Archive for the ‘peeps’ Category

A few August snapshots that should move from a folder on my desktop into the blogosphere, because first of all…

HAMILTON.  We bought tickets to the show several months ago when we heard it would be in Seattle and surprised Juliette in early August, and my goodness…HAMILTON.  It’s been a long time since we got dressed up and went…anywhere, really, and from the moment we turned onto Pine Street and spotted the billboard, we were swept up in the magic of it all.  Juliette oohed and ahhed over the lobby chandelier and held her dress pinched between thumb and forefinger like a princess making a ballroom entrance as she walked down the Paramount’s stairs to the restroom.  

The lights flickered and we found our seats and the whole place was absolutely electric with excitement.  I was captivated from the moment the first notes sounded, but couldn’t help looking over at Juliette every few minutes, wanting to freeze-frame in the my mind the way that she smiled from ear to ear with a little giggle at, “You are the worst, Burr”, the way she bobbed her head along to “Ooh ooh ooh, I do I do I do I doooo” as Eliza entered the stage.  Such glee and sorrow, such heightened feelings as we fed off the energy that comes with being in a room of thousands.  What an experience.

We left Isaac at home for obvious reasons and enjoyed our baby break, but it felt awfully good to be back home with our boy in our arms!

Hamilton is pretty freaking hard to top, but there were also some very sweet evening walks with my two favorites…

Lots of park time…

Evenings walks and park time as we strolled down to Ercolini…

Ercolini can look like a bit of a junkyard, with its collection of discarded riding toys, but it can also be a kid’s treasure trove.  Juliette and Isaac were pumped when this blue truck showed up on a random weeknight.

Is she too big to sit in this thing?  Probably.  But does she look adorable in it, as she radios for backup?  Totally.

There was a Saturday at the Lincoln Park playground…

Followed by one last Sunday at Coleman pool.  This place will forever epitomize for me the pinnacle of Seattle summer goodness.

There were weekend bike rides to the library, where we stumbled upon a concert in the street…

And a visit from my mom and dad for Isaac’s first birthday.

There were also some long, quiet days at home, when Juliette was on her own while Isaac was at daycare and Shane and I worked.  She’s gotten so good at entertaining herself (Covid gave her no choice!).  Her Barbie hair salon was next level.

Also, girl’s got mad puzzle skills – she put this together in an afternoon!

Way to sleep off those pool days, Juliette.  Summering is hard work.

Hood River has been on my PNW bucket list for a few years now, but I somehow always fizzle when planning the trip.  Too far, too many other things to do, too many excuses…  This year, though, I tossed out the idea to the Rusts, as they’re Hood River regulars, and then our friend Jordan wanted to join to celebrate his birthday and soon this getaway had taken on a life of its own.  The text thread grew and calendars aligned and soon a whole gaggle of us had booked a few nights down there in mid-August.  Best Western or Bust!  We settled into our hotel room on a Wednesday afternoon and Juliette spent several minutes pretending that the phone was ringing, then picking it up and saying, “Hello there!  Juliette Schnell speaking!”  Corded phones…the novelty.

But when I offered to take her to the pool, the phone was quickly tossed aside.  And look who we found there!

We laid low in the evening, eating at the hotel and then taking a soft serve sunset stroll.

More of our buddies trickled in late Wednesday night – we’ve missed these girls like crazy since they moved to Colorado a couple of years ago and it was so good to be reunited over Thursday breakfast!

Want to guess how Isaac slept that first night?!  Naptime couldn’t come soon enough.

We settled into vacation mode with pool time and park time.

And then afternoon nap / hotel bed shenanigans.

Everyone convened at the river before dinner for a paddle and a swim.

Our crew took over this little cove and goodness, it made me happy to see us all together again.

Isaac, Mama needs a canned wine sometimes!  You stop with that judgey look.

We picnicked at the nearby park for dinner, doing more catch-up while the kids frolicked on the playground.

The first baby of the group (who just turned FOURTEEN!) and the last baby of the group make for some very cute bookends.

I walked Isaac back to the hotel for bedtime and while I would have loved to hang out for ice cream with the gang, I did cherish this riverfront stroll with my boy.

Friday!  Group breakfast…

More pool time…

And an afternoon hike to Tamanawas Falls with the little mountain goats.

These kids were such good sports – I didn’t have to bust out the gummy worms until we were over two miles in!

I hear water…

Made it!  And so worth the trek.

We made record time heading back – these girls were pooped, but still smiling.

We all met at Ferment that night for hard-earned beers and burgers.

THE BOYS!  The best of the best dads and sons.

It was back to the playground after dinner, as it proved to be a great place for the adults to chat while the kids roamed freely.  Though let’s be honest, some kids (one kid) needed a bit more supervision than the others…

Isaac won’t ever have a biological big bro, but I gotta say, Gryff and Isaiah are the sweetest surrogates.


I took the morning shift on Saturday and Isaac and I got out for a sunrise stroll.  We walked along the river for a bit and then decided to head into town in search of coffee.

Found it!

