Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jumping and Chatting

Stella's new favorite thing is "jumping":

She's gotten moderately more skilled since we took this--occasionally her heels will leave the ground!

This also illustrates why it's increasingly hard to get pictures or videos of her. She just wants to look through the lens herself!

Tyler caught this conversation with some stealth video skills. I think we've caught a glimpse of the future....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Birthday, Beach and BBQ

Well, first things first--happy father's day, Tyler! Here's just one illustration of why Tyler is an awesome dad:

Not only is he playful and fun, he's pretty cute, too:

Since we've less prolific bloggers of late, there's plenty to catch up on.


Tyler's grandmother (one of Stella's five great-grandmothers!), turned 85 on June 6th. We went down to celebrate with G.G., which could stand for great-grandma or Grandma Gloria.

Looking for Aunt Debbie's kitty with Grandma Susan

Happy birthday, Gloria!

Making a birthday wish--I think I'll wish to look this good when I'm 85!


Last weekend, we decided to take advantage of the sunny weather and take Stella to Alki beach for a little fun in the sun. Of course, what feels warm and sunny on Beacon Hill can be a bit breezy and brisk on the water, but a good time was still had by all:

Walking to the sand--it always amazes me how beach-y a feel Alki has compared to the rest of Seattle. And how Seattlites are pretty desperate for summer. People were dressed in everything from winter coats and hats to bikinis.

Stella got to go to the water's edge to throw in rocks with Dad and Grandpa Rick.


And yesterday we held our 3rd annual BBQ--it started as our housewarming, and we've kept up the tradition. Last year, we made burgers with Stella's weight in ground beef (20 pounds). This year we made Stella's weight in marinated skewers (25 pounds) which were pretty tasty, if a little labor intensive.

Thanks to the Abos for lending us their canopy for the less than ideal weather!

Tyler manning the grill--four hours of chopping seemed to also mean four hours of grilling!

Digging in!

One of the only pictures we took during the BBQ--we both keep too busy to actually remember to take the camera out. This year was notable for the makeup of the crowd--45 adults and 12 babies 2-ish and under! Stella had fun showing off her backyard, eating strawberries, and keeping herself busy.

Thanks to all who could make it! We'll look forward to next year's....and maybe better weather and not on the Solstice weekend...

And just because it's cute/funny:

Stella is lately obsessed with "cheer"ing with our glasses--I'm not even sure where she learned it. She also likes to blow on my coffee in the morning to cool it down.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Walla Walla Walla Walla

...or Walla Walla 2

Last year, around this time, Sarah and I loaded our then only 6-month old Stella into the car for a road trip to Walla Walla. That trip ended up being so much fun that several weeks ago (sorry, we're a bit behind on the blog) we decided to do it again!

So, loading our now 18-month old Stella into the car, we were off to Eastern Washington again. Unlike the last trip, which involved an hour long detour to help a stranded driver and a lot of crying by Stella, this trip to Walla Walla went surprisingly smoothly. I'd created a new mixed CD to listen to, Stella slept the majority of the way and -except for the last 30 minutes or so- there were no tears.

Arriving in Walla Walla, we checked into our room. Last year, we foolishly reserved a room at the local La Quinta despite the fact that our good friend, Matt, is the bartender at the local landmark, the Marcus Whitman hotel. This year, we didn't make the same mistake, and instead settled into the old-world splendor in the center of downtown Walla Walla.

The Marcus Whitman, probably the tallest building in downtown Walla Walla.

The Marcus Whitman Hotel's lobby... a completely different universe than the La Quinta lobby.

Stella passes some time in the lobby by playing a little 4-way chess.

After a hearty meal in the Whitman's lounge catching up with Matt, and a good night sleep, we were ready to do some wine tasting... but instead of jumping directly into the wine circuit, we decided to spend the morning checking out the Palouse Falls, a little more than an hour away.

