Archive for August, 2015

When Shane told me that he’d be going to San Francisco again for his annual VMware conference, there was a moment of pause in deciding whether or Juliette and I should join him.  But it was a brief moment of pause – forget about last year’s trip, with it’s plague of roseola and sleepless nights in the hotel!  I’d be danged if I was going to turn down a chance to spend a few days in one of my favorite cities, even with all the challenges that come with bringing our feisty, unpredictable extra baggage.  Let’s do this!

We left Seattle yesterday morning and landed in SF after an exhausting day of travel.  A two-hour flight should be no big deal, but when you factor in security lines and waiting at the gate and waiting in the plane while other passengers board and runway taxi time at both ends and waiting for baggage and getting from the airport to the hotel and checking into your room, you’re looking at about six hours of desperately trying to keep your toddler quiet and entertained.  Six hours of asking, with increasing levels of panic, “Do you want your new coloring book?  Do you want pretzels?  Do you want to play with mama’s phone?  Do you want dried mangoes?  Do you want to look out the window?  Do you want pretzels?  Please, just EAT SOME PRETZELS AND BE STILL!”.  Ok, I’ve dramatized the journey a little, and Juliette did pretty well, but it wasn’t without a great deal of effort on Shane’s and my part.   We were beat by the time we unlocked the door of our room at the Fairmont.  We unpacked a few things, laid down for about three minutes, and then headed back out, because Juliette was plum full of energy after sitting all day!  Thankfully, we found ourselves a boost in the form of margaritas and carnitas tacos at Tacolicious.

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Best-looking kids meal I’ve ever seen.

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We took a spin around Washington Square Park after dinner to burn off those last few wiggles.

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It worked.

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We headed back to our hotel, soaking in that marvelous San Francisco golden hour.

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Hotel living can feel extra-tight with a kid in tow, but it has its perks – I can lay in bed while keeping an eye on Jules during bathtime!

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Juliette hit the hay hard after just a couple of books.  She conked out around 7:30 and I wasn’t far behind her.

After a solid night’s sleep, we set out this morning in search of breakfast.  We walked down California Street, stopping to enjoy each glimpse of the water, and eventually landed at the Ferry Building.

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We spent awhile enjoying the waterfront (and a Blue Bottle Americano) while we waited for Il Cane Rosso to open for the day.

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We eventually landed a couple of killer breakfast sandwiches and an outdoor table.  The makings of a perfect Sunday.

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After breakfast, we headed across the street to the Sue Bierman playground.  Spin, swing, slide, repeat.

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We spent the afternoon at the Giants game – again, there was pause in deciding whether or not Jules would be up for it, but c’mon!  It’s the Giants.  And Juliette ended up being a champ through the whole thing.  We had to vacate our seats a couple of times to let her run laps around the club level, but there were periods when she actually seemed interested in the game, shouting “Hit it, Buster!” as each player stepped up to the plate and gasping with excitement as each foul ball sailed into the stands.  She’s a fan!  And I’m over the moon about it.

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Speaking of being over the moon, do you know that on Sundays kids get to go down to the field and run the bases?!  How fortuitous!  Skipped nap be damned, we were doin’ it.  Shane might have been even more thrilled than Jules.  The sight of the two of them, rounding third at AT&T – I’ll remember that forever.

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(She was so proud of herself.)

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(Crazy proud.)

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We snapped a couple last photos and then shouted “Bye bye baseball!”.  What. A. Day.

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Shane and I were again pooped by 5 pm, so we kept dinner easy and picked up a pizza and salad to eat at the park across the street from our hotel.  Juliette ran around the playground, a regular Energizer Bunny.  I’m in denial over the fact that she seems not to need an afternoon nap anymore.

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One last go on the slide (seven times), and then we headed back to our room.  Juliette went to bed with very little protest, Shane headed out for drinks with some friends, and I made myself a cup of tea, watched a couple of episodes of Gilmore Girls on the iPad while going through photos, and put together this post, so thankful for the quiet.  But also thankful for a day full of running and clapping and laughing.  This trip is off to a pretty grand start.

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The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are getting ever-so-slightly cooler – summer has begun that sad, inevitable process of waning…  But we haven’t pulled out our sweaters and holed up just yet.  Rather, we’re doing our best to seize the 82-degree days, hitting our favorite hot spots and doing some quality outdoor exploring.

We still love our Thursday evenings at Jefferson Park, where Shane meets us after his post-work bike ride and Juliette romps in the splash pad.