Post-breakfast pool time…

And then a jaunt out to the Gorge White House for berry picking, cider, and a stroll among the dahlias.

This kid definitely isn’t a great nighttime sleeper when we’re not home, but bless his heart for still being able to nap on the go.

Jack and La Verne invited me to tag along for their 2pm wine tasting, and while I initially declined, saying I should really hang back with Isaac, Juliette nearly pushed me into their car, saying “Go, Mama!  You need a break!”  I mean, if she says so…

We spent another evening at the river, doing all the water things.

How many kids can you fit on a single paddle board?  A lot.

These kids have literally been hanging out since birth and are all of the age now that they want to/get to choose their own friends, but they still get along so splendidly.

Uncle Jordan won “Most Fun Adult” that evening, for sure.

We drove over the bridge to While Salmon for another picnic dinner.  The kids rabble-roused…

Gryff played airplane with Isaac while Nance did backup…

And we just…hung, in that easy-going, fun-loving way we have of being together.  We met these people in 2007, when we were all relatively new to Seattle and looking for community.  None of us had family in the Seattle area and we quickly became each other’s support system, holding each other close through highs and lows and lots of kids.  I still remember the night that Jason showed up at our small group wearing a sweater vest, looking extra mature as he shared the news with all us childless 20-somethings that Nance was pregnant.  We were having a baby!  And now that baby is a teenager and it feels like some of our other littles are well on their way…  And yet, the adults haven’t aged a bit.  😉

I took another morning shift on Sunday, wanting to soak in one more walk along the river.  I tucked Isaac into the Ergo and he fell asleep steps from the hotel.  We walked for miles, his face nuzzled into my chest; I watched the sun come up and highlight his wispy blonde hair and sheesh, traveling with a baby is hard but sometimes so, so good.

Buddy slept all through breakfast.  Making up for lost time, I guess…

He’s up!

We squeezed in one last pool session before hitting the road.

We kept saying, “We should go.  We should really go.”  But dang it, good byes are hard!  Such a special group of people in such a special place.  There’s comfort in knowing we can always pick up right where we left off, though.  Also comfort in knowing how fun we still are!  Some things never change.

We usually have a long Labor Day weekend at home and at least a week of school under our belts before September 14th rolls around, but this year we spent the first few days of the month in Minnesota and then rushed home to news of a teachers strike that delayed the start of school and indefinitely stretched out summer.  Finally, though, a resolution was reached and the dice fell so that Juliette started third grade AND turned nine on the very same day.  She was pumped, and I was pumped for her, but also my head spun as I hung birthday streamers and readied her backpack on Birthday Eve.  I had thought this was all happening much too slow (can we just get this school year show on the road?!), but suddenly it felt all too fast (can’t I keep my eight year old home with me for just another week or two?!).

With Isaac in a phase of life where you see marked changes in him week by week, Juliette looks so…constant by contrast.  She’s my steady Betty.  But that first day of being nine, that first day of third grade, the signs were there of a more mature kiddo.  It was evidenced in the extra time she took to pick out her outfit the night before, in the way she carefully laid out her clothes and considered her hairstyle.  It was there in the confidence she exuded on the walk to school, the absence of new-thing jitters as she talked about seeing her friends and meeting her teacher.  It was especially there that afternoon, when she got up from the living room floor where she was playing with me and Isaac and said she wanted to go do some Sudoku in her room.  Alone.  Goodness, she’s growing up, becoming so independent and thoughtful.  And stylish!

(For the record, there was just one brief moment before she passed through the gates when she looked back at me with those “help me, Mama” eyes, but it passed before I could even offer one more hug!)

She was sent home with a small paper bag that first day of school and was asked to put in it four things that describe her best.  I loved watching her deliberate over this as she gazed at our bookshelves and perused her dresser top for just the right treasures.  I especially loved when she picked up the small Eiffel Tower figurine I gave her several years ago and said she definitely wanted to bring that, so she could tell everyone how much she wants to go to Paris with her mom someday.  She also chose her Rubik’s Cube, a symbol of how much she loves puzzles; a softball; and a small Harry Potter Lego figure.  That’s her in a nutshell, though I imagine if she could have fit her baby brother in that bag, he would have made the cut.

We went over all the options for her party this year, grateful for the freedom from Covid-related limits, but still she decided she wanted something small – just her three best buds over for a sleepover.  I took her to breakfast on one of the strike-days and we made a plan:  pizza, cupcakes, nail-painting, a movie, and “spa vibes”.  Juliette inherited my love of a good plan, so we took our time setting the agenda over coffee and hot chocolate.  I really like sitting across the table from this kid.  Guaranteed good time.

Since her actual birthday was a school day with the added bustle of evening soccer practice, we celebrated that day simply, with treats and gifts and just our little family.  A maple bar for breakfast, her all-time favorite burritos for dinner, and root beer floats for dessert.

She is the best gift-opener, delightfully thrilled by each and every present.

Her favorite present?  A tie between a bottle of pink nail polish and her very first Kindle.

Party day followed on Saturday – the girls showed up before dinner so that they could spend some time playing Babysitters Club before diving into pizza and cupcakes.

