Archive for the ‘weekends’ Category

We’ve got a five-day camping trip on the books where I expect I’ll take a boatload of photos, so I figured I better get up-to-date here on my summer snapshots – in addition to Friday Fun-days, Saturdays and Sundays have been pretty grand as well.

We convened with the gang in Issaquah in early June for a hike out to Coal Creek Falls.  Actually, let’s call it more of a “saunter” – 6 adults, 5 kids, and 1 dog made for a less-than-nimble group.

Oh, and add two babies to the tally!

This place is was so much greener than it was on our walk just a few weeks earlier.

Isaiah kissed a slug, proudly earning a new notch on his nature belt.

Seriously, people, the goin’ was slow!

Made it!

Steady, Gryff!

And…homeward bound!

We made it back to the car in record time, logging a speedy 35-minute mile.  Nicely done, kids.

In other news, Grandma was here!  My mom spent a couple of days in Seattle en route to Florida in mid-June and we hit up Jefferson Park on a sunny afternoon…

Then lounged in the backyard with white wine and kombucha.

We walked my mom to Lightrail on her final morning here and Juliette sobbed for 15 minutes once we said our good-byes, as if we’d never ever see Grandma again (we’ll see her next month).

We spent last Saturday in Mukilteo, visiting Shane’s aunt, uncle, and cousins.  Doug and Val have a condo right near the ferry terminal and the Mukilteo lighthouse, so we spent a little time exploring the sights.

And I snapped some Schnell family pics, since it’s so rare that their whole family gets to be together, with the kids spread from coast to coast.  See that strapping young man on the right?  I used to read him bedtime stories when he was Juliette’s age!

We spent much of the afternoon at the pool, floating on noodles and working on our tans.

Juliette got swim lessons from Auntie Val…

And loved it.

I soaked up some rays while Juliette pouted about the fact that pooltime was over.

We took an evening walk along the beach with ice cream cones from the corner brewpub and overturned rocks in search of crabs.

Thanks as always, Schnells, for showing us a great time!

With all the out-and-abouting we’ve been doing lately, we opted for a laid-back Fourth of July at home, venturing no farther than our own backyard.

I sometimes forget how good the simple pleasures can be.

SUMMMMMMMERRRRRRRRR!

We ended the day with a stroll down to the neighborhood kids’ lemonade stand, raising our cups to the entrepreneurial spirit of the good ol’ U.S. of A.

We woke up to another magical 80-degree forecast on Saturday and drove over to Pine Lake to check out the Eastside water scene.

Shane and I each got out for a solo spin on the SUP and then Juliette asked if she could try.  We let her climb on but hovered close by, sure that we’d soon have a soaking wet kid on our hands.

Steady, baby…

She’s a natural, folks.

A few minutes in, she hopped off the board and ran to grab her life jacket, as a way of letting us know she was ready to venture a little farther out.

Shane took the fin off the bottom of the board so that Juliette paddled in circles around us, reveling in her newfound freedom.

What’s better than bobbing along in a cool lake with your favorite people on a warm day in the PNW?  Quite possibly nothin’.

Camping Trip Numero Dos is in the books, and though we stayed pretty close to home this time, venturing only as far as Bainbridge Island, it was a super-special weekend.  We haven’t done the big-gang camping thing in years and so when five of our favorite families agreed to sleep under the stars with us for a couple of days, we were stoked.  Let the mayhem begin!

We boarded the Bainbridge Ferry on Friday afternoon, cars loaded down with bikes and kayaks and paddleboards and marshmallows.  Peace out, Seattle!

Helloooooooo, Rainier!

No trip to Bainbridge is complete without a stop at Mora’s for ice cream.

I wiped the last drip of strawberry ice cream from Juliette’s chin and then we hopped in the Forester to set out for camp.  The gentlemen took an alternate mode of transportation.

We rolled up to our three sites at Fay Bainbridge State Park and were thrilled to find that we had in fact reserved a big stretch of lovely lawn, perfect for running and rolling and lounging.

And caterpillar-hunting!

The kids did their own version of summer sledding by hauling each other around on picnic blankets.

And Shane did some bike wheel triage while chatting with Jack over home-brewed Caipirinhas.

