Monday, November 28, 2016

aunt cindy's visit, thanksgiving weekend, and the lao wedding

whew! it's been quite the week around here. thatcher is still gone in laos (it feels like he's been gone for a year, more details on the wedding later in this post). my aunt cindy came into town last monday through friday to help me with the kids and to spend thanksgiving with us. it was so nice to have her here, i kept thanking her profusely (and she could see why. ha!). these kiddos are not for the faint of heart lately. azalea was out of school all week and it was rainy and windy out paired with a holiday when many places are closed. it was the perfect storm for the kids wanting our attention every second, lots of fighting, and a dash of boredom thrown in. but we survived. i'm not sure that i would have on my own. 

we did manage to get out and do lots of fun things with cindy including having lunch at patxi's pizza in our neighborhood, donuts at mighty o's, a trip to the library and joann fabrics, azalea's school conference, and finally the locks the morning she left. 

and thanksgiving was a success as well! i really wanted to make a traditional (though small scale) dinner for the four of us. i bought a 5 lb turkey breast, and made stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans. i also bought rolls and pumpkin pie to have. i enjoyed making everything for us and cindy enjoyed entertaining the kids (and not cooking for a change!). 

just like last year, the kids picked at their food, but cindy and i enjoyed the meal immensely! after dinner we all watched the polar express.

in between breaking up sibling spats, i really tried to soak up the cozyness that thanksgiving weekend brings. i didn't touch my book keeping work on thursday, i've worn comfy clothes, watched christmas movies, listened to hours of christmas music, played a million board games (race to the roof is azalea's current favorite), curled up on the couch while watching the rain fall outside (soooo much rain!), took advantage of some black friday deals online. 

friday night our friends vanessa and ewan joined the kids and me for dinner at our house. her husband works for amazon, so not surprisingly he had a long work day because of black friday. we made pita pizzas and drank wine and the kids played (mostly without fighting) :) 

saturday we put our tree up (sans ornaments) and decorated. per thatcher's request, we are waiting until later this week when he is home so he can put them up with the kids. so, i won't share any pictures until the decorating is complete. it was my first time putting a tree up on my own, so i was sort of proud. ha.

 i took the kids to scooters burgers and shakes for lunch. they are obsessed with that place! 

sunday we went to swanson's nursery to see santa! it was our second year going there, and while i hate paying $25 for a single picture, you can make an appointment online and they do a great job. this year they did the pictures in a yurt! so cool, so seattle! haha


the kids were so excited to see santa, but when the time came they sort of clammed up (star struck?). no tears, but they couldn't really spit out what they wanted to say and were feeling very self conscious. but the picture turned out adorable! 


finally, anders and nith's wedding was yesterday, so was i glued to social media waiting for pictures of the big event. thatcher told me it was a huge cultural experience for his family since there are many traditions that come with lao weddings and it was not in english and they were expected to play an active role in it, so half the time they didn't know what was going on :) but it was a success and the pictures look absolutely beautiful. i'm so sad i couldn't be there to experience it in person. i'm so excited that nith is officially part of our family now. 

today it's back to reality! azalea is back to school, ashford and i are back to our week day routine. we are counting down the days til thatcher returns! hope you had a happy thanksgiving with your loved ones!

Monday, November 21, 2016

thanksgiving week is upon us

from now until the end of the year is my favorite time of year! but you already knew that :) this year is looking a little different as far as our routine goes. you know, our one year old seattle routine. ha! thatcher left on saturday night for his 10 day trip to thailand, laos, and china. i can't believe it's actually here! the kids have been giving us a run for our money lately, so i'd be lying if i said i wasn't a little worried about how this stretch is going to go. thankfully my aunt cindy is coming into town today for the next 4 days to help me with the kids and spend thanksgiving with us! 

we had a pretty low-key weekend here. friday night we stayed in and grilled dinner. saturday morning thatcher took the kids to the indoor play area at mountlake terrace recreation center, so i could start working on my monthly invoicing. i also got some cleaning in. double the fun! ;) i actually stayed home all day saturday, which doesn't happen often. thatcher left after the kids were in bed for the night and i lounged on the couch. 

