Spotlight Campaign: Mugs and Mary

April 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Same Sex Parent, Spotlight, Washington

By Brandy Black 

Kristen Honeycutt Photo Co.-006 1171_8.22.10 0404_8.22.10 mm_209 Kristen Honeycutt Photo Co.-039


The Next Family: Tell me about your family.
Mugs:  My family consists of my wife Mary, our 19-month-old son, Emerson, an orange tabby cat named Cheetoh, our  dog, Blaze, and myself, Mugs. We live in Seattle, WA with loving, doting grandparents close by. Seattle is a very liberal and progressive city. We chose to live here specifically for that reason.My wife is a psychologist in private practice and I am a firefighter. Together we love farmers markets, traveling, the outdoors, and being spoiled.
The Next Family: Are you married?  
Mugs: Yes, we had a very lavish wedding ceremony with over 100 of our closest friends and family. We have been married for 2 years and together for just over 6. Currently we are registered domestic partners. Washington just legalized gay marriage with this past election so we are in the process of formally transferring our domestic partnership paperwork into a marriage license.
The Next Family: Tell us about Emerson and do you plan on having more kids?  
Mugs: We used a willing to be known donor and Mary carried him. We are currently in the process of trying to have another and we are tentatively thinking about a possible third.  We plan to use the same donor for all three children. Mary will be the birth mother for all three as well.
The Next Family: How did you meet your wife? 
Mugs: I met my wife on St. Patricks day of 2007. We were introduced by a mutual friend who is now our son’s godparent and who was also my best person at our wedding. When I first met Mary I thought it was love at first sight and Mary eventually came to her senses and sent me a message through myspace. (remember myspace?) After we spent just a few weeks together I told her I would marry her and here we are today. She’s the love of my life and I couldn’t have picked a better partner and mother for our children. We feel very blessed.
The Next Family: Do you feel like your family is different from other families?
Mugs: Yes, I do feel different than other families. It’s becoming more common to see other families like ours but we are still usually the only same sex family in any given situation. We operate the same as any other family so in that sense we are no different. We are busy with swim classes, music classes, day care, aquariums, parks, and the rest of it. Fortunately I have never felt treated any differently than any other family. Sometimes some clarifying is needed and people have questions, but I am always happy to help educate people on our experiences, especially if they are curious.
The Next Family: Is it tough being a gay couple where you live?
Mugs: I wouldn’t say it’s tough being a gay couple in Seattle. I just think being gay, whether you are alone or with someone, can have its challenges. For everyone it’s different, for me I always feel like I stand out a bit more just because my presentation is more male. That can create some awkward social moments in itself no matter where you are. The amount of progress that society has made in regards to equality really has made things easier. 
The Next Family: Do you feel accepted?  
Mugs: I usually feel accepted but I don’t always feel like I fit in. There are still the rare occasions where people are ignorant or rude. Most of the time that’s not the case and there will always be some people who will never accept it. Kids growing up gay in today’s world will grow up with much more confidence and acceptance and there is so much more open support now. I think feeling accepted has a lot more to do with being comfortable with who you are. I grew up needing to hide who I was and feeling ashamed. I don’t need to do that anymore but it still takes time to break old habits and I’m still working on that.
The Next Family: What has having a family meant to you?  
Mugs: Having a family has been amazing. It has given me a new purpose in my life and also a real sense of grounding. For me, every moment and milestone is fulfilling when you have someone to share it with. We have really just started this adventure. We have so many more memories and traditions to enjoy.
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Thank you Mugs and Mary for sharing your beautiful family with The Next Family. 




The Ecstasy of Blue Underpants

September 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Parenting

By: Katherine Ellis

My sister missed my niece’s potty training window; at least, that’s what she suspected. They were too busy; they waited past the pinnacle of Lulu’s potty excitement. She was on the downhill slide, totally over the potty, when my sister decided it was time. By then three year-old Lulu didn’t care, she seemed perfectly happy to have her mother change her diaper forever.

