Tag Archives: Seattle

Why Seattle Shuts Down When it Snows Two Inches

When we moved from the Midwest to Washington ten years ago, our first winter felt balmy.  We ran around in capris and flip-flops, our new neighbors shivered in parkas, the kind I hadn’t worn since daily trudging a mile across the University of North Dakota campus in blizzard conditions.

On the average, WA was 60 degrees warmer. It was like being on spring break all winter long. 

 One Sunday in January someone from our church called.  “Church is cancelled today.” 

We were shocked.  We’d never heard of cancelling church.

“Why?” my hubby asked.

“Did you look outside?”

Hubby pulled the curtain aside and saw a dusting of snow on the ground. He asked, “Yea, so why did you cancel church?”

Our friend repeated, “Did you look outside?”

“Yes,” answered my husband, “but why did you cancel church?”

“There’s snow on the ground.”

“Yea, I see the snow, but why did you cancel church?”

“Because there’s SNOW ON THE GROUND.”

We laughed.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.  After all, we survived the winter of 1996-7 with 117 inches of snow (that’s nearly TEN FEET, people!) and the interstate shut down 13 times, followed by  the Red River Flood of 1997.

We laughed for a few year years, until we finally understood how and why 1/2 inch of snow is treacherous in our new climate and terrain. 



Seattle and Snow

1. People don’t have snow gear. 

If you shovel once every couple of years, why would you keep a shovel? I piled my shovels, scrapers,  and snow blower on the sidewalk with a free sign when I moved, I use a pancake turner on my front porch.  Seriously.  I use it smugly and wisely. My library card scrapes my car windows.  I’m very happy with this arrangement.

Obviously, my new neighbors don’t have snow blowers or a blade on the front of their pickups. Wait, most don’t have pickups. The cities don’t have garages full of snowplows that run on a regular basis.  Being unprepared is frustrating, but spending money you don’t have on equipment you rarely use isn’t tax money worthy.


Sidewalks and streets aren’t cleared.  Maybe I should loan the city my pancake turner.

2.  The hills are treacherous.

  Two nearby hills  are so steep that only a guard rail come between a sliding car, and the houses below.  Most hills don’t have guard rails.

Not a stunt driver. Don’t try this next time it snows.
Actual footage. The sliding bus happened more than once. Mute if you don’t like the music.

North Dakota  is extremely flat.  You slide forwards or sideways, or into a small ditch you could drive out of and not tell your parents.

3.  Many drivers aren’t experienced in snow driving.

I’m not worried about me, I’m worried about them.

Even ND drivers drive into  ditches or “accidentally” spin a cookie.  But people in snowy climates have six months a year to perfect their winter driving skills, not six hours or six days.

Many Seattleites didn’t grow up with parents who taught them how to drive on snow, ice, snow on ice, black ice, slushy snow, and slushy snow on ice.  Add  wind speed, air temperature, and visibility to multiply the weather conditions winter drivers master.  

In the Pacific Northwest you learn to drive in overcast with rain, overcast with fog, overcast with occasional thundershowers. 

4.  Front wheel drive doesn’t work on slippery hills.

No  amount of “I think I can, I think I can “  will get you up the hills without the right vehicle, tires, and ability.Many people don’t understand how front wheel/rear wheel/four-wheel drive works, so they just head out.  Yea, we see SUVs in the ditches, too.


Others know it’s better to walk up the hill in dress shoes, than slide down in your car. (Review #3 if you are still confused.)

Parking overnight is common, but so are car pile-ups on the bottom of the hills.

5.  People Wanna’ Play

When it snows, you stop and play.  Almost every snowfall makes snowball snow, can you believe it, Midwesterners?  It’s amazing.


My neighbors, Rick and Sandy,  sculpted this amazing Seahawk.  Actually, Rick did most of the artistic work, we “coached” him.  I provided some pictures,  a few shovels of dirtless snow, and the food coloring, but they included me in the picture, anyway.

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There are forts to build, snowballs to throw,


and snowmen to create.


