School Plans

“This is the last time you will have to sign this,” announces my girl as we drive away from the pool. My mind races with thoughts of what should could be talking about. Before I even have a moment to glance over as I drive, she goes on. “This is the last time you will have to do a conference.” Pause. “At St. Anthony’s’.

This announcement has been in the works for a long time. She has been thinking about her future. Which makes every parent proud, of course. Even a year ago, she was starting to plan her high school focus. Talking to older students. Taking summer camp at one of the private schools that interested her. Making time to go to the private school open house night. Then deciding on public high school over the winter. Debating if she wanted to register for 8th grade at St. A’s. Deciding to register a mere 48 hours before the deadline. Talking the last few months about other students not returning. And seemingly happy to know that even though she registered, she could still change her mind.

Of course, I was curious to know why she decided today was the day to announce her decision. She had been sick over the weekend and missed yesterday, so did something not go right? And, in Bailie fashion, she clearly articulated her decision points:

  1. Education – she feels that her teachers have to adapt for too many levels of instruction. Providing the example of math where there are many levels of abilities, and she feels like she is at the top and not being pushed hard.
  2. Electives – Her friend at public school not only get to choose algebra instead of math, they get French (or Spanish) and other choices that she has never had.
  3. Teachers – Her favorite teacher, the one that inspires her (and it is obvious with Bailie’s science grade and the science facts that she brings up randomly as we drive to and fro the pool) only teaches in 7th grade.
  4. Finally, it’ the classmates. She says she knows it will not be perfect anywhere. But she feels in this small pool, it is more noticeable. The girls are very critical of each other. And they don’t treat each other like they want to be treated. Some of them are very rude, especially to boys that have crushes on them. (And this Mom was proud to hear her daughter stand up to one of the girls that was rude to a boy who liked her – especially since my girl is not fond of the boy).

Follow-up: Yesterday, before the student conference, I told her we could go talk to the school registrar about her decision. So we did. And she felt good about it. It also made her feel good how the office staff reacted. They were genuinely disappointed. And sad.

The (Golden) Mile

There comes a day in every competitive swimmers life where they get the emotion of swimming their first mile race.

And the day has came and went for Bailie. And the days of nerves, fear and panic that lead up to it were a pure joy for both the swimmer and their parent.

This long course swim meet was a big one for Bailie. Her first get out of school early meet. Friday afternoon started with two swims – the 400 Free and the 1500 Free. We got there in plenty of time for the positive check-in, so there was no turning back now. She swam an incredible 400, dropping almost 15 seconds from the projected time her coaches set for her. And she earned a gold time!

Now time to use that positive energy to gear up for the mile – and not let the week’s worth of nerves get to her.

Then the first big challenge arrived. The swimmers learned that they would be disqualified if they circle swim – they would be swimming two to a lane and it was mandatory they stay on their half of the lane the entire time. Then they looked at their seeding to find that although they planned to count laps and time each other, with the number of scratches, they would all be in the same heat. And the mad scramble started to find and meet older swimmers to help them out (that were not already in the water for their own race). So as my daughter stood behind the blocks watching the heats in front of her finish, she turns and asks me what she gets if she swims a gold time. What goes through my head? “Great. Be supportive, Mom.”

So I say “One thing you really want on your birthday list”.

Without missing a beat, she asks “I get to choose between a Gwen phone and an ipod?”

Nice try kid, you don’t get to choose. You get a guarantee.

So a few minutes later, she jumped in a swam her race. Her coach was very happy with her first time out. And half way home, she finally pulled up the time standards and celebrated her gold time. And her birthday guarantee. It took just a moment for her to ask “how can I pick which one I get”. And my quicker response, “Every race this meet is a gold time”. And she almost did it! Either way, she has one proud momma!



Now that a shower is being planned, registering has become a top priority. Jamey is threatening not to send invitations until we get it done!

