Monday, March 30, 2015

Exploring the neighborhood

We arrived to Seattle on a Friday afternoon and had been trying to decide when we'd be ready and able to start really hitting the house-hunting. As it turned out, we started the very next day and didn't really ease up at all. I think we looked at over thirty houses in the first 10 days we were here. 

After a few rough days in the beginning, we figured out that the girls were most cooperative if we scheduled house tours for the afternoon, plus then Jon could work all morning. So the girls and I would find things to do in the morning, working around Ivy's nap, and then Jon and I would wrestle the girls through a variety of home scenarios - e.g., occupied, full of personal belongings; staged, full of classy decorative items; empty, full of doors and light switches to wreck; or new construction in various stages of completion, full of messy/sharp/dangerous building materials and open holes...

One of our first priorities was to sample the local favorite donut establishment, Top Pot, which has a KILLER iced cake donut. It's pink with rainbow sprinkles and it's so delicious and I don't normally care for those at all. 
I think Ivy started this day with a chocolate donut and we ended up at a fairly terrible (local?) taco chain for lunch where Ivy ruined this shirt. I think I washed it and threw it away...
 We've been checking out all the parks near our apartment, and wherever we happen to end our house hunt. I think we were at this park before 9am and I realized we definitely need some warmer clothes...
Ivy loves to swing but I can only push her for so long. She and Alice both love to hang over the big girl swings and twist them around. Or look pathetic, whatever.
We've also been enjoying our frequent trips to the Central Market near our house. It's a huge market full of all kinds of delicious local and exotic stuff, with a "Live Seafood" section in the meat department. I organize our list so that we end there and I let the girls visit the "aquarium" if they've behaved. The backside of this tank now holds lobsters, which I hear as "monsters" when Ivy pronounces it...
We've been doing a lot of hanging out at home, making "art" and being silly. We were very optimistic in thinking that Ivy could manage without a restraint at the table. We bought the new Bumbo booster seat, but couldn't get it tight enough and she was able to unbuckle it herself, so it was virtually useless. There were a few days between when we returned that seat and when the replacement came in the mail, and it just made me laugh to see her trying to sit at the table like a big girl. She would really prefer to do this every night, but she just won't stay in her seat, so...
Ivy spends most of her time being generally hilarious. Like this.
She loves to wear these placemats like a hat, and I always think she looks like a Little Oyster from Alice in Wonderland
A long time ago, I promised the girls that we would buy boots when we got to Seattle. Ivy's been talking about it for months. "Drive to Seattle, and buy boots?" So we made that a top priority once we arrived. Ivy wanted this hat, too...
boots boots boots boots
As we've been house-hunting, we drive past the Boeing factory an awful lot. One day, Jon wanted to stop to see this Antonov An-124 (Jon says I can also include "Volga-Dnepr," in case that means anything to you. He also suggested I get the Cyrillic from Wiki. No.). It's huge. The second largest plane flying today. Unfortunately, it didn't do anything while we were watching. Ivy and I stayed in the car to rest and stay warm, but Alice ran around and admired the enormous plane with Jon.
Last weekend, we took the girls for their inaugural visit to the Pike Place Market. We got croissants and coffee at Le Panier, and the girls finished their steamed milk while watching milk turn into cheese at Beechers.  

 The girls are obsessed with their rain boots and coats. We thought it was going to rain but it turned out to be a pretty clear day, just windy and chilly.

We strolled through the market and happily accepted samples of tasty apples, grapes, and mangos. Unfortunately, Ivy then thought that the whole market was a buffet and we had a hard time keeping her fingers out of all the produce and the fish (she really likes to poke the whole fish and cooked crabs on ice, for some reason).

Some day, I'm going to try cooking fiddlehead ferns. They are just so cool!

We stopped to watch the fish-throwing. No one was buying any fish at 10am, so they were just tossing around their rough-looking prop fish... Alice later said that was her favorite part, so there you go.

