My Seattle Spring Bucket List

tulips

Now that Hannah is 2, she seems to be learning new words every day. The cutest by far, though, has to be the fact that she has learned how to sing her first “song”: Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun. Whenever she catches a glimpse of the sun (which is quite rare during a Seattle winter), Hannah breaks into song: “Sun! Sun! Goooooooolden SUN!”(P.S. It’s absolutely adorable. P.P.S. We’ve missed you, Sun. –Yours Kindly, every Seattleite who has been Vitamin-D deficient since September).

And now that the glimpses of sun are becoming less infrequent, I’ve been longing for the longer, warmer days of spring. So as I sit here daydreaming of the next season, I’ll share a few of my “Seattle Spring Bucket List” longings with you:

  • Visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. I haven’t been to this since Jacob was a baby, and I can’t wait to go back! The endless sea of blooming flowers, the equally endless rows of mud puddles and mud-covered children, the obligatory stop at Snowgoose Produce for a giant scoop of ice cream–I want it all!
  • Easter. Easter is my favorite holiday of the year, and I can’t wait to do all of the fun Easter-y activities with my kids. On the short list: Opening resurrection eggs, baking resurrection rolls while acting out the Easter story, painting eggs (Pro tip: Place your egg inside a wire whisk and dip into a bowl of dye–even a 2 year old can handle this without making a mess!), a neighborhood Easter egg hunt, and making a table-top Easter garden.
  • Plant a garden. I’ve never really done this before, and the only times I’ve tried have been epic failures. After all, I have enough to worry about keeping a husband, three children and a dog alive–adding plants onto that list is a bit too much for me. But I have empty garden beds in my new yard and they’re mocking me, so I think I’ll give it a go. Wish me luck.
  • See all the baby animals. I want to pet baby bunnies. I want to hold baby chicks. I want to see a baby lamb frolick in a field. Give me the farms, the spring fair, the neighborhood horse ranch–just give me all the cute baby animals, please!
  • Go puddle jumping. We have plenty of puddles in the winter, but they’re cold and I won’t let my kids play in them for too long because, well, pneumonia. But spring puddles are fun because you can jump and splash and soak your little brother and it’s not the end of the world (Unless you ask the little brother. Then it is definitely the end of the world.). Bonus if there’s a rainbow in the sky on puddle jumping day.
  • Find some frogs. We have a pond behind our house that is chock-full of frogs at this time of year, but we are yet to catch any of our amphibian friends for further observation. Jacob cries every night that he hears the frogs croaking outside his bedroom window because he wants to hold one of them. So basically, this is just so we can all get better sleep at night.
  • Ride bikes. So, none of my kids can ride bikes without training wheels. Hannah’s off the hook because she just learned how to walk 9 months ago, but the almost-6 year old and the almost-8 year old have no excuses. I’ve already made up my mind that THIS IS THE SUMMER. Yes, this is the summer that they will learn how to ride a bike. And I guess that means we need to start practicing. Pray for me.
  • Go outside after 3 PM. For the past few months it has been dark by the time David is getting off the school bus, and I can’t WAIT to get my afternoons back! Kids arguing? Send them outside! Too much energy? Outside! Need a change of scenery from our living room with the same pile of books and board games? GO OUTSIDE!!!!
  • BBQ. Speaking of going outside, I’m ready to revive the BBQ. Winter is for crockpots, but warmer weather calls for the grill. I’m ready to say goodbye to soups and stews and hello to burgers and brats. Yummmmmmm….
  • And speaking of yummmmmmm…I will be eating asparagus. Fesh, local, in-season asparagus. And lots of it. Yummmmm….
  • Run outdoors. I did most of my training for my last race on a teadmill at the gym because it was too cold and wet and miserable to go outside. I’m ready to just open my front door and say, “Yeah, this will do!” and then do it!
  • Buy shoes, not boots. With the exception of my running shoes, I have literally worn the same 3 pairs of boots on repeat every day for the past 5 months. I don’t even remember what “shoes” feel like on my feet. I would like to get a new pair of shoes to remind myself.

And now it’s your turn! There’s still time for me to add on to my list, so what are your must-do spring activities?

WE’RE MOVING!!! (Yes, Again.)

moving

Well, friends, it’s spring time, which means that it’s time for our family to pick up and move. It seems like every year during this season we seem to move…and, quite frankly, it seems that way because it’s true! Not to brag or anything, but this will be our 11th move in 11 years. I’m pretty sure I should earn a badge or something for this level of expertise. Or at least a pedicure when this is all over.

Now, the question you’re all wondering: WHERE IN THE WORLD WILL YOU BE MOVING TO THIS TIME?!

Drumroll, please…

Answer: Washington state!

