Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What a whirlwind!

I am so tired. I haven't had a minute to just breathe since last Friday night. I have been on the move to keep up with work this week and to get ready for our trip. So here it is, quick and brief weekend wrap up; this is about all I can manage right now... How my eyes are still open after the very little amount of sleep I've gotten recently, I just don't know.

Joel and I headed over to Collective On Tap in Woodinville for some drinks and dinner on Friday night to relax a bit. With over forty beers on tap from tons of local breweries and some good pub food, it was the perfect place for us.

Saturday was filled with Joel working from home, me running errands, and in the evening we headed over to the Arnett's house for some barbecue and games. Julie and Mike came over after work and we had a great time playing a new game, well new to us, Cards Against Humanity; picture adult Apples to Apples. 

I spent all day Sunday deep cleaning the house from top to bottom (because I have to have a spotless house when I leave on vacation...), grocery shopping and cooking our meals for the short work week, laundry, more errands, and some yard work. Joel spent the day working from home again. He has a big release coming up, so he is also crazy busy at the office.

Monday and Tuesday this week have just been nuts. I have been working on a pretty big project at work that is wrapping up today (thank the heavens!) and then I need to go straight home and pack my bags for the Odell Family Reunion in Arkansas. Our flight leaves early in the morning tomorrow and our luggage is still in the closet. We haven't packed a thing. Oh well, sleep is overrated right!!??

Stay tuned for updates from Arkansas! It will be my first time meeting Joel's dad's side of the family. We are gathering from all over the country; Washington, Michigan, Texas, North Carolina, and other states, I am sure. I have yet to meet anyone in his family who doesn't live within an hour drive of our house, so I am pretty excited for this trip. I am not looking forward to the 100* weather with 100% humidity, but what can you do? Watch out Arkansas - Joel and Jess are headed your way!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Celebrations for the Odell Family!

The Odell family was long over due for a get together! We had two birthdays, a wedding anniversary and Father's Day to celebrate together, so we gathered at Joel's parent's house in Snohomish for a barbeque.

Connor and Joel share a birthday and our busy schedule kept us from celebrating with him until today. He was very eager to open our gift; he knows that Uncle Joel never fails him. Sure enough, Uncle Joel got Connor the Number One and Number Two items on his wish list this year, Halo 4 and AA-batteries.

Connor and Joel
Apparently Connor has so many gadgets that require AA-batteries that he has resorted to pocketing them from Papa and Nana's house. Julia discovered that Connor had collected a gallon Ziploc baggie full of batteries!  So when we heard this story, we knew just what to get him in addition to the newest Halo; a Costco sized package of AA-batteries. He was just thrilled, as you can see.

We hung out in the back yard, enjoying the sunshine and watching the kids jump on the trampoline. Yes, there are two trampolines at Jack and Judy's house. The kids like to jump from one to the other, and it is quiet entertaining to watch.

Julia, Mackenzie, Connor and Kendall enjoying the afternoon.
Connor and Mackenzie playing on the trampolines.
Connor also got a new kitten from his Nana for his birthday, which is just as cute as can be. He can be seen here napping in a chair, a rare occurrence I am told. He spends lots of time playing with the older cat at Jack and Judy's house, which seems to like having a kitten around. 
Sleepy kitty!
Let me in, please let me in!
They have started calling the new kitten E.T., which is short for Extra Toes! Yep, this kitten is a Polydactyl cat, which means it has extra toes. E.T. has six toes on each paw, which makes him just beyond belief adorable, with those giant paws!

We were also celebrating Jack and Judy's 40th Wedding Anniversary! They were married forty years ago on June 16, 2073 and have been living their happily ever after, ever since. We were so excited to celebrate with them on their special day.

Judy and Jack, dancing at our wedding.
I must have been having too much to remember to take more pictures, but we had a great time together. They all enjoyed a feast of salmon, salads, bread while I ate the dinner I brought for myself. It was day seven of my cleanse and I wasn't going to give up yet! I even made my special dessert, a strawberry rhubarb crisp, but didn't have a single bite! I'm doing great during these last days of the cleanse.

Our afternoon at Jack and Judy's house with the Odell family was a great end to our weekend. We are rested and ready for another week!
How was your weekend?

Happy Fathers Day!

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

I am who I am today, because of you.
Through it all, you saw my potential and pushed me to see to it as well.
I am so thankful you are my Big-D. 
Cheers to many years of grubbies, movies, grits and scrapple; I love you Pops!

Take a Hike!

