I got up a bit earlier than La V on Saturday morning and slipped out for a couple of solo hours in the neighborhood.  Golly, I could get used to waking up to this view…

The Marais was so uncharacteristically mellow at 9 am – shops were closed, terrace tables were empty, there was no sound of French chatter or clinking coffee cups.  Walking these quiet streets was a perfect way to ease into the day.

Yesterday’s 12-mike trek and series of leisurely detours had reassured me that Paris was better done without a four-year-old in tow, but when I saw this mom strolling down the street with her darling pea-coated daughter, I missed my girl somethin’ fierce.  Someday, Jules, we will take on this city together.

My beloved Pompidou!  This museum is where I met Giacometti and Dubuffet and Yves Klein – I bought an annual pass to the museum during my year abroad and would pop in every couple of weeks to check in on my favorites.  La Verne and I decided to pass on going in this time around due to the long wait times, but still, it felt good just to experience the place for a moment from the outside.

My walk took me past Saint-Eustache and since I was free to choose my own adventure, I went in and spent a few minutes wandering its hallowed halls.

Someone was playing the organ while I was there, and while I’d much prefer a nice quiet acoustic guitar, there’s no denying the sheer magnificence of this instrument.

From the cathedral, I walked a block over to Rue Montorgueil and browsed the markets and boulangeries and cafes.  I bought a buttery, crispy Kouign-Amann and munched on it as I took in all the colors and smells and sounds of the city as it came to life at 10 am.  This is Paris…

It felt like every street I walked down was even more perfect than the one before it.

I was only a couple of blocks from my old apartment, so I briefly zipped down Rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth to take a look at my old stomping grounds.  It’s still lovely.

La Verne and I rendezvous’ed at a cafe and sipped a couple of cafe cremes while solidifying our plans for the day.  It was pretty straight-forward, really:  shop, eat, walk, eat, walk!

We spent much of the day in the Marais, strolling through the Marche des Enfants Rouges and then popping into several boutiques in search of the perfect trinkets to bring home for our kiddos (and ourselves).

We each bought a box of precious chocolates Jacques Genin, which felt more like a jewelry store than a chocolate shop, with its glass cases of gilded goodies.

I mean, these are almost too pretty to eat!

Satisfied with our purchases, we lunched at Bar du Marche, toasting to a very productive afternoon.

We grabbed a little shut-eye back at the apartment and then set out for an evening in Montmartre.  We had 8 pm dinner reservations and spent the couple of hours prior to that wandering the neighborhood’s hilly, winding streets.

We ended up at Sacre Couer and went inside for a quick loop.

When we came out, the sky had turned dusky and lights had begun to glimmer across the city.

We sat on the steps over-looking the city for a few minutes and then moved farther down when we saw the huge crowds gathered around a man playing his guitar.

Next thing we knew, we were singing along with hundreds of other people to a cover of Oasis’ Wonderwall as nighttime set upon Paris.  It was weird and silly and completely touristy, but in that moment, pretty extraordinary.

Since we’d been waylaid by Mr. Magical Guitar-Man, we had to book it to make it to our dinner reservation and zipped through Montmartre to land at ASPIC by 8 pm.

La Verne had found this little tucked-away gem of a restaurant online and booked this as our one “fancy” meal, though the vibe was actually cozy and casual, and the seven-course menu was really reasonably priced.  The food was beautiful and fresh and surprising, and in between courses La Verne and I got swept up in one of the most honest conversations we’ve had in years.  We laughed, we cried, we ate, we drank.  It was a meal to remember, in so many ways.

We caught the Metro after dinner and hopped off a couple of stops west of our apartment so that we could do a little sight-seeing on the way home.

THIS PLACE!  The Louvre at night is magnificent.

We walked further down Rivoli and milled about for a few minutes with the crowds that had gathered at Hotel de Ville to clebrate Nuit Blanche.

Eventually our feet could carry us no farther and we wearily climbed the two flights of stairs to our apartment.  My perfect evening ended perfectly in a happy chat with Juliette, who apparently was having a fabulous time with her dad in my absence.  It felt so good to see Juliette (and Shane) smile, to know that they were up to their own sorts of fun shenanigans, biking across Vashon Island and decorating pumpkins with friends.  This Parisian ladies trip had felt a bit crazy when I first proposed it, but gosh, it was working out splendidly!