The good news (for us) is we have three simple needs:

  • China
  • Glasses
  • Flatware

We started with china. A few months back, we had a date night. We went to the movies at Lincoln Square and added a quick tour through several stores. The typical wedding registry ones. And we knew Macy’s had the largest selection. So we started there. We started by picking our top three and sharing them with each other. We had TWO that matched! And we were there for less than 15 minutes. So we just had to decide which one it was. It was really, really hard not to buy a place setting to take home and admire.We picked then one with the best tea cup. On to glasses…

That was a bit harder. We wanted both water glasses and wine glasses. But the water glass selection was not to our liking. Luckily, wine glasses were easier. And we wanted options. Stemless. Both white and red. And then stemmed. Champagne. White wine. And, our typical go-to-color: red. Although to Bailie it seemed like forever, in less than an hour, we had picked china and glasses.

As for flatware, that was a quick conversation before we even headed to shop. We were going to just add to one of our existing patterns. The only challenge was Bill wants 36 matching forks. Yes, 36!!! Why, you ask? Because when he plates multiple courses, he wants both new dishes and new flatware for each course. And I was very, very excited to find out that you can order “replacements” on Amazon. So the goal is 20 complete flatware sets, then additional forks to tally up to 36. Let the shopping begin…

Hunting (Photographer)

Oh, the hunt for a photographer started first. We had ideas and thoughts about what we wanted for the wedding. But I had enthusiasm and deep interest in picking THE best photographer. (Insert translation: This will be a very, very long process.)

Step 1. The search

It seemed like this could be a the most simple step on the long list of wedding to-dos. I have a very organized co-worked who shared his list from his own wedding photographer selection. His list was over 50 photographers long – with over a dozen attributes researched on it. Seems like it could be a simple excel filter – and a quick short list.

But no. Not so fast. His short list had to be augmented. I needed to research. Flip through local magazines. Be inspired by websites. Dig through blogs. Hours later…no days (really more than two weeks), I had my short list to share with Bill. He was fine with all three.

Step 2. The short list

So I reached out to the short list. Three photographers. One meeting immediately. One was traveling in Costa Rica (and to my surprise, she did respond with a real message instead of a canned note). And the third – totally blew the response with a form email.

The meeting wasn’t good or bad. It just didn’t feel 100%. Bill felt his style was pure photojournalist and he wanted the romance photos of me (not sure where he would put them up as I don’t want those super mushy photos on display in my – ah, our – house!)

The Costa Rica traveler wasn’t back for a few weeks, form email didn’t even deserve my time (can’t be creative in an email, I don’t believe you can be creative when taking photos) so we moved on to other wedding plans. Like we really needed a location. That side-tracked us for a bit.

And during that time, I realized via Facebook that a former fun co-worker had branched out on his own to start a photography – including weddings – business. Decided after digging through his blog that he could be our missing photographer. Email exchanges ensued. And lead to meeting day/time suggestions but never confirmations.

Step 3. The selection

Time passed. Circled back with both our Costa Rica traveler and the former co-worker. Meeting confirmed. Well, one. Costa Rica traveler, aka Stephanie, had a great house, a noisy cat, and the right attitude for us. The experience of meeting her in person sealed the deal. It wasn’t the photos she shared or the words she said, it was the conversation that showed she was a fit for our kind of event. And the contract was signed. On to the next action item…

WWGW: Day 4 – Recipe for Recovery

Today’s ingredients include:

Walk: another stop at Colville Street Patisserie, then Starbucks, then Farmer’s Market (take home fresh onions and asparagus)

Pack up and say goodbye to Budda and Erin, Jen, Jen and Pam

Adding a last stop for shopping, complete with an attempt to finish the pint of salted caramel ice cream before it melts.

Mix in another winery tour:

  • A return to Va Piano to exchange the Merlot we walked out with instead of the Cab.
  • A stop at Saviah
  • Lunch @ Andrea’s Kitchen  while tasting at Dusted Valley. A great flight of red wines, taking home a bottle of Squirrel Tooth Alice. Had to buy that one on the name alone – although there were many, many great tastes here.