My sister was in the midst of this drama and chattering into my ear over the phone when my daughter, Josie, came home from preschool screeching about underwear and the potty. She was two-and-a-half and demanding boo (blue) underwear. My sister encouraged me to act. Move! Move! Do it now while you can!

The next morning we made a BIG show of going to buy new underwear with all kinds of gaudy, sparkly, animated characters with crowns and wings and oversized ears. And our girl went for it. She was all in. We read her the potty book and I, Josephine’s mother, put her on the potty every 30 minutes (this sentence is hilarious if you’ve read the Potty Book 5,000+ times). It worked. Oh how proud we were!

Josie got a sticker every time she used the toilet and it was going so well. Then… Meh. We lost interest, and by ‘we’ I mean she. She lost interest. It was fun for a while. Then our friends gave us some leftover pull-ups with princesses on them. Oh for pete’s sake. She was over underwear. She carried her new diapers around the house, clutched to her chest. She got out of bed at night to diaper her monkey; she slept with them close to her face. Are you kidding me? Get those potty-killer pants out of my house! We took a little break. We used the princess diapers until they were gone and went back to the generic diapers of our past.

Not much later, she decided to go back to underwear and this went well for a time. One day I brought home some new bar stools with seats made of woven sea grass to test out in our kitchen and soon they were saturated with pee – well, I guess we’re keeping them now. She could use the potty. She just wasn’t interested and didn’t really mind walking around with wet pants. Soon, like so many other things in our two-and-a-half year-old’s life, it became an issue of control. The parents want me to use the potty; therefore, I must not use the potty. Must not.

There was some hand-wringing, some parental resignation. Then: new bribery. She would get a matchbox car for every day she went without an accident. She was crazy about those little cars and, at $.69/car this was a habit I could support. I’d even get one of those big carrying cases if she got enough of them. This worked for a time then… Cookies! Yes, cookies would save us. I know, surely I’m scarring my child forever by using food as a bribe but…desperate times.

Josie’s approaching her third birthday, growing out of the original underpants, and the last few weeks we’ve instituted a new reward. If she has a whole week without an accident we can rent a new movie. Oh the joy! Most of the time Josie does earn the reward, and last I heard my niece had finally hopped onto the potty bandwagon and would not, in fact, be wearing diapers forever.

I’ve heard rumors of other parents who have smoother, more practical, nurturing ways to potty-train –solutions that are child-centric and enhance the connection of parent and child. However, I, Josephine’s mother, have been humbled by parenting in many ways. These days I’m willing to do just about whatever it takes to get through it all, even if that means we have to watch a whole bunch of movies filled with princesses.

For more stories of our adventures visit


Wedding Bells, Part 2

September 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Brandy Black, Family

By: Brandy Black

We got in a fight before our wedding. On the ferry ride over. I can’t remember why. Could it have been the make up? Things were tense. We had been planning a wedding for a year from another state and it was all happening on this overcast day after waiting 2 years for sun.

We parted at the wedding site to go to our separate rooms to get ready and we weren’t speaking –on our wedding day! I was fine at first, chatting with my girls, putting on the amazing gown that I had been dying to step into for months, but I kept wondering how my bride-to-be was doing. Her sister came over to pick up the infamous make up and I asked. I didn’t get the answer I had been hoping for. Susan apparently wasn’t talking much and I knew what that meant and now here I was forbidden to see her before I walked down the aisle to say I DO. I began desperately trying to manipulate seeing her and was told by everyone I asked that everything was fine and I shouldn’t see her before the wedding. The schedule was set for her to get pictures with her family first, then me. I made my way down early hoping to see her but she was done. I took my pictures with the family all the while pre-occupied. I pressed further and explained that I needed to see Susan to give her a present. It worked, somehow someone sent her my way and I pulled her into the dark hall where we later had our first dance as a married pair.

“How are you? Are you OK?”

