Archive for January, 2016

This month has felt long.  Heavy at times, often stressful, full of days that were so short on daylight as darkness seemingly stretched on and on and on.

But I look back at my photos and see there were also a few weekend gems in there, days when the sun came out and we braved the cold for a breath of fresh air.  We took a sunset walk at Lincoln Park a couple of weeks ago and were reminded that winter does have its charm, in the form of snow-capped mountains and soft, pink light.

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Jules and N found wintertime joy as they frolicked in the snow at Hyak on MLK Jr. Day.  I had to work and missed the fun, but these photos from La Verne were too good not to share!

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And thank goodness for last Sunday’s SUNday.  Shane, Jules, and I hopped in the car before lunchtime and jetted toward Seahurst Park to grab some rays and do some beach-combing.  I texted the gang to see if they also needed some Vitamin D.  They did.

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Shane’s friend Steve visited us this weekend and we went back to Lincoln Park this morning to brag a little on Seattle’s beauty – Jules and I spent most of yesterday cooped up inside while the guys skied and were clearly in need of some physical activity.

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While Shane and Steve waxed on about the ethics of football and the theology of Star Wars, Jules and I threw rocks and looked for shells.

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I’m ready to flip that calendar page, but I suppose it turns out January didn’t totally suck.

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I usually start out each year with a list of about 20 resolutions, then whittle it down to a select few that address varied realms of self-improvement – something health-focused, something relationship-focused, something creatively-focused, something to scratch my organizational itch…  This year, though, I drew a blank. I cribbed two resolutions from where I fell short in 2015 and then got stuck, unable to focus on the broader picture of the year ahead as I got swept up in January preschool visits (how is it that time already?!), and a work deadline, and then Making A Murderer (watch it!  actually, DON’T.).  After spending some time this weekend mulling over what I want to accomplish in 2016, this is where I landed.  I have this nagging feeling that I’m not being quite ambitious enough, that something’s missing, but these dark rainy days have sucked the moxie right out of me and I’m tapped out.  Maybe I’ll do Resolutions Round 2 in the spring, when I’m not tempted to hit the hay at 8:30 pm every night.  Round 1 is as follows:

Make art with Juliette every week.  I gave this one a shot last year and found it to be harder than expected, but I’m tackling it with renewed vigor.  So far, so good – Juliette and I pulled out the pom pom’s and paint yesterday afternoon, and after dabbing a few orange dots on the paper, she looked up at me and exclaimed with great pride, “I made a duck butt, Mama!  I made a duck butt!”  That was all the incentive I needed to keep the art projects rolling.

Get out of auto-mode with my camera.  Also from last year.  Hoping that 2016 is the year I graduate from occasionally-lucky amateur photographer to well-informed amateur photographer.

No angry-yelling at Juliette.  I’ve actually had this one on my mind for awhile, but felt nervous about putting it down on paper as I feel destined to fail.  I mean, she’s two.  And stubborn as all get-out.  This happens at least once a week: I’m standing by the door holding her coat and she’s looking me right in the eyes with her arms defiantly folded across her chest and I’m saying “please, honey, be a helper” and then I’m suddenly shouting, “JULIETTE GRACE!  WE’RE LATE!  PUT ON YOUR COAT!”  And while the shouting gives me about seven seconds of anger-expelling relief, regret is always quick to follow.  So I’m committing to patience and kindness, reminding myself to just take a minute and walk away when the treachery of toddlerhood is too much to bear.  (A small point of clarification: yelling for the sake of her safety is ok, as in “STOP!  DO NOT RUN INTO THE ROAD!”.  Mild to moderate raising of my voice for the sake of emphasis is also acceptable.)

Develop a go-to list of 28 recipes, focused on whole, healthy foods.  This one shows promise, as it touches on two of my most favorite things: eating and list-making!  Shane and I have made great strides over the past couple of years in purging processed foods from our diet, but I’m finding myself in a cooking rut, cycling through just a few simple go-to recipes again and again.  So I’m upping my kitchen game, venturing a little further into the produce aisle and trying new things.  If we love eating it and love how we feel after eating it, it makes the list.


