Happy 4th of July

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I started the day with a red, white and blueberry muffin (gluten-free muffins made with blueberries and raspberries) and put on my blue denim skirt, red shirt, and red, white and blue sweater vest and necklace.  I then proceeded to have a wonderful 4th of July, doing things I liked and wanted to do–a perfect holiday.

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We drove up to Portland to have breakfast with some of Lovana and Ja’Ana’s birth siblings/family members.  We went to a restaurant named the Gateway Breakfast House. I had never been there before, but I guess President Obama ate there when he visited Portland.  We waited quite a while, which was fine because it gave the kids a chance to visit.  It was a beautiful, sunny day–perfect for hanging around outside and taking pictures.  When we got in, it was quite small inside, and not fancy at all.  They had both breakfast and lunch items and, because we were with such a large group, I was able to see quite a few menu items.  The omelets and hamburgers were enormous!  We had a great time, both with the company we were with, and the chance to try a new restaurant.  We had the pleasure to sit near the little guy, and boy was he entertaining:)  And super cute:)

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Then, we drove home.  We are listening to an audio book named “Hattie Big Sky” and are enjoying it very much.  We got to hear a lot of it today, since we were in the car so long.  On the way home, we stopped at Home Depot and ordered a new vertical blind for the front window.  It’s been broken for some time now, and won’t shut all the way anymore.  We’ve been putting up with it, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was the other night when a salesman came up to the door when I was in my bathrobe, sitting on the couch, and PEERED into the crack left by the broken blind (about 6 inches) and then rang the doorbell.  I politely, but firmly told him to go away, and told Rob that we were getting a new blind ASAP!  It’s on order, but it will come soon, and Rob plans to install it.

 

When I got home, I indulged myself in some sewing, purely for fun.  I don’t get to sew much anymore, due to my busy schedule, but still love to sew.  So, I finished a sundress I had been working on for a while, for Patsy, and then made this little summer dress for a little friend.  I had worked on Patsy’s dress on our camping trip, but forgot to bring an iron, so had a little to finish up here at home.   I was able to use fabric I had on hand for both dresses, and lots of rick rack from my stash for the little one.   img_4867.jpg

During the evening, I went out and picked a few flowers and messed around in the garden for a little bit.  I will do a garden update soon, since it’s growing so well now.  Rob took Lovana back to her job.  It’s official now, Saturday is her last day.  As is is, the job lasted almost 6 weeks past when she thought it was going to, so she’s great with that.

Then, the neighborhood exploded into a loud and smoky display as we saw many, many fireworks exploding all around us.  I was surprised to see lots of the big, blooming, ariel (illegal) ones exploding in the sky all around us.  Beautiful. I just wasn’t expecting it in the city of Salem.  Clearly, there is no need to drive to any display when we’ve got all that from our back yard:)   Rob and Patsy did their little pile, and then Patsy sat on the deck and enjoyed the show for at least an hour.  Judging from all the bangs and pops still emitting from the neighborhood outside, I doubt I’ll be sleeping any time soon, but I had a great day.  I have another fun day to look forward to tomorrow, starting with a birthday breakfast with my mom, so I think it’s my lucky week:)  (Last night we had a bbq for my niece who is back from Ireland for only 1 week). Although I miss Jake since he’s on vacation with his mom and dad, I’ve welcomed the time to spend time with other family members this week.

 

 

 

Saving Money–July 2, 2017

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What do you do after a couple of weeks like I’ve had lately?  You head for the beach–that’s what!!  You don’t even go shopping.  You just throw a bunch of food that you have on hand into the camper, along with some clothes, and you drive away–right out of the heat wave and into the cool, marine air.

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You go fishing in a lake that is in the campground.  You catch 0 fish.  Patsy and Rob do quite well.

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You go crabbing off a bridge for hours and hours.

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Thanks to a kind man who drove by, and offered  old clams and clam guts from his freezer that he was cleaning, and a little luck, you catch 2 keepers (males over a certain length) when most others on the bridge are not getting any.