She was quiet at first and than we grabbed hands and looked at one another and all of it disappeared. At that moment the wedding was no longer about guests or flowers or make up or rules, it was about us, my best friend, my wife to be, standing before me, more beautiful than ever before. I cried. She bowed her head and looked up with her big brown eyes as if to say “There you are.” We kissed. I later found out when reviewing pictures that the photographer was there, snapping the whole scene. We didn’t even notice her. I could have escaped to the getaway boat right then and there; it was all that I needed…that moment.

A voice came from the distance: “Susan, it’s time! You have to go to the other side; the string quartet is playing. Come on.”

We ignored it. Susan grabbed my hand and led me to a small window where we watched all of our stunning guests – from LA, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Colorado, Boston –they were all there for us.


Out of the Mouths of Babes

June 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Danny Thomas, Family

By: Danny Thomas

A couple weeks ago I went to Seattle to visit my parents with my girls. Their mother had just wrapped up her dissertation defense and all, so we left her at home to unwind in peace.

The visit was amazing. The girls are getting to the age where Gramma and Grampa can have fun with them at least as much as they have to take care of them; I think that is a critical balance in the Grandchild/Grandparent relationship.

It was a great time – the girls did well on the road, slept well, played well, and everyone had a lot of fun.
I also got to have some nice grown-up solo time – an afternoon playing music and chatting with close friends and an evening out “on the town;” meeting up and drinking a few beers with fun beautiful people to see and play live music.

However, the entire visit was tinged with a melancholy, knowing that, while the occasions that we actually make it up to Seattle are few and far between these days, the possibility of doing it with relative ease is going to be gone by the end of the summer.
This is hard for my wife and me, for sure, and a little for our kiddos too, I think. I know it’s hard for my folks! They’ve gotten used to seeing their grandkids on a regular basis, and it makes me sad to say goodbye to that.

Li’l Chaos, with the infinite wisdom of the four year-old, must have sensed the elephant that was in the room throughout the entire visit up north. On our last morning there, as Gramma was chopping up a pancake for her, she leaned forward, out of the blue, unprovoked, un-coached, and put her hand out to still Gramma’s chopping hands and said, “Don’t worry, you’re always part of our family, even when we’re in Minnesota.”

And that says it all; I have hope that we are doing an okay job with her because she knows that and knows enough to say it out loud!

So, that story is the rational part of my brain. The irrational part of my brain wrote a blog that looks more like this:

Holy shit
Holy f@&king shit
I am moving to Minnesota!
Not just me…
I am moving my family.
Um. Hello? That is huge
And guess what?
(my daughter says “guess what” at the beginning of every sentence these days
It must be rubbing off on me…)
Guess what? It’s not just me. I am moving an entire family.
We are moving together.
I am leaving the Northwest, my home, and moving with my family…
Halfway across the country.

We have had a tremendous blessing,
An achievement to be proud of, my wife has been hired as a Professor, right out of the gate, PhD in hand.

I am so proud.

SO much is changing.
It’s all good, it’s all big.
A lot of change.

I want to get out of here and start the next chapter!
I don’t want to leave…
It’s hard to face all the change, the worry, the decisions.
The distance.
The things and people I love here – farther away.

At the other end of all this change
Is security and stability for our family…

But the growing pains…
The uprooting of our lives…
I guess I just have to remember the wise words of L’il Chaos and know that no matter where I am you will always be a part of my family. Thanks for that!


One Special Mom

June 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Parenting

By: Caren Gillespie

When The Next Family approached me to write an article about a special mother, my first thought was, “how do I choose just one?”  I know some pretty phenomenal moms, but here is one who really stands out.

Krista is a full-time working mother of three children: Mercer, (almost) 7, Haley, 4, and Kemper, 1.  When I say “full time”, I’m not talking about your typical 9-5 day.  Krista, who works in sales, is basically on call all hours of the day. She is not the type of person to do anything half-assed -especially mothering…

With all the work she has to do, one might think she’d have no time to be so present in her children’s day-to-day lives.  I, being a stay at home mom, have more time than Krista has, but I cannot imagine being able to participate in all my children’s daily activities in the way she does. She is a room mother, a coach, on the preschool board, and attends all school events.  She admits that being so involved allows her to have a bit more control of the environment of her son, who has a peanut allergy so severe that he must always carry an Epi-Pen. She is determined to not only make the school district a nut-free environment, she just might take on the world at some point….this is just how she rolls.  All the while, she is determined that her son not feel abnormal about his allergy and he takes it in stride.

