Archive for the ‘portland’ Category

Seattle was very somber in the wake of the election last week and by Friday Shane and I were ready to get out of town.  So we packed our bags and headed to the faraway land of…Portland!  Which was actually just as somber a city as Seattle, if not more so, but there was comfort in being with family.  We rolled up Friday afternoon and headed right to the playground, as Juliette was eager to run free with Morgan and Elise.









Sitting on Mitch’s front porch and watching the kids play tag has become one of my favorite Portland pastimes.




Juliette bunked with her cousins that night, and as soon as all was quiet in the kids’ room, the grown-ups gathered in the living room to crack open a bottle of wine and pour our post-election hearts out.  I don’t know that I’ve ever spoken so candidly with Mitch and Kathryn about politics and religion, laying bare my hopes and fears.  I so appreciated their insight and refusal to despair; my brother is ever the optimist, my sister-in-law level-headed and fair.  We ended with evening with a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, which had all of us doubled over with laugher, tears streaming down our faces.  Gosh, it felt good to get goofy.


The kids woke obscenely early on Saturday and all of us dragged a little throughout the day as a result.  We lounged a lot, napped hard, played Candy Land and did puzzles and took inventory of Morgan and Elise’s 200 Shopkins.  Shane and I snuck away in the evening for a drink at The Bible Club, a cozy little speakeasy in Sellwood, and recharged with stiff cocktails and some kid-free conversation.



Sunday morning was gray and quiet; Mitch made a frittata and the girls did more Shopkin-trading.  Juliette pondered the future from her window seat.


By 10 am though, the kids were over the whole lazy-Sunday thing, so we headed over to Westmoreland Park to ride bikes and climb trees.











We grabbed a treat at Grand Central Bakery in Sellwood and let the girls burn off their cinnamon roll sugar-rush with a walk through town.




With that, it was time to say our goodbyes and hit the road.  Juliette cried as we pulled away from the curb, begging to go back to Morgan and Elise’s house.  Soon, kiddo, soon!  Christmas is just around the corner.

Trips to Portland are fewer and farther between since we had Juliette, but it feels like every time we go down there, we think, “What took us so long?!”  We made it to Mitch’s house around lunchtime on Friday, after an easy (although not altogether quiet) drive.  As soon as we walked in the door, Morgan grabbed Juliette’s hand and said, “Do you want to come play in my room?”  And with that, they were gone!  The girls spent the next hour trading baby dolls back and forth while Shane and I ate a peaceful lunch and caught up with Mitch.  This cousins thing is money.

Elise came home from school a couple of hours later and we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the yard, cardboard sledding and testing the range of the rope swing.

20160520 portland1 sm

20160520 portland2 sm

20160520 portland3 sm

20160520 portland4 sm

20160520 portland5 sm

20160520 portland6 sm

20160520 portland7 sm

Last time we were in Portland, Juliette was happy to play the part of the baby.  Now it’s, “Come sit on my lap, Elise!!!”

20160520 portland8 sm

20160520 portland9 sm

20160520 portland10 sm

20160520 portland11 sm

We ate dinner at the house and then took the kids out for frozen yogurt in Multnomah Village.  Nothin’ like an up-past-bedtime sugar high…

20160520 portland12 sm

20160520 portland13 sm

20160520 portland14 sm

Saturday was cool and damp, so we opted for a morning indoors at OMSI, bouncing from the giant sand box to the turtles to the earthquake house.

20160521 portland1 sm

20160521 portland2 sm

20160521 portland3 sm

20160521 portland4 sm

20160521 portland6 sm

20160521 portland7 sm

20160521 portland8 sm

When we got home, Morgan and Elise offered to put Juliette down for a nap.  I’ll give you one guess as to how well that went.

20160521 portland9 sm

But finally, once the cousins were sent upstairs and I let Juliette climb into our bed, she slept.  As did I!  We woke up refreshed and ready to hit the hot tub.

20160521 portland10 sm

20160521 portland11 sm

We closed the day out with a trip to the library and playground, followed by dinner at the neighborhood Mexican joint.  Not a shabby Saturday!

20160521 portland12 sm

20160521 portland13 sm

Sunday morning was quiet and lazy, perfect for coffee-sipping and lounging indoors (until the kids started climbing the walls, at which point we headed up the street to do our coffee-sipping at Starbucks).  Kathryn and Morgan went out to run some errands while Elise enjoyed some solo time with her little cuz.

20160522 portland1 sm

Elise is really into the Harry Potter audio books right now, but quickly learned that Juliette isn’t the most attentive listening companion…

20160522 portland3 sm

20160522 portland4 sm

So out to the trampoline we went!

20160522 portland5 sm

20160522 portland6 sm

20160522 portland7 sm

20160522 portland8 sm

We closed out our visit with what has become our traditional living room dance party.  The grownups and Elise pooped out after a couple of Miley Cyrus songs, but Jules and Morgan rocked out to what felt like Billboard’s entire Top 40 Pop.

