Tuesday, August 22, 2017

impromptu trip to eastern washington

just 3 days after returning to seattle and easing back into our routine, thatcher said to me "let's do an overnight in eastern washington tomorrow night!" we had nothing planned, i have never been east of the cascade mountains and it sounded like fun, so i said "let's do it!" he booked a hotel for us in the town of selah, which is about 5 minutes outside yakima. 

we got up saturday morning, told the kids about our little adventure, packed our bags and hit the road. we drove through the mountains and made our first stop along the white river. the water was such a wild color, i had never seen anything like it. we made some pb&j sandwiches at the pull over spot and enjoyed the view. 



next we got arrived at crystal mountain ski resort. no, there isn't any snow there in august, but they do have a year-round gondola ride that takes you up the mountain. there were tons of people there because there was a relay race happening, but thankfully they had a separate gondola line for regular visitors. i wouldn't say i'm afraid of heights, but i did feel a bit uneasy on the gondola ride. it rocks back and forth quite a bit and takes about 10 minutes to get to the top of the mountain. 



the views going up were incredible. 



when we got to the top, we were greeted by the most spectacular view of mount rainier i have ever seen. thatcher estimated we were only about 10 miles away from it. it was so beautiful it didn't even look real! 



there were tons of people up there taking pictures. it was so cool! nothing humbles me like standing in front of a huge mountain or ocean. humans have so much power in the world, but when it comes down to it, we are very very small compared to nature. 




after the gondola ride we got back in the car to check out mount rainier national park. there were more awesome views of the mountain. we stopped to do a short hike near the ohanapekosh river. it was very kid-friendly (and popular). the kids' favorite part was definitely hanging out by the river and throwing rocks. it was a beautiful spot!




 we finally made our way to the eastern side of the mountains and i couldn't believe the landscape! it looks so much like the southwestern united states. super dry and rocky - so different from seattle and even mount rainier area. it was so cool to see!



next stop was yakima (which is a huge produce growing/distribution area). we drove around the town a little bit, then headed to our hotel in selah. both kids were asleep in the back seat when we got there around 5:30pm. womp womp :) we dropped off our stuff and found a restaurant back in yakima to go to for dinner. it was a great choice - nice atmosphere, kid friendly and good burgers!


 after dinner we went back to the hotel to go in the pool, which the kids were so excited about! the big pool was pretty chilly, but they didn't care. they had a hot tub too, but the jets weren't working. we didn't stay there too long because it was getting late. we all went to sleep at the same time in the hotel room :) 

ashford woke up at 6:20 but we managed to stay in bed with the lights off until 7. we hit up the continental breakfast at the hotel (azalea ate fruit loops for the first time ever and thought it was amazing) and also checked out the game room (or as ashford called it "the game store") in the hotel. 


then we went to a cute coffee shop we had passed a couple times in town. they had board games and toys so that kept the kids entertained while thatcher and i enjoyed our coffees. we made one more quick stop at a fruit store (when in rome...) and got some peaches and plums and candy to bring home.


next we drove to a pretty spot called roza recreational site and put our feet in the beautifully clear river. 




then we went to the town of ellensburg to have some lunch and walk around. it was a cute place! 




thatcher wanted to check out the wild horse wind farm which has tons of wind turbines and a visitor building. i just love watching wind turbines, they are so fascinating. 




after this we hit some suuuuuper bad traffic on I90. we must have went under 15 miles an hour for over an hour. it would speed up for a minute or two and then slowdown again. after a couple hours of it, we decided to get out at the ironhorse trail in snoqualmie pass to stretch our legs. thatcher took the kids biking there before. it's a super long dark tunnel. we walked to the mouth of the tunnel (it was freezing!) and then walked back to the car. 


we finally got home at 7:30 pm. in full transparency, the trip wasn't all rainbows and unicorns. the kids fought a lot. ashford threw tantrums and refused to listen to us over and over and thatcher and i got crabby with the kids and with each other. i had plenty moments of wishing we could just have an enjoyable time, but it was real life and despite the struggles i'm so glad we went. maybe we will stay home and relax this weekend....or maybe we won't. you never know! 