What the what?! You’re coming back to Washington?! Yes, yes it’s true. We’re going back to where it all began, good ‘ol Washington. And SOON. Actually, we’re moving THIS WEEK (Saturday to be exact). WHAAAAAAAT?!?! I know. What can I say, we do crazy well around here.

So, that’s the short answer. The long answer, however, is a bit…well…longer. Taking the advice of my pal Maria in The Sound of Music: “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start…”

Jon and I both grew up in western Washington, just south of Seattle. Our childhood homes were only a few miles apart, but we didn’t meet each other until we were in undergrad at Western Washington University in Bellingham. We met and fell in love in Washington (read the whole story here, but bring your Kleenex cuz it’s a real tear-jerker). We started our family in Washington: David and Jacob were both born in Seattle and, although they don’t remember any of it because they were so itty-bitty, we became a family there.

We’ve moved several times over the years–some moves have been small (a mile across town), some have been big (Ireland). Through it all, though, Washington has always been our home base. For the past 3 years we’ve been living in the San Francisco Bay Area which, interestingly enough,  is the longest period of time that Jon and I have remained in one geographic region since we’ve been married.

California has been so, so good to us. We love our community, our friends, our church, our kids’ schools, Jon’s job, his co-workers, THE SUNSHINE. And we will miss all of those. Dearly. So why, then, would we abandon it all? Why would we leave the people, the places and THE SUNSHINE that we love?

Quite simply, we will be leaving because that’s God’s plan for us. I recently heard a quote that summarized my perspective on this pretty perfectly:

“Go where you are sent, stay where you are put, and you give what you’ve got until you are done.” –Jill Briscoe (If you haven’t heard or read Jill Briscoe’s work, stop what you’re doing right now and go look her up. She’s chock full of gems like that). This quote sums up so well why we are moving right now–and why we have always moved, and likely will continue to move–throughout our lives.  Go where you are sent, stay where you are put, and give what you’ve got until you are done.

We went where we were sent, we have stayed where we were put, we’ve given what we’ve got, and now we are done (at least right here, right now). God is sending us somewhere new, so “Go” is our next step in the cycle. That being said, as our kids enter their school years we also want to set down roots. Somewhere.

For about a year now we have been intentionally looking for a more permanent house–we currently rent, and we’re kind of over it. We are at the point in our lives where we want the permanence of ownership, not the transitory nature of renting. We want to unpack all of the picture boxes and hang everything up on the walls. We want to get away from the mentality of “I’m not going to buy that because I don’t want to have to move it in a few months or a year.” I want to set up a nursery for my baby before she’s no longer a baby.

Last summer we started praying for direction about what this feeling of needing some permanence would look like for us. Our prayer was that God would open doors where He wanted us, and close them where He did not want us. That, and that we would have the wisdom to listen to Him when He opened and closed those doors. And patience. Lots of patience.

Last summer we began searching for a house here in Silicon Valley and it was…interesting. We’d spend our weekends going to open houses for million dollar homes that were built in the 1950’s (“mid-century architecture”) and falling apart (“charming”) and tiny (“cozy”). And we tried to find one that we liked–we even got a very nice local real estate agent to help us–but in the end, we couldn’t stomach giving all of our money, blood, sweat, tears, and sanity to a million dollar piece of junk, even if it was a charmingly cozy piece of mid-century architecture.

So we went back to praying. And waiting. And right about when my patience for waiting was wearing out (approximately 5 minutes later) we were presented with an incredible opportunity. The opportunity was born out of a tragedy, but it was an opportunity nonetheless. Some dear friends of ours from Washington had a family member pass away, and they needed to sell her house. Her house happened to be about 10 minutes down the road from us.

We spent a couple of months working with our friends to see if the logistics would pan out for us to move forward with the purchase. I started dreaming about what life would be like in that house once I unpacked the pictures and hung them on the walls and painted my baby’s nursery. I was certain that this was God’s answer to our prayer.

In the end, however, we couldn’t find a way to make it work. It was no fault of anyone’s, it just didn’t work out. I was heartbroken at first, but then I remembered our prayer: Open doors where You want us, and CLOSE DOORS where you do not.

Ugggh. Why do you always have to answer our prayers, God?

So, that door was closed. We went back to praying. And waiting.

And, again, when my waiting-patience was starting to wear out, God presented another opportunity. Another door to knock on, if you will.

Throughout this whole process we had never once considered the possibility of leaving the Bay Area. Yet the next door that God presented was exactly that: leaving. One day Jon was casually looking at some job stuff (he likes to keep up to date on what’s happening in his industry…kind of like how I keep track of when new Starbucks locations are opening up near parks and library play groups for purposes of my own career advancement.) He noticed that there was an incredible job that quite literally described him and his skill set (a skill set, by the way, that is quite unusual and even more unique). As we has reading the job description he kept muttering under his breath, “This is me…this is me!”

