Archive for the ‘the ladies’ Category

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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





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





Ah, well.  It was good while it lasted.












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



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


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


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

It felt so good to pull up to Amanda and Josh’s house on Thursday afternoon, unstrap Jules from her carseat, and tell her she was free to wander through the house, to run through the backyard, to go enjoy the luxury of space after several days in a hotel.  Coincidentally, my dad was in town for work through Friday and was able to pop over that evening for a visit.  Juliette ran right into Grandpa’s arms, as if we’d left their house in La Pine just last week.

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Juliette and Sadie were fast friends – they woke up Friday morning ready to play hard and get dirty.  So dirty.  (Look at those feet!)

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Amanda and I have a ritual of visiting our favorite discount shoe warehouse every time I visit and thought it was time to inaugurate our daughters.  They loved it, pulling shoes off the shelves and strutting down the aisles in sneakers and sandals and bright pink boots.  Girls after our own hearts.

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Turns out Juliette has a flair for flashy footwear.

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Sadie and Jules were attached at the hip throughout the whole day, saying a very tearful goodbye once their bath was over and it was time for them to settle into their separate beds.

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Poor Sadie woke up with the flu on Saturday morning, so Shane and I took Juliette out to Knights Ferry to give her buddy a play break.

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We scaled a few rocks and found a perfect little nook down by the water to get our feet wet.

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I know, the Central Valley isn’t known for it’s beauty, but it has its gems.  This is one of them.

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There’s a beautiful old covered bridge over the river – a perfect RUNway for Juliette.

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Sadie perked up in the afternoon, much to Juliette’s delight.  My delight, too, as I was tired of pushing that car around!

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This girl really doesn’t like to wear clothes.  My word, though, can’t blame her for wanting to show off that belly.

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A few friends came over on Saturday evening for backyard pizza and some quality catching up.

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GIRLS.  Old friends and new!

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Sunday morning was go-time – Sadie and Juliette squeezed in a few more precious moments of playtime, and then we said our sad good-byes.

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Amanda and I remarked over how hard it is to miss watching each other’s daughters grow.  But our girls make these annual visits extra-special, make us feel extra-close as we share in each other’s mothering joys and struggles and anxieties.  Amanda’s so good at getting me, so genuine in her exclamations of, “I know what you mean!”, so wonderful at offering advice without even the slightest twinge of condescension or judgement.  I miss her already.

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Sunday was a long day of travel, but we made it back to Seattle without any major hiccups, thankful for a week free of illness or sleepless nights, a week so full of adventure and beauty and time with friends.

On Friday morning we picked up our rental car and drove like banshees to Turlock, knowing that Juliette’s back seat nap would only last so long.  I was so, so excited to reconnect with Amanda and baby Sadie, who was only 4 weeks old when I saw her in April of last year.  Amanda and I picked up right where we left off, as we always do, but my goodness, where was that newborn I had cradled in my arms 16 months ago?!

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Sadie is the sweetest, kindest toddler I’ve ever met.  She took an immediate liking to Juliette, lavishing her with hugs…

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And “helping” to rinse her hair during bathtime.

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We spent much of the weekend just hanging out at Amanda and Josh’s – Juliette was thrilled to roam so freely and play with such a variety of toys after five days in a hotel room with a water bottle and a single Hot Wheels car.  But there were a few people on our must-see list, so we scheduled a park date with Steve on Saturday morning…

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And then grabbed lunch with Marco and Lisa in the afternoon.

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Amanda invited a few of our friends over for dinner on Saturday night.  Shane picked up a heaping load of tacos from his favorite taco truck and we all hung out in the backyard while a tornado of children swirled around us.  I snapped this photo just as C (up front) was giving orders that Shane would play the part of Ursula in their game of The Little Mermaid.  Shane is amazing with kids, but she really had him stumped on this one!

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These two got along so splendidly…

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This was my first time meeting chill baby Kate, who snoozed so peacefully in the midst of all the mayhem.

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Hey ladies!

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Sunday morning came all too fast and it was time for us to pack up our things and head home.  It’s always hard for me to say good-bye to Amanda, but this farewell felt especially tough, and I know how much we’ll miss watching each other’s daughters grow.

