Archive for the ‘the gang’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Isaiah scampered around the driftwood fort…

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

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Ahhhh, ocean!  We’ve missed you!

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I see you, Bups!

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

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

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She did!

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

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

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

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That PNW beach wind makes for some awfully lovely terrain.

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I mean, seriously!

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Goodnight, sun.

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

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

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

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

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

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We woke to the sound of raindrops on Saturday morning, which meant we stayed snuggled into our tent as long as Jules would allow.  I sighed at the thought of the mud and the chill and the weak, smoky campfire.  Once we emerged from our cocoon, though, I was consoled by the beauty of the misty, serene lake – this was worth getting damp for!

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And the rain was short-lived – a few minutes after I snapped those misty photos, the skies cleared and everything was bright and fresh and ultra-green again.  Camping has its challenges, but gosh – a view like this for $16 a night?  What a steal!

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Shane’s shoulders were begging for a break after Thursday’s and Friday’s hikes, so we decided to lay low on Saturday and take advantage of all the offerings right outside out tent’s front door.  Like Brian and Nicole’s hammock!

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Jason’s slack-line…

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Some miscellaneous sporting goods:

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The mud (Jules whipped up a lovely batch of mud meatballs):

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And, of course, more paddle boarding!

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Jules proved to be an excellent first mate.

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Jason’s paddle board gymnastics had the girls squealing with laughter.  “Fall again, Jason!  Fall again!”

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It was pretty idyllic, all of us just kind of wafting in and out of the water, maybe with a kid or two in tow, while the rest of the gang set up their camp chairs on shore.

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The Hickory’s needed to get back to Seattle on Saturday afternoon, so we snapped a group pic and then bid them farewell.  So glad their crazy clan could join us for a couple of days!

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The Rusts headed out for a hike after lunch and Jules and I joined them for about a quarter-mile.  Which took about 30 minutes.

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Back at camp, Shane and Juliette took a solid nap while I read by the lake.  Nance returned and brewed us a pot of coffee, sipped while we enjoyed a kid-free (chaos-free) conversation.  Those moments don’t happen too often anymore.

The rest of the evening was spent back out on the paddle boards (surprise!), but Shane and Nance upped the SUP game by doing some pretty impressive gymnastics.  It took all the balance I had just to get from kneeling to standing on the thing, so I bowed out of this little competition.  These two are studs!

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Saturday night’s sleep was fitful at best – we had some rowdy neighbors that partied until about 1 am, and at 3 am we awoke to a horrible screeching sound that sounded on and off for over an hour.  We’re pretty sure it was some kind of bird, but unlike anything I’d ever heard before – poor Juliette just laid there silent and wide-eyed and tightly clutching Shane’s and my hands until the dang thing flew away.  We awoke on Sunday morning definitively ready to head back to the comforts of home.  I had loved snuggling up with these two for the past few days, but I missed my bed.  My shower.  My walls!

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One last campfire meal…

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Once last gaze at the lake…

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One last ride on the paddle-board…

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One last dip in the freezing cold lake (these two must have been polar bears in another life!)…

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And then we packed it up and hit the road, making a brief stop at Ladder Creek Falls before putting the pedal to the metal (we were beat!).

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Sayonara, North Cascades!  You can bet we’ll be seeing you again next summer.