Since being back from Mexico we’ve really jumped right back into things here in Seattle. Everyday almost has brought with it something (generally fun) to do, we’ve had great weather, and our first weekend back was a holiday weekend…celebrating ME (and all of the moms in the world). May is definitely a great month with lots of hope and anticipation for what the rest of the summer holds.
So day after we got back Reese was back at swim class with Lottie. We’ve had Sarah and Lottie over for dinner and the girls take a bath post swimming at our house and this week was no different. On Thursday I was invited back to the McMillen Jacobs Associates (now Delve Underground) office for a celebration for the end of the big E360 Sound Transit project that the Seattle office started working on back in 2014. Almost 10 years later it is finishing up and they invited all current and previous employees to come celebrate this feat. It was my first time back at the office and seeing so many familiar faces and it was wonderful getting to catch up with them over snacks and drinks. I then met up with the family at Little Park for the night. We didn’t have anything going on Friday but spent a good long while at Volunteer Park which Lottie just so happened to show up to as well.
We started the weekend off with a bang. Bryan gave Sarah and Lottie a ride to the airport as they were headed to New York for a week. He then picked us up to head north to Polly’s house to celebrate their daughter turning 2. We all had a good time, getting some brunch food and cake, enjoying their blow up giant crayons, mini bounce house, and other toys. We were there until we had to jet all the way south to Reese’s gymnastics class, Brooke taking her nap in the car. Reese enjoyed gymnastics and then we all headed home to watch the Kraken game, putting them in game 7 against the Dallas Stars.
Mothers Day came and I was told to go back to bed. Reese joined me a little while later after helping her dad in the kitchen. I was brought a tray with homemade waffles, scrambled eggs, Ellenos Greek marionberry yogurt and a banana and coffee. It was special and we all ate breakfast in bed together. Our plan for the day was to drive to the ferry terminal and bring our bikes on the ferry to bike Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge is known for being hilly, they even hold an annual bike ride every February called Chilly Hilly that is well known. But I don’t think either of us realized how hilly it was going to be or how steep those hills were going to be.
The ferry ride to the island was ultra pleasant and then once on the island Bryan had first turn to pull the girls. And Bryan pulled them for the first 12 miles, travelling up north around the east shore of the island and up two massive hills that I can recount. Brooke took a short nap during this time but once she was up and the girls were starting to get antsy and Bryan needed a break we found a small little public access beach that was the perfect spot to stop. We took a nice long break, getting some snacks and drinking water but also getting our feet wet (full body for Bryan) and playing fetch with a neighbor dog. It was beautiful and a nice spot to just relax. When we were ready to resume we got back on our bikes but this time with me pulling the girls.
We had already decided to modify the Chilly Hilly route and take out a few unnecessary miles and a few monstrous looking hills. I’m sure glad we did. Right away we had one very steep hill that really took all that I had to get up. I was very close to walking the bike several times up this hill but persisted. Fortunately the next few miles were more or less flat or downhill and after about 6 miles (bringing our total to 18 miles) we arrived in a little neighborhood center called Lynnwood where we were told had some soft serve. Well it was frozen yogurt but we got it and it was delicious and there was a little fountain in the plaza that Brooke in particular was enjoying so this was a very pleasant break. From there I continued pulling to enjoy a little detour route that was flat and along the west shore that was beautiful and worth it. Back to the town of Lynnwood and Bryan swapped back to take the girls for the home stretch which I am glad he did because the last few miles were again very hilly. Both girls fell asleep so instead of hitting the playground in town we went straight to the ferry which was a good decision because it was already past 5 pm and wasn’t until nearly 6:30 pm by the time we got home. The ferry ride was again beautiful and perfect temp and we were back in the car and picking up Manao Thai for dinner at home. It was such a wonderful way to spend Mother’s Day with my family.
Other exciting things from this week is that we got a new wagon for the girls. Bryan customized one for us on the Radio Flyer website and we got to put that together for its test drive on Tuesday. I had a company social function at the Bowlero for some bowling, drinks and food down south by the airport Tuesday night. And the girls have been playing dress up a lot lately, particularly Brooke who is practicing putting on clothes and Reese just got a bunch of new summer dresses. All is well here. Weather is beautiful and we have a lot of fun events and travels coming up in the next month.
Our weeklong getaway to Mexico is over and done with but fond memories will live on for what a wonderful family vacation we had! It was all around a fantastic trip, one we would do again and again, and there was surprisingly little drama, disagreement, or much hassle of any kind. We were poor picture takers during this trip. Partly due to being in the water up to 10 hours every day and partly due to it being an all=inclusive resort so we rarely had the need to have our phones on us during the day.
So last Wednesday morning we woke the girls early to drive to the airport for our 8:30 am flight. We had two seats in first class but not sitting together so it ended up being me and Brooke taking the first class seat for the extra space and snacks and Reese and Bryan in the back. I was up and down the aisle a lot with Brooke on this nearly 6 hour flight but both girls really did extremely well. We landed on schedule, losing two hours in the flight, and were on the ground about 4 pm. We got bags, went through customs and found our airport shuttle which ended up being a private transfer for just our family. Just under 90 minutes drive we were just north of Tulum in Bahia Principe staying at the Bahia Principe Grand Tulum resort.
We checked into room 1401 which was on the ground floor with two large patios that stepped out into a grassy yard that was mere feet away from the kids spray park and water slides. By the time we checked in it was after 7 pm so the slides were closed for the night but we all changed to shorts and tees and made our way to the ocean before heading to our first night’s dinner at the Yucatan buffet. This night was probably the worst night of the trip in terms of food. The buffet put on a Spanish themed dinner and they didn’t pull it off too well. It also seemed ultra busy and we were seated at a very hot table. We all left sweating but stopped to watch a bit of the Lion King that they had set up outdoors for the kids with mini chairs and bean bags, popcorn and cookies, and then took another beach stroll in the dark before heading to our room for the night.
