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)

Raising Kids in a PC World

Raising Children in a Politically Correct WorldThis past Monday was a holiday in parts of the country, but there was no three day weekend here in Seattle. Not only is Columbus Day not a holiday here, but as of October 6, it isn’t even Columbus Day anymore. Seattle (and Minneapolis) now celebrates Indigenous People Day.  The change in name is an attempt to shift the holiday’s focus from Christopher Columbus to the people he encountered in the New World and their modern-day descendants.

Now I get it. I know Christopher Columbus wasn’t the nicest guy. And I realize that there were already people living in the Americas when he “discovered” it, so I have no problem celebrating/honoring the indigenous people. But growing up we learned about Columbus and the ocean blue, his three ships and all. So what do we tell our kids? What do you teach them and when do you allow political correctness to rule the day?

This question of course doesn’t just apply to the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. There are many things we grew up being taught that are no longer considered “PC.” How much do you try to teach your children political correctness and when is it too reactionary?

Of course, the definition of politically correct is in the eye of the beholder. Some may see the acceptance of same sex marriage as a politically correct change, while I see it as a welcome change to extend a basic right to all. (And Lila thinks having a family with two moms would be really great.) Others see one of our favorite team names as offensive and in need of a change.

We aim to make our children into kind, caring and informed people. And even though we celebrated Columbus Day as a child, A and I turned out ok.  I suppose there will always be changes in public opinion and teaching, and we just need to do our best to teach our children what we think is right.

The Freedom to Read

Why I Can't Wait to Share a Banned Book with My KidsSeptember 21-17 marks Banned Books Week. I’ve never really understood the idea behind banning books. To me, encouraging reading is encouraging reading. I mean, I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Gray to Lila at bedtime, but when the time comes, I don’t expect I’ll be telling my kids can’t read books. But Fifty Shades of Gray is a bad example of what banned books are, because after all it’s salacious pulp fiction with little literary value. The same can’t be said about other books that have been banned throughout the country:

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • the Bible
  • The DaVinci Code
  • Captain Underpants
  • The Bluest Eyes
  • And Tango Makes Three
  • The Kite Runner
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

The list goes on, many a “classic” on there – books I read as an English major, books that hold literary value. Of all of the ones on the “most banned” list, perhaps the one that makes me the saddest is the Harry Potter series. Since reading Harry Potter so many years ago, A and I started talking about when we could share it with our children. Even before we had kids, we were daydreaming of sharing these amazing stories with our kids. Now isn’t the right time – we can’t make it through a 15 page picture book without Lila asking 35 questions a page so reading an extended chapter book isn’t going to happen for several years. But to think that someone else might take that experience away from us, or the joy of Hogwarts from our kids, that horrifies me. Books are meant to be read, to be shared and to be loved.

To celebrate Banned Books Week, I’ll be sharing some of the girls’ favorite titles this week. Sure, Knuffle Bunny has yet to be banned (or not that I could find at least but did you know Green Eggs and Ham was banned in China?) but to me this week is a chance to celebrate all books, the love of reading and the ability to share that love with others.

Read more about Banned Books Week at the American Library Association or the Banned Books website.  Help us celebrate this week by sharing your favorite children’s title – banned or otherwise.



Space Needle!!

Lila is kind of obsessed with the Space Needle right now.  When we’re in the car she will ask “space needle?” until the tower is in sight and then the car is filled with her exclamations of joy “space needle!!”  The highlight of her morning each day is as we get cross the Ship Canal Bridge and the Space Needle fills the horizon. For all these reasons, we thought it would be fun to bring her to the Space Needle today.

space needle mar 2013

It did pretty much blow her mind.  From the minute we arrived at Seattle Center she was so excited to run to the Space Needle and wave to it as we approached.  She ran up the ramp and into the Space Needle lobby.  And then she was a little confused.  The idea of being inside the Space Needle was a little abstract for her to comprehend.  Onc ewe were there she kept asking to see the Space Needle.  We tried to explain that we were on top of it, but again it was a little bit too much for her to get.  I think she had fun and even Lucy got to take a peak at Seattle from up above.  

