Ndjerareou Journey

Portland Retreat for Busy Mama’s

Early on, Nate and I discovered that unforgettable experiences make great gifts.  Currently, we’re knee-deep in family life and so this often involves picnics on the porch, friends around our table or simply exploring our corner of the world. It also means we don’t always get to travel together. I embrace the challenge of traveling as a family but it is an extra special adventure to take a break from soccer practice, pre-school lunches, carpool and the grocery store to get dropped off at the airport by myself!   Recently, we both admitted the realities of life were getting overwhelming and our tanks were running empty. So my husband cashed in our frequent flyer miles and we each picked out a different solo-trip created around decompressing and inspiration.

Portland’s an excellent retreat for busy mama’s for several reasons.

1.) Pack your play clothes. Stay in your active wear. Seriously, the easiest trip I’ve ever packed for.  I’m typically in work out clothes or a cute outfit that revolves around some kind of trendy running shoe. Thank heavens for Converse!  One tip I got for Portland–bring a rain coat with a hood. Hiking, exploring, doing yoga. The dress code is serious about relaxation, warmth and doing anything but stressing about your outfit.

While you’re in town try Hot-Flow Yoga and linger a little while in downtown Camas. 

2.) Epic Scenery. It’s so easy to get off the beaten and let the vistas bring you back to a place of wonder. Whether you want to stand and admire the view from Colombia River Gorge Crown Point Vista House while exploring from your car. Or a simple hike to Bridal Veil Falls or Beacon Rock to get the blood pumping.  The beauty of nature is guaranteed to sweep you away.

If you’re a Goonies fan or  have a friend who’s willing to pretend you’re still kids. Head out to Cannon Beach on the coast. About 90 minutes west of Portland.  The ocean is always restorative to the soul.   Stop at get a scone at the Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters. Park next door in the public parking and put on your heavy duty play-clothes for beach combing until you’re starving and then stop in a Mo’s for their famous Clam Chowder.  Mama tip-if you happen to bring a bag of sand back with you in your suitcase TSA might need to do some extra screening. 

3.) Come for the food, stay for the wine/beer. Portland is a hub of great food.  (Don’t believe me ask my friend and world class foodie the Food Bitch for her top places to eat in Portland.) After a day of hiking we headed over to Alberta Street in Portland and tumbled in to the Tin Shed drooling with hunger. Try the Salm I Am scramble with smoked salmon capers. Don’t miss their homemade biscuits and jam or rosemary gravy. Speaking of rosemary, locals will help you find the nearest Burgerville and let you know if their Rosemary fries are in season. This is fast food Portland style.

While you’re on vacation and enjoying carbs stop by St. Honore Boulangerie  for a Hazelnut chocolate croissant, grab a baguette to go and head out to Three Brother’s Winery.

4.) Wander, explore, shop. Portland is special for slowing down. It might be the weather, the book stores, or the fact that you don’t have kids in tow. But there are tons of places to explore that are filled with breakables or kid friendly.  Grab the kids and stroll through the Vancouver Farmers Market .  Kid free? Wander over to The French Door where you’ll find everything from a vintage piece of blue china, a Parisian Street sign or a dining table for a great price then head next door to the Urban Barnhouse  In Portland proper, lose yourself in Powell’s Books after a stop at the Portland Farmer’s Market.

While at the market pick up fixings for Vietnamese Salad  to go with my favorite Asian Pork Roast.

5.) Everywhere you look there’s a place serving great coffee! Busy mama’s run on coffee and excellent coffee feeds the soul. Grab a latte at Compass Coffee Roasting and take along walk through Fort Vancouver or check out the Vancouver Library for excellent architecture and great views.  In Portland, check out Stumptown Coffee or Floyd’s Coffee Old Town both are walking distance to Voodoo Donuts. Mama tip-bring cash if you’ve got a donut craving, Voodoo doesn’t take cards.

While you wait at the airport grab a Blue Star Donut before you go through security or have a seat and enjoy an epic reuben sandwich at Kenny & Zuke’s 

Thankfully by the time I reached the airport I felt recharged and ready to head home. I missed my people.

Until next time Portland!

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  • Ndjerareou Journey

    Portland Retreat for Busy Mama’s

    Early on, Nate and I discovered that unforgettable experiences make great gifts.  Currently, we’re knee-deep in family life and so this ...
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2 Comments


  1. Connie Armerding

    May 11, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    So glad to hear you had a wonderful visit to Portland. Next time you come out this way let’s connect!

    Reply

    • Sarah Kay

      May 16, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      Thank you Connie! I do hope our paths cross soon. Until then keep writing, I love what’s coming out of your pen.

      Reply

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The child of missionary parents, writing became a natural was to process my adventures across the world.

Ndjerareou means 'he who builds the road in Ngambai, Nate's tribal language spoken in Chad, Africa.