Alice also really enjoyed this sculpture that looked to me like a whale tail, but was titled "Tree of Life," and had a bunch of rebar roots under the glass.

We brought Alice's camera with us to the apartment. I forgot to let her take photos on the road trip, which is probably just as well, because it doesn't have a very long battery life and she uses it up looking at the photos she's already taken, and taking blurry photos out the window and of her feet and of Ivy. She was excited to take her camera to Seattle, and I loved what I found when I downloaded her shots later. 

 So weird to see photos from this perspective, taken by my child who is not even five.

Le Panier was crowded, so to keep Alice busy, I told her she could go take photos of the beautiful pastries. She ran over and ran right back, hesitant, telling me "But Mom, I'll get lost if I go alone!" She was like ten feet away, and I told her I could see her and would keep my eye on her the whole time. So she headed over to the display case and this is what I found.

This picture is kind of hilarious to me. Jon looks drunk on croissants.

This monkfish was horrifying.
And then I found a series of photos of Ivy on the toilet, one of the times when Alice kindly indulges Ivy when she wants to "go potty," without really telling us.... Not my favorite, but very sweet. And these photos are so cute.

 And this very artistic perspective of our thermostat.

We've been enjoying the seaside park in one of the towns where we'd really love to live. Where there is lots of beach and not very many people, and a playground, and we can wear warm clothes and rain boots into the water. It's wonderful. 

Alice, in a spinny thing, of course.
Collecting rocks and treasures. 
We are really enjoying ourselves here, we're having a good time exploring the area and are grateful for the weather literally every day. We had a few good days of rain and I really just can't imagine getting tired of it. With California's drought, and so many years of being constantly hot and dusty and dry, we feel like we're watching gold falling from the sky. 

We hope to have share some house-hunting updates in the next week or so. I'll leave you with this, for now!

Friday, March 27, 2015

We made it!

We've made it to Seattle! We've been really busy since we arrived, unpacking and settling in to our apartment, taking care of various necessities (like getting new health insurance), and spending the afternoons wrangling kids while looking at houses.

We had a pretty uneventful and anticlimactic exit from LA and trip up to Washington. Here's a little photo chronicle.

The day before we left, we went to church one last time and said goodbye to all our friends there. One of the pillars of the church and choir snapped this pic of the four of us (Ivy's face is stuffed with cheese, naturally). The church, and the preschool that Alice attended there were two of the things we will miss the most. I hope we can find a suitable substitute for both!

On Monday, we asked the movers to come at 7am so we would have enough time to drive up to the Bay Area after they finished. They were an hour and half late. Once they arrived and got things underway, I took the girls out of the house so they wouldn't be underfoot. We went to Starbucks for a little snack and a hot beverage that I could take to the chilly park with me.
We played until lunchtime and headed back to the house for one last meal. The movers had cleared everything out of the house by then and were finishing up in the garage, so we had a picnic in the empty living room.

 The movers still had a few things to finish and the girls were running amok, so I took them out again. We went to the library and to visit our friends' house to deliver some food that we didn't want to throw away. Alice said a sweet goodbye to their daughter who was her little friend. We'll really miss them.

We went back to the house when Jon gave the word and watched the movers finish, close up the trucks, and drive away. We'll see all our stuff when we have a new place to put it!
We finished up a few last minute things around the house. Ivy entertained herself by coloring on some packing paper...
 And then Jon and I finished off the last frozen treats in the fridge.
We took one last photo in the house where both girls were brought home from the hospital and learned to walk...
And then we hit the road. Even though the movers started late, they still finished by the time we were hoping, with just enough time for us to drive to the Bay Area.
Bye, house! Thanks for all the good times and good memories, and the great start for our family.

Ironically, it was raining in Burbank when we left and we saw about five rainbows on our drive. After so many years and so many drives up and down this stretch, it was weird to think that we were making a one-way trip this time and wouldn't be returning that way for a good while.