20160522 portland9 sm

20160522 portland10 sm

20160522 portland11 sm

20160522 portland12 sm

One last snuggle for the road as I prepared for that familiar ache of missing my nieces…

20160522 portland13 sm

See you sooner rather than later, Jarrells!

We’ve been to Portland, we’ve opened gifts, Juliette has mastered the first two verses of Away in a Manger, and now I’m making my peace with the fact that it’s time to take down our increasingly droopy Christmas tree and call it a wrap.  But Christmastime 2015 sure was good while it lasted…

We headed down to Portland on Christmas Eve with a trunk full of gifts and baked goodies.  Juliette was a champ in the car – I didn’t have to resort to pulling out the candy canes until we were just a few miles from the Oregon border.

20151224 portland1 sm

We spent the afternoon lounging around the house, snacking and doing puzzles and testing the waters of Mitch and Kathryn’s new hot tub.

20151224 portland2 sm

All three girls were completely mesmerized when we turned on The Polar Express after dinner.  I told Juliette to sit back and relax, but the excitement was just too much!

20151224 portland3 sm

Christmas morning was a gift-opening bonanza, as the kids tore into present after present.

20151225 portland1 sm

20151225 portland2 sm

20151225 portland3 sm

20151225 portland4 sm

20151225 portland5 sm

20151225 portland6 sm

20151225 portland7 sm

20151225 portland8 sm

20151225 portland9 sm

And then…that magic blanket of quiet that falls over the house as the kids play with their new toys and the grown-ups pour themselves another round of coffee.

20151225 portland10 sm

20151225 portland11 sm

20151225 portland12 sm

20151225 portland13 sm

Interrupted only by a brief-but-hilarious puppet show, courtesy of Auntie Kathryn.

20151225 portland14 sm

20151225 portland15 sm

20151225 portland16 sm

20151225 portland17 sm

20151225 portland18 sm

20151225 portland19 sm

By late morning we were all ready for some fresh air, so we donned our hats and jackets and headed outdoors for a few laps around the front yard and a trip to the park.

20151225 portland20 sm

20151225 portland21 sm

Juliette falls a little more in love with Elise with each visit.  “Elise, sit by me?  Elise, hold my hand?  Where Elise go?  Eliiiiiiise?”

20151225 portland22 sm

20151225 portland23 sm

20151225 portland24 sm

I made sure Morgan knew that if she ever felt the least bit left out, I was ready and willing to hug it out!

20151225 portland25 sm

Mitch pulled off a killer Christmas meal, complete with country ham and smoked brisket and roasted veggies.  There was much to toast to at dinner that night.

20151225 portland26 sm

We spent Saturday morning at Westmoreland Park, braving the cold for the sake of letting the kids get their wiggles out.

20151226 portland1 sm

20151226 portland1a sm

20151226 portland2 sm

20151226 portland3 sm

This is my dad doing his best Mary Tyler Moore.  Nailed it.

20151226 portland4 sm


20151226 portland5 sm

20151226 portland6 sm

20151226 portland7 sm

20151226 portland8 sm

20151226 portland9 sm

The afternoon was quiet – naps and Magna Tiles and books.

20151226 portland10 sm

And then Jules woke up!

20151226 portland12 sm

Shane and I decided to beat the Sunday traffic and hit the road back to Seattle Saturday night, hopeful that Juliette would snooze in the car.  And what better way to tucker out a toddler pre-drive than a living room dance party?!

20151226 portland13 sm

Things got crazy.

20151226 portland14 sm

My brother is the best.

20151226 portland15 sm

We said our farewells and tucked Juliette into her car seat for the long ride home.  I felt those first twinges of the post-Christmas blues while we were on the road – sad that the anticipation was over, disappointed that Shane and my poor mom had been laid up with colds for much of our time in Portland, a little nostalgic for years gone by as I reminisced about Christmases past when Elise and then Morgan and then Juliette were wee little babies.  Gosh, how time flies.

I didn’t wallow for long, though – Sunday was a perfect, cozy day at home and I reveled in seeing Juliette enjoy her gifts (those Magna Tiles are money!) and then tidying up, doing an end-of-the-year closet purge so that we start 2016 off on an organized note.

20151227 juliette sm

And it turned out there was still merriment to be had!  We took Juliette to see the lights at Gene Coulon last night to put one last check mark on our list of holiday traditions.

20151229 gene coulon lights1 sm

20151229 gene coulon lights2 sm

It was a crisp, clear gorgeous night.

20151229 gene coulon lights3 sm

20151229 gene coulon lights4 sm

Blues, shmoos – this kid has been all joy this past week.

20151229 gene coulon lights5 sm

20151229 gene coulon lights6 sm

20151229 gene coulon lights7 sm
20151229 gene coulon lights8 sm

And with that, I think I’m ready for the New Year.  Praise be to God for a blessed Christmas season.

