Archive for the ‘weekends’ Category

Lord knows I love a sunny July in the PNW, and a richly colored October, but December is chock-full of its very own charms, rich with old (and a few new) traditions.

The month kicked off with a kid-free weekend for Nance, La Verne, and me as we trekked a whopping 15 miles south for a weekend at the Cedarbrook Lodge for our annual ladies getaway.  We upped the ante this year and booked a reservation for two nights, skipping town on Friday evening and enjoying a leisurely dinner at the hotel bar before hitting the hot tub and queuing up Serendipity back at our room.

20161202-lw1-sm

Our pilgrimage to the Auburn Supermall has become an integral part of ladies weekend, so after breakfast on Saturday we hit the outlets.  Hard.

20161203-lw1-sm

I always walk out the mall wondering if maybe I overdid it a bit – did I really need five new sweaters?  That’s buyer’s remorse written all over my face, in case you can’t tell.

20161203-lw2-sm

We landed back at the room late afternoon and wondered if maybe we should fully revel in our freedom with drinks and a fancy dinner out on the town.  Nah.  Instead, we spent an hour trying on our new clothes, oohing and ahhing over the deals we’d scored, and then venturing as far as the hotel bar for dinner (again), ending the day with ice cream in bed while SJP affirmed that Girls Just Want to Have Fun.

20161203-lw2-sm

I thoroughly enjoyed our little escapade, but was happy to be back with Juliette and Shane come Sunday morning.  We had a cozy family day at home and then bundled up before heading over to Lake Washington to watch the Christmas Ship pull into the bay and serenade us with 20 minutes of carols.  We huddled on a little stretch of beach with dozens of other families while the choir’s voice rang out across the water.  This was the first year we’ve done this, but it’s been officially added to the list of Schnell family traditions.

20161204-christmas-ship-sm

Seattle got its first dusting of fresh snow last week – Juliette was asleep by the time it really started to accumulate, so I ducked outside and snapped a few quick pictures at 11 pm, just in case it all disappeared by morning.  You never know here.

20161208-first-snow-sm

Sure enough, that lovely blanket of white had turned to gray slush by mid morning the next day, but we ventured into the mountains on Saturday to frolic in a foot of fresh powder.

20161210-hyak1-sm

20161210-hyak2-sm

20161210-hyak3-sm

20161210-hyak4-sm

Juliette had a blast!  For about 30 minutes.  I’m afraid that girl has inherited my intolerance for being cold.

20161210-hyak6-sm

20161210-hyak8-sm

20161210-hyak9-sm

20161210-hyak11-sm

Ah, well.  It was good while it lasted.

20161210-hyak12-sm

20161210-hyak14-sm

20161210-hyak15-sm

20161210-hyak16-sm

20161210-hyak17-sm

20161210-hyak19-sm

20161210-hyak20-sm

20161210-hyak22-sm

20161210-hyak23-sm

20161210-hyak24-sm

20161210-hyak25-sm

My mama’s intuition told me to stick a lollipop in my pocket when we left the house.  It turned out to be just the consolation I needed when Juliette got snow in her mittens.

20161210-hyak27-sm

20161210-hyak26-sm

We stopped at Dru Bru on the way home for beer and Italian sodas.  CHEERS, kiddo!

20161210-hyak28-sm

Being a part of Juliette’s Latino-centric school has opened us up to a host of new rituals and traditions.  On Tuesday we gathered with her classmates and teachers to celebrate Las Posadas, a Mexican festival commemorating the journey of Mary and Joseph.  There was music and dancing, bowls of pozole and cups of hot chocolate.  Juliette was quite taken with the whole thing (one bite of a giant pink polvorone cookie, and she was ready to profess her love of all things Mexican!).

20161212-las-posadas-sm

Up next:  Fondue, Christmas lights, maybe a ride on the Christmas Carousel – we’ve got some more December’ing to do!

Holiday Season 2016 went into full effect on Thursday morning as we rolled out of bed and into the kitchen to begin Project: Turkey.  This was our first year eating at home and I was eager to spread my culinary wings.  I pulled the bird out of the fridge, poked it a little, and then…left it to “rest” for a bit while I built up my confidence with cranberry sauce.  You really can’t mess up cranberry sauce.  Right, Jules?

20161124-thanksgiving1-sm

I spent much of the day in the kitchen, reveling in that coziness that comes with oven warmth and good food smells and the sound of daddy-daughter giggles.

20161124-thanksgiving2-sm

The Rust clan showed up late afternoon and Nance helped me with the finishing touches.  Turkey, green beans, sweet potato casserole, broccoli bacon salad, corn bread, two kinds of cranberry sauce, and mulled wine, plus mashed potatoes and onion soup and apple pie a la Jason.  LET’S EAT.

20161124-thanksgiving4-sm

There was a short moment of panic as we wondered whether or not the bird was fully cooked, but we decided we’d chance it and dig in.

20161124-thanksgiving5-sm

There is much to be thankful for.

20161124-thanksgiving3-sm

We spent Friday morning cleaning out the garage and then headed over to Seward Park for a breath of fresh air.

20161125-seward-park1-sm

20161125-seward-park2-sm

20161125-seward-park3-sm

20161125-seward-park4-sm

20161125-seward-park5-sm

20161125-seward-park6-sm

Juliette is always thrilled by the sight of downtown Seattle, pointing and shouting “that’s Daddy’s building!”  (His office is in the one with the green roof).

