Archive for the ‘the gang’ Category

After January’s relative quietude, February felt full, with trips to the snow and the sun, much talk of big changes (the house-hunting bug bit us hard), subsequent talk of little changes (should we just clean out our closets, repaint our bedroom, and stay put for awhile?), and great big joys held in tension with deep, deep sorrows.  A few (dozen) photos to recap…

It’s been an unusually snowy winter in Seattle, and I find myself giddy with child-like “hope-school’s-cancelled” excitement each time flakes start to fall.  School actually was cancelled one Monday a few weeks ago, which meant that Shane and I both stayed home from work to hang with Jules because, well, it takes two.  Plus, which one of us was really willing to head into the office and miss out on this magic?!

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We kicked off the day with a walk through the whiter-than-ever greenbelt across the street…

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We heard a tree come crashing down in the forest as we were on our walk, likely due to the extreme snow loads, so we high-tailed it to the Columbia City Bakery to seek shelter and coffee with our southside friends.

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And then right back out we went, to Jefferson Park for sledding and fort-building.

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Shane had this snowman up in about six minutes – his Minnesota roots really shine on days like this.

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An hour in, we were all soaked by the downpour of huge, wet snowflakes, but this girl wasn’t the least deterred.

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Eventually we bribed her indoors with the promise of pizza and gelato at Tutta Bella…

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And then set her loose for the catching of a few last flakes before this all turned to slush.  It was fun while it lasted.

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My mom spent a couple of days in Seattle in the middle of February, and Juliette was attached to her hip throughout her stay.  “Sit by me, Grandma!  Hold my hand, Grandma!  Read to me, Grandma!”

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Kombucha cheers!

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We took our annual winter stroll through the Mercer Slough on a clear(ish) Saturday…

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I feel like I snap the same photos here year after year, but…the colors!

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Juliette looks like such a big kid in this picture, doesn’t she?

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And finally, in news that cast a melancholy shadow over last month’s goodness, my dad’s dad, Grandaddy, passed away two weeks ago.  He had been weak for quite some time and living under the care of my aunt and uncle in their home for the last several months, but still, saying good-bye was obviously painful.

As I mourn, I’m feeling all the feelings, often all at one time…gratitude for the man Grandaddy was and the lives he touched; sadness over the fact that this giant piece of the Jarrell family puzzle will be physically absent from all future family gatherings; comfort that he passed away in a home filled with love and that his hand was held more often than not in his final days; and intense regret that I didn’t make it out to Maryland to see him in the past several years.

Gosh, how I wish I’d spent more time with him.

Growing up, I usually saw Nannie and Grandaddy once a year – they’d come out to visit us in Colorado or Oregon or California, arriving with suitcases heavy with country ham and homemade fudge, or we’d make a family trip out to Maryland to stay at their cozy home on Windy Hill Road.  I loved that house – sneaking hard candies from the well-stocked crystal dish that Nannie kept on the coffee table, flying down the gravel driveway in a plastic wagon that rattled so hard I thought the wheels would fall off, the sound of crickets in the backyard on those hot, humid East Coast nights.  And the merriment.  Where two or more Jarrells are gathered, there will inevitably be laughter.

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The visits became fewer and farther between in my college and post-college years – my grandparents were older and less prone to travel, and I was eager to spread my traveling wings wider than the reaches of Maryland.  But still, even when I went several years without visiting, there was reassurance in knowing that Nannie and Grandaddy were there in Maryland, holding down the fort and anchoring our family with love and joy.  The boat was rocked when Nannie died in 2008, and then it wobbled again when Grandaddy sold the house on Windy Hill Road to move into a senior apartment, but even in his grief, he was ever the steadfast, thoughtful, fun-loving patriarch.  He was faithful in his letter-writing and I received a page or two of hand-written updates each birthday and Christmas.  I saved a handful of those letters and dug them out this afternoon, desperate to draw close to him as his absence hit me with a new wave of sadness.  I chuckled through my tears when I read this snippet from a few years ago about his senior living experience at “The Home”, as he so fondly referred to it…

Last week the social director arranged a “fashion show” for the old ladies.  She thought it a good idea to have an escort to help steady their walk down the runway.  Guess who was asked to be “the escort”?  I said, “Why not?”  I told the social director after the show that I had admired models for 70 years but had never touched one before!  Bear in mind, these models were mostly in their 80’s, so the thrill was dampened just a bit!