I am in awe when I watch all she can juggle.  She runs her house in a coach-like manner with a “go get ‘em!” mentality and a soft mommy edge.  It works for her family, and their “dance” is inspiring to watch.  She could not have more generous, thoughtful, loving children.  You watch them and you know for sure they know they are Number One in her life.  She does get sad if she has missed out on anything with her children, and you can tell she has mom guilt with some of her choices (I tell her it comes with the territory).  But one thing you won’t hear from her is complaining.  Sure, she gets down or needs to vent, but most of that consists of her trying to figure out a solution for whatever is bugging her or what she could do differently in the future.  It’s inspiring really….

I recently sat down over some wine and appetizers to see if I could find out her secret.

Did you always know you wanted a big family?

Yes, I grew up in a big sports family and when one of us was away it didnt feel like the house was empty because at least two of us were home.  It was like our own internal community, which is what I want for my children.

How do you balance your family and working life?

Thats a great questionIts an answer I hope I will learn someday.  Do you know you have balance when you do?  I guess I just try to maintain acceptance and try and let go of some of the tactical things.  I basically keep two identities: my work and my home.

What is your biggest challenge with maintaining some balance?

Sometimes I wish I had more time in the day and sometimes I wish the day were over.  I try and make sure each day includes one-on-one time with each of the kids.

Describe your relationship with your husband.

I feel so blessed to have Steve; we have been best friends for 15 years.  I know he is always there for me.Hes my family!

Describe a good day.

A good day consists of no morning appointments so I can walk my kids to school, my work done early so I can play with the kids before dinner and time with each kid.  I want them to be tired because we had so much fun that day.

What do you do for yourself?

Not Enough!  I just know that when the kids are laughing its  good for my soul.  I do get to sleep in sometimes and am finding more time with my friends, but for the most part I am still trying to figure it out.

What is your 5-year plan?

Part of why I work now is so when my kids are preteen and teenagers I wont have to work as hard and can spend more time with them.

In a perfect world, how would your life look?

I would vacation every day and just watch my kids having a blast.  We would have no monetary responsibility.

What advice would you give someone else contemplating a large family while working full time?

Find what works for you, everyone is different but make sure you laugh every day.

I feel privileged to know Krista. Even with her every day demands she always tells me “are you kidding? I always have time for you.” She truly inspires me to be a more positive mother and to appreciate the time I get to spend with my own children.  She does it all so gracefully but she will be the first to admit it is not easy. It takes work, but it’s all worth it to her!


Enviro-Mentally Exhausted

April 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Eco

By: Caren Gillespie

If you met me in person, you might think I’m pretty eco friendly. Compared to many people in this country, I am! I’m a former Dead-head, long haired, yuppie hippie who started caring about what was happening to the earth from early on. I was very into Earth Day in the 90s. I planted trees, rode my bike everywhere, hiked the mountains and basically did what I could with what education I had and what resources were offered at the time. Flash forward to the new millennium and here in Seattle, you would think Earth day is every day. Here, “eco” has come a long way. Armed with my grocery totes, I fall right in with other Seattleites who gravitate to the “organic products” available to us everywhere. But I think we still have a long way to go.

we have access to so many things in this country that “help” save the earth but, in its abundance, it begs the question “does it really help?”

Consumer Reports recently did a study and found that a large percentage of Americans stopped buying eco-friendly products because they were too expensive and they didn’t feel they worked well. It’s amazing in a world with iPads and robotic surgeries, we cannot make a product that works better on cleaning my dishes than me spit washing them. In a nutshell (organic of course) here are my gripes about our uber-green movement:

Warning: Going green means actually turning green!

