Archive for the ‘places’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

Happiest of Mama’s Days to me, huh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anenomes!

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

I mean, this little beach.  COME ON!

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

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

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

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

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

Plus, more sprints.

 

Hot damn, beach life suits you, kiddo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Gosh I love you, Jules.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s a man of so many talents.

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

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

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

To infinity and beyooooond!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…But are still so wonderfully silly.

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

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

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

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

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

These dads are some of Seattle’s finest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Magnolia for the win!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPRINGTIIIIIIIME!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love boppin’ around with this kid…

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

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

Post-dinner park action:

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

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

Still, these girls had fun!

And we got killer views of the sweetest cheetahs ever.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

that smile!

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

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

She’s so fierce.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS PLACE.

And then, blue skies!

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

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

Take a load off, kiddo.

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

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

Adios, mountains.

Adios, horses.

Adios, snow.  WAAAHHHHH!

Backtracking a bit, as work has trumped blog these past few weeks, but…more snow photos!

We’ve officially instituted a family snow-cation as an annual Q1 tradition, since our past trips to Leavenworth and Suncadia were such a delight.  This year, we opted to venture even farther from home and booked three nights at the Sun Mountain Lodge near Winthrop, in Washington’s North Cascades.  We’ve heard this area is magical in the wintertime and it’s known as a cross-country skiing mecca, with over one hundred miles of groomed trails.  Sign us up!

We headed out on a Sunday morning in January, eager to skip town in the midst of some Seattle road construction that made for an extra-trafficky few weeks.  We jetted over the West Seattle Bridge and kept on jamming east, rolling up to Sun Mountain Lodge late in the afternoon.  From the moment we stepped into the lobby and met Floyd, the resident stuffed bison, I was smitten.  This place had mountain charm written all over it.

And THEN we stepped into our room and were greeted with this view.  Forget smitten – I was full-on enamored!

Juliette and I immediately started rummaging in our bags for our swimsuits and darted to the outdoor hot tub while Shane got the low-down on the skiing situation.  I tell ya’, hot-tubbing in the midst of snow-capped mountains is some kind of magic.

We rinsed the chlorine from our hair and snapped photos from each of the lodge’s patios, eventually ending up at the pub for burgers and chicken strips.

After dinner, we strolled the taxidermy-laden halls and stopped at the game room for a rousing round of family Foosball.

We settled back into our room around 7:00 with books and blankets, Shane and Juliette popping out to the porch every few minutes to check on the status of the lunar eclipse happening that night.  

As the shadow started to overtake the moon, Shane suggested we bundle up and get away from the lights of the resort for the maximum viewing experience, so we donned our boots and coats and walked across the parking lot to an open clearing.  As the moon darkened, the stars grew brighter and brighter and the Milky Way shone faintly in a haze of white overhead. The moon waned from gray to a pale orange and then became increasingly red, a tiny of sliver of white glowing at its upper edge.  We were the only three people standing in that silent, snow-covered field and in that moment I felt like we were the only three people on earth – just me, my favorite guy, and my favorite gal gazing up at what was surely the finest-looking moon I’ve ever laid eyes upon.  I held Juliette close, telling her that I hoped this was a moment she’d remember forever. She replied with, “This is spooooooky!”, so we hustled indoors to warm our numb fingers and toes.  

We awoke on Monday morning to a perfectly pink sky and Shane headed out for an early solo ski.  Juliette and I lingered in bed, popping out to grab a coffee and a steamer from the gift shop’s espresso bar.

We met up with Shane at the ski shop so that I could rent my own winter gear.  I was fitted with boots and skis and we were about to head out when Juliette tugged on Shane’s arm and asked could she please, please, please get some skis, too?  We’d planned on just pulling her in the trailer, but figured she could give it a go.  We piled our gear into the Forester and drove down the mountain to the nice, flat trail near Beaver Pond.

Juliette was a little champ on her Snoopy skis and trekked along with us for about a mile before hopping into the trailer for a snack.  It was a stunner of a day, sunny and crisp, and we cruised quietly along the edge of the pond. I was ridiculously happy, soaking in the sun and the snow and the satisfying swish-swish my skis as they glided through the freshly groomed grooves.  

Shane and Juliette eventually turned around and I went ahead on my own for a few minutes, starting to huff as I picked up my speed.  Exercise has never felt so, so good.  I hope Santa brings me skis next Christmas!

I caught back up with Shane and Jules and found her at it again.  Swish, baby, swish!

We ate a quick bite at our room and then hopped right back out for the 2 pm sleigh ride we’d booked with Daisy and Gregory, the resident draft horses.

Our ride took us up the mountain to the lodge’s tent, where we were offered hot chocolate and a chance to give the horses a pat.  Juliette and I put our hands near Daisy’s nose and let her breath warm our fingers.  Such majestic creatures, these horses.

Our time on the mountain left us a bit chilled, so Juliette and I passed the rest of the afternoon in the hot tub.  Sometimes I wonder if we’re spoiling this girl with such luxury.  Does she get how special this all is?

I think she does.

We drove into Winthrop for dinner and I was admittedly disappointed when I found out the restaurant we’d chosen was hosting trivia night.  I was looking forward to a quiet, low-key meal.  Shane, on the other hand, put Team Schnell on the roster and ponied up the five dollar entry fee before we even got to our table.  I guess we were doing this!  And we were…terrible.  We got a whopping two questions out of ten correct in the first round.

We persevered through round two though, taking Juliette’s word for it when she told us the birthplace of MLK Jr. was Atlanta and that the fastest bird in the world is the Peregrine Falcon.  And we won, dang it!  We won!  Free brunch at the Schoolhouse Brewery was ours!

