Archive for December, 2023

November!  I know the seasons officially change today, but November very much felt like the closing of Fall and the beginning of Winter.  We started the month with our annual Harry Potter Night, complete with friends and treats and sorting hat cupcakes.

Pink frosting means…House Gryffindor!  Perfect for our little Hermione…  My cupcake, on the other hand, was filled with green.  Yikes.

And to keep the good times rolling, the Chens invited Juliette and I on a walk-through of the Harry Potter Experience a couple of weeks later – we convened in Bellevue and chased our kids past Platform 9 3/4 into the Potions classroom and then onto the Quidditch pitch.  The magic lives on.

November brought the end of soccer season, and Juliette went out with a bang.  We spent our open Sundays kicking the ball around at Hiawatha…

And then watched the practice pay off on Saturday game days.  Juliette had three killer games in a row, scoring three (then four, then FIVE!) goals in each game.  She’s a beast.

Rightfully proud of herself.

Isaac is chomping at the bit to join the team.

But in the meantime, he’s an awfully good cheerleader!

Another parent captured these action shots on the girls’ last game, and these pics say it all…

Congrats on a stellar season, Fuchsia Fighters!

Fall park days!  Get the leaf-peeping in while it’s good!  We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon at Volunteer Park, basking in Capitol Hill’s golds and oranges.


And then more traipsing through the leaves near Hiawatha while Shane and Juliette did soccer drills out on the fields.

Requisite November Lincoln Park pics:

And a crisp Saturday afternoon on the West Seattle water taxi.  Shane dropped us off at the West Seattle dock, we sailed to downtown, then strolled through Pike Place Market where Uber-Dad picked us up.  Thankful for a guy that chauffeurs our mini-adventures.

(Hat hair, don’t care!)

And some backyard fun to round out our playtime…

Finally, November meant the official onset of Cozy Time.  Lots of hibernating done last month.

(Isaac’s snuggles are sweet, but often devolve into a wrestling match.)

MATCHING JAMMIE SEASON!  We’re ready for ya, Holidays.

Again, what starts out sweet…

Later, Fall.  Winter is so definitely here.

I have come to accept that our boy is growing faster than I can blog, but it still feels worth jotting down a handful of Isaac-isms every few months.  Some of toddlerhood is too sweet not to capture for posterity; it feels good to know I can come back to these words and photos when he’s up and grown.  Also, though, some of toddlerhood is so hard that it’s good to take some notes should I ever get too too sad about these years slipping by.

Sweet stuff first!  Give me all the Buddy snuggles!  Isaac is affectionate beyond measure and is delightfully generous with his hugs and kisses.  He doesn’t have a stuffed animal he consistently favors these days, but he does insist on resting his hand on my cheek when we’re reading a book or he’s drinking a bottle.  I’m his own traveling security blanket.  Thrilled to have the job.

We really like our Sunday afternoon naps together.  But now I can forget about sneaking away while he’s dozing.

And the nighttime crib sleeping – what progress!  Rarely a midnight wakeup these days, and often a 7am rise and shine.  I miss a lot of things about his younger days, but our 5am mornings together aren’t one of them.

This past quarter has brought an explosion in Isaac’s vocab.  He picks up a few new words every week, about half of which are intelligible.  We play a lot of “guess what Buddy’s saying”, which isn’t the most fun game for any of us – Isaac ran through the house yesterday, carrying his shoes and yelling “patos!  patos!  PATOS!” while we all struggled to understand what he was telling us.  Potty?  Papa?  It took a good ten minutes of us all growing increasingly frustrated until I cracked it – ZAPATOS!  Isaac was saying shoes in Spanish and he couldn’t understand why we weren’t helping him slip into his sneakers.  The beauty and burden of a bilingual preschool…

He’s learning his letters via Juliette’s old Leapfrog ‘computer’ and pushes ‘V’ over and over and over and so that we’re all well aware that V is for Vulture! Vulture! Vulture!  When Isaac sees the letter ‘V’ on street signs or in books, he yells Vulture! on repeat.  Smart boy!

