of...sugar...

Dad: Then I take the biggest salt shaker, and put quite a few big shakes in.

Me: So like...an actual salt shaker? Or mom's salt thing...

Dad: No- an actual salt shaker. I would say that if you were making hot chocolate for two people...so about 4 cups...then I would put 5-6 big shakes in there.

Me: Okay...anything else?

Dad: Then I taste it...and if it's too bitter...more sugar...too chocolaty...more milk...you know, I adjust it after I taste it. OH- and don't forget the whipped cream on top. That's a verrry important part.

Me: *laughs* alright. Lots of whipped cream. Okay, well thanks dad!

Dad: Good luck.

And here's the candy machine. My sister Amy, got my Dad a candy machine a couple of years back. VERY popular with the grandchildren. They used to get to "spin the dial" twice a day. Well that one wore out and he got a new one, where you just place your hand under it and out the candy comes. Kate would have her "turns" over with by noon. Tanner didn't eat one piece of candy. Saved it all for the end and brought it home. It's still sitting in my kitchen drawer. = ) And Elle caught on as well. She'd go in there throughout the day and put her hand under the sensor, and candy would pour out.

A week later, we were home, swimming away and eating grilled hotdogs, watermelon and chips. A staple meal in our house this summer.

Thank you Mom and Dad for a wonderful family vacation.