Rainbow Falls State Park

I know I am playing catch-up from summer activities but that is what happens when you have an infant. Last month when my brother and sister-in-law met Zach (see:Zachary: 2 Months for more) we decided to go on a family hike. Rainbow Falls State Park is about thirty to forty five minutes from where we live.

When we got through the main gate and parked we started sunscreen, bug spray, leashed both dogs and put Zach in the carrier. We walked towards the falls ready for a hike. But there was no hiking along the river or by the five foot fall. Instead Matt and Stina followed a short path to the river bank and across a few rocks to get a closer view. We saw several families swimming and eating lunch at the waterfront.

Confused by the lack of trails, we went back to the gate and were told to drive to the other side of the river. So, we packed everyone back in the car and found parallel parking across the highway from a small trail-head entrance.

The hiking paths were all different distance loops connecting to each other. We took one and figured we would on the way decide if we wanted to keep going or not. The trail was quiet and beautiful with speckled sunlight coming through the pines and the ground was covered in ferns and moss. Even in early July the it was muddy in a few places requiring a planks.

We climbed a slight elevation and down as well as hit a few turns along the way. It was not a high exertion trip which was probably good as this was my first real exercise since having Zach. To sum up it was a nice walk but we have similar views from our flat property at home. I would not probably visit this park again, but find a closer hiking trail with longer straighter routes and maybe a waterfall worth exploring.

Still it was great to get outside and spend time with family.

 

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BaByQ Oregon Shower

This past weekend my in-laws hosted a BBQ/baby shower for us and Baby Greene.

Luke’s Dad, John, is locally famous for his BBQ and homemade sauce and loves to host parties to share his BBQ with others. So we decided to do a joint shower/ BBQ party at my in-laws house in Oregon for all family and friends who live in the Northwest.

The house was decorated in streamers and tablecloths in shades of blue to celebrate baby Greene and balloons and flowers brightly contrasted in our nursery colors of yellow, green, and orange. Early that morning, John was hard at work cooking the meat outside and Diana finishing up the sides and appetizers in the kitchen. As I was getting ready, Luke’s Aunts and Uncles arrived with the cake, balloons, and appetizers ready to help with set up and last minute food items.

As guests arrived men left beer and diapers on the front porch and women brought in their gifts for the shower. After everyone had a chance to talk and catch up, the meat was cut up and we all enjoyed a great BBQ meal together. John had cooked up: brisket, lamb, chicken, sausage, and pork, plenty of options to choose from. We ate that alongside homemade potato salad, baked beans, several homemade salsas and hot sauces, chips, rolls, and of course his famous BBQ sauce.

There was beer, and wine, and for the mom-to-be both sparkling apple cider and lime/pineapple sherbet punch. Whenever a plate of meat seemed to get low another tray full  was brought in. The men carved the meat in the garage, out of the rain, which was a delight for Kira. She was able to enjoy the company as well as the scraps from the floor. She was later rewarded for not eating what was on the table when unattended by being given quite a few bones to take home with her.

Once everyone had their fill of food the cake was cut. A very well decorated white cake with blue baby shoes on top; we got to take the center piece with the shoes home with us for later.

With cake distributed, I was given the seat of honor in the living room, the rocking chair. This rocking chair was used when Luke was little, John painted it for me and Diana bought seat cushions to match our nursery. It is very comfortable and I’m looking forward to using it in our nursery soon. Then Luke opened his father-to-be present from his parents: a large diaper/baby backpack filled with wipes, snacks, and toys.

After this, the men were encouraged to head downstairs or outside and the women sat in the living room as I opened gifts. With the help of family I opened present after present of baby clothes, blankets, diapers, wipes, toys, books, and other wonderful gifts from family and friends.

Once gifts were opened, everyone began socializing and some began to head home. After several guests had left, I was able to get some quality time with Luke’s family. We cleaned up from the shower, opened cards, and wrote down who gave us which items. That evening we brought in plastic boxes from the car to fill with presents. We were so blessed to have a full box of diapers and wipes, and a whole additional box of all other presents. Later into the evening we sat around talking and snacking on leftovers, enjoying the end of a wonderful BBQ/Baby shower.

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Moving . . . into another Transition

If it seems that I have been absent from this blog for awhile you are right. So. . . it’s been over a month since any blog posts. Sorry, about that.

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But now it is fall, a season of changing leaves and big changes for the Greenes. Ready to hear why my blog has been stalled: we are moving!

Luke and I have been living on the East Coast for almost four years.  We started this blogging adventure soon after moving to stay in touch with friends and family.

After four years of marriage living more than a thousand miles away it is time to move “home”, which for us is the Northwest. We are ready to be near family in an environment that is familiar to us.

This has been a plan long in the making.  Although we have enjoyed visits from family this summer, most of our time has been spent checking off our lengthy to-do list for this transition.

In many ways that hard work is behind us. Part of July and most of August for Luke was spent applying to and interviewing with employers all the while trying to keep up with his current job while others went on vacations. At the same time, we had a lengthy list of house projects to complete before putting it on the market. So every weekend was packed with trips to Lowes and house work.

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But our house is now on the market, it makes this long process real when you have a for sale sign in front.