Smoothies are “meenkies”, octopus is “oppatus”, and food not to his liking, no matter how bland, is rejected with a claim of “SPICY!”

Other recent phrases are “C’mon duuuude”, said to no one in particular for no particular reason, but he’s discovered it makes us laugh.  Also, lots of “MINE”, of course, which drives Juliette extra-crazy when stated as “MINE Mama” as he wraps his arms around my neck.  She’s been exceedingly gracious in letting go of her role as only child, but I’m still at least half hers.  When Isaac is a little mad at me, but not so mad as to lose his mind, he furrows his brows and grumbles, “No tank you, Mama!”  Ok, Dear.

He’s often surprising me with his height and strength – when did he get tall enough to open the fridge and start rummaging for snacks?  Nothing is safe these days.  Our light switches get a lot of action.

Which brings me to food and mealtime, which is one of our biggest sources of angst.  If we can get him to the dinner table before he’s hangry, he’ll gobble down his hamburger and we’re golden.  But that means eating at 4:30 pm, which is hardly practical, so we’re often faced with the choice between pumping him full of snacks (then eating with an un-hungry, distracted boy at our own dinnertime), or trying to hold him off, which puts him in such a fragile state of mind that he will become hysterical when his blueberries roll away under the pressure of his fork.  Gosh, though…give him a well-timed bowl of applesauce and he can be pretty damn funny.

He loves the sound of the coffee grinder and flaps his arms like a crazed bird every time it’s running.

I’m excited too, Buddy.

The faces of Isaac…so easily shocked and awed.  Whether it’s a distant train whistle or a dog barking outside or the sound of the garage door opening, he wears this same expression of “HOLY COW – DID YOU HEAR THAT?!?”

He doesn’t spend much time rolling his cars across the coffee table these days, but he does love to pack them in Juliette’s old suitcase and tote them around the house.

Bon voyage, Sweetheart!

Also, BOOKS.  Lots of books.  I’ve loved revisiting Juliette’s old faves with Isaac and we read Amos McGee and Lenny and Lucy on the regular.

We go on lots of walks.  These pics are from sunnier days, but whether it’s sweatshirt weather or full-on puffy coat weather, we get out.

There’s a house a few blocks from ours where the owner has installed a series of animal wood carvings in the adjacent Schmitz Park entry.  After dinner (when it was still light out after dinner!) I would ask Isaac “bear bear?” and he’d run for his shoes, knowing exactly where we were headed.

As a bonus, we found a house nearby with a U-Pick sign on their apple tree.  Top night.

The older Isaac gets, the more he hones his talent for annoying his sister, but she’s rarely able to stay mad at him for more than 20 minutes at a time.  They’re buddies through and through.

Bath snaps, just because.

And I’ll end with life as we currently know it… Toys, shoes, and a dripping, open water bottle strewn on the floor.  Pants nowhere to be found.  We were probably supposed to have left the house five minutes ago.  That smile, though.

October!  Paris was of course the major highlight, but Shane and Isaac deserve some airtime, too.  We kicked off October with a quick weekend trip up to Bellingham to finish up Isaac’s passport/Nexus pass application at the Blaine Custom’s Office.  Plus…pumpkins!

Apples were actually the main attraction at Bellweather Farms, so we bought a bag to fill and boarded the tractor trailer for a ride out to the orchards.

His little hand on her leg…

So, about U-pick with a toddler…works much better with raspberries than apples!  He filled our 9-pound bag in about two and a half minutes, wonderfully proud of himself and also confused when we told him he was doing too good a job.  Make it last, Bud!

Since our apples were picked in under five minutes and we had a couple more hours until our passport appointment, we took our time saying hello to the cows.

And then ran same extra laps in the Gala aisles.

Boy down!

Sampling the merch…

Juliette said it was the best apple she’d ever had.  I agreed it was perfectly juicy and crisp, but also, the whole of experience may have added some extra flavor.

Still T minus 90 minutes to appointment time…corn maze it is!

Isaac passed his global entry interview with flying colors, we grabbed a quick bite, and then settled into our hotel for swimming and movies.  Mission accomplished.