So we decided to see if it was him, if this job was the right fit. That night Jon applied for the job, a few days later he did a phone interview, and the following week he flew up to Seattle for the in-person interview. By Friday of that week he had the job. The whole process was insanely fast and smooth and perfect. When God opens a door, he opens it WIDE.

There was no question that this was the open door we’d been waiting for, so here we are. Jon’s new job will be working with a company called Oculus in Redmond, Washington. (Side note: The change of companies is why we couldn’t tell anyone we were moving until today. Apple, if you haven’t noticed, is super-secretive and they don’t exactly want their employees sticking around after they give their leave notices…so we had to wait until now to spill the beans).

Jon’s new job will be leading an engineering team working on cutting-edge virtual reality research. Cool, huh? Oculus is a smaller company, but it is a subsidiary of Facebook–this means he gets to work in a startup-type environment with the backing of one of the largest tech companies in the world. Kind of a “best of both worlds” scenario.

And the part I’m most excited about is that this job should give Jon a more sane work-life balance.  As incredible as Apple is, that level of expectation and perfection comes at a price. Jon loves his work, but it comes with a lot of long nights, after-hours conference calls, and business trips to the other side of the globe. This new job is in research–not getting hot new products to an insatiable market–so the timeline should be more manageable and his schedule should be more normal. We are hoping that this shift will allow Jon more time at home during our kids’ waking hours…and hopefully a bit of a reduction in the ‘ol stress department.

Then, on top of all this, we get to be home.

No matter where we go in this great big world, Washington has always felt like home to us. All of our family lives in Washington–our Grammy and Grandpa and Nana and Papa and Aunties and Uncles and dear friends who are like family are there.  We are so excited to once again be physically close to the ones we have held close in our hearts all of these years away.

And, as excited as we are to be moving home and on to the next adventure in this crazy life, there is also some mourning. We have invested ourselves here in California, we have made incredible friends, we have truly enjoyed our work and the little life that we’ve carved out for our family here. We have “given what we’ve got”, and that makes leaving incredibly difficult. I think that means we’ve done it right, though. If we’ve truly given of ourselves, then it should hurt to leave that part of us behind. It’s a painful goodbye, but we are better for it.

So, in a not so little nutshell, there is the “why” to the question of what the heck we’re doing. There’s another whole amazing part to this story about where we will be living once we arrive in Washington, but that’s going to warrant a separate blog post. For now, we are facing the bittersweet reality that we will be trading one home for another, one life for a new one.

Today we choose to walk courageously through this open door, following the One who opened it for us. Catch you on the other side, friends!

October Visitors

October has been a busy month for us: it was our first full month in our house, our boy turned four, and we celebrated our first Halloween in California. And, to make the month already sweeter (not that we needed any help with sweets after Halloween…) we had some very special visitors come to stay.

First up was Jon’s mom–better known around here as Grammy–who flew down from Leavenworth, WA for a quick birthday surprise. David came with me to the airport to pick up his “present” and he was ecstatic to see Grammy walking out to greet him. Grammy stayed with us for a long weekend. In usual Peterson style, we crammed as much into that long weekend as we could.

