volunteer park

November 11, 2012 § 3 Comments

One of our favorite places to spend a beautiful summer day is Volunteer Park – a 48-acre retreat at the top of Seattle’s Capital Hill neighborhood – playing softball and relaxing in the big grassy field, climbing to the top of the old water tower with one of the most spectacular views of the city, and wandering through its amazing conservatory. For now, the weather has turned, and it’s too rainy and chilly to hang outdoors. But as we headed over there again today to take pictures at a place I’d scouted out for our Christmas card, I was reminded of how much I love spending time in this beautiful oasis in our city. Even though I’m not much of a green thumb, even I can appreciate fabulous flora when I see it, and there’s a lot of it to be seen in the Volunteer Park Conservatory. It’s just another little place I love.

happy feet

August 6, 2012 § 3 Comments

We’ve just returned from a quick getaway with a couple of families to Sunriver, Oregon. It’s a wonderful vacation spot, and I loved seeing my children happy and carefree, having fun with their friends. They’ve spent the past few days swimming, biking and generally just running around together. I kept looking for a break in the action – a good time to tear them away from their play and sit them down together for a group photo. But it can be tricky to get seven crazy children to sit still for a perfect shot. So instead I decided to steal a quick moment, scoot them together on the front porch of the rental house where we’d gathered, point the camera down to their feet and click.

My college friend Jean has been taking these kind of feet pictures ever since I’ve known her. She says it was something she and her friends just started doing in high school, and she never stopped. I’ve been out and about many times with Jean over the years and had fun posing with our group, toes together, for one of her shots. I’d never thought much about it, but now it makes perfect sense to me.

I’m sure that Jean’s collection of feet pictures over the last more than 20 years does the same for her as anyone else’s favorite photos does for them: reminds her of the important moments in her life – events both big and small shared with the people she loves. I realize that it’s not the actual images in the picture that always matters as much as the time taken to get the shot, the brief pause in the action to take note of the occasion; that photo, like a bookmark in your life, captures the moment and helps to preserve it. Having pictures is nice, but the memories are so much more valuable.

From Jean and her fun feet pics, I’m reminded to take notice of all of life’s precious moments (even if I don’t get the perfect shot) and to enjoy and remember life as it comes. I could take a hundred photos of my girls and their friends with their sweet smiling faces – and believe me, I have – but this picture of their happy feet is really all I need to remind me of our summer trip to Sunriver, of these beautiful children and of the memories we’ve made together.

bottled memories

July 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

On vacation, we love to pick up souvenirs – nothing fancy, just little trinkets for us and the children in our close-knit friend group. It feels good to bottle some of our fun vacation vibe and share it with those we love. And as for me, my favorite home decor is the bits of nature – shells, driftwood, etc. – I’ve gathered from our adventures. So from this, our first trip to Maui, we found cool shell necklaces for all the kiddos, and I collected sand; displayed in glass spice jars from Cost Plus World Market, these new bottled memories make me happy.

surfer dreams

July 14, 2012 § 5 Comments

For some reason, everything clicked for my youngest when we visited Hawaii for the first time last year. She immediately felt the island spirit; she loved everything: the music, the culture, the beach… And ever since, she has continued to be interested in all things Hawaii. She asked Santa for a ukulele, had a luau-themed birthday party and talks about moving to the islands when she grows up. Surfing has also captured her imagination. She loved the movie “Soul Surfer” about a Hawaiian surfer who survives and then thrives after a brutal shark attack (the scary shark part didn’t even faze my surfer wannabe).

So this time, when we returned to Hawaii, we made sure to sign the girls up for a surf lesson. It turned out to be harder than Sophie thought, and I think she was a little too small – the paddling out over and over on a very long board is not easy for a little body. But Bella got up quite a few times, and both girls enjoyed checking something off the bucket list. And I wonder if Sophie will give it a try again the next time we go – I sure hope so. I tried to capture the moment myself from the shore, but my surfers got too far out. Luckily, the surf school had a photographer in the water to fully document these precious moments.

relaxation

July 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

relaxation The act of relaxing or the state of being relaxed. Refreshment of body or mind; recreation.

chillaxin’ Way-far laid back. Chillin’ & relaxin’ at the same time. An extreme state of contentedness. Good vibes.

We are back from our week’s vacation in Hawaii and, even though we had a few adventures, just being together was definitely the highlight. Somehow, away from the rest of the world and in the security of our own family space, we relaxed into ourselves. Already amazing everyday, on vacation my girls seemed somehow sillier, spunkier and happier – making me love them even more, which I didn’t think possible. Together as a family, we perfected the fine art of chillaxin’. It’s a busy world, and time seems to get away from us; a little bit of relaxation is so important and so much fun!

