The Unofficial End of Summer

Sigh, it is Labor Day and so summer has ended. Or so they say.  The weather is turning. Lila starts preschool tomorrow. The unofficial end to summer certainly feels final and official. We’ve had a great summer. Vacations, beach trips, amazing weather. Looking back at our bucket list, I’d say we did pretty good.

Successful Seattle Summer with the Kids

Lucy Goose Beaching

Beach – check! We not only spent the 4th at the Oregon coast, we went on vacation on the Connecticut coast and then explored several Seattle beaches. We liked Golden Gardens for its sand and vista, Carkeek for its relaxing atmosphere and Lake Union for the many activities within the park, including a water front.

Splash Park – We only made it to one splash park, but the girls loved it. It was at Lake Union Park, which is close enough to go on a hot evening after work and also made for a great day adventure on the weekends.

Hike – OK, this depends on your definition of hike. We really had great plans to do a real PNW hike. But we got some kind of summer bug, nap times interfere with travel times, it just never worked out. So we went to Marymoor Park a couple times. Not really a hike as a long walk, but Cal came along and fun was had by all.

Baseball game – Yes! We went to two games of the Nationals series at the Mariners. Nats won two out of the three in the series (we saw one win, one loss). It was Lucy’s first game. We had beer, bbq and even Thai food. It was a ton of fun and I finally saw Stephen Strasburg pitch. (Steven Strasburg pitched his first MLB game when we were traveling across the country to move to Seattle. It was always sort of symbolic that he arrived as we left. It was like a piece of home we had to leave behind. So it was nostalgic to finally see him pitch.)

International Fountain – yeah, never made it there. If the weather holds, perhaps we’ll still have time to run around in its musical sprinkler fun.

Alki – After the hike, this is my biggest regret of the summer. I do hope that we can make it to West Seattle and explore Alki before the summer really ends. Early fall should be fine, even if it might not be sunbathing weather when we finally make it there. (It will still be Husky Deli ice cream weather, don’t you worry.)

Phinney Farmer’s Market – things moved too quickly this year and with the CSA we do in the summer, farmers’ markets just don’t make the top of our list. As with the other still “to dos,” we still have time. I have to be honest, I’m just not sure it will happen this year.

Beer Fest – We made it to Beer Fest. It was fun, as always, and it is great to go and remember how we feel in love with Seattle at Beer Fest 2006 on a glorious Seattle summer day. That said, I had a migraine most of the time and by the time I returned home I was sick for the next two days. It was worth it. (There was Space Dust. Space Dust is awesome.)

Seattle Summer: Baseball Fun with Natitude

Natitude in the Emerald City

So that’s the unofficial tally at the unofficial end of summer. We did ok making the most of this Seattle summer and I’m excited for our Seattle fall. Up next? The Fair, of course!

Recipe for Social Media and Quick Breads

Seattle Bloggers Visit Allrecipes.com in SeattleI recently attended a Seattle bloggers event at Allrecipes in Seattle.  Allrecipes is a social recipe site. For those who are familiar with Ravelry, it is basically the Ravelry of the food world.  It was started by a group of University of Washington graduate students and has grown over the last 16 years.

To be honest, before the event, I was unfamiliar with the site. Most of my recipe hunting is done through Pinterest these days so I wasn’t sure I need another time-waster resource. One thing I don’t like about Pinterest though, is that it is often difficult to determine what recipes are good and what are duds. Number of pins doesn’t really mean anything, but I pin a TON of things that I never make. Allrecipes allows users to rate the recipes, comment on it and share any changes they may have made.

Sunday I was looking at my remaining CSA share and wanting to get ahead as much as possible for the week. I had cut up much of the veggies to roast, but I had several remaining zucchini. I downloaded the iPad app and searched for “zucchini.” Many recipes popped up and I filtered it down to zucchini bread – perhaps my favorite baked good. After searching through the recipes, I found a great recipe for zucchini blueberry bread. Since I had a pint of blueberries from the CSA as well, it was an easy choice. I reviewed some of the comments, could see that it had been made 10,000 times and was highly recommended.