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You watch elk wander through the town when you are driving around.  You sit and stare at boats coming into the mouth of the Columbia River from the Pacific Ocean, and, you sleep and sleep and sleep–9 hours one night, a 2 hour nap, and……

Then—1/2 way through the week—THE BOY arrives!  Nap time is over:)

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Uncle Rob takes him fishing. “How long do we have to sit here until we get the fish to get on our pole?”

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“Not long, if Uncle has anything to do with it!”  The little bass was not big enough to keep, but it was super fun for Jake to catch.  Then he was done.  He went to draw with Patsy.

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Sidewalk chalk is fun and frugal, and safe parts of parking lots are a wonderful place to create.

We were at Ft. Steven’s State Park, which is at the upper, left-hand tip of Oregon.  There are a lot of things to do there.  Camping is an economical way for us to get away.  We use our park pass, which we have because we have adopted children from the State of Oregon.  We only have to pay the reservation fee ($6) and gas.  This campground was farther away than sometimes, but we had hoped to clam.  We didn’t get to, but we still had a blast.  The clams were suffering from a kind of toxicity, so no one could dig for them at this time.

There is always food in the camper–I organized the food last spring, and I had stuffed a bit more into the cupboards a couple of weeks ago because I knew we were going to be so busy right before we went this time.  I added some garden produce and frozen items, bought a few items down at the coast, and fed the kids McDonald’s food at times.  We never go through a drive-through in the camper, however, so often pack food for the journey, or drive between meal times.  Sometimes, we can park near a restaurant, but usually we pack food on travel days.

Our fishing and crabbing equipment has been gathered over the years.  We were able to buy another crab trap at the rummage sale, so that was nice.  Rob picks up extra fishing poles and reels at yard sales, or on sale at Bi-Mart or wherever (rarely), and usually gets fishing tackle and bait for birthdays and Father’s Day.  The only thing we had to buy for fishing this week was 1 carton of worms.  We bought some chicken (cheap–88c/lb drumsticks) for crab bait and used the clams from the nice freezer-cleaning man who drove by.

Ja’Ana was busy.  She stayed with her cousin, Alissa, and both girls were junior counsellors at a day camp all week.  Lovana is still working at her job, so she was unavailable.  Patsy was the only child for the first half of the week, and then Jake’s daddy brought him down for the second half of the week.  His family doesn’t usually camp or engage in the same outdoor activities we do, and so our goal was to give him some experiences he does not usually get.  We succeeded.

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We went to Battery Russell and  Ft. Stevens itself, which included a military museum. A lot of the historic area had information about WWII, as that was a time when they were really geared up and ready to go in this area.  After the Pearl Harbor attack, there was a real danger that the Japanese would attach the coast, and in fact, there was one time when they did shell a part of the coastline.

We did not do any of the Lewis and Clark activities this trip, although the area is loaded with historic sites.  The famous explorers spent their winter near that area when they were on their epic trip, so there are many things to see.  I’ve been to them before, but they never get boring to me.

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We cooked over the fire once or twice and used the stove we got at the rummage sale a couple of times.  The camper is very adequate for cooking, and it got us away from the mosquitoes.  The meals were very simple.  We were not in the mood for elaborate cooking projects this trip.

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We were able to use the same old sand toys we’ve had for years.  I added a few digging tools, bought at the Dollar Tree for a total of…..you guessed it…$1.  The historic places were free with the tag that said we were camping at the state park.    Rob took the vacuum sealer and froze the 5 (total) fish.  We ate the crab.

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We tried out the propane stove we got at the rummage sale.  It works great!  We used it for frying potatoes and for cooking the crab. I think we paid around $5 or $10–not sure–we got quite a few items, and the prices have blurred together in my mind.   It has been used, but is still in great condition.  Rob is going to set it up in the outdoor room/enclosed porch at our house and I’m going to can on it, since there is only a flat-topped stove at this house and that is not recommended for canning on.