Here we go, duck butts and all!

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Alright, this is it – my final post on 2015 as I have a come-to-Jesus moment with last year’s resolutions.  It’s a little bleak, but I’m nothing if not a work in progress!

Get out of the house SANS BABY with Shane at least once a month.  We did alright on this one – called a sitter a couple of times, took advantage of the grandparents when they came to visit, and pawned Juliette off on our friends when we were really desperate for an evening out.  I’ve found that what’s actually more important than getting out for date nights is making sure that we find regular times during the week to turn off the TV, let the dirty dishes sit for awhile, and check in/plan/spoon.  That said, I could always use more of this…

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so we’ll keep at it.

Make art with Juliette.  Sub-par performance on this one, for sure.  We had a few good afternoons with the watercolors and the finger paints, but too often I let the hassle of getting everything out and then having to clean everything up deter me from quality art-time with Juliette.  So I’m renewing my commitment to kid-focused creativity this year, lining up a variety of projects.  I just ordered Jules her first pair of scissors and a bag of 300 pom-pom’s.  No turning back now.  (Seriously, though, can you see why I was a little weary of getting out the paint?!)

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Learn how to make the best use my camera.  Fail.  Total fail.  I’m still taking lots of photos, but have yet to shift out of auto-mode, so I’m giving myself a do-over on this one as well, adding it to my list for 2016.  On a more positive note, I did luck out with a few great shots last year.

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Be physically active.  Finally!  One I can call a total success!  I completed my first (and probably last) half-marathon in March, hitting my target time after three months of diligent training and one guns-blazing all-out push to the finish.  I decided after the race that long-distance running isn’t my thing, but I’ve found an exercise schedule that works for me since then, mixing running, walking, and at-home barre3 workouts, targeting 30 minutes+ of focused physical activity at least 1/2 the days of each month.  And I feel good.  Fit.  Mission accomplished.

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End the year with less stuff in our house than there is right now.  I just finished “project closet purge” and I’m squeaking by with a pass on this one.  Things still feel tight around here, but after ditching 20 half-skeins of yarn, a box of burned CDs (remember when Spotify playlists weren’t even a thing?!), and the snow globe that Shane gave me on our first Valentines Day, I’m definitely feeling lighter, gratified by the presence of empty space in our closets.

And with that, I’m ready to resolution the heck out of 2016.  Stay tuned.

The list-maker in me loves these looks back at 2015, so indulge me one more time!  This is what I read:

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This is Ridiculous This is Amazing by Jason Good

Wonder Weeks by Frans X. Plooij

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Why We Can’t Wait by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe


It wasn’t a stellar reading year for me – it seemed rare that I was fully engaged in a book.  I lulled a lot on the longer reads (dang you, Goldfinch!) and was disappointed by what I thought would be fun, easy page-turners (Lena Dunham let me down!).  That said, there were still a couple of stand-out gems.

Best books of 2015:  I ended up reading quite a few books focused on justice and race – books that are relevant and important at any time and place, but all the more so given the fact that recent headlines speak of instance after instance of prejudice, oppression, and maltreatment.  I read Why We Can’t Wait over the summer and was rocked by the way Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. boldly defied discrimination with such powerful grace, such selfless love.  Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy was also a reminder that, holy crap, one guy can make a substantive difference.  Honorable mentions to Half Broke Horses for being, just, fun, and to Uncle Tom’s Cabin for putting me through the emotional gamut, from tear-jerking sorrow to hot-blooded indignation.

Worst book of 2015:  Wonder Weeks.  I thought it would be packed with interesting nuggets of insight into what’s happening in Juliette’s quickly-developing brain, but instead it was filled with obvious observations and repetitive anecdotes.  Shoulda skipped it.

