Spring Break Staycation

My expectations have always been set fairly high for spring break vacation. This year I wanted to flee south for spring break. To sip something beachside and watch my kids play in the surf. But my husband went east and we stayed put. No sipping, no surf. {Let’s all have a ‘poor me’ moment on my behalf. Okay, I feel better.} Instead of sipping and surfing I had an official staycation with my kids. I don’t know when the word staycation came into vogue nor am I familiar with the level of glamour a staycation is supposed to entail. For us, our staycation was guided by only two rules last week:

1. We cannot be in the car longer than one hour in order to reach our destination.

2. Never run out of snacks.

That I can do. Here is how our week unfolded among newly discovered local treasures.

The Grotto

Grotto - Stations of the Cross

The Grotto – Stations of the Cross

Quietly nestled in notheast Portland is a magical place called The Grotto. Have you been? I read that it is one of the best kept secret green spaces in Portland, and while it may be that we also discovered the loveliness and solitude of the Grotto. Walking the stations of the cross, visiting the Chapel of Mary, or standing in the rock hewn cathedral that is The Grotto, my kids and I walked and talked with quiet ease. Take the elevator to the upper gardens to explore even more the loveliness of this place. The Grotto encourages reflection whether alone, or in my case with your family. If you have not been to this secret locale, I definitely recommend it.

The Grotto

The Grotto


Mountain View Ice Arena

Ice Skating at Mountain View Ice Arena

Ice Skating at Mountain View Ice Arena

My almost eleven-year-old is learning to ice skate. With dreams of long track she is honing her skating abilities weekly in the skating academy at Mountain View Ice Arena. {She skates, I slowly freeze to death in the corner and wonder if the mothers of Olympic skaters are half cryogenically frozen.} So what do you do on the first 70 degree day of Spring? Why, head to the ice rink of course! The kids enjoyed a three hour skate session in which my daughter coached her friends on her new found skills. It was smiles and falls for everyone!


Ruff Ranch Stables

Getting ready to ride at Ruff Ranch

Getting ready to ride at Ruff Ranch

There is a just turned seven-year-old in my house who is head over heels in love with horses. Like crazy love. Her birthday wish this year was to ride again and so off we went to Ruff Ranch Stables. Under the kind watch of Michelle, my girls learned how to groom, saddle, and care for their horse first before riding. Michelle at Ruff Ranch is incredibly accommodating and gentle in her instruction. My girls rode together, each on her horse, receiving individualized and personal instruction based on their ability from Michelle. It was a birthday wish come true! {Oh, and there were puppies. Twelve labrador puppies. Puppies AND horses. I die.}


AC Gilbert Discovery Village

Outdoor Discovery Village   Photo Credit: Red Tricycle via AC Gilbert Discovery Museum Facebook page

Outdoor Discovery Village
Photo Credit: Red Tricycle via AC Gilbert Discovery Museum Facebook page

If you will recall that the first ground rule of our staycation was that we could drive no more than an hour in the car. Based on that rule we traveled farthest to Salem last week to visit the AC Gilbert Discovery Village. Never having been to Salem before we loved the big Riverfront Park that holds both the Discovery Village about this great toymaker (one of his erector sets lives at our house) and also a beautiful historic carousel. Favorites at the Village included the Recollections room (think giant colorful moving pictures of yourself on the wall), Nano room (a great place for all science nerds), Imagination Playground (think giant blue Tinker Toys), and what my kids lovingly call the ‘train room.’ But really – the outdoor discovery area (featured above) was worth the whole trip. That giant thing in the back of the photo is a gigantic erector set maze complete with a two-story slide. Let’s just say I sat in the sun sipping a latte (yes, see, there was sipping eventually) with my dad and didn’t see my kids for a long, long time. When they finally emerged smiling and laughing, they went right back in for more. Heaven.


Fish Club

Fish Club

Fish Club

Every Sunday afternoon for the next five weeks my girls will go to Fish Club. Under the careful and kind guidance of a few men in our church my girls will emerge at the end with a handmade fishing rod. This past Sunday they chose the color of their rod and hulled out the cork handle. Each of the kids attending learn how to make something useful, gain a handicraft, learn about fishing, and ultimately in the end catch a fish {or three}, putting to good use the tool they made by hand. These are the special hats Teacher Bobby gave them and they wore to their first class with pride. Fish. Club. Rules.


High Tea


And in that full week of events among other assorted playdates and rides to the park and visits to grandma’s house; perhaps the highlight for my four-year-old son was wearing a bow tie for the first time. He was invited to help his grandpa serve high tea at a local benefit this past Saturday. The promise of cookies didn’t really do it for him, but then he found out that all the servers would be wearing bow ties. Done. For months he has been asking and begging to wear a bow tie, and finally his dream was realized. {And yes, now he will be wearing one at Easter too.}

Spring Break has now come to a close and today my kids rolled out of bed and said, “Do we really have to go back to school?” That, I do believe, is the sign of a good spring break staycation.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, we NEVER ran out of snacks.



  1. Science and Engineering Gift Ideas for Tween Girls | by Stephanie Rosic - […] we visited the AC Gilbert’s childhood home in Salem, Oregon. He invented the erector set ‘toy’ as we know it. My…

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