We just got back from a trip to Portland, OR. We left on a Friday and Katya didn't sleep at all on the 10 hour plus trip until the very end after we stopped for dinner in The Dalles. Instead, there was a constant commentary from the backseat while we drove along, as she practiced all the inflections she knows so far and made up new ones. She played with one toy after another from the bag I had packed for her until the backseat was about elbow deep in toys and books. She really didn't fuss much until those last couple of hours. She seemed to excited to find out where we were going.
We got to Dana's apt. very late. Dana had already left to house sit somewhere else. Saturday, Katya was awake early, ready to explore. She got to know Dana's apartment very well in the days we were there. I felt bad for the people in the apartments around Dana who were probably used to the (lack of) sounds from a single gal, then were suddenly subjected to the noise of an exploring toddler who doesn't know how to express her excitement quietly. Katya especially enjoyed Dana's big yellow gloves for dishwashing and the fishbowl with the swimming fish and plastic tree that stuck out the top. When Dana came in on Sat. morning, K got a joyful look on her face like "Oh, that's why we're here!" She seems to have an understanding that when we drive extra long distances, we will see someone we love at the end.
Later on Saturday, Mom and Dad stopped by for a short time on their way to the beach. Katya was in 7th heaven with having her grandparents to show off for.
Also, that evening Kecia came for dinner. It was nice to catch up on some of her and Dana's doings. After dinner, we all went on a nice walk in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. It is fascinating to see all the big old beautiful houses and the creative ways people have painted the exteriors and planted the front yards.
On Sunday we went to church with Kecia at Trinity Fellowship, then we went to dinner at her apartment in Lake Oswego. Talk about 2 completely different cultures those girls live in! Both K and D have nice cozy apartments. Dana's is in a diverse, trendy, crowded part of the city and Kecia's is in a much more suburban but affluent area. We thoroughly enjoyed listening to Kecia's descriptions of overseas life while we ate with her.
On Monday, we went to visit Pauline, an old neighbor of the family from way back when we lived in Milwaukie. Katya loved exploring Pauline's backyard which was full of fountains (yay-water!) and beautiful flowers. There was a little chair just K's size for Pauline's grandchildren which Katya sat on while happily eating cookies.
That evening, we got together with Jennifer, Dave and Camille at Laurelhurst Park and a great time was had by all. Jennifer and I have been good friends since we were in the second grade. We had lots of yummy food and Katya enjoyed having someone closer to her size to play with. Camille shared lots of crackers with Katya (who carefully took at least 1 bite out of each one while keeping tabs on the perpetual blur of motion that was Camille), and after dinner it was great fun to play ball and Frisbee with Camille. We also tried out the swings and slides which was a true adventure for Katya. She was a bit unsure about the swings (where are you supposed to hang on, exactly?) but she loved the slides.
On Tues. we visited Kecia and Dana's workplaces since I hadn't seen those yet. Kecia works at Northwest Medical Teams which sends volunteers (esp. doctors and nurses) to disaster and high need areas around the world. We met many of her coworkers and also visited an exhibit due to open to the public in fall that shows the different types of aid the organization gives. It is set up to show what conditions are like in various areas and it is very powerful. You get a small flavor of the traumas in Indonesia, Africa, Kosovo and many other places. I left feeling that something is deeply wrong with our world that people must live in such a way. Shame on us in the First World who do so little for our suffering brothers and sisters in impoverished, war torn lands.
There was one part that showed orphanages in Romania with children crowded into beds with horribly stained mattresses. Many of the children are misshapen in some way and look at you with large haunted eyes. Parents leave their children there because they cannot afford to raise them. Then the next area showed how NWMT sends doctors and nurses to help train the workers in addition to bringing much needed supplies. As props in this display, there were a couple of infant toys. Katya saw those, made a beeline for them and started playing as if she knew that of course they were meant for someone her age. It was a surreal moment to see her, whole and healthy, playing with toys meant for orphans in the midst of these heartrending displays. K was very upset when Brent picked her so we could move on in the exhibit.
Then we saw Dana at her work, Surface. Tim, a man from the Ukraine who has 5 children of his own, was excited to make Katya's acquaintance because he also has a little girl named Katya. It would have been fun to spend more time in Surface and peruse all the gorgeous stoneware they had.
That evening, as one final outing, we walked to a children's store near Dana's home called The Pollywog. We couldn't resist getting a couple of fancy puzzles: one with sounds when you lift the pieces (B wanted to know what the guinea pig would sound like) and one with magnetic shapes hiding behind doors you can open.
Then we drove home on Wed. Since this post is so very long, let it suffice to say that the drive was fairly uneventful except for one massive diaper blowout that involved a complete change of clothes for one certain little person. Now we are home and getting used to our normal routines again.