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During the evenings, we watched C.D.’s., the kids built Legos, and read books.  We listened to Audio Books on the drives.  A lot of the materials were from the library. Both kids are working toward summer reading prizes.

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The kids scattered old pancakes for the seagulls.  We drove out to a place where we could see the boats going in and out of the mouth of the Columbia River.  It was very interesting.  We drove across the bridge between Astoria and Washington state.  It is about 4 miles long and very fun to go across.

I cleaned the outdoor kitchen and did my usual cleaning in the camper at the end of the trip.  I prefer to clean it while it is hooked up to water and sewer, not when I get home.

On Friday morning, we packed it up very early and came home.  Jake was going on vacation with his family, so needed to be back and I had quite a bit to do Friday afternoon.  Rob needed to go up to the camp and get Ja’Ana that evening.

On Saturday, we did a little shopping at Grocery Outlet, I cleaned in the house, worked on laundry and worked in the garden.  I weeded and picked things.  I harvested my first zucchini and my first 2 cherry tomatoes.  They are the Sungold variety and I love them!  I also got lots of lettuce and already ate a salad from it.  I got quite a few raspberries and about a cup of blueberries and a little broccoli.  I harvested quite a few snow peas–a big bag.  I also cut some cilantro. Rob picked a few cherries at my sister’s farm when he went up there on an errand.  My brother-in-law,  Jake’s dad, texted us that he had accidentally forgotten his fruit for their trip on the counter, and asked us to go get it and eat it.  So, now we have some little oranges, a few apples, and some bananas that Rob immediately froze for smoothies.  We are definitely going to get our fruits and veggies this week!  I love this time of year with the garden starting to produce, and fruits growing ripe one by one.  Yum!

It was a week full of simple pleasures, lots of rest, and many fun experiences.  It’s always fun to share something you love with someone you love.  Jake got lots of new experiences and had a ball, as did the rest of us.  And, like always, it did not cost us an arm and a leg.

 

 

 

 

Saving Money–June 25, 2017

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I made 3 batches of jam this week.  One was peach, from some frozen peaches I wanted to use up.  We were out of peach jam, and that is Rob’s favorite, so I just made it when I made the other kinds.

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The second kind was strawberry.  Rob bought me a flat of strawberries and I was also able to throw a small handful in the jam from our bushes.

The third kind was berry-rhubarb.  I used the remaining strawberries, rhubarb and about 1 cup of raspberries from our bushes.  It is great.  We got that recipe from the internet ( I just added raspberries to use them and get enough mashed berries), but it’s pretty typical–4 cups berries, 4 cups rhubarb, sugar, and 1 box Sure-Jell pectin.  It turned out really tasty, and I was glad to use those raspberries, rhubarb and every berry from the flat of berries.  I am hoping that as the new strawberry bushes grow throughout the summer, I will get some to freeze by the end of the summer.  It’s easy to put even a small handful in a carton and add to it as berries ripen.

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We enjoyed the company of the nieces and nephew for 4 days and nights while their parents went to an out-of-town wedding.  We went to a park, drove the big girls around to activities they were signed up for or wanted to attend, and spent hours helping with a huge rummage sale at the church.  We had many more frugal, fun activities planned, but ran out of time.

The rummage sale occupied much of our time during the last few days.  Items were collected over the past few weeks by the youth pastor and his various crews, including Ja’Ana and Alissa.  Those 2 spent all day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday helping out.  We were more limited in our time, as we had the younger ones to care for, but did spend significant time each day helping out.  The weather cooperated.  It was sunny, which was far better than rainy.  In fact, it almost went overboard:) Every day was warmer and warmer, and by Saturday, the weather was actually super hot (around 100), which made the last day and clean-up a bit difficult.  There were so many donated items that the gym was full of tables, and an area about as large was full in the parking lot.  So, as you can imagine, there were thousands of items to sort, price, set out, and much to clean up in the end.  Then there were the workers (mostly teens) to feed, direct and keep hydrated. Thankfully, it was well organized and there were many adult leaders who were helping out in various ways.   There were cases of water which we constantly pressed on the kids.  One day, Rob went down to Taco Bell during the afternoon hours and grabbed a whole box of the $1 (super Happy Hour sale) slushies and handed them out.  We sure didn’t want any teens or adults getting sick from the heat.  By Saturday night, I’ll admit, I was pretty tired!  But, those teens!  There was a group that stayed until the bitter end yesterday afternoon, and they decided to go swimming.  So, they rounded up a place to go, and cooled off for a couple of hours.  Got to love that energy:)