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We made it to the airport in record time while Juliette snoozed in the car.  Check-in went smoothly, we boarded on time, and we were Seattle-bound!  Jules was a little squirmy at first, but eventually fell asleep in my arms.  Praise Jesus.

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I know, worst family photo ever, but it tells an important story:  traveling with a baby is exhausting!  We look so much worse for the wear after our “time off” than we did before it.

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Home sweet home was sweeter than ever – Juliette slept for 13 hours on Sunday night in the comfort of her crib and napped for a solid four hours on Monday.  I’m still trying to kick my dang cold and am happy to have my favorite tea and my coziest blanket at my fingertips.  Am I glad we made the trip?  Absolutely.  But I believe our frequent flyer days are behind us – it might be awhile before we have the energy for another vacation!

We’re in the midst of a little tour de sunshine – a few days in California to visit friends, and then a getaway to Austin to see the hip side of Texas. We kicked things off on Thursday evening as we boarded a plane bound for Oakland and said goodbye to a soaking wet Seattle. After a smooth flight and our requisite stop at In N Out for dinner, we made our way to Amanda and Josh’s place in Turlock and settled into their cozy home, thankful for that special kind of comfort that comes in being with old friends.

Amanda gave birth to a precious baby girl four weeks ago, and I was over the moon with excitement to cradle this little one in my arms. Sadie is absolutely perfect, and it was such a blessing to be able witness one of my dearest friends and her husband in this sweet, life-altering new-baby phase. Despite the 3 am feedings and the mounds of dirty diapers, this little girl has succeeded in only magnifying Amanda and Josh’s very best qualities. They are still wonderfully easy-going, rolling with the punches of parenthood with grace and laughter. They’re tender and affectionate, in a way that’s completely natural but also new and heart-achingly beautiful. They give Shane and I much to aspire to. And to look forward to.

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Because the baby is still in that glorious sleeps-18-hours-a-day phase, Amanda and I had plenty of time to catch up with one another during naptime. We made our usual visit to our favorite shoe store in Modesto and critiqued each other’s tastes with brutal, laughter-filled honesty, we hit the mall to do a little summer accessorizing, we shared notes on pregnancy and then picked up Slurpees from 7-11, because it turns out that pregnancy thirst sticks around and just becomes breast-feeding thirst. I told Shane the other night, it just feels good to be with Amanda, to be known and listened to and encouraged. It’s a special thing we’ve got goin’ on.

And there were some pretty great moments with the rest of the girls. Amanda, Kelly, and I headed to our favorite Mexican restaurant on Friday night to meet up with Francine for dinner, and I was surprised to find the table strewn with baby-themed confetti and loaded with gifts for little Schnell. A surprise baby shower! Blankies and a rubber duck and a bag full of “must-have’s” – I have some incredibly thoughtful friends.

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On Saturday night, we all gathered at Amanda’s for pizza and chatting, more laughing about old times and talking about what’s ahead. I hope we’re still having these reunions 20 years from now. And I hope we’re just as silly then.

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Francine’s 6 month-old little girl had me at hello with her big brown eyes and her roly-poly legs.

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And then seeing Josh try to handle two babies at once, well that was just…priceless.

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We headed out on Sunday morning – I gave Sadie one last snuggle and then handed her back to Amanda, feeling especially sad about saying good-bye this time around. I feel like the passage of time between visits will be so much more evident now, with the addition of little ones that change so quickly. But there’s solace in knowing that Amanda and I will pick up right where we left off next time we see each other. Some things never change.

