Thursday, July 30, 2009


I'm from North Carolina. I spent my summers at the pool every day. I'm used to humidity and hot weather.

At least I thought so. Then I moved to the Northwest where 75 is hot. In my tenth summer here, I must have acclimated. I've been worried about the kids sleeping in a 90 degree house. I was shocked to find the butter on the counter and the chocolate for smores in the pantry were completely melted.

Seattle hit it's highest ever recorded temperature yesterday at 102. I heard Bellevue was 105! Around noon we jumped onto Expedia and booked a hotel in Ocean Shores. I'm not terribly fond of Ocean Shores, but the weather map said it was only 88 there.

Off we went within 30 minutes for an overnight stay at a hotel on the beach with an indoor pool, breakfast, and a work out room.

Imagine my surprise when we got into the car in 100 degree weather and got out of the car three hours later in a misty fog and 55 degrees!

We roamed around in the fog until we found food and then took the kids to the pool. Riley was beside himself at the prospect of swimming since he recently discovered water wings. He think he's an olympic swimmer!

Sean ran to the car and left me with both the kids in the pool which I'm not comfortable with at all. In the same instant, I flipped Reagan off her floatee ring and Riley stepped off of the step into 4 ft deep water. When Sean came back with Riley's water wings I was in the process of trying to save both children at the same time. Thankfully everyone was ok. Reagan happily went to "Daddy" who is taller and handles the kids better in swimming pools.

Sean just kept laughing at me for thinking it was hot since he comes from Palm Springs, CA where hot is 128 degrees. Sigh. At least he was kind enough to agree to support the insanity of taking two kids to a hotel overnight. I wasn't the only one with that idea either since every hotel with AC in Seattle was booked to capacity.

We arrived back this afternoon to a 92 degree house in 101 degree weather, but I'm glad to be home.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Each summer growing up, my family would load into the station wagon and head out for a visit to family somewhere across the US. Being the youngest of four, I didn’t get a choice location in the car - such as the window seat. For most of the journey I was usually cramped in the middle and stuck to the vinyl seats in the sweltering heat.

The memories that linger from those long past days are still nostalgic. Memories of summers spent at my Grandfather’s house in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina or visiting my mom’s cousin outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Our annual church picnic and watermelon sprinkled with salt or splashing in the mountain cold water at McGalliard Falls are my fondest memories of summer.
I can remember driving as far as New Mexico to see my Great Aunt Catherine for whom I’m named. On cardboard we slid down the massive dunes at White Sands and counted armadillos on the road in Texas. One summer we went to see a Great Aunt and Uncle in Oklahoma and I discovered Sonic and their amazing milkshakes!
From Florida to Virginia and the East Coast to the West, I saw a lot from my middle seat in the Station Wagon when my siblings and I weren’t fighting.
Summer brings out the best of America. It brings America outside! Now that I live in a place that’s so beautiful in the summer, the last thing I’d want to do is leave. After all, the chance of rain in Seattle in July and August is less than 6%.
We’ve found lots of traditions to continue every summer. We spend long days on the waterfront beaches. We wander through Woodinville’s trendy waterfront downtown. We visit the weekly farmer’s market with its appealing spread of fresh produce. We bike the same trails over and over because they never dull of their alluring beauty as we gaze out over the majestic white capped Olympics.
This summer the AuPairCare au pairs are joining their host families to create life long memories as they participate with their host families in annual summertime traditions: road trips, vacations, 4th of July Picnics, neighborhood BBQs, and weekend camping trips!
As I think back to the sense of adventure I gained as I learned more about our country with each site we visited across the US, I hope the Au Pairs will make lifelong memories this summer as the experience the US through their host family traditions. The AuPairCare Au Pairs demonstrate fantastic energy and enthusiasm making each day a new adventure as they provide quality childcare to local families!


Monday, July 20, 2009


Last week I had a great host family interview with an Indian Family. They offered me a glass of water in a tin cup. That moment was filled with nostalgia as visions of St Joe's Abids and many dinners of chapatti and rice flooded back to me. I wish I could go again and take my family. I would visit the market place and take my kids to Yankee Doodle Ice Cream. I'd love to stand again at the top of Golconda Fort where the wind sails around the 400 year old ruins.

It's hard for me to imagine I've been to such places when the memories fade over the years. It's not likely I'll ever visit the same villages, the same schools, or see the same people again.

Nevertheless, India was my first love. For reasons even I can't explain. I'm quite fortunate to have been there for two summers.

