Archive for November, 2021

We had some family photos taken by a friend when Isaac was a couple of weeks old and I’ve been going through them this week, having some prints made to hang around the house. I wanted my faves to have a spot on the blog – I love them so much and Julia deserves a proper shout-out!  Also, not to saddle these pics with too much meaning, but I’m feeling some big emotions as I flip through these and am finding them to be a bittersweet bow to tie on our status as a family of four. Shane and I have decided (decided before Isaac was born, actually) that this is it. No more kiddos. We just don’t have the energy or the space in our schedules for another little one. I don’t have the will to play any more rounds of the infertility waiting game. We want time for our whole family to hit the slopes together or tour Europe together before Juliette is grown and leaves the nest. And let’s face it – we’re no spring chickens. Shane spends his evenings with a heating pad wrapped around his elbow and my knees crackle like a bowl of Rice Krispies when I get up from the floor.

Four is good. Four is perfect.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s hard to accept that I will never again experience the euphoria of childbirth or the other-worldly sweetness of those early newborn days. It’s hard not to wonder what might have been had we not waited so long to commit to IVF. It’s hard to part with all of Juliette’s precious little baby dresses, knowing they’ll never be worn by a child of ours. There’s a bit of heartache in the closing of this door.

Because dang, I love being a mom. I love being a mom more than I love anything else on God’s green earth. So I’m going to Mom the bejeezus out of these two kids. I’m going to do my rounds before I go to bed each night and lean over Isaac’s crib for a moment to just soak in the sight of his splayed-out arms (I don’t dare touch a sleeping baby) and then tiptoe into Juliette’s room to adjust her blankets just-so and kiss her on the forehead (sound-sleeping eight year-olds are the best). I’m going to kiss Isaac’s chubby cheeks each morning and then tuck his head into the crook of my neck after I scoop him out of his crib, cooing a dozen “I love you, Buddy’s”. And I’m going to smile as I drop off Juliette at her first school-friend slumber party this Friday, because there can even be joy in watching your kids grow and become more independent (or so I’ve heard).

Isaac is most certainly going to grow up faster than I want him to (already, I hardly recognize this skinny little babe!), and I’m going to get all weepy and sentimental at each birthday, but then I’ll remember that Juliette has shown me that there are always plenty of good times up ahead.

Oh, and I am 100% taking this girl to Paris someday.

And fingers crossed, I’m going to watch these two keep up this love-fest, which has already made for some of the happiest moments of my life.

Four is good.

Isaac has kind of taken front and center on my photo reel lately, but I do believe Juliette deserves the spotlight for a moment while I dwell on just how special her first couple of months as an eight year-old have been.

She sashayed into 2nd grade with all the grace and confidence in the world and has been rocking student life.  She’s loved every single day of in-person school and even moans a bit when Friday rolls around, because she won’t get to see all her friends again till Monday.  P.E. is her favorite subject, but she also thinks math quizzes are the most-fun thing ever.  Last night over dinner she explained cultural appropriation to Shane and me.  The world is her oyster and she is eating it up.

Girl is fancier than ever and wants to grow up (and dress the part) faster than I will let her. I put some mascara on her lashes as part of her Halloween face paint and she about fainted with excitement. Don’t get used to it, kiddo – best stick to unicorn headbands and feather boas.

Ok, and pink satin gloves for tea parties, of course…

I asked her the other night if she wanted to walk with me and Isaac around the block after dinner and she said yes, but first she had to “get ready”.  She’s got a headband and a pair of glasses for everything.

(This is her teacher eye-ware.)

And this is her telling Shane to go quietly to the bathroom and to stop disrupting the class (in a very convincing British accent, no less).

She’s fancy, and she’s funny. Like not just aww, that’s adorable, but like legitimately, creatively funny. There’s been a lot of pickle ball talk in our house lately given Shane’s recent obsession, and Juliette came out of her room the other day donning cowgirl boots and a straw hat, strumming her ukulele and saying in her twangiest voice, “Now gathah round for a little storah, ‘bout a game I like to call Pickle the Bawl…”  In her version of pickle ball, you see how many pickles you can jam inside a ball before it explodes, which sounds much more straight-forward than the rules that Shane plays by.