Holiday season is officially here, ushered in with a cozy Thanksgiving weekend in Portland with my brother and his family.  We rolled up to their house Thursday around lunchtime and settled right in.  Morgan and Elise, how I’ve missed you!

20151126 thanksgiving1 sm

Jules was also thrilled to be reunited with her cousins, hardly leaving their sides for the duration of our stay and whining, “I want to see Morgan and Eliiiiiiiise, mama!” when it was time to head downstairs for nap or bedtime.

20151126 portland thanksgiving2 sm

While Mitch and Kathryn slaved away in the kitchen on Thursday afternoon, Shane and I gladly took on kid-duty, bundling up the girls and running around with them in the backyard.

20151126 thanksgiving3 sm

I love you, Jules.

20151126 thanksgiving4 sm

20151126 thanksgiving5 sm

20151126 thanksgiving6 sm

20151126 thanksgiving7 sm

20151126 thanksgiving8 sm

The wind picked up and froze our fingers and noses, so we headed inside to drink tea and paint turkeys.

20151126 thanksgiving9 sm

We feasted that night on beef stew and turkey and stuffing and roasted veggies.  We took turns saying what we’re most thankful for, and family topped the list for each one of us.  Actually, Morgan might have said cookies, but I’m sure family was a close second!

Friday morning was chilly but sunny, so Kathryn and I jetted out for a trail run while Shane held down the fort at home.

20151127 portland1 sm

We came home to a house of stir-crazy girls, so we all headed over to a nearby playground to get the wiggles out.

20151127 portland2 sm

20151127 portland3 sm

Ahhhhhhh, that sun!

20151127 portland4 sm

20151127 portland5 sm

20151127 portland6 sm

20151127 portland7 sm

20151127 portland8 sm

Sufficiently dosed with fresh air and vitamin D, we were all content to spend the afternoon inside, doing puzzles and reading by the fire.

20151127 portland9 sm

20151127 portland10 sm

We went out for dinner that night at a nearby brewpub, threw the kids in the tub, promptly tucked them into bed, and then opened up a bottle of Port to commemorate a day well spent.

20151127 portland11 sm

20151127 portland12 sm

Saturday was another gorgeous day, but we got a slow start and let the girls hang out in their comfy polka dot footie pajamas until mid-morning.

20151128 portland1 sm

20151128 portland2 sm

20151128 portland3 sm

Finally, we rallied and drove over to George Rogers Park to check out the beach.

20151128 portland4 sm

20151128 portland5 sm

20151128 portland6 sm

Who says you can’t play in the lake at the end of November?

20151128 portland7 sm

20151128 portland8 sm

20151128 portland9 sm

20151128 portland10 sm

20151128 portland11 sm

I think Juliette was wearing thin by this point, a little fatigued by trying to keep up with the big kids.

20151128 portland12 sm

Luckily, I had a magic fruit snack in my pocket!

20151128 portland13 sm

Morgan was insistent that we check out the playground, which turned out to be an excellent call, as it was a sunny spot stocked with beautiful new play equipment.

20151128 portland14 sm

They even had Twister!

20151128 portland16 sm

20151128 portland17 sm

20151128 portland18 sm

Elise and Morgan took turns riding in the back of our car as we went to and fro, and Jules loved having a backseat buddy.

20151128 portland19 sm

20151128 portland20 sm

We spent another quiet afternoon back at the house, again curled up by the fire for a book/puzzle/board game bonanza.

20151128 portland21 sm

20151128 portland22 sm

We said our good-byes and hit the road to Seattle on Saturday night.  Juliette chattered and sang until finally letting her eyelids fall shut around 9:30, when we were just 20 minutes from home.  Luckily, she hardly protested when I moved her from the car to her crib, too tired to put up much of a fight.  We’d all played hard over the past couple days.  We had run, swung, climbed, skipped rocks, laughed, done that dang monkey puzzle 87 times.  We had found much to be thankful for.

The drive to Portland on Friday was uneventful – Juliette didn’t sleep at all, but she was content to sit in the back seat with her new Elmo book and her bag of dried mangos, so we’ll call it a win.  We settled into Mitch and Kathryn’s for the final leg of our vacation and the girls took up right where they left off, tearing through the house thick as thieves.  Once the kiddos were finally put to bed, the grown-ups sat around the table eating pizza, drinking wine, and talking late into the night about the joys and perils raising daughters.  It’s cool, feeling a deeper bond with my brother since we’ve both become parents.

We got a slow start on Saturday morning.  Let me rephrase that – I got a slow start on Saturday morning.  Juliette, Morgan, and Elise woke up roaring to go.

