Our Year.

And so here we are. Another year. Passed by way too quickly, with so many things left undone it seems. But it was a good year. Our kids are bigger, with bigger personalities and made the year super fun, as cliched or pedestrian as that sounds. I look back on the year wishing I had a better handle on some things, but we did ok, our kids are healthy, our house is heated, our pets are furry and we will welcome the new year in the comfort of our own beds. (Fast asleep, because let’s be honest, it is just silly to stay up that late when you have a 2 year old.)

A look back at our year that was:

January

We started the year celebrating Lucy’s first birthday with our first trip to Vancouver. We learned that Canadians are friendly, Vancouver is rainy, and the food there is fantastic. We made our annual trip back East to the Other Washington where Lila made her first snowball.

February

February saw the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl, resulting in horrific traffic, the likes of which I would prefer to never see again. At the same time, our sweet Lila Bear turned three and we were all amazed at the wonderful little person she has become.

March

March caught us by surprise, as did Lucy’s progression from infant to toddler. We realized here that the year was only going to move faster and faster, not slowing down at bit. I thought about trying to add more exercise into my routine, something I’m still trying to figure out on the dawn of 2015.

April

Another Husky double national championship in the books – Lila is three and has been alive for 2 men’s basketball national titles and 2 women’s basketball national championships. (Lucy for one men’s and two women’s) I’ll call her a reluctant good luck charm. We celebrated Easter as these two seemed to realize a sister is a pretty cool thing to have.

May

We traveled to Vancouver again for Memorial Day weekend, this time to enjoy Raffi’s Beluga Grads concert (and yes, more Indian food. Vij’s is worth the wait at the border.) I also wondered when this Washington was going to begin to feel more like home than the Other Washington. I’m not sure when the pendulum will swing to the west, but I do think it is happening a little more each day.

June/July

So I didn’t blog in June and July, but we had a great time. We traveled to the Oregon Coast with friends, for a total of 4 kids ages 3 and under. We had a great time, even if the weather was less than summery and the kids didn’t sleep much.

In July, we headed back East for a week at the CT shore with all the grandparents. Lots of grandchildren being spoiled, lots of ice cream and unfortunately lots of rain. It was still a great trip as Summertime Lucy suggests here.

August

In August, we adjusted to being back home with no vacations left to look forward to, but determined to enjoy all that summer in Seattle had to offer.

I joined the crew over at Liberating Working Moms and have been having a great time writing for the site. (I was even featured on the NYTimes’ Motherlode!) August saw my first LWM post where I wrote about breastfeeding a toddler.

September

Warm temps and amazing weather continue in Seattle, allowing us to enjoy the summer just a little longer than normal. We are also spoiled with a Labor Day weekend of the Other Washington on the West Coast when the Washington Nationals play a three game series against the Seattle Mariners.

We went to the Pullayup Fair (as you do in September in this Washington), celebrated the return of football and continued to talk about the life of a working mom.

We also talked about reading – banned books, toddler books, picture books. Books are a big deal in our house and our own Lulu is always asking for “8 more books please!”

October

October brought the first of the 35th birthdays to our home.

The kids started doing yoga at home in the evening, proving that an almost two year old saying “namaste” is one of the cutest things ever.

We did the pumpkin patch thing and I determined that next year we’ll just hit up the pumpkins outside of Safeway.

November

This month saw the second 35th birthday at our house (though I’m not telling whose it was).

I felt overwhelmed and learned that apparently everyone else does too.

Despite sick toddlers, busy schedules, meals to plan and holidays to prepare for, I reflected on how lucky we really are.

December

Ah December. Filled with joy, ballet, presents, shopping, parties, must dos, stress, and no time to get the whole to do list complete. We had a great time enjoying the holidays in Seattle this year – Christmas boats, gingerbread houses, Nutcracker, and Seattle Children’s Theater.

It also marked the end of the year’s birthday celebrations, with our Christmas Goose turning two.

Thank you for sharing our year with us. May 2015 bring us all peace and happiness and the wisdom to recognize both. 

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)

Nailed It

A’s birthday is on Tuesday, but we did some early celebrating this weekend. While I’d be happiest buying some delicious Trophy Cupcakes, I know that Lila really enjoys helping to bake and decorate, especially for birthdays. I went to the store to grab some cake and frosting and had the bright idea that making ice cream cone cupcakes would be fun. Easy for the girls to eat, super cute to look at. Yes, I am crafty and handy in the kitchen, this is a brilliant idea.

 

Nailed it. 

 

I am not crafty.

I am not crafty.

Making a Date

I know what all the blogs, parenting magazines and other “experts” say about dating your spouse after kids. It’s necessary. It’s important. It makes a difference. I get that. They’re right. I mean, I was probably able to complete about 4 sentences to A all day today. Small children are not great for conversation. Or thinking. Not to mention, they repeat everything you say, so even if you can complete a thought, be sure that it is one that you don’t mind them repeating to everyone and anyone.

So I get it, we need to make time for ourselves and each other. But you know what else I need to make time for? SLEEP. Laundry. Blogging. Meal planning. SLEEP. Reading a book (allegedly). Grocery shopping. We’ve joked before that we should ask the babysitter to watch the kids while we sleep instead of going out. We’ve never done it, but don’t think we haven’t thought really seriously about it.

