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.

Update: One Year in House

[Note: This post was started about six months ago. Whoops.]

Now that the summer has come and gone, it is time to acknowledge that we have owned our little white brick house in Magnolia now for over a year. We bought it last summer knowing full well it needed work done and in the past year have managed to cross some major things off the list.

Last fall we had the whole house rewired, removing the unsafe 1930s knob-and-tube wiring. This was also required to safely support the new kitchen appliances we had installed. All along, Chris has been spending a lot of time on Craigslist selling furniture. Turns out a lot of the furniture we purchased for our first house back in 2002 did not fit this house.

Right after we moved in I had repainted the kitchen cabinets and freshened up the paint in our bedroom, but the rest of the house waited for Chris Brown to visit. He painted our dining room, living room, the hallway and the guest room. We also put him to work changing out the light in our dining room and hanging a ceiling fan in the guest room.

The biggest item crossed off this first year was to having our floors refinished. We are fortunate to have nice inlayed white oak hardwood floors in most of the house. It appears that at some point these original floors were probably covered with carpet, so after 80 years they needed some work. Here is an idea of the damage and wear to our floors before the refinishing.

In fact, the stains and areas of high traffic wear were some of the easier fixes. At one point in time someone had circled a bunch of the nail pops with a pen and then proceeded to fix them with large nails.
living room floor nails
In a few areas almost every tiny tack nail had been replaced with a large nail. Our floor guy did an awesome job taking all these nails out and refilling the holes. The result it pretty awesome.

Now the fun part – some before-and-after photos of the work done.

Holiday Recap

Thanksgiving 2014

Our Thanksgiving table just before the turkey was ready.


This was Chris and my first holiday season in the new house. While it may be the third house we have owned it has been the first time we spent Thanksgiving Christmas and New Years Eve at home. In fact this was the first Thanksgiving Chris and I made, which gave us an opportunity to start some traditions all our own.

Even though it was just the two of us we bought a 11 lb turkey. Together we managed to get it stuffed and roasted in our new fabulous oven (I really love this oven). I made cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli, gluten free stuffing and coconut custard pie. Chris wanted pineapple stuffing which has become a tradition for his family, so I prepared that the night before and made it our own this year by having it for breakfast with our coffee.

Thanksgiving Mat

Growing up I used to practice drawing this little scene each year.

It was a lot of work for one meal but it all turned out tasty and we will probably do it again next year. I made some macaroni and cheese to eat with the left over turkey the next day, Chris ate a bunch of turkey sandwiches and he made a big pot of turkey soup as well. I don’t believe any of the turkey went to waste with Jean enjoying any thing that found its way to the floor.

For the last two years we purchased smaller Christmas Trees which would fit on top of our coffee table, however we have a lot more room in our living room right now so we bought a large tree this year. In fact it was so much larger than any of our previous trees that I ran out of lights and had to try to find a string which matched.

It is always a little more work to decorate the house for the first year, but I think we did a good job (I did not do a great job with photographing the rooms unfortunately). We had lights on the outside and I put up decorations in most of the rooms including some vintage pieces in the kitchen. Lucky we only hang two stockings because even though is it really pretty with a decorative key hole above the fire place the mantel is pretty small. I did love how everything looked decorated, but have a few changes in mind for next year.

We had a quiet Christmas at home with our traditional smoked salmon breakfast and honey baked ham for lunch / dinner, then it was back to work the next day. After work we went out for drinks and saw “A Christmas Story – A Musical” at the 5th Avenue Theater. Then we prepared for a New Years Eve party at our house. It was the first time hosting something for New Years and even though a made some pretty awesome decorations, I have no photographs of the house all done up. The party was a lot of fun and nice to start to the year to have friends around.

The holiday season marks the start of our fourth year in Seattle. In addition to the holiday celebrations we both have kept busy with game night, a visit from Chris’ dad, volunteering to feed the homeless,  going to a few shows and I added some shifts at the museum in here and there. Well into January already we are preparing for our trip to Vietnam and continuing to make progress on making the house our home. The paint colors are getting narrowed down and some “new” furniture has been purchased so we will hopefully have more photographs to share soon.