20150725 portland1 sm

20150725 portland2 sm

I suggested we all go out to Sauvie Island to some berry-picking.  Shane checked the forecast and said it might rain, but I shrugged off his warnings, optimistic that the skies would clear and we’d spend a couple of hours frolicking among the rows of bountiful blackberries.  Turns out I really should have trusted that weather report.

20150725 portland3 sm

We did manage to pluck a couple of pounds of fruit, but called it a day once our jackets were thoroughly soaked and our shoes so caked in sticky mud that we could hardly lift our feet.

20150725 portland4 sm

20150725 portland5 sm

20150725 portland6 sm

Thanks for being such good sports, kids!

20150725 portland7 sm

It was nice to change into clean, dry clothes and settle down for naps.  Elise helped with storytime, calming Juliette down after a busy morning.

20150725 portland8 sm

20150725 portland9 sm

And then she got Jules riled up all over again!  I couldn’t bring myself to break it up, though – Elise is such a delightful goofball.

20150725 portland10 sm

And Morgan!  So sweet!  Most of the time.

20150725 portland11 sm

Once naptime was over and the rain clouds cleared, we shepherded the kids back outdoors.  Their energy is endless.

20150725 portland12 sm

Throughout the day, Juliette and Morgan were either the very best of friends or were engaged in a fierce bout of tug-of-war over some toy or book.  I think Morgan isn’t quite ready to relinquish her title as baby of the family, and for reasons I just can’t comprehend, Juliette seems to be used to always getting her way!  Plus, there’s a whole lotta strong, strong will between the two of them.

20150725 portland13 sm

20150725 portland14 sm

But dang it, there’s also a whole lotta love.

20150725 portland15 sm

Elise is all growed up – helpful and kind, but also playful and silly.

20150725 portland16 sm

20150725 portland17 sm

20150725 portland18 sm

20150725 portland19 sm

I asked the girls to pose for a final cousin photo before we took off.  SMILE, ladies!

20150725 portland20 sm

Thanks, Mitch.

20150725 portland22 sm

We got in the car one last time on Saturday evening and plowed on home to Seattle.  We pulled into our garage around 9:30 pm, just as Juliette’s eyelids were starting to get heavy.  We unpacked in a flurry and hit the hay hard, more thankful than ever for the comfort of our bed (and crib).  What. A. Trip!

Total miles logged in the car:  1,400

Miles logged in the car while Juliette was sleeping:  ~25 (not per our plan)

Miles logged in the car while Juliette was screaming:  ~20 (not too shabby!)

Number of lakes and rivers visited:  6

Number of deer spotted:  13

Number of times Juliette looked out the car window and asked, “baby deer???”:  312

Number of times we talked about moving to Bend:  3

Number fond memories made:  So, so many.

It’s been three years since our last trip to my mom and dad’s house in Central Oregon – I blame the rugrat.  But Friday we piled into the car with our boatload of “essentials” (Pack n Play, booster seat, stroller, king-sized bag of dried mangos) and hit the road.  Things got off to a shaky start, as we hit traffic 15 miles south of Seattle and spent an hour crawling toward Tacoma.  We hit traffic again near Portland and were all at our wit’s end when we finally rolled up to Mitch and Kathryn’s house after nearly five hours of driving.

Thankfully, a couple of glasses of Mitch’s home-brewed beer and a couple of hours of watching the cousins happily run free in the yard, and all was well again.

20150717 portland1 sm

20150717 portland2 sm

20150717 portland3 sm

We spent the night in Portland and took a morning stroll with the girls in their new neighborhood before undertaking the second leg of our journey.

20150718 portland1 sm

20150718 portland2 sm

But first, a quick stop at the farmer’s market to eat donuts and Pine State Biscuit sandwiches with the Chens, who happened to be in Portland for a weekend getaway.  The kids ran circles in the lawn, shrieking with joy as Jack tossed them in the air.  We were glad to see Jules getting her wiggles out, as we had another four hours in the car ahead of us.

20150718 portland3 sm

20150718 portland4 sm

20150718 portland5 sm

20150718 portland6 sm

20150718 portland7 sm

20150718 portland8 sm

This is the third or fourth time we’ve hung out with Jack and La Verne at this particular farmer’s market, and it seems that it just keeps getting better and better…

20150718 portland9 sm

Shane and I sighed anxiously as we said good-bye to the Chens and strapped Juliette into her carseat – she had refused to nap in the car the day before and had spent the last hour of the journey wailing “mama’s lap!  mama’s lap!”  We braced ourselves for another tension-filled few hours.  But…she was great!  She read to herself for awhile, sang songs, slept a bit.  Crisis averted!

20150718 oregon sm

We arrived at my mom and dad’s house in La Pine mid-afternoon and quickly got settled – Juliette reacquainted herself with Grandma and Grandpa, ran in the sprinklers, ate watermelon on the back porch.  We took an evening walk and all crashed a little early that night, ready to fully slip into vacation mode.

