Archive for July, 2015

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.

Deer sightings are common in my mom and dad’s neighborhood – we saw a doe with her three fawns our first day in La Pine and since then Juliette had been constantly asking “baby deer?  baby deer?  baby deeeeer?  where arrrrrrre youuuuuu?”.  On Wednesday my mom and I strapped Jules into the stroller and set out on a deer hunt.  Just as we were about to call it a bust and head back to the house, we spotted another doe with a couple of fawns.  The great outdoors for the win!

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We passed the afternoon at Elk Lake, bobbing in the calm, cool water.

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Shane couldn’t resist the paddle boards for rent at the dock and rowed over to pick up Jules.  I had my doubts about how this would go down – she isn’t one to sit still for more than about 15 seconds at a time.  But she was amazing, perching so perfectly on the front of the board for half an hour while she and her dad toured the lake.

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I hopped on for a quick spin, a little nervous when I realized I didn’t have a dry change of clothes with me, but I managed a short (wobbly) trip to the buoy and back.

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We ate dinner on the patio of the lodge while Juliette ran circles around our table – all that sitting still had her wired!

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We spent Thursday morning hunting deer and jogging down the wide-open dirt roads.  What a relief to not have to get after this girl to stay on the sidewalk and watch out for cars!

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Juliette helped Grandpa with some watering, washed some rocks, scooped some dirt.  This is the stuff of a toddler’s dreams…

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Another day meant another lake – after naptime, we hauled my dad’s boat up to East Lake for a spin.  We motored out to the middle of the lake and just let ourselves drift, as Juliette was eager to take the wheel.

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Hey, Gilligan!

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Juliette eventually let me sit in the driver’s seat and I put the pedal to the metal.  I want a boat.

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We spent the rest of the day just hanging out on the back porch – Juliette cozied up with her new best buddy, Bernie, then rummaged around in the tool shed and passed a good 20 minutes sweeping the sidewalk.  It felt so good to spend the bulk of our waking hours outdoors every day, enjoying the simplest of pleasures.

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We loaded up our car on Friday morning and said good-bye to La Pine after one last stroll through the woods.  I miss this place already.

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Thanks so much, Mom and Dad, for a perfect week!

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We made a stop at Mohawk Cafe in Crescent for a hearty breakfast before hitting the long dusty road to Portland.  We’ll see you next summer, Central Oregon!

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Shane and I have been talking for awhile now about a little getaway sans Juliette, and this trip to La Pine felt like the perfect time to slip away for a night – we’d been wanting to spend some time in nearby Bend and knew that Juliette would be in great hands with Grandma and Grandpa.  We booked a room at a great hotel, made reservations at a fancy restaurant, and on Monday afternoon, we were off!  I shed a few tears as we pulled out of my mom and dad’s driveway, feeling equal parts anxiety and sadness over leaving our girl.  What if Juliette slept horribly and kept my parents up all night?  What if she felt confused and abandoned?  What if she missed me even half as much as I was already missing her?  Agh!  My poor, sweet baby – why in the world had I been so eager to get away?!  Shane and I both felt very much on edge and spent the drive to Bend bickering in the car over a silly misunderstanding – this romantic getaway was off to a less-than-ideal start.

But when we sat down for lunch we looked each other in the eyes, laid our worries out on the table, and then resolved to appreciate the fact that we were FREEEEEE!  And it really felt so good.  We savored our uninterrupted meal at Spork, popped next door for fro-yo on a whim (when was the last time we did something on a whim?!), and then set out to find a sunny spot near the water to spread out a blanket and relax.  After being chased away by demon mosquitos at Lava Island Falls, we ended up at Todd Lake, 20 miles west on the Cascade Lakes Highway.  It was just the oasis we were seeking – scenic, quiet, just breezy enough to lay in the sun without overheating.  Shane waded in the water and built himself a make-shift rock stool while I laid on the grass and read my book.  Lord have mercy, it was glorious!  Our life is rich with joy and fun these days, but it’s so short on stillness.  Those couple of hours by the lake were like taking a long, deep breath in the very freshest of air.

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We checked into our hotel later that afternoon and grabbed a quick snooze before heading out for dinner.  First, though, a quick drink at the Crux brewery, which had been highly recommended by a friend.  We tasted a few of their ales, declared their Saison our favorite, and then set out to make our 7:30 reservation at Zydeco.  We ordered the whole shebang – cocktails, appetizers, meaty mains, and after-dinner drinks.  We sat at our table for over two hours and used the luxury of time to let our conversation meander from politics to family to plans for the future.  Long time, no see, huh hon?

