t h e m a y f i l e s is foremost a family blog, chronicling everyday life. Life including natural, healthy eating (with recipes thrown in at random), home educating (with ideas popping up sporadically), an attempt to homestead on .2 acres (with very meager yields), raising 3 of 4 children with a rare genetic disorder, and lots of highly personal family triumphs and failures. You may also find an eclectic array of musings on politics, exercise, sewing, emergency preparedness, backyard chickens, and religion. This blog isn't a campaign to glorify anyone or anything. Just simply a record.

9.25.2011

Rocket Boy

This little tyke lying in bed next to me just overheard the following in a phone conversation between Brent and his Mom:

"Oh, he's good. He is right here next to me....we have a whole crew of snuggle bugs."

Emmett pops up.

"No Dad! I'm not a snuggle bug. I am Rocket Boy!"

Btw...I love my new Blogger app. I can lay in bed, snap a photo, and blog from my iPhone. Beautiful. Technology is amazing.

I know. I am a huge sucker. He still sleeps with his nukie.

9.24.2011

Gone

How in the world can I keep up? Yesterday I made over 40 cookies...today this is what's left:

9.23.2011

Worms: Faster Than They Look

I did sanitize the kitchen table.  These guys could move!

It is great this year to get back into the Science swing of things.  I purchased several kits off the internet to supplement our curriculum.   Emmett was fascinated by this one as we investigated and observed different items to determine if they were alive.

He looks passively content in the photo above.  Don't be fooled!  The majority of this activity he was sitting on the kitchen table peering intently into his petrie dish, demanding his turn with the magnifying glass and probe.  The earthworms gave him pause.


We gently probed with sticks, used our magnifying glasses to observe poly-crystals, brine shrimp eggs, mung beans, a sponge, a carrot, a top, glass beads, and, of course, earthworms.

This particular "Science in a Nutshell" kit includes 9 different experiments.  It is entitled "Is it Alive?"

I bought it from their website.

9.22.2011

Reverse Evolution

video

I'm not sure what kind of house we are running around here, but The Honey is rewinding the Evolutionary clock.

This girl has the primate gait mastered!

Brent tends to boast to our friends, relative and neighbors how advanced Berkeley is for a six month old.  She scoots, cruises and even babbles a bit!



I think it is a just a slip of the tongue he happens to say 6 and not 16 months...  mischievous grin...

9.20.2011

Early Homeschool Curriculum Reviews

I read a passionate thread from the local newspaper on homeschooling versus public schooling.  I was surprised at the rancor it aroused.  Lively discussion fuels me.  It always has.  My dad knew that from the time I was a little girl.  He knew just the right things to say to really get me going.  Usually it had some anti-feminist undertones.  It makes me smile to think of the sparks he could illicit from me.  Passionate people expressing their ideas forces me to rethink and evaluate what I am doing and why.  Self-reflection is never over-rated.  

Now...the reason I wrote this post:

Curriculum Updates

With a month into the school year, here are my thoughts on some of our new programs and the old!


Spanish Rosetta Stone

So far so good.  This program was purchased by the charter school Ellery is enrolled in for Independent learning.  The lessons are entirely done at the computer.  What I love is there is no English.  It is an immersion type program, using pictures, reading and speaking.  Ellery receives immediate feedback and loves trying to beat her score until she finally masters the level.  Still up for review is the pronunciation aspect of this program.   The computer does not seem to replace the need for a speaker listening and correcting.  I think for spoken fluency we will need a tutor.  



 Looking good as well.  It is a nice slow start.  Ellery says it is her favorite language.  She is almost finishing learning the Latin phonograms.  It is clear to me why their English phonetics should be solid before beginning because many familiar vowel combinations make unfamiliar sounds.  An older child may find it boring, but it is a perfect quick 15 minutes.  She is almost through the first level already.  I anticipate as she moves into vocabulary she will slow considerably.
















Singapore Math 

This has been interesting.  It is very different than Saxon and Shiller.  I love the mental math component of it.  I don't think it is a "stand alone" program.  I need to supplement or it feels too "workbooky" for our preferences.  I add in Shiller and Saxon and lots of games, when we start to feel bored.  One thing I have done this year is start having the children build little math composition books.  Last year all our notes just were done on random paper.  This year we work out our problems, do samples all in a composition book.  This has been a great addition.  Using the placement tests, I put Callista in level 1B and Ellery in 2A.  That puts Callista a little ahead, and Ellery slightly behind, the advanced international/private school pacing.  Both seem a bit easy, but are building in difficulty level quickly.