Joel decided we should all go on a hike on Saturday, so he picked a trail, we packed some snacks, and together with Chris and Jackie we hit the road early on Saturday morning. Joel picked the Mt. Washington as our destination. The guide book states it is a four mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of about 1600. LIARS! Here is the true story, of four family members, who decided to hike together...

Jackie, Chris, Joel, and I ready to start our hike!
We arrived at the trail head near the Olallie State Park, just off I-90. We hiked up a short trail that connected with the old logging road, which we followed for about five minutes before we had our first round of confusion. The logging road split into two directions and the sign posted included about every hiking trail possible, except the trail we were looking for.  To our luck, two other hikers came along and offered to show us to the proper trailhead. Had we brought my guidebook, it would have told us to follow "an unmarked trail which dips down slightly as it heads into the woods and then begins to climb." Actually, there are two trails that do this. The first trail you come across is the "not this one" trail, which our volunteer guides pointed out. The correct unmarked trail was the second one came to. Thank heavens for kind people, otherwise this might have turned into a missing persons report! Who knows where we would have ended up!

Jackie and Me
With renewed confidence, we eagerly started on our journey. The trail followed a couple switchbacks and climbed upward at a reasonable pace. We passed some beautiful scerency and enjoyed ourselves.

At about one mile, we had enough of the steady, steep upward climb and were ready for even the smallest bit of level ground. Joel had been promising us the trail leveled out at the one mile mark, but it never came. EVER.

This is what Chris and Joel do when we ask them to pose for a picture together!
We passed another hiker who was headed back down the trail and started up a conversation. He was feeling a bit misled by the guidebook. I remember him saying to us, as we tried to catch our breath, "I was just looking for nice easy hike to start out my summer, this is not what I had in mind!" He had reached the two mile "view point" and turned around. He gave us a few pointers regarding how much farther we had to go and what to look for and we parted ways.

This picture hardly gives the steepness of the trail justice... but Joel is very sweaty so you get the idea...
After another mile of blaming Joel for the difficult upward battle we had all been struggling with, we made it to the two mile "view point". It was beautiful and we were grateful for the reward.

The view from the Two Mile View Point... we want more.
After taking a few pictures, catching our breath, and blaming Joel some more, we decided to go for it! We were going to follow this trail all the way to the top, or at least give it a try. We followed the trail upward and onward, through luch forests and granite hillsides.

At about the 2.5 mile mark, Chris felt he was slowing the group down and urged us to continue on without him.  After a heated discussion filled with statements like, "no way, this is how scary movies start, didn't you guys learn to never split up!", "are there bears in these woods", "why didn't we pack our shortwave radios", "we are going to end up on the news, I just know it", and "well okay fine, but here take some of my food", we left Chris behind. This sounds terrible, I know, but it was his idea! Jackie, Joel, and I continued on the trail and Chris followed behind us, but at his pace.

It took the three of us about another hour to travel the remaining mile and half to the summit. I was working hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other and was using every bit of energy I had. But when I saw the nearly 360* view and the sweeping landscape, I was so glad we pushed ourselves. The view from the top of Mt. Washington is amazing!

Remember as you look at this pictures of me... I just finished climbing a four mile high mountain!

We made it! If only Chris was here...
We sat on a rock cropping and ate our lunches while soaking in the amazing landscape. I glared at Joel who was eating a delicious looking turkey sandwich, while I ate my not so appetizing tuna and avocado salad I had packed for myself. It was day six of my cleanse and I wasn't going to cheat!

The view while I ate my lunch...
After pausing to take pictures, eat our snacks, rehydrate and rest a bit, we decided to head back down the mountain to find Chris. We had tried a couple times to call Chris to let him know that we had reached the summit but he wasn't answering the phone which made Jackie nervous. We tried to reason with our fears; it could be he doesn't have service where he is or maybe he turned the phone off... but if it had been Joel that was separated from the group, I would have feared the worse!

We started back down the mountain to find Chris at a run. Literally. We were running back down the trail. Jackie was convinced that Chris hadn't made it much farther than the spot where we left him, about a mile and a half down the trail. If you had told me on my way up the mountain, that I would be running back down it, I probably would have pushed you into a tree and kicked dirt on your shoes.

We had been running down the trail for about five minutes when all of a sudden my heart was in my throat and I was struggling to piece together what I was seeing! It was Chris jumping out from a bunch of boulders, growling like a bear. Chris said the three of us came flying down the trail, came a complete stop and just stood there dazed and confused; he thought it was pretty funny.