(Isaac presided over the festivities.)

After cupcakes, sleeping bags were rolled out and more gifts were opened.  The girls are very into their dolls these days and Juliette was thrilled with the new accessories she scored for her doll, Molly.

I love when the gift-giver is just as excited as the gift-opener.  “I can’t wait for you to see what I got you, Juliette!”

Popcorn was popped, Parent Trap was put on, and the girls got comfy while I served snacks and offered pedicures.

Lights were out by 10:30 and I heard whispers until about 11:00, but then all fell silent.  They missed the memo about sleeping in at slumber parties, though – at 6:30 am they were getting their dolls dressed for the day!

We had breakfast together and the girls made up a dance to their school song and then it was time to pack it up.  Gosh, I remember my own slumber party era so fondly – it’s sweet to see Juliette getting her turn.

My girl.  MY GIRL.  What a privilege it is to be her mama, to get a front row seat to watching her grow.  There is a new girl at Juliette’s school who has yet to find her crew – she doesn’t speak much English and her one buddy was out sick last week, which left her on her own in the lunch room.  When Juliette saw her at a table by herself, she felt her heartstrings tug, got up from her seat, and asked this new girl to join her table.  There was a moment of awkwardness as they both fumbled over the language barrier, but hand gestures of “come along” were made, smiles were exchanged, and trays were scooted to make space for one more.  When Juliette told me that evening what happened, I hugged her tight and told her what a big, hard thing she had done.  She didn’t really think it was that big or that hard – kindness and inclusiveness are her default.

So year after year, Kiddo, birthday after birthday, keep being YOU.  Because you are remarkable.  Happy Ninth.

August and early September were chock-full of trips and bustle as we squeezed every last drop of playtime out of summer 2022 (though let’s be honest – traveling anywhere with a baby is equal parts work and play, if you’re lucky).  Our bonanza started small, with a weekend on Bainbridge Island to watch Shane and the Rusts compete in another pickle ball tournament.  I mean, since Shane was playing both mixed doubles and mens doubles and since pickle ball was founded on Bainbridge, and since I found the sweetest little AirBnB on an idyllic farm, I felt like the kids and I should tag along and make a getaway out of it.

Isaac and Juliette liked watching the ferry pull away from the dock, but the real excitement came when Juliette realized Nancy was on the same boat as us.

It was a quick float to Southworth and an hour drive to Bainbridge and then we drove along the prettiest little lane to land at what would be our front yard for the weekend.

We explored the grounds and met the animals and had a picnic dinner on the grass.

This place felt too good to be true when Shane discovered a pickle ball net in the garage to go with the striping that was on the parking pad out front.  He and Nance were able to get a little practice in, though having to maneuver around Casey, the resident dog, complicated the game a bit.

Saturday was game day for mixed doubles; the kids and I joined the gaggle of West Seattle ballers to cheer on Shane and Nance.  There were a couple of handy wins, a couple of defeats, and a couple of hard-fought victories.  They unfortunately landed just a couple of points shy of the medal round, but I was impressed by how much improvement I saw in their game since I last watched them play in June.

Isaac was mosly just impressed by the adjacent playground.

Until he wasn’t impressed at all.

I spent the afternoon back at the AirBnB  with the kids while Shane and Nancy cheered on some of their buddies at the tournament.  Isaac and I both took a much-needed nap (true to form, he took vacation as a cue to party / fuss all night), and then after waking we played a rousing game of How long can we keep Issac in bed?

Not long…

We bopped around the farm before grabbing pizza and ice cream in Winslow.

The owners of the AirBnb were super-friendly and gave Juliette a bunch of carrots to feed the horses.  She loved how popular she immediately became!

But she didn’t love the horse drool.

I had Isaac bathed and jammied by 6 pm, but he was still pretty bright-eyed, so we took another stroll around the farm.  He loved watching the chickens strut around their coop and once he got past the initial surprise of the rooster’s high-pitched crow, he smiled wide at each cock-a-doodle-doo.

Juliette came out to join us and snuggled up with Dusty, the resident cat.  We played a few lawn games and turned in early, while Shane played pickle ball out front with the owners.  He’s insatiable.

Shane got an early start on Sunday to meet up with Jason at the courts for mixed doubles while I took my time getting going with the kids.  Isaac had another hum-dinger of a night, but didn’t seem too sorry about it.

Sleepless nights aside, I was reluctant to leave this place.  The dahlias!  The farm-fresh eggs in our fridge!  The animals…we loved those animals.  Juliette spent a good 20 minutes saying goodbye to the horses, stroking Rose and Willow on their noses while murmuring, “You’re such a sweet girl…”.  No, Juliette – YOU’RE such a sweet girl.

She tried very hard to make sure each horse got equal amounts of love.

Meanwhile, Isaac really liked those chickens…

We arrived at the courts mid-morning to find Shane and J on a roll.  They won a handful of games, were immediately humbled when a couple of 60-something guys clobbered them, but ultimately made it to the medal round.