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We had big plans for sleeping in on Tuesday morning, but of course, I woke up at 6:15.  Still, it was pretty great to lay in bed and read for an hour, and then, as the ultimate kid-free indulgence, take a morning nap at 7:30 am!  We got rolling around 9:00 and headed to Sparrow for killer breakfast sandwiches out on the patio, grabbed a few things at the market, and then, by 10:30, we were itching to get back to La Pine and see Juliette.  The time away had been precious, but we missed that kid somethin’ fierce.

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We had a happy reunion at my mom and dad’s house and got the rundown:  she had spent much of Monday afternoon crying “mama go?  mama go?  mama goooooooo?”, but had eventually settled and had slept well, eaten well, and enjoyed a morning of playing in the dirt with Grandma.

We all spent the afternoon hanging out on an idyllic little stretch of river near McKay Falls.  We waded and threw rocks and cracked open cold brews.

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Together again!

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And the best part?  Schnell family vay-cay was only half over – four more days of mountains and water and family to go!

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It’s been three years since our last trip to my mom and dad’s house in Central Oregon – I blame the rugrat.  But Friday we piled into the car with our boatload of “essentials” (Pack n Play, booster seat, stroller, king-sized bag of dried mangos) and hit the road.  Things got off to a shaky start, as we hit traffic 15 miles south of Seattle and spent an hour crawling toward Tacoma.  We hit traffic again near Portland and were all at our wit’s end when we finally rolled up to Mitch and Kathryn’s house after nearly five hours of driving.

Thankfully, a couple of glasses of Mitch’s home-brewed beer and a couple of hours of watching the cousins happily run free in the yard, and all was well again.

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We spent the night in Portland and took a morning stroll with the girls in their new neighborhood before undertaking the second leg of our journey.

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But first, a quick stop at the farmer’s market to eat donuts and Pine State Biscuit sandwiches with the Chens, who happened to be in Portland for a weekend getaway.  The kids ran circles in the lawn, shrieking with joy as Jack tossed them in the air.  We were glad to see Jules getting her wiggles out, as we had another four hours in the car ahead of us.

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This is the third or fourth time we’ve hung out with Jack and La Verne at this particular farmer’s market, and it seems that it just keeps getting better and better…

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Shane and I sighed anxiously as we said good-bye to the Chens and strapped Juliette into her carseat – she had refused to nap in the car the day before and had spent the last hour of the journey wailing “mama’s lap!  mama’s lap!”  We braced ourselves for another tension-filled few hours.  But…she was great!  She read to herself for awhile, sang songs, slept a bit.  Crisis averted!

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We arrived at my mom and dad’s house in La Pine mid-afternoon and quickly got settled – Juliette reacquainted herself with Grandma and Grandpa, ran in the sprinklers, ate watermelon on the back porch.  We took an evening walk and all crashed a little early that night, ready to fully slip into vacation mode.

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Shane went on a monster bike ride on Sunday morning while the rest of us went into Sunriver for coffee and some playground time.  We all spent the afternoon at North Twin Lake, wading in the water and eating a picnic dinner on the sandy shore.

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My mom and I slipped away for a walk around the lake and as we strolled along the forested trail, I was reminded that I am very much a mountains person – I love the roar of the ocean, but I’ll take the rustle of pine needles blowing in the wind any day.

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We were up and at ’em early on Monday and drove over to La Pine State Park to splash in the water and get some sun.  Juliette made a bee-line for the river, soaking her shoes and dress while ignoring my futile shouts of “wait!!!”

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I think she might be a mountains person, too?

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On Monday afternoon Shane and I left Juliette with Grandma and Grandpa and set off on our own little kid-free adventure.  Stay tuned.

22 months!  Chattin’ up a storm, asserting her independence with that never-ending refrain of “I do it!”, go-go-going like some pig-tailed Energizer bunny.  And the singing…after months of coaxing her along in our family sing-a-longs, she’s taken the reigns in her own hands and is belting out her ABC’s with hardly any assistance.  There may be a few letters missing, and she kind of loses her way at the end here (choo-choo!), but it’s still pretty sweet.

Juliette is pretty content in the car these days, happy to read or sing to herself for longer stretches, so I’m feeling like we can venture a little farther from home on our Thursday outings.  We spent last Thursday at Remlinger Farms in Carnation, picking raspberries and then sipping cold lemonade from the gift shop.  It was so much fun, wandering the sunny rows with Juliette and seeing her joy when she plucked a perfect red berry and popped it in her mouth.

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That belly grew rounder and rounder as the afternoon drew on…

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We hauled away an impressive five pounds of juicy red fruit – Jules was pretty pleased with our loot.

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And because I’m a sucker for all things dessert, I also picked up a blackberry pie from the gift shop.  I shared.  She was pleased.

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Fridays are still our buddy days, and we spent one morning at Mount Baker Playgarden with our favorite little dudes.

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These two look like they’re ready to cruise off into the sunset, don’t they?

