Charlottesville

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We headed down to Charlottesville for the second part of our trip where we visited the Hyres and Peterson families. We had the best time!

The Hyres hosted us for three nights, so Jack got to hang out with Elodie a lot. He fell in love with most of Elodie’s toys–you’re next Elodie! He also kept all of us on our toes with frequent outbursts of Old McGogle (AKA Old MacDonald)—I don’t know what about Virginia brings that song out… well maybe it was all of the beautiful open green spaces we kept seeing.

Kristy and Alex were, of course, amazing hosts. On the first day, they gave us a tour of UVA; we went to an awesome water park, where I might have had more fun than the kids; and we ate out at Brazos Tacos, which has a great outdoor area for kids. Later that night, we toured the downtown part of Charlottesville and leisurely walked around, ending the night with gelato.

On our second day, we went to a school park in the morning, and then headed to a winery for lunch and, of course, some wine. The amount of greenery everywhere and low rolling hills in the background made for a beautiful spot to drink wine, eat sandwiches and watch (or chase) Jack and Elodie. We had a great dinner in that night and walked to get ice cream nearby. Jack stole my cone, after I’d had not much more than a bite, and held it with a death grip. Needless to say, I did not get it back.

One of the best parts of the trip was getting to hang out for an extended period with the Hyres family. It’s been years since we were all able to be together for a few days straight. It was so fun to sit and talk into the later hours of the evening as well, and it reminded me of old times. Thanks again Hyres family! We miss you.

As I mentioned, our stay in Charlottesville involved not only visiting the Hyres family but also the Peterson family. This included my cousin Jonathan, his wife, Liz, and two of their three kids, Erik and Sam.

The first night we arrived in Charlottesville, the Petersons took us to a brewery with a beautiful backdrop: think green rolling hills again, and lots of space to hang out with Jack. We chatted, drank beer, and had a nice late dinner. Later in the week we were able to go over to the Peterson’s house, hang out for a bit, and meet their dogs and one of their cats. Brandon also got to ride around the block in Jonathan’s Ford Mustang. We left their house with some delicious banana bread in hand. Thanks Liz!

On our drive back up to D.C., we were able to stop and tour Jonathan’s warehouse (his company sells packing materials). Jack could have run around in there all day; I had no idea that it was so big. Jonathan gave us an excellent recommendation for a BBQ place nearby and we had lunch there. It was amazing. Hopefully we can go back someday.

On our last night, we stayed at a hotel by the airport in D.C. and walked a mile to dinner (Brandon held Jack the entire way because we had given back our stroller). At the restaurant Jack spilled his large glass of milk all over our table—just keeping it real. It was actually the perfect way to end this trip sans Brandon’s tired arms and the spilled milk. And I’m still missing the beautiful landscape and the people we visited. Until next time…

 

We took a trip!

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After almost a year of trying to figure out the best time to visit the surprising amount of friends and family we have in Virginia (taking into account various schedules and Jack’s ability to sit on an airplane for 5 hours), we set the date for early June. We didn’t plan too much sightseeing ahead of time, and tried to keep our expectations in check, realizing that having toddler with us was definitely going to change the travel dynamic. I am happy to report that the worst part of the actual travel to and from VA had to do with unexpectedly waiting for a car seat to be delivered to our rental car, in a hot garage, after our long flight. While I won’t say that the flight was easy, new toys, Bob the Builder, and surprisingly an orange juice helped the flight to feel manageable both ways. The seat we bought for Jack on the plane is also something we did not regret!

 

Our first stop was Alexandria, where we stayed with my Aunt Judi and Uncle David. Jack’s internal west coast clock helped all of us wake up at 7:30 ET (4:30 PT) to start our first full day. We walked to the metro station from my aunt and uncle’s house and took it into D.C. The weather was hot but not unbearable that day, and we were able to see the National Monument, White House, Supreme Court, and National Archives. We also took a tour of the Capitol Building. Brandon was also able to see his work’s D.C. office and meet a coworker for lunch. Luckily Jack napped in the stroller for part of this time. I do want to give Brandon a shout-out for carrying Jack for MUCH of our trip in the humid weather. It was a real workout!

