visit


Seth’s birth-grandma, Gale, got ordained on Pentecost, so we figured it was the perfect opportunity for a visit!

voodoo doughnuts
After food truck lunch in Eugene, we somehow found room for dessert at Voodoo doughnuts

Half of our reason for driving down was so we could stop at Crater Lake for the benefit of our young volcanologist. Little did we realize that there would still be a bunch of snow in mid-May, and that we could only gaze at the lake from afar. It still got a big thumbs up, though:

crater lake

klamath falls
We stayed the night in Klamath Falls, after enjoying the street fair that just happened to be held that night. Our dinner was lame, but breakfast at A Leap of Taste was super yummy.

After two days of driving, we arrived at Aria’s house. Being there was so, so lovely.

magic school bus

park picnic
Hanging out with Ethan’s parents (we missed Ethan by a week – doh!)

volcano

curly hair twins

Gale's ordination
Gale’s ordination to Christian ministry – yaaaaay!

cuddles

submarine
Seth had a great time playing with his uncles

On the way back, Todd and I talked up Paul Bunyan at the Trees of Mystery, which Seth has been playing since then. We also stayed the night in a yurt, which was super handy since it started pouring rain in the middle of the night.

on paul bunyan's boot
Lives up to the hype

oregon coast
The Pacific Ocean: also pretty rad, even in the rain

tillamook cheese van
The Tillamook cheese factory: not worth it

Overall, a wonderful trip to see some of our favorite people.

open adoption gets two thumbs up
Open adoption gets two thumbs up!

Day 8: Ethan caught his flight back to Oahu in the wee morning, which left the three of us to bum around the Big Island for one final day. We stopped at Lava Tree State Monument before snorkeling at the Kapoho tide pools. Actually, only Todd snorkeled (and played lost and found with one of his shoes) while Seth and I walked around simply peering into the tide pools, which was just as fun. After a lunch from Uncle Don’s hot dog stand in the middle of nowhere, we had a nice, long swim in Ahalanui thermal pool. We then attempted to hike out to the Kalapana lava flow. We hiked for about an hour before deciding to turn back because it still looked really far away, but it was still an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Sometimes we could hear the ocean waves, but sometimes all we heard was the sound of our boots crunching on the rocks. No cars, no birds. The next day we flew home and landed back in real life.

Overall, our trip to Hawaii was amazing. I see now why people go back over and over again — it’s so gorgeous! And it was nice to get to see two islands as they were very different. The biggest highlight, of course, was getting to visit with Ethan, but we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting.

lava trees
lava trees

Seth the photographer
Seth taking a photo of Mama and Dada

Pahoehoe
don’t all four year olds love pahoehoe like this one does?

Day 7: We caught our hosts on their way out for the day, and asked what they were up to. They were planning on going to the farmer’s market, then swimming at Carlsmith beach and Richardson beach. We basically did exactly the same thing (along with a stop at Rainbow Falls) with wonderful results. Within minutes of arriving at Carlsmith beach, we “swam with” a giant sea turtle – more like, got out of his way so he didn’t bump into us. Richardson beach has black sand, so kept us occupied all afternoon. A home-cooked meal of burritos filled with farmer’s market veg and mochi ice cream rounded out a great day.

giant sea turtle!!
giant sea turtle!!

open adoption: best thing ever
113 year old banyan tree

black sand beach
at Richardson beach

black sand beach

Day 6: When planning our trip, we knew we had to go to Oahu, because that’s where Ethan is living, but there was no way we were going all the way to Hawaii without visiting the Big Island volcanoes with our budding volcanologist. We spent this entire day exploring Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park before a pizza dinner in Pahoa.

kilauea caldera
Kilauea caldera

thurston lava tube
outside the Thurston lava tube

lava rock hike
hiking out to see the petroglyphs

sea arch
Holei sea arch

volcanoes get two thumbs up
volcanoes get two thumbs up

Day 4: a hike up to Manoa Falls – the trees and plants were so beautiful, there needn’t have even been a waterfall at the end. Portugese donuts (malasadas) at Leonard’s bakery. We then planned on getting lunch at Kaka’ako Kitchen but accidentally ended up at Kua’Aina instead. Our burgers were tasty all the same, and filled us up for a whole afternoon of swimming and playing at Waikiki beach. We made our way back to Kaka’ako Kitchen for dinner, and walked back to our hotel at sunset.