We were all so surprised to see Chris and so excited to see that bear hadn't eaten him, not a single limb was missing! We convinced Chris to continue up the trail and make it to the summit, so back up we all went. Once again,  if you had told me on my way up the mountain, that I would be summit the mountain twice in a single day, I probably would have stolen your snacks and poked you with a stick.

It was wonderful to summit the mountain together, all four of us! I was so thankful that Chris had made it all the way. I was really impressed! Chris had been a smoker for several years and even though he quit years ago, has struggled with catching his breath on our long hikes in the past. Recently, Chris has been changing a few things and clearly he has what it takes! After a few more pictures, snacks and water, we headed back down, this time as a group.

Now this feels better! We did it!
The way back down the mountain is always hard. It is steep, you're a lot more tired than you think you are, the best part is over and all you want to do is shower and be home. But we still had four miles of downhill trail to travel. I was wearing my new pair of hiking boots and my left ankle was not very comfortable at all. I stopped at one point and covered it with a large bandage we had with us, hoping it would help, but unfortunately it only eased the pain for about twenty minutes. By the time we reached the car, I was barely hanging on.

It was a struggle for me to keep up good humor while enduring so much pain, but I kept telling myself, "you have no other option, you have to walk down off the mountain, you have to keep going, slow and steady, you have no other option". Joel, Jackie and Chris noticed I was hurting and tried to help me, but there wasn't much that could be done. By the time we reached the car, we were a sad group. Chis lost about half an inch of skin off his right pinkie toe from rubbing in his shoes, my ankle and knees were making the slightest movement painful, Joel felt guilty for picking the hike and Jackie was exhausted.

The car ride home was quiet but we were all in agreement, it was a great experience. We pushed ourselves and accomplished an amazing feat!

Joel tracked our adventure using his Endomondo app and here are the stats:
Miles Traveled: 8 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 3,517
Max. Altitude: 4,432
Time to Hike to the Summit: 3 hours and 2 minutes (average speed of 1.3 mph)
Time to Hike back down: 2 hours and 37 minutes (average speed of 1.7 mph)
Total Calories Burned: 3,651

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Five Things I Heart About Joel Today...

I just wanted to share some random ways that Joel steals my heart each and every day. So please forgive me for a pretty sappy post, but what can I say, I heart Joel.

1. He makes heart shaped spills on the kitchen floor.

2. He says things like "look at me all fancy in my pantsy".

3. He emails me links to videos like this.
4. He tries to be healthy. He was pretty mad when they made him take it down, for safety reasons. So, lesson learned, don't stack your desks in the office, friends.
Joel's improvised ergonomic desk he made at work.
5. We have text message conversations like this:
    Me: "Can you pack a knife in checked luggage?"
    Joel: "Yes I believe so. "
    Joel: (15 minutes later) "Why are you wondering?"
    Me: "Because I might decide to do just that for our trip to Arkansas."
    Joel: "Really? What do you need a knife for?"
    Me: "Cutting things. It is going to be a long car ride and I might need to cut things."
    Joel: "(face palm)"
    Me: "I really like adding lemon to my water, so I was trying to think of how I would be able to cut up lemon slices while on our trip and I thought maybe I could pack a paring knife... if you must know."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Singing to my own tune.

We all do it... hear a song and sing along to the lyrics only to find that we don't have the words right!

Well, today I messed up Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams' Get Lucky so bad that Joel is still laughing at me for it.  I was singing "Grew up on Mexican Rugby" but the actual lyrics are "We're up all night to get lucky". I don't know what to say. I swear that is what they were saying! Listen for yourself!

Another song that I can never hear the correct lyrics to is Swedish House Mafia's Don't You Worry Child. No matter what I do, all I hear is "Don't you worry child, Seattle has a plan for you" instead of the correct lyrics, "Don't you worry child, See heaven's got a plan for you".  I still can't hear the correct lyrics!

I think I like my lyrics better. Maybe I should become a famous song writer.
Maybe not.
What are the songs you sing your own tune to?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Backyard Bunny - Again!

Look who is back!

I think this is the same little bunny that showed up in my backyard a week ago! He must have found the carrot I put near the fence for him. Yes, I know you shouldn't feed the wildlife, but he is an adorable little baby rabbit and one little carrot won't kill him. I am worried that he will start sticking around my house and eventually start to eat my plants, which is not okay, but for now he is busy eating the clover in the grass.

He is still as tiny as ever! I actually have no idea if it is a boy or a girl, but I keep calling it a he, so I'm going with it.
Just incase you needed help to spot the bunny.
It is pretty fun to have a little backyard visitor!

