Archive for the ‘seattle’ Category

March was for savoring the quietude of maternity leave, but April was for finding a new family groove as I returned to the office (can’t say we’ve quite found that groove, but we’re getting there day by day).

Goodness, I dreaded saying good-bye to my babies after seven months of full-time momming…  Juliette and I had a good cry in her bed on Sunday night as I tucked her in, which I think was therapeutic for us both; by the time I had to leave the next morning for my first day back, she was cheering me on with, “Don’t miss your bus, Mama!  And I love your shoes!”  Isaac went with the flow and loved hanging out with Nancy that first week – I think he hardly missed me, but was still awfully happy to land back in my arms at the end of the day.

Shane’s parents came out to visit and watch the kiddos during my second week back at work (the daycare waiting game is no joke!), and both kids ate up the extra attention.  Juliette played a song for them on her keyboard and Denny about fell out of his chair as he gushed over her talent.  #1 fan, no doubt.

Isaac took to Grandma and Grandpa right away – he loved sitting in Pat’s lap and pulling on Denny’s beard.

Grandma is the BEST baking buddy.

Juliette wowed Grandpa with her batting skills…

And Isaac did what he does best, which is look cute.

We missed them the minute they left – good-bye felt especially hard this time around, as we know Isaac will be so much different next time they seem him and Juliette becomes more emotionally attached to her grandparents with each visit.  “It’s just so hard that they live so far away!”, Juliette cried as they hit the road that morning.  I know, kiddo, I know!

Once Denny and Pat left and we’d dried our tears, I offered to take Juliette out for a little pick-me-up.  It was the last day of her Spring Break, so I thought we were due for an adventure – I gave her a handful of options and she chose a visit to the Space Needle.

We let Isaac tag along because Shane had to work, and because like I mentioned, HE’S CUTE.

There was an hour-long wait to go to the top of the Needle, so we passed some time at the Seattle Center playground.

Baby boy really likes the swing.

And then, it was time!

I haven’t been to the top of the Space Needle since they replaced their wire mesh fencing with these panes of floor-to-ceiling glass, and wowsers!  It’s pretty remarkable, stepping off the elevators to an obstruction-free panoramic view of the Sound on a sky-blue day.

Don’t lean back, Juliette!  That’s some thick glass, but still…makes my stomach flip.

Chilling on the glass floor…

And our final descent…  Our Spring Break mini-adventure was a total hit with both kids – such a stunner of a day.

We celebrated Easter morning at home, with bunny ears in bed and goody baskets and the church service streaming while we ate our cinnamon rolls.

Juliette grabbed these ears from the Target dollar bin and was so excited to matchy-match her brother.  He really is like the best-ever baby doll sometimes.

Isaac can’t be trusted with hard-boiled Easter eggs, or with jelly bean-filled plastic eggs for that matter, so squeakers it is!  These have been the gift that keep on giving.

We put the finishing touches on our Easter treats and then headed over to the Rusts for Sunday brunch.

Hat buddies!

Juliette really wanted to do an egg hunt and the older boys were so sweet to indulge her and join the fun.

Ok, let’s be honest – the thirteen year-old was totally into it.

The photos we’ve taken on these steps!  So many memories with this bunch.

Buddy, I promise not to make you wear this headband again (for another 11 months), but lemme tell you…it looks so, so good on you.

And Mama-Jules pics, because hey!  I wore something other than leggings on a weekend.

My mom arrived on Easter evening to watch Isaac for week 3 (and 4, 5, 6…).  Again, he was a friendly little dude and settled right into Grandma’s arms.

There were a handful of days when Isaac ran her a little ragged (he’s not a dream all the time), but she took it in stride and loved on him throughout the short naps and the bouts of fussiness.  Plus, the extra set of hands in the kitchen to cook and clean up was invaluable as I adjusted to my new work day.  Shane and I were so, so thankful for her help.

In hindsight we should have done this more often during her time here, but on one precious evening we handed all kid duties to Shane and headed out for a cocktail.  We earned it.

April also saw the start of Spring soccer, and Isaac and I have found the lawn at Alki Playfields to be a perfect place to pass a Sunday afternoon.