20161125-seward-park7-sm

20161125-seward-park8-sm

20161125-seward-park9-sm

20161125-seward-park11-sm

<<insert heart emojis here>>

20161125-seward-park13-sm

I don’t know that we’ve ever hit this park this hard, biking the loop and “hiking” the trail and sitting on the beach and running the dock.  There was even a romp on the playground to wrap it all up!

20161125-seward-park14-sm

20161125-seward-park16-sm

20161125-seward-park17-sm

We ate a leisurely, indulgent breakfast at Super Six on Saturday morning and then headed home to hunker down for what looked like would be a wet, wet day.  Shortly after lunch, though, the sky brightened and we got a text from Jack: “dudes. unexpectedly devoid of rain right now. should we go get a tree?”  Yes, please!  To Mountain Creek we went.

20161126-christmas-tree1-sm

20161126-christmas-tree2-sm

20161126-christmas-tree3-sm

Jules and N spent quite a while standing at the base of this tree and arguing, “I want this one!”, “No, I want this one!”  Move along, kids!

20161126-christmas-tree5-sm

20161126-christmas-tree6-sm

20161126-christmas-tree7-sm

20161126-christmas-tree8-sm

We found a perfect 7-foot Noble Fir and Shane hacked it down in true lumberjack fashion while Juliette cheered him on.

20161126-christmas-tree9-sm

20161126-christmas-tree10-sm

The Chens went big.

20161126-christmas-tree12-sm

I had to promise these kids apple cider and candy canes to pose for a quick shot.  Worth it.

20161126-christmas-tree13-sm

20161126-christmas-tree14-sm

20161126-christmas-tree15-sm

20161126-christmas-tree17-sm

This place, though!  It never disappoints.  The same kind lady has been handing us candy canes at the register for the past 11 years, and I expect we’ll be here 11 years from now.  At which point Juliette will probably insist on just sitting in the car and texting with her friends while Shane and I pick out the tree…

20161126-christmas-tree18-sm

20161126-christmas-tree19-sm

Better grab all those happy family selfies while we can!

20161126-christmas-tree20-sm

20161126-christmas-tree21-sm

We spent the rest of the day stringing lights and sipping egg nog while A Charlie Brown Christmas piped through the speakers.  I think I say this every year, but this might really be our best tree ever.

20161126-christmas-tree22-sm

Oh, holidays…I’m so glad you’re here.

20161126-christmas-tree23-sm

Seattle was very somber in the wake of the election last week and by Friday Shane and I were ready to get out of town.  So we packed our bags and headed to the faraway land of…Portland!  Which was actually just as somber a city as Seattle, if not more so, but there was comfort in being with family.  We rolled up Friday afternoon and headed right to the playground, as Juliette was eager to run free with Morgan and Elise.

20161111-portland1-sm

20161111-portland2-sm

20161111-portland3-sm

20161111-portland5-sm

20161111-portland6-sm

20161111-portland7-sm

20161111-portland8-sm

20161111-portland9-sm

Sitting on Mitch’s front porch and watching the kids play tag has become one of my favorite Portland pastimes.

20161111-portland11-sm

20161111-portland12-sm

20161111-portland13-sm

Juliette bunked with her cousins that night, and as soon as all was quiet in the kids’ room, the grown-ups gathered in the living room to crack open a bottle of wine and pour our post-election hearts out.  I don’t know that I’ve ever spoken so candidly with Mitch and Kathryn about politics and religion, laying bare my hopes and fears.  I so appreciated their insight and refusal to despair; my brother is ever the optimist, my sister-in-law level-headed and fair.  We ended with evening with a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, which had all of us doubled over with laugher, tears streaming down our faces.  Gosh, it felt good to get goofy.

20161111-portland16-sm

The kids woke obscenely early on Saturday and all of us dragged a little throughout the day as a result.  We lounged a lot, napped hard, played Candy Land and did puzzles and took inventory of Morgan and Elise’s 200 Shopkins.  Shane and I snuck away in the evening for a drink at The Bible Club, a cozy little speakeasy in Sellwood, and recharged with stiff cocktails and some kid-free conversation.

20161112-portland2-sm

20161112-portland3-sm

Sunday morning was gray and quiet; Mitch made a frittata and the girls did more Shopkin-trading.  Juliette pondered the future from her window seat.

20161113-portland1-sm

By 10 am though, the kids were over the whole lazy-Sunday thing, so we headed over to Westmoreland Park to ride bikes and climb trees.

20161113-portland2-sm

20161113-portland4-sm

20161113-portland5-sm

20161113-portland6-sm

20161113-portland8-sm

20161113-portland9-sm

20161113-portland10-sm

20161113-portland11-sm

20161113-portland12-sm

20161113-portland13-sm

We grabbed a treat at Grand Central Bakery in Sellwood and let the girls burn off their cinnamon roll sugar-rush with a walk through town.

20161113-portland14-sm

20161113-portland15-sm

20161113-portland16-sm

With that, it was time to say our goodbyes and hit the road.  Juliette cried as we pulled away from the curb, begging to go back to Morgan and Elise’s house.  Soon, kiddo, soon!  Christmas is just around the corner.

We thought Juliette had gotten her trick-or-treating fill in Seabrook, but when I asked her if she wanted to head out on Monday evening for another round with the boys, her eyes lit up with that irresistible twinkle.  So we grabbed her costume, headed over to the Rusts, and fluffed her feathers.