Kathy –  Facebooking on my front porch and enjoying the snow and also the cars trying to get up our hill.

Vanessa – Please oh please, please stick around until morning, snow!! (We must be the only place on the continent who WANT snow right now).

Sonja – I realize this will NOT be exciting for my friends and family in Minnesota, Ohio, Connecticut, etc., but IT IS SNOWING AT MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW!!! It almost never snows here!! I love it!

LouAnn – It’s a beautiful snowy day in Lacey, WA! Hey! It can happen!

Marilyn – Measured 3-1/2″ so far – yippee!! Hot tub here we come! Love soaking while snowflakes falling

Laura – IT’S SNOWING!!!

Linda – Dreams do come true, Snow is not a fantasy.

Kathleen – I have to say… my aim with a snowball is pathetic, now. More opportunities to practice, please!

Living with six months of snow can be drudgery.  You’re always shoveling, bundling up, warming up, scraping windows, and surviving.

When it rarely snows, it’s a gift to be enjoyed. The morning after our Glorious Snow Day, the rains melted our snow creations into memories. 

That’s the main reason Seattle shuts down for snow. 

Making your home sing Mondays


Moms Need to Embrace, Empower and Expect

Sunday night was Disney night when I grew up.  My mom would make a bowl of popcorn and the six tow-headed Brainard kids would slouch on mom’s avocado green crush velvet couch to watch ~image

I loved Tinker Bell’s fairy dust!

When I started parenting, I wanted to give my kids the same wholesome entertainment. 

Jungle Book

We were the first in the neighborhood to buy Jungle Book on VHS and regularly hosted viewings in our living room, the neighbor kids huddled on my dusty pink Olefin thrift store couch eating animal crackers.  Now our media cabinet contains shelves of VHS, DVD and Blu-ray movies.

I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration,  a blogging conference they took on the road to four cities this year. As you can imagine, after revealing above I raised my kids on VHS, I was one of the oldest mommies there.  But, I still got excited when I walked into the room filled with Disney balloons and stuffed animals and heard the Disney songs.

It got a little intimidating when the younger moms started Tweeting and updating statuses, but HEY, that’s why I was there.  To learn.  I am wise enough to know a mommy learns from the older and younger moms in her life.

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I guess it’s safe to say -  now that they can’t uninvite me – that I’ve never been to any of the Disney Parks, but I really wanted to learn more about social media.

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I also wanted to network. I hung out with my mommy-blogger friend, Nan, who blogs at  “Mom’s the Word” and is way funnier than I am.  I’m pretty sure funnier is a word now, and I’m pretty sure I will never chew blue gum in public again. She was the other “experienced” mother in the crowd who has a Justin Bieber lookalike son. (Guess what?  Bieber isn’t in spell check yet. He must not be that famous.)


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They keynote speaker was Mindee Doney, inventor of Boogie Wipes. Her light bulb moment came when she was moving in for the boogie kill with a bulb syringe and saline solution.  Her  baby daughter’s nose was crusted over and Mindee was determined to get those boogies so her daughter could breath. The freaked-out reaction caused a quick retreat and change in battle strategy. 

Mindee reached over to the wipes container, sprayed one with saline solution, and gently wiped her daughter’s nose. Baby’s boogies were gone and Boogie Wipes were born.

I loved hearing the funny, candid, and sometimes gut-wrenching, journey of her personal and business life from the creation of Boogie Wipes to the sale of the company. As the challenges grew, so did the stakes.

Early in the game, the name of her company was criticized by another mommypreneur prior to appearing together on the television show The Big Idea.  She thought Boogie Wipes was disgusting and thought something like "The Salt of the Earth" would be more appropriate and less offensive.  Mindee justified the name and gave a hint of the marketing strategy that helped launch their product successfully.  "Our target demographic has poop under their fingernails."  She was a mom, she knew moms, and knew their needs.

They utilized the power of moms and formed  a Boogie Brigade, similar to a book launch team.  Women dropped off samples for the company and wore free Boogie Brigade t-shirts when they ran in races. But when they tapped into Mommy bloggers, the impact was really felt.  Mindee said that moms not only reviewed the wipes, they videoed them, photographed them and took them on vacation.