We got to my parents' house pretty late, but my dad was home when we got to there, so we let the kids play with him for a while before we got them to bed. We had planned to stay there another day to relax before we hit the road again. So we made sure to hit up our favorite ale house for lunch. We all enjoy the tootsie pops for dessert!

 We also made sure to see our dear friends before we left town. We had a fun playdate at the park.
 Alice loooooves any spinny things at the park, good thing they are so common these days.
 Ivy loooooves to swing.
 The best shot of the many I took...
 Hilarious kids.
 Quick, everybody get outta here! Poor little guy.

And then early the next morning, we hit the road for another 5-6 hour drive. Once Ivy fell asleep, I told Alice she could watch her programs on Jon's phone. She was pleased as punch. She didn't even get car sick. Thank goodness!!
 And both kids were quiet, for I don't know, at least twenty minutes... Awesome.

Bye, California! It was so weird to see it in the rearview mirror, knowing we weren't coming back, except maybe to visit. I've lived in California most of my life and Jon has never lived anywhere else. We love California and had so many good times in all the great places we've lived. We're both so happy to have grown up here, but we're really excited to have a new adventure. With some rain.

Hey, Oregon! I've literally never seen you before!
We stopped just over the border, in Ashland, and found our hotel. The Ashland Springs Hotel is a lovely hotel in a historic building, right in the middle of things. 
We've taken the cats to our parents' houses before, but they'd never stayed in a hotel. We got them, the kids, and all our stuff upstairs and got the cats all situated. Turns out, they really enjoyed the hotel experience!
The cats (and the kids) had to inspect absolutely everything. The decor and color palette (described somewhere online as apricot, mint, and cream) totally complimented Marci, she looked great in there.

We headed out to find some food, walking around the area checking the phone for restaurants and reviews. We ended up at the Standing Stone Brewery, because, you know, we like beer. We walked into a smaller dining area in the front and told the waitress we were trying to find a good seat for the kids. She took us around the corner and down the hall to a bigger dining area complete with a bookshelf full of toys and puzzles for kids to play with while they wait. She even brought over two little chalkboards for the girls. We were set.
The food was great, too, though the kids wouldn't eat their delicious fish sticks (really just a smaller portion of the adult fish n' chips). We had a great meal but the kids were antsy and Alice ended up pulling her bowl of chicken noodle soup into her lap and then onto the floor, where the dish broke.

We had her sign her name on the apology we wrote on the receipt, since she'd been goofing around and not using her most polite behavior.

Then we stopped by Zoey's Cafe for some delicious ice cream. I had Oregon cherry and Oregon chocolate with blackberry and hazelnuts. Yummmm.

Alice was pretty upset about her wet soupy pants... At this point, Ivy wouldn't walk, so Jon picked her up to carry her along. She was kicking and screaming, so he set her down again and she marched off, satisfied with herself. We all laughed at her, because it was silly, and she turned around and gestured emphatically, saying "It's not funny!" Which of course, is even more funny, especially from such a precocious two-year-old...

Delicious. Ivy chose "penguin" ice cream, it had a penguin sticker next to the flavor name tag. We told her it was coffee (Kahlua, actually) and she was cool with it. Alice and I were sharing tastes of our flavors, and we asked Ivy if we could taste her ice cream. She said, "Just one bite, OK?" That kid, man.

Just eating her ice cream, like a boss.
We came back and put the kids to bed and watched the Newsroom with the iPad and headphones. Heavenly. I had to take a picture of Eli cuddled up with Alice while we watched TV. He's never done that before...

In the morning, we had a lovely little breakfast on the hotel mezzanine, packed up, and got ready for another five hours in the car. 
But first, we stopped by Lithia Park to let the kids run around and stretch their legs and get some fresh air.

It was lovely, and very chilly.
Just past this bridge was a playground, so we didn't get much further than that. Ivy wanted to swing all morning, and Alice was playing on the spinny things. So after a while, I convinced them to play a few rounds of Poohsticks on the bridge. That quickly turned into just throwing sticks and leaves into the water, so we went down to the bottom step to ensure that no one went over the side of the bridge. We did that for a good long time while Jon took a phone call, and then it was time to hit the road again!