Silver!  Congrats, guys.

Once the medal pics were snapped, we were ready to jet home.  That much pickle ball is exhausting, partly for Shane, who was on the courts for all those hours, but also for me, who ran point on crowd control / baby patrol – Isaac has yet to learn the true art of spectating.  Still, though, so worth the trip, to see Shane play a game he loves with people we love.  And…horses!  Juliette and I are still thinking about those horses.

Welp, he did it.  Baby Boy turned one last month.  I’ll spare you the “he’s growing too fast” spiel, because it’s nothing I haven’t written in my previous 11 months worth of Isaac posts (and in so many posts about baby Jules before that).  I’ll just say…he’s changing at warp speed, and there are things about his early baby days that I miss dearly, but there’s so much joy in this current phase we’re in.  I’m seeing more of his personality shine, understanding better what makes him tick.  And I like who he is a whole, whole lot.

He’s happiest when he’s on the move and continues to favor toys with wheels over anything else.  This rolling red helicopter goes with us everywhere.  

But a Birkenstock will do in a pinch when he needs something with a little more slide-ability than his often-sticky hands.

He’s a climber and has graduated from trying to crawl up onto our low fireplace mantle to trying to climb up onto the couch or the chairs or even onto our beds.  Daily I walk into the living room to find his arms scrabbling to take hold of the couch cushions, his legs kicking wildly in the air as he tries to swing them up.  We generally keep the basement door closed, but if I’m coming in from the garage with him, I’ll set him at the bottom of the stairs and let him crawl up ahead of me – he’s like Spiderman scaling a building, his arms and legs taking each step in ultra-quick succession.  The only problem is his stubborn desire to head back down the stairs after reaching the top, so that he can do it again and again and again.

When he’s not scooting circles around the kitchen with one of his cars our doing his best to summit the couch, he’s often perched at the windowsill, watching the world go by.  He loves watching the sprinklers run; if Shane or Juliette are outside, he’ll bang on the window excitedly before dropping to his knees and crawling to the door, begging to go out.  He’s part puppy, this kid.

Occasionally he’ll sit still, if he’s strapped into his high chair with a tray of food in front of him, or if he’s tucked into the swing on one of our morning playground visits.

Or if he’s snuggled against my chest in…the gray chair!  God bless the gray chair.

He’s still not consistently sleeping through the night, which certainly isn’t ideal, but I don’t mind getting up once with him if it’s short and sweet.  It’s the mornings that he’s up for the day at 5am that really slay me.  TOO EARLY, Bud.  Too early.  If only he understood how much better he feels when he waits to wake until the sun’s fully up!

He’s doing alright in his new daycare, but comes home a little worse for the wear some days – eating and sleeping in the midst of several other babies is an acquired skill.  Sometimes he looks so rough by 5:30 pm that it’s all I can do not to laugh…does he not pose a striking resemblance to Boris Johnson here?

Ah, bath time.  There’s my cute kid. 

On the good days, he’ll get a second wind after bath and play happily till bedtime at 7:00.

He was especially giddy at bedtime on the eve of his birthday, wiggling and giggling as I rocked him.  I reveled in the silliness, laughing at his laughing, which made him laugh more, which made me laugh more, which made Juliette call out, “What’s going on in there?!”, at which point she came in and yukked it up with us for a couple of minutes.

The party was relatively short-lived, though.

Good night, sweet boy.  See you when you’re ONE!

Isaac doesn’t have the luxury of several other baby buddies like his sister did, so his party the next evening was low-key.  My mom and dad were in town and we invited the Rusts over for a back yard dinner.

More wheels!  Yippee!

And hot dogs…his most favorite meal.

And watermelon.  Also a fan favorite, evidenced by the fact that he tray was licked clean before I even snapped a pic!

Isaac was a little befuddled by all the fuss, by the presents and the singing and the cupcakes, but his sister had great fun with it!

Sweet girl – not an ounce of sibling envy in her.

Ok, but seriously, Isaac – can you at least pretend to be interested?

It took a few minutes for him to figure out what to do with his cupcake, but once the buttercream frosting hit his tongue, he got it.

Cupcake remnants wiped from his face, frosting washed from his hair, and freshly jammied, we snapped a few final birthday pics.

It took all night, but finally he was feeling that birthday groove.

We opened the last of his gifts the next morning, bopped around with his birthday balloons, and then started the business of settling into waddler-hood.

Isaac Henry, you’ve brought such light and laughter to this house.  We’ve known for years that we wanted you, but we never imagined just how wonderfully you’d complete our family.  Juliette asked at dinner one night how we would describe you in a single word and while there were several front-runners thrown about, like charming, lovable, rascally, and messy (it was dinner time and the blueberry carnage was intense), none of them fully captured your essence.  I think I’ve got it though, looking at your cheesy grin and chubby thighs.  You are delight, through and through.  

Happy Birthday, Rascal.  You are loved.

Our trip to Idaho was the real star of July, but we had some closer-to-home good times, in between the daycare colds that Isaac so generously shared with the family at 2-week intervals…  When we weren’t coughing, we were summering!