We had a spacious two bedroom suite so the girls had a separate room with their sofa and their own bathroom and we had our own king bed and large shower and toilet. The room worked out great, was always kept very clean and felt super safe. We all got a good nights sleep, eager to wake for the next days activities; testing out the pools. Fortunately, with us being two hours ahead, this meant the girls slept into a decent time. Most days they’d wake sometime between 8 am and 9 am. We’d get dressed pool-ready and then head out with stroller for our approximately 10 minute walk to the buffet. The breakfast buffet we got down to a science, Bryan and I really liking the chilaquiles and various Mexican accompaniments over the other foods, Brooke with her yogurt and pastry, and Reese with her donut and fruit. This was pretty much the same everyday. We also learned to order iced coffees and request a table under a fan.
After breakfast we would then set out for a pool. We spent the first day exclusively at our resorts pools by our room. Reese did the slides quite a bit or there was a shallow water park pool and a larger pool with a large shallow area that we would break out Reese’s new unicorn float. We would essentially be swimming from 10 in the morning until 6 or 7 pm when they closed the pools for the night. We got all of our lunches at the poolside restaurants/grills, would get lots of pina coladas, mojitos, beers, etc throughout the day, maybe a soft serve cone in the late afternoon, and one of us would put Brooke down for her 2ish hour nap in the room. But Reese would go, go, go throughout the whole day. At 7 pm we would come in for showers or baths and dress for dinner.
We were able to select three a la carte dinners to visit over the course of the week and we had to schedule and reserve these about a week before we came. On our second night we walked to the farside of the resort to the Mexican restaurant Tequila. Bryan and I got amazing spicy Mezcal margaritas to drink and we requested to wear their large sombrero hats for a bit which Brooke initially cried about (?!?!) but then really liked. This restaurant also operated like a buffet but at least stuck to one cuisine and their grilled meats, moles, ceviches and churros really won us over. We also got to pick up some Mexican candies for the girls later in the week. It was a beautiful walk back to our room under a full moon.
We had met another family with two kids from Asheville, NC that had told us that the neighboring and connected resort Coba had a better suited water park for small kids so we decided to head there on Friday right after breakfast. We were able to grab the little trolley car from our hotels lobby to take us there and spent the whole morning at their main pool and water park. The water slides were a hit with Reese and after a fair amount of time on those slides we took the girls to get our first drink at the pool bar, which they loved doing albeit it meant waiting significantly longer. We then heard some commotion on the loud speaker and soon we discovered a foam party getting started. The girls loved this and it was super fun. It was probably 50% kids but they still had some of the staff pouring liquor to those who wanted it in the pool. This was a riot and super fun. Shortly after this Bryan took Brooke to get lunch at this resort’s poolside restaurant before taking her back to the room for a nap. I got some solo time with Reese which meant a more leisurely lunch and then a walk back to our resorts main pool for the afternoon, getting another drink at the swim up bar.
We were back at the main buffet on this night but we all forgot it was Cinco de Mayo and the resort pulled out a lot of fun tricks for the night. They had a Mezcal station set up before entering the restaurant. The restaurant was well decorated and all of the food stations were Mexican. This meant that Reese got to enjoy more of those churros she discovered she loves. And we were able to get a table with the family we met who became our resort friends for the week. We had some delicious tacos and tostadas, a lot of churros and flan before heading to the main gardens where they had a DJ out and our four kids dancing their already-tired-selves to near exhaustion for about 30 minutes. It was super adorable and Brooke especially loves to dance. The girls crashed nearly every night without issue.
Saturday morning we got to spend some time at the beach finally. Unfortunately this coast is getting pretty hammered with large amounts of seaweed but we were able to find the beach club was already cleared of it and watching the process of them clearing it was really something else. Brooke loved the water and Reese played in the sand some. We then decided to head back to Coba. We swam there again for quite some time and met up with our resort friends again. This time I took Brooke to get some lunch when she was starting to get tired and then walked her back to our resort but I took a wrong turn that took me back to the beach and she fell asleep pretty immediately so I took the opportunity to read for the 45 minutes that she slept in the shade on a lounge chair overlooking the ocean. It was heaven! She then woke up and wasn’t going back down for a nap so her and I headed to the shallow spray pool to hang out before Bryan and Reese came back to join us, also having had a really good afternoon together solo. We closed out the pool again.
Saturday night we had dinner reservations at the Gran Tortuga which was a restaurant right near our room that was a rodizio (Brazilian style steakhouse). We all got a lot of food from the salad bar and then flipped our cards green and Bryan and I started enjoying a lot of different delicious grilled meats. This was a really delicious meal but super duper filling. We left absolutely stuffed but still got an ice cream cone for the short walk back. Brooke was ultra tired because of the poor nap I got her on this day so she was a little crabby at dinner but still managed to hang on until Reese fell asleep too.
Sunday ended up being our one excursion day and it was the best day! We got breakfast like normal and started at our pool to cool off. Once wet and cool, we set out on foot to cross the street and head the one mile plus to the Akten Chun park. It was hot, not shaded, and dusty so by the time we checked in with the gate agent we were a sorry looking bunch who also happened to forget to pack water. We waited for 20 minutes for the shuttle van to come get us but it came and started us off on a bumpy 15 minute ride into the jungle until we arrived at the reception desk. We bought their combo package ahead of time to zipline, do the cave tour, and then swim in the cenote (underground river). This park is nominated by National Geographic and it was a great park with so few visitors it was like we had it to ourselves.
Reese and I got to zipline first with another couple and the four of us did the 10 zipline runs super smoothly and streamlined and Reese did phenomenally, even going by herself on a few of them. I was so proud of her. Bryan would be going by himself next (we had to take turns because of Brooke) but we asked if Reese could go again with him and they let her so they went next and had a great time. We then were led by another guide through their extensive caves which were beautiful but we were so hot by the end of the tour and Brooke fell asleep in our arms and Reese required a piggy back ride so we were extremely hot and exhausted by the time we returned to the lobby. Our last event was the cenote which we got back into the shuttle van to drive another 10 minutes to. Brooke slept through this whole bumpy ride, through Bryan and Reese showering in the outdoor showers and down into the cave before waking up in another cave filled with water. She didn’t seem perplexed in the slightest at the arrangements. Reese was apprehensive to swim at first as the water was crystal clear and you could see the fish in the water but after I showered and we all got into the water she really enjoyed it. There was a swing in the middle of the cave that she could sit on and we swam the full length of the cave and circled it, certainly cooling off in the cool water, before we headed out. Both girls did great and we all felt so refreshed upon exiting the water. We dried off and waited in their colorful hammocks for the last shuttle ride of the day out of the park to leave at 5pm. The driver was so kind and dropped us almost all the way back off to our resort which was so nice not to have to walk back on the dusty hot road.