We went to our new church’s annual Trunk-or-Treat (where the kids go from car-to-car rather than house-to-house begging for candy. It was a good pre-funk to the actual holiday):
IMG_0070 We visited the Winchester Mystery House, a very beautiful–and even more unusual– landmark in the area. You see, Mrs. Winchester’s late husband created the Winchester rifle in the late-1800’s and the guns were used as the primary battle weapons through two world wars. After Mr. Winchester died, Mrs. Winchester was left with loads of money…and a very unhealthy fear of the ghosts of those killed by her husband’s rifles. Fueled by her fear and financed by her riches, she spent the remainder of her life constructing the most insane house that has ever been built. In order to confuse the “spirits” she built rooms with no doors, windows at strange heights, uneven stairways, secret passageways…and she just never stopped. Her house was under construction 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for nearly two decades. Eventually poor Mrs. Winchester passed away and construction on her house finally ceased. Today you can pay a cool $40 to tour the inside of the house (bah!) or tour the extensive gardens for free (that’s more like it):IMG_0144 Grammy helped us bring David to preschool on his birthday so he could celebrate with his classmates. To the teacher’s delight, we even brought neon blue cupcakes to share (in this photo you can even see the blue mustache lingering on David’s face):IMG_0147 After school we had a little birthday dinner for David at home, then invited our neighbors over for cake and ice cream. The adults enjoyed wearing birthday hats, but the kids, not so much:IMG_0158 On Grammy’s last day in town we visited Jon at work. We got a small tour of the Apple campus and brought a picnic lunch to eat on the lawn outside of Tim Cook’s office:IMG_0168 And, just like that, the weekend was over and it was time to say goodbye to Grammy. We made one last stop at the San Jose rose gardens before dropping Grammy off at the airport:IMG_0183 After Grammy left, we had a day to clean the house and stock up at the grocery store, because our next visitors were already on their way! Next up: Aunt Jessica (my sister) and Uncle Chris from Seattle!IMG_0232Again, this was a quick long-weekend visit, so we didn’t waste any time getting the fun started. As soon as we’d picked Jessica and Chris up from the airport, we headed out to Santa Cruz for some beach time. We watched what few surfers there were (apparently we had just missed a huge surfing competition that wrapped up an hour before we arrived. Dang!) and then walked down to the beach. The boys had a great time building sand castles (read: throwing sand at people) and wading in the water (read: getting knocked over by waves as they broke on the shore). This is one of the only G-rated photos I got at the beach because it literally took about 15 minutes before both boys decided it would be best to run around stark naked. Gotta love October in California!
IMG_0256 The next day was Halloween. We spent the morning at David’s preschool Halloween party where all the kids played games, ate loads of food, and marched around in a costume parade:IMG_0289 Later in the day, we got our next group of visitors who had driven up from southern California: Aunt Erin (my other sister), Uncle Toph, and cousin Noah!IMG_0304The boys had a great time playing together and dressing up in their Halloween costumes. They were the cutest Wolverine, giraffe, and pirate I’d ever seen:IMG_0320 We all went over to our neighbors’ house for a pizza dinner before it was time to hit the streets:IMG_0344 Then it was time for what is probably the most unusual American tradition: Sending our children to strangers’ houses in the dead of night to beg for candy. This was Jacob’s first time trick-or-treating, and he handled the event like a pro. After about 45 minutes everyone’s treat bags were overflowing and we decided to call it a night.IMG_0352 The next morning after we’d all recovered from our candy comas, we moved on to our next great adventure: San Francisco! Here I am with my sisters at the end of Pier 39 with the infamous Alcatraz Island in the background:IMG_0396 We spent our day in “The City” wandering around the waterfront, eating soup from sourdough breadbowls, and taking in the beautiful views (if you look closely, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background here):IMG_0406 We went to the Ghiradelli chocolate factory where we saw how chocolate is made and sampled their offerings:IMG_0412 We wanted to ride on the cable cars, but they were really expensive and the line was massive and we had tired children…so we just hopped onboard a parked trolley and snapped a photo instead. Good enough.IMG_0422 We made our way down to the marina where we boarded a boat for a short tour of the bay:IMG_0429 Our captain was awesome and he even let all the kids take turns steering the boat. David was having so much fun that he started spinning donuts and nearly steered us right into a pier:IMG_0450 From the boat, we got some incredible views looking back at the city skyline:IMG_0455 And we even drove up to the docks where hundreds of sea lions were basking in the sun:IMG_0461
Thus concluded our epic day in San Francisco.

The next day we decided to head south for one last adventure before Erin, Toph and Noah had to drive back home to L.A. The Monterey Bay Aquarium was right off the road they would be taking home, so we all went along for some fun:IMG_0487 The aquarium is incredible, and we liked it so much that our family bought an annual membership so we can return. There were massive tanks filled with every imaginable sea creature:IMG_0490 Our favorite spot, though, had to be this room where you got to stand inside a “wave” as the “tide” came in. IMG_0506 The kids were fascinated by the water running over their heads and splashing down by their feet.IMG_0510 We spent a bit of time wandering around Cannery Row outside of the museum so we could find some lunch. Monterey is such a cute little town, and I’m excited that we live close enough to visit again soon.

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Then, after an amazing couple of weeks, it was all over. Everyone went back home and we were left with a house that was a lot more empty, yet full of so much more joy. We made wonderful memories with our even more wonderful visitors–and hopefully we’ll get to host and explore and memory-make again soon!

Seattle Mom vs. Silicon Valley Mom

Photo credit: SeattleTimes.com

Photo credit: SeattleTimes.com

In my nearly-four years of motherhood I have had the unique privilege of “momming” in several cities around the world. And you know what I’ve noticed? Moms, and how they do the whole Mom-Thing, are as distinct as the cities they inhabit. Now I am no expert in sociology, but I do like to secretly judge people based on my biased observations of their behavior. Moms happen to make the perfect target for my not-so-scientific evaluations.