sunday morning i decided to be brave and take the kids to their second ever movie in the theater. the last one we saw was finding dory in minneapolis in june and it was a bit of a rough event for ashford, he didn't make it til the end. this time we saw trolls and i'm happy to report he made it through the whole thing! it was such a cute movie with great music! we all loved it! and one of azalea's classmates was there with her family and sat right behind us, so she was excited about that!


 in the afternoon the kids both napped (high five!) and i did more invoicing. we met up with our friends vanessa and ewan at the mcdonalds in our neighborhood for dinner. we've actually never been to it, but it has a playland, so we thought it would be a good way to tire the kids out. and it was! 

so, that's about it for today. i hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving. i'm cooking a turkey dinner for our little family group here on thursday and i'm really looking forward to it. then it'll be full-on christmas mode for me! (right now it's like 87%.....) 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

a long weekend on the east coast

i'm back from my weekend trip to new jersey and new york to visit my family on my dad's side. it was another whirlwind weekend of travel and activities, but i'm so glad i got the opportunity to go out there. this was my 4th weekend away from the kids in the last 3 months. it's sort of crazy to me considering i had hardly spent a night away from ashford before then. i'm so thankful that thatcher is supportive of me going away and has no (well, few) complaints about watching the kids. poor ashford had a rough time with me being away this time. lots of whining and crying for me. :( but everyone survived! this post is quite long and wordy, but this was such a special trip so bare with me...

friday morning i took the bus then the light rail to the airport for my 12:30 flight. this is actually the second longest flight i've ever taken in my life. the longest was from minneapolis to london in 2007. i was relieved to be flying alone because entertaining the kids for 6 hours on a plane would not have been very fun. instead i was able to read and watch movies and shows to my heart's content. i lost almost an entire day flying because of the time difference. it was nearly 9pm when i landed at jfk. my aunt lea (my dad's younger sister) and my uncle ray were nice enough to drive almost an hour to pick me up at the airport. we got back to their house after 10pm and my two cousins kelly and ryan and ryan's girlfriend maria were there waiting for me. they gave me some food and a glass of wine and then said they wanted to take me a bar in their town (they live in a cute town about 20 miles outside manhattan). thank goodness my body was still on pacific time because it was nearly 11pm by the time we got to the bar. way past this girl's bed time ;) we had some pizza and a couple drinks there and caught up. it was such a fun time! then we went back to the house and had more wine before crashing around 1:30am. this was the start of a weekend full of late nights and lots of fun! 

saturday morning my aunt lea and my cousins kelly (26) and ryan (24) set out for nyc. ryan was nice enough to drive us into the city. our only set plan for the day was to go to the 9/11 memorial. last time i was there 4 years ago, they were building it. the water feature outside the museum is breath taking. it was a chilly morning, barely 40 degrees. 

i've always felt somewhat removed from the terror and heart ache of that day, living so far away, but when you visit this place with the names of all the people who died, it's impossible to feel removed. so much loss, it's almost unfathomable. 

kelly, me, and ryan

lea's co-worker had told her there was a groupon for the museum, so we purchased tickets on the way there...only to find out that the museum the groupon was for wasn't the museum (the name differed by one word!). what a joke right? so, that was a bummer. we went through the smaller museum since we already had tickets, then made our way over to the main museum, but the lines (one to buy tickets and one to get into the museum) were 45-60 minutes a piece. we gave up and decided to go get lunch instead. 

we found a pub a couple blocks away and had some delicious burgers and sandwiches. we were on the opposite side of the city from some things we wanted to see, so we hopped back in the car and attempted to drive, but the streets were sooooo packed with bumper to bumper traffic. i have been to nyc many times in my life and i feel like it was the busiest i've ever seen it. after barely moving in 15 minutes, we decided to cut our trip to the city short and just head home. it was sort of a bummer, but like i said, i've seen much of nyc in my life, so it wasn't a huge letdown. we also don't normally drive to or around the city, so it was a good lesson ;) 