Mindee encouraged bloggers, "Whether it’s  product,  content, message or a mission…you’re impacting people and lives.”

She’s a marketing genius and a brilliant strategist. But, instead of getting on stage and telling us how great she is, Mindee was honest enough to share her mistakes on the journey. 

During the rise to success, which included the financial benefits, interviews and  television appearances, Mindee realized what she had lost with this gain.  "I had let go of all the things that mattered to my heart.  I stopped going to church.  Stopped exercising.  I was working all the time. We all have periods of our lives where we work a lot; the problem was, I was never NOT working."

She had an 18 month old, 4 year old, 7 year old and a pilot husband who was frequently gone.  At a low point she said, "Time out.  I am broken.  I am done.  I have nothing that matters in the depths of my soul for what I want for the next five years."

Between leaving the company and getting divorced she confessed to spending "a year with lawyers and therapists."

She is joyfully back in the groove with her family and business, and  freely gave us what she learned through the agony of losing it all.

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“You can be Super Mom, but you can’t be Super Mom at everything.

There is something about you that is SUPER, but you can’t do all those things SUPER.  You have to respect what those things are.  Find them.  Embrace them.  Rock who you are.

If people don’t know what your blog is about, that’s your fault.  You aren’t telling them what you are good at.    We all need to do our job the best we can, in businesses, life, and as a person.

She illustrated with a conversation with her son:

Son "Mom, I think we’ve been robbed."
Mom "Really?"
Son, "Oh, I’m just kidding.  Our house always looks like this."

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Mindee urged the room of mommy bloggers to use two words moms hear but don’t use themselves – Help and No.

“Help is not a 4-letter word.

And when you get help, from husband, friend, relative…learn to say, it’s not MY way, but it’s OK. When you step away, but don’t really step away, you come back to the same space you were in before.

Learn to say NO. If it takes away from what nurtures you and what you do, then say NO.”


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Expect life to NOT go according to plan. The hardest choice is if you are going to smile about it or be grumpy.

What goes up must come down.  What goes down must be lifted.  Eventually you have to lift yourself up.

Specific things to stay IN the journey:

(There is an exception to rule, but when exceptions become the rule, there’s a problem.)

1. Laptop stays in office.

2. Schedule is sacred.  Give full attention to what you’re doing.  No distractions.

3. To do lists find me.  I used to make lists.  At night I think about what the next day’s needs are.

4. Don’t promise things the next day.  I use vague terms.  "I’ll work on it and get to you at end of week."  If I set a deadline I can’t meet, I change the deadline.

5. When kids say "momma’  stop and look at them.  Connect. Communicate. 

6. Leave your phone.  Just leave it. If you set the precedence that you’re always available, you’ll  be expected to be always available.

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Moms struggle with balancing their lives.

If we give everything to business or ministry, we may regret not making our family a priority.

If we give everything to the family, we may regret not putting ourselves on the calendar.

Mindee provided great advice and encouragement to make the right daily decisions to fully show up in all a mom’s worlds; wisdom  made more precious by the cost.



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If you want to read more about Mindee’s journey read:

Making your home sing Mondays

Why I Had Kids Not Dogs

When I moved to the Seattle area, my youngest of six was an adorable toddler with dandelion fluff hair.


I expected the typical comments about her age, cuteness and overall awesomeness when I took her out in public. After all, she was the top student in the Gifted and Talented Pre-school Program in my Homeschool. I thought talent scouts would be stopping me left and right for modeling contracts.  I was in the big city, now, ya’ know.





I realized  people weren’t as fond of children as they were in the Midwest. I realized people were very fond of dogs. 

But it wasn’t until I dog-sat for a neighbor that I saw how deep dog-love runs in the blood of my PNW neighbors. Otis is a nice dog, well-behaved and well-trained, but poor guy is past his bloom.  Slightly overweight in the middle, he waddles and has more gray hair than I do.  He’s a mutt without papers or pedigree, isn’t too big or too small, doesn’t have  long hair or short hair, has no distinct color or markings, he’s the perfect family dog. 

