Wednesday, July 26, 2006

LOTS OF NEWS - warning! this will be very long!
(to make it easier to get through, I'll put headings throughout)

1. Update on Sarah's Dad
We'll keep the best news front and center! My dad has recovered very well from his surgery. He has a full work release (no restrictions) and even went waterskiing last Friday (he'd originally been told he couldn't do that until August)! On Monday, he got the results of his post-surgery scans and tests. They have not detected any cancer! Praise God! We are so thankful! Thank you for all your prayers! It sounds like he will just have to be monitored periodically to make sure it doesn't come back, but his prognosis is very good with no detectable metastases remaining!

2. Trip to Montana
We had a great trip to Montana! Jeremy was there for the weekend, then flew back to Portland to be available for work. On Friday, we spent the day with Jeremy's family, and it was nice to see his sister Maria and her husband, David. (Photo of boys with Grandma Janet). Then, during the weekend, we drove to Bozeman to attend my cousin Connie's wedding. It was an incredibly beautiful outdoor wedding, and we think she picked the perfect mate in Chris. The make a great couple. Aric spent his first night ALONE (i.e., without Taylor), staying with Jeremy's parents. With a 12 hour drive each way to and from Portland, we didn't figure he really wanted another 8 hours strapped in his carseat while we made the roundtrip to and from Bozeman in one day. He had lots of fun with Grandma Janet and Grandpa Lyn, and it was so nice to only have one kid to wrangle at the wedding. Taylor had a blast playing with his cousin Connor. The two are only 1 month apart in age, so they always have fun together. After sending Jeremy back to Oregon, the boys and I hung out with Grammy and Grumpy the rest of the week (Grandma Janet and Grandpa Lyn were gone to North Dakota for most of our time, but they got back in time for us to hang out one more time on our way back to Oregon). We had lots of fun adventures, from looking at the cows to playing at the lake. We went to Great-Grandma and Great-Papa Mills' house and played on the swing set one evening. We spent an afternoon playing, reading, and playing the piano with Grandma Jen. When Dad had to go to his post-operative visit in Missoula, we all went to the carousel first. We saw quite a bit of our uncles, which is always a blast. Shane stayed with us at Grammy and Grumpy's for the first half week, and it was nice to connect with him. The other two uncles were around here and there during our whole trip. Taylor and Spencer (both first-borns) seem to have quite an understanding. They tease each other and just "click" well. I thought that was pretty funny, but what struck me as even funnier is how well Aric and Amos (the "middle-child," 3rd-born in our family but 2nd-born boy) click. I've always thought Aric has a lot of Amos' personality traits, and seeing them together confirmed this. They really understand each other! I think we'll have to have one more so Shane can have a "mini-me," too. :-) I don't really like to box people in according to birth-order theory; I really think there are just a lot of familial similarities. Anyway, back to what we did. When we went to see the baby calves, Aric (our boy of few words) just stuck his index finger out and said, "Finger In?" I told him he could, and he was thrilled to have the calf nose him and slobber on his hand. When we went to the lake, I waterskied four times (I've met my quota for the year now!), and Taylor got to drive the boat. He was happily steering and apparently thought that was "old hat," because without any instruction or permission, he reached down and pushed the throttle all the way forward! He was very happy to go full speed. :-) Back on land, he was happy to "fish" with a little yellow rubber fish on the end of his line. The minnows thought he might be tossing them food, because when he'd cast, they'd all swarm around his yellow fish and nose it. He loved that and thought it was pretty cool. He also did a lot of "swimming" with his life jacket and/or his floaty ring.

