Archive for the ‘jules’ Category

When Shane asked me the week before Mother’s Day what I wanted to do to celebrate, I quickly ticked off a few options: Stay home and finally get the window-washing done?  Tempting (seriously, it was tempting!), but no…  Go to the spa for a day of relaxation?  Maybe, but I really wanted to hang with Shane and Jules…  Head to the mountains for some spring hiking and wildflower-hunting?  DING DING DING DING DING!  I know I just blogged a glorious few days in San Diego, but I was already feeling the itch to skip town again with my two favorites.

Shane worked his trip-planning magic and got us a cute AirBnb in Anacortes, close to a couple of family-friendly trails.  We left our house, dirty windows and all, on Saturday morning and hit the road, stopping for lunch in La Conner before rolling up to the trailhead at Sugarloaf.  It felt so good to be in the woods again.

Juliette took great pride in darting ahead of us during the uphill climb, giggling when I shouted “Hey Mountain Goat!  Wait up!”

At the top of the mountain, we just chilled.  I stretched out on a warm, flat rock while Juliette looked for flowers and Shane sat back in the shade.  Magically, on a sunny Saturday, we had the whole dang place to ourselves.

While the mountain wasn’t quite bursting with color, we did find patches of yellow and purple, where we couldn’t help but sit for bit.

After making our descent down Sugarloaf, we drove next door to Mount Erie for more view-gazing.

We checked into our apartment later that afternoon and reclined in the backyard Adirondack chairs for awhile before heading into town for dinner and ice cream.  We tucked Juliette in a little early that night and she fell asleep in seven seconds flat.  I wasn’t far behind her.

We breakfasted the next morning with all the other moms and grandmas in Anacortes and Juliette gave me the gifts she had made at school the week before.  This one said, “Mommy, I love you because you make me food and I miss you when you are gone.”  I felt a brief pang of travel-induced mom-guilt over that whole miss you when you are gone thing, but then she wrapped her arms around me and I realized her note had nothing behind it but the sweetest of intentions.

We headed to Deception Pass after breakfast for some more outdoor exploring.

Juliette learned the Macarena at school a few weeks ago and I got a private performance from her on the Shane on the dock, which may have been my favorite Mother’s Day present ever.

We hit the trail, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and set out toward Lighthouse Point.

We never did find the lighthouse, but came across plenty of ways to entertain ourselves along the way!

 

 

This rocky perch was pretty much the stuff of PNW dreams…

 

We ended at this little cove, where I poked around under rocks for crabs while Shane and Juliette played an intense round of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Happiest of Mama’s Days to me, huh?

Ok, this is it gang – the final installment of our California adventures and then we’ll get on with business of May (since tomorrow is JUNE!)…

We spent Friday morning at Liberty Public Market, a large food hall near the airport packed with vendors selling tacos and macarons and fresh-squeezed juices.  Juliette and I grabbed a latte and a steamer and wandered around while munching on a flaky croissant.  We each carefully selected our treats – a meat empanada for Shane, a bag of radioactive-colored popcorn for Juliette, and a dainty pair of gold earrings for me!  Score, score, score.

We left the market late morning and headed up to Del Mar to claim our lunch reservations at Poseidon.  First, though, a few beach sprints:

I opened the stopwatch on my phone and stretched out on a towel while Juliette spent several minutes seeing if she could dart to the water’s edge and back in less than 30 seconds (she could!).

The patio at Poseidon was the perfect place to sip Bloody Mary’s and chow down on Cioppino (or Sprite and coconut shrimp for the little track star).

The afternoon was a lazy blur of napping and puzzling back at the house.  We headed to La Jolla Cove again in the evening to wander around the tide pools and hunt for crabs.

Anenomes!

We took the steps down to our favorite little stretch of beach and played some whiffle ball, since the water was feeling particularly chilly that evening.

I mean, this little beach.  COME ON!

We joined a crowd of people to watch this guy propose to his girlfriend on a petal-strewn bluff (spoiler:  she said yes), then grabbed dinner in town and called it a night.

We took our time packing up on Saturday morning, reluctant to leave our cozy cottage.  I put the final pieces in the 80% brown puzzle I’d been working on all week while Juliette finished up the surf shop Lego set she’d scored on Thursday.  Ta-daaaa!

