Archive for the ‘seattle’ Category

The past couple of months have been pretty spectacular, what with the beach-combing in Florida and the partying in Portland and the camp-firing at Fort Flagler.  PLUS, there’s been a smorgasbord of April and May goodness right here at home.

Home.  HOME!  We super-duper love our new one!  We got our keys the evening before we left for Florida and hauled a carload of boxes right over, eager as we were to settle into our new place.

Moving was a bear, but family really came through in a clutch.  Clearly, Jules was a stellar assistant with all the unpacking:

And my parents!  They were heroes.  As soon as we all returned from Florida, my dad and I got right to work giving all our rooms a nice fresh coat of white while my mom meticulously organized the kitchen.

And then Shane’s mom came to visit for a weekend in May – we hit Ikea together and she helped me get our closets in order.

We warmed our house with a (furniture-less) picnic dinner at the end of April, determined to have the Hickory clan over before they set off on their Colorado move.

We’ve shared so many big ups and big downs with this crew – breaking bread with these people in our new house is an up I’ll remember forever.

But saying good-bye to Brian, Nicole, Eden and Stella…total down.  We miss these guys so much already!

Juliette gave one final farewell to our townhouse the first weekend in May and then we were officially out.

This place was good to us for the past eleven years.  It will always be our first house, the place where we hosted the small group that turned out to be full of our life-long nearest and dearest friends (the very same ones that were there for our first meal in our new house!).  Our townhouse was the place that we watched Juliette take her first steps, the place in which we decorated a decade’s worth of Christmas trees.  I sniffled just a bit when I pulled out of the driveway for the very last time.

But then I drove across the bridge and we ate dinner in our new backyard and Juliette and Nico frolicked in the grass and I was overcome with the feeling that this next chapter in our lives is going to be a good one.

Getting to know our new neighborhood has been such a joy – meeting the super-friendly families on all sides of us, discovering the views around every corner, soaking up these western skies…

I look forward to my evening walks with a whole new kind of fervor.  I never really pictured myself as a West Seattle-ite, committed as I was to the South End, but suddenly I’m all in.

And golly, this backyard of ours…  We’ve loved dining al fresco, feeling like we finally have space to play the role of host.  The Rusts popped by one Saturday night just to say hello and then did a little jig when we told them we had extra burgers and dogs on the grill for them.

Aunt Val came to visit while Shane’s mom was in town and she filled me in on what exactly is planted in our yard, pointing out the peonies that were about to bloom and the lilac bush that smells so, so good.

We moved in at the right time of year, I tell ya.

This corner lot comes at a cost, though – we’ve quickly discovered the amount of work that goes into keeping this yard in tip-top shape.  Yowsers!  (But more gadgets for Shane!)

In other good-things news, Mother’s Day was lovely this year – Shane and Juliette made french toast and grapefruit mimosas for me and Shane’s mom and then we all headed to Alki Beach for a sun-break.

And Jules and I have been loving lots of quality time with LaV and Nico, soaking in our last couple of months of Fridays together before this guy heads off to kindergarten in the Fall.

We had a grand time celebrating his space-themed fifth birthday, watching him blast off to a year of new adventures.

These two…making each other smile since 2013.

They were especially awesome together on our Memorial Day hike to Coal Creek Falls, trooping through the trek with very little complaining – La Verne didn’t have to bust out the gummy bribes until mile 2.5!

This is our fourth or fifth time on this trail, and it continues to be one of our faves – not too crowded, not too steep, and always a rock to sit on mid-way to take a rest and have a snack.

And now, June.  We just got back from Minnesota, we’ve got a couple of camping trips on the books over the next two weekends, and my peonies are at their peak.  Life’s good.

Project: Sell-House/Buy-House has been all-consuming these past few weeks, at the expense of quality family time, and blogging, and exercising, and reading, and, and, and… But we’re seeing the light at the end of this hectic tunnel and are finding ourselves with a free moment here and there to stop and smell the Spring flowers. Like last Friday, when Juliette and I took a couple of hours to grab a treat at Starbucks and then frolic through the cherry blossoms at the UW Quad.

There was so much about this afternoon that felt so, so good – the colors and the sunshine and weight of my camera in my hands again.  And the opportunity to zoom in (photographically and emotionally) on this kid.

