A Letter to My Bear & Goose: Season Five

To my Bear and Goose,

Year 5. Can you believe it? Our fifth football season as a family. It will be hard to beat last year’s season, I think we can all admit that. That last second grab? It will live in my heart forever.

You know what else will live in my heart forever, Lila Bear? The way you ran to me and hugged me as I sobbed, realizing that the impossible had come true; the Super Bowl curse had ended. You didn’t understand happy tears (or why your father was outside beeping the car horn) but you wanted to be sure I was ok. You’re a good egg, Lila Bear and I love you more than even Pat the Patriot for it.

Lila, you’ve reached a funny age, where you are starting to make your own decisions and that is beginning to be reflected in your choice of teams. You girls are, after all, Seattle-ites. Which is why, even though painful to hear, it was not surprising when during the pre-season you, Lila Bear, declared “I love the Seahawks!” While I will always be there to remind you who the real 12th man is, I support you becoming your own person and not necessarily cheering for a team just because your mom does. (But c’mon Lila, it is a really great team, based on an American fight for freedom from tyranny. What has a hawk ever done to earn your freedom?)

Lucy, you in so many ways are your own person, but you’re still figuring it out football wise. You’ll let me dress in you in your Tom Brady jersey for at least one more year, though it is entirely possible you are swayed by your sister’s new found fandom. (Also, we’re sorry you got stuck with the 4th year of a 4 year jersey plan with that RGIII jersey. Think of it as a badge of honor or an ironic throwback.) You may be a momma’s girl Lucy Goose, but you are undeniably a little sister who wants to be just like her older sister. Not to mention all those Seahawks colored jimmy donuts you’ll see this season. You love your sister and jimmy donuts.

It’s our first football season in our new house. While house hunting we would walk in to each one and say, how can you hold a Super Bowl party here? Who knows if we’ll ever host a Super Bowl party, but we knew it was important to buy a house that allowed the possibility of doing so. And I think it does. I think we did a good job – there is room for you to play (inside and out) while we watch football, there is space for guests and snacks, soon there will be a tv mounted over the mantle, and yes, one day hopefully in the not so far future, there will even be a couch on which one can watch football. (We have a few months before the Super Bowl, thankfully.)

A new football season is a new start, and I am so excited to see it through your eyes again. Really I’m excited to see football and hope that this fifth year of football fandom is the year you both learn to entertain yourself through a full football game. Please. For all those times we’ve watched Frozen, let me have this.

All my love,
Momma

Living Life Vertically: An Update

Things we’ve learned in the past month or so:

  • Moving is a big undertaking
  • Moving with kids is a really big undertaking
  • Selling a home is stressful and busy and not easy and did I mention stressful?
  • You may not sleep for 2 weeks, but this too shall pass

We’re in the townhouse we’re renting for the summer and I’d say about 85% settled in. It is still an adjustment but we’re making it work. Every box that is going to be unpacked has been unpacked, the rest stored in the garage, not to be unpacked until we move to our next “real home.” And while we’re unpacked, there are still some things to be worked out – like where are the tissues or the Clorox wipes or the cutting boards. But, day to day, we’re doing just fine. Though living on four floors is a change. We’re hoping our butts look really good after climbing stairs all day this summer.

The house officially went on the market on Wednesday. (Wanna live in Seattle?) We’ve had a good response, but we won’t know anything for sure until Tuesday when we review offers (which we will hopefully have received by then). It’s hard to not obsess over every little thing and try to decide if a certain number of likes or “x-outs” mean anything. We’ve made it to the weekend with ballet and gymnastics classes, as well as basketball games to distract us.

That’s the brief update. Until Tuesday we’re pretty much living, breathing and sleeping the house sale. Trust me, we’re as tired about talking about it as everyone around us is tired of hearing about it. But it’s a big deal, a big undertaking and a big chance we took. So bear with us for a few more weeks, hopefully the next words you hear from us will be sold!

