A week into our move, I’m surprised at the things I don’t miss. I thought I’d feel terribly homesick—well, old-homesick—for a while, and that hasn’t been the case at all. All of our well-worn Seattle routines that vanished overnight in a puff of Penske smoke? They already feel like warm but rapidly fading memories, accoutrements of a different life altogether. I love everything about being here in this new house, this new town, and I didn’t expect to enjoy the unfamiliarity of it all so much.

The boys are happy, JB’s loving his new job, and even the cat seems more content. Hey, me-of-thirty-plus-days-ago: stop being so worried about change.

I have yet to make it to the neighborhood Safeway without pulling at least one U-turn, but I’m slowly learning my way around. Well, in the sense that certain landmarks are becoming familiar as I overshoot our house going the wrong direction yet AGAIN oh my GOD what is my PROBLEM. (Kids, from the backseat: “Mom, you were supposed to turn there!”)

We only have this house until September, so now that we’ve unpacked every single goddamned thing we own we’re turning our energy to househunting, which is another post altogether *inarticulate gargling, random hand-flappy motions, finger twirled next to temple, comical A-OOGA! noises* but here’s a quick tour of where we’re at:

The living room:

My office desk:

The master bedroom:

Dylan’s room:

Riley’s room:

The back of the house:

The outer part of the backyard:

The odd little extra wood-paneled room:

The kitchen:

Looking up the street:

The house isn’t perfect—there’s no garage and very little storage inside, for one thing (we have a crap ton of stuff stored in a U-Haul facility here in town)—but the windows and yard are a dream, and the neighborhood is downright magical. In fact, we like this part of town (Ferry Street Bridge area) so much we’ve nearly abandoned our original plan of targeting the outskirts of Eugene in order to find a place with some land, because it’s just so pleasant and convenient here.

I didn’t expect to enjoy being in a rental, but I do. It’s nice to set aside the burden of home ownership for a while, I guess, even though we are actively trying to become homeowners again. I like that we can just enjoy this house without having to think about maintenance, long-term upgrades, or even yardwork (thank god a lawn service is included with the rent, because NOT IT to mow that back forty motherfucker).

Oh, and also? The cabin is one hour away. ONE HOUR INSTEAD OF ELEVENTY BILLION HALLELUJAH.



The only teeny, tiny fly in my ointment is working from home while both kids are out of school for the summer. I knew it would be a challenge, but after a week of seeing how things are going, I feel like I definitely need to figure out some distractions for them so they don’t drive me fucking insane get too bored.

If you have young kids, what do your summer plans typically include? Camp? Structured activities of some kind? Feral Lord of the Flies regression?


48 Responses to “The new normal”

  1. warcrygirl on June 4th, 2012 3:36 am

    My kids are older so they are immersed in various sports and music camps (…this one time, at band camp…) but when they were younger I put them in a local day camp at the recreation center. It was something like 9 am to 3 pm (lunch included) so it gave me a few hours to relax kid-free. Check into your local recreation center/YMCA/whatever to see what they offer. It may only give you a few hours instead of a whole work day but that would get the big stuff out of the way.

    LOVE all the windows in your new house and I echo your HUZZAH! over the yard service.

  2. Emily on June 4th, 2012 4:01 am

    Ditto on the local rec camp/YMCA. You can also check out nature centers… They usually have programs /camps.

    PS the house is beautiful.

  3. shari zychinski on June 4th, 2012 4:38 am

    what lovely windows…and views..so open.

  4. Lori on June 4th, 2012 4:45 am

    Love the house.

    Our town’s park and rec department offers different camps for kids at the local elementary schools, starting at age 3. They’re very affordable and basic — playing on the school playground, crafts, snack. College kids run the programs. It’s a great, affordable way for everyone to get a break for a few weeks during the summer.

  5. Meagan on June 4th, 2012 4:47 am

    I went to Camp Harlow as a kid. It’s religious (daily bible study for older kids, god singing stuff for younger and I had a friend who got teased mildly for being Catholic because it was the “wrong” kind of christian. No one ever ave me trouble for being no religion at all though.) but it was otherwise SUCH the classic summer camp: canoeing, horseback riding, the whole deal. I loved it, whole heartedly. They had programs for all ages, but I’m sure you can find a camp with out the forced religion and occasional persecution. Or Camp Harlow might be entirely different now- that was 20 years ago.

