Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Montero Wedding

Well this day has been a long, long time coming...
Tara and Andrew finally got hitched!
Stewart and I went down to San Diego last weekend for two glorious days to celebrate the marriage of these two love birds.

The festivities took place at this adorable location called Shelter Island (San Diego's Hawaiian aisle). Stew and I stayed at the Best Western Island Palms Hotel, right next to the Kona Kai Resort and Marina, where the wedding took place. We were shocked at how nice our accommodations were! Our room was lovely, with a little patio out front and a view of the water right across the street and a walking path that went along the water down the length of the island.
We were so excited to be on vacation -- kid free! -- for almost three whole days!
Champagne mani/pedis and a Mexican rehearsal dinner (complete with tequila shots) kicked off the weekend festivities.
Tara is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met in college when we were just 21-year-old babies. After forming a quick bond, throughout the years our friendship has grown and stood the test of time... so many adventures we'll always remember (plus a few we'd rather forget).
Tara is one of those constant friends in my life where days, weeks, or even months can go by where we don't see each other, but the second we're reunited it's as if no time has passed at all. She has been there for me through graduations, breakups, relocations, and family disasters. She stood beside me at my wedding and was one of the very first people to meet my firstborn son.
I'm so grateful that I can consider her a lifelong friend, and I was so excited to celebrate with her as she devoted her life to her own Prince Charming.
It was quite a weekend! 
Wedding day and the countdown is on... I made those bouquets with the help of the other bridesmaids, and I was pretty pleased with how they turned out! What do you think?
The lovely bride gets help from her momma and sister as she gets into her dress. It's almost time!
How to kill time while you're waiting to walk down the aisle? Selfies, of course!

Picture time! Check out those adorable flower girls...

I was so proud to stand next to her during such an important moment in her life.
The wedding took place on the beach in front of the marina, and it was the first time I've ever gotten to walk down the aisle barefoot! The ceremony, was lovely -- short and sweet.

And here they are for the first time -- The Monteros!

Cocktail hour on the patio overlooking the marina. Beach weddings are definitely where it's at!

This may have been the most epic cake-smashing I've ever seen. Andrew was still blowing frosting out of his nose the next morning.

The first dance -- always my favorite part of a wedding reception.

And then we really got the party started. For a smaller wedding, we managed to orchestrate a pretty epic dance party (an open bar always helps facilitate that), and we partied until the hotel shut us down.
But that didn't mean a dip in the pool wasn't in order for the bride and her bridesmaids. YOLO!
And where was Ryder all weekend?
He spent a few days with Grandpa and Nana, and also got to see his Aunt Nichole, Uncle Aaron, cousins Sophia and Aubrey, Great Grandpa and Great Grandma, and Great Grandma Sally.
He was very busy!
This was the first time we had ever left Ryder for two consecutive nights before, and I admit I had a lot of anxiety about it. But I knew he was in the best hands possible and having a great time, so I tried to let it go and enjoy our weekend away.
 We sure missed that little guy, though!
Overall it was such a refreshing, wonderful weekend, and I'm so glad we got to celebrate with our friends. We wish them all the luck and love in the world as they start this new adventure together.
Cheers to the Monteros!

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Weekend Update - Camping and Thomas the Train

Ryder and I had a fun little weekend planned.

Stewart was scheduled to work on Saturday, so we decided to tag along with my parents on a camping trip to Riffe Lake, near Mossyrock. My parents recently traded in their motorhome for a new trailer, and we were excited to try it out for the first time.

After several weeks of temperatures in the 90s, I was simultaneously relieved and bummed out to see the semi-dreary forecast for our little getaway. Of course, things like clouds and rain don't bother little kids, so Ryder had a blast regardless.

We got the last available campsite in the whole place, which meant it wasn't the most incredible, but luckily we were right across from a big grass field and just a stone's throw away from the lake. Check out the new truck and new trailer (plus two scooters hidden behind the tent)! Riffe Lake is surrounded by miles of trails, waterfalls, and scenic lookouts, and we had fun scooting around scoping things out.