We still do lots of drill worksheets from Saxon to increase basic fact fluency.



This is Wanda Sanseri's updated, "at home" version of Romalda Spalding's Writing Road to Reading.   The program follows WRTR closely, almost identically.  However, it removes the need for the expensive teacher's edition for each grade.  Sanseri provides many supplemental enrichment activities to reinforce spelling.  It is a much better fit for the home.  I'm not certain if you need the background given in WRTR to make this program work, or if it is fine as a stand alone.  This is a much better fit for teaching in the home.  Sample sentences are provided for each word, including quotations drawn from the Bible and prominent historical and literary figures.  They are excellent conversational spearheads.  I would go with the entire teacher core kit.  It is $95 but it will last you at least 5 years of spelling for each child.  No other spelling or phonics instruction will be needed.  

  

Susan Wise Bauer's series is still a family favorite.  We got a little behind and are just finishing the last few chapters in the first book.  In a couple weeks we will begin the Middle Ages.  I recommend the activity book.  It is a great resource for additional reading, activities, maps, and coloring pages.  


Our other programs are a little too fresh to put a word out on yet.  I will let you know.

9.18.2011

Top of Utah Marathon Race Report


Courtesy of jolesch photography.  Their pictures are way too expensive!


Top of Utah Race Report
Runners high. Eleven and 3:16. Two words and two numbers.  The summations of my race.  Runners high, even that seems not to capture the feeling of this race for me.  Saturday night after 26.53 miles(over a third of a mile long on the course according to my Garmin) I was ready for a speed workout on Monday.  
video
Admittedly today, the high has worn off a bit as I hobble down my stairs (not certain yet how to avoid that horrible leg soreness) and I think I will opt for yoga in the morning and not a speed workout.  Here is the nitty gritty of the race....  (I only have post race pics so they will have to provide the photographic interludes)

Holding my Moose Trophy.  Of course none of this is possible without my number one fan.  



All Marathon Eve:

Nerves were racing high.  I felt quite a calm throughout the day compared to the edginess of the previous week.  I pounded my chia seeds, fish oils, oatmeal, and greens.  By evening I was tense.  We got up to my parents at about 4 pm.  The kids were geared up for a "sleep over"  since Marie and her family were staying with us.   At 8:30 we had the kids down and Brent, Peter, Marie and I headed over to the Expo and to pick up our numbers.  I had a bone to pick with the pacers, who were pacing times faster than their PR's.  I chose not to run with them.   


The weather turned ominous at about 10 pm.  With my flash light app, I just kept going over possible pacing strategies.  Ultimately I decided, I wanted to finish strong.  I would come down the canyon at 7:15 pace, and finish the second half with around a 7:25 pace,  not too big of a spread.   All recommendations are to start this course fast because of the downhill in the beginning.  However, I knew I didn't want to run 10 minutes miles the end of my race.  


I was asleep by 11pm.  Thunder and a beating rain at  2:30 am woke me.  I listened on and off for the next 2 hours as it never let up, praying it would at least stay warm.  Please no snow!  

Crack of Dawn: 
My alarm went off at 4:50 am, not too bad of a wake up time.  I was mostly awake as it was.  Brent drove us to the busses.  At 5:20 we hopped on board.  Marie and I both confessed considering mascara but opting out because of the rain.  Oh the vanity.

We listened to some slow old men, talk incessantly about the hundreds of marathons and ultras they had run.  We also spotted two foreigners across from us, and tried to decipher where they were from.  Marie thought France.  My guess was Germany.  Turns out Switzerland.  We decided the woman looked fast.  (More on that later.)  

It was raining softly on the bus, not too much to be concerned about.  We were pleasantly surprised when we stepped out and it seemed quite warm.  We spent the obligatory 30 minutes in line for our moments in the port-a-pottie.  At 10 minutes out we stripped down and threw our bags in the bus.  As if on cue, the heavens opened in a torrential downpour.  


We hid out like human sardines in the tent for a few minutes, and then ventured to the starting line.  The rain had lightened a bit.  I kept probing runners, searching for a fellow 3:15'er.  No luck.  Muskets fired and we were off.  






