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Seattle Bound

 

This past weekend we went on our first camping adventure of the year. It was actually Anna’s very first camping trip ever as we didn’t get a chance to camp at all last year. After much research Lorne picked Deception Pass on Whidbey Island to be our first camping destination. Washington State is full of beauty and we have certainly seen our fair share of beautiful locales since our arrival last year, but let me tell you, this place was breathtaking.

With Puget Sound, the ocean, and lakes all around, plus gorgeous outcroppings of rock all over the place you really couldn’t ask for a prettier spot.

We arrived at the park Saturday afternoon after a short 1.5 hour drive. Our campsite was awesome, and huge! The girls had tons of space to play and we had our pick of spots to place the tent. We got busy setting up our gear as soon as we got there. The girls had fun getting in the way playing in the tent while Lorne and I tried to get everything set up and organized :)

Once our stuff was all set up we headed out to explore the park. We headed to the beach, which happened to be crazy busy and opted to play on the shore of the Sound instead. The girls had a blast throwing rocks in the water and climbing around the mounds of drift wood gathered along the shore. Maya and I had a contest to see who could find the prettiest rocks. It was a great afternoon.

After dinner we headed to another gorgeous spot in the park, it ended up being our favorite (and most frequent) destination, North Beach. Lorne and Maya climbed on the rocks and the girls spent more time rearranging the shoreline by throwing tons of rocks in the water. We also caught a little presentation put on the parks system about whales that featured a huge Gray Whale skull.

 

Once we’d had our fill of exploring and learning about whales for the day we headed back to our campsite for our first camp fire. We sat around the fire eating s’mores, telling stories and relaxing.

The next was more of the same, lots of exploring the park. We found a nice little spot with a little (mostly) sand beach kind of nestled between West Beach and North Beach. Maya and Lorne spent much of the time climbing around on the rocks. Anna napped for a bit and then had fun playing in the sand and attempting to climb the rocks herself.

After lunch we headed back to our favorite spot, North Beach and explored further down the beach. The afternoon featured more the same, rock climbing and rock throwing.

That evening, after dinner and before we settled down for the evening with another camp fire, we decided to take a little walk over to West Beach. The sun was getting lower in the sky and casting a beautiful light on the beach. We spent most of the time climbing on the piles of driftwood. It was a nice way to end a spectacular day.

Our last day was a short one as we had to head home so we could avoid rush hour traffic. Once the van was all loaded up we headed to the little sandy beach we had found the morning before as Maya wanted to do a little more rock climbing before we headed home. We spent about 30 minutes exploring around the rocks and playing on the beach on last time. The sea was a lot rougher than the previous two days as a result of an onshore wind. It was beautiful.

 

We really did have an amazing time. Anna loved her first camping adventure. Maya didn’t want to leave. Luckily we have another camping trip planned in a couple of weeks so she doesn’t have to wait too long to do it all again.

The hardest thing for me about leaving St. Louis and moving to Seattle was knowing that I wouldn’t get to see my amazing friends anymore. Our friends had become like family and the idea of leaving them behind to start out on this new adventure was so incredibly difficult. Thanks to email, text messaging and Facebook they are never really that far away, but I do really miss seeing them regularly and being apart of each others daily lives.

Last winter we moved into our new house in what promised to be a great neighborhood for a family with young children. We heard great things about this neighborhood and were promised plenty of fellow young families surrounded us. During the winter months the rain and colder temperatures kept most people inside, including us, and we didn’t really get a good sense of what the neighborhood was going to be like. We had met a few people here and there, but that was it. Then spring hit and brought with it more sunshine and warmer temperatures and kids, everywhere!

Over the last few months people have begun to spend more and more time outside, enjoying the warmth and the sun. Maya has met several kids around her age that she loves to play with. And, we’ve met more and more of our neighbors. We’ve even started becoming pretty good friends with a few of them.

Pretty much every evening, as people come home from work and kids get home from school, our street fills with kids. Grown ups chat away as bikes get ridden up and down the street (thank goodness for low traffic streets). Bubbles are blown to the delightful squeals of little ones. Balls get tossed around. And the ever enjoyable sound of kids laughing and playing fills the air. Our girls protest the end of the day every night always wanting a few more minutes to play. It has been a great way to end our days now that the weather is nice.

I still so miss my friends in St. Louis daily. It took along time to build those friendships and I cherish them. Our friends there will always be special and important people in our lives. Too bad I can’t convince some of them to move out here with us ;) That being said, it sure is comforting to know we have found a little place here in the greater Seattle area filled with families just like ours, with people we can build new friendships with and kids for our kids to play with. This summer will be so fun. I’m looking forward to the neighborhood BBQs, spending time at the neighborhood pool, spending hours outside while my kids run around and play, and continuing to grow these friendships that have begun.

Part of our Memorial Day long weekend adventures took us over the mountains to the quaint little town of Leavenworth, WA.

