Tis the season to be…normal?

What is normal these days in terms of the holidays?  Our past holiday season, yes I consider it just about over with perhaps New Years Eve posing as a little tip off to the end, has probably been the most different in the last decade for us.  Not withstanding the birth of our children, the move to Seattle took everything and almost everyone we know about the holiday season and turn it upside down.  Some of it was a little heart wrenching, lack of grandparents on the big day, and some of it ushered in new experiences.  Most importantly we had quality time spent at home enjoying eachothers company and creating new traditions we could feel proud of.

A fair bit of the holiday season this year revolved around parties which all inevitably lead to copius amounts of drinking.  In fact, one of the holiday parties we attended only had alcohol.  While I am sure there was a kitchen somewhere I could have snagged a glass and drank from it was clear where I was allowed to be and where I wasn’t.  Lets just say that was a quick party in and out sort of event.  People need to remember that when hosting a party or any event alcohol needn’t be the primary focus.  Somehow, somewhere along the line, alcohol became less and less of a drug, (yes it is actually a drug albeit legal) and more and more of simply an acceptable social norm.  Now we’re the oddballs for not drinking out of conscious choice.  It is a degenerative disease inducing drug which slowly kills you.  It is also for sale, marketed to kids and worshiped by many.  Waking up on Christmas day not hungover, feeling the pain and having genuine interactions with everyone around was and always will be the best part of not drinking.

While we didn’t get the white Christmas we were hoping for we did at least get rain and cold.  It certainly didn’t stop us from getting out there riding bikes and shooting one another with Nerf bullets.  Rock on.  I think I can say that this holiday season established our new normal.  Is it different? Sure.  Will it always be different?  I think you know who you’re talking to…

Snowflakes in the night…

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Ethan’s Piano Recital – Canon EOS 5D Mark III Test

Testing out the new work camera and boy can this thing shoot nicely. I did barely any work in post to make it look this good and I have to say it felt great in my hands. DOF is fantastic and really captures a subtle look with just a few tweaks here and there. Stills come out equally as nice so it will be interesting to see what kind of work I can put it through.

Boat Making?

I can honestly say that I never thought of myself as a boat maker per se but today my prowess was put to the metal!  At South Lake Union Park we went to their annual holiday festival and tried our hand at some handmade boats.  The results were pretty fun and there were some really old boats to explore, Christmas carols and just some really nice family time including the ever wonderful Cindy. 🙂  It was one of those put a smile on your face kind of events/times such a nice way to get started on the holiday cheer.ImageImageImageWe also spent time sailing them in the little lake and generally getting nice and chilly.  It was actually nice to have a break from the rain for once which has been a bit blistering the past few days.

A Skaters Life for Me…

Ethan is totally into his skateboarding thanks to the immensely talented Ryan Handy his instructor.  He really did such an awesome job taking him from someone who was not too sure on his footing to someone ready to take risks and have some fun!

We’ve hit the skatepark numerous times since his lessons ended and he has loved it and to be honest I’m more than a little jealous.  What it does though is gives me a chance to play around with video again something I enjoy so much.  Just a short update for now.  Perhaps something a little more in depth a few days from now? :0

Hiking in the mountains

So today was/is my birthday and we thought what better way to celebrate then start to take in all the awesome hiking Washington has to offer.  I had previously looked up this hike: (http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/364362) and it seemed like it would be pretty easy.  Poo Poo Point is part of the Tiger Mountain State Forest and is where many para-gliders launch from so you gotta be careful on the ground! Whew after getting about 1 mile or so in after 90 minutes we had to stop!  The descent was what we were really worried about since some other hikers had mentioned we still had quite a ways to go.  The kids were troopers and loved every minute of it.  Here are some snaps: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eekphotography/sets/72157631487728710

This past month has also brought new school for the kids and boy are we ever impressed!  The schools here are ultra amazing from communications, teacher engagement and educational content.  Everything they do seems to be a notch above what we are accustomed to including proper music and art classes that focus on core concepts – what a refreshing change for a school to actually be good.

Coming up next week we finally get to move into a three bedroom place!  While it is in one of the older buildings it is super quaint with hardwood floors and lots of charm.  Yes I know that doesn’t mean too much considering it is an apartment we don’t own but to live somewhere nice with unique features and also some space as well.  Wish us luck!

It’s time for an update! WOOOOOHOOO!

ImageIt was great seeing Nanny and Grandad this past weekend who spent some time with us and Denise and Quinn.  Showing them around our little island, eating out a TON (pssst check out Vios my new favorite restaurant ever located in Capitol Hill) and just spending some quality time was truly very nice indeed.

Ethan’s birthday was so much fun!  Cousin Cindy spent the early afternoon at Luther Burbank picking berries exploring the old abandoned dairy farm with Ethan.  Ethan having a best friend so quick has been a blessing because him and Colin just bonded like you would not believe.  We hung out at the pavilion patio eating hot dogs, fries and some homemade (gluten free of course!) cupcakes. Yum!  Afterwards the kids got to ride around on their scooter and Ethan enjoyed his new razor.  I on the other hand learned I am not as fast as the kids on one. Yeap I’m getting old.