I let Juliette snap a few blossom pictures with my phone and then she asked if we could trade cameras.  I tentatively let her hold my Canon and then we fell into a long game of “you-photo-me, I-photo-you”.

Every time a breeze would blow, we’d get a little snow-shower of petals.  Catch ’em, Jules!

After the number of weekends we’ve spent painting and cleaning and weeding and house-hunting, we were both ready to let loose and dance a little a jig.

I think we were a couple of days post-peak, bloom-wise, but I’ll trade a little extra fluffiness in the trees for a lovely carpet of pink.

I’ve missed you, kiddo.  Looking forward to getting back into our Mama-Jules groove.

The tree is down, the Christmas music has been put on pause, the sugar cookies have been eaten…the holidays are over.  But gosh, they were good while they lasted, and we fared pretty well last month in the art of tradition-keeping.

Juliette and I have made a thing of a “Downtown Christmas Day”, using one of our days off to hit the Westlake Carousel and the surrounding holiday sights.  How many more years do we have before the magic of merry-go-round wears off?  At least a couple, I hope…

And to warm up afterwards, hot chocolate and an Americano from the Starbucks across the street!

We decided to pass on the Fairmont’s “Teddy Bear Suite” this year but did venture into the hotel lobby to take a spin through the life-size gingerbread house.

And then once Juliette discovered the free candy canes there for the taking, there was another spin through the house, and another…

 

We visited Swanson’s Nursery one Sunday after church to check out the reindeer and the Christmas train and Santa.  Juliette’s not really the type to hop up onto Santa’s lap, but the rest of it was a hit.

 

And cookies!  So many cookies – sugar cookies and raspberry thumbprints and ginger snaps and cranberry coconut bark…  Jules and I are in charge of bringing sweets each year when we head down to Portland, and we take our job very seriously.

 

This was the first year we’ve headed to Bellevue to see Snowflake Lane, which was crowded and crazy but exceedingly festive.

And…fake now!  I mean, really – snow bubbles and baton-twirling elves and All I Want for Christmas is You blaring over loudspeakers?  It was too much.  And I kinda loved it.

 

We spent New Year’s Eve Eve at Gene Coulon Park, checking out the Clam Lights.  I like doing this one post-crowds, post-Christmas – after the excitement and busy-ness of the holidays, it’s nice to be in a place where all feels calm, all feels bright.

 

And then the beloved New Years Eve bonfire at Alki Beach!  We did this a couple of years ago and jumped at the chance for a repeat when the Hickory’s said they were going to pick up a couple of bundles of wood and stake out a fire pit.  The night turned out be windy and COLD, but the kids generated their own body heat by running wild on the shore.

Seattle is a far cry from Mexico, but apparently it’s no less fun.

 

We headed over to Jack and La Verne’s afterward for spaghetti and a sleepover.  The kids were tucked into bed, a third bottle of wine was opened (then a fourth), and then, before the clock had even struck midnight…

Shane was surprisingly spry on New Years morning and agreed to meet up with Jason, Brian, and Nicole for the Polar Bear Plunge at Alki.  Only at 9:58, with just two minutes before plunge-time, his peeps were nowhere to be found.  He stripped down and gave Juliette a very tentative thumbs-up, clearly not at all stoked by the thought of doing this alone.

In one of the most dramatic reunions I’ve ever witnessed, at 9:59 these buddies found each other on the crowded beach and darted into the water together.

…and darted right back out.

I love this event.  You can almost taste the euphoria as the polar bears come back to shore, squealing and hugging and shivering.  And while I’m not about to go running into any 45-degree water, I mooch a little off of everyone else’s high, welcoming the New Year with joy and excitement and a sense of adventure.

Hola, 2018.  It’s good to see you.

And the autumnal glory continues!  A few more highlights…

We spent a sunny Sunday up in Snohomish at Bob’s Pumpkin Patch, scouring the fields for the perfect pumpkin.  The country vibes were strong out there.

We found out when we got there that getting to the actual pumpkin patch required a short hayride, which seemed like a pain, but Juliette ended up loving the bumpy little jaunt out to the fields.  I’m tellin’ you, COUNTRY VIBES!

And thus, the search begins:

We have our first winner!

