Monday, December 31, 2012


Our cool city friends are way more willing to cross county lines than we are.  They get around.  Do things in the city.  Wear hip clothes.  Go places.  Like I said, they're cool.  We're a little bit country, they're a little bit rock and roll. 

They came for dinner on Friday night, a spontaneous invite of enchilades and margaritas and a few short hours later they were here.  We reminisced about when Genevieve and Sloane looked like this:

And enjoyed the new leaf of our kids all playing together while we visited and drink tequila. 

And for the record, I still haven't had a straight shot of tequila.

The Rock House Girls

I lived in a house in Bellingham with four roommates when I was in college.  There was a huge rock in our backyard that deemed our abode the rock house, and we were the rock house girls.  We bonded with gusto, holding each others hair while we puked up too many jello shots, crying over boys, faithfully watching ER, Felicity and Friends, studying and cramming, packing on 20 pounds, running off 20 pounds, navigating the threshold from kid to adult.  Sixteen years later we have 11.5 kids between us, and crossed many more thresholds as we became career women, wives, mothers.  The interwebs have kept us connected - but there really is no replacement for gathering together.

For the first time in years we made it happen.  Four of the five of us converged at a restaurant for lunch, sans kids, and ate, drank, talked and laughed for three hours.  It was the best, and a perfect way to wrap up this year.

Cheers to history and old friends who don't miss a beat.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Quote of the Day

Genevieve:  It's not that I want to wear black nail polish, it's that I have to.  I'm pretty serious about looking like a witch. 

On Phone Calls With Toddlers

Problem:  Need to make a phone call, preferably uninterrupted by children.

Solution:  Roll out a piece of bubble wrap on the floor to keep them entertained, lock self in bathroom, talk fast and hope for the best.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Costume

What a day!  Two excited girls came downstairs this morning to see if Santa came - made more dramatic by G's last minute panic that she had forgotten to leave a cookie for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph.  While G threw herself in to opening presents with gusto, Marguerite grabbed a magic wand out of her stocking, did a couple of twirls and then requested toast with butter and went about her morning routine like it was any other day.

The aftermath:

Drew's parents joined us for an early dinner and soaked up some granddaughter time:

We skyped with my parents to show off our loot, and they turned their camera out the window to show off their winter wonderland:

Christmas somehow turned into Halloween:

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Santa's Lackey

Santa sort of reminds me of a terrible boss who makes you do all the hard work and then takes all the credit.  Okay, I'm done complaining, but it had to be said.

I read the girls "The Night Before Christmas" and "The Polar Express" in bed.  My two favorite Christmas books with my two favorite girls.  Lights out.  Thirty seconds later.  Mom, I need to pee.  Me too Mama.  Okay girls, lets go.  Three minutes later.  Tucked back in.  Lights out.  Mom, I need water.  Me too Mama.  Really thirsty.  Drinking.  Spilling.  Pajama change.  Tucked in.   Lights out.  Mom, I think sister and I are having trouble falling asleep because we're so excited.   Yeah Mama.  So excited.  Santa's coming.  Squeal!  Three minutes later.  Snoring.  Thirty seconds later.  Me tiptoeing downstairs, out to the cottage, slipping and falling on the porch while attempting to carry fourteen presents at once.  Assessing pain.  Regrouping.

Stockings hung with care,

presents under the tree,


and a nod to Santa's love of interior decorating on the stairs.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

To the Hills

A white Christmas in Edison it is not, so we headed for the hills.  G scoured the woods for any sign of Santa's reindeer and perfected snow ball sculpting. 

Marguerite reminded us frequently that she was cold.

Daddy showed off some sweet moves,

 and helped out when snow filled up boots.

We ended our adventure on top of Blanchard Mountain at the Samish Lookout, the spot where we got married. 

Something about the random person emerging from the woods and me asking them to take our picture made it impossible for either girl to look up.  Understandable.

Off I go to do Santa's heavy lifting. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Butterfly Face

Just another day at the Vallee Family Carnival. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Baking Cookies and Writing Vows

Cookie time!  My mom makes these sugar cookies with french icing twice a year.  Christmas tree cookies in December, heart shaped cookies in February and I'm following suit.  I took three deep breaths, gave myself a talking to about setting perfectionism aside to make room for making memories, and invited the girls into the kitchen to help me bake.  We had so much messy, sugar fueled fun.