Friday morning in Paris was crisp and sunny – perfect weather for trekking across the city in search of the perfect pain au chocolat.  Our mission took us through Bastille to the charming  storefront of Boulangerie Bo, where we ordered up a pain au chocolat, a raspberry croissant, and a beautiful lemon tart.

In the name of research, we carried our goodies the few blocks to Ble Sucre, where we asked for a plain croissant and a kouign amann and taste-tested our treats at a little table out front.  The standout was Ble Sucre’s plain croissant, which validated our initial hypothesis that more butter = more better.

After downing all those pastries we felt compelled to get some steps in, so we opted to walk rather than Metro to Jardin des Plantes.  I have the fondest memories of visiting this place in the spring, when poppies dot the pathways with red and orange – turns out it’s just as beautiful in October, when sunflowers and dahlias shine in all their early-autumn glory.

We spent a few minutes wandering through the steamy greenhouses…

And then popped back out ready to hit the streets again!  Off we went to Place Monge to wander the stalls and pick up a market lunch.

Armed with bread, cheese, meat, and fruit, we made our way toward Jardin du Luxembourg, weaving our way through some of Paris’ quaintest streets.

And then found a couple of sunny seats at Luxembourg where we could catch some rays and spread out our feast.

When in Paris…!

My chunk of baguette smeared with salty, stinky cheese perfectly hit the spot.  La Verne was pretty enamored with her ripe, jammy fig.

I’ve spent quite a few hours in these green chairs over the years.  I love these chairs.

Autumn in Paris for the win!

We left the park and walked toward the Metro, happening upon Saint-Sulpice on our way.  So we popped in, because WHEN IN PARIS…

We left the church in search of coffee and a sunny cafe terrace but again were sidetracked, this time by a couple of chocolate shops and this little alley.  Really, our few days in Paris were one lovely detour after another…

Eventually, though, the need for a caffeine kick drove us to Cafe Mabillon, where we settled in with a couple of cafe cremes.

The forecast told us that Friday would be our sunniest day in Paris and we couldn’t bear to let that perfect Fall weather go to waste, so we boarded the Metro and headed north to Pere Lachaise for a cobble-stoned stroll, despite the fact that our Nikes had already logged about eight miles by this point.  Some things are just worth pressing on for.  Pere Lachaise is one of them.

This cemetery ranks in my top-three Parisian places, and it was in particularly fine form that day, golden and green and serene.

I mean, WOWSERS!

We spent a couple of hours chilling out back at the apartment in the evening but then figured, “why not rest our feet someplace scenic?”.  Like on a boat!  On the Seine!

We caught the last cruise of the day, which began near Notre Dame and floated west toward the Eiffel Tower.  We heard jazz music in the distance and spotted this crowd of dancers practicing their moves.

Then it was one beautiful bridge after another…

And another…

There she is!  As lovely and lacy as ever.

The full moon shone extra-bright that night, making the Seine extra-sparkly.

Post-cruise, we warmed ourselves with galettes and cider at Cafe Briezh.

I loved these nighttime walks through the Marais back to our apartment, making me feel as if we were ending the day on the highest of notes.

Looking back over these pictures, I can’t believe all that we packed into a single day.  So much beauty!  So many steps!  (And so many carbs!)  That’s the Paris buzz, though – you forget your fatigue in the midst of so much magic.  This city is enchanting.

Oh, Paris. Paris. PARIS. Let’s talk for a minute about Paris.

Paris is where I fell in love with art and cafés and with pointy toed shoes.  It’s where I learned that I can do hard things, like set up a back account and a phone line and a student visa, all in a language I barely understood at the time.  It’s where I gained so much of the confidence and independence and wanderlust that I still carry with me today.  And gosh, I’ve missed the hell out of that city since the moment my year abroad ended in 2004.  Shane and I went back for a few days in 2009, and then a few more in 2011, but it’s been six years since I’ve walked the Pere-Lachaise’s cobblestone streets, spoken any French, sipped a tiny espresso on a Marais cafe terrace.  I was due for a romp through the City of Lights.  That place was beckoning to me.