20150718 la pine sm

Shane went on a monster bike ride on Sunday morning while the rest of us went into Sunriver for coffee and some playground time.  We all spent the afternoon at North Twin Lake, wading in the water and eating a picnic dinner on the sandy shore.

20150719 north twin lake1 sm

20150719 north twin lake2 sm

20150719 north twin lake3 sm

20150719 north twin lake4 sm

20150719 north twin lake5 sm

My mom and I slipped away for a walk around the lake and as we strolled along the forested trail, I was reminded that I am very much a mountains person – I love the roar of the ocean, but I’ll take the rustle of pine needles blowing in the wind any day.

20150719 north twin lake6 sm

20150719 north twin lake7 sm

We were up and at ’em early on Monday and drove over to La Pine State Park to splash in the water and get some sun.  Juliette made a bee-line for the river, soaking her shoes and dress while ignoring my futile shouts of “wait!!!”

20150720 la pine state park1 sm

20150720 la pine state park2 sm

20150720 la pine state park3 sm

20150720 la pine state park4 sm

20150720 la pine state park5 sm

I think she might be a mountains person, too?

20150720 la pine state park6 sm

20150720 la pine state park7 sm

On Monday afternoon Shane and I left Juliette with Grandma and Grandpa and set off on our own little kid-free adventure.  Stay tuned.

Since our last visit to Portland at Christmas, Elise has turned 7, Morgan has traded in her training wheels for a big-girl bike, and Jules has officially left baby-hood behind and become a full-fledged toddler.  Time flies.  Thankfully, no matter how much has changed, it seems these kids pick up right where they last left off.  When we rolled into town on Friday afternoon, it took all of three minutes for the girls to start playing and laughing and carrying on together.

20150501 portland1 sm

20150501 portland2 sm

20150501 portland3 sm

I was a little skeptical on Friday evening as to whether or not all three of them would still fit in the bathtub together, but Elise and Morgan were willing to fold up their legs and give it a try!  Jules was thrilled.

20150501 portland4 sm

We got a slow start on Saturday morning, letting the girls run around the house until Juliette started doing her “outside?” chant.

20150502 portland1 sm

We headed down the street to the neighborhood playground, where I watched Juliette go down the slide that Morgan and Elise have traversed hundreds of times.  I’ve been snapping photos from this very same spot for years now!

20150502 portland3 sm

The playground has apparently lost its charm with the big kids, though – they’ve moved on to new adventures.

20150502 portland2 sm

20150502 portland4 sm

20150502 portland5 sm

20150502 portland6 sm

20150502 portland7 sm

After getting our wiggles out, Shane, Jules and I drove over to the Pearl District for an REI run and a stop at Barista for a perfect latte.

20150502 portland8 sm

20150502 portland9 sm

20150502 portland10 sm

And then we popped over to Portsmouth Park to watch Elise play soccer.  That girl’s got hustle.  And wow, she looks old here, huh?

20150502 portland11 sm

20150502 portland14 sm

20150502 portland15 sm

When Morgan and Juliette tired of sitting on the sidelines, they kept each other company on the playground.

20150502 portland17 sm

20150502 portland16 sm

20150502 portland13 sm

We napped for awhile in the afternoon and then soaked up some rays in the backyard before heading out once again, for a picnic dinner at Cathedral Park under the St. Johns bridge.

20150502 portland18 sm

We ate chicken wings and blew dandelion puffs and bubbles and ran races and stretched out on the grass in the late evening sun.  I’m so thankful for family.  And 70-degree weather!

20150502 portland19 sm

20150502 portland20 sm

20150502 portland21 sm

20150502 portland22 sm

20150502 portland23 sm

20150502 portland24 sm

20150502 portland25 sm

20150502 portland26 sm

20150502 portland27 sm

20150502 portland29 sm

After waiting for nearly an hour for a train to pass and let us out of the parking lot (patience is a virtue, patience is a virtue, patience is a virtue), we jetted home to get the kids to bed, crack open a bottle of port, and do some distraction-free catching up with Mitch and Kathryn.

We found ourselves at the neighborhood playground again on Sunday morning, so that the girls could ride their bikes.  Or so that the boys could ride their bikes?

20150503 portland1 sm

We packed up our things and set out for the beach later that morning.  First, though, I wanted to snap a photo of the Jarrell clan in front of their house – they’re moving to the other side of Portland later this month, and while I’m super-excited for them to settle into their sweet new digs, I’ll miss this place!  We have a lot of memories here.

20150503 portland3 sm

No time for nostalgia, though, when you’ve got kids rearing to get to the beach.  Onward!

20150503 portland4 sm

20150503 portland4b sm

As per usual, the sand and water seemed to imbue Juliette with an extra dose of already-plentiful energy.  The running!

20150503 portland5 sm

20150503 portland6 sm

20150503 portland7 sm

20150503 portland8 sm

We said our goodbyes around lunchtime with hugs all around.  Morgan got an extra-long embrace from Jules – those two had been thick as thieves all weekend.

