It’s been a busy past six weeks here in Oregon (both by design and happenstance), with time spent all over Oregon with family and friends before the baby arrives and we’re hunkered down for a couple of months.
I’ll be going back and filling in the missing pieces soon enough, but in the meantime, here’s a quick look back at this past week as we approach the big day.
Noe’s been a great sport since leaving Laos, certainly considering that he’s well into his terrible two’s and all that we’ve put the little man through since yanking him from his home.
But, like any other toddler, the Mister has his dark side, which we’ve been trying our best to harness for the purposes of good rather than evil.
He’s becoming ferociously independent, wanting to do everything for himself, which Lori and I have to remind ourselves isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Admittedly, there are many times we don’t want to wait around for Noe to climb the stairs himself, or climb up into his own car seat, but with the added time we have these days with few critical commitments, it ends up forcing us to slow down and take a breather, which is good for all of us, particularly given that we don’t have laid-back-Laos to reinforce that state of mind.
Noe, spending time with Nanny making hand-painting art.
Wild turkeys prowling the neighborhood. Not something you see every day in Laos. But then again, there’s lots we see in Laos we don’t see here, which is what makes it so fun to jump back and forth.
New breweries keep cropping up around Roseburg, but also new coffee shops. For years, gourmet coffee in Roseburg was strictly the purview of coffee trucks and carts. In recent years, that’s slowly started to change. In addition to the usual suspects we visit (My Coffee, Dutch Bros., and Starbucks), we’ve tried out newly opened Gathering Grounds and Darkroom Espresso (pictured here), both in downtown. There wasn’t much going on mid-morning/mid-week at Darkroom, but Noe did enjoy listening to one of the local regulars playing a couple of upbeat ditties on the old piano there.
It was time to make Noe’s visit to Roseburg official by taking him to the Duck Pond — something our parents used to do with us back in the day. The pond was quite low, invaded by pigeons, and appeared to have seen better days, but it was still fun.
IMPORTANT FOWL-FEEDING FACTOID:
DO NOT FEED DUCKS (AND OTHER WATER FOWL) BREAD PRODUCTS.
Yep, it’s true. I know, one more thing we’ve all been doing our entire lives that now somehow is wrong. But it’s true. Most bread products have little to no nutrient value for ducks, and only serves to fill their stomachs to the point that they don’t eat anything healthful. It’s particularly devastating to ducklings and can cause all sorts of life-long ailments affecting their health and even ability to fly.
But not to worry, there’s lots you can feed ducks and geese that’s easy to find and won’t actually more harm than good, such as plain oats, rice, and even lettuce. We brought a small bag of oats and it worked like a charm.
If you’d like to know more, Popular Science has one of the better articles out there on the subject.
After feeding the ducks, we took a walk around the duck pond loop trail, passing reminders, yet again, that we are indeed back in the U.S., and back in Roseburg.
Lori and I reminisced how we used to frequently run through here when we were in Junior High and High School and it was a well-maintained little green space complete with interpretive stations. Sadly, those days seem to be in the past.
Regardless, the walk finally gave Lori the opportunity she had been waiting for. To take a picture of her shadow.
We continued along on the loop until a homeless encampment literally blocking the trail forced us to go back the way we came. Didn’t matter to Noe, either way. He always happy to be out and about.
Noe’s enjoyed exploring all the fun, new things America has to offer, like newspaper ads.
If you know Noe, it might not at all surprise you that he was fixated on one item and one item only:
He even spent several minutes pretending to eat the fruit, before offering it to others, of course.
Poppi teaching Noe how to barbecue. I know, it looks like Poppi’s also giving his grandson a lesson in reading beverage labels, when in reality I just happened to snap it as Noe was climbing up on Poppi’s lap as Poppi was putting his beverage down on the ground. Either way, I wanted to include the pic.
I also thought it important to include a pic of the new cupholder Lori’s been working on for the past several months:
We found out we were expecting Baby #2 shortly after Lori’s brother and fiancee set their wedding date (we actually found out Lori was pregnant while Dan and Lauren were visiting us in Laos…). The wedding was set for September 15th, and we soon discovered that Baby #2’s due date was September 26th (not our finest planning coup, but most of y’all who have kids know how futile it can be to “plan” these sorts of things). For this reason, we opted to return to the U.S. to deliver rather than go to Thailand (which is the standard protocol for folks like Lori delivering in Vientiane). We knew it would be a lot more moving around (and more out-of-pocket medical expense for us), but we’d be darned if we were going to miss Dan and Lauren’s wedding. Plus, it gave us an opportunity for us to see family and friends over an extended break (and not force the grandparents to come all the way out to Thailand to see the new baby).