The kids have been earning money in various ways so they can go to Mexico on a mission trip in August.  This was a big project, and I haven’t heard the final word on how much money they earned at this sale, but at last count, it was over $6,000.  I’m excited to hear the final count!

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In the meanwhile, the garden continues to grow nicely.  Rob did get in there and till one morning, and we put up a little trellis for the pole beans to climb.  Half of these are Purple-podded pole beans and the other half are Blue Lake.  Pole beans will produce until frost, which will mean we will have fresh beans for a long time and I won’t have to can as many.

We’ve been eating lettuce frequently and I picked a gallon of snow peas.  I harvested a little broccoli and made broccoli soup.  There have been a few raspberries each day.

Throughout the busy, busy week, we were able to pack picnics and cook at home.  I used my Instant Pot to make spaghetti sauce from scratch one busy night and we ate that and the soup several times.  We also had sandwiches frequently.  By Saturday night, Rob grabbed a little Chinese food for me, and Taco Bell for the others.  I was too tired to cook. I was even too tired to cut the crust off of Michaela’s peanut butter sandwich.  I cut it into quarters and I told her she had to bite out the middle and get rid of the crust herself.  (You have to understand autism to understand that that is a big deal to her–but I was proud of her–she went with the flow)  We got back to our house around 10, and I then slept like a rock and am now cheerful and ready for a new day!  It was a good week.

 

Summer Fun–Zoo Trip

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What a difference 4 days makes!  Today, when we went to the zoo, it was sunny and warm.  On Thursday, I was bundled up with 2 sweatshirts on, and we were carrying umbrellas.  Today, I did not even take a jacket with me.  Instead, we froze water bottles and took the ice-filled bottles with us and drank them as they unthawed.  Then, we re-filled them with water from bottle-filling stations I did not even notice on Thursday.  On Thursday, a picnic was out of the question, but today, it was the perfect option.

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Each person had an agenda today.  Michaela wanted to see big cats, and dressed in theme.   She even carried her 2 little stuffed cats around the entire day.   She was especially interested in the lioness she saw who was playing with a toy wrapped around a log in her enclosure.  What a treat to see the lioness being active.  Most animals were lying down today, because it was the first hot day in quite a while.

Jake wanted to ride the zoo train and eat.  He did both.  The zoo– once, the eating–all day long.  I was amazed as he isn’t usually so hungry.  Must be growing.

Patsy was a good sport and enjoyed all the animals we ended up visiting.  She had never been on the zoo train before, so enjoyed that especially.    I’ll probably slip up there one of these days so she can have a little more say-so in what she sees and where we go.   There were a lot of opinions floating around today.   The more we use the zoo pass, the better it is anyway, in my mind.

Rob and I wanted to keep everybody happy, hydrated, cool enough and fed.  We succeeded.  We took food with us that the kids like, several water bottles, took them to the misting areas 3 times, and negotiated between them all day long.   We also got Michaela to drink 3 full bottles of water.  Score!  (You have no idea what an accomplishment that is, but she is really trying to do better with that–we were so proud of her.)

Everyone wanted to go to “Africa” to see the big cats.   It was the primary goal, according to the kids. So, being the good auntie/uncle/parents we are, we started for “Africa” first thing.   “Africa” is harder to reach than you might think.  To get there, you enter the zoo, head down a big hill, stop and see the seals, continue on, have Michaela notice that there are tigers to the right, stop there and see a tiger and a leopard, have Jake notice that the train is running, stop and ride the train, have everyone want lunch, so stop and eat our picnic, have someone notice the insect and discovery area, go in there for a l-o-o-o-n-g time, and then notice that it’s already getting scorching hot and it’s afternoon.  Already.  So, you head off for “Africa” again, but there are the bats….and Jake has the zoo key….and there is one of the recorded messages about bats…..and you finally head off for “Africa” again.

