Archive for September, 2015

Fall officially starts on Wednesday, but it feels like it rolled in about a week ago – skies have been gray, mornings have been chilly, leaves have been losing their green with each passing day…  Thankfully, we made the most of what turned out to be the last blazin’ day of summer a couple of Saturdays ago, renting kayaks and hitting Lake Union for a spin with the Chens.

When we were told that the kids would have to sit in their own seats, we paused for a moment – Juliette’s not one for sitting still, and I wouldn’t be within arm’s reach to restrain her.  What if we got out on the water and she didn’t like it?  What if she tried to jump ship?

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Or…what if she loved it?!

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(And then still threatened to jump ship?)

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Although Juliette’s insistence on testing the water made Shane super-anxious, and although I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to steer with the foot pedals and directed La Verne’s and my kayak into oncoming speedboat traffic a couple of times, we had a blast out there.

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Sweet Jesus, that sun!  Already feels like a distant memory…

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Soak it up, Nico!

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We made it safely back to the dock, relatively dry and a little pink-cheeked.  We grabbed a table at Agua Verde and raised our margaritas to the end of my most favorite Seattle season.  And now the nine-month countdown begins.

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Two.  TWO.  Jules up and turned two on Monday, just like that.  Where’d my squishy little baby go?  I miss her.  Luckily, I like the silly, adventurous chatterbox that’s taken her place a whole, whole lot.

We kicked off the celebrations on Sunday, with a birthday-eve donut and gifts after church with the Rusts.  Gryff still calls her “Baby Ju-Ju”.  I’m going to let him ride that wave for as long as it lasts!

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Sunday afternoon, we hopped on Lightrail and made our way to Safeco Field for a Mariners Game with our buddies.

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Juliette refused to sit still for more than about five seconds and spent the duration of the game running back and forth in the fortuitously empty row of seats behind us.  Despite her limited attention span, a good time was had by all!

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It was run-the-bases Sunday, so we all headed down the field after the game to let the little ones go wild.  Juliette took off the minute she hit the dirt and we had to wrangle her back in, reminding her to wait her turn.

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Finally, she hit first base, and she was off!  She was completely taken with the moose mascot when she spotted him from way up in our seats, but once she saw him up-close…not so much.  Pardon the chaos at the beginning, but dang, this video makes me laugh.

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Made it, in record time!  So proud.

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Nico, on the other hand, took the “home run stroll” to a whole new level and walked the bases.  Way to soak up the glory, kid!

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Gosh, this crew.  There’s a lotta love here.

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All through dinner, Jules excitedly chatted about her day, exclaiming “I run da bases, mama!  Scary moose!”

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And then, somewhere between dinnertime and bathtime, all hell broke loose.  She didn’t want to get out of her highchair, and she didn’t want to get into the tub, and she didn’t want to get out of the tub, and pajama time was a fight, and heading upstairs was a fight, and toothbrushing was a fight…she was yelling and hitting and at 7:15 we plopped in her crib, said a very exasperated “I love you.  GOOD NIGHT.”, and walked out as she screamed bloody murder.  I don’t know if she was crashing from that donut, or if the day had plum tuckered her out, or if she wanted to get a jump-start on the terrible twos, but ho-ly crap.  Total monster.

Monday, Juliette’s actual birthday, was a work/daycare day, but I made her favorite meal for dinner and let her swipe a couple of finger-fulls of icing off her cupcake before snatching most of it away and risking another sugar-induced meltdown.

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And, praise the Lord, she was a total delight that evening.  The previous night’s drama was quickly forgiven.

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When I asked Juliette old she was, she proudly shouted “TWO!”, but she has the damnedest time holding up two fingers, so this photo will have to suffice.

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We resolved to get her just one gift this year let her tear into her new easel after dessert.  She was wide-eyed and open-mouthed before even understanding what was inside the box – joyful surprise comes so easily at this age!

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She spent the rest of the evening scribbling away – it’s so gratifying when a child’s gift is a complete hit.  Counting on this thing to get us through some rainy winter days.

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A couple of cards from the grandparents, a few more happy birthday hugs and kisses, and then we called it a wrap and tucked our two-year old into bed for the night.  Agh!  TWO.  Still letting that sink in.

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Today when I heard Juliette stirring after her nap, I went up to get her and rather than reaching for me, she said, “No, mama go!” and ordered me right out of the room.  I left, a little bit hurt (and a little bit thankful for a few more minutes to myself), and headed downstairs to watch her on the monitor and see what my big girl was up to.  She rolled around in her crib for a bit, fussed with her blankets, and then stuck her finger way up her nose.  She pulled it out, inspected it, and then put that finger up in the air and yelled, “MAMA, GET MY BOOGIE!”  So I guess she still needs me, after all.  There’s comfort in that.

Happy birthday, little lady.  It’s been one heck of a year.

It felt so good to pull up to Amanda and Josh’s house on Thursday afternoon, unstrap Jules from her carseat, and tell her she was free to wander through the house, to run through the backyard, to go enjoy the luxury of space after several days in a hotel.  Coincidentally, my dad was in town for work through Friday and was able to pop over that evening for a visit.  Juliette ran right into Grandpa’s arms, as if we’d left their house in La Pine just last week.

