Home Alone

 

 

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Today marks the end of the longest two weeks. Ever. Jon has been in Seattle on a business trip (ironic, I know, since we moved half-way around the world from Seattle only to have him make regular trips back there). So, that meant that I was home alone. Well, not exactly alone alone–I mean, I had my kids here with me. But it was…different. The day after I got back from my own trip to Phoenix, Jon left for Seattle. I was exhausted and a bit overwhelmed (this is the longest business trip Jon’s taken since we’ve had kids), but I was determined to make the best of our situation. Without family nearby to offer a helping hand, or even a babysitter to call on for relief (they were all away on their own vacations, lucky ducks!), it was all up to me. So, I set about planning little day-ventures for us close to home (because, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t muster up the courage to take two young children trekking across the country by myself for a full-on adventure). We managed to squeeze in quite a bit of fun to help pass the time while Daddy was away. Here’s a photo journal of what we’ve been up to these past couple of weeks:

We started our week at the grocery store. The boys helped me pick up some fuel for all of our upcoming adventures:

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While we were at the grocery store (which is inside a shopping mall) we took a little break to ride a train around the mall:

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We had a hot cocoa date at Costa Coffee:

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We went to the zoo where we saw magnificent animals, played on the playgrounds, pet baby kangaroos, and ate ice cream:

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We visited Rumley’s Open Farm to spend an afternoon playing…

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…greeting animal friends…

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…and even dining with a rogue mama pig and her six little piglets who wandered in from the farm:

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We had brother snuggle time in David’s huge bed:IMG_4083

And went to the indoor playground with our friends:IMG_4097

We ate popcorn for breakfast. Twice:IMG_4120

We visited a new town. Monkstown is just up the road from us, about 10 minutes from our house, and I’d never been there before. It’s an adorable little seaside town with a marina, beautiful old churches, and a fantastic playground for the kiddies:IMG_4183

We went for a run by the sea and enjoyed a castle tea:IMG_4209

We visited Charles Fort, a 400-year old army fort that helped carry Ireland through the Spanish War and the war of Irish Independence:IMG_4233

After exploring the fort, we had a picnic overlooking the harbor:IMG_4260

Then we went into the town of Kinsale for ice cream and a stroll:IMG_4272

After I tucked the boys into bed each night, I worked on projects (I made 3 photo books, Mother’s Day gifts, and finished a couple of sewing projects). I may have also watched Downton Abbey. All three seasons of it:
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We walked up the road to the farm that we can see from our back yard. I asked the (very tiny) woman who answered the door if we could meet her cows because we watch them every day and we’d like to get to know them. She told me (in a very thick Irish country accent) that ‘Sure ye can meet the calves, alright.’ When we asked her if the cows (‘No, they’s calves, those ‘uns’) had names she just shook her head and replied ‘They haven’t names, these calves. They’re being fattened now, alright.’:IMG_4282

After a disappointing encounter with cows (er…calves) who will never live to see their next birthday, we walked back down the road to our favorite walking trail so we could go throw rocks in the river:IMG_4298

On Thursday we went to the Farmer’s Market for Mommy’s weekly multi-sensory indulgence:

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On May Day we went to a park to pick flowers. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see May 1st arrive. Ireland as a country shuts down during the “winter” which just so happens to be half of the year (November-April). May 1st signaled the beginning of the official tourist season and shops, museums, restaurants–heck, whole towns–that had been closed all winter reopened their dusty doors for business. No more driving for hours trying to find an open restaurant or going to the mall on every rainy day to pass the time. Ireland is back open, and I am thrilled. Flowers seemed like a fitting celebration:
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I watched Toy Story 3 for the first time with David. He sat on the couch next to me with his Woody and Buzz Lightyear toys and we watched the little boy in the movie, Andy, grow up and move out for college. I bawled my eyes out. I have now confirmed David’s suspicions that his mother truly is crazy:IMG_4328

We had a balloon sword fight at McDonalds:IMG_4335

And we baked the most delicious carrot cake sandwich cookies to share with our friends at church:

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And, finally, we decorated a welcome home sign for Daddy. We all missed you like crazy, Jon!

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Well, there you have it: two weeks come and gone. Even though it wasn’t easy having Daddy gone, we all survived and we even managed to have fun making memories together. It was a special time that I got to spend with just my handsome boys–boys who will grow up some day and leave me for college just like Andy in Toy Story. So in the end, if I’m going to be home “alone”, there’s nobody else I’d rather be here with.

Stay-cation

As I mentioned earlier, Jon had a crazy month of work in December. He was gone traveling for a good portion of it and, the days he was in this country, they had him working up to 20 hours a day. So he needed a break. We ALL needed a break.

