Monday, July 27

Cooling Off

It is currently 100 degrees, and that is very hot for our part of the country! We are mostly staying indoors, but the kids wanted to try splashing for a while to help them cool off.

I think they have long since outgrown this wading pool, but it still holds water so I can't bring myself to buy a new and bigger one yet.


We missed berry picking last summer and we missed strawberries again this year (Oregon's strawberry season is only about two weeks long!), but I was not going to miss blueberries! Blueberries are among my kids' favorite berries, and they are the easiest ones to pick by far. I was surprised how well the kids did today too. They have really gotten better in the last two years. We had no complaining about the heat and they actually picked most of the time instead of playing!

We only picked for an hour this morning and got about six pounds. We came home, washed and dried them, then flash froze them before putting them into a gallon ziplock plastic bag for later.

I think we will go back later this week or maybe next and pick some more for jam and/or a pie as well as more for the freezer. I love having them on hand in the middle of winter to scoop out and put in muffins or pancakes or whatever might be enhanced by some blueberries!

Sunday, July 26

Six-Year Checkup

We have been trying to get Abigail into the University of Washington's fetal alcohol clinic, and we were recently accepted. However, we were told the wait for the initial assesment is five months to a year. Not the news we were wanting to hear. They did recommend a neurdevelopmental clinic at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) right here in Portland though.

So I made an appointment with our pediatrician to get Abby's six-year well-child exam and to discuss some things with him. Abby loves our pediatrician, Dr. Dean Moshofsky, and is always excited to go see him. We love him too. He never makes us feel rushed, he listens, and best of all, he is a believer too. She was an excellent patient as usual and the exam when quickly. She is 92 percentile in height and 74 in weight!

Dr. Moshofsky agreed that OHSU has a great program and said he will start the referral process, which apparently is a bit onerous. We will hopefully be able to get in there sometime this fall.

Saturday, July 25

Picking Up the Prize

My husband has been voicing his desire to go to the airshow this year, but I always hate to pay the $50 that it costs for our family to get in, not to mention it's always so hot that it seems like you can fry an egg on the tarmac. So the last time he mentioned going, I told him if he could win tickets then I would be happy to go!

He took me at my word and won tickets last Thursday! He also won a DVD, Tillamook ice cream and Crater Lake Root Beer. We went to pick up the prize at the radio station on Friday, and the kids thought it was kind of neat to see the recording booths and all the controls.

As a bonus, Abby found .45 in the cushions of the chair she sat down in momentarily! She is quite the treasure finder.

Tuesday, July 21

Through Abby's Eyes

Abby gets a terrific kick out of living, so whatever we do or wherever we go she is always enthusiastic about it! She is such a joy and it's so fun to see life through her eyes (which I am working on doing more and more).

She loved the Oregon Caves and hiking the trails there. Ryan is kind of a plodder and complains along the way that he's getting tired or hungry or whatever, but Abby just goes and goes...until she hits a wall, and then she's done. She doesn't give any warning really, she just all of the sudden can't go any further and starts to cry and become almost hysterical. It's kind of comical now that we've seen it and know how to handle it better. Anyway, she did pretty well on our hike until the very end when she hit her wall, but thankfully we were almost done and seeing the van got her over the hump and stopped the meltdown.

The Great Cats tour was right up Abby's alley. She adores animals, and seeing these fantastic wild cats so close was very exciting for her. The tour was a little long, even for her, but she only mentioned once that she was tired of standing. I could tell she was dying to get right up to the cage and pet one of those big kitties! Thankfully she was able to control that impulse, and we left the compound with all fingers and hands intact!

Not all of the cages had this retaining fence to keep you away from the cage. Some just had a blue spray-painted line on the ground, and I was a little nervous about how well Abby would stay back and kept a close eye on her.

She was awed by the Redwoods and the elk and the ferns and the creek that ran beside our campsite. She made friends with the Stellers Jays and the chipmunks and couldn't keep her hands off the banana slugs!

She became attached to "Sammy" a Stellars Jay we saw at the Ladybird Johnson Grove, and every jay she saw thereafter she was sure was Sammy. At one point the jay was getting perilously close to stealing our dinner right off the grill and Daddy was chucking things at it to shoo it away. When the jay left for a time, she became almost hysterical that her "baby boy" was gone and she'd never see him again!

Meet Jimmy, the banana slug, who was about six inches long!

Abby loves her brother so much and is always telling him so, much to his chagrin. She can play by herself if she has to, but she would much rather play with Ryan. They spent lots of time having adventures in the bushes during the times we were at our campsite.

The beach, well, she loves that too! She loves tidepooling and is excellent at finding creatures the rest of us miss, she loves the feel of the sand and the water, she loves digging up sand crabs and digging trenches, she loves running through the waves and splashing about.

I think we found an excellent career path for Abigail. She would make an excellent Ranger! She loves the outdoors and learning about wildlife and plants, she isn't afraid of the bugs and slugs and animals, and she loves people and interacting with them. Watching the Rangers give their talks and lead us on hikes, I could totally see Abby doing that one day. We'll see what the Lord has in mind for her, but I am tucking away that small insight for some day in the future.

On one of our first hikes the ranger pointed out the oxalis growing prolifically on the forest floor and encouraged everyone to try tasting it. Once Abby found out it was edible, we couldn't keep her from chewing on the stuff for the rest of our time in the redwoods! Every time we turned around she had a sprig of it sticking out of her mouth.

We definitely have issues with Abby regarding her impulsivity and short attention span and other issues due to her FASD, but we are so thankful that she is part of our family. She brings a vibrancy and joy to our lives that we would sorely be missing without her!

