Do you shy away from the camera?

I know I am not alone when I say I have noticed myself starting to shy away from the camera. I do not by any means refuse to get in front of the camera, but I have noticed myself opting out more than I should. I often times feel silly things, like I don't look good enough for photos, I should loose a couple extra pounds, my roots are showing or any number of lame excuses. As the resident family photographer I have made a concerted effort over the past month to ask for my photo to be taken in particular with Jasper. I realize the importance of Jasper having photos of himself with me and I don't want Jasper growing up asking, "why is Mom not in the photos?"

For Mother's Day we had impromptu photo shoot in our neighborhood and even though I could easily rattle off ten different things I don't like about me in the photos I will cherish these moments captured with my cute boy. I am grateful for the genuine smile streaked across my face and for a heart bursting with happiness, love and pride for this charming little boy. Because at the end of the day all he sees when he looks into my eyes is not my imperfections, but love. Spending my days enveloped in his zest for life and big personality makes me the luckiest woman on the planet. 

Raising boys

When it comes to raising boys people seem to have a lot to say. Many women I know accept or even condone rowdy or even bad behavior based on the simple fact that their child is a boy. Lately, I have found it interesting to witness certain almost inherent "male" traits coming out in Jasper. Although I have never taught Jasper to wildly wield a stick, throw rocks, or anything on wheels or in the sky he has a natural affinity for these things.

Growing up with two sisters and one brother I did not spend much time living in the world of little boys. At the moment, I am loving this new world that has opened up to me. I now not only stop, but intently sit on the sidewalk and watch the garbage men, fire men, and construction workers perform their daily tasks. I am grateful for a little boy who has opened my eyes to another part of the world I have near stopped to take notice of. 

We have been spending a great deal of time outside with all this gorgeous weather, so we try to mix it up between visits to various parks, the aquarium, the Volunteer Park Conservatory and monthly visits to Kelsey Creek Farm. I love how Jasper is equally interested in gardening and blowing bubbles as he is playing in the sand or with his mini basketball hoop. I know every child is different, but what is your formula for raising well rounded little boys?

 

 

The water taxi to downtown Seattle

With the viaduct closed for a couple of weeks we have decided to avoid the headache of traffic and stick closer to home on the weekends. Last weekend, we headed out on an adventure in the city. We hopped on the water taxi and within minutes were across the water and in the city. The weather was fantastic so our first stop was lunch down at Pier 56. After lunch, we made a leisurely stroll along the waterfront to the Olympic Sculpture Park. Afterwards, we made a quick stop at Pike Place Market to pick up provisions for dinner with friends. After grabbing a baguette, macaroons and a couple pounds of clams and mussels we headed back to the water taxi. Before we knew it we were back in West Seattle running around on the grass with Jasper and enjoying what felt like a lazy Summer afternoon. Such a perfect way to spend a hassle free day in the city.

Lincoln Park, and my journey in motherhood

One of my very favorite spots in all of West Seattle is Lincoln Park. I have spent countless hours there running, walking, swimming, watching sunsets, having picnics, swinging, meeting up with friends and just being. Days after our first son, Asher, passed away when all my husband and I wanted to do was stay in bed, we made it a morning ritual after breakfast to go on a walk there. We would sit on the rocky shore, just us and our thoughts and write in our journals. In the coming months, I distinctly remember sitting on a park bench, a lump forming in my throat and tears filling my eyes every time a woman walked past with her newborn baby. The pain was so real, so vast, it felt like happiness was no longer an option.  When I compared myself to others I didn't know their story or their pain, all I could see was my own. 

A couple weeks after our first son passed we held a memorial for him on the grassy area near the water. It only seemed right to celebrate the person we loved in a place we loved. On that day and countless days to follow, the outpouring of love we felt from others started to wash away the sting of death. Fast forward two years later and a very pregnant version of myself walked through the park right past where we held the memorial for our first son. I remember the day before I was going to be induce with our second child the feeling so nervous, anxious and not being able to believe I would be meeting another one of children in mere hours. 

Since Jasper's arrival we have visited Lincoln Park potentially hundreds of times. When Jasper was a newborn I spent every morning going on long walks with him; proudly and prominently strapped to my chest. I felt on top of the world and so honored and grateful he was mine. Whenever I thought about how much I loved him I would get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Last Summer was spent swimming in the pool and last Winter was spent learning to walk on these trails. I distinctly remember last Fall nervously telling a complete stranger I was pregnant with my third just days after I found out myself. Ironically, weeks later I started to miscarry at that same park.   