We drove over to University Heights for brunch at Madison, an uber-cool restaurant opened and owned by one of Shane’s high school buddies.  The charcoal mimosa was…interesting, the breakfast tacos were spot-on, and the waffle churros were a definite crowd pleaser.

We had a few hours before our evening flight, so we went down to Mission Beach for one last fix.  The water was every shade of aqua down here!

We had left all of the beach toys and towels back at the AirBnB, so we made do with games of “bury Mama’s feet in the sand” and “see how big a hole you can dig”.

Plus, more sprints.

 

Hot damn, beach life suits you, kiddo.

We snapped one last family pic, stopped for acai bowls on the way to the airport, and then called it a wrap.  I want to say I was ready to get home, but…not so much.  Not yet.

It’s hard to put into words just how happy I was during these few days with my two favorites.  Not only during the spectacular ocean-view sunsets or the thrilling roller-coaster rides, but in those simple moments, when we all doubled over with laughter at lunch because of Juliette’s impression of Shane, in which she squints her eyes and scratches her armpits and talks in a super-low voice.  I loved our nightly hot tub ritual, where we played animal charades and recounted our favorite parts of the day and watched clouds pass in front of the nearly-full moon.  It felt so good to have Juliette crawl into bed with us at 2 am and ask me to snuggle her close.   I’m so thankful for this little family of mine, for a chance to unplug and reconnect and be reminded that life is exceedingly, heart-achingly good.

We took a break from the regularly-scheduled beach programming on Thursday to check out Legoland in nearby Carlsbad.  The three of us walked into the theme park right as the gates opened, not entirely sure what to expect.  I mean, it seemed pretty likely that Juliette would have a blast, but neither Shane nor I are big theme park people – we don’t have any magical childhood memories of Disneyland, no inclination toward twirly rides or elephant ears.  We don’t like big crowds and aren’t particularly patient when it comes to lines.  The things we do for the ones we love…here goes nothin’!

Our inner scrooges were quieted when we breezed through the first line and witnessed Juliette’s utter delight during a mellow boat cruise through fairytale land, where Little Red Riding Hood is made of thousands of Legos.

We moved onto the merry-go-round and then Juliette zipped around in a little car and cozied up to a bunch of life-size Lego figures – she was digging this place.

Then we got on “Captain Cranky’s Challenge”, a ship that swings and turns like a speeding, giant pendulum.  Juliette laughed wildly through the whole thing.  Our little thrill-seeker!

We hit a couple more rides, scarfed down some pizza, and then took a break from the lines to stroll through Miniland USA.  The New Orleans replica, complete with a jazz parade, was my favorite.

We were pretty weary by mid-afternoon and decided to end on a high note, with a whirl on the Coastersaurus.  The ride was short, but the joy was BIG.

Thanks, Legoland.  We’ll be back!  (Ok, let’s be real – probably not.  But you were fun!)

Juliette and I napped together back at the house (which I enjoyed almost as much as the Coastersaurus!) and then we made the quick trip up to La Jolla Cove for some sunset beach play.  I tell you, I could watch this girl splash in the ocean for hours.  One of my top five favorite pastimes.  Maybe top three?

 

Ok, top ONE!  It’s times like this that I really get a glimpse of the world through her eyes – the wonder and joy and beauty of it all.  I mean, clearly this place is gorgeous, but Juliette has this way of engaging with the places she’s in, rather than just observing.  I’m trying to do more of that.

I’m falling for San Diego awfully hard – while I love the wide-open stretches of beach at Santa Monica, these little coves are pretty magical.

After we’d packed up our towels and buckets, we walked down to the beach at Children’s Pool to perch over the aqua waters and check out the lazy sea lions.

 

We dined on pasta at a little patio in La Jolla before hopping into the hot tub for our nightly wind-down.  This, folks, is the good life…

I’ve been traveling to San Diego every other week for the past few months for a project I’m working on, but had yet to let Shane and Juliette in on the fun (though having to look at the ocean through a conference room window?  not so fun!).  And so we booked ourselves a few days at an AirBNB in La Jolla for a mid-April no-work, all-play dose of sunshine.

We landed in SD on a Tuesday afternoon and high-tailed it from the airport to In-N-Out.  Ahhhh, tastes like Cali!

We settled into our cozy little La Jolla cottage and quickly raided their selection of lawn toys.

Gosh I love you, Jules.