 

That night we headed to Cooper, Meghann, Lucy, and Judd Green’s house for dinner. We had delicious Korean tacos for dinner and were able to sip our drinks and talk late-ish into the night as our kids played—in this case, thank you Pacific Time zone for making a night out late more manageable with Jack. We took Uber home that night. Note: I usually do not like to give my business to Uber because of the recent developments revealed about the company but Uber has cars with car seats in D.C. and that was a lifesaver when traveling with a toddler.

 

The next day we met the Greens at a giant kids’ wadding pool right by the Nationals Park. We drank Philz Mint Mojito Iced Coffees and watched the kids play. Then we headed to the Nationals game, where Brandon fulfilled his goal of visiting another baseball stadium. Jack managed to score a free popcorn, and there were hot dogs and beer (adults only, of course) to go around. We were so glad we got to see the Greens before they head to Kazakhstan in July.

 

That night my aunt and uncle graciously took us out to dinner to get southern food. At Hen Quarter, we split a giant family-sized meal that included fried green tomatoes (just the appetizer), fried chicken crackling, collared greens, baked chicken, fried chicken, salad, biscuits, and a roasted Twinkies and a s’more special for dessert. Jack went a little crazy that night and because our table was completely covered with our food dishes, he didn’t have much room to move his arms or legs. But all and all, it was a great night and we loved getting to visit more with my aunt and uncle whom we continued to socialize with late into the night after Jack was asleep at home.

The next day, our last morning in D.C., we drove in and saw the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, WWII Memorial, and drove past Arlington Cemetery. Brandon really got a workout carrying Jack this day—there’s just something about a stroller that is unappealing when mom and dad want you in it most–and it was much hotter than our first day exploring the city, but it was so worth it to see those extra sites. We packed up and got on the road to Charlottesville that afternoon. Stay tuned!

 

 

Fike’s Farewell

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Santa Barbara. It really speaks for itself. Every time we drive up I always exclaim, “Even the air is different up here!” Brandon has heard me say this countless times and kind of rolls his eyes at me now, but it is so true! We definitely appreciate our visits there.

And this past March, we were able to host friends at my parents’ house while my parents were in Seattle for the weekend. The Fike family stayed with us for one night. It was great to spend time with them before they moved to Austin.

We spent the afternoon at the beach, where Jack learned to play makeshift T-ball with an empty Blenders cup and stick. Uncle Ned joined the fun, too. And Drew provided games and entertainment; he never lets anyone go too long without being active. And the girls—Addie included—got to hang out and talk.

After a full afternoon, we headed back to my parents’ house for showers, baths, and dinner. I definitely charred our burgers, but they turned out edible. Yay! After dinner, with two baby monitors set up in the dining room, we noted how nice it was to be able to hang out with friends for an extended time after dinner with no where to go.

The next morning we headed out early (don’t you love other parents with young kids?) for breakfast at Daily Grind and a walk to the park. It wasn’t quite our final goodbye, but it felt like a fitting way to say goodbye to great friends. We miss you, Fikes!

 

Shaver Lake

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Last minute, we decided to go to Shaver Lake and stay at my aunt and uncles’s cabin over Christmas break. It was a great first visit, sore throats and all. Uncle Pete and Aunt Laurie were amazing hosts! Jack wasn’t always sure what to think of the snow and colder weather (he is such a Southern California boy already), but he LOVED being with family, and Aunt Laurie had a special knack for knowing what might cheer Jack up. Everyone took a turn sledding–even Jack.  And we (well not me, but the rest of my family) built a very impressive snowman. When in Shaver Lake, right?! Here are some photos, if you would like to see…

Thanksgiving

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Last year, Jack spent the majority of Thanksgiving dinner sleeping in his carrier. This year, Jack spent the majority of Thanksgiving dinner running every which way around the Ross family’s beautiful backyard, making sure not to lose sight of Grammie. There was less straight up relaxing but a lot more entertainment and infectious energy–Jack even enjoyed the short hike we all went on. (Thanks for holding him most of the way Grammie!) We took some photos before we left for the Ross house to document this moment in time, too. Hope you enjoy.

 

Halloween

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This was Jack’s second Halloween, and it was the first year I attempted to do anything in the realm of crafty for his costume. Let’s just pause so I can mention that in Jack’s life, 50 percent of time I get craftsy with his costume–good record, right! We will see how long it lasts.

