October 11, 2017

bluewater days 2017

I really dropped the ball with picture taking at Bluewater Days this year, but it was still a great time! We drove again this year and David and I have vowed - NEVER again... but we said that the last time too. It's a 3,000 mile trip with three little kids and it was rough, but once we got there we had a great time! This gorgeous view greeted us!
On our way to New Mexico, we drove through Utah and stopped to see my college roommate and BFF, Michelle. It was so great to see how our kids have grown, and to eat and chat with them for a few hours. It had been a couple years since our last meeting, and was a true test of friendship that we can pick up right where we left off. She and her husband, Steve, are good people with so much creativity and talent.  We love the Hunts!
We got to the ranch early Monday morning and enjoyed a little quiet time to recoup before everyone arrived that afternoon. Louisa made the ranch cat, Cougar, her little bestie and mostly followed him around the yard. When she wasn't doing that, she was jumping on the trampoline, begging for horse and quad rides and generally just loving cousin time.
I'm so glad I got a photo with Louisa and my mom. I've been meaning to get a "three generation" picture of all the Ada's and I'm so glad we finally did it. Wish my Grandma Ada was still around so she could have been in the picture. She was a remarkable lady. This picture is pretty special to me.
Meanwhile, Fritz and Will lived their own lives for most of the week. We rarely saw them since they were always playing with cousins. We took lots of quad rides in cloudy weather, napped with the windows open, played games, watch the storm clouds on the porch swings and ate yummy food.
On our last night, we had a delicious meal of grilled tri tip, Mexican street corn, scalloped potatoes and roasted vegetables. NOM. Then we all trekked down the barn and had our annual ranch dance, which I somehow always get to DJ. Lots of George Strait, Josh Turner and Alan Jackson and some excellent line dancing skills.
This year my nephew, Simon, delighted everyone will a complete dance performance that made all of us DIE at the cuteness. After his display, Louisa decided she needed to show her moves and danced her face off.
Thanks Mom and Dad for another great Bluewater Days! We had a great time!

October 4, 2017

chicago at chateau ste. michelle

To celebrate my birthday in August, David and I went to one of the outdoor concerts at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington's oldest winery, and just a mile and a half from our house. I love taking visitors there because the venue is beautiful with its French style chateau on 87 acres of gorgeously landscaped grounds. It's a beautiful place to walk around the grounds and have a picnic. They also have an amphitheater where they host amazing concerts every summer. The concerts usually sell out by January, but we were lucky enough to grab some seats for the Chicago concert thanks to my ticket-savvy friend, Lindsay.
Growing up with 9 older siblings, I have many memories of singing along to "You're The Inspiration" and "Hard to Say I'm Sorry", so I was more familiar with their 80's stuff. Little did I know, their earlier music is amazing and we had so much fun dancing and singing along. This was their 50th anniversary concert! Crazy they've been iconic musicians for so many years. The crowd was mostly older than us, but it was so much great to see how good musicianship and performance doesn't have an age. I'm sad that I never got to see Peter Cetera but I have to say - James Pankow was such a great entertainer! The replacement singer for Peter Cetera was excellent as well and the entire show was just really fun. I danced so much and probably looked ridiculous since my dancing skills are subpar, but I genuinely just DID. NOT. CARE.
I was sending these videos to my older sisters, who taught me all I know about 80's music, and thinking about all the memories I have of listlessly watching them put on makeup and tease their massive bangs before they went on dates. I was little in the 80s, but I wanted to be just like them. My sister, Debbie, with her long, mauve-painted fingernails that she could use to pick up buttered popcorn without getting her fingers dirty. My sister, Diane, who has the best laugh and great sense of humor. My sister, Alice, who everyone dubbed me her "mini-me" because of our noses and singing voices, and who would turn David Lanz music for me so I could fall asleep. My sister, Helena, who I envied because she of her smarts, confidence and popularity. My brave and bean burrito-loving sister, Charity, who had the cutest clothes that I would steal from her and she never yelled at me. My sister, Heidi, who I copied for years because she was just SO COOL. It was so much fun to grow up with all these sisters who babied me and were like second moms. I feel lucky to have had them growing up.

September 11, 2017

paradise at mt. rainier

Mt. Rainier produces the best things: cherries, waterfalls, wildflowers, glorious hikes and snowy peaks. Last summer, we drove the three hours to the far side of the volcano to try to hike a bit and got completely rained out. We did get a sweet little picnic before that, but we definitely didn't get to savor the splendor like we did this year. Last weekend, we adventured there again and it did not disappoint.
These peaks are just stunning. Every breath of crisp mountain air filled my whole body with a familiar love for nature. I feel so grateful to live somewhere where beauty surrounds me all year long. Our kids have become quite the hikers. Yes, they still complain when they get tired, but they've hiked a lot with us in their short lives. This hike to one of the lakes was particularly special because we were almost entirely alone in the forest and surrounded by huckleberry bushes. The short hike took us a long time because we stopped every few steps to pluck some berries and savor the quiet forest around us.
We saw many waterfalls during the day and each one had its own special splendor. Of course, I prefer the Paradise hike to just about all of them, but the Wonderland trail is filled with stunning views and beautiful surroundings.