We swam until pool closing and got a bunch of snacks from the grill to serve as the girl’s dinner since we hadn’t gotten lunch but two bags of oreos and a couple of gatorades while we were out on our excursion and Bryan and I were going to have a date night on this night. We had set up one of the hotel’s Kids Club staff to sit for us and she arrived at 8 pm to take the girls to the weekly Sunday night Kids Club Party. I didn’t even realize this was happening at the same time but it worked out perfectly because the girls were able to get their faces painted, dance, get cotton candy, donuts and cupcakes, and do other fun things with the sitter while Bryan and I had dinner reservations at the one gourmet restaurant on site called Don Pablo.
This would not have been a restaurant we would want to take the girls to but withhout them we had a delicious non-buffet meal without children…in peace. We got to have an ahi tuna salad, truffle mushroom ravioli, mushroom soup with manchego cheese foam, tomato basil soup, steak with fois gras and tiger shrimp and lastly an almond ice cream and creme brulee. It was all so good but it especially great being able to sit and enjoy your meal instead of scarfing down your food before your children got too antsy. Karaoke was going on when we left but we walked to sit on some chairs at the beach to catch the rising moon before heading back to our room where both girls were asleep! Great day!
Monday was our last full day and we promised Reese we could do whatever she wanted for the day after having the sitter. Both girls woke up in moods from the start but after breakfast we routed to Coba for our last time at their slides and pool. We got lunch at their poolside restaurant again and then found another pool at this resort on our way back to get one last swim-up pool bar drink with the girls. We headed back to our resort and Brooke napped while Bryan first got a turn with Reese and then me. We all closed down the pool and set out for our last meal at the resort’s buffet. After dinner we caught the end of the kids dance party at the main garden that was super fun with the girls and then we walked down to the little shopping complex called the Hacienda as we promised Reese to shop and pick out one item. Both girls got matching pink leather purses that are super cute. We sat for a moment in the terrace here before heading back to our room for the night.
Tuesday was our last day and mainly a travel day. We thought with a 4:20 pm flight we would have more time to swim in the morning before starting our trip back but the transportation we had booked had other plans, requiring a pickup time of 10:20 am! We knew this the night before so we purposefully woke the girls up early to go get an earlier breakfast and be ready when the pools opened at 9 am to get one last hour of swim in. We also mostly packed our bags the night before. I swam with the girls one last time while Bryan finished up, we showered, dressed, and were ready in time. It took only about an hour to get to the airport so we arrived at 11:30 am and the Alaska agents wouldn’t even start ticketing until 1:20 pm. We had a long wait ahead of us in the airport!
We managed. We bought candy and paced. Finally we were able to check in and go through security. Got some food and chips and salsa at a restaurant in the International Terminal. Three hours later our flight to Seattle was off and this time Reese, Brooke and I were sitting up in first class. Brooke slept her usual 45 minutes to an hour right away before being awake and mobile the rest of the flight. Reese did great watching three movies and enjoying her kids snack pack. Finally we landed in Seattle at about 8:30 pm Seattle time. Customs was a mess but we lucked out getting in a shorter line that saved us about an hour and we were back in our car and back home around 10 pm with both girls falling asleep in the car.
Our trip was so magical and such good family time. Brooke has not been wanting to get back into her usual routine in the mornings but after a difficult handoff has had great days. Reese, on the other hand, said when we returned that she missed her friends and has been so excited for school. She even jumped right back into swim class with Lottie last night and Sarah and Lottie still came over for dinner. We also really left at a good time as the temperatures and rain in Seattle while we were gone left a lot to be desired but since being back it’s been a high of about 70 and feels absolutely perfect, so refreshing from the heat and humidity of Mexico, and the air just smells so much sweeter. Until our next vacation!
Now that things are back to a realistic pace in our household, I have a little more time to reflect and enjoy everything. A large part of that is the girls and how quickly they are growing up. It really wakes you up when you get your child’s kindergarten placement and knowing that Reese will be in grade school in the fall really makes you realize how fast time flies. And Brooke, well these days she is hardly a little baby anymore but really a small child. A small child who follows her fearless sister around everywhere she goes.
Like I said, Brooke is always on an adventure it seems these days, to explore and seek out new things. She loves Reese and is already her biggest fan, watching her closely if at gymnastics or a park or swim class and pointing and clapping when she does something. At home she follows Reese a lot and if Reese does something she wants to do it too. Many nights she isn’t touching her dinner but if Reese feeds her (the same food) off of her plate the girl will then appear ravenous. She is getting better at utensils and feeding herself. She is saying a lot more words, “hot”, “ball”, “bath”, “more”, “cheese”, “swing” and generally just blabs and talk a lot. She definitely can follow most directions these days. She does love playing with balls and babies. She loves reading books, alone or with others. She still loves suckers and popsicles but especially chocolate and the few times she’s sat down with a bowl of ice cream she is all about it. She’s pretty social and loves the attention of other kids and adults when we are out and about. She is waving hello and goodbye these days and just learned to blow kisses. She still loves being outside and we’ve taught her how to smell flowers (after she picked about five tulips from Reese’s school’s garden). She’s taking a little longer for bed these days and going to bed a little later but sleeping fairly well at night not waking until later in the night. It is looking like she will be starting in a daycare down the street from us at the beginning of June which is bittersweet because she loves her nanny Katie and buddy Maya but Maya might be going with her!
Reese these days is a story teller, game inventor, and leader extraordinaire. She does not like to follow or lose a race. She still much enjoys gymnastics class and now swimming with Lottie where she is learning to float, kick and really get her face in the water. She is still extremely particular on choices of clothes and rarely wants me to do her hair which is a shame because there is some hair monster that attacks that crazy head of hair she has every night it seems. For such a deep sleeper I don’t know how it ends up like it does in the morning. Reese loves her friends still and is generally a very good friend to them. Reese is also a great big sister, letting Brooke learn what she does, sharing things with her in their daily bike ride, and giving her a big hug each night before bed. Reese is starting to pick up on letter and number recognition, can count pretty darn high, and is starting to ask the “why?” question a lot, particularly during movies. Just in the past week or two she’s gotten really into dressing herself, which I’m very happy about. This all started with her fascination of the changing cubbies at swim class and since then it’s progressed. Reese is about to have her first slumber party with three of girlfriends this weekend. I’m drawing back on my own memories of slumber parties in getting ready for this upcoming one.
