Sunday, August 26, 2012

It Wasn't the Onions

It wasn't the onions that had me misting up as I cooked dinner tonight.  Nor was it shame at the fact I had to work around the dirty breakfast dishes to do so.  No, those were tears of sheer joy.

But first you need to understand something.  Jon has severe allergies to both pets and dust mites.  These allergies make it hard for him to breathe, which is mildly important, but even more importantly for a winemaker, they kill his sense of smell.  This is why despite our love of animals, we don't have pets, and it's why, at the request of his doctor, I do all the vacuuming.

Not so onerous, right?  He still picks up his fair share of the chores.  But the thing is, I HATE VACUUMING.  I once wrote on one of those "20 things about me" that were all the rage when folks my age started using Facebook that I would rather clean toilets than vacuum, and I was half hoping someone would offer to swap jobs with me.  And yes, we joked a lot during the weary journey towards adoption that it would all be worth it once I had someone to do the vacuuming for me.  However, when we first introduced the vacuum cleaner, the kids decided to use it as a weapon, and it wound up in lockdown.  I've been furtively vacuuming when Jon takes both kids out, then re-hiding the machine before they got home. 

Then a few days ago, I pulled it out to help Sasha vacuum up the cup of dry cereal he'd spilled in his room.  That went fine.  A night or two later, Jon got it out to clean up the mess after he'd changed and cleaned the lightbulbs from our dining room chandelier.  Tonight, as I started dinner, Sasha noticed the vacuum cleaner and asked, "Mama, can I do that?"  So while I chopped potatoes and breaded fish, it was to the sweet sound of someone else vacuuming the living room.  I couldn't help but to shed tears of joy. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Sort of.  There were beds.  And for three nights, a flush toilet and running water.  But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Our two annual outings wound up scheduled back-to-back, which has happened once or twice before, and is fine with us.  The scheduling all happened back when we thought we'd be adopting in, oh, 2015 or so.  So when we learned how soon we'd be adding to our family, we notified both groups that we'd play it by ear.  During the first few weeks we were with the kids, if we'd had to make a firm committment, we would have said no to both trips.  But by the time August rolled around, we decided we'd pack for the duration but take it day by day.

Friday morning we got up early for their first local doctor's appointment, and from there we headed up the Gorge towards Lost Lake.  We stopped at Multnomah Falls, where the boys made it all the way to the top.  Inesa and I made it past the the first switchback.  Luckily, they've added a pretty cool interpretive room to the lodge, so we were able to entertain ourselves for an hour without going near the gift shop. 
 at the base of the falls
with the real deer horns

on top of the falls

We made it to Lost Lake and spent two great days with our friends.  For the first time, we stayed in cabins instead of tents, and there were definite advantages.   Mainly in the "not having to set up and take down a tent" category, and for Jon, the ever popular "being able to sleep because you're on a mattress" category.  Since we already had four people packed for five nights in our 2-door Civic, not having the tents or pads was really helpful. 

Hanging out in the water

  Bonding with Lola.  The beatific smile says it all.  Luckily, Lola got stressed out and nipped her immediately before we left, so we don't have to steal her from her family after all.

Our friends' daughter reading a book of Greek myths aloud to our kids.  They didn't get much of the story, but found the pictures fascinating and were remarkably intent on listening anyway.

Is this beautiful?  Yes, it is.

Are we silly?  Yes, we are.

The only ways we could get the kids to be okay with leaving were that a) everyone else left and b) we promised they'd see Sally on our next stop.  (Sally is my sister's black lab.)  We forgot our camera, and our phones died after 3 days despite careful battery conservation, so I have NO PICTURES of my kids' first trip to Cloud Cap.  Sigh.  I was a little worried that the lack of lake would bother them once the thrill of Sally died down, but the two 13 year old boys who were there were super nice about hanging out with our kids, my sisters also rose to the occasion and spent some time being delightful aunties, I had actually planned ahead and brought some mildly craftsy supplies to dole out, and, best of all there were CHIPMUNKS and CAMPFIRES.  Plus, as Inesa pointed out after a night up there, "This place is even better, because the bathroom is right there and it doesn't smell bad." 

We made it.  Five nights away from home, with lots of new people thrown into the mix, and we did fine.  There were lots of cuts and scrapes, and none of us were perfect angels the whole time, but we all had a good time.  I was surprised to find that I actually got some breaks, as there were both other kids to play with and other awesome adults to benignly look on.  I didn't expect it to be a relaxing trip, and although it wasn't as lazily so as it would have been before, I did still get to kick back and to catch up with my friends and family.  I think we also all bonded a little more as a family.  Sasha in particular showed both Jon and I some spontaneous affection, rubbing our backs and leaning up against us.  Coming home was also a sweet moment, when they started calling out "Our street!  Our street!" then "Our house!  Our house!"  I'm really glad they enjoy the outdoors, and that not once in the six days away did either one notice the lack of TV, computer, and phone.  I'm looking forward to many summers to come, and wondering if we could maybe sneak in one overnight in a tent before the weather turns...