His funny anecdotes are all knit together with an overwhelming tone of kindness, generosity, and unwavering devotion to all things family.  As I sniffled through a letter from 2007 in which he marveled at how quickly 61 years of marriage to Nannie had gone by and wished Shane and I the same good fortune, Juliette looked up from her coloring book and asked, “Why are you sad, Mama?”  “I just really, really miss my grandpa,” I replied.  She furrowed her brow, a look of utmost concern on her face, and then followed up with, “Well, why can’t he just come over?”

Oh, if only, kiddo.  If only.

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We’ve made something of a ritual of heading down to California in late winter for a Vitamin D fix.  And you know what pairs perfectly with Vitamin D?  WINE!  Jack and La Verne recommended a long weekend in Napa in lieu of repeating the Santa Monica trip we took last year and Shane and I jumped at the chance to wine-taste with our aficionado-friends.  We landed in Oakland last Wednesday after an uneventful flight and made a quick stop at In-N-Out for burgers and fries before jetting toward Napa.

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We rolled up to Artesa Winery mid-afternoon after winding our way through sun-kissed vineyards.  I forgot how beautiful this valley can be…

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I wasn’t sure how the kids would fare at these grown-up venues, but they were troopers – Juliette used her carton of milk to toast to Shane’s Chardonnay and remained (relatively) well-behaved while we tasted our way through the menu.

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Just when I thought we’d had our last round, another four glasses would appear.  MAGIC.

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Finally, after sipping the range from bubbly Brut to rich Cabernet, we’d had our fill and were ready to head out.  Run free, Jules!

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Cabernet makes you jump, jump…

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Thick as thieves…

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Dreamy, isn’t it?

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Even Shane couldn’t resist the pull of that wide-open lawn!

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(photo by La Verne)

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(photo by La Verne)

Cheers to a very promising start to this trip!

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We checked into our vacation house in Sonoma and promptly changed into our swimsuits to hit the hot tub.

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This girl loves a good long soak, apparently!

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Jack had packed a jar of homemade pesto in his suitcase because, well, he’s Jack, and he whipped up a decadent pasta dish for dinner, perfectly paired with a bottle of Chardonnay we’d picked up at Artesa.

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The kids went down with very little struggle and the grownups stayed up later than we should have, drinking and talking and settling comfortably into vacation-mode.

The guys headed out early on Thursday for a run while La Verne and I stayed back to feed the munchkins.

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After breakfast, we sent the kids out to the backyard to burn off a little energy before heading out for our grand tour de wine.

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It was a longer-than expected drive out to El Molino due to an accident and a re-route, but nearly two hours after we set out, we arrived!

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We were all eager to stretch our legs.

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This little gem of a winery is run by a couple that does it all and the owner/winemaker/grape-stomper, Jon, spent a couple of hours graciously showing us around.

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Juliette carefully arranged pinecones while the rest of us intently listened to Jon about his process (i.e., schemed about how to run our own winery someday).

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While Jon poured us a tasting, the kids got friendly with the chickens.  Seriously, this place was a dream.

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As was the Chardonnay!

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With a bottle of Chardonnay under one arm and a bottle Pinot under the other, Jack left there a happy man.

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We grabbed sandwiches to-go from a deli in St. Helena and blazed onward.

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We landed at Pride Mountain mid-afternoon and opted to skip the hour-long cave tour due to the dubious looks cast Juliette’s way by the host.  We settled on a patio tasting and a romp through the vineyards.

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When we booked this trip, there was a part of me that wondered if it was fair to ask Juliette to come along on a wine-tasting excursion.  Looking back at these photos, I’d hardly say she suffered.

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Sufficiently wined, we headed out, making a quick stop at the Napa outlets and then settling in at the house for crafts, hot tubbing, a very active round of Simon Says, and takeout burritos.

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We awoke Friday to the sound of raindrops – a storm had moved in and the forecast called for a soaking-wet day.  We grabbed a bite at Bouchon Bakery and then took our seats at the tasting table at Sullivan Vineyards.

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Juliette was stoked that this place actually served something she could consume – she pounded about eight of these breadsticks!

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(photo by Jack)

We leisurely sipped our way through the menu while the kids got their daily dose of screen time.