There were Saturday morning walks to the playground, with the babies in tow (one blonde, one furry)…

Lots of time trying out the array of riding toys at Ercolini…

SWINGS, with the sweetest hat…

Family bike rides to Hiawatha, followed by beverages at Good Society…

Evening scoots…

Treks to the new neighborhood donut joint…

And some West Seattle kitsch.

There was a lot of pickle ball, mostly by Shane, but the rest of us joined in on the fun from time to time.  Isaac holds the balls, Juliette coaches me on my form (“Paddle up, Mama!”), and then Isaac crawls across the court with said ball and the game is over.

On the days we weren’t feeling great, there were Rubik’s cube races…

Crowded reading sessions in the gray chair…

More reading, on the couch…

Lots of movies, which held Isaac’s attention for all of two minutes…

And lots of kisses, because when your baby looks up at you as you’re rocking him and he coughs directly into your mouth, you realize that there’s no point in trying to avoid his germs.

On the days we were feeling…medium, not playground-good but not couch-ridden bad, we camped out in the front yard with snacks and bubbles.

Maybe a wagon ride around the block, just to pass the hour till naptime.

The very best days were the water days – there were a couple of weekends that we felt good enough to run through the sprinklers and bust out the kiddie pool.

(I think Sister felt better than Brother, poor kid…)

Lunch al fresco – things are looking up!

The neighbors one-upped us with their water toys, and were kind enough to share.

We really did luck out on the neighbor front…

We tried out the wading pool at Lincoln Park but found it was a bit much for Isaac and not quite enough for Juliette.  Still, it got us out of the house and they were awfully good sports.

And Colman Pool.  Colman Pool.  We zipped down there a couple of times on the e-bikes for an afternoon of water-front swimming.  Talk about Seattle summer magic.  This place has my heart.

Has all of our hearts, actually.

Juliette passed the swim test, making it mid-way across the pool and back on her own, and is now allowed in the deep end.  It took every bit of courage she could muster to tell the lifeguard she was ready for her test, but goodness, the look on her face when she passed.  Such satisfied exhaustion.

Isaac and I cheered her on from the sidelines.

Round 2 at Colman…

The water felt a little chilly that day, but Isaac and I liked dangling our feet in while Juliette did handstands.

We found a few new summer faves and joined friends for a Fish Sticks game – they’re a rec baseball league that plays less than 20 minutes from our house.  The bleachers are fun, the snack bar is pretty good, and the mascot is a total character (I suppose you’ve got to have a sense of humor if you’re sporting a fish stick costume).

Shane won Dad of the Year (eighth year running) when he offered to move the TV outside so that Juliette could have a backyard movie night with a couple of friends.

And after a few days of jump rope camp, Juliette has a newfound hobby.  She didn’t know a single kid heading into this camp and could hardly jump without tripping on the rope on her first day, but by that Friday she was brimming with excitement over her end-of-the-week performance.

Go Jules!

We found a new coffee shop that has the best banana muffins and ample outdoor seating.

And finally, most splendidly, we paddled.  Juliette and I spent an evening in the water near Lowman Beach and sheesh, if this isn’t peak summer goodness, I don’t know what is.

Best first mate.

There were days last month when outside temps ran too hot and Isaac’s temp ran too hot and it was all we could do to just muddle through.  But oh, when you get to watch the sun set over the Sound on a warm July evening, things look up.

Wednesday’s water park adventures left us a little tired, so we took it easy on Thursday.  First things first – morning coffee at Doma!  My mom and I don’t have tons of overlapping interests, but COFFEE.  We get each other when it comes to coffee.

And then some playground time at the park across the street from my mom and dad’s house.  Juliette caught her baby at the bottom of the slide and I spent several minutes swinging with my baby on my lap and I loved how slow it all felt.  Nothin’ to do, nowhere to be – this time to linger with my kids felt extra-special.

By afternoon, though, I of course felt a little antsy, so we packed up our gear and drove over to Honeysuckle Beach in Hayden for some floating and paddling and lakeside lounging.

Isaac loved feeling the lake water lap at his feet.

I feel you, Bud – HOORAY for lake days!

Then he put a fistful of sand in his mouth.  I swear, sometimes it feels like Isaac senses us starting to chill out, let our guard down, and then he decides, “HA!  I’ll teach them not to watch me with eagle eyes!”

While Shane was on the shore swatting rocks out of Isaac’s hands before he could eat them, Juliette and I got out on the SUP.

Juliette is so good at multi-purposing our board – it’s part SUP, part kayak, part floaty.

I can’t wait to get Isaac out for a paddle, but for now, he’s plenty happy to cheer on his sister from the dock.

Lake smiles!

And an evening country walk to top it all off.

Friday was similarly pretty mellow.  Crawling and coffee, swings and snuggles, a very fancy lunch…

We spent a couple of hours at Tullamore Park – the swings were a hit, but there was some splash pad skepticism.

Is he having fun?  Who’s to say?