Was Jules ready to come along, though?  Probably not…I mean, I have big dreams of roaming the streets of my favorite place with my favorite girl, but the full-day journey and all the walking that an urban trip like this entails just doesn’t feel like her style at this point in time.  We’ll stick to beaches and mountains for a couple more years.

Cue La Verne, who took all of 7 seconds to respond with an emphatic OUI! when I asked her if she’d be up for a Parisian getaway. She booked our flights, I found us a sweet little apartment in the Marais, and then there was nothing left to do but kiss our babies and their good-hearted dads goodbye.  Oh, the goodbyes…the goodbyes were hard.  But we soon got over it.


We left SEA on Wednesday, landed at CDG on Thursday, snaked our way into Paris via RER and Metro and then, like magic, popped out of the stuffy underground into my beloved, bustling, beautiful city.  I was hungry and exhausted and a little foggy-eyed, but the sight of those old stone buildings and the wrought iron railings and the gray zinc roofs breathed so much life into me.  WE WERE IN PARIS!

We walked the few steps to our apartment’s front door and were greeted by our gracious host, who gave us the spiel, handed us our keys, and left us to squeal in delight over our lovely abode. These windows are the stuff of dreams.

We dropped our bags, slapped on a fresh coat of makeup, and headed back out in search of food and drink. We were only a few blocks from my favorite Marais cafe and snagged the last open terrace table at Les Philosophes.  Red wine, chèvre-topped salad, the sound of French being spoken, and the company of a dear friend. I was in my happy place.

Sufficiently wined and dined, we spent the next couple of hours wandering around the Marais, peering into the windows of boutiques and boulangeries. We walked down rue des Rosiers and through the Place des Vosges.  It all felt so wonderfully familiar to me, but was no less magical than the very first time I laid eyes on this place.

We popped back into the apartment for a quick pit-stop and a peek out those lovely windows…

But the night was still young and we were still buzzing with Paris vibes, so we headed back out and walked the few blocks to the Seine.

We wandered around Ile Saint-Louis and Ile de la Cite and saw Notre Dame and the Conciergerie and the Pont Neuf, because that’s what happens in Paris – you head out for a walk and suddenly it’s like you’ve fallen inside the pages of a travel magazine.

I mean, how is this even real?

Once the sun set, jet lag began to tug at our eyelids, so we sauntered past the Hotel de Ville (!!!) and then back to our apartment, where we started talking about the next day’s agenda and suddenly were all amped up again.  WE WERE IN PARIS!

Finally, though, we called it a night and got our much-needed rest.  Bonne nuit.

I have one last (big) batch of tank-topped photos to put up, and then we’ll be onto sweaters and golden leaves and pumpkins.  Fall is HERE, whether I’m ready to bid farewell to summer or not.  (I’m not.)

Juliette came back from La Pine a regular speed demon on her bike – it was fun to hit the last of the season’s bicycle Sundays with her on the Boulevard.  Our first time out, I left my bike at home and figured I’d walk alongside her, in case she needed any help getting started or staying on course.  Three miles in, I was sweating and huffing as she gleefully left me in her dust!

We unwisely let her take her bike out and pedal a little ways ahead of us at a new park in Sammamish a few weeks ago – she rounded a corner and started barreling down a hill we didn’t see coming, and though I chased after that girl like a bat out of hell, I just couldn’t reach her.  She hadn’t figured out braking but bravely followed my directions when I told her to turn off the path onto the grass, where she bumped/skidded to a stop and tumbled onto the ground.  Thankfully, she only skinned a shoulder and an elbow, but GAH!  MY HEART!  I spent the rest of the day with my arms wrapped around her, letting go only long enough to let her finish the ice cream cone I bought her at Molly Moon’s that evening.  So, so, SO sorry, kiddo…

I resisted the urge to slap a pair of training wheels on her bike and cover her in bubble wrap when she asked to get back out on her hot rod the very next day.

We spent the first few days of September doing the spray park circuit, wanting to get our splashes in before they all ran dry after Labor Day.

And we spent a Saturday harvesting beets, zucchini, berries, and apples at the farm of one of Shane’s co-workers.  He was incredibly generous, telling us we could take as much as we could possibly eat, handing his very last few raspberries to a grateful Juliette.

Zucchini baby!