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And then we all spent awhile looking longingly out the window while the skies gushed – this definitely wasn’t vineyard-strolling weather!

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(photo by La Verne)

We lunched on burgers at Gott’s and then treated Juliette to ice cream at the Oxbow Market.

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The upside to a pouring wet California afternoon?  No shame in holing up indoors for a good long nap!

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The house was pretty quiet all afternoon – most of us dozed and then La Verne and I did a little living room Barre3.  Jack and La Verne prepared another mighty-fine meal and we were joined by Jack’s mom and sister for dinner.

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I almost went to bed with Juliette at 8:00 but rallied – as this was our last night there, we had wine and snacks to polish off (Cabernet and Cool Ranch Doritos for the win!).

The skies had cleared on Saturday morning, so Juliette and I took the hot tub for one last spin.  When I asked her what her favorite part of the trip had been, she quickly replied, “The cave!” (at El Molino).  But a moment later, after glancing around the yard, she changed her mind and said the vacation house was her favorite.  I wasn’t too eager to leave, either…

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A rousing game of Ring Around the Rosie…

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And then we said farewell to the Chens as they headed to the airport.

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Shane and I were sticking around California for a couple more days to visit our friends in Turlock.  Before heading to the Central Valley, though, one last winery…  We popped into Ravenswood for a 10:30 am tasting (!).

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This girl…I’m so proud of her for hanging with us while we imbibed.  You’re a good sport, Jules.

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And on that note, we said good-bye to Napa’s rolling green hills.  Next stop, T-Town!

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Ohhhhh, January.  January.  JANUARY!!!  What a friggin’ month it was.  Cold and dark and fraught with political turmoil the likes of which I’ve never seen.  Looking back at my photo log, I see it held a few bright spots, though…

We spent a Friday out at the summit watching Juliette get her ski on.  This kid is a natural!

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Before long, she’ll be zipping down mountains like these!

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The chant of the morning was, “Faster, Daddy!  I wanna go faster!”

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I was so proud of her unshakable spirit – even after a tumble, she squealed with laughter and popped right back up.

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The staff member at the top of the magic carpet became Juliette’s new best friend, as she exuberantly high-fived her at each dismount.

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This place we live in really is somethin’ else…

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There were a handful of lovely (though freezing) sunsets last month – Juliette and I enjoyed this one from the grass at Jose Rizal Park in Beacon Hill.

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A buddy turned four on the 14th and we partied hard.

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On the 21st, we gathered with our crew and 130,000 other Seattleites to take to the streets for the post-inaugural Women’s March.  It was a beautiful day, full of sunshine and incredible kindness.

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This girl refuses to despair.

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And oh, the dinners!  So many warm, restorative, good-for-the-soul meals shared with friends (these two make a mean cornbread).

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Today marks the beginning of a new month.  The world outside is still feeling awfully shaky and dark.  But as I was taking my lunchtime walk today and listening to the latest report on immigration reform, I heard a voice: TURN IT OFF.  I paused my podcast and queued up Oceans by Hillsong.

I will call upon Your Name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

The waves are indeed huge.  The future is so uncertain.  And yet, God offers rest to the weary.  I sensed Him urging me to unplug for a couple of days as I head into the mountains tomorrow for a snowy getaway with Shane and Jules.  I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility to stay informed, concerned that I can’t properly empathize or advocate if I’m not up to speed on all the latest coming out of D.C., but I need a detox.  I need to let God pull my head above water.

And once I’ve rested?  I will march on, this verse ringing in my ears:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

We closed out 2016 with our favorite kind of party – a low-key evening in our pajamas with wine and some of our closest friends.  These two were pretty pumped to be having a sleepover:

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While the kids ran circles around the house, the grown-ups sipped champagne and ate caviar-topped galettes.  Jack Chen for the win, once again!

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Finally, at 11 pm, all was quiet in the kids’ rooms.  We laid out a chocolate smorgasboard, poured ourselves one last round of Veuve, and toasted to 2017.  Bring it!

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We bemoaned the little ones’ refusal to sleep in on Sunday morning, but perked up when Jack laid out a spread of his famous chilaquiles for breakfast.  It was cold that morning and we reveled in the coziness of sipping hot coffee in a warm house while looking out on the nearby frosty rooftops.  It was a perfect day for hunkering down inside.  Or…was it a perfect day for a swim?  The latter, apparently.  We all convened at the shores of Alki after breakfast and these crazies stripped down just in time to take the Polar Bear Plunge with the dozens of other adrenaline junkies that had gathered at the beach for the event.