Jumping right into another long drive was probably risking stirring the wrath of our -until then- complacent daughter, but Sarah and I enjoyed the windy roads through small towns, desert landscapes and what I had initial presumed were onion fields (I later learned it was actually young wheat shoots... a farmer I am not). And, frankly, the drive was worth it. Look!

Palouse Falls as seen from a viewpoint.

Looking down the canyon formed by the river.

After exploring around the falls for a couple hours, we were back in our car, and back to Walla Walla. Stella was worn out from our adventure, so we took her back to the room for a nap and after the nap it was too late to do more than a single tasting at a downtown wine room.

That night, a small squadron of our friends arrived. They had seperately planned a trip to Walla Walla, and it was only in the last week or two before we left that we all realized we would be in Walla Walla on the same weekend. A pleasant surprise! That evening, as they arrived one car at a time, we enjoyed another evening of eating and wine drinking in the Marcus Whitman's lounge.

Sleeping posed a small problem. It has been a surprisingly long time since we traveled with Stella. As a result, she wasn't used to sleeping in other locations, and didn't take to pack-n-play style cribs. In the end, she slept wedged between Sarah and I.

The following morning, it was finally wine tasting time! Sarah, Stella and I separated from our friends for the morning, so that we could hit a couple wineries we'd missed the year before. First up was K Vintners which provided to be an amazing way to start our day ...and the two little wine-dogs proved to be excellent playmates for Stella while we sipped our wine.

After K, it was on to Buty Winery, another amazing wine tasting experience. Sarah's always been the more articulate wine taster, but it is enough to say that Buty served up one of the best roses I've tasted in a long time.

Having already purchased more wines than we probably should have, it was time to head to perennial favorites, Saviah, to meet up with our friends again and have a celebratory picnic lunch in Sarah's honor (it had been her Birthday on Thursday). Enjoying the sun, we were also impressed by the wonderful spread of food set out by our friends, and the two desserts provided by Emily.

Happy Birthday, honey!

After lunch, Sarah and Stella retired to the hotel room for a quick nap while I wandered downtown with JJ, Piper and Porter, tasting wine at several more downtown tasting rooms.

With all of us filled with wine, it was time for dinner! Matt, his wife, Christina, and their children had invited all of us over to their house for a BBQ or, rather, a boil! Matt had covered a picnic table with a large sheet of paper, and when the mixture of potatoes, shrimp and sausage was ready, he dumped it out ceremoniously onto the table. We were then encouraged to pour hot sauces on the table, and dig in! A great idea and eating experience!

Dig in! Literally!

Also, perhaps fearing that literal pile of food wasn't enough, he also BBQed up some ribs and chicken. We were packed with food by evenings end... though Stella still apparently had room for a s'more.

The next morning, it was time to return home. But not before one last breakfast with the gang... and one more winery! Woodward Canyon was the first "good" wine Sarah remembers ever buying and enjoying in a restaurant, and we sadly had missed stopping there last year, so it only seemed fitting we end our trip with a stop there this time. And, like K and Buty, they didn't disappoint.

Our wine haul for this years trip. Yum!

Before departing, there had been a lot of talk amongst the group about how I-90 (the primary pass over the Cascades) was supposedly down to one Westbound lane. With that in mind, we had resigned ourselves to taking the scenic route, going over White Pass to the south, passing through the Mt. Rainier National Park, before returning to Western Washington. But, as we neared the turn off to the pass, we got a call from one of our friends saying they had taken I-90, and it was clear. ...Still, thinking about it, Sarah and I decided the scenic route seemed like appropriate route this time out, so we continued over White Pass.

Winding up into the Cascades, Sarah and I both realized that neither of us had ever gone over White Pass (well, I might have when I was young, but don't remember it). It was a beautiful and peaceful ride compared to the fairly by-the-numbers haul that I-90's become over the years.

Since you can never have too many waterfalls, we stopped to stretch our legs at these scenic falls...

...then, climbing back into our car, Stella drifted off to sleep and we made our way home.