We popped over to La Jolla Shores, just a few blocks away, to check out the sand scene.  Despite the clouds and the cold Pacific waters, we ran and splashed and lived our best beach lives.

From the moment the first waves lapped at her toes, she was all grins.

Should have worn my swimsuit…  Or shorts, at least!

After months of Facetiming Juliette from SD, it felt so good to have her there with me.

We grabbed tacos at Puesto and then walked down to La Jolla Cove to visit the sea lions.

They were out in full force that evening, lounging and barking and scooting around the rocks.

Juliette and Shane rented an electric scooter and bopped around while I got in a short walk.

The evening winds picked up and Shane had left his sweatshirt at the house, so we quickly called it a night and jetted back to our abode for a warm-up in the hot tub.

When I saw the sky turn pink, I couldn’t resist – I threw on a sweatshirt and jogged over to the beach to catch the day’s last rays while Shane got Juliette ready for bed.  This. Is. Vacation.

Wednesday was all about taking it slow – Juliette and I strolled over to the café mid-morning and sipped our steamer and latte while Shane went for a jog.  Shane joined us for an iced Chai, and then we grabbed a stack of towels and a pile of sand toys and drove down to Coronado Beach.

I had heard that the sand on this beach sparkles, but was still struck by how legitimately golden it is.  Bling!

We splashed around and hunted for shells and reapplied sunscreen on 30-minute intervals.  Juliette and I burned the soles of our feet on the dry, hot sand when heading back to the car.  #beachproblems.

We ate lunch in Little Italy and then spent some time walking and scootering around Balboa Park.  I’d love to come back and spend a full day here – we barely brushed the surface, but did spend quite awhile working on our hula hoop game.

He’s a man of so many talents.

We walked into the Botanical Building eight minutes before closing time, but managed to smell a few flowers and snap a few pics.

Energized by all that Vitamin D, I squeezed in a pre-dinner jog – it was an uphill slog through Scripps but I was generously rewarded with this view.

We spent the evening back at La Jolla Shores.  Juliette and I both donned our swimsuits and spent an hour jumping waves, letting the water lap at our legs and waists, then darting toward shore as higher, chest-high waves chased us down.  There was a moment when she looked up at me, breathless and wind-blown, and gasped, “This is SO FUN, Mama!”  I know, sweet girl.  I KNOW.  Juliette’s taught me more than I ever knew I had to learn about living my best life.

To infinity and beyooooond!

It was past bedtime when we returned to our cottage, shivering and sandy, but…hot tub!  Perfect end to a perfect day.

Still catching up on the highlights around here – this picture is a couple of months old now, but I wanted to make sure I gave a proper Little Black Journal shout out to…ARCHIE!!!

Shane’s Aunt Val and her dog Archer spent a few days with us at the end of March, and Jules soaked up the lovin’ from them both.

Ok, I’m not sure how reciprocal the affection was, but still, this is one patient pup!

We missed them both the moment they left.  I’ve known Val longer than I’ve known Shane (she introduced the two of us), and she’s family through and through – felt nice to have a little extra bustle in the house for a few days.

I feel like I had a disgracefully inactive winter, but Shane and Jack slogged through their Saturday training runs together and completed the Mercer Island Half Marathon for the 6th (?) time in March.  This cheering squad, though!

Also, we got out!  In Belltown, no less!  We’ve found a couple of sitters in our neighborhood, which has opened up our social calendar a bit.  We dined on tapas and then went out for drinks with the gang – I offer these photos as proof that we actually do stay out after dark on occasion. (P.S.  We were home by 10.)

The Jarrell clan came to stay for a night in mid-April, sending Juliette over the moon with cousin joy.

We spent Sunday at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma – Elise and Juliette carefully charted our route while Shane picked up our tickets.

The aquarium exhibits are my favorite part of this zoo and the octopus was particularly showy on this day, hanging out front and center while waving its wild tentacles.

Stingray-petting was Juliette’s hands-down favorite.

Juliette brought her little point and shoot camera and took about a thousand photos.  Like mama, like daughter…

The three amigas!  I’m thankful for these quick catch-ups with them.

Juliette joined me at the office on a Friday morning for Bring-Your-Kids-To-Work day, where she built marshmallow structures and drew on the walls and hula-hooped in the kitchen.