We spent Labor Day on a boat with the Chens, zipping around Lake Washington.  We’d done this a few years ago with the gang and figured we were due for another round.  We pulled away from the dock, nice and easy…  (That poor little shoulder!)

And then Jack hit the gas and the crowd went wild!

Juliette apparently loves the feel of the wind in her hair.  And I confess, I got a little giggly and giddy myself as the boat skidded across the water.

I know, I was snap-happy with the camera, but I mean, COME ON.  This is one happy kid.

Thanks, Shane!  Don’t mind if I do…

We drank our mimosas, snacked on our bread and cheese spread, and then turned off the motor for a bit so the guys could take a dip and practice their synchronized karate kicks.

Then, the pedal was put back to the metal.

I had a now-or-never urge to jump in as our rental time drew to a close, so I took a quick dip myself.  My last lake swim of the year…

Turns out the thrill of it all was just too much for this little guy!

We spent a slightly-cooler Saturday checking out Farrel McWhirter Park in Redmond – I was eager to visit the farm animals and Shane wanted to try his hand at orienteering with Juliette.

These two were pretty sweet, carefully tracking the map and searching for markers in the woods as if they were hidden treasures.

Plus, blackberries for dayyyyyys…

The final marker!  Mission complete.

Jules had a good long chat with a chicken before we left – she’s does a pretty good bok-a-bok.

That evening, we roasted s’mores in the Rusts’ backyard.  I’m a little bummed that we didn’t make it out for one last camping trip in September, but this offered some solace.

We kicked off Juliette’s “birthday week” with an afternoon game at Safeco field, again wanting to squeeze in one of those only-in-the-summer events.

The Mariners weren’t faring too well against the Yankees, but we still sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame with great gusto.

The field was open to kids after the game, so we all headed down for a jaunt, in search of the Mariners Moose.

Before the attendants could even yell “Go!”, Jules was off.

This kid had a serious case of the kettle corn crazies by the time we rolled back into our neighborhood:

And…over and out!  Summer 2017, you. were. epic.

Welp, baby girl has done it again – gotten another year older, gotten braver and funnier and taller and awesomer.

Juliette officially turned four on Thursday, kicking off a veritable birthday bonanza.  I got up early that morning to tie a big balloon on her bed, then hovered outside her room waiting for her to stir.  She rolled over and rubbed the sleep from her eyes, her face slowly cracking open into a huge grin as she discovered the giant pink 4 bobbing just over her head.  I smothered her with kisses and birthday exclamations, telling her how four years ago at that time, she was so close to coming out of my belly, how I was at the hospital with Daddy and Nancy and the doctor excitedly waiting to hold her in my arms.  Feels like forever ago…

We breakfasted at Juliette’s favorite coffee shop and then I dropped her off at school with 20 mini-cupcakes, to be shared with all her classmates.  She was so proud, felt so all-important, strutting in with all that sugar.  When we picked her up that evening, she was wearing a birthday crown and clutching a gift from her favorite teacher.  Queen for a day!

We had asked her what she wanted for her special birthday dinner and without hesitation she requested meatballs and pizza and ice cream from Tutta Bella, so we met up with the Chens, happy to indulge her (and ourselves).

Happy Birthday to Youuuuuuu!

Juliette opened her gifts from Shane and me back at home and then we put a bow on Day 1 of the birthday bonanza.

On Friday we went to the coffee shop and the park and put together Juliette’s new Moana Lego set and then, magically, she spent nearly an hour quietly doing crafts in her room, happy to have her birthday balloon as her only company.  Dare I hope that we’re entering new realms of independence?!

We ended the day at the Rusts’ for our weekly family dinner, and while I forgot to get any pics of the birthday decorations Nancy had sweetly strung up around the house, I did get this photo of the kids poring over the Zelda manual.  All three of them, obsessed.

Saturday was the big event, the birthday bash that we’d been planning for the previous few weeks.  Juliette really wanted a party where she could play in the water and while I wasn’t sure that beach weather would stick around in Seattle through mid-September, we crossed our fingers and went for it, purchasing sand pails and beach balls and water squirters as party favors, planning a menu of bbq ribs and watermelon and cupcakes.  And Saturday at Gene Coulon was glorious.  A little hazy, but sunny and warm enough to go for a dip.  What a way to bid hello to Four and farewell to Summer.