We ended the day with books in bed; Juliette eventually drifted off to sleep and I curled up with my collection of Mary Oliver poems.  You know that feeling at the end of an amazing day when there’s no place you’d rather be, no one you’d rather be with?  This was it.

Good Lord, we’ve been out of our groove this month, in some the best and worst ways.  WINTER.  When the first snowflakes started to fall on Seattle three weeks ago, we cranked up our fireplace, hauled our TV up from the basement, and settled in for a cozy Sunday of reading and football Superbowl commercials.  

By late afternoon the snow had started to stick and children emerged from houses up and down the street, bundled up and ready to play.  It wasn’t much more than a dusting, really, but it doesn’t take much for Seattle-ites to declare simultaneous states of joy and emergency.  Stock up on milk and bread!  Stay off the roads! And bring out the sleds!

We like our snowmen petite in Seattle.

Snow continued to fall overnight and shouts of glee were audible across the city as parents read school cancellation notices aloud to their children on Monday morning.  SNOW DAY!  Shane and I tag-teamed with Juliette throughout the day, struggling to piece together a legitimate work-from-home day while not missing any of the fun. 

School was closed again on Tuesday, which felt more inconvenient than exciting, as I was prepping for a Wednesday work trip to San Diego.  Between my work travel and Shane’s adjustment to his new job, we really feel like we’re in the thick of the parent/professional hustle, and Juliette’s ever-presentness added another layer of complexity to our days.  But when the next wave of snow started falling on Friday afternoon, I was giddy.  The three of us stood at our living room window and cheered as a few fluffy flakes transitioned into a full-on snowstorm.  With a stocked-full fridge and no work or school on the 2-day horizon, we were hoping for some inches.  Within a couple of hours, we were ready to bring the sled back out.

And by sundown Shane was recruiting the neighbor kids to shovel our driveway – this was legit!

We gathered at our neighbor’s house that night for a hot wings smorgasbord and laughed as the guys were driven to tears by the spiciest of sauces.  We stayed way past the kiddo’s bedtime, embracing that structure-less snow day vibe.

We opened our shades on Saturday morning to find a few more inches on the ground and quickly pulled on our gear, wanting to make the first footprints on the sidewalk.

These people were out for a morning ski in the middle of the road.  Turns out snow-time is a lot like sun-time in Seattle – everyone happily busts out their sporting goods and carpe’s the diem.

Shane would disappear into the garage every few minutes and re-emerge with a new mode of transportation.

And Juliette was thrilled when her playmates came out, one by one.  This ramp/slide became a neighborhood hotspot over the course of the weekend (wait for it!).

While the kids were distracted with building snow castles, the dads upped the ante on the ramp.

Finally, it was deemed sufficiently steep and a line formed very quickly.  So many little speed-demons!

Juliette was insatiable, wanting to go again and again and again.

Our resident luge-er…

I read on a weather blog that snow really brings out the best in Seattle-ites, and we felt that fiercely in our neck of the woods.  There was such a strong sense of community around here as we shared our snow shovels and sleds, kept an eye on each other’s kids, invited each other in for chili and chocolate chip cookies at the end of the day.

Sunday was snowy again and we started to feel those first tinglings of the snowed-in itch, so we hopped in the Forester and made the short trip to the Rusts.

Shane and J broke away from fort-building to do some skiing through Camp Long.  Talk about giddy!

And then, sledding.  I was caught off-guard by the speed of the hills and Juliette and I ended up with faces full of snow as I used my feet to put on the breaks.  From that point forward, she insisted on riding with Nancy, who proved to be a more sensible pilot.

When your toboggan breaks, you improvise…

Jason was decidedly less sensible than Nance, but still, Juliette had fun.

Post-sledding, we lunched and hot-tubbed and crafted away the afternoon.

We headed home when the next wave of snow started to fall, eager to get inside and hole up for the night.  However, when Juliette saw the line of kids behind the ramp across the street, she was back at it.

I tried to call her in, but she insisted she needed to stick around to escort all the littles that didn’t want to sled by themselves.

Seriously, kiddo – look at your father’s face.  For the love of God, call it a day!

Never.

And then, Monday.  School was cancelled again and transit was a mess, so Shane and I worked from home.  “Work” is relative term, really.

Several more in my “Jules+Snow” series…just keep scrolling.

This time last year we were in the thick of house-hunting, dreaming of a place where Juliette could run around in the yard with neighbor kids.  We nailed it.

 

I squeezed in a few hours of work while Juliette played at a friend’s house, then set out for a brisk walk to check out the West Seattle scene.  I stood at the edge of Schmitz Park and marveled at the total quiet of the blanketed woods.

I loved seeing these two people perched on a bench, taking in the whited-out view of the Sound beyond.

I popped inside for a 30-minute work call and came back out to find that the kids (and dads) had been busy.  I take back what I said about those petite Seattle snowmen!

And then, because I think everyone sensed the snowfall was at its tail end, the ante was upped on the shenanigans.

Really, our neighbor was driving slowly and the kids were secure.  Totally safe.

We invited the neighborhood gang over for wine and dessert that night and I felt a little pang of melancholy as someone remarked that this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing for all of us.  We might get another mondo snowfall a few years down the road, but our kids will never be this age in this kind of snowstorm again.  It had been such a wonder-filled, festive few days.

BUT, festivity be damned, by Tuesday we were over it.  Snow turned to rain and brown overtook white on roads and sidewalks.  Our snowmen were quickly reduced to a sad pile of slush and carrots.  And school was closed again.  Come on, Seattle – Mama’s gotta WORK!

School resumed on Thursday (praise the LORD), and this past week was business as usual, for better and for worse.  It’s fitting that this is the last photo I have on my Snow-Zilla image reel, taken on the last real snow day.  Way to play your heart out, kiddo.