Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Back from vacation

I'm back from an 8 day girls' trip with my mom and sister.  This is by far the longest I have been away from my boys, and the first time I've been away from Charlotte for more than 2 nights. We had a great time, but it was hard for me to be away from my family for that long! I found that I don't sleep well when I'm away from my kids- this has been true ever since the boys were born.  Any time I'm gone for a night I think, here's my chance to rest and sleep in! and instead I'm up all night with anxiety.  Since I've been home I've slept just fine, no problem- nothing makes me happier than being home with my family around me.

We started by flying from Philadelphia to Seattle on Saturday the 11th.  Elana was taking the train up from DC after having returned from Angola the day before.  She texted me during the day to say she wasn't feeling well and thought she was coming down with something.  We hoped it was just a cold, but she deteriorated over the course of our flight and said, "I've never felt worse in my life!" Oh my goodness, we were just glad no one on the plane knew she had just returned from Africa, because all the fear of E B O L A would have led her getting quarantined and our trip ruined (I should add that there was NO question of whether she had it- there are no cases in Angola and she had no contact with anyone. We aren't irresponsible and would not have risked other people's lives!).

Saturday after we landed (at 9 Pacific time) we rented a car and I drove to Anacortes, WA, where we would get the ferry to Orcas Island in the morning.  Elana felt awful on Sunday, and we weighed our options- stay in Anacortes and try to find urgent care, or go to Orcas and try to find urgent care?  We decided to get on the ferry.
(all of the pictures on this post are un-edited and have no filter)
sunrise from the ferry
It was a fast ride to the island, and then we began looking for food and medical care.  Fortunately, people on the island are very nice, and the woman running the inn where we stayed gave Elana her doctor's number, and she immediately responded and saw Elana at 10 on a Sunday morning!  She was then diagnosed with strep throat and given antibiotics- thank goodness it was an easy cure.

Orcas was beautiful.  We stayed at an inn with farm animals, including chickens whose eggs we ate for breakfast.  The inn had a huge vegetable garden, and we were allowed to eat whatever we wanted from the garden.  Delicious!  In my next life, I will be a gardener.  

Everything I did, all I could think about was how much fun my kids would have- how much they would love the farm animals, picking their own vegetables, eating treats from the bakeries.
The view from our inn on Orcas
While Elana rested on Sunday, I went for a run- 4 miles.  There were some beautiful views, of course.
glimpse from my run
Sunday night we went to dinner at an inn in Doe Bay.  The food was delicious!  It was also the Orcas Island Film Festival, so there were many pretentious, arty types there, and a viewing of some film shorts.  Not really my scene.  In the bathroom at the restaurant, there was a box next to the toilet labeled "For Safety"- where they keep condoms!  It makes sense... a big bar, and next to the restaurant are clothing optional soaking tubs... and a good 10 miles from the nearest store... so we can draw our own conclusions.

Fortunately Elana was healed by Monday, and we went for a 4 mile hike on the bigger mountain on the island.  It was a pretty tough hike, but felt good- I haven't hiked in YEARS.
A hike in the forest
That night, we made dinner in our room at the inn- all food we found in the garden at our inn. What healthy living!

Tuesday we went for another hike before we took the ferry out of town.  This hike was much easier- my mom kept up with us.  
panoramic from Turtleback Mountain
After our hike, we got on the ferry back to the mainland, and started driving to Astoria, OR.  The ride felt like it took forever!  We were so impatient to get there.  We stayed in a house that my mom rented through Air BnB, and it was an adorable old house up the hill from the downtown of Astoria.  We went to dinner at a place called Baked Alaska, and it was also good.  A lot of very good food on the trip, no surprise.

Wednesday morning was rainy, and Elana was in a foul mood.  After breakfast in the pouring rain, the sky cleared and Elana and I ended up going for a jog in Astoria by the river.
Fishing boats on the river in Astoria
Then, back in the car to get to Oregon wine country.  
sun shower in wine country
 We started tasting wine as soon as we could.  We went to a winery near our inn in Dundee, OR, and this super cute guy was working there, and started flirting with us.  Elana was clueless about it!  I tried to kind of pave the way for her, but she didn't take the bait.  I was clearly far more invested in her having a vacation fling than she was!  We had yet another excellent dinner at the Dundee Bistro that night.

On Thursday we went to downtown McMinnville and looked around.  Then, to the Aerospace Museum (I forget what it's called!) in Evergreen, OR.  They have Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose in there, so we got to check it out, and look at all the other planes they have there- it was too early to taste wine!  After the museum, which also had a water park that I didn't get to use, we went to lunch at a market in Dundee.  This was memorable because while we were at lunch, I made fun of my mom and dad and got Elana to laugh so hard her water went up her nose- this is my special skill, which I honed as a teenager.  It was nice to know I still have that talent!