on the way home, we stopped by my grandma's house, which was sold last month and is set for closing this friday. the sweetest couple purchased it and even wrote my aunts (who are the ones selling it) the sweetest letter about how they fell in love with the house the moment they walked in. it's hard knowing this physical place that has been in our family since the 1950's will soon belong to some one else, but i couldn't imagine a nicer couple to buy it. one of my biggest wishes when i booked this trip was to be able to visit the house one last time. and i was able to - with less than a week to spare! the house was nearly emptied out, and some of the rooms inside had been re-painted, so it didn't really look like the house i remember. but i was filled with such peace as i walked from room to room. so many memories for myself and even more for my aunts (and my uncle and my dad) who grew up there. it's truly the end of an era letting that house go. but i know the new owners will take great care of it. i'm so glad i was able to walk through one last time. it was the closure i needed after not being able to attend my grandma's funeral in august. 

after that, we headed home with no plans until dinner time, so i took a nice long nap and it. was. glorious. 

two more of my cousins and one of their husbands came over at dinner time and we all carpooled a japanese hibachi restaurant for dinner. we had a drink at the bar, then were seated at our table (with the cooktop in the middle). there were 8 of us total, so it was a nice big group. we had so much fun and the food was absolutely delicious (and so much of it!). here are some (dark/blurry) pics from dinner: 

all the girls - pam, kelly, maria, me, and jaclyn 

after dinner, we all went over to jaclyn and albert's house to continue the party. it was another late (but super fun) night. as wonderful as it would have been to have my family along, it was nice to not have to worry about anyone but myself for the weekend. 

it's so infrequently that i see all of them, so it's just a giant love fest when we get together :) 

sunday morning jaclyn picked me up to go to the masoleum where my grandma, grandpa, and uncle bob (my dad's brother) rest. we met my aunt anne (bob's wife) there. it was nice to have another form of closure with my grandma being gone. 

 after that, anne took us out for a nice brunch at a diner nearby. i hadn't seen her in 4 years, so it was nice to catch up. then jaclyn and i ran some errands in preparation for my uncle ray's birthday dinner at his house that night. we also stopped at the park to see her kiddos and husband and sister: 

it was a beautiful day! 

the family started arriving at lea and ray's in the mid afternoon. we sat out on their deck and had drinks and appetizers. such a treat in mid november! 

lea made the most delicious lasagna for dinner and apple crisp for dessert. we sang to raymond and he opened some gifts. his real birthday was monday, but we celebrated sunday night. 

monday morning my aunt, uncle, and cousins who's house i stayed at all had to work, so i planned to fend for myself until i needed to go to the airport at 1pm. but then my cousin jaclyn texted me that she was off and asked if i wanted to go out for the morning. yes, please! we went to the mall where i bought a bunch of clothes (i was seriously worried they wouldn't fit in my tiny suitcase, but they did). whew! i was so happy to get that extra time with her. finally, it was time to make the trek back to jfk with my uncle. the flight back was slightly longer than the flight there, but at least i gained time. i watched 3 movies and a few shows to pass the time. thatcher and the kids were waiting for me at the airport when i got there. the kids were so excited to see me and hugged me so tightly. i wish i could have bottled up that love - it was the best feeling! 

so there you have it, my final "momcation" of 2016. what an amazing few months it's been. and now it's nearly thanksgiving time followed by christmas. i can't wait! 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

a day in the life: #onedayhh

this is the third time i've written one of these posts (after participating in #onedayhh on instagram). see 2015 and 2014. if you aren't familiar with it, #onedayhh is when you post one picture for each hour of your day on instagram. it's sort of a fun way to see the "boring" parts of peoples' day that don't normally make the cut on social media. just like the last two years, i discovered it was #onedayhh while scrolling through my instagram feed while eating breakfast on november 2nd (so this is over a week old now). i decided to jump right in. hope you enjoy the look at an average day at our house (it's okay if you are rolling your eyes, i know it is a little silly)...but fun!

