As many of you know, I’m a native American who has lived abroad. I lived in the Czech Republic twice as a student, and married a German. Our lives are this incredible mix of Germany and American and Czechia. A hodge podge of cobblestone streets, castles, wide open spaces, mountains, bikes, and long road trips. No matter where I have lived over the past 15 years, my heart has always had a piece missing. It’s the reason I travel so much. It’s the reason our daughter is bilingual.
I am so lucky to have been able to study abroad, so glad to have met my husband, but there are days when the homesickness is really hard. And no matter where we live, no matter how recently we’ve been back to Europe or have another trip planned, a part of our lives is always missing. It’s celebrating German holidays and Czech holidays quietly at home. It’s phone calls and texts and emails to friends and family far away. It’s long flights and castles and cake and friends you travel halfway around the world to see.
Last spring, I found amazingly cheap tickets to Prague and without really thinking, I booked them. I booked them because it had been 4 years since I had been back and I was desperate for my host family to meet my husband (who hadn’t made that trip with me) and our daughter. And today I realized, I haven’t shared some of the photos I took, photos of places I used to walk all the time when I lived in Olomouc and Prague, and I am feeling extremely homesick, as I always do in the fall, and so here you go.
Prague is a quirky place to travel with a little kid. It’s not exactly stroller friendly, and it’s not filled with playgrounds or kids museums, but Czechs love kids. I think it’s best as a town for tiny babies or for slightly older kids, but found parks and playgrounds. We stayed in Prague 6 this time, at this sweet family apartment near a bunch of embassies and I hadn’t spent much time on that side of the river when I lived in Prague. We loved the apartment, and we were so sad to leave.
In Olomouc, I got to show my family all the the places I used to go, and we spent a few days with my host family. It was so strange to see my old school, the main square, and all my old spots. We met up with a few friends in both Prague and Olomouc and it just…was so good to show my husband and daughter all the places I used to go all the time.
All these photos were shot on my Nikon FG 20 film camera, on Portra 160 and Portra 800.
I know how lucky we are to travel as much as we do. We’ve been able to make decisions that have helped us pay down debt, and we make choices every single day that allow us to travel fairly regularly. A lot of our travel is to visit family, or is tagged on to a work trip for one of us, but we try to get in one good vacation each year. A few years ago, we realized that the best way to survive the long, dark, and cold winters in Spokane was to get away for a warm weather break. So, when I was pregnant with little miss and we knew we wouldn’t be going anywhere that winter (and it was a rough, rough, winter), H promised me we would finally go to Hawaii the next winter.
Maui was a dream, you guys. I’ve traveled all over and been to tropical islands before, but Maui is like living on a different planet. It was the most beautiful kind of place, and I left a little piece of my heart there. That said, it wasn’t the easiest vacation by any means. N was recently mobile, is a 100% winter baby who prefers snow and cold weather to hot weather and sand, and we made some key mistakes. Oh, and it rained half the time we were there. It was weird. But these photos don’t show that.
— We stayed near baby beach in Lahaina and really loved it. We walked into town a couple times and also drove in once or twice as well.
— Places we loved: Down the Hatch, Frida’s Mexican, Maui Brewing Company, the Pride of Maui Snorkeling Tour, the Maui Ocean Center.
— Baby beach was shallow and perfect for littles, but a little tame for our more adventurous swimmers. It’s nice and flat, which I loved. 100% would go back there, and there’s a decent amount of parking by it too.
— Please wear reef safe sunscreen anytime you’re in the ocean. Save the fishes.
When I made the (very long) list of all the posts I wanted to catch up on for the blog, I almost crossed off these monthly recaps. They’re not the most popular posts on the blog, they don’t bring in much traffic, and they’re kind of a pain to put together. But I love them so very much, and I really enjoy looking back on these for my own sake so here goes. Trying to catch up though, means I’m hoping to blog two long posts for September + October and November + December all in January. Or maybe I’ll make these a two month thing for 2019?
1. We had family in town for parts of Labor Day weekend (and did some actual work on the house then too), which means we made sure to take time in the evenings for fire pits and s’mores on the patio. Looking back at this summer and fall, I think we actually got a good amount of patio time in. I’m advocating for a patio heater for 2019 so that we can use that space for even more time. Anyone have one and love it?