The last week was busy for our family. I went shopping without my children and found fairy wings and a skirt for Reagan.
It came in handy that I had these with me when I met up with Sean and Riley at the local Splash Park. Turns out, Reagan didn't like the splash park. Riley, on the other hand, adored it. He's asked every day if we can go back. The highlight was climbing to the top of a huge killer whale and sliding down its nose.
Reagan was happy to frolic in the grass in her new skirt and wings.
Saturday was trailsfest at Rattlesnake Lake.

Sean and Riley took a row around the lake in a kayak. This was Riley's first time in a small boat.

Reagan will tell you that being a little sister sucks. She entertained herself with sticks and rocks while the hot sun beat down on her and her brother was rowing around the sweet lake.

When she got bored with the rocks she dug through her bag and helped herself to Riley's sippee. He wasn't in sight, he won't know! You should also take note of the very cute bow I found for her superfine hair! Thankfully, she loves it as much as I do. That outfit was a compromise since Reagan was determined to wear her new killer whale shirt.
When Riley finally returned, he was so happy that he gladly posed for me in front of the mountain behind the lake.

After definitely not going to sleep in any uncertain amount of time, we got the kids up and took them out for another busy day.

We started out at Golden Gardens Beach on the Puget Sound. Then our family biked around Shilshole Bay, under the draw bridge, past Google and over to Gasworks Park.

This is the one section of the Burke Gilman we've never biked or run on. It was an accomplishment to see the last 6 miles of the trail.
We hiked to the top of a huge mound at Gasworks where we could see the boats coming and going through Lake Union. Riley, being the friendly guy that he is, makes friends with everyone. He didn't waste any time selling himself off to a nice lady with a kite.
She was kind enough to let Riley try to fly it!
Reagan stood by again in complete boredom, but perhaps with better scenery.
We rode back in time to see the sun setting at Golden Gardens, grabbed take out Chinese on the way home, and put our kids to bed so late that they will most certainly sleep in tomorrow morning. I guess not, but here's hoping.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Date Night

We had the opportunity to head to downtown Bellevue to support the Overlake Service League and see a free movie a few days ago. We stopped by Starbucks and ran into a group of au pairs. Of course. It’s become pretty common to run into Host Families and Au Pairs every where I go. I can most assuredly find au pairs at Target, the mall, and any area Starbucks.

We dropped off our peanut butter donations, found a nice spot, put up our camping chairs, and watched the sunset. Somewhere in there, I grabbed a camera and took this guy’s picture with his wife and the President of the Overlake Service League.

Right about the time the movie was about to start, I leaned over to Sean and said, “Let’s ditch this and go see The Proposal instead.”

Off we went to the next showing movie which happened to be at Park Place. We frequent our favorite sushi bar there, but I haven’t been to the movies there in ages. Actually, I haven’t seen a non-kid friendly movie in years.

We were in line for awhile waiting for some lady to write a check. They still take those? As we were standing there, I was joking about our dating days – which were almost non-existent.

Thinking about how we hardly knew each other when we got engaged made me want to recap the story.

Sean moved to Seattle on September 10th 2002. For months I had been hearing about this guy I would get along great with. Various, non-connected friends kept telling me I had to meet him! I laughed it off – after all he was from California. He was a drummer! He went to a completely PC University and majored in politics. No way were we going to get along.

And then we met on Thanksgiving Day. There was a couple that asked us if we were dating. Sean was completely unaware that anyone was interested in setting us up and I responded by saying I’ve never met this guy before in my life! Then this ex-homeless, rough, tough guy who now works in ministries to the homeless pipes up with “Well, we’ll just have to pray for you two!” I said something about going to check on the turkey and walked away. As I walked into the kitchen I realized that it was somehow inevitable that we’d be married in 6 months. Sean thought I hated him at first until we were playing a card game that was complicated and I was the only one who could keep up.

By Christmas we were inseparable and the week after I left on a 4 week trip to Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Holland. I was home for one night before Sean left for 6 weeks on tour with his former employer. In those days, it wasn’t uncommon for Sean to be on the road 47 weeks out of the year.

In January, by day I skied, and hiked, and traveled all over Europe. By night, I talked to Sean on the phone or we instant messaged for hours. The one exception was while I was in Holland with one of my dear friends who lived there for 6 months. I didn’t have access to the internet and I wrote postcards instead.

I came home at the end of January and said goodbye to Sean who was headed to Southern California. By day we worked and at night we took advantage of our free after 9pm cell phone minutes.

I flew down in early February to meet his family and three weeks later on the 24th of February, they came back to Washington.

On March 15th he proposed. I was surprised to say the least. He had put together a scavenger hunt for me and each of the clues led to places in our neighborhood, our favorite park, and out to Snoqualmie Falls. I took the trail down to the falls gathering my notes on the way and there at the base of the falls was Sean with red roses, kneeling in front of me.