Watching the sunset at Paradise was magical. For me, music holds many memories associated with nature and driving with my family on road trips through national parks. As we drove with the windows down, and watched the sunset, we listened to this song. As we headed down the mountain during the perfect moment, we caught a glimpse of a fox couple preparing for their evening. It was so beautiful and magical and I will always remember it.
Rainier, you gorgeous lady, I love you with all my heart.  
 

August 22, 2017

lulu is three!

My baby is three. HOW did this happen? She's technically been three for 12 weeks, but I am behind on everything in life so... expected. We had a very sweet, little party for her with some friends, the Nelsons, in our yard. It was one of the hottest days of the year here so we bought about 200 water balloons and let the kids just rock the fight, which was very entertaining.
Louisa is such a delight. She has the funniest personality and, like a typical youngest child, is always trying to make us laugh with her goofy antics. She loves to make us laugh and will say or do just about anything for attention. She LOVES to dance and puts on her daily tutu and requests dancing music on the speaker so she can twirl and leap and point her toes in the cutest way ever while we all watch her, entranced.
I love her feisty, strong will and that she knows what she wants. She is so confident and I love her so much. She's just about to start preschool (!!!!) and, while that kind of blows my mind, I know she's ready and will love it - especially now that both boys will be in school full-time.
To get ready for preschool, she had to be potty trained so I am officially diaper-free for the first time in almost eight years. It is so freeing and wonderful, but I admit, I'm a little sad that this phase of my life is over. While there's no more 3 a.m. feedings where my head is bobbing up and down in the nursery chair and I'm crying from exhaustion, there's also no more newborn baby nuzzling and gulping sounds as I nurse in that chair. I won't have any more stinky diapers to change, but I also won't get to enjoy the cutest little diaper bums waddle around the house. There are many complicated emotions as I move into this next phase. Growing and delivery babies were some of the best experiences of my life, but the post-partum phase was also some of the darkest times. I am so grateful that I have three amazing children who have made me a mother and taught me so much. Before I know it, I'll be moving on to the next phase of teenagers and dating and all the excitement / drama that comes with that. So I am relishing this short, but sweet, phase that comes between baby-free (worrying about naps, diaper changing, feedings, dependency) and teenage years (worrying about ALL the big things).
That was my long way of saying - HAPPY BIRTHDAY Louisiana / Lulie / Lulu / Goosey Lu. We love you soooooo much!

August 21, 2017

glorious british columbia

David and I took a trip to British Columbia again in June. We had so much fun last year that we decided this is going to be an annual thing, as long as we can get someone to keep watching our kids while we escape! Last year, we spent the first half at Nairn Falls and then went to Whistler. Since we fell in love with the Nairn Falls campground, we decided to stay there for two more days and then spent one night in Squamish.

The Sea to Sky Highway is stunning. It is truly breathtaking. We spent the whole time on this trip being really outdoorsy, which I'm not really very good at. Luckily, David is a true outdoorsman and he pushes me to try new things and is patient with me when I'm slow or overly cautious. We first walked up to Brandywine Falls which had a gorgeous lookout point. It was a great start to our trip!
From there, we headed over to our campground and set up camp. The Nairn Falls campground is really great. Canada does a lot of things right! It's clean and just beautiful. We lucked out again and got one of the few, epic sites right on the river. It is a sight to behold when you wake up to that river!
The next morning, we spent the day hiking Joffre Lakes. Getting to the upper lake was a pretty tough hike IMO, but boy was it worth it! Beyond that, we kept hiking until we got to the glacier. It was so peaceful and serene. Lots of waterfalls and beautiful spots to relax and enjoy nature.
While we were hiking to the glacier, David had been considering swimming in the lake. When we got there and we observed that most of the lake was still covered in ice, he had a change of heart - thankfully. He does love a good Polar Plunge though!
The next day, we drove over to Squamish to check into our tiny house Air BNB. It was very cute but I certainly couldn't do it long term (and poor David is 6'4" so he was definitely cramped). It was a fun experience though! The owners had a tiny private island along the Howe Sound. They had paddle boards, kayaks and lots of wildlife and sea creatures to observe from the water.
From there, we went to the Sea to Sky Gondola, which you should definitely do if you're ever in the Whistler area. The suspension bridge almost gave me (and many other people) a heart attack but it was so amazing!

 And this was the view from the top - I mean, seriously!!! We loved hiking around the top of the gondola on the many different trails that all had a view of THIS.
Also, if you're ever in Squamish, BC definitely hit up Fergie's Cafe. Not only is it incredibly charming, but they have sustainable business practices it's just delightful. We enjoyed eating our Smoke Salmon Eggs Benedict with Avocado and Capers while sitting under a massive tire-swing-yielding tree next to a beautiful garden.
One last waterfall hike at Shannon Falls before we headed home. It was so wonderful to spend several days with David alone in beautiful British Columbia. We love living so close to Canada! Special thanks to my in-laws who held down the fort at home and took great care of our kiddos! We couldn't have done it without you.