This week I went to my first official Silicon Valley playgroup. It was terrifying and fascinating. The people, the conversations, the baby gear–it was all so new and compelling. But mostly, it was different. So very different from our last gig in Ireland, and so very different from my intro-to-motherhood years in Seattle (in fact, I am finding more differences between Silicon Valley and Seattle than I did between Seattle and Ireland). Here’s the breakdown:

Seattle Mom’s family consists of…her husband (an engineer at Boeing), three kids, and the family dog.
Silicon Valley Mom’s family consists of…her husband (an entrepreneur/tech mogul), two children (and she wouldn’t even DREAM of having more), and her childrens’ au pair who lives in the backyard guesthouse.

Seattle Mom is originally from…somewhere in the greater Puget Sound area. Maybe Sequim or Puyallup.
Silicon Valley Mom is originally from…Not-Silicon-Valley, most likely Not-California, and quite likely Not-America. She can’t fathom how you would pronounce “Sequim” or “Puyallup”.

Seattle Mom spends her day…going to Baby Bootcamp in the morning followed by a park play date. While her baby naps in the afternoon she prepares dinner, using mostly fresh and local ingredients.
Silicon Valley Mom spends her day…managing a tech startup. She uses an app on her iPhone to order food from The French Laundry or Coi so she can pick up dinner on her way home.

Seattle Mom lives in…a split-level home in the suburbs with a nice big yard for their organic vegetable garden.
Silicon Valley Mom lives in…a $1 Million rambler built in the 1950’s (but she’s working with an architect now on design plans to tear down the rambler and rebuild a $2.6 Million “cottage” on the property).

Seattle Mom wears…a Gore Tex jacket over her North Face puffy vest, jeans, and a pair of Chucks or rain boots.
Silicon Valley Mom wears…a fully coordinated Lululemon outfit (from this season), wedge sandals (so you can see her perfectly pedicured toesies), and a Coach purse.

Seattle Mom drives…a minivan (she just traded in her Subaru Outback).
Silicon Valley Mom drives…a Tesla Model S (she just traded in her BMW X6 so she could get the coveted “Clean Air Decal” and use the carpool lane when she’s solo-driving to her Friday morning spin class at Equinox).

Seattle Mom commutes…on I-5. There is no other option.
Silicon Vally Mom commutes…on “The Five”. Or 101. Or 280. Or 880. Or 85. Or 87. Or 17. Or CalTrain. Or BART.

Seattle Mom washes her car…in the rain. Why would you ever wash a car?
Silicon Valley Mom washes her car…at any of the thousands of “hand touch” car washes that line every street everywhere. Her car is washed and detailed at least once a week.

Seattle Mom spends her weekends…taking family bike rides along the Burke-Gilman, shopping at the Ballard Farmer’s Market, and walking her dog at Greenlake.
Silicon Valley Mom spends her weekends…shuttling her children between lacrosse games, karate belt tests, ballet recitals, Chinese school, engineering daycamp, violin lessons and water polo practice.

Seattle Mom’s preschool choice for her children…was based upon which school would nurture her child’s individuality. It’s affordable and there’s a good community of parents at the school.
Silicon Valley Mom’s preschool choice for her children…was already applied for before she left the maternity wing of Stanford Hospital. The preschool is nationally ranked for it’s strong emphasis on the Arts and college prep. There is daily instruction in foreign language and advanced circuit design. The Annual tuition is equivalent to the cost of a new home in Seattle.

Seattle Mom’s grass…is mowed by her, or her husband (if she’s lucky) or the neighbor boy (if she’s really lucky), or by nobody at all (during the months of October-April when the grass doesn’t grow because it’s just too dang cold outside).
Silicon Valley Mom’s grass…is mowed by The Gardener who comes every Tuesday morning like clockwork.

Seattle Mom’s favorite grocery store…Whole Foods and Metropolitan Market (but she actually does most of her shopping in the bulk section at WinCo).
Silicon Valley Mom’s favorite grocery store…Nob Hill Foods and Google Shopping Express.

In regard to weather, Seattle Mom dreams of…the sun. That is all.
In regard to weather, Silicon Valley Mom dreams of…just a touch of rain to get rid of this drought. As long as the rain doesn’t stick around long enough to force her under an umbrella.

Seattle Mom loves…her kids more than anything else in the world.
Silicon Valley Mom loves…her kids more than anything else in the world.

So, differences aside, maybe that’s all that really matters anyway. No matter where we’re from or where we find ourselves, this Mom Thing all boils down to one thing: loving our kids. Rain or shine, here or there, just loving those kids. And that will never change–even if you do decide to trade out your rain boots for some flip flops.

 

85 Things To Do In A Seattle Summer

Well, folks, it’s actually happening: we’re finally moving to California! Tomorrow morning I’m boarding a plane with the boys and, two hours later, we’ll arrive in San Jose ready to begin this next adventure.