2. We used to travel almost every year during Labor Day weekend but I put my foot down and insisted that we stay in town this year and go to Pig Out in the Park. It was a little crazy because of the construction, but it was really fun to try all the different foods and have N try them too. She had a blast and loved people watching.
3. We went out for a family dinner as well, and went to Clinkerdagger. Bonus points to them because we always love their view and they have good food on their kid’s menu (N had salmon) instead of just chicken nuggets and plain pasta. My kid would rather eat artichoke dip than chicken nuggets.
4. Running errands in the fall and getting some wrap snuggles in.
5 + 6. We always try to squeeze in extra time in the Methow Valley, and when we went up for Jessi + Tim‘s wedding, we managed to get lots of hiking in. We took a short stroll on one of the cross country trails by the river, then while I shot the wedding, the other two did a hike near Winthrop. Both of these photos are from our short toddler stroll.
7. Our last family hike in the Methow Valley before we headed out to drive home was to Cutthroat Lake. This was a beautiful hike and I was really bummed that, unlike the other family we ran into up there, we did not pack a picnic lunch to enjoy by the lake. Next time we’ll plan ahead!
8. After getting home from Mazama, we enjoyed a fairly low key family dinner out to celebrate our SEVEN YEAR anniversary. I feel like it was just yesterday that we got married, and I’m so shocked it’s been seven years (and more than a decade together). We’re taking a kid free trip later this month as a gift to ourselves so that will be nice. :)
9. Sometimes working from home with a toddler is easy. She naps and plays independently and it’s great. Other times she doesn’t nap and then crashes on you as you’re trying to make dinner.
10. Or, she insists on you sitting in her room while she plays with you and you try to work. Toddlers are funny creatures that I will never begin to understand.
11. When I drove down to Tekoa for Katie + Seth‘s beautiful wedding, the winds were howling. But they calmed down right as the ceremony started and rewarded us with a beautiful sunset that this panorama does not do justice.
12. N has been super into helping us in the kitchen lately. It’s been messy, but she loves to stir whenever we are cooking or baking things. She asked to help us make pumpkin muffins, and so H and N made them while I was working one evening.
13. September sunsets are stunning and here’s another one just from my backyard. I miss fall.
14. Sometimes, you end up near Gonzaga on a crazy morning when you haven’t had breakfast so you can have a fasting blood draw and you snag a bagel from Ultimate Bagel and bring it home and it’s the best fuel for a long day of editing.
15. We bought an old dresser that had some really tarnished hardware and I used <science> to clean it off. Looks like it’s brass, but sadly, there aren’t enough handles for all the drawers. Much to my husband’s annoyance, I’ll probably keep them for some mythical future project.
16. Cooler fall days meant the AC was finally off and this girl has gone blanket crazy. She was running all over with this one, giggling while we made lunch one day. Shadow was unimpressed.
17. Some days, when she wakes up from a nap, she asks for snuggles and keeps me company while I answer emails.
18. Early October was insane, but I took a morning to do some self care and got a haircut and did a few things that helped me stay sane through most of the busy month. By the end of the month, that morning felt like a long lost dream.
19. I got to shoot an event at Gonzaga in October and help a bunch of their students get great new head shots. It was fantastic to do, and so fun to be back at my alma mater. I remembered why I loved campus so much too. It’s strange, because I thought when we moved back to Spokane five years ago, we would spend more time there, but we don’t spend much time on campus. Maybe now that the bridge is open we will ride our bikes over there!
20. The view from my last wedding of the year, Sonja + Phil‘s day at Badger Mountain. The clouds went away and the sun came out later and it was an absolutely perfect fall day.
21. How do you manage a dog and a toddler at the vet? Very, very carefully. It isn’t always easy, but somehow we all survived.
22. Right before we flew off to visit family in Germany, we went to this small pumpkin patch in Spokane Valley. There were no hay rides or pumpkin donuts, but there was also no traffic and it was easy to park. We found our pumpkins and did it all without (major) tears. [Minor tears due to falling down and getting dirt on our hands – the horror!]