School is starting really, really soon.  Like less than a week soon. Yikes!  Anyway the schools have been on a communication frenzy with emails and website logins like you would not believe.  One of the best things is that they have a junk food ban for birthdays! Excellent stuff indeed because the ban is junk food period including holidays, vending machines – basically everywhere!  In fact they encourage the kids to bring reusable lunch containers and have onsite composting competition teams.  Yes I suppose you could say we are living in hippie central.  Is it a surprise then that one of the top rated school districts in the nation understands that it is a complete approach holistically including nutrition, health and academics that makes a good student?

All in told this is the first place we have felt that we really fit in.  And by fit in we mean really feel like this is the place for us.  We don’t have to hide our desire to not eat terrible food, be healthy and be more spiritual and that makes us feel amazing.  Plus we can act like this too:

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What’s it like here?

Some people undoubtedly ask at some point why we would trade super cheap rent, lots of land and space to move around for our life here in Seattle?  If they saw our arrangement in person they probably would only have a stronger opinion that we are completely mad in the head.  We downgraded from a 5 bedroom 2800 square foot home for the comforts of a 2 bedroom apartment which costs more (a 3 bedroom is on the way though…).  Why?

There are plenty of reasons and they keep getting stronger by the day:

  • Culture – there is so much more culture that is easily accessible here.  No getting in the car and driving 45 minutes just to be around other people or engage in cultural fun.  Today for instance we hung out on the deck of our apartment overlooking Lake Washington as the Blue Angels buzzed by doing their aerial acrobats.  Tons of neighbors came out and the kids played around for a bit.
  • Environment – it feels as though the area is actually alive.  Green makes a ton of difference along with the rain which is so cleansing.
  • People – more laid back.  Less in your face and overall nicer.
  • Work opportunities – the top companies are up here and they pay well.  Yes the cost of living might be a bit higher but you get public transit, well kept parks, events and tons more for your dollar.
  • Schools – specifically on Mercer Island the schools are 10’s.  They rank some of the highest in the nation and after Arizona’s dismal rankings perhaps anything is better but these happen to be some of the best.

I don’t want to come off as a total nay-Sayer to Arizona but honestly there are better places and I feel so lucky to have made it here.

Blueberry Picking at Bill Pace

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Blueberry Picking at Bill Pace, a set on Flickr.

We went blueberry picking at Bill Pace produce and it was so amazing! We got some super nice shots which came out superb.  The whole thing was really fun and it was extremely beautiful with great weather the whole time. It seemed weird we were in the middle of this downtown hub yet picking fresh blueberries right off the bushes.  They were super cheap too at only $1.50 per lb!

While the rest of the country bakes…

So while the rest of the country baked in unbearable triple digit temperatures we here in Seattle, plus some surrounding areas I suppose, enjoyed some lovely weather.  Most people around here tell us to not get used to it but to be completely honest we’re digging the cold overcast days as much as the 80 degrees and sunny!  It might sound weird to the average Seattle dweller to enjoy the dark days, and I am sure we will one day not be so happy about those too, but it is refreshing to see something other than the blazing sun. Yuck.

A new spiritual center!

So we tried out a new spiritual center in north Seattle, Center for Spiritual Living, which was great!  They have a fantastic kids program which really is a blessing to know when you are listening to a talk.  They have a great video which explains very well the concept behind spiritual living.

Hope that helps some of you understand where we try to live our lives from.

Some great coffee.

Yikes coffee is expensive up here.  Even the cheap crap is expensive too.  Whole Foods has this wonderful blend in full bean which we grabbed this week.  Although it will probably be our last experiment with premium coffee, **cough** $8 for 13oz **cough**, it was really good and deserved a little shout out.  I did the post work in Photoshop which I had to grab, begrudgingly, to finish Denise’s new website which will be launching soon.

Not bad for a cell phone shot…

Downtown Life

What is it about downtown life that is so awesome?  I thought this to myself a few days ago as I boarded the 6am bus in from Mercer Island.  It is a short commute from this little sleepy island which is connected via expressways and footpaths to the epicenter of Seattle life.  Downtown life, urban living or whatever you call it has this special sort of vibe that is hard to put a finger on.  I tried to explain it to someone else and I realized that I was not really doing it much justice.  Downtown life I suppose means something different for everyone but for me I love the energy and the sound that the city makes.  It is loud, colorful and full of life.  Jackhammers interspersed with buses, honking horns while emergency sirens all intertwine with the street performers as they make the soundtrack of this downtown life.  The life is there.  It isn’t pretty all the time, it is gritty and full of things that need to be fixed.  But you know what?  At least there is some life here.  And it spews out from all pores of the city from rich to poor, from gay to straight and every artist on the corner making a quick buck.  You can feel it this downtown life the moment you start walking around and feeling it on you.  For some people they don’t like this and make a super fast exit.  For me I love it.  This is my downtown life and I am not going anywhere.