    I grew up in Santa Clara (NW of Eugene, not California). We had a nice large yard with a view of a filbert orchard (it’s not there any more) and we’re 5-10 minutes from Lone Pine and the other farms with fresh produce. But. As I got a little older, I was pretty much reliant on my parents for rides, because the bus schedule is thin on the weekends and you can’t walk or bike anywhere interesting. I think your kids of the future would vote for Ferry Street bridge area because it’s close to everything, and in a little place like Eugene that means you can get everywhere by bike if you’re in decent shape, and that’s SO huge for a kid or teen.

  6. Meagan on June 4th, 2012 4:49 am

    Oh, and in terms of public schools- SOUTH EUGENE.

  7. Heather on June 4th, 2012 5:01 am

    Definitely look into a recreation center summer day camp. Ours includes swim lessons, field trips, daily outdoor activities, free swim at an awesome pool with huge water slides, and much more. It’s designed to wear their bones out and the kids love it. Plus, a family pool pass is part of the camp price, so when we pick our kid up from camp each day we usually cool off at the pool for a bit before heading home for dinner. The recreation center definitely benefits the entire family.

  8. Kate on June 4th, 2012 5:58 am

    Well we’re in Austin, where it’s approximately a billion degrees everyday, and we finally just caved and bought one of those super trashy 10 x 3 inflatable pools. I… haven’t seen the kids in a while. I can hear them? The screams sound like happy screams? They are exhausted by the time they’re done swimming and regularly fall asleep at the dinner table. I don’t know, but I think it’s the best $50 I’ve spent on summer entertainment in a looooong time.

  9. Jaida on June 4th, 2012 6:07 am

    If you’re not squeamish about it, check out Vacation Bible Schools. We’re not religious but my friends all tell me it doesn’t really matter. Also, in my town the city runs a free park program in the mornings where you can leave your kids for a couple of hours.

    In general, my approach is to get out in the morning for a planned activity and return home around lunch time. The kids are usually more receptive to playing on their own/watching a movie for a bit or whatever if we’ve been out adventuring in the morning.

  10. Sarah on June 4th, 2012 6:33 am

    You need to get them in something, in my humble, anonymous, internet opinion. I work from home and my kids are 11 and 9 and without camp…don’t even want to think about it. They don’t go all summer and they only go part-time but at least they have something that’s theirs and I don’t feel like a totally awful mother for ignoring them all day to work. It also forces me to be much more structured in my work day so that on the days they’re home, we can do something at least for a few hours that isn’t “shh! STOP! i’m TRYING TO WORK!” and “Not now. No. I’m sorry I can’t I have to work.” Ugh school hasn’t even let out yet and I’m already dreading it. Good luck with the househunting and congrats on the move and on realizing your dreams:)

  11. Amanda K on June 4th, 2012 7:08 am

    That is a lovely rental house!!! It sounds like this move was absolutely perfect for you. :)

  12. Eric's Mommy on June 4th, 2012 7:23 am

    Wow, your rental house is amazing! I’m so so happy for you guys :)

  13. Christie on June 4th, 2012 7:42 am

    If you know what school they are going to go to, maybe stop in there and ask around about options for daycamps etc. Would be awesome if they made a friend or two from their new school over the summer! Good luck with the house hunt. Do you have the option to extend the rental if you haven’t found the right place over the summer?

  14. Mary on June 4th, 2012 7:43 am

    I used to send my kids to the city camps. We paid for a week at a time, and every week was a different theme. They’d be there for six hours a day, every week they did different things but it always included an hour of swim lessons. Those were awesome days. Another resource is to check with Camp Fire. Ours runs a series of day camps, my daughter went to them every year and loved them. Now she is old enough to be staff, and it’s still a highlight of her summer. Even though you think of Camp Fire as being girls, they’re both sexes now, and the kids at the camp are pretty much 50-50 boys and girls.

  15. Redbecca on June 4th, 2012 7:48 am

    It looks like a lovely neighborhood! Congrats! (And oooh to be only one hour from the vacation home! Ours is 14 HOURS UP THE INTERSTATE away. Ugh!)

