Camping at Grayland Beach (III)

Well, we did it. We continued our annual tradition of camping with the Kizers by spending our third year at Grayland Beach – now with 50% more humans! This time around, we opted to stay somewhere with an actual roof and room for baby sleeping arrangements. After some research late last year, we landed on renting two yurts at Grayland Beach Campground. This place ticked all the boxes – it was under three hours from home, had roof/walls in case of rain, electricity, fire pits, and a proper bathroom including showers. It doesn’t necessarily meet my criteria for proper camping, but it was a great compromise given we had two infants with us.

The campsite was actually pretty great – quiet, a short walk to the beach, and everything you could really ask for when rolling the dice like we did. On the whole, Dom did pretty well. We didn’t do a whole lot, other than explore the immediate area and spend time away from life with friends. He didn’t sleep particularly well in his pack-n-play and we ended up getting somewhat creative about sleeping arrangements. We came back way more tired than we left, but I’m glad we made the effort. Things will be a lot easier when Dom’s sleeping in something that better resembles a bed. I think we have a bit more time before we’re all tent camping together and even then, maybe we put the boys in their own tent so the parents can get some personal space. :-)

We’re just a few months away from planning next year. There is talk of RVs…

2016 In Review

As 2016 comes to an end, I have been thinking about everything that happened this year. Unfortunately, we had two fairly large low points with the passing of my grandmother this summer and Logan only a week ago… but we also had what we consider one of the greatest events in our life with the birth of Dominic. Here on the eve of 2017, I decided to not dwell on the negative and share 16 things that were great about 2016.

Think of it as a positive year in review.

January started off with a positive pregnancy test. It was far harder to become pregnant than the after school specials had me believing, and after nearly a year of negative results it was an exciting way to start the year. Pregnancy is miraculous, I had a pretty easy time, and am exceedingly grateful that we were able to get pregnant without too much medical intervention.


The worst period of morning sickness coincided with our trip to Prague in February. Chris went for work; I joined him in time for his birthday. He then took several days off to explore the city together. We both loved Prague, even in the cold, and managed to travel outside the city to the Pilsner Urquell brewery as well. Eventually we will post photos of the trip, until then enjoy this sample of our time in Prague. dsc_8561
After announcing our pregnancy in early March, we traveled to New Jersey / Pennsylvania to visit Chris’ family for Easter. It had been many years since the entire Brown side of the family was together for Easter and much had changed. Now rather than two tables, dividing the kids and adults, we had at least five tables set up to fit over 30 family members. We also stopped by Textile Philadelphia University to see all the changes to the campus where we met 20 years ago. Much has changed, but there is a lot of the same memories.


We continued “nesting.” 2016 marks the start of our third year in our house. Over the course of the year we replaced the last few pieces of furniture from Virginia with pieces that fit better in this house, installed cafe lights in the backyard, changed out a bunch of light fixtures and blinds, and prepared the nursery. That is just the big things. While not directly house related, in April we purchased the “baby hauler,” which I would say is part of our nesting process.



We continued our evolution into Seattlites with Mariners season tickets. Neither of us are really baseball fans, but it is a great way to spend an afternoon in the summer. When we were given the option to go in on tickets with a few other families we decided to go for it. It was great to be able to bring friends and family along. Over the course of the summer we went to at least four Mariners games, a Sounders game, and the Cowboys / Seahawks preseason game.


Over Memorial Day weekend, we went to Sasquatch Music Festival. In no way did it go as planned; in fact many would say it went all wrong. High winds required we take our tent down during the day Sunday and led to the main stage being shut down for most of the day. I was exhausted and uncomfortable much of the time, so we did not make it to the late shows. However the bands we did see where great, including Digable Planets, and the whole experience  reminded me that we truly can go with the flow and make the best of things when we are together.13315535_10153457752036744_5741680737237850235_n
In June we headed to Hawaii for our last trip as a family of two. Here it is six months later and I am ready to head back to Maui already.


Our summer was packed with family visits, classes to prepare for Dominic’s arrival, and our second camping trip. In July, we took a ferry over to Lopez Island with our friends, the Kizers, for a weekend away. Chris tried out fly fishing; a hobby he is hoping to start and share with Dom as he grows up. What made the camping trip more interesting was the Kizers will be welcoming their own little guy any day now (today is their due date!). The guys did not argue when the two pregnant ladies decided it was time for an afternoon nap. They might have actually sleep more than the ladies did. We have also enjoyed some date nights and Friendsgiving with the Kizers this year and are looking forward to our boys growing up together.


July marked my fifth summer working at the Seattle Art Museum’s summer camp. I took a smaller role this year, in part due to my pregnancy, but love the experience. Both of us are very fortunate to have jobs that we enjoy. Chris’ often stresses him out and demands a lot from him, but he comes home from work, on the whole, far happier than any job he has had in the past.