The First Fourteen:


My luck changed in only the first mile.  I heard three women about 10 feet ahead of me discussing pacing strategies.  I surged up to join them, introduced myself and so we formed a group of four trying to bank a 3:15.  My PR was the slowest of the group, but I didn't feel intimidated.  We all happened to be in different age groups which relieved a bit of the competitive edge.  Heather, as seen in the picture below, turned out to be my most faithful companion.  Of all things, she is a cross country coach.  She has that wonderful running dynamic like Marie.  Positive, fun and very experienced.  This was her 19th marathon, and I think her eighth time running this particular course.  

Nothing beats a great running partner in a marathon.  Heather was 100% positive.
I never would have the same race without her.

We braved the rain and even hail as we cruised down the canyon.  Within a few miles it was clear our pace was going to be around 7:20.  However, I made a decision, I would slow for the companionship.  Running a marathon alone was unpleasant and brutally long.  Ogden sealed that in my memory.  


I felt like I was on a great training run.  We had fun conversation and I rarely even thought about the miles as they just flew past.  Passing the half-way mark, we were soaked through, but buoyant nonetheless.  It was fabulous to see Brent, the children and my mom braving the elements to cheer me on at the mouth of the canyon.

1- 7:23
2- 7:15
3- 7:21
4- 7:25
5- 7:13
6- 7:20
7- 7:21
8- 7:12
9- 7:19
10- 7:25  here it really started coming down...
11- 7:29
12- 7:27  hailing...
13- 7:21
14- 7:16

Miles 15-22:


At this point in the race the course flattens out with several hills.  Our effort picked up, and we tried to pump up all the hills.  At mile 21 an awesome spectator informed us we were 16, 17, 18, and 19th of the women.  Heather and I looked at each other and decided we would finish top 15.  


During these miles I started to feel the same pain in my feet which crippled me in the Ogden Marathon.  Instead of panicking I decided to use my breath and take care of it.  Utilizing my yoga skills, I sent every ounce of breath towards those feet.  Willing the pain to go away.  Guess what?  Every time it did. 


Around mile 18 two of our group had dropped behind.  I loved this portion of the course as we ran almost within eye site of my parents ranch.  I knew all the turns, the elevation changes...we even ran by the scene of my dog attack 4 years ago!  


Saw the family again.  Awesome boost.


Going to meet Heather, as she finishes
Heather began to fall behind at mile 22.  I kept encouraging her to pull back up.  Four different times she did, but then she didn't.  It was up to me to bring in the last 3 1/2 miles.  We had caught several women by this time and loads of men.  I was feeling great.  Still no pain to speak of.  The weather really became a non-issue the last 10 miles.  We had thunder, but no wind, freezing temperatures, or significant cloud bursts.  I was very wet and heavy, but it didn't hamper my spirits.
15- 7:25
16- 7:29
17- 7:20
18- 7:23
19- 7:30
20- 7:44
21- 7:16
22- 7:34



Mile 23 to Finish:

Here the course hits a significant hill.  I powered up and still felt strong.  I continued to pass runners.  In fact, I wasn't passed the entire race after the first 2 miles.  On a flat I started hearing some awful moaning.  Loud, horrible groans.  I was approaching a man in his late forties, who appeared to be in solid physical condition.  He was accompanied by a partner.  This man's eyes were closed and his face was contorted in what appeared to be excruciating pain.  Based on his vocalizations, I think it was pretty bad.  I tried offering words of encouragement and tips to relax and breathe.  I don't think he was coherent to much.  One thing I knew.  Get out of earshot fast!  It is not good mentally to be around that kind of moaning.  I pushed past him.

Another significant pass was the 3:10 pacer.  This was probably my low point of the race.  I gave a snide comment to him.  "You are lame.  People were depending on you!"  In retrospect I probably should have refrained.  However, they were so over confident the night before as I drilled them.  They guaranteed a 3:10 finish which would have been a PR for the guy.  I should have cut him some slack, they weren't professional pacers.

At mile 24 fatigue began to set in.  Now it was time to push myself.  I decided to ignore my lower body completely and just let my arms bring me in the last 2 1/2 miles.  I pumped as hard as could.  There were two women I could see and I knew I wanted to catch them.  The hill at 24 I caught the first.  Last woman to reel in was of all people, the Swiss woman from the bus.  I gave it everything I had and passed her with a mile to go.

Besides the 3 hills, the last 3 miles had 2 short, steep downhills.  On fatigued legs, this can be tricky.  However, I decided to lean as far forward as I could and open my stride, letting gravity do all the work.  I think I passed 5 men on the downhills.  (I also think my price to pay is this horrid soreness in my quads.  But well worth it.)

