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Memorial Day in Portland
posted by John : May 22-27, 2008

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Dignity, where art thou?

The trip between Seattle and Portland around Memorial Day weekend is not something to be relished. If you're lucky the kids sleep and there are no major accidents. We've had trips where it seems it would be reasonable to consider driving south east of the mountains.

So this time we cheated and left on Thursday afternoon. As soon as Clara had graduated we jumped on the freeway. We actually made great time with only a few backups. Unfortunately, Henry wasn't backed up at all and we had an... incident about half way down. Hopefully, neither of the girls will remember enough of his rather public changing to describe it for him. (That's a parent's job.)

When we did arrive at Grams and Gramps' place on the we had a pleasant surprise. It turns out the old folks had spent their day wisely and built out the joists and stringers for the new deck in the backyard. Sure, they were nearly immobile, but they'd just saved us young whippersnappers a full day of hard labor.

Nature decided to make us pay for that savings the next morning with a steady downpour. Gramps had planned the construction like only an engineer could. The pile of Trex that had been delivered was calculated to waste nothing. A schematic was provided for our reference and he was there to help manage the entire effort.

The day actually went pretty quickly in spite of the mud, the need for more powerful drills, more drill bits (or at least knowing where they were), and a collection of helping comments from folks with clean shoes. By the time dinner came around we were actually mostly done getting the decking down.

Amy and the kids were busy all day wreaking havoc and planning the big party on Sunday. I suppose Amy wasn't really part of the whole havoc thing, but she certainly was a big part of the party.

And what party might this be? Only the 60th Wedding Anniversary Party for Grams and Gramps. 150 of their closest friends from far and wide to celebrate so clearly there was a need to make sure each and every detail was accounted for. You can imagine the pressure, but the planning really went quite well.

Vitamin I eased the worst of the discomfort, but with three kids we didn't have the promise of a good night's sleep ahead of us. I had Lilly with me in the family room while Amy and Clara and Henry with her. It wasn't as bad a night as I had feared, though not the best night ever.

Saturday was more of the same. We put up rails and did some landscaping including trying to dig out a multi-generational fence post. The fence that's around the yard now is at least the third. When they put it in they just cut the post off and covered it over. Not too unusual, I guess, since they did the same thing when they put in the second fence. Unfortunately, they had poured some of the concrete for the second fence over the first fence's posts. That meant the concrete blob I was assigned to dig out was twice as deep as expected. Amy's cousin, Ian, and I solved that problem with a sledge hammer though. Perhaps in 20 years when they replace fence number three they'll find the shattered remnants of the first two posts since we just buried it.

Sunday was yet more of the same... no wait. It wasn't. The deck was mostly done so Sunday was spent alternately lounging around and furiously tying up loose threads. Food for the wedding was scattered across the tri-county area because no one had a fridge big enough to accommodate it all. Part of the final preparations were running around to collect it all.

The party was a tremendous success. Grams and Gramps were the stars, of course, but don't tell the kids. Clara, Lilly, and Henry were joined in making merry by their cousins Sierra and Haley. (Yeah, Keller was there, too, but at seven weeks he was hardly causing any real trouble.)

I took advantage of the need for a photographer and hid behind the camera for most of the party. Of course, I occasionally had to chase after kids who were celebrating a bit too hard. (If they're out of control now Heaven help us when they get to be in high school.)

The food was great (especially the cupcakes) and the only problem was if I had more than one cupcake the girls would want more than one cupcake and if the girls had more than one cupcake they'd never sleep and we they didn't need another excuse to not sleep.

Gramps gave a lovely speech that began in 1944 when he met a young (and I mean young Grams) while on leave. The pastor of their church delivered the sermon we apparently missed at service that morning and friends of Grams and Gramps serenaded us all. The kids took this as yet another opportunity to dance.

In the end there were very few meltdowns even though we went from the party directly to dinner with the family proper. That night, however, everyone crashed hard. Even Gramps. Once again I won big points by capturing it all on film.

Monday there was nothing planned. Amazingly. It was actually supposed to be the "finish the deck day," but the deck was done. (Mostly. We'll get to that.) Since there was nothing to do I stole Chris (Amy's cousin's husband) for a trip up Dog Mountain in spite of a forecast calling for thunderstorms. We dodged the nastiest of the weather, but were denied the killer views supposedly there.

Usually after a hike I'm not exactly ready for manual labor. Amy, however, had no respect for that tradition and so we spent an hour or so finishing up the landscaping. As the lightening and thunder made life exciting I couldn't help but think that there were lots of horror movies where the two victims are digging in a graveyard in the middle of the night in a thunderstorm. Good times.

Tuesday we reprised our role as the Beverly Hillbillies with stuff piled high on the top of the truck for our trip across town to visit Goggi. But wait! It wasn't that straight forward. My cousin, Tara, had a son on Saturday. In Portland!

Nonetheless, we headed to Goggi's place. The kids were bouncing off the walls of the car and continued their insane energy levels when we arrived. Amazingly, Lilly and Henry both actually crashed out, but Clara is now at that age where she really needs to nap just about every day but she almost never naps. So she was just rolling around working on waking up everyone else.

After a weekend during which Amy and I had a tough time keeping the kids in line the prospect of leaving the monkeys to terrorize poor Goggi wasn't a good one. But add a responsible high schooler and it might be doable. Enter Amy's cousin, Aubrey. With luck the two of them might just be able to survive.

Amy and I headed back across town to meet little Alec. For most of the weekend we'd been hanging out with Keller who was all of seven weeks old. Every time I held him I thought (a) dang, he's tiny and (b) I sure hope I don't drop him. Alec was all of three days old so Keller suddenly seemed like a big boy and Henry just graduated high school. We hung out of just a short while because we shared a fear that Clara and Lilly had likely caused Goggi's place to be visited by the local fire department to the order of three or four alarms.

After dinner with Goggi, Aubrey, and Uncle Paul we packed up over the loud objections of the kids. They were once again exhausted and desperate for sleep, but fighting it with everything they had. At long last, somewhere around Olympia, they gave it up and fell asleep. I crashed shortly after the kids.

We picked up Tokul a couple of days later. She'd been with Grandma Joan in Langley since the girls' ballet recital. The girls were thrilled to get to have dinner at the Dog House with Grandma and I got chili.

Indeed it was a good weekend.

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