Archive for December, 2021

December. This month is never quite long enough for me. I could always go for about nine more days of twinkly lights and holiday movies and that magic, joyous advent anticipation. Being home every day did afford me some extra quality time with the Christmas tree, but still, the month passed in a flash. Are we really chucking the 2021 calendar tomorrow?!

Despite December’s apparent brevity, we were able to make good on most of our holiday traditions. This year I jotted down our favorite activities on slips of paper and tucked them into Juliette’s Christmas countdown garland so as not to lose track.

We made sugar cookies and dried orange garland…

(Juliette got creative with the leftover bits of dough…)

We visited the neighborhood’s beloved Menashee house, with all its Christmas kitsch.

And then Juliette and I took our own drive around West Seattle one night after Isaac was in bed, zig-zagging up and down the blocks in search of our very favorite lights and pit-stopping at 7-11 for hot cocoa.

(I had to bring Isaac back to this sweet little house on 48th during one of our evening walks.)

The rascally elf ran all over the house during the day and then played hide and seek with Juliette when she came home from school.

We shared a holiday meal with our chosen family, in the form of Saturday brunch at the Rusts.

Isaac was very comfortable in Nancy’s lap and eventually dozed off while the grown-ups yukked it up.

Isaac’s first Christmas present!

(He says thanks.)

We rounded out the morning with a game of hide and seek.  Jason…I SEE YOU.

Juliette has decided this year that the jig is up and she doesn’t in fact believe Santa is real, but she still jumped at the chance to visit him at a nearby real estate office on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Shane’s office mailed him a gingerbread kit and so I passed the construction baton to him this year, with Juliette running point on decorations.

And Juliette’s favorite tradition, our annual sleepover by the Christmas tree on the first night of winter break.

My body loves this tradition less and less as I get older, but my heart loves it more and more.

Isaac was not invited to the slumber party, but was welcome to join us early the next morning.

We added a few new things to our 25 days of Christmas, like a hot chocolate bar, with a specific request from Juliette to make it “extra-fancy”.

We’ve added peppermint meringues to our baking repertoire (followed by “take a treat a neighbor”).

And several days of super-simple to-do’s, like “take a picture of Isaac in a Santa hat” and “tell a family member what you’re thankful for” (I’m thankful for those chubby thighs!!!).

“Read a Christmas book.”

And “light a bunch of candles and relax by the fire”, which was done on the evening we were hit with an unexpected power outage.

In other December happenings, I snuck away for a night of kid-freeness with Nancy and La Verne while Shane held down the fort at home.  Long live Cedarbrook!  We hot-tubbed and soul-shared and watched Crazy Rich Asians and You’ve Got Mail while eating ice cream in bed.

No ladies weekend is complete without an outlet mall bonanza.

I bought the kids matching Christmas pajamas and sheesh, my heart.  They might be wearing these till February.  Or June, if Isaac stops growing like a weed.

It snowed for all of eight minutes right before Christmas and Juliette excitedly darted outside to catch a few flakes on her tongue.  She had no idea that we were in for several inches a few days later!

She was thrilled by watching Isaac experience his first snowfall.  He was…not as thrilled.  But he tolerated it.

Juliette dressed to the nines for her school’s Wacky Tacky Day to celebrate the last day before Christmas break.  Girl’s got style!  And an extreme fondness for the color pink.

She put on her Santa hat a week before Christmas and donned it everywhere, even wearing it to bed most nights.

And finally, these two have been so heart-achingly adorable over the past month.  Isaac hasn’t the foggiest idea what Christmas means, but Juliette’s excitement over sharing this season with him is so stinking sweet.  She’s my ultimate partner in magic-making.

Cookies baked, cocoa drank, garland strung…now onto the main event!

We usually wait until after Thanksgiving to bust out the holiday decorations and shift into Christmas mode, but this year we decided to start a little earlier – I had the time, Juliette had the will, and Shane had the…ambivalence?  This landed us at our beloved Mountain Creek Tree Farm the Sunday before Thanksgiving, on the hunt for a perfect 7-foot grand fir.  Get ready, Isaac!

Isaac patiently endured my hemming and hawing as I wandered back and forth between the top two contenders – he understands that certain holiday decisions shall not be rushed.

(Oh, Jules…)

Still hemming…

Still hawing…

Found it!

And she’s a beaut.

I snapped a few photos of the kids while Shane tied the tree to the top of the car.

Isaac was clearly thrilled by the whole spectacle.


That last request for a photo is often a mistake.  Case in point:

We spent the afternoon decking the halls – Juliette and I strung lights and hung ornaments and blew the dust off our trusty Santa hat.

