Archive for the ‘the ladies’ Category

We ended our California vacation with a couple of days in our old stomping grounds.  It feels good to pull up to Amanda’s house and pick up right where we last left off.  And now Juliette and Sadie are picking right up where they left off, as well!

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Amanda’s house is kind of a toddler wonderland – a roomful of toys, a trampoline, and…a spare pair of pink boots!

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Amanda and I had plans that night to go out to dinner with the ladies, and though the little ones weren’t invited, they still wanted to gussy up with us.

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We spent the evening catching up with old friends at the neighborhood bar and grill – it was like a mini high school reunion, sitting around a table with these ladies that were a part of so many of my teenage memories.  We relived the ups and downs and then caught up each other’s latest.  Although it’s been 17 years (!) since we were fellow Bulldogs, I still see so much of the girls I used to stroll the aisles of Hollywood Video with in each of these women.

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We laid pretty low on Sunday, playing Barbies and Legos and drums.

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Juliette was so at home there.  I mean, the plethora of toys is amazing, but it’s Uncle Josh and Aunt Amanda that seal the deal.

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Oh, and can we talk for a minute about this kid?!  JACK!  You’ve won my heart, you sweet little softy.

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We ventured out for a bit to the college to feed the ducks and run around the amphitheater.

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THESE GIRLS!  If only our playdates were weekly rather than annual…

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While the ladies played and lunched, Shane was catching up with his buddy Steve during a hike around Knight’s Ferry.  Shane said their morning together was a 5-hour meandering-but-seamless conversation.  Lifelong friends, these two…

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Any trip back to Turlock wouldn’t be complete without a drink with Marco and Lisa!

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We ended the day with group story time (focus, Jules!), all piled on Amanda’s bed.  My heart hurts a little when I look at this picture – next time we do this, Jack will be well out of the bottle phase and Juliette and Sadie will likely both be four.

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The girls squeezed in a little more playtime on Monday morning…

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(For the record, lest I paint too rosy a picture of our time there, this game of Candy Land ended with both kids in tears!)

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And then it was time to say our farewells.  Thanks, Amanda, for making your home one of the most welcoming places on earth.

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It was a long trek home, with a nearly 2-hour drive to the airport and a delayed flight, but Juliette was a great sport through it all.  We’re making a pretty good traveler out of this girl.

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She’s even started pulling her own weight, luggage-wise!

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That was exhausting (see Shane’s eyes?), but really, so much fun (Juliette’s smile says it all!).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ah, well.  It was good while it lasted.

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

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

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

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

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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Hams!

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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.