20150503 portland9 sm

No more of this more-than-4-months-between-visits business – see you in July, Jarrells!

We set out for Portland on Christmas Eve, our trunk loaded with presents and wine and assorted goodies.  Juliette napped about half the way and then patiently chilled in the backseat for the last eighty miles – dare I hope that we’re making a road-tripper out of this kid?

20141224 portland1 sm

We rolled up to Mitch’s house around 4:00, kicked off our shoes, and poured ourselves a couple of home-brewed beers from his kegerator.  Let the festivities begin!  It took Juliette about five minutes to warm up to her cousins, and then she was off to the races, following them from room to room, screeching with joy when they turned to chase her.  She settled down in her pack n play without a peep after dinner – a couple of hours of keeping up with the big kids had plumb tuckered her out.

We were up and at ’em early the next morning – the girls were thrilled to see that Santa had indeed stopped by in the night to fill stockings and leave a few extra gifts under the tree.

20141225 portland1 sm

The adults sipped coffee and politely exchanged a few presents while the kids delightfully tore into their loot – Juliette quickly got the hang of unwrapping and made quick work of lining up her new books and puzzles.

20141225 portland4 sm

20141225 portland5 sm

20141225 portland6 sm

Morgan and Jules were thick as thieves during our visit, hardly leaving each other’s sides.  Whenever Juliette fussed a bit, resisting a diaper change or reaching for something she couldn’t have, Morgan would come extra-close to her, murmuring “hiiiiii Juliette, it’s okaaayyy…” while gently touching her cheek.  It only had about a 25% success rate of doing any actual soothing, but damn, it was sweet.

20141225 portland2 sm

20141225 portland3 sm

20141225 portland7 sm

20141225 portland8 sm

Once we’d opened all the presents and eaten our bacon and coffee cake, we set out for Mt. Tabor park to let the kids burn off any left over Christmas morning antsies.

20141225 portland9 sm

20141225 portland10 sm

20141225 portland11 sm

20141225 portland12 sm

20141225 portland13 sm

20141225 portland14 sm

20141225 portland15 sm

20141225 portland16 sm

We made it home just in time for naps and then spent a quiet afternoon at the house, reading and doing puzzles and drinking hot chocolate.

20141225 portland17 sm

20141225 portland18 sm

20141225 portland19 sm

20141225 portland20 sm

I took Juliette out for a short walk around the neighborhood after she woke up…

20141225 portland21 sm

And we found Santa!  Hey, if the kid doesn’t know any different, no sense in standing in that line at Nordstrom for two hours!

20141225 portland22 sm

20141225 portland23 sm

We headed in when the sun started to set and Elise offered to keep Juliette entertained while the finishing touches were put on dinner.

20141225 portland24 sm

We shared a big Christmas meal and then all three girls piled into the tub for bathtime.  They streaked through the house when they were done, laughing hysterically as they left their towels in a pile on the floor and clamored upstairs to find their pajamas.  The sight of Juliette running behind Morgan and Elise with such glee, her dimpled bottom jiggling as she shouted and giggled – what a gift.

Friday was another day, another park – we spent the morning at Columbia Park, teeter-tottering and swinging and sliding.

20141226 portland1 sm

20141226 portland2 sm

20141226 portland3 sm

20141226 portland5 sm

Shane and Juliette took marathon naps in the afternoon while I played Disney Frozen Bingo and Frozen Memory and Frozen Matching with the girls.  Elise got a microscope for Christmas and we spent a little while “doing experiments”.  That face!  She’s so grown up these days, but such a wonderful goofball at the same time.

20141226 portland6 sm

We went out for dinner at a local brewpub and then everyone grabbed a few last snuggles with Juliette before it was time for us to hit the road back to Seattle.

20141226 portland7 sm

20141226 portland8 sm

I’m telling you, the 7:30 pm departure is money – Juliette fell asleep a few miles into the ride, we made record time in the absence of any traffic, and then she easily settled into her crib when we got home.  Shane and I played a couple of rounds of Mario Kart before heading to bed ourselves, thankful for a chance to veg after a busy couple of days.

I woke up a little blue on Saturday, already missing my family and feeling the funk of post-holiday letdown, so Shane suggested that we get out and do something special.  We decided to head downtown to take a whirl on the carousel in Westlake Plaza.  Juliette was a little skeptical when we first got on – she gave the pole a shake, found out the horse didn’t spring back and forth like the one at the playground, and promptly decided she wanted to get off.  But oh, the look on her face when the carousel started spinning and her horse started galloping up and down, she dug it.  She smiled like mad, exclaiming “whoooaaa, whoooaaa, whoooaaa!” over and over and over.  Add this to our list of Christmas traditions!