We followed up tree trimming with a quick jaunt down to the water to catch a stunner of a sunset.  So merry and bright…

Festivities continued with a trip to the Woodland Park Zoo the evening before Thanksgiving to check out the lanterns.  Shane stayed home with Isaac and Juliette and I enjoyed the vibe of a ladies night out.

It was a little strange, going to the zoo and not seeing any live animals, but Juliette dug it and I appreciated being off the hook for baby bedtime.

I was bound and determined to keep Thanksgiving Day as sweet and stress-free as possible.  Juliette and I did some prep the day before and checked cranberry sauce, apple pie, and a lime-cranberry tart off our list.

This freed us up to lounge late in our pajamas on Thursday morning.

No need to rush these moments…

I rallied around noon and got to work on the potatoes.

Shane brought out the Magna-Tiles, which Juliette hasn’t touched in months (years?) and she played with them all afternoon.  Much as I love seeing this girl with her nose in a book, there’s nothing like seeing her get lost in building and imagining.

Dinner was served late afternoon – brisket from our favorite bbq joint, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts with bacon, cranberry sauce, and double dessert.  Easy peasy!

This pie was so good and so pretty.

Cheers, little lady.

This sweet boy didn’t get to eat anything on the table, but was so content to watch us stuff our faces!

After-dinner lounging…

And then a family viewing of Little Women, which has become one of our favorite wintertime flicks.  Isaac isn’t yet enthralled by the March sisters, but he will be.


Let’s hear it for holidays in the slow lane!

We declared the day after Thanksgiving a Family Fun Day and headed over to the downtown waterfront to check out the Seattle Aquarium.

And then we moseyed over to the Great Wheel – Juliette and I had planned on checking this out before Isaac was born, but he made an early debut and foiled our plans, so Jules had a rain check to cash in.

It’s a slow-moving ferris wheel with what I thought would be a very low thrill-factor, but there was a legitimate rush of excitement as our little pod took off and dangled over the water.

Juliette was pumped!

Isaac, again, not so much.

And now Christmas is just around the bend; we’ve got a few more festive favorites up our sleeves.  And of course, all the pajama time we could possibly hope for.

While life with an infant isn’t easy, per se, maternity leave feels slow and quiet and like a much-needed respite from the work-life hustle. We stay close to home and I spend long, lazy mornings in the rocking chair with Isaac, often the only thing on my calendar being pickup at Juliette’s school at 2:25. Sometimes that walk to and from school is the only time the baby and I leave the house, and that’s OK. I love the afternoons that Juliette and I spend on the couch, watching Project Runway and sipping hot cider while Isaac naps or nurses or makes imaginary snow angels on the floor nearby. THESE ARE THE DAYS.

But sometimes we get a little stir-crazy and so I head out with the kids for an after-school adventure (and I use the term “adventure” very generously). An hour at a park followed by a visit to a coffee shop is really all I need to tide me over for a few more days of hunkering down.

Camp Long was extra-lovely in early November, the ground a carpet of orange and yellow. Juliette scrambled on the climbing wall and Isaac dozed in his stroller and I snapped a hundred photos.

Isaac is not in his most photogenic phase, but no matter, Buddy.  Jules and I think you’re adorable.

And…Lincoln Park for the win. This place shines year-round, but the upper loop in on a late fall afternoon is my favorite.

(He’s awake!)

We’ve been doing the West Seattle coffee shop circuit post-park and have decided Cupcake Royale has the best balance of being cozy while still having space to spread out and maneuver a stroller with a napping baby in it. Isaac usually wakes up before Jules and I are ready to go, so he’ll join us for a word search or a little reading.

Somebody give this sweet boy a cupcake! (Ok, don’t, but it’s tempting!)

We try to get out together as a family on the weekends, but Saturday mornings are often spent like this (after Shane slips out for some early pickle ball)…

And Sunday afternoons are often spent like this (televised pickle ball makes me want to snooze too, Isaac)…

Sunday evenings are for dinner with friends…

And I’m already missing soccer Saturdays!  The season ended last month and Juliette learned a ton from the experience, not just about getting the ball in the net, but about teamwork and perseverance and shaking off the occasional bump or bruise.

Things have felt a bit busier with the onset of the holiday season (again, I use the term “busy” quite generously!), but we’re still finding time for plenty of this:

And this.  By the end of the day I can be a bit “touched-out” after so many hours of baby-holding, but when your three-month old falls asleep on your chest and your eight-year old has had a tough evening and really needs a bedtime snuggle, you lean in.

These slow, uneventful, long-but-too-short days. These are most definitely the days.