We enjoyed the drive through Grant's Pass and the mountains, especially when They Might Be Giants' "C is for Conifers" came on. It was just so delightfully perfect, for obvious reasons.
Our next stop was Portland, and we arrived to the Benson Hotel about an hour before check-in began. Luckily, they had a room for us and we were able to go right up. It is a lovely hotel with a beautiful lobby that smells wonderfully like roses.
The cats seemed to enjoy this hotel, too. It was a smaller space to explore, and we got settled as quickly as possible and headed out to explore the area and find some dinner.
 I really wanted to see Powell's Books, so that was our first stop.
We headed straight for the kids' section but didn't get to see much or stay long before the kids started self-destructing. Some day, I'd like to go back by myself with a whole day (and some dollars) to spend. We tried to find the nearest kid-friendly restaurant, and ended up just around the corner at a Noodles & Company and got the girls some pasta with shrimp.

We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then packed up and hit the road again. But not without a quick stop to a Portland landmark. No, not this gate thing (what is this??).
 I ran in to grab some of Portland's famous pastries to enjoy on the road. Man, that place is wild.


I got us a McMinnville Cream (with a mustache!), a bacon maple (eaten, not pictured), a buttermilk, and the classic Voodoo Doll. Delish.
We didn't get to see much of Portland, but we could tell it's weird and it should definitely stay that way. We'd love to get back someday soon! Though our little taste of this local establishment, and our time out on the streets made me suspect that I was right in thinking we aren't quite weird enough to live there...
  We hopped in the car and were on our way out of Oregon in a jiffy. See you later, Portland!

 Hello, Washington!

It was a pretty quick trip from Portland to Seattle, but Alice made sure she could squeeze in a few shows.
We drove for a couple of hours before we had to stop for a quick lunch, and then it was just about an hour to our new home. We picked up our keys and checked out the place!
The cats explored and settled right in, and so did the kids. We are really lucky and grateful that they are all so flexible and adaptable. I spent the first few days unpacking our things and getting a few necessities. We brought a medium-sized suitcase and a few boxes of mementos with us in the car, and shipped a large and small suitcase, and a big box of stuff. It didn't take long to find a home for everything, and it's been nice to have so little stuff to put away and a home (more or less) for everything in the house.
The girls' room is a bit like a prison cell at the moment, only a few toys and no books allowed (Ivy still tears and eats and generally destroys books if left unattended).

We brought Ivy's little PeaPod tent for the trip, and I think she slept in it for a few nights once she got here, but she's been asking to sleep in a big girl bed for a while now (she used to climb in Alice's bed and tuck herself in under the covers), so we decided to give it a try.

We started her out with a nap and she went right to sleep. So we tried it out at night, too, and she took right to it. 
We've had just a bit of trouble with her getting out of bed and running around wreaking general havoc at bedtime (breaking the blinds, getting into the closet, climbing under beds, jumping around like an elephant...). Based on some crackerjack advice from my Facebook friends, we tried staggered bedtimes and that's been working well for the last week or so. We put Ivy to bed first and close the door, and then I read to Alice in our room with the door closed until it gets too dark to see. Ivy still gets out of bed and runs around a bit, but she gets bored because she can't see or hear anyone (Jon is working at the kitchen table out of sight and has his headphones on!), and no one responds to her. She is usually asleep or very near to it by the time Alice comes to bed, and even if Alice rouses her a bit they usually just talk or giggle for a little while before they conk out. 
 She did fall out of bed one night early on and clunked her face on the stupid baseboard heater in their room. No blood or visible damage though, and she went right back to sleep, so all was well. For the most part, it seems like she stays under the covers and on her pillow, but I do occasionally find her like this:

We had a fun little trip and were happy that it wasn't any harder or more memorable! We've been enjoying ourselves up here and have been doing a little bit of exploring. I'll post some photos soon of what we've been up to since we arrived!