20161031-halloween3-sm

Jules was a little timid at first, but with the Hulk, a fearless fireman, an astronaut, a ninja, and a bird-creature-man thing (what exactly were you, J?) by her side, she quickly got the hang of asking strangers for candy.

20161031-halloween1-sm

20161031-halloween2-sm

20161031-halloween6-sm

20161031-halloween4-sm

After each house, she’d peer into her bag and exclaim, “Look, Nancy!”, thrilled by her growing stash.

20161031-halloween5-sm

It was chilly and wet that evening, but the kids weren’t the least bit deterred by the rain.  I found myself patting Shane on the back for his foresight in mixing a round of hot toddy’s for the grown-ups to take along on the walk.

20161031-halloween7-sm

20161031-halloween8-sm

Bag full and feathers drenched, we called it a night.  Juliette picked out one treat to eat on the way home (M&Ms for the win, always), and with that, Halloween 2016 was in the books for our little flamingo.

Shane’s had a string of flex days and vacation days that have granted him several Fridays off in a row, and we’re reveling in the extra family time.  Also reveling in sunshine when it sporadically breaks through the clouds.  We spent last Friday romping around Carkeek Park, on a search for the biggest leaves and the best shells we could find.  This place has it all.

20161104-carkeek-park1-sm

20161104-carkeek-park2-sm

20161104-carkeek-park3-sm

20161104-carkeek-park4-sm

20161104-carkeek-park5-sm

20161104-carkeek-park7-sm

20161104-carkeek-park8-sm

20161104-carkeek-park9-sm

I mean, come on.

20161104-carkeek-park10-sm

20161104-carkeek-park11-sm

20161104-carkeek-park12-sm

20161104-carkeek-park13-sm

20161104-carkeek-park15-sm

COME ON!

20161104-carkeek-park16-sm

20161104-carkeek-park17-sm

20161104-carkeek-park18-sm

20161104-carkeek-park20-sm

20161104-carkeek-park21-sm

20161104-carkeek-park22-sm

Our super-sunny Friday was followed by a Saturday of relentless rain.  We passed the hours with some solid indoor activities, though, like a visit to our new neighborhood bakery for macarons and Kouign-amman’s.

20161105-rainy-day3-sm

And storytime with La Verne at the neighborhood bookstore.

20161105-rainy-day4-sm

Shane came through in a clutch when he offered to set up the tent in the living room.  Juliette was over the moon about the prospect of camping in November.

20161105-rainy-day1-sm

20161105-rainy-day2-sm

She spent much of the day in there, watching a movie, (not) napping, reading books and tucking all of her stuffed animals into her sleeping bag.  The novelty wore off by late afternoon, but hey, we made it through a mostly-homebound day without tears, yelling, or anything getting broken.  That’s no small victory in our house!

20161105-rainy-day5-sm

20161105-rainy-day6-sm

Rain or shine, November is off to a very good start.

October ended on the highest of notes, with a weekend at the coast with the Chens and Rusts.  Shane, La Verne, and I all had birthdays last month, and we were due for a getaway with the gang anyway, so helllooooooo, Seabrook!

20161028-seabrook1-sm

This is a porch view I could get used to.

20161028-seabrook2-sm

Since we checked in on Friday with only a couple of hours of daylight to spare, we dropped our bags and jetted down to the beach to maximize our time on the sand.

20161028-seabrook3-sm

These two haven’t seen a whole lot of each other recently – together again and it feels so good!

20161028-seabrook4-sm

20161028-seabrook5-sm

20161028-seabrook6-sm

The fellas set out for a brisk jog while the moms hung back with the kids.

20161028-seabrook7-sm

LaV has a knack for the action shots:

20161028-seabrook7b-sm

20161028-seabrook10-sm

20161028-seabrook11-sm

I love these misty coastlines that seem to stretch on forever.

20161028-seabrook13-sm

20161028-seabrook14-sm

Jules was incredibly proud of her “chocolate sand castle” (see pile of poopish mud at bottom right).

20161028-seabrook16-sm

20161028-seabrook19-sm

“Daddy’s back!  Daddy’s back!”

20161028-seabrook17-sm

20161028-seabrook18-sm

Nancy, LaV, and I took our turn jogging and then I snapped a few more pictures of our filthy kids before heading up to the house for dinner.

20161028-seabrook20-sm

20161028-seabrook21-sm

20161028-seabrook24-sm

20161028-seabrook25-sm

20161028-seabrook26-sm

20161028-seabrook27-sm

Shane and Jason beat us back to the house, eager to crack open a couple of cold ones on the porch.

20161028-seabrook28-sm

20161028-seabrook29-sm

Magic, I tell ya’.

20161028-seabrook30-sm

Friday was LaV’s birthday, so we raised glasses of champagne to her, gorged ourselves on Jack’s delectable pasta, and then closed out the night with chocolate cake and an epic sugar-induced dance party.  These people got moves.

20161028-seabrook32-sm

20161028-seabrook31-sm

Saturday morning brought a foot-high stack of pancakes (thanks, Jack!), and cold, crisp sunshine.

20161029-seabrook1-sm

We had planned to hit the indoor community pool, but with blue skies like that, the beach beckoned.

20161029-seabrook2-sm

20161029-seabrook2b-sm

20161029-seabrook3-sm

20161029-seabrook4-sm

20161029-seabrook5-sm

20161029-seabrook6-sm

20161029-seabrook7-sm

20161029-seabrook8-sm

20161029-seabrook9-sm

20161029-seabrook10-sm

20161029-seabrook11-sm

20161029-seabrook11b-sm

Muddy and chilled, we decided to head over to the pool after all and warm ourselves in the hot tub.