Juliette and I seized upon our last night in Idaho as a chance to get out for a hike at Tubbs Hill.  We listened to the Sing 2 soundtrack on the drive to Coeur d’Alene and I looked in the rear view mirror at her belting out the words to Could Have Been Me in the backseat, eyes closed and face scrunched up in so much sweet drama and goodness, eight is great.

We found the path and then lost the path and just as I wondered how we ended up so deep in the woods, we saw a mama deer with her three baby fawns not so far away.  We tip-toed toward them and they galloped away on their sweet skinny legs and then we found our way back to the trail.  We chatted and laughed and oohed and ahhed at glistening Lake Coeur d’Alene and felt the goodness of it being just us two for an evening.

Juliette found a trail of seashells that someone had left along the path and reveled in collecting these little treasures and then hiding them in new places for the next hiker to find.  

We played Kidz Bop on the drive home and hunted for the handful of license plate states we hadn’t yet crossed off our road trip list and damn, did I say eight is great?

We were gone for all of three hours, but still, she was over the moon to be back with her dad.  They spent the rest of the evening updating their license plate checklist and coloring in a map of the states we hadn’t yet spotted.  Again, slow life luxuries…

Isaac gave Bernie a few final pat-pats on Saturday morning, we took a few porch pics, and then we were homeward bound.

It was back to business on Monday, with work and daycare and summer camp, and while there’s always a piece of me that finds comfort in settling back into a routine, by noon I was missing my kids somethin’ fierce.  It was a good week.

Last year’s Fourth of July Idaho spectacle was such a hit that we decided to do a 2022 version, this time with our favorite fourth wheel.   Grandma and Grandpa, here we come!

We hit the road with one baby in a carseat and one baby in Juliette’s arms – she is very attached to her doll as of late and I love it.  There’s my little girl…

We had all kinds of wiggles to get out by the time we got to Post Falls, so there was play-grounding…

And pickle-balling…

And staying up late to watch the fireworks on Independence Day Eve.  This was just the pre-party!

The booms lasted well into the night, but eventually the neighborhood fell quiet and we got some rest.  About 20 minutes worth, at least, and then Isaac woke up ready to party.  Gosh, he slept horribly that first night – I think he was up about every hour, trying to make sense of his new digs.  But the Fourth dawned sunny and breezy and Isaac looked awfully sweet in his red, white, and blue, so after I had my morning cup of coffee, brewed lovingly by my sympathetic mom, all was forgiven.

We ventured over to Falls Park after morning nap to check out the swing situation.  Four thumbs up.

Isaac’s eyelids grew heavy during our evening walk and had very little fight in him when bedtime rolled around.

Which was perfect, because the rest of us had some fireworks to watch!

Everywhere we turned, the sky bloomed with sparkles.

We went inside around 10:30, but I peeked out the window every few minutes when the booms sounded particularly dramatic.  What a show.

We spent Tuesday morning in Coeur d’Alene, playing and picnicking at McEuen Park.

This was Isaac’s first splash pad and he was a little perplexed by it all, but had a good time waving his trusty plastic spoon through the streams of water.

Not so much a fan of being sprayed in the face, though…

My favorite part of the spray park is the post-drying-off diaper time.  Sun’s out, belly’s out!

Isaac, you’re such a wonderful little goober.

And Juliette, you’re so beautiful.

We swung by the lakefront to say hello to Mudgy the Moose and to snap a few pictures, popped over to the the bakery for an iced coffee, and then were back in Post Falls for afternoon nap.  I felt our gears clicking into vacation mode, and it felt good.

We shared the biggest pizza ever for dinner that night, which was great, because we were carbo-loading for the next day’s adventure!

On Wednesday morning we kissed Isaac good-bye and took Juliette to Silverwood for a day of water slides and roller coasters.  We came here last summer and she declared it one of the best days ever, so I was excited to bring her back without a baby in my belly – bring on the whirls and twirls.

We arrived at the park before the gates opened and found ourselves with enough time to grab a hot chocolate at the kitschy Victorian cafe and plan out the day’s route.  So much thought went into which slides to hit first as we evaluated hourly temperatures, likely wait times, and fun factor.  I love a kid with a plan.

We moved through the lines quickly that morning as it seemed most people had opted to begin the day at the amusement park; Avalanche Mountain was a family favorite, though Ricochet Rapids also had us squealing with glee.

There were many, many laps around the lazy river…

And then a couple of rounds down the Riptide Racer.

We headed over to Roller Coaster Alley after lunch which was decidedly not a hit as Juliette sobbed through most of our time on the Timber Terror, so we recalibrated (and possibly over-corrected) with a very mellow spin on the flying elephants.

By early afternoon we were back to the lazy river, wondering why we’d ever left.

Whew!  So much fun, the three of us living large and following our every whim.

So tiring, though.  Sun, water, fun, done.

Back at home, Isaac had the best day with Grandma and Grandpa – seems he hardly noticed we were gone!  We missed you, Buddy.  Kind of.

Up next:  more water, more swings, more happy kids.