There were no magicians or princesses or bounce houses, no Pinterest-worthy decorations, but this was everything we wanted.

The kids took a brief break from splashing around to join the grown-ups on the beach blankets for dinner.

So much lovely mayhem, with wet jeans and watermelon slices dropped in the sand and peanut butter and jelly smeared on toddler cheeks…this is our party scene now.

Juliette came down with a bout of shyness when I brought out the cupcakes and everyone gathered around, so we skipped the singing and let Shane blow out her candle.  I get it, kiddo…being the life of the party can be exhausting!

Buoyed by a sugar boost, Juliette wanted to go back in the water, but only to get her hair wet – not her feet.  Think I can pull off this stunt when she’s five?!

Nance wrote the kindest note to Jules and Isaiah read it aloud to her and I just about cried.  “We are so happy that you are part of our life and our chosen family.  You inspire all four of us with your bravery, your spunk, your enthusiasm, and your amazing laugh.  We love you SO much…”

And now, she’s four.  SHE’S FOUR.  And I’m fine.  I’M FINE.  Sweet Jesus, I miss my baby girl, and looking back over the past year’s photos and videos did send me into a tailspin of panic over how fast this growing-up thing is all happening, but there’s no doubt that we’re loving the journey.  Happiest of Birthdays, Juliette Grace.  You have given us so many reasons to celebrate.

Juliette woke up on Thursday morning eager to get back on her wheels, so we headed over to the basketball courts to let her practice her turns.  She did circle after circle around Shane and I while the Dixie Chicks’ Wide Open Spaces looped through my head.

A quick game of tag, a speedy ride home, and then high fives were due all around.  You rock, Jules.

We drove up to Bend later that morning for legit coffee at Strictly Organic and legit beer at Immersion Brewing.  Gotta stay hydrated!

And then we popped over to Farewell Bend Park for a romp on the playground and a walk along the Deschutes River Trail.

I love the terrain along here – feels like part desert canyon, part mountain woods.

We were dusty and tired after our riverside jaunt, so we pulled off at Paulina Creek on our way home to stretch out and put our feet in the calm, cool water.

This little oasis was just so…oasis-y.

Sometimes this girl refuses to have her picture taken.  And sometimes, this…

Juliette fished pinecones out of the water while I sat back and sealed this moment away in my happy PNW memory bank.

“Dips, Mommy, more dips!”

I closed out our final evening in La Pine with a sunset stroll through the neighborhood – I was ready to get back to Seattle but sure was going to miss this slow, quiet life we’d been living for the past few days.

We said goodbye to my mom and dad (and Bernie!) on Friday morning and hit the road to Portland.

First though, because you know I like to pack it in, a stop at Waldo Lake to see if the water there was as beautiful as we’d read it was.

IT WAS.

Seriously, this lake is something else, with water that ranged from the deepest cerulean blue to the clearest turquoise.

Dang it,  Jules!  Summer looks so lovely on you.

Shane asked me the other night if I’m more of a lake person or a beach person and at the time I said I was pretty evenly drawn to both.  But after taking another look at these pictures, I think it’s lakes for the win.

And with that, the paddle board was deflated and Central Oregon Bonanza 2017 was a wrap.  (Waaaahhhhh!)

We powered on to Portland for a one-night layover, where we were greeted by my brother with a couple of cold home brews.  Jack and La Verne coincidentally rolled into town a couple of hours later to begin their own Oregonian vacation, so they joined our party for a bit.

Together again and it feels so good!

 

Saturday morning was filled with cookies, cousin time, and a riverside stroll…

We got home late Saturday afternoon, dropped our bags on the floor, and ventured only as far as Costco on Sunday.  We were beat.  You’re just too good, Oregon.  Too good.

I have a tendency to over-do the sight-seeing and the getting-out when we vacation, but I made a conscious effort to lay a little lower during our week in La Pine.  Our mornings were always leisurely, with coffee and puzzles and maybe a short stroll around the block.  The espresso pickin’s are slim in my parents’ little town, but my mom and I did our darnedest to track down the best latte within a few-mile radius.  After discovering that the favorite neighborhood diner got rid of their espresso machine, we found ourselves at the coffee cart in the parking lot next to the gas station.  Desperate times, people, desperate times.

