One December 26, we left the post-Christmas mess of our house and hit the road for a short but much-anticipated trip north to see my little brother, Jimmy, who had recently returned from deployment, and his wonderful wife and kiddos. It's about a 4 hour drive from our house and we had stops to make on the way, so we got up and going.
I do have to admit making a few extra stops on the way, at both Wal-Mart and Target. I'm a deal shopper so those day-after-Christmas deals were just calling my name. Plus I had a HUGE rotary cutting mat to exchange (apparently "large" at my store is only "medium" at theirs. It took a roll of wrapping paper to wrap it, it was so huge. LOL). Oh, and we made a quick stop at Nipps on the way through Longview, so the kids could taste the best burgers ever!
That taken care of, we hit the road. Our first stop on the way up was in Lakewood, Washington. In 2009, 4 police officers were killed in a coffee shop and we wanted to stop by the memorial. It was a bit hard to find, but we finally located it. There's no way to describe how seeing something like this feels. I feel so much pride in what Brian does, yet at the same time there is the reality of the danger of his job. This was a sobering reminder of those dangers as well as an affirmation that their sacrifice does not go unnoticed. And having been touched by the death of Chief Painter, this is even more emotional for us.
Brian's favorite part of the memorial were some words etched way down on the bottom, under the names and nearly hidden behind all the flowers there... "praecessi in vulnero via". They're in latin, but translated they mean "We go in harms way".
After freezing our butts off at the memorial, we got back in the van, cranked up the heat and headed for our next stop: Lynnwood, Washington and the American Girl store! Carissa wore one of her other Christmas gifts, a dress for her and a matching one for Ella. She looked so adorable and was so excited to finally be going to an American Girl store! (Although she is freezing here! Parking at the mall the day after Christmas is terrible! We had to walk a long ways, it was freezing outside and she forgot to bring a coat... lesson learned my young daughter!)
Anyways... we finally arrived!
She walked the store in awe of all the stuff there. She loved the horses most of all, but was astonished at their $75 price tag. Then she took Ella to the doll salon and got her ears pierced. It's the one thing she knew she really wanted to do while there. She paid for it using gift cards that she got for Christmas.
While we waited for the ear piercing, we shopped so more. I must be rubbing off on her, because she looked at the exorbidant prices and went "Wow, that's too much!". She walked out with only the ear piercing and a second box of earrings for her doll. Even the "sale" deal of $25 for matching shirts for her and her doll couldn't tempt her.
We were running later than we hoped, so we got back on the road for our final destination of the day: Jimmy's house! We had dinner then just spent the evening chatting. Randal had decreed that we would wake up and do Christmas tomorrow, so that's just what we did.
We had brought bigger gifts than normal for Jimmy's kids, thanks to a merchandise voucher we had received for recalled Fisher Price toys. They took up half the back of our van! The boys seemed to enjoy them, especially Randal who played with his space shuttle a lot. Our kiddos opened gifts from Jimmy & Virginia too. Carissa couldn't wait to get home so she could play Wipeout Wii! LOL
We really didn't have any plans for when we were at Jimmy's, hoping to just have some down time to relax and hang out with them. We talked, laughed and played video and board games (they introduced us to "Settlers of Catan" board game, which we now own and love). It was just such a fun time!
Tristan was most excited about getting to hang out with Alden. Even though Alden is 2 now, Tristan wants to be picking him up, hugging him, sitting with him, etc. Alden is his little buddy. It's so adorable. Have a mentioned what a great father Tristan will be someday?
On our second day there we went out to eat lunch and then they took Alden home for a nap. We took Randal with us and headed to Deception Pass, so we could see the area. It was freezing (again) and Carissa had no coat (again... since it was still at home), so we didn't last that long outside. We walked about halfway across the bridge and then ran for the van. It was cold even for those of us with coats. We headed into town, driving by the base and seeing big planes flying by. We filled up on gas then head back to Jimmy's house. We stopped at the halfway point on the Deception Pass bridge and parked so we could run out and get a quick photo (forgive the crappy phone photo).
The next morning we got up and hung around a few more hours, then got on the road towards home. We did make a few stops though. Since our anniversary trip to downtown Seattle in September, we've been wanting to take the kids there. We'd talked up Kukuruza, this caramelcorn store we found, and thought a quick stop might be fun. We hit Pikes Place first, walked around a bit and took a few pictures.
Then we walked the 3 blocks to Kukuruza. We each tried a different flavor of caramelcorn. Brian got a big bag of regular caramelcorn, while the boys and I settled on sharing a bag of Rocky Road caramelcorn. It was delicious and didn't even make it home! Yum!
It was a lot of driving but so worth it to spend time with Jimmy & his family.