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A Curated Gifting List {something for almost everyone} | Amy Thelen Photography Knows Gifts

I’ve always wanted to make a beautifully curated list of gifts that are good for anyone you care for, because my love language is gifting to others (more on that in another blog post). Be it holidays, birthdays, or just a whatever kinda day, it’s hard to pull out a gift that really means something if you haven’t given it much thought.

Sometimes, we just need an image to spark our curiosities or remind us of something that this special person mentioned months ago.

Handmade and local are equally important to me as well. I strive to support small, local businesses, knowing that isn’t always possible. You will find a collection of handmade in Portland as well as items handmade from other cities in this list.

I hope that this may help you, especially since the days are growing short (no, really…have you seen how dark it gets by 4:45pm?) and time is running faster than humanly possible.

Each image has a clickable link to take you to these items, where I guarantee you will find other beautiful and functional goods to drool over. Enjoy your time with a cup of tea or coffee and a warm fire blazing at your feet!

London & Ireland Summer Adventure | Family Documentary Travel

Are you that type of person who doesn't plan anything? Then all of a sudden you get an itch to DO something? Ya, that's me. My husband, Nate, and I decided we would meet up with friends in London and then travel to Ireland. The last time I visited both countries was 21 years ago! After that much time, nothing looks familiar. 

We took in a show, ate some amazing Indian and Peruvian foods, walked and walked and walked, visited Buckingham Palace and The Tower of London (with a small group private tour-so many insights that you wouldn't otherwise gather on your own), a cathedral where we overlooked the immensity of the city, both old and modern. Thrift shopping was a throwback to the 70s and 80s, with lots of mostly fake fur! Oh, and sitting being bored. That happened a lot.

After our fond farewells to friends, we boarded a plane to Cork, Ireland. We rented a car and thankfully, from the urging of the rental company, got full insurance. If you drive in Ireland, do it. You'll thank me later. The roads...dear God, the roads. Country lanes, more like it, with shrubbery pruned back so as to not entirely puncture your car as you are run off the road by oncoming traffic. I have never felt so terrified being in the passenger seat!

From Cork, we arrived in a fishing town named Dingle. It was absolutely adorable with brightly colored buildings, pubs, and tons of artisan shops. We drove the Dingle Peninsula, petting and feeding sheep and goats, exploring ruins from 1000 A.D., and embracing the wild Atlantic. We ate at local pubs, shopped at a tiny ceramics store and then ventured back to our B&B for a pint of Guinness while the kids watched the iPad. Yay for adult time!

We ended up spending a fair amount of time in the car, but it was beautiful as we traveled north to Doolin. This town is near the Cliffs of Moher, which we hiked for 4.5 miles, traversing mud and treacherous drop-offs. Then it started raining: we were soaked by the end, but it was worth it.

A 3.5 hour train ride to Dublin was next on our travel plans. We saw some rad street art, heard true Irish folksongs, ate at the oldest pub in Temple Bar, and watched kids playing football in the streets. Drunken revelry was high on Sunday when we arrived after Limerick played Cork in a hurling competition (which we sadly missed). We all got a kick out of the fans wearing their teams colors and talking smack.

I know I showed more than my sanctioned 5 images for this months post, but sometimes you gotta break the damn rules! But, please use your fingers to click on over to Kelly Tuohey, an awesome family photographer, to read about the last and best days of summer!

Soundproof rooms are WEIRD- a visit to the audiologist | Portland Family Photography

Over the past two years, Olivia has had abnormal hearing tests at school. When she was in first grade, I chalked it up to a massive cold she was still recovering from. The results were handed to me in one of those flurries of pick up madness, meaning I forgot about it for a couple weeks, lost the paper and found it again; only to lose momentum and not follow up on testing again.

I remember thinking, "She hears just fine. I can whisper at one end of the room and she still looks my direction and rolls her eyes." 

After this year's test, I realized this wasn't just a blip. She had severe hearing loss in her left ear above 2000Hz. I consulted Dr. Google and my dear friend who's daughter wears a hearing aid, sending her pictures of the results. It appeared that this frequency was quite high and I had this little thought that, "well, she won't hear all those annoying high pitched sounds...".

With this, I scheduled an appointment at Doernbecher Children's Hospital with an audiologist. I had no idea what to expect from our hour long visit. It was fascinating! The sound proof room, the hook-ups in ear and out of ear, and the computer screens full of data left me with wonder.

Liv's audiologist was full of humor, silliness, and the utmost care. I don't recall what she had told Olivia, but it sure got her to giggle!

Liv was able to feel the squishy-ness of the sensors before they were inserted into her ear to test her eardrum's movements. 

We entered the sound proof room, where Liv was hooked up in both ears to register her ability to not only hear sounds, but the voice of her audiologist, who was in another room watching her (and me) respond to the stimuli. She held a clicker in her hand which indicated when the sound reached each ear. I learned very quickly just how severe her hearing loss was with high pitched input. It actually made me wince!

I had been sitting in a chair behind her through most of the test, but wanted to see her reactions. When she couldn't hear as well, she would move forward in her seat. These natural body cues we have are so ingrained, even when they won't help us in an isolated environment such as this. Her eyes would skew to one side to increase her concentration and she would even lick her lips (this is her "I'm totally in the moment" body language signal).

We learned after her test that she cannot hear  "s", "th", "f", and "k" out of her left ear unless in a very low frequency. Thankfully, her right ear compensates for this loss of range. Am I worried? Hell yes. What if this is degenerative? At this point, a hearing aid won't be of any help and I have this gut ache knowing there's nothing we can currently do. I know it's not the end of the world; that many parents struggle with conditions that vastly outweigh what Liv experiences. However, as parents, we all feel this skip in the routine, the trip on the sidewalk, the tumbling feeling as we lose control.

So, I ask you, reader, what life events have you felt a loss of control over? How do you work through them? This is what we do as caretakers of the next generation and it's freaking hard. 

Keep on keeping on...

Amy