Archive for the ‘seattle’ Category

We eased into 2020 nice and slow – I love those few days after Christmas when the holiday bustle has subsided and we can be 100% on break.  Juliette and I hit the library and our favorite coffee shop and perfected Deck the Halls on her keyboard.

(That book!  She’s really rubbing in it with this whole growing-up-fast thing.)

Champagne and Sprite at our favorite Pioneer Square oyster bar…

Followed by a stroll through Occidental Square, which has never looked lovelier.

Juliette and the neighbor kids schemed up a sleepover one night and before I could even ask about the details, they were loading up their wagon with Juliette’s blanket, pillow, and toothbrush.  See ya later, I guess…?

Once all the kids had properly lined up their sleeping bags in the playroom, they spent the afternoon rehearsing a sing-along to Frozen 2’s greatest hits and then hopped back to our house in the evening for a special performance.  The parents were all politely asked to sit quietly and refrain from taking any videos – this was exclusive stuff.  (Photos permitted.)

Juliette’s solo was so sweet.

But the full quartet’s rendition of Lost in the Woods was my fave.

Once everyone traipsed back across the street for bedtime, Shane and I looked at each other in our quiet, empty house and wondered, “What should we do?”  So we went out!  We got super-crazy and ended up playing Quirkle and drinking beer at the neighborhood game store.

We invited the crew over for our annual New Years Eve bash, where we played charades and ate and drank and watched the ball drop in New York City before sending the six year-olds off to bed.

We busted out the Veuve and my grandparents’ antique wine glasses for the midnight toast.  Special champagne in special glassware for the most special of friends.

HAPPY 2020!

We rolled out of bed reluctantly on Wednesday morning, but rallied with the promise of Jack’s homemade bubble waffles.  Juliette put on her princess dress and grabbed a noise-maker and did her damnedest to keep the party going.

And then, as a grand finale to our holiday traditions, the Polar Plunge!  I love this event.  Such community, such euphoria.

One clarification:  I love being a spectator at this event.

Juliette thought about joining the guys this year, but only went so far as to take her shoes off.  I don’t blame her!

I took to heart that old adage about the first day of the year setting the tone for the rest of the year, so I made time to get out for a long walk and to hit the playground with my girl and to cozy up by the fireplace with tea and a book.

We took a family walk at Lincoln Park that evening to catch what will be first of many magic 2020 sunsets.

And then, on that final weekend before heading back to work and school, there was nothing left to do but CHILL.  Juliette and I got a head start on our new years resolutions and crafted and cuddled and spent one last night reading by the light of the Christmas tree.

What a break.  What a gloriously slow, restorative way to end one year and begin a new one.

Juliette went bonkers waiting for Christmas to roll around, because Christmas meant Portland, and Portland meant COUSINS!  We arrived at Mitch’s on Monday afternoon and were there all of three minutes before Juliette was digging her swimsuit out of her suitcase and dashing out back to hot tub with Elise.

Then Santa hats were donned and Parcheesi was brought out and these two officially attached themselves at the hip.

I tried to lure the girls out of the house on Christmas Eve for a hot chocolate run or a playground spin, but they really just wanted to hunker down and cozy up.  I didn’t fight it.

Elise is 11 going on 16 these days, but there were a handful of times last week when I saw the kid in her come through, when she couldn’t help but join the “littles”.  Gingerbread for the win!

And then, Parcheesi…so much Parcheesi.

Morgan, my kindred tradition-keeper, insisted on Polar Express before bed.

Plus milk and cookies for Santa, with carrots for his reindeer!  The excitement in the house that evening was palpable, with Morgan running through the living room with the iPad every 15 minutes to give us an update on Santa’s whereabouts.  The Tracker says he’s in Poland!  Now Norway!  Iceland!  Once Santa reached New York, it was time to put these kids TO BED.

I awoke to the house-rattling pitter-patter of children around 7 am on Christmas morning – by 7:30 Morgan was taking roll call.  Let’s get to it!  Santa came through, big-time.

Santa brought me boots and cross-country skis – so glad my wish list made it to the North Pole.

And Juliette’s very own Parcheesi board!  Looks like I’m gonna need to learn to love this game.

My mom wasn’t quite up to making the trek to Portland this year, so we did a post-gift recap with them over Facetime.

Grandma and Grandpa were missed (on both sides), but technology is a wonderful thing…

…and speaking of technology, Morgan and Elise’s Nintendo switch won “gift of the year”.

If only Santa hats and Christmas PJ’s were in style all year round!  Such a good look on you, Jules.

We pried the Nintendo controllers out of the kids’ hands late morning and rallied the troops for a short hike at Tryon Creek.

