It is so nice to be home again. Portland was wonderful, and I’m so glad we went. But it is hard to be away.
Don’t get me wrong, it was wonderful to have a few days of grow-up time. I attended some interesting sessions at the FATE conference, and survived presenting my own paper during one of the sessions. We ate some great food at A Veritable Quandry, Bridgeport Brewing Co, and HotLips Pizza as well as some excellent Thai food, amazing donuts from VooDoo Donut, and a lot of great beer. We visited the Portland Art Museum, the Saturday Market, the Pearl District, Gamblin Paints, Powell’s City of Books, the Japanese Gardens (where we had a great view of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens) and we walked pretty much every inch of downtown Portland. Not bad for a 3 day visit!
But it was so hard for me to be away from the kids. Even more so because Portland seems to be an incredibly family-friendly place and there were children everywhere we went! There was also a terrible level of homelessness that really shocked us, and I was glad not to expose the children to that. I know we will have that conversation eventually, but it is so hard for me to understand I’m not at all sure how to explain it to the kids. We saw dozens and dozens of people sleeping in doorways, under benches, and right out on the sidewalk totally exposed to the elements. It was heartbreaking. And scary. Even more so because they were not all old and hopeless – there is apparantly quite a community of homeless youth on the streets of Portland, kids who chose to live on the streets and panhandle as a way of life.
My children, however, seemed to thoroughly enjoy having their parents away from home for a while! NayNay did all sorts of fun things with them – they made new stuffies at Build-a-Bear, went out to eat a few times, went to the Bouncing Angel and to the movies, baked cookies and had an Easter Egg Hunt. It should have come as no surpise to me that they weren’t so interested in talking to me on the phone when I called home. But I was surprised. And sad. Of course I WANTED them to be having a fabulous time and not moping around waiting for my return . . . . but I thought they would at least want to talk to me. Oh well.
They were clearly happy to have us home once we did return, and I guess that is all that matters. The little gifts we brought back to them were a big hit (a toy ray-gun and alien eye-wear for Fletcher, a flowered bracelet and a new nightlight for Lola Gray.) They hated to see NayNay leave this morning, but I know it will be good for all of us to get back on schedule this week.