a week with G+G

David's parents came to visit a few weeks ago and the kids were in heaven. My mother-in-law just retired from teaching 2nd grade for 37 years (!!!) and they drove up from Southern California to spend the week with us. We asked David's dad to help David rip out all our carpet and put in wood floors while they were visiting. He agreed to help, cause that's who he is. For several days of their "vacation", he and David worked well into the night by putting a million screws into new sheets of plywood across the floor joists before putting down the planks. It was a lot of work and David would STILL be working on it without Bob's help. They were both pretty sore the next few days but the floors look great and I'm excited to share pictures soon!
We went to Volunteer Park one of the days they were here and it was so beautiful! I had to take this picture of them around this enormous tree we found. Someone had made a flower wreath and wrapped it around the tree. It made me so happy and it was such a quintessential PNW thing to do. Maybe it was for a wedding or something but I like to think that someone just really loved that tree... very much. And the tree was happy.
We walked around the conservatory and it was really interesting. This picture is making me laugh. Fritz kept tackling Bob (like he do), and Will was jumping into the shot while I tried to take a picture of the inside of the conservatory. I decided it was perfect.
Then Fritz touched a cactus in the Desert Plants room and flipped out. Those things hurt! He was technically fine but was screaming a lot so we left. You know, close quarters and public embarrassment and all that.

All was well again when we walked over to the park and let the kids play and run wild. It was funny for me to observe my kids at the park because their activities were so indicative of their personalities. William walked around the park climbing on the structures and imagining up stories and singing to himself, Fritz jumped to Grampa several times off this step and ended each "catch" with a big hug. He is such a lover. Meanwhile, Lulu was going down the baby slide a million times, galloping back up the steps as soon as she ended at the bottom. She has a true, abiding love for slides and swings. It's a good life.
My mother-in-law is the best at making the kids feel really special. Every time they come to visit, she sets up a treasure hunt before she leaves so the kids can have something to look forward to while they're dealing with the disappointment of them leaving. They have to find the clues around the house and figure out where the next one is and then there's always little prizes and candy at the end. They LOVE it! We're so grateful for all their help and generosity!


lulu turns two

My BABY is two! I am 70% devastated and 30% excited to have a more independent little one around the house. She makes us all so happy. She is so sweet and snuggly and funny. The boys adore her and we all just are gah-gah over her. Seeing her grow up is really fun because she's so wonderfully smart and curious. She speaks really well and has so many words! The day before her birthday, I took the kids to the mall and let them each get a cupcake to celebrate our little bunny Lulu.
She ate, like, two bites of this and then she was done. Classic.

I also took this snap of her earlier at Panera, eating her macaroni + cheese. It still makes me laugh every time I watch it.
On her real birthday, we went to our favorite burger place, Tipsy Cow, for dinner. OMG. I love that restaurant. Burgers are my favorite food so, of course, I love it. All the kids wore these little party hats to the restaurant and Lulu looked especially like a little unicorn, which made me laugh.
Then we went home and sang to her which made her very mad at first and then really happy. Raspberry cake and homemade strawberry ice cream was a great way to round off her 2nd birthday.
We love you Lulie! You're our favorite girl!


birthday love for DB

Today is David's 34th birthday. I can't believe it. We've been talking about our ages a lot lately and, boy, does that sound old! I'm about to be 32! Yikes! Slow down, life!
Anyway, on this day, I celebrate this wonderful man. Nobody's perfect but David's pretty close. I always brag about him to people and they probably think it's annoying (and it probably embarrasses David) but I can't help it.
Happy Birthday DB! I love you a million.


W I L L : end of kinder

Will finished Kindergarten and I never blogged the classic "beginning of the school year / end of the school year" picture. So, that's what this post is. He grew about a foot, lost a few teeth and learned how to read like a pro. He's reading Harry Potter by himself now (oh, my heart!) and can really even put the inflection into his reading aloud. It's really fun to hear him read in Hagrid's voice, especially. His teacher says he is a VERY strong reader and is reading significantly above grade level standards. He's also exceeding well at all his other studies and works really hard at everything he does. I'm so proud of him! Go Wilbur!


chocolate chip cookies: c r i s p y || c h e w y

Look, I know I've posted a LOT of cookie recipes over the years but I just love cookies more than any other treat. Sue me... for too much happiness! Chocolate chip cookies are one of those things that everyone loves, but has different opinions about what makes the "best" cookie. Some people like thick and cakey. Some like thin and crispy (yuck) and some people - the RIGHT people - like something in between. You know what I mean... crisp, buttery edges + soft, gooey centers with the perfect semi-sweet chocolate chunk ratio. Yep, that's the perfect CCC.
I'm here today to present that cookie. It doesn't take hours of chilling in the fridge to achieve that perfect texture. Nor does it take browning butter or weird ratios of 3 different kinds of flour. Nope. This one's easy. So easy that you may be cursing me later on for sharing it!

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups chopped chocolate (I use Trader Joe's Belgian Dark baking bar)
fleur de sel, for sprinkling
[reheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars with an electric mixer over medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again until blended and light. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt until combined and then add to the butter / sugar mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Pour in the chopped chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated.

Drop the dough in heaping tablespoons (or with a cookie scoop) onto the baking sheets and sprinkle with fleur de sel (you can use kosher salt in a pinch but fleur de sel is life changingly better). Bake for 10 minutes until lightly brown and the edges are firm. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes until transferring them to a cooling rack.

Adapted from here