Light bulbs: I walk into my living room in the evening and notice a green glow….”Honey, why does it look different in here?” He replies sheepishly “Oh, I didn’t think you’d notice. I put in those CFL light bulbs.” Yes, I noticed! How do you not notice when your house has a hue of green? He put them in the bathroom too; this is where I get ready to face the world every morning! Yes, I know there are CFLs with different light ratings, but we’ve tried them all it seems and none come close to the warmth of the incandescent. Again, can’t we invent an energy efficient light bulb that reflects light the same as a standard? It’s a light bulb!
Laundry detergent: in our house the “whites” load is now anything but white. Look at an eco-friendly person in white closely enough, and you’ll see they aren’t wearing white but a shade of greenish-grey that all the “eco” detergents seem to leave.
Liquid Hand Soap: Great, they are sulfate free, but did you know that if you pour a whole bottle of oil down your drain, it will clog? If you read the ingredients of the Eco-liquid hand soaps you will see they are made up of mostly oil! It’s my theory but I have some clogged drains to prove it. Did you know that being green is chic now? Tell me you haven’t bought a hand soap or household cleaner simply because you liked its label. I have.
Organic produce:
If you are an organic produce buyer like me, you are also damned.

It’s not enough to buy organic, because if you do buy those organic grapes from Chile, your carbon footprint has increased because of the fossil fuels used to transport them to the U.S.!

So now some people think it is better to buy local conventional (non-organic) produce than to buy imported organic produce. I get it, we don’t want to use the Earth’s resources but we also don’t want to poison our children, so we deny them grapes and bananas and most other things because here, in Seattle, we have apples….apples people!

Grocery shopping on the whole gets a bit out of hand here in Seattle. It’s a brave soul who forgets their reusable bags at a grocery store—we actually came real close to passing a law banning anything else!

You feel the tension mount as the bagger utters those dreaded words almost spitefully and unforgivingly loud “PAPER OR PLASTIC MA’AM?”

Well at that point, you might as well have set a forest fire in the mountains. It is unrelenting scorn you will feel in this city, not an ounce of forgiveness. Let’s be honest. We’ve all been on both sides of this. With all this pressure, it’s no wonder that Amazon Fresh is so popular these days. No one watches you buy non-organic Cheetos and high fructose corn syrup-y soda. It’s all private; like that “Playboy” magazine that comes cleverly wrapped in brown paper so your mailman and neighbors won’t know your significant other likes a good “article” now and then.

Are you rolling your eyes now, thinking I am “that” mom who just doesn’t get it? Yes I get it, but succumb to it all? No way. I used to walk into a grocery store and have this unexplainable anxiety as I would shop. I had to let that go. I want my kids to enjoy food, not worry about it so much. I don’t want them to feel that anxiety in the school lunchroom as their friends envy the lunch they brought. “Hey! How come you got chips? The tuna came from a can, not fresh caught.” Honestly, I do teach my children what healthy food to put into their bodies and respect how it makes their bodies feel. They are happy with one small scoop of ice cream and consider that a treat instead of the gargantuan sizes restaurants serve these days. They know the difference, but they also know they have the freedom to make choices. I feel I also have that right. So yes, I will bring my reusable bags a ‘plenty to my local grocery store, farmers’ market and even Target and occasionally I will forget them. I have a compost bin on my kitchen counter with rotting food (which just seems like an oxymoron for a healthy environment, but it helps our Seattle parks), but an eggshell might find its way down my drain. I buy healthy food for my family and make most of our meals at home. I even bought part of a cow from a sustainable and organic local farm last year. Yes, I have my limits and am very conscious of my “footprint”, but to keep up with the eco trends that riddle our city, well, I don’t have that kind of time or money. It comes down to what works for your family and not necessarily the easiest route but one that doesn’t deter from more important things in life. Choose your battles, be mindful of your actions and consequences and don’t worry so much, it’s a good example for everyone.


Menage a spa

April 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Healthy

By: Caren Gillespie

In the not too distant past, going to a Spa for a pampering session was considered only a luxury for the very wealthy or if you were lucky, someone bought you a gift certificate for an occasion.  Well, as a stay at home mom, sometimes the only pampering I receive is my head hitting my pillow.  I tend to shy away from paying loads of money for one hour of someone applying cream on my face or rubbing my back because well, that $120-$200 could buy me a dinner out with some girlfriends, a new pair of jeans, or go toward a vacation.