You may be wondering what part of Jack’s costume involves any type of craftiness. I’ll give you all a moment… Not sure. Give up? It’s his shirt! Red-and-black striped shirts are hard to find, apparently. I painted on those black stripes, and I feel much more accomplished than I should. See, I’ve never been known for my craftiness, so most completed projects are a success in my book. The only thing missing? Hobbes (Jack was Clavin, if this has been unclear). We ordered Hobbes on Etsy over a week ago. The problem?  This is not Amazon prime, and we unknowingly ordered him from Moldova in Eastern Europe. He arrived today and is pretty great, but to complete Jack’s costume for Halloween, we had to settle for a miniature tiger from the bottom of Jack’s toy bin.

Brandon told me to dress up so it wouldn’t look like we were taking a kid with no costume trick-or-treating; I admit, it is hard to tell what Jack is without a proper Hobbes. Anyway, I don’t know how Brandon got away with no costume, but I pulled together one of my favorites: 80s girl. It’s the easiest costume I know.

The best part of the night was stopping by Marxie and Dara’s house to say hi. We happened to show up at the same time as Brandon’s cousin Gavin, his wife Lori, and their two daughters. Halloween is so fun when you are a kid at your great-grandparents!

We headed home and got to take Jack trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. I love that we live in a place with a small-town feel that is big-city accessible. And our little town did not disappoint for Halloween. Trick-or-treating felt movie-esque. Jack didn’t know what was happening, but he did learn to take the candy and drop it in the bag we brought–Brandon and I have been enjoying the fruits of his labor (still are today). We did offer him a lollipop on Halloween.  He loved it. Who knew? SUGAR.

After trick-or-treating we went out for pizza and beer in our neighborhood. Did I mention I love the walkability of this place? Jack was content with his lollipop as our successful Halloween night came to a close.

11 months old

Dear Jack,

You are 11 and 1/2 months old! The podcast title, “The Longest Shortest Time” perfectly sums up this time of life: When I see newborns I can’t believe you were once that small; but at the same time, I feel like you were born yesterday.

You think you are talking to everyone. You point and babble and nod. You throw things down when you don’t want them: food, cups, toys, kitchen tools—you don’t discriminate. You get around everywhere by crawling. It is no longer army style, but often with one foot turned outwards. Pulling yourself up everywhere is old news, and you use your new toy walker to get around now. It’s a glimpse into what walking will be like! You maneuver around toys and boxes, pivoting as you make quick work of our studio. You laugh as you chase us around.

Your dad bought you a plastic baseball bat for ages 4+ awhile back, and I must admit: You love it! Mostly you just like to swing it back and forth. You love playing with balls. In fact I think ball (baa) is your first word.

You recently started handing me books, and you wait for me to start reading them to you! Your attention span for them varies, but I’m so excited that I can read to you now.

I think about you and your happy-go-lucky innocence often. It is in stark contrast to the recent, tragic events that continue to take place in our country and world. Your world is filled with people who love and care for you and are able to provide for your needs. If something happens, there are many support systems in place and people to fall back on. By chance you were born a white male, living an upper middle class life. This alone will automatically make life easier for you, and as your mother I want you to have every opportunity–BUT not at the cost of other people who, for no reason other than they way they look or the different circumstances they were born into, will not be perceived or treated the same way.

When the time comes, I hope I can teach you about injustice and privilege and inequality and sexism and racism in ways that are meaningful and genuine and true. There are many ways I have failed to understand how I contribute to the problem. I am no expert. I often find myself retreating to what feels familiar and comfortable. I hope you will learn from my mistakes. I hope you use your voice to make a tangible difference for those–by no fault of their own–who do not have the same privileges as you.

Already I worry about where you will go to school. I worry that sending you to a “good” school in our area will contribute directly to the problem of de facto segregation in our country. I worry your world will be too small at school like this. I worry that sending you to another school will set you back because it won’t have as many resources. I worry your world will be too big at a school like this. At the same time, I realize I am privileged to even be able to worry about such things. Many people have no choice when it comes to where their children will go to school.

Jack, this is a heavier post than normal for a monthly update—all 2 to 3 that I’ve done! And maybe part of it is that as you approach your first birthday, I realize that you will not always be mine to hold. I’m sure many parents/caregivers share this same sentiment; however, some of them have much more to fear as their children grow older. Jack, I pray you will notice this injustice and not rest in indifference.