We were married on June 21st – just 7 months after we met. We’ve spent our last 6 anniversaries watching the sunset together on the longest day of the year.

We’ve been through a lot, but there’s no one else I’d rather go through life with than Sean. I’m glad he was crazy enough to propose after 3 months of knowing each other and most of it long distance.

We had a great evening out together, but I’m really thankful that we enjoy simple evenings together. We’re pretty happy to sit outside on the deck and chat over dinner while our kids play or spend the afternoon hiking or biking together. It's amazing how even after years you can love someone more and more.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Another Day in Paradise

Seattle is known for its moderate climate. It's easy to fall in love with the Northwest on days like today. Our high was 75. This morning started cool and cloudy and we headed off for our weekly park date at Crestwoods Park in Kirkland. I heard someone mention a turtle park. I'm determined to find out what and where that is.

Last night I tried to capture Reagan singing all the way through Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. If I whispered, she whispered and if I held up the camera she'd stop singing and say "Cheeese!" The effort was futile. She can hardly talk and she sings entire songs. I heard Riley refer to her today as "Baby." He still calls her that instead of Reagan. "Our baby is running away!" "Here Baby, I'll push you down the slide." He's a good big brother!

Our kids are bathed and my four year old is reading a bedtime story to my one year old. Sean and I are headed out for a date night at the Overlake Service League's Summer Movies at the Park! They are showing Bride Wars at Bellevue City Park tonight. We just got back from a four mile run with the kids and we're looking forward to evening out!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer brings a lot of playdates to our favorite places! We've hit Idylwood, Houghton, Newcastle, and Meydenbauer in the last few weeks. The water is usually cold enough to keep Reagan away and the sand toys are entertaining for both the kids. This has been so much easier than last year when Reagan was still adicted to her snowsuit in 85 degree weather and preferred eating sand.

This was my second Ride the Ducks activity with the au pairs.

Seattle is the home of the first automatic car wash in the US!

I've lived in Seattle 9 years and I still find new things everytime I'm downtown!

Our transit system is not the most comprehensive for beginners, but after missing our connection and getting off at the wrong stop, we made it there and back! I didn't have to pay for parking!

Reagan was more than glad to model her new pigtails and 4th of July outfit!

The park that hosted the Bellevue Strawberry Festival has an inviting splash pad for kids. I had no idea!

Derby Days was a success. I stood in the sun for 13 hours and acquired a fabulous tan. (Read: sunburn)
Riley took the opportunity to get his face painted! Maybe he was celebrating his first baseball game last week on the Tigers' Team!

We were next to a booth with a great fishing game and across from us, the Rotary Club was teaching kids how to drive!
I hear as soon as she can speak English, they'll take her to another country for a year.

We passed out over 500 brochures while some fantastic au pairs entertained kids with face painting and helped the kids with a Ring Toss!

We headed out to the Bothell Parade for our second year! Reagan seemed to like her outfit, but threw a crazy tantrum over wearing tights with it. I finally gave in and let her wear them even though it was 95 degrees out!
The best news this past week was that Riley passed the Kindergarten Early Entrance Test! He was so excited when he read the letter to us saying he could go to Kindergarten this fall!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

4th of July

Independence Day is my favorite holiday. As a teen, I had the opportunity to spend the 4th of July in various other countries. One of my fondest memories is holding sparkers in front of the Abids in Hyderabad, India. I'd never been so close to sparklers since they were illegal in my home state.

A few years later, I recall eating military ration pound cake from a metal packet in Albania. One of our group leaders had found tiny flags to stick in the top. As we rode around from location to location, listening to Brian Adams croon "Everything I do" from every beer garten in the country, we sang all the patriotic songs we could think of with our new Albanian friends.

It's the only holiday that I can recount spending with extended family over the years. I have no aunts, uncles, or cousins, but my parents had scores of great aunts and uncles and 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cousins. We visited places like Oklahoma, Texas, Tennesee, and New Mexico each summer and our journeys would usually fall over the 4th of July Holiday.

Being in other places has given me a thankfulness for the freedom and choices I have here in America. It's with much appreciation that I want to carry on strong traditions of making the most of this holiday with our children.After the 4th of July parade and a 3 mile run, we hosted a BBQ and fireworks at our home and invited our friends.

Thankfully, the Northwest weather was cooperative. We had a beautiful, hot, and sunny day.

I always learn something new. This year I learned that you shouldn't let your children bond with the turtle bombs before you light them on fire and blow them up. Reagan was especially wide eyed and in shock when the back end exploded off and the turtle started shooting flames from its mouth.

Overall, an exceptionally good day.


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