Juliette gives it all she has every time, zipping up and down the field with flushed cheeks and tired legs.  Girl’s got heart.

And softball season continues!  Our weekends are a myriad of sporting events, and I love it.

Isaac loves it, too.

April evenings were spent walking around the neighborhood, savoring that fleeting season when the cherry blossoms and the tulips burst with peak color.

Our neighbor, Miss Pat, has an amazing collection of tulips – much as I’d love to make it up to Skagit Valley in the Spring, this suffices.

Isaac had a doctor’s appointment recently where a nurse told me that he had a “very mature face” (like an old man, I believe she meant?), and I see it here.  Maybe it’s the pre-bedtime sleepy lines under his eyes!

Juliette bikes around the block while we walk, and we cross paths every now and then.

One of my most favorite cherry blossom trees…

And a Friday morning walk with Nancy for more blossom viewing.

April felt busy as I transitioned to a new work-life balance, but there was still plenty of home time, plenty of hanging out in the yard…

Lounging on the sofa…

Puzzle-doing…

And lazy weekends with late wake-ups (Isaac, take a memo from your sister!).

Onto May – the joy in the juggling act continues.

Ah, March…March was full of long walks and longer naps as I soaked up my final few weeks of maternity leave.  That period of work-free life was made even more luxurious by the fact that Shane had a couple of weeks off between jobs, so we brunched with Isaac and played a little pickle ball and took more walks.  I ticked off a good chunk of to-do’s and then frantically relaxed, if that’s a thing, knowing how precious that time off of work was.

On the weekends Juliette joined us on our shenanigans.  Harry’s Beach House brunch is still our all-time fave.

March also brought on the onset of Juliette’s first softball season; she’s got team practice once a week, but requests bonus catching and batting time on evenings and weekends.

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This patch of dirt at Hiwatha is where we spend our Saturday afternoons now!

And then, the long-anticipated first game!  The dugout was buzzing with excitement as girls pulled out their bats and helmets and checked the line-up.  Gosh, I love watching kids sports – what they lack in skill, they make up for in enthusiasm.

Gooooooo Dragons!

Juliette was a champ; she got a couple of hits, fielded a couple of grounders, and gleefully cheered on each of her teammates when they stepped up to the plate.

Isaac wins the award for Sweetest Spectator.

Game two was even more fun to watch, as the girls fell into the swing of things.

When we’re not soft-balling, we’re play-grounding.

This boy loves the feel of grass between his fingers – every time we set him down on a nice juicy lawn, he looks at me like, “why have you been keeping me inside all these months?!”.

Shane’s pickleball infatuation continues and has taken root in a good few of our friends.  I’m happy to hang with Isaac while the crew plays, but have hopped in for the occasional match.  I see the draw – a good volley is so satisfying.

March wasn’t all sunshine and playgrounds – there were plenty of rainy days that kept us indoors for tickle fights and snuggle fests.

And crafting!  Juliette had a few friends over one morning for a couple of hours of cutting and gluing and listening to Taylor Swift.

Isaac was the belle of the ball.  Little ham!

And finally, March brought Spring blooms.  Every year I find myself stunned by how good our neighborhood looks in the springtime.

Juliette gives cherry blossoms two thumbs up.

Misty mornings, sunny afternoons…either way, these tunnels of blooms are some kinda magic.

Walks with my boy…I love them so much.

It’s in the 60’s as I type this and I’m hoping we’ve put our beanies away for the season, but last month they got plenty of use.

I looked so happy carrying Isaac in the Ergo that Juliette decided to strap her favorite puppy to her chest.  She dressed him in one of Isaac’s old onesies and grabbed one of Isaac’s hats.  Such a little mama, this girl.

We strolled down this cherry blossom row, just a block from our house, every chance we got.

And then on April 4th I returned to the office and we all got to work finding our new groove.  It’s been easier and harder and better and worse than I expected, depending on the day.  I’m so thankful for those several months I had to focus just on holding my babes close.  Best job ever.