Once we’d set up camp and gulped down our first round of cocktails, we walked down to the beach to play in the sand and soak in the sun.

We bought a kite a few weeks ago and have been looking for the perfect place for its maiden voyage.  Found it!

This little driftwood fort was pretty magical, especially with Rainier shining in the distance.  Jules and Stella set up a “restaurant” in there – hot coffee was served in clam shells, with a sprinkle of sand on top.

Captain of the ship!

The grown-ups took to the water on paddle boards and kayaks.

And this little lady ran naked through the sea grass.  Ah, to be young again!

We grilled burgers for dinner and followed up with the requisite s’mores.

Jules and N spent some time mind-melding before bed – they’d squeeze their eyes shut tight, link their hands, and then Jack would ask Juliette what number she was thinking of.  She’d shout increasingly complex digits, like “twenty one hundred seven!”.  Jack would then turn to Nico and ask, “Nico, what number was Juliette thinking of?”  When he repeated, “twenty one hundred seven!”, the two of them would jump up and down, hardly able to believe the mind-reading magic of it all.

Seriously, to be young again!

BTW, this kid is a maniac on the RipStik.

All was (relatively) quiet by about 10 pm and all slept well (ok, not really).  There were a few tired kiddos and parents around the breakfast table on Saturday morning, but once coffee was brewed and the sun fully shone, everyone seemed to find their mojo.  The gentlemen headed out for a bike ride…

While the women and children headed down to the beach.

YOU GUYS.

The tide was super-low that morning and we combed the kelp for crabs, clams, and other sea treasures.

As soon as Shane returned from his ride, I headed out with Nicole and La Verne for an afternoon paddle.  The water was choppy, so Nicole and I “kayaked” on our paddle boards, returning to shore with soaking wet butts but newly browned shoulders.

Blue Crush, mid-thirties mama-style!

Juliette had played so hard that morning that I expected to return to camp to find her passed out in the tent, but…not so much.

Emily and La Verne ran to the store for a couple of things and returned with popsicles and margarita fixin’s.  Effusive gratitude was felt all around.

Jules and Stella shared a Moana moment…

While Eden and Shane played the sweetest-ever game of peek-a-boo.

I’m storing this moment with this crew in the memory bank, as we drifted in and out of the circle, story-telling and group-parenting and laughing like family.

Bop it, Bups.

These two pulled out all the stops when stalling at bedtime – it was almost as if Nico whispered in Juliette’s ear, “Hug me!  They’ll take our picture and forget about tooth-brushing!”

Finally, though, everyone was tucked in and camp was quiet (ok, not really).  Juliette woke up at 2 am desperate to poop and while I very reluctantly agreed to take her to the bathroom, all was made right when we crossed the clearing on the way to the Honey Bucket and she looked up at the sky to gasp, “Mommy, the stars!  They’re so beautiful!”  We turned off our head lamps and crouched there in the middle of the grass for a moment, feelin’ that camping buzz something fierce.

One of the three of us woke up the next morning with bright eyes and a smile on her face.  Guess which one.

We enjoyed a leisurely morning at camp, letting the kids harvest unripe berries while the adults pounded the coffee that Jack had graciously picked up at Starbucks.

We got in one last beach-fix, kayaking and shell-hunting and kite-flying…

And then it was time to catch our 1:10 ferry back to the real world.  Thankfully, the real world offers showers and indoor bathrooms.  Otherwise, I might never have wanted to leave our little island oasis…

There are lots of reasons to be giddy about the arrival of Summer in the PNW, but the onset of camping season tops my list.  And so the first free June weekend we had, we put “CAMPING” on our calendar, heading for the hills with a hope and a prayer that the questionable weather forecast would turn in our favor (Lord knows we weren’t so lucky last time we camped in June, but I was feeling optimistic).

Nancy had booked us a site at Fort Flagler State Park up near Port Townsend, and there’s always a bit of anxiety that comes with rolling into a campground you’ve never visited before – would the sites be crammed together?  would the tent spots be right next to the road?  would it be sparsely wooded?  OR, would it be sheltered and spacious and totally amazing?  From the minute I stepped out of the car, I knew this one was the latter!