manoa falls
I could not get enough of banyan trees

manoa falls
at Manoa Falls

Day 5: we only had the morning left in Honolulu, so spent it driving the Tantalus-Round Top Road for an amazing view of Honolulu, and then a little hike on one of the many Makiki Valley trails. After lunch at Irifune, we hopped on our flight to Hilo. We rendezvoused with Ethan, had dinner at the Hilo Burger Joint, and then headed to our rented flat for a restful night of sle–FROGS FROGS FROGS MAKING NOISE HALF THE NIGHT.

honolulu
the view from Tantalus Drive

We went to Hawaii at the beginning of March to visit Ethan and to have fun family vacation times.

Day 1: flight from SEA to HNL. By the time we got off the plane, picked up our car and checked into our hotel, we were really hungry. We had taken snacks for the plane, but hadn’t had a real meal in about 12 hours. Aloha Sushi totally hit the spot for food, and a quick splash in the ocean at Ala Moana beach park helped slough off the travel-weariness.

palm tree
saying hello to Hawaii, Seth-style

Day 2: a hike up Diamond Head, lunch at the Mauna Kea food court. Todd and I both got Filipino food, and Seth got sushi for the second time in two days. After lunch, we drove to Byodo-In Temple. It was okay as it was on our way, but it’s definitely not a destination. Kailua beach park was our destination and it was worth it. We spent all afternoon playing in the sand, and then headed back to Honolulu to chow down on pasta at Auntie Pasto’s.

diamond head
the view from Diamond Head

byodo-in temple
Byodo-In Temple

beach time
beach tiiiiime!

Day 3: drove up to the North Shore via H-3 – super beautiful drive. Spent the rest of the morning watching surfers and one lone turtle (that stayed 20 feet out from shore) at Turtle Beach. Had our first taste of shave ice at Aoki’s, and lunch at a set of food trucks in Kahuku, including Giovanni’s shrimp truck. I wish I remember the name of the shrimp truck right next to Giovanni’s because it was even better. We then needed a place to hang out for a while before meeting Ethan for dinner, so went to Foster Botanical Garden with low expectations. It ended up being really cool, and even had a “prehistoric” garden, which was a big hit with someone we know. Met up with Ethan for a yummy poke dinner at Ono Seafood and waffle cakes at Whatcha Fillin’ for dessert. (Note to self/others: next time you’re in Honolulu, no need to look up restaurant ideas–just drive along Kapahulu Drive until something sounds good.)

shave ice
shave ice FTW

shrimp truck
Seth wrote his name on the side of the shrimp truck (see the flickr photo note of where it is)

baobab tree
man, baobab trees. totally awesome.

seth & ethan
man, seeing Ethan. totally awesome.

ethan & seth

January brought a visit from Aria! We went to the children’s museum, the Seattle aquarium, visited our wonderful counselor from the adoption agency, and hosted both sets of grandparents for meals. Other than that, it was just “play play play snacks snacks play play…” (as Seth likes to say when you ask how he spends his days). It was such a wonderful visit.

playing Santa
playing Santa

(We’ve been playing Santa for about a month straight. This version of it was to hide gifts – crayons & such – inside play dough and then cut it out with scissors to open the present.)

Wrecking ball
playing Wrecking Ball

Aquarium
at the aquarium

On the pier
two amazing people

A couple weeks ago, we all went on a trip down to California! (1)

We flew down to San Francisco on Friday, June 12th. San Francisco is a couple hours further away than the Santa Rosa airport, but the tickets were 60% cheaper and we figured it would be a good deal even with renting a car to drive up. It actually ended up being about the same amount each way (the car was expensive!), but at least we got the benefits of an extra 5 hours of travel including leaving our house at 5:10am getting to see the Golden Gate Bridge and eat burritos in the Mission district.

Everyone was very excited to see us when we arrived. Gale and Aria picked us up at the car rental agency where we dropped off our car, and they couldn’t believe how big Seth has been getting. Skyler and Carter came running out of the house as soon as we showed up, and couldn’t wait to surround Seth with toys.

Betsy’s parents also came down – they had driven down from north of Seattle, starting back on Wednesday, and they came into town a few hours after we got there.