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And just last week Luke accepted a job offer in Centralia Washington. So now we know where we are moving to. We are blessed that this will be only a few hours of travel from family and not a whole day in a plane (with jet lag).

Meanwhile I just started my last semester of teaching here. My employers gave me the opportunity to work alongside a co-teacher, providing me with a chance to work while also giving me the freedom to leave before the semester ends. I am also now looking into jobs in the Centralia area for the Spring.

So there it is: we are moving and into another transition. And now that you all know, you will be updated as we move forward.

Little Norway and The Emerald City

Last week at this time I was rushing around Pikes Place in the Emerald City. Dodging around Seattle tourists, I tried to find the perfect bouquets to decorate the ceremony and reception space for my brother’s wedding.

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It had been a year and a half since I had gotten the chance to see my favorite American city. Luke and I had visited friends/family in Oregon and Washington during New Years break in 2012. It was the first time Luke had seen me in such familiar and comfortable territory. I was giddy to return to the rainy, green, and coffee obsessed state where I went to college.

At SAM (Seattle Art Museum) Park

At SAM (Seattle Art Museum) Park January 2012

Two weeks ago late night I joined my parents at the Best Western in Silverdale. Exhausted and jet-lagged the next day my mom and I went down to the espresso bar in the hotel lobby. I boldly asked for a 12 oz. nonfat double shot cappuccino and almost cried with happiness when she asked if I wanted it wet or dry. I told her I loved that she asked me- and without understanding my burnt espresso experiences , she just gave me an odd look. I realize I am a coffee snob and I do not trust any other state to get a cappuccino right (but more on my coffee obsession later).

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My mom and I enjoyed the bay view sipping on our coffee trying to regroup for the bridal shower that night.  As I sat there I remember why I love this state: surrounded by bays, lakes, and the ocean year-round there is greenery in site ( it is called the evergreen state after all.) The sunny days are deeply cherished just as the rain and cloudy days an accepted norm.

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our hotel water front view quite beautiful minus the light pole

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walking path along the backside of the hotel

We spent most of our time in a little town called Poulsbo. This quaint country-like town is considered a little Norway. Years ago, immigrants from Scandinavia settled here because the weather and geography reminded them of the fjords in the old country.

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Front street downtown Poulsbo hosts a variety of Scandinavian treats and souvenirs awaiting the summer tourist. This was not my first time to Poulsbo, visiting both in 2005 and 2009 during some vacations. So in our limited spare time my parents and I stopped by Sluys  the famous Scandinavian bakery in town. It storefront is easily spotted especially in the summer as the line is out the small front door.

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This little Norway hosts traditional winter and spring festivals such as Julefest and St. Hans Midsommer which is celebrated along the Liberty Bay waterfront. Here the local Sons of Norway chapter dedicates itself to preserve culture through annual events, traditional folk dancing performances and classes among other cultural arts. Stina and her family are Swedish/Norwegian and have grown up folk dancing and participating in the annual festivals downtown Poulsbo for years.

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Within this past year my brother also has participated in the Scandinavian traditions. And appropriately so, although our family history includes many European ancestries my maiden last name is Norwegian and we can trace the Halvorson name all the way back to a farm in Norway. It was here at the Sons of Norway that the wedding reception was held and celebrated by traditional folk dancing (more on this to come).

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back view of the Sons of Norway facing the waterfront

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But as I mentioned earlier I did get to spend some time in the great city of Seattle. Taking the Bremerton hour long ferry on rehearsal day my mother, Stina, her father, and I sat and discussed our strategy for saving time and money on this flower-run. Meanwhile,  we enjoyed the music of street-muscians warming up for a performance at Pikes Place.

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If you have never been to Pikes Place it is a multi leveled shopping experience filled with eclectic storefronts. The top level hosts the famous semi-open market adjacent to the famous original Starbucks.  All along  the right hand side of this top level are florists selling beautiful arrangements for 10 to 15 dollars a bundle.

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After gathering enough bouquets to fill the back of the van we took a snack break grabbing monster size gluten-free pumpkin cookies at a familiar storefront.

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By 11am we were back on the Bremerton ferry headed to Poulsbo. On the ferry ride I sat in the back organizing flowers and prepping a sample bouquet for centerpieces.

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The next day after the wedding reception and seeing the newly weds off Luke, my in-laws, and I packed up our bags and headed for the 7:55pm ferry to Bremerton. It was my first time on a Seattle ferry with Luke and it was beautiful as the sunset over the Emerald City.

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By the time we reached downtown the sun had set. We parked under the free-way and walked over to the pier boardwalk. Finding a cheap fisherman stand, we got a late dinner of clam chowder and fish n’ chips. We found a spot to sit outside watching the ferries and the newest additon to the pier: The Great Wheel light up.

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As we walked around the pier and then back to the car my mother-in-law said the same thing Luke had  more than a year ago:  I was obviously back in familiar territory.

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As we curved past SAM park I directed my father-in-law up hill to the Queen Ann district to get gas before taking us to the airport.  Passing right by the space needle we then headed to SEATAC for our red eye back to New York. I was sad to leave the northwest and friends and family behind but was so grateful for a weeks worth of great experiences with them in and near my favorite city.