And as for me, I’ve rediscovered time and hobbies and it is wonderful. I started reading my first book in forever, and it’s a good one! The book is called My Notorious Life. I’ve done a bit of journaling and coloring. I have tried to get into the spring cleaning I wanted to do but it’s hard with the nanny share at our house, one of the reasons I’m ready for Brooke in daycare. The springtime is such a wonderful time and the birds and flowers make me want to go on daily walks. I played my first soccer game in quite some time and I scored the first goal for our team, the first for me in a very long time. It was a beautiful goal too! And I’ve been almost obsessively looking up hiking routes for mom and I to go on in the fall.
And although not a girl, let’s not forget about Bryan. Bryan is filling in for a coworker this week but is now full time at the office. He went for his first bike ride of the year this weekend and has been trying to workout in the morning before work when he can which is really amazing! He still makes us our weekend breakfasts and just got the bubble water back up and running. He’s been putting Brooke to sleep every night and is all around a great dad to the girls.
We are doing well! Mexico in less than a week and I can’t wait to get there, but really, lets just skip the trip to get there!
And I have no idea how I really did. I can tell you how I felt about it. I’m not sure my pass/fail results will be indicative of my feelings of the exam but they are what they are. The exam is done and over and I now have 8-10 weeks to wait before results are posted and then I will be faced with having to take any portion of it over again or moving on. Hopefully moving on.
So…we had a fairly quiet but nice Easter weekend leading up to the exam. We did a play date exchange with Lottie over the weekend which helped us keep Reese entertained through the wet and rainy weather that we had. Fortunately, the weather held off for the Easter egg hunt the girls participated in on Saturday morning through Seattle Parks and Rec. Reese and Brooke both collected a bunch of eggs in their respective age group’s hunt. Reese was hoping for more fruity and sour candies while I think Brooke was very happy with all of the Hershey kisses because they are the one candy that she can open herself and she loves chocolate. Lottie came over for a few hours after the egg hunt and we had a low key afternoon with gymnastics on break for the holiday weekend.
We met up with a friend from our old church to try out a new church not too far from us. Both Bryan and I enjoyed this church and got similar vibes to our times at All Saints. There was a kids room for Reese in which she got to do a craft, have a snack and play in the gymnasium for a bit. There was a nursery for Brooke who didn’t at first like being left but soon after got comfortable with the environment. Bryan and I got to drink coffee and listen to the sermon which was good and everyone seemed friendly and welcoming. I definitely think we will try this one a few more times. After church we dropped Reese off at Lottie’s for a few hours of play. I spent the time studying and Brooke fell asleep early. We had a nice dinner just the four of us with lamb skewers.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday went by quick! I spent my days tabbing, reviewing material and making sure all my binders and printed material was ready to go. I packed my bags, one giant suitcase filled with all of my books and a small bag with just a few sweatpants and toiletries. I treated myself to Starbucks and lunch out on Wednesday and went for a run to clear my head. All four of us went to Reese’s second swim class, picked up Ezell’s next door for an easy fried chicken dinner, and then the clan dropped me off at my hotel at the Seattle Center so that I could get a good night’s sleep before my first day.
Thursday morning started early. I was to report to the test facility at 7:15 am and we were given all of the exam policies and info before actually starting the timer just before 8 am. I was nervous, and I don’t normally get anxious with tests. I had a plan and that was to skip the problems I did not know right off and come back to them. I did this but I wasn’t moving as fast as I should have been. I had about 30 minutes left and about 8 problems that I had skipped and that just wasn’t enough time. I tried to work through as many as I could but unfortunately I had to blindly guess for about 5 or 6 of them which did not make me feel good. There were another handful that I didn’t feel great about and the nature of this test is there are always problems that are trying to catch you or trick you on certain issues so I just don’t know how I did on the rest. The end of this four hours of the exam was so frantic and nerve-wracking that I was really shook at our one hour lunch break. I went back to my room, ate lunch and immediately started looking up what scores it takes to get a pass, trying to pick myself up for the afternoon portion.
My nerves calmed down enough by the time we were to check back in at 1:15 pm and I was confident that I could nail the afternoon portion of the vertical forces exam. We got started at about 1:40 pm and I started working my way through the four problems. I felt good in this section of the exam. My nerves were still there and so my handwriting was fast and sloppy and required rewriting several things but I completed all four questions in their entirety and felt pretty good about all of my answers. These are graded subjectively and as long as you don’t fail any one of the four problems you can get by. I left feeling much better about the day but still not certain that my afternoon answers would help my morning performance.
Regardless, I was ready to get some hugs from the family who were waiting for me at the Seattle Center playground. We headed to go get Thai food at a new to us place called Bangkrak Market in Belltown. It was a fun and vibrant place that definitely had me distracted from the day’s events and the next days anticipation. Bryan got a cocktail that looked delicious but I wasn’t quite ready for my celebratory drink. We split our typical pad kee mao and then tried one of their street eats which was a fried pork belly and BBQ pork plate. Everything was good and we would go back to try more off of their extensive menu. The family dropped me back off at the hotel and I took the night off doing anything but resting and getting another good night of sleep.
Then I woke up the next morning with a terrible headache. Fortunately, QFC is a few blocks walk from the hotel so there I was, going to get ibuprofen before 7 am. This did the trick though and I checked back into the exam room at 7:15 am at my same seat assignment #3, in the front of the room. I shared some feelings with my neighbor who also felt like the previous day’s test was difficult. Same policies and procedures were announced and again around 7:50 am we were back to an intense four hours of multiple choice questions, this time for lateral (wind and seismic) forces. This morning section went much better. I used the same strategy but purposefully moved faster and found the questions slightly easier. I still had a few questions at the end that I went back to and had to give my best guess to but that is okay. I left this time for lunch feeling good.