Shane and Juliette have always been close playmates, but lately I’m seeing them enjoy each other’s company more than ever.  Soccer, board games, tickle fights…they do it all together.

When she really clobbers Shane at a board game, she’ll offer him a consolation hug before they clean up – she’s the graceful-est of winners.  Losing well is more of a stretch, but we’re working on it.

And at the risk of letting Isaac inch in on Juliette’s blog post, let me wax poetic for a bit on what an unbelievable big sister she’s become.  I knew she would love having a baby around the house, but I figured there would be some jealousy and disappointment as she came to realize Shane and I couldn’t lavish her with quite the same level of attention.  None of that, though – when she hears anyone remark over how cute Isaac is, she’s quick to respond with, “I know!!!  Isn’t he the cutest baby you’ve ever seen in your whole life?!”  At which point I lean over and can’t help but whisper to her, “And you’re the sweetest big sister I’ve ever seen in my whole life.”.

The first few weeks were a lot of Juliette just oohing and ahhing over Isaac while he slept…

But soon he started to look a little more alive…

And there was a lot of these two gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes.  Slayed me.

She’s continually wanting to up her sisterly responsibilities and now takes the lead on bath time, the occasional bottle feeding, and clothing selection.  Poopy diapers are a hard no, though.

She couldn’t bear the sound of Isaac’s crying when we first brought him home from the hospital, but once she realized there are often some very sweet snuggles on the other side of that crying, she was quick to take shushing shifts.  He got really fired up one evening when he was a few weeks old and neither Shane nor I could get him to settle; I laid him down on the couch for a moment so that I could put on the Boba and take him for a walk.  Juliette scooped him up while I was suiting up and he went from shrieking to silent in a matter of seconds.  She and I looked at each other and couldn’t help but laugh.  “You’re such a little rascal, Isaac!”, she cooed in his ear.

(Rascal?  Him?  It’s true!)

The proud look of a sister that rocked her brother to sleep while Mom and Dad were distracted elsewhere…you go, girl.

Isaac is often in our bed for his morning snack by the time Juliette wakes up and she’ll bound into our room exclaiming, “Where’s the best little brother in the whole wide world?!”  On weekends she’ll snuggle in next to him; on weekdays she carries him into the kitchen so that he can sit in his bouncer while she eats her breakfast.  Either way, I’m left free to go make my coffee.  WIN!

This picture makes me laugh -  Issac is giving me that look that says, “Mom!  She’s telling me I’m adorable and squeezing too tight again!”

Just lean into it, buddy.  I couldn’t get her out of your arms if I tried.

GAH!!!  I’ll stop now, but seriously.

You’re something else, Juliette Grace.  As a big sister of course, but also as my clever, affectionate, fiercely kind firstborn.  Eight is great.

I really wasn’t quite sure what to make of Halloween this year – I didn’t know if trick-or-treating would resume as usual or if Isaac would tolerate being put in a costume or if we’d have the energy to make it to the pumpkin patch, but…I’ve got a girl that loves all things Halloween, so the show must go on!

First up: pumpkin carving.  Juliette has become a master with the little carving saw, but pumpkin guts still gross her out…

Carved in honor of Isaac, aka Grogu, aka Baby Yoda!

Some school friends invited Juliette on a scavenger hunt at Schmitz Park on Halloween morning – their dedicated mama got up early that day to hide dozens of small plastic pumpkins along the trail and then the kids were all released to hunt and find.

I love a crisp fall morning in the woods!

We ended the hunt with hot chocolate and a barefoot jog at Alki Beach.  Cold schmold!

Because I couldn’t resist the urge to maximize our fun on what was a rare sunny weekend, we spent that afternoon at the Spooner Farms pumpkin patch, wandering the rows of their famous corn maze.

And we wandered and wandered and wondered if we’d ever make it out of there!

You can sense Isaac’s mild concern…

Really, though, a good time was had by all.

We eventually emerged and then Juliette took a spin on the cart course, Shane did some target practice with the pumpkin sling shot, and we called it a day.

(Look alive, Isaac!)

We headed out at sundown for some neighborhood trick-or-treating with our little forest animals.  Juliette makes such a chic deer, no?


