The drive to Portland on Friday was uneventful – Juliette didn’t sleep at all, but she was content to sit in the back seat with her new Elmo book and her bag of dried mangos, so we’ll call it a win.  We settled into Mitch and Kathryn’s for the final leg of our vacation and the girls took up right where they left off, tearing through the house thick as thieves.  Once the kiddos were finally put to bed, the grown-ups sat around the table eating pizza, drinking wine, and talking late into the night about the joys and perils raising daughters.  It’s cool, feeling a deeper bond with my brother since we’ve both become parents.

We got a slow start on Saturday morning.  Let me rephrase that – I got a slow start on Saturday morning.  Juliette, Morgan, and Elise woke up roaring to go.

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I suggested we all go out to Sauvie Island to some berry-picking.  Shane checked the forecast and said it might rain, but I shrugged off his warnings, optimistic that the skies would clear and we’d spend a couple of hours frolicking among the rows of bountiful blackberries.  Turns out I really should have trusted that weather report.

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We did manage to pluck a couple of pounds of fruit, but called it a day once our jackets were thoroughly soaked and our shoes so caked in sticky mud that we could hardly lift our feet.

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Thanks for being such good sports, kids!

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It was nice to change into clean, dry clothes and settle down for naps.  Elise helped with storytime, calming Juliette down after a busy morning.

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And then she got Jules riled up all over again!  I couldn’t bring myself to break it up, though – Elise is such a delightful goofball.

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And Morgan!  So sweet!  Most of the time.

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Once naptime was over and the rain clouds cleared, we shepherded the kids back outdoors.  Their energy is endless.

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Throughout the day, Juliette and Morgan were either the very best of friends or were engaged in a fierce bout of tug-of-war over some toy or book.  I think Morgan isn’t quite ready to relinquish her title as baby of the family, and for reasons I just can’t comprehend, Juliette seems to be used to always getting her way!  Plus, there’s a whole lotta strong, strong will between the two of them.

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But dang it, there’s also a whole lotta love.

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Elise is all growed up – helpful and kind, but also playful and silly.

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I asked the girls to pose for a final cousin photo before we took off.  SMILE, ladies!

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Thanks, Mitch.

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We got in the car one last time on Saturday evening and plowed on home to Seattle.  We pulled into our garage around 9:30 pm, just as Juliette’s eyelids were starting to get heavy.  We unpacked in a flurry and hit the hay hard, more thankful than ever for the comfort of our bed (and crib).  What. A. Trip!

Total miles logged in the car:  1,400

Miles logged in the car while Juliette was sleeping:  ~25 (not per our plan)

Miles logged in the car while Juliette was screaming:  ~20 (not too shabby!)

Number of lakes and rivers visited:  6

Number of deer spotted:  13

Number of times Juliette looked out the car window and asked, “baby deer???”:  312

Number of times we talked about moving to Bend:  3

Number fond memories made:  So, so many.