When my watched clocked 26.2 miles it stung knowing I still had 2 more straightaways to go.  However, at the half, it was clear the race would be long, so I was mentally prepared.  The last 1/3 of a mile I sprinted as fast as I could.  My vision blurred a little.  All I thought about were my arms.  On the homestretch I even won a footrace with the man next to me. (The evidence is on the video at the start.  I look painfully slow but I was cooking for just having gone 26.53 miles!)  I  finished with a 3:16:49.

23- 7:53
24- 7:39
25- 7:25
26- 7:33
.53- 7:08  I kicked it in strong the last 1/2 mile!

Eleventh place overall for the women and an 11 minute personal record.  I was 104th overall in over 1850 runners.


My time was a minute slower than my goal, but it was a triumphant race for me.  I am confident all the time I spent analyzing this race, my goals, what I wanted...it all paid off for me.  I ran a smart, strong race, passing 8 women in the last 11 miles and over 35 women after the half mark.  I still have the runners high, and I apologize if it sounds like I am tooting my own horn here.

Marie finding out she would walk away with some money,
because she was first not second!
Lessons Learned:

Your breath can heal, distract or somehow erase the pain.  Thanks to yoga for that gem which saved me!

Incremental success can be more fulfilling and motivating than a wild shot at glory!  I chose to have an enjoyable race early on, knowing I would probably fall short of my 3:15 goal.  But the reevaluation was the right choice in hind sight.  An 11 minute PR is a wonderful stepping stone.  Next year, I will try to break 3:10!

Both lessons have worthy application in myriad circumstances.


Best of all, Marie and I took first and second place in the 30-34 year old women.  We were so excited, because initially the results said second and third.  We had time to shower and come back at 1:15 for the awards ceremony.  In fact we were running there as we heard our names being called out!

First and Second Place for Females 30-34, the fastest age category.
Neighbors, friends, and running partners to top it all off!

Despite everything I said previously, I decided to register for Boston.  I'm not sure if I will run it or not, but I wanted to leave the door open.  If there are still some spots left, I think I will get in.

(This week they choose the fastest times to fill the remaining spots.  Registration opened last week.)


This marathon was invigorating and I am convinced I am just tapping into my potential.  Train harder, longer, and faster and who knows what the future holds!



Check the box for a job well done.








9.16.2011

Marathon Induced Insanity

Saucony Kinvara II's  My favorite running shoe on the market!


I don't think I have posted yet I decided to run another marathon.  I am now less than 24 hours away from the big race.  I am running the Top of Utah race in Logan, Utah.  The course passes within a mile of my parents home, so it seems like a bit of a hometown course for me.

The training this summer has been phenomenal.  I am running faster than I ever have in my life.  I ran a half marathon 4 weeks ago and beat my personal record (PR) by 9 minutes with a 1:26.  That is a 6:38 mile pace.

If you know me at all, you'll understand the intense emotions I have been feeling this week.   Really, it sometimes feels like self-induced insanity!  Training for a marathon is a huge investment of time.  All the stars must align on one day for things to work out and have the best race.  Weather, bowels, equipment, rest....

I have researched all the in's and out's of the course, weather, elevation, average mile splits....I try to leave no possible scenario unexplored.  On my long, hard runs, I've tried to latch onto that pain to push through to the end, and then the feeling at the finish.  I need moments to be able to visualize in my mind those last six miles.

The Ogden marathon was such a disaster for me, I am praying not to repeat.

My goal is 3:15 or under.  That is an aggressive 12 minute PR.  But all my training runs, and recent times suggest it is possible.  So tomorrow at 7 am MST wish me luck!

9.15.2011

Pinky Promise

 My little brother Derald, of "Minute to Win It" fame, used his earnings to create a great little social networking app for your smart phone.  It is called "Pinky Promise" and allows you to do just that.  It was just released this week, so check it out and download and spread the word!  Thanks!

where you can download


here is the website:



9.12.2011

Sustainable Homeschooling

Sustainability is my mantra this year.  

After two years, and two different attempts, this year is all about creating an educational experience conducive to our entire family, long term.  It doesn't necessarily mean a rigid schedule, because things seem to be in constant flux...it does mean certain sanity measure are built into our days and week.