20141227 carousel1 sm

20141227 carousel2 sm

20141227 carousel3 sm

20141227 carousel4 sm

From Westlake, we walked over to the Sheraton to check out the annual gingerbread house display.  I can’t believe the time (and sugar!) that must go into some of these!

20141227 gingerbread1 sm

Juliette was mildly impressed by the gingerbread village – she was more excited about being allowed to run free in the lobby after just four short blocks in her stroller.  There’s no stopping this kid.

20141227 gingerbread2 sm

We walked by the Fairmont Olympic Hotel on our way back to the car and decided to pop into their cozy lobby to say hi to Santa and check out the tree.

20141227 fairmont1 sm

20141227 fairmont2 sm

Cheers to a holiday filled with very little naughty and SO MUCH NICE.

20141227 fairmont3 sm

It was a happy Thanksgiving for the Schnells and Jarrells as we gathered in Portland to feast and catch up and watch our girls run wild together.  Shane and I had originally planned on a long, quiet weekend at home, but then switched some plans around as we found ourselves really wanting to be with family.  We headed out on Wednesday afternoon and enjoyed an uneventful drive as Juliette snoozed in the backseat.  We were greeted with hugs from Morgan and Elise, followed by a rundown of all things Frozen.  I can see our future: bring on the sparkles and princesses.

My ideal holiday involves eating, napping, and very minimal physical activity, but I’m afraid Jules had other plans.  We were up early on Thursday, per usual, and Juliette was itching to get out by mid-morning.  The playground it is then, baby!

20141127 thanksgiving11 sm

The rain cut our time at the park short, but I was happy to grab some extra snuggle time on the couch with my favorite three year old.

20141127 thanksgiving1 sm

20141127 thanksgiving2 sm

Cousins!  They got along splendidly – it was so much fun to watch them play together.  Last time we visited, Juliette was still very much a baby, but this time around she was (almost) able to keep up with the big girls.  And when she struggled to keep up, they were happy to grab her hands and pull her along.

20141127 thanksgiving4 sm

20141127 thanksgiving3 sm

20141127 thanksgiving10 sm

Once cuddles and building blocks lost their charm, we were back out the door for an afternoon walk.  Kathryn asked me to snap a few pics of the girls for their Christmas card – I asked for sweet smiles, and…this happened.  Funny kids.

20141127 thanksgiving5 sm

20141127 thanksgiving6 sm

20141127 thanksgiving7 sm

Elise was wonderful with Juliette, eliciting all kinds smiles and giggles with her silly dances and songs.  When she noticed Juliette’s tendency to fuss during diaper changes, Elise deemed herself the “diaper-changing fairy”, fluttering around with toys and books while I cleaned up Jules.  And it worked – not a single wiggle from my usually-squirmy baby!  Can’t wait till Elise is old enough to babysit – Juliette looks at her with such unbridled adoaration.

20141127 thanksgiving8 sm

20141127 thanksgiving9 sm

We headed back indoors and I put Juliette down for a late nap.  I came upstairs to find these two snuggled up together with an episode of Arthur.  There’s that sweet photo I was going for earlier!

20141127 thanksgiving13 sm

20141127 thanksgiving14 sm

Morgan has always been a little slow to warm up to me, but she and I had a really grand couple of days together, reading books and doing puzzles and playing horses.  Only took three years and eleven months, but I think I’ve won this girl over!

20141127 thanksgiving12 sm

We ate big for dinner on Thursday – ham and quiche and roasted veggies and butternut squash soup and salad and apple pie.  Gratitude (and red wine) flowed forth so easily as we sat around around the table together.  Much to be thankful for.

20141127 thanksgiving15 sm

Friday was rainy and cold, so we skipped our morning park run.  Kathryn and I headed out for a Barre3 class while Shane held down the fort at home, and we spent the rest of the day cozied up inside, snacking, reading, painting, dancing…repeat.  And repeat.  We eventually declared a jailbreak, grabbed our umbrellas, and walked over the library and coffee shop for a much-needed change of scenery.

20141128 thanksgiving1 sm

We came home and Elise and Juliette worked out their rainy day crazies with a little yoga.

20141128 thanksgiving2 sm

And then just got plain crazy again!  Babies being big girls, big girls being babies – it was mayhem.  Exhausting and loud and occasionally resulting in tears, but I still kind of loved it.

We saw that the forecast called for snow on Saturday morning and decided to beat the weather and head out Friday evening.  We put on Juliette’s pajamas, piled onto the couch for a bedtime story, and then hit the road.  Juliette fell asleep shortly after we got on the freeway, slept until we pulled into our garage, and then settled pretty quickly into her crib once we were home.  Now that’s how it’s done.  A fuss-free drive to and from Oregon?  Thankful, indeed.