20161029-seabrook15-sm

20161029-seabrook14-sm

By the time we got back to the house, the skies had clouded over and big fat raindrops started to fall (just as Jack threw our lunchtime burgers on the grill).  He still managed a perfect char, though, and we retired to our rooms for naptime with full bellies.

20161029-seabrook13-sm

We were tired.

20161029-seabrook16-sm

The town of Seabrook hosted trick or treating for the littles on Saturday night, so the kids donned their costumes and grabbed their candy bags.  Juliette’s flamingo outfit came together at the very last minute – that’s 20 feet of pink feather boas and a whole lot of safety pins!

20161029-seabrook17-sm

20161029-seabrook18-sm

20161029-seabrook19-sm

20161029-seabrook20-sm

Seabrook is a funny little town, full of row after row of perfectly-kept homes with perfectly-kept lawns and a charming little main street with a candy shop and a pizza parlor, all relatively new but designed to evoke a sense of nostalgia.  It was a little eerie, like we’d landed on the movie set of Pleasantville.  The people sure were friendly, though!

20161029-seabrook21-sm

20161029-seabrook22-sm

20161029-seabrook24-sm

20161029-seabrook25-sm

20161029-seabrook26-sm

20161029-seabrook26b-sm

20161029-seabrook27-sm

Biggest pumpkin ever!

20161029-seabrook28-sm

The kids made out like bandits – Juliette kept looking into her basket, eyes wide, like she couldn’t believe how lucky she’d gotten.

20161029-seabrook29-sm

20161029-seabrook30-sm

20161029-seabrook31-sm

She savored the one piece of candy she was allowed before dinner and then I hid the rest of her loot, hoping she’d forget about it (she didn’t).

20161029-seabrook32-sm

We shared dessert that night with some friends that were also in Seabrook for the weekend, tucked our exhausted trick-or-treaters into bed, and then stayed up into the wee hours of the night, polishing off a bottle of Port and covering a gamut of conversation topics.  These late-night chats are so few and far between.

We were all a little bleary-eyed on Sunday morning, but Jack perked us up with yet another home-cooked meal.  His chilaquiles are insane.  The kids busted into the game closet and did us the grand favor of entertaining themselves while we sipped our coffee.

20161030-seabrook1-sm

20161030-seabrook2-sm

20161030-seabrook3-sm

With only a couple of hours left before check-out, I was determined to breathe in a little more of that salty air, so Shane, Jules, and I headed outside to take the fat bike Shane had rented for a spin.  I felt a little silly on it, like I was riding a motorcycle with no motor, but dang, that’s a smooth cruise.

20161030-seabrook4-sm

I’m so glad we tossed Juliette’s bike into the trunk as were packing up on Friday, as she wanted in on the action.

20161030-seabrook6-sm

20161030-seabrook7-sm

20161030-seabrook8-sm

20161030-seabrook9-sm

I LOVE THIS GUY.

20161030-seabrook10-sm

Eventually, regretfully, it was go-time.  We picked up coffee from the town bakery, visited a couple of random Seabrook landmarks, and bid farewell to our beachfront abode.

20161030-seabrook12-sm

20161030-seabrook14-sm

What a glorious, friend/food/fun-filled weekend.  Kudos to Jack for feeding us like royalty.  Kudos to the kids for playing so well together.  Kudos to Nance for keeping the late-night chats hilariously spicy.  Kudos to my mom, Shane’s mom, and LaV’s mom for birthing the three of us in October.  And kudos to the Washington Coast for being awesome.  See you soon.

It’s been a dark and stormy month – when I went in at 7:00 yesterday morning to wake up Juliette, she rubbed her eyes and sleepily asked, “Is it still night time?”, confused by the sun-less sky out her window.  October has been full of wind and rain and only a handful of sun breaks.  But man, when that golden sun breaks

20161016-ravenna-park1-sm

The clouds cleared as we were leaving church a couple of Sundays ago, so we popped over to Ravenna Park for a stroll.  It actually started drizzling again once we’d wound our way down to the trail, but I insisted we press on.  These leaves won’t be around much longer!

20161016-ravenna-park2-sm

20161016-ravenna-park3-sm

20161016-ravenna-park5-sm

20161016-ravenna-park6-sm

20161016-ravenna-park7-sm

20161016-ravenna-park8-sm

20161016-ravenna-park9-sm

I know, Jules!  So lovely, right?!

20161016-ravenna-park10-sm

20161016-ravenna-park11-sm

20161016-ravenna-park12-sm

20161016-ravenna-park13-sm

20161016-ravenna-park14-sm

Shane had last Friday off, so the three of us headed over to Bellevue Botanical Gardens to take a deep breath after a very traumatic dentist appointment (just a check-up, but you’d think our girl was getting a root canal!).

20161021-bellevue-gardens1-sm

Run free, kiddo!

20161021-bellevue-gardens3-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens4-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens5-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens6-sm

We spent awhile bouncing our way back and forth across the suspension bridge, stopping every lap or two to toss leaves into the creek below.

20161021-bellevue-gardens7-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens8-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens9-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens10-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens11-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens12-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens13-sm

And then a rousing game of hide-and-go-seek in the woods.

20161021-bellevue-gardens14-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens15-sm

THIS.  This is why I’m so thankful that my work week ends on Thursday.

