Archive for November, 2015

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!

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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.

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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.

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I love you, Jules.

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

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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.

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

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Ahhhhhhh, that sun!

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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They even had Twister!

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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.

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

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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.

I received a text from a friend on Friday as I was getting Juliette up from her nap that read, “Prayers for Paris – Suspected terrorist attacks and shootings…”.  She and I had spent a year together studying abroad in Paris and fell head over heels for the city and the language and the culture while we were there.  I scrolled the latest headlines and was overwhelmed with grief as I read about the people that were gunned down at sidewalk cafes, the bombings and shootings that took 89 lives at the the Bataclan theater.  Bataclan is just half a mile from my old apartment – I walked right past it on Thursdays when I’d visit the market on Richard Lenoir.  The lives lost in France certainly aren’t any more valuable than the lives recently lost at the hands of terrorists in Beirut and Baghdad, but damn, this particular act of terror felt so close to me.  I have vivid memories of spending evenings on cafe terraces, drinking red wine with friends, feeling care-free and joy-filled and safe.  And now I can’t shake the image of a man kneeling next to an overturned table, weeping over the body of his dead friend, of blood-spattered pavement and heavily-armed police.  In the midst of this horror, extremists are rejoicing over the lives lost.  Sometimes this world feels suffocatingly dark.  God?  Where the hell are you?

As we stood and sang in church today, I felt a desperate yearning to live into the image of these words:

When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone, cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

May my anchor hold.  May Paris find light in the wake of unspeakable darkness.

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Trick or TREAT!  Since Juliette was such a cute owl last year, I decided to stick with the bird theme and whip up a little peacock tutu and feathered headband this year – I’m no seamstress, but I can make good things happen with elastic, tulle, and a hot glue gun!  Jules was a great sport about the whole thing and donned her “bird skirt” throughout our Friday playdate at the toddler gym.

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Those feathered leggings were a lucky clearance find at Old Navy.  Don’t let her face fool you – she was super-stoked about the whole thing.

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It was fun to see all of Juliette’s buddies in costume, though Clark Kent looks none too thrilled about having his glasses swiped…

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This guy looks like he could be posing for a Fireman-of-the-Month calendar, doesn’t he?

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Smile, kiddos!  Or don’t.

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Thanks, Jeremy Lin, for indulging me.

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That feathered rump!

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We laid low Saturday morning, saving our energy for an evening of Halloween festivities at Chez Rust.  This girl woke up from naptime ready to get her trick or treat on.

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But first, pumpkin guts!  Jules was fascinated when I popped the top off her pumpkin and pulled out a handful of gooey seeds.  She was also sorely disappointed when I told her she wouldn’t be wielding the carving knife.

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One pumpkins were carved, the kiddos (plus Jason) suited up in their costumes and set out on their candy quest.

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I wasn’t sure how Juliette would take to trick or treating – I expected she’d be a little nervous about knocking on strangers’ doors, but she boldly marched up to that first house, shoved her hand right into that candy bowl, dropped her chocolates in her bucket, and then ran back to me, eyes gleaming as she exclaimed “I got a treat, mama!  I got a TREAT!”.

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Jules had a total blast and I reveled in the whole thing right along with her.  I know, processed sugar and yadda, yadda, yadda, but it’s so much fun to watch her take part in these rituals that I remember loving so much as a kid.  Her gleeful (slightly devilish) laugh as she bounded down the steps from each house was priceless.  And that neighborhood does Halloween right, with lots of super-friendly adults in costumes and spooky spiderwebs on porches.

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And…slightly frightening window displays…

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After one last treat from Wonder Woman, the wind got the best of us and we called it a night.

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We went back to the Rusts and the kids excitedly took inventory of their loot – Juliette ate a lollipop and snagged a nibble of a Snickers bar, which sent her over the moon, but miraculously, thankfully, her candy stash was forgotten by the time we tucked her into bed (which is a good thing, as Shane and I ate all the best stuff out of her bucket while we watched E.T. that night!).  Turns out the thrill was more in the chase than the reward.

Happy Halloween, little bird.  Way to spread those wings.