Photo cred:  Jules!

I’m so glad she wore her rain boots…

Strike a pose, little one:

Despite the fact that our wheelbarrow was full by this point, we kept wandering further and further out, into the dreamy sunlight.  I couldn’t bring myself to turn back!

We found a little patch of little gourds and Juliette plucked one from the ground, calling it her “maraca” and shaking it all the way back to the tractor.

Seriously, so glad she wore her rain boots.

Thanks, Bob’s!  We’ll see you next year.

And then there was that glorious Mama-Jules/Mama-Nico Friday at Volunteer Park.  Nico and Juliette bee-lined for the playground when we got out of our cars, but La Verne and I both had our sights set on this brilliant patch of sunny grass across the street.  Once we’d completed the swing-slide-twirl circuit, we shepherded the kids to the lawn, promising them magic tree tunnels and a game of chase.

On our third lap we discovered that someone had left us a gift, in the form of a big fluffy pile of Fall leaves…

…and I got shutter-happy.  Keep scrolling!

Ahhhh, sweet, sweet serenity.

Soak it up, kids – winter is coming!

Juliette and I capped off our fun-fest with a climb to the top of the water tower, where we spotted Daddy’s office and Lake Washington and a billion more beautiful trees.

We have made a tradition of visiting Ravenna Park every Fall and Juliette and I headed out there last Sunday, as we found ourselves with several hours to fill while Shane did some work.  It was a little gray that day and the trails were especially quiet.

I spy…two blue eyes.

Just as we were heading back to our car, the sun came out and this grove of trees turned into an Autumn wonderland.  Juliette did a few laps to celebrate!

And then, as Juliette and I were out running errands a couple of days ago, the wind picked up and the rain turned all white and fluffy…it was snowing in Seattle!  One week after our jacket-less romp through Volunteer Park, we were donning our puffy coats and catching snowflakes on our tongues.  It seems winter is here.  Kudos to this girl for greeting its arrival with such glee….I’m gonna need a little time to get on board.

 

And now that Paris is in the books, we return to our regularly scheduled programming, because it is FALL in Seattle and this city is stunning.  We’ve been doing our October circuit these past couple of weeks, playing in leaves and picking pumpkins, oohing and ahhing over the yellows and oranges and reds.

Juliette and I made an impromptu visit to Lincoln Park the Friday after I got back from France, because we were in West Seattle anyway and the sun was shining and we needed to lift our spirits after an especially traumatic doctor’s visit (those four-year-old shots are a  doozy!).

I’m adding this yellow tree to our list of annual October must-see’s…

It felt so good to see this kid smiling again!  There was a moment that morning, as I was holding her down on the doctor’s table while she shrieked and squirmed, when I wondered if she’d ever forgive me.

(She forgave me.)

We made a follow-up bonus trip to Lincoln Park the very next day because Gryff and Isaiah had a soccer game there and Juliette and I were eager to see their fancy footwork.

We made our annual Autumn pilgrimage to Kubota Gardens a couple of weeks ago.  It’s always a little tough to sell Juliette on a visit to a park that doesn’t have a playground, but I kept reminding her that this place has the prettiest trees!

And the best bridges!

And the most magical patch of grass for playing soccer…

Were the sun not setting at what felt like lightning speed, we could have played here for hours…

Shane had Friday off a week and a half ago, so the three of us declared it a day-late celebration for Dad’s birthday and chowed down on soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung for lunch.

Bellies full, we took a crisp afternoon stroll through the Arboretum for more tree-gazing.

Every year, this place takes my breath away.

It just…glows.

Up next:  pumpkins, a rainbow unicorn, and a leaf-jumping marathon.  October rules.

I have one last (big) batch of tank-topped photos to put up, and then we’ll be onto sweaters and golden leaves and pumpkins.  Fall is HERE, whether I’m ready to bid farewell to summer or not.  (I’m not.)

Juliette came back from La Pine a regular speed demon on her bike – it was fun to hit the last of the season’s bicycle Sundays with her on the Boulevard.  Our first time out, I left my bike at home and figured I’d walk alongside her, in case she needed any help getting started or staying on course.  Three miles in, I was sweating and huffing as she gleefully left me in her dust!