…And a post-latte morning walk (Jules hearts Bernie 4-ever).

Jules can lay low for only so long, so around lunchtime we drove up to Bend to check out the pool at the Juniper Swim Center, aka Juliette’s New Happy Place.

This place was magical, with pools and a splash pad and slides of all sizes.

After seeing that look of alarm on Juliette’s face as she blipped down the tiny slide, I was surprised to hear her say she wanted to do the BIG slide with Daddy.  I watched her excitedly wait in line, knowing this would end in either laughter or tears.

Loved it!

“Again, Daddy, AGAIN!”

The third time around she asked to go by herself – I waited near the bottom, a little anxious, but my worry was all for naught.  She shot out the end of that thing into the water, bobbed right up, and zipped back to the stairs for another round.

Getting Juliette out of the pool took no small amount of coaxing, but with the promise of french fries and a lollipop, we lured her out and headed over to Worthy Brewing for dinner.

We spent the evening chasing Juliette around the neighborhood on her bike – a couple of small wobbles, and then this girl was solidly off to the races.

I was trailing 50 feet behind her and Shane with the giddiest, proudest grin on my face when a neighbor called from their front yard, “You sure look happy!  Did you win the lottery or somethin’?”

I mean, she is one in a million…

On Wednesday we opted for an easy walk along the Deschutes River up to Benham Falls.

This river is so serene in places, so mighty in others.

Hiking with Jules can be the best of times or the hardest of times.  She can be an amazing little trooper or she can be whiny and stubborn and slow.  Usually she’s some of each within the same mile.  We’ve learned to roll with it.

We picnicked in a shady grove of pines and then Shane strung up the hammock as a makeshift swing for Juliette.

I was jonesing to get out on the paddle board that afternoon, so we went over to Crane Prairie for a quick row – it turned out to be super, super-smoky over there, but goodness, it was quiet.

My dad said there’s usually a beautiful view of the mountains from here.  I’m afraid I just had to take his word for it…

While Shane got out for his turn, Jules and my dad played a rousing game of “guess which hand”.  Three year olds can be so easily amused.

Almost apocalyptic, isn’t it?

Dip those toes while you can, darlin’.  Summer is waning!

Up next: more rivers, more lakes, more mountain zen.

AUGUST.  August was good.  I think we vacationed almost as many days as we worked this month.  Carpe summer, right?

We set out for La Pine to visit my parents two weeks ago, bags packed with swimsuits, floaties, and eclipse glasses.  We spent Friday night at a hotel in Salem to break up the trip, and let me tell you, we rocked that Hampton Inn.  The pool!  The Costco next door!  The brewpub down the street!  The breakfast waffle bar!  Suburban stays have their perks.

We grabbed coffee on Saturday morning at Salem’s finest cafe and then powered south.

Central Oregon has been pummeled by wildfires this summer, made apparent by the haze of smoke that hung over highway 58 east of Eugene.

We did a little sightseeing along the way, popping out to see gushing Salt Creek Falls.

We landed in La Pine around lunchtime, stiff-legged and a little tired of the Moana soundtrack, but hey, we made it!  Hi, Bernie!

My parents moved into a new house in December, and while they downsized their yard, they gained a great neighborhood park, complete with basketball courts and a soccer field and a club house.  It was the perfect place for Juliette to get her wiggles out.

Juliette (and her grandma, and her dad, and her mom) did dozens of laps around this soccer field over the course of the week.  “Chase me, Grandma!  CHASE ME!”  I’m done pretending I can’t catch her – I really can’t catch her.

Shane and I played a round of tennis (aka “fetch”) at the high school tennis courts that evening while my dad and Juliette took Bernie for a walk.  They spotted a family of deer in the woods and Shane and I managed to avoid twisting any ankles.  Wins all around.

Shane was bound and determined to make it to the path of totality for Monday’s eclipse, so he set out for Madras early Sunday morning to join some friends who had snagged a campsite.  My FOT (Fear Of Traffic) outweighed my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), so Juliette and I opted to stay closer to home, enjoying a quiet day at Twin Lake with my mom and dad.

It was smoky out there, but so still and serene.  For awhile, we had the whole place to ourselves.

We kayaked and paddle-boarded and floated the day away.