  16. H on June 4th, 2012 7:52 am

    I’m so happy for you and your family!

    It was eons ago that I had kid issues in the summer, but back then we did a lot of structured “camp” type stuff (day camps – like VBS, soccer camp, basketball camp, etc. but then I needed a chauffeur to get them around. It kind of sucked, but they were busy and happy.

  17. My Kids Mom on June 4th, 2012 8:09 am

    I’ve worked hard on the kids-at-home-with-me-thing. I start the summer with a list of Things to Do When Bored, which they come up with. It has games they forget they own, activities they can do alone (wash windows, make puppet show) or need me to do (bake) and places we can go (bike at home,Botanical Garden, zoo). Then I can refer them to the list on the fridge for a suggestion. They’ve done well with this for several summers.

    I also provide some structure. I try to send them outdoors at the same mid-morning time, try to pull out art supplies, try to suggest reading on a loose schedule. We’re taking turns making lunch for the day (with help) and they’re helping me with tasks like laundry.

    I won’t say that they arent’ bored ever, or that they don’t complain about the tasks, but having a list to choose from has made a huge difference.

  18. perl on June 4th, 2012 8:15 am

    Just a county north of you and our parks & rec is super cheap and pretty fun. They had some kind of art and playground stuff that I put my older one in when he was four and he loved it. Now he’s 7 and into the science and other more specifically themed camps. They’re just a few hours a day but my god, what a difference that makes in my life.

    Oh and does U of O maybe have something? OSU has a fantastic camp that runs all summer.

  19. Megan on June 4th, 2012 8:19 am

    My kids do Camp Wilani every year and love it. It’s out in Veneta, but they pick the kids up in a school bus downtown (13th & Pearl), so you don’t have to drive out there. 8 – 5 everyday. Love it!

    Also, the Science Factory over by the stadium has awesome summer camps or Nearby Nature in the same area. Good luck!!

  20. KateMac on June 4th, 2012 8:39 am

    Your house and the neighborhood are lovely! And that backyard is gorgeous! I’m so envious; I would love to live in OR one day. So glad it went so smoothly!

  21. laziza on June 4th, 2012 9:30 am

    Sorry if this is a repeat (didn’t read all the comments), but I would definitely look into whether the school(s) they’ll be attending off any day/summer camps. It would give the “new kids” some time to get familiar with the schools and potentially make some new friends so they’ll that much more comfortable when school starts in the fall.

  22. Chris on June 4th, 2012 9:33 am

    Eugene has a GREAT parks and rec program, definitely look into it. I wish we had moved back already, I would love to babysit for you!! However, I do know a fantastic, mature, responsible 16-year-old with three little brothers who lives in that area who would babysit this summer. If it’s not to creepy to get a babysitting recommendation from a near-stranger on the interwebs? Also, Ferry Street Bridge area is my very very favorite and it’s definitely where we’ll be moving back to in the fall. So so happy for you!!!

  23. Kimberly on June 4th, 2012 10:05 am

    That house is a dream. So glad the move went so smoothly!

  24. MRW on June 4th, 2012 10:14 am

    This is a sore subject because during the summer we pay approximately eleventy billion dollars for my oldest to go to camp for three minutes per day (possibly a slight exaggeration) + before and after care because we both work 8-5 and for youngest to go to day care. Summer camps running only 9-3 has been a source of frustration/anger/resentment for 4 years now and is not going to end for several more years. I’ve been no help and only vented. Sorry. Will just stop talking about it now.

  25. LizP on June 4th, 2012 11:07 am

    You live really close to one of the city pools and they probably have swim lessons. My inlaws take my kids to swimming lessons in Veneta (they live out there). Someone else also suggested the Science Factory, also cool. The main library has stuff going on during the summer. In the same shopping centre as Safeway there used to be a satellite library location but I can’t remember if it’s still open. There are a bazillion summer camps too!

  26. Erin on June 4th, 2012 11:39 am

    Our local Parks & Recs does an annual summer camp that is great, they do “regular” summer camp and then specialty (Preschool, Disabled children, Marine Biology, Nature camp & Teen camp). Ours usually charge by week or by day and have a calendar with all the activities they have planned out already, plus they kids eat lunch there (brought).