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We finally succeeded in reaching “Africa.”  Jake picked the smallest lion statues to sit on, mainly because they were in the shade.  By this time, the sun was scorching and the metal lion family was smoking hot.  So, we pried them away from the artwork and headed off to see live animals.  We went through the lions, gazelles, African exhibits, giraffes, and hippos.

When we exited that area, we found ourselves just in time for a bird show on the lawn.  It was very exciting to watch, as the birds swooped extremely low over the heads of the spectators sitting on the lawn.  We all enjoyed it.  Then, they could view the birds from a closer distance at the base of the stage.

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The sun continued to beat down on our heads as there was no shade on that lawn, and Michaela, especially, began to suffer from the heat.  She is more sensitive than many to the heat.  We continued to press water on her, and she obligingly drank it.  Still….we were next to the elephants, so headed on over there.  By the time we had viewed them, we were all fried in the heat, and decided to start meandering towards the car.  Rob and I figured we would stop and see more animals on the way, but the kids were done, especially Michaela, who was not feeling very well in the heat by then.  So, we headed back up the hill, stopping frequently to coax the children along–offering drinks and lots of rest stops.  There was no food left by then, so we promised more once we got in the car.   There was another misting station at the top, so they got wet again.  Patsy and Michaela had birthday money burning holes in their pockets, so they revived at the gift shop and bought souvenirs.

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When we left the zoo, the air-conditioned car and the book-on-cd were both welcomed.  The cool drinks and snacks we bought were, too.  We stopped off on an errand and then headed home.  Everybody was happy, healthy, and they all want to go back.  No one got sunburned, as far as I know.  The sunscreen we used was powerful enough.  Whew!  I was a little worried as the day wore on.

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That’s how we like to leave a trip like this–with everyone hungry for more, including the adults.  In fact, Jake asked if we were coming to take him somewhere tomorrow, but we informed him that Mom and Dad didn’t have to work tomorrow like they did today, so it was their turn to spend time with him.  He was diplomatic enough to groan dramatically.   How gratifying!  We are, however, looking forward to the second half  of the week when we are spending all day, every day together while Mom and Dad head off to an out-of-town wedding.  So, I assured him that “many fun things” were in store for him, and they are—-for all of us.  It was a great start to summer.

 

 

 

Saving Money–June 18, 2017

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I harvested more lettuce, green onions, a little broccoli and quite a few snow peas this week.  I was able to use some of the produce at the 2 parties we had, as well as in meals and was able to share lettuce.

Jake and Patsy both got signed up for summer reading at the library.  We checked out lots of books and they’ve already started reading towards prizes, tickets for a drawing and an end-of-the summer party.

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I took Ja’Ana shopping for clothes for her birthday.  We though she would enjoy picking things out for herself.  We hit an amazing sale.  Things were 60% off, with an additional 20% off coupon, and a $10 off 50.  So, she got a pair of shorts, a pair of capris, 2 tops and a dress for a little over $40 (after coupons, etc.)

We used our zoo pass one time last week, and plan to use it again tomorrow.  We had 2 birthday parties, and kept them simple and reasonable.  You can read about the tea party here and the BBQ and sugar donut birthday party here.

We all finished school this week, except the homeschoolers who still have to do math during the summer and take a test in July.  Now, I will be working more hours with Jake and Michaela since it’s summer.  This is Rob’s summer job, so he will be taking his turn often, and at times, we will both work at the same time–one of us will work with Jake and one with Michaela.  We will be doing some overnights as well, when their parents are out of town.  So, we are planning lots of summer fun for all the kids.  We will be doing lots of frugal activities such as Kids Bowl Free, going to the park, the library summer reading, hikes, swimming at the YMCA, the zoo with our pass, picnics, etc.  When we add in church activities, camps, volunteering and more that the big girls are signed up for…..whew!  Patsy is getting a little older, so she has a few of those kinds of activities as well.  Rob may be glad when his “vacation” is over–we’ll see:)  It’s shaping up to be a fun summer.