She walked away with a personalized laser-cut bookmark and some very big dreams of being an architect one day.  Well-played, P+W.  Well-played.

April was full of quality buddy-time, in the form of bike rides and play dates and sidewalk shenanigans with the neighbors.  Juliette had a couple of friends over one afternoon and I was super-impressed by how independently the three of them played a board game together.  These kids are getting so grown-up!

…But are still so wonderfully silly.

Easter felt like it came especially fast this year, and we arrived home from a week-long vacation on Easter Eve.  Still though, Shane and Juliette managed to read through all of her Storybook Bible during Lent, and I managed to hide a few jelly-bean-filled eggs around the house on Sunday morning.

After church, we gathered at the Rusts for our annual egg hunt and potluck.

This group started hanging out when we were all young and child-free…

Now, look!  I heard Emily exclaim during this photo, “You guys!  Look what we all did!  Good job.”

We were so, so happy to have our beloved Hickories back in town for the week.  We’ve missed them like crazy since their move to Colorado last April.

These dads are some of Seattle’s finest.

And Gryff, you are the big brother Juliette’s always wanted.  We love you!

We were graced with another full weekend of sunshine after Easter, so we gathered the crew at our house for hot dogs and Spike Ball.

Man, I love a sunny Spring weekend – you know it’s just a teaser and that rain will resume within a few days, but that dose of Vitamin D awakens a certain excitement within me that seems to go dormant in the winter.  Summer is right around the corner!

As much as Juliette loves talking Mario and Bowser with the Rust boys, it was apparent on this evening that she also very much enjoys the company of lady friends.

The kids busted out a live dance-along to Let It Go while we ate dessert…

And then kept the performance going.  And going.  Juliette can be quite timid when put front-and-center, but not on this night.

Definitely not on this night.  You do you, Jules!

Finally, the grown-ups couldn’t resist the urge to get in on the action and cranked up Hey Ya for a serious dance party.  Then there was Ace of Base, some Ice, Ice Baby, I think even a little Wilson Phillips?  I saw the Funky Chicken and some White Man’s Overbite, a lot of shimmy-shimmy-shake-shake.  We’re so old, you guys.

These are the smiles of Spring, people.  We’ve made it!

It seems I’m setting new records on the length of time between posts on here, but I’m back!  With a boatload of pictures!  It’s been a gray, rainy week in Seattle, so I’m going to start with a flashback to sunnier, Springier days:

I’m still traveling to San Diego every couple of weeks for work, and with the added daylight hours, I actually have time to get out for an evening walk along the beach after each day’s meetings are over.  Work travel can be a bummer, with the time away from Shane and Jules, but…these trips aren’t entirely terrible.

UC San Diego (where my project is located) is in La Jolla, which is some of California’s best-looking coastline.  Once I laid eyes on these beaches, I called Shane and asked him to start looking for tickets for a family vay-cay down to SD (stay tuned for that blog post!).

I came back from a three-day work trip in early April and found that our beloved backyard magnolia was putting on a show, trying to outdo the neighbor’s red camellia.

(Magnolia for the win!)

I can’t believe this tree is ours.  I mean, it’s a total nightmare to clean up after, but whatever.  It’s stunning and it’s ours.

And then, just a few days after all the buds had blossomed…POOF.  Lady Magnolia decided she was done with pink and was going to move onto green.

(I’m smiling on the outside, but cringing on the inside, because…what a MESS!)

Juliette and I made our annual pilgrimage to the UW Quad to see the cherry blossoms on a Friday morning.  Truth be told, I’m also trying to plant Husky seeds in this kid’s heart!

This was one of those luxurious days when we had hardly anything on the docket, so we spent awhile on campus, playing tag on the open lawn and hide and seek among the trees.

God bless this girl for making me feel like the funniest human on the planet.

SPRINGTIIIIIIIME!

We’ve been making a few small changes to our yard, whittling away at a some stickly old shrubs that have seen better days.  When I’m stumped on what to plant in their place, we take a neighborhood stroll – the streets of West Seattle have never looked so fine!

(On an unrelated note, sayonara tooth #2!)

Up next:  less flowers, but more family and friends!

I found myself with a travel-free, meeting-light week a couple of weeks ago, so Juliette and I packed our bags on a Thursday, kissed Shane good-bye (he was hanging back for work and house stuff), and headed south for a few days with the beloved cousins.