7:30 am // our day actually started at about 7:00 (which is sleeping in), but as i mentioned, i didn't know it was #onedayhh until breakfast time. the kids always eat breakfast first thing when they wake up (i usually do as well). at 7:30 they had already eaten and moved into the living room to watch their shows. i like to get them taken care of and then eat (sort of) in peace while they are in the living room. this particular morning i had coffee with pumpkin spice creamer and an open-faced egg and sausage sandwich on toast. that's a pretty fancy breakfast for me, but we had all the ingredients and it sounded good :)

8:30 am // i am ready for the day and quickly make azalea's lunch before it's time to turn off the tv. she eats pretty much the same lunch every day: half a turkey, cheese, and mustard sandwich, goldfish (or a granola bar), grapes, and carrots. 1/3 to 1/2 of it comes home with her every day. sighhh. i mentally prepare myself for the war that is about to go down for the next 45 minutes before we leave for school: lots of sibling fighting, refusals to get dressed, etc. we might need to make some changes to our morning routine, because it's been the bane of my existence lately! 2-3 hours to kill every morning before school is too much!

9:30 am // we are on our (2 block) walk to drop off azalea at school. it's been raining almost every day for.....ever. i guess this is seattle right? but it's starting to get to me. not just a little rain, but lots of it! we hug and kiss azalea goodbye until 3:45 and ashford and i head home before we are supposed to meet up with some friends at a coffee shop.

10:30 am // we are at royal drummer cafe in our neighborhood. last week i got a text from some of the preschool (now kindergarten) parents we have been friends with since last year, asking if anyone wanted to meet up at the coffee shop this morning. it was a lot of fun, but things have sure changed this year - all of the younger siblings (who are 3 and 4 years old) are all in preschool now but ashford isn't yet, so he was the only kid of the group. thank goodness for the toy area they have there!

11:30 am // we have left royal drummer and headed down the hill a couple blocks to the qfc grocery store to pick up some stuff for dinner, diapers, and some other random things that make their way into our cart. we got the "car cart" and ashford got his free apple (a promo for kids), so he was pretty content.

12:30 pm // we've eaten our lunch (leftover taco for me and pretzels/hummus/cheese/fruit for ashford) and now we are playing for a bit before it's nap time. ashford really wants me to play with him a lot lately and sometimes i lose perspective of how fleeting this time is with him and grumble about all the things i "need" to get done instead. so i try to make an effort to put all of that on the back burner a couple times a day and just concentrate on playing with him. i also start wondering how nap time will play out. he's been back to napping consistently but every so often he refuses to go down, which makes for a long afternoon.

1:30 pm // nap time was a success! ashford is asleep and i decide to take 15 minutes to veg out on the couch and look at my phone before i need to start working on book keeping for work. i savor every second of it!

2:30 pm // i had a work call from 2-2:40, followed by crossing some things off my 'to do' list. i work for anywhere from 30-90 minutes on any given day. i'm so thankful that this working remotely gig with my employer from minneapolis has worked out so well.

3:30 pm // i usually have to wake ashford up when it's time to pick up azalea from school and today was no different. i'm excited to step outside and discover there is no precipitation falling from the sky!! :) the end of the school day can be a little hectic, but it's nice to see my girl. i always let the kids play on the playground for 30 minutes or so to burn off energy and kill some time before dinner.

4:30 pm // azalea always wants a snack when she gets home (and so does ashford because he always wants to eat, period!) they've been really into kix cereal lately. i hadn't eaten it in years and randomly bought it for myself and they love it. it's low in sugar, so that's nice! they each have a bowl and i eat a small snack too.

5:30 pm // thatcher is on the bus, the kids are watching their shows again, and it's time for me to start making dinner. tonight is noodles and zoodles (zucchini noodles). thatcher is making some changes to his diet in an effort to relieve some stomach issues he's been having, so he isn't eating regular pasta right now. i had been wanting to try making zoodles for a long time, so i bought a spiral cutter from fred meyer and we've done it a few times. they are really good. not as filling or satisfying as regular pasta, but i've been doing 1/2 pasta and 1/2 zoodles in my bowl and i love it! the kids eat regular pasta (with their choice of tomato or pesto sauce) with a few zoodles on the side as their veggie. leftover halloween candy for dessert, of course!

6:30 pm // dinner is done and we're cleaning up the dishes. this was about the time i started hitting a wall. i've been feeling sort of tired and rundown this week (maybe after all my wedding fun?) but either way, i sort of lost momentum on posting for the rest of the night. the kids have a tendency to get very squirrly after dinner and it often feels like bedtime can't come soon enough. this was definitely one of those nights.