 

BBQ and Sugar Donut Birthday Party

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Birthday party #2 for the week was a huge success, thanks to the help of the aunties, uncles, parents, and cousins!  Whew!  This party was for Ja’Ana’s 17th birthday, and she really wanted fresh donuts–the raised kind with sugar on them that only Auntie Rosalie can make the way J wanted them.

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The decorations were very simple.  Ja’Ana chose gold stars, a garland, gold paper plates and 1 black and 1 white plastic tablecloth from a party store so she could have the theme she wanted.    The rest of the decor and paperware were gathered from less expensive sources.  The plastic silverware was from Winco, the cups and napkins were free from some we had been given a while back.  The invitations, plastic ice cream bowls, and gold ribbon to curl onto the table were from the Dollar Store.

We have an outdoor covered porch next to our deck and the weather cooperated so we could have the entire party outside.

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This isn’t the best picture, but it gives the idea–drinks on a tiny picnic table on the right, and food on the big table which was on the grass next to the concrete–just in case the grass was too wet.  There was some ice in the cooler, which they used as the afternoon wore on and the drinks were getting warm.  I might get a bowl and some tongs next time.  It was a little awkward getting the ice out of the bag out of the cooler……you get the idea.

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Rob barbecued hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken drumsticks.

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Rob, and 2 nephews, Jake and Steven, lit a fire in the portable fire pit.  Ja’Ana thought some might want to roast marshmallows, but no one roasted even one.  We had an abundance of food, and they filled up on other things.  No worries, we’ll take the marshmallows camping.  Jake looks worried, but he was actually proud of himself for being part of that project!  We all enjoyed the time with Steven.  As these kids get older and older, it’s harder to find the time to be with them, so we were thankful for his presence today.

We kept the food simple, inexpensive and tasty.  We have hamburger from the 1/2 beef we purchased last fall.  I got hot dogs for 68c/package and buns for 88c/package.  We also had chicken drumsticks, and I bought about $5-6 worth–a big package.  I made home-made potato salad, which is always a money saver.  I picked lettuce for the burger toppings, added an onion and sliced tomatoes from the store.  One of my sisters put together a veggie tray using snow peas from the garden, and some veggies from the store, such as carrot sticks and celery.  I’ve been buying and stashing $1/2-litre bottles of soda and $1.88/package chips for a few weeks.  I got some of those things during the Memorial Day sales and hid them in the camper.  My other sister graciously brought all the donut-making items, including dough, oil and fryer.  I also made a big nacho dip using refried beans I made and froze last week, and put out corn chips that I had packaged into Ziplocks after buying the huge Costco bag for under $5 a few weeks ago.  Putting them in the gallon bags keeps them fresh.  We used the last 2 bags (probably about $2 worth).  I got bulk candy from Winco to scatter around to make the tables more festive.

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And then, the extremely popular donut crew!   Auntie Rosalie and Auntie Jan were the donut makers.  One girl confessed as she was leaving that those were the best donuts she had ever tasted, and she had eaten 3.

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Auntie Gail passed them around.  Michaela (her daughter) and Ron (her husband) stopped by for a bit on their way to the horse ranch where Michaela volunteers.  We enjoyed seeing them, too.  Alissa and Jake both stayed for the entire party.

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There was another girl who does not show in this picture.  In my mind, the perfect number showed up–enough to have a great time, eat a bunch of food, and to easily fit in our yard and deck.  One of Ja’Ana’s friends from before we moved drove clear down here to join the party, and made Ja’Ana feel very special and loved.  The new friends were very kind and gracious and made her feel welcome–they are a lovely bunch of girls.

