Auntie Cristina holding Baby Elise

“Auntie” Cristina Eklund and Cousin Elijah come to Portland for a long-overdue visit, Aug 20-23: We were so thrilled to have the Eklunds (minus Daddy Jeremy on this trip) here in Portland for a family visit after their two-year stint abroad in Nicaragua. (Click here for more on the Eklunds’ life in Nicaragua.) Cristina, seen here with her new niece baby Elise, arrived from sunny California on Monday. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t as inviting as the warm & sunny Gotcher girls were: It rained for the first two days of their stay! However we managed to have lots of indoor fun despite the cloudy skies and wet weather.

Claire & Audrey with Cousin Elijah

Claire, Elijah & Audrey hit the mall: We spent the first wet days hitting our favorite indoor hang-outs — Washington Square Mall and the infamous Oregon landmarks play area, the new Pump It Up Jr. for hours of bounce, and the old reliable Gotcher Girls Playroom — until the final and sunniest day, when we all hit the Wilson Pool for a family swim. We planned to debut Elise in her new watermelon swimsuit, however she decided to nap instead. Audrey & Claire showcased their swimming talents, having spent the past several weeks sharpening their swimming skills with daily lessons. Audrey is perfecting her freestyle stroke — complete with side-breathing! — and Claire is paddling about bravely with her face under water, bubbles blowing furiously. However, the best part of free swim time is the abundance of floating paraphernalia found drifting about, just waiting to be commandeered for a water war.

Swimming at our neighborhood pool with the Eklunds

Twenty-month-old Elijah was content to play with “agua” on the sidelines for the most part, pouring water back and forth between a plastic pink teapot & cup rescued from the playroom’s “no-agua-allowed” kitchen to be enjoyed with unrestricted splashing at poolside!

Having re-connected with their cousin for the first time since he was a six-week-old newborn, the girls were thrilled to have a boy in the house and loved showing the ropes to cousin Elijah, though I think in the end Elijah was slightly more enamored with his “Uncle Kenny.” Every time we arrived home from an outing, Elijah would immediately start calling for “Uncle Kenny, Uncle Kenny!” until he was found. Maybe he needed an occasional break from the princesses! Elijah wasn’t the only one who needed a break: The Mommies got their “night out” Wednesday with a quick shopping escape at the shopper’s paradise Pioneer Place in downtown Portland, thanks to Uncle Kenny’s offer to keep watch over the flocks for a couple of hours.

We were very sad to see them go on Thursday, however now that they are back in the states, we are hopeful that it won’t be another 18 months before we see them again!

Here’s to our “second step” in recording the exciting happenings at Casa Gotcher in Portland! I hope to keep the news coming regularly as events of note take place in our busy family lives.
—Renée Gotcher