Sunday, July 24, 2016

Morgan's Bridal Shower

My little brother is engaged to an amazingly sweet girl who I have completely fallen in love with.

She is one of the most kind, thoughtful, selfless, funny people I've ever been around, and I just love watching the two of them together.

Of course, once we learned about their betrothal, my sister Nichole and I immediately began organizing a bridal shower for Morgan, our future sister-in-law. We knew that her friends and family would also host an event, but we wanted to do something special of our own, so that our side of the family got the opportunity to spend some quality time with Morgan, spoiling her and really getting to know her.

Did I forget to mention that the girl is absolutely GORGEOUS! She might be out of your league, Bro...

The shower was a huge success, but I failed as a hostess in that I neglected to really take any meaningful photos of the event. Darn it. 

In any case, I learned at Morgan's previous shower her favorite color is purple, so we decided to go with that as the theme.

I think it turned out pretty cute!

Morgan seemed to have a good time, and we enjoyed spoiling her with lots of attention and presents.

And now the countdown is on, with just two weeks to go before Morgan and AJ's wedding, which will basically be the event of the year for our family.

Congratulations, love birds!

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bellingham Adventures

The city of Bellingham has always been near and dear to our hearts.

It's where Stew and I both went to college (although we didn't know each other at the time), and it's just a few miles south of the little town where Stew grew up near the Canadian border. Quite a few of his childhood friends have also chosen to make the area home, so we like to get up there and visit every once in a while.

On this trip, we decided to start out the day with a little hike to Fragrance Lake on Chuckanut Mountain.

It was a beautiful morning for a wilderness stroll, and Ryder was actually pretty well-behaved during the hike up to the lake. He even fell asleep, but woke up in time to throw some rocks in the water before we headed back down the mountain.

After some lunch (and ice cream!) later that afternoon, we met up with some of Stew's buddies go boating out around the San Juan Islands. Stew was so excited for Ryder to experience crabbing for the first time! 

Of course he loved it, and it was an absolutely beautiful day to be out on the water.

I wish I had taken a photo of all the crab these guys caught... WOW. 


We've had a very busy summer so far, so it was nice to just get out of town for the day for some fun outdoor family activities.

If you're ever looking for a little getaway location, I highly recommend Bellingham!

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Ryder's Two-Year Photo Shoot

I have been absolutely terrible about getting regular family photos taken.

However, we are lucky to have some incredibly talented people in our lives.

Our dear friends Alissa and Matt recently welcomed their sweet firstborn daughter to the world, so we rushed over as soon as we could to meet her. And while we were there, Ryder ended up starring in a fun little impromptu photo shoot. 

That perfect little face just melts my heart.

Congratulations to the Hersch family on the arrival of sweet Blakely Madison! She is perfection...

Photography by Matthew Hersh

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Year Five

It's our fifth anniversary here at Life As Always!

I know, I can't believe it either.

Our lives have been busier than ever, and unfortunately that meant that this blog saw an all-time low, with only about 70 posts in the past 12 months. TRAGIC. My stats have plummeted, and many of my loyal readers have disappeared, but I can hardly blame them. I feel almost constant guilt for all but abandoning the dedication I once had for this silly hobby, my own little corner of the interwebs... yet somehow I just couldn't force myself to make it a priority. 

However, as I mentioned in last year's recap, I have worked for more than ten years to create this place as a reflection and extension of my life. And although the frequency and quality of my posts may ebb and flow as the years go by, I don't think I could ever give up on it completely.

I love having a record of the people that we were, and of the family that we are becoming.

 Thanks to those of you who have stuck around, and please bear with me as things are bound to continue to change as the years pass. I appreciate your support and presence more than you know.

This Year's Highlights:

As usual, our lives continue to be filled with luck and love. We can't wait to see what the future has in store... Thanks for being a part of our adventures!

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Monday, July 4, 2016


Happy Birthday, America!

We helped throw you a party last night at Brett and Haley's house on Lake Tapps.

Certain holidays really do get more fun once you have kids, and I think the 4th of July is one of those special times. Last year Ryder was still a little young to partake in any fireworks, but this time he was totally old enough to try some of our childhood favorites, like pop-its and sparklers.

He was a little bit hesitant at first, but it didn't take long at all before he became confident and was running around with the big kids like a pro. 