23. Once we got home, someone delighted in pointing out her tiny pumpkin to us over and over and over.
24. The last time we flew long haul with N was in March, when we went to Prague. We flew British then and had the bassinet and so this was essentially our only true lap infant trip in her two years. We got lucky on our flights to Hawaii, and scored an extra seat for our lap infant, if you remember from February. It wasn’t easy and the seats on Condor are small. But she still got a good amount of sleep in. More than both her parents.
25. She was so tired though, that she completely passed out in my arms before we arrived in Munich, and I handed her to H, put the ring sling on, and got her in it without her waking up. It was hilarous. She woke up just as we were heading out to get the rental car.
26 & 27. We spent most of our time in Munich with H’s family, although we did go into the city a couple times (and we took a last minute trip to Innsbruck). N’s favorite thing was this forested area near his grandparent’s house, and the awesome playground that I forgot to photograph in the neighborhood. She keeps asking to go back there and play more!
28. We did escape Munich for a short weekend trip to Innsbruck, and stayed at a lovely Airbnb in Oberperfuss, a village like 15 minutes from the city center. The view of the mountains was amazing, and they even brought us fresh eggs and milk in the morning. I would 100% recommend this Airbnb for families. They had a small play structure, a pack and play we could use, and if the other apartments are anything like the one we stayed in, they’re perfect for families. Uh, don’t ask me how good their English is, we spoke all in German.
29. We decided on this last minute trip to Innsbruck because I wanted to see the alps. So we went up the Nordkette, which was very cool but also…foggy. Dang it. However, the cable cars were a blast for all of us, the restaurant was pretty good, there was an awesome Tyrolean band playing (because it was Saturday), and N loved listening to the music. This was the trip where we really learned our lesson about ordering kids food. See, we ordered her this typical German kids’ meal (Frankfurter und Pomme Frittes – Hot dogs and french fries, because she loves both these things) but she took one look at H’s Kaesespaetzle and demanded some of it. Which is what she’s eating in this photo.
30. Downtown Innsbruck was adorable, we strolled through the beautiful buildings and tiny side streets and fell completely in love with the little city. It’s smaller than Spokane, and we loved all the mountains and the river. Bonus: it’s only 2 hours from Munich in good traffic (ha!). We’re dreaming of heading back soon.
31. More food with this kid. On one of our last days we were in the city center doing some shopping and meeting up with old friends (H), and I didn’t want to eat in one of the cheesy tourist trap “German” restaurants around Marienplatz. So we found this adorable little Italian restaurant, La Valle, tucked away on a side street. N was in love with H’s pasta and the waiter who quickly switched from German to Italian to English and back again. I had some amazing ravioli that I’m still dreaming about.
32. Obligatory Rathaus photo to prove that we did in fact visit Munich proper and see something touristy.
33. The drive to the airport was far too stunning and it made me wish I’d spent more time demanding we drive around and just pull over for me to take pictures of the fields and the perfect Bavarian blue-white skies on this trip. The weather was mostly amazing and beautiful with a few rain showers, and we were feeling bittersweet about heading home.
34. On the way home, N decided that she didn’t want to sleep across both our laps, but instead wanted to use me as a pillow and steal H’s seat. So he stood for about 6 hours on our flight. We had a long, late layover in Seattle and we were thrilled to be home and sleeping in our own beds by the time we got back to Spokane.
35. A little out of order, but N’s hair was long enough while we were in Munich for me to french braid it one day. She sat still while papa distracted her and it lasted all of an hour before slipping out. It was fun to practice on her, although it’s been years since I’ve done French braids regularly.
36. N decided she would help me with my overflowing inbox when we got home and answer all my emails. Thankfully, no emails were sent on my behalf – this time. ;)
37. This silly girl! She wanted to be a superhero in her car and borrowed my scarf. She was zooming all over and the light was pretty so I took a picture.
38. With travel right before Halloween, we didn’t have much energy for costumes. We threw together these Rosie the Riveter outfits for a quick walk around the neighborhood and reused last years’ snow owl costume for a trunk or treat at her daycare.
