About Us

There are four of Them: three girls and one boy, little stair-steps all. There are two of Us: best friends, co-parents and truly in love. The Six of us have epic adventures full of laughter and love, occasionally containing tears, but always together.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thud...Back to Earth

Our last week in Oregon was magical. We had a day or two at the house and then we took off on a whirlwind vacation in our vacation. First we headed to the coast for our yurt camping. It was AWESOME! The yurts were great (warm and cozy) and the kids had an absolute blast. They spent the first hour we were there running back and forth, in and out, of the two yurts we had reserved. Then we cooked dinner over the fire (hot dogs....yummy!) and made smores. The campground was great and it was a wonderful time. We spent Friday caching and stopping by beaches along the way. It wasn't a *perfect* beach day, but we had a great time anyway. Saturday we got up and explored an aquarium and then headed to Hilary and Don's place. They took us to an amazing playground, fed us delicious pasta salad and bread, and we all laughed, and chatted and had a great time together. Sunday we hit the zoo and spent another great day enjoying each other and the zoo. It was all so much fun, it's hard to remember too many specifics. Suffice to say it was marvelous and I was sad, in many ways, to come home.

We flew home on Tuesday night and got in way, way late. The kids did great traveling; they are such professionals. We did let them run around (okay, and be loud and crazy) at the airport in Chicago and we had picked a gate where people were waiting for a plane that wasn't ours. We did get quite a few looks and I am sure that all those people breathed a huge sigh of relief when we didn't get on the plane with them. When we got home everyone was wired and we ran around the house a bit and then hit the sack.

Wednesday I noticed that Magellan wasn't doing very well. He's been slightly sick for a little while, but he seemed like he was in very bad shape. We took him to the vet; he had fluid in his abdominal cavity and was having congestive heart failure. We took him home and tried to make him comfortable. We tried to give him as much peace and quiet as we could (and as much love as he seemed he could bear) and then this evening Adam took him to the vet, where they put him to sleep. The kids have had tons of questions and some tears. But I don't think they really understand because the conversations have mostly gone like this:

Elie - "I'm sad that Magellan is dying."
Isaac - "Me, too."
Elie - "Why does he have to die?"
Me - "Because he is old and his heart is tired and it isn't working like it should anymore. So he is dying."
Elie - "I wish he didn't have to die."
Me - "Me too, Elie."
Elie - "But we should be happy that he had such a long life and that we took such good care of him. And we still have Mac and Dusti with us."
Isaac - "And when Mac and Dusti die, we can get a dog!!"

They all had a chance to say goodbye. And I know they don't understand. And I know more questions are to come. But for now I'm just going to say goodnight to our furry explorer and wish him an eternity filled with people to pet him while he nibbles on their chins, catnip and salmon to eat and as much paper and stickers to chew as he wants.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oregon Adventures

I can hardly believe that we've been here two weeks already. Time has flown by; I know we've been busy, but it still seems unbelieveably fast. We've been to the ocean twice and once to the county fair, picked blackberries, made blackberry and blueberry jam, hiked, played, eaten and generally had a wonderful and relaxing time. My sister and her fiancee have been able to come down both weekends and my mom has been able to have lots of time off (even more than we first anticipated!).

The county fair was going on the first weekend we were here. We went in the early afternoon, so it wasn't at all crowded. There were farm animals and quilts, preserves and flowers, art and so many cool things to see. We got to pet a shetland pony and a full sized horse. There were cows, sheep, miniature goats, chickens with feathery feet and others with feathers covering their faces, tiny bunnies and bunnies with huge ears, there were even pigs that had been born the day before AT the fair; it was all interesting and completely enthralling. The kids loved the idea that other kids were responsible for raising, creating and taking care of most of what we saw. 4-H is definitely alive and well and it was really fun to share with the kids.

Here in southern Oregon, there are tons and tons of amazing hikes to waterfalls. The really nice thing is that many of them are short, a mile or less and not too strenuous. The hikes are gorgeous through forested areas with huge trees, ferns and along running water. At the end we get to see beautiful waterfalls, with assorted wildlife, and the bonus of getting to play in the water! Both times we hiked with my parents and my sister and her intended. Every kid got plenty of attention and the adults all got to be entertained by their non-stop narration and commentary. The first weekend we went to a waterfall that empties into a huge, very deep swiming hole, which then empties into another waterfall. Isaac had good company in Uncle Don regarding his rock throwing compulsion. The two of them stood and threw rocks of all sizes, for a very long time. Physics is amazing, is it not? The second hike we did last weekend and was to a waterfall that empties into a large shallow pool. It is shallow enough that I can walk, without getting soaked, to where the water falls down and touch it. GranEde and I took each kid out to the water and put them in! They all had a blast and they all were soaked when we were done; no matter, we were hiking to escape the hundred degree heat that hit Southern Oregon at the end of last week.