Wondering what Genevieve has stuffed inside her dress?  A stuffed animal and a bottle of hand sanitizer, just in case.

We hit the streets of Edison after all that toiling in the kitchen:

We ended our day at the wedding of great friends.   Ten minutes after arriving at their house they announced, "we're headed to the tavern for a drink.  We'll be back in 30 minutes - and you have that long to write our vows.  Ladies in the living room, men in the back room.  Go!"

We laughed, lobbied good ideas, shot down bad ones, and did our best to weave in love, the end of the world, new beginnings, family, Widespread Panic lyrics and cooking.  The ceremony that followed under the twinkling lights of their mini orchard was hilarious, sweet and as unconventional as can be.  A perfect reflection of who they are.  After the bride and groom smooched and hugged their daughters they yelled, "let's eat fried chicken!" and we followed them back into their cozy house for a feast. 

We walked home under the stars, holding our bundled up girls tight to block out the freezing night air. 

Happy Solstice!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Grit

Genevieve woke up over the moon excited this morning.  It was her Christmas party at school, Santa and all.  She put on her fancy new party dress, complained minimally about wearing tights and belted out a few stanzas of Rudolph over breakfast. 

Marguerite, on the other hand, was not feeling as enthusiastic.  "Me no like Santa.  I a little shy.  I sick.  I go to bed."  Day six of her latest malaise and she and I were unraveling at the same pace.  Little sleep, lots of crying, and struggling in general makes it hard to keep up the holiday cheer.  By the time we crowded in to the little schoolhouse for the party Marguerite made it clear that she would have been better off at home.  As other parents snapped photos and beamed with pride at their construction paper antler wearing preschoolers singing in a circle, I was in the back trying to calm down my melting down youngest who decided it was a good time to scream about her nether regions hurting.  Not festive. 

By late afternoon it became clear that the source of our week of struggling was an ear infection.  Off to the doctor we zoomed.  Magic antibiotic elixir now in hand.  Sleep just may be in our future. 

I'll leave you with my elfin daughter's latest "look" - and yes, it does involve yellow highlighter snagged from my desk drawer.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Genevieve: (from upstairs) MOM!  There something that I NEED to tell you.  Right now.  Upstairs!  Come up!  It's really IMPORTANT!  I'm SERIOUS!

Me:  Okay, I'll be up in a minute.

19 stairs later

Genevieve:  (in her most earnest voice) Rudolph guides Santa's sleigh.

Me:  Is that really what you NEEDED to tell me because it was so IMPORTANT?

Genevieve:  Yes.  You may go back downstairs now.

Me:  Remind me to read you "Never Cry Wolf" at bedtime tonight.

Genevieve:  Do wolves cry?  Or is it more like a howl?  Does RUDOLPH WITH HIS NOSE SO BRIGHT cry?

Me:  I'm going downstairs now.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Riding the Rickety Tracks

My heavy heart after the awfulness in Connecticut has immobilized my typing fingers the past few days.  I'm back now.  With gratitude for the two girls I can wrap my arms around. 

We visited Santa, the Santa who lives in the foothills above our town, and owns his own steam engine and tracks through the woods.  Park your car in the horse corral, hold your breath while you walk by Santa's smoking elves, donate people food and pet food to the nice lady by the horse trailer, wipe the mud off your boots before you go into the workshop, grab an oreo and warm up by the barrel stove while you wait for the train, eavesdrop on Santa while he shoots the shit about the dreary weather with his neighbors. 

Try not to remember last year when the train fell off the tracks and you had to climb out the back and walk back to the workshop on the tracks.  Enjoy the ride, your daughter's warm weight in your lap, your husband's shoulder next to yours, the smell of steam billowing into cold air. 

A magical place, full of generosity, history and a piece of our own forged family tradition, rickety tracks and all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elbows and Knees Times Four

Marguerite really takes the "clean up after yourself" rule seriously at the Children's Museum:

Genevieve has decided to give attachment parenting a try:

Our night time routine has slipped back into mission impossible and leaves me missing my quiet evening time, and time to blog.  These sleepy heads can't stay in their own beds.  "Your bed is so much more comfy and big" they plead.  "Not with an extra four knees and elbows" we plead back,

and all that pink tulle.  I should warn G about this sleep deprived side effect of attachment parenting.