Next month is August, which means Isaac’s first birthday is just around the corner.  Which means this is my last pre-waddler post about my little babe!  You know where I find comfort when I feel like he’s growing too fast?  THE GRAY CHAIR.

We’ve hit peak best of times / worst of times with Buddy.  He can be so delightfully silly these days as he tries out new sounds and and gestures and facial expressions.  He had us rolling at the dinner table last week as he worked on his fake laugh, his head thrown back and his eyes squinted shut while he yukked it up like a little ham.  If you say “Yaaaaay!”, he immediately claps his hands together and he’s made his own sign language version of “all done” after mealtime, waving both his arms back and forth like crazy.

But oh, when he’s in a mood…take away a pencil he grabbed when we inadvertently left it laying around or set him down when he wants to be held and he will throw a fit.  Diaper changes are the current bane of my parenting duties.  There’s kicking (by Isaac) and wrangling (by me) and yelling (by both of us).  There were a handful of times I had only gotten as far as getting the diaper off and getting his bum wiped before he broke loose, cheeks to the wind, but a couple of unfortunate puddles on the floor have put a halt to nakey-time.  Diaper-time, though, with the belly out and proud?  I’m all for it!

We made it off the waitlist of our preferred daycare this month and so we said goodbye to his old school and the teachers that had already come to love him in the space of just a few weeks.  I know it’s the right move for our family, but man, we’d just gotten to a zero-tears drop off routine, where he’d dive out of my arms in the morning and wave good bye to me as I headed off to work.  He was really happy there.

But here we go, Isaac!  New space, new teachers, new friends – it’ll be great.

He has laid down his beloved light saber and lately can’t resist anything with wheels.  Trains, cars, trucks – he holds the toy tight in one hand and scoots along the floor while his legs struggle to keep up with whatever he’s wheeling.

He’s hungrier than ever and it sometimes feel like I’m tossing food into a bottomless pit at dinnertime.  He loves cheese and salami and will scarf down peas if in the right mood, but berries are his all-time fave.  The smile on his face when he sucks down a big juicy blackberry is 100% worth the mess it makes.

We’re hitting a pretty major mama phase – Isaac is generally friendly to whoever wants to give him some love, but when I’m around, baby boy is all over me.  Hanging onto my legs when I’m in the kitchen, climbing into my lap when I’m sitting on the floor, bee-lining toward me the minute I walk in the door and impatiently whining mamamamammmmmaaaaaa while I take off my shoes – God forbid I need to use the bathroom before picking him up.  It’s a lot.  Too much, sometimes.

But most the time, I can’t help but keep my hands off him, either.

Hair woes!  I mentioned how challenging diaper changes can be, so you can imagine how hard it is for me to get this boy to sit still for a hair trim.  Eventually though, his wisps start sweeping into his eyes and the little tufts over his ears become unruly and I can’t take it anymore.

And…gah!  I mean, I don’t mind a tousled look, but there’s some volume here that seems not quite right.  I’m at a loss.

I sure do love that naptime mohawk, though.

He’s still all about the piano…

And loves a good game of hide and seek.

Sister pics!  These two spent a lot of time together this month, with Juliette off of school and Isaac home sick a handful of days.  There have been times when he’s been cranky and she’s sauntered off to her room in need of a break, but really, I’m stunned in the very best way by Juliette’s incessant desire to play with her baby bro.  She’s constantly asking if she can check on him at nap time to see if he’s awake and insists on being the one to go in and get him the minute we hear him squawk.  When he reaches up to her and then leans his head on her shoulder as she scoops him up, she gushes and gushes, “Oh BUDDY.  Could you be any sweeter?!”

Juliette, could you be any sweeter?

A match made in heaven, these two.

And on the rare occasion Isaac lays still long enough for Juliette to cuddle him…I’m butter.

Whew…eleven months.  I’m so glad I have these photos of my happy-go-lucky boy to flip through at the end of the day – they’re a reminder that even on the days I feel depleted, exhausted by the extreme attachment and the constant redirecting, there were moments that Isaac’s infectious smile made my heart swell.

So, what else you got up your sleeve, kiddo?

Ah, June – when daylight runs long, but gosh, the month runs short.  Some highlights:

A new family toy!  Shane leveled up his e-bike game and bought a RadWagon to tote around Juliette for school drop-offs and miscellaneous errands.  I wasn’t sure this was necessary…

…until I realized there was room for one more!

Isaac loves his new chariot.

On Sunday afternoons we hop on the bikes and pop over to the library for Juliette’s weekly reading material, swing by the Hiwatha playground to get some wiggles out, and then head to Good Society for a soft pretzel and a round of cold drinks.  On a ride last month as we zoomed through the neighborhood, Juliette called over to me, “I feel like I have to pinch myself, I can’t believe how fun this is!”.  I tell you, it’s the little things.

In mid-June we spent a weekend in Sequim with the Rusts while Shane, Nance and Jason all made their debut in the PNW pickle ball tournament circuit.  It was A LOT of pickle ball.

A LOT of time on the playground adjacent to the courts.

But also a lot of hanging out at our AirBnb, getting to know the resident deer.