On New Year’s Eve we got the best gift ever: Jon’s company gave him the week off. Since the time off came as a surprise, we had no plans for our time together. There are a lot of things close to home that I’ve been wanting to do with Jon and the kids but because of our crazy schedules have just never done. This was going to be our week to do them all. Bring on the stay-cation.

With bedtimes starting at 7:00 in our house, it’s hard to do many of the traditional New Year’s Eve shenanigans. We decided to just go out for dinner with the kids and be home in time for a peaceful night at home ringing in 2013. Dinner turned out to be amazing. Our friends Scott and Alison were driving home from Mt. Baker and passed through our neighborhood right as we were heading out to the restaurant. They decided to join us for dinner and we had a great time catching up with them (and, as an added bonus, I think our kids’ dinnertime behavior provided these newlyweds with some adequate birth control). Dinner was actually quite wonderful–good friends and good food. Then, to top off the night, the restaurant had a raffle for free dinner right as we were about to leave. And guess who won? Us! Free food for our whole table. Not a bad way to send off 2012!

The next morning was New Year’s Day. It was clear and sunny when we woke up, so we decided to do something outside. We drove down to Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and got there right as they were opening. It was a great day at the zoo–no crowds (probably in part because it was 28 degrees out there), lots of animals were out to entertain us and David had a great time running through all of the paths and pointing out his favorite animals.

Me and David with the elephant sculpture.
Me and David with the elephant sculpture.
Well, hello, peacock.
Well, hello, peacock.
Jacob enjoyed his time at the zoo.
Jacob enjoyed his time at the zoo.
Touring.
Touring.

On Wednesday we went to the new Lynnwood Recreation Center for some swimming. They have a great pool (actually, they have THREE pools), a kids play area with splash toys, water slides, a lazy river and hot tubs. David had fun playing in the water until he got cold and retreated to the hot tub. This was Jacob’s first trip to the pool, and he seemed to enjoy all of it just fine. I’m so glad Jon was with me because there’s NO WAY I could ever take both boys to the pool by myself unless they were both strong swimmers. We did havea lot of fun there, though, and we’ll definitely be going back.

Pool time!
Pool time!
Jacob after his first pool swim
Jacob after his first pool swim

On Thursday we went to Normandy Park to visit Jon’s grandma for her 90th birthday. We didn’t get to make it down the day before on her actual birthday because I got locked out of the house. It was great to spend some one-on-one time with Great-Grandma Doreen at her house. She LOVES the boys, so her greatest gift was just getting to see them.

Great Granny Doreen with her David

Great Granny Doreen with her David

On Friday morning we went to the mall to do a little shopping. Jon and I both needed warm winter coats and we found just what we were looking for at REI (mine was even on clearance for 60% off–CHA-CHING!).

My mom and sister came up on Friday night to babysit the boys so that Jon and I could have a night out (Thanks, Mom and Jess!). We had a perfect date in downtown Seattle. We went to a trendy little place called BOKA for a happy hour dinner: a nice juicy burger for Jon and Vietnamese short ribs for me. We had a bit of time after dinner so we headed over to Westlake Center to grab a quick dessert. Then we went to our favorite spa, Ummelina, for hot stone massages. Everything was just wonderful, and I was so happy to get to spend some special time with Jon.

Me and my date enjoying a night out on the town!
Me and my date enjoying a night out on the town!

We decided to drive over to Leavenworth for the weekend to visit Jon’s parents. For those of you who don’t know about Leavenworth, it’s this quirky little town East of the mountains. It’s a Bavarian town, kind of a “little Germany”, surrounded by mountains and snowy in the winter. We had a fun time sledding, checking out the sights in town, visiting with Grammy and Grandpa Pete, and watching the herds of deer that come to their house to graze. It really was the perfect way to end our little stay-cation!

Bota enjoying the snow
Bota enjoying the snow
David playing with Grammy's "yarn balls"
David playing with Grammy’s “yarn balls”
Leavenworth
Leavenworth
Playing pool at Grammy and Grandpa Pete's house
Playing pool at Grammy and Grandpa Pete’s house

Jacob testing out the sled

Jacob testing out the sled

Driving home through Steven's Pass

Driving home through Steven’s Pass

Today is my first day of “back to reality” with Jon back at work. It’s been a long time since I’ve had some of my usual activities like Stroller Strides and BSF, though, so I’m actually pretty happy to be getting back into our routine. I probably won’t be blogging as often now that I’m home alone with the boys during the day again, but I’ll try to get at least one post per week up for you guys.  Until next time!