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And Saturdays at Lincoln Park – an oldie but a goodie!  Shane and I used to come here a lot for summer sunsets before we had Juliette.  Now that she’s in bed by sunset time, we’re hanging here in the mornings instead, eating donuts with the Rust clan or reconnecting with our community group.  Shane borrowed Brian’s paddleboard and took Jules out on a very short tour of the Sound a week ago – they didn’t make it more than 20 feet from shore before Juliette was asking to turn around, but we’ll try again some other day.

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Shane and Jack logged their annual Redhook ride out to Woodinville last weekend, but this year we introduced a twist – La Verne and I met our biker dudes up at 192 Brewing in Kenmore with the kids, and Shane pulled them the remaining few miles up to Redhook in the bike trailer.

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I guess this is what a pub crawl looks like for us these days…

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Beer, burgers, bikes, success!

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We made it!  (A celebratory hug.)

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The weather was a little cooler last Thursday and Juliette and I opted to stay closer to home, taking our afternoon treat across the street to the greenbelt.  This girl will be sorely disappointed when popsicle season comes to a close.

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La Verne texted me as we were leaving the greenbelt and asked if we wanted to meet up with her and N for a walk/bike ride at Seward Park.  The kids have matching balance bikes and we figured the wide-open path there would be perfect for trying out their new wheels.  Plus, it was just a tad too cool for them to take their usual dip in the water.

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Or…not.  They darted into the lake before we could even strip them down – I managed to fish Jules out of the water long enough to pull of her soaked pants and salvage her mostly-dry shirt, but then she and N were off to the races again, reveling in the late summer rays hitting their pale, bare bellies.

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Shane and Jules have done some quality cruising on the bike this summer, taking regular spins to the grocery store or along Lake Washington Boulevard.  Despite Shane’s urging that I get a bike so that we can make this a family activity, I’ve resisted, happy to play the part of the spectator.  But on Saturday the lure of afternoon sun and time with friends was hard to turn down, so I borrowed Nancy’s bike and we all set out along the Green River Trail for a slow, easy spin.  And you know what?  It was kinda great.  Easy, breezy, perfectly paired with a mid-ride picnic dinner.  I might put a bike on my wish list after all.

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And Jules was pretty stoked about our matching helmets.  “Mama ride bike?  Mama ride biiiiiike?!”

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Yesterday morning we drove up north to check out St. Edward State Park – I had been wanting to check this place out for awhile and am so glad we made the trek.  After a quick go on the huge playground, we hit the trail down to the water.

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The forest fires in Eastern Washington have been terrible it was hazy even in Seattle yesterday, the smoke hanging in the air like fog.

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Juliette crashed in the stroller before we reached the water, so Shane and I had a few rare, quiet moments to ourselves.

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Just as I spread out my blanket and reached for my book, though, she was up, wanting to come say hello to the ducks that had waddled onto the shore.

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She lays it on so thick when she wants to.

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Those few freckles on her nose have gotten darker with each passing weekend.  I’ll miss them if they decide to leave the premises come rainy season.

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We headed back up the hill and through the forest once we’d had our fill of rock-throwing and pretzels.  Green, green, GREEN.  So good.

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We spent the evening at Seward Park with the Chens, this time more prepared for a swim in the lake.  Jack lifted weights while the rest of us sipped wine on the lawn.

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We packed up our things as the ultra-orange sun began to set, wondering what on earth we’ll do when it’s 40 degrees and dark at 4:30 pm.  I mean, I don’t want to sound too gushy about summertime in Seattle, but dang…it’s magical.

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23 months!  It’s hard to believe that Juliette’s second birthday is right around the corner.  On the other hand, with all the cognitive and verbal strides she’s made this past few weeks, she hardly feels like a one-year old any more.  She’s chatting like crazy and it’s fun to finally get a glimpse of what’s running through her head.  We were driving to the park last week when I asked her what she was thinking about.  Her response: “Opp-o-tus swim in water, mama!  Pretzels, please?”

She’s a full-fledged sponge, picking up new words every day and thrilled with herself when she’s able to put them to use.  She loves drawing and naming shapes and went a little nuts when she realized that the world is full of octagons in the form of stop signs – every time we roll to a stop now, she excitedly points out the window at the stop sign and shouts, “ANUDDER OCTAGON!”