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Juliette watched with equal parts amusement and confusion – I can’t tell if that’s a smile or a grimace!

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Shane shot out of that water like a bat out of hell, wrapping himself in a bunch of towels while the other three enjoyed a celebratory embrace.

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Y’all are NUTS.

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I much prefer Alki in July, but hey, winter beach days can be fun, too.

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We got a text from Jack and La Verne as we were driving home, asking us if we wanted to frolic in the fresh dusting of snow at Jefferson Park.  We swung by the house to grab our sled and a thermos of hot cider, then headed back out to play.

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After a couple of sled runs, Jules and Nico got to work on their snowcastle.

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Shane and Jack got to work on the biggest snowball ever.

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Juliette spent much of the morning carrying a chunk of snow around, asking if I wanted to pet her puppy.  “He’s so soft, Mama!”

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Nicely done, gentlemen.

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Between snowman-building and dragging Jules and me around in the sled, Shane got quite a workout that morning.

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When he got tired, Juliette offered to pull me.  I think she moved me about a half-inch before telling me to get up and walk.

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The hill beckoned…

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And we answered.

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What do you do when you start to feel a bit chilly?  Nuzzle into a good friend.

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Oh, Jules

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There’s a special kind of magic in the air on a Seattle snow day – you feel like you’re playing hooky, even if you already have the day off.

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Cold and tired, we left one last set of tracks in the park and then tucked ourselves into the car for hot cider.

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Juliette took a long, late nap and woke up roaring to go again.  I had one last holiday tradition up my sleeve, as we hadn’t yet visited Gene Coulon park for their annual Clam Lights display.  It was on its last night, and, well, I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff.

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It was awfully chilly that night, and I was pretty beat, but I’m so glad I rallied for this.

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Happy New Years, friends!  2017 is off to a lovely start.

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The past 10 days have been a whirlwind of holiday cheer – we’ve fondued and light-gazed and made all kinds of cookies.  Baking has become my go-to Mama-Jules activity, as this girl seems to love the kitchen more than any other room in the house.  We really milked the whole sugar cookie experience – Day 1 was spent mixing dough:

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Day 2 was spent rolling and cutting:

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Day 3:  FROSTING!

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Having a steady supply of sweets on the counter necessitates extra doses of veggies and exercise.  Cue the Fondue 5k, where we brave the cold with the gang to do a loop around Seward Park.

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And then, of course, the post-run gluttony!  We gathered with friends last Saturday to chow down on cheese and chocolate and exchange White Elephant gifts.

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La Verne lucked out with these perpetually full beer mugs, huh?

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Jess barely had time to pull someone’s liquor cabinet remnants out of the gift bag before…

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Shane exercised his right to swipe her pick.

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We ended the night with our traditional charade of The Twelve Days of Christmas.  Jules and I fluttered across the room as the French hens.

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I can’t tell here if Shane’s a maid-a-milking or a drummer drumming…it was all a bit hazy by this point.  I think Brian’s back there as the pregnant goose-a-laying?

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And I thought La V’s beer mugs were a special gift…

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Cheers, gang!

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The next night we met up with the Chen clan to take in the lights at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens.  The place was kind of a mob scene, but the lights were pretty and the kids were amused.

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(photo by La Verne)

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Juliette’s school was closed a couple of days last week, and as I was in deadline-mode at work, Shane took some time off to hold down the fort.  I admit, when he told me he wanted to taking Juliette skiing on Thursday, I raised my eyebrows and asked, “Are you sure?”  I envisioned all the falling and the whining and the likely tears, reminding Shane that the toddlers he’d watched zipping down the slopes on YouTube were probably only the best and the brightest.  Around 10 am that morning, this pic popped up on my phone:

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And then this:

She rocked it.  Kudos, Shane – you’re a braver parent than I.

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That evening we convened at Chez Rust for dinner and gifts, feeling all kinds of gratitude for our Seattle family…

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And then, on Friday, Juliette and I conquered Seattle’s downtown holiday scene.  We met up with a few buddies at the Sheraton’s Gingerbread Village, which was full of absurdly elaborate edible creations (Mama, can I lick that?).