On the docket for 2016:  Looking forward to losing myself in the story of All the Light We Cannot See (I’ve heard good things).  Hoping to prompt some intense introspection with My Bright Abyss.  And boldly adding Atlas Shrugged to the list, as it’s been taunting me from my bookshelf for about five years now, intimidating me with its heft.  Bring it.

2016, I’m comin’ for ya, but first, a look back at last year’s faves, to properly memorialize 2015’s goodness:


Favorite movie:

I think we made it to the movies a total of one time last year, but we hit Netflix pretty hard from the comfort of our couch.  We randomly happened upon Tig one night and were hooked from the start – it was refreshing to watch something heartfelt and real, to get a glimpse of this woman’s indefatigable spirit.

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Favorite TV show:

This one almost went to Mad Men, but…Parenthood for the win!  Shane, in all his cinematic snobbery, is probably shuddering as he reads this, but I’ll take a sappy Braverman family softball game over Don Draper’s spiral of self destruction any day.

PARENTHOOD -- "Family Portrait" Episode 401 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mae Whitman as Amber Holt, Jason Ritter as Mark Cyr, Lauren Graham as Sarah Braverman, Miles Heizer as Drew Holt, Joy Bryant as Jasmine Trussell, Tyree Brown as Jabbar Trussell, Dax Shepard as Crosby Braverman, Max Burkholder as Max Braverman, Bonnie Bedelia as Camille Braverman, Savannah Paige Rae as Sydney Graham, Peter Krause as Adam Braverman, Craig T. Nelson as Zeek Braverman, Monica Potter as Kristina Braverman, Sarah Ramos as Haddie Braverman, Sam Jaeger as Joel Graham, Xolo Mariduena as Victor, Erika Christensen as Julia Braverman-Graham -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)

(Honorable mentions to Catastrophe and Girls.)


Favorite podcast:

I’m finally getting on board with this podcast thing, queuing up a list of episodes for my lunchtime walks or my rare moments of solo driving.  My favorites all tend to be the podcasts where you’re really connected to the hosts, where it feels like you’re hanging out with them while they chit-chat and tell stories, and Reply All nailed it several times this year.  PJ and Alex are super-likable guys – I dare you to listen to Today’s the Day without cracking a smile.

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Favorite album:

I still remember the day a few months ago when a chat message popped up from Shane on my phone:  “Have you heard Ryan Adams’ new cover of Taylor Swift’s album?!”  I opened up Spotify within seconds and did a search for 1989, and oooooohhhhhhh my word.  I spent the rest of the afternoon texting Shane:  “Oh my gosh – did you listen to Bad Blood?!  Clean is blowing my mind.  This is too good!”  I don’t want to over-hype it, but I’ve been a Ryan Adams groupie for years and a closet Taylor Swift fan for quite some time, and this album kind of rocked my world.

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Favorite app:

Wunderlist, Wunderlist, Wunderlist!  I’m a compulsive list-maker, and this app is an organizational fiend’s dream.  I use it to track my personal to-do’s, my work to-do’s, our weekly meal plan, my shopping lists for the grocery store and Target and Costco.  A number of my lists are shared with Shane, so if he’s out running errands and offers to stop at Costco, I just tell him to check the list.  If he’s hanging at home and looking for something to do, he can check our weekly cleaning list and see what needs to be vacuumed or scrubbed (ok, this has never happened, but I can hope!).

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Favorite meal:

We didn’t make it out for many fancy meals last year, but as I was flipping through some old photos on my phone, I came across this one from Taylor Shellfish in Pioneer Square and my mouth started to water.  Shane and I dropped Juliette off with the Rusts on his birthday and spent a couple of hours here drinking Cava and slurping oysters and soaking up the broth of steamed clams with a crispy baguettte.  Simple but scrumptious.