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  • The road to a friend’s house is never long.” -Danish Proverb
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Thankfully, the same is also true for family. Road trips to visit my brother and his amazing wife in Abilene have become a sweet mini-retreat in the last couple of years. We check out their latest creative endeavor—Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure at the Abilene Community Theatre @actabilene and @kacalligraphydesign latest loveliness on display at The Well.  We get some quality time and enjoy the pace of small town life. .
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Abilene has wonderful local flavor like La Popular. @lapopulartienda Don’t take my word for it, ask anyone in the line around the building and you’ll get recommendations for the menudo, breakfast burritos and pastry. Make sure you take home a stack of home made tortillas. #worththetrip #roadtrip #abilenetx #miniretreat #texas #lapopular #abilienecommunitytheatre #familymakethebestfriends #sistersinlove #changeofpace #changeofscenery #bigskycountry #neverstopexploring #neverstopadventuring #changeyourperspective #trysomethingdifferent #eatlocal
  • “I’m outdoorsy, I like to drink wine on the patio.” -Unknown .
My husband calls it “porch therapy” we love a great spot to people watch, connect and share something tasty. Magnolia Avenue just opened an inviting new spot (formerly the barbershop.) Tapas, drinks, pizza. Look for movies playing outside, coffee and churros in the evening in the cute little out building (Saint Sofia) Great for dates & families (or family playdates;) Well done @lazonafw .
#porchtherapy #hotelmadrid #lazona #magnoliaavenue #lazonafw #fortworth #latergram #springintx #churros #coffee
  • Dreaming together is pure romance for me. Adventure is simply a hasty, impromptu or well planned dream being realized. .
My husband is an executor, I’m the dreamer. As the stakes grow high in life and misadventures mark our path, it’s easy to give up dreaming. To lick our wounds, protect what we care about and stop working our dreaming muscles. .
Recently, as I dusted off a dream that had lost it’s luster, gotten beat up and frustrating. Nate got a far away look in his eyes. It would have been easy to think he was tired of hearing my swan song of imagination. 13 years of marriage and I’ve learned to trust that look. I hold my breath in anticipation. It’s the look of a dream being realized, a partner buttressing my hope with belief and support. .
Today, I’m grateful for the courage to keep dreaming, for a man who needs my hair brained ideas to bring his life color and still jumps into the unknown with me. From our battle weary hearts to yours- keep dreaming my friends. .
#ndjerareoujourney #adventureawaits #daretodream #adventuretogether #neverstopexploring #neverstopadventuring #neverstopdreaming #twoarebetterthanone #dreamersneedexecutors #trustispriceless #sandollarbeach #bigsur #latergram #instatravel #happyvalentinesday #fromourheartstoyours
  • “In my life I need more faucets, less drains.” -  @katytullos .
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Overheard at my beloved Awakening Creativity Writers Group sponsored by @arthousedallas. Today we discussed critics, the ones in our heads and in our daily lives. This group is my secret weapon, a place I go to be filled up and find support through the minefield of self-expression. .
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Thank you @stircrazybakedgoods for hosting us. Cozy atmosphere,  good coffee and treats. Magnolia Ave is inspiring in any season.
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  • My parents got their first TV EVER the night of the 1984 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony. Is it any wonder I believe this should be a national holiday!
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We are Olympic ready in this house! Snacks-check. Opening ceremony bingo-check. Sushi-check. Psy playlist-check Korean BBQ-check. Crafts for kids-check (thank you Pinterest) This is my Super Bowl people! .
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In recognition of this event I started listening to Scott Hamilton’s new book. Finish First. (with Allison Fallon  @allyfallon well done) . .
#ivetrainedallyearforthis #mykidsthinkimbananas #openingceremony #2018winterolympics #usa #olypmics #instaolympics #scotthamilton #pyeongchang2018 #familynight #raisethemright #itsmysuperbowl
  • My heart's been poured into a lime green composition book this year. On the page my morning laments morph into simple requests giving them life with pen and ink. Their stark presence on the page invite Christ in, begs for hope, simple in its naked reality. It’s an admission of need, a request for participation, a waiting. .
Restoration begins when we admit we’re broken. This year that meant very simple confessions. Repentance followed in basic prayers of need. Lord, what do I do with this? . 
Seeking renewal one quiet morning at a time has opened my heart to a tender response that is offered in unexpected places. It moves my soul because I admit I’m seeking.  My requests focus my hearing and tune my heart for the whispered word of guidance.  In a tender gathering over coffee I weep to hear I’m not alone, a friend is made, a note is written; a wise person recommends a book, a tool or a prayer. . 
Today is about keeping my promise to myself. A simple prayer to seek His face. His response has been tender, personal and relevant. Seeking restoration means walking through the wreckage of your apathy, poor choices and tainted beliefs.
It’s living honestly, bending and serving, admitting my frailty, nourishing my body.
Seeking his leading one day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time.
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  • “No.” is a complete sentence.” Anne Lamott.  It’s a privilege to be my children’s mom. To hold their hands, listen to their fears, correct homework, find socks, turn their dreams into piano practice and robotics camp, nudge their friendships and feed their bodies, souls and spirits. As my oldest nears her teenage years I realize time is flying and these central tasks of my life will be over in a heartbeat. This year I made a list of all the needs that were on my plate and I prayed for the courage to cross off the ones that could survive without me. Honestly, only one really got a clean line through it. One idea I’ll leave for another year and another season. But this permission to be less gave me the gift of space. A little room in the schedule to seek wholeness, find renewal.
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#breathe #ndjerareoujourney #renew #restore #motherhood #thehardestjobyoulleverlove #thebestyes #longdaysshortyears
  • Breathe . . .It’s a simple word with a powerful intention.  Gone are the long lists of resolutions, gone are the goals and the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of lists and plans. There are grocery lists, to do lists, lists of things to buy, phone calls to make and bills to pay. My lists are typically much longer than my days. .
This year I refuse to be defined by these lists. These lists do not prove my worth, my importance, my contribution. All those lists have helped me discover is that the longer my list the tighter the pain in my chest. I keep lists out of necessity because there are many demands on a day, many objectives in a week. It’s an essential part of being a mother, wife, writer, friend. .
 Restoration now sits prominently on my list. This year was birthed in a deficit and it’s very clear that there needs to be room for being filled up, being fed, caring for my soul, body and heart in ways that honors God and brings life to my family. So today I choose to simply breathe. . .
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Mathew 6:25-20 .
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 #considerthelillies #breathe #seekgod #seekrenewal #ndjerareoujourney #writersofinstagram #momlife #write #restore #faith #inspire