And once the sun went down, Brett had an absolutely amazing, professional-grade fireworks show prepared for everyone to watch. Ryder was amazed!

Fourth of July will always be one of my favorite holidays, mainly because it usually involves sun, beer, food, family, and friends. 

And of course it reminds me that I'm thankful for my freedom, too.

Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone!

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Aloha from the Always | 2016

Aloha from Maui!

Way back before Ryder was born, we decided that we'd plan a family trip to Hawaii at least every other year. We first made it happen in 2014, when Ryder was just three months old, and although that trip was a blast, we had no idea how much more fun we'd have this year, now that he's two. 

Literally, the kid was in absolute heaven! 

I should start off by saying that all things considered, Ryder traveled like a champ. We booked a nonstop flight from Seattle to Maui, and although we were detoured through Honolulu due to some malfunction with the landing gear (!), which ended up adding several extra hours of travel time to our day, Ryder was such a good boy and he frankly handled the whole situation much better than I did...

Once we arrived, everything was worth it. 

We rewarded our perfect little traveler by taking him directly down to the beach. 

We had so much fun on our last trip that we actually went back to the exact same location: Napili Point Resort. Our condo once again had incredible views of Honokeana Bay, where we could snorkel every day with tropical fish and giant sea turtles, and just a five-minute walk down the path was Napili Bay Beach, which literally looks like something out of a movie, it's so perfect... 

Ryder could not get enough of the sand and the water.

We found this cool little cove that was protected from the worst of the big waves, and Ryder would play there for hours every day.

Our condo also had a couple of nice little pools on the property, so typically at least once each day we'd take a break from the beach and take a dip there.

Napili is conveniently located just a short drive from both Lahaina Town and Kaanapali Beach, where we spent several days hanging out for a slight change of scenery. 

Cute little cove in Lahaina Town. We had just had lunch at the restaurant you can see at the upper right.

Kaanapali Beach

I didn't take nearly enough photos of them, but a huge shout out is owed to my amazing parents, who were with us on this trip and truly made it so much more enjoyable and memorable. 

In addition to hanging out at the beach, we also tried to embark upon a few new adventures during our trip this year. 

One day we took Ryder to the Maui Ocean Center, the nation's largest tropical reef aquarium. 

On our last trip, Stew got his scuba diving certification, so this time he was able to go out on a really cool all-day scuba excursion to three different amazing locations. Unfortunately he had to go by himself -- Although I did try my hardest to attempt scuba diving on our honeymoon, my intense claustrophobia prevents me from embarking upon this particular adventure. Seriously, who thinks it's normal to put your head underwater and breathe in? Not okay... Stew had an amazing time, though.

Looking back at Molokini Crater on the scuba diving trip.

And it's worth mentioning that Stew and I finally celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary with a belated fancy evening out in Kaanapali. 

Stew and I splurge on fancy dining exactly ONE time each year, on our anniversary. This fancy night out was no exception, and we treated ourselves to blended fancy cocktails, steak, lobster, and crusted halibut with crab. Yum!

As usual, we all spent plenty of time at my Dad's favorite place on the island, Maui Brewing Co. He just loves the ice trough they have at the bar to keep your beers cold!

It's not really a vacation until you eat an ice cream cone naked on the patio. 

Not the greatest photo quality, but I wanted to show the amazing view that was just steps outside our patio!

Beautiful sunset on our last night in paradise.

A few things we learned on this trip:

  • Hawaiian Airlines is far, far superior to Alaska Airlines (we will never fly with them again).
  • Air travel with a little kiddo is much easier if you equip yourself with an electronic device filled with games and videos, as well as a backpack full of toys and snacks.
  • It takes a toddler a little over a week to adjust to a three-hour time change... just in time to head home.
  • Constantly applying and re-applying sunscreen on a sandy two-year-old is a huge pain in the ass.
  • If you want to really enjoy a vacation with your kid(s), bring your parents! I can't thank mine enough for all the help and breaks they gave us on this trip.
  • TAKE PHOTOS OF EVERYTHING. Somehow I didn't manage to get a single photo of all of us together on this trip, and I missed some activities entirely. I know it's important to live in the moment, but I also like having memories for later.

We had such a fantastic vacation together, and I'm so glad that we made the trip happen. 

I think it's important to create family traditions and memories, and it sure is fun to do it in tropical paradise!

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