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Favorite purchase:

Easy call – win goes to the new car!  Loving our Forester.  Not just because of the heated seats and the panoramic sunroof and the relative ease of strapping Juliette into her higher-up carseat, but because it’s caused an unexpected-but-fun change in the way we spend our weekends.  Hey!  We’re mountains-and-snow people now!

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Favorite professional moment:

I shared this photo in 2014’s update and talked about how exciting it was to see this project coming together.

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And…Ta-da!  It’s done.  It looks amazing.  Standing in the center of this atrium, seeing the light stream in from the skylight that I looked at only on paper for so, so long, watching the researchers move in and out of their labs and collaborate with one another on very meaningful work in a space that I helped design…these are the mountaintop moments of being an architect.

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(photo by Hedrich Blessing)


Favorite days:

This was grand:

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As was this:

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And this video will forever make me grin from ear to ear:


Nicely done, 2015.  Nicely done.

Hellllloooooooo 2016!  We ended 2015 with a bang, with snow and champagne and fireworks.

Since Juliette’s daycare was open on New Years Eve but Shane and I both had the day off, we dropped the kiddo at school and reveled in our freedom by heading to the mountains with Jason and Nance for a day of cross-country skiing.

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It was cold out there, but clear and absolutely gorgeous.

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And once I found my stride and really got going, the numbness in my fingers and toes waned.  I can see why Shane has fallen in love with this sport – it’s hard work, but also invigorating and kind of soothing.

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We made it as far as this serene lookout over Keechelus Lake…

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Which seemed like a perfect place to pause and toast with a little tipple from Shane’s flask.

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Once we’d caught our breath, we headed back toward the car, making good time on the return leg – I was kind of getting the hang of this skiing thing!

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Made it!

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We warmed ourselves with lunch at Kukai ramen in Bellevue on the way home and then squeezed in a quick couch doze before heading out to pick up Juliette and then hit the beach.  Brian and Nicole were bonfire-ing over at Alki and that seemed like a perfect place to watch the sun go down on 2015.

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The Rust clan came over for dinner and we partied hard until about 8:00.  That champagne I mentioned earlier?  We cracked open the bottle at 7:30.  And those fireworks?  I vaguely remember hearing them around midnight, as I rolled over in bed and sleepily muttered “it’s tooooo loud!”  We’re wild, I know.

Speaking of wild, though, there are hundreds of crazies that jump into the freezing cold Puget Sound from Alki beach every New Years morning!  Shane, Jules, and I decided to head over there Friday morning to watch the show.

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And to cheer on Jason and his sister.  I suspect these two might have a slight adrenaline addiction.

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Gosh, they’re fun, though!

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Brian and Nicole were also there, but we’d missed seeing them take the group plunge.  I joked that I really wanted a group pic, which apparently was all the incentive they needed to jump right back in!

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Nuts, I tell you.

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We went back to Jason and Nancy’s with the Polar Bears for hot coffee and treats – we’ve been brunching at their house on New Years day for a few years running now.  But this was the first time baby E joined the mix!  Juliette was very excited by the prospect of holding a real, live baby doll.

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We passed the rest of the day at home, mellowing out after a couple of busy days.  Shane and I spent the evening talking about the year to come, planning vacations and making goals, building anticipation and excitement about what 2016 may hold.

Like…more snow days!  We loaded the sled and our snow gear into the car yesterday morning and set out for Hyak.  It was another gorgeous day in the mountains, but also super-duper cold.  Jules tolerated the biting wind for about five minutes…

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And then didn’t want to do anything but nuzzle into Daddy’s chest.

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We tried to shake it off, but this picture says it all…

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Shane and I each had a couple of fun runs on the sled, and Jules was a good sport, but it wasn’t long before we packed it up and called it a day.  We’ll give the snow another go on a 30-degree-plus kind of day.

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This kid was done.

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But man, she sure perked up once we were all tucked into the car with hot cider and snacks!  A blanket, a banana, and a warm drink, and she was exclaiming, “that was fun, mama!”

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Cheers to 2016.  It’s going to be good.

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