Of course what is sustainable for everyone is different.  Someone might look at my schedule and think I am out of my mind.  Another may think I am letting my kids off easy.  What works for everyone is different.   But here are some tricks I have built into to help me:


Exercise Out of the House


I exercise every morning.  Out of the house.   I leave by 5:50 am at the latest and return between 7 and 7:15.  Usually I run 4 mornings, and yoga and bike once.  There is no such thing as sleeping in our schedule, so it is better to be out of the house :)

Not being in charge of the wake up and morning chores is helpful.  It is intense when I get home because we start right away with practicing.  Ellery practices independently on the flute.  I know she won't progress as quickly but, she relishes the independence and my goodness are her lungs getting a workout!  

20 minutes to Get Ready


Brent gets the kids out of the house and exercising while a jump in the shower and get ready.  It is a fast 20 minutes, but at least I get a shower and can get my makeup done.  The Hunny hangs out with me as I am getting ready.

Husband Pick Up

It sounds much more intriguing than it is!  Gratefully I have a husband who can work his lunch schedule to pick up Emmett from gym twice a week.  He also gives me a lunch hour on Friday afternoons to squeeze in another yoga class.  Thankfully the yoga studio is only a mile from our home, and Brent's office is only about 4 miles away.

One Day a Week Tutor/Nanny

Larisa is a huge blessing.  The children adore her, and I am free to run my errands and the children to their classes and lessons.

Date Night

Brent and I have never had this scheduled in to our week before.  I hired the 15 year old on our street to sit for us every week for 2 1/2 hours.  We choose Thursday night so she can still have her weekends, and we get an early start to ours!   I also choose an early time slot as well, 5:00 until 7:30 pm.  This was a strategic move on my part.  Marilyn is in charge of feeding the children dinner, bathing and getting them ready for bed.  The toughest part of the day :)  She definitely has to earn her money.  Usually Brent and I go for a bike ride, grab a salad or just hang around together without the kids.

Quiet Reading is my Friend

On mornings where I just need a little more time, Berkeley or Emmett is having a tough time, maybe Callista is having a 15 minute tantrum because she misspelled one of the 30 words on her spelling test (Oh man, she really is my child)...this is when quiet reading is my friend.  The kids are happy as clams snuggling in my bed with their books while I finish a shower for example.   They are accountable for their time, by passing off books to me with perfect fluency.  It usually works out quite nicely.




Here is our updated schedule:


Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
End!
2:30
3:30
2:00
4:00
11:45 or 2:20

6 am
Ellery:  Vest              Brent:  Wake, Shower, Breakfast
Free Time 
Family Time

6:30 
Ellery:  Dressed, Hair, Bed Made, Teeth, Prayers, Breakfast
Callista:  Dressed, Hair, Bed Made, Teeth, Prayers, Breakfast, Lunch Packed
7 am
Ellery:  Flute Practice              Callista:  Piano Practice with Mom 
Emmett:  Vest, Dressed, Hair, Bed Made, Teeth, Prayers, Breakfast
7:35
Ellery Spanish on Computer, Callista practicing
8:00 
PE and Games with Dad
8:20 
Academic Block:  Writing, Spelling Reading, Memorization, Poems, Read Aloud...
Spelling Tests
9 am
Ellery Piano Practicing              Callista at Cascade
Ellery Gym
Callista Private 
11-12 pm
9:45 
Emmett Gym
Ellery Piano
Emmett Gym 
Ellery Piano
10:00 
Ellery and Mom Latin
Russian 
with Larisa
Ellery and Mom Latin
10:20 
Ellery and Mom Singapore Math
Shiller/Saxon Math 
Music/Typing
11:20 
Lunch  and Free Time
Lunch and Free Time with Larisa
Lunch and Free Time
Shiller/Saxon Math 
12:00 pm 
11:45 - 1:00 pm Spelling/Phonics Instruction with Quiet Reading
Dad Lunch 
Mom Yoga
1 pm
History
Ellery Art Class
Callista Russian
Writing Group all Children
Callista Art
Ellery Science
Free Time 
Family Time

1:35 pm
1:35 - 2:20 Callista Math with Mom
Ellery Typing, Free Write, Read, Math Review 
2 pm
Ellery and Callista
 Piano Lessons
Emmett Larisa
2:20 
Free Time
Snack Time
Quiet Reading
Flute Lesson 
Math Callista
 Free Time 
3:30
Free Time 
Ellery Activity Day 3:45-5 Every Other Week  
 Free Time 
4 pm
Gymnastics
4:15-7:15 
Ellery 
4:15-6:45
Callista 
Gymnastics
4:15-7:15 
Ellery 
4:15-6:45
Callista 
Free Time  
5 pm
Babysitter Night  
Dinner with Babysitter
5:30
Ellery Sewing Class
6:30 
Dinner
7:30 
Dinner
Family Home Evening
Dinner
In Bed Family Scriptures
8 pm
In Bed Reading with Mom
Lights out 8:30