More wine tasting, then into the car to drive into Portland.  I wanted sushi for dinner, so we went out to sushi a few blocks from our rented house, and then went for a long walk.  On our walk, we stumbled upon a food truck hangout, with every type of food I could imagine! I was stunned- something like that is beyond my imagination.
Elana and Mom at food truck heaven
 Friday, Elana and I went for a run, and then we all went into Portland to explore.  Of course it started to rain, and we headed home.  Our cousins from California drove up through Eugene, OR to join us.  It was great having a rented house, because we had space to hang out, cook, and eat.
Wine and cheese before dinner
 We got to spend the day Saturday with our cousins.  Elana and I went on yet another run! We met our cousins in town and got Stumptown coffee and Blue Star donuts, then walked up to the farmers' market.  Too bad we weren't doing any more cooking, because the food looked amazing!
the city of Portland from one of its many bridges
with my very tall cousin, Kyle
We walked so much that my mom started to complain- too much walking.  We had dinner reservations on Saturday night (more food!), and we were all grumpy- so we came home and took a time out to have some quiet.
Mom chewing on a bone

We had a great time with our cousins- I managed to find a new pair of jeans and gifts for my boys and Eric.  It was a fun way to end the trip, especially since I think we were getting tired of each others' company.  We had many moments where we laughed so hard we couldn't stand up, and a few moments where we were ready to bite each others' heads off.  The trip was full of delicious food, amazing views, and good company.

On Sunday, I was ready to come home.  I missed everyone back home desperately, and couldn't wait to see them.  I didn't get home til 1 am Monday morning, but I came back to a clean house, happy and healthy children, and a handsome husband.  Nothing makes a husband more attractive than taking care of all the household chores!  I'm still happy to be home, and looking forward to spending the full weekend with my sweet angels.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Asher: 4.5 years old

Dressed as a knight for a birthday party
My Bear. I think that he might be my tough one.  He can be so wonderful- extremely loving and affectionate, helpful and thoughtful, sweet and caring.  But somewhere in there is a little devious streak... He thinks up ways to get in trouble, and mostly shows very little remorse for his wrongdoing.  Fortunately he seems to be about 95% sweet and 5% spice, but that 5% makes me nervous!
With a mouth full of cookie at Trader Joe's
Asher is currently interested in jewelry.  And money.  He continues his hoarding- he opened up a box of his "treasures" last night and I found 2 rusty tin can lids! He let me throw them out, but I can't believe that he picked up garbage and neither Eric nor I noticed.  Asher has such an eye for shiny things.  And for money.  At the zoo the other week, he found a $5 bill on the ground! I had not even noticed it. What an eye!

Asher is an excellent big brother to Charlotte. He plays with her, holds her hand when we walk somewhere, and checks up on her.  He'll read to her, and she loves being read to. He has a very cute baby-voice he uses when he talks to her, and I love to hear it. He also tries to parent Benjamin by parroting back to him whatever we've already said, which makes Benjamin say, "Asher! You're not a boss!"
Fruitaphobia at the Aquarium
He's continuing to get increasingly picky about food.  He has cut out many of his former favorite foods (go-gurts, string cheese, applesauce), and has reactions to foods he has decided he doesn't like.  He'll leave the table when someone is eating something he doesn't like, and once hid in the bathroom when Eric ate a banana.  We had our intake for occupational therapy for him, and I am hopeful that they will help him get back to eating a variety of foods.  Right now he mostly eats a variety of carbs, and vegetables.  I love that he loves vegetables, but lunches are pretty difficult to pack for him!  Everyday, his lunch box weighs half what Benjamin's does.
going to school in his Patriots shirt
Asher enjoys drawing, collecting "treasures," and is very social.  He makes a new friend wherever we go, and from the sounds of things, leaves people talking.  He is quick to warm up to new kids and is always ready to play and meet new people. He is very physically capable- strong and a fast runner.  He hasn't committed to a sport or joining a team of any kind, and I won't force him to, but I think he would be good at a sport if he chose to play!  At school, he got an award for hand washing, making his mommy and Papa Nick very proud.

Daddy gave Asher a loft bed- he was promised one 9 months ago when he potty trained, and now it is here.  The first morning he was in it, he leaned out and got his sweet face chopped by the ceiling fan!
a band-aid makes it better
That afternoon, Daddy sawed a foot off each leg of the bed to prevent any future fan injuries.

Asher is extremely helpful at home- he loves to help unload the dishwasher, put away laundry, empty the trash cans, and sometimes help with cooking.  He seems so grown up when he does things like that- and in the next minute, he will climb into my lap for a big, long snuggle. The other day he promised he would love me forever and never leave me.  I'm happy to hear that.  I promised I would love him everyday, no matter what he does.