20161021-bellevue-gardens17-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens19-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens20-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens21-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens22-sm

20161021-bellevue-gardens23-sm

Saturday was perfectly rain-free, so we seized the day and drove up to Snohomish for a day at The Farm at Swan’s Trail, on a quest for the perfect pumpkin.

20161022-pumpkin-patch1-sm

20161022-pumpkin-patch4-sm

20161022-pumpkin-patch5-sm

So many to choose from!

20161022-pumpkin-patch7-sm

20161022-pumpkin-patch8-sm

20161022-pumpkin-patch10-sm

20161022-pumpkin-patch11-sm

20161022-pumpkin-patch13-sm

20161022-pumpkin-patch14-sm

20161022-pumpkin-patch16-sm

20161022-pumpkin-patch17-sm

We loaded up our wheelbarrow with three pumpkins and one three year old and called it good.

20161022-pumpkin-patch18-sm

Ok, ok, one more!

20161022-pumpkin-patch19-sm

We jetted down to Lincoln Park after the pumpkin patch to watch the Rust boys show off their fancy footwork on the soccer field.  Get it, Gryff!

20161022-soccer-game1-sm

20161022-soccer-game2-sm

Shane had to work most of the day on Sunday, but we squeezed in a family romp through Kubota Gardens before he clocked in.  This place is most definitely at its autumn peak.

20161023-kubota-gardens1-sm

20161023-kubota-gardens2-sm

20161023-kubota-gardens3-sm

20161023-kubota-gardens4-sm

20161023-kubota-gardens5-sm

20161023-kubota-gardens6-sm

I spy…

20161023-kubota-gardens7-sm

20161023-kubota-gardens8-sm

20161023-kubota-gardens9-sm

20161023-kubota-gardens10-sm

20161023-kubota-gardens11-sm

Ok, so apparently October wasn’t so gloomy after all!  (Typed as the rain patters against our living room window.)

The older I get, the less exciting my birthday becomes – I know, wiser and deeper and yada yada yada, but really, I wouldn’t mind staying in my early thirties for a few more years.  So when I saw my 35th looming on the calendar, my first inclination was to keep it fanfare-free – maybe just go out for pizza and then come home to put on my stretchy pants and crack open a pint of ice cream.  That felt like a missed opportunity to do something special in such a lovely time of year, though, so Shane booked us a last-minute rental in Yakima and we set out on Friday for a weekend celebration in wine country.

We arrived a couple of hours before we could check into our house, so we spent some time strolling along the Cowiche Canyon Trail, peeling off our sweatshirts as the sun blazed overhead.

20161007-yakima1-sm

20161007-yakima2-sm

No golden oak trees or bright orange maples here, but these scrubby fall colors were beautiful in their own right.

20161007-yakima12-sm

20161007-yakima6-sm

20161007-yakima7-sm

20161007-yakima8-sm

20161007-yakima9-sm

20161007-yakima10-sm

20161007-yakima11-sm

20161007-yakima13-sm

20161007-yakima14-sm

We arrived at our Airbnb mid-afternoon and were greeted with this stunning view from the front porch.  Well done, Shane.

20161007-yakima15-sm

We ate dinner Friday night at Cowiche Canyon in “downtown” Yakima.  I slurped down one of the best margaritas I’ve ever tasted and Juliette’s chicken and rice came with an unexpected side of french fries, so we both left there very happy.

20161007-yakima16-sm

Shane went for a run on Saturday morning while Juliette and I stayed back at the house and enjoyed the view of that hazy early sunlight grazing the treetops.

20161008-yakima1-sm

20161008-yakima2-sm

20161008-yakima3-sm

We grabbed breakfast and beverages at North Town Coffee…

20161008-yakima4-sm

20161008-yakima5-sm

And then got on with the day’s main business:  WINE!  Yakima is chock-full of wineries and we kicked things off at VanArman Vineyards with sunshine, a glass of Merlot, and a hammock – SO GOOD.

20161008-yakima7-sm

20161008-yakima8-sm

I wasn’t quite sure how we’d manage wine-tasting with a three year old in tow, but with lawn games and wide open spaces like this, it’s actually pretty grand!

20161008-yakima10-sm

20161008-yakima11-sm

20161008-yakima12-sm

20161008-yakima13-sm

20161008-yakima14-sm

20161008-yakima15-sm

20161008-yakima16-sm

These rows between the vines were the perfect racetrack.

20161008-yakima17-sm

20161008-yakima18-sm

Seriously, SO GOOD!

20161008-yakima19-sm

20161008-yakima21-sm

20161008-yakima22-sm

20161008-yakima23-sm

20161008-yakima25-sm

Our second stop was Dineen Vineyards – I was worried we wouldn’t find another place nearly as kid-friendly as VanArman, but when I spotted this swing, I figured we’d be welcome to hang here awhile.

20161008-yakima26-sm

20161008-yakima27-sm

20161008-yakima28-sm

20161008-yakima29-sm

Another bonus?  Wood-fired pizzas served right next to the tasting room.

20161008-yakima30-sm

And soccer!

20161008-yakima31-sm

20161008-yakima33-sm

20161008-yakima34-sm

20161008-yakima35-sm

20161008-yakima36-sm

20161008-yakima37-sm

This might be one of my all-time favorites:

20161008-yakima38-sm

20161008-yakima40-sm

We were closing in on naptime and wanted to check out one more place, so we zipped over to Bonair Winery for a final taste.  No brick ovens or soccer balls, but this place had ducks!