Rocket balloon practice consumed a good portion of the afternoon…

…and then we gathered in the living room for a round of charades, where we learned that Morgan and Juliette are quite the actors and that Mitch’s rendition of “toy car” looks a lot like a terrified child running from a bear.

We ended the day sweetly and quietly, with a flute recital by Elise and a serious bracelet-making session on Juliette’s new rainbow loom.

We wrapped up Portland Christmas-Fest 2019 with hot chocolate cheers on Thursday morning and then said goodbye to the beloved Jarrell clan.  To cousins!

The one Christmas to-do still on our list was Juliette’s and my downtown holiday tour and when I asked her on Friday morning if she wanted to take a spin on the Westlake carousel, she replied, “Of course I do, Mommy!”  Deal sealed.  Shane dropped us off at the Fairmont, we took our quick spin through the gingerbread house, and then headed over to the merry-go-round.

The lines were so short and the tickets so cheap that I let Juliette ride on it twice.

 

Oh, kiddo…you have no idea how much I love doing this kind of stuff with you.

There was hot chocolate and a little shopping and one last look at the Macy’s star and then we officially called it a wrap.

There’s a lot about this Christmas season that just felt extra-GOOD.  Juliette’s anticipation was bigger than ever, and beyond the going-bonkers over the presents and the lights and the parties, she’s starting to grasp the deeper concepts of gratitude and generosity.  Our home felt so warm this season, our neighborhood so friendly and festive.  I missed having my parents with us in Portland, but my mom’s strength and positivity through her diagnosis and chemo has buoyed us all.  Our little advent tree, laden with hand-written notes about what we’re thankful for, is out of bare branches.

Juliette and I have put In November by Cynthia Rylant into our recent reading rotation, flipping pages that speak to the quiet and coziness of this month.  In November, mice burrow into little barn nests and dogs curl up by fires and families share pies while sitting by crackling woodstoves. In November, in this book, all is well.

In reality, though, this month has been tough.  In November, the sun started setting well before 5 pm, which zapped me of my evening energy.  In November, my mom underwent her first round of chemo to treat her recent cancer diagnosis.  In November, I endured one of the busiest, most stressful seasons I’ve ever had at work while Shane struggled to find his footing in his new job.  In November, Juliette proudly presented me with a card she’d written out all by herself at school that said, “Dear Mommy, I wish you did not have to go to San Diego all the time.  In November, all did not feel well.

So I’m self-medicating with Vitamin D capsules and lots of water.  Some nights I’m allowing myself to fall asleep in Juliette’s bed with her at 8 pm.  And I’m getting outside.

I literally headed for the hills at the end of a particularly busy week and spent a Friday morning hiking up to Mason Lake.

The terrain was so diverse, alternating from closed-in woods to panoramic views.

I sat lakeside for a bit and savored every bite of my granola bar, recuperating from the steep 3.5-mile uphill climb.

I made it.  And it was good.

 

Even on gray days, I’ve been trying to rally and do a loop down by the water.  There’s solace in fog, like the weather is saying, “I know how you feel…”

 

The ultimate solace continues to be a walk through the leaves with Shane and Juliette – we spent a Sunday at Ravenna Park strolling and crunching.  Juliette insisted on wearing this rubber finger that someone gave her while trick-or-treating.  She’s so weird.  I love her.

(Juliette does not seem to be one for November blues.)

This grove is one of my favorite Fall spots.

 

We arrived in Idaho this afternoon for a few mellow days with my parents (my mom is doing phenomenal, by the way!), so it looks like we’ll be rounding out November with pie and fireside chatter after all.  In November…there’s still plenty to be thankful for.

Good golly, October was full.  Birthdays and skydives and a trip to Paris (someday I’ll get those pics up on the blog!), leaves galore, and some hardcore Halloween-ing.

Our morning walk (or bike) to school has been chilly as of late, but I’m loving that crunchy sound of leaves under foot (or tire).

I headed to the Arboretum on a drizzly Friday for some me-time and wandered among the golds and browns and reds – this place is an October staple in my Fall folio.

The Japanese garden across the street was nearly empty due to the rain, so I pulled up the hood of my rain jacket and took advantage of the quiet.  I haven’t been here for years, as the parking lot is chock-full on sunny Fall weekends.

These. Colors.

It was clear from this tree that I missed “peak” foliage, but no matter.  If only it were sunny…

And the next day it was!  Shane, Juliette and I found ourselves with an open Saturday afternoon and headed right back out to the Arboretum for more leaf-peeping.

“Autumn Jules”:  I love her.

Jack and La Verne treated Shane and I to a very special meal at Archipelago in Columbia City for our birthdays at the end of the month.  We filled half the seats in this 8-person restaurant and relished every course, each of which came with a heartfelt origin story from the chef.

Ah, and Halloween!  So good this year!  Juliette loved pumpkin-carving…

And decorating the mantle with the few glittery owls and spiders that we picked up from the dollar store.