10:00 pm // i climb into bed after getting the kids down, doing a load of laundry, writing a blog post and staring at my phone for a good while. i should have gone to bed earlier, considering how tired i was, but oh well. the day is done and it's time to rest up and do it all over again tomorrow. i wouldn't trade my life for the world, but it wears me out most days.

so, there you have it! hope you enjoyed it (if you made it all the way through).

Monday, November 7, 2016

shopping, lunching, skating weekend

weekends with no plans have been few and far between for us this fall - but we got one this past weekend. thatcher's mom left for home last tuesday and i'm in between my getaway weekends, so we embraced having two days with no real plans. if you know us, you know we didn't spend the weekend at home, but we had a nice balance of outings and relaxation time. 

friday night we stayed in. we grilled burgers for dinner, got the kids to bed, and then relaxed the rest of the night. saturday morning it was raining cats and dogs. thatcher had some things he wanted to look for at REI for his upcoming trip to asia and they have an awesome indoor play structure there, so we made it a family outing. here are the kids catching rain drops on their tongue on our way out the door: 

after REI, we went to chipotle for lunch, which is always a hit with everyone! yum! it continued to rain all day, so once we got home we all changed out of wet clothes and back into jammies. ashford, azalea, and i all napped for a bit and thatcher went out for a couple hours by himself. it was the perfect cozy weather for lounging the afternoon away. my friend beth (fellow kindergarten mom) texted me asking if we were planning to go to the pta-sponsored party at the community center that night (celebrating the success of azalea's school's big fundraiser). i hadn't been planning on going, but i decided to take the kids at the last minute. the kids had a blast running around in the gym and playing games in the staffed "kid room" and the adults sat at tables in the gym and drank free beer (seriously - they had 2 kegs there. it was awesome!) the night was great until the very end when azalea decided to head outside without me in the dark and i couldn't find her for a few minutes. so scary! it was the first time i've had that sort of thing happen and i hope it doesn't again for a long time. we had a long chat about why it was not ok for her to go outside in the dark without me. i don't think she really understands why it was not safe. the world is still a pretty safe place in her eyes and she is going through a big independence and distancing phase right now. i am so not ready for all this stuff yet! yikes! 

sunday morning we had to face the effects of daylight saving time. ashford woke up for the day at 5:30 and azalea at 6. thankfully thatcher got up with them and i got to sleep a little more. our friends vanessa, matt, and ewan invited us to go skating with them during open skate at an arena in the suburb north of seattle. azalea has been asking to go skating for months, so we took them up on the invite. we all rented skates and hit the rink. 

the kids did amazingly well, i thought. ashford was a little young to understand the technique, but we held him up like this the whole time and he would basically run in place (our backs are going to be killing us!) 

azalea held onto the wall or my hand (or both) the whole time and she understood it a little better, but she was pretty frustrated that she was not skating like an olympian on her first try ;) we have a bit of a perfectionist on our hands, which is good in that she is motivated to do well at things, but hard to witness when she gets upset and cries because she has unrealistic expectations for herself. but we all had fun for the most part.

sunday afternoon was naps for the kids, and i headed to a coffee shop to get some work done, then went to the grocery store. it was nice to get some time to myself. for dinner we made homemade chicken bean soup (which was just like chicken noodle, but with beans instead of noodles). it was really good! perfect fall food. thatcher is not a big soup guy, but i'm still hoping to sway him. it felt like it was dark before 4pm because of the time change. boo! the only upside is it helps get the kids to bed earlier when it gets dark so early. they had baths and were in bed by 7:45. whew! 

it's a big week ahead - the election is tuesday (in case you didn't know - haha). we actually dropped off our completed ballots this weekend. washington is all mail-in and drop off voting. #i'mwithher. i'm gonna be on pins and needles tuesday night. last but not least, on friday i'm flying to new york (staying in new jersey) to spend a long weekend with my dad's side of the family. this trip has been a long time coming (i haven't been there in 4 years) and i'm so excited for it. 


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