It is fun to go out. To have conversation. Go to places that kids can’t go or eat a meal after 5:30pm. But we can’t go out every weekend, both because of schedules and because babysitters aren’t cheap. So sometimes a date looks like tonight. Frozen pizza, beer, a beagle on the bed and a random movie on the tv. It’s not sushi at Shiro’s or even a movie at Cinebarre, but we’re making time to be together and maybe even finish a few sentences or two.

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!

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?

 

 

 

Things I Learned in Canada

To celebrate Lucy’s birthday (and Boxing Day of course) we headed to Vancouver for a few days. It was the girls’ first international trip and we avoided any major incident. Here’s a recap of things I learned in our time away.

1. If the border wait time is listed as 5 min, it will take at least 30. If the border wait time is listed as 45 minutes, get comfy.

2. Canadians are friendly. Like super friendly. We went to dinner at a relatively hip location and worried the owner was trying to convince us not to stay. I think we were just caught off guard by his concern. He sent appetizers and drinks out to us on the (cold) patio as we waited for seats. The front desk staff of the hotel sang happy birthday to Lucy as we headed out for the day and a random passerby on the street helped us find the cupcake shop so we could properly celebrate.

3. Baby belugas, despite what the song says, do not in fact swim wild and free. At least not at the Vancouver Aquarium.

4. The Vancouver Aquarium is a lovely place. Unless you want to use the bathroom with a toddler or change an infant’s diaper. Which is odd because of the make up of their guests.  IMG_00745

5. Vancouver has really great food. And Vancouver-ites like to eat this food very early. We arrived at our restaurant choices at 5pm each evening and encountered at least a 30 minute wait. Worth it at both places. (For the record, Vij’s – get the lamb popsicles- and Anton’s -get the olive bruschetta. Go, enjoy.)

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6. We may be old and married with two kids, but we can still manage to negotiate a new city by bus, even without being able to depend on our phones to look everything up. We hiked through Stanley Park and still found the bus stop, made it back to the hotel and then navigated our way to the restaurant. (All with a baby on my back)

7. No matter how awesome an itinerary of a trip may be, nothing will compare to the hotel in a child’s eyes. Lila returned to day care on Monday and shared with everyone that she went to Canada, stayed at a hotel and slept in a big bed.

 

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8. Olympic stuff is cool.

9. Tim Horton’s is overrated. And if you try to order donut holes, they will look at you strangely. Because apparently they call them Tim Bits. Which is weird.

10. A one year old will watch jellyfish for hours. And maybe try to eat them.

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Reaching the Peak

You guys, December has just flown by. Like Concorde speed flew by. Even though I tried to be more relaxed this year (what with the whole not 40 weeks pregnant thing), I still found the whole holiday thing stressful. But by this weekend, I felt like I had reached the peak and the worst was over. I had all my gifts in the mail by the Christmas Eve delivery deadline (hopefully they arrive as promised), my shopping complete and everything is even wrapped. This weekend was busy, but in a fun good way.

So bring it on Christmas, you know, Santa Claus and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe and presents to pretty girls. We’re ready for you and all you have to offer.

 

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Excess of Thanks

These days everything just feels too much – too much work, too much laundry, too much pet hair, too much toddler tantrums, too much sickness, too much sleeplessness, too much stress, too much to do and on and on. A and I have been filled with anxiety with all the things we need to do, the things we want to do and a desire to sleep every once in a while. It is very easy (and we have) to feel overwhelmed and fall into a bit of a pity party. But this morning as I sat down to make my to do list for the day – all trying to accomplish by 2pm when I need to prepare to go to the girls’ day care for the annual Family Feast- I was reminded how lucky we are. Once again, our burdens are truly our blessings.

We are both stressed at work, stressed with all we need to do and not enough time to do it – We are blessed with not only jobs, but good paying jobs that offer a fair work/life balance.

We are constantly battling colds and fevers this season – We are blessed with excellent health care and the ability to work from home when we (or the babies) are under the weather.

We have so much to do before Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow – We are blessed to only need to worry about where we will place all the food in our overstuffed refrigerator, and not worry where our family’s next meal will come from.

Our house is filled with toys, pet hair, dust bunnies and general disorder – We are blessed with a house that is heated, filled with more than we need, pets that we love and that we can pay for someone to help us walk the dog and clean the house.

I am battling to figure out what to buy for everyone for the holidays and birthdays – We are blessed that our only stress is WHAT to buy and not having to figure out how we will pay for our children’s holiday gifts.

We are sad to be so far from friends and family this holiday – We are blessed with all the modern conveniences of cell phones, google hang outs, digital photos, blogs, twitter, facebook (really endless) that those in the Other Washington and beyond can be a big part of our lives. (And we aren’t dealing with holiday travel which is a GIANT blessing.)

I am sad that this year has gone so quickly and Lucy is already 11 mos old – we are blessed that she is a healthy, happy, beautiful almost one year. Sadly I’ve seen so many examples over the past year that has reminded me that healthy babies are not guaranteed and our family has truly been blessed with our babies continued development and health.

The list of both stresses and blessings could go on and on, with our blessings clearly outweighing our burdens. Our Thanksgiving will be a quiet one with just the four of us (and two fur babies) but it will give us the chance to take a breath, share extra hugs and be thankful for all those burdens with which we have been blessed.