It takes a lot for me to fork out the money for pampering, but lately, I am realizing that sometimes, in a world of people (big and small) that only really know me as the peacemaker/need-handler, I also need to be “mothered”.

I set out on a quest to figure out the different types of pampering that a frugal mom like me could obtain. I took the plunge and set out to do some…eh-hem… “research” to find the different types of spas that are offered.  In order to do this, I first had to decide the different tiers.  I broke it down into three categories, beauty school, local day-spa, and the high-end hotel/travel spa.

Beauty school

In arriving at the Gary Manuel Aveda Institute of Seattle, I had to remind myself I was actually walking into a very large and hip classroom for wannabe hairstylists and spa folk.  After checking in, I was led downstairs into a dark room with curtains dividing off all the clients, much like a WWII hospital but with better lighting and soothing music.  I remember feeling a bit cold but I was told exactly what to expect by my service provider and I disrobed and prepared for 2 hours of care.  One thing to keep in mind when you visit a school of this nature is that it is a learning environment, and therefore not unusual to hear an instructor come in to help evaluate the “plan” of the student.  The other part that was a bit distracting is the other students were not exactly the most professional –treating it as a classic classroom with giggling and gossiping.  All in all, the goal for pampering was accomplished and the school provided me with some much-needed R&R but not without its drawbacks. ($)

Day Spa

In visiting the day spa, Habtitude of Ballard, I was one of their first appointments and greeted the minute I walked through the door by all those I passed on the floor.  They were genuine in their greeting and I was happy and relaxed being there.  I climbed the stairs to the services area and was greeted by someone who showed me the locker room with robes and a locker for my belongings.  She gave me the choice to sit in the plush waiting room or the sauna until my esthetician was ready for my appointment.  The environment paid homage to the northwest’s Native American roots with its earthy colors and Native American music piping through the rooms.  I felt at home.  My facial was soothing, although I am not a fan of “up selling” which happened for the first 5 minutes of my initial consult.  I gracefully denied the extra miracle creams and massages and was underway.  I then had a massage scheduled and waited for a while for my masseuse.  She came and informed me that she didn’t think I was her client because I didn’t look pregnant.  She explained they had written pregnancy massage for me….not sure about how I felt about that one! In the end, the day spa felt like a place I could visit regularly but the prices are a bit steep and they really nickel and dime you on things like the sauna visit which was $18 on its own.  ($$)

High-End/Travel Spa

After checking into the new Four Seasons in downtown Seattle, I settled into my lovely room and slipped into my complimentary robe and headed to the spa.  I scheduled a Thai Massage at the Spa at Four Seasons and was very curious to experience what it was all about.  The front desk person greeted me and showed me the locker room where I could put on my workout clothing for my massage.  Clothing?  It was explained that this was a massage where I would be stretched and twisted and would need to be comfortably clothed.  I waited in the serene and immaculate relaxing room and waited for my massage therapist while reading a magazine and sipping on chilled lemon water.  The color palette was soothing and pristine throughout the spa.  After being taken into the room filled as advertised with basalt rock and glass tile, she instructed me to lie on a table and explained this was considered a “lazy man’s yoga” and not a traditional massage.  She twisted, rubbed and stretched my limbs for the allotted 80 minutes and for me, being a runner, this was greatly appreciated.  I could have used one of the traditional massages to follow for that chance for aromatherapy and possible slumber.  Instead, I headed back to the dressing room where they provided a lovely tile and marble laden steam room, with eucalyptus spray and ice buckets of lavender-infused washcloths to enhance my experience.  I could have lived there for weeks. After my visit to the Spa at the Four Seasons, I then realized why it was considered a Mecca for pampered souls.  They have it down to a science and have the ability to transport even a local to a place I would rather not leave. ($$$)