I don’t usually undertake a three-hour car ride on my own with Juliette, so I packed extra activities and snacks and planned a couple of stops along the way.  Turns out this girl is an easy-peasy co-pilot – we collaborated on some travel Bingo, me scanning the road for a blue truck and a motorcycle while Juliette ticked off boxes from the back seat, then she watched a show on the iPad, colored for awhile, and asked if we could blow right past our first planned stop and keep on trucking!  I coaxed her out of the car at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, though, as we’ve driven past this place dozens of times and I was curious about the animal scene there.  We strolled the boardwalks for a few minutes, spotted a couple of herons, and checked “barn” off our Bingo card.

Girly still loves these ridiculous party-favor lens-less glasses…

We burned rubber the rest of the way to Portland, stopping for a quick coffee and a cookie at the edge of town.  We earned it. 

Juliette and the cousins picked up right where they left off at Christmas, dashing from one end of the yard to the other over and over and over again, tagging and racing and laughing like crazy all the while.

Juliette was so deliriously happy – after weeks of counting down the days, we had arrived.

The girls had school on Friday, which meant Juliette and I were left to paint the town red on our own.  She dressed the part.

We started with donuts at Blue Star, because, well, that passionfruit glaze.

Then we headed over to Tilikum Crossing for a post-donut walk/scooter.  This bridge is one of Portland’s finest.

I love boppin’ around with this kid…

We drove over to Powells afterward to pick out a birthday present for Elise rest our feet at the kids’ reading table.

And then, we went back to the house and TOOK A NAP!  Best day ever.

Post-dinner park action:

Mitch and Kathryn set up a mini gymnastics studio for Elise in the basement, and Juliette dashed downstairs to hang from the ceiling every chance she got.

Jules came down with a fever late Friday night (that nap should have tipped me off!), and while I thought about high-tailing it back to Seattle, Juliette was insistent on Saturday morning that she felt way better and wanted to head to the zoo.  I ended up renting a stroller, though, as soon as I saw her energy begin to wane.

Still, these girls had fun!

And we got killer views of the sweetest cheetahs ever.

Juliette and I settled in for another nap on Saturday afternoon and she woke up feeling right as rain.  She spent most of the afternoon running around the backyard with Morgan, Bina and Mitch.

We toasted to Elise’s upcoming 11th birthday that night.  She opened her presents and then darted to her room to put in her new earrings and read by the task lamp that Grandma and Grandpa had sent to her.  She has never looked more pre-teen.

Morgan, ever the fashionista, accessorized with the packing materials.


We squeezed in one last playground romp on Sunday morning with Mitch and Morgan…

And grabbed one last PDX coffee on Mississippi Ave.  The sight of this big girl perched at a cafe table with a hot chocolate and book breaks my heart a little, but also makes me incredibly giddy.

(For the record, she can’t really read yet, but Morgan let her borrow the latest Dork Diaries and Juliette wants to intensely to be just like her cousin that she’ll fake-read for several minutes at a time!)

This getaway was so good for both our souls.  Even in the midst of that restless, fever-filled night, there was joy in holding Juliette close, rubbing her back and being the fully-present mama that it’s been hard for me to be these past few hectic months.  We should skip town more often.  But probably bring Dad along, too – we missed him! 

Now, cue Dixie Chicks and let’s hit the road, little buddy.

Miss Jules turned 5.5 last month!  It feels like we’re racing toward Kindergarten and SIX and new horizons at lightning speed.  We were recently looking at old pictures and I told Juliette about all the hours I spent rocking her to sleep in our cushy gray glider…those days feel like a lifetime ago.  Now our most precious Mama-Jules moments are spent reading together at coffee shops or wandering the home decor aisles of Target as we sip our Americano and steamer from the in-store Starbucks.  Good Lord, I miss those baby-days, but this whole buddy thing is pretty great, too.

Juliette is the oldest kid in her class and seems more and more ready for new challenges, so we’ve been looking for ways to engage that mile-a-minute attitude of hers.  Shane ordered a legit keyboard and signed her up for piano lessons at the neighborhood community center, so we could put those busy hands to work.  She was a bit shy heading into her first lesson, but immediately became rapt with the way her teacher translated circles on a page to sounds from the piano.  Jules followed each direction with the utmost concentration, carefully plodding her way through The Caterpillar Crawl.  She’s a quick learner and has impressed her teacher with her quiet, determined focus – I’ll admit I didn’t know this girl had it in her.

