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Thursday, August 13, 2015

I ended the month shooting the Blue Moon with Bonnie and The PDX Nightowls.  It was really hard to get the moon to show its craters and all and not end up looking like a little sun.  I need to figure out how to use Photoshop and layer up some exposures so I have it right.  But until then, this is what I have.
We shot downtown at the waterfront by the new Tilicum pedestrian bridge.  It is also for the Max Line and bicycles. 
 I spotted a heron catching a bull frog for breakfast.  It took forever to get it down.  Three times he got it down and had to spit it back in the water before it finally stayed down.  I felt a little bad for the frog, but realize it is part of the cycle of life.
I found a set of raccoon triplets the other day.  By the time I spotted them, the mother had signaled them and they were heading up the tree.  She stood at the bottom staring me down.

It has been so hot here...this squirrel was on our patio all spread out trying to cool off.   
 Mamma Goose is now eating from my hand. It is so cool how those three see me and head right over to me.  Even Baby Goose is starting to take a quick bite from my hand.

 Jessi heard about Preschooler Days at Oaks Park.  She invited me along with her.  It happens all summer long, every Tue and Wed,  $7 a kid to ride all the rides they want, followed by storytime and milk and cookies.  
 Josiah and Jessi rode the Tilt a Whirl...they laughed the whole time.  So Arianna decided she would try it too.  She hated it.  When she got off, she came up to me so mad and said "That was NOT Funny!"

We don't get to have them overnight very often, but finally I talked Jessi out of the kids.  We didn't do a whole lot, just ride to the park and play, but there is just something so special about getting to tuck them in and be there when they wake up.  Of course Jessi could not part with Lina overnight yet, but we did get to keep her for a day while they all went to the Air Show.  I took her on a hunt for my baby goose and then did a little photo shoot.  I am sure she was wondering what all it is the older kids like about hanging out with Grandma.  Just wait Lina, you will figure it out soon.
 Arianna started ballet.  It was just a little one day sample class, but I am pretty sure it was a hit and she will be taking real classes soon!  
Mom and Dad celebrated their 60th year anniversary. 
They are a true inspiration for every one of us in this McCool family.  
 They don't like to be the center of attention, so we knew we could not throw them a huge party.  But of course we could not let it go by and not do anything.  So we planned a family gathering to surprise them when they arrived back from their trip to Vegas/Reno.   It just happened to be right in the middle of Dennis' visit up here, so it worked out so awesome that they got to be part of the party too.  We missed having David and Beth and family with us, but they live in Colorado and had already just been here for Christmas, so were not able to make it.  

 The Toast
John is such a natural in front of everyone, so we asked him to give the toast.  We used tiny shot glasses and everyone got a kick out of it.  The kids had cider and were so excited toasting and refilling, not really knowing why, but what did that matter?
 The Cake 
Emily put on Great Grandma's wedding dress.  Pretty amazing that she is now the same age as when Great Grandma became engaged!  Arianna modeled the veil.  
I could not let a whole family gathering go by and not get a photo of my whole family together!! 
 I have been blessed to overflowing!
 Yes, I could not be prouder of my little family, but also,I have a pretty amazing set of parents and sisters.  We always have so much fun together.  I think those two sisters of mine have become my closest friends. 

Nothing beats spending time with your whole family!!  Dennis and Abby brought Gabe and Daniel up for a visit.  They wanted Daniel to meet the rest of the family.   It was a short visit, but we packed a lot in!  Of course we started out their visit with oatmeal pancakes.  Always a family request when we all get together.  Then off to the park we went for swings and sandpit.
 Saturday, John and Rachel and Emily and Josh joined us for a BBQ.
 We spent some time over at Jessi and Ariel's for pooltime and ice cream.
 And out to Great Grandma and Grandpa's too. 
I sure wish there was a way to live closer so we could always be together.

30 years ago, we hosted our very first exchange student.  Suyako Sakai.  It was an excellent experience for our family.  She taught us Japanese customs and cooked us Japanese food and brought us matching Japanese clothing that she and her mother made.  She put on her traditional costume and did a Japanese dance for us with her fan.  Quite a few years later, I finally was able to visit her family in Japan.  They treated me like royalty.  We have continued to keep in touch through the years, once even, her Mother and two friends came to stay with us.  Well, for the first time, we were so happy to have her stop in for a visit with her husband. They were on their way to Mississippi for a job he has there for a while with his company. They only had time to stay for a day, but it was a fantastic day with them.  We drove up the gorge to the falls and ended with dinner at Riverview while we watched the Sandy river pass by.  It was so nice to see her all grown up and to know that her time with us has meant as much to her as it did to us.  
It was such a good experience for us that we ended up hosting students from all over the world.  At last count, we had had 65 internationals live in our home.  That is including the students themselves and also the times that the student's family or friends came later on. (For example, our Italian boy came back with 4 friends and his brother and stayed about 2 weeks.) Some of them stayed a full school year, some only three weeks.  Each one was so special to us and enriched our family.  I am still in touch with almost every one of them. 
It was a Very Happy 4th of July!!!
We started off the day with the kids at our place, then met up with Matt, Karely, Bane, Great Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Lindy over at Jessi and Ariel's place.  

 Fireworks...always a favorite pastime.