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And, the relatives.  What a blessing they are to us.  So supportive, generous and kind.  I’m very thankful for their part in making J’s birthday so special.  And, I’ll have to say, we had a very nice time visiting with each other during the several hours we had together.  It feels good to put my feet up tonight.  This has been a busy week.  Now I can bask in the memories and the feeling of a successful week of birthdays:)

 

 

 

 

Double Birthday at the Zoo

 

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Today, there were 2 birthday girls celebrating at the Oregon Zoo in Portland,Oregon.  Both Ja’Ana and our little friend, Danait had their birthdays today.  J is 17, and Danait is 3.  We decided to have a celebration together and chose the zoo for the big day.  My sister, Rosalie, Danait’s mother, Harnet, Alissa and myself all went along.

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After several great sunshiny days, the weather man began to predict that today would include heavy rain, up to 45 mile per hour winds gusts, and cool temperatures.  Rosalie and I debated the issue and decided that we needed to go anyway, even if we didn’t stay too long.  When a little 3 year-old is promised animals, she needs to have animals.  The big girls would have done something else without blinking an eye, but cheerfully agreed to give it a try.  Our plan was to dart from covered area to covered area, dodging the raindrops in-between and holding big umbrellas over our heads when needed.  We did decide not to pack a picnic as planned, but instead to buy lunch at the little cafe, where we would be assured of a roof over our heads while we ate.

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We had a blast!  The rain held off until we were eating, praise the Lord!  We chased after a very excited little girl, who was enthusiastic, to put it mildly, to see all of the animals, but especially the monkeys.

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She loved climbing on this toy, as long as Alissa helped her stay on.

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Harnet sure appreciated how much the big girls helped chase little Danait around.  That child is quick.  She reminds me so much of Ja’Ana when she was little.  Harnet is so kind to the girls, always telling them how much she appreciates them playing with Danait, and how she wants Danait to grow up just like them.  What an encourager!

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They enjoyed the African exhibit a lot.  The giraffes reminded Harnet of her home in Africa, as they had them there.  The elephants and lions were also a hit, but little Danait wanted to see the monkeys the most, and watched them for a long time.  They obliged by throwing their food (some kind of leaves and fruit) around after taking a bite or two, and jumping around a bit.  So exciting!

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It was a great day and both girls had a great birthday.   It was so special that they could spend it with each other.  Little Danait loves Alissa and Ja’Ana and often says “they coming’ mama, they coming’.”  Even when they aren’t.  Then she will pout because they aren’t.  Of course, the big girls think she is adorable, and who doesn’t love to be looked up to and adored right back!  We 3 ladies had a great time visiting, laughing and watching the girls have fun.    Once it started pouring rain and the wind picked up, as the weatherman had promised, we finished our lunch and headed for our respective homes.  Both Ja’Ana and Alissa had driver’s ed drives this afternoon and evening.  Ja’Ana drove all the way there in the rain, on 2 freeways, and home again through rain, a huge traffic jam, and windy conditions.  I was so proud of how she is doing with her driving.

Rosalie went back with Harnet to her house so they could work on making appointments, and other things that needed to be done.  Sometimes Harnet has Rosalie make phone calls for her, to make sure the person on the other end understands exactly what is needed.  Her English just keeps getting better and better–I can really tell a big difference in the few months I have known her, but sometimes, she just wants a little help.   Rosalie is really good at that kind of thing.   We are already making some plans for summer.  Once we get Harnet’s school schedule, we will made another date to do something together.  It will be fun.

I’m glad we had such a fun time, because Rob and I are taking Jake, Michaela (niece and nephew), and Patsy (daughter) on Monday.  We have a zoo pass, so want to use it as much as possible.  We are planning the trips so that everyone we take will get in on the pass, so we have to take a few at a time.  The other 3 were all in school today, so were feeling left out until I explained that we would go Monday and NOT take Ja’Ana and Alissa.  Just them.  The big girls are going to the beach with the youth group on Monday anyway.  So, it’s all good.  Tomorrow is Rob’s last day of school and then he’s out for the summer!  Yea, and double yea!!!  Let summer begin!