Aric, on the other hand, was very wary of the water and anyone who looked like they might drag him into it. He spent most of his water-time up to his ankles in water, poised to run away if anyone came near enough to "encourage" him to get wet. Uncle Spencer and Aunt Katie came up and spent the day with us, and before we left, Aric had fallen asleep in Katie's arms. It was sweet. Most of the trip we spent just hanging out with Grammy and Grumpy, helping Grumpy not to go stir-crazy during his week of at-home recuperation. We had lots of fun as always. On the way back to Oregon, we stopped overnight in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and saw some great friends. It was fun, as always, to play with Jack, Emma, and Levi. We finally said goodbye and hit the road back to Portland. When we got to Tri-Cities, Washington, our requisite car trouble began. In parking lots or anywhere a tight turn was required, the whole van would shake violently because the outside and inside wheels were working against each other. After wasting a few hours at Les Schwab and Aamco, we decided I should just try to drive home. It turns out the problem was a fluke caused by driving so many hours on a hot day, and isn't anything to worry about. Jeremy ended up driving all the way out to Biggs, Oregon, while he was waiting for news about the van and about whether or not he would have to come pick us up. It was a long hot afternoon for all of us, but we made it home!

The next few weeks
After we arrived home from MT, Jeremy had to go upriver for 3 days. He got back on our anniversary at 11 p.m., so we at least got to see each other on our special day. (Side note - can anyone believe that we've been married seven years already?? We're getting old! :-) The next morning, he left at 11 a.m. and was gone upriver for a week. It was a tough time for everyone because we really didn't see much of each other for 3 weeks. Last week, Jeremy was home ALL week (he got 7 days of comp time) and we were all glad to get back to normal family life. We mostly hung out and took it easy, doing lots of playing and lots of trying to keep cool in the midst of a heatwave (our house doesn't have AC yet - we keep saying "next year will be the year we install it," but we haven't gotten there yet). On Thursday, Jeremy and I celebrated all three of our big summer holidays (his birthday, which occured when the boys and I were still in MT; our anniversary, which you've already read about; and my birthday, which was Thursday) with a trip to Todai, an all-you-can-eat sushi and seafood buffet in Portland. It was a fun experience, and I ate way too much! :-) Jeremy's always wanted me to eat sushi with him but I'm usually pregnant or nursing when the opportunity arises, so I haven't had much. On Thursday, I went all out and tried as much as I could. In my opinion, most of it is kinda bland. It's not disgusting, but I don't love it - it's kinda blah. I did like the mackerel because it actually had its own flavor. I didn't expect to like caviar, but I liked the little tiny ones (they were accenting a california roll, which is about my favorite type of sushi). I didn't go so crazy as to try the really big ones (Jeremy says they pop in your mouth). They look way too much like fishing bait to me. Anyway, it was a fun and relaxing night. Then, on Monday, Jeremy and Taylor headed out for their long-awaited big-boys' camping trip.

The Big Boys' Camping Trip
They headed to Olallie Lake, which is between Mt. Hood and Bend. It sounds like they had a lot of fun. They set up camp, then swam and fished and fished and fished (with the little yellow rubber fish again :-). The next morning, the played baseball for a while and then rented a canoe for an hour. Jeremy did a good job at taking lots of pictures for me, so I'll post a few below. The boys got back yesterday (Tuesday), then Jeremy got the call to go upriver again and left at midnight. He will be out of town until Saturday or Sunday, and I think when he comes back in, the whole family will go on a camping trip so Aric and I can get in on the fun. :-) That's the beauty of these long trips - they redeem themselves by giving us lots of time for fun when Jeremy is home.

While the boys were gone, Aric and I had a day of intense potty-training, or at least that was the plan. He did go in the toilet more than he ever has before, but by the evening, he was refusing to go near the bathroom. Today, that trend has continued - he is adamantly opposed to sitting on his potty chair right now. So much for "toilet-training in a day." Oh, well. I do think we made some progress. It will be more difficult to keep it going with Taylor home and Jeremy away, but I'll try to keep it up, because the fewer diapers in my future, the better. :-) That's all about us at the moment. Hope all is well with all of you! Sorry it took so long to do this, but I'll try to be more on top of it again now that life is going to be a bit more scheduled. Take care and feel free to email us updates anytime.

Oh, I've also been meaning to show a little bit of the landscaping work we're FINALLY doing. Here are a few shots.