December 7, 2017

fluffy

Just another picture of Charlie because... well, because, he's ADORABLE! I took this in front of the Christmas tree right after bringing him home from the groomer. They brought him out to me and I squealed because he was so fluffy and so cute! I couldn't stop thinking about this scene - "He's so fluffy! I'm gonna die!" Boy, do we love him!

November 20, 2017

meet charlie

The exciting news of late is that WE GOT A DOG! For the last year, David and I have been actively discussing adding a dog to our family. Will and Fritz have begged us to get a dog and we really wanted to make it happen for them, and for our family in general. William had been asking me almost every day if we could get a dog. Now that Louisa is potty trained and we are out of the "baby" phase, we were in the process of trying to find a good fit and we thought that we could figure out a way to bring a dog into our home as a Christmas surprise. While the idea of getting a puppy was really tempting, we wanted to find a dog to adopt and the local shelters here won't adopt puppies to families with young children (which I now totally get). I also was really nervous about the responsibility of training a puppy.
So, we scoured rescue websites and looked at our local shelters. I actually found a dog really similar to Charlie at a shelter in Phoenix but they weren't able to send him here. I was sad when it didn't work out, but Charlie was meant for our family.
Last week, I got an e-mail from a friend who said that her friend was trying to rehome her Miniature Poodle because of some extenuating circumstances that made her unable to keep him. I saw his picture and fell in love. I immediately called her and we set up a play date for them to meet me and for me to meet Charlie. When that went well, we had him over to our house for a trial while the boys were at school (we were still trying to surprise them). Lulu and I spent the day with him, which was really great because she has been really nervous around dogs so she got a lot of time with him by herself to get used to him. He has been really great with her and she is obsessed with him. The next day, we brought him home for good. The previous family did not want to let him go. They dearly loved him - you can really tell because of his wonderful training and he is a sweet, well-cared for dog. They were heartbroken to have to rehome him, but we are so grateful because now we get to love him for the rest of his life. He has two families who love him and want the best for him - it's a good situation for all of us.
His name is Charlie and he's six years old. He's a cream-colored Miniature Poodle so he doesn't shed like other dogs and he weighs about 20 pounds, the perfect size for our family. He was already named Charlie - which is perfect because a) it suits him b) it was on my list of dog names c) it's not similar to any other names in our family so it's not confusing when we call him. We love petting his snuggly, curly coat and watching his floppy ears when we play fetch. Did you know that poodles are retrievers? They were originally hunting dogs and are excellent swimmers ("poodle" is derived from the German word "pudel" - meaning to splash in the water). They're also one of the smartest dogs and he is proof of that. He knows what we're saying - he does the cutest little head tilt when we ask him questions. He is also so easy to train - which, in fairness, his previous family did most of that long before he came to us. He's pretty much the perfect dog and we all can't get enough!

Quick story about the history of my dog dream. When I was about 10 years old, I begged my parents to let me get a dog. As the 10th of 11 children, my parents were just a little busy and they didn't want to add another responsibility to the family when my mom knew that she would end up doing most of the work. So, I set out to prove to them how responsible I would be. I knew my mom liked Beagles so I pulled out the dog encyclopedia that was in my parents' library and read all about Beagles. Then, I decided to write a book report. I pulled out five sheets of lined paper and wrote out a Table of Contents, a report on the history of Beagles, their training and food needs and all the ways that I would do the work taking care of him. I even cited reference (haha). I drew pictures and put the pages in sheet protectors, held together through the holes with yarn. I humbly presented it to my parents, sure that it would change their minds. They smiled, read it and approved of my work... but they still said no. I never stopped dreaming of the day I would get a dog. 23 years later, here I am. The sweetest little pupper follows me around the house, licks my face in gratitude when I pet his fluffy face and no one has ever been so excited to see me when I get home. We love Charlie!

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.