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We’ve gotten a reprieve from the Seattle heat wave, but that hasn’t kept these kids out of water.  We were at Madrona beach last weekend and Jules walked right into the lake, jean shorts and all.  Shoulda packed that swimsuit…

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Toys with wheels are a definite fave – bikes, cars, carts, wagons…  Our neighbor bought this little car for her grandson and asked Jules if she wanted to take it for a spin.  She did.

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Happy 22 months, wild thing!  There are times when it feels almost impossible to embrace your “adventurous” spirit, when I beg you to quiet down and just be still.  But there are other times when I hear your laughter as you fly down the slide and I feel so thankful for your joie de vivre.  You’re a ton of fun, kiddo.

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This heat wave continues and we’ve been doing our damnedest to beat it over the past four days: three lakes, one wading pool, a couple of rounds of frozen margaritas, one visit to the ice cream shop, and nights spent sleeping in our downstairs office, which is 10 degrees cooler than the top floor of our house.  By 5 pm, our living room feels like a sweatbox.  On the bright side, all this lake-bopping has kind of made us feel like we’re on vacation!  Minus the air-conditioned hotel room…

Jules and I spent Thursday at Seward Park with a few buddies, running in the sprinklers and splashing in the lake.  Shane had the day off and biked over to join us for a dip – this girl is all about her floaty boat now.

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On Friday we ventured east with our crew to Lake Sammamish State Park to celebrate Nance’s birthday with swimming and paddle-boarding and snacks in the shade.

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Yes, I eventually made it up to the standing position!  And then I fell off.

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Jules crashed hard for her nap when we got home but woke up roaring to go again, so we took a quick spin through the Miller Park fountain and then grabbed ice cream at Hello Robin.

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Sugar rush!

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Serious sugar rush.

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We rang in the Fourth of July on Saturday at our favorite stretch of rocky beach on Rattlesnake Lake.  We hadn’t even spread out our blanket before Juliette darted into the water.

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There was swimming and “boating” and watermelon-eating and frisbee and generally all things summer.

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We spent the evening with the Rusts partaking in our own (very tame) fireworks show.  Thankfully the kids are all still young enough to be satisfied with sparklers and smoke bombs and party poppers.

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Jules wanted a front-row seat for all the action.

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Shane, on the other hand, was insistent that she stay at least 15 feet away from any flames or sparks.  Ever the voice of reason, that guy…

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We spent Sunday morning at church and then swung by Volunteer Park for a go on the playground and a romp in the wading pool.

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The weekend was capped off with a bike ride along Lake Washington, cold Coronas, dinner hot off the grill and kiwi sorbet for dessert.  I don’t love this heat, but this summertime lifestyle?  Money.

It is hot, hot, HOT in Seattle – temps in the high 80s and lower 90s, which can be uncomfortably warm when you don’t have AC.  We’re doing all we can to stay cool, sleeping with the windows wide open and the fans cranked up high.  Jules hasn’t worn proper pajamas in over a week.

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And every chance we get, we head out in search of water to splash and wade and swim and paddle.  A few favorites:

The Jefferson spray park is a staple – we find ourselves here once or twice a week.  Juliette usually spends 10 minutes or so just watching the other kids run wild, then runs her fingers through the fountains a little tentatively and is thoroughly soaked by the time we leave.

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We spent Saturday morning at Gene Coulon park in Renton, and this place is money!  Big beach with plenty of shade, a big roped-off swimming area, and the perfect mix of sand for scooping and rocks for throwing.

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We’ve been trying for the past couple of weeks to get Juliette into the little floaty boat she loved so much last summer, but she’s fiercely protested every time we’ve pulled it out.  And since she wasn’t using it on Saturday, we let another little girl take it for a spin.  Of course, that was all it took for Juliette to start begging for a turn – her “mine!” reflex seems to be stronger than ever.  Nonetheless, questionable motives aside, she had a blast kicking around the shallow end.

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Pants are for chumps.

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We were feeling particularly adventurous on Sunday and drove over to Enatai Beach in Bellevue to scope out their boat rentals.  Juliette isn’t a particularly big fan of sitting still, so when we set out in our canoe, we knew we were taking a risk, but I was hopeful that with enough enthusiasm and enough snacks, we could make it work.  We paddled under the I-90 bridge and a heron pointed the way to the Mercer Slough, which was a perfect, peaceful oasis of green.

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And Jules?  She loved all of it, “helping” with the paddling, searching for baby ducks, sitting so contentedly in my lap.  We’ve had our share of failed outings lately (we might never be allowed back to our new neighborhood breakfast joint), so it felt really, really good to try something new and have it go off without a hitch.

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I just checked the forecast and it looks like we’re in for at least another week of this heat.  Googling “Seattle beaches” now…