Shane got right to work setting up the tent while Juliette and I explored the nearby trails, hunting for spiders and squirrels.

Juliette and I spent a few minutes laying down in the tent, but the moment we heard the Rust clan roll up, she shot up like a dart – in no time, all three kids were helmeted and on some form of wheels.

The beach was a two-minute drive from our site and we all headed down there before dinner to check out the scene.  And the scene was…BLUE!

Shane gave Gryff some lessons in rock skipping while Jules and Isaiah watched from their sunny perch.

Juliette has fully fallen into the role of the pesky kid sister, spending much of the weekend shouting, “Come sit by me, Gryff!  Gryff!  GRYFFIN!!!”  He’s so sweet to indulge her…

Can you believe the forecast that day was for steady drizzle?  Psssshhhhh.

We headed back to camp for brats and corn and cold beer around the campfire.

And, of course, the mallows.

I was eager to see the sunset, so Shane graciously offered to put Juliette to bed while I grabbed my camera and headed down to the beach (get your scroll finger ready!).

I mean, Holy Moly, this place was lovely.

I strolled to the end of a sandy spit and then stopped to sit on a piece of driftwood for awhile and fully breathe it all in.

I headed back to camp as the sun dipped below the horizon.  The water faded to darker shades of purple and blue, looking so much like a real-life Monet.

We all slept like rocks that night and woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (ok, Shane was hardly bright-eyed, but Jules was feelin’ the camping joy!).

Juliette was convinced that giants lived under this metal hatch near the restrooms, so it was crucial that we tip-toed and wore our headlamps on our morning pee-run, just in case.

After we’d caffeinated and breakfasted and taken our sweet time getting out of our pajamas, we set out for a hike along the bluff.

This kid was channeling his inner Hulk (a la Halloween 2016).

Flagler was a military fort manned during World Wars 1 and 2 and the trail was dotted with bunkers and searchlights and batteries.

And…deer!

We eventually made it to the end of the trail and down to the beach for fort-building and shell-searching.

Shane set out on a bike ride while I hung back with Juliette (climb, baby, climb!).

Jules took an afternoon snooze and then we went back down to the beach to fill her bucket with purple shells and dried-out crabs.

It was like Halloween, watching her lay out all her loot back at camp!

We ate another hearty meal around the campfire and then Juliette waited not-so-patiently for Dad to roast her marshmallow.

We found ourselves with just enough pre-bedtime buzz to walk back down to that irresistible beach to catch the day’s last rays.

Driftwood shenanigans…

Good night, sun…

We stayed close to camp Sunday morning, slowly packing up while the kids made smoke signals and played soccer.

Juliette’s a bit young to be a legitimate playmate for a seven year old, but there were certainly moments when I saw these two having a grand ol’ time together…

Cheers to a killer start to camping season!

Shane decided he wanted to make the 50-mile trek to the Bainbridge Ferry on his bike (talk about a Hulk!), so Juliette and I made our own adventure of getting home, heading to Bremerton to check out Harborside Fountains and catch the ferry from there.

She hung back for the first half-hour, timidly dipping her toes in the water’s edge.

But soon she waded farther in…

And before long the pants were off.

We caught the 3:00 ferry to Seattle and I bought Juliette her first Choco Taco as a thank you for being such a good travel companion that day.  She took that first bite and asked with astonished delight, “Do I get to eat the whole thing?!”  Have at it, kiddo.

I was pooped and asked Juliette if we could just spend some time quietly sitting on a bench inside.  Sweet kid offered to read me a story while I rested!

And then our boat cruised up to the Seattle dock and we were home, sun-kissed and smelling of campfire smoke.  Next weekend, we head out for Camping Round 2.  The future is bright!

Memorial Day weekend was long and sunny and filled with good times with the gang – dare I say that summer has come a little early this year???

Juliette and I heralded the arrival of 80-plus temps with a Mama-Jules Friday at Gene Coulon Beach.

She rides a little lower every time she gets in that boat, but somehow, it still floats!

I’m so looking forward to a summer of Fridays with this kid…

After leaving the beach, we stopped by Target for paper towels and walked out with an inflatable pool, because, I mean, 82 degrees, people!  We just lived through Seattle’s coldest winter in 32 years!