A guy down the street spent the entire week before Halloween carving pumpkins and we walked by there nearly every day to check on his progress.  107 pumpkins all-in!

Juliette found a bumble bee headband, wings and skirt at the dollar store back in September when we were buying supplies for her birthday party and asked if she could please be a bee for Halloween.  Cheers to the cheapest, easiest costume EVER!  She got all decked out for her school’s annual Monster Mash on a Friday night and had a blast fluttering down the halls and around the gym with her buddies.

And the main event!  The October 31st festivities kicked off with Juliette playing a little ditty for a small crowd of kids at the community center where she takes piano lessons.

We darted home to eat a quick bite, do a little face paint, and then snap the obligatory porch pics.

Shane busted out his Matt Cain jersey and dressed up as Giant.  In jeans.

And no shoes.  Thanks for trying, though, hon.

Juliette buzzed outside the moment she saw neighbor kids emerging from their houses, eager to get her trick-or-treat on.

Let’s do this!

Our neighborhood felt so friendly and festive, with decorations on most porches and everyone stopping to compliment each other’s costumes.

Ok, this house hardly screamed “friendly”, but hey, they had candy!

And now our pumpkins have gone squishy and been thrown in the compost bin.  Juliette’s trick-or-treating loot is gone (sweet kid donated all but 10 pieces of it to her school’s candy drive for the troops).  The owls and spiders are tucked into storage.  Happy November.  16th.  !!!

Fall has fallen and it suddenly feels like we’re on the cusp of winter, with cold weather and bare limbs on many of the neighborhood trees.  This season feels more fleeting than ever – seems we may not be able to make our annual pilgrimage to Kubota before all the leaves have fallen.  I mean, I haven’t even made pumpkin bread and already Target’s aisles are lined with Christmas decorations!

We’ve seized what brief autumn moments we could, like when we headed over to Lincoln Park last Friday afternoon to see our favorite tree and go a few rounds on the zip line.

This is as golden as it gets…

Juliette has transitioned into her “fall look” – her hair seems darker these days and already her summer freckles have faded.

I don’t have a lot to say here other than…good God, I love you, Seattle.

Shane kindly requested that we skip the pumpkin patch after suffering through the traffic and crowds at Bob’s last year, but I was pretty resolute that we find someplace other than Trader Joe’s to pick out our pumpkins.  We settled on Jubilee Farm out in Carnation last Saturday, which was a bit of a trek, but was wonderfully mellow, with plenty of parking and no wait times for hayrides.

We rolled up just in time to witness the daily launch, where they catapult a giant pumpkin out into an open field so that the kids can watch it explode.  It was weird, but amusing.

Out to the patch!

And then…the search.

Juliette was really into the mini-gourds this year and had an impossible time picking just one or two favorites.  We bought seven.

We were just about to call it a day when we discovered a whole other field on the other side of these sunflowers!

 

 

 

 

 

She was pretty excited about this pomegranate look-alike.

Mission accomplished!

We wrapped up our visit with a cup of hot cider and a quick spin through the hay maze.  Ok, two spins.  Maybe three.  It was free and Juliette couldn’t get enough.

Juliette’s been cuddling with this silly little gourd all week, laying it right on her pillow so that it’s the last thing she sees as she drifts off to sleep.  Way to feel that October spirit, Jules…soak it up while it lasts.

Welp, I guess that’s a wrap, huh?  School has started, the skies are gray, and I wore a turtleneck sweater yesterday – summer is O-V-E-R and I’m memorializing it with one last photo mash-up…gosh, I’ll miss these lazy lake days!

Juliette and the neighbor kids asked me one morning last month if they could have a campout in our backyard – I said, “Sure, we can do that sometime!”  The words had hardly left my mouth before Rees was rolling up the sidewalk in the ol’ Arctic Cat, backseat loaded with pillows and sleeping bags and flashlights.  I guess we were doing this!

Shane set up the tent and the kids played in it for the better part of the day, coming out for hot dogs and s’mores before tucking themselves in for the night.

Sweet, sweet summer dreams, kiddos…

We spent a lot of time in the yard this summer, trimming and weeding and mowing, but also jumping through sprinklers and grilling with friends.

Gratuitous freckle shot!

Juliette and I spent a glorious wide-open Friday at Coleman Pool – I thought we’d ditch the arm floaties and test her swim skills, but she had a such a good time floating freely back and forth across the pool that I didn’t push it.

That same evening, we traded a damp swimsuit for a dry one and biked down to Alki Beach for a birthday party.  From Pool to Sound…summer livin’ in West Seattle is so, so good.

We ventured a little farther from home on a Saturday to swim at Anderson Pool in Bothel – this place is great, though swimming inside felt like a waste of sunshine!  You can find us back here in November.