We intentionally had a quiet August. Doctor appointments became more frequent and our friend Amanda hosted a baby shower for me. It was really sweet to have a bunch of ladies get together to celebrate with me. It was a particularly hard weekend and the shower made it a lot better. Interestingly, I was one of four pregnant women at my shower. I met all three women through Chris joining Crossfit Interbay several years back. I joined in 2014 and got to know these women. Somehow I managed to continue working out until mid-August when the heat and the weight of the growing baby were too much. Chris had taken time off from the gym due to continued back issues, but we are both back at the gym know.


The birth of Dominic James Derecola is the highlight of the year – we’re sure it will be the stand out event.  Now, almost four months later, it is unbelievable how much he has grown. Every day feels like he is bigger and interacting with us more. We truly know how fortunate we are that he is a happy and healthy baby. Originally this web site was created with the intention of sharing photos, but with an infant controlling our lives you can see that has not happened. If you are interested in seeing photos we post to our instagram account fairly regularly. More posts will come as he sleeps through the night regularly. We get a few a week and he sleeps in his crib for 12 hours regardless, so we’re on the right path.


After spending September settling into our new roles and mom and dad, our families traveled across the country to visit Dominic in October and November. It was wonderful that everyone made the five-plus hour journey to meet Dom and help us out. Pop-pop Derecola and Ms. Lynda visited first, spending Pop-pop’s birthday in Seattle. Then Aunt Remi (Rachel) came and stayed for a week when Daddy returned to work. It was the first time in about 20 years that Rachel and I were in the same house for more than a few hours. She was incredibly helpful and it felt amazing to have family here. After Rachel left, Grandmom Seltzer came for two weeks. Grandmom helped with the early mornings, giving me a few hours of sleep each day, and took Dom shopping for winter clothes. After she headed home, Gramp Brooks and Ms. Nell visited for a few days, with Uncle Patrick overlapping with their visit. We then had a few weeks just the three of us, until Grandmom returned with Aunt Angela, Uncle Brian, Cousin Kirsten, and Cousin Addison for Thanksgiving. Dominic celebrated his first Thanksgiving at our house and went to have his photo taken on Santa’s lap with his cousins.



On October 4th, Dominic turned one month old and we celebrated 13 years of marriage. It is amazing that we have been married that long and understand that it has only been possible with a lot of work by both of us. To celebrate, we got dressed up and went to dinner at Canlis while Pop-pop and Ms. Lynda babysat. We attempted to have a photo taken to mark the occasion, but we will just say it was not flattering to any of us. Instead I invite you to take a trip down memory lane and look at the wedding photos.


On a more personal note, I started going to PEPS with Dominic in late October. These are weekly organized meetups of moms and infants that live nearby. There are 12 babies all born within a few weeks of each other in our group. Dom laughs, fusses, screams, and sometimes naps along with the other babies. It is something I look forward to each week and am making new friends while adjusting to being a mom. This transition is huge. It has been made even easier by the incredible women, many from the east coast, who messaged and emailed support in the first few weeks after Dominic’s birth. I cannot even begin to thank them for responding to my stressed out messages and letting me know that whatever was going on is okay. I am beyond thankful for them.nryilnny-bzm0fw4xo-_5hcp0txhue91jvkwrdn67jopx92ib


December 16th marked five years in Seattle. We moved here knowing no one with no clue what the city held for us. As these 14 prior items have shown, moving to Seattle has led to a lot of change. While we both have friends we miss on the east coast, it feels like we are starting to make some solid friendships here and do not regret the decision to move at all. Seattle is the perfect city for us and truly feels like our home. I wish we had some great story to share of how we marked the date, but we don’t – only a photo of our family.


December has also brought us Dominic’s First Christmas; a chance to start some holiday traditions of our own. I decorated the house and made dozens of cookies. Dom and I attempted a salt dough hand-print ornament, and Chris made Seafood Spaghetti for Christmas Eve dinner. On Christmas Eve, ready for bed in his Christmas PJ’S, he opened his first present – a new Christmas book. On Christmas morning he slept until 8 am (after a 1:30 am wake up) and was super chill all day. He loved watching the fire Chris built in the fireplace and his new train set from Santa. Chris picked out a wonderful first Christmas ornament for Dom and he had plenty of presents under the tree. We know he will not remember anything of this year, but we did try to capture some of it to share with him later.


Camping at Lopez Island (II)

At some point we’ll post pictures from Prague and Maui, but it’s always so much easier when you’re pulling together the happenings from a weekend away. In the case here, it’s our second annual camping trip on Lopez Island with the Kizers. I don’t know that we ever really intended it to be an annual, but we’ve now done it two years in a row and we talked about doing it next years with our little ones in tow. They just announced a few days ago they’re expecting a boy on New Year’s Eve… so maybe this turns into a family tradition of sorts.

The camping itself was a better time than the last go ’round. We enjoyed ourselves last year, but the ridiculous amounts of rain made it a rough go. We did get a bit of rain this year, but it was mostly at night and didn’t prevent us from getting out to see the area. We didn’t really do anything major, given Melissa was seven months pregnant, but we also didn’t sit on the couch for two days. The San Juan Islands are a beautiful part of this state (and country) and I can see us visiting and/or camping there more often.