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There are a list of things I’ve developed over the years as sure-fire “pick-me-ups” – a pampering massage, a bout of retail therapy at the mall, a long chat with a girlfriend…  And then there are perfect weekends like this past one, when all of these little pleasures were wrapped up into a couple of epic days of relaxation and fun:

Nancy, La Verne, and I had such a good time on our trip to Woodinville last year that we declared the getaway an annual tradition and named it L-Dub (short for Ladies Weekend).  After much anticipation, L-Dub 2 kicked off on Saturday at Truce Spa in Bellevue.  Massages, facials, manicures, oh my – we walked in there with our crazy internet deal vouchers and walked out three hours later with perfect nails and glowing skin.  My joy overflowed when Nancy suggested that we do some shopping before heading up to Kirkland to check into our hotel.  Nance is not a shopper – I don’t know if I’ve set foot inside a store with her, ever, but she must have taken a drink of La Verne’s and my Kool-Aid, because she was wanting to hit the mall hard.  We wandered from store to store, offering each other advice on the perfect wallet or the best deal off the sale rack.  I didn’t buy much, but there’s something about shopping with girlfriends that seriously tugs at my female bonding heartstrings.  As we sat on that mall bench together and ate our frozen yogurt, shopping bags tucked between us, I felt so content, so close with those two.

We checked into our lake-view room at the Woodward around 7:00 and settled in for a wild night of room service and chick flicks.  The food was so-so, the movie was kind of terrible (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in a romantic comedy?  What were we thinking?), but the late-night conversation was the perfect way to round out a perfect day.  It’s nice to know that I’m not too old to enjoy a good slumber party.

Breakfast was delivered right to our door on Sunday morning (room service – so brilliant!) and we ate our pancakes in bed.  Coffee, toenail painting, a bit more lounging, and then that dreaded check-out time rolled around and it was time for us to hit the road.  I was ready to get home to Shane and show off my fancy French manicure, but still, it was hard to see this little escapade come to a close.  We had taken “pick-me-up” to a whole new level.


Friday was devoted to preparing for Amanda and Josh’s big day – we had decorations to finish, tables to dress, and a rehearsal to get through. But before getting down to the nitty-gritty wedding prep, the ladies met at the salon in the morning to get our feet ready for our cute peep-toe shoes and strappy sandals. One hour later, we walked out with shiny pink toenails and matching freshly-pampered grins on our faces.

From there, we headed up to Modesto to set up the hall – Amanda was an all-star DIY-er when it came to their decorations and we were thrilled to see her hours of pinwheel-making and ribbon-curling come together. I was so caught up in hanging lanterns from the ceiling that I failed to get any photos of the finished product – but check out the back seat of her car prior to installation!

We ended the day with pizza back at Amanda and Josh’s, enjoying a chill evening spent in the backyard with friends and family.

After months of planning (and over a decade of dating) the wedding day arrived and it was show time! The ladies gathered in Modesto on Saturday morning for several hours of primping. We got our hair and makeup done, lounged and laughed with the impressively cool-and-calm bride, and finally, around 3pm, it was time to get that pretty lady into her lacy white dress.

And she was stunning.  Not just because of the flawless makeup and the darling feathers in her hair, but because she was so radiantly, contagiously happy.  The preview photos from her photographer capture just a glimmer of that unbridled joy.

We cruised around town for a few pre-wedding photos, Amanda tucked snugly up front with her dress smooshed all around her – getting her in and out of the car was no easy feat!

We rolled up to the hall just in time to rush Amanda through the back door for one last-minute primp session before it was time for all of us to make our way down the aisle.  I think I grinned through the whole ceremony, feeling so ridiculously happy for these two people I love so much, knowing they couldn’t be more perfectly matched.

We snapped a few more pictures after their “I-do’s”…

And then it was time to par-tay!  Mr. and Mrs. Mendes made their grand entrance into the reception and the next few hours were full of eating, drinking, and, most importantly, dancing.  Because Amanda loves to dance so much, and because she is the Pop Princess, she had choreographed a little show made up of snippets from one song from every year they’ve been together.  This is the tail end of it, when the wedding party busts in to join:

It was fun to get out on the dance floor with some of my favorite high school gals – kind of felt like prom again, only without having to worry about curfew or that awkward end-of-the-night kiss (growing up ain’t so bad after all!).

Cheers to the happy couple!  Wishing you a lifetime of grand adventures, cozy evenings at home, and plenty of dance parties in between.

The countdown to Amanda and Josh’s big wedding day has begun – in less than a week, they’ll be saying their “I do’s” and beginning their life as husband and wife.  But first things first – this lady has some livin’ it up to do before she gets hitched!  And so a group of fun-loving ladies convened in San Francisco on Friday evening for a weekend of dancing, shopping, and making sure that Amanda’s single-hood goes out with a bang.