Are they watching the NBA finals on the iPad, or are they watching Isaac yuk it up?  Tough to say…

We put on our most exuberant cheer faces when Nancy and Shane took to the courts on Saturday morning.

Ok, Isaac’s cheer face lacked a little luster.  Kiddo was making up for all the hours he didn’t sleep in his Pack N Play the night before.

These two won a couple, lost a couple, and took a few sweet sips of the tournament Koolaid.  They’ll be competing again come July and August!

G continues to be the best “chosen” big bro to Juliette (and to Isaac, for that matter!).

I know, Isaac, I KNOW!  This is all taking a bit longer than expected…

I super-duper don’t mind having a sleeping baby strapped to my chest, but was all too happy to hand him off to Shane for a bit once he woke up roaring to go!

We spent the late afternoon and evening  back at the house, hot tubbing and watching this mama and her baby wander through the yard.

It was homemade pizza for dinner, s’mores for dessert, and then a good hard crash at bedtime.

Shane and Jason took to the courts on Sunday morning while I got off to a slower start with the kiddos, opting to let Isaac grab his morning nap in our king-sized bed.

We’re ready!

We arrived at the courts to find Shane and Jason taking out their opponents one by one.  These guys were on fire!

Meanwhile, big bro manned the playground.

(Slow down, G!)

Seriously though, they were on a roll.

And giddy about it.

The gold medal match was intense, but Shane and J kept their cool and emerged victorious.  GOOOOOOLLLLLLLD!

Look alive, Bud!

I guess I’m officially a pickle ball wife now, toting around the kids and cheering from the sidelines while my husband lives out his athletic dreams.  I’m here for it.

Mid-June saw the end of the school year and its requisite swirl of emotions.  Juliette was chosen by her teacher as the recipient of the Seymour Kaplan Humanitarian Award and Shane and I got to go to the assembly where she was presented with her certificate.  Goodness, it felt good to be in her school again after over two years of having to stop at the front door!  Felt even better to see our girl recognized for her kindness, generosity, and willingness to look out for others.

I picked up a bouquet of flowers to commemorate the last day of second grade, knowing Juliette would have a hard time saying goodbye to her teacher and classmates, but the flowers didn’t cut it.  I spread my arms wide open at pickup that day, the goofiest of congratulatory grins on my face, and Juliette burst into tears as she buried her face in my chest.  Change is hard.  But hallelujah for good teachers and good friends.  They’re not going anywhere!

And she did perk up a bit over pizza that night.

Soccer season ended right on the heels of the school year, and again, what a group!  Such progress this season, as the girls really started to pass to one another and play the whole field, rather than just following the ball around as a cluster of awkward arms and legs.  Juliette is getting more aggressive with her play, but because she’s Juliette, there are always overtones of friendliness and concern for others.

Plus, such cute fans.

See you in the fall, ladies.

Isaac attended his first Mariners game and Juliette caught up with an old buddy…

And we celebrated Fathers Day with a romp in the park, the finest rosé, presented with such flourish, and a homemade card from Juliette that brought tears to Shane’s eyes with her outpouring of gratitude.

(Isaac didn’t make a card, but he certainly turned on the charm.)

Shane and I had Juneteenth off from work, which happened to be Juliette’s first day of summer break, and daycare was open, so we dropped off little brother and headed for the hills.  We wanted to seize the day and do something that Isaac would typically put a damper on, so we settled on a hike at Rattlesnake Ledge.

It was misty that day and visibility wasn’t great, but I didn’t care a bit.  It felt so good to be in the woods with Shane and Juliette, to have it be the three of us that day, like old times.  We missed Buddy, but also…we kind of didn’t?  I was FREE!

And the…lookout?

We booked it back to the car as the rain started to come down, but then we did some shopping at the outlet mall and lingered over pizza at Tutta Bella and got a drink at Starbucks and took our sweet time through it all, just because we could.  And then we picked up Isaac and were overjoyed to fold him back into our threesome.

We wrapped up June with a weekend trip to Portland to catch up with the Jarrells.  The cousins picked right up where they left off at Christmas.

Juliette earned some dog-walking points…

Isaac didn’t sleep great that first night, but again, was more than happy to nap in my arms.

I coulda shoulda woulda put him back in his Pack N Play for his nap, but…nah.

Time to go play, huh?!

It was hot that day, so we packed up the paddle board and the kayak and drove down to the river to play in the water and lounge in the shade.

We had milkshakes as our afternoon snack and ordered pizza for a backyard dinner.  When it’s hot…

I don’t know what’s happening here, but it’s making me laugh!

Isaac had his bedtime bottle al fresco…

And we went to bed sun-kissed and full of pizza.  Morgan made pancakes the next morning and offered to do a special one for Isaac.  Tiniest pancake ever!  There was a quick round of pickle ball later that morning and a spin through the farmer’s market, and then it was time to head back home.  As always, the weekend felt too short and before we’d even hit the Washington border, I was looking to put another visit in our calendar.

And that, friends, was June.  Isaac says thanks for scrolling this far.  Onto July!