There was a quick trip to Portland to pick up Juliette after her few days in Idaho with my parents – I didn’t take many pictures, but these couple with Morgan and my parents deserve a spot on the blog:

Summer ain’t summer without a visit to the ball field, so we headed to a Mariner’s game on a Sunday afternoon to cheer on the hometown heroes and run the bases.

And…the fair!  After our visit last year, this has officially become a Mama-Jules annual tradition.  Farm animals and ice cream and roller coasters, OH MY.

The ferris wheel was fun, though a bit tame for my speed-loving kiddo.

So we strapped ourselves into the mini roller coaster, which made Juliette wild with joy.

The kiddie-coaster was so much fun that we decided to level up and try out the Wild Cat.  Juliette cleared the height requirement by a half-inch, so ready or not…

Truth be told, she vacillated between laughter and near-tears with each terrifying dip, but we lived to tell about it!  This was our last real Friday off together before settling into our new school schedule, and we most certainly made it count.

And outside of all this boppin’ around, there was the simple sweetness of a PNW summer.  Family bike rides down to the water…

Neighborhood bike rides with the West Seattle biker gang (Juliette’s knees have never been so scraped up!)…

Basement dance parties when it’s just too hot outside to ride yet another loop around the block…

Shady walks through Schmitz Park…

Evenings next to our new fire pit…

And watching Juliette live her very best life, literally playing from sun-up to sun-down on some days and falling into bed at night with pink cheeks and tired legs.

Now pardon me while I fire up the indoor fire place and drown my post-summer blues with a spicy Chai and a slice of pumpkin bread…bring on Fall.

I love a long a weekend.  I really love a really long weekend, which we were graced with when the Fourth of July fell on a Thursday and I was off on the following Friday.  We awoke on the Fourth itching for a little adventure and were pulling our stuff together for a ferry ride to Vashon Island while Juliette played outside; I had just packed our snacks when she burst through the front door and said, “Mommy!  There’s a parade and the neighbors are going!  Can we go?  Please?  Please?  Pleeeeeeeeease?”  Ah, Vashon.  I guess we’ll visit you some other day.

It turns out the West Seattle Fourth of July Parade is just a million kids riding their bikes and scooters around the block while their parents walk behind them, but still, a good time was had by all.

Juliette is in the midst of a deep Star Wars infatuation and was stoked to see R2D2 taking a stroll down the street.

And then we found our beloved neighbors (who brought extra accessories!) and Juliette’s excitement quadrupled.

We ended our trek at Hamilton Viewpoint Park, where I stretched out on the lawn while the kids played frisbee.

We gathered the kids for a group photo and then tossed Juliette and her scooter in the bike trailer for the short ride home.

The rest of the day was spent in the yard, alternately pruning bushes and sipping beer while the kiddos zipped up and down the block on their assorted vehicles.

And then…fireworks!  We started on a tame note, with sparklers and smoke bombs.

…and pooping dogs.

Once the sun set, a portable wood stove appeared, along with a bag of for-real fireworks.

These were legit!

Happy Fourth, y’all.

Juliette and I picked berries on Friday and then joined the Chens on Saturday for a hike at Lake Talapus, off I-90.  The misty morning made the woods feel particularly magical.

We arrived at our destination two miles in and perched on some lakeside logs for cake pops and water.

Good Lord, I love this land we live in.

Shane lulled the kids into a hiking trance on the way back to the cars with his usual recounting of The Lord of the Rings.  They ate it up and finished the 4.2 mile journey with minimal foot-dragging.

Made it!

Four cheers for a four-day weekend.

Summer!  It’s here, and we are livin’ it up, as evidenced by the prevalence of ice cream and swimwear in my photo backlog.  Jules and I are loving beach days…

And buddies…

And bikes!  Bicycle Sundays on the Boulevard are better than ever.

When we want to bike a little closer to home, where Juliette can’t quite navigate the hills, Shane pulls her around on his e-bike while I bring up the rear.

We pedaled down to Alki one weekend and feasted on waterfront kimchi fried rice at Marination…

…and then I slogged it home on my non-electric bike, up what felt like the Everest of West Seattle.  Seriously, I had no idea biking could be so hard.  But I made it!  Barely.

I think I’m better at paddling than pedaling.  We headed to Rattlesnake Lake a few weeks ago for a lazy spin in the water.

This place is somethin’ else.

And this kid?  Best-ever first mate.

And finally, after beaches and buddies and bikes and boards, there were berries!  Juliette and I made our annual trip out to Remlinger Farms last week to comb the rows for fresh, juicy raspberries.  She has become quite the little harvester.

Get ’em, Jules!

Ahhhhh, summer.  Tastes so good.

SO GOOD.

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!