We’re also in the thick of swim lessons – we head to the pool on Friday afternoons for a dip with her best buddy.  We’ve come a long way since that first class a few months ago when both kids bawled at the thought of getting in the water without their mamas; things clicked a few weeks ago and now Juliette’s doing blast-offs, kicking her way from one edge of the pool to the other.  She says her teacher asks very hard questions like, “can you kick your legs and paddle with your arms?”, and she still flashes me the occasional look of frustrated despair when she can’t get something right the first time around, but she always presses on and it looks like she’ll be doing laps before summer hits!  Little fishes!

Juliette had a dentist appointment back in January (during which she cried zero tears!  progress!) where we discovered a loose bottom tooth.  She wiggled that chomper for weeks until it seemed it was hanging on by a thread.  Shane gave it a little tug one evening and next thing I knew, Juliette walked into the kitchen with a tiny little tooth in her palm and pool of blood near her lip.  She said it didn’t hurt a bit and left in on the counter before dashing to the bathroom mirror to admire her new gap.  I then proceeded to knock said tooth on the floor, where it disappeared into the abyss of the joint between our tile floor and cabinets.  Thus, Juliette left a note for the tooth fairy under her pillow that night explaining “I lost lost my tooth” (lost it, then lost it!), which the tooth fairy took in return for two whole dollars.

Much as I love bopping around with Jules, she still knows how to push my buttons, like when I want to chill out in peace after a day of running from playdate to birthday party, but Juliette asks me if the neighbor kids can “please, please, please come over to play?”  To which I replied, “CHILD!  You spent all day with friends!  Settle down and read a book!”  Her little chin quivered while she looked up at me with watery eyes and choked out, “I know I played a lot, Mama, but it’s just so fun that I can’t stooooooop…”  In that moment I understood that Juliette craves the presence of people in the way I crave quiet and a cup of tea.  Our little extrovert…who would have ever thought?

Finally, a few pics from a visit to UW a couple of Fridays ago, when we were up north and figured we’d pop into the Quad to see how the blossoms were coming along.  We were early, bloom-wise, but had fun playing hide and seek behind the trees and dreaming about the day Juliette will walk these paths as a student (start ’em young!).

She looks good on campus.

Ok, finally finally a few pictures of the five and half year old in her tutu, because…

Girl’s got style.

I love you, kiddo, so much it hurts.

January crawled and February flew and now I’m seeing cherry blossoms blooming and 70-degree days in the forecast.  I know we’re still a couple of months away from consistent sunshine, but it certainly feels like we’ve made it through winter.  WE MADE IT!  I think I’ve blogged each and every snowflake in great detail, but here’s a quick round-up of the other Q1 goings-on:

The last few weeks have been a bear, as I’ve been traveling for a project almost every week and cracking open the work laptop most nights.  I set boundaries around weekends as much as possible, but there was a Sunday when the call of duty was especially strong, so I brought home some model pieces from my project and let Juliette build and scheme while I dashed off emails.  This picture feels like a February emblem – work-life integration, folks…

The sun came out a handful of times in January and February, and when it did, we were OUT, hiking or walking or scootering.  We checked out a new trail at Cougar Mountain with the Chens on a Saturday afternoon.

The kids’ feet really started to drag around mile two (of four!), so Shane coaxed them along by recounting the epic tale of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings has somehow become our hiking go-to when Juliette needs a distraction).

These kids are as fond of each other as ever, wanting to be together all the time.  Like, togetherAll the time.

At Kubota Gardens the following weekend, Shane and Jack found new ways to lug around our conjoined twins.

The waterfront continues to be our West Seattle happy place.  Juliette and I covered some new ground with her scooter on a Sunday afternoon – I somehow had missed this half-mile stretch of pavement full of inlaid constellations.  We stopped to “identify” each and every one.  “It’s a person holding a stick!  It’s a backhoe picking up an ice cream cone!  It’s a spider eating a banana!”

Even after the sun goes down, Alki Beach beckons.  We bundled up with our neighbors for a January bonfire and made a meal of roasted hot dogs and s’mores.

Our neighbor’s crispy Christmas tree made for quite the pyrotechnic show.