Partial Day Dilema

We may have a few more alterations.  Callista is begging to stay home.  The elementary school has not been everything she dreamed it would be.  We have been working with her teacher and now have her on the correct reading level  (11 levels above the first book she gave us!).  However, the math and spelling are literally boring her to tears.  I keep asking her if she enjoys the children, but she says she doesn't really care.  She can't talk to anyone in class anyways, she informs us sullenly.  She wants to be home where I teach her the "hard stuff."

Brent and I have been going back and forth about this.  We don't want to pull her out too early, when it is just nerves talking.  However, we also don't want to stifle her love for learning and her drive to be challenged and stimulated.  Because I am already invested in homeschooling full time, having her home those two hours would be a simple adjustment.

We are still deciding what to do.  I think I will try to have her stick it out a few more weeks to be sure she is certain.  She is only six years old, and I don't think it is crucial for her to be away from the family right now.  Gymnastics, art, writing, church and piano all provide opportunities.

Sustainability.  


I will try to keep you posted on how accurate and effective my measures turn out.

9.07.2011

The Oregon Trail

The Hunny and I at Multanomah Falls
 We spent a fantastic 6 days trekking to Oregon to visit our siblings.  The first three days are a bit of a blur to me, as I came down, for the second time in six months, with strep throat.  I was incoherently contaminating a bedroom in Brent's sweet sister Sheri's house.   Thankfully after about 36 hours the antibiotic kicked in and I was able to enjoy the end of our trip.

Unfortunately, because I am the sole photographer in the family we have no pictures from our stay in Hermiston.  But Sheri and Julian were wonderful hosts, brining the kids to parks, the nail salon, the home depot craft, out to dinner, picking blackberries...they had a wonderful time.  Julian cleaned and examined Brent's pearly whites.  

Saturday morning I attempted a run, I needed 15 but nearly collapsed with 7.  I was still not able to swallow, even though the fever had passed and the worst was over.  Sheri rode the bike along side me, and was a trooper, as I got the "on foot" tour of her little town.

By Saturday afternoon I was feeling remarkably better.  Now the trip with my side of the family began.  We started with some beautiful hikes along the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway.
Berkeley and Emmett hitching a ride with Brent to Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.



My parents, and Derald and his girlfriend Stacy Jo, also made the trek out to visit with Brock and Amy and meet the newest addition to their family Pierce.

Derald, the girls, me, and Daegen on the trail.

Here is a little conversation between Emmett and I as I was working on this post:

Derald and Stacy Jo


Emmett:  Mom, where is Derald's Mother?
R:  Derald's Mother?
E:  Yes Mom.  You know that girl?
R:  Bringing up a picture of StacyJo  Oh...Do you mean his girlfriend?
E:  Yes mom.  That is her.  I love her.  She is so beautiful .  She is like a princess.

I couldn't resist these three "Baldies,"  Mt. Hood included!
I can't believe how big she is getting.
She couldn't stop holding little Pierce.  

Does that little guy know how to melt hearts or what?

It is fantastic to see Derald so happy.  A fabulous girlfriend has been a long time coming.















Mount Hood was a fun Sunday morning expedition.  Unfortunately my stroller and baby carrier were left on the mountain.  I am in mourning.
Grandpa loving on the two little ladies.

Another highlight was a late night trip with Brock and Amy on their boat up the Wilamett river into the city.  We cruised down the glass river with lights, music, good conversation.  I felt like I was a young  married again.  It was liberating.  We docked the boat and walked around Portland, bought some cheesecake and had an all a round wonderful time.  The kids were at home asleep with my Mom and Dad.  






We spent a glorious afternoon barbecuing and playing in the lush cedars, redwoods, firs, stream, and general "greenery" surrounding Brock's beautiful home.  Their yard was a little haven of beauty and serenity. I was having serious house and lot envy!





We ended our trip with a great dinner with Brent's cousin Justin and his wife Trisha.  They live in the urban downtown of Portland.  We ate at a great restaurant and walked their district.   Their historic home was a charming urban counter to the solitude of the forests.  Of course another highlight was meeting their chickens.  Being the "children" in the family, they are far more pampered than ours.

We had a fantastic trip and can't wait to return next year.