Every year we pick up an ornament from one of our family trips and this year we ended up with two of them from Disneyland. The Crush ornament and a bag of cotton candy were the only things that Elijah asked us to buy on the whole trip. That still amazes me!
Last weekend was a big one for Tyla and me. Mom flew out from Indiana and stayed with Elijah while Tyla and I headed to Hood River, OR for our church organization’s marriage enrichment weekend. This series comes to the Pacific Northwest every two years. When we heard about it a few months ago, we signed up to “force” ourselves to get there this year instead of putting it off again.
I had never been to Hood River. What a gorgeous area! The class was hosted at the Best Western right on the waterfront and our room overlooked the river. It’s not a big town but there were enough restaurants, shops and scenic sights to easily keep us entertained during our free time.
The Marriage Enrichment weekends consist of a variety of programs but ours was called “Simply Marriage.” It covered five topics:
Faith moves us from frustrated over God’s ways to curious about God’s ways. Become more curious and less frustrated with your spouse.
We are all incompatible because we’re fallen. But incompatibility is grounds for marriage. Learn to put your spouse and his/her happiness ahead of your own; as Jesus has done for you.
Break patterns that destroy oneness
The two shall become one; but there’s an enemy. Learn how to break common patterns that war against your oneness: escalation, invalidation, negative interpretation and withdrawal/avoidance.
Use words that work
Move from monologue to dialogue, learn how to initiate a behavior change request, cut the negativity and communicate appreciation.
Grow more intimate
Build your intimacy in ways that most couples can’t dream of: in your faith, in your friendship and in your sex and sensuality.
Those five sessions filled up an hour on Friday evening, 9-3 on Saturday and a couple hours on Sunday morning. The rest of the time was free for us to spend time together as a couple. We walked along the river, spent time in the hot tub, visited Multnomah Falls, and ate dinners at Solstice and Full Sail Brewing.
We didn’t have many expectations going into the weekend, but now we’re itching to go to the next one in two years! We met a bunch of great couples, learned a lot and enjoyed spending a weekend away together. It was obvious that the class has been offered many times because it went very smoothly.
These events are held all over the country so if you’re at all interested, check out the website to find one near you. Thank you Pastor Hunter for leading the class and we look forward to seeing you again in two years. Thank you Mom for coming all the way here to watch Elijah and thanks Dad for spending a weekend alone while she was here.
Elijah has been watching reviews of Lego Star Wars sets and decided he wanted to be “R2-E2” for Halloween. He came up with that all on his own! Instead of buying a costume, I decided to make one with him.
We bought some cardboard boxes from Home Depot. They sell some heavy duty boxes which thought would work well for the body to keep it from falling apart so quickly. We kind of made it up as we went and eventually we ended up with a body that had arm holes and a head hole. I fashioned a box for the front to hold his candy and also gave him a head. We covered the whole thing with a metallic silver spray paint.
Then came the fun part! I bought some inexpensive electroluminescent wire and an Adafruit Audio FX Sound Board. I wired the sound board up to some arcade buttons and placed those on the front of his costume. He ended up with 6 buttons that he could press to make various sounds. For a speaker, we used a battery powered bluetooth speaker that we already had (it also had a line-in) and I powered the circuit board with a USB battery pack.
The end result was a fun looking costume that lit up and made sounds. It was a quite a hit and he loved showing it off. That excitement was tempered a bit by the fact that it was hard to walk up and down steps and a couple times he got overwhelmed by kids mobbing him trying to push the buttons. All in all, I’d call it a win but he said he wanted to have a simpler costume next year.
Tyla’s birthday present this year was another round of family photos. She ended up choosing the same lady who did our photos last time, Kelly from Two Swallows Studio. Tyla found a great park that is close by but none of us had ever been two called McAuliffe Park. The park turned out to be a photography dream. It’s like someone intentionally made a park for a photography class and we showed up on day with pretty great weather for photos.
As before, Kelly did a great job and we are really happy with the results! Here are a few of our favorites:
Last year around this time, we tried to go on a hike at Crystal Mountain with Tyla’s family. That was canceled because of some really bad wildfires that got very close to the resort. We decided to give it another shot recently and it went much better.
The day started off cloudy so we just caught glimpses of Rainier off the top of the gondola, but it was nice to not be in direct sunlight for the first part of the hike. We took the Crystal Mountain trail which comes off the top of the gondola, across Lucky Shot and over the top of Bear Pits, under Forest Queen, out past the Queens and Tinkerbell runs into the woods to a couple lakes, and finally past the old mine and under the Gold Hills lift. The trail map claims it’s 4.8 miles but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a tad longer than that.
The hike is all downhill so I figured Elijah would handle it ok, but I forgot that it’s a bit too technical for him. There was a lot of loose gravel at the beginning and then the second half had some big roots. Thankfully he did incredibly well and only started getting tired on the last mile or so. I did have to carry him for a while but I still give him an A for the day.
It wasn’t a super photogenic day due to the clouds at the beginning but here are a few photos from the day. Be sure to look at the upper ridge in the last picture. You can see how far down the slope the fire got last year. It was VERY close to the resort!