Wednesday, June 23, 2021


We took our first ever family vacation (in the kids' memories) this past week. Decided to start small and just headed down to the Portland/Vancouver area. Seemed like that should be a doable drive without too much "are we there yet?" complaining from the back seat! I was considering Whidbey, but the only accommodations I could find at the kinda last minute date we were planning made it seem like all lodgings on the island are not welcoming to kids. So going somewhere we could just get a regular hotel sounded pretty great.

The mountain was out as we headed out of Seattle!

The drive quickly became tedious. We expected a little traffic around downtown Seattle, but there continued to be slowdowns throughout the trip, in random places. Despite being a mid-week, mid-day drive, it took us about 4 hours to reach the town just outside of Vancouver where one of Ryan's college roommates now lives. Malcolm said their house was like a mansion - which compared to our little city house it is! The kids enjoyed playing in their yard with their kids and on the trampoline. And we had fun catching up with the adults.

Then it was off to our hotel in Vancouver. Our room had a little patio, which was rather fun. It looked out over Esther Short Park.

The weather was forecast to be unseasonably warm, so we opted to spend our first day hiking, before the temps hit the high 90s. The whole Columbia River Gorge area is beautiful. I'd considered having us drive to Mt. Hood as well, but in the end I opted to keep that for another trip as it was another couple hours away from our hotel and there was plenty to keep us entertained closer to our hotel.

We headed to Beacon Rock State Park and were pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds on the "heavily trafficked" hike we chose. Always a good feeling with the hiking app rates the hike as "easy" and your out of shape body quickly starts complaining. Spending some good time hiking was exactly what we all needed after the past year and stressful past few weeks.

This was at the Hardy Falls viewpoint, but it was impossible to get the falls in the picture with us

Pool of the Winds - absolutely beautiful, and the spray from the fall was very welcome!

At the Pool of the Winds, a butterfly landed on my finger twice - and seemed super content to hang out there for a long while. This was an out and back trail of ~3 miles round trip. There was a playground near the parking lot, so the kids played there for a bit before we headed back to the hotel for dinner.

The next day we headed into Portland to visit the Portland Japanese Garden. Parking was a pain, but the garden was beautiful. This one is perhaps a little more "manicured" than Kubota Garden, but I think the kids and I do prefer how many more paths there are to explore at Kubota. This garden definitely leads you along a more set route. They have a pavilion with several bonsai trees that were really cool to look at, with several of them hundreds of years old! Because the garden is part of a larger park and that park is on a hill, as you get to the top of the garden there is a really nice viewpoint from which you can see downtown Portland and Mt. Hood in the distance.

That evening we walked along the Vancouver waterfront to enjoy the views of the Columbia river. The next day it was starting to warm up. We used it mostly as a day to just chill a bit - checked out the Vancouver Farmer's Market in the early afternoon and bought lots of fresh fruit and then reserved a time to use the hotel pool. We definitely did not mind the having the pool all to ourselves due to their current Covid precautions! And for dinner we introduced the kids to sushi. Mal was really willing to try things, which I was impressed by, even if he didn't like a whole lot - except for the shrimp tempura, which he loved (and the dessert of sesame balls). Gareth enjoyed it all.

For our final day, we planned another Portland day. We started with a mid-day jetboat tour of the Willamette River that starts in Portland and talks about the bridges and areas along the river and then ends at the Willamette Falls before heading back down the river to Portland. I didn't take any pictures of the falls, but I'm sure there are better ones than I could take to be found on the internet. Lots of getting splashed with water during the ride - we were thoroughly drenched by the end - which was much appreciated on such a hot day. Ryan and I ended up with sunburns despite our best efforts with sunscreen. The kids fared better, I'm guessing because their skin is generally more used to the sun/outdoors. 

The jetboat dock is right near OMSI, so we spent some time there after our excursion. It was a little awkward to wander around while semi-wet still, but it worked. We saw their dinosaur exhibit, checked out the exhibit on pregnancy that has real fetuses (really cool to see), enjoyed the live snakes, geckos, cockroaches, etc. And then watched a movie about the oceans prior to heading back to Vancouver. 

Our drive home was less tedious than the drive there. And our garlic scapes were ready to be harvested by the time we got back home! Now to decide what to use them for.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Rainbows and More Birthday

Met up with some coworkers a few weeks ago and were treated to a lovely double rainbow - the picture doesn't really do justice to just how bright this rainbow got. One coworker has a 4 year old and he was over the moon about the rainbow after starting out a little grumpy.

This gathering was with newish coworkers (newish to me because I'm only now officially becoming a part of their team) and some soon-to-be former coworkers (RDs who are leaving). I'll officially become a metabolic dietitian at the end of this month, which is both exciting and nerve-wracking. I'm happy for the folks that are leaving to be moving on to new adventures in their lives, things they've been working toward for a while. But it does mean I won't have more experienced metabolic RDs to lean on as I move into this area. I've been helping to cover some clinics and on-call for the past year, but will now get to be in the role full time (while still helping out in the epilepsy program a little). It can take years to feel fully competent in this area, so it definitely won't get boring anytime soon!

Metabolic RDs work with patients with inborn errors of metabolism - genetic changes that make it so they can't metabolize certain nutrients or metabolic byproducts. For many of these, nutrition interventions are among the primary ways to treat the disorder and help reduce damage done by buildup of toxic metabolites over time (by limiting the nutrients that lead to increased metabolite). There are over 40 disorders that we work with. Some of the most common that we see include fatty acid oxidation disorders, urea cycle disorders, glycogen storage disorders, and organic acidemias - each of these have more specific disorders within the categories and then there are more in addition to these as well. We typically follow patients into adulthood as these are rare disorders. For some of these disorders, it is only recently that people are surviving into adulthood, so that brings new challenges that in previous decades wouldn't have been considered - in how to help them navigate their disorder and going off to college, living independently, pregnancy, etc. Because metabolic crises require rapid responses in treatment, we take turns being on call 24/7. Our doctors try really hard to not page us in the middle of the night, but evening and weekend pages are not uncommon. It's a tight-knit multi-disciplinary team and I'm so excited that I get to join them.

We also recently celebrated Ryan's 40th, which of course called for getting 40 candles on the cake!

I stupidly lit the candles without checking to see if Ryan was actually ready for that, so they melted quite a bit while waiting. And the cheesecake hadn't had as much time to cool in the fridge as I would've like. And it was almost 80 degrees that day. So between all of those and the 40 candles sitting there melting, the center of the cheesecake was a little on the soft side when we served it. But still delicious!

I've decided that the NY Cheesecake recipe is just easier somehow. 2/2 for no cracks on that one, 0/2 on the chocolate one. Despite mixing them both nice and slowly and following the baking instructions to a tee.

Rodents got to a wire in the car the weekend of Ryan's birthday, so when we went out to use the car it wouldn't start. Of course, we didn't know right away what was wrong. Didn't quite seem like a battery based on lights coming on and sounds we got when we tried to turn on the car, but everything we could find also said that maybe the battery wasn't dead but just didn't have enough charge. Some folks threw out thoughts of fuel pumps or whatever else. But when we finally got it towed into the repair shop they told us it was rodents chewing through a crankshaft position sensor wire. Pricey repair, so now we get to go through the insurance and just use a loaner car for the next while. But it also meant I wasn't able to get out to get Ryan's birthday gifts in time for his birthday. One (bike carrier to attach to the hitch) will have to wait until we get the car back. And we get to call a pest control company for the first time in our lives to try to deal with the rodent issue and hopefully prevent this from happening again. It's times like this that I really don't enjoy this whole adulting thing.