Before we leave Seattle, however, I thought I’d give you a little (and by little, I mean massive) recap of what we’ve been up to here for the last month. It has been a very busy, action-packed summer for us in Seattle (which, by the way, is literally the most amazing place to spend a summer. It’s true. I looked it up on Wikipedia). So, just in case any of you want to visit Seattle some time, here is a not-so-brief rundown of what you could look forward to doing while you’re in town:

1. Squirt water guns
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2. Shop at Costco (interesting factoid: Costco was founded in 1983–the same year I was born–right here in Seattle)IMG_7954 3. Visit the house that you own but never seem to actually live inIMG_7982 4. Go for a waterfront walk and marvel at the majestic beauty of Mount Rainier in the distanceIMG_8006 5. Make Trader Joe’s “Fudge”: Combine in a food processor one whole box of Trader Joe’s unsweetened cocoa powder, one whole jar of Trader Joe’s coconut oil and one whole tub of Trader Joe’s creamed honey. Spread the mixture in a pan and fridge it until hard. Try to stop yourself from consuming the entire pan in one sitting.IMG_8007 6. Make yourself a breakfast of scones and Barry’s tea to remind you of IrelandIMG_8010 7. Visit Northwest Trek to get up-close and personal with some Northwest-native wildlifeIMG_8029 8. Be so busy that your kids literally take all of their naps in the car while you are driving between activitiesIMG_8057 9. Run around GreenlakeIMG_8073 10. Go on a private tour at Starbucks headquarters with an insider, and be jealous of the employees who get to use the do-it-yourself espresso stations located on every floorIMG_8083 11. Meet up with your mommy friends and cuddle all of their new babies that have been born in the past yearIMG_8084 12. Watch the Blue Angels doing practice flights over I-5 during Seafair WeekendIMG_8089 13. Build sandcastles at Alki BeachIMG_8098 14. Take in a stunning view of the Seattle skyline with your even more stunning sister 🙂IMG_8104 15. Take your dog for a walk at 9:00 PM and revel in the fact that there’s still another hour of daylight left.IMG_8122 16. Decorate your own 100% recycled organic fully biodegradable Seattle placematIMG_8125 17. Refuse to look at the camera or smile for a photo with your 91-year old great grandmotherIMG_8139 18. Complete your first engineering project with Daddy: an LED flashlight!IMG_8176 19. Play in your friends’ awesome backyard IMG_8177 20. BBQ every dayIMG_8184 21. Eat Dairy Queen Blizzards (you may get the idea of a DQ Blizzard stuck in your head, and you may have to drive to 5 different locations in 2 different cities before you find one that is still open, but it will be worth it)IMG_8204 22. Light sparklers, and always remember: safety firstIMG_8244 23. Watch The Sound of Music at an amphitheater and get misty eyed when Maria literally walks down a mountain signing “The hills are alive with the sound of music…”IMG_8261 24. Play with Grammy in your secret hideoutIMG_8264 25. Swim in a riverIMG_8303 26. Spend the weekend with your grandparents who live over the river and through the woodsIMG_8311 27. Play at your favorite place in the world: McDonald’s IMG_8316 28. Make a “Countdown Caterpillar” to count down the days until you move to California (!)IMG_8317 29. Visit awesome fruit standsIMG_8319 30. Bake treatsIMG_8323 31. Find a book of your mom’s childhood books and spend hours reading them togetherIMG_8324 32. Jump down sand dunes at Pacific Ocean beachesIMG_8344 33. Play mini golfIMG_8376 34. Fly a kite with your grandpaIMG_8383 35. Strip down to your skivvies so you can swim in a lake on a hot dayIMG_8385 36. Try–and fail–to capture the “Super Moon” with your iPhone cameraIMG_8390 37. Spend way too much time spent in Seattle traffic. Seriously, folks, this is a problem.IMG_8395 38. Meet up with some awesome moms for a workout in the parkIMG_8399 39. Get wet at a splash padIMG_8415 40. Eat a picnicIMG_8418 41. Buy an entire family of Potato Heads off Craigslist. Sit back and relax with a magazine while your children entertain themselves for the rest of the summer.IMG_8424 42. Husk fresh local corn and grill it up for dinnerIMG_8428 43. Get a pedicure with your mom on her birthday (Happy birthday, Mom!)IMG_8434 44. Pose as a Giant Pacific OctopusIMG_8438 45. Go for a walk at Chambers Bay. Well, try to go for a walk at Chambers Bay, but get a flat tire on your stroller and spend your time on the playground instead (and vow to always bring a patch and a tire pump with you from this point forward)IMG_8441