 

Moving in the Right Direction

The past month has been hectic, to put it mildly. We had known that we wanted to find a new family home in 2015. I laid in bed on New Year’s Eve and thought – wow, we are going to sell our house this year. And buy a new one! Not that I stayed up until midnight (because #old) but it definitely gave me some sleepless moments. After looking at many open houses and consulting with our real estate agent, we decided for a multitude of reasons selling our house first, then finding out next home, was the best option for us. (Note I didn’t say easiest.)

So we’re renting a townhouse for the summer – starting today! – and putting our house on the market in about 10 days. It’s been a whirlwind of to dos and house fixes and contractors and moving plans and contracts and OMG what are we thinking for the past 30 days. We’re crossing things off our list, and one way or another, we’ll be in the townhouse by Tuesday.

But here we are – getting ready to move out of the home we’ve lived in for almost five years. The home we brought our babies home to. Sometimes I’m ok with this. I know our family needs more space and a house that works better for us. And I know that the house isn’t what is important – it is the people, pets and moments inside it that are special. Good news – those are all coming with us! I have moments of sadness and nostalgia, but after moving across the country five years ago (and surviving!) I know that a move within the neighborhood is something we will all survive.

On to our next adventure: our family in a townhouse, less space and things than we are used to but a summer adventure. My kids love open houses and will probably be disappointed when we finally do find the right home for us, so I know they are enjoying the ride. As for A and I, we’re just hanging on and trying to take the move one day at a time (or one box at a time as it is this weekend).

Ballet Birthday Bash

Over the past few months I’ve learned a few things about almost four year olds. Things become a big deal when you are four (or almost). Between Christmas and her birthday, Lila has been beside herself excited since the end of November. Just too much holiday fun to bear. And since her sister’s birthday is at the end of December and since November we’ve attended about eighty-five (by rough count) birthday parties, Lila was ready for it to be her turn.

Now I am not a Pinterest mom. If you are, good on you. You pin those projects, follow through and have beautiful handmade party favors with themed food. That is not me. I’m a manager, an outsourcer, an idea woman. So while I wanted nothing more than for Lila’s party to be a success and everything she hoped for, I knew no amount of time spent on Pinterest figuring out how to make ballet themed snacks would prove worthwhile. (For the record, I did spend on afternoon on Pinterest. After following one link, it took me to a blog discussing the three year old ballet birthday party and CREDITING THEIR PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER AND PARTY PLANNER. I slowly backed away from the internet and realized this was not for me.)

No Pinterest, but using Google led me to the Evergreen City Ballet in Renton, WA, just south of Seattle. This ballet studio offered ballet birthday parties with crafts, dancing and two real live ballerinas. I knew it was about 25 minutes away from home, but hoped the party would be worth the travel. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Birthday Party with the ballerinas

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Releve!

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Arabesque

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Warm Ups

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Ballet Princess Cake

The birthday party was a huge success and perfect for a ballet and birthday obsessed four year. My only complaint? It is sure going to be hard to top next year.

 

Very Superstitious

Sports Superstitions

All the cute girls love the New England Patriots

I’m not really that superstitious. Friday the 13th doesn’t phase me, I like black cats and if I were to be concerned every time something like salt was spilled around here, it would make for some very long days.  That is, unless it involves sports. If it involves sports, I’m superstitious. Very superstitious.

Last year UConn was in the NCAA tournament, on their way to an incredibly improbably national championship title. Every Friday of the tournament I wore the same outfit – jean skirt, Connecticut sweat shirt, brown boots. It kept working and clearly that was because of my consistency in wardrobe choices.

This year, my Patriots met the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Living in Seattle, this made me quite the outcast and in my belief, required a great deal of good will and juju to overcome all the blue and green here. I wore Pats gear everyday the week before the game. The kids wore their “go Pats” shirts to school on Friday (which someone pointed out will help them learn to stand up for unpopular opinions). But this year, I needed more than just wardrobe to gain favor with the football gods.