I spent my one hour lunch break with my lunch in the sunshine of the hotel’s lobby. I had to check out of my room at noon so I had the front desk hold my other bag for me. It was a relaxing hour break and I was ready to get the last portion over and done with. And then that came. The last four hours of written problems were another four hours of nonstop work and writing but I again felt good about what I put down on paper and was this time way more neater and way less anxious. When I wrote down my last word when they said pencils down I did feel relief to have it all done with. It was also gorgeous and sunny outside and I was ready to see the family again.
I wheeled my heavy bag of books back to the hotel where the crew was waiting for me with a bouquet of flowers and two bars of chocolate. They had spent the afternoon at the park and were in good moods. We got my bag and headed out with nothing really in mind. We ended up deciding on getting some pasta takeout from Due’ Cocina in Capitol Hill and took this to Volunteer Park to have a picnic. This was a great decision and the food was delicious! Back home for baths and normal bedtime routine, except that Brooke required me for bedtime on this one rare night. She has been going to bed with Bryan nightly! Once Reese was down Bryan popped a bottle of champagne he had picked up and had chilling for us and it was delicious and definitely did help me come down from the exam. I started to feel the fatigue of the exam settle in though.
We spent the weekend all trying to regroup I think. After two days of sitting and test taking I got out for a run with Brooke on Saturday. Reese had another playdate exchange with her friend Georgie who came over first on Saturday and then they watched Reese for us on Sunday while we went to the Mariner’s game with Brooke in tow. Reese was definitely emotional this weekend so we don’t know exactly why or how come but it could be the stress of it all. She had gymnastics that Brooke and I took her to and we had two nice dinners at home over the weekend. The Mariner’s game was a short but sweet one with a victory for the M’s 1-0 over the Rockies. Brooke had a great time and Reese was apparently great during her playdate.
And it’s nice to be back at work with just work to do. For every spare minute I have had for months now at work I’ve filled it with as much studying as I could. Now I have some spring cleaning to do and eventually getting ready for our trip to Mexico but it’s still nice not to be so pressed for time every literal minute of the day. Just two weeks to Mexico!
Okay, so you know that life has been taken over by uncontrollable forces when it has been about a month since the last time I posted. In that month we have had so many different things going on but I’ve just been so brain fried and busy to write about them. I will try my best to summarize life over the past month and in another week can expect to be writing a lot more. Cannot wait for one week from now (plus two days)!
So yes, after we got back from our ski trip we had a weekend with two birthday parties for Reese to attend and a haircut for Reese. The first was on Saturday after gymnastics. It was a nice day so we all walked from our house to Playdate to celebrate Reese’s friend Georgie’s little brother turning three. I get a kick out of Sam and we both really enjoy his family so this was a fun time for all of us. Brooke got to explore the big kids jungle gym and Reese was essentially off on her own with Georgie the whole time. We did see her for some snacks, tattoos and cupcakes at times though. On our walk home we picked up some slices of pizza and called it a night.
The second birthday party of this particular weekend was the next day when Brooke and Reese got to go celebrate Reese’s current bestie, Clara’s 5th birthday party. This was a princess dress up party featuring a special guest, Princess Jasmine. Jasmine donned the girls with eye glitter and they celebrated with rainbow cake. Reese had a great time and crashed on the couch for hours post-party. It was a big weekend for her!
So coming off of that weekend we had Lottie and Sarah over for a playdate and dinner on Tuesday night and then I packed my bag Wednesday to head to Vegas for a two night work conference for the ConExpo event that is so big its only put on every three years. This was a team building event too for the Senior Engineers and all but one Senior Engineer from my organization was able to make it. We had two nights of dinners together as a group and spent all of Thursday at the ConExpo site. It’s colossal and I got a bunch of steps in. I was so busy at work during this time that I spent the majority of my nights finishing up projects. Bryan was #1 dad during this time and took care of both girls. This was already difficult enough but then Brooke started coming down with something that Thursday and was out of her normal nanny share on Friday and Reese had the day off of school so although Bryan was already planning to take the day off for Reese he wasn’t planning on having the two. I got on an earlier flight to come home and help and even made it in time for Reese’s group conferences at school. The next few days were recovery for us all. However, Reese and I did have plans to go see the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s performance of Snow White with her friend’s Mika, Georgie and Lottie and their moms. We all had seats together, all got dressed up, and enjoyed the performance and then the Seattle Center’s playground for a while afterwards. Reese and I headed home to reunite with Brooke and Bryan.
The following week was supposed to be just a normal week but this new part-time nanny we had working for us two day a week for only a few weeks first called out sick on Monday and then just flat out quit on us Monday afternoon. Katie was able to come fill in Monday afternoon and then continued to work the rest of the week for us thank goodness. I was already feeling very overwhelmed with work projects and studying so I desperately needed childcare. We did get out of the house one night for Ivar’s birthday discount day with a long walk to dinner, a delicious meal, and a bus ride back.
We made it to the weekend where we spent Saturday afternoon swimming as a family at the Rainier Beach pool after gymnastics and then had another birthday party to attend on Sunday. We all headed up to Edmond’s for Emilia’s birthday party at this cute little tea shop. Reese and I attended the tea party birthday while Bryan and Brooke got lunch at a brewery with the other dads and younger siblings. Reese and I had a good time enjoying a ton of sweets, tea/hot chocolate, coloring for Reese, and opening up presents. Reese and Eliana did so good at the table (something I was a little nervous about) but were ready and fueled from sugar to hit the playground afterwards. We enjoyed the sunny afternoon for as long as we could before heading home to watch Texas playing in the Elite Eight game. Unfortunately, it was not the outcome of the game that we wanted but it was still fun seeing Texas’ run in the tournament.
The weather has definitely brought sunny skies and longer nights to enjoy the playground lately so we have been taking advantage when we can. Last week, Reese’s school took their nature walk to Volunteer Park and after Reese did the monkey bars a few times, her classmates were so impressed with her that many tried unsuccessfully until they just started chanting to cheer her on. Well this has rekindled the love Reese has for the monkey bars and playgrounds in general, that is for sure. In the childcare crisis that is ever present, our nanny was out three full days last week! Bryan was already planning to take Monday off, knowing she was going to be out. Then she was out Tuesday and I had a mandatory workshop to attend for work so Bryan covered another day. Then Wednesday came as well so I took my turn. Fortunately my work was a bit slower last week so I was able to keep my head above water, same for Bryan.