It’s been three months (plus a week), and I’m wondering what happened to my newborn baby boy?  I turn my back for a second and suddenly his long legs hang off the edge of my lap when I’m nursing him.  When did his toes start pushing at the seams of his six-month pajamas?  When did he stop making that squeaky sound with each gulp of milk?  And for Pete’s sake, when did this kid grow that irresistible belly?!

Month three brought the best of times and the worst of times. More good than bad, as a sweet toothless grin can right a thousand wrongs, but oh, when Isaac gets mad, his screams will make your eardrums whoosh. He’s thrown a handful of fits at bedtime that have rattled the windows and left us all in various states of angst (my default reaction is concern, Juliette gets sad, and Shane sternly asks him to just “Get it together, Buddy!”). Best not let this kid get overtired, and best not put him in his crib before he’s good and ready, or he will make you pay.

BUT, so many smiles!

And so many long stretches of awake contentedness, which is a welcome new development. He loves the little play mat of Juliette’s that we’ve held onto for all these years and will happily bat at the elephant and giraffe for 20 or 30 minutes while I hang out nearby.

His jabbering turns to fussing when he’s tired of that game and I’ll sit on the floor next to him and look into his eyes and suddenly his breath quickens with excitement and his limbs start flailing like he’s making a snow angel with his arms and riding a bike with his legs and he grins.  All it takes is a moment of eye contact, and he’s over the moon (which of course sends me over the moon).

And the crib grins!  I head into his room when he starts rustling around in the middle of the night or early in the morning and he looks up at me in the glow of his nightlight and smiles big, thrilled by the promise of snuggles and milk.  This face is worth getting out of bed for.

We’re in a good groove with nighttime sleep – Isaac is up around 3 am for a quick eat and goes back down again until 7:00 or 7:30.  Napping, though…  He’s a chronic daytime dozer and wants to sleep in my arms after he eats.  I can transfer him to his crib, but it’s rarely more than 15 minutes before he’s awake and wondering where the heck I went.  And so I hold him.

The hours I’ve spent in the tried-and-true gray rocking chair with this boy, studying his every feature while he sleeps and throws my to-do list to the wayside.  His light purple eyelids will flutter open as he snorts himself awake, then he groggily gazes at me, puts his hand on my chest and drifts back into his serene little slumber.  Don’t go anywhere, Mom.  Sometimes he smiles as he sleeps and lets out a soft chuckle, the corners of his eyes crinkling.  Sometimes he furrows his brow and pouts his lips with the saddest little whimper.  I’m here for all of it.

I will say, these drawn-out nursing and napping sessions seem to do his body good, though, as he’s become quite the solid little mister. He’s holding his head up like a champ and his doctor called and his neck strength “kind of unbelievable” at his two-month checkup.

Tummy time also gives me a chance to wipe clean those neck creases!  It’s the only time of the day that his head separates itself from his chest.

He loves to stand and seems to be counting the days until I cave and buy him one of those big plastic exer-saucers. Juliette will prop him up by his armpits and proudly declare him “Prince Isaac of the Heights” before lifting him into the air with a flourish – little bro might be an early cruiser.

Juliette continues to thrive in her role as big sister.  At first I wondered if she just enjoyed playing house with a live baby doll, but once I saw her put her cheek next to his and gush “I just love you so much, Buddy!”, I realized I underestimated her.  She’s feeling the real deal and could not love her brother any better or deeper or sweeter.

She still won’t change poopy diapers, but she does love to dress him and groom him and is often patting his hair down flat with a little bit of water, as she insists this makes him most handsome.  I think he looks like a used car salesman and prefer that tousled situation he has going on in those tummy time pictures, but whatever.

Some things just can’t be tamed…

Isaac loves the bath and so we’re often stretching out bathtime to get through that pre-bedtime fussy hour.

I like a warm bath and a good book too, Isaac.

A few other tidbits:  We’re still throwing around nicknames for Isaac and Chewbacca still pops up from time to time, but I also call him Sausage Toes (kid has some seriously chubby feet!), Sweaty Muffin (boy runs hot!), and Big Pooper (realizing now I may need to come up with some more affirming terms of endearment?).  Shane calls him Buddy Boy and Juliette calls him Little Rascal and BLB (Best Little Brother).

He loves the sound of the shower, the hair dryer, and the vacuum, which is great, as I can set him in his chair and get some housework done or get ready for bed while simultaneously soothing him.

His eyes have stayed blue and the jury is out on whether they’re just newborn blue or forever blue, but I’m hoping it’s the latter.

And…he’s maybe the sweetest baby ever?  I know, I’m a biased, smitten new mama, but seriously, kid…I adore you.