a day at the arboretum

June 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Father’s Day is coming up this weekend and, since I know it will be impossible to top our Mother’s Day, we’ll just have to enjoy more of the same. For my special day this year, I wanted to do one of my favorite things: spend a day having an adventure and feeling lost in the world with my family. One of the best warm weather day trips right here in our own backyard is a trip to the Washington Park Arboretum. We love to rent canoes from the University of Washington and, once you make it through the cut and past all the big boats cruising Lake Washington (which if you are not careful can result in a spill – just ask my Bella about the time Daddy almost tipped the boat), you find yourself meandering under the 520 bridge and through the canals of the arboretum. Even more than the canoeing, my girls love to park the canoe on one of the banks and play catch, eat lunch and just relax by the lake. So that’s just what we did, and this happy Mommy got to do another of my other favorite things: sit around and take pictures of this family that I love so much! I can’t wait to see where we find ourselves this weekend.

getting out there

May 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

I’ll admit that I am not much of a camper. Actually I have some great memories of camping as a child with my dad and uncles and, before having kids of my own, I did get out there every so often for a short trip with my hubby and friends. Ever since I had the girls though, I’ve preferred hotel rooms to tents and fireplaces to camp fires. But with my dad’s visit this weekend and my brother now living out here, a camping experience for my girls was in order. My brother is a regular mountain man – he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail straight from Georgia to Maine about six years ago, and now he lives on the Olympic Peninsula. The girls love their “Uncle D” and having him and Gramps to go camping with got them really excited. We ended up at the beautiful Lake Wenatchee State Park, and seeing our outdoor adventure through my daughters’ eyes changed my perspective on roughing it.

The girls loved all the things I remember loving when I was little: setting up the beds in the tent, hiking around and exploring the campground, tending the fire, laying in the hammock and making the food. We roasted hot dogs for dinner and made s’mores for dessert. In typical fashion, Bella got extremely scientific in creating the perfect s’more, expertly toasting the marshmallows and graham crackers and melting the chocolate. The little sister preferred to quickly toast the marshmallows, throw the combo together and then relax in the hammock, enjoying the tasty results. Sitting around the campfire was fun; the girls brought their own instruments (a recorder and a ukulele) and had a little jam session. And at dusk, we walked down to the lake’s gorgeous beach where I was happy to find some rocks and driftwood for my collection. I get it now, camping isn’t about roughing it – it’s about being together and having an adventure and making memories. I guess I can get out there every once in a while for that!

welcoming summer

May 25, 2012 § 2 Comments

With the long weekend, it officially feels like summer around here. Ever since our Halloween banner project, my friend Stacy and I have been in production mode making banners for most of the holidays. And just when I was beginning to get tired of repeating the same design, my favorite craft store Ben Franklin got in fresh supplies. In addition to their other banner-making embellishments, Paper Accents is now selling extra-large chipboard pennants and, as is usually the case at my Ben Franklin, one of the employees had made a sample inspiring me to try my own. I combined some pretty blue and yellow papers and buttons from My Mind’s Eye and made flags to string across the top from my collection of Washi tape. I love the results: a cool new banner for the front door to welcome guests – and summer – to our house.

 

a bit of sun

February 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

The longer we live in Seattle, the more we feel we’re becoming true Seattleites. But by far the hardest thing to get used to has been the weather. Having both spent most of our lives in Florida, Drew and I at first found the lack of sunshine a novelty, but the feeling soon wore off. We don’t miss the constant sun (and heat and sunscreen), but the gray skies do bring some wintertime blues. Wondering how people seem to thrive here – in this albeit absolutely gorgeous but sunless area – we began to listen to and watch our friends and saw that to truly appreciate Seattle, you have to leave it every once in awhile.

We’ve taken up skiing in the winter. It’s amazing that in about an hour you can be on snow-covered mountains enjoying the sun while getting fresh air and exercise. Last summer we went to Hawaii – a place us Floridians never considered going to before. But after a relatively short direct flight, we found ourselves in paradise: the beautiful and relaxing island of Kauai, with plenty of sunshine to enjoy.

This past week was our Mid-Winter Break, and with a few days off school our family was again looking for a quick bit of sun. We headed to Palm Springs, another place that so many of our Seattle friends escape to. Just the idea of packing swimsuits and shorts in the middle of the Northwest winter – with Sophie excitedly discovering that her favorite Saltwater Sandals from last summer still fit – made me happy. Palm Springs was an interesting place to visit and pretty much what we expected. It had such an old Hollywood vibe – I kept expecting to see the Rat Pack strolling by. We spent most of time sitting by the pool and soaking up the sun. We also loved The Living Desert, Palm Springs’ local zoo and botanical park, and had our first In-N-Out burgers. I’ve never seen terrain like that before – the strange and beautiful combination of palm trees and cacti and the sandy mountains.

Our getaway was relaxing and recharging – short and sweet – and coming home to Seattle after a little sun felt good. There’s something nice about how much more you appreciate things when they’re a little harder to come by. A sunny day in Seattle when it finally comes is the most beautiful thing you can imagine. So for now, yes, it’s back to the gray skies but also back to the lush green trees, the unbelievable mountains and water, the interesting people and work, and the city that we love so much. The sun will eventually come, and now I think we can make it to summer … well at least to Spring Break.

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