We unwisely let her take her bike out and pedal a little ways ahead of us at a new park in Sammamish a few weeks ago – she rounded a corner and started barreling down a hill we didn’t see coming, and though I chased after that girl like a bat out of hell, I just couldn’t reach her.  She hadn’t figured out braking but bravely followed my directions when I told her to turn off the path onto the grass, where she bumped/skidded to a stop and tumbled onto the ground.  Thankfully, she only skinned a shoulder and an elbow, but GAH!  MY HEART!  I spent the rest of the day with my arms wrapped around her, letting go only long enough to let her finish the ice cream cone I bought her at Molly Moon’s that evening.  So, so, SO sorry, kiddo…

I resisted the urge to slap a pair of training wheels on her bike and cover her in bubble wrap when she asked to get back out on her hot rod the very next day.

We spent the first few days of September doing the spray park circuit, wanting to get our splashes in before they all ran dry after Labor Day.

And we spent a Saturday harvesting beets, zucchini, berries, and apples at the farm of one of Shane’s co-workers.  He was incredibly generous, telling us we could take as much as we could possibly eat, handing his very last few raspberries to a grateful Juliette.

Zucchini baby!

We spent Labor Day on a boat with the Chens, zipping around Lake Washington.  We’d done this a few years ago with the gang and figured we were due for another round.  We pulled away from the dock, nice and easy…  (That poor little shoulder!)

And then Jack hit the gas and the crowd went wild!

Juliette apparently loves the feel of the wind in her hair.  And I confess, I got a little giggly and giddy myself as the boat skidded across the water.

I know, I was snap-happy with the camera, but I mean, COME ON.  This is one happy kid.

Thanks, Shane!  Don’t mind if I do…

We drank our mimosas, snacked on our bread and cheese spread, and then turned off the motor for a bit so the guys could take a dip and practice their synchronized karate kicks.

Then, the pedal was put back to the metal.

I had a now-or-never urge to jump in as our rental time drew to a close, so I took a quick dip myself.  My last lake swim of the year…

Turns out the thrill of it all was just too much for this little guy!

We spent a slightly-cooler Saturday checking out Farrel McWhirter Park in Redmond – I was eager to visit the farm animals and Shane wanted to try his hand at orienteering with Juliette.

These two were pretty sweet, carefully tracking the map and searching for markers in the woods as if they were hidden treasures.

Plus, blackberries for dayyyyyys…

The final marker!  Mission complete.

Jules had a good long chat with a chicken before we left – she’s does a pretty good bok-a-bok.

That evening, we roasted s’mores in the Rusts’ backyard.  I’m a little bummed that we didn’t make it out for one last camping trip in September, but this offered some solace.

We kicked off Juliette’s “birthday week” with an afternoon game at Safeco field, again wanting to squeeze in one of those only-in-the-summer events.

The Mariners weren’t faring too well against the Yankees, but we still sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame with great gusto.

The field was open to kids after the game, so we all headed down for a jaunt, in search of the Mariners Moose.

Before the attendants could even yell “Go!”, Jules was off.

This kid had a serious case of the kettle corn crazies by the time we rolled back into our neighborhood:

And…over and out!  Summer 2017, you. were. epic.

Gracious, summer has been good to us, with pool days and lake days and a special Sunday at Safeco.  A few July snapshots:

Juliette and I spent a Friday last month checking out the Henry Moses Aquatic Center down in Renton – after all of our winter and spring visits to the Rainier Beach pool, swimming outside felt like such a lovely novelty.

I’ve always loved the warmer months, but experiencing summer through a child’s eyes really ups the ante.

We caught a Mariner’s game a few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon – Juliette asks to “visit the moose” every time we drive past Safeco field, so it was pretty special to finally grant her request.

That magic moment of watching the field open up before you after that painful slog of making your way to your high-up seats:

Juliette was amazingly engaged, asking Shane who each new batter was, cheering when the M’s got a hit or when they struck out a Yankee.  Granted, this level of engagement only lasted about one and a half innings, but still, she dug it!

After the game, we headed down to the field to run the bases with the kiddos.  While in line, Jack entertained Nico and Jules with his mind-melding tricks.

And, the crowd roars!!!

You’re an all-star, Jules.

And because these two just couldn’t get enough of each other, we gathered at Tutta Bella for dinner, rounding out the day with gelato and giggles.