Leavenworth is a couple of hour drive from us. A drive that takes us into the Cascade Mountains. Leavenworth is nestled in the mountains, on the other side. This quaint little town used to be a logging community and when the logging business in the area started to die, so did the town. In the 60s town officials came up with the brilliant idea to transform the town into a Bavarian village in the hopes of attracting tourists and bringing the economy of the town back to life. It worked. Leavenworth now finds itself teeming with visitors much of the year. People are drawn in by the beautiful back drop of the mountains, the quaint little shops and restaurants, the old school architecture and the old German feel of the town.

We had a great time in Leavenworth. We strolled around town checking out the little shops. We enjoyed a German meal at one of the many little restaurants and played on the grass while we people watched. We are looking forward to heading back again some time. I especially want to head over in December when the whole town turns into a Christmas village.

Last weekend we made our first trip to the Woodland Park Zoo. It was a chilly, kind of drizzly day, but we figured the zoo would be fun anyway.

The zoo was a frequent weekday and weekend jaunt for us when we lived in St. Louis. We love the St. Louis Zoo and as a result had pretty high expectation for the Woodland Park Zoo. Though it was no St. Louis Zoo, the Woodland Park Zoo was fun and we all had a great time. Especially Anna who adores all animals right now.

Due to the fairly chilly weather many of the animals were not out on display and those that were tended to be huddled together snoozing but we got to see several of Anna’s favorites and we are looking forward to heading back on a warmer day to see those we missed. The girls had fun playing on the many animal statues around the zoo grounds. Those are often Maya’s favorites these days anyway. I mean who needs to see a really gorilla when you can climb on a fake one ;)

A big hit was, of course, the carousel. I’m glad they had one since that was always Maya’s favorite thing to do at the St. Louis Zoo and she probably would have been highly disappointed with a trip to a zoo that did not include a spin on the carousel.

Overall we really enjoyed the zoo and decided to purchase memberships so we can head back for several more visits. Though it was certainly no St. Louis Zoo it certainly was a nice zoo.

Another Christmas vacation is coming to a close. Lorne went back to work yesterday and Maya heads back to school on Monday. I’m always amazed how quickly the holiday season comes and goes. It feels like we spend so much time preparing for it and it is gone in a blink of an eye. But, at least we made the most of it. This year, since we weren’t busy with traveling for the holidays, we made it our goal was to do something fun every day of our vacation, make it a funcation. And boy did we have fun. We did so much. The days flew by in a blur of smiles, laughter, and fun.

We kicked off our funcation with a trip to the Seattle’s Children’s Museum. The girls had a ton of fun exploring all the different activity centers. Maya’s favorite seemed to be the dress up and stage area (no surprise there!) and Anna loved the under 3 area since everything was just her size (well almost). They both had fun “shopping” in the pretend grocery store.

After spending most of the day in the Children’s Museum we headed outside to check out the fountain in Seattle Center. Maya and Lorne tempted fate by standing awfully close to the water, luckily no one got wet (that time anyway). Anna and I had fun watching and laughing at them every time they almost got wet.

Day 2 was spent in the mountains sledding. The nice thing about living where we do is that we get the best of both worlds in the winter. Our temperatures of fairly mild and we don’t have to deal with the white stuff on a day to day basis, but if we get a hankering for a little fun in the snow we just have to take a short drive into the mountains and there is tons of it. Anna wasn’t too sure about the whole sledding thing at first, but after a few trips down the hill she was having a blast and asking for more. Spent a couple of hours sledding and playing in the snow. It was great fun.

 

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day offered their own fun. The girls had a great Christmas and got spoiled as always.

After spending a couple days indoors busy with Christmas stuff we decided to head out for a hike on Boxing Day. We checked out the cute little hike close to us that is perfect for kids. They have story boards set up along the trail and you read a bit of the story at each board. The story is about a little field mouse who takes a trip into the forest and what he encounters along the way. It was adorable and Maya had a lot of fun.

Thanks to an awesome joint gift from the girls’ Aunt Kathleen we spent the next day at the Seattle Aquarium (family membership!!). It was packed but we still had a great time. We can’t wait to go back.

 

Our fun the next day took us back outdoors. We did another nice little hike around a lake at a state park not to far from us. Maya wasn’t as into the hike this time and spent a good deal of it whining, but, we stopped periodically for her to create little performances that we filmed and that seemed to make it a bit more fun for her. Anna slept through most of the hike.

Germs found their way into our home the next day, it was bound to happen given all the time we spent around small children, so the rest of our funcation was pretty low key. We had a quiet little New Year’s Eve celebration complete with appetizers for dinner and sparkling cider all around. New Year’s Day we took a nice drive around the city to check out the mountain views since it was a clear, sunny day.

I’d say our mission of making this a fun filled Christmas vacation was accomplished. Everyone had a great time and we got to check out several new spots in this still new to us city of Seattle. Maya has lots of fun stories to share with her friends when she heads back to school on Monday.