Finish the recipe with a road trip home (including an airport stop to get Tonia to her flight).

WWGW: Day 3 – Recipe for Taste Bud (Overload)


Take seven women and add…

Farmer’s Market – start the morning with freshly made breakfast tacos and a tall glass of vegetable juice (the carrots were awesome with kale, ginger, apples and more)

Jump in the tour van to be escorted to:

  • Seven Hills Winery – complete with a vertical tasting in the barrel room. Purchased a magnum of the 2009 Ciel du Cheval, Vintage Red Wine, Red Mountain for dinner tonight.
  • Long Shadows – a beautiful location with lots of wine choices. Walked away with a bottle of Poet’s Leap.
  • Waterbrook – enjoyed lunch in their private room.
  • Sleight of Hand – packed to the gills, it was a fight to the counter for the next sip.
  • Va Piano – Relaxing stop, enjoyed the wine club track (Jamey signed up right away). Took home their Sav Blanc release.
  • Tertulia – This unknown winery (to me) was a great way to finish the day. Walked out with the Malbac.

Next step: Rest. Similar to marinating the meat pre-grilling.

Refuel: Dinner at Whitehouse Crawford.

Finish the night with a layer of celebration lead by Erin. Powerful reminiscing and sharing. So glad all seven of us where able to spend the day together!


WWGW: Day 2 – Recipe for Relaxation


Start with:

  • A walk
  • Breakfast at Bacon & Eggs
  • Colville Street Patisserie – not that we were hungry; the pre-visit research said don’t miss this place. So we listened.
  • Goodwill – always an adventure – great way to find the missing elements: house needs more wine glasses, Jen needs swim suit
  • Soak up the sun – Lazy rest of the morning, early afternoon reading, sunning and soaking in the hot tub
  • Lunch – Tracked down Andrea’s Kitchen@ the Co-op, needed to try their fish tacos

Now mix in a bit of downtown

Shopping – Vintage shop(s)  – yes, more than one. Found great necklace that finished a summer dress (already in my closet).

Wine tasting @

  • Da Ma – vinters of the Cowgirl Cab we enjoyed the previous eve
  • Rotie – the winemaker loves his blends – and so did we. Decided on another bottle, Northern Blend. And enjoyed the stop as we felt like we were invading the boys club. Over 15 men to us three women.
  • Kerloo Cellars – Fun stop, we tasted their spring release reds while a group celebrated with champagne. My fav was down to 11 bottles left. And I made it 10.
  • Walla Walla Wild Woman Wine Shop – with that name we had to go in! Tasting: Garofalo Cellars.

More shopping – this time clothing. And in the second shop, they poured wine. Yes, we bought more there. I even found another strapless dress that will help me minimize odd tan lines in the wedding dress

Dinner at T. Macarones – The rest of the team arrives in time for a feast! Pam, Jen, Tonia and Jamey are added to the recipe, making us a double-batch plus

And we finished the night with a “quiet” evening at home. A little wine, a little laughter, and (for some) a little hot tub time.

Walla Walla Girl’s Weekend (WWGW): Day 1

Day 1  – Recipe for Road Trip

Oh, let the fabulous weekend fun begin.


Amtrak Train – relaxing rhythm of the tracks along the Puget Sound as rays of sun bounce off the water

Train Station – welcome included a video camera and a bouncing, smilaffronaing Erin

McMenamim’s on the Columbia – watching the river life, enjoying a Ruby as Jen joins the party

Road Trip – almost four hour of catching up as we cover the pavement from along I-84 to Walla Walla

Woodward Canyon – roll into town just early enough to catch the last pour at this cab lover’s winery. Bought first bottle: “Artist Series” Cabernet Sauvignon

The Budda House – And we arrive at our little paradise, and enjoy the first bottle of wine: 2009 Cowgirl Cab. So appropriate for the three of us dairy-farm raised girls.

Dinner @ Saffron – Perfect place to start the Walla Walla dining adventure portion of the weekend