Winter was made bearable this year with our January getaway to Winthrop and a blissful February week in Maui (more on that later) – snow-breaks and sun-breaks do much to ease the gray-sky doldrums.  And in-between, when we don’t have the luxury of skipping town, we still do our best to get out of the house and catch a breath of fresh air.  Contrary to popular belief, there are actually breaks in the rain around here – I’ve got photos to prove it!

Isaac has been getting well-acquainted with each and every West Seattle playground over these past couple of months.  Though he’s not able to do much more than lean back in the baby swing, Juliette is eager to show him the ropes and will always offer him a lap-ride on the slide if he’s up for it.  Delridge Park has become a new favorite, mainly because there are pickle ball courts there and Shane gets his own form of play-time while we hit the swings.

 

Seahurst Park down in Burien was stunning on a sunny Sunday.

I’m so glad that Juliette still loves the swings.

Isaac is…still getting the hang of it.

Her face when she looks at him is everything.

 

Alki forever!  Juliette and I headed down to the beach for a scooter/walk one afternoon while Isaac was napping, then treated ourselves to boba.

We went back a few days later with brother in tow and hit up Whale Tail playground.

And…more beach boba.  Isaac was feeling very left-out, so I sat in the sand, leaned back on a piece of driftwood, and nursed him while I savored my jasmine milk tea.  Something for everyone.

 

Lincoln Park on a sunny day can’t really be beat.

Also, Lincoln Park’s baseball diamonds are the perfect place for Juliette to field some grounders in preparation for her Spring softball kick-off.

 

Hiwatha is great for the variety of playground equipment.  And the proximity to coffee / hot chocolate at Met Market.  Juliette and I have our priorities!

Her big grin and his little tongue.

…and Hiwatha today, while Shane and Juliette watched a Little League game at the ball field.

 

Westcrest is a playground we’d forgotten about until I started aimlessly scrolling the map of West Seattle looking for green spaces.  We met the Rusts there on a Saturday afternoon and climbed, zip-lined, swung, and played catch.

How many photos do I have of her pushing him in a swing?  Probably two hundred.

And counting.

 

We went to the Walt Hundley Playfield in Highpoint yesterday, again lured by Shane’s pickle ball obsession.  A group of little girls invited Juliette to play with them and they did a few rounds of hide and seek together, but in the end, she just wanted to push Isaac on the swing.

 

Shane and Juliette ventured to the mountains a few weeks ago for a bluebird day at Snoqualmie.  I stayed home with Isaac (and took him to the playground!) but loved getting pics of these two living their best ski life.

 

We’re still settling into Isaac’s nap schedule and often find that he needs a short doze around 5pm to get him through to bedtime.  I often need to get out of the house around 5pm to make up for a day of sitting in the rocking chair with little buddy.  Cue the evening stroller nap!

(I can see the days getting longer – hallelujah!)

 

Though we’re making a solid effort to embrace the outdoors, we still spend most of our time cozied up inside, watching pickle ball tournaments (I’ve stopped fighting it), reading books, and listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat (we’re about seven years late to the game, but Juliette and I are obsessed).

Juliette and I look for little ways to make the long days special, like chocolate-covered strawberries and the sweetest table scape on Valentines.  On Friday nights we do face masks and watch a movie or an episode of Queer Eye.  Yesterday she dressed to the nines to go get a haircut.  She’s so great at making her own magic.

Cheers to being over the winter hump!  We’ll be seeing cherry blossoms in no time.

I’ve found it!  The antidote to the post-Christmas blues!  It’s a fresh dumping of fluffy white snow.  We were thrilled to roll into our driveway after our Portland trip to find our neighborhood blanketed in a couple of inches of powder – kids were out with their inner tubes and sleds, the occasional cross-country skier was passing by on the sidewalk, and the air was thick with that particular brand of PNW snow-day giddiness.  We unloaded the car in record time and then Juliette was back out the door to tube with the neighbors.

Christmas lights and freshly fallen snow are two of my favorite things.

We spent one afternoon at the Rusts’ neighborhood, sledding down the somewhat treacherous hill near their house and then cozying up inside for card games and snacks.