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Juliette and Sadie were fast friends – they woke up Friday morning ready to play hard and get dirty.  So dirty.  (Look at those feet!)

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Amanda and I have a ritual of visiting our favorite discount shoe warehouse every time I visit and thought it was time to inaugurate our daughters.  They loved it, pulling shoes off the shelves and strutting down the aisles in sneakers and sandals and bright pink boots.  Girls after our own hearts.

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Turns out Juliette has a flair for flashy footwear.

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Sadie and Jules were attached at the hip throughout the whole day, saying a very tearful goodbye once their bath was over and it was time for them to settle into their separate beds.

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Poor Sadie woke up with the flu on Saturday morning, so Shane and I took Juliette out to Knights Ferry to give her buddy a play break.

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We scaled a few rocks and found a perfect little nook down by the water to get our feet wet.

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I know, the Central Valley isn’t known for it’s beauty, but it has its gems.  This is one of them.

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There’s a beautiful old covered bridge over the river – a perfect RUNway for Juliette.

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Sadie perked up in the afternoon, much to Juliette’s delight.  My delight, too, as I was tired of pushing that car around!

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This girl really doesn’t like to wear clothes.  My word, though, can’t blame her for wanting to show off that belly.

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A few friends came over on Saturday evening for backyard pizza and some quality catching up.

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GIRLS.  Old friends and new!

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Sunday morning was go-time – Sadie and Juliette squeezed in a few more precious moments of playtime, and then we said our sad good-byes.

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Amanda and I remarked over how hard it is to miss watching each other’s daughters grow.  But our girls make these annual visits extra-special, make us feel extra-close as we share in each other’s mothering joys and struggles and anxieties.  Amanda’s so good at getting me, so genuine in her exclamations of, “I know what you mean!”, so wonderful at offering advice without even the slightest twinge of condescension or judgement.  I miss her already.

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Sunday was a long day of travel, but we made it back to Seattle without any major hiccups, thankful for a week free of illness or sleepless nights, a week so full of adventure and beauty and time with friends.

After all the excitement of the museum and the pier, Jules and I were ready on Wednesday for an easy-going day closer to our hotel.  I opened up Google Maps and was happy to see there were two large rectangles of green about a mile up California Street, so we grabbed a breakfast sandwich at Flour & Co and set out for some park-hopping.  First stop: Lafayette Park in Pacific Heights.

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Winding, wooded paths criss-crossed the block – plenty of trees to climb and flowers to smell.

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I resolved not to rush us along and let Juliette move at her own pace.  This meant letting her stop to touch every single sprinkler head along the path.  Twenty minutes later, every fiber of my being was screaming, “LET’S MOVE IT!”, but I held my tongue.

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Finally, her urge to run kicked in.

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We were stoked to find a great playground at the other side of the park and spent an hour exploring the terrain.

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From Lafayette, we walked a few blocks up to Alta Plaza Park – Juliette and I came here last year and I was eager to revisit the super-active playground.  And the view!

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Seriously.  That view.

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After a picnic bench lunch at the park across the street from our hotel, we settled into our room for quiet time.  By this point, I’d given up on calling it naptime, as Juliette doesn’t want to have anything to do with afternoon sleep anymore.  She was pretty good about entertaining herself with books and coloring for about…12 minutes, at which point I’d succumb and let her watch an episode of Curious George while I took a breather.

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We headed out after quiet time to meet up with Shane – Juliette was a champ in the stroller while we were in the city, patiently sitting still while I pushed her up and down Nob Hill several times over.  She loved using her new vocabulary, pointing out motorcycles and flags and green lights.

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I needed a boost and we popped into Bread and Cocoa for a short Americano and a tall milk.  Coffee dates with this kid are my new favorite thing.

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Seeing Shane at the end of the day was always so thrilling – the way Juliette ran into his arms, you’d think he’d been gone for weeks!

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We opted again for an outdoor dinner and grabbed burgers from Super Duper to eat on the lawn at Yerba Buena.  My old friend and college roommate, Brieanne, joined us and we compared notes on motherhood and work and the quest to do it all.

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Juliette was fried by the time we returned to the hotel, as was I, so Shane offered to take care of bath and bedtime while I headed down to the hotel lounge for a glass of Prosecco and some cherished time to myself.

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Shane had a pretty light conference schedule on Thursday, so the three of us ate breakfast together at The Grove and then bopped around for awhile.

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This little plaza off Mission Street contains some of my favorite public art.

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I’ve seen this sculpture a couple of times but didn’t realize it was so “interactive” until Juliette pulled us into it for a 15-minute game of peek-a-boo.

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Shane headed out around 10:00 to catch his morning session while Juliette and I walked over to Rincon Park for one last stint by the Bay.

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And one last visit to the Ferry Building, for a vase from Heath Ceramics and macarons from Miette.