Shane’s sister and her clan came to visit at the end of July and we painted the town red, hitting Pike’s Place Market and Bainbridge Island and our favorite neighborhood joints.

We spent a sunny afternoon at Lake Sammamish, taking turns on the paddle board.  Everyone managed to get up on it for at least a short row.  Almost everyone managed to not fall in.

Show-off!

These kids got along so splendidly throughout the visit – Juliette has seriously hit the cousin jackpot.

We headed up to Mukilteo the following morning to spend the day with Aunt Val and Uncle Doug at their beachfront abode.

The afternoon was a sunny blur of hopping back and forth between the swimming pool and the fishing dock.

We pulled up several dozen crabs in the span of a couple of hours – most of them were tossed back, but a few extra-large ones were put on ice to await a fateful dinnertime end.

Dinner was a veritable crab bonanza, as the gentlemen boiled and cracked our bucketful of that day’s catch.

We spent Sunday morning with the fam at Alki, where Seattle showed off its beachy blues.

And to round out the grand tour de Seattle, we rented a couple of four-person bikes for a ride down the boulevard.  I’ve forgotten how fun it can be to play the part of the tourist in our city!

Our legs were screaming a couple miles in, so we popped off at a dock to take a rest and take in the sights.

These girls!  The sweetest.


Our house was oh-so-full but oh-so-fun for those few days.  There’s a lotta love on that couch!

It was hard to say good-bye on Sunday afternoon…this photo says it all.

And now we find ourselves more than half-way through August, as this summer flies by with lightning speed.  I’m keeping my swimsuit handy, though – there’s still much to savor.

There were a series of Fridays in the Spring when work crept into my “day off”, as I was asked to come into the office for a quick meeting or dial in for a call; I often found myself volunteering to check in around lunchtime and then getting sucked into a mid-day email vortex.  The reality is that architecture isn’t incredibly well-suited to a four-day work week.  But dang it, there’s summertime fun to be had with my favorite three year old, so I reset some boundaries and have recommitted to Mama-Jules time.  We’re painting this town red!

We kicked off Fun-Only Fridays in early June with a trip down to the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma.  Juliette grabbed a map and planned our route:  fish, tigers, polar bears, goats.

Dory, Mama!  DORY!!!

The tiger was my favorite – such a striking, beautiful animal.

But a little scary, too – he’s got his eye on her!

The goats were our last stop and I expected we’d breeze by there, as Juliette and I were both a little beat by this point, and I mean, they’re just goats.  Turns out they were adorable goats.  Hungry goats.  And there was a food dispenser.  We were here for awhile.

That poor guy in the back was insatiable!

Ok, buddy.  ONE MORE.

I finally coaxed Juliette away from her livestock friends and we hit the road back to Seattle.  Lucky kid:

Lucky me!

We spent a much grayer Friday a couple of weeks ago at the Pacific Science Center, making use of the membership that we purchased on a stormy weekend in January.  First, though, pancakes and coffee at Five Spot.

The Pacific Science Center, like many children’s museums, feels a little worn-out (this place takes a beating!), but the butterflies are beautiful.

Juliette was quite distressed when she saw the large-scale chessboard in total disarray and got right to work fixing it up.

Legos for days.  Sometimes it’s nice to sit still…

Shane’s work schedule permits him to join us from time to time on our Friday shenanigans and the three of us spent the last Friday of June at Rattlesnake Lake, paddle-boarding and picnicking.

I don’t know if it’s the ball cap or the khaki-colored shorts or the way he’s leaning in with his hand on Juliette’s back, but Shane has never looked more Dad to me than he does in this photo…

I got out for a long solo paddle while Shane and Juliette ate their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the shore.  Now this is a form of exercise I can get on board with!

We checked berry-picking off our list yesterday, as we made the trek out to Carnation to scour the raspberry vines.  We stopped at Sandy’s on the way there for fuel in the form of coffee and muffins, enjoying their sunny little patio.

The pickin’ was good yesterday, with plenty of huge, sweet berries hanging from the vines.  For each one Juliette put in her bucket, she put one in her mouth.

Seriously, I felt like we should slip the guy at the register a few extra dollars…

This photo needs a little thought bubble in the upper right corner saying, “Life is GOOD”.