20161008-yakima41-sm

20161008-yakima42-sm

And all the grapes a girl could eat.

20161008-yakima43-sm

I could have happily done another few rounds, but…

20161008-yakima44-sm

So we headed back to the house to cozy up on the couch and doze a little.

20161008-yakima48-sm

A snack with a view…

20161008-yakima45-sm

20161008-yakima46-sm

20161008-yakima47-sm

We ate dinner at a small Mexican joint and spent the rest of the evening at the house listening to the Giants game.  They didn’t come through like we’d hoped, but still, it had been a perfect day.

Sunday was my birthday, which meant I was free to linger in bed as long as I pleased while Shane took Jules-duty.

20161009-yakima1-sm

I eventually rallied, though, eager to do a little more exploring before heading back to Seattle.  We snapped a couple of last pics from the porch and set out for the day.

20161009-yakima2-sm

20161009-yakima4-sm

Our first stop was the Yakima Farmers Market, for fresh-picked apples.  And Kettle corn.

20161009-yakima5-sm

20161009-yakima6-sm

We ate a hearty diner breakfast and drove toward the mountains, stopping a couple of times along the Naches River to take in the fall colors.

20161009-yakima7-sm

20161009-yakima8-sm

20161009-yakima9-sm

20161009-yakima10-sm

20161009-yakima11-sm

20161009-yakima12-sm

We had hoped to do some hiking up at the pass, but as soon as the road climbed upward, the skies turned gray and the rain started to fall.  So rather than mountaineering, we pushed through to Seattle and settled for a stroll at the Arboretum.

20161009-arboretum1-sm

Not a bad back-up plan!

20161009-arboretum2-sm

20161009-arboretum3-sm

20161009-arboretum4-sm

20161009-arboretum5-sm

20161009-arboretum6-sm

20161009-arboretum8-sm

This little pond is one of our favorite spots, and I’ve never seen it look lovelier.

20161009-arboretum9-sm

20161009-arboretum10-sm

20161009-arboretum11-sm

Juliette drew pictures in the water with her walking stick while I sat back and counted all the different shades of green.

20161009-arboretum12-sm

20161009-arboretum13-sm

20161009-arboretum14-sm

20161009-arboretum15-sm

20161009-arboretum16-sm

We capped off the day with cocktails, chicken wings, and coconut sticky rice at Soi.  Happy hour, indeed.

20161009-soi1-sm

Cheers to a very promising start to year 35!

20161009-soi2-sm

OCTOBER, you trickster, you…always arriving before I’m quite ready for you, making me melancholy over the passage of summer but then wooing me with your color and crispness.  These first couple weeks of Fall have been good to us, with plenty of sun and just enough rain to save me from having to water the plants.

I’m afraid paddle board Sundays are a thing of the past, but bike rides are lovelier than ever.

20160918-bicycle-sunday1-sm

20160918-bicycle-sunday2-sm

20160918-bicycle-sunday3-sm

And gosh, these arboretum strolls…on a sunny evening, this place is magic.

20160925-arboretum1-sm

20160925-arboretum3-sm

The kids harvested (inedible) berries one Sunday evening while the grown-ups cracked open a bottle of Sauv Blanc.

20160925-arboretum4-sm

20160925-arboretum5-sm

20160925-arboretum6-sm

20160925-arboretum7-sm

20160925-arboretum8-sm

MY WORD, kids!  Lay it on thick!

20160925-arboretum9-sm

20160925-arboretum10-sm

20160925-arboretum11-sm

20160925-arboretum12-sm

It’s been a few months since I’ve had a work-free, kid-free day to myself, so I called in tired one day last week and headed out to Twin Falls for a little refresh.

20160927-twin-falls1-sm

20160927-twin-falls2-sm

20160927-twin-falls3-sm

20160927-twin-falls4-sm

20160927-twin-falls5-sm

These gorgeous gushing falls are just 45 minutes from Seattle, and on this cloudy Tuesday, I had them nearly to myself.

20160927-twin-falls6-sm

20160927-twin-falls7-sm

20160927-twin-falls9-sm

20160927-twin-falls10-sm

20160927-twin-falls11-sm

20160927-twin-falls13-sm

20160927-twin-falls14-sm

The sun peeked out as I was heading back to the car and the forest positively glowed.

20160927-twin-falls15-sm

So I stretched out on a big smooth rock and read for awhile, savoring that rare feeling of taking my own sweet time.

20160927-twin-falls16-sm

20160927-twin-falls17-sm

20160927-twin-falls18-sm

20160927-twin-falls19-sm

20160927-twin-falls20-sm

20160927-twin-falls21-sm

20160927-twin-falls22-sm

20160927-twin-falls23-sm

Me-days are grand, but Mama-Jules days have their own charm.  We spent past Friday at Volunteer Park, romping in the sun and taking in the view from the Observatory.

20160930-volunteer-park1-sm

20160930-volunteer-park2-sm

20160930-volunteer-park3-sm

20160930-volunteer-park4-sm

20160930-volunteer-park5-sm

Jules was having some…digestive… issues yesterday, so we stayed close to home, but by 4 pm we were all climbing the walls, so we headed over to Kubota Gardens for our annual leaf-fest.

20161002-kubota-gardens1-sm

20161002-kubota-gardens2-sm

20161002-kubota-gardens3-sm

We were a bit early for full-on reds and golds, but hey, green is good, too.

20161002-kubota-gardens10-sm

20161002-kubota-gardens5-sm

This girl was thrilled to be free!