  27. Allison on June 4th, 2012 11:43 am

    I think dylan is a year younger than my son, but he’s out of preschool now too (and my husband isn’t out for another week) and the lifesaver this week (and during any super busy work weeks I have) is a box of Sticker Mosaics http://www.orbfactory.com/Products/Sticky-Mosaics-R-Original-Line
    Seriously, these things have given me so many hours of work time that I give them as gifts to everyone I know with 3-4 year olds. If you haven’t tried these before, YOU MUST. And your older son might like them too, though I figure he’s probably pretty good at occupying himself.

  28. kali on June 4th, 2012 11:51 am

    Summer was my most difficult time as a parent. I adored my children, and the nieces and nephews who joined them in the summer months. But lordy, it drove me crazy playing entertainment director while juggling regular freelancing projects. For my own sanity I insisted on a 1.5-hour (D.E.A.R. – Drop Everything and Read) window every day after lunch. They didn’t have to nap but they had to quietly STAY PUT and read whatever they wanted to until the timer went off. What I would have done to have a laptop back then! After supper was ‘dad time’ for at least an hour, and once they were in bed I worked until 1 or 2 AM to complete ad campaigns, marketing materials, color-break for press runs and… sleep very little. I also traded time with whatever free summer program was available.

  29. Em on June 4th, 2012 12:34 pm

    Wow, Oregon looks like a gorgeous place. The pictures from the cabin are stunning.

    Glad you’re settling in and happy!

  30. Christina on June 4th, 2012 12:36 pm

    Other said it already but we have been in love with our local YMCA summer camps. My son has done both the traditional age group type camp Arrowhead (is what it is called here) but this year he opted to all sport camps. The nice thing about those are they are 9-Noon and 1-4 so if you do not want to commit them to an entire day that might be an option. Counselors around here are all college/hs age kids that are well trained and the kids all seem to be ultra happy and excited to be there. Plus is my son has virutally learned to swim for the price of Y camp all summer! Last year we also tried out a camp program through our local school district. It was good as well. I think smaller towns offer up a lot of great options, hopefully you will find the same there! Love the homestead stead and the happiness you all seem to be finding in being so close your family!

  31. Amy N on June 4th, 2012 12:55 pm

    Oh crap…am I supposed to find something for them to do all summer??? My boys are out in a week and a half and I still don’t have a solid plan because ex is refusing to participate. They are signed up for two zoo classes that are 9-4 M-F just a few blocks from our house. Love being so close. I plan on finding some type of tutoring they can do so they don’t forget everything. Other than that…swimming, lots of time with grandma or their uncle who works from home?? Can I send them to Oregon to keep your boys busy??

  32. Donna on June 4th, 2012 1:18 pm

    Buy the rental :) — it’s gorgeous! I’m so happy for you that you and your family are loving the ‘rightness’ of your decision to move.

  33. Marisol on June 4th, 2012 1:54 pm

    My gosh! Loving those windows and the light! Happy for you!

  34. Courtney on June 4th, 2012 2:02 pm

    So glad that you guys are settling in! Ditto previous comments that recommended checking into what the Eugene Recreation Department offers. Our community (much like Eugene, but with snow) has a fantastic summer rec program for kids that seems fairly affordable.

    I’m so happy for you guys! Now when are you guys road tripping back to Montana to go to Glacier or Yellowstone?

  35. Chalica on June 4th, 2012 3:39 pm

    My kids are going to THREE vacation bible school weeks this summer!!! Woohoo mornings free!

  36. Sarah on June 4th, 2012 4:26 pm

    Adding my suggestions–our kids do YMCA camps every year and have a blast. They also have “camps” at the Bounce gymnastics here in town. We also do Camp Wilani–though my oldest decided he didn’t want to do the overnight option this year they do still have the day camps. Friends of ours speak highly of Camp Harlow and they’re “meh” on religion and it’s not such a big deal for them. We also have tried the Science Factory with good success. But definitely check out the YMCA here, though spots tend to fill up fast.