Also, we’re at a stage where we let Lila choose her own clothes.  Which results in that hat, that jacket, that dress, Abby Cadabby socks and pink shoes.  I take full credit for Lucy’s bunny hat.

Let It Snow (just not here)

First, I was ready to hit publish on this post when I realized I had mistyped the title as “let it snot”.  Let this be a lesson to always proofread before hitting publish.

It has been very snowy back in New England, my motherland, this weekend.  My parents’ home saw upwards of three feet of snow and drifts of four feet or more.  (This has not made their miniature pinscher very happy.)  While I know actually dealing with a blizzard can be less than desirable, it can be fun.  All the talk of people being snowbound (not to mention photos of such on Facebook and Instagram) have made me nostalgic for Snowmaggedon of 2010.  A and I were living in Old Town Alexandria when it hit.  We were snowbound from Friday until the following Thursday, but I remember really enjoying our time.  We lived in a tiny 2 bedroom condo with Cal and B-Cat.  With work cancelled, and the city around us shut down, it was a relaxing time when we had nothing we had to do.  (Very, very, very different from today’s life of toddlers and newborns.)  We watched too much tv, napped on the couch, baked scones.  I even knit an entire sweater.  We met friends for more than few drinks at the local pub.

I think my nostalgia is not just for snow (the likes of which we seldom see out here) but for the coziness that comes with being snowed inside with absolutely nothing that has to be done.  Snow or no snow, the days of lounging on the couch with a complicated lace knitting project and watching a House Hunters marathon are past.  I wouldn’t give up my girls for anything, but I wouldn’t mind just one weekend of quiet, with yarn and some adult beverages, maybe some scone baking, to enjoy.  (And then promptly pick my girls up on Sunday for giant hugs and giggles and tickles.)

Some fun photos from our 2010 blizzard antics.

Old Town Alexandria Waterfront Under Snow

Old Town Alexandria Waterfront Under Snow

B-Cat enjoying the after affects of scone baking

B-Cat enjoying the after affects of scone baking

Cal checking out the snow drifts

Cal checking out the snow drifts

Country Mouse, City Mouse

LC is a city girl.  There was a period of time that she was afraid of grass.  We’ve moved past that point now, but she is still very much a child who was born and being raised in a large city.  Which may be why she absolutely loved going to the Puyallup Fair and seeing all of the 4H livestock.

We’d never been to the Puyallup Fair before, but many people with similarly aged toddlers thought LC would enjoy it, so we loaded up the car with snacks and headed south.  Our first stop (ok second stop, the first was the restrooms because that’s what happens when you travel with a pregnant lady) was the cow barn.  Immediately LC was practically nose to nose with giant beef cattle, or as she calls them “moos”.  I don’t know that she’s ever seen a real cow – she has many books with cows in it, including her current favorite Little Blue Truck – but to see them in person?  We could have turned around and driven the hour back home at that point and it would have been a great day in LC’s book. On top of seeing cows, we visited the Piglet Palace, the horse barn, the goat and alpaca show area and the horse pavilion.  It is hard to say which one was LC’s favorite, I think it was hard to top the initial excitement that was discovering cows. (That and the pigs made scary noises.)

One disappointment was the long trek we took to get to the 4H Dog area.  This had been recommending by LC’s best friend’s family and we knew LC would LOVE seeing all the dogs.  (dog-goos)  However, after finally deciphering the fair map and A navigating us to the dog area, we found that Sunday was the dog’s day off.  Lucky for us, LC had no idea what we had been hunting for, so there was no sense of loss for her.  Even more lucky, behind the dog area was the petting zoo, so we were able to pet a rabbit, chicken, chicks, baby goats and a sheep.


At that point, concerned her little city mind could take no more livestock, we headed back to the gate for home.  A and LC watched a delightful trio of sisters who played Celtic music (and did Irish step dancing) while I purchased a caramel apple.  (There was lots of good fair food to be had, but we refrained.  Such inner strength.)  LC kicked back and enjoyed the show with some berries, before making it clear that all that livestock viewing makes a very sleepy toddler.  We headed home with our city mouse, happy and tired from her day in the country.