She has a host of new interests – after several months of neglecting her doll, she’s back into playing mama, so sweetly giving her baby a bottle and then picking her up and gently patting her back for burps afterward.

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She loves helping me in the kitchen and was stoked when I let her sit on the counter and mix the ingredients for pancakes.  Messiest breakfast ever – that extra “help” comes at a cost!

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Despite her total disregard for cleanliness in the kitchen, she does seem to have a knack for organizing and order.  Her new favorite pastime is pulling all of my nail polish bottles out of the bathroom drawer and then lining them up one-by-one on our windowsill, making sure each label is facing the same way just-so.  Once they’re all lined up, she puts them in my purse, slings it over her shoulder, and says “Bye-bye!  See you later!”  She returns 7 seconds later, having gone no farther than the hallway, and then repeats the routine again, carefully arranging each and every bottle.  It’s pretty great – I stayed in bed almost an hour yesterday morning while she did this bit several times over.

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She’s really into hunting for things and adores her new Elmo book, which is kind of a toddler’s Where’s Waldo – the hours we’ve spent looking for all 10 popsicles on these two pages!  Her counting skills could use a little work, but at least she’s consistent, always ticking off “one, two, three, five, seven, MUNTY! (twenty?)”.

And the jumping!  So much jumping these days.  Girl can get some height!

She’s a social butterfly through and through, ecstatic when she gets a chance to ditch mama for a bit and hang with her buddies.

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I helped out as a chaperone on her class field trip to the zoo last Wednesday, and wowwwwwweeeeee!  What an adventure.  It was kind of fun, climbing onto the bus with her classmates and grabbing a seat next to La Verne and Nico.

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But once we climbed off the bus and all 19 toddlers were officially un-confined, I got a little anxious.  They were like an unpredictable, feisty hive of bees in their matching yellow t-shirts.  I was put in charge of Juliette and one other little boy, and I’m pleased to say that I didn’t lose either one of them, but it seemed that every time I looked around, a child was crying or trying to climb over a railing or resolutely sitting down in the middle of the path.  My blood pressure was through the roof by the time we all convened for lunch.  Jules, on the other hand, had a grand time – she’s been talking about those monkeys and giraffes for days!

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A rare moment of compliance as we headed back to the bus (although look at Juliette’s bottom lip – she was none too pleased about leaving!):

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Thursdays are as good as ever (and comparatively quiet, after that field trip!), as we work our way through our list of to-visit parks and playgrounds.  We hit Northacres last week, swinging and sliding and running and jumping.

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Happy 23 months, baby-cakes!  I sure love hangin’ with you.

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Things have been relatively uneventful at Chez Schnell since we returned from our week in Oregon – we fell back into our regular routine pretty smoothly and picked up right where we left off at work and daycare.  I wouldn’t necessarily say we came home rested, as Juliette missed the vacation memo about sleeping in and whiling away the afternoons with a good book, but I did come back with a burst of productive energy.  I’ve been hitting my task list hard this past couple of weeks, declaring August “get ‘er done month!”

Most significantly, after nine years of procrastination, we have a wedding album!  I spent a weekend combing through all 1700 of our wedding photos, pulling out and editing my favorites.  The album came in the mail a couple of days ago, and I’m thrilled with it.  We don’t have top-notch pictures of our special day, but this book definitely captures the most important moments and people.  CHECK.

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After three years of lamenting the state of our water-marked dining room table, we borrowed a disc sander from a friend and I went to town on my first furniture refinishing project.  I put the final coat of polyurethane on it tonight and, with the exception of one gut-wrenching spot where I sanded through the veneer, it looks pretty good.   Much improved, at least. The dining room makeover that I started back in April is nearly complete!

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I also cleaned out our closets and took four bags of clothes to Goodwill, got Juliette’s baby book up-to-date, purged my iPhone photo library, and picked enough blackberries to make a damn good pie (super-important stuff).  Phew!  I haven’t been this productive since that final burst of nesting momentum I felt when I was eight months pregnant (no, I’m not pregnant!  had you wondering, though, huh?).

Admittedly, I think I’m addicted to that rush of check-marking adrenaline – I’ve recently been falling asleep and waking up with nothing but to-do’s on the brain.  Thankfully, Juliette is quick to remind me that all work and no play just ain’t gonna fly, so we’ve had a couple of good romps at the playground and took a very satisfying dip in Lake Washington this evening.  Thanks, Jules, for keeping my neuroses in check.  Now go clean your room.

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