20161002-kubota-gardens6-sm

20161002-kubota-gardens7-sm

20161002-kubota-gardens8-sm

20161002-kubota-gardens11-sm

20161002-kubota-gardens12-sm

20161002-kubota-gardens13-sm

20161002-kubota-gardens14-sm

Oh, and how ’bout them GIANTS?!  Sunday afternoon baseball tea parties are a thing in our house now.  And October baseball is the very best kind of baseball, so don’t let us down on Wednesday, boys!

20160924-giants-sm

I really can’t get enough of this camping thing – it’s like a whole new world of week-ending has opened up to us.  The fresh air!  The campfires!  The…nostalgia!  (Yes, that’s me!)

1984 sm

We set out Friday morning for Tinkham, a small campground on the Snoqualmie River just 45 minutes from home.  We staked our claim on the last two open sites and Shane got to work setting up the tent.  Meanwhile, Jules got to work harvesting huckleberries.

20160729 tinkham1 sm

20160729 tinkham4 sm

We drove into North Bend around lunchtime to drop off Shane for a bike ride with the guys.  I couldn’t resist the lure of Scott’s Dairy Freeze.  But giving a soft-serve cone to a toddler on an 85-degree day?  Not my wisest choice.  This girl was stick-y!

20160729 tinkham3 sm

20160729 tinkham2 sm

We spent the rest of the afternoon down by the river near camp, cooling our feet and throwing rocks.

20160729 tinkham5 sm

20160729 tinkham6 sm

20160729 tinkham8 sm

20160729 tinkham10 sm

Shane and Jason made it back from their ride and forded the river with the kids, sunning themselves on the rocks like a troop of turtles.

20160729 tinkham11 sm

We cooked burgers over the campfire for dinner and capped of the evening with s’mores.  I’ve become pretty accomplished at preparing a meal with a roll of tin foil and an open flame!

20160729 tinkham12 sm

While dining in the great outdoors, pants are optional.

20160729 tinkham13 sm

Since this was our first completely rain-free camping trip, we decided to forego the rain fly and enjoy the view of the trees above.  It was such a treat to wake up to a canopy of green!

20160730 tinkham1a sm

I love Saturday mornings at camp, sipping coffee in the slight morning chill and lingering over a leisurely breakfast.

20160730 tinkham1 sm

20160730 tinkham2 sm

We eventually changed out of our pajamas and drove over to Lost Lake to spread out our blankets and munch on our snacks.

20160730 tinkham4 sm

20160730 tinkham3 sm

Our friends Lloyd and Viv brought their dog, Harper, and Juliette was smitten.  All weekend long, it was, “Harrrrrperrrrr, where arrrrrrre you?   Harper, come please!  HARPER!  COME!”

20160730 tinkham5 sm

Juliette volunteered to keep her baby warm when the wind picked up.

20160730 tinkham6 sm

Cheeeeeeese!

20160730 tinkham7 sm

Shane and Juliette dozed in the afternoon while I drank coffee with Nance and then took a stroll through the woods near our site.

20160730 tinkham8 sm

20160730 tinkham10 sm

It was right around this point that I decided:  we’re never moving.  “Peace on earth” can feel so unattainable when you’re in the vortex of news feeds and social media and daily to-do’s, but gosh, this was certainly the quiet oasis I’d been craving.

20160730 tinkham11 sm

20160730 tinkham12 sm

Jules and Shane had awakened from their 2-hour slumber when I got back to camp, so we walked back over to the river to soak in the warm, early evening light.

20160730 tinkham13 sm

20160730 tinkham14 sm

20160730 tinkham15 sm

20160730 tinkham17 sm

Rocks.  They never get old!

20160730 tinkham19 sm

20160730 tinkham20 sm

20160730 tinkham21 sm

20160730 tinkham22 sm

Meanwhile, the boys stood sentry at our site.  Who goes there?!

20160730 tinkham23 sm

We ate another campfire meal and then…s’mores.  Of course.  Juliette doesn’t know yet that a true s’more contains chocolate, as she’s thrilled with just the mallow and graham cracker.  Before this summer is over, kiddo, I’ll let you in on the secret.  Prepare to have your mind blown.

20160730 tinkham25 sm

We stayed up late on Saturday, playing a version of truth or dare that involved a jump-kick contest, some serious soul-baring, a little bit of awkwardness, and a lot of laughter.

Sunday morning was gorgeous and warm, so we put off breaking down camp and lingered by the river.

20160731 tinkham1 sm

20160731 tinkham2 sm

20160731 tinkham3 sm

20160731 tinkham4 sm

20160731 tinkham5 sm

20160731 tinkham6 sm

The Rusts shared a zen family moment…

20160731 tinkham7 sm

Jules played with rocks (seriously, who needs Legos and blocks and Magna-tiles?!)…

20160731 tinkham8 sm
20160731 tinkham9 sm

20160731 tinkham10 sm

And then the guys set off on a ride to North Bend.  Catch you soon, fellas!

20160731 tinkham11 sm

Since I had some time to kill before meeting Shane at the end of his route, Jules and I headed to Bybee Nims with Nance and the boys to do some blueberry picking.

20160731 bybee nims2 sm

Juliette was an exceptionally focused harvester, diligently picking only the bluest, plumpest berries.

20160731 bybee nims1 sm

Ok, can we talk for a minute about how sweet these two are together?  You are killing me, kids!