One last weekend to report on and one last birthday party before we have a birthday party break for a long time. On Saturday, Reese had Eliana’s birthday party, right before gymnastics. This was at one of Reese’s favorite spots, the Inflatable Zone at Arena Sports. Bryan took both girls to both events so I could get some solid studying hours in. Then on Sunday, it was a drizzly day so Bryan organized a trip to the Museum of Flight with Lottie and Sarah and took both girls again for a few hours there plus they all got dinner afterwards. I’m so thankful for this time to study. I am only one week away from my test and I’m feeling mostly confident but there is still a lot of material and I get a little anxious every time I think about the exam. It’s something I want to pass so bad, especially considering the toll it’s taken on the entire family, and its also not an easy exam to pass. Regardless of the outcome I will be done with the exam in just a little over a week…and probably completely brain dead for the full week afterwards.
It’s been a month…obviously. We even managed one date night in there at the amazing Spinasse in Capitol Hill for some delicious Italian food and cocktails last week. It’s been a good one but a lot of events, a lot of studying, I’ve relied a lot more on Bryan for things and he’s done such an amazing job. I’m definitely ready to be done with the exam and to make it to Mexico!!!
Bryan and Reese returned from Arizona and we got right back to our routine of sorts. They each had a short two day week for their return and then we had a sole weekend between Arizona and our ski getaway. We made use of this weekend both socially and to get Reese some skis. We checked out three second hand ski stores and REI and ended up getting a super cute pair of used skis and boots that suit Reese perfectly. We also got her a new helmet, goggles, snow pants and mittens because she has outgrown her others. She looked totally cute in all of her ski gear…but it was like pulling teeth getting it. She didn’t want to try any of the skis or boots on, professed her hatred of skiing in the ski store, and we had to bribe her to get them on and out the door. But we survived.
We stopped by a park in South Lake Union after one of these trials and then grabbed some delicious Vietnamese takeout from Sizzle and Crunch. We then spent Sunday morning at Anne and Phillip’s place for the kids to play, we grabbed a coffee with them down the street before visiting the second two ski shops, and then finished a long day with a delicious dinner at Reese’s friend Georgie’s house where Reese again got to play for several hours with a good friend.
Our week last week was mostly preparing for the weekend away. We also got the house cleaned which happens infrequently these days but is easily one of the top days of my life…every time. Brooke was not feeling her best and we were hoping that she would improve before we left for the weekend. She got better but she still had (and has) a cough, the nastiest eye boogers and the occasional runny nose. Fortunately she was sleeping a whole lot better.
Bryan and I got the car packed and ready to go with all of our ski gear, clothes, and food for one of our group dinners at the cabin we were renting with friends Polly, Ryu, Carina and Luis and their total of three kids. This makes six adults and five kids in a three bedroom (+bunkhouse) cabin directly on the Cowlitz River just east of Packwood, WA. We picked up both girls and set out on what should be about a 2.5 hour drive but ended up being a whole lot more with traffic between Seattle and Tacoma and then snow hitting us about 90 minutes out from the cabin. We had stopped for dinner at Red Robin in Graham, WA and probably took too long with the dark and snow coming earlier in our drive and slowing us up a lot. We made it to the cabin around 8:30 pm, the second family to arrive and soon after we were all there and settling in. All of the kiddos went to bed late this night as did the adults who stayed up late talking. I went to bed feeling like I was starting to come down with something but praying not.
Friday I was opting to stay at the cabin to watch the little ones for the day and Reese and Eliana whenever they got tired of skiing with the boys. Bryan got Reese ready to ski and they left for White Pass Ski Resort, about a 30 minute drive from the house. The girls apparently weren’t really into the skiing. They stuck to the magic carpet but weren’t enjoying it and were asking to go back to the house. They had lunch at the lodge while myself, Polly and Carina tried to get in a little walk with the littles from our cabin but only got about 0.7 miles from home when we received a call from the boys to come get the girls. All toddlers fell asleep for a short time on this walk so once back to the cabin all were awake and none were into taking a nap for the rest of the day…but all desperately needing one. I left Brooke in the hands of Carina and Polly and I left to go get the big girls, who were funny and talkative and full of energy on the drive back.
We spent the evening at the cabin, I was in charge of this night’s dinner and had some Cuban pork roast, black beans and rice, and roasted vegetables cooking away. I took the big girls and Brooke in the hot tub for some time and finally the boys (who had a few hours of skiing by themselves) were home just before 6 pm. We all sat down to a big group dinner and enjoyed this and quickly all kids were in bed, tired from a long day. Normally this would have been ideal because we had lots of adult time to hang out, and the three boys did go for drinks in the hot tub, but when Brooke woke up once and I laid down with her I felt for myself just how crappy I was feeling and was asleep before 8:30 pm!
The next morning I woke up and could barely speak. I somehow seemed to have lost my voice overnight. I felt achy and tired and Bryan went to go get me some Ibuprofen and tea and that did help a lot but I wasn’t going to be able to ski this day like I had planned and hoped I would. Carina, Polly and Ryu headed to the mountain while I hung back again with now four kids and Bryan and Luis. Bryan hot tubbed again with the big girls and Brooke and they loved that. We got them lunch and then got the big girls dressed and ready for the mountain because we had scheduled them a private two-hour ski lesson together. Reese fell asleep in the car and she is the WORST at waking up from car nap. It took a lot of time and patience to get her ready and willing to participate in the ski lesson. Finally she did and I said goodbye to her and Eliana and went to retrieve Brooke so that Luis and Bryan could do some more skiing. I hung out in the ski lodge with Carina and Lucas and talked as best I could and waited for the two hours to be up. It wasn’t the most relaxing two hours. I wished that Carina would have let me watch Lucas for her but she didn’t. We picked up the big girls and Bryan came back down the mountain so that we could all go back to the house together.
Back at the house I was feeling some better. Our family of four hit the hot tub and got in showers while Ryu (and Polly) were in charge of dinner and made corned beef brisket, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots for everyone. We had another great dinner together and after putting the girls to bed on this night I lasted a bit longer in the night to watch a movie, but most of the adults were tuckered and quick to bed this go around.