We super-duper love the lake life.

Some days, this girl literally lights up my world…

A lot of days, actually.

(I just told her that the general store down the shore sells ice cream.)

Our evening was a quiet bout of puzzle-mania back at the house.

Shane’s evening was quiet, too!

Madras was touted as Oregon’s premier eclipse-viewing location – everything I read projected total mayhem in the town.  Somehow, though, Shane found an introvert’s dream spot amidst the crowds.

The big event began around 9:15 Monday morning – we grabbed our glasses and walked over to the soccer field to spread out and wait for 10:30 am dusk.  Even as we were just getting started with a meager bite out of the sun, Juliette was waaaaay impressed.

Way impressed for a minute, that is.  Then it was all, “Chase me, Grandpa!  CHASE ME!”

In between bouts of beach ball soccer, we watched the sun fade to 99% coverage.  The light was eerily gray and suddenly it was so chilly that goosebumps popped up on my arms.  It felt kind of other-worldly out there.

Shane, though…he said the total eclipse blew his mind.  Texas 2024!

We chilled at home in the afternoon with puzzles and homemade coconut treats.

Shane rolled back into town in the evening and joined us for dinner at the local Mexican joint.  This kiddo missed her dad somethin’ fierce.  Together again!

That evening Juliette asked Shane to put the pedals back on her big-kid bike – he’d taken them off so that she could scoot around on it like a bigger version of the red balance bike she’s been rocking since she was two.  He obliged and held fast to the back of her seat, keeping her steady as she wobbled up and down the driveway.

And then, before I could tell him not to, he…let go.  And she…kept on going!

Oh, baby girl.  Ride like the wind.  Oregon’s a magical place.

I haven’t done one of these posts in ages as you’ve seen most of Juliette’s goings-on via my summer entries, but there are still a few other tidbits worth jotting down (for the grandmas and for posterity, of course).

She seems to be all big kid these days.  New big kid bed, new big kid class at school, new arenas of independence.  Everywhere we go, whether we’re hiking or shopping or walking to the mailbox, she’s five steps ahead of me, insisting “I wanna be the leader!”  She wants things done on her own her own way – I sometimes think Shane and I are just characters in the play of her life, as evidenced by this regular morning directive:

“Ok, Mommy, I’m going to get dressed in my room and then I’ll come in your room and say ‘Ta-da!’ and you say ‘Huh? Juliette, how did you get dressed so fast?’, okay Mommy?  You have to say ‘Huh?’ first, okay?”

While the constant script-writing can get old, I do love watching her make strides in self-sufficiency (incidents of early-morning yelling have gone down dramatically since she started dressing herself!).  Her teachers moved her up to the four year-old class six weeks before her fourth birthday because she really is so advanced (my words, not theirs…), and she’s handled the transition with bravery and grace.

It helps that some of her best pals have moved up with her.

These two love to compare dresses in the morning, thrilled when they coincidentally match.

And goodness!  Check out some of Juliette’s artwork!

Her tiger looks a lot like a duck, but that four-eyed jellyfish is the best!

She’s getting straight A’s in Spanish (my words, not theirs) and will carry on nonsense conversations with herself en Espanol, murmuring, “Que paso, amiga?  Ohhhh, agua, si!  Zapatos, por favor?”  She loves to pull books off my bookshelf and pretend she’s reading from them in Spanish – she’s pretty convincing.

In other big-kid news, she’s become quite comfortable at the salon, sitting alone (not on Shane’s lap) while she got her haircut last week.  Next stop: dentist!

She even sat still through this intricate braiding exercise (which actually only took five minutes – those ladies have mad skills).

She’s a nurturer through and through and often asks me to play the part of the baby so that she can be the mommy.  She’ll cover me up with a blanket on the couch, throw a tote bag full of toys over her shoulder, and say “Good-bye, Sweetie!  I’m going to England!”  as she heads for the door.  She’ll circle back 20 seconds later to stroke my hair, give me a hug and ask if I was a good listener while she was gone.  She has adopted the neighbor’s plastic yard owl as her other child and spends a sweet-but-slightly-weird amount of time patting it, cooing to it, and feeding it.

I drew the line when Juliette asked if she could bring her owl baby inside to give it a bath.