Amanda loves to dance, so were were all eager to get her out on the floor where she could shake her booty while singing along to Gaga and Britney.  I am tragically unhip when it comes to the club circuit, but we’d heard about a place in SOMA known for it’s popular dance scene and decided to give it a go.  We rolled up to the DNA Lounge, walked in to find it full of 18 year-olds in cut-off shorts, bumping and grinding to techno music with no words.  No words!  How do you sing along with no words?  We ordered a round of drinks, had a few laughs and bounced around a little, but ultimately decided to cut our losses and head on out.

We checked out another club (another total fail) and ended up back at the room by midnight, where we stayed up into the wee hours of the morning eating chocolate and playing bachelorette trivia and trying to remember the words to those Dixie Chicks songs we used to belt out in high school.

We awoke on Saturday to crisp, clear skies and headed out to do a little shopping and see the city’s sights.  We walked through Chinatown and wandered the aisles of DSW before grabbing a quick afternoon cat nap back at the room.

We had reservations Saturday night for dinner and a show at Asia SF – we toasted to Amanda while ladies in costume strutted down the bar to the tunes of Shania Twain and Katy Perry.  Wow.  I’ll leave it at that.

After heading down the street and finding ourselves in yet another semi-creepy, techno-filled club, we walked back to Asia SF, where we’d heard the familiar sounds of Usher and Flo Rida coming from the basement club.  And finally, we danced.

We cabbed it back to the hotel and stopped for one last photo to commemorate the night.  I had stayed up way past my bedtime once again, but seeing the dance-induced grin on Amanda’s face (or was it that third cocktail?) made it totally worth it.

After a late breakfast on Sunday, it was time for us to part ways and head home.  What a weekend!  On Saturday we’ll watch the newly wed Mr. and Mrs. Mendes step onto the dance floor – I imagine Amanda’s grin will be even wider, her feet even lighter as Kelly Clarkson pipes through the sound system.  And I will be singing along with all I’ve got.

Tonight I’m basking in the glow of a fabulous California weekend – 48 hours of catching up with the girls, seeing my high school bestie walk down the aisle with the man of her dreams, and soaking in the Central Valley heat has left me feeling happy as a sun-tanned clam.

Shane and I left rainy Seattle on Thursday evening in search of warmer, sunnier skies.

And two hours later, we arrived at the land of sunglasses, sandals, and In N Out burgers.

We settled into Amanda and Josh’s place that night and were up early on Friday morning for a run through our old stompin’ grounds.  I did a short loop around the college while Shane ventured farther out into the countryside to watch the sun come up over the orchards.

(photo by Shane)

By 9 am, it was warm.  By 11 am, it was downright hot – six years in the Pacific Northwest has caused 82 degrees to feel absolutely sweltering.  And so we hopped in the car and made the drive out to Knight’s Ferry to lay in the shade and put our feet in the water.  It’s easy to poke fun at the Central Valley, because it smells like manure and is full of Wal-Marts and bad chain restaurants, but it’s also stocked with some pretty scenic little gems.

It’s also stocked with amazing Mexican food, so after leaving Knight’s Ferry, we grabbed a table at Las Casuelas and indulged in margaritas and tacos.  Shane didn’t acquire a taste for Mexican food until after he’d moved to Seattle, so he’s making up for lost time with each trip back to California (this was taco round 1 of 2).

We caught up with Marco and Lisa over drinks on Friday evening, and then I spent the rest of the night working on centerpieces with the ladies for Amanda’s upcoming wedding.  We cut up piles of ribbon for her polka-dot bouquets, listened to pop music, and talked about old times.

I spent Saturday morning drinking coffee with Amanda and Kelly, doing more updating and reminiscing (I hadn’t been back since last June, so we had a lot of ground to cover!).

And then Saturday afternoon was devoted to shoe shopping with Amanda – every time I’m home, we set aside a couple of hours to wander the aisles of MJM and engage in the kind of bonding that comes only with fashion-related brutal honesty.  We talked each other out of some brightly colored wedges and instead walked away with just a couple of pairs of flats.