I will say I encountered a few issues, none of which were the recipe’s fault. I mean, did you know vanilla extract can evaporate if not used in a timely manner? It can. Did you also know that you can use maple syrup as a substitute? Also? You may want to double check how much oil you have in your house before starting. Issues aside, I pulled everything together and out came two beautiful loaves.

Verdict? Delicious. I wish it had a bit more zucchini flavor, but I think that might be because I just used the 3 small zucchini I had instead of measuring out the 2 cups shredded zucchini. My other substitutes did not seem to affect the flavor much or at least not in any negative way.

Having had such a great experience with Allrecipes.com, I’m super excited to use it for the next few months to find some new recipes for our CSA. (One can only eat roast beets so many weeks in a row.)  I’m looking forward to being able to build a virtual recipe box filled with recipes I know have been tried and tested, especially when so many look so yummy. Apple-berry pie, anyone?

Bucket List

As I mention in the last post, when we returned from vacation two weeks ago, A and I felt a little down with nothing to really look forward to. We had front loaded all of our vacations for the summer and now, just work and the day to day of life. We decided to come up with a summer bucket list, with the dual purpose of giving us something to look forward to and to ensure that we didn’t get so caught up in the day to day of regular life that we would forget to enjoy the Seattle summer.

– Get to the beach. We’d been to two different beaches this summer but still had not made it to the Seattle beaches (ever! in our 5 summers in Seattle). Add to that the fact that Lila has become quite the beach babe this summer. We’ve made good work of this one. Golden Gardens and Carkeek so far. We’re hoping to hit up Alki before the summer ends.

Splash Park– Splash park. The girls are a little young to swim (or swim on their own, without us supporting them) so splash parks are a great way to stay cool and have fun. There is one close to their daycare that is super fun. We’ve been once after work (squeezing in summer fun where we can) and once over the weekend. Lila now asks if we can go everyday.

 

 

– Hike. In the PNW, everyone hikes. We’ve lived here for a few years and have not done any hiking. We hope to change this soon and even make Cal come along as well.

 

– Baseball game. Sure, we’ve been to a Mariners’ game before, but it’s not summer if you don’t make it to a baseball game, right? We’re super excited this year as we’ll be making it to the Nationals/Mariners series. We’re big Nats’ fans, so it will be super exciting to see our Other Washington baseball team in this Washington. We hope to make it to at least two of the three games of the series.

go nats

– International Fountain. This is another spray park, but a really big, fun one. In the center of Seattle Center, there is music, water cannons and an only slightly dangerous decline to the water. The girls have starred longing at the fountain the last few times we were at Seattle Center, so we’re hoping to give them a chance to play in the fountain soon.

– Alki. Sure, I already mentioned this in the beach item, but it is not just Alki beach I want to visit. I want to go to Alki, enjoy the beach, then dinner at Marination Ma Kai and dessert at Husky Deli. No substitutions accepted.

–  Phinney Farmer’s Market. I love to take the girls to the U-District farmer’s market on Saturdays, but once our CSA starts we usually don’t make the trip as often. Phinney’s market is on Fridays, has ready made food you can buy for dinner, music, activities. We’ve never been but it have had it recommended to us several times. I’m hoping we can stop by after work one evening.

– Beer Fest. Yes, this is one that only A and I will go to (and with Cal) but it is a Seattle tradition. We didn’t make it last year (they had changed the timing) and the year before we went but I was pregnant so it didn’t count. I’m looking forward to really enjoying our date afternoon at the festival.

What’s on your must do list this summer?

Keeping Up Appearances

I think we can all agree that at this point I am a) barely a blogger and b) never going to be able to catch up on everything that’s happened in the past (gulp) two months. So let’s hit some highlights and just go from there.

1. We went to the Oregon coast for the 4th of July. It was delightful and I can’t wait to go back. Beautiful (giant) beaches, cute little seaside towns that are family/dog friendly. We went with another family – Lila’s best friend from day care. Four kids ages 3.5 to 6 months was hectic, but we had a great time and just laughed off the temper tantrums. There were fireworks, cheese, ice cream and s’mores. Definitely the best 4th of July we’ve spent on the West Coast. I often get homesick on the 4th, never really able to find a celebration that feels like those we were used to back in the East and this trip really helped to show what the 4th on the left coast could be.