Despite our best efforts to keep the princess phase at bay, it seems she’s been bitten by the Disney bug and often tells me that I’m Prince Phillip and she’s Aurora, picking up a rock and gasping, “Look, Prince Phillip!  It’s the Crystal of the Crown!”  She adores Moana and requests the soundtrack daily.  Hourly, actually.  It’s gotten a little out of control.

We’ve done lots of good gettin’-out together this summer, but our favorite little trips are to ShareTea for boba.  If we’re due for a treat and I offer up the bakery, the ice cream shop, or the boba place, boba wins every time.  Girl after my own heart…

Girl after Daddy’s own heart, too (for no particular reason – it’s just that these two are the sweetest together!).

N continues to be her very best buddy – these two might go a couple of weeks without seeing each other, but once they’re together again, it’s somethin’ special, with grins and giggles and games.  And ice cream, apparently.  These kids consume a lot of ice cream together.

PSA:  The OK-To-Wake clock is money!  Give a kid a gadget, and they will stay in bed an additional 30 minutes, apparently.

There were a couple of lovely large horses at our neighborhood block party at the beginning of the month – Juliette hovered at a distance for a few minutes and then couldn’t resist the urge to reach out and give this one a pat.  She’d found her hair color twin!

Next time I do one of these posts, little lady will be FOUR!  I can hardly believe it.  Not necessarily because she’s growing so fast, but because it’s hard to fathom that this assertive, creative, self-declared big kid is still only three.  You are wise beyond your years, Juliette Grace.

Gracious, summer has been good to us, with pool days and lake days and a special Sunday at Safeco.  A few July snapshots:

Juliette and I spent a Friday last month checking out the Henry Moses Aquatic Center down in Renton – after all of our winter and spring visits to the Rainier Beach pool, swimming outside felt like such a lovely novelty.

I’ve always loved the warmer months, but experiencing summer through a child’s eyes really ups the ante.

We caught a Mariner’s game a few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon – Juliette asks to “visit the moose” every time we drive past Safeco field, so it was pretty special to finally grant her request.

That magic moment of watching the field open up before you after that painful slog of making your way to your high-up seats:

Juliette was amazingly engaged, asking Shane who each new batter was, cheering when the M’s got a hit or when they struck out a Yankee.  Granted, this level of engagement only lasted about one and a half innings, but still, she dug it!

After the game, we headed down to the field to run the bases with the kiddos.  While in line, Jack entertained Nico and Jules with his mind-melding tricks.

And, the crowd roars!!!

You’re an all-star, Jules.

And because these two just couldn’t get enough of each other, we gathered at Tutta Bella for dinner, rounding out the day with gelato and giggles.

Shane’s sister and her clan came to visit at the end of July and we painted the town red, hitting Pike’s Place Market and Bainbridge Island and our favorite neighborhood joints.

We spent a sunny afternoon at Lake Sammamish, taking turns on the paddle board.  Everyone managed to get up on it for at least a short row.  Almost everyone managed to not fall in.

Show-off!

These kids got along so splendidly throughout the visit – Juliette has seriously hit the cousin jackpot.

We headed up to Mukilteo the following morning to spend the day with Aunt Val and Uncle Doug at their beachfront abode.

The afternoon was a sunny blur of hopping back and forth between the swimming pool and the fishing dock.

We pulled up several dozen crabs in the span of a couple of hours – most of them were tossed back, but a few extra-large ones were put on ice to await a fateful dinnertime end.

Dinner was a veritable crab bonanza, as the gentlemen boiled and cracked our bucketful of that day’s catch.

We spent Sunday morning with the fam at Alki, where Seattle showed off its beachy blues.

And to round out the grand tour de Seattle, we rented a couple of four-person bikes for a ride down the boulevard.  I’ve forgotten how fun it can be to play the part of the tourist in our city!

Our legs were screaming a couple miles in, so we popped off at a dock to take a rest and take in the sights.

These girls!  The sweetest.


Our house was oh-so-full but oh-so-fun for those few days.  There’s a lotta love on that couch!

It was hard to say good-bye on Sunday afternoon…this photo says it all.

And now we find ourselves more than half-way through August, as this summer flies by with lightning speed.  I’m keeping my swimsuit handy, though – there’s still much to savor.