We had a rough night. Reese started developing a fever and woke up crying so we got her some Tylenol and water. She went back to sleep thankfully and we woke up feeling alright. Luis (and Carina) had breakfast duty and made everyone pancakes and bacon. We enjoyed this all together one last time before we took one last hot tub soak, one more shower/bath in the big bathroom, and then packed up everything to head out.
We were on the road a little after 11, stopped only once to get a latte for the two of us to share, and got back home right at 2 pm. We unpacked the car, got a snack and stretched our legs by walking to Miller Park for some time and then hitting Safeway on the way home for a few necessities. We had an easy dinner and movie night as Reese was still under the weather and we were all tired from the busy weekend. And all four of us were home on Monday. Reese was sick and didn’t want to go to school. Our nanny and other baby were sick so we opted to tag team the day and took turns getting work done and watching the girls. It was mostly movie watching for Reese but fortunately she turned a corner Monday night and was back at school Tuesday. I am feeling better and Brooke is too. I really, really want to be done with all of these sicknesses. And I’ll still be bitter for some time that I didn’t get to go skiing.
I’m on track with my studying and are just over a month away from test date. This weekend we have two birthday parties. The temperatures are still only like a high of 50 but certainly feel more springlike these days.
This happens every year…February flies by with a blink of an eye it seems. It’s a short month I know but there is something about this month that just always makes it go so quickly. I haven’t updated much of the general hubbub with talking about the girls recently but actually rather a lot has been going on in just this short month alone:
Had friends Georgie and family over for dinner
Had friends Marika and Randy over for dinner
Had Lottie and Sarah over for a playdate
Picked up Clara from school for a weeknight playdate
Had a school social outing at Central Cinema for Cartoon Happy Hour with 14 of Reese’s classmates and families
Got my hair cut and highlighted, which as Bryan knows, is an all day affair
Went to Bluey’s Big Play at the Paramount Theater
Watched the Super Bowl downtown at The Victor Tavern with friends
Dined at Elysian Brewing as a family
Had an overnight staycation at the W Hotel for one night as a mystery shop
Continue gymnastics on Saturdays
Had Luis and Carina over for an impromptu dinner
I had a two night work trip to Coeur D’Alene for the regional kickoff meeting
Reese and Bryan are currently visiting Lon and Trish in Arizona for three nights while Reese has two days off of school and to let me continue studying now that I am less than two months away from my big test
A lot has been going on, this is on top of school, Valentine’s Day, nanny share drama (which is now going smoothly and positively), touring elementary schools, interviewing with daycare centers, oh yeah, and work…
My work trip was short and sweet and only a short 45 minute flight away but it was a good trip for me. I got to connect further with my new supervisor and had my first annual review with him, which is only semi-meaningful since I have only really been contributing my work efforts in the past two months or so. I got to put faces to names of all of the district and branch managers for the Northwest Region. These are the people that I will be working with and talking to frequently so it is equally good that they can put a face to my name as well. Especially as I was the sole female in the group of 30-35 people. Between that and being in the same conference room for over 24 hours I was actually desperate to get back to the chaos and frenzy at the home life. I have one more two night work trip in Vegas mid-March and then pretty much done with work travels for the year, more or less.
Bryan and I continue to work well as a team in drop offs, pick ups, bedtimes, cleaning up around the house, etc. The girls are very cute with one another and Brooke is at ease with either of us. Interestingly though I think she misses Reese most of all when Reese is at school or this time while Reese is in Arizona.
The next season is upon us, the birthday party season. I think we have four birthday parties to attend over the span of two weekends. We also have a ski trip coming up and then that ever-looming exam. Bring it on!
Brooke’s turn…and my oh my, Brookesy Wookesy, as we like to call her, is also developing by leaps and bounds. This is one of my favorite ages, if not favorite. It can be a taxing one too as I feel like we are constantly having to keep an eye on her to see what she gets into, or climbs on, and then following her around cleaning up her messes. But she is learning words by the day, grasping commands and questions, pointing to things, shaking her head a bunch, and my absolute favorite she started just this week…she is saying “uh oh”. It’s the best! I actually think that I heard her say “uh oh” a minimum of 15 times today with the nanny.
Brooke is pretty darn stable on her feet these days and tests herself climbing up ladders, stairs, tables, even the slide in Reese’s room she managed to climb up. She is adamantly protesting Reese picking her up and carrying her around anymore. She gets so worked up about it these days. She says “Reese” a lot and of course “Dada” but still working on the rest of her vocabulary. She’s excellent at playing by herself most times, however, you must be in the room or in close proximity otherwise that is not okay. She still follows me around the house like my little mini me. She clutches at the bottom of my pant leg and holds on for dear life.
Brooke has found some favorite books “I’m Dreaming Of” and the “Babies and Doggies” books were some of Reese’s favorites too. She has become a less adventurous eater and has pretty much weaned herself off of the bottle. She loves to be outside and will bring you her hat, jacket, and shoes to get ready. Another thing we have been doing lately is saying we need to change that diaper and she goes and gets her mat ready and lays down on it herself. She’s still pretty good about getting buckled into the car and stroller and still very much enjoys being carried in the Ergo. She still loves toothbrushes and her and her sister have a dentist appointment in just a few weeks. She’s cut another tooth on the top and I think more are in the process of coming in but that makes a grand total of 3 right now.
The girl likes to dance and bop to some music. She loves swings and the toddler gym. She likes to pretend putting lipstick on me and pouts her lips to get me to pout mine. She’s definitely gotten the stranger danger vibes right now and has randomly selected strangers to break down into sobs at their nearest approach. She likes it when Reese sings to her. She likes to cuddle wrapped up in her towel after bath. Bryan has been putting her down for bed most nights and falls asleep on his chest. She’s a deep sleeper, rarely being woken by her sister, and snores to boot.
We love Brooke so much and just her fun, sweet disposition that has a bit of that sass and independence her sister has. I can’t believe how much she’s grown, although she still looks so tiny to me too.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve focused solely on the girls and their development, interests, likes, and whatnot and I thought I’d take a pause of the general banter about sicknesses (because they are never-ending), work and the day to day to talk a little bit about each of my girls.
Reese…ah, bugaboo. She is definitely growing up and we see that in so many ways, and then she prefers to sit on our lap on the couch, lay down with her at bed, wipe her booty, or refuse to go anywhere in the house herself and I realize she is still just four. And her latest saying is that she does not want to grow up. But in comparison to Brooke she does seem grown up most of the time.