and just so i can look back and remember, the solar eclipse happened on monday 8/21. azalea was at her day camp and they took the kids outside in small groups to look at it with the official glasses. ashford and i were at the coworking space and got to view it together via pinhole boxes and one pair of glasses with a big group of kids and parents. it was really fun! it's crazy to think when the next one happens (which is only 7 years away), i will have a 13 year old and a 10 year old! 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

minneapolis: week two

this trip was the longest stretch of time we had spent in minneapolis since the summer of 2015. it was nice to not have to feel so rushed. we had a few days where we didn't even have anything planned. shocking! :) the best part of the second week was that thatcher came into town! he hadn't been to minneapolis for 14 months, so he was really looking forward to it. once again, i won't recap what we did all day every day, but here are some highlights from week 2:




where we stayed: we spent the first 3 nights at thatcher's parents' house. the kids and i slept in his sister's old room and he slept in his brother's old room in a twin bed :) then we spent one night at our friends' liz and joe's over the weekend. they are long-time family friends and we would always do "family sleepovers" when we lived in minneapolis. it's so nice because the kids can go to bed and the grown ups can continue hanging out. except...the kids are getting older and everyone went to bed at the same time this time. ha! our last 2 nights we spent back at my mom's house. week 2 brought lots more rain, but also some sun. it rained so much more than i ever expected, but we were still able to fit in everything we hoped to do.




what we did: i worked in my office again for an afternoon (and had lunch with my old co-worker mandi who no longer works there), my mom watched the kids one afternoon and treated me to a pedicure. so nice! thatcher and i got to have a date night one night. we walked around uptown and then had dinner at pizza luce (one of our favorites!), we went to the mill district one morning with our friends becky and jeromy and their girls. it's one of my favorite places in the city and it was such a beautiful morning, we had a family dinner with thatcher's sister, brother in law, and our nephew at thatcher's parents, the kids and i got to attend another kid birthday - lydia turned 4 and her parents/our friends sara and wes threw her the cutest "mary poppins" themed birthday party at their house, we hosted a potluck/playdate at the park for a bunch of our friends (to maximize the number of people we could catch up with because it gets really hard to fit in one on one visits). it was sprinkling when we started, and after 1.5 hours it was pouring, but lots of people came and it was so fun to see everyone. we had a bbq with extended family at my aunt and uncle's house on a lake. so much fun! finally, my mom and i took the kids to mall of america the last day. i hadn't been there in forever! 




what we ate: it was another food-filled week. i think one of my favorite parts of being home was not having to plan/cook a meal for 2 weeks. so nice! :) during week 2 i got to enjoy the freehouse, agra-culture, pizza luce, another trip to culvers for custard, edina grill, original pancake house, and more caribou and dunn bros coffee. woo! i think i need to take a lonnng break from eating out now. 





the return flight: it was so nice to have thatcher with us for the return flight. the minneapolis airport was not too busy, so the lines went fast. our flight was on time again and best of all - thatcher sat with the kids the whole flight and kept them happy while i sat across the aisle and drank coffee and read my book. heaven! (except i don't really enjoy flying). once we arrived back in seattle we had to take the light rail and the bus (with alllll our luggage) all the way home, which is never much fun, but we survived. 






now we are feeling refreshed and back to seattle life! we considered moving back to minneapolis this summer, but no jobs panned out for thatcher, so we will be here for at least another school year, which is okay in my book! we miss our families and minneapolis, but we love everything seattle has to offer too, so a move will happen when it's meant to happen. school starts for azalea in just under 3 weeks and my mom is coming to visit in september too. we went out and bought azalea's school supplies yesterday! the kids have a couple more camps to round out the summer. i love summer so much and i'm sort of in denial that it's coming to an end, but i'm trying to get into the autumn/school mindset again. it will be here before we know it! 

Friday, August 11, 2017

minneapolis: week one

we are nearing the end of our wonderful two week visit to minnneapolis, but i thought i'd break my recap post into two because...there is a lot to cover! and don't worry, i won't recap what we did every single day - just the highlights. i also didn't have our real camera for the first week of the trip (until thatcher arrived), so i made collages of my phone pictures instead. 

the flight: the kids and i flew out together on august 1st. the security line at the airport was reasonably short, our flight was on time, and the kindle tablets kept the kids busy for nearly the whole flight. dare i say it was almost...relaxing? i actually got to read quite a few pages on my book in between throwing them 1000 snacks. ;) i was so relieved it went well because in all honesty i had a lot of anxiety about the flight leading up to it. we also flew on the two year anniversary of my dad's death, so it was so nice to be able to be with my mom and brother when we arrived. 

