A DAY IN THE LIFE IN LEBANON, OREGON
My three-year-old is always the first one awake in our house. Eager to tackle each day, he rubs his eyes and climbs up next to my husband and me on our worn leather couch in our Lebanon, OR living room. It’s 6:36AM and the night turns into day before our very eyes. We’ve recently moved into a new house we built on a five-acre plot. Thanks to our three wooded acres and two acres of meadows, our five homeschooled children have ample room for science, play, and imagination. Our two dogs, Rosco and Blue, love putting their noses to the ground to chase fluffy-tailed grey squirrels. I’ve spotted Blue, our healer/shepherd mix rescue, nearly scale a fir tree chasing one down.
Our children’s lives are blessed having one parent home most of the day. My husband Scott, hosts the 5AM morning show on our local country radio station. We met at work and host the show together. In addition to my hosting the show from my home studio, I supply baby gear to traveling families and write blogs for Babyquip. Since I’m pretty well organized, I’m often home by 5PM. As you can imagine, I use every hour in the day to accomplish what needs done between work, home school, and parenting. No surprise–our weekends are precious!
There’s no rushing this weekend morning as our other four kids start to slowly rise and trickle into the main part of our house. First comes eight-year-old old Sunny, then six-year-old Anthem. We wonder if our oldest is awake yet. Lincoln is 12 and often will lie in bed until he smells Daddy’s weekend breakfast cooking…Meanwhile, we all listen to the baby monitor and wait for one-year-old Loxley to wake up.
After breakfast and showers, we all load up into our Suburban. We don’t often venture too far out of town for activities, as there’s plenty of fun nearby. Besides, long car trips aren’t anyone’s favorite. Even a 10-minute drive elicits several “Are we there yets?”
Since we’re all in the mood for a road smoothie, we hit the Human Bean drive through off Main in Lebanon. The kids love their “root beer” smoothies and their “frozen cocoa” and “not too hot kids cocoa” flavors. Since most of our outings bring us here, I have dozens of reusable Human Bean cups in my cupboard at home. The staff is friendly and we get a free drink with every 10 purchased. That ends up being every third visit.
The smoothies give us energy to hike on this dry Oregon morning. As we’ve only recently moved to Lebanon from nearby Albany, OR, we are still discovering its treasures. McDowell Creek Falls boasts a number of waterfalls of varying sizes and great photo opportunities along foot bridges and stone staircases that take us up the trail of the Cascade Mountains foothills. In summer, we can hike to a picturesque swimming hole for a dip. The baby tags along in my Kelty backpack which we use wherever the stroller can’t go. The rhythm of our footsteps often lulls her to sleep. At every waterfall, we stop for a granola bar and trail mix snack break. The kids also love to balance on trees that were downed long ago, probably victims of a strong wind gust. If a nature hike is too much for little legs, we have no trouble sticking closer to town. A volunteer group called “Build Lebanon Trails” is working on providing 50 miles of accessible trails in and around Lebanon including wheelchair-friendly paths. I love the accessibility throughout our town. While training for half marathons, I rarely have to step off a paved sidewalk.
After dirt paths and refreshing water features, the kids are ready for some pavement and we head straight to the Lebanon Skate Park. The skate park is well maintained by the local board and by those of us who use it. It’s clean, and safe, and our kids have a blast. As none of us skateboard, we load up the scooters and shred. Three-year-old Braddock just likes to run up and down the inclines. If we’re lucky, some local avid skateboarders put on a show while we are there. We enjoy meeting them and listening to their stories.
As it’s getting close to Braddock’s naptime, my husband takes the two youngest back home while I grab a hand-tossed wood-fired pizza at Conversion Brewing in downtown Lebanon. Kids are welcome here and we all like pepperoni…or at the very least, cheese with the pepperoni picked off. Some day, I know that I’ll be able to add all the other toppings I like! Adjacent to Conversion Brewing is the Strawberry Plaza. This relatively new addition to our community, famous for its Lebanon Strawberry Festival the first weekend of June, is an absolute hit with the kids. They frolic in the giant strawberry-shaped water feature located in an amphitheater setting with individual grass perches separated by concrete benches. This little gem hosts concerts and events throughout the good weather months, but it’s also a great place to picnic or burn off some energy with a quick game of tag any other time. From here, it’s a short stroll to some of our favorite spots–Sugar Vibes for a quick doughnut, a 2PM matinee show at the Kuhn Cinema, or a shopping pit stop for me at Real Deals. The kids like to count the tiny resin bird figurines at the Home Decor shop. There are literally hundreds. On some visits, I let them pick their favorite to perch in our home.
A Babyquip delivery to the Best Western Boulder Falls Inn wraps up our day and the kids are thrilled. The luxury hotel’s koi pond is another one of our community’s hidden gems that we are extremely thankful for. It’s open to the public, not just hotel guests. We take a few quarters to buy handfuls of fish food to throw to the massive koi in the enormous pond surrounded by a nature walking path in a Japanese garden-style setting. My double stroller moves easily along the path. We stop for pictures at each gazebo and trickling waterfall. The kids look for their favorite fish and try to sneak pellets to the smaller fish who seem to miss out.
We enjoy our friendly town of just under 17,000 people. We are regulars at the parks on the Santiam River, the welcoming library, and on the Santiam Excursion Train’s holiday trips. The Willamette Speedway dirt race track, where Grandpa used to race cars, is a hit with our entire family. Nearby Albany, Sweet Home, Corvallis and historic Brownsville, Oregon make us wish that we had more than just 24 hours in the day to for exploring.
Interested in reading more about living in the Pacific Northwest? Check out another one of our Day in the Life articles from a mom in Olympia, Washington!