Reese is definitely well liked at school and daily brings home drawings or art projects that were made by her friends to show us. I finally asked if she gives hers to others and she said no. When I asked why her friends always give her their projects she said, “Because they like me.” She had her first playdate with one of the new kids at school last week and this was truly before Bryan and I had even gotten to know her parents very well. They live around the corner from school and picked her up from school, got the girls pizza, and we just showed up at 7 pm to meet them and retrieve her. We definitely had the feeling like we were missing something until late in the evening. She has also had playdates with Clara her bestie at school, went downhill skiing for the first time with Lily, and had her old friend Georgie and family over for dinner this week.
I’m continually reminded of Reese’s true personality traits when she is at play with her good friends. And she is a good friend. But she also gets her friends to break out of their shells, take bigger risks, be more daring, be louder, and generally excitement overtakes everyone. Without fail this happens. I’m not sure the other parents should be thanking us!
So Reese loved the skiing, which was great and a very hopeful sign that there might be many more family ski days and trips in our future. She was all smiles and even protested leaving the mountain. She was totally fine continuing on skiing even after her friend and family were already headed back to Seattle. She also really enjoyed the ice skating that we did in Chicago and I’ve been wanting to take her to the rink here sometime soon.
Since the beginning of the year with the new room all set up and shared with Brooke we have really leaned into to the routine chart that we got her years ago for bedtime. She loves doing it every night which has really helped streamline the bedtime routine, be more consistent with going to the bathroom and brushing her teeth before bed, and we’ve been reading books in the glider before going to bed quietly so as not to wake up Brooke. I’ve been enjoying reading in the glider with Reese again.
The other big news with Reese is that we are currently in the process of touring schools for Kindergarten for her to start at next year. We really have three we are looking at; Madrona (our local zoned school), Stephens (where her preschool is currently located and where Brooke could end up at in another year plus), and Tops (an alternative preschool, still public though, that a few of her friends will be going to and we have heard good things about). We are firstly already enrolled in Seattle Public Schools so there is that. We toured both Stephens and Tops this week and brought Reese (and Brooke) with us. Both had a lot of positive qualities to it. I don’t think we have a wrong choice and I am now eager to tour Madrona, but now we also have a difficult choice. I still can’t believe she will be in Kindergarten next year!
We have a dentist appointment set up in a few weeks, a hair cut and an eye doctor appointment are needing to be scheduled, and in a few weeks Bryan is taking Reese on a daddy daughter trip to Phoenix to visit his parents while Reese has two days off of school and to give me a little more time to study. Reese is still Reese, and that’s exactly what she wants to be!
January continues to be not a very nice month for the Miller family. First, we rolled into the new year with both Brooke and Reese feeling a bit under the weather. This sickness then developed in Bryan and he spent the majority of the first week back at work working from home. Just as Bryan was starting to round the corner feeling a lot better, we had one good night of health where we had Sarah and Lottie over for dinner and one good day of health with Bryan going to the Seahawks game, and then BAM! Covid.
I thought we were done with this nonsense but I guess not. Not even 48 hours after the Seahawks game Bryan took a test and it showed up as positive. Fortunately, we are in a different place than we were a year ago for most aspects of life; Reese could still go to school wearing a mask since she was exposed but not exhibiting symptoms or testing positive, but Brooke was home with us for not one but two weeks. This definitely was not an ideal situation but I would say that Bryan and I handled it as best as we could. In general, I had the girls in the morning, getting them ready as usual and taking Reese to school. Brooke and I would hang out until about 11 am or so and then Bryan would take over from there to get himself and Brooke lunch and then put her down for a nap. I got to work the afternoon. This continued on for two weeks, with me essentially working 11 am – 5 pm or so and Bryan working 7/8 am – 2 pm with a break for lunch. I enjoyed my mornings with Brooke, taking her to a coffee shop, or a walk, or the toddler gym once (always wearing a mask just in case) and I think she liked her time at home too. Thankfully each of our companies were okay with our adjusted schedule and didn’t press us too hard so that it wasn’t anymore stressful than it needed to be.
But this isn’t to say this was how we wanted to continue on with life. Bryan’s work is at a busy time right now, going through retention meetings, having one-on-one meetings with individual employees, and still trying to set their goals for the year ahead. And for me, well I literally got my first projects that I was responsible for right as all of this started to play out. And any time during the day I had for studying was gone. But I still got my projects done and am really liking my work and I forced myself to study 1-2 hours at night so that I didn’t get behind. We made it through. Brooke is back in nanny share rotation as of Monday and it is glorious.
I’m obviously much relieved that none of the rest of us got it. We’ve all been feeling fine and that is a huge relief. And fortunately Bryan’s case this go around was not at all like last time. He had one bad afternoon and night but the rest of the time he felt okay and could work and help with Brooke and whatnot. Reese continues to love her gymnastics class on Saturdays and had a playdate with one of her besties this past Saturday beforehand. I took the girls to the bounce house one rainy Sunday and to the indoor playground called Playdate another rainy Sunday with our friends Rosalie and Anne. We’ve walked to the park when it hasn’t been raining and even spent MLK day at a park that was holding a park cleanup event that was very well attended and fueled by amazing coffee and pastries by some neighborhood cafes. We’ve spent the majority of our nights with dinner at home, puzzles, Crazy 8, movies, and baths.
Now that we are free of Covid we are letting loose again. We spent Thursday after school at the local cinema for their cartoon happy hour which was our first time but definitely not the last. It was a great time. We then walked to school for pickup and then to Redhook Brewlab for some drinks and pizza on Friday night to end the long two weeks. And we went out Monday night to Tavolata for their free rigatoni day where every table got a free rigatoni. It was also happy hour so we weren’t shy and went ahead and also ordered the chicory salad, roasted beets, pappardelle, bread and smoked fish bruschetta. The server was an amazing upseller and somehow also got us to order the fresh made to order mini doughnuts with the chocolate dipping sauce. Plus it’s our turn for date night this Thursday!
We definitely are feeling our spirits rise after two pretty rocky weeks. Everything is looking optimistic, even including studying as I’ve now officially passed the midpoint in terms of learning new material.