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Weekend in Manzanita

Joel and I were really looking forward to our weekend with friends in Manzanita, Oregon. We left around noon on Friday and headed south via the beautiful Highway 101, which travels down the coastline of Washington into Oregon. We made a quick stop in South Bend so Joel could use the bathroom. As I was sitting the car, awaiting Joel's return, I noticed that we had parked right next to the World's Largest Oyster! WHAT! So of course we took a few pictures in front of what turned out to be a giant concrete replica of a giant oyster.

Side Note: Google says the world's largest oyster is 13" long and 6" wide, found by Richard Mesce in Humboldt Bay, California.

Our friends, Mark, Andi, Sean and Jessica had arrived in Manzanita on Thursday, so by the time we arrived Friday evening, the party was already underway. Once Joel and I were settled, we all walked down to El Mariachi Loco to get some dinner. The food was great, our drinks strong, and the service excellent. Andi tells us this is a popular spot for dinner and we could tell why! Give it a try if you are ever in the area.

Birthday shots for the Birthday Boy
We spend the rest of our Friday night hanging out at the beach house, playing games and enjoying each others company.


Saturday morning, Joel and I woke up early for a morning run on the beach. Joel was a bit sceptical of how enjoyable this activity might be, but was quickly won over. I love running on the beach because the soft surface is easier on my shins and the scenery keeps me from boredom. When we turned around after reaching 2.5 miles, Joel pointed out that my footprints were in a perfectly straight line. It looked like a person with one leg was hopping down the beach. Joel's foot prints looked like a duck went for a run in tennis shoes. These observations kept us entertained for much longer than they should have.

It was a great morning for a run on the beach.
Fresh from our five mile run, we returned to the beach house to make breakfast for everyone. We each took a meal and cooked for the group; a great way to spilt up the work. Joel and I decided to make our version of the Egg McMuffin which featured egg whites, Morning Star breakfast patties, smoked Gouda cheese and English muffins. We made it a complete breakfast with hash browns, cantaloupe and grapes.

After stuffing ourselves with breakfast, we headed down to the Tilamuck Cheese factory, in the city of Tilamuck, of course! Even though Joel and I have been here before, we had a great time. I don't know what is about watching things move around on conveyor belts, but I could watch it for ever. Joel was especially excited for the bin of scrap cheese. Tilamuck packages up all the little scraps of cheese cut off the larger blocks and sell them at "amazing prices", according to Joel. He bought so much cheese and is so excited for all the grilled cheese sandwiches, cheeseburgers and gourmet sandwiches in his future. We treated our selves to some ice cream and then hit road to our next destination of the day.

This where they put the carefully weighed cheese into the packaging.
Those are almost 50 lb blocks of cheese!
Joel could have watched them forever!
Free cheese? Yes, please!
Joel and his cheese!
Time for some ice cream!
Home to Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach is a popular destination for many visitors to the Oregon Coast. We had a quick couple of drinks in Bill's Tavern and Brew House before walking down to the beach. Joel once told me that Haystack Rock is one of the most photographed rocks or something like that. Made famous from its appearance in The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop, the rock is actually a protected area for birds and natural wildlife.

Joel, Me, Jess, Sean, Andi and Mark
The water was pretty cold!

I'm not really sure what was happening here... silly friends!
We walked up and down the beach, took a few pictures and decided to head back to the house. Back in Manzanita, we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out down at the beach and lounging around the house.

Andi watching Chloe dig herself to China.
It isn't a trip to the beach without one picture of your own feet in the sand!
On Sunday we headed for home, stopping in Astoria to visit a few famous landmarks; The Goonies house and the school from Kindergarten Cop. After getting caught up with our movie history, we headed to Longview for some amazing tacos. Joel and I had been hearing about these tacos all weekend and Joel was eager to try them out. I could tell, Joel was a bit disappointment this meant we wouldn't be driving home via the coastal highway, one of his favorite drives, but he was so eager to try the tacos, he went along with the plan.

Kindergarten Cop!
Joel loves to drive, seriously, he loves it.
Don Pedro's may not look like much, but the food is amazing! Joel and I thought it tasted so good, we bought our dinner here and took it home with us. That's right. We wanted to eat the same thing again, in just a few hours. How is that for a review! If you ever find yourself in the Longview neighborhood, stop by and try the tacos! I thought the El Pastor tacos were the best I've ever had. Joel said to me several times during the three hour drive back to Seattle, "Just our luck, we finally find an amazing taco place, and it is located in Longview!".
These were sooooo good!
What a great weekend!