($) $20-$50

($$) $75 and up

($$$) $135 and up


Steele Money from the GOP

March 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Entertainment

By: Tom Butts

So, I’ve read the news today, about the fact that Michael Steele (head of the Republican Party) had expenses paid by the GOP at a “titty” bar in West Hollywood. First off, I’m still trying to get past “titty” bar in West Hollywood…
Anyway, I love the satire that Huffington Post listed:
In what appears to be a reversal of a long-standing GOP position, RNC chair Michael Steele said today that he considered same-sex unions “incredibly hot, especially when the girls are getting it on in a glass case.”
Man, that sums it up! Seriously…it just figures – wide stance, bondage “titty” bars and infidelity. Sure Democrats do it too, but we don’t run our campaigns on it, right?
Traditional American values…really?
I actually can’t spend any more time writing on this subject. I just found out Ricky Martin is gay, in his new book titled “No Shit”.
Gossip Girl


Tour Truants

March 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Adoptive Families

By: Jillian Lauren


We had a few days off before the Seattle show, so we decided to try to get away from it all and rent a house out on Bainbridge Island.

Here is what I learned:

1. Bainbridge Island is quaint and lovely and has a charming indie bookstore.
2. It is wonderful to sleep with the sound of waves breaking right outside your bedroom window.
3. There is no such thing as “getting away from it all” when you have an eighteen-month-old in tow.

I believe I expressed this sentiment in a less articulate way last night. It went something like the following (imagine this punctuated with desperate sobs): I am NOT going ANYWHERE EVER AGAIN. When we get home, I am staying there FOREVER.

What happened to your circus gal, your Gypsy pal? She was felled by a migraine and a wee lad. All I can say is that he’s small but he’s cunning.

I think the highlight of our island excursion was actually the ferry ride over. Bainbridge Island is about 35 minutes from downtown Seattle by ferry. It was T’s first time on a boat and it was so great to watch him screaming with delight and running headlong into the crazy wind. Here he is posing as the new Adam for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.


n-between bouts of panic and dread, I did take a moment or two to enjoy the clean sea air, the lush evergreens all around and the views of snow-covered Mt. Ranier from the beach outside our pad.


We also went to visit a little Norweigian-themed town called Poulsbo- kind of the Pacific Northwest’s equivalent to our Solvang. It was cute and touristy and had lots of viking dolls and lingonberry jam. I dubbed it “Little Ikea.” Here is the window of the town pirate store. Every town should have one.


And for those of you who saw the Vanity Fair blog I wrote from Japan, you’ll appreciate that I was somehow hypnotized into buying yet another faux-fur Doctor Zhivago hat. That one was grey and this one is off-white and brown, so they’re apples and oranges, really. Plus, it was made by a local artist and was called a muffette or a muffalette or something, so I had to buy it.

I have no pictures of it, since its purchase preceded a rather unpleasant exchange. Why don’t men understand that an LA girl simply can’t have enough faux-fur cossack hats?


Slip Away To Seattle

February 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel

By: Brandy Black

Space Needle

We drove down the hill in search of our hotel, Inn At The Market for our weekend getaway in Seattle.  Our bags were light and the car toddler-free.

We pulled up to the valet and were literally a stone’s throw away from the famous men in orange rubber suits tossing fish and yelling at one another.

Inn At The Market

The sea salt air and aroma of baked pastries beckoned us to the bustle of Pike Place Market.   The hotel is tucked away in a warmly lit square of restaurants and shops right in the center of it all.  We tugged our coats in tight and followed the bellman in to the inviting lobby with comfy couches and a fireplace.  The view in our room was the perfect postcard snapshot of the Pacific Northwest overlooking the glistening water. We jumped in our bed and kicked back to soak in the scenery that lie beyond our windows.  After a few minutes of basking in our newfound freedom and a call to the grandparents to make sure our daughter was happy, we were off to taste our way through town.

