Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Columbia Gorge: Friends and Falls

    On our trip last month we spent a few days visiting friends that live up the Columbia Gorge. Even though it's only 3 or 4 hours away, it had been a very long time since we'd been up to see them. Here are a few highlights of our time there. 

Raphael with his godparents, "Papa" Luke and Presvytera Katherine. We very much enjoyed our time with them, as always. They graciously put us up in the empty church building adjoining their property and we enjoyed camping out there. All the kids had a great time playing together, and the adults got in lots of good visiting as well. 
My dear friend Paula, one of my closest friends from high school, with her youngest. They had just moved to the area so it was fun to get to see their new home and catch up. All the kids are growing so fast, and it's great to get them all together to play. 
We had a picnic lunch at Multnomah Falls on the way back to Portland. You can just see Erik up on the bridge, taking a picture. Peregrine, Poppy, and Raphael were all up there too, and I was below hoping they were keeping a strong hold on Raphi! (They were. Of course.) 
Such beauty!
The upper fall cascading into the pool before taking another go. The vibrant greens almost take my breath away.
Looking down from the bridge. 
Erik took this from the bridge as well. Pearl and I are down there, waving and taking pics!
Thank you Random Stranger, for taking one of the whole family.
It was such a wonderful getaway. I think I'm about ready for another. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Random Thoughts for a Rainy Monday

Peregrine took this picture! I think I have a little photographer on my hands.
    The summer solstice came and went and I think Oregon didn't notice. We've had some lovely days of sunshine, but today it's cool and rainy and summertime feels far away. We've been very, very busy. Here are a few random thoughts for this Monday afternoon.
  • I used to plant a garden. Then, I had Pearl and something had to give. It was a good tradeoff, although I do miss the satisfaction of growing a little of our own food. There is a tangled thicket of raspberries out there, and a kiwi vine that's grown over a trellis to create a magical shady spot beneath. (And there are a whole lot of weeds, but that's not worth mentioning, is it?) The kids have been picking raspberries and mushing them up to make "jam". I finally got out there yesterday and picked a bowl of berries. Little Pearl discovered them sitting on the counter, and Erik and I shared what was left after the kids went to bed. I think there is some huge metaphor in this paragraph, but I'll leave it at that.
  • Two families I'm acquainted with online have both lost babies this past week. I am heartbroken for them. Baby Trek Atlas had a rare genetic disorder and lived a short and beautiful life with his family. Baby Elijah died in an unspeakable tragedy, and my heart grieves for his family. Please pray for these dear ones who are missing their sweet babies. I am reminded once again of how fleeting life is, how there are no guarantees. All we have is this moment. I want to live with more intention, more purpose, to love more passionately and to live without regret. I want to hold my own children a little closer and show more appreciation and love for my husband. Please pray for these families.
  • My Mom flew home from New Jersey last night, bringing my dear 90-something Grandma with her. I haven't seen Grandma in nearly 11 years. I'm really looking forward to seeing her and introducing Erik and the kids. 
  • Peregrine often remarks on how cute Pearl is. Yesterday he said "Oh! She would only look cuter if her dress had leg-of-mutton sleeves!" And later on, at church, he asked someone if they minded if he "tickled the ivories". Where does he come up with this stuff? 
  • I picked our first ripe cherries yesterday, just a few of them. I've been telling the kids, daily, that they're not quite ready. But, they're almost ready now. Yum.
  • After trying to sell our home by owner, we finally listed with an agent a week ago. We'd had maybe a dozen showings on our own or with buyer's agents, but in the last week we've had showings nearly every day! I'm hoping, really hoping, that we'll get an offer soon. 
  • I've learned that it is indeed possible for a mother of four youngish children to keep a very clean house. However, for me, it's come at the expense of spending quality time with my kids, and, unfortunately, I've snapped at them way too many times over fingerprints on the windows or dirt on the floor. I would rather have a "lived in" house with a relaxed mama then a show-ready one with all this stress. I'm sure they would agree. 
  • I think it's the perfect day to bake some cookies and have afternoon tea, to do something fun and lighthearted together. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Great Wolf Lodge

    On our recent trek up to Washington we spent two nights at Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, just north of Centralia. I'd recently read about another family's fun filled visit to a Great Wolf Lodge in Texas, but didn't realize it was a chain. Then, while we were deciding what to do with our week away, a friend shared pictures of her family's time at the Great Wolf Lodge in Washington. When I learned there was one just a few hours from where we live, we thought it would be a great way to spend some time together. I had points from a credit card that paid for a lot of it, so it actually ended up costing us less than a regular hotel. 

    Before we left, I knew the kids would love it, but I didn't expect to be that impressed. I was pleasantly surprised though! It really was a special time, and there's something to be said for a place that's totally kid oriented. We've never done anything like this before, but now I can see why people do. Our family has been going through a pretty challenging time in the recent months, and this turned out to be a wonderful time of just being together, having fun, and rediscovering some lighthearted moments. It was a good reminder that when things are stressful, we need to make a point of having fun together! 