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We ate our treats on our favorite bench, snapped one last pic, and then called a wrap, as it was time to head back to the hotel and pack up our things.  And not a moment too soon – Juliette and I had a really, really great time romping through the city together, but shortly after this photo was taken, she took off running in the wrong direction and smacked me in the face when I scooped her up to put her in the stroller, at which point I had to exercise the utmost self-control not to toss her in the bay.  We were both wearing thin after so much go-go-going.  The museum and the carousel and the countless parks had been a blast, but they had left us exhausted.

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Case in point:

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Thank goodness for a chance to recharge with old friends in mellow Turlock!

Jules and I have been flying solo these past couple of days, as Shane has been busy at his conference.  Chasing a toddler around the city was much easier with a partner, but I’m hanging in there and when I’m not yelling at her to “wait for mama!!!”, we’re having a really great time.

The California Academy of Sciences was at the top of my list of places to take Juliette, so we set out for Golden Gate Park on Monday morning.  First, though, coffee.  I knew I was going to need it.

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We got to the park 45 minutes before the museum opened, so we took a walk through the botanical gardens.  The sprinklers were on and hitting our pathway, but I thought we could dart through them, super-quick, and stay relatively dry.  I was wrong – just as I barreled down the path, another sprinkler rotated just-so and drenched us.  Jules was a good sport about it, but my hair was not so forgiving.  Oops.

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We headed back toward the museum and found a sunny bench where we could finish drying out, while taking in the view of that beautiful De Young.

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Our first stop inside the Academy of Sciences was the rainforest – parrots squawked from tree branches while butterflies fluttered overhead.  A few of the butterflies fluttered a little too close to Juliette’s face and sent her running to my arms, but she eventually loosened up and was taken up in the magic of the place.

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From the rainforest, we descended down into the aquarium for some serious fish-gazing.  This was a hit – Juliette has just started to master her colors and loved pointing out the orange fish, the yellow one, the blue one, the purple one…so many fish.

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We took a quick spin through Africa after the aquarium, but hit the road just as Juliette was threatening to climb into the zebra exhibit.

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We grabbed lunch at a little cafe near the park and then caught the N train back toward our hotel.  Jules was wearing a little thin by the time we rolled up to our stop…

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And then this happened, 10 feet from our door.  Can’t.  Walk.  Any.  Further…

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We spent a couple of hours recharging in our room and then headed down to Yerba Buena to meet up with Shane for dinner.  Juliette was back on her game by this point, running and running and running.  And running.

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We chowed down on Indian takeout at the park and then called it a day and headed back to our hotel.  I love being on Nob Hill – the climb is brutal, but the views are amazing.

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We kicked off Tuesday morning with coffee at Blue Bottle and treats from Frog Hollow at the Ferry Building.  Gosh, that Ferry Building – I find something new and delicious every time we go there.

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Plus, the wide open hall is perfect for…running!  (Notice a theme here?)

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We strolled along the waterfront after breakfast, stopping every 10 piers or so to look at the boats or go for a quick jog or play a game of peek-a-boo behind the lamp posts.

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Finally, we made it up to Pier 39 to see what the sea lions were up to.  They were out in full force, active and loud and so fun to watch.

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I took Juliette here last year and she just stared at the docks blankly, unimpressed by the action.  But yesterday I could hardly tear her away from them, as she arf-arfed back at them and exclaimed, “look at that one, mama!  splash!”.

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Fisherman’s Wharf has always felt like a giant tourist trap to me – it’s not high on Shane’s and my list of San Francisco hot spots.  But dang, the look on her face when she saw those horses.  I couldn’t resist.

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Jules was pretty heartbroken when the ride stopped spinning and she was asked to say goodbye to her shiny plastic zebra.  This is where the responsible mom would calmly explain that the ride was over and that whining afterwards can take away the fun.  Or, you could just distract your kid with a trip to the candy store!  I gave Jules a bucket and let her wander down the rows of taffy barrels, telling her she could pick out a few pieces.  She picked out about 50 pieces (and I put 40 of them back when she wasn’t looking – I’m not that much of a pushover!).  We shared a piece on the bench outside the store and then I hid the rest away in the bottom of my backpack.  This girl on a sugar high?  I feared for my sanity.

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I strapped Jules back into the stroller and we made our way toward the hotel, stopping at Washington Square Park to eat our lunch and have a go on the swings.  She constantly insists “higher!  faster!  higher!” – this is probably as high as it goes, baby.

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We “rested” (I use that term loosely – stubborn kid is on a nap strike!) in our room and then met up with Shane to catch a ride over to the Mission for dinner.  We picked up burritos and took them to Dolores Park to eat on the lawn with all the champagne-sipping, guitar-playing hipsters.

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Jules looks a little out of place, doesn’t she?

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But the playground there!  Now we’re talkin’!  It’s amazing – tons of places to climb and swing and slide while enjoying a great view of the city.

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Jules and I turned in early last night while Shane went out to party with his fellow techies – sun and strolling and swinging had us both beat.  We’re rockin’ this city.