Shane’s mom and dad spent last week in Seattle and we toured them around our West Seattle faves, from the Sunday Farmers Market to Lincoln Park.

Shane had a contact at Amazon that offered us a tour of the downtown Amazon Spheres, a pair of glassy greenhouses filled with thousands of plant species.

This space serves as an employee lounge and workspace for Amazonians – how fancy are they?!

It was all pretty stunning – in the midst of a bunch of ho-hum new development in Seattle, it felt good to see something exceptional.

P.S.  Juliette LOVES Grandpa.

Sight-seeing with Denny and Pat was fun, but doing the day-to-day with them was even better.  They joined us for Juliette’s swim lessons and excitedly cheered her on every time she made it across the pool – these are things I know they miss regularly being a part of.  Grandpa slipped her twenty dollars one day and then we swung by the toy store for a shopping spree; they loved watching her labor over her choices.  Sweet, spoiled girl.

These two were inseparable – every time Denny walked into the room, Juliette ran to wrap her arms around him.  He ate it up.

I mean, how could you not?

Denny gleefully chowed down on his beloved Penn Cove mussels at the neighborhood seafood place last Saturday afternoon, and then it was time to say goodbye.  Golly, we miss you, Schnells!  Shane and I are having a hard time meeting the daily hug quota you set with Juliette.

And now, on with the business of Spring!  We brunched on the Westward patio after church on Sunday and I am feeling all kinds of hopeful about entering a new season.  Winter had its highlights, but I also feel like I vacillated a lot between amped-up busy-ness and too-tired doldrums.  Here’s to a mid-March breath of fresh air…

We quickly fell into a comfy routine of Shane getting out for an early-morning ski while Juliette and I drank coffee and played Foosball at the lodge.  You’ll see I left my left my guys tipped up in her favor, because…

that smile!

After Jules had sufficiently whupped me in the game room, we drove down the mountain to meet up with Shane, who had skied his way into Winthrop.  We grabbed pastries and another round of warm beverages from the Rocking Horse Bakery, taking our sweet time at our corner table.  The absence of any sort of rush felt almost as decadent as my ginormous slice of carrot cake.

Juliette and I had extended our ski rentals for another day and the three of us set out on one of the nearby trails near the Methow River.  There was a bit of a hill near the start of our course and I almost asked Juliette to walk it, as it was a pretty speedy little dip.  But her bold little spirit drove to go for it – she bent her legs, kept her eyes laser-focused on the grooves ahead, and…skied.  I high-fived her at the bottom, overwhelmed with pride and relief.

She’s so fierce.

We skied for a couple of hours, cruising over bridges and past barns and under leafless trees.  Sweet, sweet serenity.

Juliette was so stoked to be skiing with poles on her second day that she snuggled up with them when she hopped in the trailer.

Here’s to sealing our fate as a (slow lane!) ski family.

Post-ski, we grabbed a pizza lunch in Mazama and then huddled for a few minutes at the outdoor fire pit before heading back up the mountain to the Lodge.

Back at Sun Mountain, Shane and I did a few practice runs in the clearing near our room while Juliette played on the snowy playground.  I can’t for the life of me figure out how to climb uphill on cross-country skis, and any progress I made often ended up with with a backward slide on my stomach, but I’ll keep at it.  This feels like a worthwhile endeavor.

No day was complete without a solid hot tub sesh, so we took a family dip and soaked our tired legs, then wined and dined at the pub.  I know I’m gushing, but Lodge Life!  It’s the best.

It started snowing in the evening and kept up through the night so that on Wednesday morning we awoke to twelve inches of freshy-freshy-pow-pow. Shane went out for an early ski and Juliette and I went for a stroll to check out the snowy scene.

THIS PLACE.

And then, blue skies!

I gave Juliette my old point-and-shoot Nikon and have loved having a little photographer buddy with me on our travels.

We made snow angels and cleared the snow from the playground slide and made a game of seeing how fast we could run in the thigh-deep/chest-deep powder.

Take a load off, kiddo.

Juliette and I took one last dip in the hot tub, milking every single minute until our noon check-out.

I bummed hard as we scraped the mound of snow from our windshield and waved goodbye to our mountain retreat.  Those few days had been an intensely good break from the daily grind.

Adios, mountains.

Adios, horses.

Adios, snow.  WAAAHHHHH!