where we stayed: we stayed at my moms for the first 5 nights we were in town. azalea slept with my mom and ashford slept with me upstairs. the time change really helped make it feel like the kids were sleeping in each morning ;) we had some crazy weather the first week. heat, then rain and cold (high of 55?!), then nice again. we spent the next couple nights at thatcher's parents' house. the kids and i all shared a room, but azalea had a cozy little floor bed, so it worked well. 

what we did: it was a perfect mixture of family activities and kid-free outings for me (endless thanks to the grandparents for babysitting so much). we attended my mom's national night out block party and saw lots of long time and new neighbors, my mom took the kids and me to the como zoo where we looked at the animals and the kids went on a bunch of rides (their first time riding anything besides a carousel - they were thrilled!), i worked at my office one afternoon, i went to the uptown art fair with my college roomie sarah, we visited my grandma's husband bob at his condo, we went to the pershing, linden hills and bryant square wading pools, the kids spent lots of afternoons/evenings with their cousin jack (10) and they all had a blast together. i took some leisurely walks around uptown and did a little shopping, we attended our church for the first time in 2 years and got to see the beautiful new sanctuary and building addition and see our beloved pastor preach one more time before he retires later this month, we went to our friends becky and jeromy's joint bday party for their daughters linnea and britta at lake hiawatha, and we had a visit from my aunt, uncle and cousins at my mom's house. 

what we ate: one of my favorite parts of my trips home is eating and drinking at all of my favorite minneapolis spots. of course i could never get to all of them in one visit, but i think i did pretty well. keep in mind, some of them are nothing fancy, but they are places we don't have in seattle and...they just taste like home! the first week we ate at culvers, we tried red wagon pizza for the first time, i tried the trendy new lynhall and went to happy hour at amazing thailand, my mom and brother and i had dinner at it's greek to me in honor of my dad's birthday. i got some caribou coffee as well. yum in the tum! 
i'll have the recap of our second week some time next week after i unbury myself from unpacking, laundry, and grocery shopping! stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

goodbye july, hello minneapolis!

we had a full week around here last week. azalea did soccer camp at the community center every morning and she loved it. the afternoons were a bit dicey between the kids and i, but we all survived. thursday night we got to have dinner with thatcher's cousin jade and her husband ben who are here from portland. in june she started a 3 month contract for work in seattle, so we've been meaning to get together! we met them at mod pizza in our neighborhood. they were so helpful with keeping the kids entertained, especially after all the pizza was long gone :) hopefully we will see them again before the end of september when they go back.



as for the weekend...friday night we hung out at home with the kids. we made spaghetti, gave them a bath, and they went to bed pretty early. 

saturday we headed out for a family hike (thatcher finds a way for a hike to happen every weekend now, ha). he chose a trail about an hour and a half away in the mountains near cottonwood lake and mirror lake. unfortunately the hike ended up being sort of a bust. ashford was uninterested in walking from the very beginning, the terrain was a lot of small rocks which made all of us (except thatcher) fall on our butts at some point, and worst of all - there were tons of swarming flies. we went a little ways past cottonwood lake, but didn't make it all the way to mirror lake.


it was very pretty though! 



 we stopped for lunch at chipotle on the way home, so i was a happy camper. i did some walking errands by myself when we got home. we scrounched up some dinner from the fridge and hung out with the kids the rest of the night.

sunday we didn't have any plans. after breaking up one too many fights between the kids by 10am, thatcher and i decided to separate them for a while. he stayed home with ashford to build legos and i took azalea to a park in wallingford. we came home for lunch and then i took both kids to the wading pool while thatcher went grocery shopping. it was a beautiful day! it's supossed to heat up to the 90's the second half of this week and i'm glad we'll be gone :) we made pizza for dinner and the kids went to bed early. super early for ashford after he fell off our computer chair and cut his head on our desk. sighhhh. i actually got to sneak away after their bedtime to meet up with my neighbor martine for a couple drinks on ballard avenue. we had a fun night together, even if it was a sunday. ha! 

today is a sad/happy day in my life. it is the two year anniversary of my dad's death, but also the day the kids and i travel to minnesota for 2 weeks. i can't imagine a better day for it to fall on as it means i get to be with my mom and my brother. how two whole years have gone by already is beyond me. i hate that it is starting to feel "normal" that he is not here anymore. i miss him so much and don't want it to feel normal, but normal is a form of peace right? peace and acceptance and moving forward. not a day (or even a half day) goes by without me thinking of him. i would give anything to hug him or talk with him again. a part of my heart is gone forever, but i can still feel his love no matter how much time has gone by. 

minneapolis here we come! 

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