First on our agenda was coffee for the fabulously brisk afternoon.  Just steps from the hotel is the first ever Starbucks.  I know, I know, there are many other amazing coffee houses in Seattle with much better beans than this, but who doesn’t want to take a few snapshots of the once nascent caffeine prodigy.  Along the way we stopped for a nibble of fresh crabmeat with a squeeze of lemon, then on to one of my personal favorites: Piroshky,Piroshky.  These Russian morsels of insanely delicious combinations are the very essence of the market experience.  With our bellies full of warmth we were ready to do a little boutique shopping.

Strolling through the cobblestone alley we found our way into an adorable children’s store to pick up a gift for our little one.  Miniature hipster t-shirts reminding us of our sweet bundle of joy called to our touristy hearts.  We thumbed through raincoats and petite dresses and took a moment to mourn the weekend away from our daughter.

It was an ideal toddler-free vacation, roaming aimlessly down Seattle’s charming winding streets and ending our afternoon with a glass of wine on the rooftop deck of our hotel overlooking the Puget Sound.

Deck Shot 2

Dinner could not have been more fitting to cap off our perfect day.  Just across the street from our Inn, down a set of stairs, tucked away under the Pike Place Market sits Il Bistro.  We felt as if we had arrived in Tuscany.  We were greeted by a friendly host who showed us to the candlelit bar where I ordered my all-time favorite 20’s drink- a Sidecar.  We sat sipping our old-school drinks, soaking in the fabulous arches and exposed brick that warmed the place and stole our hearts.  We could have skipped dinner and sat at our window table in the bar all night sampling their vast menu of tequila and stumbling back to our hotel, but we chose to go the distinguished route and partake in Chef Nathan Luoma’s fine cooking.  The wine menu wasn’t as enticing as the food; personally I would have liked to have a wider selection of full-bodied reds, but that certainly wouldn’t stop me from coming back to “Il Bistro” again.

The next morning we went to Le Pichet for a chocolate croissant and coffee and meandered around the market as the hum of people began to descend upon the merchants.

Pike Place market is known as “the soul of Seattle”

throwing fish

The market has been around since 1907 and is now home to roughly 200 commercial businesses.  It is internationally recognized as America’s premier farmer’s market.  Walking around the various vendors, sniffing flowers, surveying fish, and sampling wines made me wish that I lived in this lovely city. I imagined myself shopping each morning for our family dinners and bringing home fresh calla lilies every day.

We got our exercise in –walking up Seattle’s finest hills to Pacific Place Shopping Center.  Downtown Seattle is everything you want it to be: twinkling lights, street musicians, local art, restaurants and shops galore.

We could have easily stayed another night to explore the museums, Experience Music Project, Seattle Center, a cruise on the water, and much more, but we are new parents with a toddler and could not keep ourselves away from her.  Had I had another night, I would have loved to check out 94 Stewart, a quaint little restaurant across the street from Inn at the Market that won me over while window-shopping.  I would have also taken the complimentary car service from our hotel to Belltown for dinner at Flying Fish.  The food prepared by Chef Christine Keff is known to be nothing short of fantastic.

My requirement in a vacation as a new parent is location, location, location.  Make it easy on yourself and let the fun come to you.  The Inn At The Market located in Pike Place with a Tuscan bistro across the street is just what this mommy ordered.

Although it was short, we experienced the charm of Seattle in every second of our time there.  I encourage anyone to cruise out for a lovely stay and enjoy this fine city’s delicious food and coffee that will surely toast your toes.


travel tip iconTravel Tips For Parents:


-If  it’s your first trip away from your little one -make it easy on yourself -go on a vacation in the same city.  A hotel 15 minutes from home is still a vacation for a parent

- We all know that you want to check on your kiddo while you are away- don’t call- text!  This way you get the update without the guilt of hearing your child’s voice in the background

- Call in the evening once your child is asleep so that you can get all the details of the day

- Ask the sitter/grandparents to text you a picture a day

-If you can’t bear to leave your child/children- take them with you- The Inn At The Market has Town House Suites that are two levels- perfect for a family.




[Travel tips photo credit: Flikr- Rosweed]

[Head's up photo credit: Flikr- POD]

[Space Needle photo credit: Flikr- Papalars]


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