When I took my adorable toddler and the dog for a walk, dog- lovers stopped many times to pet Otis and talk to him in their doggy voice. One lady even let Otis lick her face. I was almost worried about her dog-napping, she was so enthralled with his gray-bearded face and rheumy eyes. When you aren’t dog-crazy, watching someone sweet-talk a dog is like watching an engaged couple when you aren’t in love. 

As I looked from my adorable white-haired child to this middle-aged dog, to me there was no contest who deserved attention.

It wasn’t the dog.

I felt I had to justify why in the world Seattle I had children, let alone six of them, so began this list in my self-defense.  I’m not opposed to dogs, I just decided if I was going to have anything else in my house with disgusting body fluids, it might as well be someone who could visit me in the nursing home.


Why I Had KIDS not DOGS


  • My kids  don’t lick friends or strangers.

  • My kids  don’t  introduce themselves to a stranger by smelling them, especially in embarrassing places. (One toddler accidentally punched someone somewhere embarrassing, but with no witnesses, was it really that embarrassing?)

  • My kids don’t pee on the neighbors’ car tires. (One peed in someone’s front lawn at a garage sale while I was busy hunting for treasures. I almost died of mortification, but lived to blog about it.)

  • My kids don’t poop in my yard, the neighbor’s yard, on the carpeting or anywhere else in the house. (I guess one pooped on my sidewalk once, but only once.)

  • My kids don’t bark during the night and wake the neighbors up. (My yelling at the kids during the daytime has been heard a few times, but I can assure you, my kids have never caused the neighbors to lose sleep. Well, at least when I was home.)
  • My kids haven’t thrown-up in the neighbors yard, then gone back to eat it the next day. (EEWWW!  I still am traumatized by this childhood spectacle by the neighbor’s dog, Goldie.  You wonder why I don’t have a dog?)

  • My kids don’t rub their bare bums on my carpet.

  • My kids don’t pee on my flowers or leave little round circles of dead grass in my lawn. (I think there were a few peeing incidents during poddy training, ya’ know, little boys naturally think a tree is a toilet. But, the trees are fine, thanks for asking.  That’s another thing PNW’ers love.)
  • My kids don’t lick my face after drinking out of the toilet. (They’ve all played in the toilet, and I’m pretty sure several drank out of the toilet, but they didn’t lick me afterwards.)

The list is a little graphic, but true.  And after I’ve convinced myself I’ve done the right thing in having children, not dogs, I remind myself of the great future I expect with my six, lovely children.

  • My kids will visit me in the nursing home.
  • My kids will bury me.
  • My kids will push my wheelchair.
  • My kids will give me more grandchildren.
  • My kids will sell my treasures at a garage sale when I’m dead.
  • My kids will change my diapers.
  • My kids will all get dogs of their own.

Not necessarily in that order.

And if any of my kids actually read what I expect from them, they may be writing their own blog post.

“Why I Traded in My Parents for Dogs.”

Making your home sing MondaysWholeHeartedButton

Adventure Through the Viewfinder

The first time I heard someone describe Washington, I wanted to visit. We planned an RV trip with our children, but at the last minute plans changed.  I cried. 

Two years later, I found out we were being relocated to Washington.  I didn’t want to live in the big city with a bajillion people and traffic, I just wanted to visit.  I cried.

We survived the transition by enjoying the beauty around us.  Weekends were for exploring and adventure. 


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 Sunset over Alki Beach


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Snoqualmie Falls


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The Space Needle



Mount Rainier




Ocean Shores

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View of Mount Rainier from Tiger Mountain

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Paragliding on Tiger Mountain


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Seattle Skyline

Summer 2012 286

Cascade Mountains

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Roche Harbor, San Juan Island

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Lime Kiln Lighthouse

Through my viewfinder, I see life as an adventure.

What are your favorite adventures you’ve captured in picture memories?