Say Cheese!

 

 

2.  We went to New England for a week with all the grandparents. We rented a beach house and it was great. It was after the 4th, so the girls knew how much they loved the beach. Unfortunately we didn’t have the best beach weather, but we had a lot of fun, including visiting the aquarium twice. It is always nice to have the girls together with their grandparents so they can see what little people they are. As Lila continues to grow and be crazy fun, Lucy is now really entering “person-hood” with her own GIANT personality and this trip was probably the first time that the grandparents were able to experience it. As always, the cross country trip took a lot out of all of us, but it definitely cemented Lila’s new identity as beach babe.

beach babes

 

3.  Re-entry. Since being back, A and I have been adjusting to having no vacation to look forward to anymore (sad face) and lots of stress at work. Add to that some day care drama and the daily challenge of a 3 year old and a 19 month old, and we’re just happy to make it to bedtime every night.

4.  Seattle summer. This summer has been out of control. Warm, sunny, no rain. AMAZING. If only work didn’t get in the way of enjoying so many of the days, but we’ve been trying to make the most of it. After work trips to the splash park or impromptu picnics – all which lead to later bedtimes – are to be expected when it is 80 degrees and delightful outside. We’ve even been to the Seattle beach – a first for us, even though  this is our fifth summer here.

So much of what we have to talk about is just the daily running of a household with two kids, two pets, two careers. Work hard, play hard, never enough sleep. You know, the usual. We finished Veronica Mars (with the movie saved for tomorrow’s stay at home date night) and I read a book in the month of July. (That’s an exaggeration. I finished a book in July. I had been reading it for like 4 months.) I still go to Zumba. A still loves to eat Fruity Os. Cal is still a beagle. Oh, we watch a lot of Love It or List It, Too.

What have you been up to?

 

 

 

There is no place like home, but where is that?

Tonight as I walked from my office to the car, the beautiful heat from this short preview of Seattle summer reminded me of living in Old Town Alexandria. Specifically, walking on King Street at the end of a hot day, on our way to meet friends for an evening of dinner, drinks and all the things childless couples do. It made me think about how much I missed it. That I missed “home.” The idea that the Other Washington is “home” is a funny thought at this point. Four years ago last month we decided to move to Seattle. Four years ago Memorial Day weekend we packed up our condo and pointed the car west. On July 27 Lucy will turn 18 months and it will mark four years since we closed on this house. Four years in one place is the longest either A or I have lived in our adult lives. And yet? That whiff of heat and the thoughts of strolling King Street made me homesick. So when will Seattle feel like “home”? In many ways it does – after all this is the only home our daughters know. It is the place they were born, the house we brought them home to, where their friends live and where they have learned to play on the swings in rain or shine. When we moved out here we thought we’d give it two years. Two have turned in four. One more to five and then are we really Seattle-ites? Will I one day return to Old Town and stand in a sunbreak and think “I miss home”?

Like a Lion

Tap, tap. Is this thing on?  Oh, hello. Stopping by after a month of, you know, doing stuff. February was an overly stuffed short month and sped by in a blur. So what’s been happening around here?

– Lucy walks. And she insists on walking everywhere, adding at least five minutes to our travel times. It’s adorable though and allows her to play her favorite game of running towards you to give you a hug, then at the last minute turning around and giggling as she runs away from you. She also loves jackets. Getting ready to go makes her so happy.

– Lucy also talks. She says daddy, Lila, Calhoun, water, more and thank you. A claims she says momma but I’ve yet to hear. I’m pretty sure she’s using it as a weapon in one year old emotional warfare.

– Lila started ballet class. It’s as delightful as you would guess it would be. Tonight while “practicing” after dinner, she had to stretch off first because “if I get hurt, I can’t dance.” A budding professional indeed.

A and I are busy with the boring things that go into running a house filled with two kids and two pets plus holding down two very demanding jobs. We’ve been on the sickness merry go round all winter, though it seems to be thankfully slowing. Rest assured Cal remains unbothered by all of this, though he is ready for the rainy season to end so we can return to the dog park with less mud.