We dusted off the paddle board on Saturday morning for a jaunt around Lake Washington…

And then set up camp on the lawn with our peeps.  It was a long, lazy morning of mimosas and baseball and water bazookas.

We celebrated N’s fourth birthday that evening with a dinosaur egg hunt and generously frosted cupcakes.

It was like Easter in May!  Brilliant party planning, La Verne…

Happiest of birthdays to this sweet boy!

Jules and N haven’t seen a whole lot of each other this past few weeks and seemed quite happy to be reunited again.

While the littler kids played with their eggs, G and Z did dare-devil stunts with scooters and riding toys down the Chens’ steep driveway.  Rough and tumble, these two…

Shane scored a big-kids bike on Craigslist on Saturday and gave Juliette her first pedal lesson on Sunday.  She’s got a ways to go before she’s cruising around this thing on her own, but biking lessons seem like a perfect father-daughter summer project.

I, on the other hand, am quite comfortable with my new wheels and loved our Sunday afternoon ride down to the lake and around Seward Park.  Check us out!  We’re a biking family!

 

We ran into the Chens down on the Boulevard and biked with them for awhile.

Juliette was such a good sport on our 14-mile trek that we let her maximize her pre-bed playtime by eating dinner in her new swimming pool.  Copper River salmon has never tasted so good!

Tempted as I was to lay super-low on Monday, Shane was gunning for another family ride, so we strapped our bikes to the Forester and drove over to Marymoor Park for a Redhook Ride.

I have to say, the Brewery payoff felt slightly out of proportion with the meager seven miles we rode to get there…  But hey!  It was a holiday!

We capped off our weekend o’ sun back at Seward Park, where I laid on the grass while the kids splashed in the lake.

And with that, May Madness is a wrap.

With the flurry of the England trip and the Portland trip, I missed a couple of other May happenings!

My mom and dad came to visit at the beginning of the month – it was a weekend full of walks at the park and tri-generational coffee dates:

The forecast was iffy the Saturday they were here, but once we woke that morning and saw blue skies overhead, we deemed it ferry weather.

Hello, Bainbridge!

First stop: Blackbird Bakery for Americanos and cookies.  Cafe-hopping is one of my favorite things to do with my mom and it’s been fun to fold Juliette into our ritual (even if it’s just with warm milk).

We wandered around Winslow for a couple of hours, hitting the toy store and Doc’s Marina Grill and, of course, Mora’s for ice cream.

Bainbridge is nice and all, but I think the ferry ride to and from there might be even nicer!

Sunday was another surprising lovely day, so we spent the morning at Seward Park, strolling and biking and throwing rocks.

My mom and dad hit the road a couple of hours before I caught my plane to England – I like to think we all spent that weekend filling Juliette’s love bank to the brim before splitting town!

Thankfully, I got back from my trip in time to spend Mother’s Day at home.  Though Shane was probably ready for a break, he was up early with Juliette Sunday morning to run to the bakery for a loaf of my favorite bread.  I came downstairs to find him plating avocado toast with bacon and eggs while Jules ground my coffee beans.  I’m the luckiest.

And then, in an even grander gesture, we went to the bike store to pick out a gift for me!  We kicked off a summer of family bike rides with a whirl on the Green River Trail.

Post-ride hydration at Schooner Exact Brewery…

Juliette then woo’ed me by pulling all of the floor mats out of the Forester and scrubbing them clean.  Just when I think this girl couldn’t possible wriggle her way any deeper into my heart…

I tell ya’, motherhood is some kind of special…

Seattle’s fleeting cherry blossoms come in two waves every year, and I feared we had missed the second wave of bright pink pom-poms while we were down in Los Angeles.  Turns out we made it back just in time!

I picked up Juliette a little early from school one day last week and when I saw her apropos ultra-pink outfit set against clear blue skies, I figured we should jet down to Lake Washington to check out the scene.  I mean, this tree branch was just begging to be sat upon by a girl in a pink tutu!

Right?

I miss those evening golden hours back at Santa Monica beach, but “pink hour” along Lake Washington is also pretty magical.

Riiiiiight?!