And we've had the opportunity to go to one of my all time favorite locations, the beach, not only once but TWICE!! Yippee. The first time we went the weather was beautiful, hardly any wind and sunny and warm. Unfortunately, when we went on Sunday the weather was cold, windy and rainy. Even the cold rainy day was tons of fun, though. Things are just better at the ocean. The kids had a blast and they really enjoyed playing in the water on the first day. They all got soaked, but Talia took the prize by being the only one to get swamped by a wave while not paying attention. GranEde was right there, though, and scooped her up out of the water. We all had a great time finding shells and meandering through the waves. On the cold day, we didn't stay long at the water, we had just gotten on the beach when it started to rain. So we drove to a nearby lighthouse. There we got to do something you can only do two places in the world (Brazil and Oregon) and that is: stick your head into a Fresnel Lens! The lighthouse is still operational and so we all got to go up the ladder and put our head inside the lens. Way cool. We did some geocaches to round out the day!

We've also been able to take advantage of some of the local agriculture. We spent one morning picking blackberries. I was quite concerned that they would have big brambles, so I made the kids wear long sleeves, long pants, socks and tennis shoes. Turns out, these bushes have been bred to have NO thorns. In addition, we picked tons of marvelous tasty blackberries, which we then made into jam. My sister brought down some blueberries from her local agriculture and we had a jamtastic time, making jamlicious jam.

Dadam joins us today, which we are all excited about. And this weekend we'll take another ocean adventure, where we will sleep in a yurt, go get delicious food, go to my sister and her intended's house and go to an aquarium! More fun for all!!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One Mom, Four Kids, A Plane Across The Country

After being home from Colorado for one month (and even taking a trip to Pittsburgh during that time), the kids and I are in Oregon to visit my parents, sister and her fiancee, for three weeks. It is lovely to come out here and spend time with them. They have a huge, beautiful house, with tons of room for us all and for the kids to run around and explore. My Dad cooks during the week, spoiling me with a break from that sort of household responsibility. We go see my Mom everday for lunch and she tries to take as much time of as they will let her from her job. We do tons of fun activities and outings and cook and just try to enjoy life together.

But of course, first things first, I have to get to Oregon from the opposite coast. Dadam will eventually join us, but he cannot take 3 weeks off work. This means, that I, acting as EveryParent have to, ahem-get to, take our four beautiful children on a cross country airplane trip all.by.my.self.

I have never had them all four, by myself, on a plane before this trip. I've done three, but I hadn't done four. Now I have. It really was okay. The kids are seasoned travelers and they know how to entertain themselves, for the most part. We did have a delay in Chicago, which ended up being three hours, one of which was spent sitting on the plane in the blazing hot. But even that we survived. And went on to survive the subsequent four hour plane ride to arrive in Portland.

On the plane The Bigs love listening to the music. Consequently, the first thing they do, is sit down and fish out the headphones from the pocket in front of them. Subsequently we have a whole routine of "my headphones don't work" and "is this on?" that takes somewhere from five to twenty minutes to sort out. During that time several of the Bigs will blast their own eardrums when they finally find a station that is playing and realize (quickly) that they've managed to turn up the volume all the way. One of The Bigs will actually have a set of headphones that does not work, forcing me, EveryParent who happens to have her hands full of nursing Leila, to talk them through quickly exchanging said non-working headphones for a pair of working headphones from a seat pocket that does not belong to our ticketed seats. And several times one, or all, of The Bigs will attempt to talk to me or each other, with their headphones on; meaning that they will yell at each other, or me, because they can't hear themselves with their headphones on.

Another thing that it is important for The Bigs to check on is if the plane is still moving and still moving forward. I had no idea how to explain why it can be difficult to tell we were moving while we were flying. Or explain why it sometimes felt like we were moving backwards. Or to explain that if we weren't moving forward, we'd be falling out of the sky, which would feel much different and be really, really scary.

I'm happy that this trip will be my final one with a lap baby. Lap babies are not difficult until they become mobile. Then they are hell. All Leila wanted to do was get down and walk. She especially wanted to do this when the seatbelt sign was on, say, during take off and landing. At the end she wasn't even distractable with nursing, which is a big deal for her.

All in all, I suppose it went well. We didn't piss anyone off and I got lots of compliments on how well behaved the kids were. There was a minimum of wailing and gnashing of teeth. And now we're here. On vacation and having a great time!!