We breakfasted early the next morning at Old Town Cafe, where the pancakes, mimosas, and toy-packed play area were all a hit.  Something for everyone!

We drove over to the waterfront after breakfast to throw rocks and have a go at the playground.

The previous day’s tank top weather was already a distant memory…we jumped back in the car and then Isaac fell asleep as I was giving Shane directions to a coffee shop where we could warm up, so we decided to quit while we were ahead and hightail it back to Seattle.  Quick trip.  Easy-ish trip.  Good trip.

October brought more soccer, and more time on the sidelines with my favorite fan.

It’s great when Grandma comes and can take a turn on toddler-duty so that I can focus on sister.  Juliette snagged the ball with just a few minutes to go and ran it down the whole field for a goal.  Isaac did 47 laps on this log / balance beam situation.  They’re both winners.

Lately Saturdays are for soccer games, and Sundays are for kicking the ball around with Shane and Isaac at Hiawatha.  Juliette’s got soccer fever and I think her brother is catching it.

My parents spent some time with us in October between a couple of east coast trips – it’s nice to live near an Alaska Airlines hub.  Isaac taught my dad a few things on the art of accessorizing.

And both kids lapped up the time with extra playmates.

Shane had a birthday and we got out to Fonda la Catrina for tacos and laughter with our crew.

We saw the Taylor Swift Eras movie and all loved it in equal measure.  Or maybe Shane loved it the most?  Anyway, it was fun.

And we did our usual park circuit.  Lincoln in October is such a gem.

I spent the last weekend of the month in Florida with my parents attending my grandma’s memorial service.  She passed away in August and I’m so thankful I had to the chance to spend time in the presence of people that loved her so dearly.  I met some distant family members for the very first time and connected with cousins that I haven’t seen in decades.  Nothing but the kindest things were said about Grandma that weekend and it was all true.  She was resilient and kind-hearted and open-homed.  She was entrepreneurial and courageous and hopeful in the face of challenge.  She WAS the goodest and faithfullest servant.  She loved seashells and flowers and even when dementia robbed her of her memories, her kind-hearted nature prevailed.  Love is her legacy.

I have fond childhood memories of my Florida beach visits.  I took a long solo walk one afternoon at Indian Rocks and felt sad and thankful all at once.  Rest well, Grandma.

The end of October also brought Halloween season, complete with giant spiders on the neighbor’s fences and trees…

(Isaac wasn’t a fan at first, but when he felt how soft this one was, he tried to pull it down to give it a hug.)

We picked up a couple of pumpkins from the corner market after one of Juliette’s soccer games and then got down to the business of carving.

Isaac was given a marker and a packet of stickers rather than a blade and told to make his pumpkin pretty, but he wasn’t buying it.  What Juliette was doing looked way more fun.

Or did it?

Such drama!  Get in there, girl!

She pawned off the dirty work on her little brother.  And he loved  it.

Seriously.  I couldn’t get his arm out of there!

At some point Isaac started putting the guts back into the pumpkin so he could pull them out again, and I let that go on for awhile, but eventually we needed to get down to business.

Mission accomplished!

When it came to Halloween costumes, Juliette rejected all of my cute woodland-animal ideas, but her eyes lit up when on a whim I suggested Cruella Deville.  I think it was the promise of red lipstick that had her hooked.  Isaac was a Dalmatian and of course was adorable, but somehow, so was his evil villain of a sister!

We did the neighborhood with Isaac and it took all of one stop for him to get the gist of the gig.


My dad wasn’t intending to trick or treat himself, but when a neighbor offered him an IPA, he wasn’t about to turn it down.

The porch with the cackling witch statue was not so much a hit.  Isaac still points to that house out our front window every couple of days and says, “keery!!!” (scary).  I assure him that the witch has left and then he brightens up with, “all done keery!”.

Again, we quit while we were ahead.  Isaac was trying to eat his candy as quickly as it was being dropped into his bucket, so we called it after just a few houses.

Juliette, though, was just getting started.

She met up with her buds and the moms and I spent an hour or two drinking tea from our travel mugs while our girls ran from door to door.

Happy end of October!

…and happy December?!  How did that happen?!