Valentines Day!  A day for lovers, for romance, for chocolates and wine and ooh-la-la.  Or…a day for chasing after your toddler, finding joy in pink-frosted donuts and a longer-than-normal nap and an afternoon at the park.  C’est la parenthood.

We spent the morning at the Rusts – the kiddos exchanged Valentines (turns out Jules has mad watercolor skills!) and the grown-ups sipped mimosas and munched on Nance’s heart-shaped coffee cake.

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Jules enjoyed a little snuggle session with her buddy S in the playroom hammock.  I don’t know where that girl’s pants went.

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We made it home for naptime and Juliette crashed hard, snoozing for a solid hour and a half (this is an improvement over recent sub-hour naps!).  Find me something sweeter than a baby sleeping with her butt up in the air like so.  I dare you.

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Juliette woke up in great spirits and laid with us on the couch for a bit, then tore into the magna-doodle I bought her for V-Day.

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Once the new toy magic wore off (which took all of…15 minutes?  damn it.), we all got a little antsy and decided to drive over to Luther Burbank Park to enjoy the sun.  We hit that playground hard.  Too hard, as evidenced by my sore butt.  That turbo-boosted roller slide has an unexpected kick to it!

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Once we had explored every slide, swing, and teeter-totter, we made our way toward the water, stopping for a few minutes to check out the pups at the dog park.  Jules was completely mesmerized, woof-woofing at each dog that ran past her.  Forget the zoo – this is apparently where it’s at!

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Once we pried Juliette away from the furballs, we walked down to the waterfront to throw rocks and see how close we could get to the water’s edge without actually getting our feet soaked (her game, not ours).

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I asked for a kiss and…wow.  This girl doesn’t hold back.

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A chill set in as the sun went down, so we trekked back to the car, deciding we should ride this good-spirited wave and go grab a bite somewhere.  I was in the mood for a burger but raised my eyebrows as Shane threw out the names of a couple of trendy, probably-crowded Capitol Hill burger joints.  Let’s not press our luck.  I wanted to go someplace easy and close-by, someplace we knew would have high chairs and crayons.  And that’s the story of how the Schnells ended up at the Factoria Mall Red Robin for Valentines Day dinner.

Shane and I reminisced over our bottomless fries about the Valentines meal we ate at Windows on the Water in Morro Bay when I was in college, where we ordered our first-ever bottle of wine (a lovely White Zinfandel) and sipped it while the sounds of quietly murmuring couples and piano music filled the dimly lit dining room.  That was fun.  But RED ROBIN.  Red Robin has balloons.

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Happy Valentines Day, folks – may you all find happiness in the most unexpected of places.