I trekked with the kids to Starbucks one morning while Shane ran some errands.  This was some hard-earned hot chocolate!

I picked up some discounted Christmas decor from the art store during our outing and ended up with my hands fuller than expected, but I managed the mile-walk home.

Isaac, though, was exhausted by my efforts…

And…more sledding!  So much sledding.  Shane was off work that full week after Christmas and so we had beaucoup playtime.  We didn’t throw Isaac down any big hills, but he liked sitting in Juliette’s lap for a gentle skid along the sidewalk.

This girl, though, has a need for speed.

We spent one morning with Juliette’s best school buddies, cruising down the street in front of their house.

And then a cocoa elf appeared with a tray full of drinks for the kids (and me!).

I walked home with Isaac while Shane hung back per Juliette’s request to please do just a few more runs.  Teddy bear was tuckered, again.

Our neighbors passed off this baby sled when they were cleaning out their garage over the summer and we discovered that with a thick enough snow suit, Isaac could be wedged in there to stay fairly upright.

More snow toys emerged from the garage as the week went on…

More sledding fun was had…

There were snow angels…

And family walks…

And then a whole lot of lounging by the fireplace.

I don’t know that we’ve ever rested so well as a family – it became difficult to figure out what day of the week it was.  And it was amazing.

We ended 2021 in the same way we ended 2020, with a quiet evening at home.  We played some games, watched the ball drop, and toasted our glasses of sparkling cider.

One last sleepover…

And then we awoke on Saturday to a fresh new year!  Shane’s all about starting the year with a shock to the senses, so he was all in for the annual Alki Polar Plunge.  Juliette heard that a couple of her friends would be doing it with their mom and decided that she wanted to join in the fun, too.  I thought there was about a 55 percent chance that she would bail once she got to the beach and felt how cold it was, but she was quickly swept up in the adrenaline of the crowd and peeled off her coat with the rest of them once the countdown began.  No turning back now, baby girl!

Dunk, Jules, dunk!

And done!  I was so stinking proud of her.

“I can’t believe I just did that!”

Polar Bears:  The Next Generation…

Jason and Jordan also plunged and we found them down the beach afterward.

The gang convened at our house for hot chocolate and coffee cake.

And then there was an intense snowball battle in the backyard, during which Jason grabbed a shovel and just started pitching scoops of snow toward the opposing team.

We said our good-byes and cozied back up at our respective houses.

The snow turned to rain on Sunday morning and so Juliette took advantage of the super-sticky conditions to build a quick snow-lady with a neighbor friend.

They named her Angel and she lived a sweet-but-very-short life.

By Monday morning most of the snow had melted, Shane was back at work, and school was (almost) back in session.  Juliette and I took down the Christmas tree and we shelved our holiday music and movie playlists.  BAM.  The holidays were decidedly over and it was back to business as usual.  Which for me, for at least a few more weeks, means rocking chair naps with my boy, Project Runway afternoons with my girl, and regular family dinners (those I’m not giving up, ever).  January, I’m here for you.

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.

We’re in full-blown Fall and barreling toward winter as the days get remarkably shorter and the aisles of Target fill with Christmas decor.  It’s been a sweet season, these past few weeks of finding our new groove as a family of four and slowly emerging from our newborn cocoon to spend more time with family and friends.

Our parade of visitors began at the end of September when my parents trekked to Seattle to meet their one and only grandson.  My mom said she couldn’t remember the last time she had held a baby, but it seems her soothing skills came flooding back to her as she rocked and sang Isaac to sleep within hours of their arrival.

Motown, hymns, country…Grandma sings it al!

My dad also got some quality cuddle time…

…though I especially loved bearing witness to his playtime with Juliette.

We didn’t get out a whole lot that week, but it was nice to fold my parents into our quiet routine and to have some company as I picked up Juliette from school or spent an afternoon on the couch with a sleeping baby on my chest.

My brother and his family joined us for a weekend in October – there was driveway basketball and a walk at Lincoln Park and several rounds of pass-the-baby.

Bina the dog is used to being the baby in the room and displayed a little envy early-on, but once she’d sniffed out Isaac and determined he wasn’t going to hop right into anyone’s lap, she decided he was alright.