When planning the meal for our Super Bowl party (small, family only because we COULD NOT have a non-Pats fan in our midst), I wanted New England themed food. However, A doesn’t eat clam chowder, the kids don’t eat lobster, so I settled on Boston baked beans. But when I went to the grocery store, there was only Bush’s Baked Beans. These are from Tennessee. This would not do. I needed Boston baked beans. I wanted the B&M beans I had grown up with. Tennessee beans were not going to do the job. Clearly Seattle beer was out. Even though our fridge was filled with our favorite Seattle brewed beer, I could not allow it to be drunk at the party. Sam Adams (of course) for me and A graciously compromised with Pacifico from Mexico. (We settled on basic, non-denominational Super Bowl food of pigs in a blanket, enchilada bites, mac & cheese and some carrot sticks for fiber.)

As the game got closer, I began to look for signs everywhere. The Super Bowl porcupine who had chosen correctly 8 years running had chosen the Seahawks. This was bad. A thick, impenetrable fog rolled into Seattle on Friday. What did it mean? Was Seattle doomed? Lost in their own clouds? But by noon it was bright and sunny. Wait, what did THIS mean? Would the sun come out for Seattle? As the weekend progressed, I did a number of favors for individuals in Arizona for the game (Seahawks fans), clearly this put them in my debt, and by transference, the Hawks in the Pats debt. Lastly, Sunday morning I ran out for some last minute items at the grocery store and ran into the only other Pats fan I encountered all season. He exclaimed excitedly, gave me a friendly hug and said “I feel good about today.” It didn’t ease my anxious stomach, but I clung to his optimism.

And it all worked out in what was the most intense last two minutes of anything I’ve lived through. I won’t insult my kids and husband to say it was the greatest moment of my life, watching that interception, but it’s in the top five. As I cried happy tears watching Tom Brady jump on the sidelines like a school girl, I knew that the signs had been right all along and all those Mexican cervasas had payed off. The good guys won, the Pats were champs. (And until next year, A is welcome to drink whatever beer he likes.)

Adventures in Wine Country

On my actual birthday, things were rough. I was 35, work was busy and Lucy was sick. We spent the night in the emergency room with her, splitting a Starbucks fruit and cheese box for dinner between the four of us. I went to bed exhausted, hungry and unimpressed with 35. Lucky for me, A had ensured that there were cupcakes and had made alternative plans for my birthday celebration.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

A & Lila hiking the trail

 

Saturday we woke up and got the kids out the door in a relatively speedy manner. We headed north and started our adventure with a walk along the Sammamish River. The rain held off for us and we had a pleasant walk along the river, even spotting a river otter swimming along side the trail.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

Full of Brunch-y goodness

From there, we headed to the Barking Frog at the Willows Lodge. I’ve been longing to go to the Willows Lodge and eat at the Herbfarm since we moved to Seattle. While we still haven’t made it to the Herbfarm, Barking Frog was a fun substitute. It was an excellent brunch – beignets and all. I had a giant Bloody Mary that involved bacon, a beef stick, pepperoni and mozzarella. I recommend, but be aware it will fill you up before your brunch arrives. (Sidenote, children do not understand brunch. One will insist you are eating breakfast, the other will insist it is lunch, and when you try to tell them that you are both right, they will not be amused.)

From there we hiked (further than we were expecting) to Chateau Ste. Michelle for the winery tour and tasting. It was interesting to see the bottle rooms and the children at least learned that there were two different colors of grapes. Once we got to the tasting room, we were greeted by bright holiday decorations (and tasty wines). We walked to Columbia Winery next, and then traveled to Fidelitas Wines and Mark Ryan. All were really good and the tasting rooms were all fun and friendly. My favorite was definitely Mark Ryan and I’m currently trying to convince A to join the wine club. At least then we’d have an excuse to go to Woodinville four times a year.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

Lila took this pic, Lucy was unamused

It was an excellent re-do for my birthday and a great way to kick off 35. Now that I’ve been bitten by the Woodinville wine bug, I’m ready to go back.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

Andrew and Lila say thumbs up to Woodinville (Lucy took this pic)

Earning a Relaxing Veterans Day

Veterans Day is always a funny day for me. The appreciation for those of us who chose to join the military is nice – as is the free cupcakes and coffee. The overabundance of commercialization of the day bothers me some – camouflage on every football uniform and other feel good actions. The day makes me humble as well; while I am a veteran, I didn’t deploy, served a short period of time and didn’t do anything spectacular to earn the title.