Saturday evening was reserved for the big event – we headed out to the country and grabbed our seats at the Lavender Farm to watch Jody and Travis begin their life together as husband and wife.  Jody and I go waaaay back, as she was one of my very first friends when my family moved to California in 1993.  Through much of junior high and high school, we had a standing date for Friday night sleepovers, where we’d paint our nails and flip through Delia’s catalogs and stay up late talking about the boys that didn’t even know we existed.  We were inseparable.  And slightly awkward.

But those days are gone…  We’re all grown up and my best friend with the side ponytail is now a lovely, elegant bride.

The wedding was beautiful – classy and cute and so wonderfully “Jody”.

And the night was filled with so much catching up and laughing and dancing and soaking in the comfort that comes with being around people that have known you for ages.  Gosh, I love these gals (and guys!)…

We were up early this morning to return to home sweet home – but I think I left a little piece of my heart back in California.

When I first moved to Seattle over six years ago, I prayed that I’d find girlfriends here that I could come to know and love and count on through thick and thin; God heard me loud and clear and slowly but surely brought a group of really fabulous women into my life. And I’ve been loving my ladies somethin’ fierce these days, with lots of extra-special girl-fests popping up on the calendar. I was sitting in a movie theater with several friends last weekend, and as we all rolled our eyes (translation: gaped, open-mouthed) and giggled (translation: swooned) together over the latest Twilight movie, I wondered how I got so lucky. It was just so…good for my soul to take part in an all-out ladies night, to sit around a dinner table and share in deep, meaningful conversation, then head to a movie and be silly and young together.

I can’t ever get enough of these gals, which is why I proposed a little a getaway sans husbands to Nancy and La V a few weeks ago. It took all of three seconds to convince them we were due for a night away together, and so we promptly booked a room at the Willows Lodge in Woodinville, scheduled our massages, packed our bags with chick flicks and nail polish and junk food, and yesterday at noon, we were off. It. was. heaven. From the minute we set foot in our room and watched Nancy take a flying leap onto one of the big, fluffy beds, we knew we were in for something good. I think we would have been happy just to put our pajamas on mid-afternoon and hole up for the next 24 hours, but we all had appointments at the lodge’s spa, so we headed back out for our massages and a good, long soak in the whirlpool. Feeling super-relaxed and sufficiently prune-like, we headed back to the room, again thinking we’d be happy to put our pajamas on and call it a night, but instead decided to head down to the hotel bar, where we enjoyed a light dinner, fire-side. The rest of the night was filled with pedicures, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and chick flicks back at the room. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep with a smile on my face last night – could have been the massage, or it could have been Ryan Gosling’s performance in The Notebook, but I’m pretty sure it was actually the time with my girls that had me so giddy. This morning was full of more lazy goodness, with breakfast in bed while we watched Little Women, thoughtfully debating which March sister each of us resembled the most, but ultimately deciding it didn’t matter- we really just wanted to end up with Laurie. Check-out time was at noon, and we grudgingly rolled our bags out the door at 12:01, feeling a little bummed that our epic little getaway had come to an end, but certain that there would be more of these in the future.

Shane and I have been feeling like a Californian weekend was overdue for some time now – we’ve been missing our friends, the sunshine, Saturday afternoons with the Giants…  And so we booked our tickets and headed down to the Central Valley last weekend.  It had been nearly two years since our last visit to our former home, and so I had a list of things to do and people to see.  My ‘girls’ were at the top of that list – Francine, Kelly, Amanda and I have been friends since high school, and it’s been far too long since we were all together.  We spent Friday at the nail salon, followed by a perfect lunch at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.  There are times when I worry that I’ve changed so much since living in Seattle that it will be tough for us to connect like we used to, but after 10 minutes of sitting around a table together, shrieking with laughter about long-ago memories, I realize that our bond is not that easily broken.