For all the fun we had, Juliette took her harvesting very seriously.

Seven pounds of sheer joy in that crate right there!

Work schmerk.  Thank Goodness for Fridays.

Memorial Day weekend was long and sunny and filled with good times with the gang – dare I say that summer has come a little early this year???

Juliette and I heralded the arrival of 80-plus temps with a Mama-Jules Friday at Gene Coulon Beach.

She rides a little lower every time she gets in that boat, but somehow, it still floats!

I’m so looking forward to a summer of Fridays with this kid…

After leaving the beach, we stopped by Target for paper towels and walked out with an inflatable pool, because, I mean, 82 degrees, people!  We just lived through Seattle’s coldest winter in 32 years!

We dusted off the paddle board on Saturday morning for a jaunt around Lake Washington…

And then set up camp on the lawn with our peeps.  It was a long, lazy morning of mimosas and baseball and water bazookas.

We celebrated N’s fourth birthday that evening with a dinosaur egg hunt and generously frosted cupcakes.

It was like Easter in May!  Brilliant party planning, La Verne…

Happiest of birthdays to this sweet boy!

Jules and N haven’t seen a whole lot of each other this past few weeks and seemed quite happy to be reunited again.

While the littler kids played with their eggs, G and Z did dare-devil stunts with scooters and riding toys down the Chens’ steep driveway.  Rough and tumble, these two…

Shane scored a big-kids bike on Craigslist on Saturday and gave Juliette her first pedal lesson on Sunday.  She’s got a ways to go before she’s cruising around this thing on her own, but biking lessons seem like a perfect father-daughter summer project.

I, on the other hand, am quite comfortable with my new wheels and loved our Sunday afternoon ride down to the lake and around Seward Park.  Check us out!  We’re a biking family!

 

We ran into the Chens down on the Boulevard and biked with them for awhile.

Juliette was such a good sport on our 14-mile trek that we let her maximize her pre-bed playtime by eating dinner in her new swimming pool.  Copper River salmon has never tasted so good!

Tempted as I was to lay super-low on Monday, Shane was gunning for another family ride, so we strapped our bikes to the Forester and drove over to Marymoor Park for a Redhook Ride.

I have to say, the Brewery payoff felt slightly out of proportion with the meager seven miles we rode to get there…  But hey!  It was a holiday!

We capped off our weekend o’ sun back at Seward Park, where I laid on the grass while the kids splashed in the lake.

And with that, May Madness is a wrap.

Seattle’s fleeting cherry blossoms come in two waves every year, and I feared we had missed the second wave of bright pink pom-poms while we were down in Los Angeles.  Turns out we made it back just in time!

I picked up Juliette a little early from school one day last week and when I saw her apropos ultra-pink outfit set against clear blue skies, I figured we should jet down to Lake Washington to check out the scene.  I mean, this tree branch was just begging to be sat upon by a girl in a pink tutu!

Right?

I miss those evening golden hours back at Santa Monica beach, but “pink hour” along Lake Washington is also pretty magical.

Riiiiiight?!

Shane and I tag-team parented much of last weekend due to some work stuff and a church meeting, but we did set aside Saturday morning for some quality family time.  We hit the trail to Coal Creek Falls at Cougar Mountain mid-morning – Juliette has outgrown the hiking backpack but assured us she could make it all the way on her own.

So much promise in these woods – this path feels like it’s on the verge of exploding with all shades of green.

Ahhhh, green, green, green!

Oh, and about Jules making it all the way “on her own”…

Thanks, Dad…

The sound of rushing water grew louder, then fainter, then louder again, and just when we all started to wonder if we’d ever get there…

Found it.

One of the advantages of hiking on a gray April day?  You get an oasis like this all to yourself.

This kid could have spent all day fishing for special rocks in the shallow water.  I told her she could pick three to take home with her and after carefully considering her options, she slipped a brown one, a black one, and a striped one into her pocket.  She gave each of them very dramatic names like “The Waterfall of the Sea” and “The Seasons of the Grass”.  I’m guessing her teachers have been reading her fairy tales at school?

I know, Jules, I know – it’s so thrilling to see leaves on the trees!  Cheers to a Spring and Summer of gettin’ outside.