But my favorite thing about Veterans Day is that I am the only one who has it off. I mean, the postman has it off too, but A works, day care is open and I have it off. The past two years I have protected this day, not filled it with must dos or errands. A day to enjoy my coffee while it is still warm. To shop without toddlers and yes, eat cupcakes.

Today I enjoyed my Veterans Day bagel, followed by my Veterans Day coffee, while catching up on all those emails that I’ve been snoozing for a week. Then I had a massage. Now, I’m not complaining, but this was the most intense massage I’ve ever had. Things clicked – is your back supposed to click? I am so sore after this massage that I’ve taken two hot showers and am sitting with a heating pad on my back. A massage is a lovely thing, this one was just perhaps a little too much of a lovely thing.

Veterans Day always come at a time when I really need it. In the middle of the hectic fall, before the (official) start of the holiday season. Overall, Veterans Day 2014 was a success, relaxing and helped prepare me for the coming weeks – but already leaves me dreaming about Veterans Day 2015.

My Personal Fitness Assistant – ClassPass in Seattle

So here’s the thing. I’m almost 35. (If only you knew how hard it is for me to say those words.) I’m almost 35, I’ve birthed two children. My body is not exactly what it was when I met my husband. (I recently gave away the size 4 dress I was wearing the day I met A. To say times have changed would be an understatement.) I wish I were a little more in shape as the big day approaches, but life just keeps getting in the way.

I’ve found that a typical gym membership doesn’t really work for me. Unlike A who will happily go to the gym and just run 5 miles as fast as he can on the treadmill, I am not a self starter. I’m likely to go in, find a recumbent bike and pedal leisurely while reading this month’s Real Simple. As lovely as that sounds, it isn’t exactly a good use of my time or money (nor will it help me get back in shape). I’ve found that fitness classes are really the best way for me to get my fitness on.

And yet, here’s the thing with fitness classes. You can’t just decide – I would like to go to one and show up. You need to find a place, find a class you want, find a time that works and then enroll. And enrolling means registering an email, coming up with a password and then REMEMBERING that password. Point is, life is hard when you’re Lauren.

Then I heard about Class Pass.

ClassPass is an alternative to a gym membership. With ClassPass, you get access to the best boutique fitness classes in your city. There are over 1,000 classes available to ClassPass members, including cycling, pilates, yoga, strength training, dance, martial arts, and more.

For $99 a month, ClassPass members get unlimited classes to use at studios in the ClassPass network. While a member can take as many classes per month as they’d like, they can only visit the same studio 3 times per month. 

One sign-in, one password and ta da, I can find fitness classes around Seattle. I can sort by neighborhood, class type or time. This is great because sometimes I’m looking for a class by work that I can fit in over my lunch hour. Other times I’m looking for a class in the evening that is close enough to let me do bedtime and then run to barre class. The variety in classes is great too – zumba, cycling, barre and TRX. This lets me work on getting stronger, as well as finding cardio workouts.

Class Pass Subscription Fitness Program Launches in Seattle

ClassPass Launches in Seattle

I’m looking forward to trying new studios as well. Since I don’t have to pay a membership fee (or class fee) at individual studios, I can easily try new places or class types without worrying that I’ll be committing to something I may not like.

Class Pass is like a personal assistant for my fitness life. It may not help me get dinner on the table each night, but it helps me to find the perfect class that I can run to right after dinner. And let’s be honest – I need all the help I can get.

Interested in Class Pass for yourself? Check it out here

 

I was not compensated for this post. ClassPass provided me with a free month of access to ClassPass but all opinions are my own. (I really do need all the help I can get!) 

Celebrating Seattle Style

As you may have heard, Tuesday was A’s birthday. Being an excellent father, husband and generally good guy, he deserved a pretty exciting birthday celebration, so I worked hard to try to make it a celebration worthy of him.

I aimed to combine things I knew he loved – his daughters, beer and pizza. While we really love PNW beer, we’ve never really had a chance to explore some of the great breweries in Seattle, so I thought I’d try to plan a “tour” of kinds for A’s birthday. I targeted the southern area of the city for our tour, and of course had to make sure all our stops were family friendly. Here’s what our tour looked like:

 

map

 

Our first stop was Machine House Brewery. Beer wise it was our least favorite – cask ale, not our first choice for drinks. Location wise it was in the middle of Georgetown, great old warehouse location. They show only English Premier League games (some on Tivo). Family friendly and even had toys, games and a kids’ corner.