  37. Sarah on June 4th, 2012 4:36 pm

    I’m thrilled for you that it is all going so well. Love the house and the ‘hood. And ditto Donna — buy the rental! But only if you can add a garage. :)

  38. Linda on June 4th, 2012 4:39 pm

    TRUST, we asked if the owner was willing to sell (or even extend the lease) and it’s a no go. Apparently she grew up in this house and plans to move back in the fall. Whomp whomp. (But yeah, we’d have to add a garage and a new roof at the minimum.)

  39. leah on June 4th, 2012 5:09 pm

    just saw a link to this craft &immediately thought of you &your boys (: http://thebroodinghen.blogspot.com/2010/06/tiny-bow-arrow.html

  40. velocibadgergirl on June 4th, 2012 8:16 pm

    That house is impossibly cute. I love all the wood! (Okay, that sounds really pervy.)

  41. Farrell on June 5th, 2012 11:31 am

    That house is BEAUTIFUL.

    Are you trying to work FT from home, or PT?

    Honestly, I don’t know how anyone could get any work done at home with the kids there – esp. at your boys’ young ages. I work two days from home but on those days I send my daughter to her daycare/summer camp. Otherwise, I wouldn’t get a thing done, and that’s not fair for work or her. The other 3 days/week I go to the office and she goes to the summer daycare/camp thing. I’m lucky because on the days I work from home I start earlier, save a 45-min commute each way, and therefore get to pick her up earlier so we have more time in the evening. But I could not possibly work FT with her here.

  42. Linda on June 5th, 2012 1:17 pm

    Farrell: I work part time and while I have daily deadlines, I make my own schedule — so it’s a pretty flexible situation. If I were doing something other than freelance I don’t think there’s any way I could make it work.

  43. Liz Kreiger on June 5th, 2012 9:32 pm

    Pitch a tent in that back 40 gorgeous yard, and let them set it all up with pillows & blankets & whatever – even normal snacks are cooler in your tent.

    Water balloons, water guns, slip & slides and such like if it is warmer where you are than it is back up here!

    Great summer toys: Foxtail softie, sidewalk chalk, giant bubble wands, those velcro catcher’s mitts & balls, frisbees, Marbles.

    Plus any local Parks & Rec stuff for kids that let you leave for awhile they play & make new friends. And trading kid watching with the neigbor who has the kids with whom the kids were trading ball & tape messages!

    Enjoy and good luck in hunting for the perfect house for your family in your new community.

  44. Willyn on June 6th, 2012 2:23 am

    your new home is a paradise, have you figured that out?
    i really find it very beautiful and peaceful..it’s a perfect home for the “body and soul”…

  45. Kirsty on June 6th, 2012 2:55 am

    That house is amazing – a place like that here in the south of France would be literally millions of euros…
    I’ve worked freelance since way before I had kids, and now that I’m single the challenges of holiday times are multiplied by a zillion.
    My girls are older – 10 and 8 – but I’ve usually had some kind of day camp thing for a couple of weeks, a week away with me, one away with their dad and one with my dad (he rents a place at the beach here). The rest of the time is usually horribly feral and/or Disney Channel-dependent. Oh, and I work at night way, way too much.
    Good luck!

  46. Tina on June 6th, 2012 9:03 am

    I stalk your blog and your posts on The Stir and just wanted to say you are one of my very favorite people of the people I’ve never met variety. Thanks for sharing so much of your life. It’s awesome.

  47. Amy on June 6th, 2012 6:17 pm

    Summer with bored kids whining around your ankles is the most annoying thing ever. I don’t know if this would work for you, since you guys are new to the area and all, but have you considered hiring a teenager or college student to come to your house and entertain/wear out your boys a few afternoons per week? If you can find someone who is trustworthy (and patient! ha), it might be cheaper and more convenient than a daycare or camp situation. Just throwing the idea out there for you to think about.

  48. Dana on June 19th, 2012 10:37 am

    Our summer consists of swimming in the morning, followed by lunch, dollar store craft, and nap. When it rains, library and movies takes the place of swimming.

    The criteria for a good activity is 1-is it free/cheap, 2-can my 7.5 month pregnant body handle it, and 3-will it tire out my child to ensure a daily nap.

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