Sunday, August 10, 2014

Birthday Weekend in Seattle

Way back in February Mikael and I had been texting each other and scheming ways of how we could plan a trip to see each other.  It was getting complicated because we both had busy schedules, traveling husbands, and budgets.  It was looking like a no go.  But a few days later Mikael's sneaky husband Derek got ahold of my number and started texting me about planning a surprise getaway for Mikael's upcoming birthday.  I thought it would be a pretty awesome birthday gift to myself too, so I talked it over with Charlie and set to work making plans.  It was absolute torture trying to contain my excitement and I was seriously dying not being able to talk with Mikael about it.  She kept texting me trying to make plans (unaware that flights had already been booked) and I had to keep making up excuses of why I didn't think it would work.  Finally her birthday came around at the beginning of March and Derek had wrapped up the plane tickets as a surprise.  Well wouldn't you know it, she wouldn't even open them that morning but insisted on waiting until Derek came home that night.  AGH.  So finally she opened the tickets, we exchanged lots of screaming excited texts, and began our countdown to the first weekend in April.

I told Mikael that I would make the famous Wood family Surprise Cupcakes for her birthday, so even though they were a month late I did still load up a container of cupcakes and carry them on the plane with me.  We arrived Thursday night in Seattle and took the train downtown where we stayed at The Roosevelt Hotel.  We spent that first night staying up late eating cupcakes and talking nonstop until we were both too drowsy to make any sense.

Friday morning we slept in.  We had blackout curtains and there were no children there to wake us.  It was glorious.  But we did have a lunch reservation at noon, so we eventually had to get moving.  We got ready for the day and then walked across town to the Space Needle.  I always enjoy going up to the high point of a city to get a view of the surroundings.  The weather was clear and sunny and gorgeous that day and the views from atop the Needle were incredible.  We had a leisurely lunch in the revolving restaurant and enjoyed checking out the full 360 degree view of Seattle.

We kept seeing these billowing clouds of dessert being served at other tables and decided that we needed an "Oribter" too.  Mostly we just wanted to take pictures of it and Mikael sent a video to her kids.

Mikael sent this picture to her dad.  It's not the most flattering, but I love it.  We were having such a blast being kid free and chatting up a storm and laughing at our own dumb jokes.

Next we walked over to Pike Place Market and just wandered the stalls admiring the gorgeous flowers, fresh fruit, and arts & crafts for sale.  Luke was really into pigs at the time (like he was constantly declaring "I'm a pig" and making oinking sounds in response to questions), so I of course had to take this photo for him.

We walked even further down and along the waterfront just enjoying the beautiful day and each other's company.  I'm sure we logged quite a few miles that day walking all around.  We stopped and did a bit of shopping on our way back to the hotel, and then laid down to relax for awhile before heading back out for dinner.

We were both craving sushi and just happened to strike up a conversation with a guy in the elevator who directed us to a place called Dragonfish just across the street that had sushi happy hour.  Perfect!  This may have been my favorite night of the trip.  We ordered a half a dozen little dishes to share and sat and talked and snacked.  After we'd already paid the bill and were getting ready to leave, I looked at Mikael and then confessed "I'm still hungry!"  I was starving actually.  So we ordered a whole second round of food and laughed and talked and ate some more.  It was seriously such a fun night.

The next morning we had big plans to go see the Fremont Troll.  I mapped it out on my phone and found a good 3 mile route that would take us right to him.  We laced up our running shoes and set out on our way.  Unfortunately I have a TERRIBLE sense of direction and started us off going the exact opposite way of where we should have gone.  After about a mile of super steep hills through a somewhat sketchy part of town Mikael wised up and suggested that I check my phone.  Sure enough we were now one mile further from Mr. Troll.  Um, oops.  Sorry about that Mikael.

But despite the extra two miles that I added to our run that morning, we had a blast.  I wish we lived closer for so many reasons, but running together everyday would be a pretty nice perk too.  The miles went by that much quicker with a friend to talk to and push me along.  The weather was overcast and cold with a bit of a drizzle and I loved taking in the city as we ran.

The Troll was pretty cool.  It's a giant sculpture constructed underneath a bridge and he's holding a VW Beetle in his left hand.  We lucked out to arrive in between waves of tourists and get some fun pictures. Mikael, of course, is kissing the troll because for as long as I've known her she has always posed this way with statues.  Just one more reason why I love her.