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We then walked over to the Fairmont Hotel to check out the Teddy Bear Suite, a room on the second floor decorated in Christmas bling and packed with teddy bears of all shapes and sizes.  It was precisely as weird as it sounds.  And right up a three-year old’s alley.

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That tree in the lobby, though!

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I wondered as we left the Fairmont if we should just call it a day, as the weather was increasingly cold and wet, but I’d told Juliette earlier that we were going to ride the carousel, and rain or shine (rain, it turns out), that kid was going to hold me to my word.  We made our way to Westlake Plaza and she picked out a horse with a checkered handkerchief around its neck, looking back at me with equal parts nervousness and excitement as we waited for the ride to start.

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Once we got going, though, JOY.  Pure joy.

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Ain’t no rain gonna keep us down!

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We made one final stop for hot chocolate by the Westlake Christmas tree…

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And then both decided we were done.

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We zipped home, spread out the camping pads and blankets by the tree, and slept off that morning’s excitement.

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Post-nap, inspired by the gingerbread castle we’d seen earlier, we decked out one last gingerbread man.

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Such could hardly believe how delicious it all looked.  I could hardly believe how much sugar had been packed into a single cookie.  ‘Tis the season, I guess…

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Next up:  onto Portland for the main event!

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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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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I mean, come on.

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COME ON!

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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.

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And storytime with La Verne at the neighborhood bookstore.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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This is a porch view I could get used to.

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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.

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

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

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LaV has a knack for the action shots:

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

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

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“Daddy’s back!  Daddy’s back!”

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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.

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

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Magic, I tell ya’.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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We were tired.

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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!

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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!

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Biggest pumpkin ever!

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I LOVE THIS GUY.

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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.

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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.

Juliette turned to me when we were walking home from lightrail the other evening and said, “Mommy?  I’m sad because the leaves are coming off the trees.”  I feel ya, kiddo…it was indeed one heck of a summer.  In addition to the camping trips and the family vacations through the mid- and north-wests and that fun impromptu getaway at the coast, there was much savoring of summertime in Seattle as we made sun-soaking part of our weekend routine.

After years of insisting that I am not comfortable on two wheels, family bike rides became a new favorite pastime.  We did Lake Washington Boulevard and the Sammamish River Trail and the Burke Gilman and, on one gorgeous Sunday, a 6-mile stretch of the Green River Trail.  One of the advantages of hauling Jules in the bike trailer is that we can also load it up with a picnic lunch for a mid-ride break!

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Friday family dinners with the Rusts have become a mainstay in our calendar, rain or shine.  Shine is extra-good, though, when we can pick up BBQ and eat outside.

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Jefferson Spray Park continues to be the perfect place for a close-to-home cool-off.

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And oh, those evenings at Lake Washington…those are what I’ll miss most as the weather cools.  We’ve always loved the lake, but since we bought our paddle board, we’re enjoying it all the more.  This girl looks good in a life jacket!

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THIS.  I want more of this!

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But alas, seasons change and daylight wanes, so we’ll find new ways to fill our weekends.  Frisbee golf shows some promise as an autumn hobby – the three of us ventured out to Lakewood a couple of weeks ago and while I usually play the part of the observer so as not to embarrass myself, I took some pointers from Shane and after a few holes, my discs were consistently traveling in the forward direction!

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Still, I have nowhere near the power of this animal…

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After frisbee golf that day, we all headed over to Pioneer Square to check out some of the early happenings at the Seattle Design Festival.  I was perplexed when Shane said he really wanted to see the 10-ton ice cube, but I’ll admit, it was cool.  Ice cool.  I so appreciate this guy’s knack for finding out-of-the-ordinary ways for us to get out together.

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And now, all ten tons of that ice have melted and we’ve started wearing jackets when we leave the house.  Sayonara, summer 2016.  You were dope.

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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!)

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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!

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While dining in the great outdoors, pants are optional.

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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!

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

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

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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!”

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

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Cheeeeeeese!

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

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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.

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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.

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Rocks.  They never get old!

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

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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.

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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.

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The Rusts shared a zen family moment…

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

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

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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.

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

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

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Photo cred for this one goes to Gryff!

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

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

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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!).

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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.

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