We didn't tell the kids where we were going prior to arriving at Great Wolf Lodge. We could see the water park from the freeway, so from the minute we pulled up they were super excited. I don't think they knew that such places exist! 
The water park was so, so much fun! There were lots of things for all ages: safe, shallow pools with small slides for the little ones all the way up to the "Howlin' Tornado" water slide that wasn't for the faint of heart. My favorite part was riding down the big watersides with Poppy and Peregrine and watching their faces, seeing huge smiles and hearing them laugh and scream in delight. 
Little Pearlie was pretty timid in the water park and wanted to be held by either Erik or me much of the time. (Can't complain about holding such a sweet little thing!) On our last day she got more bold and waded a little more on her own. 
Poppy enjoyed walking across the floating lily pads.
It was fun to watch Raphael grow more confident in the water over the days we were there. 
The highlight for Peregrine was playing Magiquest, an interactive game that took him all over the lodge. The wands have a computer chip in them that keeps track of their progress, opens treasure chests, activates clues, etc. At the very end of our time there he was able to fight the dragon, which was awfully exciting. 
Our room was complete with a "Kid Kabin", a small extra room with a bunk and a daybed, perfect for our three big kids. We loved having the separation of space and of course they loved having a place to settle in and call their own.
Poppy the little wolf pup looking out her "Kabin" window. 
Raphi got the little daybed, complete with some raccoons popping in the window. (If you're in a kabin, maybe they're rakkoons? Intentional misspelling drives me nuts. If only there were Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the pillows...) 
My very tired little Man-Cub smiling his picture "sile". I love this guy.
    The kids are still talking about our time at Great Wolf Lodge. It is, apparently, the best vacation we've ever had. Yep, better than climbing Mayan pyramids in Mexico, cooler than visiting the Grand Canyon, and more exciting than snorkeling in tropical waters. Who knew such fun was so close at hand? I hope we'll be able to return again someday. We'll remember it fondly for a long time as a very special and fun time for our family. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Fun at OMSI

    On our recent trip we spent a fun afternoon at OMSI. An inexpensive membership to a museum where we live gets us free admission, so we don't feel the need to "make a day" of going there. Instead, we can enjoy a couple hours of play when we're in Portland without having to see everything. This time we headed straight for the hands-on hall to let the kids play and explore. They had a wonderful time and can't wait to go back. I firmly believe that children learn best by playing and doing things, and so this, as much as reading and studying, is an essential part of their education. 

Raphael was captivated in "the ball room". There are hundreds of lightweight balls,  and air blowing through tubes and pipes makes for lots of fun. Here he was delighted at watching the ball "float" on top of an air current. 
By putting a ball inside the cone and pulling down on the stretchy material,  Erik launched them high into the air. Both Raphael and Pearl loved this.
Peregrine spent a long time working on building contraptions and ball launchers.
Poppy was equally in awe of the floating ball!
Peregrine got to help launch the fog cannon.
Fog ring heading straight for Poppy!
Boat building.
Poppy and the Van de Graaf generator. I think this is my favorite picture from our trip.
Playing with electricity inside a tube.
Little Pearl playing with gears. 
Peregrine working the crane at the docks.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Starvation Creek


    Last week we took a little road trip north to Washington, then drove up the Columbia Gorge to visit with friends in The Dalles and Hood River before finishing up with some fun in Portland. Driving up the Gorge, I was stunned at its beauty. I've driven it many times, but seemed to have forgotten just how lovely it is. Everything is in its springtime green, cliffs and hills rise dramatically along the great Columbia, and waterfalls tumble and rush down to meet the river. Altogether lovely. As we made our way up I-84, we stopped for a rest and snack at Starvation Creek.  It was a perfect little break on our journey. 

    Starvation Creek was originally called "Starvout Creek" and took its name from a train that was stuck here for three weeks in 1884. "... The Pacific Express train carrying 148 passengers and crew rolled out of The Dalles heading west on schedule to arrive in Portland later that day, December 18, 1884. Along the way a blizzard trapped the train between two avalanches with 25 foot high snow drifts. A relief party finally reached them on Christmas Day by foot. Among those helping the hungry passengers was "one hog who had the misfortune of being in Hood River at the time." A week later the train was able to retreat to The Dalles. It finally reached Portland three weeks late on January 7, 1885. ..." [Oregon State Archives Website, March 2004] In spite of its grizzly name, everyone aboard survived the ordeal.

This sign was surely designed to be climbed, right? Apparently the highway was constructed by "honor men", convicts who were unchained and put to work building the road.

One of my favorite subjects - Erik taking pictures. 
This is Oregon. Green, mossy, cool, and lovely. I love the forest, and feel right at home amidst all these growing things.
Oh, and then there was this little beauty, 186 feet of unexpected falling water.  In the words of my dear Gramps, "I never met a waterfall I didn't like." He would have liked this one, too. 
Looking up! 
And there were some little cuties running around too. 
Fairies live in the roots of this tree. We're just sure of it. 
The perfect place to sit and play, amongst the mossy "feet" of an old tree. 
And one more, my Peregrine boy. Who is getting altogether too big, I might add.