I turned forty that Saturday and it was nice to have family around to toast to a new decade.

Plus, Mitch makes some mean spaghetti and meatballs.  He and Shane spent much of the afternoon planning and shopping and cooking and I MUCH appreciated it.

Cheers!

And to bookend grandparent season, the Schnells landed in Seattle a couple of weeks ago along with our niece, Shanay.

While Grandma and Grandpa doted on Isaac, Shanay was an amazing buddy for Juliette.  There aren’t too many 22 year-olds that will jump at the chance to do Play-dough, but she was so incredibly generous with her time and attention (plus, she can french braid, which essentially gives her Queen status with Juliette).

Lazy mornings…

Lazy afternoons…

Again, we didn’t get out much.  But we were plenty content to cozy up inside with the baby.  Denny wore his grandpa-heart on his sleeve and spent long stretches of time just gazing at Isaac’s little face and saying, “Grandpa loves you…you’re such a gift, buddy…”.

It was a tearful goodbye (not just for Isaac!), but those few days together were precious.

In other news, we inducted Isaac into the Giants fan club and cheered on our team during their too-short playoff season.

Gosh, it hurt to lose to the Dodgers.  Also hurt to hear that Buster Posey is retiring!  Juliette shed a few tears when the news broke…

Other October happenings included our first annual Harry Potter night.  Juliette and I spent the afternoon making Hogwarts-themed treats and then invited the Rusts over for snacks and a movie.

Sorting hats were chosen at random and the color of the jelly beans inside told you which house you belonged in.

Slytherin for J!  I knew he had a dark side…

But Slytherin for Nance, too?  I expected better.

I tend to overuse the word “cozy” in my Fall and Winter blog posts, but…it really was the coziest of October evenings.

Cozy vibes aside, sometimes we’ve just gotta get out, and Juliette’s Saturday soccer games have proven to be an excellent reason to leave the house.  This is her first year on the team and she is killing it!  I am so, so proud of her – she’s a force out there, scoring goals at every game, passing to her friends like a true team player, and shaking off the occasional bump or bruise.

Isaac doesn’t quite follow the action, but at least he keeps my lap warm!

On really muddy days, the girls line up during half-time and stick their feet out so that the coaches can scrape their cleats clean.  These dads get gold stars.

Morning walks are another good reason to leave the house, partly because I need the exercise, but also because Isaac needs the nap.

Bonus points if I can work my route to include a coffee stop.

Double-bonus if I’m joined by a friend!

Saving the Halloween pics for another day, and then it’s onto the business of November-ing!

One final summer photo dump, because memories of those warm August pool days are what pull me through the wet, gray days ahead…

That said, less pleasant than those warm August pool days were those HOT June days when PNW heat records were shattered and we pulled out every stop imaginable in an effort to stay cool.  We slept on air mattresses in the basement and waited in line for a portable AC unit (no luck) and drank iced tea by the gallon.  Also, there were sprinklers…

And popsicles…

And kiddie pools…

And the incredible kindness of neighbors, who invited us to use their own pools, small and large.

Count lunchtime swim breaks as another perk of working from home!

We spent an ultra-hot Saturday at Rattlesnake Lake, bouncing back and forth between our shady blanket and the icy lake.  It seemed that about half of Seattle had the same idea and so the lawn grew increasingly crowded as the day wore on, but there was plenty of open water for us to stretch out on the paddle board.

Juliette recently completed an assignment at school where she had to note favorite family traditions and “paddle boarding with Mama” was near the top of her list.  One of my favorites, too, kiddo.

Juliette climbed off the board before we reached shore and bobbed along behind me in her life jacket.

Nintendo break!  But even the shade was HOT, so we didn’t stay out of the water for long.

Though the drive and the parking and the schlepping of stuff always feels like a bit much when we head to Rattlesnake, we always leave feeling like the effort was well worth it.

Colman Pool was another summer happy place – they started selling only limited tickets for one-hour time slots due to the pandemic and so the pool was wonderfully un-crowded.  We spent several afternoons there working on Juliette’s swim skills and bobbing around with buddies.