Since I had accidentally turned our 6 mile route into an 8 mile one, we decided to take the way back a little easier.  We stopped and took silly pictures and walked the last mile back to the hotel.  There was a light rain by then and we were chilled to the bone.  Time for hot showers and some good food.

Our next stop was Nordstrom Cafe.  I love that Cafe.  I almost always order the exact same thing: the mixed berry chicken salad.  Love it.  And even more than I love the salad I love their cake.  The Boston Cream just barely beats the Lemon Coconut.  I was so looking forward to enjoying a big slice of birthday cake and was pretty heartbroken to discover that the flagship store didn't serve any cake at all! We had to substitute by sampling a few different dessert bars, which were pretty awesome too, but I was still sad about my cake.

We walked around the mall and stopped in a few stores.  Mikael wanted to go into Brookstone.  I didn't really get it until she pulled me over to the massage chairs.  She told me she always did this with her mom when they were shopping.  I had no idea people did this but we got the last two empty chairs.  I was reluctant at first and felt like the sales girl was giving us the stink eye, but I eventually settled in and  let the chair work it's magic.  We sat and talked some more and relaxed in those massage chairs for at least half an hour.  It felt heavenly, especially after all of the walking and running we'd done over the past two days.

It was rainy and cold and we didn't have anything else planned.  We got the crazy idea to go searching for frozen yogurt.  Not just the boring mall kind, but the self serve kind where you can pile in tons of flavors and toppings.  We used our phones to find a Menchie's a little over a mile away.  That didn't seem too bad.  Really?  What were we thinking?  That felt like the longest walk ever in the rain and on busy roads and with our tired feet.  But we finally made it and dished up our little cups of frozen goodness.  It took awhile before we had the courage to head back out in the rain again, and when we did it was straight back to the hotel.

That night we were overcome with laziness.  Or just exhaustion.  We laid on our beds and searched Yelp for the closest possible restaurants.  We even started searching for delivery options.  We just didn't want to walk anymore.  Neither of us felt well and we probably should have just called it a night.  Instead we decided on PF Changs.  And then we somehow got talked into a three course meal for two. It was WAY more food than either of us could eat and we ended up bringing most of it back in a doggy bag and ate the dessert for breakfast the next morning.

Luckily we were both feeling revived and refreshed the next day and ready to set out on foot again.  We headed back to Pike's Place and picked up some macaroons that we'd spotted at a French bakery on our last visit.  I bought a purse, which I have still never used, and has turned into a big joke between Mikael and I.  We searched for lunch but really just wanted a salad and so we headed back to Nordstrom Cafe for another round of mixed berry and chicken goodness.

Finally it was time to pack up and head home.  The train station was right across from our hotel, which was super convenient, and took us straight to the airport.  It was so sad to say goodbye but we really had such a fabulous and fun time together.  It was a much needed break from everyday life for both of us and the only time Mikael and I have spent alone together since parting ways in Provo ten years ago.  We snapped a series of goofy selfies together and then said our sad goodbyes.  We both had a blast and agreed that it was the best birthday gift to ourselves ever!  Probably a little expensive to make a yearly thing, but it definitely needs to happen again soon.

As much as I loved my trip, I was equally as happy to come home to all of my boys.  Charlie was Super Dad and kept the boys busy doing fun stuff all weekend.  They went on long scooter rides (to drop off and pick up the car for repair), went to the beach, ate lots of junk food, and had movie night.  They started out with Isaac's pick of Volcano vs. Airplane on Netflix but then quickly decided it was too scary and opted for Frozen instead.  Good choice!  This was their first time seeing it and Luke fell so in love with it that they ended up making a run to Target to buy it on DVD.  Anyway, they all had a fun weekend together (except for Cracker who had to get more teeth pulled at the vet), but I think they were glad to have me home.

The next day was my actual birthday so we celebrated by going out to dinner at El Torito Grill.  They always send me a coupon for a free meal on my birthday and I can't pass it up!

Then Charlie made me this really fantastic chocolate, nutella, and strawberry birthday cake.  It is maybe my new favorite cake ever.  And this was maybe one of my favorite birthdays ever.  Thank you Charlie and Mikael for making it so memorable!

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