If West Seattle had a heart, it would be Lincoln Park. Every major event in my life over the past eight years has been punctuated by its calming, healing and enduring presence. It has not mattered what has occurred in my life, the leaves on the trees still change color, drop and spring forth new life each year. The sun still shines through the trees, the wind still blows at my back, faintly caresses my cheek or nearly blows me over. We have been there in the darkest of nights and the longest of days.  When I thought about where to photograph Jasper for his eighteen month birthday Lincoln Park seemed like the place. It only seemed right to celebrate the person we loved in a place we love. 

Happy Mother's Day to those whose greatest desire is to be a mother, those who are in the daily trenches of motherhood and those who have warm memories of sticky fingers and slobbery kisses. 

Half birthdays and celebrating everyday life

Half birthdays and celebrating everyday life

A few weeks ago Jasper turned eighteen months old. It is hard to believe this little guy has stolen our hearts and been the center of our universe for already a year and a half now. On the eve of his half birthday, my parents came over for dinner and to celebrate our little guy. The night before I decided to make a little construction cake for our construction obsessed son. His three favorite words are currently, "dig, dig, dig" 

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The Commons

The Commons

While visiting Woodinville the other week we stumbled upon this lovely brunch spot called The Commons. As soon as we stepped foot into this bustling space I was in love. From the light and bright interior to the piles of pastries under large glass domes, this spot is well appointed in every way. Once our food came we were delighted with an explosion of flavors. Although this place is a little out of our normal routine, it is definitely the type of place worth visiting again and again.

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Beach time and my favorite parks around the city

Beach time and my favorite parks around the city

In general, I try to pack as light as possible. In my beach bag I like to pack the following: sun hat, flip flops, a sarong which can double as a blanket to sit on and a towel, sunscreen, a variety of snacks, a small plastic bucket and a large water bottle. I have found the more I bring, the more stressed I feel about keeping track of it all. When you are out in nature, more toys generally does not equate to a better time. Also, unless Jasper is going swimming I do not bother to put him in his swimsuit or swim diaper. I find it to not be worth the hassle and most of his Summer clothes are quick dry anyways. 

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Dating your husband and fostering your own interests as a mother

Dating your husband and fostering your own interests as a mother

People closest to me know my idea of relaxation is being active outdoors. Given the choice between doing anything else, I will always choose to be outside.  It is not that I am a fitness fanatic rather I gain strength from fresh air and beautiful surroundings. I love a long walk with a friend, a solo run, camping, and kayaking. Once our son was born and my free time was heavily diminished I quickly realized whenever Jasper spent the night at my parent's I always preferred a restless night under the stars over a good night's rest in my own bed. Although intuitively this did not make much sense, the time spent together devoid of all other distractions strengthened my marriage and in turn my ability to be an even better mother. When you have something good in your life it is important to both nurture it and share it with others. My husband and my children are the greatest blessings in my life and both relationships need to be fostered and cared for. 

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Willows Lodge

Willows Lodge

In the heart of downtown Woodinville there is a wonderful gem tucked away between the winerys and farms called Willows Lodge. My husband and I recently sent our son off to his grandparent's house and stayed at Willows Lodge for a little weekend escape. Once we arrived at the property we were pleased with the calming decor, inviting color palette and impeccable service. Growing up on the Eastside I regularly visited Woodinville, but after moving to Seattle I have not spent much time in Woodinville. In the past, I have never considered vacating the city for a night to relax, recharge and reconnect with my husband on the Eastside. However, now that I have experienced it I not only see the benefits, but am eagerly planning our next weekend getaway. 

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A day trip to Vashon Island

A day trip to Vashon Island

Saturdays are our day to explore as a family. Although Jasper and I do a lot of exploring during the week we usually are missing the key member of our trio- Dad! We try to leave early in the morning and are gone for the majority of the day. I know Saturdays are a popular day for staying at home and getting stuff done, but having fun and enjoying one another's company will always trump chores and responsibilities for me. All the other days of the week get filled up with work, church and other obligations, but Saturdays are our day for fun. A couple Saturdays ago we hopped on a ferry and went over to Vashon Island for the day. Even though we live a mere five minutes from the ferry terminal surprisingly we have only done this a couple other times over the past eight years of living in West Seattle. We packed a picnic lunch and knew we wanted to visit a handful of places. Our primary goal was to visit Point Robinson Park, but we knew we also wanted to grab an ice cream cone from Glass Bottle Creamery and stop by the Farmer's market. 