Plus, the walk/bike ride to the pool from where we park our car is not too shabby.

In other noteworthy news, West Seattle is finally on the boba map with the recent opening of ShareTea.  Juliette and I have already filled multiple punch cards.

Shane started playing pickle ball on Monday nights with a couple of friends and has become a bit obsessed with the game.  He’s a pickle ball evangelist now, asking everyone we run into if they play or if they’d like to play.

Juliette is still honing in on her technique, but she shows definite promise.

We squeezed one more tip to Jack and La Verne’s vacation house on Marrowstone Island at the end of July.  We were all thankful for the buddy time and for the lovely beachfront walks.

These three play so well together…

And with that, the sun has set on another glorious PNW summer – these sweet freckles are already beginning to fade!  But this girl looks damn cute in rain boots and a beanie…

Ah, May – back when we slept in our real beds rather than on air mattresses on our basement floor (that June heat wave was INTENSE!).  Back when we cooked on a stove in our kitchen rather than a hot plate in our basement mud room (in-progress kitchen remodel has further upended our lives).  Back when our backyard was filled with colorful spring blooms and we wore sweaters during Saturday brunch.

May was good (though summer still holds plenty of promise).  Mother’s Day 2021 was extra-special this year, as Shane and Juliette thoughtfully schemed a day that struck the perfect balance between activity and leisure.  After a quiet breakfast and the presentation of a sweet card from Juliette in which she called me “her treasure”, Shane and Jules told me to get dressed because we were headed OUT for a Mother’s Day surprise. 

Shane tossed a few fancy groceries in a cooler and then we made the short drive to the West Seattle ferry terminal.  We were island-bound for a day of bumming around Vashon.

With friends, no-less!  It was so fun to see the Chens and the Rusts in the parking lot as we rolled up to the Island Center Forest for a hike (I use that word generously).  We sauntered through the woods and spotted salamanders and baby chicks in the pond and took our sweet time winding our way back to our cars.

We ate a picnic lunch at sunny KVI beach, played games, and lounged to our hearts’ content.

Not to gush, but while some moms want a spa day to themselves on Mother’s Day, I’ll take all the bonus time with these two that I can get.

We rounded out a perfect day with rhubarb pie and gin rummy and damn, I felt loved.

With the onset of warmer temps we felt the itch to be outdoors as much as possible each weekend.  We drove east one Saturday to drop off Shane in North Bend so he could do a long bike ride with some friends and then Juliette and I headed to Gold Creek Pond for a springtime hike.  But…snow?  It was 70 degrees out there!  The trail was too slippery to navigate in our tennis shoes, but we found a picnic table by the lake where we could still enjoy the view.

Vitamin D joy…

We met up with Shane at the tail end of his 30-mile bike ride and then Juliette hopped on her own wheels to do 12 miles of the Iron Horse Trail with her dad.  Their journey started with a two-mile ride through this abandoned train tunnel, which was pitch black and freezing cold – headlamps and jackets required.  I’ll catch you on the flip-side, guys…

Shane took this picture of Juliette at the other end of the tunnel – she later told me that she was freezing and scared through the whole thing, but that she told her dad it was fun because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings.  Sweet little trooper.

I did a nice little solo hike at McClellan Butte and then offered my weary bikers a ride home.

We don’t head east too often anymore, what with the hassle of getting around the closed West Seattle Bridge, but when we do, we make it count.

We rounded out May with a couple of days on Marrowstone Island with the Chens.  There are few better ways to kick off a weekend than with a sunny ferry ride.

Much as she likes a ferry ride, Juliette can think of few things better than settling in for a long weekend with a buddy.

The Chens’ vacation home is tucked along a quiet edge of the island (actually, all edges of Marrowstone are quiet) and we loved mellow evening strolls followed by plenty of kicking back in their water-view Adirondacks.

Jack booked us a tour of a goat farm on Saturday morning and it was a definite weekend highlight.  Look at these baby goats!

(But watch your dress, Jules!)

After wearing out our welcome in baby goat pen, we wandered out to the idyllic field to see the grown-ups.