In the evening, we all went out to a local park where a band was playing some rock/blues/country music. Being back in a small town again was fun, as everyone at the park seemed to know each other, and Gale kept running into people who she needed to show off Seth to. We were pretty tired after a long day of travel, and collapsed as soon as we got back home.

On Saturday, we packed up some food and headed out to a local winery where the farmer’s market was set up. We met a large group of friends and had a big breakfast picnic under the trees on the grass while browsing through the market. I picked out a gorgeous walla-walla onion and some green garlic for Sunday’s dinner, and grabbed some stone fruits for Betsy to make dessert with. Kids were running around playing and Gale got in some extra cuddle time with Seth.

Around noon, we met up with Ethan in town. It was Betsy’s parents first chance to meet Ethan, and they really hit it off. We went to a local restaurant for lunch, and by random luck, Ethan’s parents happened to be eating at the same restaurant. They spent time with us and held Seth while we ate, and we all got a chance to catch up with each other.

That evening, we returned to the house for Cuisine Night, a regularly-occurring potluck organized around a different region’s cuisine every time. This week was Thai night, and there was a huge amount of amazing food served up. There was also a huge amount of amazing people in the house, and I was a little worried that Seth would get overwhelmed with all of the excitement and people and noise and smells. Seth did great, though, charming everyone and having fun.

On Sunday, we attended Ethan’s church, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then headed over to Ethan’s graduation party. We got to meet a good number of relatives and friends and well-wishers, and watched a slide show of Ethan growing up.

Seth was starting to get a little cranky, so we took advantage of the fact that Betsy’s parents had a hotel room in town. We retreated there and the three of us took a nap together while Betsy’s parents went out and did a little more sight-seeing. When they came back, Grandpa got a little bit of extra play time with Seth.

In the evening, Gale’s mother and great-aunt came over to visit, and I cooked a big pile of Greek food for everyone. It was a pretty relaxed evening, compared to the big parties of the last few days, and it was nice for everyone to just get to hang out and chat a little bit. Of course, we had to get an updated picture with Ethan, Aria, Betsy, me, and Seth.

On Monday morning, we said our goodbyes, and I flew back to Seattle so I could get back to work. Betsy, Seth and her parents took the more leisurely route, driving up Hwy 101 through the redwoods and along the Oregon coast, getting back home on Wednesday.

The trip was a lot of fun, and we can’t wait to come back down and eat mission burritos visit everyone again!

Even more pictures are available here.


(1) – “Wait,” you say, “I thought from your previous post that you were living under a freeway bridge, huddled together in a pile of rags, skewering rats on a old wire clothes hangers and cooking them over a flaming garbage can. And now you are going on lavish vacations?” Actually, our financial situation isn’t that dire – we have fairly substantial cash reserves and no consumer debt. We just see that our total savings are going down each month, and that we can’t sustain that indefinitely. But don’t worry unduly about us yet. Also, our lodging was free, and almost all meals were cooked at home, so there were little expenses beyond the plane tickets, which weren’t that bad. Obviously, we can’t do this every weekend, but we thought it was worth the splurge.

Aria came to visit! She was here for about a week, from Friday to Thursday. We really enjoyed having her come over, and Seth seemed happy to see her too.

Most of the week was spent doing pretty mellow things – hanging out at the house, going out to the park for walks, watching movies, or just spending a long time all looking at the cutest baby in the entire world. We had a fairly busy weekend – Betsy’s parents and sister came over for a huge brunch on Saturday morning, during which I stuffed myself silly on cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, and fruit, and we went up to my parents’ house for Easter Sunday and watched Saben and Annika search for eggs and fill themselves up with sugar. During the rest of the week, Betsy, Seth and Aria visited various parts of the city (U district, Southcenter mall, etc) while I was at work, and we all relaxed at home in the evening.

Seth often has a hard time when being held by people other than Betsy or me – he’ll be nice for a few minutes, but it doesn’t take too long for him to start fussing and want to be returned to us. But he seemed perfectly content to be held by Aria. It was pretty great for us to be able to both be working on things around the house and know that he was in good hands.

We can’t wait for Ethan to visit, and hope that we get to visit the rest of the California family in the near future!

Aria arrived yesterday and is visiting for almost a week. Yayayay!

Aria & Seth @ 3 Months