So that’s the short recap of the last 28 or so days. Here’s hoping March is a little less hectic, a little healthier, a little less rainy and leaves a little more time for things like blogging, dog parks and practicing how to say momma.

Throwback Thursday

As you may have heard, this past Super Bowl Sunday was a pretty big deal in Seattle. Not being a Seahawks fan, it hasn’t been all that exciting for us, but maybe we’re biased. After all, our favorite Seattle Super Bowl Sunday came a few years earlier when this little one entered our life in the third quarter.

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And now , with a little less fanfare than Seattle’s Super Bowl parade, our little girl is three. It is hard to believe that she is already three years old and at the same time, I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t in our lives.  Her personality has more than tripled in the past year and she has proved that she is my daughter in so many ways. Her personality is mine. She is quick to anger and emotional. She feels all the feels just like her mom.  Lest you think our personalities are all negative, she has the same loyalty and urge to help her friends all the time (and her sister) that I do. Perhaps because of our very similar personalities, she is daddy’s girl. She may react to things as I do, but she loves Duke basketball. She loves to be silly like her dad. She wants to watch basketball all the time, including in the middle of the Super Bowl.

L - bw-1This picture could be Lucy – they appear almost identical at one year old, with the same hair cowlick.

I don’t know if it is because of her almost three years in montessori day care or just that all children do well with that type of education, but when she loves something she wants to immerse herself in that topic. Currently that is ballet. She “dances ballet” to all music, she reads about ballet, she watches ballet videos, she memorizes the five positions and wears her hair in a bun because she “is a ballerina”. I love watching her learn and grow and be fascinated by new things.

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Lila is a handful, a delight, an amazing mind, a force to be reckoned with and the adorable little girl who made me a momma. She is special and bright and everything I could want in a little girl while at the same time nothing like I expected.

Exnicios family visit Jan 2014 023

Lila Bear, I can’t express to you the love I feel for you or the joy you have brought into our lives. (or the exhaustion, but you take that with the joy.) You are an amazing little being and we are honored to be your parents.

Happy, happy 3rd birthday my sweet girl.

Traveling Close to Home

Part of getting the house decorated for Christmas is taking stock of all of the items stowed away from the previous year. As we pulled out the boxes from the closet last weekend, I was looking at all of our ornaments. Our family tradition has been to purchase an ornament from our vacation each year. Some of my favorites include the kiwi from our honeymoon in New Zealand and the otters from our weekend inMonterrey. As I organized the ornaments this year, I realized we didn’t have an ornament for this year because we didn’t travel. Two kids, young baby, not a lot of time off available because of maternity leave, not to mention family travel obligations, we hadn’t had a vacation. It was sad to me we didn’t have anything for the tree this year since we had no trips from which to buy a souvenir ornament.

I realized though that even though we didn’t take a vacation this year, it didn’t mean we didn’t have great memories to celebrate and commemorate on our tree. With Lila being more aware of things and able to participate in more, we’ve been able to experience more within our own city. We took her to the Space Needle, the aquarium and the zoo. We rode the Great Wheel and became regulars at the Seattle libraries. We went to three Seattle Children’s Theater productions and I’ll be taking Lila to a local production of the Nutcracker this year. We went to the Macy’s Parade and we’ll see the famous Nordstrom’s Santa in a few weeks.  We may not have vacationed in exotic locales, but we made the most out of our year here in Seattle.

 

Seattle_Infographic

As you can see, vacationing in Seattle offers a great deal to do – more than we accomplished in this year! This graphic suggested some great things to help wrap up our year of “vacationing” in Seattle – like riding the monorail and exploring the Boeing Factory and Museum of Flight.

So this year, I’m buying an ornament from Seattle that celebrates the year of learning to be a family of four and to enjoy all our Emerald City has to offer. (Don’t take our word for it, come visit, we’d love to share it with you!!)

 

This infographic was provided by Marriott for use on my blog. Read more about Marriott and Seattle here.

Just a Phase

After two plus years of parenting I’ve discovered that almost everything is just a phase.  This applies to both the good stuff – breastfeeding, sleepy newborn cuddles, kissing mommy’s boo boos – and the bad – pumping, temper tantrums, teething.  I try to repeat that to myself as we go through a sleepless phase or a particularly trying toddler week.  This too will pass.  What is happening now is simply what is happening now, it is not how things will be forever.