And then boom! It was November and we were off running towards the end of the year. Hopefully I’ll get all caught up with these soon!!
Slowly but surely, I’m catching up on blogging and recaps. I feel like March just happened, but I blinked and now it’s May. Aaaah, Bloomsday is this weekend, and we missed it last year because we were in Germany, so I’m excited to have family in town for it and take our girl to watch it. She’s going to love checking out all the runners!
Excuse my partially demo-ed, partially reno-ed house, but these two are so adorable. They were playing in my office while I worked one day, and then heard dad come home. So they ran to the gate to sit there and wait for him. Right before this photo, little miss was standing up at the gate shouting Papa! Papa! but I couldn’t get to my phone fast enough.
I can’t believe it’s been a couple months, but in early March, I took little miss down to Nordstrom to get her first pair of real shoes…and she got a balloon too! If you want to make my kid happy, give her a balloon. Later, we swung by Rockwood Bakery for a mama daughter date, but she had more fun climbing under the table and playing peekaboo with the other people.
In March, I got to do some new work that I’m hoping to showcase later this year. I’ve been working more with companies to do branding and commercial work. It’s got me flexing different muscles, and makes me really appreciate my wedding and family work even more. This is a preview of a book I helped shoot for a preschool.
This girl and her piano. I love how much she loves music. She loves hanging out and playing the piano, so we tried using our Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair to have her play. It worked!
I had a commercial shoot with some building shots in March, and they wanted exterior shots. What do you do when you don’t have anyone to take care of your kid and you can’t drop them at dad’s office? You pop them on your back and take them with you. She was a total champ and had a blast giggling at the cars going by.
After our photography adventure, I took her out to a nearby walking trail and we went for a short walk in the sunshine. Her favorite thing is to be outdoors. She really doesn’t care how bad the weather is. She’ll go out in the rain or sunshine, and she almost always gets mad when I bring her back inside.
We got some new swim gear for swimming lessons and summer time at the lake, and she adores this suit. In fact, we packed it for a recent trip, and she stole it out of the suitcase and ran around the house asking to go swimming.
Sneaking up on Mama and her Aunt is harder when Mama sneaks in a selfie. We had a long layover in Seattle on our way to Prague, and we used the time to head to grandma’s house. Some lunch, and lots of running around and playing with family (and a trip to the Seatac play area) wore this girl out before our international flight.
This recent trip to Prague was with British Airways, and they have these great carrycots that fit larger lap infants! I was so excited to try them out, and it worked pretty well. She slept in it most of the way over, but spent more time in mama’s arms on the way home, because she was having a rough day getting over a cold she caught while we were traveling, and needed extra snuggles.
Two of the things that have changed now that we travel with a kid is where we stay and what we do. On this trip to Prague, I booked us a family apartment in Prague 6 near Stromovka park and we spent our first afternoon just wandering the trails, getting some fresh air, and exploring the neighborhood. It was an area of the city that I’d never really been to before, and I enjoyed seeing a different side of the city. Unbeknownst to me, this area of the city is also home to nearly all the embassies and residences of the foreign diplomats. The American Ambassador’s residence was just down the street from our Airbnb.
Little miss slept through our trip to Prague Castle (that’s the cathedral on the castle grounds on the right), so she’s slept at every castle she’s been too, although she was awake for our walk around Old Town Square.
The view from Prague castle’s overlook. If you can find the tower in the distance, that’s near my old apartment on the other side of the river. We had some pretty nice weather for a couple of our days in Prague, although it wasn’t nearly as nice while we were in Olomouc.
The best thing about traveling and staying at family apartments? Most of them have cribs. We brought our own for the days we spent with my family, but it was so nice to have this one in Prague.
Little miss went on her first train ride, and as you can see, she was thrilled. She spent most of the two hours looking out the window and exclaiming how excited she was. The trains and trams were a big highlight for her.
The metro, however, was less impressive. We learned a lot about navigating the metro and trams and I think I’ll blog about our trip to Prague in detail later. But needless to say, I am glad that we were both there to haul the stroller down the stairs. I think I would have had to get an umbrella stroller if I had gone on my own!