Go to iconic Seattle restaurants and wait in ridiculously long lines at 46. Dicks 47. Ivar’s 48. Red Mill 49. Salumi 50. Ezell’s and 51. Paseo. Consider it time very well spent.
IMG_8457 52. Spend a day in the park catching up with dear friendsIMG_8476 53. Jump on rocks. Why not.IMG_8494 54. Tend to your backyard garden. Sit in the dirt and eat kale straight off the stalk.IMG_8508 55. Pick apples, eat apples, throw apples for your dog like they’re tennis balls. Apples, apples, apples.IMG_8510 56. Pick wild blackberries and 57. Bake blackberry slumpIMG_8511 58. Play on millions of playgroundsIMG_8512 59. Go to a U-pick organic blueberry farm. Pick berries until your buckets or your tummies are full, whichever comes first.IMG_851460. Hike to the bottom of Snoqualmie FallsIMG_851661. Drive a tractorIMG_853062. Go on an alpine hike to Lake ColchuckIMG_857163. Use a loo with a viewIMG_860364. Watch “Frozen” with your grandma and 65. Make paper snowflakes (who cares if it’s the middle of August and 90 degrees outside!)IMG_860465. Visit the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth. While you’re there 66. eat a bratwurst, 67. dance to the oompa-band playing on the stage in the center of town, 68. sip a brew in a beer garden (extra points if you wear lederhosen or a dirndl), and 69. rent a giant inner tube or an inflatable raft and float down the Icicle RiverIMG_861070. Maintain a 27 year-old tradition and go out on a (belated) birthday date with your dadIMG_868171. Jump on your friends’ trampoline
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72. Get a Chinese Foot Massage (it will be the best 20 bucks you’ve ever spent, trust me.)IMG_868773. Wander through a rose garden IMG_868874. Reconnect with your college roommateIMG_873175. Spend a day meeting the animals at Woodland Park Zoo
IMG_872076. FaceTime with Daddy every night because you all miss each other like crazy when you’re living two states apartIMG_873577. Drive down to Longview so you can get 4 generations together for lunch at Grandma’s favorite restaurant in the whole wide world: SizzlerIMG_874178. Run out of gas on I-5 (I wasn’t driving, so we’ll just chalk this one up to another adventure on the road) and 79. Call 911 for roadside assistance (according to Google, this is what you’re actually supposed to do). Get a recorded message that all lines are busy, so please try your call again later. 80. Call 911 again and get the same recorded message 81. Call 911 for a third time and get the same recorded message. 82. Call 911 for a fourth time and actually speak to a person. Be thankful you didn’t have a REAL emergency. 83. Read running magazines in the car while you wait for roadside assistance and pray that a passing semi truck doesn’t knock your car over. 84. Thank the nice Incidence Response man who comes and gives you free gas so you can drive to the next gas station.
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85. Watch the sun set over Puget Sound
IMG_8684…and just soak it all in, because there really is no better place than Seattle in the summertime. To all of the people and places that made this month amazing, thank you.

Until next time, Seattle! XxX

Moving Update: 10 Days and Counting

The countdown to moving day has officially begun: 10 days until we say farewell to Ireland.  That’s it. Ten more days to sort and organize and pack and plan and play. We’ve been living in the middle of a whirlwind here, but I thought I’d take a moment to come up for air and fill you in on our latest updates.

Last night we (finally) booked our flight back to the States. We’ll be flying into Seattle before heading down to California so we can spend a few weeks visiting friends and family. We’ll also spend some time in Washington meeting with the movers who will handle our U.S. shipment and organizing our belongings there (the majority of our household goods and furniture are still packed into our garage in Everett).

Since we want to maximize our time in Seattle before Jon starts his new job, we decided to book a flight for the evening of Jon’s last day of work here in Ireland (June 25th). We’ll actually have to spend the night in London that night so we can catch a morning flight to Seattle the next day (which also happens to be Jacob’s 2nd birthday, lucky little duck!). I can already tell that our travel home will be an adventure in and of itself–but who would we be if we didn’t keep things a bit interesting?

Today was another momentous date in our moving timeline. Our dog, Bota, blazed the trail home for us and left for her flight to Seattle. The boys were great helpers getting Bota’s travel kennel clean and testing it out for comfort and durability.

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We are so thankful to Apple who is not only moving us and our stuff all over the world, but also moving our precious dog. A handler came to our house this morning to pick up Bota and drive her to Dublin for her first flight. We said our goodbyes (tearful as they were) and off they went.

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Bota will spend the night in Frankfurt tonight, and then catch another flight to Seattle tomorrow morning. If everything goes according to plan, she’ll be running around in my parents’ backyard by dinner time tomorrow.