So…you can imagine what a relief it was to get through that darn wedding (more on that in future posts) without popping a baby right in the middle of the festivities.
Once we got past that, there was only one more date to skirt…
I’ll always love my kids. But I didn’t even want to consider the possibility of one of them moving in on my own birthday. I’m a pretty good sharer, but not when it comes to my birthday date.
So, we gritted our teeth and got through the 21st unscathed. And now, after nine long months, we’re down to the wire.
So what did we do on my birthday you ask? Went around town collecting all my freebies, of course. First, we stopped by Dutch Bros. (you get a free coffee on your birthday). All I really wanted was a nitro cold brew, and there’s only one place in the county that makes those and it ain’t Dutch Bros. So I planned to give the Dutch Bros. coffee to Lori.
I asked Lori what she wanted and she replied, “1% Chai Latte.”
Really, hun? Could you pick anything more girly? They’re totally going to know it ain’t mine.
But I love my wife, so we pulled up to Dutch Bros., and a meticulously unkempt young man full of gusto (per the usual) wished me a happy birthday, bro, and took my order.
Thing is…I forgot the order all of sudden.
I didn’t want to ask Lori because it was my birthday, and thus my coffee, and I’d shown him my ID and everything. Fortunately, Lori sensed this and whispered “1%…” and it all came back to me.
But they didn’t have 1% milk.
So I made an executive decision to go with the 2% milk and felt pretty good about myself.
Yay, I was off the hook.
Then the dude with the rat’s nest on his head asked me what size.
I don’t know, it’s free, right? Big!
“Yeah, bro, 16oz., why not.”
Yeah bro…why not.
Cool. Free sailing now.
“Hey, bro. You want whip cream with that?”
Um…yes. Yes…I would…love…whip…cream…on my large, girly, latte beverage.
We pulled out of there with Lori’s chai latte. Go easy on that, honey. Wouldn’t want you to get things moving quite yet…
So back to my birthday beverage. Where’s the only place in the county that offers nitro cold brew, you ask? The Sutherlin Starbucks, of course.
Frothy, hearty, caffeinated deliciousness. From Starbucks, of all places. In Sutherlin, of all places (apparently the Roseburg location is not yet equipped to handle people like me, but ten miles up the highway in a town a third of the size, it’s a whole other story).
We were out of diapers for the Mister and already on that side of town, so we poked into Wal-Mart…our first stop there in six weeks of being Stateside (Roseburg has no Target, but they do have a Fred Meyer…). It may have been our first stop of our time in the U.S., but it was Noe’s first in his entire life.
I think the photo speaks for itself.
We rounded the day off with a jaunt down to South County, Abacela Winery to be exact.
The grandparents were kind enough to watch Noe for a few hours while we enjoyed Abacela’s final pizza Friday of the season on a gorgeous Indian summer afternoon in Southern Oregon. And Lori was kind enough to join me at one of our favorite wineries on my birthday even when she’s not drinking any wine, herself.
We skipped I-5 and took the backroads (Lookingglass Road) instead. I’d wanted to do this, but was hesitant about the amount of time it might add to the journey. When Google Maps said “2 minutes slower” it was a no-brainer. We’ve been trying to take country roads as much as we can since we’ve been back, owing to how nice they are in these parts, and my utter disdain for I-5.
After Hillcrest, Abacela is my number two favorite Umpqua Valley estate winery. And Bradley out in Elkton is a close third. One of the things I love about the Umpqua Valley is that vineyards have been extremely successful in growing such a diversity of varietals in such a small geographic area, and each of my three favorite estate wineries excels in a different type of wine. In any given year, it’s next to impossible to beat Hillcrest’s Pinot Noir, Abacela’s Tempranillo, and Bradley’s Baco Noir — year after year after year. We spent nearly two years visiting dozens of wines across the Willamette Valley when we lived in Portland and, while the Willamette Valley seems to get the press and the accolades, I just can’t say the same for that region.
And afterwards, a quick stop at Lookingglass Brewery to round out the theme for the afternoon.
Back at Nanny and Poppi’s, we have just enough time before Noe’s sleepy time to do one more round of “Happybirthdaytoyou,” more for Noe this time than me, since he missed the previous night’s festivities.
Saturday morning, I talked both sides of the street into joining us for a huevos rancheros breakfast at Romulitos, followed by a quick stop with Grammy and Grampy at Henry’s Donuts, which we’ve heard much about — mostly owing to the fact that the couple who run the place are originally from Laos.