Monday, July 20

Ryan's Perspective

Sometimes I kind of miss having a separate blog for each of the children, so I decided to do an individual post for each of them about our trip to the Redwoods. They are two completely different personalities and temperaments, and they each approach life from opposite ends of the spectrum.

Ryan is not really a nature lover. Though he loves camping and the adventure of it, he doesn't have the appreciation for the wildlife and plantlife that the rest of us do. Still he does like seeing new things and playing outdoors, and he was so excited for our trip which we have been planning for a year!

Ryan enjoyed the cave tour, but he wasn't too enthused about hiking the trail to the top of the mountain until we told him he would get a button for completing it. He's a bit competitive, that boy.

He tolerated our hike through Ladybird Johnson Grove, but mostly because we had told him that they filmed Return of the Jedi in the Redwood forest. So every stick he found was a light saber (which is fairly typical for him anyway) and he fought his way through the forest. He gathered new light sabers at the beach and on each hike we took, building up quite a collection by the end of our stay.

The highlight of the vacation for Ryan was the day at the beach. We were celebrating Ryan's Day (anniversary of when we finalized his adoption) during our camping trip, and he asked to spend the day at the beach. He adores the beach, and he had a blast playing in the water and sand, digging and rolling around to his heart's content.

The only negative to his day at the beach was one that made Mommy's knees shake. I had just returned from getting snacks from the van when my hubby pointed to a very large log beached on the shore and informed me that Ryan had been hit by it when it was floating in the waves. My husband couldn't even lift it because it was so heavy! He seriously could have been killed by that log rolling over him, so we are so grateful that all he received were a couple of scratches. It was after the fact, but still my knees started shaking just thinking about how badly he could have been hurt.

Ryan was a brave boy (not a typical trait for him!) and didn't make a big deal out of his injury, but he was still shook up enough that he decided to take a break from the surf for a while and play in the sand a bit.

Ryan desperately wanted to find a friend at the campground, but since we were not at the site very often and we had an awesome site with lots of privacy, he never did get to meet any little boys to play with. Thankfully, he and his sister got along quite well most of the time and enjoyed exploring and playing together.

Sunday, July 19

Camping at Prairie Creek

We took almost 600 pictures on our recent trip, so even though there are a lot of pictures in this post, believe me when I say it was hard to narrow it down even this much!

We spent almost no time at our campsite this camping trip (good thing too since the mosquitoes were thick!) since we were either hiking or at the beach or going to campfire talks or fishing or just driving around exploring the area. We about walked our kids' feet off, I think. The first big hike we did was the Ladybird Johnson Grove, which was about 2.5 miles roundtrip. We went on a ranger-guided hike though so it took much longer than it normally would have, but we learned so much from Ranger Lowell that I was glad we decided to do that.

The next day we spent at the beach, which was freezing cold and foggy for the first few hours. Finally, between 1:30 and 2:00 the fog lifted and we saw what a gorgeous beach we were on! We spent a short amount of time tidepooling. We wanted to do more, but we missed low tide and didn't get to do too much before we were getting pushed ashore by the incoming water.

Both kids spent hours in the water despite how cold it was. Even when the fog lifted and the sun came out, the temperature was still relatively cool. They wanted Mom and Dad to join them, but there was no way I was going to get into that water! I enjoyed the day from the comfort of my blanket on the beach, reading a book or snapping pictures of the kids at play.

After the beach we drove around a little bit and did a couple of geocaches before going back to our campsite to have showers and make dinner. The next morning Daddy worked with the kids on some of their Junior Ranger projects while I got breakfast. Then we headed out to a freshwater lagoon for what we hoped would be a day of fishing. Unfortunately, the lagoon wasn't fishing well and hubby discovered his large reel for surf fishing managed to get broken somewhere during our trip so fishing the ocean was out.

We let the kids play a bit more at the beach and then went to the visitor's center to have the kids turn in the work they did to get their Junior Ranger badges. They promised to take care of nature and had their books checked, turned in the bag of trash they had picked up and then got their new patches and buttons!

Next we decided to drive around a little and see some of the sights. We did some more geocaching and then ended up at the Trees of Mystery where the kids were delighted to see Paul Bunyan and his sidekick Babe!

Our last full day in the redwoods was spent hiking Prairie Creek and the surrounding trails near the campground. The kids did their Junior Ranger program in the morning, then we had lunch, and then went on a ranger-guided hike in the early afternoon. It was my favorite hike of the trip! The trees are just spectacularly big and the forest is so quiet and peaceful (due in part to lack of birds which is due to lack of insects in the Redwoods).

The ranger took us as far as Big Tree, and then after a snack and short rest, we hiked back to the campground via another trail. I am disappointed in the pictures we took during our hikes. I guess I didn't realize how little light there really is in there, and most of our pictures are slightly blurry.

While I began packing up our camping gear the next morning, Daddy took the kids to the morning Junior Ranger program. The previous day's ranger was not the friendliest and not very good with kids, but my husband said this day's ranger made up for it! She was fantastic with the kids, and they had a great time learning about the life cycle of a Redwood.

After the program, we quickly finished packing up our gear and began our long drive home. Hubby had talked to a ranger who recommended taking a side road home through the Jedediah Smith Redwoods, and I'm so glad we did. It was so worth the extra time seeing more of the old growth Redwoods and driving right next to them, sometimes so close only one car can fit at a time.

We didn't get home till after 10:00 that evening, but we all agreed that our first long camping trip went very well and we will definitely be doing it again next year. We are already trying to decide where to go next!


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