Emerald City Weather Woes

When people complain about the weather here in the Emerald City, it usually involves the lack of sun, drizzly conditions or general one season-ness of it all.  This is why people’s complaints over the past few days that our 80 degree sunny weather is too hot, too sunny and impossible to do anything in, really confuse me. 
Summer in Seattle does not always come for weeks at a time.  We take the days as we can, and hope that they can fall over a weekend.  Seldom humid, the warm days are lovely – warm, sunny and dry. Yes, it may be very warm – but it is August. I get that most of us Seattle-ites don’t have air conditioning, so a few days of warm weather can make ones home very warm, but it only lasts a few days.  I just can’t understand the people who were “happy to be at the office” on Thursday when temps were in the high 80s, because it was too hot to be anywhere else.  I could think of at least 5, probably closer to 10 places I would rather have been, enjoying the summer day.  Today people cheered that the weekend brought cooler temps in the 70s and even some clouds.  I was sad that our plans to go to the beach or splash park were called for chilliness.
I guess growing up on the East Coast, I’ve just grown accustomed to hot, humid summers with intermittent thunderstorms to break up the heat.  As we come to the end of our third summer here in Seattle, I may have come to expect cooler temps and less sunny days, but I just can’t understand those that complain when summer finally comes to town.

Tourists in Our Own City

One of my regrets from our time in the Other Washington is that we didn’t do many of the “touristy” things.  I don’t mean the monuments – which I did make us take Cal to before moving – but things like festivals, museums, parades.  We recently had family in town in the Emerald City and in the few days that they were here, they experienced much more of the city than we had in our two years here.  Sure, it’s easier to cross items off the list when you are here to do just that and pesky things like work, babies and houses don’t get in the way, but I have become determined that we experience more of what the Emerald City has to offer.

We started this weekend.  As is our annual tradition, A and I went to the annual beer fest.  It was a glorious day, perfect sun and a wonderful time, including Cal who loves his trips to the beer fest every year, where he gets to meet lots of other dogs.

Saturday, we returned to Seattle Center, this time with LC.  A and LC played in the fountain and ran around in the grass while I ran to the Urban Craft Uprising, a craft fair I enjoy attending every year.  (I found a book for LC, a key chain, coasters and all my favorite organic goodies from Flying Bird Botanicals.)

Sunday, we celebrated Cal’s fourth birthday with brunch at Norm’s, everyone’s favorite dog friendly brunchy pub.  Despite a disappointing Wimbledon final, we enjoyed brunch and then headed to the Ballard Locks to check it out.  LC loved the salmon in the salmon ladder, as well as running through the grass.  We’d never been to the Locks before, so it was a great thing to cross off the list on a beautiful day.

Sunday night we returned to a Seattle favorite and attended the Seattle Storm game.  How cute is this little Sue Bird fan

It was a busy weekend, but we made the most of not only the weather, but of all Seattle had to offer.  We even did 6 loads of laundry – productive too!  The weather plans on sticking around for a while, so we hope to continue to enjoy the weather and the city.

Things I Love About Living in Seattle

There is such thing as a “domestic duck”.

Up in the Clouds

I have often told the story of visiting A when he first worked in Seattle (summer of 2006).  The weather seemed to always be beautiful that summer and I didn’t understand all the fuss about Seattle rain.  Every time I visited I would marvel at Mount Rainier and think how lovely it looked, high above the city (especially since it was so different than the mountains I lived on at the time in Colorado Springs.) 


When we returned to Seattle last year, people would speak about the “mountains being out” on a nice day.  I didn’t understand this statement – after all I had always seen Mount Rainier when visiting in 2006.  I soon came to understand that a truly nice day in Seattle would mean that all the mountains were visible – the Cascades, the Olympics and yes, Mount Rainier.

Mount Rainier is truly an amazing sight – it looks fake or as if it were made out of clouds.  Sometimes a grabbing a quick glimpse of the mountain may make you think that you imagined it, especially if the view disappears as it often does.  You can climb Rainier, ski on it, or ride a gondola to the top.  I’m hoping we can explore the mountain more this year and not just view it from afar. 

Having lived here for over a year now, I now appreciate what “the mountains are out” truly means.  We’ve had a lovely fall so far with lots of opportunity to see the mountains and appreciate the beautiful city in which we live.