Shane and I tag-team parented much of last weekend due to some work stuff and a church meeting, but we did set aside Saturday morning for some quality family time.  We hit the trail to Coal Creek Falls at Cougar Mountain mid-morning – Juliette has outgrown the hiking backpack but assured us she could make it all the way on her own.

So much promise in these woods – this path feels like it’s on the verge of exploding with all shades of green.

Ahhhh, green, green, green!

Oh, and about Jules making it all the way “on her own”…

Thanks, Dad…

The sound of rushing water grew louder, then fainter, then louder again, and just when we all started to wonder if we’d ever get there…

Found it.

One of the advantages of hiking on a gray April day?  You get an oasis like this all to yourself.

This kid could have spent all day fishing for special rocks in the shallow water.  I told her she could pick three to take home with her and after carefully considering her options, she slipped a brown one, a black one, and a striped one into her pocket.  She gave each of them very dramatic names like “The Waterfall of the Sea” and “The Seasons of the Grass”.  I’m guessing her teachers have been reading her fairy tales at school?

I know, Jules, I know – it’s so thrilling to see leaves on the trees!  Cheers to a Spring and Summer of gettin’ outside.

Psalm 118:24 was read aloud several times over at church on Sunday morning and rattled around in my head throughout the day:

This is the day that the Lord hath made.

We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Indeed, it was a weekend full of rejoicing.  Because…Easter!  And sunshine!  And this sweet kid’s 7th birthday!

We spent Saturday morning at the Rusts’, ringing in Isaiah’s 7th.  There were lawn games and presents and pizza and popsicles.  And smiles.  This! Boy’s! Smiles!

Happy birthday, Bups!

Post-party, Shane and Juliette went on a 1.5-hour bike ride while I wandered the aisles of Target in blissful solitude.  I expected Juliette to be antsy and tugging at her bike helmet by the time they got back as she’s never spent more than 30 minutes in the bike seat, but this girl was such a good sport.  It seems she’s cherishing Daddy-Jules time more than ever.

I hated to spend the day’s last few sun rays indoors, so Juliette and I took a stroll through the Greenbelt before dinner – this little patch of woods has become our go-to when we want a nature-fix.

The birds seemed particularly exuberant that evening – one jay (?) had Juliette a bit spooked with his extra-loud calls.

Eh…no worries!

There are times when I open up a photo I’ve taken and my stomach flip-flops at the sight of how grown-up and lovely this girl has become.  Hard to believe she’s only three.  And yet hard to believe she’s already three!

We ushered in Easter Sunday with pastries at Cafe Besalu, sensing God’s goodness in the form of buttery croissants and rich coffee.

After church, we headed over to Discovery Park to do some exploring with the Rusts.

The woods were bursting with bright, bright green, poignantly heralding signs of new life.

After a few wrong turns, we finally landed down at the beach, where we muddied our shoes and flipped over rocks in search of crabs.

Jules and I hung tight in this driftwood fort while Shane trekked back uphill to get the car.


We all snoozed through much of the afternoon and then woke up rearing to go again.  I hid a few eggs out back for Juliette to find and loved watching her react like she’d won the jackpot every time she cracked one open.

She quickly amassed all 15 jelly beans, looking into her bucket with bright-eyed wonder and exclaiming, “I think I have a thousand jelly beans, Mommy!”.  I put together a grander basket this year as the ultimate prize, stuffing it with art supplies and a new doll.

We headed over the Rusts’ again that evening for an egg hunt with the bigger kids.  I was glad Juliette had gotten her own private hunt at home, because she didn’t stand a chance against these rascals!

The boys were actually pretty great about sticking to their 10-egg limit and leaving the easy-to-find ones for their kid sister.

We feasted on roast chicken and then let the kids run off their jelly bean high.  Isaiah was kind enough to share his birthday walkie-talkies with Juliette, who spent 15 straight minutes jabbering into the thing without letting him get a word in edgewise.

Sometimes rejoicing comes so very naturally – my heart is full.  Thanks be to God.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Ah, well.  It was good while it lasted.

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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.

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

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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!).

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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There is much to be thankful for.

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

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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).

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<<insert heart emojis here>>

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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The Chens went big.

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

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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…

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Better grab all those happy family selfies while we can!

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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.

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Oh, holidays…I’m so glad you’re here.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.