I forgot to bring an extra sippy cup for our girl, so when she demanded a taste of my tea or soda or whatever, we discovered that she was quite adept at drinking out of espresso cups. And, as a bonus, you can find them in nearly every home in the Czech Republic. Although…I’m not sure I know any Czechs who drink espresso.
On our last day in Prague, I snagged a bag of my favorite cinnamon sugar almonds. To me, cobblestones and roasted almonds are two things that really make a European trip feel like Europe.
Helping mama with laundry in her new favorite shirt. We had to do a lot of laundry after our trip. And, I was thrilled to find this shirt in the girls’ section at Target!
After a long month of traveling, wrap snuggles were pretty much necessary to help us adjust to the jetlag. She did one better, and pulled her arm out so that she could hug me while wrapped up on my back. What a silly, sweet kiddo!
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Hey all! It’s October, it’s raining today, and I’m working on a million things, but I needed to get this post up today. We’re back to a lot fewer photos…not that September wasn’t a crazy, beautiful month, but little miss has gotten quite adept with messing with my phone, so I’m doing my best to not have it out too much when she’s around. And, while I’d love to share a bunch of cool shots from when I shoot weddings, I never remember to grab my phone and snag a few! I’m really bad that that.
1. We went over to Seattle for labor day weekend. The weekend started off pretty rocky, with us getting a flat a few miles out, and ended up starting our weekend with four new tires and a sad bank account. We also had to replace our windshield last month, and I think we’re now due for an oil change. BUT at one point, little miss was nursing and I tried to get a photo. She gave me her shoe instead. Thanks, baby girl.
2. It’s hard to capture this little lady’s hair. I think in most light, it looks kinda dark blond, but then the sun hits it and you can see the red in it. It’s also starting to grow in, and get longer. [See also: those eyelashes.]
3. She started sitting up in her crib after naps (and now she stands), which is kind of impressive, since she still sleeps in a sleep sack. I found her like this after a nap. She was giggling and touching the wall.
4. For the dozens of you who’ve asked if our dog does okay with little miss, I give you this photo. He will lay there and let her pull on his collar, his ears, his fur. She’s poked him in the eye with her fingers (sorry, Shadow!) and he very calmly takes it all. He is the greatest friend a babe could ask for and these two are best of friends. She squeals with joy when she sees his face in the morning, and he would do anything to make her happy.
5 & 6. It’s no secret that I love the Historic Davenport Hotel. It’s one of my favorite wedding venues. But it wasn’t until last month that I got to stay there overnight! My mom came up for “grandma camp” and stayed at our place with little miss while we got away for dinner and a night off. It was strange and wonderful. The best part was probably ordering room service for breakfast and eating it in bed. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a lazy morning, that’s for sure!
7. We loaned out one of our ring slings for a few weeks, and after getting it back, we had to get some extra snuggles in it. This is a single linen sling from Wildbird Slings, for anyone who is interested. As soon as we got it back, this lady demanded snuggles.
8. I had a networking event while H was out of town last month, so little miss joined me. It made networking a little more difficult, but I was impressed with her ability to hang out way past her bedtime.
9. I traded with a friend for a few weeks and we got to love on this beautiful wrap. It’s a size we haven’t been using a lot lately, so I challenged myself to learn a couple new carries, including this gorgeous double hammock with a candy cane chest belt. As fun as it was, we still love our shorty wrap the most.
10. Little miss helping in the kitchen.
11. We took advantage of a beautiful Sunday afternoon to get out to Bowl and Pitcher for a short hike. We got a new hiking backpack that little miss hangs out, so dad carries her. It’s great, because I usually have Shadow, and he helps me hike faster so I can keep up with H.
12. Technically, this was on October 1st, but…I don’t care. We were up in the Methow Valley for Heather & Craig’s wedding, and we hiked up to Blue Lake. The weather was quite different from the week before, when it was perfectly sunny and almost summerlike still. We had snow and were bundled up in our down jackets!
And just like that, it’s October! This month has been quite busy too. I mean, how is it already the middle of the month?! What did you do in September? Did you squeeze in something fun on those last few days of summer?