I love this guy – look at his smile!

Our tour guide was a 12 year-old girl who lived on the farm and knew every intricate detail of raising and milking and caring for her animals.  She answered all of our questions with striking maturity and then we got to taste the cheeses produced right there at the farm.

Ok, just a couple more baby goat pics, because…baby goats!

The kids and the dads biked to the beach that afternoon while La Verne and I met them there with the cars.

And then the rest of the day was filled with Nintendo-time, some intense Lego-building sessions, and delectable pizzas a la Jack.

Plus, s’mores!  With a little pre-game action in which the skewers were wielded like wands by these two Harry Potter fans.

Careful with that thing, Juliette…

Goodnight, guys…

Sunday’s most important agenda item was to celebrate the birthday boy, who turned the big EIGHT while we were there!  Juliette couldn’t wait to watch him open the Nintendo game she’d been waiting to gift him for months.

Post-waffles, we drove over to Fort Flagler for a late morning hike.

How do you coax a couple of kids through the woods when they really just want to go home to play Mario Odyssey?  Like this:

We spent our last island evening at Finnriver Cidery, sipping cider and doing the limbo and running through the open fields.

And finally, cake and Clue.  Such a good day.

Juliette and I were up before the rest of the house on Monday morning and drove into town for coffee and donuts before heading to the beach for an early Mama-Jules stroll.

Back at the house, there was one last hangout on the bunk beds…

One last go at lawn games…

And one last huddle with friends we’ve sorely lacked time with over the past year.

Time to board that ferry.

And say a cool farewell to the marvelous month of May.

Welp, there’s no time like the end of May to blog about March!  Getting caught up this week and culling through photos of cherry blossoms that have long since dropped and been swept away…

Actually, early blooms aside, I have very few pictures from March, which tells me we didn’t do or see a whole lot.  Weekends were devoted to home projects, like endless weeding sessions and the laying of new sod in the front yard…

“Look, Mama!  A dirt heart!”  This girl finds the magic in everything.

And weekdays were the same ol’ work-from-home, school-from-home rigamarole.  Juliette and I made a habit of seizing on our flexible schedules as opportunities to sneak away for 10am coffee dates.

…and then back to it!  We have tried out Juliette’s desk in just about every room in the house and finally decided just to give her reign of our dining room table from 8:00-3:00 – she likes the room to spread out and can pop over to her bedroom desk if we have simultaneous Zooms.

And finally…this.  March was so much of this:

April brought sunnier days and northwest-style beach dates (with jackets and rocky shores):

And Easter!  Juliette loves an excuse to dress up and was donning her bunny ears and her Spring dress before I’d even gotten out of bed.

It was a quiet Sunday, like all Sundays, with virtual church and an indoor/outdoor egg hunt.

After Juliette cracked open her plastic eggs, I rolled out her second basket, stuffed with all things pink.

This book of riddles was her favorite – she loves to stump her dad and me.

We pulled out the candles and the champagne flutes for a fancy dinner and, as has been typical over the past 14 months, missed our friends and family dearly while being buoyed by the warmth of our little three-person bubble.

Also, this Springtime view makes hunkering down not so bad.

Our quarantine bubble has slowly started to expand though, as evidenced by Juliette’s return to in-person school!  I was going to miss having this kid stop by my desk for random hugs throughout the day, but it was time.  We were ready.

She was ready.

Also, who am I kidding?  She’s only gone for three hours a day, four days a week.  We’re still swimming in Mama-Jules time.  And our walks home from school have become such a lovely part of our day.

Also, Juliette doesn’t go to school till 11:30, which means we still squeeze in the occasional weekday coffee/hot chocolate.  We recently discovered that Met Market puts the whipped cream on top of the cup lid.  Brilliant.

Warmer weather brings out Shane’s sporty vibes and he is quick to ask Juliette to toss the football around or shoot some hoops across the street as soon as he wraps up work for the day.

Meanwhile, Juliette’s been feeling so sporty herself that she rarely takes off Shane’s baseball cap.  Cutest thing…

We had our first visitors of the year last month when my parents came out for a long weekend.  We brunched at our favorite Alki spot…

Played a lot of cards…

And cozied up for Sudoku sessions.