As summer rolls around I’ve been using this as my mantra to get through this phase of summer vacation envy.  With two small children (who need a lot of stuff), having just returned to work from four months of maternity leave, and some family things that required unexpected travel, there is no summer vacation for us.  I long  to go to the beach – be that local at the Oregon coast or a more exotic locale like Costa Rica (apparently the vacation spot du jour out here).  I want to take the kids to see the sights, to enjoy Disneyland, to see Europe.  I get frustrated when I realize how difficult that would be right now.  (Not to mention that a giant Mickey Mouse or any other character would horrify Lila and probably scar her and she wouldn’t want to go on any rides.  So really?  A giant waste of time and money.)  So I remember it is just a phase.  One day, sooner than I care to admit, the kids will be older. Capable of watching a movie and entertaining themselves on a plane.  Not needing two cribs, car seats, high chairs, tons of diapers, books and toys to make travel successful.  And when that day comes we will go to Costa Rica and Ireland and Disneyland.

For now, I try to treasure the phase we are in.  The one where a trip to the wading pool and the playground is the greatest trip Lila could ever imagine.  Paris can wait.

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Life and Stuff

I like to blog.  My absence from blogging lately is not due to any lack of desire or interest.  Just you know, life.  Just like everyone out there in the big world, we’re busy, trying to fit 28 hours of activity into 24 hours a day.   Here’s a peak at what we’ve been up to:

– Summer!  Tradition states that Seattle summer begins on July 5, but mother nature did not get the memo this year.  Weather has been fantastic and this past week it has been real, honest to goodness summer.  Not just the glorious 75 degrees and sunny Seattle summer, but hot!  85-90 degree days.  Sun! Sun! Sun!  I’ve been loving it, as have the girls.  Here they are straight chillin’ in the weather.

Bathing Beauties

 – Commuting.  My office moved locations a few weeks ago so instead of us all working/going to day care within a 6 block radius of each other, I’m about 3 miles away.  In the grand scheme of things it is not that bad, but we’ve had to rearrange our commuting schedule.  With the change in car pool route and day care drop off/pick ups, A’s commute in the morning is about an hour and my commute in the evening is about 90 minutes.  If you weren’t tired before you left work, 90 minute commutes and wrangling two kids out of day care will certainly make you tired by the end.

– Computers.  My old laptop heaved a big sigh and breathed its last breath this past week.  After trying to coax it to log in remotely to my work computer, fire up the blog or just update Twitter, I realized the inevitable, I needed a new laptop.  After some research last weekend, I ordered a fancy new Windows 8 machine (with touch screen!).  It had a quirk that required a trip to the Microsoft store to fix but now, good as new. I’m still figuring it all out but it is quite fancy looking, light and functional (best of all).

– Two year olds.  Have you tried to rush a two year old?  Or get them to move on anyone’s schedule but your own?  If so, then you know where the bulk of our time is spent.  If you don’t, well I probably have a few choice words about the amount of free time you must have and wondering whether you are trying to save the world with all that time.  But that’s just the bitter toddler mom speaking, don’t mind it.

– House Hunters.  Somewhere in the past two weeks between the end of the NBA season and a complete lack of interesting television during the week, we discovered the 10pm House Hunters and 10:30pm House Hunters International.  We used to be huge HH fans before buying our house.  In fact, but for new jobs that didn’t allow for taping schedules, we were totally going to be on HH when we moved to Seattle.  The problem with HH is it makes you want to buy a house.  We even went to open houses last week.  We fell in love with a house.  And then we came home and tried to imagine getting this house ready to sell.  I can’t even blog once a week, how would I stage a house??  So we’re doing some minor renovations like redoing the bedroom and installing new counter tops.  (and by “we” I mean some very nice people we will hire.) (BTW, HH Intl is really the best hate watch out there.  There is no one easier to hate than a family looking for a luxury condo with comforts of home in Nepal.)


So, that’s life in a nutshell right now.  I’m hoping for glorious summer weather all weekend as well as some quiet nap time that I can spend blogging and catching up on things.  How’s your summer going?