20160731 bybee nims3 sm

20160731 bybee nims4 sm

Photo cred for this one goes to Gryff!

20160731 bybee nims6 sm

20160731 bybee nims7 sm

20160731 bybee nims8 sm

Five pounds of berries later, we were ready to head out and meet up with Shane and Jason.

20160731 north bend1 sm

20160731 north bend2 sm

20160731 north bend3 sm

It was like our very own miniature version of the Tour de France, watching these two roll up while the kids cheered excitedly.

20160731 north bend4 sm

20160731 north bend5 sm

Josh and Lloyd were right behind them.  I’m so thankful that Shane has buddies he can bike for hours with (Lord knows I can’t hang!).

20160731 north bend6 sm

20160731 north bend7 sm

One last pic by the river, and then we jetted home, eager to unpack and shower and have someone else prepare dinner for us (thanks, Tutta Bella!).  Civilization has its perks.

20160731 north bend8 sm

Shane and I aren’t the spontaneous type.  Never have been, really, and since we had Juliette, we’re even less likely to leave Seattle without at least ten days of careful planning.  But when Jason and Nancy asked us on Friday night if we wanted to head to the coast with them the next day for an overnight trip, we threw caution to the wind and said YES!  Somehow, in the 11 years we’ve lived here, we’ve never seen Washington’s view of the Pacific Ocean.  We rolled into Westport shortly after noon and spread out our blanket on the sand at Half Moon Bay.

20160723 westport1 sm

20160723 westport2 sm

20160723 westport3 sm

20160723 westport4 sm

20160723 westport5 sm

20160723 westport6 sm

20160723 westport7 sm

Jason recently took up kite boarding and was eager to capitalize on the wind (I was thrilled just to feel the warm, soft sand between my toes).

20160723 westport17 sm

20160723 westport11 sm

20160723 westport12 sm

As we watched Jason zig-zag across the bay, Shane asked Nance, “Did you see that thing splash in the water out there?”.

20160723 westport13 sm

Indeed, there was some sort of water-borne creature circling the bay.  Something with a big flat fin and a long gray body.   After conferring with Google and some nearby beach-combers, we were pretty sure we were seeing a gray whale!  Wild.

20160723 westport14 sm

20160723 westport15 sm

See that splash?  See Jason obliviously galavanting about the water?  This was the moment when Nance started yelling and waving her arms, motioning him to please come back to the safety of dry land!

20160723 westport16 sm

He came in for a bit, but was back at it once the waters had quieted…

20160723 westport18 sm

20160723 westport26 sm

Isaiah scampered around the driftwood fort…

20160723 westport19 sm

And these two settled in for a snuggle.  Juliette has fallen into the role of Gryff’s sometimes-sweet, sometimes-completely-annoying kid sister.  She hardly let this guy out of her site throughout the entire weekend.  Whenever Gryff would try to break away for a moment of peace, Juliette would beg, “Gryff!  Hold my hand!”, at which point he would just sigh and say, “Oh, Ju-Ju…” and let her tag along.  He’s a softie, that kid.

20160723 westport20 sm

Ahhhh, ocean!  We’ve missed you!

20160723 westport24 sm

20160723 westport23 sm

20160723 westport27 sm

20160723 westport28 sm

20160723 westport30 sm

20160723 westport31 sm

20160723 westport32 sm

I see you, Bups!

20160723 westport33 sm

We checked into our condo late in the afternoon and scoped out the view from the living room and deck.

20160723 westport34 sm

20160723 westport35 sm

There was a beautiful ocean-front paved path just steps from our condo, so I took Jules out for a walk in the stroller, hoping she’d grab a much-needed cat nap.

20160723 westport37 sm

She did!

20160723 westport36 sm

We spent the evening at the condo’s pool, swimming and jumping and hot-tubbing.

20160723 westport38 sm

20160723 westport39 sm

20160723 westport41 sm

20160723 westport42 sm

20160723 westport43 sm

We ate burgers on the deck and promptly sent the kiddos to bed – they were tuckered out.

20160723 westport44 sm

While Shane patted Jules to sleep, I snuck away for a sunset walk.

20160723 westport45 sm

20160723 westport46 sm

That PNW beach wind makes for some awfully lovely terrain.

20160723 westport47 sm

20160723 westport48 sm

20160723 westport49 sm

I mean, seriously!

20160723 westport50 sm

20160723 westport53 sm

20160723 westport55 sm

20160723 westport56 sm

Goodnight, sun.

20160723 westport57 sm

Jules was up a little earlier than usual, which meant I woke up earlier than usual and needed coffee, stat.  Juliette and I walked over to Tinderbox for a tall latte and a short milk.

20160724 westport1 sm

And then it was off to the pool to soak up that warm morning sun.

20160724 westport3 sm

20160724 westport4 sm

20160724 westport2 sm

20160724 westport5 sm

Juliette became bolder and bolder with each passing minute, eventually jumping off the edge for a full “dunker”, gasping but smiling when her head popped up out of the water.

20160724 westport6 sm

20160724 westport7 sm

We eventually hung up our wet swimsuits and took one last stroll on the beach.

20160724 westport8 sm

20160724 westport9 sm

20160724 westport10 sm

20160724 westport11 sm

20160724 westport12 sm

20160724 westport13 sm

20160724 westport14 sm

And then we headed back inside, packed it up, grabbed a fish n’ chips lunch, and hit the road.  It was a pretty grand 24 hours – we really should fly by the seat of our pants more often!

20160724 westport15 sm