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Kelsey Creek Farm

Kelsey Creek Farm

After wanting to visit Kelsey Creek Farms for a few months we finally made it happen. We went a few weeks ago on a Friday morning and we were simply delighted with what we saw. Amidst sun breaks and acres of green grass we watched sheep, a pig, goats, cows, roosters and bunnies. It was exciting to see the animals which Jasper has mainly read about in books walking, talking and interacting with him. Some of the highlights of Kelsey Creek Farm for us did not have much to do with the animals and were more about the two large sand boxes with trucks, the metal Lil' Johnny Deere and the ability to run free in a new environment. I was impressed with how well maintained the facilities were and that we are able to have so much fun without a high price admission fee. 

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San Juan Outfitters

San Juan Outfitters

While visiting San Juan Island we went on a kayak trip with San Juan Outfitters. What started out as a beautiful day for a paddle ended in the most memorable kayak trip of our lives. We headed out of Roche Harbor and made our way to Henry Island. A couple hours in we stopped and enjoyed a shoreline brown bag lunch and then continued on. Before long we spotted a small clustering of boats and we knew it must be one thing- whales. For the next half hour we watched in awe as the whales swam a mere hundred yards away from our kayaks. 

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From South Lake Union to Gasworks Park

From South Lake Union to Gasworks Park

One Saturday we set out for the city with our only agenda to be outside and have fun. What ensued was a day of firsts, discovering new gems of our fair and city and stopping for good eats along the way. Our first stop was the Center for Wooden Boats. We had hoped to rent their paddleboat, but unfortunately it was still broken so instead we headed over to the MOHAI to watch the seaplanes come and go and the sailboats dance around Lake Union. 

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Roche Harbor in the Spring

Roche Harbor in the Spring

Spring time is one of our favorite times to travel. The weather usually cooperates, flowers boxes and hanging baskets are bursting with color and it is generally a quiet time compared to the hustle and bustle of the Summer. When we visit San Juan Island we like to spend at least a few afternoons and evening at Roche Harbor. We like the laid back, easy pace of the area and find it to be devoid of all the ferry traffic and tours which come in and out of Friday Harbor. We also love to kayak out of Roche Harbor with San Juan Outfitters and one of our favorite places to eat on the island (Madrona Bar and Grill) is located here too.

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Spring time at Pike Place Market

Spring time at Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is a big tourist destination in Seattle, but it is still one of my favorite places to go for gorgeous fresh flowers and reasonably priced vegetables. Especially now that I have a toddler in tow, I try to be strategic about when I visit and I try to keep the length of my trip to a minimum. Although Jasper is a very social little boy, I have noticed he starts to get stressed and anxious if a place is too busy or chaotic. My favorite time to visit is in the morning between 9:30-11am or after the lunch rush from 2-4pm. As a general rule of thumb, the sunnier it is outside the busier the market tends to be. 

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Whale watching with San Juan Safaris

Whale watching with San Juan Safaris

While visiting the San Juan Islands earlier this month we went on a whale watching tour with San Juan Safaris. Whenever we visit the San Juan Islands we like to get out on the water as much as possible and San Juan Safaris is one of our favorite outfitters to partner with. Their guides and naturalists are professional and possess an enthusiasm for their jobs that is unmatched. Whenever I go on a whale watching tour or a kayaking trip with San Juan Safaris I always leave inspired by the scenery, but more importantly the people. In addition to fantastic staff you won't find nicer boats or kayaking equipment than through them. 

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A weekend at Bird Rock Hotel

A weekend at Bird Rock Hotel

In the midst of downtown Friday Harbor and just a short walk from the ferry terminal there is a lovely place to stay called Bird Rock Hotel. It is a small, unassuming place, the type of place you might even walk right past if you did not know the charm awaiting you once inside. Bird Rock Hotel is a boutique hotel with a historic exterior and a modern interior. Rooms range from deluxe with harbor views and jacuzzi tubs to simple European style sleeping rooms with shared baths down the hall. Each room is unique which makes it a fun experience to stay there again and again. There are so many things I enjoy about Bird Rock Hotel, but the comfortable beds, location and delicious continental breakfast awaiting me each morning are three of my favorites. This is our second time staying at Bird Rock Hotel and just like last time we loved every minute of our stay. 

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A weekend at the Freestone Inn

A weekend at the Freestone Inn

Before we bid Winter adieu we headed up to the North Cascades to stay at the Freestone Inn for one last hurrah. We spent our time enjoying slow mornings and big breakfasts, snowshoeing, window shopping in Winthrop, and constantly dreaming about one day building a house of our own amongst the stunning landscape. The North Cascades have become our refuge, our go to place when we want a break from the world with a healthy dose of natural beauty and a hearty side of adventure. We have spent many hours hiking the nearby trails and marveling at how we always feel like we have the place to ourselves. We love to visit the Freestone Inn during all seasons, but the Fall and Winter are our favorites. The combination of the coziness of the inn with cooler temperatures makes us feel right at home by the roaring fire.

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