I had bought this fuzzy jumper for future winter outings, but figured that with a little black nose it would double as an easy bear costume for Isaac.

He looks very resigned to this whole dressing-up thing, like I can’t believe my mom is making me do this.

We met up with a couple of friends, hit up the neighborhood hot spots, and then after an hour Juliette responsibly decided that she had plenty of candy and so we headed home to tuck in the teddy bear.

Thumbs-up, October!

We’re in full-blown Fall and barreling toward winter as the days get remarkably shorter and the aisles of Target fill with Christmas decor.  It’s been a sweet season, these past few weeks of finding our new groove as a family of four and slowly emerging from our newborn cocoon to spend more time with family and friends.

Our parade of visitors began at the end of September when my parents trekked to Seattle to meet their one and only grandson.  My mom said she couldn’t remember the last time she had held a baby, but it seems her soothing skills came flooding back to her as she rocked and sang Isaac to sleep within hours of their arrival.

Motown, hymns, country…Grandma sings it al!

My dad also got some quality cuddle time…

…though I especially loved bearing witness to his playtime with Juliette.

We didn’t get out a whole lot that week, but it was nice to fold my parents into our quiet routine and to have some company as I picked up Juliette from school or spent an afternoon on the couch with a sleeping baby on my chest.

My brother and his family joined us for a weekend in October – there was driveway basketball and a walk at Lincoln Park and several rounds of pass-the-baby.

Bina the dog is used to being the baby in the room and displayed a little envy early-on, but once she’d sniffed out Isaac and determined he wasn’t going to hop right into anyone’s lap, she decided he was alright.

I turned forty that Saturday and it was nice to have family around to toast to a new decade.

Plus, Mitch makes some mean spaghetti and meatballs.  He and Shane spent much of the afternoon planning and shopping and cooking and I MUCH appreciated it.


And to bookend grandparent season, the Schnells landed in Seattle a couple of weeks ago along with our niece, Shanay.

While Grandma and Grandpa doted on Isaac, Shanay was an amazing buddy for Juliette.  There aren’t too many 22 year-olds that will jump at the chance to do Play-dough, but she was so incredibly generous with her time and attention (plus, she can french braid, which essentially gives her Queen status with Juliette).

Lazy mornings…

Lazy afternoons…

Again, we didn’t get out much.  But we were plenty content to cozy up inside with the baby.  Denny wore his grandpa-heart on his sleeve and spent long stretches of time just gazing at Isaac’s little face and saying, “Grandpa loves you…you’re such a gift, buddy…”.

It was a tearful goodbye (not just for Isaac!), but those few days together were precious.

In other news, we inducted Isaac into the Giants fan club and cheered on our team during their too-short playoff season.

Gosh, it hurt to lose to the Dodgers.  Also hurt to hear that Buster Posey is retiring!  Juliette shed a few tears when the news broke…

Other October happenings included our first annual Harry Potter night.  Juliette and I spent the afternoon making Hogwarts-themed treats and then invited the Rusts over for snacks and a movie.

Sorting hats were chosen at random and the color of the jelly beans inside told you which house you belonged in.

Slytherin for J!  I knew he had a dark side…

But Slytherin for Nance, too?  I expected better.

I tend to overuse the word “cozy” in my Fall and Winter blog posts, but…it really was the coziest of October evenings.

Cozy vibes aside, sometimes we’ve just gotta get out, and Juliette’s Saturday soccer games have proven to be an excellent reason to leave the house.  This is her first year on the team and she is killing it!  I am so, so proud of her – she’s a force out there, scoring goals at every game, passing to her friends like a true team player, and shaking off the occasional bump or bruise.

Isaac doesn’t quite follow the action, but at least he keeps my lap warm!

On really muddy days, the girls line up during half-time and stick their feet out so that the coaches can scrape their cleats clean.  These dads get gold stars.

Morning walks are another good reason to leave the house, partly because I need the exercise, but also because Isaac needs the nap.

Bonus points if I can work my route to include a coffee stop.

Double-bonus if I’m joined by a friend!

Saving the Halloween pics for another day, and then it’s onto the business of November-ing!