20141128 thanksgiving3 sm

We’ve stayed pretty close to home these last few months – I was telling La Verne last week that I can’t remember the last time we weren’t home for Juliette’s two naps and bedtime.  That means we haven’t left the house for more than 4-5 hours since…Christmas in Portland?  Is that possible?  We were due for a getaway.  So when my aunt told us she’d be visiting Portland from Baltimore for a few days, we took that as our cue to get out of town for the weekend and catch up with family.  We headed out on Friday morning, fingers crossed that Jules would take a solid nap on the road, spend the afternoon at Mitch’s charming the family with her babbling and smiles, and sleep like a rock during her first night in a hotel.  The best-laid plans…

The ride down went alright, save for the last thirty minutes, at which point Jules had decided she was done being in the car.  We tried singing songs, giving her snacks, stopping for a breather, cranking up the radio, turning down the radio, playing peek-a-boo, and praying, but ultimately just had to push through.  We made it to Edgefield for lunch, a little worse for the wear, but with sanity mostly in-tact.  And it was so good to see Grandma!

20140613 portland1 sm

We spent the afternoon at Mitch’s house, laying low.  Jules woke up from her nap feeling a little warm.  Not good.  And then two gooey streams of snot shot out of her nose when she sneezed.  Really not good.  She came down with a cold last time Mitch and his family visited and spent much of the weekend fussing.  Could her timing really be this bad?  Hang with us, baby!  We gave her some ibuprofen and hoped for the best.  She perked up a little at dinner and seemed to enjoy hanging out with Morgan, who read her books and offered her toys and sang her six rounds of The Itsy Bitsy Spider.

20140613 portland2 sm

The Jarrell Inn was full for the night, so we headed out after dinner to check into our room at a nearby hotel.  We did bathtime, pajamas, and Pack N Play setup in record time and had Jules tucked in just past her regular bedtime.  Whew!  Shane and I tucked ourselves into bed with the iPad to watch an episode of The Americans, tired but pretty satisfied with how well we’d fared for the day.  And then, at 8:30, Juliette started to fuss.  I opened the door to the living room (we were in a suite) and rubbed her back until she settled down, figuring she was probably confused by this strange crib in this strange room.  She quickly went back to sleep and I hopped back into bed.  Crisis averted!  And then, at 8:45, she really started wailing.  Not just a whimper, but an all out plea to Come get me, NOW!  I nursed her until she dropped back off to sleep, hoping we’d seen the last of each other for the night.  But she woke again at 9:15.  And 9:45.  And 10:00.  I could hear her cold getting worse, as she snorted through her stuffy nose.  I finally just pulled her into bed with us and tried propping her up with a pillow so she could breathe easier.  But she was squirmy.  And hot.  I took her sleep sack off.  I put it back on.  I laid her on my chest, Shane tried nuzzling her in the crook of his arm, I nursed her, Shane sang to her, but she just wouldn’t settle.  I pulled the Pack N Play next to our bed and put her in it, my arm draped awkwardly over the side of the bed so that I could rub her back while she drifted off to sleep.  Time was all a blur at this point, but I think this lasted about an hour, and then she somehow ended up back in the bed, and then she was back in the Pack N Play in the living room for a couple of hours while I hopped up every 20 minutes to soothe her.  Shane headed out at 6 am to pick up some baby Tylenol, and after we gave her a dose she slept for two whole hours.  I haven’t been so thrilled by two hours of sleep since she was four days old!

We were up and at ’em around 8:30, bleary-eyed and a little bit cranky.  This might be one of the most deceptive photos of all time – I pulled out the camera just to memorialize Juliette’s first night in a hotel, figuring I’d catch her fussing, but she flashed Shane a pretty great grin as I leaned over to snap a picture.  I’ll take it.  We’ll call it her We survived! smile.

20140614 portland2 sm

In the morning so she looked so small in that king-sized bed.  In the middle of the night, she felt like a a 900-pound restless gorilla.

20140614 portland1 sm

We went to Mitch and Kathryn’s for breakfast, thinking we’d ride the wave of Juliette’s morning dose of Tylenol until naptime, at which point we’d head home.  We ate and then walked over to the girls’ favorite park for swings and slides and basketball.  The fresh air did us all good.

20140614 portland4 sm

20140614 portland5 sm

20140614 portland3 sm

20140614 portland6 sm

Cousins! (That’s the neighbor girl on the right, honorary Jarrell for the day.)

20140614 portland7 sm

Juliette seems to be getting more comfortable with being the center of attention!

20140614 portland8 sm

The ride home was, well…

20140614 portland9 sm

But we made it back to Seattle with only two stops and Juliette started to rebound that evening – she’s on the mend now, fever-free and sleeping much, much better.  Although the weekend didn’t quite live up to my idealized visions (they never do!), we’re still glad we made the trip, glad my Aunt Ruthie got to meet Juliette, if only for a few hours.  And maybe it’s good to regress every once in awhile, so that we can appreciate how far we’ve come in these last nine months.  Yeah, I’ll go with that…