We doggone hit the weather lottery this past winter, and it didn’t stop once we left Hawaii. March came in like a lamb, out like a lamb, in sunny Seattle. Yes, you heard right. Sunny. How lucky we were, in so many ways…
There was barely any rain, by Pacific Northwest standards (maybe a little over a week of grey, damp skies, out of four total) — and our luck with the weather was only sweetened by our stay with my cousins Albert and Amy, and their adorable family, in their gorgeous Bellevue home. Going from Honolulu to Washington State proved pretty seamless. Can you even stand how cute this scene below is?
From left to right, it’s Ellie (age 5), Noah (7), Max (3), Eva (8 months), and Maddie (2). The house perpetually buzzed with kiddie energy. And yes, the house — ain’t it purdy?
The frolicking kids made our time in Seattle so incredibly idyllic.
Max was in heaven, getting to play with his cousins and their toys. Since we travel light, he doesn’t really get to keep any big-ticket items, so getting to ride their bikes and scooters was truly special.
Max isn’t exactly sure who Harry Potter is, but he’s wielding a wand like him!
And nothing screams Pacific Northwest more than these magnificent redwoods lining their little lane.
This porch … ahhhhh.
I am not even kidding about this detail: Amy and Albert have a milkman. Fresh milk gets delivered every Monday to this box on their porch. Sigh.
Bellevue is an Eastside suburb located across Lake Washington from Seattle. It’s an easy commute over one of two bridges to the city, and boy was it nice to come home to a sun-filled, open, beautiful home.
This was the first time on tour that we bunked with relatives in an actual tour city, and we most certainly were spoiled. (When Max and I stayed with Mike Sr., Jan and George in Annville, PA, that was maternity leave away from Lion King.) Here in Bellevue, the Hollicks had the bottom level of the Tsai house to ourselves — check out the guestroom that was waiting for us!
Our little cove was sweet and cozy, decorated with Seattle-themed artwork.
Our own full bathroom was nearby.
And little details like the nightstand knick-knacks made us feel warm inside.
Amy also had treats like local hazelnuts and San Juan chocolates waiting for us. Danger! Danger!
We were next to a huge playroom for the kids, where they were able to pretty much do their own thing. Here is the fallout of a dress-up Lion King/Princess party.
Eva’s crib was set up in the guestroom with Mike and I, but Max got his own room too! Talk about spoiled! All three of Albert and Amy’s kids love sleeping in the same bedroom, so Noah (the oldest) had a vacant room, which Max gladly commandeered.
Mike was positively geeking out over Noah’s R2D2 rug. Here’s Maddie showing it off!
Eva wonders how much longer it’ll be before she has her own room. Not for a while, Mom hopes.
Amy had a warm dinner waiting for us when we pulled into their driveway, and she actually cooked most nights. Did I mention we were spoiled? Mike decided to return the favor and made spaghetti and meatballs, which took an entire afternoon.
We barely unpacked any baby gear. There was no need! Eva was set up well — toys galore, and instant babysitters with Amy and Albert. In fact, we all took turns babysitting the kids so that we could leave the house for date nights and recall what adult conversation felt like.
Mike visited both Ellie and Noah’s schools as a guest storyteller. He also reprised that role at home…
… and Albert was the resident reader at night.
The best: that moment when the kids are in their jammies, getting snuggled in for sleep.
We definitely wanted the Tsais to experience The Lion King. Set up with house seats one special Tuesday evening, the kids got to stay up late to see Uncle Mike perform as Scar.
After the show, backstage …
The Tsai house was perfect for Eva to hit a few milestones, with its hardwood floors and carpet. It was here that she solidified her rep as the fastest crawler in the West. Eight months old!
She also learned how to pull herself up to standing, like a boss. A boss that drools.
I used one of Albert’s childhood blankies in this weekly shot of Eva.
The two littlest cousins had some bonding moments…
Albert is an amazing friend. He’s my first cousin — our dads are brothers — and really the only cousin I know well. I grew up with two much older sisters, and was pretty disconnected from any other extended family; I never knew what having a brother felt like until my twenties, when Albert and I started visiting each other, in our various homes in Boston, Berkeley, New York, DC. Quickly, he became one of my closest confidantes.
Albert’s a psychiatrist. Since the U.S. Army paid for his medical school at Boston University with an ROTC Scholarship, he was stationed at various military base cities around the country immediately upon graduation. Then in 2009-2010 he was deployed to Afghanistan to work with detainees. Now that his obligation to the US government is over, he’s joined a private practice in Bellevue and moved his family to this amazing house, and generously invited us to stay. We are so lucky!
I wish I had more photos of Amy — she is the heart of their cutie-patootie family, and runs a tight ship. But, like many mamas (including myself!), she flees from the front of the camera. She actually exclaims, “I have to take a nap!” and books it out of the room. So I leave you with her photo of her trio of sweet kiddos, and my honky hubby Mike.