A bonus stop on our tour was across the alley from Machine House, the Fran’s chocolate factory. The kids were able to watch them making the delicious chocolates and everyone agreed that children as adorable as ours were in need of chocolate samples. Lila ate all of them, Lucy just liked holding them in her hand.

Next on the tour was Georgetown Brewing. Lucille IPA is one of our favorite beers, both in flavor and name. We were excited to stop by the brewery. Sadly we arrived just before their 4pm last call. We each had one sample of beer (I highly recommend the Johnny Utah) and then moved on. We hope to go back at some point to enjoy some more beer and maybe pick up Lucille tee shirt.

I mention this next one because I really like the beer and the location was adorable with a beer garden, but it ended up being 21 and over, so we were unable to enjoy the atmosphere. Two Beers has a nice IPA and is partnered with the Seattle Cider Co. If you are doing a tour without children, I’d recommend stopping by here.

Last stop was Seapine Brewing. This place was fantastic! The staff was super friendly – even bought A his first pint for his birthday. The location has a front porch, open air room and amazing workmanship. The bartender, who also brews the beer, showed us how the planks in the wall were from his parents’ old barn on Bainbridge Island. The beer was really tasty, and you can buy a half pint, which is great for the designated driver on the tour. The kids had a lot of fun (though I did pull out all the snacks on this stop, which helped a great deal). And of course, the biggest hit of the tour was Jenga!

Family Friendly South Seattle Brewery Tour

 

 

We ended the tour in our own neighborhood at our favorite pizza joint, Flying Squirrel Pizza (or “the squirrel restaurant” as Lila calls it).

IPA, chocolate, soccer, pepperoni and cupcakes? Seems like a pretty excellent birthday to me.

IMG_4096

 

Happy, happy birthday Andrew. We love you and we hope you enjoyed your birthday weekend – even if it could have used a little more natitude.

 

Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

Despite the temperatures not feeling very fall like today, we celebrated the fall’s rumored arrival with a visit to the Washington State Fair. Or you know, Do the Puyallup.

This was our third year visiting the fair, each visit bringing something new. Our first year I was pregnant with Lucy and Lila was young, interested in the farm animals and not much more. Last year we had tiny Lucy and we went with friends, bringing two energetic two year olds to the fair. The idea of rides were introduced, as was the idea of fair food. This year, our group once again grew by one – our friends have a new baby, so we attended the fair with two three and a half year old, a one and a half year old and a seven month old.

With the two older girls able to have their own opinions this year, planning took on a new challenge. We couldn’t just announce where we were going next. The kids had things they wanted to see, things they wanted to do and most certainly things they wanted to eat. Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

We started with the animals – baby cows, baby pigs and yes, the cat show. We even saw a hairless cat who Lila said “felt like a person.” The baby pigs are always a treat, so many of them, so little and so, so aggressive to nurse from their mom. I always feel a connection to poor pig mom, even if she has about eleven more babies who want to nurse than I do.

The girls were pretty into rides this year, though they were limited by height restrictions. They did manage to ride the merry-go-round, a train and a variety of other small vehicles that go around in a circle. Not realizing there was an age restriction, we did sneak Lucy onto one of the rides. She was. . . confused.

Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

 

The older girls were a little more into it.

Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

 

Lastly, fair food was had by all. Our friends are native Puyallup-ians, so they have certain food they search out. We’ve been happy to tag along for fun. Scones and bbq are delicious, I recommend. We split before dessert – they had fried dough (or elephant ears as they call it there), the girls had ice cream and I smuggled a caramel apple home. (I had hoped to eat it in the car on the way home, but Lila never went down for a nap, so I enjoyed it before writing this.)

We’re not native Washingtonians, but we’ve come to enjoy the Puyallup Fair as one of our early Seattle fall traditions.

Have you done the Puyallup? Any food we need to check out next time?