After our lunch-induced caloric overload, we decided to burn off those burritos with one of our favorite pastimes:  shoe shopping.  Amanda and I have a favorite store in Modesto that we visit every time I’m home, and we can easily spend hours wandering up and down the aisles, trying on heels that we know we’ll never be able to walk in or bright pink wedge sandals that won’t match anything in our closets.  What I love most about these little shopping excursions is our ability to pinpoint exactly what the other person would like (“theses polka dot wedges are so completely you!”).  I was talking about this with Nancy the other night and she summed it up perfectly:  she said it feels really good to be known, which is what’s so special about these times with the girls – they know me in a particular way that no one in Seattle does or ever will.  Of course, there are also times when I surprise Amanda with my apparently poor taste (“oh, no, Kel, you’ve got to be joking with those”), but I love those moments, too – brutal honesty without the risk of hurt feelings is a pretty unique thing.

The rest of Friday was pretty mellow – burgers for dinner, more catching up with old friends, watching movies as I crashed out on the couch…  Saturday morning, it was time to bid farewell to Turlock and head to San Francisco for the rest of the weekend.  We were intent on catching a game, and thought it would be fun to end our trip with a night out on the town.  After checking into our hotel, we jetted over to AT&T park, stocked with peanuts and sporting our Giants gear.  It was a beautiful day to be at the ballpark, and the buzz of excitement in the air told me that I better get ready to do some serious cheering and high-fiving.  I was wrong.  Horribly wrong.  Lincecum pitched the worst game of his career, and we left the park in the middle of 8th, as the Giants were down 8 to nothing.  Ouch.  At least the sunshine was there to buoy our spirits.

He’s only smiling because he got a new hat to replace his crusty old faded one…

A short nap back at the room, and then we were ready to paint the town red.  Saturday was the 12th anniversary of our very first date, so we were in the mood to celebrate.  Shane had made reservations at Delfina, a cozy-but-hip Italian restaurant in the Mission.  We slurped up perfectly prepared spaghetti and oohed and ahhed over our tagliatelle.  I like to think that Shane will look back on that night and remember the dress I wore and conversation we had, but he has already confessed that what made the biggest impression on him was the fact that Ellen Page was sitting at a table just five feet away from us.  We didn’t approach her, but I still had to listen to his dorky one-liners from Juno all night, about his ‘hamburger phone’ and ‘food baby’.  I’ll admit, as we don’t experience too many celebrity sightings in Seattle, it was kind of a big deal.

Dinner was followed by cocktails at Wilson and Wilson, a tiny little speak-easy known for it’s intimate bar and finely crafted drinks.  The theatrics of getting to our table were a bit much (having to give a password to the fedora-wearing man at the door, and then being led through a dark bar to a door that had to be unlocked with an old key, beyond which we finally found our seats), but still, it was a fun night.  The cocktails were good, the conversation was good, and I was toasting to 12 fabulous years with a pretty incredible man.

We started Sunday with a coffee date with Brieanne, my college roommate and fellow Francophile (we were in Paris together for our fourth year of college).  It was fun to catch up, to hear about the exciting things in store for her as she expecting her first little bebe in November.  Post-coffee, Shane and I headed over to Hayes for our brunch reservations at Absinthe.  I’m not sure how Shane found this place, but O.M.G.  My french toast was the best I’ve ever had – slightly crispy around the edges, but unbelievably light and fluffy on the inside.  Sinfully good.  Shane took a bite and his eyes got really big as he exclaimed, “It’s like a taste of heaven!”

Yum-my.  But also super-filling, so after brunch, we were ready to do a little walking.  We wandered around the neighborhood, and then made our way toward the new federal building, designed by Morhposis.

I think I was so high on sunshine and french toast that I wasn’t much in the mood for architecture-gazing, so after a quick spin around the block, we headed back toward the park in front of City Hall to find a patch of grass with our name on it.  My college friend Chris came to meet us there, and the three of us camped out on the lawn for a couple of hours, chatting and soaking in the beautiful day.  It was nice to put away the busy-body, sight-seeing side of myself, and just focus on good conversation and quality relaxation.  I should try that more often.

One last stop for more sunshine-soaking at Yerba Buena, and it was time to head for home…

Au revoir, California.  Hope to see you again soon.