It really doesn't take a lot to entertain a child. Give him a sandy beach and he's happy for hours...

Making his mark on the new trailer.

Camping with a toddler is easy as long as you have the right equipment. I absolutely love this portable high chair that collapses down to basically nothing. It attaches easily to campground picnic tables.

Hanging out with Grandpa, Uncle AJ, and Morgan (and avoiding one of the intermittent rain showers).

Swinging with Nana — his favorite!

Seriously, Ryder is in love with rocks, sand, and dirt. He'll spend an afternoon just working on moving a pile of pebbles from one location to another...

We were so excited to let Ryder try out this new floatie, even though the weather wasn't as hot as we had anticipated. Luckily my little water baby didn't mind the cold at all. He did, however, insist on bringing his rock along in the water.

Everyone pitches in at camp! Ryder was such a good helper assisting Uncle AJ and Morgan with the dishes.

Christening the bathtub in the new trailer. It's just the right size for this dirty little boy!

This is such a cool campground! I definitely encourage you to check it out if you're in the area.

Ryder made friends with some other campers and spent one afternoon practicing his bean bag toss skills. He's almost good enough to take on Daddy now...

We headed home around bedtime on Saturday night so that we could spend the day as a family on Sunday. We had tickets to a Day Out with Thomas the Train at the Northwest Railway Museum. It included the unique opportunity to take a ride with the classic storybook engine, Thomas the Tank Engine, up to Snoqualmie Falls. We also enjoyed pizza and ice cream, games and activities.
Despite this photo, I promise Ryder had a good time.
First train ride with Daddy.

 I originally thought that Ryder might be a little young to appreciate the event (and we really just decided to attend because a bunch of other firefighter families were going), but we all ended up having so much fun!

How was your weekend?
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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book Club: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

What a delightful little surprise! 

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, by Jan-Philipp Sendker, is a novel my book club read back when I was busily engrossed in resources about pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for a newborn. So this year, when I needed to find something that fit in with our "foreign and exotic" theme, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to pull it out.

A love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present. When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be… until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that reaffirm belief in the power of love to move mountains.

This book sucked me in almost from page one. Granted it's no literary masterpiece, but it's simple, sweet and engaging. The story is captivating and I loved the main characters, Tin Win and Mi Mi. Sendker's descriptions of the world from the perspective of a blind child were magical, and I loved watching the innocence of childhood friendship develop into pure young love.

Although the ending wrapped things up nicely with a bow, I was a bit disappointed in how some things played out. But I'll let you decide for yourself how you feel about that part.

Happy reading!
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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Year Four

Another year has passed here at Life As Always.
Things have definitely changed drastically in the past 12 months. I only blogged 82 times, compared to the previous year's 184 posts. That's a pretty steep decline, and I've definitely felt the effects as my stats have decreased and my comments and followers have dwindled. It makes me sad. But there's also no way in hell I could have found the time or energy for additional posts. At the end of the day, I just don't have anything left to give.
As I said a few months back, my blog is both a reflection and an extension of my life, and I've worked incredibly hard for almost ten years now to create what it is today. I treasure this space, and value it as a detailed record of the person who I was, am, and will become.
Life As Always will continue to be a lifestyle blog. But now that I'm a mom, the majority of my life is centered on raising my son, and that will be reflected in my writing (as well as the time and energy I have available to actually sit down and write).
Even though I only blog about five times a month now (instead of five times a week), I still work very hard on each and every post, and I hope that I've managed to keep some of you entertained.
So without further ado, here are some of this year's highlights...
This first year of being parents has been a wild ride, and it certainly hasn't been without challenges. To those of you who've continued to follow along on our journey, thank you — we're so glad you're here, and hope that you'll continue to follow along.
Here's to luck and love. We continue to look forward to what the future has in store.
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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Birthday, America!

We hope that everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July!
The littlest Alway didn't quite make it until the fireworks started, but there's always next year...
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