We also got out for a stroll through Schmitz Park, which was growing greener by the minute.

So good to have visitors!

And speaking of visitors, Grandma and Grandpa Schnell rolled into Seattle just a couple of weeks later!  More card-playing…

Some baking…

And lots of sunshine.

Juliette’s grandpa could not love her more – these two really ate up the together time.

Until it was time to say goodbye…that hug Denny gave Juliette on her way out to school was so sweet it brought tears to my eyes.

One more…

And finally, the last of our April guests was this mama bird that roosted in our porch planter.

…with four little eggs in a cozy little nest!

Checking on the eggs became a daily ritual, until one day Shane peered in there and excitedly announced that they had hatched!  Four odd-looking little nestlings, with bulbous eyes and wide-open mouths.

Checking on the birdies became a new daily ritual and in less than a week, all four had left the nest to hobble around our porch.  None of them looked near-ready for flight, but by the next morning, they were gone…  I was a little sad to see them go and felt some literal empty-nester vibes each time I opened the front door and spied that vacant planter.

Such is life, though…  Birds fly away, blossoms fall to the ground, and I have to continually remind myself to just be thankful for the fleeting beauty of the present.

Thankfully, Juliette is a stunning example of living in the bliss of the moment (also, check out that grass!  Shane’s new pride and joy…).

Spring is so full of reasons to smile.

January and February are notoriously tough months in Seattle.  The holiday twinkle has waned, Spring still feels painfully far away, and it takes monumental will to muster the get-up-and-go to venture out into the gray, gray days.  Snow days have been our saving grace – we’ve packed several Q1 weekends with trips out east, for quick Sunday jaunts on our skis or full-on getaways at cozy mountain retreats.  A few weeks ago, Jason invited us to join him and his boys at Meany Lodge, a rustic ski lodge that boasts the tallest rope tow in the state and low-pressure vibes perfect for kids (and adults) to find their ski legs.  We left our house at 7am on a Sunday morning and by 8:15 were piling into the sleds or grabbing a handle on the rope to be pulled behind a snow-mobile for the three-mile trail from the parking lot to the lodge.  While the guys had fun with the water-skiing simulation, Juliette and I were more than happy to watch from the sled.

Juliette and her little buddy took to the mini-rope tow right away and were ready to upgrade to the grown-up hill after only a few runs.

I love watching this girl ski – she has mastered the perfect balance of bravery and caution.  Does me proud without making my heart jump up in my throat!

Meanwhile, I let caution prevail opted to stay on the flats with my cross-country skis…

Lunch was served just up the hill, a short sled ride away…

And then Juliette squeezed in a handful of afternoon runs.

Calling it a day and piling in for the return trip to the car…

We had such a good time that we decided to go back a couple of weeks later, this time with more friends in tow.

Thumbs-up!

And…tuckered.

I traded in my cross-country skis for downhills and managed to end the day with all bones intact.

Heading back…

And…tuckered.  Part two.

A week after our trip to Meany Lodge, the snow actually came to us!  After several days of watching the forecast with much anticipation, flakes started falling on a Friday night and had blanketed our neighborhood by Saturday morning.  Snow day!

There was biking and sledding and snow angels, oh my.

Truly, there’s nothing like the novelty of a Seattle snow day.  Neighbors you haven’t seen for months emerge from their homes with sleds or cross-country skis and turn the middle of the street into a giant playground.

Post-sledding, I headed indoors for hot tea and dry socks, but these kids were insatiable.

And then an evening stroll…

Sunday brought even more flakes, so we headed back outside after our morning pancakes.

Thankful for West Seattle topography!

Seriously, the streets were a complete sledding free-for-all.  I’m so glad no one tries to drive anywhere when it snows in Seattle.

Sophie the snow lady came together quickly…

As did the perfect snowball-launching fort:

I took a walk through Schmitz Park in the afternoon to soak in the snow-covered silence, as I knew it would be short lived.  Indeed, rain started falling that night and by Monday poor Sophie was headless.  What a weekend, though.