After the boys go to bed each night Jon and I have been spending time returning phone calls to our moving coordinators in the U.S., filling out customs paperwork, reviewing rental agreements for our short-term corporate housing, completing tax documents, scheduling flights and submitting expense reports. It’s a lot to sort through, but Apple has been amazing and we are so grateful to have their help every step along the way!

In the midst of all of our crazy, we’ve also squeezed in some last-minute fun this week.

After countless visits this year, we went for our final trip to Fota Wildlife Park:IMG_6895

And, even though we’ve been to Fota dozens of times, the animals just seem to get cuter and cuter every time we go:
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I attended a baby shower for my dear friend, Rachel:IMG_6987

We went for a family walk on a sunny Sunday afternoon:IMG_7012

I am happy to report that I have now completed my Ireland” Bucket List”. I crossed the last must-do-in-Ireland item this week when we visited our friend’s Irish dairy farm and got to drink fresh milk straight from the cows:IMG_7092

We even took the little cross-river ferry to Cobh where we helped send off an Australian cruise ship from the same port where Titanic last docked:IMG_7187

 

I still can’t believe that we only have 10 days left in Ireland, but we’re going to make the most of the time we still have. Here’s to the best (last) 10 days ever!

A Happy Reunion

While we had a great time exploring Dublin last week, the real reason for our trip up north was to be reunited with our precious dog. Bota has been part of our family for 7 years, longer than our human children, so we’ve been feeling incomplete without our fur-baby. Turns out, it is quite the process to import an animal over international lines–even if the animal in question happens to be the sweetest, happiest Border Collie you’ve ever met.

Besides the mountains of paperwork that needed to be completed, there were several vet appointments and certifications that had to happen within a few days of her arrival in Ireland. And, since we happen to already be in Ireland, my *dear* family that remained state-side got to sort through the logistical nightmare that is “moving a dog internationally”. I think I nearly gave my poor mom a panic attack (and added about 10,000 miles to her car) with all of the last-minute “glitches” that came up. In the end, though, a lot of prayer and fast driving got Bota to the airport just in time for her flight to Ireland, with all of the correct paperwork signed by all of the correct personnel.

From Seattle she flew via air-cargo to Atlanta, where she was kenneled and spent the night. The next morning she boarded her next flight into Dublin.  To our great horror, though, when the handler from the veterinarian in Dublin went to meet Bota’s flight, they had no record of her being on board–so the handler returned to the veterinary hospital to inform us to “not be alarmed, but your dog can’t be found.”

Ummm…don’t be alarmed? How can you lose a DOG? She’s in a kennel the size of a small house, she barks, and I’m assuming she may have even smelled a bit at this point in her journey. My first thought was of my husband’s luggage that could not be located on his last trip out to Ireland. It took the airline an entire month to find it (it was in Chicago, a city he had never gone to. Go figure). If it takes them a month to find our dog, that could be bad news. Needless to say, we were not-so-mildly freaking out at this point. And, to make matters worse, it was early enough in the morning that nobody was in their offices either here in Ireland nor in the United States so we couldn’t find a single human being to help us.

Luckily (for the people working at the airline), it took less than a month to find our missing dog. Apparently she had been “reassigned” (whatever that means) on her flight into Dublin. As a result of her being reassigned, she was not on the flight manifest so nobody knew where to look for her on the aircraft. Seems like a pretty major oversight to me, to lose a living being. I think the airline may need a better system going forward. Just sayin’. After the airline located our dog, we had to hang out for awhile longer so the courier could drive back to the airport and do her entry vet exam. Now that we could all breathe again, we decided to wait outside the veterinary hospital and have some snacks in the grass.

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As they say, though, “all’s well that ends well”. After what seemed like an eternity, the van holding our precious cargo pulled up to the vet hospital and we got our first glimpse of our (not-too-distressed) dog.

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I think the vet could tell that Jon was about ready to kill somebody if he didn’t get his dog soon, so the vet made quick work of the entry exam and then released her into our custody. I don’t know who was happier–us or Bota–but there was definitely a lot of excitement in the air as we were finally reunited.

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Shortly after we got Bota it was time to drive 3 hours back to Cork so we could show Bota her new home. Since we only have 1 small car here, we rented an extra car just for the drive back home. Bota got to ride shotgun with Jon since her kennel took up the whole back seat of the car–I think she preferred this arrangement to the cold, hard cage in the belly of a jet plane. Especially since Jon stopped at Burger King to get her a hamburger. Spoiled little thing.

The boys had a great time showing Bota around their new house and throwing balls for her in our yard (we’ve already lost half of our balls over the neighbor’s fence, so I guess we’re going to get to know them pretty well now).

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Welcome to Ireland, Bota! We’re so glad you’re here!