Charlotte saw her cousins hula hoop, so she insisted on doing it too. She wasn't too bad at it!

At the campground. I think Mums is moving in for another Lorelei belly rub here.

Baseball with Papa. And because baseball was too hard, Charlotte adapted the ball and bat to play her own version of golf.

Sitting around the campfire in her very own pink chair!

Phew! We got to Seattle, spent time in Seattle, and made it home from Seattle. Success!

A whole packed week really can’t be neatly plugged into blog form, so here’s the bullet-point version:
  • Saturday, 4:50 a.m.: Charlotte wanders into our room as we finalize packing, a sleepy grin on her face. She doesn’t want to miss a second of her travel adventure!
  • Charlotte is declared BEST CHILD EVER after patiently enduring a 5-hour flight, even with no nap and waking up early. Chris and I debate which pony to buy her.
  • Get to Kirkland and hang out with Chris’s brother’s family and his folks. By my count, NINE Hofmanns are under a single roof. That’s a LOT of Hofmanns.
  • Babysitter comes to keep the three grandgirlies happy and alive while the rest of us adult-types go wine tasting in Woodinville and to dinner at John Howie in Bellevue. Guess which pregnant lady is the designated driver?
  • Sunday, head north to the campground (just for the day, not overnight) and visit lots of folks we haven’t seen in FOREVER. Charlotte repeatedly informs born-and-bred campers that the campfire is “HOT!,” maims a frog she chased down, exhibits immense fascination with the flowing creek, and takes great delight in the little pink camping chair Nana bought for her. She eats her weight in fresh Copper River King Salmon. She proves once again she’s SUCH an outdoor girl and probably born to camp. Mommy, however, is NOT a camper, so Chris and I strike a bargain during the drive home that he will attend all girl scout camping events with his children. Forever.
  • Monday, hang out in Kirkland with the Hofmanns. Charlotte is the darling of the playroom, and her cousins spoil and dote on her, as does her Omi.
  • Tuesday, Mums picks us up in Kirkland and we shop at Bellevue Square. Of course. I let Charlotte select a Disney princess doll at the Disney Store, and she opts for Ariel, the wench who gives up her VOICE for a man. Sigh. She also gets a pink balloon at Nordstrom, which happily occupies her for the rest of the trip. Meet Chris for lunch. He takes Charlotte back to Kirkland for naptime while Mums and I shop some more.
  • That afternoon, take Charlotte and go visit Grandma Eunie in her latest assisted-living facility. She invites Charlotte to play with her porcelain and antique dolls. After I shrilly yell, “CHARLOTTE, GENTLE HANDS!” two or three times, I divert my daughter and have her play with the beanie baby collection. Much safer.
  • Meanwhile, Chris meets up with his good friend Paul in Seattle.
  • Wednesday, hit the outlets in North Bend with Mums, Chris, and Charlotte. Buy baby clothes (don’t judge) while Chris updates his entire professional wardrobe. Introduce Chris to his first Taco Time experience. He’s amply impressed.
  • Thursday, have massage. Wait, first, have meltdown trying to get everyone out the door IN TIME FOR the massage. Then, have massage. To recover from meltdown.
  • Hand off Charlotte to Nana, and head to Downtown Seattle to the Edgewater Hotel for DATE NIGHT! Eat fantastic lunch by the water at the Edgewater, then attempt to meet up with my good friend Julie at a hotel bar (elsewhere). Realize that I TOLD HER THE WRONG DAY to meet. Leave hotel #2 and shoot her a message that I screwed up.
  • At Nordstrom, get call from Julie. She’s Downtown! We try again, this time at the Edgewater bar. It works! We chat until it’s time for Chris and moi to head to dinner.
  • Go to dinner at Aqua (two piers down from the Edgewater) by El Gaucho. Ohmygoodness. We get table by window and draw out dinner for almost 3 hours. Have sweetest server EVER. Food is amazing. I break about 1,397 pregnancy rules (one of which I cleared with my OB prior to date night) and HAVE NO REGRETS. 
  • Chris and I determine that holy moley we needed a night out, just the two of us, without returning home to reality, the babysitter, and so on. Instead, we return to the Edgewater.
  • Friday morning, have scrumptious breakfast at the Edgewater, again at a window by the water. Hit Pike Place Market. Buy Mums flowers for babysitting our kiddo all night.
  • Friday night, my brother and sister-in-law come over for some Opp time. Charlotte hams it up for her aunt and uncle. Uncle Tyler tries to teach her the wrong animal sounds (e.g., “The bear goes ‘moo.’) I make him stop. Much laughter and imbibing ensues.
  • Saturday morning, fly home. Charlotte is very good—not quite as good as flying West, but still good. Once in our own beds, we sleep soundly.
This is likely the last trip all of us make to the West Coast for quite some time, so I’m glad we squeezed it in when we could. As I might have mentioned before, we killed what we had hoped would be an annual trek to the beach in North Carolina this summer, because it would take too much time from my maternity leave, not to mention we sort of blew the vacation budget on Palm Springs and Seattle this year. (Fun fact: Flying with THREE is significantly pricier than flying with just one or two. Shocking, I know.) No matter, we’ll return to our precious beach next year, right?  

In the meantime, we had a grand time on the West Coast, though I think we may need a vacation after our vacation. We plunged right back into the thick of things. Church School Sunday (in which kids run the service and the graduating seniors and Sunday school teachers are recognized) planning launched at dawn Sunday morning (Chris is sort of, kind of, technically responsible for it, so obviously I’ve taken over certain aspects, to his great relief), and the big day officially occurs next Sunday, along with the annual church picnic (for which I’ll make pasta salad, because who doesn’t love pasta salad?). Additionally, the school picnic is on Friday (I’ll be making strawberry cupcakes—jealous?). At least this year it shouldn’t be 90 degrees and humid.

Finally, I have my zillion projects to get underway before Lorelei graces us with her presence. It’s a busy, hopping time for us, but we’re tackling everything head on. During our date night in Seattle, we discussed how life is just going to get . . . crazier. Granted, life has gotten MUCH easier in the recent past bit, as Charlotte’s surgeries appear to have prevented her from getting sick. Not having to perpetually balance work and a sick child does wonders for your sanity. That said, another kid, more sick bugs, more demands on our time, more community responsibilities, more MESS to drive Mommy bananas, and so on will test us. Charlotte, and eventually Lorelei, will have more activities as years pass, so I don’t see life slowing down until . . . graduation. We talked about where we could be more efficient, how Chris could better back me up at home, how dilly dallying is the enemy of productivity, how I don’t LIKE to nag, how crucial it is for us to get to bed earlier, and so on. Since we’ve been away, we were able to look at our routines and habits more objectively, and we figured we were in a good spot—what with routines getting upset by travel and all—to re-adjust NOW, as we come back into things.

I think that’s one of the advantages of vacations, even really, really busy ones. You break your routine, you get some distance between you and your everyday grind. In short, you get some perspective.


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